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.