Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Lessons of the Crusades and the Mongol Hordes

Lessons of the Crusades and the Mongol Hordes: Salahuddin al-Ayyubi and his Successors is a slim volume, just several pages short of a hundred pages. It's actually two chapters from another book, Saviours of Islamic Spirit (Volume I), by respected scholar Syeikh Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi, who think also wrote Riwayat Hidup Rasulullah SAW, one of the noteworthy books I read back in 2008, and in my life so far.

This books brings to our attention two pivotal events in the history of Muslim ummah; Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi's recapture of Palestine during the Third Crusade from the hands of the Christians, and the invasion of the Mongols which ignited the fall of the Abbasiniyyah dynasty. In short, one about Muslim being victorious and another about Muslim defeat.

I admit I don't know much about Salahuddin Al-Ayubbi, other than him being considered one of the greatest Muslim heroes. Reading this book made me understood why he deserve the respect and reputation. Salahuddin (better known in the West as Saladin) was in a do-or-die mission to defend Islam against the combined forces of the Christian Crusaders. When the Christian army conquered the Jerusalem, the population were slaughtered in the streets and in their homes. It was an opposite scenario when Salahuddin took control. He pardoned the enemy soldiers and allowed them to leave unharmed. This one reason why Salahuddin is revered even by Western historians.

That doesn't mean Salahuddin's soft-heartedness is misplaced. He executed the Reginald (Rayland) of Châtillon because of Reginald's plans to attack the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and wanting to take the body of Rasulullah SAW from out of his blessed grave.

He also was once moved to tears by the plea of a Christian Frank mother whose baby was kidnapped and sold in the slave market. Salahuddin helped the mother until her child was finally found.

In the battlefield, Salahuddin was described as,
... a bereaved mother... who had been deprived of her only child by the cruel hands of Death. He could be seen trotting on his horse from one side of the battlefield to another, exhorting the people to fight for the sake of Allah. He would himself go round all the detachments, with tears in his eyes, asking people to come forth for the aid of Islam.
If Salahuddin's story is something we could be proud of, the story of the Mongol invasion is certainly a cautionary one.

The Mongol invasion didn't occur without any blame on the part of the Muslims. It was a time when Muslims had failed to uphold the commandments of Islam and Muslim societies had decayed socially, spiritually, and morally. The Khalifah of the day were paid obeisance by having the subjects put their forehead on the ground, an act forbidden even for Rasulullah and reserved only for the worship of Allah.

And the event that triggered the first Mongol attack was the murder of a envoy of Mongol merchants by Muslim ruler Khwarism Shah. He suspected that there were spies among them, and the surviving members of the envoy immediately went to Genghiz Khan, seeking justice. And justice came swiftly and severely for the Muslims.

What followed was so horrific that even the historical scholars couldn't bring themselves to describe, although they did so in the end, omitting the gory and possibly unnecessary details. (Unnecessary because, in my opinion, it would describing the tarnishing of the honour of many Muslims. In the Shariah point of view, protection of the honour of individuals is a must and an aim.)

But Islam didn't disappear by the swords of the Mongol, or the Tartar people, to be exact. In fact, generations later (in just approximately 40 years) the Tartar discovered Islam and several prominent Tartar Mongol leaders embraced Islam, which included Tuqluq Timur Khan and Tarmashirin Khan.

One important lesson embedded in both stories is the significance of jihad. Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims, understand jihad as waging a holy war against other religions. But this entirely false. Jihad is act of striving in the path of Allah in order to keep Islam alive, particularly in the hearts and minds of Muslims. The Tartar Mongol invasion left many Muslim governments in disarray, but the faith of Islam survived due to the efforts of pious and steadfast Muslims.

Tuqluq Timur Khan embraced Islam after a conversation with Syeikh Jamaludin, a teacher from Bukhara who accidentally trespassed on a land that belonged to him. Syeikh Jamaludin was caught and brought before Tuqluq. Tuqluq pointed to his dog and asked whether the Syeikh thinks the dog or the Syeikh himself is more noble. When Tuqluq learned that Syeikh and his travelling party were Persian people, he insulted them by saying that a dog is worthier than a Persian. To Tuqluq's surprise Syeikh Jamaludin answered, "Yes, if we had not the true faith, we would indeed be worse than dogs." Another source quoted Syeikh Jamaludin saying something similar, "If I pass away from this world with my faith intact, I would be better than the dog. If not, the dog would be better than me." The word faith shook Tuqluq so much that he had to know more about it and in doing so he found iman and Islam.

Salahuddin's role as a Muslim general and defender is an example of jihad in a time when brutal enemies are threatening the sanctity of Islam. It wasn't a time for round table negotiations. Like I said earlier, it was a do-or-die mission.

At the time when Muslims are weaken militarily, as shown in the days beyond the Tartar Mongol invasion, jihad is still a necessity. If the spirit of jihad had died in the hearts of Muslims at the time including Syeikh Jamaludin, even we wouldn't be Muslims today, let alone Tuqluq Timur Khan. Syeikh Jamaludin also defended Islam and his act is definitely an act of jihad. No swords unsheathed and not a drop of blood spilled.

As the current Muslim generation, we need to seriously ponder about our situation, as we are still in the cross hairs of people who wish to see Islam obliterated. The challenges that come our ways appear in many guises. The desire for jihad or the struggle for betterment should be in our heart and the heart of all Muslims.

On a separate note, I wonder if someone at the book's publishing company thought Photoshopping the face of George W. Bush on a picture of a crusader (I think) on the book's cover would be a good marketing idea. I don't know. Maybe. I only noticed it a few days after I bought it. (Is that really G. W.? I don't know.)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Al-Fatihah, Azizi Haji Abdullah

Saya menerima berita daripada kawan di FB, penulis veteran kelahiran Kedah Darul Aman, Azizi Haji Abdullah, telah kembali ke rahmatulah pagi tadi.

Beliau lebih terkenal sebagai penulis novel Seorang Tua Di Kaki Bukit. Karya-karya beliau banyak mengedepankan masyarakat luar bandar serta kehidupan mereka dan banyak menggunakan humor (orang Kedah, kan?) di samping menerapkan nilai Islami dan dakwah. Semoga Allah menerima segala amal soleh beliau, mengampuni beliau dan merahmati beliau. Amin rabbalalamin.

[ Terdahulu: Memoir Seorang Guru ]

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Hadith about Jabir RA's marriage: the bigger picture

Alhamdulillah, we are now in the blessed month of Ramadhan. In the days leading to it, I kept thinking about what afida wrote on being given the opportunity to be alive long enough to be in it. Many people we know and perhaps we don't know are no longer with us now. Could we be joining them during next Ramadhan, or even before the end of this one?

I know it's a scary thought but then again we have very little control over the matter of life and death. What we do have some control over is how we spend the opportunity afforded to us. Ramadhan is here and we are, thanks to Allah, are still here as well. Let's make the best of it, shall we?

Source: Dar-us-Salam Publication

This year I try to follow my friends who decide to take a break from their regular reading materials to focus more on the Quran and Islamic books. In previous Ramadhans I didn't focus as much as I do this year and really I should've been doing this years ago. Better late than never, I guess.

I started with Dr. Muhammad 'Abd Al-Rahaman Al-'Ariff's Enjoy Your Life, a book I bought years ago but never really read seriously. I flipped through it a couple of times because of the way the content is organised, similar to other Islamic motivational books such as La Tahzan (Don't Be Sad) and Langit Ilahi, where the chapters stand on their own. We can easily pick a chapter and read it without worrying about losing sight of the book's message.

The book is introduced to us as "the art of the interacting with people... as deduced from a study of the Prophet's life." So maybe I was wrong about it being an Islamic motivational book, although they are many motivational stuff in it that backed with sources from the Sunnah and the Quran. At least it motivated me reassess my people skills. (In other words, I come to realise that I'm really not that great with people. Well... new rooms for growth.)

In one chapter I came across the story of Jabir RA, a companion of Rasullullah SAW who was mentioned in the hadith about marrying a virgin. Rasulullah SAW learned that Jabir RA was getting married to a women who had been married before (there wasn't any mention of whether she was a widow or a divorcée), and asked, "Why didn't you marry a virgin so that you could fondle one another?"

I have seen how frequent this hadith is used to argue for the advantage of marrying a women who has never been married over marrying a women who has been married before. I won't argue against this usage because I'm not qualified. I don't know about the related Quranic verses or Hadiths.

I prefer to is to relate the story in the context of what actually happened between Rasullullah SAW and Jabir bin Abdullah RA. I hope that being understanding the story behind the Hadith, the bigger picture, we would better appreciate the Hadith and its message.

Jabir bin Abdullah RA was a young Sabahah, and when the conversation recorded in this particular Hadith took place Jabir was a newly-wed. He was travelling with Rasulullah SAW back to Madinah at the time. The conversation was a friendly one and Rasulullah SAW was engaging with Jabir RA in a way that would interest a young man like Jabir RA. And since Jabir RA was recently married, it's only natural that sooner if not later they would veer into the topic of marriage.

(And as far I know young people, working with them at work, if you ever want to get their attention, start talking about marriage and married life and stuff related to it.)

Jabir RA was not only a newly-wed, he was had a father who was martyred in the battle of Uhud. And Jabir had nine sisters to take care of. Nine. Let that number sink in for a while.

Nine sisters plus debt collectors knocking on their doors, being financially destitute and a new wife. I can only to imagine the burden on Jabir RA's shoulders.

Coming back to the Hadith about Jabir RA's choice to marry a women who had been married before, Jabir RA replied,
O Messenger of Allah! My father died a martyr at Uhud, leaving behind daughters, so I did not wish to marry a young girl like them, but rather an older one who could take care of them and look after them.
In other words, he needed someone who would fulfil the role that is similar to a mother's, rather than a another 'sister.'

As explained by the author, Jabir RA was actually sacrificing his pleasure for the sake of his sisters. Being to someone who was married before is quite a challenge. Widowers, widows or a divorcées are sometimes influenced by their experiences in previous marriages. They normally enter their new marriages with their own emotional baggages. It takes incredible amounts of patient and love to make this type of marriage to work.

One part of this Hadith that people often neglect to mention is the reply from Rasulullah SAW,
You have made the correct choice.
This Hadith was reported in both sahihs Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

There are a few lessons can we learn from looking at the Hadith in its context.

When it comes to choose to a suitable candidate for wife, the fact that the woman was previously married (or not) shouldn't be made into the ultimate deciding factor. A virgin is not necessarily the better choice. Everything boils down to, again, the bigger picture.

Usually, the best match for someone who has never been married before is someone likewise. However, in Jabir RA's situation, Rasulullah SAW approved of his decision because his situation is an extraordinary one. Nine sisters, don't forget.

In fact, Rasulullah SAW was married to a Saiditina Khadijah RA, who was married a few times before she becoming his wife. This too is an extraordinary situation, for both Rasulullah SAW and Ummul Mukminin Khadijah RA were persons of exemplary characters, and no one in their society could imagine a better match than the two of them.

Wallahua'lam and Ramadhan Kareem.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Copyright 2009 introspector. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan