Archive for the Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani Category

In the Shade of Laylat al-Qadr

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ibn Kathir, Ramadan, Sayyid Qutb on September 13, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

1 – The Meaning of Qadr

Ibn Hajar said in ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/323-324):

“There are various explanations of the meaning of the qadr that this night is ascribed to.

It was said that it means veneration, as in the verse: {“…and they didn’t venerate (qadar) Allah as He deserved…”} [al-An’am; 91] This refers to it being a night of veneration due to the revelation of the Qur’an taking place in it, or due to the descent of the Angels in it, or due to the blessing and mercy and forgiveness that descend in it, or that those who stay up that night in worship are venerated.

It was also said that qadr here means constriction, as in the verse: {“…and who is constricted (qadara) in his provision…”} [at-Talaq; 7] This refers to it being a night of constriction due to the exact night being hidden, or because the Earth is constricted due to the presence of such a large number of Angels.

It was also said that it is qadar, derived from the word for judgment. This refers to the fact that all the judgments of that year are made on this night…”

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Better than a Martyr’s Blood

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ramadan on August 28, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, the breath of the fasting person is more pleasant with Allah than the smell of musk.”

In ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/138), Ibn Hajar commented:

“What can be gained from this is that the fasting person’s breath is better than the blood of a martyr. This is because the martyr’s blood was likened to the smell of musk,* while the fasting person’s breath was described as being even better than the smell of musk. And this doesn’t necessitate that fasting is better than shahadah, for obvious reasons…”

* In a hadith reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim

Reflecting Over Punished Nations

Posted in an-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani on September 11, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his Companions passed by al-Hijr, which was the location of the dwellings of the people of Thamud. So, the Prophet turned to them and said: “Do not approach the dwellings of these people who have been punished except that you are weeping. If you will not weep while doing so, do not approach them lest you be struck with the same punishment they were struck with.”

This was reported by al-Bukhari (433) and Muslim (2970).

In ‘Fath al-Bari’ (1/632), Ibn Hajar commented with the following:

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One Who’s Muslim By Name

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ibn Taymiyyah on February 8, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

This is an interesting quotation from Ibn Taymiyyah, describing the situation of Muslims whose Islam is hukmi (i.e., they’re simply Muslims by name). Outwardly, he’s performing his obligations, except that he doesn’t do so out of the desire for reward from Allah for performing them, or out of fear of His punishment for abandoning them. Rather, he does what he does simply to go along with what his parents, environment, etc., expect of him:

“…Most Muslims are born to two Muslim parents, essentially becoming Muslims by name, without there being any actual faith on their part. Then, when they reach puberty, from them are those that are blessed with actual faith, performing their obligations. Likewise, from them are those who perform these acts out of ingrained habit, and just to go along with his relatives, the people of the land in which he lives, etc. For example, he gives Zakah simply because it is a habitual tradition that the ruler collects tax, and not because he realizes either the generality or specifics of the obligation to pay it. So, in his eyes, there is no difference between the innovated tax and the legislated Zakah. Such is the case with the inhabitant of Makkah who goes out to ‘Arafat every year simply because this is the way it is done, without realizing the generality or specifics of this being an act of worship of Allah.

So, the acts of worship performed by such people is invalid, without a doubt. In fact, the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as the consensus of the Ummah, are clear in the ruling that these actions do not fulfill the obligation placed upon their doer…

…So, the Islam of most people is by name, only. Rather, it (faith) only enters into their hearts during the course of the matter (i.e., later in their lives), if it enters at all. So, were this intention not to be obligatory upon them, they would not at all attempt to have it, and their hearts would be empty of it, and they would essentially be hypocrites, carrying out their actions out of habit and imitation, as is the case with many people.”

[‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’; 26/32]

Also, commenting on the hadith of the questioning in the grave: “…as for the hypocrite or disbeliever, it will be asked of him: ‘What did you say about this man?’ He will say: ‘I do not know! I used to say what I heard the people saying!'” Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said:

“And in it is the blameworthiness of believing in something in order to follow others, due to the punishment that will be meted out to the one who said: ‘I used to hear the people saying something, so, I said it.'”

[‘Fath al-Bari’; 3/284]

Notes from chapters on fasting in ‘Fath al-Bari’

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ramadan on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

Here a few useful notes the first few chapters of ‘Kitab as-Sawm’ in ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/123 onwards):

1 – The lexical and Shar’i definitions of الصوم:

“Linguistically, siyam is to refrain from something. Shar’an, it is to hold back from something specific for a specific amount of time, under specific conditions…it is said to the knight who has refrained from joining an expedition for some time that he is sa’im. And in the Shar’, it is that one who is tasked with this obligation is to refrain from food, drink, sexual pleasure, and vomiting from sunrise to sunset.”

2 – Fasting is a shield:

“…and the narrations that are related to this show that it is a shield from the Hellfire, and this is what Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr opined.

As for the author of ‘an-Nihayah,’ he said: “What is meant by it being a shield is that it protects the person from the desires that can harm him.”

al-Qurtubi said: “It is a curtain.” So, it is a must for the one fasting to avoid that which will corrupt him and decrease his reward…

ِِAnd al-‘Iyad said in ‘al-Ikmal’: “It is a shield from sins or the Fire, or both of these,” and an-Nawawi took this opinion.”

3 – The meaning of “…و لا يجهل…”:

“This means that he should not do anything that is customary of the ignorant people, such as making foolish noises, fooling around, etc…al-Qurtubi said: “It is not to be understood here that this is allowed when one is not fasting. Rather, it is even more incumbent to avoid such things when one is fasting.””

4 – The various levels of fasting:

“And Ibn al-‘Arabi narrated from some of the ascetics that they said that fasting is of four types:

1) the fast of the layman, and that is from food, drink, and sex;

2) the fast of the chosen among the layman, and that is by avoiding all the forbidden statements and actions;

3) the fast of the chosen people, and that is to abstain from everything but the remembrance and worship of Allah; and

4) the special fast of the chosen people, and that is to fast from anything other than Allah, and there is no breaking of this fast until the Day of Resurrection.””

5 – The meaning of “Whoever fasts Ramadan out faith, and awaiting his reward…”:

“What is meant by ‘out of faith’ is that he deeply believes in fasting being an obligation, and ‘awaiting his reward’ is that he seeks the reward from Allah.

al-Khattabi said: “This means he should be energetic and willful, and should fast with the hope of getting a reward and purifying his soul, and he should not look at fasting as a burden, and should not be counting the days until Ramadan is over.””

6 – “The fasting person has two instances of joy: when he breaks his fast, and when he meets his Lord”:

“al-Qurtubi said, in regards to the joy of breaking the fast, that this is because his hunger and thirst are gone since he can now break his fast, and this is a natural type of happiness. It is also said that his happiness at breaking his fast is because he has completed his worship, been relieved from his Lord, and knows that he is able to fast again with help from Him.

I say that it is possible that the issue is more general than what has been mentioned, as each person’s happiness is in accordance with his different level in regards to his worship. So, there are some that express the permissible happiness, which is the natural joy of being able to eat, and some people express the happiness that is preferred…”

The Time Between Suhur and Fajr – Seven Points

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

Anas reported that Zayd bin Thabit said: “We had suhur with the Prophet, and he then got up to pray.” Anas then asked: “How much time was there between the adhan and the suhur?” He answered: “Fifty verses.”

In ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/164), Ibn Hajar made the following points on this hadith:

  • al-Muhallab and others said: “Shown in this narration is the fact that they would measure time with physical actions, and the Arabs would measure time with actions, such as their saying that such-and-such took the same amount of time that it would take to milk a sheep, or the amount of time it would take to slaughter a camel. So, Zayd bin Thabit similarly estimated the time using the recitation of the Qur’an, indicating that this time was used for the worship of reciting the Qur’an.”
  • Ibn Abi Jamrah said: “This is in indication that they would spend their time engrossed in worship.”
  • In it is also an indication that the suhur is to be delayed, as this serves the purpose of the suhur. Ibn Abi Jamrah said: “The Prophet would look to that which was easiest for his people, and would do that. This is because if he did not have suhur, they would have imitated him in this, and that would be too hard upon them. And if he were to have taken suhur in the middle of the night, this would also have been hard upon those who are heavy sleepers…”
  • He also said: “And in it is the virtuous one honoring others by having them eat with him, as well as the permissibility of walking at night if there is a need to do so, as Zayd bin Thabit did not live with the Prophet.
  • In it is they would gather to eat suhur together.
  • In it is the best manner of addressing another when making a point, due to Zayd’s saying: “We had suhur with the Prophet…,” and he did not say: “We and the Prophet had suhur…,” and this is due to his realization that his use of the word ‘with’ would show that they were his followers.”
  • al-Qurtubi said: “In it is a proof that they would finish up their suhur before the time of Fajr.”