HashimKamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

QURAN (lit. a reader) is the name that occurs in the Holy Book itself (al-Qiyamah, 75:17), but the Quran also records a total of 55 names for itself, including Nur (light), Huda (guidance), Rahmah (mercy), Dhikr (reminder), Hikmah (wisdom), Kitab (book), Furqan (distinguisher), Shifaa (healing) among others.

Quran is defined as God's speech revealed to Prophet Muhammad through Archangel Gabriel in Arabic. It is the world's most widely read book, and also written about, and translated into almost all spoken languages among Muslims.

Muslims are required to read parts of the Quran in their daily prayers. Hence, every Muslim commits parts of Quran to memory, but outside the ritual prayers (salah) Muslims also read and recite the Quran and commit it to memory as acts of spiritual merit.

Imam Abu Hanifa was of the view that salah could be performed by reciting translated verses of the Quran, a view that is not, however, supported by the Hanafi school, including his two leading disciples, Abu Yusuf and al-Shaybani.

This is because the Quran itself declares that it is revealed in Arabic. Hence, it is generally held that a translation cannot be said to be the "Quran".

When was the Quran revealed? To say that April 19/Ramadan 17 marks the timing of Nuzul al-Quran is acceptable but not certain.
The Quran itself declares (97:1) that it was revealed on the Night of Honour (Laylatul Qadr, or Night of Power, as Qadr is a homonym).

Muslim scholars have, however, no less than eight different views on the timing of Nuzul al-Quran, including Ramadan 1, 17, 19, 21, 23, 27, the night of the Battle of Badr or one the middle 10 days of Ramadan. But first we look at how the Quran itself describes the Night of Honour.

The text declares that it was revealed on the Night of Honour (Laylatul Qadr ‒ henceforth LQ), which lasts from sunset to sunrise. LQ is further described as a "blessed night" (laylah mubarakah) that is better (khayrun) than one thousand months (97:1-5).

On this night, the angels and the Spirit (Archangel Gabriel) descend from on-high to the heavens above the Earth to honour the event of Nuzul al-Quran.

To say that the Quran was revealed on the Night of Honour signifies a single night. We also know from actual history that the Quran was revealed piecemeal to Prophet Muhammad in about 23 years.

This clearly signifies two separate instances of Quranic revelation: one of which occurred in a single night, when the whole of the Holy Book was revealed from an unknown place, said to be the Lawh al-Mahfuz (Preserved Tablet), and then it was sent gradually to Prophet Muhammad.

Most of the text (about 85 of the total of 114 surah) was revealed in Mecca and the rest in Medina.

The Quran does not specify the actual timing of LQ but numerous Muslim scholars have thought it to be in the last 10 days of Ramadan, most likely on the 27th night – based on reports attributed to the Companion Abdullah Ibn Abbas.

Imam Shafie has mentioned the most likely dates, however, to be either the 21st or 23rd night of Ramadan. But many leading Shafie scholars have mentioned the 27th.

Another Companion, Anas bin Malik, had reportedly said that LQ occured on the first night of Ramadan. According to another view, based on a hadith narrated by Companions Ibn Abi Arqam and Abdullah ibn Masud, LQ occured on the 17th night of Ramadan.

They have explained that the Quran was revealed on the night of the Battle of Badr, and they support this with their reading of a verse of the Quran in Surah al-Anfal (8:41).

Another view on the dating of LQ, attributed to Companion Osman ibn Abi al-Aas, and a renowned successor, Hasan al-Basri, as well as some Shafie and Maliki scholars, maintain that it occured on one of the middle 10 nights of Ramadan.

Three renowned companions, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Zayd ibn Thabit and Abdullah ibn Masud, maintain that LQ was on the 19th night of Ramadan.

The last view on the dating of LQ says that it occured in one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan but that it is not the same night every year; it may fall on different nights from year to year.

This is due to their combined reading of different hadith mentioning different dates wherein the prophet himself was reported to have observed supererogatory prayers to mark the event of LQ.

With so much variation, Muslim scholars have then concluded that God Most High has left a degree of ambiguity in the timing of LQ so as to engage the ummah in research and ijtihad in its quest.

They add further: it is somewhat like not declaring the Hour of Acceptance (sa'at al-ijabah) on Fridays as an incentive to worshippers to engage themselves in prayer and supplication.

Similar uncertainty obtains with regard to God's Greatest Name (al-Ism al-Azam) that occurs in His 99 Excellent Names (al-Asma al-Husna) but unknown which, nor is the Day of Resurrection made known so that believers are engaged in pious activities in anticipation.

Muslim scholars have even recommended that one who sees the Lalatul Qadr not to declare it.

The wisdom of this advice may be that witnessing LQ signifies piety and spiritual distinction and declaring it may mean self-commendation, not quite in line with the typical humility that characterises Islam.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Tuesday 19 April 2022

Source: https://iais.org.my/publications-sp-1447159098/dirasat-sp-1862130118/civilisation-interfaith-peace-security/item/1420-nuzul-quran-an-incentive-for-muslims-to-engage-in-prayer-supplication

The Taliban have not changed

Friday, 01 April 2022 16:59 Published in Articles

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's ban on secondary education for girls announced on March 23 backtracked their earlier statement on reopening of schools for all students (boys and girls).

The ban was met with a chorus of denunciation and disdain by the Afghan population, seven months after schooling was suspended.

The ban on girls' secondary education is basically dogmatic, emanating from, in my view, a deep-seated prejudice against women.

Who can in their right mind and in the name of Islam and Afghan culture take such a retrogressive step in the face of the ubiquitous emphasis in the Quran and hadith on learning and the Afghan traditional appreciation for knowledge!

The Education Ministry spokesman also mentioned that the ban came from the top (i.e, Mulla Hibatullah Akhundzada), referred to as Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu'minin), indicating perhaps that the ministry had not proposed it.

Civil society, especially women leaders, parents and the girls themselves, are calling this as the "darkest day" and an intellectual blow for Afghanistan.

Parents spoke with emotion that their daughters were eagerly preparing to return to school. Many were seen crying at their school gates and elsewhere wiping their tears.

Former deputy education minister Thurayya Paikan, prominent women rights advocates Mahbuba Siraj and Monesa Mubariz, Afghanistan's former ambassador to Norway Shukria Barakzai, Strategic Studies Centre of Afghanistan director Atif Mokhtar, and leader of the Party for Intellectual Advancement of Afghanistan Saleem Paygir, among others, spoke forcefully in denunciation of the ban, coming also on the heels of similar restrictions on women's right to work.

The Taliban have no right to make such a momentous decision, especially when they lack popular mandate and came to power through coercive methods.

Seven months after their takeover, no country has yet to officially recognise the Taliban government.

Spokesmen and women leaders were askanced as to what kind of a society does the Taliban want. What do they try to make of Afghanistan — and what is their endgame? They have not explained their plans and programmes.

Former president Hamid Karzai had suggested earlier that the Islamic emirate should convene the traditional Loya Jirga (grand national assembly) and seek approval for their actions.

All are asking for immediate reversal of the ban, adding that the emirate is responsible in respecting and upholding people's rights, not to violate them.

Siraj and Paikan noted that people had remained patient and appreciative of the peace they enjoyed after some 40 years of turmoil, but that may be running out.

Civil protests on the streets of Kabul and provinces, especially by schoolgirls, has already started and likely to grow wider.

Paikan further noted that the Islamic emirate was breaking the promise made earlier that all schools will be opened after months of closure; the Taliban should know that breaking a promise is unacceptable in Islam.

Barakzai added that the Taliban were moving Afghanistan further away from progress and civilisation, wasting the hard-earned gains of the past decades.

The Afghan people and the international community seem to be seeing more of the fanatic side of the Taliban that has not changed since the 1990s when they ruled Afghanistan for five years (1996‒-2001).

The UN Security Council issued a resolution asking the emirate for immediate removal of the ban and opening of all schools.

The United States, European Union and virtually all leading countries of Europe have denounced the decision as a violation of basic rights and unacceptable. The US scheduled meeting in Doha on March 26 with a view to normalise relations was also cancelled.

I had quoted one of the Taliban spokesmen, Suhail Shaheen, who said the Taliban had changed from 20 years ago as they realised some of the mistakes they made and changed their views, especially with regard to female education that they now approve of.

It seems that this is not so. The fanatic side of Taliban has not changed.

On a more symbolic note perhaps, the Afghan people generally felt it was unnecessary and verged on self-styled dogmatism when months earlier, the Taliban replaced the traditional tri-coloured national flag of Afghanistan with their own white flag.

Both exhibited the same testimonial of the faith (the shahada) and there was no need to change the flag.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Friday 01 April 2022

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2022/04/784993/taliban-have-not-changed

Lack of recognition haunts Taliban

Monday, 10 January 2022 13:58 Published in Articles

EVENTS are still unfolding but expectations are already dampened by the Taliban's performance in government after four months in power. Up to late December last year, only Malaysia has officially recognised it.

This is perhaps not highly significant given the fact that Malaysia has no diplomatic mission in Kabul and deals with Afghanistan through its embassy in Qatar.

Pakistan is generally seen to have actively supported the Taliban takeover of power in August last year but it has yet to officially recognise it.

The United States has not recognised the Taliban and according to its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, it is not likely to do so unless the Taliban changes its stance on inclusivity and human rights, especially of women's rights to work and education.

Due to legitimacy issues, Washington is refusing to release US$10 billion of Afghanistan's reserves in the US despite public outcry in Afghanistan that those funds are sorely needed.

 
This was also followed in recent days by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement that in practice Afghanistan's official recognition is taking place. But, official recognition has not been forthcoming even from the Russians.

Other countries tend to follow the US and have refused recognition for similar reasons, saying that the Taliban should act on its promises first.

The Taliban considers the prevailing non-recognition as less than acceptable and unfair.

The Taliban maintains — and confirmed in a Jan 4 interview with First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar — that it fulfils all the requirements of recognition, take credit that security prevails under it, and that its policies are people-friendly and responsive to actual developments.

Earlier comments by some of the Taliban spokesmen claimed that the Taliban is not the same group as the one of 20 years ago (when it was in power from 1996 to 2001) and has changed in many ways.

Yet, it has not budged on its negative stance on women's rights despite the frequent comments by international commentators that the Taliban should change this.

Public expectations that the Taliban will be a people's government are also dampened due to a series of restrictions it is imposing on public activities. Media representatives are complaining of many restrictions.

An earlier announcement by the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Good and Prevention of Evil said the media should expose people to that which is good and beneficial and avoid coverage of futile activities.

There is talk that the Taliban is clamping down on music. People are expected to wear beards and the traditional shalwar-kameez outfit. Internally displaced and unemployed people are growing in numbers and further swelling the existing problems of poverty and deprivation.

The fears of drastic food shortages and increasing economic problems add to the gloomy outlook. About 90 per cent of Afghans currently live below the poverty line.

Banks were closed for weeks before it reopened but are still far from returning to their normal pace of activities. Government employees and workers are complaining of not receiving their salaries for months amid widespread unemployment.

There are fears of an impending humanitarian disaster due to worsening food shortages and rising prices. Recent announcements that the import trade volumes are declining is indication of an economic slowdown.

This is despite an earlier announcement by Pakistan that it is allowing India's export of food and medicine to Afghanistan though its territory.

Time is not on the Taliban's side. Problems are piling up and the people's view of it is also turning negative.

It bought time earlier by saying publicly that it needed to consult internally among themselves and formulate new policies, that it was new in office and had inherited a corrupt regime and so forth.

Instead, the Taliban has gradually come up with more restrictions and issued few reassuring statements to respond to public concerns.

What policies the leadership was consulting about and formulating should perhaps be discussed in the open and deliberated for better results.

People expect more effective measures to curb food supply shortages, declining market situations and financial activities.

The value of the Afghan currency, Afghani, versus the US dollar is in a free fall. It was 80 Afghani some months ago but it is now 104. Trading volumes in the Kabul Market and other major cities have also declined.

All this give fodder to the rumour that the Taliban is likely to collapse due to lack of funds, ineffective governance and lack of international support.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Sunday 09 January 2022

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2022/01/761426/lack-recognition-haunts-taliban

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