Evidences for the Obligation of a Muslim Woman’s Headscarf (Khimar) & Outer Garment (Jilbaab)

Hijab

You can download a pdf version of this paper here.

Table of Contents

Introduction | Meaning of the Word Hijab|Proof of the Obligation of the Headscarf (Khimar) for All Muslim Women | Was the Khimar Just a Cultural Thing? | Does the Khimar Have to Be a Particular Color? | Proof of the Obligation of the Outer Garment (jilbaab) for All Muslim Women | Can a jilbaab and khimar be combined in one? | What is the Minimum Requirement for a Jilbaab? | Was the Jilabaab Only Obligatory Due to Specific Circumstances and No Longer Applies? | Is There an Exception for Elderly Women? | Consensus | Origin of the Idea of Rejecting the Islamic Veil as a Religious Obligation | Issue of Niqab (face veil) | Covering the Head for Women in Traditions Other than Islam | Conclusion | Bibliography

Introduction

There is numerous amount of controversy today, especially in the West, regarding the Muslim woman’s headscarf, popularly known as hijab. The opponents argue that it is a cultural thing and has no basis in the Qur’an or Islam. The main proponents of this theory are usually neo-liberal progressive Muslims or non-Muslim Islamic studies academics, who carry no credibility in our faith for their opinions. Since both of these groups do not give any credibility to hadith literature, they ignore numerous texts in the Sunnah which prove the obligation of both the headscarf (khimar) and the outer garment (jilbaab).

The above notions are completely rejected by mainstream Islam. We argue that the obligation of a woman to cover herself in accordance to Islamic law is rooted in the Qur’an, Sunnah and over 1400 years of Islamic scholarship. Rather, the rejection of it only came into existence in the modern era, specifically the 20th century. There is no reputable scholar in the history of Islam before the modern era that has ever questioned its obligation all the way up to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Even today it is the dominant and mainstream position in the Muslim world.

What follows is a detailed discussion on this matter and evidences to support the dominant mainstream position of Islamic law that a woman is obligated to cover herself in front of men who are not her immediate blood relatives (ghayr-mahram).
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Surah Al-Jinn: A Brief Explanation

jinn

Following is a brief exegesis (tafseer) of Surah Al-Jinn. If you are interested in a thorough discussion on the Islamic viewpoint on Jinns, then Sh. Yasir Qadhi has excellent talks on this topic.

For detailed discussion:

The Reality of Jinn in the Qur’an and Sunnah (Part 1)

The Reality of Sihr (Black Magic), Exorcisms & Jinns (Part 2)

For a brief discussion:

The World of the Jinn & Black Magic

Source: Tafseer Al-Muyassar

Ayah 1 & 2: Say, [O Muhammad], “It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an. It guides to the right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with our Lord anyone.

Commentary: Say, O Messenger, Allah has revealed to me that a group among the jinn listened to my recitation of the Qur’an. Afterwards, they said to their people: We have certainly heard a recitation which is marvelous in its eloquence, rhetoric, wisdom, rulings, and reports. It calls towards to truth and guidance, hence, we have believed in it and acted in accordance to it. We will never [from now on] associate a partner with our Lord, who created us only for His worship.

Ayah 3: And [it teaches] that exalted is the nobleness of our Lord; He has not taken a wife or a son.

Commentary: The Greatness and Majesty of our Lord are exalted. He has [certainly] not taken a wife nor a child.

Ayah 4: And that our foolish one has been saying about Allah an excessive transgression.

Commentary: Our foolish one, meaning Iblees (Satan), was saying against Allah the Exalted [something] far from the truth by claiming that He has a wife or a child.

Ayah 5: And we had thought that mankind and the jinn would never speak about Allah a lie.

Commentary: We never thought that anyone would ever lie against Allah, whether among humans or jinns, by attributing to Him a wife or a child.

Ayah 6: And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only] increased them in burden.

Commentary: Men among mankind used to seek refuge/protection in men among the jinn. But the latter [only] increased mankind in fear, terror, and horror. This act of seeking refuge in other than Allah is something which Allah rebuked the people of ignorance for and is [a form of] major shirk, which He does not forgive except through sincere repentance to Him. In this ayah is a severe warning against resorting to magicians, charlatans, and their likes.

Ayah 7: And they had thought, as you thought, that Allah would never raise anyone [after death].

Commentary: And the disbelievers among mankind thought as you thought, O [fellow] Jinns, that Allah would never raise anyone after death. [Some interpreted this ayah to mean that they thought that Allah would never send anyone as a Messenger].

Ayah 8: And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames.

Commentary: And [remember], O fellow Jinns, [that] we used to seek to reach the heaven so that we may listen to the speech of its people [i.e. angels]. However, we now find it filled with many angels who guard it with burning meteors that they throw at anyone who approaches [uninvited].

Ayah 9: And we used to sit therein in positions for hearing, but whoever listens now will find a burning flame lying in wait for him.

Commentary: Before, we used to take seats [near] the heaven so that we may listen [secretly] to the discussions [of the angels], but whoever tries to eavesdrop now will find a meteor [thrown at him], which will burn and destroy him.

Ayah 10: And we do not know [therefore] whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intends for them a right course.

Commentary: We do not know, O fellow Jinns, [why such things are taking place and] whether Allah wants evil to be sent down to the people of earth or that He intends for them goodness and right guidance.

Ayah 11: And among us are the righteous, and among us are [others] not so; we were [of] divided ways.

Commentary: From among us are those that are righteous and God-Fearing. And from among us are also those who are disbelievers and transgressors. We are divided and [follow] different ways.

Ayah 12: And we have become certain that we will never cause failure to Allah upon earth, nor can we escape Him by flight.

Commentary: We [the Jinn] realize that Allah is competent over us and that we are in His grasp and [under] His authority. Hence, we can never escape His command wherever we may be and we can never slip from His punishment [by] escaping into the sky.

Ayah 13: And when we heard the guidance, we believed in it. And whoever believes in his Lord will not fear deprivation or burden.

Commentary: So when we heard the Qur’an [being recited by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)], we believed in it [immediately]. And we acknowledged that it is the truth from Allah. Therefore, whoever believes in His Lord, then he does not fear a decrease in his good deeds nor an unjust increase in his evil deeds [on the day of judgment].

Ayah 14 & 15: And among us are Muslims [in submission to Allah ], and among us are the unjust. And whoever has become Muslim – those have sought out the right course. But as for the unjust, they will be, for Hell, firewood.

Commentary: Among us Jinns are those who are submissive and obedient to Allah. And among us are also the unjust wrong doers, who have departed from the true path. So whoever accepted Islam and submitted himself to Allah through obedience, then he is on the true path. [Such people] struggled in their choice [to find the truth], so, Allah guided them to it. As for those who were unjust [to themselves by turning away] from Islam, then they are fuel for Hell.

Ayah 16 & 17: And [Allah revealed] that if they had remained straight on the way, We would have given them abundant provision.  So We might test them therein. And whoever turns away from the remembrance of his Lord He will put into arduous punishment.

Commentary: If the disbelievers among mankind and jinn were to follow the path of Islam and didn’t deviate from it, then We would send down upon them abundance water and expand their sustenance in the world in order to test how they would be grateful for the blessings of Allah upon them. But whoever turns away from the obedience of his Lord, listening to the Qur’an and reflecting on it’s meaning, and acting in accordance to it, then he will be entered into a severely painful punishment.

Ayah 18: And [He revealed] that the masjids are for Allah, so do not invoke with Allah anyone.

Commentary: The mosques are [established] for the worship of Allah [alone], so do not worship in them anyone other than Him. And sincerely worship and supplicate to Him in them. In this ayah is an obligation to free the mosques from anything that may taint the sincerity towards Allah or following His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh).

Ayah 19: And that when the Servant of Allah stood up supplicating Him, they almost became about him a compacted mass.

Commentary: When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stood worshiping His Lord, the jinn were almost upon him piled up in groups, some of them over others, from their overcrowding to listen to the Qur’an from him.

Ayah 20: Say, [O Muhammad], “I only invoke my Lord and do not associate with Him anyone.”

Commentary: Say, O Messenger, to these disbelievers, “I only worship my Lord alone and do not associate with Him anyone in worship.”

Ayah 21, 22, & 23: Say, “Indeed, I do not possess for you [the power of] harm or right direction.” Say, “Indeed, there will never protect me from Allah anyone [if I should disobey], nor will I find in other than Him a refuge. But [I have for you] only notification from Allah , and His messages.” And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger – then indeed, for him is the fire of Hell; they will abide therein forever.

Commentary: Say, O Messenger, to them: “I do not have the power to remove harm from you nor can I bring you benefit. I can never save myself from the punishment of Allah if I disobey Him nor can I ever find refuge [from] other than Him [so] I flee to Him from His punishment. But I [only] inform you from Allah what He commanded me to inform. He sent me with His message to you.” Therefore, whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and turns away from the religion of Allah, then his recompense is the fire of Hell from which he will never be taken out.

Ayah 24: [The disbelievers continue] until, when they see that which they are promised, then they will know who is weaker in helpers and less in number.

Commentary: When those who associate partners with Allah see what they were promised of the punishment [with their own eyes], then they will come to know who is the weaker helper and the least in troops. [Meaning: those who associate partners with Allah have no helper at all and they are fewer in number than the soldiers of Allah. They will realize this on the Day of Judgement.]

Ayah 25, 26, 27, & 28: Say, “I do not know if what you are promised is near or if my Lord will grant for it a [long] period.” [He is] Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] unseen to anyone. Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers. That he may know that they have conveyed the messages of their Lord; and He has encompassed whatever is with them and has enumerated all things in number.

Commentary: Say, O Messenger, to these people who associate partners with Allah: “I do not know whether the punishment which you are promised is close at hand or my Lord will give it after a long time.” Allah is free from any imperfection and He is the Knower of that which is hidden from sight. He does not make apparent His knowledge of the unseen to anyone from His creation except the one whom He chooses for His message and from His favor. He lets know some of the unseen to such a chosen prophet. And He sends angels in front and behind the Messenger to protect him from the jinn so that the latter do not eavesdrop on the Messenger and whisper [the stolen information] to the soothsayers. Muhammad (pbuh) knows that messengers before him faced similar circumstances as him by preaching the truth and that he is protected as those messengers before him were protected from the jinn. Allah encompasses in His knowledge all that is with them, whether apparent or hidden, and nothing escapes from His knowledge. He has enumerated all things in number, hence, the Messenger does not fear anything from them [because he knows Allah is protecting and watching over him].

What It Means When Allah Asks Us to “Think” in the Quran – Dr. Yasir Qadhi

A portion from a talk delivered to a group of Muslims at Harvard University.

In the full length lecture, Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi summarizes his doctoral dissertation, which dealt with the relationship between the intellect and the Qur’an, and adds some practical observations about the problems of assuming ‘rationality’ can always be infallible.

I cut out a portion from the full lecture to highlight an important point. Many extreme liberal Muslims misinterpret the meaning of “thinking” in the Qur’an to justify their unorthodox and incoherent opinions. They understand the command “to think” in the Qur’an as an open game to interpret the religion as one sees fit without limitations. This is completely erroneous.

Dr. Yasir Qadhi does a good job here to clarify what it actually means when Allah asks us to think in the Qur’an.

For the complete lecture, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMeNqqwDimI

Lessons from the Story of Moses and Al-Khadir

The story of Al-Khidhr (sometimes spelled Al-Khadir) and Prophet Moses is a well-known one among the Muslims.  It is mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah with the latter providing a little more detail to the incident.  The scholars have derived numerous lessons from the whole event which are detailed below from the work of Dr. Bilal Phillips entitled Tafseer Soorah Al-Kahf.  The main lesson from the story is to trust the qadar (divine decree) of Allah and know that there is no absolute evil and that everything happens for a reason.

Qur’an

The story as mentioned in the Qur’an 18:60-82:

And [mention] when Moses said to his servant, “I will not cease [traveling] until I reach the junction of the two seas or continue for a long period.” But when they reached the junction between them, they forgot their fish, and it took its course into the sea, slipping away. So when they had passed beyond it, [Moses] said to his boy, “Bring us our morning meal. We have certainly suffered in this, our journey, [much] fatigue.” He said, “Did you see when we retired to the rock? Indeed, I forgot [there] the fish. And none made me forget it except Satan – that I should mention it. And it took its course into the sea amazingly”. [Moses] said, “That is what we were seeking.” So they returned, following their footprints.

And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge. Moses said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment?” He said, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” [Moses] said, “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order.” He said, “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention.”

So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, al-Khidhr tore it open. [Moses] said, “Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty.”

So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidhr killed him. [Moses] said, “Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse.”

So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidhr restored it. [Moses] said, “If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.

As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force. 

And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief.  So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy.

And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not [all those things] of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.”

Sunnah

The story in the Sunnah is mentioned in different ways and slightly different wordings.  The story as mentioned in the version of Al-Bukhari Book 65, Hadith 4773 is as follows:

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, ‘Once Moses, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), preached to the people till their eyes shed tears and their hearts became tender, whereupon he finished his sermon. Then a man came to Moses and asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh)! Is there anyone on the earth who is more learned than you?’ Moses replied, ‘No.’ So Allah admonished him (Moses), for he did not ascribe all knowledge to Allah. It was said, (on behalf of Allah), ‘Yes, (there is a slave of ours who knows more than you ).’ Moses said, ‘O my Lord! Where is he?’ Allah said, ‘At the junction of the two seas.’ Moses said, ‘O my Lord! Tell me of a sign whereby I will recognize the place.’ ” `Amr said to me, Allah said, “That place will be where the fish will leave you.” Ya`la said to me, “Allah said (to Moses), ‘Take a dead fish (and your goal will be) the place where it will become alive.'”

So Moses took a fish and put it in a basket and said to his boy-servant “I don’t want to trouble you, except that you should inform me as soon as this fish leaves you.” He said (to Moses).” You have not demanded too much.” And that is as mentioned by Allah: ‘And (remember) when Moses said to his attendant …. ‘(18.60) Yusha` bin Noon. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “While the attendant [Yusha’] was in the shade of the rock at a wet place, the fish slipped out (alive) while Moses was sleeping. His attendant said (to himself), “I will not wake him, but when he woke up, he forgot to tell him. The fish slipped out and entered the sea. Allah stopped the flow of the sea where the fish was, so that its trace looked as if it was made on a rock. `Amr forming a hole with his two thumbs an index fingers, said to me, “Like this, as in its trace was made on a rock.”

Moses said “We have suffered much fatigue on this journey of ours.” Then they returned back and found Al-Khadir. `Uthman bin Abi Sulaiman said to me, (they found him) on a green carpet in the middle of the sea. Al-Khadir was covered with his garment with one end under his feet and the other end under his head. When Moses greeted [him], he uncovered his face and said astonishingly, ‘Is there such a greeting in my land? Who are you?’ Moses said, ‘I am Moses.’ Al- Khadir said, ‘Are you the Moses of Bani Israel?’ Moses said, ‘Yes.’ Al-Khadir said, “What do you want?’ Moses said, ‘ I came to you so that you may teach me of the truth which you were taught.’ Al- Khadir said, ‘Is it not sufficient for you that the Torah is in your hands and the Divine Inspiration comes to you, O Moses? Verily, I have [some] knowledge that you ought not learn, and you have [some] knowledge which I ought not learn.’ At that time a bird took with its beak (some water) from the sea: Al-Khadir then said, ‘By Allah, my knowledge and your knowledge besides Allah’s Knowledge is like what this bird has taken with its beak from the sea.’ Until, when they went on board the boat (18.71).

They found a small boat which used to carry the people from this sea-side to the other sea-side. The crew recognized Al-Khadir and said, ‘The pious slave of Allah.’ The boat men said, ‘We will not get him on board with fare.’ Al-Khadir scuttled the boat and then plugged the hole with a piece of wood. Moses said, ‘Have you scuttled it in order to drown these people surely, you have done a dreadful thing. (18.71) Al-Khadir said, didn’t I say that you can have no patience with me?’ (18.72) The first inquiry of Moses was done because of forgetfulness, the second caused him to be bound with a stipulation, and the third was done intentionally. Moses said, ‘Call me not to account for what I forgot and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).’ (18.73)

(Then) they found a boy and Al-Khadir killed him. Ya`la- said: Sa`id said ‘They found boys playing and Al-Khadir got hold of a handsome disbelieving boy, laid him down and then slew him with a knife. Moses said, ‘Have you killed an innocent soul who has killed nobody?’ (18.74) Then they proceeded and found a wall which was on the point of falling down, and Al-Khadir set it up straight. Sa`id moved his hand thus and said ‘Al-Khadir raised his hand and the wall became straight. Ya`la said, ‘I think Sa`id said, ‘Al-Khadir touched the wall with his hand and it became straight (Moses said to Al-Khadir), ‘If you had wished, you could have taken wages for it.’ Sa`id said, ‘Wages that we might had eaten.’ And there was a king in furor (ahead) of them” (18.79) And there was in front of them. Ibn `Abbas recited: ‘In front of them (was) a king.’ It is said on the authority of somebody other than Sa`id that the king was Hudad bin Budad. They say that the boy was called Haisur. ‘A king who seized every ship by force. (18.79) So I wished that if that boat passed by him, he would leave it because of its defect and when they have passed they would repair it and get benefit from it. Some people said that they closed that hole with a bottle, and some said with tar. ‘His parents were believers, and he (the boy) was a non-believer and we (Khadir) feared lest he would oppress them by obstinate rebellion and disbelief.’ (18.80) i.e. that their love for him would urge them to follow him in his religion, ‘so we (Khadir) desired that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy’ (18:81). This was in reply to Moses’ saying: Have you killed an innocent soul.’? (18.74). ‘Near to mercy” means they will be more merciful to him than they were to the former whom Khadir had killed.

Lessons Derived

The following is taken from Dr. Bilal Phillips’s book entitled Tafseer Soorah Al-Kahf pgs. 203-206:

  1. Difficulty in acquiring knowledge. The story contains encouragement to expect the possibility of difficulty in seeking knowledge because what brings happiness could possibly involve difficulty and because Moses was not prevented by his leadership status from reaching the highest levels of seeking knowledge, traveling on land and sea for its sake, meeting the scholars, bearing difficulties and depending on humble following
  2. Discussion and arguments regarding knowledge. The reason for the narrations of Moses and Khadir’s story indicate the permissibility for discussion of knowledge without arrogance and pride and dependence on those who are knowledgeable when there is disagreement. Ibn ‘Abbaas and al-Hurr ibn Qays had disagreed about the person to whom Moses had traveled, was it Khadir or someone else. Ubayy ibn Ka‘b narrated this hadeeth to them to show the correctness of Ibn ‘Abbaas’ opinion.
  3. Conveyance of knowledge. The story teaches that it is a requirement for scholars to convey what they have learned, especially if it clarifies issues about which people differ. Ubayy narrated this hadeeth at Ibn ‘Abbaas’ request and Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated it to refute Nawf al-Bikaalee. Also al-Khadir taught Moses at his request.
  4. Prioritizing knowledge based activities. From the narration of the context of the Qur’aanic story, it is clear that Moses gave seeking additional knowledge priority over simply continuing to teach what he knew to his people.
  5. Mentioning one’s intention. Moses’ statement that he would not stop his journey until he reached the junction of the two seas indicates the permissibility of expressing one’s intention regarding seeking knowledge to others where there is benefit in it and if it is better than concealing it. For example, in mentioning it, one is able to prepare properly and the nobility of the act is highlighted.
  6. Al-Khadir’s knowledge of the unseen. The story clearly demonstrates that al-Khadir knew of the unseen only what Allah had taught him. Consequently, he did not know who Moses was until he asked him, nor did he know the purpose of Moses’ visit until he informed him.
  7. Two types of knowledge. The Qur’aanic story indicates that the knowledge Allah teaches His servants is of two types: 1) Knowledge that is acquired through human effort. 2) Knowledge that Allah teaches from Himself. Allah describes al-Khadir as, “One whom I taught knowledge from Myself.”
  8. Beneficial knowledge. Knowledge that leads to good was particularly sought by Moses as he said, “May I accompany you so that you can teach me some of what guidance you have been taught?” So knowledge which guides to the good path and warns of the evil path is beneficial knowledge and all besides it is either harmful or it has no benefit.
  9. Allah’s attribute al-Muhyee (the life-giver). Allah’s ability to give life to the dead is demonstrated in the dead salted fish coming alive and swimming away miraculously in the sea.
  10. Keeping servants. The story indicates the permissibility of serving those who are knowledgeable and of hiring or adopting a servant when residing and when traveling to help fulfill needs and for comfort.
  11. Treatment of servants. In the story gentleness to servants is demonstrated in Moses not blaming Youshaa‘ ibn Noon for forgetting to inform him about the disappearance of the fish as he had requested him.
  12. Eating with servants. It may also be deduced from the story that it is recommended to feed one’s servant from one’s own food and to eat with them. Moses instructed his servant, “Bring us our lunch,” referring to the meal as belonging to them both and that it be brought for them both to eat together.
  13. Obedience to divine law. Al-Khadir’s scuttling of the boat and killing the child was by Allah’s command, thus it is not permissible for anyone who does not receive divine revelation to kill or destroy claiming that there is hidden wisdom behind it. This is similar to Prophet Abraham’s attempt to slaughter his son, Ishmael. Al-Khadir was not a follower of Moses nor Prophet Muhammad (s). If he were the follower of either of them, he would not have been allowed to go beyond divine law revealed to them.
  14. Information from a single reliable narrator. The context of the hadeeth narrations prove the validity of acting on information conveyed by a single reliable person (khabar al-waahid) in issues of ‘aqeedah. Ibn ‘Abbaas accepted Ubayy’s individual narration and the students of Ibn ‘Abbaas accepted his individual narration.
  15. Overseas travel. Moses’ journey in this story contains a recommendation for travel overseas in search of knowledge or additional knowledge. Although the commonly quoted hadeeth “Seek knowledge even unto China,” is fabricated, meaning that it is sinful to attribute it to the Prophet (s), the concept of traveling to the ends of the earth for useful knowledge is sound.
  16. Provisions for journeys. Carrying provisions during journeys is a sharee‘ah requirement. It is not preferable or permissible to set out on journeys and deliberately leave provisions behind based on the claim that one is trusting in Allah.
  17. Humility in the quest for knowledge. Moses was keen on meeting al-Khadir because of his humility, and he sought to learn from him in order to teach his people to learn from his manners and as a reminder to whoever praises himself to be humble.
  18. Humility to one’s teacher. The way in which Moses spoke to his teacher in the story indicates the necessity of humility from those who are senior to whomever they learn from. This is demonstrated by having good manners with one’s teacher and talking to him in the best manner as Moses did with al-Khadir. Moses said, “May I follow you …”
  19. Senior scholars can learn from those below them. The story shows that although Moses was senior to al-Khadir, he eagerly tried to learn from him. Thus, eminent scholars can learn from junior scholars in fields outside their expertise as well as in their own fields.
  20. Attribution of knowledge to Allah. When Moses requested al-Khadir to teach him “something of that knowledge which you were taught,” he recognized that al-Khadir’s knowledge was from Allah.
  21. Patience in seeking knowledge. It is from the etiquette of a student to be patient with his teacher and to obey his instructions as shown by Moses and his teacher al-Khadir in the story. One who does not have patience and persistence will lose much knowledge as indicated by al-Khadir’s explanation of why Moses would not be able to learn from him.
  22. Knowledge is the foundation of patience. Al-Khadir indicated that the main reason why Moses would not be able to be patient was because of his lack of knowledge. He said, “How can you have patience with something you don’t understand?” Consequently, having full knowledge and awareness of what one is patient for is among the main means of achieving patience. Knowledge that whatever Allah destines is for good gives the believers strength to be patient during times of calamity and trial.
  23. Disallowance of questions. The story indicates that it is permissible for a teacher to prohibit questions until after his explanations are complete. The teacher must consider the level of his students and their circumstances in order to determine whether to take questions during a class, after the class or both.
  24. The Wisdom of Allah’s acts. The acts which al-Khadir did are purely from Allah’s destiny. Allah made them take place on al-Khadir’s hands so that the believers could use them as evidence of the subtle benefits in what Allah has destined and that some things he might detest strongly but it is beneficial for his religion as in the case of the boy, or beneficial for his worldly life as in the case of the boat. So He made them examples of His gentleness and kindness so they would know and be completely pleased with the detestible elements of destiny.
  25. Human reason and Allah’s will. The hidden benefits of al-Khadir’s acts also indicate that Allah does whatever He wishes in His dominion and decides for His creation as He wishes with regard to what will benefit or harm. Thus, there is no place for human reason with respect to His acts, and no valid opposition can be raised against His laws, instead it is obligatory for the creation to be pleased and accepting of His choice.
  26. The paradoxes of life. There are paradoxes in life where apparent loss is in fact a gain and what appears to be cruelty is in fact mercy and what appears to be returning good for evil is in fact justice and not generosity.
  27. Hired help. The legality of hiring help is affirmed in Moses’ suggestion to al-Khadir to collect wages for fixing the wall.
  28. The fulfillment of conditions. The story contains evidence that one may act according to conditions set. Al-Khadir ended his journey with Moses after his last promise not to question was broken.
  29. The attribution of evil to Allah. From the statements of al-Khadir regarding his acts, it may be deduced that the proper etiquette regarding Allah and evil is to not attribute it directly to Him.
  30. The attribution of evil to Satan. When Yousha‘ forgot to inform Moses and was questioned, he attributed his forgetting to Satan, though everything which takes place is according to Allah’s decision (Qadar). Evil is attributed to Satan from the perspective of his beautifying it and his plotting it.
  31. The accountability of one who is forgetful. The principle that one who forgets is not held to account for what he forgot can be deduced from Moses’ statement, “[Please] don’t hold me accountable for my forgetfulness.” This is true whether what is forgotten is from Allah’s rights or the rights of his servants.
  32. Repelling a greater evil with a lesser evil. The permissibly of committing the lesser of two evils to repel the greater can be deduced from al-Khadir’s scuttling of the boat to avoid its capture and his killing the boy to protect his parents from being driven into disbelief.
  33. The destruction of a portion of property in order to save the majority. This legal maxim is found in al-Khadir’s damaging a part of the boat to save the whole craft.
  34. Requesting food and lodging. That it is allowable to request food in a foreign country or town if there is no place for the sale of food as indicated in the story of the stingy village and the falling wall.
  35. Is Khadir eternal? The claim that al-Khadir is alive until today is false and without any authentic narrations to support it. If he had remained alive until the Prophet’s time, he would have come to him and followed him because he was sent to the world. Leading scholars like, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Katheer, and Ibn al-Jawzee have pointed out that the traditions indicating al-Khadir’s continual life are all inauthentic.
  36. The refutation of scholars. There is a lesson in the story that one should refrain from refuting leading scholars and instead seek to find out from them their positions regarding in which issues one feels them to be wrong. The story showed that although Moses viewed al-Khadir’s acts as wrong, they were, in fact, correct.
  37. Judging by the apparent. Matters are normally judged by what is apparent regarding rulings concerning things of this life. Consequently, Moses condemned al-Khadir for scuttling the ship and killing the boy due to their apparent evil. However, Moses’ situation was unique and he should have been patient until the apparent evil was explained to him by his teacher.
  38. The wealth of a poor person. The Qur’aan’s reference to the owners of the boat as poor indicates that a person may be considered poor while having wealth that does not fulfill his needs.
  39. Admonition of companions. It may be deduced from the story that one should not abandon his companion without admonishing him and ensuring that he does not have an excuse or justification for his actions.
  40. Allah’s protection of the righteous. The story contains references to aid being given to the righteous and their offspring reiterating a general principle mentioned elsewhere in the Qur’aan as: “If you help/support Allah’s religion, Allah will help/support you.” (Soorah Muhammad, 47: 7)
  41. Service of the righteous. The reason given for fixing the wall was that the father of the boys was righteous indicating that service of the righteous or those connected to them is better than service to others.
  42. Belief in the destiny. It was written on the golden tablets that Allah was amazed by the sadness of those who claim to believe in destiny. This indicates that belief in destiny is not just an intellectual exercise but an internalized acceptance of Allah’s decisions in our lives. True belief in destiny prevents a person from becoming extremely sad, which is one of the reasons why Islaam disallows mourning for the dead for more than three days.
  43. The remembrance of death. The Prophet (s) encouraged the regular remembrance of death and called it the pleasure destroyer.

Studying Qur’an: Tips and Resources

Scholars have defined the Qur’an as “the words of Allah revealed to Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), the recitation of which is a form of worship.”  This definition can be applied to no other book or speech.

Reading and recitation of the Qur’an is an important form of worship for which a Muslim can expect reward and benefit in the Hereafter.  There was a definite purpose behind the strong encouragement given by the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) in several authentic hadiths for recitation of the Qur’an.  That purpose is clearly stated in the Qur’an itself:

A blessed Book which We have revealed to you [o Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded [Sad 38:29].

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an or are there locks upon [their] hearts? [Muhammad 47:24]

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction [Nisa 4:82]

Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad bin Taymiyyah pointed out in his Fatawa that even the ordinary words of men are spoken or written for the purpose of being understood by the listener or reader and that the Qur’an is surely more worthy of being understood than the words of men.  Many scholars have stated that it is the responsibility of all Muslims to learn the Arabic language in order to understand the Qur’an.  Ibn Katheer, author of the well-known Arabic tafseer (explanation/interpretation of the Qur’an), maintained that it is also the duty of Muslim scholars to make its meanings known to the people.

No person can afford to be ignorant of the Qur’an, for it is the constitution revealed by Allah to regulate and govern human life.  It speaks with the perfect knowledge of the Creator about His creation.  It exposes the truth and invites man to the way of truth.  It contains important information about human destiny and that of the individual.  It educates and raises men to the highest moral, intellectual and social level when they strive to comprehend it and apply its teachings to life.

Moreover, it is the actual words of Allah – not created, but revealed by Him through the angel Gabriel to a human messenger, Muhammad bin Abdullah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), for the benefit of humanity.  It is an eternal miracle given to the final prophet, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), as proof of his prophethood and a challenge to all succeeding generations.  It is of unique and inimitable quality.  Revealed fourteen centuries ago, it remains today completely intact and unaltered in its original Arabic form.

What does one discover when he understands the meanings of the Qur’an?  The answers to this question can be classified in four main categories:

  1. That he can know his Creator as He has described Himself
  2. That he can know the purpose of life on this earth and what is expected of every person during this life
  3. That he becomes aware of the consequences of his attitudes and his behavior
  4. How he should relate to all things – to Allah by worship and obedience, to his fellow man by justice to all or by ihsan (a higher degree), and to the universe in general by putting those things under his control to good use

This divine message was revealed to confirm and renew the relationship between man and his Creator and to reinstate the sincere and correct worship of the one true God, Allah, who Says:

Then let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided [Al-Baqarah 2:186].

Sahih International The Qur’an, viii-ix

Definition of Uloom al-Qur’an

The knowledge of Uloom al-Qur’an, or ‘The Sciences of the Qur’an’, deals with the knowledge of those sciences that have a direct bearing on the recitation, history, understanding and implementation of the Qur’an.  It is, therefore, a vast field of Islamic scholarship, and one that is of primary importance.

Thus, for example, with regards to recitation, uloom al-Qur’an deals with the science of pronunciation (tajweed), the difference methodologies of reciting the Qur’an (the qira’aat), the blessings of reciting the Qur’an, and the etiquette of its recitation.

With regards to the history of the Qur’an, uloom al-Qur’an deals with the stages of revelation of the Qur’an, the compilation of the Qur’an, the art and history of writing the Qur’anic script (rasm al-masaahif), and the preservation of the Qur’an.

With regards to its understanding and implementation, uloom al-Qur’an covers the causes covers the causes of revelation (asbaab an-nuzool), the knowledge of the makkee and madanee revelations, the knowledge of the various forms (ahruf) it was revealed in, the understanding of its abrogated rulings and verses (naasikh wa al-mansookh), the knowledge of the various classifications of its verses (muhkam and mutashaabih, aam and khaas, mutlaq and muqqayad, etc.), the knowledge of the inimitable style of the Qur’an (I’jaaz al-Qur’an), the knowledge of its interpretation (tafseer), the grammatical analysis of the Qur’an (iraab al-Qur’an) and the knowledge of those words whose usage has become uncommon over time (ghareeb al-Qur’an).

It has been said that the knowledge of uloom al-Qur’an is in reality the knowledge that one is required to know in order to properly interpret the Qur’an.  Therefore, to call this branch of Islamic knowledge ‘The Procedure and Methodology of Interpretation’ (Ilm Usool at-Tafseer) instead of ‘uloom al Qur’aan would not be far from the truth.  However, uloom al-Qur’an also includes topics that have very little or no bearing on tafseer, such as the compilation of the Qur’an, and the development of the script of the Qur’an.  Therefore, the knowledge of  uloom al-Qur’an is more general than Ilm Usool at-Tafseer.

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, 18-19

The Compilation of the Qur’an

The compilation of the Qur’an is a unique phenomenon that is peculiar to Islamic history, for no other religious book can claim to be anywhere near as authentic as the Qur’an.  The New Testament was authored over a century after Jesus’s death, and the Old Testament’s authors are shrouded in mystery, as are the authors of the Hindu scriptures.  Only the Qur’an can be claimed to have been preserved in its original form.

And how can it not be preserved, when Allah has taken it upon Himself to guart it and protect it?  For He says,

Verily, We have sent down this Remembrance (The Qur’an), and We are of a surety going to protect it (from tampering) [Al-Hijr 15:9]

And when the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) was fearful of forgetting its verses, Allah revealed,

Do not move your tongue with haste concerning it! For it is for Us to Collect it and give you the ability to recite it [Al-Qiyamah 75:17]

Allah describes the Qur’an as,

An honorable and respected Book.  Falsehood cannot approach it from in front of it or from behind it; it is a revelation from One who is All-Wise, Worthy of Praise [Fussilat 41:41-42]

This is one of the unique blessings that this ummah – and the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) – has been favoured with over other nations.  The Qur’an is the only divinely-revealed Scripture whose preservation has been promised by Allah.  The responsibility of preserving earlier Scriptures had been placed upon its recipients, without any divine aid.  Allah mentions, concerning the earlier Scripture,

And the rabbis and the priests (judged according to their Scriptures), for to them was entrusted the protection of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses to it [Ma’idah 5:44]

Thus, the earlier nations were given the responsibility of protecting their scriptures, in contrast to the Qur’an, whose protection was the responsibility of the Creator.

An unbiased researcher, whether he believes in the prophethood of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) or not, must conclude that the Qur’an that is present today is the same Qur’an that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) taught to his Companions.  It therefore behooves Muslims when making such bold claims to investigate the history of its compilation, and examine the manner in which it was preserved.

There are three distinct stages of the compilation of the Qur’an.  The first is the preservation of the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him); the second, the compilation of the Qur’an by Aboo Bakr; and the third, the compilation of Uthmaan.

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, 124-125

Resources on Qur’an and It’s Related Sciences:

Audio/Video

  1. Sciences of the Qur’an  by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  2. Towards Understanding Surah Yusuf by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  3. Miracles of the Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  4. Divine Speech Prologue by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  5. Various Lectures on Qur’anic Sciences by Various Lecturers (audio)
  6. Tafseer Juz Amma by Nouman Ali Khan (audio)
  7. Learn Tajweed by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  8. Surah Al-Imran (v. 133-135) by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
  9. Surah Al-Ma’idah Reflection by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
  10. Qur’an and Daily Life by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  11. Miracle of the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  12. Power of Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  13. Asbab An-Nuzul (Reasons for Revelation) of Various Verses of Qur’an by Mufti Ismail Musa Menk (audio)
  14. Ayat ul-Qursi – The Greatest verse in the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  15. Tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) by Yasir Qadhi (video)

Articles

  1. Introduction to Principles of Tafseer by saheefah.org
  2. How to Study Tafsir by islamclass.wordpress.com

Books

  1. An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi
  2. Ulum al-Qur’an: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an by Ahmad Von Denffer
  3. Stories of the Qur’an by Ibn Katheer
  4. The Qur’an (English Meaning) by Sahih International
  5. Tafseer Ibn Katheer by Ibn Katheer
  6. Tafseer al-Jalalayn by Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli, Jalalu-d-Din as-Suyuti
  7. The Miraculous Qur’an by Jamaal Ad-Deen Zarabozo
  8. A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an by Muhammad al-Ghazali (the Egyptian one)
  9. Way to the Qur’an: A Manual on How to Approach the Qur’an by Khurram Murad
  10. Pondering over the Qur’an by Amin Ahsan Islahi
  11. 80% of Qur’anic Words (Classified word lists for easy memorization) by Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem