Dear University Students

I write this in the hope that you’ll understand some important points about deen at university. We’ve also been (western) British university students and experienced what it means and life after it. The purpose of elders is to help you understand things, a bit like a cheat sheet, so you can take the most efficient, productive way forward. So the following is important to keep in mind:

1. You are probably 18-23 years old. 99% of you do not know Classical Arabic. 99% of you have not studied the scriptures nor the Law of God. You have more knowledge of the subjects you studied at GCSEs than you do Islam, so logically your opinion on deen is severely underdeveloped. What you do have is inherited culture and the preachings of populists (which is little deen and more self-interest). The vast majority of yesteryears university students find that most of what they think they stand for as students, whether religious or political, they deeply question by the end of their 20s.

2. Subservience to God isn’t academic, it’s life. The Sahabah didn’t debate, they lived their imaan throughout the day. Not only are you young but very much inexperienced with life, some of you are living on your own for the first time in your lives (and even then cushioned by campus life or student loans). Others have still not ever had to take care of themselves as independent adults without the parental safety net. In the next two decades (and especially as your kids grow into teenagers) you will learn and experience much joy and pain that will shape you into very different human beings - you’ll hopefully growing in intelligence, sensibleness and maturity. Everything will change: your religious views, your political views, your social views. (If you are) Don’t be so sure about everything, in fact don’t be so sure about anything. Be open to growth and development, revising your views, primarily that which makes you a better and radiant human being. If what you’re doing/thinking/saying isn’t making you nicer, kinder, more polite, gracious and a deeper thinker, it’s not “truth”, it’s a problem. Your debates are not actual debates, they’re banter - uninformed competing opinions. This isn’t just you, we were very much the same! The greatest thing you can adopt at university is intellectual humility - it’ll help you to grow and be amazing.

3. Often you are being played by competing sectarian and political interests. Your salafism or sufism is meaningless and the entire conversation is superficial. What you think is an exhibition of profound shar’i knowledge really isn’t - it is a mishmash of a few verses or hadith, nothing wholesome nor a complete picture. But it works on you and you think it’s “truth” because you know little. It’s been this way for DECADES and has severely limited the experiences of many students before you, or shaped them in unproductive ways where they struggle later on in life.

4. Many ‘speakers’ who advise you on life have never lived yours. They didn’t go to British universities. They didn’t even grow up in your context or western environments (and still don’t!). They have no idea of your experiences, not the ones you live everyday nor those that you will face. They’ve never worked or competed in the environments you will have to. They have no idea how to competently and confidently negotiate tricky situations (so they teach you to run away!). Many of them have yet to grow up themselves - they operate in insular bubbles where juvenile debates take place that are absolutely irrelevant to actual life. They rope you into bizarre and useless feuds and arguments impeding your space and time to grow into highly decent, intelligent and emotionally resilient human beings. You have gone to university to learn - you don’t need ideologues, you need highly educated, informed and experienced cultivators. When you leave university your job is to take godliness into the world informed by divine guidance. Often what you get in university are a bunch of talking points: either practically useless, or progression impeding. Many of these speakers are simply looking to boost their social media profiles, they have no idea how to cultivate you for the future. Or they’re caught up in their own sectarian projects they impose on you. It’s about what YOU need for the future, not the superficial nonsense they’re caught up in today.

5. Focus on Quranic literacy and the skills that will develop your character. Pay attention to Quranic stories and parables. Leave legal debates to jurists. Aqidah will get you absolutely nowhere except probably make you a horrible person, and keep your fiqh differences to yourself - focus on perfecting practice of God’s Law rather than pontificating. Get to know the Quran like you’re meant to know your course texts. You have 3-4 years to be literate. Learn Arabic if you can. Only engage in positive conversation, and avoid negativity. Understand that social media will not help you grow as a human being - there’s a crisis looming: in the future people are going to find themselves emotionally and intellectually messed up in all sorts of ways because they developed on a staple of social media content. Yes, it’s great for entertainment but terrible for cultivating sound minds and hearts.

6. You don’t have to be contrary, behave weird, or express ethno-cultural difference to everyone else. Practice being tawhidic shar’i-minded westerners. University is a great diverse place, so whilst you will inevitably have differences to other non-believers, you can be a committed and stout believer and still fit in without forcing your difference or making it an identity point. It’s a great place to learn the art of diplomacy and negotiation. This way you can be confident about who you are, whilst being affable with your environment instead of abrasive.

7. University is not LIFE (even though it may feel like it lol). You’re only there for a few years - you’re not going to start some global revolution! And all the talking points today will immediately fade after graduation. Your concerns will turn to marriage, rent, career and social life. But you’ll make some great friends, possibly your future spouse, and carry your university experiences with you. Make them the type that positively launch you into actual life - not the myopic and narrow interests of those using you.

I wish you all the very best and hope you grow to be the intelligent and progress-oriented believers I know you can, that serve God and bring about the outcomes God wanted for all of us. The future will be yours and we'll be gone - we want you to do far better than we could.

Sh Mohammed Nizami

Laymen and the scholarly tradition

A major problem the Muslim laity have been subjected to is the way in which the 'scholarly tradition' is abused.

How so?

Well past scholars have written a lot. They've often explicitly changed their opinion, or you can see an evolution in their thinking/arguments. Popular religious personalities pay little attention to this, usually because they haven't read wide enough nor intend to. Now of course, any scholar can't possibly read everything out there on a topic, but if s/he has a sound basis in the Qur'an and hadith, and recognises everything else as either an explanation of the two (fiqh), or a justification of the methods used to derive an explanation of the two (usul), then there's a critical engagement with past scholars that is far more meaningful. It also means that the scholar places where authority is - with God. Past scholars are a heuristic tool - we remain in conversation with thousands of scholars across the centuries to bounce ideas off them and evaluate what they bring to the table.

But this doesn't happen because people are more interested in what Ghazali or Ibn Taymiyyah said than what God and His messenger said. Yes, the laity require someone authoritative to interpret revelation, but placing ultimate authority in medieval scholars raises the same problems: they too need interpreting and contextualising for the laity! So in reality, the laity vest authority in popular religious personalities and who they choose to promote. Accordingly, the scholars that are cited today aren't necessarily those who buttressed mainstream scholarship over a millenium. They have been chosen in the modern period. In our context, the names of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Kathir and Ibn Hazm only became as widespread a few decades ago. But what about Ibn Daqiq, al-Mizzi, al-Sakhawi, Ibn Asakir, etc? Yes some know of them, but in no way are they mainstream. Why? Simply because they weren't chosen by contemporary preachers and sects. Your understanding of your religion is not objective - it is shaped by a plethora of forces. And in every age/context there are different forces shaping it. If you get that simple truth it makes you less polemic, far more chilled, and I'd argue much more closer to the Quran - the only holistic source that is infallible ('isma).

Now because we're at an embryonic stage of scholarly formation in the west, there is no benchmark or basic standard of scholarly inquiry, nor are the intelligent laity informed enough to recognise it, so much falls on superficial markers of shar'i learning. Where a higher level emerges or is propagated, it is seldom recognised and either maligned or ignored. it was in this vein that Ibn Hazm put it that scholars who wanted to engage the laity would have sacrifice some of their dignity. As the Mother of Believers Lady A'ishah put it, "How quick people are to find fault with that which they don't know/understand!" (Sahih Muslim) To some extent, in the past there was an understanding: Scholars informed preachers, and preachers simplified for the laity. Today, preachers are deemed scholars but they're little informed, and the laity are worse off as a result.

Most preachers/religious personalities are in a rush to say the next great thing. Social media has only amplified this ingenious proclivity. I can always tell when a preacher/religious personality has come across a quote for the first time using it to draw an entire narrative. But as a result of such myopia, usually, the narrative is either wrong or off-piste. This occurs with the most famous of preachers/religious personalities who are still very clearly in their formation stage (even after decades of 'learning'). Had they sat on the quote for a while and explored the subject further, over time they'd come across something else that would contextualise the initial quote or moderate their take on the matter. But the pursuit of a holistic narrative and understanding is VERY rarely the objective.

A solid grounding in knowledge that a person then wants to 'share' with the universe must start with first principles. Everything is built on something else. They should be able to justify each level/stage of their argument, and show how their argument relates to other subjects in order to bring the shari'ah together as a coherent whole. They should be aware of the biases/influences, and own them. Every shar'i conclusion ought to be an explication of the Quran. If it doesn't go back to the Quran, whether the divine address (khitab) is explicit or implicit, it is baseless and merely fanciful whims uttered in the name of God. The sunnah gives us insight as to what God wants in practice, whilst we mitigate for the variances in culture between 7th Century Arabia and 21st Century Western English speaking world.

The neurodivergent salaf?

The idea that people of standing, intellect, honour and godly commitment may also be neurodivergent isn’t hard to understand or accept, except amongst those who have no experience. It’s ONLY the insular or those with little exposure to neurodivergence that make assumptions on what it is (and the most negative assumptions at that).

There is no standardised definition of neurodivergence, but it’s basically someone who thinks behaves/differently from the the majority of people. It’s a concept that describes individuality and uniqueness in cognitive functioning. In more recent years it has been used to describe those who think, behave, and learn differently to what is typical in society. Being neurodivergent should not be considered an inherent deficit but simply a difference in processing the world around us. It can be argued that it is the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome, and can be a competitive advantage in the right environment.

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The commoners and the leaders - a medieval tale

For a while I’ve grappled with widespread Islamic narratives feeling like I’m in an alternate reality. For yonks I’ve been trying to understand how people have translated the Quran and the sunnah into something so uninspiring, problematic, irrational, anxiety-inducing, and destructive. But as time has gone on, it’s becoming quite clear.

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London for study

"London remains best city in the world to study in new rankings"

Besides one under-graduate degree, my entire western education was received in London. In fact, a significant part of my shar'i learning also took place in London, and it was mainly in London where all my thoughts/ideas/learning came together and matured. I would say that it was only the lack of shar'i tutors back in the day that compelled me to spend time studying in the Middle East. Were such tutors here now (which I believe are growingly), I wouldn't have had a reason to travel. Some people say it's 'easier' to study abroad where they're mainly referring to cost of study and living, and lack of distraction. To those two points of contention I would say:

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Different Generations

There’s an observation I’d like to impart and somewhat tongue in cheek(!), that an anecdotal analysis of various generations has led me to conclude that the oldest group of millennials (34-39) are the soundest cohort. Now I know what you’re going to say: “mmm…convenient they you’re from amongst them” but hear me out on this one:

From one perspective we’re old skool, but incorporate important stuff of the new skool. From another we’re new skool, but incorporate some of the old skool. Because we’re in the middle we take the best of other generations. As a result:

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Maturity and dialogue through debate

In the past, I’ve spent many years debating various issues with a range of people. The petulance of youth meant that I would passionately argue believing I was correct, and over-investing myself in ‘correcting’ my interlocutor. Back and forth for hours with confrontational retorts and a highly opinionated view of one’s own deductions often leads to such behaviour, as I came to realise. 

Maturity and experience changes all such foolish ways. But how so?

There are many hadith where the Prophet speaks of the traits of the young, who out of inexperience and haste, make errors and behave in ignorant ways. Patience is no virtue here, and experience has yet to mature their thinking and demonstrate how time itself is a resource - over time realisations take place and views alter. Time allows for variables to reveal themselves leading to more informed conclusions. Furthermore, it is due to immaturity that some have a high opinion of their viewpoints; those who have spent a considerable time in the realm of thinking have been privy to the experience of their staunchest views and assumptions being strongly challenged which is why maturity tends to temper self-certainty.

Upon studying with actual scholars who combine knowledge with upright conduct, I found civilised engagement to be highly beneficial. A polite debate would leave me with more rather than less, and ultimately it would open up various avenues of thinking and completely decimate any sense of parochialism. Now my intent wasn’t to prove my teachers wrong but to gain deeper insight into issues, to fill in the blanks, and cognitively evaluate systems of reasoning, highlighting what I found to be inconsistent but only to identify what I might be missing. I would then go away and think deeply about the entire affair without the need to draw hasty conclusions - thoughts left to simmer for a while resulted in far deeper insights and stronger ideas than those reached hastily. I would still be left with a heavy head, but the type that helps muscles grow and not the one that you leaves you merely fatigued with little to show.

The type of learning I have expectedly benefited from most as a Muslim isn’t the puzzle-solving cerebral type, but where I would witness the cogency and wisdom of an ayah or Hadith through experience. One such was the Prophetic caution against contentiously debating scholars, arguing with the foolish, and seeking knowledge for social capital. (Ibn Majah, al-Tirmidhi)

I also found that if shar’i knowledge didn’t make you a better person in all spheres, then either you were learning the wrong thing, or you weren’t learning much at all. 

“But when the righteous are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they will say, ‘All that is good.’” 

Qur'an 16:30

The Prophet (in a mursal Hadith from al-Hasan) spoke of the virtue of a person who offers the obligatory prayers and then sits to teach people goodness over the one who fasts all day and prays all night. It is here also that social media can be a challenging phenomenon - we must accept that people can easily be understood, or fail to articulate themselves accurately, and such cognisance should logically lead to a charitable reading and interpreting things in the best possible light. But what can’t be misinterpreted is acting like a miscreant - demonstrating delinquency on social media cannot be excused by misunderstandings.

Over time I also noticed a pattern in conduct: scholars very rarely engaged idiocy (unless strongly rebuking the type directly leads to public harm) and would literally meet it with a blank expression, often simply walking off. At first I couldn’t make sense of it, it seemed rude; but they were simply safeguarding their own sanity and reputation, as well as denying the foolish any significance. Abu al-Ah’was stated that it used to be said: “If you argue with an idiot then you shall become like him, and if you remain silent then you are saved from him.”

So soon I came to substantially engage with the civilised type, and the benchmark should not be as low as to merely interpret civility here as someone who can communicate without explicit insults, but those who can disagree in a mature fashion without name-calling (which tends to be the method of those who don’t actually have a point), who want to learn something from the engagement open to the idea that there might be opinion-altering variables that they, or I, haven’t yet considered. It’s the Socratic method, ‘a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.’ A cooperative exercise in the spirit of rational enquiry is where one tends to learn the most

Muhammad b. Sirin said: “they viewed it that good/meaningful questions increase the intellect of a man.”

Now it’s also about engaging with a sense of disinvestment - there is rarely anything as important or game-changing so as to incite zealous fervour. And this realisation is why older people tend to be, and sometimes amusingly, extremely chilled out and nonchalant! There are certain types, especially in the context of scholarly enquiry and problem-solving, that you learn not to spend time engaging or answering at all. The first is the questioner who already feels they have a decisive answer, so what’s the actual point? The second are those who desire a quick fix or binary reasoning - if someone isn’t committed to a holistic or meaningful understanding then I'd rather not participate in dialogue nor is binary reasoning of any value. And thirdly, those who have already decided what you mean: there really is no point in explaining yourself to those who are committed to misinterpreting or misunderstanding everything you have to say - usually due to extremely superficial or absurd reasons.

There are cohorts of wonderful people out there, I meet them everyday. We engage, discuss, agree and disagree, see things in a new light, or are left with food for thought. The experience is edifying, uplifting and positively challenging. If we find that not happening with our current circles, then maybe some change of scenery is in order.

Men, wives and mothers

One of the identifiable causes of marital problems that are brought before me is the lack of independence many couples find with regards to in-laws. Either in-laws are persistent in trying to get involved in the workings of a spousal relationship, or spouses aren’t left to get on and live their lives autonomously. The parents of spouses can often present as a huge impediment to the growth and maturation of a spousal relationship: people need to fight, argue, make up (and make love); find common ground, learn to accept certain traits and seek to change other ones. There is no such thing as the perfect partner, but partners are meant to mould themselves and one another in an ongoing process of finding the best format for their relationship, and the types of people they want to live and grow with. God says about spouses “They are as garments to you as you are to them” (2:187) and like garments, even though they fit from the beginning, they can be slightly tight in some places or the material a bit itchy. But after they’re worn in, they become the most comfortable (and preferable) clothes in the wardrobe.

Life is about negotiating with parents, kids, friends, associates, colleagues. To assume everybody must change except you is the height of arrogance and narcissism. Real men seek to be purified (see 9:108), and you're only cleansed when you get dirty. Thus the real man is one that acknowledges that blame probably falls in his camp most of the time and seeks rectification. It is a highly blameworthy quality to always put the blame at other people's doorstep - problem solvers seek to resolve an issue, not run away from it and claim it has little to do with them.

In some ethno-cultures there is the assumption that offspring remain eternal slaves to their parents. Not only is the idea absurd it doesn’t reflect anything in the sharī’ah. Many confuse the idea of God exhorting people to be benign towards their parents “and lower your wing in humility towards them in kindness” (17:24) as somehow suggestive that the parents have the right to ‘everything’. Exhorting one party to be good doesn’t mean the other party suddenly has unfettered rights and access - that is simply illogical reasoning. God telling me to be good to a beggar doesn’t mean that the beggar suddenly has the right to my bank account and to take over my home. It’s simply a one-way exhortation in the interest of specific needs of the beggar. As a man, and obviously I speak from the male prerogative, to find yourself between your mother and your wife is not a ‘difficult’ position - it’s one that shouldn’t even exist. A mother should know the parameters of motherhood, and a wife the parameters of a spouse - and the two do not cross over, ever. If the respective parties are unaware of this or do not understand, it is the job of the man to (tactfully) cultivate each party so that they become aware. Running away from this task is not the ‘manliness’ that such people claim.

Furthermore, there is NO manliness (nor religiosity) in putting your wife down or making her miserable at the behest of your mother (or both parents), in fact it comes across as quite cowardly. And then in this ostensible state of cowardice to expect your wife to respect you or you ‘manliness’ is a bit of a joke - you haven’t exactly given her a reason to. It is no surprise how often I hear women telling me that they find it difficult to respect their husbands out of questioning his manliness. One might retort, “Well maybe there’s something wrong with her…” No, very simply, it should be beyond question. If you want to be the ‘King of the Castle’ or ‘Leader of the Faithful’ in your homes, then perhaps learning to act independently and in the interests of those under your charge would be a good place to start, whilst of course, maintaining a good relationship with mumsy.

Some men insist on acting like 10 year old ‘mummy’s boy’ and then ridiculously use their invented version of religion to legitimise their immaturity or lack of backbone. God exhorts to strength, confidence, aptitude and discernment. Those who demonstrate the aforementioned do not have mothers who treat them as boys; their mothers simply wouldn’t think to and intuitively know that it’d be out of order. To be fair, some males cannot be blamed (I’m differentiating here between men and males): their entire lives are controlled by overbearing parents where they’re not empowered to form the basic skill sets needed to make decisions - let alone good ones, or take care of themselves, let alone others. As a result, they lack maturity, incisiveness, discernment and the interpersonal skills required to navigate the complexities of life and negotiate favourable outcomes. (This also explains a lot about our political and religious ‘leadership’). The kind of absurd things grown adults offer as excuses in arbitration or when seeking advice from me is bewildering.

However, the wives of these men sometimes are no better, they complain about their husbands yet either act like their husband's mother (by being overbearing, babying him, emotionally blackmailing him, or undermining him at every turn) or raise their children in the same way - mollycoddling and infantilising their own growing kids. At the point of marriage, their sons are literally transferred from one set of cradled arms (the mother) to another (the wife’s). Not only is it embarrassing, it’s quite nauseating. If this bizarre cycle is to be broken then we must consider the following in raising our children - both sons and daughters: It is sometimes in the child’s interests to have their lives ‘controlled by adults, in complicated, age-dependent and sphere-of-discretion-dependent ways. What children should be free to decide for themselves will depend on their emotional, physical, and intellectual maturity. Nobody thinks that very young children should be deciding for themselves what to eat, where to cross the road, and the like. But as children get older, the kind of authority over them that is justified changes. *One learns autonomy in large part by practicing it*, so the duty to help children develop the capacity for autonomy implies careful judgments about when children are ready to start making their own choices, and gradually increasing their discretion over their own lives.’ (Brighouse and Swift, Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships, p.26)

As a parent, some of my proudest moments are not when my children simply do as I say, but when they intelligently disagree and posit a robust and compelling response. I once said to one of my children who sought a chocolate biscuit for payment, “Will you only tidy up because of some promise of a reward?” He said, “Why not, dad?” I said: “Isn’t God’s reward enough?” He replied, “That’s exactly what I expected - for God to reward me through you!” Cue silent dad, which doesn’t happen often!

Muslims will only rise to the challenge when they cultivate intelligent, autonomous, rational, godly and civilised beings, ready to take on the world on their own, able to take care of themselves and others, and think creatively. Raise problem-solvers, not adults who cower from confrontation or throw hissy-fits when things do not go their way. Not only does it inevitably cause misery rather than happy and resilient people, it’s certainly not the way of the believers.

Muhammad didn't have ‘slaves’

In this post I’m not interested in what people do or have done, but with normative shar’ī prescriptions. Whilst I’m not surprised by the ignorance or wilful misrepresentation of some (like Douglas Murray), believers ought to know some facts. Controversy is only controversial due to ignorance. I don’t provide a justification for medieval slavery as there’s no need to. This post is simply a very basic clarification for believers. 

  • We believe that there is no ultimate submission except to the one true God, Lord of Abraham and his descendants: Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, all of whom were God’s noble slaves. In the sharī’ah, we only recognise slavery in the context of slavery to God. The Prophet put it, “None of you should use the term ‘My male or female slave’ since all of you are the slaves of God and all your women are the slaves of God. Use the terms ‘my servant (ghulām/jāriyah)’ and ‘my boy/girl (fatā/t)’." (Muslim)
  • The sharī’ah does not legitimise ‘slavery’. The term slavery today refers to a distinct English concept shaped by the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Hence the idea that the messengers of God either practiced or authorised slavery is both erroneous and anachronistic. As I’ve written before, when discussing the sharī’ah we ought to stick to the shar’ī terms God sets out as closely as possible, they are most accurate since it is how God and His messenger described and taught an issue/concept. Often, English words that are used to represent shar’ī concepts are assumed to be the closest resembling words but not the exact thing, rarely are they conceptually the same.
  • What the sharī’ah did permit, albeit seeking to diminish it through a gradualist approach since liberty is the greatest value, was riqq – a form of servitude that provided unfree labour and obliged housing, clothing, food, etc. It was neither racialised nor the product of racial supremacy, many were Arabs themselves, as well as from the Roman Empire, Africa and Asia. The Prophet characterised the raqīq, saying, “They are your brothers who God has placed under your charge. Feed them from what you eat and clothe them as you clothe. Do not burden them with what they cannot bear, and where they are overburdened, help them.” (al-Bukhārī and Muslim) The raqīq was considered an extension of the household (for example, a woman’s awrah in front of her raqīq would be like that of her male family members) and as the hadith intimates, expected to be treated this way.
  • Did the Prophet encourage owning a raqīq? Well notably, when his daughter Fatimah requested a khādim (domestic servant) for help with the home he taught her godly mindfulness (adhkār) instead. As for those who did have riqāq (plural of raqīq), he encouraged two things: good treatment whilst under their charge, and emancipation.
  • In the sharī’ah, the way to free a raqīq was to purchase his or her freedom. This means buying them and setting them free. So at this time, everyone who sought to free a raqīq would own them, even momentarily. And after emancipation the raqīq would be considered something like extended family, a term in ancient Arabic known as mawla.
  • Muhammad, the Prophet of God, was neither a slave owner (however benign the misguided make out his so-called ‘slave owning’ to be) nor a slave trader. And neither was he a raqīq trader. He obtained individual riqāq through two ways: either he was given a raqīq as a gift or he bought them, coming to free them all. al-Nawawī stated in a well known position that they were the Prophet’s riqāq individually, and at separate times. What this suggests is that he doesn’t seem to have simply been a raqīq ‘owner’ in the sense that he had scores of riqāq concurrently for the sole purpose of ownership. Successively obtaining an individual raqīq can suggest that the Prophet intended to obtain riqāq for their eventual emancipation. It cannot be said that he did this because he might have looked bad; being the leader of Madinah, he could have had a band of riqāq and nobody would have raised an eyebrow for something quite ordinary and expected at the time.
  • So while the Prophet freed some riqāq immediately, others he did so after a while. But why the delay? There are variant reasons and possibilities: there may have been mutual benefit in their association; that the raqīq didn’t want to be emancipated just yet; the raqīq wasn’t in a financially and socially stable position where freedom would have meant destitution and/or homelessness; the Prophet wasn’t immediately in a financial position to help the raqīq post-emancipation so waited until he was. We know that it wasn’t always in the interest of a raqiq to be legally emancipated as he or she would then be left without support. In a telling hadith related by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, the Prophet said, “Any man who has a walīdah, educates her well and nurtures her well, then emancipates her and marries her, shall have two rewards.” (al-Bukhārī)

There are variant opinions on the names of the Prophet’s mawālī (plural of mawla) as there were some ṣahābī emancipated by the Prophet but contractually obtained by others. Some of the notable mawālī of the final messenger of God:

  1. Zaid b. Hārithah was obtained as gift to him by Khadijah, emancipated and then adopted as a son. An Arab, he was well known amongst the Quraish as one of the most loved by the Prophet and was referred to by name in the Qur’an (33:37).
  2. Abu Rāfi, a Copt, was a gift to the Prophet from his uncle Abbas and emancipated. Once, he was about to receive some ṣadaqah, but when he asked permission from the Prophet, the Prophet replied, “The mawla of a people is one of them, and ṣadaqah is not permitted for us.”
  3. Thawbān b. Bujdud, a Yemenite Arab, was taken a captive of war in jāhilīyah (pagan times). The Prophet bought him and freed him, but he served the Prophet until he passed away. The Prophet once told him not to ask anything of anyone, and he complied to the extent that if something fell from his hand he wouldn’t ask anyone to pick it up for him, or even pass him anything.
  4. Abu Dhumayrah was a Himyarite Arab whom the Prophet bought and emancipated. The Prophet had Ubay b. Ka’b write a letter in his name that exhorted believers to be good to Abu Dhumayrah and his family which his descendants kept and famously presented to the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi who gave them 300 gold coins (dinars).
  5. Abu Muwayhibah: The Prophet brought him and freed him. He narrated the famous hadith on the Prophet seeking forgiveness for those buried at the Baqī’ cemetery.

May God's peace and blessings by upon his noble slave and final Messenger.

What I’ve learnt from Twitter engagements

There's a lot said about Muslim Twitter (MT) being toxic, but I think it extends to most corners of Twitter. Let's be frank, there are trolls and delinquents everywhere. I've been on Twitter approximately two years now and when I joined, I didn't even know there was such as thing as MT. But soon after I was cautioned to its nature, and like most things I engage with for the first time I looked at it primarily as a learning experience.

So, here are some brief reflections:

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