Islamic Personalities

  • Messiah (Greek: Christos) Does Not Mean Savior (Greek: Soter)

    The word “messiah” in Hebrew (mashiakh), comes from the same triliteral root as the Arabic m-s-h, meaning “to rub” or “anoint;” this denotes that he has a special quality and exalted status. Therefore, “messiah” does not mean “savior” linguistically; however orthodox (trinitarian) Christians interpret his special quality to be that of a savior (Greek: soter). This is a Christian interpretation. We should remember that the entire concept of the Messiah was borrowed by the Christians from Judaism, then radically reinterpreted in light of Pauline Christology.
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  • Khidr (Allah bless him) is an individual mentioned extensively in surah al-Kahf of the Qur’an as a companion of our liege-lord Musa (Allah bless him). He was one “granted mercy… and taught knowledge” (18:65) from Allah Most High and his brief journey with our liege-lord Musa (Allah bless him) is one of the most intriguing and spiritually profound narratives within the Qur’an.

    The Companion of Musa (Allah bless him) in Surah al-Kahf

    The name of Khidr (Allah bless him) is not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an. The individual our liege-lord Musa (Allah bless him) met in surah al-Kahf is only identified as “one of our servants” (16:85), which gave rise to a difference of opinion regarding who exactly this person was.

    Imam Qurutbi states, “The aforementioned servant is Khidr according to the majority of scholars and according to what is indicated by established prophetic narratives. Some, whose statement is given no consideration, opposed this stating that it was not Khidr who was the companion of Musa but another knowledgable person.” [Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur’an]

    The established prophetic narratives mentioned by Imam Qurtubi are found in both Bukhari and Muslim from `Ubay ibn Ka`b from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

    Why Was He Named Khidr?

    The name “Khidr” means “the green one”. It is narrated from Abu Hurayra (Allah be well pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “He was named Khidr because he sat on a dry, barren piece of land and it suddenly became green under him.” [Bukhari, Tirmidhi]

    Was Khidr (Allah bless him) a Prophet?

    The scholars differed on whether Khidr (Allah bless him) was a prophet or a saint.

    Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Bari cites Ibn `Atiyya as stating that most scholars held that he was a prophet. This was also stated by Imam Qurtubi in his Ahkam al-Qur’an, citing Khattabi, Imam Nawawi in his Sharh on Muslim, and Imam `Ayni in his `Umdat al-Qari.

    Others, however, held that he was a saint, not a prophet, such as Imam Qushayri.

    Those who held that he was a prophet did so due to the following reasons:

    a. He possessed knowledge that even our liege-lord Musa (Allah bless him) did not. Imam Qurtubi states that an individual does not learn nor follow except one who is higher than him and it is not possible that a non-prophetic figure be higher or superior to a prophetic one.

    b. He performed actions, such as killing a child and sinking a ship, that could have only been commanded by means of revelation (wahy) and not spiritual disclosure and unveiling (ilham/kashf). This is because the former is decisive thereby establishing certainty while the latter is probabilistic and does not establish certainty. It would not have been permissible for Khidr (Allah bless him) to commit these acts unless he had decisive knowledge conveying certainty that permitted their performance, which could have only been through revelation which is specific to prophets.

    c. He was described in the Qur’an as one who was given “mercy (rahma) from Us” (18:65), which many of the commentators of the Qur’an identified as being prophethood. This is because the word “mercy” (rahma) is sometimes associated with revelation as in the Qur’anic verse, “You did not expect that the book would be sent down to you, but it is a mercy (rahma) from your Lord.” (28:86)

    The fact that the mercy (rahma) given to Khidr (Allah bless him) refers to revelation is shown by the phrase “from Us”, namely a revelation from Allah, as well as the fact that the word rahma is indefinite which in the Arabic language indicates exoltation as well as the unfathomable nature of the reality indicated by the word.

    d. He was described in the Qur’an as one “We had taught knowledge from Ourselves” (18:65), which demonstrates that this knowledge was direct and revelatory.

    [Qurtubi, Ahkam al-Qur’an; Abu’l Su`ud, Tafsir; Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir; Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

    Is Khidr (Allah bless him) Alive?

    The scholars also differed regarding the life of Khidr (Allah bless him).

    Imam Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim states:

    “The majority of scholars hold that he is alive and present among us, and this is agreed upon between the Sufis, the people of righteousness and gnosis. There narratives regarding witnessing him, gathering with him, taking from him, asking him questions and receiving answers from him, and his presence in noble and good situations and abodes is more than can be enumerated and more famous than can be concealed.

    The Shaykh, Abu `Amr ibn Salah, said, ‘He is alive according to the majority of scholars and righteous and the commonality are with them in this.” (end quote)

    The strongest proofs for this are:

    a. A sound (hasan) narration, as stated by Ibn Hajar, narrated by Imam Ahmad in the Kitab al-Zuhd wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that our liege-lords Ilyas (Allah bless him) and Khidr (Allah bless him) meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem.

    b. The mass transmitted reports from the righteous on meeting Khidr (Allah bless him), which is what Imam Nawawi mentions in the paragraph cited previously.

    This life, however, is not to be termed as immortality since immortality is defined as someone not being subject to death. This is clearly negated in the Qur’anic verse, “We have not granted any man before you eternity. Every soul shall taste death.” (21:34-35)

    Rather, the scholars differed regarding when Khidr (Allah bless him) would die. Some said that would die after killing Dajjal. Others said he would die after the raising of the Qur’an. Others kept it general stating that he would die at the end of time. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim; Alusi, Ruh al-Ma`ani]

    Similarly, they differed regarding how long he has been alive for. Was he alive before the time of Nuh (Allah bless him) or after? These are issues that have no decisive proof, do not form part of the necessary belief Muslims are required to hold, and so is of no practical concern to the laity.

    There are many more details regarding Khidr (Allah bless him). Entire works have been written on him and the above was a brief overview of some of the more common issues people inquire about. As mentioned before, a lot of the issues are subject to difference of opinion due to the probabilistic nature of the proof-texts. As such, though we may disagree with the view points of others, we must not make the details surrounding our liege lord Khidr (Allah bless him) bones of contention.

    And Allah knows best.

  • Was Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq Sunni or Shi’i?

    Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (80-148 AH) was a pious Sunni scholar and the great-great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him].

    He was from the generation of the Followers (Tabi’een) and would narrate hadiths, most of which he had heard from his father, to a large number of prominent scholars such as Imams Malik, Abu Hanifa and Sufyan al-Thawri, may Allah be pleased with them. [Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, Ibn Hajr al-Haytami].
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  • Who was Uwais al-Qarni?

    Uwais al-Qarni was a man from Yemen who embraced Islam in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), but was not able to come to Medina to visit him since he was in the service of his aging mother.  Thus, although he never became a Companion (Sahabi), his status was such that the Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed his Companions that,

    “A man called Uwais will come to you from Yemen… whoever amongst you is able to meet him [Uwais], then ask him to pray for your forgiveness,” and that, “Indeed, the best of the Followers [after the generation of my Companions] is a man named Uwais…” [Muslim]

    Did Uwais al-Qarni Break His Teeth Out of Grief?

    The story in question about Uwais breaking all his teeth because he had heard that the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) blessed molar tooth was broken at the Battle of Uhud is mentioned in Seerah al-Halabiyyah.
    Seerah al-Halabiyyah quotes Imam al-Sha’rani’s Tabaqat al-Kubra, where Imam al-Sha’rani says:

    “And it has been narrated… that [Uwais al-Qarni] said, ‘By Allah, the Prophet’s molar tooth (peace and blessings be upon him) was not broken except that I broke my own molar tooth,’… this is how I have seen this quote written in some books, and Allah knows best as to its condition [whether it is authentic or not].” [al-Halabi, Insan al-‘Uyoon aka. Al-Seerah al-Halabiyya]

    Hence, it is clear from the quote that the book was not trying to report this tale as a fact, and had a clear doubt as to its authenticity.

    I have not been able to find a source from the hadith or seerah books to support this account.  I only found that a similar story was reported in Fariduddin ‘Attar’s Tadhikra al-Awliya under Uwais al-Qarni’s biography, without the mention of any source.

    Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari settled the question in his short treatise on the virtues of Uwais al-Qarni.  He says about this story:

    “And know well that that which has become widespread on the tongues of the laity that Uwais [al-Qarni] extracted all his teeth out of extreme grief when he heard that the tooth of the Prophet [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] had been struck, [because] he didn’t reliably know which tooth it was exactly – then there is no basis for this [story] according to the scholars…

    … along with the fact that it violates the noble Sacred Law, and because of this reason, not one of the Senior Companions did that [act of self-inflicted harm], because this type of act is vain and futile, and not proceeding from anyone except fools.” [‘Ali al-Qari, al-Ma’din al-Adni fi Fadl Uwais al-Qarni]
    And Allah Most High knows best.

  • House of Umme Hani (may Allah be pleased with her)

    This area, on the side of the Bab-e-Abdul Aziz gate is believed to have been the location of the house of Umme Hani (may Allah be pleased with her), the cousin of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the daughter of Abu Talib. It was from here that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was summoned by Jibraeel (upon him be peace) and taken to Bayt Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem. This incident is known as ‘al-Isra’ (the night journey) and occurred around 621 CE.

    • The event of the night journey to Jerusalem is mentioned in Surah al-Isra (also known as Surah Bani-Israeel) in the Quran:“Glory be to the One who took His Slave for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest Mosque, whose precincts we have blessed. “ [17:1]

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  • This is the approximate region, outside the Marwah exit, where the house of Ummul Mu’mineen Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was located. It was here that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) lived from the time of his marriage to her until he emigrated to Madinah.

    • When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) married Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), he moved out from the house of his uncle Abu Talib and into the house of his bride. At the time of their marriage he (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was 25 and Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was 40 years old. They stayed together for 25 years.
    • Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) first wife, he married none other during her lifetime. She bore all his children except for Ebrahim, who was born to Mariya Qibtiya (Mary the Copt). All of the children were born at her home. They were named (in order of birth) Qasim, Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom, Fatima, Abdullah, and Ebrahim (scholars, however, disagree about the exact number and order of births). All the sons passed away during childhood, but all the daughters lived to see their father become a prophet. Each daughter embraced Islam and migrated to Madinah, and all but Fatima died during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Fatima died six months after her father’s death.
    • As well as their immediate family, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) also had extended members of their household. Barakah (who later became more commonly known as Umm Ayman), was the freed African slave the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) inherited from his father and whom he would sometimes affectionately address as ‘mother’. Zaid bin Haritha was a slave boy given as a bridal gift to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) by Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her); he was set free by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) but Zaid chose to stay with him and became an adopted son. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also took his cousin Ali into his household on account of the financial hardships his uncle Abu Talib was experiencing.
    • When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) received the first revelation of the Quran on Mount Hira he came back home and said to Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), “Wrap me up, wrap me up.” Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) wrapped him up in a blanket. When he (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) regained peace of mind after a short while, he related to Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) what had happened to him with the remark, “I feel my life threatened.” Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) replied, “By no means, I swear to Allah that He would never put you to shame. You join the ties of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burdens, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you mitigate the pains and grief suffered for the sake of truth.” She unhesitatingly believed in him, and accepted Islam immediately.
    • The boycott in She’eb Abi Talib took a heavy toll on the health of Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), and shortly after it was ended she passed away. She was the Prophet’s trusted advisor and loyal companion, and was known by the title “Mother of the believers.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) once said of Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), “When no one believed me, she believed in me, when people accused me of lying, she affirmed my truthfulness, and when people tried to impoverish me, she made me a partner in her wealth.”
    • When the idolaters of Makkah plotted to assassinate the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) they surrounded his house at night. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was inside along with Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) told Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green garment and assured him full security under Allah’s protection and that no harm would come to him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) then came out of his house and cast a handful of dust on the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting these verses of the Quran:“And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.” [36:9]
    • The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) made his way to the house of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) from where they set off on the Hijrah to Madinah. Unaware of the Prophet’s escape, the would-be assassins waited for him to come out of his house. Only at dawn when Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) awoke and came out did they realize that they had been tricked. They interrogated him about the Prophet’s whereabouts, but he pleaded ignorance. They then dragged him to the Ka’bah and kept him captive there, but he divulged nothing.
    • The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) stayed in the house of Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) for around 29 years.

    Please note that the location shown above is only an approximation and it is highly unlikely that the house existed at the same ground level.

    References:  Local Makkan guide, When the Moon Split – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Muhammad – Martin Lings

  • This is the approximate area, outside the place of Sa’ee where the house of Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was located. Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was a paternal uncle of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and protected him while he was in Makkah.

    • Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib was about three years older than his nephew. A wealthy merchant, during the early years of Islam he protected the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) while he was in Makkah, but only became a convert after the Battle of Badr in 624 CE (2 AH). His descendants founded the Abbassid caliphate in 750 CE.
    • In spite of his noble standing among the Quraysh, Abu Talib, another uncle of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), was quite poor. He had a large family and did not have enough means to support them adequately. His poverty-stricken situation became much worse when a severe drought hit the Arabian peninsula. It was during this time of drought, before his call to prophethood, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said to his uncle, Abbas: “Your brother, Abu Talib, has a large family. People as you see have been afflicted by this severe drought and are facing starvation. Let us go to Abu Talib and take over responsibility for some of his family. I will take one of his sons and you can taken another and we will look after them.” Abbas approved and together they went to Abu Talib and said to him: “We want to ease some of the burden of your family until such time as this distressing period has gone.” Abu Talib agreed and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) took Ali into his household and Abbas took Jafar into his. Jafar stayed with his uncle, Abbas, until he was a young man.
    • Abbas was one of the youngest brothers of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) father Abdullah. During the early years while Islam was gaining adherents, Abbas provided protection to his kinsman but did not adopt the faith.
    • He was captured during the Battle of Badr and accepted Islam just before the fall of Makkah, 20 years after his wife, Umm al-Fadl. Umm al-Fadl (may Allah be pleased with her), whose real name was Lubaba bint al-Harith, was one of the earliest converts to Islam and was a close friend of Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), the first wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
    • Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was given the right to provide Zamzam water to pilgrims, the rights of which was passed down to his descendants. He is buried at the Jannatul Baqi cemetery in Madinah.
    • The house of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was close to the house of Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him).

    References:  The History of Makkah Mukarramah – Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, Wikipedia, MuslimAccess.com

  • This door, on the eastern side of the Roza Mubarak marks the place where the door of the house of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and his wife Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) was located. Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) was the youngest and most beloved daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

    (more to follow)

    References:  History of Madinah Munawwarah – Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani

  • This diagram marks the location, towards the front of the present Masjid-e-Nabwi, of the platform that housed the Ashab us-Suffah (The People of the Bench). The platform was originally on the north wall of the masjid and was moved back when the masjid was extended in 7 AH.

    • The Ashab us-Suffah were companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who, along with the performance of religious duties, were mostly tradesmen or farmers. Some had, however, dedicated their lives exclusively for prayer and spiritual discipline in the close company of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
    • They neither had wives nor children, and if any were to get married, he would leave the group. Many of them would go to the jungle in the day to collect wood, which would then be sold for money to feed themselves and the other members of the ‘suffah’.
    • There currently exists a raised platform behind the platform where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) performed Tahajjud, it is on the right of those entering from Bab-e-Jibraeel. This platform is commonly mistaken to be the platform of the Ashab us-Suffah, it was actually built by the Turks for the service and custodial personnel of the masjid. This section sits outside the masjid in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) so could not have been the suffah.
    • The precise number of the Ashab us-Suffah is not known, but it is estimated that the suffah could hold up to three hundred people at any one time, and that roughly seventy people made up its’ permanent residents. The initial inhabitants of the suffah were members who had migrated from Makkah and were without any accommodation.

    Some of the companions who at one time were members of the Ashab us-Suffah were:

    • Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Abu Dhar al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Ka’ab ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Salman al-Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Hanzalah bin Abi Amr (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Huzaifah bin Yaman (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Abdullah bin Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Suhaib bin Sanan Roomi (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • Bilal bin Ribah (may Allah be pleased with him)
    • The Ashab us-Suffah passed their lives in the service of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). In the morning they would listen to his words of wisdom and at night, after sleeping for a while, they would spend the rest of the time in prayer. Because of their devotion and prayer, many of the Ashab us-Suffah were very poor and unable to afford clothing. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I saw seventy of Ashab-us-Suffah in such a condition that none of them had complete dress for himself. Each one of them had one sheet that he tied up with his neck. Some of them had their sheets reach near their ankles but others’ sheets reached just below their knees. Each of them used to hold the partition of his sheet with his hand lest his body is exposed”.
    • Most of the companions went for two days in succession without food, so much that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) came into the masjid to lead the congregational prayers, they would fall down due to weakness. Food given in charity to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was given to them, and when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was offered food as a present, he would invite them to share it.
    • Often, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) would ask one of his other companions to take some of the Ashab us-Suffah for supper, and to entertain them as best they could. Sa’d ibn ‘Ubada (may Allah be pleased with him) sometimes entertained as many as eighty men at once.
    • Uqbah ibn-e- Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) has said: “Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) came to us while we were sitting on the ‘Suffah’ and asked if any one of us would like to go to the market of ‘Buthan’ or ‘Aqiq’ and fetch from there two she-camels of the finest breed without committing any sin or severing a tie of kinship. We replied that everyone of us would love to do so. Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) then said that going to the masjid (mosque) and reciting or teaching two ayaat are more precious than two she-camels, three ayaat are more precious than three she-camels, and that similarly reciting or teaching of four ‘ayat’ is better than four she-camels and an equal number of camels.” [Muslim]

     References:  Siratun Nabi – Allama Shibli Nomani, History of Madinah Munawwarah – Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, Fazail-e-Aamal – Sheikh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalvi

  • House of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him)

    This is the approximate location where one of the houses of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) in Madinah existed. The house was adjacent to the western wall of Masjid-e-Nabwi at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

    • The main door of the house was in the west wall. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) also installed a small door in the eastern wall of the house that opened into Masjid-e-Nabwi for easy access into the masjid. As mentioned in Bukhari, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “Close all those doors which open into the mosque except the door of the house of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him).”
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