As the newly emerging Muslim empire expanded to the north, it acquired not only new land, spoils, and converts; but also inherited the home of many different religions, sects and philosophical teachings. Throughout the region, Syriac Christians had established educational institutions for the study of Greek philosophy and the ancient wisdom of Persia,  laying the groundwork for what would later become some of the greatest religious and philosophical debates in history.
To help resolve some of the religious and political issues that arose within this region came some of the greatest Companions: Ṭalḥa, al-Zubayr, Saʽd and his son ʽUmar, Abū Mūsā al-Ashʽarī, ‘Abdullah b. Masʽūd, Khālid b. ʽUrfuṭa, ‘Adī b. Ḥātim, Jarīr b. ʽAbdullah al-Badhalī, al-Ashʽath al-Kindī, Umm Hānī (the sister of ‘Ali), and ‘Ali b. Abī Ṭalib ; may God be pleased with them all.
It is an all too common misperception that the Ḥanafī madhhāb (school of legal thought) was forged at a time and locality where hadiths were not widely available. Likely due to this misperception, the Ḥanafī madhhāb is often singled out as the only representative among the Sunni schools today of an earlier, and controversial, school known as Ahl al-Raʽy (proponents of considered legal opinion); so named by their detractors the Ahl al-Ḥadīth (proponents of tradition). Kūfa, the city of Hanafism’s birth, is truly the key to understanding these misperceptions. Allegations made against the city have contributed much to the controversy surrounding Ḥanafi thought to this day.
Since many books and articles already exist that examine the unique legal methodology (uṣūl al-fiqh) of Hanafism, as well as other Sunni schools of law (madhāhib); and many more exist which illustrate the life of Abū Ḥanīfa, I will respond to these misperceptions by focusing upon that which is less well-known. In the following series of posts I plan to briefly survey the vast diversity of culture and thought that flooded the city from which the most widely-practiced Sunni madhhāb would spring: Kūfa.
There is so much I wish I could share about my experiences working in a hospital. I have held the hand of a dying man, had existential discussions with a terminally-ill agnostic, have witnessed smudging ceremonies, heard family members share the incredible and humorous memories of loved ones they’ve lost, have had warm conversations about the value of faith with Christian patients so surprised but happy to see a Muslim visiting them at their bedside, and so many other moving experiences that remain very close to my heart.
When the subject of my working as a hospital chaplain comes up in conversation with others, it is commonly met with a look of surprise and my being asked how I could do something “so difficult.” It is not always easy for me to explain. I don’t see myself as “stronger than others.” Rather, I find strength in the sacredness and vulnerability of the moment.
Being with someone while they (or you) are emotionally vulnerable appears to have become increasingly rare in our lives; leading to fewer people experiencing them (or, at least, experiencing them less frequently). Instead, vulnerable moments have been replaced by online rants to everybody but nobody at all. Social media has been preventing us from social-izing and helping us to hide our true faces behind our latest selfie. It is as if our hearts are becoming pixelated in our increasingly virtual world.
For sure it is not easy to cope with our own mortality, grief, loss, or a sudden and unexpected illness. These thoughts and experiences challenge a very core but unfounded belief that many of us share and base our day-to-day lives on: the belief that we will be given enough time in life to do all that we hope to.
However, our time in this world (including our youth, health, and time with loved ones) is all limited. In fact, having to face the reality of our own mortality may very well be the most significant and unifying quality that we all share; but too often we refuse to talk about it.
While working as a hospital chaplain I have been privy to many vulnerable moments; each one of which is truly a rare treasure. I have come to see that it takes great strength to be vulnerable with others. In contrast, the online profiles we often create merely mask a more dynamic human being with faults, pain, humour and love.
Facebook posts and comments are but fool’s gold, it is in the sacredness of a moment where I seek that which truly enriches my life.
So, I remind myself to be vulnerable with those who I love and to all of those who have allowed me to be a part of your moments in 2016 and prior: thank you for the honour.
To help support those seeking to meet the needs of Muslims within community and institutional settings, I have gathered together a variety of resources.
While it does not claim to be comprehensive, it does bring together articles, videos, books and related sources that can support those who serve Muslims in various capacities. Please share with others and also submit your own suggestions for other resources that you have found useful.
However, please note that not all links should be considered endorsements of the author, scholar or research institute. Nevertheless, I do hope that this resource bank is beneficial.
My teachers and friends at SeekersHub are conducting a fundraising campaign to support and further expand their work spreading the light of Prophetic guidance.
Please consider learning more about SeekersHub and supporting them.
Sh. Faraz Rabbani, his fellow teachers and SeekersHub’s volunteers have been a shining beacon of light in my life. For me, SeekersHub has been a manifestation of the prophetic concern for others to know their Lord. Not only do they aspire to provide seekers of knowledge with the treasures which they seek; they also nourish the hearts of others to become seekers as well.
Like the story of the unknown man in Surah Ya-Sin who came to his people running and said, “O my people, follow the messengers” (Q36:20), SeekersHub is sprinting across the globe to call others to follow the inheritors of the Beloved of God ﷺ.
In support of their #GiveLight initiative, I have shared a brief though personal narrative of how I came to learn of and benefit from SeekersHub.
To read about my journey to light, click here.
Join me this Ramadan for a weekly series on nurturing compassion
for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Each Sunday of Ramadan
12:30 – 1:30pm
Boyle Street Community League
9538 103A Avenue, Edmonton
To learn more, visit Tarjuma.ca