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Architects of Civilisation

Islamic_Art_1.aCertain individuals stand out in every age as formative thinkers and agents of change. Such foundational figures help shape the structure of a civilization. Knowledge of their lives and deeds may offer food for thought and insight for our own time. This IAIS monthly series provides simple portraits of great Islamic scholars and authorities who were architects of civilisation in their day.

Muḥammad ‘Abduh: The Father of Islamic Reform

Muhammad ‘Abduh’s birth has been variously dated – while most sources place it in 1849 (or 1266AH), others have suggested anywhere between 1842 and 1848.  What is certain, however, is that Muhammad ‘Abduh’s father was an Egyptian named ‘Abduh ibn Hasan Khair Allah, from the village of Mahallat Nasr, in the Nile Delta. Hailing from one of Egypt’s longstanding (and heavily Arabised) Turkish families, ‘Abduh ibn Hasan Khair Allah was forced to flee Mahallat Nasr shortly before ‘Abduh’s birth, in order to escape the oppression being metered out by the province’s local officials. Leaving his wife and children behind, ‘Abduh ibn Hasan Khair Allah travelled to Gharbiyya Province............ [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 15:19

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Fazlur Rahman: The Leading Muslim Modernist Intellectual

Fazlur Rahman, the leading Muslim modernist intellectual, aimed at reviving Islamic thought. He distinguished between ‘normative Islam’ and ‘historical Islam’, challenging his contemporaries to re-interpret tradition. Rahman had reservations about literalist interpretations of the Qur’an; he stressed that context was important for an understanding of the text. He saw the purpose of the Qur’an as being to establish an ethical and just society where the weak and vulnerable would be protected and where the talented could develop to their full potential without being overly restricted. He did not, therefore, simply support the views of secularists, who saw no role for Islam in the modern public sphere............ [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:14

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‘Umar ibn al-Khattab: The Rightly Guided Man of the Ummah

‘Umar’s full name was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab ibn Nufayl ibn ‘Abdul ‘Uzza. He was born into the Adi clan of the Makkan Quraysh tribe, thirteen years after the Year of the Elephant, or in around 583CE. The Prophet Muḥammad was born in the Year of the Elephant itself, therefore making ‘Umar thirteen years younger than him. Their lineages converge with each other at ‘Umar’s ninth ancestor, Ka’b ibn Lu‘ayy ibn Ghalib. When his daughter, Hafsa, married the Prophet, ‘Umar also became the latter’s father-in-law. His agnomen was Abu Hafs, probably from his first child Hafsa’s name. His mother, Hantamah bint Hashim ibn al-Mughirah, was the paternal cousin of Aba Jahl ibn Hisham, who was amongst the staunchest enemies of Islam and the Prophet.. ........... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:14

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Al-Biruni: Outstanding ‘Modern’ Scientist of the Golden Age of Islamic Civilisation

The great polymath Muslim scholar, Abu al-Rayhn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (973-1048 CE), generally known as Al-Biruni, was one of the first Muslim scholars who demonstrated a modern scientific outlook.  He lived a full life of 75 years and undertook ground-breaking research in almost all of the natural science fields then known.  George Sarton described him as “one of the greatest scientists in Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times”. Al-Biruni was an early exponent of the experimental scientific method  and also a pioneer of comparative sociology . ........... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 December 2015 16:38

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Ibnu Jarir al-Tabari: A Great Historian of the Islamic World

Abu Jaafar Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a great Shari’a scholar and historian who produced a prodigious chain of history concerning the rise and fall of various Muslim sects.   His outstanding work, Tarikh al-Tabari has become a pivotal source of information for many generations of historians, especially pertaining to Islamic history and civilization. His work started to gain its remarkable popularity upon its translation into Persian in the year 963CE, upon the royal order of the Samanid Prince, Mansur Ibn Nuh. His historical data derived from numerous sources, including classical poetry, genealogy and tribal customs........... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 04 January 2016 13:12

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Sallahuddin Ayubi

Waves of chatter and bustling flood the dusty alleyways of a small desert market on the outskirts of Damascus, making the details of every little activity undiscernible to even the most focussed eyes and ears.  Women speak strongly over the noise as they negotiate with merchants over spices and kitchen wear. Children run between legs, chasing one another frantically to cure the boredom of their parent’s business matters. An entire hive of human interaction assimilates itself into.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:10

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Abu Hasan Al-Mawardi: The First Islamic Political Scientist

Al-Mawardi or his full name Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. Habib Al-Mawardi was a 5th H/ 11th century jurist with a distinguished career in Baghdad (then capital of the Abbasid Caliphate). His famous political handbook Al-Ahkām As-Ṣulṭāniyyah wal Wilāyāt Ad-Diniya (The Ordinance of Government and Religious Positions) continues to become a standard reference and key document in the evolution of Sunni Islamic political thought. Al-Mawardi was an Islamic jurist and judge by profession, trained in the Shafii School but at the same time well versed in all the major Madhāhib.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:11

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Ḥamza al-Fanṣūrī

Ḥamza al-Fanṣūrī is the first identifiable Southeast Asian Islamic scholar to leave behind a substantial and systematic body of work. Very little, however, is known about his life; although his nisba suggests he came from Fansur (modern-day Barus, in north Sumatra), little else is certain. As outlined below, however, he apparently travelled to the Middle East (notably Makkah and Baghdad) and subscribed to the Wujūdī brand of Sufism – that is, to the controversial Neo-Platonist brand of mystical philosophy which argues for a unity between God and His creation.  Besides this intellectual pre-occupation, however, most other aspects.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:12

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Liu Zhi: A Leading Chinese Muslim Scholar and Saint

Liu Zhi (ca.1670-1739), also known as Liu Jia Lian, was born in the former Chinese imperial capital of Nanjing.  Little is known about his background and personal life – only that his relatives considered him too studious and, therefore, quite dull! He was, however, a member of China’s Hui community. With roots stretching back to the seventh century, the Hui were (and continue to be) a sizable community of Sinicised Muslims. Originally descended from a transient population of Persian and Arab merchants, by the seventeenth century the Hui were fully acculturated Chinese Muslims: they spoke Chinese, wore Chinese clothing and observed Chinese customs. Because of (in some cases centuries of) intermarriage, they also appeared physically identical to the Han (China’s dominant ethnic group).  Despite this level of acculturation, however, the Hui maintained.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:12

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Rumi on education, spirituality and renewal

Jalaluddin Rumi, a Persian mystic poet, lived during the closing years of the Golden Age of the Islamic civilisation, the Abbasid caliphate (750 – 1258 C.E.) He was born in 1207 in Khorasan, present day Afghanistan, three years after the end of the Fourth Crusade and twelve years before the Mongol invasion of Muslim lands. He died in 1273, 15 years after the destruction of Bagdad in 1258. His works have been translated into 23 languages and sold in the millions of copies. He has fans all over the world and is the best selling poet in the US. In the Muslim world his work occupies a place comparable to that of Shakespeare.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:13

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Muhammad Abū Zahra (updated version)

Abu Zahrah was one of the leading ulama of the twentieth century who left behind a distinctive legacy of scholarship that gained him international acclaim during his lifetime and ever since.  Born on March 19,  1898/1316 A.H, Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Mustafa b. Ahmad, better known as Abu Zahrah, has written over 34 books, and over 100 other works on Islamic law and jurisprudence, Quran commentary, theology, hadith studies, law and society and Arabic literature.  He was born and brought up in al-Mahallah al-Kubra, a provincial capital in Lower Egypt in a respectable religious family.  His early education started in al-Raqiyyah School where he studied modern science subjects as well as religion and Arabic.......... [click here to download the full article in pdf ]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:13

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Ibn Qaiyyim al-Jawziyyah

This great Damascene scholar Shams al-Din Muhammad ibni Abi Bakr al-Zuri is famously known by his laqab nickname as Ibn Qaiyyim al-Jawziyyah. His father was the qaiyyim (superintendent) of the Madrasah al-Jawziyyah. The Madrasah al-Jawziyyah, located next to the Chief Judge’s (qadi al-qudat) office, was considered the official seat of Hanbali jurisprudence in greater Sham (Levant). It was named after its founder – Muhyi al-Din al-Jawzi (d. 656/1258) – son of the famous Hanbali scholar Abul Faraj Abdur Rahman ibn al-Jawzi al-Qurashi (d. 597/1201). Due to the similarity in the two names – ibn-al-Jawzi and ibn Qaiyyim al-Jawziyyah – many have often confused one................ [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:14

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Musa Jārullāh Bigiyev

Musa Jārullāh Bigiyev was a Muslim Tatar religious scholar, journalist, politician, educator and a prolific writer, who devoted his entire life to reconciling Islam with modern progress. He published more than sixty books in Arabic and Old Ottoman dealing with the issues of Islamic jurisprudence, theology, sciences of the Qur’an, sciences of the hadith, literature, economics, law, politics and history................ [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:15

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Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj: The Junior Partner of A Great Venture

Born in Naysabur, in the Abbasid province of Khurasan, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri in his early age studied hadith from prominent scholars in his own hometown such as Ishaq ibn Rahawayh (d. 238AH/ 853CE)  and Yahya ibn Yahya al-Tamimi (d. 226AH/841CE). He was a Persian scholar who is known as a scholar of hadith (muhaddith) and his compendium of hadith, Sahih al-Muslim is deemed as one of the two most authentic collections alongside Sahih al-Bukhari............... [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:15

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Imam al-Shatibi: The Master Architect of Maqasid

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Musa b. Muhammad al-Lakhmi al-Shatibi was among the greatest scholars of al-Andalus – modern day Spain and Portugal, and one of the brightest Maliki scholars. According to most of the authentic reports on Imam al-Shatibi, his early life has not been recorded in detail. This could be due to the fact that he was not born in a wealthy or a renowned family of scholars, for which such records could have been available. One may, however, deduce from his name that his ancestors came from the Lakhmi tribe of Arabia, and probably migrated to al-Andalus. Although many have mistakenly mentioned his birth and early life to be in Shatiba (Xativa or Jativa), authentic reports about the great Imam confirm that he was neither born nor had ever lived there. His immediate ancestors might have moved to Granada from Shatiba few decades before his birth. The last record of Muslim settlement in Shatiba before it fell to Christian rule was in 645H/1247CE, at least eight to nine decades prior to his birth, thus him being born and raised up in there is certainly impossible.,............. [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:17

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Izz al-Din ibn Abd Al-Salam: The King Of Scholars

Abu Muhammad Izz al-Din Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Salam al-Sulami was born in 578 AH /1182 CE in Damascus. He was from the tribe of Banu Sulaym, of Moroccan origin. He was a great Muslim scholar who has contributed immensely in the field of Islamic jurisprudence and its principles (fiqh wa usulihi), particularly in promoting the idea of maslahah (public benefit) within the ambit of Islamic law as well as establishing the science of weighing between maslahah (benefit) and mafsadah (harm). Therefore, he was among the scholars who put their utmost endeavour to develop theoretical edifice of the higher objectives of Islamic law (maqasid al-shariah). Beside his great scholarly contribution to the Ummah, Izz al-Din was also known for his unwavering attitude in defending the rights of the people which needed to be carefully observed by society’s leaders.,............. [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:18

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Abu Nasr al-Farabi: Founder of Islamic political philosophy

Abu Nasr al-Farabi, was an early philosopher of the Islamic world. Among others he was known as the founder of Islamic political philosophy, if not of Islamic philosophy itself, and was a principal agent in the transmission of Greek thought into Islamic civilization, chiefly the neo-Platonic tradition so much so that Majid Fakhry even styled him as the founder of “Islamic Neoplatonism”. Yet far from a passive receptor of the Hellenistic heritage, Farabi’s theories evinced remarkable originality, even departure from previous philosophical tradition. His main contributions include the defense of logic as a distinct and autonomous science at a time when there was debate as to the respective domains of logic and grammar.............. [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:16

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Ibn Sina – LEGACY TO CIVILISATIONS

Avicenna workIbn Sina was one of many great minds of the Muslim world during medieval ages, whose multifaceted studies encompassed diverse scholarly fields such as exegesis, law, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. He played a considerable role in the development of both Eastern and Western philosophy and science. George Sarton, author of The History of Science, described Ibn Sina as “one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history” and called him “the most famous scientist of Islam and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times.” For the British philosopher Antony Flew, Ibn Sina was “one of the greatest thinkers ever to write in Arabic,” while the Canadian 1913 as “the author of the most famous medical textbook ever written.” Osler added that as a medical practitioner,............. [click here to download the full article in pdf]

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2015 10:14

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IMAM Ja'far al-Sadiq and the AHL al-BAYT

jafar sadiqJa'far al-SADIQ (83–148 H / 702–776655) was a prominent spokesman in Madinah of the Banu Hashim – descendents of the Ahl al-Bayt or Family of God’s Messenger Muhammad(s) – during the eighth century CE / first-half of the second century Hijrah. During his lifetime the Umayyad dynasty was vanquished by the 'Abbasid revolution in 132 / 750. Ja'far received his honorific title “Sadiq truthsayer” because of his veracity in narrating traditions, or perhaps due to his predictions reportedly verified by later events. He boasted of double maternal descent from the first Caliph Abu Bakr al-siddiq(r.d.) through his mother Umm Farwah bint al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, and through her mother Asma bint ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Bakr, affirming “Abu Bakr bore me twice.” Ja'far reportedly declared: “I am not hoping for anything through the intercession of 'Ali (on Judgement Day) save that I hope the same through the intercession of Abu Bakr.” Sadiq was esteemed among majority Sunni Muslims as a paragon of exemplary wisdom, particularly among the sufis who revered his reputation for spiritual initiation and for esoteric elucidation (tawil) of the Qur'an............. [click here to download the full article in pdf]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 09:55

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Ahmad Ibn Hanbal – Traditionalist and Faqih

Ibn hanbalFor centuries Hanbali jurisprudence, or the fiqh attributed to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, has been viewed as the fourth school of Sunni jurisprudence. The important movement of Traditionists or ashab al-hadith collected and purified the Hadith of the Prophet, and compiled the vast mass of narrated reports transmitted over generations on the authority of the ‘Successors’ from the Companions, on the Prophet. Hadith formed the basis of the Prophetic Sunnah, religious Law, and basic creedal Doctrine on the fundamentals of faith (Usul al-din). Traditionists praised him as an expert in Islamic law and the founder of............ [click here to download the full article in pdf]

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 09:54

Hits: 209

Hikmah

Do not inflict injury or repay one injury with another. (hadith)

Quotable Quotes

If you wish for a pearl, You must leave the desert and wander by the sea; and even if you never find the gleaming pearl, at least you won't have failed to reach the water. - Hakim Sanai, Haqiqat al-Haqiqa

Humour Without Malice

Here is the story of an Imam who got up after Friday prayers and announced to the people: "I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building programme. The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets".

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