بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم والحمد لله العلي العظيم وصلى الله على البي الكريم وعلى آله الطاهرين والطيبين وسلم
These are some notes I took on Lesson 2 from Shaykh Hamza’s lecture series that I blogged about (my Lesson 1 notes are here). I would recommend actually watching the lectures, though; there is a lot of great material I did not note down. To see the Arabic lines download Shaykh Hamza’s translation. Please point out any errors or typos.
Allah تعالى guided the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم movement through the loins of those who submitted to Him. The ʿulamā’ say that all of his parents were believers, and that is the dominant opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah. We believe that they are in Paradise and have a high maqām. It is attributed to Imam al-Aʿẓam Abū Ḥanīfah رضي الله عنه in Al-Fiqh al-Akbar (translated into English in an excellent edition by Muftī Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf, which also includes a discussion of this issue) that he says that the parents of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم died in a state of kufr and that Abū Ṭālib died a kāfir, but most scholars say this must be not what Imam Abū Ḥanīfah said or that he made a mistake. Also his parents were stated to be “dying upon kufr” and Abū Talib to be “dying a kāfir” (because he had received the message and had a different ḥukm than the parents). According to Imam al-Ghazālī رحمه الله تعالى in Al-Fayṣal al-Tafriqah bayna al-Islām wa al-Zandaqah (which has been translated excellently by Dr. Sherman Jackson as The Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam, as well as by R.J. McCarthy), that people today who have not properly heard the message of Islam take the ruling of ahl al-faṭrah. He even said that in this world, the majority of people have enough blessing that they do not want to leave the world or commit suicide, and a minority whose life is unbearable do in fact want to leave the world; the ākhirah will be similar, i.e. the majority will be in a pleasing state (even if they have to go through Hell first).
The fact that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is called “Arḥam al-Rāḥimīn” presents a theological problem, and the ʿulamā’ have held many views regarding it. Imam Ibn Ḥazm al-Ẓāhirī, taking into consideration the existence of the Fire and punishment, goes as far as to say that “Arḥam al-Rāhimīn” cannot be taken in its literal meaning (quite unusual for a Ẓāhirī). Imam Ibn Taymīyah came to the conclusion that the Fire has to eventually extinguish, in order for it to be consistent with Allah’s being Arḥam al-Rāhimīn. He uses certain evidences to try and prove this, although it is not the position of Ahl al-Sunnah. Imam Ibn ʿArabī attempted to deal with this by saying that the ʿadhāb would eventually become ʿadhb or sweetness, as the people of Hell (he calls them nārīyīn) fell into their element, and there would no longer be punishment for those in the Fire. These are all attempts to deal with this theological problem.
Imam al-Ghazālī’s view is that kufr is a rejection of the truth when it is clearly the truth, and not rejection of that which one truly believes to be false, and therefore we cannot truly attribute kufr to those in this world, as we cannot know their hearts. (The dominant Ashʿarī opinion is that one cannot call anyone a kāfir in this world. The Ashāʿirah say īmān is a maqām and kufr is a maqām (permanent state), so even someone in a state of kufr is a mu’min because his rūḥ has īmān, yet he has not recognized it. Therefore the Ashāʿirah say that Sayyidunā Abū Sufyān رضى الله عنه was a believer even while fighting the Muslims. The Māturīdīyah say kufr is a ḥāl (impermanent state), and therefore Sayyidunā Abū Sufyan was a kāfir who became a mu’min. This also relates to the discussion of the statement, “I am a believer, in shā’ Allāh”, which the Ashāʿirah allow and the Māturīdīyah disallow.) Imam al-Ghazālī says that because of this, only Allah تعالى can judge who is a kāfir. Only when the Quran and Sunnah clearly indicate that someone is a kāfir can anyone else affirm that (like Abū Lahab). In the sīrah, one does not see the Ṣaḥābah addressing people as yā kāfir, rather they would say things like yā ʿadūw Allāh O enemy of God or yā ʿadūw nafsika O enemy of your own self.
The only time in the Sharīʿah when one may call another a kāfir, is when one is onself accused of kufr, because it is kufr to call a mu’min a kāfir. This is why Imam Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رضي الله عنه said لا أكفّر إلا من كفرني I do not make takfīr of anyone unless they make takfīr of me. Imam al-Dhahabī in his biography of Imam Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī رحمه الله said that, near the end of his life, he said لا تكفر احدا من اهل القبلة إنما هي ألفاظ نخترف بتأويلها we do not make takfīr of anyone who faces Makkah, and these are semantics which we differ about. Al-Dhahabī says that his teacher Ibn Taymīyah was like that at the end of his life, and said لا أكفّر من يحافظ على الوضوء فإن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال لا يحافظ على الوضوء إلا مؤمن I do not make takfīr of anyone consistent in his wuḍū’, because the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said that no one is consistent in his wuḍū’ except a mu’min. Imam Abū Ḥanīfah رضي الله عنه said that to (mistakenly) consider a thousand people believers, is easier than (mistakenly) considering one person a kāfir. It is better to err on the side of īmān.
Chapter Concerning the Prophet’s Birthday صلى الله عليه وسلم
31. Now for an explanation of the Chosen Prophet’s birthday,
Blessing and peace upon him as long as the Levanter rises in the East.
Mawlid is اسم مكان وزمان in Arabic, so the mawlid is the time that he صلى الله عليه وسلم was born and also the place where he صلى الله عليه وسلم was born. He was born in Makkah. The dominant opinion is that he was born in Rabīʿ al-Awwal, which means the first spring; he was born in April. April is the most balanced of months in terms of weather, and everything about him صلى الله عليه وسلم was balanced. (31) The Levanter is the eastern wind. Winds are one of the great āyāt of Allah. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said نُصِرتُ بالصبا I was given victory by the easterlies. The walls of the Kaʿbah is aligned to the four winds: دبور the westerly wind, صبا easterly, يمان southerly, and شمئل northerly. It is also aligned to the star Canopus (called Suhayl in Arabic), which is the star in the southern hemisphere which is as important as the North Star in the north. The corners of the Kaʿbah are not exactly aligned to the compass directions because it was aligned to the winds and Suhayl according to Sayyidunā Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه. The Yemeni corner is perfectly aligned to Suhayl. Suhayl is the most important navigational star; satellites and space travel are aligned to it—the Kaʿbah is our connection with the heavens. It is said there was a beautiful easterly wind that came at his birth عليه الصلاة والسلام.
Imam Barzanjī said that the place where he was conceived is the greatest place in the world after the place that contains his body, although this is debated among the ʿulamā’. He also says when the easterly wind comes it is beneficial to the bodies and increases ones desire to see ones beloved, and its quality is hot and dry (this relates to humoral medicine). There is a ḥadīth in Sunan al-Tirmidhī about the cucumber (which is cold and wet) being eaten with the date (which is hot and dry), which balance each other in a meal. Memory is improved by that which is hot and dry.
32. Āminah the Zahrite became pregnant,
And how blessed is she due to the noblest of God’s creation,
Tūbā means that she is in paradise, and so he is putting forward his opinion about her fate. There are many wondrous things that Āminah saw according to the tradition, much of which is weak and apocryphal. However, she did hear a voice tell her to name him Muḥammad. There were only three Arabs before him that had that name; it was quite rare. Those three Arabs were so named in the hope that they would in fact be the expected final prophet. After she married ʿAbd Allāh she only spent three nights with him.
33. In the Solitary Rajab, in the home of Wahb,
Her father. However, another opinion holds it was in canyon of Abī Ṭālib.
34. The Guiding Prophet’s birthday,
Upon him blessings of the Creator of all servants,
35. Was in the year of the elephant’s arrival to Quraysh,
About fifty days after the event,
Most of the Western sources place this year as 570 (or sometimes, 569, 571, or 572); it is difficult to know with any certainty. (Shaykh Hamza described the incident of the elephant and a lot more fascinating jāhilī Arab history in the two introductory sessions.)
36. On Monday, in the Blessed Month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal,
The third of the month, or the twelfth day.
37. A weaker opinion holds it was the eighth day of Rabīʿ al-Awwal,
Which corresponds to the months of April, according to the scholarly premiers.
There are different opinions about the day: 8, 9, 10, and 12. 12 is the dominant opinion. It is a national holiday of almost every Muslim country. Historically, it was a very large celebration. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم recommended fasting on Mondays because he was born on that day. Abū Lahab’s punishment in the Fire will be lessened due to his freeing out of happiness the slave (Thuwaybah) who brought him news of the birth of Sayyidunā Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.
38. This was around eight hundred years after Alexander,
The sun being in the constellation of Aries, while Jupiter
39. And Saturn were both in the middle of the sky
In conjunction with the spectacular constellation Scorpio.
حفظ means 800 using the abjad system. Astrology as a means of divination is ḥarām. The heavens, however, are undeniably meaningful and there is import to what happens in the heavens. The ʿulamā’ mention these heavenly signs. One of the signs of the end of times is a massive comet in the skies. The Quran swears by the retroactive planets like Mars, and many other celestial bodies.
40. Persia’s waters dried up, and her Magian’s fires Extinguished, and
the Pillars of Chosroes rent asunder.
41. Kings were dumbstruck, and idols everywhere
Collapsed, never to find again firm footing.
It is recorded that that night the kings had this feeling, but Allah knows best the authenticity of this and the other stories about idols falling in different places all over the world, etc.
An image of the star Canopus (Suhayl), taken by the International Space Station.
- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s series on Qurrah al-Abṣār fī Sīrah al-Mushaffaʿ al-Mukhtār (m7ia.wordpress.com)