It appears that referring to non Muslims who enter Islam as being “reverts” as opposed to “converts” is terminology unique to English speaking Muslims from the West.
The argument put forward by “revert” supporters is the hadith which states that all humans are born on Fitrah which is Islam and thereafter change their belief due to their respective upbringing. According to Shaykh Abd al-Fattah al-Yafi there are some Muslim scholars who hold this view.
As an aside – when did the phrase “Let me revert back to you” come in usage? Is it not supposed to be, “I will reply back to you?”
Coming back to the topic at hand, it is clear that numerous prominent Sunni scholars held the view that Fitrah (natural disposition) referred to in hadith is not Islam, and thus by extension for English speakers the term “convert” would be more accurate. One evidence of many is the following hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim 4/2048:
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: Every person is given birth to by their mother upon the Fitrah, thereafter their parents make them Jewish, Christians or Magians, and if the parents are Muslim then the person will be Muslim…
Imam al-Nawawi in his commentary said:
The strongest view is that the meaning is that every child is born with the natural disposition towards Islam.
Imam Ibn al-Athir said in Al-Nihayah (1/247):
The meaning of the hadith is that every child is born with a type of natural disposition which is the Fitrah of Allah Most High and that it inclines towards the acceptance of truth both naturally and in obedience.
Other scholars who supported this understanding are: Ibn Abd al-Barr, Ibn Atiyyah, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Qutaybah, Abu Shamah, al-Ayni and others, and Allah Taala knows best.
Source: Mawahib Karim al-Fattah of Shaykh Abd al-Fattah al-Yafi 1/531 onwards.
Please find below a supplicatory prayer I wrote a short time back based primarily (but not wholly) on a well known poem of Imam al-Haddad (see image above). Recitors will find that they should be able to sing this according to the tune of the Arabic version.
O Lord we have admitted
to sins we have committed
to You we have submitted
our hopes in Your Mercy
O Lord grant us repentance
coupled with Your acceptance
and free us from dependence
From all of the creation
O Lord grant us a veiling
which will protect us failing
a day of Your prevailing
upon all Your deniers
O Lord grant us admission
to blessings You have given
of health and wealth provision
raining upon your servants
O Lord protect our household
the elderly and young folk
for ever more our stronghold
and in Paradise unite us
O Lord grant Your protection
And ward off the affliction
With ease from all restriction
The homes of the believers
O Lord bestow Your favours
upon our friends and neighbours
and everyone who labours
to serve your creation
O Lord Your peace and blessings
Until the leaves and birds sing
Upon the light that guides us
Muhammad and companions
A short passage to reflect over and ponder, especially for those from an Indian Subcontinent background where matters are always presented as black and white.
Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani , the recent prominent Sunni theologian of Palestine wrote the following passage in his work Shawahid al-Haqq (p.62).
“Know that the belief I hold regarding Ibn Taymiyyah and his two students – Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Abd al-Hadi – is that they are from the Imams of the religion and from the prominent (akabir) Muslim scholars. They have greatly benefitted the Muhammadan community with their knowledge, even though they made serious errors regarding the issues of visitation and istighatha as a result which they caused significant harm to Islam and the Muslims. I swear by Allah to Magnificent! Before my coming across their statements regarding these issues regarding the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) I did not believe that a Muslim could venture to say such a thing. I have now for a number of months been reflecting over citing their statements but cannot venture to do so even for the sake of refuting them out of fear that I might be a means of increasing their circulation such is their ugliness. May Allah forgive them and have mercy on them according to their intentions and not deprive us from seeking mercy for them and benefitting from their knowledge.”
I came across the following short extract when looking for material regarding a description of wrestling at the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) 1500 years ago. It seems clear – to me at least – that the wrestling referred to in Muslim sources is closer in spirit to the stand up (Tachi-Waza) throwing techniques of Judo than the ground grappling focus of BJJ.
The great Moroccan sholar Shaykh Abd al-Hayy al-Kattani mentions the following in his work Taratib al-Idariyyah:
Ibn Ishaq amongst others mentions in his Sirah that in Mecca there was a person of immense strength who was skilled in wrestling. People would come from other places to wrestle him and he would defeat them. One day when he was in one of the valleys of Mecca he met the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) who said to him, ‘O Rukanah, are you not conscious of Allah and accept that which I call you to?’ Rukanah replied, ‘O Muhammad, do you have anything as proof of your truthfulness?’ He replied, ‘Yes, if I was to defeat you in wrestling would you have faith in Allah and His Messenger?’
Rukanah replied, ‘Yes O Muhammad, prepare for a wrestling match!’
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘I am ready,’ at which point the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) drew closer to Rukanah and threw him down.
Rukanah was astonished at this and asked for another match, and he was defeated for a second and then a third time. Rukanah stood up amazed and said, ‘Your matter is astonishing.’
This was narrated by Abu Nuaym and al-Bayhaqi from Abu Umamah from two routes of transmission, one Marfu and the other Mursal.
The Rukanah who has been mentioned here is Ibn Abd Yazid bin Hisham bin al-Muttalib bin Abd Manaf, al-Qurashi, a Meccan companion who entered in to Islam in the year of the Meccan conquest. He died in Medina during the caliphate of Muawiyah in the year 42. Rukanah was fearsome, well built, strong and well known for his wrestling skills, such that no one had ever defeated him in wrestling nor had his skin ever touched the ground in defeat.
It is authentically reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) wrestled him and defeated him, as was stated by al-Khafaji in al-Nasim.
In Ibn al-Tayyib al-Fasi’s notes on the Qamus it is mentioned regarding Rukanah, ‘His story is well known, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) defeating him is from his great miracles, for Rukanah was the most skilled wrestler of his age. His strength was such that he would stand on a piece of camel skin of a good flexible quality which would be pulled by ten men without his being moved from his spot, this was stated in the commentaries of the Shifa, al-Mawahib and other works.'”
The author then discussed some scholars who highlighted some weakness in the chain for this incident as well as it not being authentically established that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) wrestled Abu Jahl. It would however appear that the incident above with Rukanah does have a number of chains of transmission. Shaykh Abd al-Hayy al-Kattani continued:
I have in my possession a short work by Hafiz al-Suyuti named Al-Musarah ila al-Musarah in which he mentioned the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) wrestling with Abu Rukanah via a number of chains of transmission, likewise the younger companions wrestling amongst themselves to gain permission for military service. He also mentioned that Meccans were skilled in wrestling and defeated all others…and narrated via routes of transmission that Hasan and Hussain (Upon both of them be peace) wrestled in the presence of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).”
Note: I have been informed that the short treatise of Imam al-Suyuti referenced above has been translated and will inshAllah be published soon.
Shah Waliullah and the topic of istighatha can be confusing. You have the anti-istighatha scholars usually citing passages from his Hujatullah al-Baligha and at times other disputed works which seem to support their argument. Yet when you read works of Shah Waliullah such as the Anfas al-Arifin you get a totally different impression, as it contains a number of pro istighatha anecdotes and comments, some of which have been presented on this site. So which is the real Shah Waliullah? I had been thinking for some time that the written words of a scholar can be misinterpreted and misrepresented by parties seeking to validate their own views, and that a record of the personal practice of an individual is often the best means to understand their view on an issue. I was therefore overjoyed to some time ago come across the authorised biography of Shah Waliullah which was penned by his close disciple, and which happens to shed light on the issue of istighatha in such as a decisive way that only a stubborn partisan fanatic would engage in intellectual gymnastics to refute it.
Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati, the close disciple of Shah Waliullah and author of his authorised biography named Qawl al-Jalli mentions (p.82-83) a clear instance of istighatha which Shah Waliullah taught his students and which is cited approvingly by Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati. He said:
“A person named Muhammad Yusuf, who was a learned and pious mystic (darwesh) person narrates from a person named Dost Muhammad who was also a pious learned (fadil) person who narrated the following incident:
I would usually go to a person who I was close to who was well known in tasawwuf but regarding whom I knew that his beliefs (aqaid) were not good. I would also go to another person whose company I found beneficial and outwardly he conformed to the sacred law (shariah), and I had full trust in both of them.
One day I got up for the Fajr prayer and the congregation was ready and about to begin, I wished to pray 2 units and then join the congregation, however just as I had formed my intention for this that both of these Shaykhs forms manifested in front of me and attempted to prevent me from praying. I wished to get rid of them and begin the prayer but despite my attempts I was unable to do so. One of the Shaykhs sat down at the place of prostration (sajda) in order to prevent me from prostrating. The other Shaykh stood next to me* and was preventing me…when I found I was unable to do anything I began to recite, ‘La Hawla…’ but I did not find this beneficial to my predicament. I was increasingly becoming more distressed and was aware that the time for the prayer was running out.
I then began to individually recite the names of the pious folk of the past, meaning the noble awliyah and great Prophets and seeking help from them. I then remembered that Hazrat-e-Aqdas (Shah Waliullah) had once said that at a time of distress or difficulty remember my name. As soon as I had called out/took the name of Hazrat-e-Aqdas and sought help from him that I saw that Hazrat-e-Aqdas appeared and with his two hands took both Shaykhs by the ear and banished them and saved me from this tribulation.
I thanked Allah for this and busied myself with the prayer, and this incident was a reason for my increased veneration of Hazrat-e-Aqdas.”
Some brief comments from Saleh Malik in defence of the Kuwaiti scholar: Shaykh Fahd al-Kandari regarding the blessed parents of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and an explanation of some lines of the Burda.
Have any of the classical Hanbali scholars made mention of Imam Hussain and Karbala in their works? The answer is: Yes.
Imam Ibn Abd al-Hadi al-Maqdisi, better known as Ibn al-Mibrad (d.909 Hijri) discussed this in his work related to the Islamic months of the year in the entry for Muharram.
He said in his book Ma-arif al-Inam wa Fadl al-Shuhur wal-Ayyam p.71:
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Hasan and Hussain are leaders of the youth of Paradise.” [Tirmidhi 3768; Ibn Majah 118]
Abdullah bin Nujayy reports from his father that he was travelling with Ali (Upon him be peace)…when they came close to Nineveh on their way to Siffin, Ali called out: Have patience O Abdullah at the banks of the Euphrates! I said: What is this?
Ali replied: I entered upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) one day and found that he had tears in his eyes. I said: O Prophet of Allah, has someone upset you? He replied: No. I then said: Why is it that you have tears in your eyes?
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied: Gibril visited me and informed me that Hussain will be killed at the bank of the Euphrates, and he said to me: Would you like to smell the fragrance from its soil? I said: Yes. He [Gibril] then extended his hand and took a handful of soil which he gave to me, and I was unable to stop myself crying.” [Imam Ahmad in his Musnad 1/85]
(Poem) I weep over the one murdered in Karbala
His body soaked with blood
I weep over the one murdered by oppressive tyrants
For no reason except Wafa (faithfulness)
I weep for the murdered one for whom weeped out of sorrow
The people of the earth and the heavens
We narrate that: A rock was found 300 years before the coming of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) upon which it was written in Greek:
(Poem) Do the group who murdered Hussain hope for
The intercession of his grandfather on the day of reckoning?
Woe be to the killer of Hussain, how will his matter be with Hussain’s parents and his grandfather!
My brothers! I ask you by Allah, those who were treacherous to Yusuf, with which face can they face Yaqub?
(Poem) Fatima will pass through on the day of judgement
Her shirt having the blood of Hussain on it
Woe be to the one whose supposed intercessors will in fact be his enemies
On the day of judgement when people are resurrected.
The following is a quick rough translation of a recent beneficial post by Shaykh Abd al-Wahid al-Azhari, a young Hanbali scholar based in Qatar. In this he talks briefly about his experiences in the Salafi movement and the issue of love of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
O Lord, grant us death in the land of your Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), in a manner which You are pleased with, and grant us burial there!
I have pointed out in the past, even when I was counted as being a part of the Salafi movement (and records are a witness to this) that some of the viewpoints of the Wahabis relating to the understanding of love of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the issues of difference between them and the majority of the Ummah: the jurists and others – and I do not say it is only the sufis – such as tawassul, tabarruk, travelling to visit the Prophet etc, contain an element of animosity and injustice… which is not hidden to intelligent folk.
I do not say as some of their extreme enemies do that they do not love the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) or do not honour him as they should, nor do I say that this exists in each of them, no by Allah, there are those amongst them who are not like this…
However I say: the manifestation of animosity, coarse disrespect and aversion are apparent in many of them which cannot be missed by the observant person.
This is a reaction of theirs as to what they perceive of exaggeration of their opponents in loving the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), praise of him, and attachment to him…the examples of this are many and evident.
It is sufficient as evidence that you will not find them (the Salafis) holding gatherings of praise for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) not gathering together to recite his sirah or salawat upon him, and even it does occur then it is little and cannot be compared to those that they accuse of going to extremes!
You will not find in their literary output anything which comes close to the Burdah or that which is similar to it, even if it is free of that which they criticise, except for some recent efforts by them, but that is a separate topic of discussion.
It is sufficient for you to present to them the statements of the Imams…regarding the excellence of the blessed resting place of the Prophet and it being superior to the Kabah, or some of that which is recorded regarding their spiritual states in Medina such as that which is reported from Imam Malik and what is mentioned by Qadi Iyad in al-Shifa, and then look at their behaviour in such places and attitude.
They proclaim assertively that the meaning of love is following the Prophet!
This is an understanding which there is no difference of opinion over, rather the discussion is about a matter at a higher level which only a deprived person is ignorant of.
I will here mention a story of one of the prominent students of knowledge from my friends, a pleasant Salafi, advanced in knowledge with some beneficial published works. He resided in a city close to Medina al-Nabawiyyah – I will not name it so he is not identified – he was living there for a number of years. He said to me after the passing of several years: I have not visited Medina since I have come here, not even once!
I was greatly shocked at his statement, for I know those who would expend their wealth and health just to visit it once, rather they are prepared to choose visiting Medina over their continuing to live if they had a choice.
I asked him – out of disbelief almost – Why?
He said: “Because prayer in Mecca is rewarded at 100,000 and in Medina it is 1000, so what is it that can make me give preference to visiting Medina over Mecca? When I have the opportunity the visit to Mecca is given preference without a doubt.”
The above statement is a financial calculation (if it can be described as such) which a lover (of the Prophet) would not utter. Neither would someone who understands the statements of the fuqaha truthfully or has examined the states of the truthful lovers (of the Prophet).
This statement can only be uttered by an uncouth idiot who does not understand and is unaware, or a materialistic fool who is devoid of affection. This statement should not be stated by a pious man who I know well is righteous and desirous of doing good. It is however the distorted understanding and comprehension that these people inherit, and this person is a senior figure amongst them.
Were it that this person had looked at the longing of visiting the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), attachment to the places which his blessed foot touched, the resting place wherein resides his noble body along witth longing to see those famous places and other necessary results of truthful love – and that this is more beloved to Allah than many righteous bodily acts – he would not have made this statement nor would have thought in this diseased way.
Were it that he had he looked at the strengthening of faith and serenity which occurs for a visitor to Medina.
Were it that he had looked at the statements of the Fuqaha and great Imams such as Ahmad bin Hanbal who said, “If you are performing an optional Hajj then go first to Medina.” Ibn Nasrullah commented on this saying, “This means that the visiting (of Medina) is superior to an optional Hajj.”, and there are numerous other statements and well known stories…
However this is a veil of coarsness and animosity which a person does not realise he is afflicted by, rather they are deceived by the shaitan that they are intelligent and possess understanding, and help is sought from Allah.
This post is for the purpose of sincere advice and evaluation, not to shame or defame, and Allah is the guider to the straight path.
Imam Ibn Balban said in his work Mukhtasar al-Ifadat:
“Point of benefit: If a person walks with someone who is higher than them in terms of rank and virtue, then he should walk on the other person’s hand side, similar to how he would be to the Imam in the prayer. If however the other person (he is walking with) is lesser than him in rank then he should walk on the other person’s left hand side, meaning that this person is to his right.”