Covering the Head for Women in Traditions Other Than Islam

Following is an excerpt from our much larger essay Evidences for the Obligation of a Muslim Woman’s Headscarf (Khimar) & Outer Garment (Jilbaab).


Today, the idea of covering the head for women has become associated exclusively with Islam. It is seen as something which is derogatory and only practiced within Islam. However, throughout history many other civilizations also practiced this concept in one form or another. It is only post-Renaissance that this action has gradually become abandoned among women.

headdress

A headdress in 15th century Europe

In France, from 1485-1510, covering the head was a show of virtue and honor. In fact, “married women’s headdresses completely concealed their hair through most of the second half of the 15th century” (Leventon 2008, 102). In England, the practice of “completely covering the woman’s head was wholeheartedly adopted” (Leventon 2008, 316). Up until the late 13th century, it was considered immoral and shocking to wear a hairnet alone without some sort of ribbon or barbette around the head to go along with it, in addition, some women also wore veils (Cosgrave 2000, 113). In Italy, “women often wore turbans” throughout the 15th and 16th centuries (Cosgrave 2000, 140). In some orders, during this period, female widows wore “head-rail covering the hair, ears and neck” in addition to a veil during daytime (Boucher 1966, 187). The only thing changed this was the Renaissance in northern Europe when women started to show “occasional glimpse of hair” (Leventon 2008, 102). Hence, some form of covering the head for women was seen as appropriate for most European cultures until the Renaissance. This was especially true for married women.

Byzantine costumes

Ancient Byzantine nobility costumes and court dresses

This phenomenon is not restricted to the middle ages in Europe. It is well known that Roman women were “customarily veiled” when they went outside the house (Leventon 2008, 314). In Classical Greece, women wore scarves wrapped around their heads (Cosgrave 2000, 53). During the Byzantine period, men and women both wore clothes which concealed the body’s shape, in fact, there was an obsession with it (Cosgrave 2000, 86-87). It is important to note that the Byzantine Empire was a superpower before and during the initial stages of Islam. Some of their fashions may have been adopted by Arab women at the time in the Arabia peninsula. For example, it is reported about the Byzantine women that some of them “wore veils made from a long piece of material which could be allowed to fall behind the head, or folded forward and draped over the arm” (Cosgrave 2000, 86-87). This is not much different than what Arab women used to do before the verses of covering came down as mentioned earlier.

We can go back even further and find women covering their heads as norms. During the second and third millennia BCE, in the coastal countries (Mesopotamia, Arabia, Syria), married women wore “very enveloping veils” and in the first millennium BCE women wore veils covering their heads (Boucher 1966, 56). Women from the Hittites people, who occupied the region of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey) prior to 1700 BCE, wore long veils which they would sometimes draw forward to cover their faces (Boucher 1966, 64).

In the Iberian Peninsula, during the 6th and 5th centuries, some women wore long veils that covered them from head to feet while others wore short veils (Boucher 1966, 131). In France, during the Carolingians era (752-987 CE), women “for the sake of respectability they had to cover their heads with veils…draped like a turban” (Boucher 1966, 160-161). In Central and Western Europe from the 9th to 11th centuries, women still covered their heads and concealed their hair under a veil (Boucher 1966, 172).

South Korean Catholics pray for peace in Church

As for religious covering in other than Islam, then historically Christian and Jewish women have covered their heads. In the 3rd century CE, Jewish women are reported to be covering all the time and Tertulian (155-240 CE), an early Christian author, encouraged Christian women to veil themselves outside and used Jewish women as examples (Boucher 1966, 58). The book Dress in the Middle Ages states that Jewish women “were strictly obliged to veil their heads in all circumstances” (Piponnier & Mane 1997, 121). The phenomenon of Christian women covering their heads in Church is well known throughout history even as late as the 20th century and is still practiced today in eastern churches. They did so in response to the Biblical verse, “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved” (1 Corinthians 11:5). There is much debate in Christian circles whether this refers to covering only in church or anytime a woman is in public. However, today among the Christian community only the Mennonite, Amish, Brethren and Hutterite women still practice wearing a head covering at all times.

From all of the above, it is quite clear that covering of the head is not something exclusive to Islam, rather, many religions, cultures, and civilizations throughout history have had some form of covering for women’s heads. Some societies emphasized it stronger than others. However, in modern times, the practice is largely abandoned by women across the world.

Bibliography

Boucher, F., 1966. 20,000 Years of Fashion : The History of Costume and Personal Adornment, New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Cosgrave, B., 2000. The Complete History of Costume & Fashion : From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, New York: Checkmark Books.

Leventon, M., 2008. What People Wore When : A Complete Illustrated History of Costume From Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century For Every Level of Society 1st ed., New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Piponnier, F. & Mane, P., 1997. Dress in the Middle Ages, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Raising Righteous Children – Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah

righteous children

Source: Tuhfah Al-Mawdud by Ibn Qayyim – P. 158-161 and P. 168-171

Allah Says in the Qur’an [meaning of which is], “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones” [Qur’an 66:6]. Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Teach them [the religion] and teach them good manners.” Al-Hasan said, “Command them to obey Allah and teach them goodness.”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is reported to have said, “Command your children to pray when they reach the age of seven. Spank them [1] for [not offering] it when they are ten and separate them in their beds [2]” [Abu Dawud].

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “Inspire your children’s first words to be La ilaha illa Allah [there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah] and prompt them with it during death” [Al-Hakim]

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is reported to have said, “One of you teaching good manners to his child is better for him than giving half a sa’a in charity everyday to the poor” [Tabrani].

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was asked, “O’ Messenger of Allah, we know the right of the father but what is the right of the child?” He (pbuh) responded, “That he be given a good name and be taught good manners” [Bayhaqi]. Sufyan Al-Thawri said, “A person should compel his child to seek [knowledge of] hadith because he is responsible for him. Whoever wants the worldly life [through knowledge of hadith], then he will find it and whoever wants the afterlife, then he will find it.” Ibn Umar said, “Teach good manners to your child because you are responsible for him and he is responsible for being dutiful and obedient to you.”

Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is reported to have said, “Whoever has a child, then let him give him a good name and teach him good manners, then when he reaches puberty, he should get him married. If his child reaches puberty and he does not get him married and then this child commits a sin, then his sin is on his father” [Bayhiqi].

Al-Hasan was asked about the Qur’anic verse, “And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes” [Qur’an 25:74], “What is meant by comfort to our eyes? Does it mean in this life or the afterlife?” Al-Hasan responded, “By Allah, it means in this life.” Then he was asked, “What is it?” He responded, “That Allah sees [His] slave’s wife, brother, or close relative being obedient to Allah. By Allah, there is nothing more beloved to a Muslim than to see [his] child, father, close relative, or brother being obedient to Allah.”

Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: The ruler of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, everyone of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges” [Bukhari].

Being Just Between Children in Giving Gifts is Among Their Rights

Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Be just between your children, be just between your children, be just between your children” [Ahmad]. It is also reported that the wife of Bashir said to her husband, “Give my son a slave [as a gift] and make the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) a witness over it.” So Bashir came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and said, “The daughter of so and so asked me to give her son my slave [as a gift] and make the Messenger of Allah a witness over it.” The Prophet (pbuh) asked, “Does he [the son] have brothers?” Bashir replied, “Yes.” Then the Prophet (pbuh) asked, “Have you given to all others as you have given to him?” Bashir replied, “No.” So the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Then this is not correct. Verily, I only bear witness over that which is correct” [Muslim].

Nu’man b. Bashir reported that his father brought him to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and said, “I have donated this slave of mine to my son.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “Have you donated to every one of your sons (a slave) like this?” He said, “No.” Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “Then take him back” [Muslim]. In another version of the hadith, it is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Fear Allah and be just between your children” [Muslim]. This command is a threat, therefore, such a gift is not permissible due to it being a form of injustice. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not allow anyone to be a witness over such injustice including himself. This type of gift favoring is not correct and is opposite of justice.

It is strange to suggest that the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) statement, “Be just between your children,” is not an obligation. It is an absolute command which he emphasized three times. Justice is obligatory in every circumstance and if a command is given in an absolute form, then it carries the ruling of obligation.

It is reported that a man was sitting with the Prophet (pbuh). Then the man’s son came to him so he kissed him and placed him in his lap. Then the man’s daughter came so he took her and made her sit beside him. The Prophet (pbuh) said to him, “Why can’t you be just between them?”[Bayhaqi]. The early generations (salaf) used to love being just between children.

Some of the people of knowledge said that Allah will ask the father about his child on the Day of Judgement before asking the child about his father. Just as the father has rights over his son, similarly, the son has rights over his father. As Allah said in the Qur’an [meaning of which is], “And We have enjoined on mankind to be good to his parents” [Qur’an 29:80]. And He [also] said [meaning of which is], “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones” [Qur’an 66:6].

Advice of Allah to the fathers for their children preceded His advice to the children for their fathers. Allah said [meaning of which is], “Do not kill your children out of fear of poverty” [Qur’an 17:31]. The one who neglects teaching his child with what benefits him and leaves him in vain has harmed him. Most children only become corrupted because their fathers neglect them and abandon teaching them the obligatory and recommended [sunan] aspects of the religion. They waste their children’s childhood so that they [grow up to] not benefit themselves nor their fathers. Then in old age the father admonishes his child for being ungrateful so the child responds, “O’ My father, you were ungrateful to me when I was small, so I am ungrateful to you when you are old. You wasted me as a boy so I am wasting you as an old man.”

Accustoming Children to Good Habits From the Beginning

It is very important to take care of the child’s conduct and manners [early on] because the child grows up based on what the one who raised him accustomed him to in childhood. So if the child is made used to [too much] freedom, anger, stubbornness, hastiness, easily following desires, heedlessness, harshness, greed, etc., then it will become difficult for such a child to avoid these things in adulthood and such manners will become firm qualities and attributes of his personality. If he firmly avoided these things, then it would be good for him someday This is why it is found that most people [who] are crooked in their manners [are so] because that’s the type of upbringing on which they were raised.

When a child matures, he must be kept away from bad company, such as that of filth, innovation, evil speech, [forbidden forms of] amusement, singing, and music. This is because when [a child] gets caught up [and used to] listening to such things, it becomes difficult to separate from them in adulthood. It will also be difficult [then] for the child’s guardian to deplete such things from him. Changing habits is from among the most difficult of tasks [because] its owner needs to renew [his] nature, which is very difficult.

The child’s guardian should [also] strongly prevent him from [always] taking from others. If the child becomes accustomed to this, then it will become part of his nature and he will grow up [always] taking and never giving. So whenever [the guardian] wants to give something [such as in charity], he should place it in the child’s hand to give it away so that the child can taste the sweetness of giving.

The child should also be prevented from lying and treacherous behavior. When such a path becomes easy, then it will ruin his happiness in this life and the afterlife and will prevent him from every type of good.

The child must be prevented from laziness, idleness, [excessive] fondness, and [excessive] rest. Rather, he should be the opposite of those things and his soul and body should be kept busy. Laziness and idleness have evil consequences and result in regret, whereas, hard work and fatigue have praiseworthy consequences either in this world, hereafter, or in between. Supremacy in the world and happiness in the hereafter cannot happen except through the bridge of fatigue. Yahya bin Abi Kathir said, “Knowledge is not obtained by resting the body [rather by] accustoming it to waking up at the end of the night, which is a time for dividing the booty and awards. Some will take a little, some will take a lot, and some will take nothing.” When a person is made accustomed to hard work as a child, it becomes easy as an adult.

The child should be made to avoid excessive eating, speaking, sleeping, and mixing with people. There is loss in excessively engaging in these behaviors and cause the slave to miss the good of this world and the hereafter. He should [also] be strongly prevented from harmful desires associated with the stomach and the private parts because if the means and paths to such things are made possible for the child, then it will [surely] corrupt him and will make it difficult afterwards to correct his behavior. How many fathers are there who have made their child miserable in this world and the next by neglecting him, not disciplining him, and assisting him with his lusts? And [such a father] claims to be honoring and being merciful towards him, while in reality, he is dishonoring, depriving and oppressing him. Therefore, he fails to benefit through his child and loses his portion in this world and the afterlife. When you come across children who are immoral/corrupt, then take a look at their fathers first.

Be cautious and keep away anything from the child that may remove his intellect, such as, intoxicants. And [also] be cautious of [bad] companionship whom you fear may corrupt him, his speech, or negatively influence him. All of this is destruction. When such things are made easy for the child, then his loss of shame [will also] become easy and [remember that] the cuckold does not enter paradise [3]. How many corrupt children are there due to their fathers’ carelessness, disregard, and being lax [over their children’s] evils? Most fathers rely on their children more than a severe enemy relies on the enmity against his enemy but they perceive it not! But [yet] how many fathers deprive their child of the good of this world and the afterlife and destroy both? All of these are consequences of fathers who are careless regarding the rights of Allah, straying away from them and turning away from what Allah made obligatory for them of beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. They are deprived of benefiting from their children, who [in return]  withhold good and benefit from them. This is the punishment of [such] fathers.

The child should be prevented from intoxicants, theft, and lying. If it’s a boy, then he should [also] be prevented from wearing silk because it is corruptive for him and feminish for his nature. Prophet (pbuh) said, “[Wearing] silk and gold are prohibited for the males of my nation but permissible for the females” [Nasa’i]. If the child is not responsible [due to young age], then his guardian is responsible to not allow [him] forbidden things, otherwise, he will become accustomed to them and find it difficult to give them up. This is the most correct of the scholarly statements. Those [scholars] who argue that it is not forbidden say so because they view the child as not responsible. So they do not prohibit him from wearing silk but this [opinion] is not correct. If the child is not responsible [yet], then he must be prepared for responsibility [of fulfilling the divine commands].

Prepare the Child Based on His Condition

If the child does what he is not prepared for, then he will not succeed in it and will miss out on what he is prepared for. Therefore, if you see in him good understanding, cognition, alertness, and memory, then these are good and acceptable signs of his disposition for knowledge. So inscribe in his heart [knowledge] while it is [still] free [from corruption] because he can handle it and settle it down in his heart and be purified with it. But if you see in the child the opposite of the previous case from all directions but he is good with horsemanship, riding, shooting, etc., and knowledge does not get through to him, then [it means] he was not created for it. Therefore, engage him in such activities and have him practice because it will benefit him and the Muslims. And if you see in a child opposite to that [as well], then [it means] he was not created for it. In such a case look for a craft for him in an industry that is permissible and beneficial to the people. All of this should be done after teaching him what is necessary for him in the religion [4].


Footnotes

[1] Does not mean physical abuse, which is forbidden in Islam.

[2] Meaning do not let them sleep together without some sort of barrier in between. This is regardless of whether they are of the same-sex or not. [Source]

[3] The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “There are three at whom Allah will not look on the Day of Resurrection: The one who disobeys his parents, the woman who imitates men in her outward appearance, and the cuckold” [Nasa’i]

[4] Such as how to pray, fast, make wudu, forbidden things, etc.

Why Muslim Parents Should Consider Homeschooling

Many parents today are opting out for homeschooling rather than sending their children to public schools. Students in homeschooling environment enjoy more freedom, creativity, have better learning experience, and tend to do better academically than their public school counterparts. Parents are also choosing homeschooling due to fear of bullying, peer pressure, bad influences, and a low quality of education in public schools.

There is an estimate of 2 million children learning from homeschooling today in the U.S. It is growing more and more popular every year “with a growth rate of 7 to 15 percent per year” (Shaw). Parents are realizing that it is perhaps the best method to instill proper knowledge and manners into their children. Children learn better when they are given individual attention but this is not possible when they are surrounded by 30 other students who also require attention. What ends up happening is that the teacher ignores the individual needs of the children because it is not possible for the instructor to give individual attention to all 30 kids in the classroom. The result is that many kids get left behind in learning and are not properly able to comprehend the material. “Homeschooling and individualized instruction means that a student gets the attention they need and the assistance they need to master the skills required before moving on to the next skill” (Farr). One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that children are able to learn at their own pace. They are not bombarded with rushed instructions from their teachers who only want to get through the curriculum whether their students follow through or not.

Parents who home school their kids have a great opportunity to teach their kids through real life examples. For instance, if the child is learning about science, the parents could take their child to the local museum or on a nature walk to make the learning experience more real than just theoretical. Often, schools do not have the budget to do numerous field trips for hands on learning. Similarly, if the child is learning math, the parents can ask the child to help them purchase items at the store with cash or organize their finances, etc. This is often referred to as experimental learning and “is a benefit that allows a student to learn and have fun at the same time” (Farr). Kids should not have to sit for 8 hours a day in uncomfortable chairs learning things in theory. It is no wonder that many children complain about school not being relevant or practical for them. The phrase, “When will I ever use this in real life!” is quite common in math classes.

It is no secret that public schools are not an error free social experience. “Students often find themselves in the midst of a social hierarchy in public schools, and this leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem” (Farr). This often leads to some kids being bullied especially if they are on a much lower social hierarchy. Unfortunately, kids committing suicide because of bullying has become more common. There is also peer pressure to fit in and behave a certain way. A child may forego his/her own likes/dislikes and personality just to fit in to the group. Some studies suggest that “self-esteem plummets in middle-school girls” (Shaw). There is also the fear of drugs, dating, bad friends, exposure to pornography due to smartphones, and many other negative influences. Homeschooling can protect against much of this negative impact because “kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to fit in. They live in the real world, where lives aren’t dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation” (Shaw).

Homeschooling is also a great option if parents wish to instill religious values into their children. This is why homeschooling is often popular with religious families. Kids should be learning their moral values from home not outside. However, due to the fact that children who attend public schools spend more time in school with other kids than they do in the house, they are more likely to adopt values shared by their peers than those held by their parents. Today, things are much worse in school than they were in the past. Atheism and hedonism is on the rise, therefore, keeping children home-schooled gives parents greater freedom to instill proper religious and moral values into their children.

Numerous studies have consistently shown that children who are home-schooled do much better on tests than those in public schools. “When it comes to standardized testing, home-schooled students tend to score 15 to 30 percentage points higher than public school students” (Farr). This can lead them to be accepted at better universities. Part of the reason for this may be because kids are given more individual attention so they understand the material better than a student who has to share a classroom with 30 other students, where there is no time for individual attention.

As for Islamic schools, then they are usually too expensive for most Muslim parents and often the quality of their education is low. The teachers hired by such schools are usually not as equipped or qualified as regular public schools. Unfortunately, bullying, drugs, bad company, and sexual materials have entered into Islamic schools as well. Even if the social environment of an Islamic school may not be as bad as a public school, it is still not ideal. Many times it is found that kids who go to Islamic schools tend to take religion for granted. There are plenty of examples of students who attended Islamic schools but are not practicing at all, whereas, those who went to public schools are very practicing. Of course, the opposite is true as well. The point is that it is not guaranteed that children will come out more practicing or be better off just by attending Islamic schools.

One of the most common criticisms against homeschooling is the social development argument. Many people feel that home-schooled kids are not exposed to other kids of their age; therefore, they do not socially develop and may not be able to properly integrate into society in adulthood. However, this is only a misconception and the reality is completely different. As one author who home schools her kids puts it, “It is important to mention that the opportunity to socialize within school is actually quite limited. I would argue that school does not adequately prepare a child for the realities of adult life. In school there is great pressure to fit in with the group – even at the expense of your own personality. If a child is losing its sense of self-worth within the group, then that isn’t good socialization” (Julie).

There are plenty of opportunities for homeschooling Muslim parents to engage their children with other kids for social development, such as, mosque groups, sports clubs, home school groups, play dates, cousins, etc. It is largely dependent on the parents, who must make sure to find and create opportunities for their children to have a healthy social development. Many times, “parents who are intentional about getting their children involved in home school groups with other kids or extracurricular activities end up helping their kids be just as social, and sometimes even more social, than kids who are in public school” (Farr). It is also important to remember that not every child is naturally social. Some children are more social than others. Homeschooling allows parents to cater to their children’s social needs.

In today’s world, where bullying, peer pressure, drugs, bad friends, low quality education, etc. are a common phenomenon of public schools, Muslim parents should strongly consider homeschooling. They will not only have the benefit of spending more time with their kids, thereby, building stronger family bonds but also can protect their children from much social and spiritual harms of public schools.

Below is a video of Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist known for his theory of multiple intelligences, as outlined in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He excellently discusses some of the failures of public school education.


Bibliography

Farr, Tom. “9 Benefits of Homeschooling.” Udemy. N.p., 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 25 June 2016. https://blog.udemy.com/benefits-of-homeschooling/

Julie. “Homeschool Socialization.” Home Schooling-Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2016. http://www.homeschooling-ideas.com/homeschool-socialization.html

Shaw, Isabel. “The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling.” Family Education. Sandbox Networks, Inc., Dec. 2011. Web. 25 June 2016. http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/parenting/29861.html

Why the First Four Caliphs of Islam Called the ‘Rightly Guided’

four caliphs

The ‘rightly guided’ period is the 30 year reign of the first four caliphs of Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These four caliphs were some of the closest companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and his strongest adherents. Each one of them had particular special merits which distinguished him from the others. They were not just great leaders of the Islamic state but also righteous worshiping slaves of Allah.

The term ‘rightly guided caliphs’ was coined by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself during his lifetime. It is reported by one of his companions that one day the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised the Muslims saying, “I admonish you to fear Allah, to listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave is appointed as your leader. Because whosoever among you shall live after me, will see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the examples of the Rightly- Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold to it fast” (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi).

The Muslims have agreed that these ‘rightly guided’ caliphs refer to Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. They are the best of people after the Prophets. The Prophet (pbuh) strongly advised following their examples and holding fast to them. These four in particular were among the ten who were promised paradise before their death by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Abu Bakr will go to Paradise, Umar will go to Paradise, Uthman will go to Paradise, Ali will go to Paradise” (Abu Dawud). Further, these four “were brought up in the mould of the Prophet (pbuh) and had stamp of Prophetic character and adopted the pattern of his Prophetic rule” (Najeebabadi 261). This was prophesied by the Prophet (pbuh) himself when he said, “The caliphate of Prophecy will last thirty years; then Allah will give the Kingdom to whom He wishes” (Abu Dawud). This calculates perfectly among the four caliphs: Abu Bakr – 2 years; Umar – 10 years; Uthman – 12 years; and Ali – 5 years and 9 months. Ali’s son Hasan was caliph for about 6 months after him before giving it up to Mu’awiyah for the sake of unity and peace, thereby, completing 30 years. It was about Hasan that the Prophet (pbuh) once uttered, “This son of mine is a Sayyid (i.e. chief) and I hope that Allah will help him bring about reconciliation between two Muslim groups” (Bukhari). This is why some scholars put Hasan as also one of the rightly guided caliphs prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the hadith mentioned earlier above. “After these four, the later Caliphs assumed the manners of kings and emperors and the true spirit of equality of ruler and ruled diminished to a considerable extent in the political life of Muslims” (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”).

There are certain qualities that each of these four caliphs possessed that further establish why they deserved the honorable title of the ‘rightly guided’ caliphs.

Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr was the most righteous, knowledgeable, and wise among the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) himself held him in high regard. The Prophet (pbuh) chose him as a companion on his migration from Mecca to Medina and made him the imam to lead the people in prayer during his final illness. It is no wonder that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said, “There is no one who had done more favor to me with life and property than Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafa. If I were to take a Khalil [close friend], I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr but the Islamic brotherhood is superior. Close all the small doors in this mosque except that of Abu Bakr” (Bukhari).

In addition to the above, there are many virtues mentioned about him in the Sunnah. For example, it is reported that once the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) proclaimed, “Who fasted among you today? Abu Bakr replied: I did. He (the Prophet again) said: Who among you followed a bier today? Abu Bakr replied: I did. He (the Prophet again) said: Who among you fed a poor man today? Abu Bakr replied: I did. He (again) said: Who among you visited a sick person today? Abu Bakr said: I did. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Anyone in whom (these good deeds) are combined will certainly enter paradise” (Muslim).

In yet another hadith, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Anybody who spends a pair of something in Allah’s Cause will be called from all the gates of Paradise, O Allah’s slave! This is good. He who is amongst those who pray will be called from the gate of the prayer (in Paradise) and he who is from the people of Jihad will be called from the gate of Jihad, and he who is from those who give in charity (i.e. Zakat) will be called from the gate of charity, and he who is amongst those who observe fast will be called from the gate of fasting, the gate of Raiyan.” Abu Bakr said, “He who is called from all those gates will need nothing,” He added, “Will anyone be called from all those gates, O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh)?” He said, “Yes, and I hope you will be among those, O Abu Bakr”” (Bukhari). This hadith clearly points out the virtuous character of Abu Bakr and that he was among the rightly guided.

Furthermore, Abu Bakr was responsible for unifying the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) during the Riddah wars. Immediately following the death of the Prophet (pbuh), three groups emerged among those who had claimed Islam during the Prophet’s lifetime. The first group were those who claimed false prophethood and led armies to fight against the Muslim community, the second group were those who rejected giving the zakah, and the third group were those who rejected Islam and went back into paganism. Abu Bakr fought against them and brought them back under the banner of Islam, thereby, unifying the Muslim community.

Umar bin Al-Khattab

Umar’s conversion to the Muslim community was a blessing for the early Muslims. He was a strong and brave man who was feared in Mecca. His conversion gave the Muslim community hope and confidence. There are many prophetic praises mentioned for him in the texts with regards to his virtues.

It is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) once said, “If there were to be a Prophet after me, it would have been Umar bin Al-Khattab” (Tirmidhi). In another hadith, it is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “There had been among the people before you inspired persons and if there were any such among my nation, Umar b. Khattab would be one of them” (Muslim). These hadiths point to the insight, intuition, and wisdom of Umar.

Umar certainly proved true to his praise because he established “many of the fundamental institutions of the classical Islamic state” (“Rightly Guided Caliphs”). He also expanded the Islamic world beyond the Arabian Peninsula to include Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Iran (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”). He was also a very devout Muslim, hence, he “insisted that his appointed governors live simple lives, keep no guard at their doors and be accessible to the people at all times, and he himself set the example for them” (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”).

Umar’s rapid expansion of the Muslim world still bewilders historians. There is no rational explanation for it except that he was divinely inspired with deep intuition, which would lead him to make right decisions at right times.

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Uthman bin ‘Affan

Uthman is often given the honorable title of Dhun Nurayn (the one with two lights) because the Prophet (pbuh) married two of his daughters to him. They both died before Uthman and in that occasion the Prophet (pbuh) showed interest in giving a third daughter to him if he had one. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned many virtues of Uthman during his lifetime.

Uthman was blessed with lots of wealth; however, this did not deter him in spending it in the way of Allah. He once bought a well in Medina for the Muslim community free of charge from a Jew who was giving a tough time to the Muslims due to shortage of water. During preparations for the Battle of Tabuk, Uthman help fund a large portion of the army with his own personal wealth. This led to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) saying, “Whatever Uthman does after today will not harm him” (Tirmidhi).

As for Uthman’s caliphate, he “is generally held responsible for the canonization of the Quran as it is known today” (“Rightly Guided Caliphs”) and a “large number of copies of this text were made and distributed all over the Muslim world” (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”).

In addition, he was a righteous ruler who preferred abstinence and dialogue rather than violence against the rebels who eventually executed him. He would also send “prominent Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) as his personal deputies to various provinces to scrutinize the conduct of officials and the condition of the people” (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”). The prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came true when he once said about Uthman, “Give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise after a calamity that will befall him” (Bukhari).

Ali bin Abi Talib

Ali was brought up under the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The latter considered him like his own brother. He married his most beloved daughter Fatimah to him. He is considered the imam of zuhd, piousness, knowledge, and courage. As with the previous three, there are numerous virtues mentioned about him in the Sunnah.

It is reported that once the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to Ali, “Will you not be pleased from this that you are to me like Haroon was to Musa” (Bukhari). It is also reported that, “On the day of Khaibar, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “Tomorrow I will give this flag to a man through whose hands Allah will give us victory. He loves Allah and His Apostle, and he is loved by Allah and His Apostle.” The people remained that night, wondering as to who would be given it. In the morning the people went to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and every one of them was hopeful to receive it (i.e. the flag). The Prophet said, “Where is Ali bin Abi Talib?” It was said, “He is suffering from eye trouble O Allah’s Apostle.” He said, “Send for him.” Ali was brought and Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) spat in his eye and invoked good upon him. So Ali was cured as if he never had any trouble. Then the Prophet (pbuh) gave him the flag” (Bukhari).

Ali took leadership after the tragic execution of Uthman. His reign was engulfed in civil war. He was also instrumental in defeating a radical group of Muslims called the Khawarij, who were causing havoc in the Muslim lands by slaughtering fellow Muslims whom they considered as disbelievers. But “even though the era of Ali’s caliphate was marred by civil strife, he nevertheless introduced a number of reforms, particularly in the levying and collecting of revenues” (“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs”).

Conclusion

The era of the ‘rightly guided’ caliphs is called as such because they exemplified the Prophetic leadership within their own rule. They were sincere, righteous, wise and devout believers who strived to do that which was best for the Muslims. They strongly held to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and followed them with their utmost ability to the end. They did not let their desires or love of leadership prevent them from the teachings of their religion. It is for these reasons, in addition to their virtues mentioned earlier, that they are considered by the Muslims as the best people after the prophets and those that were ‘rightly guided’ by Allah.


Bibliography

Najeebabadi, Akbar Shah. The History of Islam. Ed. Abdul Rahman Abdullah and Muhammad Tahir Salafi. Vol. 1. Riyadh: Darussalam, 2000. Print.

“Rightly Guided Caliphs.” In The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. 12-Jun-2016. <http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e2018>

“The Rightly-Guided Caliphs.” Mission Islam. 12-Jun-2016. <http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/The%20Rightly-Guided%20Caliphs.htm>

Instilling Islamic Values into Muslim Children

children

I was at the masjid today before Fajr and I observed that some of the fathers had brought their children with them throughout the whole night. There was one particular sight which caught my attention. There was one father who had assigned his son pages from the Qur’an to read during the last part of the night. Even though I could tell that his son was tired and sleepy, nevertheless, he sat in the corner of the masjid quietly reading his father’s assigned pages. I found this as a beautiful thing because this father was literally applying the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) about waking up the family to worship the last 10 nights of Ramadan.
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