Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
The richest 400 Americans -- that's right, just four hundred people --
own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich
Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their
combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush
Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion -- the
same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the
"bailout." Why don't they just spend the money they made under Bush to
bail themselves out? They'd still have nearly a trillion dollars left
over to spread amongst themselves!
Of course, they are not going to do that -- at least not voluntarily.
George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left
office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the
rich prefer to do -- spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5
trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber
barons any more of our money?
I would like to propose my own bailout plan. My suggestions, listed
below, are predicated on the singular and simple belief that the rich
must pull themselves up by their own platinum bootstraps. Sorry,
fellows, but you drilled it into our heads one too many times: There...
is... no... free... lunch. And thank you for encouraging us to hate
people on welfare! So, there will be no handouts from us to you. The
Senate, tonight, is going to try to rush their version of a "bailout"
bill to a vote. They must be stopped. We did it on Monday with the
House, and we can do it again today with the Senate.
It is clear, though, that we cannot simply keep protesting without
proposing exactly what it is we think Congress should do. So, after
consulting with a number of people smarter than Phil Gramm, here is my
proposal, now known as "Mike's Rescue Plan." It has 10 simple,
straightforward points. They are:
1. APPOINT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO CRIMINALLY INDICT ANYONE ON WALL
STREET WHO KNOWINGLY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS COLLAPSE. Before any new money
is expended, Congress must commit, by resolution, to criminally
prosecute anyone who had anything to do with the attempted sacking of
our economy. This means that anyone who committed insider trading,
securities fraud or any action that helped bring about this collapse
must go to jail. This Congress must call for a Special Prosecutor who
will vigorously go after everyone who created the mess, and anyone else
who attempts to scam the public in the future.
2. THE RICH MUST PAY FOR THEIR OWN BAILOUT. They may have to live in 5
houses instead of 7. They may have to drive 9 cars instead of 13. The
chef for their mini-terriers may have to be reassigned. But there is no
way in hell, after forcing family incomes to go down more than $2,000
dollars during the Bush years, that working people and the middle class
are going to fork over one dime to underwrite the next yacht purchase.
If they truly need the $700 billion they say they need, well, here is an
easy way they can raise it:
a) Every couple who makes over a million dollars a year and every single
taxpayer who makes over $500,000 a year will pay a 10% surcharge tax for
five years. (It's the Senator Sanders plan. He's like Colonel Sanders,
only he's out to fry the right chickens.) That means the rich will still
be paying less income tax than when Carter was president. This will
raise a total of $300 billion.
b) Like nearly every other democracy, charge a 0.25% tax on every stock
transaction. This will raise more than $200 billion in a year.
c) Because every stockholder is a patriotic American, stockholders will
forgo receiving a dividend check for one quarter and instead this money
will go the treasury to help pay for the bailout.
d) 25% of major U.S. corporations currently pay NO federal income tax.
Federal corporate tax revenues currently amount to 1.7% of the GDP
compared to 5% in the 1950s. If we raise the corporate income tax back
to the level of the 1950s, that gives us an extra $500 billion.
All of this combined should be enough to end the calamity. The rich will
get to keep their mansions and their servants, and our United States
government ("COUNTRY FIRST!") will have a little leftover to repair some
roads, bridges and schools.
3. BAIL OUT THE PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BUILD
AN EIGHTH HOME. There are 1.3 million homes in foreclosure right now.
That is what is at the heart of this problem. So instead of giving the
money to the banks as a gift, pay down each of these mortgages by
$100,000. Force the banks to renegotiate the mortgage so the homeowner
can pay on its current value. To insure that this help does no go to
speculators and those who have tried to make money by flipping houses,
this bailout is only for people's primary residence. And in return for
the $100K paydown on the existing mortgage, the government gets to share
in the holding of the mortgage so that it can get some of its money
back. Thus, the total initial cost of fixing the mortgage crisis at its
roots (instead of with the greedy lenders) is $150 billion, not $700
And let's set the record straight. People who have defaulted on their
mortgages are not "bad risks." They are our fellow Americans, and all
they wanted was what we all want and most of us still get: a home to
call their own. But during the Bush years, millions of them lost the
decent paying jobs they had. Six million fell into poverty. Seven
million lost their health insurance. And every one of them saw their
real wages go down by $2,000. Those who dare to look down on these
Americans who got hit with one bad break after another should be
ashamed. We are a better, stronger, safer and happier society when all
of our citizens can afford to live in a home that they own.
4. IF YOUR BANK OR COMPANY GETS ANY OF OUR MONEY IN A "BAILOUT," THEN WE
OWN YOU. Sorry, that's how it's done. If the bank gives me money so I
can buy a house, the bank "owns" that house until I pay it all back --
with interest. Same deal for Wall Street. Whatever money you need to
stay afloat, if our government considers you a safe risk -- and
necessary for the good of the country -- then you can get a loan, but we
will own you. If you default, we will sell you. This is how the Swedish
government did it and it worked.
5. ALL REGULATIONS MUST BE RESTORED. THE REAGAN REVOLUTION IS DEAD. This
catastrophe happened because we let the fox have the keys to the
henhouse. In 1999, Phil Gramm authored a bill to remove all the
regulations that governed Wall Street and our banking system. The bill
passed and Clinton signed it. Here's what Sen. Phil Gramm, McCain's
chief economic advisor, said at the bill signing:
"In the 1930s ... it was believed that government was the answer. It was
believed that stability and growth came from government overriding the
functioning of free markets.
"We are here today to repeal [that] because we have learned that
government is not the answer. We have learned that freedom and
competition are the answers. We have learned that we promote economic
growth and we promote stability by having competition and freedom.
"I am proud to be here because this is an important bill; it is a
deregulatory bill. I believe that that is the wave of the future, and I
am awfully proud to have been a part of making it a reality."
This bill must be repealed. Bill Clinton can help by leading the effort
for the repeal of the Gramm bill and the reinstating of even tougher
regulations regarding our financial institutions. And when they're done
with that, they can restore the regulations for the airlines, the
inspection of our food, the oil industry, OSHA, and every other entity
that affects our daily lives. All oversight provisions for any "bailout"
must have enforcement monies attached to them and criminal penalties for
6. IF IT'S TOO BIG TO FAIL, THEN THAT MEANS IT'S TOO BIG TO EXIST.
Allowing the creation of these mega-mergers and not enforcing the
monopoly and anti-trust laws has allowed a number of financial
institutions and corporations to become so large, the very thought of
their collapse means an even bigger collapse across the entire economy.
No one or two companies should have this kind of power. The so-called
"economic Pearl Harbor" can't happen when you have hundreds -- thousands
-- of institutions where people have their money. When you have a dozen
auto companies, if one goes belly-up, we don't face a national disaster.
If you have three separately-owned daily newspapers in your town, then
one media company can't call all the shots (I know... What am I
thinking?! Who reads a paper anymore? Sure glad all those mergers and
buyouts left us with a strong and free press!). Laws must be enacted to
prevent companies from being so large and dominant that with one
slingshot to the eye, the giant falls and dies. And no institution
should be allowed to set up money schemes that no one can understand. If
you can't explain it in two sentences, you shouldn't be taking anyone's
7. NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD BE PAID MORE THAN 40 TIMES THEIR AVERAGE
EMPLOYEE, AND NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD RECEIVE ANY KIND OF "PARACHUTE" OTHER
THAN THE VERY GENEROUS SALARY HE OR SHE MADE WHILE WORKING FOR THE
COMPANY. In 1980, the average American CEO made 45 times what their
employees made. By 2003, they were making 254 times what their workers
made. After 8 years of Bush, they now make over 400 times what their
average employee makes. How this can happen at publicly held companies
is beyond reason. In Britain, the average CEO makes 28 times what their
average employee makes. In Japan, it's only 17 times! The last I heard,
the CEO of Toyota was living the high life in Tokyo. How does he do it
on so little money? Seriously, this is an outrage. We have created the
mess we're in by letting the people at the top become bloated beyond
belief with millions of dollars. This has to stop. Not only should no
executive who receives help out of this mess profit from it, but any
executive who was in charge of running his company into the ground
should be fired before the company receives any help.
8. STRENGTHEN THE FDIC AND MAKE IT A MODEL FOR PROTECTING NOT ONLY
PEOPLE'S SAVINGS, BUT ALSO THEIR PENSIONS AND THEIR HOMES. Obama was
correct yesterday to propose expanding FDIC protection of people's
savings in their banks to $250,000. But this same sort of government
insurance must be given to our nation's pension funds. People should
never have to worry about whether or not the money they've put away for
their old age will be there. This will mean strict government oversight
of companies who manage their employees' funds -- or perhaps it means
that the companies will have to turn over those funds and their
management to the government. People's private retirement funds must
also be protected, but perhaps it's time to consider not having one's
retirement invested in the casino known as the stock market. Our
government should have a solemn duty to guarantee that no one who grows
old in this country has to worry about ending up destitute.
9. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH, CALM DOWN, AND NOT LET FEAR
RULE THE DAY. Turn off the TV! We are not in the Second Great
Depression. The sky is not falling. Pundits and politicians are lying to
us so fast and furious it's hard not to be affected by all the fear
mongering. Even I, yesterday, wrote to you and repeated what I heard on
the news, that the Dow had the biggest one day drop in its history.
Well, that's true in terms of points, but its 7% drop came nowhere close
to Black Monday in 1987 when the stock market in one day lost 23% of its
value. In the '80s, 3,000 banks closed, but America didn't go out of
business. These institutions have always had their ups and downs and
eventually it works out. It has to, because the rich do not like their
wealth being disrupted! They have a vested interest in calming things
down and getting back into the Jacuzzi.
As crazy as things are right now, tens of thousands of people got a car
loan this week. Thousands went to the bank and got a mortgage to buy a
home. Students just back to college found banks more than happy to put
them into hock for the next 15 years with a student loan. Life has gone
on. Not a single person has lost any of their money if it's in a bank or
a treasury note or a CD. And the most amazing thing is that the American
public hasn't bought the scare campaign. The citizens didn't blink, and
instead told Congress to take that bailout and shove it. THAT was
impressive. Why didn't the population succumb to the fright-filled
warnings from their president and his cronies? Well, you can only say
'Saddam has da bomb' so many times before the people realize you're a
lying sack of shite. After eight long years, the nation is worn out and
simply can't take it any longer.
10. CREATE A NATIONAL BANK, A "PEOPLE'S BANK." If we really are itching
to print up a trillion dollars, instead of giving it to a few rich
people, why don't we give it to ourselves? Now that we own Freddie and
Fannie, why not set up a people's bank? One that can provide
low-interest loans for all sorts of people who want to own a home, start
a small business, go to school, come up with the cure for cancer or
create the next great invention. And now that we own AIG, the country's
largest insurance company, let's take the next step and provide health
insurance for everyone. Medicare for all. It will save us so much money
in the long run. And we won't be 12th on the life expectancy list. We'll
be able to have a longer life, enjoying our government-protected
pension, and living to see the day when the corporate criminals who
caused so much misery are let out of prison so that we can help
reacclimate them to civilian life -- a life with one nice home and a
gas-free car that was invented with help from the People's Bank.
P.S. Call your Senators now. Here's a backup link in case we crash that
site again. They are going to attempt their own version of the Looting
of America tonight. And let your reps know if you agree with my 10-point
Friday, September 05, 2008
Are you really so ashamed that you should look like a person of jannah? Will people make fun of you for wearing "flood-pants"? Those "flood-pants" are just another plank in the ark of the Sunnah. Build it. The flood is coming. Sayyiduna Nuh, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said to his people, when they would pass him building his ark and mock him, that one day he would mock and laugh at them. The sunnah is the ark. The flood is coming...
'Isbaal' : Is Hanging Trousers Below the Ankles Impermissible Due to Pride? Answered by Mufti Mohammed Sajaad (of As-Suffa Institute)
Q) Is having it below the ankle in today's society that bad especially since wearing trousers/jeans (which go below the ankles) is normal? The ahadith prohibit wearing it with pride as doing anything with pride is haram. The majority of the fuqaha (including al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and the Hanafi jurists) have said to have it below the ankle without pride is makruh tanzihi/permissible with slight distaste. Only a few scholars have said otherwise e.g. Ibn Arabi al-Mailiki. This is from my reading anyway. So in this society when people wear it below the ankle is it convenient or even legally substantiated to condemn people for doing it?
ANSWER The idea that if a person does not have pride he can lower his garments below the ankles is incorrect. The truth is, with this ruling, regardless of whether a person has pride or not he must keep his garments above the ankles. Though, if accidentally and unintentionally they were to fall below the ankles there would be no sin upon the person (which also explains the hadith of Abu Bakr r.a.). However the ruling cannot be made to revolve around a person's own view about whether he has pride. This is because pride is a surreptitious thing. A person who is afflicted with this evil spiritual disease will, not only will never acknowledge he has pride, in fact in many cases, he will not even know. It is simply silly to think an individual will be able to assert about himself that: Yes I am free of pride thus I can keep the garments below the ankles. Yet this is the bizarre consequence of holding this view. The reality is that the ruling about having the garment above the ankles is one in which the Sabab (apparent cause) has been treated like the Illah (real underlying cause). Just as in travel, the dispensation to shorten the prayer was obviously given due to hardship. However, because it is difficult to always say when hardship is being met by the traveler, the cause for this ruling to shorten was not made the basis of this ruling, such that if a person did not find hardship, even when traveling a thousand miles, he could not shorten. Rather the apparent cause was made the cause for the ruling, namely travel. Thus wherever travel (48 miles) is found this ruling applies regardless of the extent of the hardship. (See Shaikh Taqi Uthmani's Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, p122, vol.4) Similarly, in the case of the ruling of having garments above the ankles, because it is highly difficult to tell if a person has pride in this act, its apparent cause (garments above the ankles) was made the ruling's cause- rather than the real underlying cause (pride). Thus, it will be sinful every time a person intentionally lets his garments go below the ankles. The very act of Isbal being outlawed in this manner also tells us that this act in itself is a cause of creating pride. Imam Ibn Hajr, in Fath al-Bari, Kitab al-Libas, p.324 vol.10, writes: "Lowering the garments below the ankles must bring dragging the garment and dragging the garment must bring with it pride even if the wearer does not intend pride (Khuyula). This meaning is supported by the hadith narrated by Ahmad bin Manee, "...The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: 'Beware of dragging the garment, for indeed this is from pride.' "
[Imam] Ibn Hajr then narrates the following hadith that emphatically show this ruling is not restricted to when this act is done in pride:
 In a hadith from Imam Tabarani, whose chain is sound, which is emphatic in this ruling not being restricted to when this act is done in pride. Namely, "The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, struck four fingers of his hand below the knee (on the shin) and said: "O Amar (bin Zurarah)! this is the place of the garment." After citing this hadith, Imam Ibn Hajr writes: "It is obvious the aforementioned Amar did not intend pride in lowering his garment."  Also narrated by Tabarani, the Prophet, peace and blessing upon him, saw a man whose garments were below the ankles, he ordered him: "Raise your waist-wrap!" The man said: "I have an ailment in my legs; my knees collide with each other." He peace be upon him, replied: "Raise your garment because all of the creation of Allah is beautiful." Again, it is clear in this hadith this man was not doing this due to pride yet still he was ordered to raise his garments.  Ibn Majah, Nasai and Ibn Hibban narrate with a sound chain that: Mughirah ibn Shubah said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, seized the wrap of Sufyan ibn Suhail, saying: 'O Sufyan do not lower garments below the ankles, verily Allah detests those who lower their garments below the ankles (Laa Tusbil fa-inna-allaha laa yuhibbu-l-Musbileen)." All three hadith are recorded in Fath al-Bari. It would be incorrect to think that the majority of the scholars hold, as you mentioned, that it is fine to lower garments below the ankles if there is no pride in it. Similarly, it also wrong and misleading to suggest the ruling of Tahreem (unlawfulness) is peculiar to the Indian scholars. [Imam] Ibn Hajr, himself a prominent Shafi jurist, records that Imam Shafi's position is that under all circumstances it will forbidden to allow the garment to go below the ankles; except that if it is with the absence of pride the sin gained will be less. However, there will be the sin of resembling women as their garments are to be below the ankles. Imam Hakim, with a sound chain narrates: "The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings be upon him, cursed the man who wears women's clothes" (Op cit). Similarly, the Maliki jurist Ibn al-Arabi, affirming the above explanation of the threat of pride, states: "It is not permitted for a man to allow his garment to go beyond his ankle saying: 'I am not doing it in pride.' This is because the prohibition includes this by virtue of the wording. It is not permitted for a person who is being included in the ruling by the words (of a text) to say: 'I will not follow it because that reason (Illah) is not found in me,' for it is an unacceptable claim- rather his lowering his garment tells of his pride," (Op cit). Thus it will always be forbidden (Makruh Tahrimi) to allow the garment to go below the ankles and the Salah of a person in this manner will have to be repeated in its time. Although Shaikh Faraz Rabbani cites Fataawa Hindiyya, for his view that it is Makruh tanzihi without pride, on the same page of this work, strong words are used against this practice. It says on p.333 vol.5, that: "…lowering the waist wrap and the shirt below the ankles is a reprehensible innovation (Bidah). The garment should be above the ankles up to the middle of the shins." [After the initial reply was given to the question of the prohibition for men of lowering their garments, many questions were received questioning this ruling. The reply below is a second reply to answer these objections] The first point that was made was that this ruling is only so when done in pride. This point was actually answered in the first reply, nevertheless more proofs can be cited to leave no doubt that this ruling is not suspended on the existence of pride. The basis of this objection is the hadith that forbid Isbal mention that it is blameworthy when done in pride. However, there are also many hadith that prohibit this act irrelevant of the reason, suggesting this is supposed to be the dress of the believer at all times. I will record below the many hadith that clearly tell us that this ruling was not restricted to pride: i) The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), said: "There are three people Allah will not speak to on the Day of Judgement, nor will He look at them or purify them of their sins. For them will be a painful chastisement….The one who allows his garments to fall below the ankles, a person who recounts favours he has done to others and a person who sells his goods by a false oath." (Muslim) ii) The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: "Beware of lowering the garment for it is from pride and Allah detests pride…" (Tirmidhi) This hadith tells us that actually this act in itself brings pride in a person. iii) The hadith in Sunnan Abu Dawud, hadith no.638, Bab al-Isbal fi al-Salah: Abu Hurairah narrates that: "A man was praying with his garment below his ankles when the Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: 'Go and repeat your Wudu.' So the man went and did his Wudu and returned. The Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) again said: 'Go and repeat your Wudu.' So the man went and repeated his Wudu and returned. The man asked: 'O Messenger of Allah what is it that you told him to do Wudu (again) and then you did not say anything?' The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) said: 'He was praying with his garment below his ankles, verily Allah (may His mention be magnified) does not accept the prayer of a man who lowers his garments.' " Some have challenged the authenticity of this hadith. The fact is the hadith is sound and has also been narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in his Sunnan, vol.2 p342, Kitab Karahiyyat Isbal al-Izar fi-Salah. Imam Nawawi in Riyad al-Salihin has confirmed that it is Sahih, hadith no.797. iv) The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: "The waist-wrap of the Muslim must be up to the middle of the shins; and there is no harm if it goes between there and the ankles..." (Abu Dawud) Also note that the Sahaba never thought this ruling was restricted to if done in pride; they thought this was in fact the dress of the believing men. It is for this reason that, as Shaikh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya writes in Awjaz al-Masaalik, vol.14 p220, Umm Salamah r.a. brought up the issue with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) having understood that the above hadith were not to be restricted to the case of pride, (i.e. this was the instructions for how dress in general should be) and as such applied to women as well. She asked the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings upon him) when he spoke about the lowering the garments, 'What about the woman O Messenger of Allah ?' This clearly shows she understood the condemnation for lowering the garment was general (Mutlaq) irrespective of pride. But she asked because women also had the order to cover their Awrah. He (peace and blessings be upon him) then elaborated for her that they were exempt from this ruling.
v) Ibn Umar r.a. narrates that: "I passed by the Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings be upon him, and my garment was loose, so he, peace and blessings upon him, said: 'O Abdullah raise your garment,' so I raised it. Then he said, 'more,' so I raised it more. Ever since then I have been vigilant regarding it." (Muslim) It was also wrongly argued that the Hanafi school actually does not hold that garments for men must be above the ankles always. Rather it was claimed, they say, if a person does not do this in pride then it is considered to be merely Makruh Tanzihi. The evidence they have cited for this is the view of Imam Badr al-Din al-Ayni and the same is also written in Fataawa Hindiyyah. The truth however is that in Umdat al-Qari, Imam Ayni, does not say this is the position of the Hanafi School. What can correctly be ascribed to Imam Al-Ayni are the following words explaining the heading in Sahih al-Bukhari: The Chapter of he who pulled his garment (below the ankles) without pride. Imam Ayni immediately after this wrote: "This chapter is to explain the ruling of that person who lowered his garment without the intention of pride, for there is no harm in it without any dislike…," vol.21 p295, Kitab al-Libas. Under the above heading the famous hadith in which Abu Bakr complains of his garment going below the ankles is mentioned, and in which the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) says: "You are not from those who do it out of pride."
As can be seen from the context all that Imam Ayni is saying, which we of course accept, is that if unintentionally the garment goes below the ankles one need not worry that he has committed the great sin that lies in Isbal. But, this does not mean, and nor could it mean if the context is kept in view, that: A person is permitted to lower his garment if he thinks he is not doing it in pride. The second source some people have used to claim this erroneous view, that if a person does not do it in pride he is blameless, is Fataawa Hindiyyah. The text is also said to say without pride this act is Makruh Tanzihi. However again it seems this is a misrepresentation of the facts. In this work the text does say: "…If it is not done in pride then it is Makruh Tanzihi…," Ninth chapter on Clothing, vol.5 p333. Those who quote this however fail to mention that the very sentence before this said: "Raising up the garments is Sunna and lowering the garments below the ankles is a reprehensible innovation (Bidah). The garment should be above the ankles up to half way of the shins..." This text is emphatic in stating the evil of this act and its being always impermissible. And, again one can clearly tell from the context, that the jurists mentioned the ruling of Tanzihi (which technically means there is no sin upon a person for doing that act), for that case when it is done unintentionally or for a need- to simply outline that there is no sin. As mentioned earlier one may not lower his garment without a need. To do so claiming that one does not have pride is simply distorting the Shariah. For the best of generations, Sahaba, Tabi'een and Taba' Tabi'een, never ever played with the words of the hadith in this manner. Not one from them understood this ruling in this way such that a single one of them (though if anyone could be free of pride it was them) asserted, "I will keep my garments below the ankles as I am free of pride."
Had there been some leeway in this regard in the Shariah they would never have been so careful regarding it to the point that they would prevent others from doing it. Yet they appreciated more than us that one should have good opinions about others and not judge their intentions. In other words it was not just left to personal opinion about whether one had pride or not. We see Umar r.a., having been fatally wounded, on his death bed stop a young man who had his garment below the ankles and commanded him to raise it. So how can this attitude be given any credence today? Especially, when we see many men today, not desiring to raise their garments above the ankles and looking down upon those who do. For them, it is obvious, the motivation in not raising their garments is shame, and the greater respect and prestige they feel in wearing the garments below the ankles, all of which is a symptom of that surreptitious disease called pride. If the reason for this ruling was pride such that if it is done without it then there is no blame, then are we really saying our judgment about our internal state is better than that of the likes of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (r.a.) who all would keep their garments above their ankles?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Last month, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a nuanced, scholarly lecture in London about whether the British legal system should allow non-Christian courts to decide certain matters of family law. Britain has no constitutional separation of church and state. The archbishop noted that “the law of the Church of England is the law of the land” there; indeed, ecclesiastical courts that once handled marriage and divorce are still integrated into the British legal system, deciding matters of church property and doctrine. His tentative suggestion was that, subject to the agreement of all parties and the strict requirement of protecting equal rights for women, it might be a good idea to consider allowing Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts to handle marriage and divorce.
Then all hell broke loose. From politicians across the spectrum to senior church figures and the ubiquitous British tabloids came calls for the leader of the world’s second largest Christian denomination to issue a retraction or even resign. Williams has spent the last couple of years trying to hold together the global Anglican Communion in the face of continuing controversies about ordaining gay priests and recognizing same-sex marriages. Yet little in that contentious battle subjected him to the kind of outcry that his reference to religious courts unleashed. Needless to say, the outrage was not occasioned by Williams’s mention of Orthodox Jewish law. For the purposes of public discussion, it was the word “Shariah” that was radioactive.
In some sense, the outrage about according a degree of official status to Shariah in a Western country should come as no surprise. No legal system has ever had worse press. To many, the word “Shariah” conjures horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed. By contrast, who today remembers that the much-loved English common law called for execution as punishment for hundreds of crimes, including theft of any object worth five shillings or more? How many know that until the 18th century, the laws of most European countries authorized torture as an official component of the criminal-justice system? As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them — hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.
In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world. Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act. The extremes of our own legal system — like life sentences for relatively minor drug crimes, in some cases — are routinely ignored. We neglect to mention the recent vintage of our tentative improvements in family law. It sometimes seems as if we need Shariah as Westerners have long needed Islam: as a canvas on which to project our ideas of the horrible, and as a foil to make us look good.
In the Muslim world, on the other hand, the reputation of Shariah has undergone an extraordinary revival in recent years. A century ago, forward-looking Muslims thought of Shariah as outdated, in need of reform or maybe abandonment. Today, 66 percent of Egyptians, 60 percent of Pakistanis and 54 percent of Jordanians say that Shariah should be the only source of legislation in their countries. Islamist political parties, like those associated with the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, make the adoption of Shariah the most prominent plank in their political platforms. And the message resonates. Wherever Islamists have been allowed to run for office in Arabic-speaking countries, they have tended to win almost as many seats as the governments have let them contest. The Islamist movement in its various incarnations — from moderate to radical — is easily the fastest growing and most vital in the Muslim world; the return to Shariah is its calling card.
How is it that what so many Westerners see as the most unappealing and premodern aspect of Islam is, to many Muslims, the vibrant, attractive core of a global movement of Islamic revival? The explanation surely must go beyond the oversimplified assumption that Muslims want to use Shariah to reverse feminism and control women — especially since large numbers of women support the Islamists in general and the ideal of Shariah in particular.
Is Shariah the Rule of Law?
One reason for the divergence between Western and Muslim views of Shariah is that we are not all using the word to mean the same thing. Although it is commonplace to use the word “Shariah” and the phrase “Islamic law” interchangeably, this prosaic English translation does not capture the full set of associations that the term “Shariah” conjures for the believer. Shariah, properly understood, is not just a set of legal rules. To believing Muslims, it is something deeper and higher, infused with moral and metaphysical purpose. At its core, Shariah represents the idea that all human beings — and all human governments — are subject to justice under the law.
In fact, “Shariah” is not the word traditionally used in Arabic to refer to the processes of Islamic legal reasoning or the rulings produced through it: that word is fiqh, meaning something like Islamic jurisprudence. The word “Shariah” connotes a connection to the divine, a set of unchanging beliefs and principles that order life in accordance with God’s will. Westerners typically imagine that Shariah advocates simply want to use the Koran as their legal code. But the reality is much more complicated. Islamist politicians tend to be very vague about exactly what it would mean for Shariah to be the source for the law of the land — and with good reason, because just adopting such a principle would not determine how the legal system would actually operate.
Shariah is best understood as a kind of higher law, albeit one that includes some specific, worldly commands. All Muslims would agree, for example, that it prohibits lending money at interest — though not investments in which risks and returns are shared; and the ban on Muslims drinking alcohol is an example of an unequivocal ritual prohibition, even for liberal interpreters of the faith. Some rules associated with Shariah are undoubtedly old-fashioned and harsh. Men and women are treated unequally, for example, by making it hard for women to initiate divorce without forfeiting alimony. The prohibition on sodomy, though historically often unenforced, makes recognition of same-sex relationships difficult to contemplate. But Shariah also prohibits bribery or special favors in court. It demands equal treatment for rich and poor. It condemns the vigilante-style honor killings that still occur in some Middle Eastern countries. And it protects everyone’s property — including women’s — from being taken from them. Unlike in Iran, where wearing a head scarf is legally mandated and enforced by special religious police, the Islamist view in most other Muslim countries is that the head scarf is one way of implementing the religious duty to dress modestly — a desirable social norm, not an enforceable legal rule. And mandating capital punishment for apostasy is not on the agenda of most elected Islamists. For many Muslims today, living in corrupt autocracies, the call for Shariah is not a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice: the rule of law.
The Sway of the Scholars
To understand Shariah’s deep appeal, we need to ask a crucial question that is rarely addressed in the West: What, in fact, is the system of Islamic law? In his lifetime, the Prophet Muhammad was both the religious and the political leader of the community of Muslim believers. His revelation, the Koran, contained some laws, pertaining especially to ritual matters and inheritance; but it was not primarily a legal book and did not include a lengthy legal code of the kind that can be found in parts of the Hebrew Bible. When the first generation of believers needed guidance on a subject that was not addressed by revelation, they went directly to Muhammad. He either answered of his own accord or, if he was unsure, awaited divine guidance in the form of a new revelation.
With the death of Muhammad, divine revelation to the Muslim community stopped. The role of the political-religious leader passed to a series of caliphs (Arabic for “substitute”) who stood in the prophet’s stead. That left the caliph in a tricky position when it came to resolving difficult legal matters. The caliph possessed Muhammad’s authority but not his access to revelation. It also left the community in something of a bind. If the Koran did not speak clearly to a particular question, how was the law to be determined?
The answer that developed over the first couple of centuries of Islam was that the Koran could be supplemented by reference to the prophet’s life — his sunna, his path. (The word “sunna” is the source of the designation Sunni — one who follows the prophet’s path.) His actions and words were captured in an oral tradition, beginning presumably with a person who witnessed the action or statement firsthand. Accurate reports had to be distinguished from false ones. But of course even a trustworthy report on a particular situation could not directly resolve most new legal problems that arose later. To address such problems, it was necessary to reason by analogy from one situation to another. There was also the possibility that a communal consensus existed on what to do under particular circumstances, and that, too, was thought to have substantial weight.
This fourfold combination — the Koran, the path of the prophet as captured in the collections of reports, analogical reasoning and consensus — amounted to a basis for a legal system. But who would be able to say how these four factors fit together? Indeed, who had the authority to say that these factors and not others formed the sources of the law? The first four caliphs, who knew the prophet personally, might have been able to make this claim for themselves. But after them, the caliphs were faced with a growing group of specialists who asserted that they, collectively, could ascertain the law from the available sources. This self-appointed group came to be known as the scholars — and over the course of a few generations, they got the caliphs to acknowledge them as the guardians of the law. By interpreting a law that originated with God, they gained control over the legal system as it actually existed. That made them, and not the caliphs, into “the heirs of the prophets.”
Among the Sunnis, this model took effect very early and persisted until modern times. For the Shiites, who believe that the succession of power followed the prophet’s lineage, the prophet had several successors who claimed extraordinary divine authority. Once they were gone, however, the Shiite scholars came to occupy a role not unlike that of their Sunni counterparts.
Under the constitutional theory that the scholars developed to explain the division of labor in the Islamic state, the caliph had paramount responsibility to fulfill the divine injunction to “command the right and prohibit the wrong.” But this was not a task he could accomplish on his own. It required him to delegate responsibility to scholarly judges, who would apply God’s law as they interpreted it. The caliph could promote or fire them as he wished, but he could not dictate legal results: judicial authority came from the caliph, but the law came from the scholars.
The caliphs — and eventually the sultans who came to rule once the caliphate lost most of its worldly influence — still had plenty of power. They handled foreign affairs more or less at their discretion. And they could also issue what were effectively administrative regulations — provided these regulations did not contradict what the scholars said Shariah required. The regulations addressed areas where Shariah was silent. They also enabled the state to regulate social conduct without having to put every case before the courts, where convictions would often be impossible to obtain because of the strict standards of proof required for punishment. As a result of these regulations, many legal matters (perhaps most) fell outside the rules given specifically by Shariah.
The upshot is that the system of Islamic law as it came to exist allowed a great deal of leeway. That is why today’s advocates of Shariah as the source of law are not actually recommending the adoption of a comprehensive legal code derived from or dictated by Shariah — because nothing so comprehensive has ever existed in Islamic history. To the Islamist politicians who advocate it or for the public that supports it, Shariah generally means something else. It means establishing a legal system in which God’s law sets the ground rules, authorizing and validating everyday laws passed by an elected legislature. In other words, for them, Shariah is expected to function as something like a modern constitution.
The Rights of Humans and the Rights of God
So in contemporary Islamic politics, the call for Shariah does not only or primarily mean mandating the veiling of women or the use of corporal punishment — it has an essential constitutional dimension as well. But what is the particular appeal of placing Shariah above ordinary law?
The answer lies in a little-remarked feature of traditional Islamic government: that a state under Shariah was, for more than a thousand years, subject to a version of the rule of law. And as a rule-of-law government, the traditional Islamic state had an advantage that has been lost in the dictatorships and autocratic monarchies that have governed so much of the Muslim world for the last century. Islamic government was legitimate, in the dual sense that it generally respected the individual legal rights of its subjects and was seen by them as doing so. These individual legal rights, known as “the rights of humans” (in contrast to “the rights of God” to such things as ritual obedience), included basic entitlements to life, property and legal process — the protections from arbitrary government oppression sought by people all over the world for centuries.
Of course, merely declaring the ruler subject to the law was not enough on its own; the ruler actually had to follow the law. For that, he needed incentives. And as it happened, the system of government gave him a big one, in the form of a balance of power with the scholars. The ruler might be able to use pressure once in a while to get the results he wanted in particular cases. But because the scholars were in charge of the law, and he was not, the ruler could pervert the course of justice only at the high cost of being seen to violate God’s law — thereby undermining the very basis of his rule.
In practice, the scholars’ leverage to demand respect for the law came from the fact that the caliphate was not hereditary as of right. That afforded the scholars major influence at the transitional moments when a caliph was being chosen or challenged. On taking office, a new ruler — even one designated by his dead predecessor — had to fend off competing claimants. The first thing he would need was affirmation of the legitimacy of his assumption of power. The scholars were prepared to offer just that, in exchange for the ruler’s promise to follow the law.
Once in office, rulers faced the inevitable threat of invasion or a palace coup. The caliph would need the scholars to declare a religious obligation to protect the state in a defensive jihad. Having the scholars on his side in times of crisis was a tremendous asset for the ruler who could be said to follow the law. Even if the ruler was not law-abiding, the scholars still did not spontaneously declare a sitting caliph disqualified. This would have been foolish, especially in view of the fact that the scholars had no armies at their disposal and the sitting caliph did. But their silence could easily be interpreted as an invitation for a challenger to step forward and be validated.
The scholars’ insistence that the ruler obey Shariah was motivated largely by their belief that it was God’s will. But it was God’s will as they interpreted it. As a confident, self-defined elite that controlled and administered the law according to well-settled rules, the scholars were agents of stability and predictability — crucial in societies where the transition from one ruler to the next could be disorderly and even violent. And by controlling the law, the scholars could limit the ability of the executive to expropriate the property of private citizens. This, in turn, induced the executive to rely on lawful taxation to raise revenues, which itself forced the rulers to be responsive to their subjects’ concerns. The scholars and their law were thus absolutely essential to the tremendous success that Islamic society enjoyed from its inception into the 19th century. Without Shariah, there would have been no Haroun al-Rashid in Baghdad, no golden age of Muslim Spain, no reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul.
For generations, Western students of the traditional Islamic constitution have assumed that the scholars could offer no meaningful check on the ruler. As one historian has recently put it, although Shariah functioned as a constitution, “the constitution was not enforceable,” because neither scholars nor subjects could “compel their ruler to observe the law in the exercise of government.” But almost no constitution anywhere in the world enables judges or nongovernmental actors to “compel” the obedience of an executive who controls the means of force. The Supreme Court of the United States has no army behind it. Institutions that lack the power of the sword must use more subtle means to constrain executives. Like the American constitutional balance of powers, the traditional Islamic balance was maintained by words and ideas, and not just by forcible compulsion.
So today’s Muslims are not being completely fanciful when they act and speak as though Shariah can structure a constitutional state subject to the rule of law. One big reason that Islamist political parties do so well running on a Shariah platform is that their constituents recognize that Shariah once augured a balanced state in which legal rights were respected.
From Shariah to Despotism
But if Shariah is popular among many Muslims in large part because of its historical association with the rule of law, can it actually do the same work today? Here there is reason for caution and skepticism. The problem is that the traditional Islamic constitution rested on a balance of powers between a ruler subject to law and a class of scholars who interpreted and administered that law. The governments of most contemporary majority-Muslim states, however, have lost these features. Rulers govern as if they were above the law, not subject to it, and the scholars who once wielded so much influence are much reduced in status. If they have judicial posts at all, it is usually as judges in the family-law courts.
In only two important instances do scholars today exercise real power, and in both cases we can see a deviation from their traditional role. The first is Iran, where Ayatollah Khomeini, himself a distinguished scholar, assumed executive power and became supreme leader after the 1979 revolution. The result of this configuration, unique in the history of the Islamic world, is that the scholarly ruler had no counterbalance and so became as unjust as any secular ruler with no check on his authority. The other is Saudi Arabia, where the scholars retain a certain degree of power. The unfortunate outcome is that they can slow any government initiative for reform, however minor, but cannot do much to keep the government responsive to its citizens. The oil-rich state does not need to obtain tax revenues from its citizens to operate — and thus has little reason to keep their interests in mind.
How the scholars lost their exalted status as keepers of the law is a complex story, but it can be summed up in the adage that partial reforms are sometimes worse than none at all. In the early 19th century, the Ottoman empire responded to military setbacks with an internal reform movement. The most important reform was the attempt to codify Shariah. This Westernizing process, foreign to the Islamic legal tradition, sought to transform Shariah from a body of doctrines and principles to be discovered by the human efforts of the scholars into a set of rules that could be looked up in a book.
Once the law existed in codified form, however, the law itself was able to replace the scholars as the source of authority. Codification took from the scholars their all-important claim to have the final say over the content of the law and transferred that power to the state. To placate the scholars, the government kept the Shariah courts running but restricted them to handling family-law matters. This strategy paralleled the British colonial approach of allowing religious courts to handle matters of personal status. Today, in countries as far apart as Kenya and Pakistan, Shariah courts still administer family law — a small subset of their original historical jurisdiction.
Codification signaled the death knell for the scholarly class, but it did not destroy the balance of powers on its own. Promulgated in 1876, the Ottoman constitution created a legislature composed of two lawmaking bodies — one elected, one appointed by the sultan. This amounted to the first democratic institution in the Muslim world; had it established itself, it might have popularized the notion that the people represent the ultimate source of legal authority. Then the legislature could have replaced the scholars as the institutional balance to the executive.
But that was not to be. Less than a year after the legislature first met, Sultan Abdulhamid II suspended its operation — and for good measure, he suspended the constitution the following year. Yet the sultan did not restore the scholars to the position they once occupied. With the scholars out of the way and no legislature to replace them, the sultan found himself in the position of near-absolute ruler. This arrangement set the pattern for government in the Muslim world after the Ottoman empire fell. Law became a tool of the ruler, not an authority over him. What followed, perhaps unsurprisingly, was dictatorship and other forms of executive dominance — the state of affairs confronted by the Islamists who seek to restore Shariah.
A Democratic Shariah?
The Islamists today, partly out of realism, partly because they are rarely scholars themselves, seem to have little interest in restoring the scholars to their old role as the constitutional balance to the executive. The Islamist movement, like other modern ideologies, seeks to capture the existing state and then transform society through the tools of modern government. Its vision for bringing Shariah to bear therefore incorporates two common features of modern government: the legislature and the constitution.
The mainstream Sunni Islamist position, found, for example, in the electoral platforms of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Justice and Development Party in Morocco, is that an elected legislature should draft and pass laws that are consistent with the spirit of Islamic law. On questions where Islamic law does not provide clear direction, the democratically chosen legislature is supposed to use its discretion to adopt laws infused by Islamic values.
The result is a profound change in the theoretical structure underlying Islamic law: Shariah is democratized in that its care is given to a popularly elected legislature. In Iraq, for example, where the constitution declares Shariah to be “the source of law,” it is in principle up to the National Assembly to pass laws that reflect its spirit.
In case the assembly gets it wrong, however, the Islamists often recommend the judicial review of legislative actions to guarantee that they do not violate Islamic law or values. What is sometimes called a “repugnancy clause,” mandating that a judicial body overturn laws repugnant to Islam, has made its way into several recent constitutions that seek to reconcile Islam and democracy. It may be found, for example, in the Afghan Constitution of 2004 and the Iraqi Constitution of 2005. (I had a small role advising the Iraqi drafters.) Islamic judicial review transforms the highest judicial body of the state into a guarantor of conformity with Islamic law. The high court can then use this power to push for a conservative vision of Islamic law, as in Afghanistan, or for a more moderate version, as in Pakistan.
Islamic judicial review puts the court in a position resembling the one that scholars once occupied. Like the scholars, the judges of the reviewing court present their actions as interpretations of Islamic law. But of course the judges engaged in Islamic judicial review are not the scholars but ordinary judges (as in Iraq) or a mix of judges and scholars (as in Afghanistan). In contrast to the traditional arrangement, the judges’ authority comes not from Shariah itself but from a written constitution that gives them the power of judicial review.
The modern incarnation of Shariah is nostalgic in its invocation of the rule of law but forward-looking in how it seeks to bring this result about. What the Islamists generally do not acknowledge, though, is that such institutions on their own cannot deliver the rule of law. The executive authority also has to develop a commitment to obeying legal and constitutional judgments. That will take real-world incentives, not just a warm feeling for the values associated with Shariah.
How that happens — how an executive administration accustomed to overweening power can be given incentives to subordinate itself to the rule of law — is one of the great mysteries of constitutional development worldwide. Total revolution has an extremely bad track record in recent decades, at least in majority-Muslim states. The revolution that replaced the shah in Iran created an oppressively top-heavy constitutional structure. And the equally revolutionary dreams some entertained for Iraq — dreams of a liberal secular state or of a functioning Islamic democracy — still seem far from fruition.
Gradual change therefore increasingly looks like the best of some bad options. And most of today’s political Islamists — the ones running for office in Morocco or Jordan or Egypt and even Iraq — are gradualists. They wish to adapt existing political institutions by infusing them with Islamic values and some modicum of Islamic law. Of course, such parties are also generally hostile to the United States, at least where we have worked against their interests. (Iraq is an obvious exception — many Shiite Islamists there are our close allies.) But this is a separate question from whether they can become a force for promoting the rule of law. It is possible to imagine the electoral success of Islamist parties putting pressure on executives to satisfy the demand for law-based government embodied in Koranic law. This might bring about a transformation of the judiciary, in which judges would come to think of themselves as agents of the law rather than as agents of the state.
Something of the sort may slowly be happening in Turkey. The Islamists there are much more liberal than anywhere else in the Muslim world; they do not even advocate the adoption of Shariah (a position that would get their government closed down by the staunchly secular military). Yet their central focus is the rule of law and the expansion of basic rights against the Turkish tradition of state-centered secularism. The courts are under increasing pressure to go along with that vision.
Can Shariah provide the necessary resources for such a rethinking of the judicial role? In its essence, Shariah aspires to be a law that applies equally to every human, great or small, ruler or ruled. No one is above it, and everyone at all times is bound by it. But the history of Shariah also shows that the ideals of the rule of law cannot be implemented in a vacuum. For that, a state needs actually effective institutions, which must be reinforced by regular practice and by the recognition of actors within the system that they have more to gain by remaining faithful to its dictates than by deviating from them.
The odds of success in the endeavor to deliver the rule of law are never high. Nothing is harder than creating new institutions with the capacity to balance executive dominance — except perhaps avoiding the temptation to overreach once in power. In Iran, the Islamists have discredited their faith among many ordinary people, and a similar process may be under way in Iraq. Still, with all its risks and dangers, the Islamists’ aspiration to renew old ideas of the rule of law while coming to terms with contemporary circumstances is bold and noble — and may represent a path to just and legitimate government in much of the Muslim world.
Noah Feldman, a contributing writer for the magazine, is a law professor at Harvard University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This essay is adapted from his book “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State,” which will be published later this month.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Sayyid Nafis Shah was born into the noble family of our prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, through the line of Sayyiduna al-Imam Zayd bin 'Ali al-Shahid. Among other distinguished ancestors, he could also count the renowned Chishti Shaykh, al-Sayyid Muhammad, better known as Hazrat Gesu Daraz, who was a khalifah of Khwaja Nasir al-Din Chiragh-e-Dehli, the khalifah of Khwaja Nizam al-Din Awliya', may Allah sanctify the spirit of each and every one.
He learned the sacred art of calligraphy from his noble father, who himself was a master calligrapher, and prints of whose hand written mushaf is still sold in markets in Pakistan and India. Hazrat Nafis Shah's own position in this field was unrivaled during his lifetime, having scribed several books and calligraphical works of great renowned. In fact, it is almost inconceivable that a person can have prayed in any masjid in Punjab without having seen some piece of Qur'an, Dhikr or Salawat 'ala al-Nabi, written by his noble hand, although, one may not have even known, unless they noticed a small and stylized nafis signed in a corner somewhere in the work. Hazrat Nafis Shah had in fact won many international calligraphy contests as Pakistan's official representative and had won several world honors for Pakistan by the UN and other international bodies in world calligraphical exhibitions and competitions.
As a young man, he was told about the renowned murshid Mawlana Shah Abdul Qadir al-Raipuri, rahimahullah. He was so quickened with longing just by hearing Shah Abdul Qadir's mubarak description that he hastened to meet him. Having made ghusl, he proceeded to take the bay'ah with the Qutb al-Irshad of his age. Shah Abdul Qadir Raipuri, may Allah sanctify his secret, was a person of such intense light, I have been told by several people who have met him, that it was difficult to look directly at him. He was a person who disliked talking greatly. To take his companionship was to enter a lengthy discourse in silence. In fact, those who knew him described the joy of sitting around his noble presence, and casting silent glances at his noble feet; truly it is when the sensory is subdued that the manifestations of the prophetic light may surge forth.
After several trips to Raipur and several visits to Shah Abdul Qadir, Sayyid Nafis Shah was granted the crown of Khilafah by his Shaykh; one of the Sayyid's own successors informed me that when Sayyid Nafis granted him the successorship, he cried and said that he was not worthy, upon which Sayyid Nafis himself began to weep and told him that he also cried and said the same thing to Shah Abdul Qadir when he was elected to this position.
Being of one of the softest dispositions that I have ever seen in a human, Sayyid Nafis Shah could be brought to tears quite easily. One could recite a verse of the Qur'an, or a beautiful verse of poetry in praise of our prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Really, all it took was a mention of our Nabi, or one of his companions, or Khwaja Mu'in al-Din, or perhaps Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi or any one of Allah's righteous servants, and the heart of the Sayyid would crack, sending forth a river of tears from his two eyes. Whenever he cried, a look of intense sorrow and longing came over his enlightened face, and he would weep softly and silently, then regain his composure after a few minutes. Some of the most beautiful times in the khanqah were our minutes and hours spent in remembrance of the the Habib, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his companions and their awliya', and the long melodious silence that would follow.
Sayyid Nafis Shah disliked too much talk greatly. When his masjid and khanqah were completed, he would instruct the imam to give a short Arabic khutbah without any proselytizing or preaching. He said, "We dislike compelling people by force or the making of too much noise here." However, he was quick to share some words with the weary traveler or guest so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in his midst. In fact, he would engage in normal conversation with many a person, against his habit, just to make them feel welcome in his midst.
He was a person of many miracles, both inward and outward, and one for whom Allah had vouchsafed an unflinching allegiance to to the Sunnah. He would hear about people making deviations in their religion and hiding such deviations under the guise of tasawwuf, and this would anger him greatly. Many a so-called "sufi" had tasted the sting of Sayyid Nafis Shah's pen
or that of one of his disciples under his direction, for deviating from the Sunnah, or leaving the practices of the Shaykhs of the past. He ordered many a humble murid to engage in study of the din, and had many huffadh, 'ulama, muftun, qurra', and dhakirin issue from his khanqah. He took special pride in one of his disciples' learning and teaching the ahadith mubarakah of our prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. In fact, learned scions of his spiritual house grace the pulpits and masnads of many a madrasah today. He would become visibly upset if given the news that one of his students had missed a lesson and has been known to refuse to see students of knowledge during the hours they should be studying.
He gave the wird of the best of remembrances: La ilaha illa Allah to many a disciple. His khanqahs evenings and nights were rocked with the dharb ILLA ALLAH, ILLA ALLAH. He himself was so accustomed to dhikr that I myself testify that his blessed hand moved in the motion of counting, even when he would sleep. All in the khanqah would be woken well before Fajr, so as to pray some raka'at of tahajjud; if one wanted to sleep, they had best stayed home.
He was truthful in his tongue and his state. He spent several years of his life in defense of the Muslim land of Afghanistan against the Russians and had fought bravely and selflessly not for self-determination, nationalism, capitalism or any other -ism. He fought for the pleasure of Allah. This was because he strove to bring his outward state, inward state and his speech into harmony.
Among the masha'ikh that he mentioned the most often and the one after whom he named his khanqah, was Sayyid Ahmad al-Shahid. It was Sayyid Ahmad of Rai-Barailli who lead a movement of fuqaha' and 'ulama in the Indian subcontinent on a campaign against corruption, innovation, and disbelief for about ten years, and took up arms against the British colonizers for another ten. Him and his army fought the British and their partisans until they were finally called on by Allah to make the ultimate sacrifice at the battle of Balakot. Far from being defeated, it was from the ashes of Balakot, that Allah had planted the mubarak seeds of the establishment of Dar al-'Ulum Deoband. Sayyid Nafis Shah would later explain that when someone does something with sincerity to Allah, a physical defeat is irrelevant. He would site the example of two Sayyids; al-Imam al-Husayn, may Allah be well pleased with him, and Sayyid Ahmad al-Shahid. Both gave their lives and seemed to have been defeated in this world by their corrupt and treacherous enemies, however, both shall have the flags of victory raised above their names until the day of judgment because Allah accepted their sacrifices and advanced their work, wa law kariha al-kafirun...
There is no calamity from the calamities in this world harder than losing a righteous and beloved servant of Allah to stream of eternity. I ask Allah to give our Sayyid Nafis His mercy and forgiveness, and to accept from him. I ask Him to watch over and protect his grandchildren who survive him and over his khanqah and muridin. I ask Him to protect Islam and to raise its flag high, and to protect the Muslims for whom Sayyid Nafis prayed constantly and consistently. I ask Him to not put us through tribulations after him, and to have mercy on us all.
This morning Sayyid Anwar al-Husayn Nafis Shah passed on to the abode of the Hereafter. May Allah sanctify his secret.