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The Names of Allah

Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya)

Asmaa ul Husna, as we commonly know them, have various benefits.  This week, let us look at a few and the benefits attached to them upon recitation.  Material for this edition has been sourced from various primary and secondary materials but most prominently from the book “The Beautiful names of Allah” by Mohamedhussein G Somji.

“Allah” is the first of these beautiful names.  It is the Name Proper, if you may.  If recited 66 times at the time of Asr prayers or at the time of the setting of the sun prayers will be granted and legitimate desires will be fulfilled.  It is said that this name has been repeated 2,607 times in the Holy Qur’an.  Also, if it is recited 200 times on Fridays in the state of ablution the Almighty will fulfill one’s legitimate desires.  And if recited 1,000 times daily, a person will become pious and the worldly love will vanish from the heart of the reciter, and the cognizance of Allah (SWT) will be achieved.

“Ahad” is another name.  It means “the Unique”.  If this is recited 1,000 times in solitude, it will be felt that angels are with the reciter.  If recited 100 times, it is useful to combat snake bites.  If recited many times, one will develop love and friendship for others.

“Awwalu”, or the “Foremost” is third in line.  If this is recited prior to any task before hand, it will assist the reciter in completing it nicely with the blessings of the Almighty.  If recited regularly, people will be kind to the person and will reunite with departed and separated persons and relatives through dreams.

“Aakihiru” means “Everlasting”.  if this is recited regularly, there will be everlasting success in all works undertaken.  The person will be loved by all and respected in all aspects of life.  It will also help attain success in unfinished or hopeless missions.

“Aliyyu” (The Highest).  When recited frequently, the person will be respected and honoured by all, and will be promoted in rank.  If kept with oneself in writing, one becomes prosperous.

“Aleemu”.  This means “all knowing”.  If recited 6 times after the obligatory prayer, the person will be aware of the secrets of nature.  If recited frequently, the person will recognise the Almighty.  If recited 21 times daily, the person will become a learned man.

“Azeezu” or “Predominant” is yet another of these glorious names.  If recited 13 times everyday, a person will acquire great wealth.  If recited 94 times, it will be useful to gain the knowledge of alchemy or chemistry.  If recited in infinite numbers, a person will gain spiritual powers.

“Aadilu” is of course “Equitable”.  When recited regularly, a person will do justice in all cases.  Also reciting this name reveals secrets.

“Afuwwu” (Forgiver).  This is useful for removing and avoiding of sins and achieving the blessings of the Almighty.

“Akramu” or the Gracious, is instrumental in attaining grandeur.  It should be recited after every obligatory prayer and at bed time.  If recited for a great number of times at the time of sleeping, angels will be detailed by Allah, who will ask for pardon for the person throughout the night.

An important observation is the exclusion of intentional sinning for any such mystical forces to positively act upon a person.  It is evident that when in deep agony or dire distress, we tend to remember the only Being who can free us from the chains of trouble.  Very few people form the routine habit of reciting these names so that they become a part of one’s daily life.  Understanding and believing in the meaning of each of His names is paramount before any results can be expected, for if one doesn’t believe in His justice, merely chanting the name is wasteful.

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E-Mail: The New Possibilities

By Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya)

Connected? I am sure you are, for if you are not, you may just have missed being “literate” this century. Whether you are an infant (!) or a very aged person, make no mistake about the omnipotence of this new gadget to go with the cell phones and surround sound TVs already with us.

The pen and paper of this century? Absolutely. Or if you may, the Keyboard and the Mouse of our times. However, while the euphoria about this new acquisition is just about settling, it may be interesting to check out the pros and cons of the new medium.

Firstly, we must realize that the e-mail is a medium for communication, and the Internet a global pin up board where marketers place publicity material and individuals post information (educational) or messages (personal). For us to be able to use this medium effectively, we must appreciate that, like any other gadget, the super highway has the positives as well as the negatives.

Let us look at both sides. Faster communication, cheaper communication, access to information. An individual based in New York does not have to necessarily phone a relative in Dar Es Salaam (although 2 net phone is now available as well). He can simply send a typed message and it will be read, almost instantaneously by the intended recipient in a matter of seconds. With this strength of reach, the ground is open for both genuine users and mischief-makers to spread a word by merely pressing the “Send “button. In this regard, it is imperative to understand that email messages are not to gospel truth and are not any different from the ancient telegrams that were sent out in those days. The intention is to pass a message.

On the aspect of cost, monetarily there is no argument. Web based transfer of messages is the cheapest form of communication available today.

Information: There are hundreds or maybe thousands of websites (chapters in a book). All you have to know is the name of the site, and you are comfortably accessing information. Because of the magnitude of the reach and extent of the Internet, marketers have ably made their powerful presence felt. The challenge to the user is to be able to discern between information and publicity. This line is very thin and everything seems like new information whereas it is not the case.

But while on information, further obstacles or prerequisites line the way. The user, if devoid of responsibility – moral, financial, etc. is bound to suffer irreparable loss. A minor using this powerful tool and intrigued by the mystics of adolescent life, no longer has to sneak into a movie theater to view pornographic material, he simply has to type in the key word in a search engine and a whole lot of sites will be listed. Therefore, the nature of usage is immensely important. The story of the traditional knife still applies, with options to use available to the user.

Again, there is another more serious aspect: authenticity. One must understand that messages or information pinned on the WWW need not always be truthful and free of commercial motive. 9 times out of 10, they will have been guided by the profit motive and so users must beware of the way in which troublemakers may influence sound minds.

As Muslims, we are expected to join in the super highway but continued to exhibit the conduct characteristics of the Shia of the Ahlulbayt. When discussions corrupt into mud swinging, and when undue political importance is hyped up by a few individuals in the name of a global forum we may not have entirely appreciated the potent nature of the medium we are now using. The responsibility comes back to us whether it is restricting or guiding our children to independently use it for educational reason or conducting mature and advantageous discussions.

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What is Taqiyah?

By Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya)

Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi in his book “Taqiyah” answers thus: “its literal meaning is to safeguard; to defend; to fear; piety (because it saves one from the displeasure of Allah)”

He goes on to explain the significance of the practice by explicating that in Islamic Terminology, it also means to save life, honor or property by hiding one’s belief or religion. Hence, we must not confused taqiyah with nifaq, as the latter is a negative attribute whose intention need not be to deceive oppressors or to save lives.

As Islam places overwhelming emphasis on the aspect of Muslim unity and fraternity, we are told many a times of the need to practice taqiyah, especially in prayers where joining of Jamaat prayers in a Sunni congregation by say, folding one’s hands, would not exclude one from any normal reception.

Muslims, for example, living in India have often faced the threat to their lives and property during Hindu-Muslim clashes, thus causing significant harm and oppression upon them. We, therefore, see that many brothers during such a time disguise themselves as non-Muslims, or as Hindus This, it must be understood, is in line with the compulsory divine order of protecting life and the dignity that goes with it. Again, as a parallel, it must be distinguished from the political espionage witnessed prominently during the cold war days, where the concealing of one’s identity, although perilous to life was driven by political ambitions and design.

In answer to a question, Rizvi dispels the allegations leveled against Shias as the only sect practicing such an act on an official basis. In reality, if the tables were turned in the case of the Hindu example, it may well be expected that Hindus, caught in Muslim territory, would undoubtedly use similar means to save their skin. In milder cases, we have today witnessed many Hindus, seeking job prospects in the Middle East, declaring their religion as Islam, although their being non-Muslim does not marginally affect their chances of success. It is therefore within the trait of human nature to protect oneself from destruction. As long as it is meant to protect life, property and honor, it would be termed taqiyah, but beyond that, it would carry other implications.

In the same book, it has been suggested by some readers that by doing such a thing, one exposes himself to the possibility of accepting the belief one uses as a pretext, hence ensuring that the very Islamic beliefs guiding this philosophy result in the loss of faith. Again, Rizvi propounds on the merit of Islamic faith that yields only to the conviction of the heart, rather than any lip service offered In such a scenario, by simply uttering non-Muslim tenets, one does not necessarily submit to anti-Islamic school of thought.

Venturing deeper into scholastic discussion, it is strongly believed as well that since doing taqiyah borders heavily on the act of lying, it should be borne well that taqiyah does not encourage lying. This is a misrepresentation. The example quotes is that of a person faced with a difficult situation. Both options at his disposal may result in some degree of harm. What does one do in such a situation? It is of greater recommendation to try to salvage the situation by implementing the answer with lesser repercussions rather than surrendering to the plight of an impasse.

Fortunately, most of the problems of the last century that prohibited Muslims to be seen openly are now over. Yesterday, a bearded man was a confirmed terrorist and a veiled woman, largely oppressed. Yet Muslims caved for them, until the Iranian Revolution gave new meaning to freedom of worship. Simultaneously, the collapse of the Easter bloc made religious practice easier and permissible. Isn’t; it ironical then that now that everything is open, Muslims, rather than practicing their faith are busy modeling the consumerist West and her materialistic teachings?

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Introspection

By Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya) 

More than anything else needed today of all the living Muslims is the courage and capability to introspect. By this, we mean the ability and purity o judgement regarding one’s own actions and inactions.

The fabric of today’s world is built around materialist and consumerist ideals; we live in times when not only those living in the West but also those in the East, have little time for society. Each is embroiled in his or her own little thing, and it may not be wrong to say that a great number of people looking at their communities or societies today, have mixed motives, or whose driving force is other than the pleasure of Allah (SWT)

Given the teachings of the modern society, it has become a common practice for people to rationalize their wrongdoings or to justify their actions by using religious principles in their favor and as per their own convenience. One of the signs that was mentioned in last week’s issue, as a sign ushering in the last day, is that wrong and evil will be regarded as right and virtuous, and vice versa. And it so happens, that no one individual engaged in such an act will even realize it. He will continue committing this misdeed by failing to recognize what is right and what is not.

Introspection is the answer. To every action, there should be an analytical approach and understanding of why we have done so and so, or why we did not do this. Then, instead of rationalizing each action, one will be forced to review the circumstances that led him to do this or that.

It is a very common sight, for instance, for people to say that rather than engaging in gossip, I would rather watch a movie. Here is a typical example of self-rationalization, in which we appease our souls by convenience comparison, choosing the lesser of the two evils, that is!

Nowadays, with newer rulings on issues such as raffle and music, it is commonplace for one to say that my Niyyat is not to win the prize but to help the cause. While no one will ask us why we are not helping the cause until the organizers of such a task have to launch a raffle, the final judge knows the inside of our hearts, and what our true intentions are. So we can walk around masquerading the cause, but He knows it all. But if truthfully we are clean at heart, we certainly have nothing to fear.

The beating of wives is frequently used as an excuse that if let “unherded” they would bring a family a bad name. While the reasoning is correct, the statement fails to address women as human and responsible beings. It also fails to comprehend the Islamic teachings of respect and honor for women.

In one of his lectures at the Jaffery Islamic Centre, Nairobi recently, Dr. Sayyid Amjad Ali Shah of the Al Mahdi Institute in Birmingham, said that during the time of Imam Hasan (AS), history reflects that there was nothing in the society that resembled the Prophet’s true Muslim society, except for two things that the call for prayer was heard publicly, and that people were seen heading for congregational prayers. Introspection will tell us and especially among the more affluent Muslim brothers in the Middle East that this time may have com1e back. It is not uncommon to see wealthy Arabs wooing women in public, but heading for prayers as soon as Adhaan is proclaimed. What about us?

In a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel, it was revealed that a Brahmin King by the name of Raja, who lived a life of dual personality. His successful empire demanded that he continue conquering neighboring states so that others do not digest his own empire, and for this he had to kill. His belief in God bit his conscience for doing so. So, a clever priest, advised him to continue doing so while building as many temples as possible as a means of washing off the sins of war. This, he did, and hundreds of temples mushroomed during his rule. Introspection might reveal similar personalities amongst us!

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