Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COŞAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

June 2, 2000


As-salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May Allah's peace, mercy, abundance, grace be with you. May Allah grant you the blessings of the Friday.

a. Ignorance, Intelligence and Contemplation

Two of the ahadith I would like to read were reported by Hadrat Ali RA. Here is the first one:

RE. 482/3 (Lâ faqra ashaddu minal-jahl, wa lâ ghinâ a'wadu minal-aql, wa lâ ibâdata kat-tafakkur.)

I would like to dedicate this hadith to all Muslims who love Hadrat Ali RA. The prophet stated in this hadith: (Lâ faqra ashaddu minal-jahl) "There is no poverty more intense than the ignorance." You must have heard of the poverty which is the lack of money, property, or food. The ignorance is also a lack of something: knowledge. The lack of knowledge is the worst kind of poverty because an ignorant person could commit all kinds of wrongs with the thought that he is doing something good. He can ruin his life in this world and his life in the world to come. For instance, he could practice bid'ah and neglect the fard or sunnah. He could do something to serve the religion of Allah, yet it could lead to serious consequences harmful to all. That is why the Prophet SAS said that the ignorance is the worst kind of poverty.

In one of the hadith, the Prophet expresses his concern: "Your being rich makes me worry more than your being poor does. I am not worried about your poverty because when you are poor, you would turn to Allah and offer prayers, ask things for this world, 'My Lord, help me in paying my bills, earning my livelihood, getting a shelter for my family.'" If a person is in need, he would turn to Allah and ask from Him. The prayers, supplications, requests by a believer are liked by Allah very much. The poverty makes a person to turn to Allah, that is why it is useful. On the contrary, the richness leads a person to disobedience. First of all, it is accompanied by a pride. The rich person would look at everybody from above; his nafs will be very strong. Then, he would be preoccupied with running his business or taking care of his property, so he cannot spare much time for worship. He would not turn to Allah often. He would be neglectful of his religious responsibilities.

(Innal-insâna layatghà. An raâhustaghnâ.) (Alaq: 6-7)

These are the verses from the surah Iqra': "Surely man waxes insolent, for he thinks himself he is self-sufficient." When he sees himself rich, self sufficient, then he starts acting arrogantly. He becomes so extravagant in his spending, on what he wears, and in other worldly matters. He starts committing deeds that are unfavorable to Allah. This is why the Prophet said, "I worry about your getting rich and committing such faults."

There is of course a danger of poverty: committing offences, such as cursing the destiny, stealing, and disobeying Allah. Such level of poverty is not desirable, though. The affluence that makes a person forget about Allah is not good either. Nobody asks for poverty; everybody asks for abundance of sustenance and goods.

One of the companions of the Prophet requested: "O Prophet of Allah, I am fed up with my poverty. Please pray that Allah gives me plenty of wealth and property." The prophet responded: "It is better to have a small amount of wealth and property so that you can be tankful fully rather than going astray while running after large amounts of property and wealth. Do not ask for too much property." The companion repeated his request at other times. Finally the Prophet made the supplication, and Allah gave the companion flocks of sheep and wealth. The companion got so busy that he stopped attending the daily prayers and even the Friday prayer. The details could be found in the hadith books. [The companion later refused to pay zakah which is one of the pillars of Islam.]

The poverty is bad; however, the ignorance, the lack of knowledge, is worse than the poverty. We must do all we can to save ourselves from ignorance. We have to have our children grow up to be scholars. We must keep reading books, acquire new information and get rid of the ignorance to become knowledgeable Muslims. As the Prophet recommended, we should be "either a teacher or a student" in the path of knowledge.

It is very important to get rid of the ignorance. It is also very important to raise our children to be knowledgeable persons, scholars. Studying the Qur'an, studying the Sunnah, learning about the details of Islamic rules, learning about the lawful and the prohibited as well as what is permissible and what is abhorred are all important for each one of us. We must run away from the ignorance.

In the second part of the first hadith the prophet continued: (Wa lâ ghinâ a'wadu minal-aql) "There is no wealth, affluence, or prosperity more useful than the intelligence." The intelligence is like a capital for a person. If an intelligent person leaves his village with no money and comes to a large city, he can find a job, establish a business or do something to make a living. Soon he can advance and improve his living conditions.

The intelligence is a blessing from Allah, and it is good for a person not to lack any intelligence. It is a virtue for one to be complete in intelligence. there cannot be a more useful affluence than the intelligence. A person may inherit some property and wealth from his parents, yet it does not guarantee that he will remain rich for the rest of his life. If he lacks some intelligence, soon he will lose much of the wealth. That is why we wish intelligence from Allah.

There are various kinds of intelligence. Some are good, some are bad. Some are crooked, some are defective. We must ask for the sound intelligence (aql-i salîm), healthy, straight, and good intelligence.

Now in the world everybody likes himself. Every nation is proud of its own civilization and advancements. Everybody follows a path believing that it is a good path even if it has obvious flaws. When you point them, each person defends his own path with his own intelligence. There are as many kinds of intelligence as the number of people. What is important is to have the sound and straight intelligence.

Even a thief has an intelligence; he finds ways entering the property, stealing, and avoiding the police. Some thieves can enter banks under strict protection and steal the money. The intelligence of a thief is not a sound intelligence. The intelligence should be the sound intelligence. For the intelligence to become healthy, Allah's help is needed. If Allah does not help, a person cannot find the truth.

Many philosophers have lived and left this world throughout the history. Each one claimed something different. Then we question the wise saying "The path of the mind is one." [Each intelligent person would come to the same conclusion or follow the same path.] Why did each philosopher contradicted the previous ones? Weren't they intelligent? Each person uses his mind, his intelligence, to try to find the truth, yet often it becomes insufficient to find the best one. That means a sound intelligence is needed to find the truth; only a healthy intelligence can discern what is wrong and what is right.

I might add that there are various kinds of pleasures. Some people are sadists; they enjoy giving troubles to others. Like Neron, the Roman King, some throw people to hungry lions and watch them being killed. It is also a kind of pleasure, but no, thanks! We do not want that kind of pleasure. The pleasure also must be healthy and sound (zawq-i salîm). There may be feelings about something; it must be sound and healthy, too (hiss-i salîm). Everything must be pure, healthy and perfect.

How would one describe the sound intelligence? The prophets were guided by Allah. They were the most aware among people. They were the most intelligent people and their intelligence was sound. Then the close friends of Allah (awliya) have the sound intelligence because Allah gives the best things to those he loves the most, and in Islam, the intelligence is the most valuable thing is the intelligence.

One of the main missions of Islam is to protect the intelligence. Islam prohibits the intoxicants because they take the intelligence away. Our enmity and wrath towards all kinds of liqueurs and beer is not baseless; it is because we take the side of the intelligence. The alcohol takes away the intelligence, the faculty of reasoning, and senses. It can take a drunk driver near the bridge and pushes him to the water. That is why we get angry at certain things.

In principle we look at the Qur'an and follow the tradition of our beloved Prophet. Our intelligence is shaped by them. The sound intelligence is shaped by the revelations and guidance from Allah. The best intelligence is the one that acts in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah.

We may question who was more intelligent: Pharaoh, Namrud, Moses AS or Abraham AS? One is the king ruling the country, the other one is innocent but sentenced to be thrown into fire or a person who has undergone many difficulties? Of course, the prophets of Allah are better. The history has proven that the prophets were better. Now, we do not like Pharaoh or Namrud. We are sure of his oppressions and bloodshed. People could not speak up against the oppressions; some even supported these rulers.

May Allah give all of us a sound intelligence. May he open our "inner eyes" (basîrah) and enable us to discern what is right and proper and what is wrong. The prophet said, "Be aware of the farâsah-- sagacity, intuition and understanding-- of a believer because he sees with the light of Allah." When a person looks at something with the light of Allah, he can see what is in a person's heart or or mind. He can figure out the hidden intentions, plots and ploys a person has. This is all because of the farâsah.

Islam is excellent, for it teaches "there is no poverty worse than ignorance!" It encourages acquiring knowledge and praises intelligence: "The greatest affluence is the intelligence." In the last part of the hadith, the Prophet SAS says, (wa lâ ibâdata kat-tafakkur) "There is no worship comparable to the tafakkur, i.e., contemplation, meditation."

There is no act of worship that is more rewarding than the tafakkur.Which one is more rewarding, daily prayers or the tafakkur? Reading the Qur'an or tafakkur? Doing dhikr or tafakkur? Is it jihad or tafakkur?

If the worship is accompanied with tafakkur, than it is valuable. Prayers, fasting, jihad and alike without tafakkur are incomplete. A jihad without tafakkur will have ill intentions or will be carried out with selfish desires. Then it will not have any positive value.

You remember the case with Hadrat Ali RA: He let an enemy soldier go free when he spat on the face. He was afraid he would be killing him in revenge instead of earning the pleasure of Allah. The jihad has to be carried out for the pleasure of Allah, as he ordered. The tafakkur makes sure that everything complies with the pleasure of Allah. That is why the most rewarding deed is the tafakkur.

Why is the tafakkur so valuable? It is some kind of a work. We have to use our mind on a matter and let it work. The matter has to be studied in depth. We have to think about possibilities and consider pros and cons. That is the tafakkur.

As a person continues doing tafakkur, he will find the truth. There is no other way to find the truth. It is not possible without thinking about it. The truth is not found by chance or in the dark gropingly. One has to use his mind and compare his experiences to derive conclusions. All of the evidence has to be gathered to find a lead to the truth. The truth may not be obvious at all times.

The gold or diamond pieces are not found shining on the surface of the earth; they have to mined, searched, and searched. It requires hard work. finding the truth is similar; it also requires a lot of work.

Sometimes a person cannot tell the raw diamond from a pebble. It requires training. Sometimes you would want to trow away a piece of rug, yet the rug specialist would grab it and offer you some money then sells it to the tourists for a large amount of money.

Tafakkur in worship is very important. One has to do tafakkur on the blessings and provisions of Allah SWT. He has to ponder about the power of Almighty Allah; he has think about His art, His creation, and His creativity. To understand the beauty of worship, one has to allocate some time to do tafakkur. One has to think about the wisdom of fasting, pilgrimage, zakah, daily prayers, wudu, ghusl and other ibadah.In addition to its own merit, the tafakkur makes a worship more valuable.

One can sit down, close his eyes, and start contemplating about life, the blessings of Allah, and miracles around him. The rewards will start accumulating right away. If he performs the salat with tafakkur, it will increase in rewards and become like a "gem." If he fasts with tafakkur, his fast will be like a "pearl." So will be his pilgrimage.

May Allah bestow us the blessings of tafakkur, and have us familiar with the pleasure of tafakkur. May He enable us to live our lives pondering about His glory, His creation, and our deeds.

I observe people from a distance just like watching them on television, and look at their behaviors, their decisions and actions. May Allah give them the sound intelligence and tafakkur. They seem to be undermining their lives in this world and in the hereafter with their deeds which are devoid of thoughtfulness, sound intelligence, knowledge, and tafakkur.

We need to be aware that the meditation which is mentioned in the philosophy books and recommended by the professors at universities is also tafakkur. In Islam it is considered to be a valuable worship. There is a condition, though: the thoughts have to be pure. There is no rewards for one who schemes plots and ploys for people.

Satan has an intelligence, too. It also has tricks and whispers. He can fool many believers, yet there is no reward for him. He deserves the hell-fire.

Each one of us must do good things, utilize good tools for good purposes. That would bring success in the test of life. If we do the opposite, our life will be in ruins both in this world and in the hereafter. The harm will also affect the society as the poem goes:

Ne kendi eyledi rahat
Ne halka verdi huzûr,
Yikildi gitti jihandan
Dayansin ehl-i qubûr

He himself was not in peace
Yet disturbed the neighborhood
Suddenly he left this world
May Allah give strength to the dead!

This was the first hadith reported by Hadrat Ali RA. We should memorize it.

b. Deeds, Intentions, and Compliance with Sunnah

The second hadith is also narrated by Hadrat Ali RA. Daylamî included it in his Musnadul Firdaws.

RE. 482/6 (Lâ qawla illâ bi'amal, wa lâ qawla wa lâ 'amala illâ biniyyah, wa lâ qawla wa lâ 'amala wa lâ niyyata illâ bi-isàbatis-sunnah.)

These are very precise and meaningful words pointing to the main principles. have your children and friends memorize them. The Prophet said: (Lâ qawla illâ bi'amal) "The words have no value if they are without action." One has to act upon the words. We cannot just say that it is good to do such and such deeds; we must do those deeds for the words to have a meaning.

"It is good to be trustworthy."

"Sure it is, but you are not a trustworthy person!"

"It is bad to tell lies."

"Sure it is, but you keep telling lies!"

In other words, one has to support his words with his action. A recommendation, an advise has value only if it is supported by action.

The second part of the hadith: (wa lâ qawla wa lâ 'amala illâ biniyyah) "The words and actions have no values unless it is accompanied with pure intentions." If the words are fine and supported by actions, yet if the intentions are not pure, the person will not benefit from it. He will earn no rewards for his deeds. Here is the rule:

(Innamal-a'mâlu bin-niyyât.) "Actions are valued according to the intentions." Depending on the intention, a person may earn rewards or commits sin for the same action. If the intention is pure, the action takes up value. If the intention is ill, then the words or actions will have no benefit because it has no useful side for the hereafter. Allah will not give any rewards for that because the intention is show off. This is a very important rule in Islam.

The last part of the hadith: (wa lâ qawla wa lâ 'amala wa lâ niyyata illâ bi-isàbatis-sunnah) "The words, actions and intentions have no value unless they comply with the Sunnah." The words could be beautiful; the actions, excellent; the intentions, pure; for all of them to be rewarded, they all must be according to the tradition of the Prophet. Those that contradict the Sunnah are not rewarded even if they sound good.

This means that we all have to learn the Sunnah, the tradition of the Prophet well. That is why we need to increase the hadith study sessions and make them accessible to more people. We can copy the tapes of such study sessions and distribute to people. We need to have our children memorize them and act upon them. We could encourage and test them:

"Do you remember the hadith about brushing the teeth?"

"It is good to brush the teeth (miswaq)."

"Then, brush your teeth before going to bed, while making wudu, and after making wudu." We must put into practice what we learn. Allah will give great rewards for one who upholds and follows the Sunnah.

We live in such a time that the enemies of Islam have the upper-hand in worldly matters. We used to have the upper-hand until the time of Sulayman the Magnificent. The enemies of Islam went to other continents, exploited the resources, built new weapons, and got stronger. We failed to do similar advancements, and carry out our responsibilities. That is one reason for them to have the upper-hand.

The second reason for them to have the upper hand is that after we got affluent, we got involved with worldly pleasures and entertainment too much. Sâdâbâd entertainments were so popular that we read about them in the poems of Nadim and in other literature. For instance, they would put candles on turtles and make them wander in gardens. As the poet put it, "They would come to the fountain and walk gracefully and elegantly." All of the worldly pleasures, entertainments, love affairs, wine and alike accumulated and led to the falling behind.

What do we need to do now? We need to turn to the truth! We need to be good servants with good manners, such as Fatih Sultan Muhammad, the early mujahids, great scholars, Molla Gurânî, Akshamsaddin, Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumî, and Yunus, so that the gates to success are opened for us, too. That is why we need to learn the Sunnah of the Prophet. We need to change our life style to fit the example of the Prophet. We must comply with his path, state, words, and orders. We must become servants that are loved by the Prophet.

In our time, the enemies of Islam have the upper hand in the worldly matters. This does not mean that everything they have is nice and perfect. For instance, they have the drugs and alcohol consumption. They have problems with code of proper conduct. They have weak family ties and disloyalty between the husband and wife in the family. Their rich and the capitalist exploit the poor. These are not good. There are warners among them who see these problems and raise their voice to point them out.

In our society there is a tendency to imitate the enemies of Islam in every facet of life assuming that they must be good in everything. There is this blind admiration towards them. We abandon our good values and adopt their ill values. The degeneration continues in this manner. No trust is left in business transactions, and the economic life is collapsing. The judicial system and the administrative system are, too, collapsing. No mercy or conscience is left, the unity has dissolved. When all the good things that keep the country up and running disappear and all the bad things dominate, we will not have the upper-hand. Then all Muslims suffer from the consequences.

We must turn to the Sunnah of the Prophet, see the beauties of Islam, and be beloved servants of Allah. We must work the way Allah and His Prophet wanted. That is how we can prosper and save ourselves from the suffering.

c. Shopping Rights of Your Brother

The third hadith is narrated by Abdullah ibni Omar. I will tell you why I read this hadith at the end of my speech.

RE. 482/15 (Lâ yabîir-rajulu alâ bay'i akhîhi, wa lâ yahtub alâ hitbeti akhîhi illâ an ya'zana lahû.)

The Prophet SAS said: (Lâ yabîir-rajulu alâ bay'i akhîhi) "One must not attempt to buy something that his Muslim brother has intended to buy and started negotiating." Why?.. It is because it would be quite disrespectful to the other Muslim's rights. He is negotiating the price. Just wait until he ends it. If he decides to buy it, let him buy. If he decides not to buy, then you can go and discuss the price with the owner. Then you will be free to buy it. However, telling the owner "Do not sell to him, instead sell it to me" while he is bargaining is forbidden by the Prophet SAS. This is improper in Islam.

(Wa lâ yahtub alâ hitbeti akhîhi) Suppose a young man has intention to marry a girl. He proposes to her through her father or guardian for marriage. Some days may pass from the time of proposal to the time of response. Meanwhile, another person should not propose to the same girl saying, "Don't marry him, instead marry me!" A Muslim must not do this. "One must not propose a woman whom a Muslim brother intended to marry (illâ an ya'zana lahû) unless this Muslim brother changes his mind and decides not to marry her." Hence, he "gives permission" to others to propose the same woman. It would be improper for a Muslim to be a competitor, a rival in the matter of marriage.

This is Islam. This is the Islamic ethics in shopping, marriage and other transactions. This is the Muslim brotherhood.

In a civilized society when two people are talking to each other, one of them would not listen or talk to a third person. After finishing the conversation, he would turn to the third person and ask "May I help you?" He would talk with people in orderly fashion like one after another. The third person would wait for his turn.

Now, let me tell you why I told this hadith to you. A Turkish company in Australia wanted to buy a large piece of land to built a big shopping plaza. After that another large company from Turkey came and wanted to buy this place as well while they knew that the other company is interested in buying this place.

I was asked by brothers about the issue and I said, "It is not right for the second company to make an offer while the first one is still negotiating. There is a hadith about this. Go and let them know about it. This is against the sunnah of the Prophet SAS."

The representative of the second company used to be an imam in a masjid. Some brothers went to him and told this person what I said. His response was "This is a business deal and a competition, so I can do it."

I say again, according to Islam, one cannot do this. The hadith about this issue can be found in the hadith collection titled Ramuz-al Ahadith. It is the 15th hadith on page 482 of this book. It is a hadith found in the collections of Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasa-i and narrated by Abdullah ibni Omar RA. The business transactions section of many fiqh books refers to this hadith.

You may wonder what the outcome was. This brother made a mistake, committed a sin. What else? Owner of property increased the price. Then first company bought the lot for a higher price. Who caused the increase in price? It was another Turkish company.

This is a shame! Such an interference, a selfishness, is a shame because we belong to the same nation, one ummah. It is also a shame for the part of the representative, an imam in this case, to disregard the saying of the Prophet.

All of these originate from the lack of knowledge of sunnah and fiqh. In the end there is a big loss. Of course one who causes the loss will be held responsible on the Day of Judgment due to these kind of actions.

May Allah protect us from making mistakes. May He make us do everything in a way pleasing to Him. May Allah be pleased with all of you.

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

June 2, 2000 - AUSTRALIA