A few thoughts on Surat al-`Ankabut

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī The surah begins with the question: “a hasiba n-nasu ‘an…” It is not right to translate hasiba as ‘think’/‘imagine’ or ‘suppose’/‘conjecture’. The meaning here is ‘reckon’, ‘calculate’, to use reason to weigh up options in order to come to a judgment about the value of this or that option. The opening verses makes it clear that people tend towards what is a miscalculation, namely that by declaring their faith, by saying that they have believed in God and His Messenger, they have assured their salvation. They have not. The miscalculation is to say ‘we have…

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The Virtue of Sūrah al-Kahf

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī and translated by Dr Shameq Sayeed To access the original arabic, follow this link They said:  What is the degree of authenticity of the Prophetic narrations found regarding the virtues of chapters (sūrahs) of the Noble Qur’ān? I said: The authenticated (ṣahīh) of them are very few, and of the most well known established ṣahīh is what reliable narrators have transmitted about the virtues of sūrah al-fātiḥah, al-baqarah, al-‘Imrān, al-ikhlāṣ and al-mu‘awwidhatān (sūrah al-falaq and al-nās).  Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said in Minhāj al-Sunnah (4/434): “And similarly also in the books of exegesis (tafsīr) are transmitted matters from the Prophet ﷺ the people of…

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Some cautionary advice to women travelling for `umrah

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī It is important to do our religious obligations according to the norms and manners prescribed for those duties. But it is no less important to accomplish these duties in secure and peaceful environments. It is obvious, for example, that because men and women must, when they can, go out to the mosques for their obligatory prayers, it is necessary for the individual and the community to ensure their ease and safety when they do so. The duty of pilgrimage (hajj or `umrah) is particularly demanding of effort and resources because, for most Muslims, it entails…

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Critical Reflections on Feminism

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī I have been told that on this occasion I will not be addressing only fellow-Muslims but also non-Muslims. I have tried therefore to present what I wish to say particularly to Muslims in terms that are general, and make some sense to non-Muslims as well. What I have to say is in two parts: (1) some critical reflections on the direction of contemporary feminism (which is rather different from the feminism of a century ago that campaigned for  political and property rights for women in the West) ; and (2) an account of three distinct but connected perspectives…

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Surah Al `Imran: Overview

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī The tried and tested way of teaching the Qur’an is to work through it verse by verse, striving to deepen our experience of the words of God, and to improve conscience and practice of the religion. That said, there is also some merit in stepping back, at this stage of our effort, to articulate some understanding of the surah as a whole, to see how its different themes intersect and interact, support and strengthen each other, and how they cohere with the main, fundamental principles of the teaching in the Book. Six closely linked passages…

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The Standing on the Plain of ʿArafah

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī and translated by Dr. Abu Zayd To access the original arabic, follow this link Standing in ʿArafah is ṣalāh just as ṭawāf is ṣalāh, for Ḥajj combines all forms of ṣalāh together. Ṣalāh essentially signifies entry into the presence of God. When an ordinary person comes before a powerful king into his majesty’s immediate presence, he becomes apprehensive and humbled. When that same person becomes removed and distant from his majesty’s presence, then that sense of humility becomes diminished or even absent. In ṭawāf (circumambulation around the Kaʿbah), God’s presence is ever present in the…

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The Food of the People of the Book

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi and translated by Usman Khan and Dr Abu Zayd To access the original arabic, follow this link Part 1 They said to me: We have some problems understanding verse five of Sūrah al-Māʾidah: “and the food of those given the scripture before you is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them.” So, please assist us in solving the ambiguity and unveiling its hidden meaning. I replied: The book of God is surely worthy of our striving in understanding its vagaries, clarifying its difficulties, and explaining its secrets. I thank God that He…

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Sahih Muslim

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi The two most sound books of hadith are Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, both of which have always been studied and taught in the highest seats of learning in the Muslim world, and extensively commented on by hadith and fiqh specialists. It is true that, in respect of the soundness of the hadith selected Sahih al-Bukhari is generally preferred over Sahih Muslim. However, there are certain technical points and professional qualities for which Sahih Muslim is preferred over Sahih al-Bukhari. Muslim follows the general method of hadith experts in organizing and ordering his material. This…

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Children Attending the Mosque

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi and translated by Sami Zaharna To access the original arabic, follow this link They said: We’ve noticed that some Imāms and mosque administrators prevent young children from attending the mosque and chastise them when they do. I replied: This is a detestable policy! Preventing children from attending the mosque is in effect preventing their parents from attending and worshiping in the houses of God. God says specifically regarding being concerned with the religious affairs of our families and children: “Save yourselves and your families from the Fire.” And He says concerning Ismāʿīl, peace be upon…

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Presenting Islam without deception

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi Allah has commanded presenting the religion to non-Muslims in a good way, that is to say, with patient courtesy and kindness, and by every means to avoid provoking non-Muslims into retaliatory insults. Providing someone in need of material help (such as food, money, clothes, shelter) with something of what they need is only pleasing to Allah if it is done with an effort to ensure that the recipient does not feel indebted to you. Providing religious guidance is an obligatory duty if (a) someone is need of it and (b) you are able to fill…

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