Monday, 20 December 2010

The Story of Talut (continued)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As their new leader Talut prepared the soldiers of Banu Isra'il to face their enemies, the Philistines.  When Talut originally set out with the armies of Banu Isra'il their numbers were huge.  They marched forth until they reached a river, thought by scholars to be the River Jordan.  Here, tired, hungry and thirsty, the soldiers faced a test from Allah which only the best of them would pass.  Allah says in the Quran:

 "When Talut set out with his forces, he said to them, ‘God will test you with a river. Anyone who drinks from it will not belong with me, but anyone who refrains from tasting it will belong with me; if he scoops up just one handful [he will be excused].’  But they all drank [deep] from it, except for a few. When he crossed it with those who had kept faith, they said, ‘We have no strength today against Goliath and his warriors.’ But those who knew that they were going to meet their Lord said, ‘How often a small force has defeated a large army with God’s permission! God is with those who are steadfast.’ " (Surah Al Baqarah: 249)

When the soldiers arrived at the river their gut instinct was to drink freely from it to quench their thirst.  The test from Allah to refrain from drinking (except for a handful of water) was designed to root out those soldiers in the armies who would be a liability when facing the enemy due to their weakness.

Yet the number of those who could not control themselves and drank from the river consisted of a large majority of the armies.  From the original armies who had set off with Talut, only a few hundred men were able to pass the test of the river; they numbered little more than 300 in total- the same number as the amount of companions who particpated in the Battle of Badr with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). 

Rather than being disheartened by the severe reduction in their numbers, Talut and the steadfast soldiers who remained with him were aware that victory lies not in numbers but in the help of Allah.  Trusting in Allah's promise to help the believers they advanced to face the larger forces of the Philistines, under the leadership of Goliath who was renowned for his fearsome bravery and skill in battle.

When they saw how greatly they were outnumbered by the Philistines, Banu Isra'il conquered the natural fear they felt by turning to Allah and making dua for victory over their enemy.  The Quran tells us of their trust in and dependence on Allah in that difficult moment:

 "And when they met Goliath and his warriors, they said, ‘Our Lord, pour patience on us, make us stand firm, and help us against the disbelievers,’ " (Surah Al Baqarah: 250)

Allah's promise to the believers is true and so, despite being so heavily outnumbered, Banu Isra'il won the day by defeating the Philistines in battle.  Not only did they win, but Goliath was also killed during the battle.  The soldier responsible for bringing down the fearsome leader of the Philistines was a young boy armed only with a slingshot.  Despite his young age and simple weapon this boy, Dawood, was able to defeat the giant of a man he faced because of his trust in victory coming from Allah.  As a result Allah honoured him with not only becoming the next leader of Banu Isra'il, but also their prophet.  Allah says in the Quran:

 "and so with God’s permission they defeated them. David killed Goliath, and God gave him sovereignty and wisdom and taught him what He pleased. If God did not drive some back by means of others the earth would be completely corrupt, but God is bountiful to all." (Surah Al Baqarah: 251)

The next post will take up the story of Dawood, inshaAllah.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Al Quds Today

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Take time to check out the recently added links on this page.  They are intended to highlight what is going on in Al Quds (and Palestine generally) right now.

Unfortunately many (most) of our mainstream media organisations (for numerous reasons) are unwilling or unable to report accurately on the situation in Palestine, meaning we must actively seek for ourselves news of what is happening there.  These links are intended to help in such an endeavour for those who care, inshaAllah.

Next update (continuing the story of Talut) coming soon inshaAllah.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The story of Talut (Saul)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Banu Isra'il were the ummah (nation) who Allah sent the most prophets to.  As the prophets sent to Banu Isra'il were so numerous, we are not aware of the names and stories of each of them, besides those mentioned in the Quran and/or sunnah.

After entering the Holy Land Banu Isra'il settled there and their numbers multiplied, increasing the size of their ummah over time.  The Quran mentions the story of one particular king appointed to Banu Isra'il in some detail.

Banu Isra'il told the prophet over them at the time to appoint them a king under whom they could unify and fight their enemies.  Their prophet told them that Allah had chosen a man amongst them called Talut (Saul) to be their king.  Despite themselves asking their prophet to appoint a king for them, Banu Isra'il refused to accept the decision when he did so.  They considered Talut to be unworthy of leadership over them as he did not come from among the prestigious and wealthy families among them.  Their prophet corrected their flawed thinking regarding the matter, explaining to them how Talut was suited to the position of kingship over them and that more importantly it was Allah's decision regarding the matter.  The Quran says:

And their Prophet said to them: 'Allah has appointed Talut as a king for  you.'  They said: 'How is he entitled to be a king over us, when we are better than him, and he is not even gifted with wealth in abundance?'  He said: 'Allah has chosen him above you, and has gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily strength.  Allah bestows sovereignty on whom He pleases, and Allah is All-Sufficient, All Knowing.'  (Surah Al Baqarah: 247)

Allah sent a sign to Banu Isra'il to eradicate all doubt over the matter of Talut's kingship.  Banu Isra'il had formally possessed something called at Tabut, which their enemies had taken from them.  At Tabut was a wooden casket containing some possessions of the former prophets of Banu Isra'il, Musa (as) and Haroon (as).  Allah now returned this casket, much beloved to them, back to Banu Isra'il as a sign of the blessings of Talut's kingship.  The Quran says:

Their prophet said to them: ‘The sign of his authority will be that the Ark [of the Covenant] will come to you. In it there will be [the gift of] tranquillity from your Lord and relics of the followers of Moses and Aaron, carried by the angels. There is a sign in this for you if you believe.’  (Surah Al Baqarah: 248)

The story of Talut will inshaAllah be continued in the next post.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Correction regarding the founding of Masjid Al Aqsa: Ishaq (as)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

This post is to correct something I mentioned in an earlier post regarding the prophet who first built Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem.

 (Masjid Al Aqsa)

In the original post I said that Prophet Yaqoob (as) had been the first to build the masjid, as this was the view expressed by the Islamic scholar Ibn Katheer.  However, wanting to be doubly sure about this important issue I asked a muhaddith (scholar of hadith) a while back now for the strongest opinion regarding who was the first to build Masjid Al Aqsa.  Having recently received an answer from the scholar, I have been told that the stronger opinion is that Ishaq (as), the second son of Ibrahim (as), was the first to build the masjid.

This still agrees with the hadith I cited in the original post about the origins of the masjid, which should be read with the understanding that Ishaq (as) was the first to build Masjid Al Aqsa.

As there are no ahadith which directly and explicitly state who the founder of the masjid was, it is important to remember that this is the strongest opinion from the evidence available and that ultimately Allah knows best on this issue.  The remainder of this post contains the information which I have now removed from the original post.


As it has been explained in earlier posts, the land of Bait Al Maqdis (Jerusalem) was made sacred by Allah for all time, and so it was already sacred before the construction of any buildings. Ishaq (as) though, was the first prophet to construct a place of worship in Al Quds, and this was the original Masjid Al Aqsa. It was later completed by his descendents, other prophets who will be covered in later posts, inshaAllah.

There is a sahih hadith in Bukhari (and Muslim) which covers the topic of the building of Masjid Al Aqsa. It is a hadith we have already come across in earlier posts:

Abu Dharr (ra) reported that he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him), "O Prophet of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth?". The Prophet replied, "The Sacred Masjid of Makkah". Abu Dharr again asked, "Which was next?". The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said "The Masjid Al Aqsa". "How long was the period between them?" Abu Dharr asked. The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said "Forty years. Apart from these, offer your prayers anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masajids". (Sahih al Bukhari)

According to this hadith, 40 years elapsed between the building of Al Ka'bah in Makkah and Masjid Al Aqsa in Al Quds. Since it was Ibrahim (as) who built Al Ka'bah with his elder son Ismael (as), this time frame agrees with it being Ishaq (as) who was the first to construct Masjid Al Aqsa.

And Allah knows best.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Yusha (Joshua): Banu Isra'il enter the Holy Land

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Only once the rebellious generation had died did Banu Isra'il finally enter the Holy Land by the permission of Allah, ending their 40 years of aimless wandering.

The prophet who led Banu Isra'il into the Holy Land (after Musa had passed away) was Yusha (as), Joshua.  Before Yusha (as) was given prophethood he was the servant of the leader of Banu Isra'il, Musa (as), and by spending a lot of time with Musa (as) he was able to benefit from his master's wisdom.  Yusha (as) is referred to (as the servant of Musa) in Surah Kahf of the Quran, during an incident when he accompanied Musa (as) on an amazing journey.  The Quran says:

"Moses said to his servant [Yusha], 'I will not rest until I reach the place where the two seas meet, even if it takes me years!' " (Surah Kahf: 60)

To read the story of this amazing journey refer to chapter 18 of the Quran ( Surah Kahf ).

The people of the book agree that it was Yusha (as) who led Banu Isra'il into the Holy Land. 

Yusha (as) led Banu Isra'il in a fierce battle against the people who lived in Jerusalem.  The battle was a difficult one and as the day was drawing to a close Banu Isra'il had not yet achieved victory over their foes.  After the time of 'Asr prayer, as Yusha (as) saw the sun beginning to set, he made an amazing supplication with equally amazing results.  Yusha (as) commanded the sun with the following words:

"You are commanded and I am commanded as well.  Oh Allah!  Hold it back from setting."

A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) confirms that Allah answered the dua of Yusha (as).  Imam Ahmad narrated from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"The sun has never been held back for a human being from setting except for Yusha."

Yusha (as) wanted to achieve victory before the day was over and in his moment of need he called out to Allah for help.  Due to the dua of Yusha (as) Allah held the sun back from setting until Yusha (as) and Banu Isra'il had defeated their enemy, yet another amazing miracle of Allah upon Banu Isra'il.

Following this victory Banu Isra'il were able to enter the holy city of Al Quds (Jerusalem).  Banu Isra'il were commanded to enter the Holy Land with humility, to acknowledge the continuing blessings of Allah upon them.  They were specifically commanded to enter while asking for Allah's forgiveness.  Allah describes in the Quran how yet again Banu Isra'il defied what was commanded:

"And when We said: 'Enter this town and eat freely wherever you please, and enter the gate prostrating, and say: we enter begging Allah's forgiveness, so that We forgive you your sins and We shall increase the reward of the righteous.'  But those who transgressed substituted a saying other than than that which had been said to them, so We sent down on the transgressors a plague out of the sky for their wickedness." (Surah Baqarah: 58- 59)

Yet again some amongst Banu Isra'il showed utter ingratitude to Allah.  They changed what they were commanded to say, replacing 'hitta' (for seeking Allah's forgiveness) with 'habbah', which meant seed.  This arrogance and defiance on the part of Banu Isra'il earned them the wrath and punishment of Allah.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Musa continued: Disobedience of Banu Isra'il Part 4

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Due to the punishment from Allah for their refusal to enter the Holy Land when commanded, Banu Isra'il spent forty years wandering aimlessly in the desert. Entry into the Holy Land was in fact prohibited for them until all the adult members of the rebellious generation had passed away. Only then were their descendants able to cross the River Jordan and move towards Jericho in Palestine.

Despite it being his earnest wish, even Musa (as) did not live to enter the Holy Land. His brother Haroon (as) had died earlier and the time of the passing of Musa (as) also came before this desired objective was achieved.

There is a hadith Qudsi which relates to the death of Musa (as). Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"The angel of death was sent to Musa. When he came to Musa, Musa slapped him on the eye. The angel returned to Allah and said: 'You have sent me to a servant who does not want to die'. Allah ordered the angel, 'Return to him and tell him to put his hand on the back of an ox and for every hair that will come under it, he will be granted one year of life'. Musa said, 'O Lord! What will happen after that?' Allah replied, 'Then death'. Musa decided, 'Let it be now'. Musa then requested Allah to let him die close to the Sacred Land, so much so, that he would be at a distance of a stone's throw from it."

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) added that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then said: "If I were there, I would show you his grave below the red sand hill on the side of the road". (Bukhari)

From this hadith we learn that even though Musa (as) did not live to enter the Holy Land, Allah nevertheless honoured him by allowing him to die close to the blessed land.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Musa continued: Disobedience of Banu Isra'il Part 3

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

"We appointed thirty nights for Moses, then added ten more: the term set by his Lord was completed in forty nights. Moses said to his brother Aaron, 'Take my place among my people: act rightly and do not follow the way of those who spread corruption.'" (Surah Al A'raf: 142)

Musa (as) left the Banu Isra'il to meet Allah at an appointed time on Mount Tur.  During his absence he left his brother Haroon (as), also a prophet, in charge to keep the people on the right path. In the absence of Musa (as) Banu Isra'il constructed a calf (from the ornaments they they had taken from the people of Firawn) as an idol to worship. Despite the warnings and protestations of Haroon (as) who spoke out against such shirk Banu Isra'il persevered in such disobedience, committing the most hated of sins. Allah says in the Quran:

"In his absence, Moses' people took to worshipping a mere shape that made sounds like a cow- a calf made from their jewellery. Could they not see that it did not speak to them or guide them in any way? Yet they took it for worship: they were evildoers". (Surah Al A'raf: 148)

While Musa (as) met with Allah he received guidance to share with Banu Isra'il.  Given tablets containing Allah's commandments, Musa (as) was then informed by Allah that his people had gone astray in his absence.  Distressed and grieved Musa (as) rushed back to Banu Isra'il.  On seeing them worshipping the calf with his own eyes, such was his shock that he dropped the tablets given to him by Allah.  After condemning their shirk in the strongest terms Musa (as) burnt their idol and threw it's ashes in the sea.

Realising they had gone astray Banu Isra'il wanted to repent to Allah, but for their repentance to be accepted those amongst them who had not worshipped the false idol were required to kill those who had as the heaviest repentance for the worst of sins.  Having brought themselves to this awful juncture Banu Isra'il were forced to pay the ultimate price for incurring Allah's anger and punishment.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Musa continued: Disobedience of Banu Isra'il Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Condemned to wander the land for their disobedience, Banu Isra'il soon found themselves longing water, food and shade.  Musa (as) prayed to Allah asking for these three things which Banu Isra'il desired and they were all provided. The Quran describes how Allah sent shade and special food down for Banu Isra'il:

"And We caused the white cloud to overshadow you and sent down on you the manna and the quails, (saying): Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you - they wronged Us not, but they did wrong themselves". (Surah Baqarah: 57)

The Quran similarly describes how Allah fulfilled Banu Isra'il's need for water:

"And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: Smite with thy staff the rock. And there gushed out therefrom twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of that which Allah hath provided, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth". (Surah Baqarah: 60)

The scholars explain that the 12 springs were provided so each branch of Banu Isra'il- each branch descended from a different son of Yaqoob (as)- would even have their own place of drink, yet another mercy from Allah.

In this way, despite their prohibition from entering the Holy Land for forty years, Banu Isra'il still enjoyed blessings from Allah. However, despite such mercies from Allah, Banu Isra'il remained ungrateful to their Lord. The ultimate height of such ingratitude was to go as far as committing the most grave of sins itself, shirk (associating partners with Allah). This will be covered in the next post, inshaAllah.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Musa continued: Disobedience of Banu Isra'il Part 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

While Firawn and his army died, Musa (as) and the Banu Isra'il successfully crossed the Red Sea due to the miracle from Allah described in the last post (the splitting of the Red Sea).  Despite Allah's mercy in saving them from the people of Firawn, guiding them out of Egypt and even the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, Banu Isra'il would show ingratitude to their Lord.

After saving them from Egypt and the tyranny of Firawn, Allah blessed Banu Isra'il by decreeing that they should now be the ones to inhabit the Holy Land, including Al Quds (Jerusalem). The following ayaat (verses) of the Quran are examples referring to Banu Isra'il being commanded to enter the Holy Land:

"Remember when We said, 'Enter this town and eat freely there as you will, but enter its gate humbly and say, "Relieve us!" Then We shall forgive you your sins and increase the rewards of those who do good'". (Surah Al Baqarah: 58)


"My people, go into the holy land which God has ordained for you- do not turn back or you will be the losers" (Surah Al Ma'ida: 21)

When they arrived at the outskirts of the Holy Land Musa (as) commanded Banu Isra'il to enter it (as per the ayah above). Banu Isra'il, however, refused. Their response to the command of Musa (as) was:

"They said, 'Moses, there is a fearsome people in this land. We will not go there until they leave. If they leave, then we will enter". (Surah Al Ma'ida: 22)

Despite the general disobedience of Banu Isra'il, two men amongst them were of true faith. They advised the people to obey Musa (as) and put their trust in Allah to be victorious:

"Yet two men whom God had blessed among those who were afraid said, 'Go in to them through the gate and when you go in you will overcome them. If you are true believers, put your trust in God. " (Surah Al Ma'ida: 23)

Banu Isra'il refused to accept this naseeha and such was their disobedience that they gave their prophet, Musa (as), the following verdict on the situation:

"They said, 'Moses, we wil never enter while they are still there, so you and your Lord go in and fight, and we will stay here' " (Surah Al Ma'ida: 24)

How painful must this disobedience have been to Musa (as)! Despite being saved from Firawn by the mercy of Allah and being blessed in the command to enter and inhabit the Holy Land, Banu Isra'il were not willing to exert themselves to reap such weighty rewards. Instead they wanted to sit back and expected everthing to be handed to them without any effort on their part. Facing such complete disobedience from his people, Musa (as) turned to Allah at this difficult time and made the following supplication:

"He said, 'Lord, I have authority over no-one except myself and my brother: judge between the two of us and these disobedient people'". (Surah Al Ma'ida: 25)

For their complete disregard for the command of Allah and their prophet, Allah punished Banu Isra'il by prohibiting them from entering the Holy Land in the following way:

"God said, 'The land is forbidden to them for forty years: they will wander the earth aimlessly. Do not grieve over those who disobey'". (Surah Al Ma'ida: 26)

Although they would spend the next forty years wandering in the land prohibited from entering Al Quds, Allah nevertheless still showered many blessings on Banu Isra'il.  Some of these will be covered in the last post inshaAllah.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Musa (Moses)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As it was mentioned in the last post, the progeny of Prophet Yusuf (as) lived in Egypt until the time of Prophet Musa (as). The descendents of Yusuf (as) were known as Banu Isra'il (the Children of Israel, Israel being Prophet Yaqoub). Banu Isra'il had faced persecution at the hands of the Egyptians and during the time of Musa (as) this persecution was at its height.

Allah told his prophet Musa (as) to give dawah (invitation to Islam) to Firawn (Pharoah) and his people. However, despite being shown clear signs by Musa (as) and being sent ayaat (signs) by Allah, they refused to believe.

Due to the disbelief of Firawn and his people Allah revealed to his Prophet Musa (as) to take the Banu Isra'il out of Egypt and towards the Holy Land where they would be free from tyranny and oppression. The story of how Musa (as) and the Banu Isra'il were persued by the army of Firawn behind them and were faced with the Red Sea in front of them is well-known. Allah says in the Quran:

"And We revealed to Musa: 'Strike the sea with your staff'. It parted- each side like a mighty mountain- and We brought the others to that place: We saved Musa and all his companions, and drowned the rest. There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful". (Surah Al Shu'ara: 63- 68)

Although Musa (as) and the Banu Isra'il escaped from Egypt, they did not enter the Holy Land in the lifetime of Musa (as) as a punishment of Allah on Banu Isra'il because of their disobedience. The next few posts will cover the issue of disobedience in more detail, inshaAllah.

Yusuf (Joseph)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Yaqoub (as) was blessed by Allah to have many sons. Of these, his son Yusuf (Joseph) was also blessed by Allah to be a prophet. In a hadith narrated in Ahmad and Al Bukhari, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم referred to Yusuf (as) as having the best lineage as he was:

"The noble, son of the noble, son of the noble, son of the noble, Yusuf bin Yaqoub, bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim".

Yaqoub (as) and his family lived near Al Quds, in the land of Canaan. The turning point came when Yusuf (as)'s brothers plotted to kill him because they were jealous of their father's love for Yusuf (as). The story of Yusuf is a long and beautiful one and is narrated in an entire surah in Quran, named Surah Yusuf after him. Those who want to know the full story should read this surah.

The plot to get rid of Yusuf (as) failed. His brothers tried to get rid of Yusuf (as) by throwing him in a well, but Allah had other plans. The young Yusuf was picked up by a caravan of travellers and taken to Egypt where he was brought up and where, by the qadr of Allah, years later he was eventually established in the land as ameer (leader) over the storehouses of Egypt. When a devastating famine occured people from all around the region came to Egypt seeking food (grain) as Egypt was well-prepared due to knowledge given to Yusuf (as) by Allah.

The brothers of Yusuf (as), not recognising him, were also of those who came to seek aid from him. After a series of events, Yusuf (as) finally revealed his true identity to his brothers. Allah recounts the moment when his brothers learnt of the true identity of Yusuf (as), in the Quran:

"He [Yusuf] said: 'Do you now realise what you did to Yusuf and his brother when you were ignorant? And they cried, 'Could it be that you are Yusuf?' He said, 'I am Yusuf. This [Benyameen] is my brother. God has been gracious to us: God does not deny anyone who is mindful of God and steadfast in adversity the rewards of those who do good' " (Surah Yusuf: 89-90)

After being reconciled with his brothers, the family of Yusuf came to Egypt from Canaan. The Quran narrates:

"Later, when they presented themselves before Yusuf, he drew his parents to him- he said, 'Welcome to Egypt you will all be safe here, God willing' "
(Surah Yusuf: 99)

The progeny of Yusuf (as) continued to live in Egypt from this time, until the time of Musa (as).

Thursday, 20 May 2010


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Apologies, I haven't posted in a while as I forgot the password to access my blog :-(. Alhamdulillah, finally all sorted out now so the next post should be soooon, inshaAllah!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Yaqoob (Jacob)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Yaqoob (as) was the son of Ishaq (as) and therefore the grandson of Ibrahim (as). Like his grandfather and father, Yaqoob (as) eventually settled and lived in Al Sham, in an area called Canaan. Yaqoob (as) had many children, the most famous of which was Yusuf (as), who would also become a prophet of Allah.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ibrahim (Abraham)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

"And We rescued him and Lut (and brought them) to the land which We have blessed for (all) peoples". (Surah Al Anbiya 21: 71)

This ayah in Surah Anbiya refers to Ibrahim (as) making Hijrah to Al Sham. Ibrahim (as) was born in Ur, in modern day Iraq. However, he left his hometown along with his wife Sarah (as) and nephew Lut (as) after his people refused to accept his many calls to Islam.

After settling in Palestine, Ibrahim (as) and his wife travelled for a time in Egypt, where they were involved in an incident with a tryant leader who tried to seduce Sarah (as) because of her beauty. However, due to the dua of Sarah (as) for protection from the tyrant, he was confounded in his aim. Due to the punishments of Allah on him (because of the dua of Sarah) the tyrant was not only willing for Sarah (as) to leave Egypt safely with her husband, but he also gave her gifts including a maid, called Hajar, to encourage her departure. Ibrahim (as) later married Hajar (as), making her his second wife.

The family of Ibrahim (as) then settled in Palestine. After the birth of his eldest son Ismael (as), Ibrahim (as) made several visits to Makkah where his son was growing up. On the most famous of these occasions, he built Al Ka'bah with the help of his son, due to the command of Allah.

Despite his visits to Makkah, Ibrahim (as) remained in Palestine. Later his second son, Ishaq (as), also lived with his father in Palestine. Thus the noble land of Palestine was where Ibrahim (as) gave dawah, traded and eventually grew old and died. The graves of both Ibrahim (as) and Ishaq (as) are located in the city of Khalil, now known as Hebron. This is very near Al Quds (Jerusalem).

Ibrahim (as) is one of Allah's greatest prophets. Allah referred to him as 'Khalil' in the Quran, translating to 'intimate friend'. As all of the prophets after Ibrahim (as) are from his descendants, he is known amongst muslims as Abul Anbiya, Father of the Prophets. What a beloved place for such a beloved prophet to live and die!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Next post soon inshaAllah!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Unfortunately I haven't posted in a while due to being busy on other things. But Allah willing I intend to have the next post out soon. =)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Al Quds: A Double History

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Now that I've covered some of the major references in the Quran and Sunnah which highlight the importance and blessings of Al Quds, I'm going to start moving onto the history of Al Quds (Jerusalem). I'm going to do this in two ways, inshaAllah.

First, I'll trace the history of Al Quds through people, namely some of the Prophets of Allah who lived in/travelled to Al Quds. So this will essentially be a series of posts tracing the history of prophethood in Al Quds.

Second, I'll trace the history of Al Quds through events, such as the history of Banu Isra'il (the Children of Israel), Al Isra' and Al Mi'raj and events connected to the End of Time (eschatological events)

Allah willing, this is where we're heading.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lessons From Ahadith 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Here are five ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be on him) specifically about the virtues of Al Quds.

Example 1

Abu Umamah (ra) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said, "Prophethood descended upon me from/in three places: Makkah, Madinah and Al Sham. Once it is brought out from any of them, it shall never return to it". (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Another version states that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said:
"The Quran was revealed in three places: Makkah, Madinah and Al Sham". (Al Tabarani)

The great islamic scholar Ibn Kathir comments that in this hadith Al Sham is referring to Bayt Al Maqdis. It's clear from this hadith that Allah Almighty blessed Al Aqsa and therefore Al Quds (Jerusalem), as He chose it as only one of three places in the world where He sent His revelation to His final Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

Example 2

Abu Dharr (ra) reported that he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him), "O Prophet of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth?". The Prophet replied, "The Sacred Masjid of Makkah". Abu Dharr again asked, "Which was next?". The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said "The Masjid Al Aqsa". "How long was the period between them?" Abu Dharr asked. The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said "Forty years. Apart from these, offer your prayers anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masajids". (Sahih al Bukhari)

To clarify RasulAllah (peace and blessings on him) was not referring to any contemporary buildings in this hadith, but to the original establishment of Makkah and Al Aqsa as places of worship on this earth (more about this in later posts, inshaAllah). The fact that Al Aqsa was the second masjid (house of Allah) on earth speaks volumes about the status of Al Quds (Jerusalem).

Example 3

Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not travel to visit any mosques except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this Masjid of mine [in Madeenah] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem]” (Bukhari and Muslim).

This hadith leaves room for no doubt. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) made it clear that an extended, special journey to visit any masjid is not allowed except for the three most blessed, which include Al Aqsa in Al Quds.

Examples 4 and 5

Abdullah Ibn Umar (ra) relates, I asked the Prophet (saw), "Apostle of Allah, tell us the legal injunction about (visiting) Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem)." The Apostle of Allah (saw) said, "Go and pray there. If you cannot visit it and pray there, then send some oil to be used in the lamps". (Al Bukhari)

Maymunah Bint Sa'd (ra) relates that she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him), "O Prophet, inform us about Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem)". He said, "Visit it for prayer". She further asked, "If one of us cannot visit it, what should we do?" He said, "If you cannot go for prayer then send some oil to be used for its lamps, will be as if he has prayed in it". (Imam Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Sunan Abu Dawud and Al Tabarani)

The last two ahadith reveal something amazing. The blessings of Al Aqsa in Al Quds are so great, that RasulAllah (peace and blessings be on him) taught us that even if one cannot pray in Al Aqsa, they should still try to associate themselves with the masjid. In the hadith above he (peace and blessings be on him) explained that being involved in the maintenance of the masjid (sending oil for its lamps) is equal in reward to praying in the masjid, so blessed is it. The responsibilites of maintaining the masjid are not absolved for Muslims today, but how many of us are aware of this?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lessons from Ahadith

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

InshaAllah I'm going to include two types of ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be on him) in the next couple of posts. In this post I'm going to include the first type, which are about the area of Al Sham. As Palestine (and therefore Al Quds) was part of the area known as Al Sham in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Al Quds was included in the areas the Prophet was talking about. This makes these ahadith relevant for us. For those who don't know, in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) reference to Al Sham included present-day Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan from the Euphrates to Sinai.

The second type of ahadith I'll include in the next post, inshaAllah. They are specifically about the virtues of the Al Aqsa Sanctuary in Al Quds.

Six Ahadith about Al Sham:

1. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) is reported to have said, "Allah has blessed what lies between Al Arish (in Egypt) and the Euphrates and has made Palestine particularly holy". (Kanz al Ummal)

2. Zayd ibn Thabit (ra) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said, "How blessed is Al Sham!" The Companions around asked: "Why is that?" The Messenger (peace and blessings be on him) replied, "I see the angels of Allah spread their wings over Al Sham". Ibn Abbas (ra) added, "and the Prophets lived in it. There is not a single inch in Al Quds (Jerusalem) where a Prophet has not prayed or an angel not stood". (Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmad)

3. Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said, "O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen". The people said, "And also on our Najd". He said, "O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen". The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! And also on our Najd". I think the third time the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said, "There (in Najd) is the place of earthquakes and afflictions and from there comes out the side of the head of Satan". (Sahih al Bukhari)

4. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) prayed for the blessing of the people of Al Sham. Anas ibn Malik (ra) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) looked towards Iraq, Al Sham and Yemen then said, "O Allah! Bring their hearts over to Your obedience and relieve them of their burdens". (Tirmidhi)

5. Once the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) advised 'Abdullah ibn Hawalah (ra) to join the army in Al Sham, over any other. However, the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) noticing Ibn Hawalah's indifference said, "Do you know what Allah says about Al Sham? Allah said 'Al Sham you are the quintessence of My lands (safwati min biladi) and I shall inhabit you with the chosen ones among My servants". (Al Tabarani)

6. Shurayh ibn 'Ubayd said that the people of Al Sham were mentioned in front of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) while he was in Iraq and someone said to him, "Curse them, Commander of the Believers". He replied, "No. I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) say, 'The Substitutes (al Abdal) are in Al Sham- forty men- every time one of them dies, Allah replaces another in his place. By means of them Allah brings down the rain, gives us victory over our enemies and averts punishment from the people of Al Sham' ". (Imam Ahmad)

Final Quranic example

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I want to share one more example from Quran which shows that Al Quds is a land made sacred by Allah.

"We placed other prominent towns between them, the towns that We had blessed and had set well-measured stages between them. Move back and forth between them, night and day, in perfect security". (Surah Saba' 34: 18)

This ayah in Surah Saba' refers to the people of Saba' (in Yemen). They used to travel via Arabia to get to Syria and Egypt to trade. The part of the ayah mentioning towns that We had blessed refers to Al Quds and other cities of al-Sham.

It's clear from the ayaat that I've quoted in the last few posts that the land of Palestine, and Al Quds in particular, is uniquely blessed by Allah. Although we sometimes think of Al Quds as being a blessed land because of the events and people (especially Prophets) associated with it, these ayaat show that even without any events or people associated with it Al Quds would still be blessed. This is because Allah in His Wisdom chose this land for His blessings. As Muslims this is enough of a reason for us to love Al Quds. The events and prophets later associated with Al Quds should only increase that love even more.

In the next post I'll be putting up some ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) which also emphasise the importance of Al Quds, inshaAllah.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Blessed Land: Example Four

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

"And We subdued the strongly raging wind to Solomon which blew at his bidding towards the land We blessed. We know everything". (Surah Al-Anbiya 21: 81)

Sulayman (as) ruled over Palestine with Al Quds as his capital. Allah refers to the whole area which Sulayman (as) travelled in as the land which We had blessed. Therefore this ayah is yet another clear indication that Al Quds is a land blessed by Allah.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Blessed Land: Example Three

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

"And We made those who had been persecuted inherit the eastern and western lands which We had blessed. Thus your Lord's gracious promise was fulfilled to the Children of Israel, for they had endured with patience; and We destroyed all that Pharaoh and his people had wrought, and all that they had built".
(Surah Al-A'raf 7: 137)

This ayah from Surah Al-A'raf tells us that the blessings Allah showered on Al Quds extend to Palestine in general, as Allah refers to blessing the land both east and west of Al Quds.

The ayah also refers to how Allah rewards those who believe and are patient and steadfast. The persecution mentioned in the ayah is the suffering of Banu Isra'il at the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who also ruled over Palestine. But as he was a tyrant and a disbeliever in Allah, Allah took away this blessed land from him and made the true believers, Banu Isra'il at this time in history, inherit it. Allah also refers to how he destroyed the great buildings of Pharaoh and his people, showing that victory is for the believers.

Holy Land NOT Promised Land

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I'm now going to start presenting other ayaat (verses) of Quran in which Allah Almighty has said that He has made Al Quds a blessed land. The word 'blessed' is going to come up again and again in the verses, but what does it mean?

Barakah in arabic means blessings and when we say Allah has blessed Al Quds, we mean that Allah has showered spiritual and physical blessings on that place so all of mankind can benefit. As a result the people who live in Al Quds are also blessed, as long as they obey the comands of Allah i.e. live Islam.

Example Two (first was the ayah in the last post):

After Musa (as), by the Mercy of Allah, led Banu Isra'il (the Children of Israel) away from the oppression of Pharaoh in Egypt he told his followers to enter the Holy Land. This land is described in Quran as Palestine in general and Al Quds (Jerusalem) more specifically. The Quran reveals what Musa (as) instructed Banu Isra'il:

"My people! Enter the holy land which Allah has ordained for you; and do not turn back for then you will turn about losers". (Surah Al- Ma'idah 5: 21)

There’s a very significant word in the ayah above. Musa (as) referred to Al Quds as the holy land and not the promised land. So unlike the Jewish tradition, which considers Al Quds to be the promised land for Jews alone, Muslims accept Allah's decree that the blessings of Al Quds are not limited to any one group. In fact in Quran Allah says that the blessings of Al Quds are for " 'al Alameen"- which means for all creatures for all time. This makes it clear that whoever is true to Allah and His commands they are the rightful inheritors of Al Quds, in whichever time they live. No group has the right to Al Quds through claiming it is singularly promised to them. Instead, the obedient slaves of Allah are the ones who have the right to live in this blessed land. As the ones who believe in Allah's last messenger, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and His last scripture Al Quran, today these slaves of Allah are the Muslims.

The next post will share the next example, inshaAllah

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Only one besides Al Ka'bah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Where to start when discussing how important and blessed Al Aqsa Sanctuary is? Here's a good place: Masjid Al Aqsa (meaning the whole Sanctuary as discussed earlier) is the ONLY masjid along with the Holy Ka'bah in Makkah to be mentioned BY NAME by Allah in the Quran. This occurs in the verse which I quoted in an earlier post:

Holy is He who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid (in Makkah) to the further Masjid (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”. (Surah Al- Isra 17: 1)

The journey which this ayah is referring to is when the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) travelled miraculously from Makkah to Al Quds, and from Al Quds through the seven heavens to meet Allah. The journey itself will be covered in detail when we arrive to that point in history. There are two reasons for mentioning the ayah here.

Firstly, as I said at the beginning of this post, to show the great status of Al Quds as Masjid Al Aqsa was mentioned by name in the Quran. Secondly, when the disbelievers in Makkah heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) talking about his journey to Al Quds they mocked him and found the concept unbelievable. Even though the Prophet was able to answer questions of theirs which only someone who had been to Al Quds would have been able to answer, they simply refused to believe such a journey could be possible in the space of one night. For the Muslims though, both then and now, it is part of faith to believe that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) went on this journey by the qadr of Allah. Therefore Allah has connected Masjid Al Aqsa, and Al Quds with it, with a key tenet of Islamic belief; anyone who doesn’t believe the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) actually went to Al Quds is not a believer. For Allah to link a place with imaan (faith) in this way is a clear sign of its importance.

Symbols of Allah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“…Whoever holds in honour the Symbols of Allah, such honour is an indication of the piety of heart”. (Surah Al-Hajj 22: 32)

When we say we are Muslims we mean we have submitted ourselves to our Lord and Creator, Allah. Everything that Allah has made lawful (halaal) we accept for ourselves and whatever He, in His wisdom, has prohibited for us (haraam) we keep well away from. Every Muslim loves Allah, but loving Allah completely means loving every person and every place connected with Allah and His religion of Islam. That is why the most beloved person to us all, even before our relatives and friends, is the blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). That is why we love Makkah and Madinah even if we have never been there, because the former has Allah’s House (al Ka’bah) and the latter is the city of Allah’s most beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). And that is why we should all love Al Quds, because the blessed Al Aqsa Sanctuary is there.

The ayah (verse) I have started this blog post with tells us how important it is to love the symbols of Allah. It does not say symbol, as in singular, but uses the plural. We cannot call ourselves Muslims and then pick and choose which symbols of Allah we want to love. We cannot rave about Makkah and Madinah, for example, and then conveniently forget to attach importance to any other place associated with Islam. In the verse Allah tells us that if we honour all His symbols- and what is honouring if not loving?- that is a reflection that our hearts are sincere. Everyone knows that Makkah and Medinah are important and if you read the last post you know that the Al Aqsa Sanctuary is important, but with the latter do we know why? Where did Allah say it was important? What did He say about it?

In the next post we’ll start looking at the ayaat in Quran where Allah talks about Al Aqsa specifically, inshaAllah.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Which bit is blessed?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“Holy is He who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid (in Makkah) to the further Masjid (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”. (Surah Al- Isra 17: 1)

When most people hear the words Masjid Al Aqsa they probably, wrongly, think of the central image at the top of this blog. This is in fact Masjid Qubbat al-Sakhra or the famous Dome of the Rock masjid which dominates the landscape of Al Quds (Jerusalem). Some might be the wiser and think of the black domed masjid, the building which we today refer to as Masjid Al Aqsa. Al Aqsa and Al Quds are mentioned directly or indirectly over 70 times in the Holy Quran, but neither of these two buildings existed during the time of the Quran’s revelation. So what was Allah referring to when He referred to Masjid Al Aqsa, which He has blessed and made pure?

The answer is the land itself and its surroundings where these two masaajid (mosques) are located. Within Al Quds (Jerusalem) there is an area referred to as the ‘old city’, where historical events occurred. The place which Allah refers to as Masjid Al Aqsa in the verse I have started this blog post with, is the land on the southeast corner of the old city. This land, which is approximately 35 acres in size, is al Haram al Sharif or al Aqsa Sanctuary. Both the black domed and gold domed masaajid are located in this sanctuary, along with 42 other monuments or buildings. While the masaajid are of great importance, the sanctuary itself- the land- is even greater as that is what Allah has made pure and blessed. When Al Quds was Islam’s first Qiblah (direction of prayer for the Muslims) it was towards this sanctuary that the Muslims prayed. When the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) was taken to Al Quds as part of the miraculous Journey of Al Isra and Al Mi’raj (to be covered by later posts inshaAllah), it was to this land that he was brought to lead all the Prophets in Salaah (prayer).

This distinction is really important to bear in mind. As Muslims we are not simply attached to the bricks and mortar of our masaajid in Al Quds but it is the Al Aqsa Sanctuary in its entirety, which Allah has blessed for all time, that we are most attached to. InshaAllah I will finally get on to talking about the blessings in the next blog post. Needed to get all that introduction out of the way so we all know what we’re talking about :)

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The House of Purification

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As mentioned earlier, Bayt al Maqdis is a name which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions used for Al Quds. Why did they refer to this place as the house of purity or purification? It is because of the rich links between Al Quds and the Messengers of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon them all). Al Quds is a land which was uniquely honoured by the presence of many Prophets, sent by Allah to purify mankind through their call (dawah) to true faith. Among the Prophets who either lived, visited or preached their message in this blessed land are:

- Ibrahim (Abraham)
- Ishaq (Isaac)
- Yaqoob (Jacob)
- Yusuf (Joseph)
- Musa (Moses)
- Dawood (David)
- Sulayman (Solomon)
- Zakariyyah (Zachariah)
- Yahya (John)
- Eesa (Jesus)
- Muhammad

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all.

As well as these noble Prophets, another amazing personality resided in this blessed land. Sayyidatuna Maryam (as), the Mother of Isa (as) and named as the best woman amongst creation by Allah in the Quran, also lived and worshipped in Masjid al Aqsa.

InshaAllah I'll talk about the lives of the Prophets in Al Quds in more detail in later posts. Before that I'll cover why the land itself is specifically blessed, Allah willing.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Names of Al Quds

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The city of Jerusalem is known by several names by Muslims. The most common amongst arabs, both Muslim and Christian, is 'Al Quds', meaning 'the purest place'. Another name which is used for Jerusalem is 'Bayt al Maqdis', meaning 'the house of purity or purification'. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions used this name. Another name which is also used is 'Madinat al Salam', which means 'the city of peace'.

It should be clear from all these names that Al Quds is an incredibly special place, which future posts will begin to start explaining, inshaAllah (God willing).

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Intention, inshaAllah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The quote in this blog's description is how the great Muslim general Salahuddin described the importance of Al Quds (Jerusalem) to King Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade (1189-1192).

How many of us today know the importance of Al Quds in our faith, let alone would be able to explain it to others? In today's climate when it is no longer in the hands of the Muslims, it is more important than ever for us all, young or old, to learn the virtues of Al Quds. Masjid al Aqsa itself is under threat by fundamentalist Zionists who are openly and actively striving to demolish the masjid and build a new temple in its place (posts to come about this in future, inshaAllah).

If we don't know about Al Quds or have any attachment to it, how are we going to contribute to the movement to protect it? The first step towards building an attachment is to know exactly why Al Quds is such a big deal to Muslims. Knowledge builds love and attachment, and these are then a motivation to add our voices to the wider movement striving to keep Al Quds, its masaajid and its people safe.

This blog hopes to build such love and attachment in our hearts by educating ourselves about the importance and virtues of Al Quds. The blessed and final Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him), made it crystal clear that Al Quds is home to the third holiest site in Islam. As his companion Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated, the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not travel to visit any mosques except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this Masjid of mine [in Madeenah] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem]” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1189; Muslim, 1397).

By educating ourselves about why Al Quds is so sacred, we should then all be able to attach that same importance to it today, which Salahuddin preached to King Richard almost ten centuries ago.

For those who are interested to know, the main source I am using as reference for this blog is the brilliant book Virtues of Jerusalem, An Islamic Perspective by Ismail Adam Patel. You can buy the book here