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An introduction to this series of talks / articles under the title Pleasing Madrasah Reforms can be read at the end

of this article. Along with this introduction there are the following charts that provide more information on the talks / articles; 1. An introduction to Pleasing Madrasah Reforms 2. A Chart (Series 4) that lists the titles of the 10 Six Minute Talks with the corresponding Talk Number. These Scripts or Articles could be read or downloaded from www.ImtiazMuhsin.com or from www.ScribD.com 3. A Chart (Series 3) that lists out the series of talks that covers the subject Muslim History or Islamic History. This interesting subject is covered in two approaches. One set of talks (Talk Nos 114 & 116) are an outline of what happened, and The second lot of talks (Talk Nos 117 to 119) is a description of the reaction of the Muslim world or the Muslim Populace to the changes or the social tribulations that were taking place right throughout this history. 4. A Chart (Series 2) that lists out the 16 Talks (or Episodes) under the series Knowing Allah Taaalah or Knowing GOD These Scripts or Articles too could be read or downloaded from ScribD Notes to these talks or to these scripts/ articles

5.

The main objective of these talks (and therefore the scripts of these talks), is to stimulate thinking. Sensible, rational and logical thinking. So, my message, think, think & think! Be sensible, be rational and be logical.

Dear Friends,


Quran The Primary Source of learning Islam One of the most important or most fundamental elements of any religion would be its teachings. Therefore to Muslims the Quran is extremely valuable because it is the primary source of all teachings of Islam. Muslims claim that the Quran is more special than any of the scriptures of other religions because there is only one version of the Quran. The original content of the Quran has not changed. Globally we may find Muslims divided in to a variety of political camps, theological camps as well as a variety of schools of religious thought camps, but every one of them rely on or refer to that one Quran. Many non-Muslims find this difficult to believe. But this one Quran is the pride of Muslims and it is also zealously guarded by all Muslims. Muslims take assurance from the Aayath No 9 in Surah Ibrahim, where Allah instructs that it is He who has sent down the Zikr, (which is another name for the Quran) and that He would protect it: (15:9) We, Ourselves, have sent down the Zikr (the Qurn), and We are there to protect it.

So the Quran that we Muslims recite is as it has been for over 1400 years and has no changes in its content whatsoever. If I memorize some Surahs from the Quran and travel to any part of the World and if I were to go for Salaath to any Mosque, (it may be the grand Mosque in the town or a very small Mosque in some remote village), and in the Salaath if the Imam were to recite one of the Surahs that I had memorized, it would be easy for me to follow from my memory. Quran is in Arabic a majority of the Muslim world does not speak Arabic However I face a dilemma, even though I recite the Quran regularly and have even memorized a few large Surahs from the Quran, I cannot understand Arabic, so I cannot understand what I am reciting or what I have memorized. You may ask, Is this a rare situation? You would be surprised by the answer. Over 80% of the Muslim World does not understand Arabic. We find Muslims in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia and even in many European and African countries. The sad or the puzzling part is that a great number of these Muslims do not understand Arabic. The paradox of it all is that most of them can recite the Quran; some of them even recite the Quran very beautifully. But they do not understand what they are reading or reciting. They cannot understand Arabic. How do non-Arab speaking Muslims learn from the Quran? So then, how do these Muslims learn lessons from the Quran? Obviously all of us Muslims who do not speak Arabic have to depend on translations and on those who are proficient in Arabic and in the language that we speak.

Generally speaking there are 3 methods which Muslims who do not speak Arabic depend on to learn from the Quran. These methods are; 1. Articles or books written on Islam in their own language (for example, books or articles written in English). 2. Translations of Quran 3. From Sermons or Khutbas and discourses from Alims. However from my experience or from what I have seen, the Alims are the most depended on source of Islamic knowledge for Muslims who do not speak Arabic. So I ask a few relevant questions. I along with millions of Muslims around the world cannot understand Arabic, the Quran which is our book of guidance is in Arabic and it is these Alims that we heavily depend on for our understanding of Islam or for the lessons and instructions from the Quran. The Alims who are they? Surely should I not try to find out who these Alims are? Should I not try to find out as to what their learnings really are? Should I not, or rather should all of us not, try to find out as to what their teachings or preachings really are? Surely I should find out, because what I am talking about is guidance and misguidance. Surely I should find out, because what I am talking about is identifying, understanding and achieving our purpose of life. Surely the stakes are much too high for me or for us to just trust that Alims would provide us with all the lessons and instructions that we need from the Quran. So let me first briefly discuss the topic as to who these Alims are. Children all over the World attend schools, in fact in Sri Lanka and I am sure in most other countries schooling is compulsory. Now amongst schools we find schools of secular learning and schools of religious learning. The religious schools of learning for Muslims are the Madrasahs usually attached to the local Mosque. Now it would be really interesting to do a study of the children at Madrasahs and find out the reasons as to why parents choose to admit their children to the Madrasah rather than to the local school. This is a very necessary study because then we would be in a position to understand the socio economic pressures that Muslim parents have to face in trying to carry out their duties and responsibilities as parents. What is the attraction for Madrasah education? Why do parents admit their children to Madrasahs? Why do these parents opt for religious education rather than secular education? Over the last 20 years a number of Madrasahs have sprung up all over the island. It would indeed be an interesting study to find out how this demand for Madrasah education has suddenly boomed. This is not a phenomena confined to the Muslims of Sri Lanka only, but this phenomenon is observed all over the World, both in Muslim minority countries as well as Muslim majority countries. However as a very basic case study, I would be discussing the Madrasahs in Sri Lanka only. In Sri Lanka, over the last century, secular education has been looked upon as the necessary stepping stone to careers, wealth and social status. It is considered the right of the child and even as the best gift parents can give their children. 2

Till about 30 years ago, the demand for Madrasah education was so meager, that it was not even considered a factor. These figures have now changed, and changed dramatically. Just consider the comparisons: In 1980 there were 25 Arabic Colleges for Males; by 2012 this number has grown to 210. In 1980 there was only one Arabic college for Females; by 2012 this number has grown to 30. In 1980 there were approx. 1,000 students studying at Arabic Colleges, by 2012 these numbers have grown to over 13,500. In 1980 there could not have been even 50 Hafiz of Quran in Sri Lanka; by 2012 this number has grown to over 5,000. In 1980 there were less than 1,000 Alims in Sri Lanka; by 2012 these numbers have grown to more than 8,000 Why is there amongst Muslims this sudden surge in interest in Madrasah education? Why is there now a visible segment of Muslims opting for Madrasah education? Is it that a segment of Muslim parents have lost faith in the secular education system? Then should we not inquire why? Is it that a segment of Muslim parents feel that the perceived objectives of a secular education, namely career, earnings and social status could be better obtained through a Madrasah education? Then should we not inquire how? Is it that a segment of Muslim parents find secular education out of their reach, even though this education is free, and thus they have no alternative than to opt for Madrasah education? Then should we not inquire why? Is it that a segment of Muslim parents find the criteria for admission to limited places at the village government school too difficult to meet and thus the Madrasah becomes the option? Then should we not inquire why? Is it that Muslim parents fear that their children would be corrupted at the free government schools? Then should we not inquire how? Is it that the large numbers of Muslims who became refugees because of the war, found themselves uprooted not only from their home environments but also their childrens schooling and thus in that condition the only readily available option was Madrasah education? There are so many questions that need to be asked and so many answers to be sought. Whilst studying these socio economic shifts in the Muslim community it would also be interesting to see whether this phenomenon is being reflected in the communities of the other religions. Is there a noticeable trend to move away from secular education to religious education? Then should we not inquire why and how? Now to me, some of the objectives of a secular education would be to provide the students the necessary tools to a career, wealth and social position. Fundamental questions about life Again, to me, the objectives of a religious education would be to provide the students with the curiosity and the skills to think out the perplexing philosophies of life, and thereby provide him with the selfsustaining stimulus to pursue a path of seeking the truth to the many fundamental question of life. There are many fundamental questions of life, and a few of the more obvious ones would be; Who am I? Why am I alive? 3

What happens after death? Where was I before I was born? Is there a creator? Is there a God? How do I recognize God? What is good and what is evil? What is success?

Each of these questions would give rise to more questions. So what I would expect to see from a significant number of those passing out of a Madrasah is this thirst for furthering their religious knowledge and their devotion to this research. However I just do not see this. There is a serious mismatch between what I expect to see and what I actually see. Every student passing out of the Madrasah uses his Alim title to acquire a career, to further his earning capabilities and also to seek social status. So I ask the questions, What happened? and also What is happening? The Madrasah Curriculum What do these students learn at the Madrasah? There are actually 2 courses in Arabic Colleges. The first course is known as the Hifz course where students attempt to memorize the entire Quran. This is no ordinary feat. Students memorize the entire scripture with proper pronunciation, a science known as Qiraath and Tajweed. We should take in to consideration the fact that the entire Quran is foreign to these students. Over 95% of those students becoming Hafiz of Quran do not understand Arabic and whilst in Madrasah even though they are memorizing the Quran, Arabic as a language is not part of their curriculum. So we have 1,000s of Hafiz of Quran all of them reciting the Quran beautifully but then they just do not understand what they are reciting. Tragic isnt it? The second course which is known as the Kithaab course is where the student learns Arabic as a language, but his main course of study is the Sharia. They learn the Aayaths of Quran from which the outlines of Sharia have been derived. They also learn those Aayaths of the Quran that outline the values of social interaction and social justice, however in limited areas. So then what happens to these students once they pass out of the Madrasah? It would be better to ask this question in realistic terms, So, what happens to these students once they get their hands on the certificate, certifying that they are Alims? It is unfortunate that what they possess is certified knowledge or made to measure knowledge and that they all lack the courage, the skills as well as the curiosity to seek knowledge beyond the confines of that certified knowledge It is a paradox to find that this knowledge rather than stimulating them to venture in to new areas of unearthing knowledge, they prefer to close themselves or to confine themselves only to those areas of knowledge that are in turn certifiable, and at the same time to protect their areas of knowledge with such obstinacy that they become dogmatic and cultish. Islamizing Modernity What is happening? Should we not as a responsible religious community do some serious fact finding and find ways of bringing desirable changes where ever necessary?

At this stage I think it appropriate to read two quotes from the famous book by Samuel Huntington, titled Clash of Civilizations a book I have read more than once and a book that I refer to often. He provides unusual insights in to the psyche of civilizations, cultures and communities. He quotes extensively from other sources, and points out that Muslims tried to modernize Islam and failed and now they are Islamizing modernity That needs repeating; Samuel Huntington points out that Muslims tried to modernize Islam and failed and now they are Islamizing modernity He also points out that today amongst Muslims the youth are religious whilst their parents are secular. Remember Samuel Huntington wrote this in 1992, more than 20 years ago, so we can now observe the emergence of 3 generations of Muslims where the parent and children generations are religious whilst the grandparents generation is secular. This is not only about Muslims of Sri Lanka but a global trend amongst us Muslims. Those observations appear to provide some meaning to what happens to these Alims once they pass out of the Madrasahs. The choice to be seekers or be preachers A factor that might be affecting their further search for knowledge is that no sooner they pass out there is an expectation from their local communities that they would assist at their local Masjid. So you find these young Alims being initiated in to teaching the fundamentals of reading Arabic at the Mosque to the children of the village. Sometimes they are given the opportunity to deliver a sermon or to conduct bayans, so gradually the Alim begins to take on the role of teacher and preacher rather than learner or seeker. Then Muslims face so many issues related to modernity and the advancement of technology, so obviously people begin to inquire from these Alims their views on these issues. These issues are very wide in scope but people expect the Alim to possess sufficient knowledge to provide religious advice. Answers to issues dealing with social interaction, education, food, employment, financial dealings, marriage, divorce, dress codes, Muslim Culture and attitudes to global trends and concerns are sought from this Alim. How can he cope? He would not have access to TV. The public who have access to TV, watch programs that graphically describe issues of Muslims and the world and those who watch these programs expect these Alims to provide them Islamic insight to these happenings. What is this poor Alim to do? How do we expect him to cope? As time goes on the Alim builds his image and he begins to enjoy a following. I am sure that every Alim would like to further his knowledge, but circumstances and demands of society have distracted him. Muslim society structured for preaching He now has made delivering of Khutbas (sermons and discourses) and advising on what is deemed Sharia issues as his career. 5

Now let us see the social effects of all these changes. Are Muslims actually learning from the Quran and from Islam or are they just becoming more and more dogmatic and cultish? Is this not a very necessary question? How could we find out? Alhamdulillah, there are many organized programs through which these Alims explain Fiqh and other subjects. These regular programs are the weekly Jummah Khuthba or the Jummah sermon as well as other bayans organized by individuals as well as the many Islamic Youth movements who conduct regular programs under various banners. In Sri Lanka we also have a very popular radio program over which many Alims broadcast discourses on a variety of topics. This Radio service, known as the Muslim Tamil Services is very popular especially with Muslim housewives who listen to the advice being broadcast whilst attending to their household chores. When I describe this wonderful social set up, anyone would think that though a majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka cannot understand Arabic, Maasha Allah, there appears to be a well-established socially institutionalized structure that is easily accessible and through which every Muslim could get more than sufficient instruction from the Quran. But then sadly this is not the solution; because even in spite of these regular well-structured programs there are a number of what I refer to as Puzzling Mismatches A few of the many Puzzling Mismatches Actually these Mismatches are very deep and cannot be easily discerned. When I describe these to anyone who would listen, I describe them as the problems I face. Invariably those who listen tell me that this is their problem as well. Actually it is the problem of all Muslims who cannot understand Arabic. Let me describe them as a series of Puzzling Mismatches that I have numbered. I shall (Insha Allah) describe them briefly, one by one. Puzzling Mismatch No 1. I am now over 50 years old, and I would have listened to over 5,000 bayans in my life. There are 52 Fridays in a year. Therefore, I am sure I have listened to over 50 Jummah Khutbas every year continuously for almost 40 years. Then we have regular Jumairath Bayans (Thurs night) at the Mosque and many other programs arranged by Muslim Youth Movements as well as individuals. This is how we learn instruction about the Quran. We cannot understand Arabic, so those who can, explain to us the lessons and the instructions in and from the Quran. The Quran contains 6,236 Aayaths. So I am curious as to how many of these Aayaths I would have heard explanations about over those 50 + years and over those 5,000+ bayans. Interesting question, isnt it? Now listen to how I describe the number of Quran Aayaths that I have heard in these 5,000+ bayans. This is how I word my experience. I say, In those 5,000+ bayans I have heard only 100 Aayaths of Quran, may be 200 Aayaths but definitely not more than 300 Aayaths of the Quran Now you will understand why I describe this as a major, major problem, because the Quran contains over 6,000 Aayaths.

So what has happened to the balance of those 6,000+ Aayaths? Are they not necessary? Or is the explanation to these 100, 200, 300 Aayaths so comprehensive that somehow without our realizing, this balance 6,000 Aayaths are all being covered? Am I not missing something very very major? How else can I describe this? Puzzling Mismatch No 2 This needs some describing. As I mentioned earlier the problems that arise in trying to understand the Quran through the translations or the interpretations or the bayans of Alims are very difficult to discern, and when identified, it does take some explaining to understand. So to identify the second Puzzling Mismatch, I have to ask myself a question? What is the question? Is it possible to list out the main points or instructions that I have heard over these 5,000 bayans during these 50 odd years? In Puzzling Mismatch No 1 I mentioned that I had heard explanation to only 100, 200 or 300 Aayaths. Now I am going to randomly list some of the instructions I have heard. The Alims instruct us to: 1. Believe in the one-ness of Allah 2. Believe in all the attributes of Allah 3. Pray 5 times a day 4. Fast in the month of Ramadan 5. Pay your Zakat 6. Perform hajj or Umrah 7. Do not tell lies 8. Obey your parents 9. Help the poor the orphans the needy 10. Give importance for education 11. Cut down on wedding expenses 12. Recite the Holy Quran 13. Learn and regularly practice Masnun Dhuas 14. Assist the government in good works 15. Generously give Sadaqa, Hadhiya etc; 16. Help to build, renovate or maintain Mosques, Madrasahs & institutions of religious importance, 17. Get involved in socio-religious reform activities I could go on listing out many more of these points, but then I am sure all of you would have understood the gist of these points. Now if these points were written out and shown to anyone, whether he be a Muslim or a non-Muslim, (to anyone), I am sure that every person would say, Yes that is correct, that is how a Muslim should be Even the biggest enemy of the Muslims, the person who hates Muslims would say, Yes that is how Muslims should be So I then ask the next question, If that is how Muslims should be and everyone agrees that if a Muslim displays all these qualities or points in his life, then everyone would love that person and would say that he is the real example of a true religious person or a true religious Muslim Then I ask the question, Surely all the Prophets, especially Prophet Muhammad would have demonstrated all these wonderful qualities?

If that was the case, and actually that is the case, then why is it that people opposed the Prophets and even persecuted them for their religious practices? Do we not realize that something is wrong, that we are missing something very very important in religious teachings? How do we find out? Surely the answer has to be in the Quran. The problem is that we do not search the Quran for these answers. We do not seek answers to these troubling questions. How could we seek answers to these troubling questions? Recently whilst doing research in to the Quran, I came across this very interesting Aayath, it was actually describing what I have been trying to explain. Just listen; this is Aayath No 44 of Surah Baqarah: Preaching Birr. What is Birr? For better understanding I have broken this very short Aayath in to 4 phrases, this makes it easier to explain as well as to understand.

(2:44) Do you enjoin Birr on people And forget your own selves, and you keep reciting the Kithaab? Do you not use your AQL?

What really struck me about this Aayath is that Allah uses the word Birr. Allah could have used many other words, such as say Taqwa, or Swabr, or even Swalaath, but then Allah uses the word Birr. Every word in the Quran has deep and heavy meaning, so I looked for an Aayath that would give me more insight to this word Birr. Alhamdulillah the Aayath I now quote is again from Surah Baqarah Aayath No 177. Again I shall read it to you in phrases, actually since it is a fairly large Aayath I would be reading it to you in 13 phrases. [002:177] It is not Birr that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is Birr - to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves;

to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.

That is how Allah describes Birr, and it occurs to me these are the points that all our Alims preach to us. These are the points that I have been hearing for the last 50 years and over more than 5,000 bayans. AQL & Birr, what is the relationship? And what I gather from the earlier Aayath is that Allah is telling us 4 points. What are those 4 points (in my words)? Allah tells us that we are preaching Birr, we have forgotten ourselves, that we are reciting the Kithaab and why do we not use our AQL? Does this not indicate that though we are reading the Kithaab and preaching Birr we are not using our AQL? So does this not mean that Allah is telling us what you are preaching about Birr is not complete. There is more to Birr that you see. To recognize this deeper and more meaningful meaning you have to use your AQL. Why are you not using your AQL?

(Afalaa thaghQiloon? - )

So now I ask the question how do I use my AQL so that I could get to know the deeper and more meaningful message in these Aayaths especially as to what the word Birr could really mean? Let me read another Aayath from the Quran, which should really wow you at the way Allah instructs us through his Aayaths.

(12:1) Alif Lm R. These are Aayaths of the Book that makes clear. (12:2) We have sent it down, as an Arabic Quran, so that you may use your AQL.

So we are told the Aayaths of the Kithaab is Mubeen, that is it is clear and also makes clear, and then we are told it is sent down in Arabic so that we would use our AQL! Does this not indicate that the operating system of our AQL is in Arabic? Does this also not indicate that the clearness of the Kithaab and the Aayaths would appear only when we use our AQL? I request everyone to read these Aayaths again and again and to think as to what instruction or enlightenment that Allah is pointing out to us. 9

So it is not the mere preaching of Birr that would give us benefit, but we must use our AQL and to use our AQL we must understand Arabic, the Arabic of the Quran. This is very very necessary. At this stage let me read to you another Aayath of the Quran that provides us more information or more instruction about the use of our AQL. S Al Anbiya (21:10) Surely, We have sent down to you a book in which there is ZIKR for you. Do you not use your AQL? (Afalaa ThaghQiloon?)

Does this not indicate that the Kithaab contains ZIKR and that we should process this ZIKR through the use of our AQL? And when we read this Aayath with the Aayath in Surah Yusuf then we realize that to use our AQL for the ZIKR of the Aayaths of the Quran it is necessary that we learn Arabic. Now let me try to explain the next problem;

Puzzling Mismatch No 3 Now let me explain what I have listed as Puzzling Mismatch No 3. Again the topic is about the preaching of Birr. As I have mentioned earlier there are 4 points that Allah draws our attention to in Aayath No 44 of surah Baqarah. What are those 4 points (in my words)? Allah tells us that we are preaching Birr, we have forgotten ourselves, that we are reciting the Kithaab and why do we not use our AQL? So how do we find out whether we are preaching Birr with or without using our AQL? Important to find out isnt it? What I did is I took the components that make up Birr s described in Aayath No 177 of Surah Baqarah and tried to compare what we are preaching on each of those points and try to work out what the Quran instructs us on those points. If I find that there is an appreciable difference to our approach, then I could reason out that maybe we are not using our AQL. Now this Aayath on Birr mentions many points (if I may call them points). I have counted 16 of them. Maybe a more trained eye could pick out more points. The 16 points and 5 categories of points of Birr Now from what I read, these 16 points can also be classed in to 6 categories as follows; There are 5 points that could be categorized as Beliefs There is one point that could be categorized as Spending wealth for love of Allah There are 6 points that could be categorized as People to spend on Then there are 2 points which we could categorize as Swalaath & Zakat Then the point on fulfilling contracts could be categorized as Muamalaath or worldly dealings Then there is the point of Swabr which could be categorized as Qualities of a Mumin So to find out whether we are preaching Birr whilst using our AQL or not let us go through the Birr Aayath, by discussing category by category. 10

Allah begins describing Birr by listing the 5 points that I am now categorizing as Beliefs Let me recite that segment of that Aayath; [002:177] It is not Birr that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is Birr - to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers;

Now what do we hear preached about Imaan or beliefs and what does the Quran instruct us? The many Islamic movements, Belief, Aqeedha, Taqleedh & Ijthihaadh Let me describe a great example. What I have noticed is that within the Muslim community there are many Islamic movements. So Alims that identify themselves with a particular movement would condemn the beliefs as espoused by all the other movements. The word they keep using is Aqeedha They pick out some points that the other movement insists on and point out that the Aqeedha is wrong. Therefore their Imaan is faulty and therefore they cannot be proper or complete Muslims. Now what is Aqeedha? From what I have gathered it is the technical points that make up our belief. We also find the Alim from every movement telling all their followers that Rasoolullah (Sal) had said that the Jews had split in to 72 groups whilst his Ummath would split in to 73 groups and only one of those groups would go to heaven. And when the Sahaba asked him how do we identify that group? His answer was it is that group that strictly follows the Quran and my Sunnah. Now every group claim that it is they and only they who strictly follow the Quran and the Sunnah and therefore it is their group that Rasoolullah (Sal) was referring to. In support of keeping away from the wrong Aqeedha of others and to stick to the correct Aqeedha of this particular group we also find every grouping using words such as Taqleedh and Ijthihaad. This is very confusing. But then the bottom line or the essence of the message they are preaching is listen to me, the other groupings and all their Alims are wrong, it is only this grouping to which I belong and our Alims that are correct. Listen to me and follow me Now when you begin to read the Quran with the meaning and you specially make note of those Aayaths that describe Imaan of those 5 points you would notice that this type of polemics is just not in the Quran. These words Aqeedha, Taqleedh and Ijthihaad as well as the other words used in the debates are just not noticeable in the Quran. So then what does the Quran point out to us about these 5 points on belief or on Imaan? Let me just describe and that too ever so briefly, as to what the Quran points out to us about Allah. Allah describes Himself through many Aayaths in the Quran, instructing us to read the Aayaths and then seek the evidence of these Aayaths around us so that we would believe and build on our belief from Imaan to Yaqeen. From Belief or Faith, to conviction. As I mentioned earlier the Aayath on Birr instructs us of the 16 ingredients that contribute to Birr. 11

I have discussed only the 1st ingredient and that too is one of the 5 ingredients of the category Belief or Imaan. There are 15 more ingredients that need discussing and the purpose is to see how we can use our AQL to learn about all these important ingredients. Insha Allah, I hope to undertake that research too with the objective of discussing those points with all of you. Now let me discuss the 4th problem. Puzzling Mismatch No 4 Because we do not understand Arabic we have to depend on Alims to explain to us the instructions in the Quran. I have been describing some points that clearly show us that there are many shortcomings to this method and we must first understand these shortcomings and try to take steps to correct these shortcomings as well as action for all Muslims to learn the language of Arabic. This is very very necessary. Now when describing the earlier Puzzling Mismatch, I tried to show that what we are preaching are items in our comfort zones, Allah has referred to it as Birr, so then I ask what is that we are missing? What could be these discomfort zones that Allah is apparently pointing out to us. Now when I was describing the points we hear in all the bayans, I asked the question If all these points were good points, then why were the Prophets being scolded and even persecuted? In Surah Ash Shurah (Surah No 26) Allah tells us the stories of a number of Prophets who were seriously threatened, some of them threatened with death and serious attempts were made to even kill some of them. Let me list out the names of these Prophets; 1. Nuh (AS) 2. Ibrahim (AS) 3. Lut (AS) 4. Hudh (AS) 5. Saleh (AS) 6. Shuhaib (AS) 7. Moosa (AS) 8. Muhammad (Sal) Then what about Easa (AS)? Why were people trying to kill these Prophets who were simple honest people from their own tribes? Let us see how Allah describes some of the scoldings and insults the Prophets heard and faced. 1. The Prophets were accused of being mad or Majnoon (15:6) They say, O you to whom the Dhikr (the Qurn) has been revealed, you are surely insane.

Why? 12

2. The Prophets were accused of being sorcerers or Magicians - Musahhireen (In Tamil we say Sooniya kaaran) (26:185) They said, You are but one of the bewitched men.

Why? 3. The Prophets were mocked at and humiliated YasthaHzi - oon

(43:7) No messenger came to them, but they used to mock at him.

Why? 4. The Prophets were accused of bringing ancient tales Asaa THeerul Auwwaleen (68:15) When Our verses are recited to him, he says, (These are) the tales of the ancient. Why? 5. They accused the Prophets of being liars the Kaazibeen (26:186) You are no more than a human like us, and in fact we consider you to be one of the liars. Why? Are there not many lessons for us to learn? Should we not read the Quran and think out why these wonderful people, the Prophets were abused in this manner and by their own people? By their own kith and kin? What is it that these people objected to? What is it that these people feared? And WHY? There is so much for us to learn So now should we not try to learn those preachings, those lessons and instructions of the Quran which if we tried to put in to practice we would hear the retorts that the Prophets heard? Should we not try to find out the discomfort zones of learning and preaching from the Quran? I am reminded of the saying A smooth sea never made a good sailor And the corollary of it Rough seas make good sailors Interesting isnt it? 13

Puzzling Mismatch No 5 Now when I discuss the difficulties we non Arabic speaking Muslims face in trying to learn lessons and instruction from the Quran, then the obvious answer to that problem should be learn Arabic - simple as that! But then that is not happening. Arabic is not an easy language. Its setting is very different to all the other languages that we are familiar with. We would find it easy to learn Hindi or Urdhu but not Arabic. With the inherent difficulty of the language we also face the predicament of not having an environment to speak the language. We find many students go to foreign countries for higher studies and within a year they have learnt the language of that country, whether it be the Russian language or Polish, or Chinese or even Turkish. This they learn because they are in that environment where they have to learn to converse in the local dialect. In Sri Lanka we do not have such an environment for Arabic. The next best alternative would be to read the English translations of the Quran whilst reciting the Quran in Arabic. Most of us non Arabic speaking Muslims can read or recite the Quran in Arabic. Now when we begin this exercise, we obviously misinterpret many of the Aayaths. If I have some problem that is weighing heavily on my mind and I am reciting the Quran, which I do not understand and also reading the translation, then I suddenly read something that appears to be an instruction to me in my situation. It fits with my desires. So in other words, there is that possibility due to ambiguity caused by inappropriate translations, I could misinterpret the Quran. Now this is a point that all Alims warn us about. The arguments are reasonable, but then the solution should be that these Alims or those who do understand Arabic should assist us in this venture rather than stopping this course of learning. Now that is attitude all of us would look forward to seeing in those who graduate from a Madrasah. They should not think that their role is confined to preaching, but they should think that their role is to continue learning and at the same time assist those in whatever way possible to initiate and sustain learning. Dont you think that would be wonderful? Suggested Solutions 1. Alims begin to teach Arabic Language 2. To devise and implement a Madrasah curriculum such that those who graduate do not consider themselves Alims (learned) but consider themselves lifelong students (Thaalib) and make use of their acquired skills and knowledge and devote their time to research in to Quran. Insha Allah it is through that effort that Muslims would once again begin to understand the true direction of Islam. I sincerely pray and hope that all of you benefit from these talks as much as I benefit from preparing and then presenting these talks to you. May Allah Taaalah guide us all and accept us all. Jazza Kalla Khairan. Assalamu Alaikum
Imtiaz Muhsin Colombo Sri Lanka crescent786@hotmail.com You Tube Channel - HaneefanMusliman

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APPENDIX

An Introduction to Pleasant Madrasah Reforms


Over the last two to three decades we have been noticing amongst Muslims, a surge in religious zealotry. This is a global trend, the causes and effects of which has been the topic of an enormous amount of interest and research. The Religion of the Muslims is just over 1400 years old and for almost 1300 years, the Muslim populations, as a body, operated under a series of empires. We have heard of the sprawling empires of the Ummayads, the Abbasids, the Mongols, the Mughals, the Saffavids (or the Persians) and the Ottomans, (to mention the better known ones). With European Colonization these empires just faded away and then disintegrated in to a number of separate countries. The World could not be blamed for assuming that that was the end of Muslim togetherness But then suddenly we are observing the emergence of vibrant Muslim communities all over the world, youthful in character and demonstrating a rather paradoxical mix of both secular rationale and religious dogma So the World asks the perplexing question, What happened? or What is happening? How is it that the Muslim World that has been empire centered for over 12 centuries, is suddenly metamorphosing into a myriad of locally driven societies or communities each being energized by the others? What is even more perplexing is that every one of these millions of globally spread local communities, hold certain tenets of Islam as non-compromise-able, whilst there is that unwritten understanding amongst all of them, to criticize whilst being accommodative of differences in other areas within the teachings of Islam. So we find many groupings even within the same village community being recognized as Wahabi, or Salafi, or Tablighi, or Deobandhi, or Braelwi and so on. Similarly groupings may identify themselves with a Madhab or even a Tareeqath. All those grouping agree on the fundamental teachings of Islam whilst they also agree to disagree on a range of other teachings. So we ask from where is all this unity or all this diversity generated or sustained or even driven? Muslims all over the world take pride in announcing that Islam is superior to other religions in the fact that there is no priest class or priesthood in Islam. The thinking is that duties of religious teaching and inviting cannot belong to a class or a grouping of people. These duties are incumbent on every Muslim. However, the bare fact is that Islamic society is heavily driven by Moulavies, Alims, Mufthies, Mullahs and Imams. This can be easily observed at any Masjid which is the center of every Muslim society and community, and the religious traditions draw heavily from these personalities. In the absence of a structured church like organization within the Muslim community, it is the personality or the charisma of these Moulavies that attracts the following. So even though Muslims take pride in saying that there is no room for a priestly class within the Muslim community, the society is heavily dependent on the preachings from the Moulavies and Alims. Now is this a good thing for the community?

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The number of Madrasahs and Moulavies passing out of Madrasahs has been rapidly growing over the last 2 to 3 decades. What is the curricular of these Madrasahs? Is it geared to the needs of the community and the future of the community? Do the teachings produce preachers or seekers? These are a few of the many questions that have to be asked and answers sought. Let me briefly run through the building blocks of these talks. I first read Aayath No 44 of Surah Baqarah which instructs as follows; (2:44) Do you enjoin Birr on people And forget your own selves, and you keep reciting the Kithaab? Do you not use your AQL? Now in this Aayath Allah is drawing our attention to 4 points. Let me describe those 4 points (in my words) Allah tells us that 1. We are preaching Birr, 2. We have forgotten ourselves, 3. That we are reciting the Kithaab, and 4. Why do we not use our AQL? If I break that up further I can detect two things that we are doing and two things that we are depriving ourselves of. The two things that we are doing are that; 1. We are preaching Birr and 2. We are reciting the Kithaab The two things that we are depriving ourselves of are; 1. We have forgotten ourselves 2. We are not using our AQL And what is implied in this Aayath is that due to the deprivation we dot understand the reality of Birr and also we are unable to practice or attain the true status of Birr or the true benefits of Birr. So I now realize there are two types of Birr. One would be the preachers Birr, a sort of a pseudo Birr. The preacher is in fact fooling himself as well as fooling others. The second form of Birr would be the seekers Birr or the learners Birr where he would use his AQL while reciting the Kithaab. The preacher tries to give benefit to others. Neither he nor others would benefit. The seeker tries to gain wisdom from the Kithaab. He as well as those with him would benefit.

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So now I am trying to find out through reading the many connected Aayaths from the Quran as to what AQL and Birr really mean, and I hope that Madrasahs would benefit from this research. Let me read 2 Aayaths from the Quran that would provide us more insight in to what AQL really means and what using our AQL actually entails. S Yusuf (12:1) Alif Lm R. These are Aayaths of the Book that makes clear. (12:2) We have sent it down, as an Arabic Quran, so that you may use your AQL. S Al Anbiya (21:10) Surely, We have sent down to you a book in which there is ZIKR for you. Do you not use your AQL? (Afalaa ThaghQiloon?)

Let me list what we read from these Aayaths; 1. Allah points out to a Kithaab and a Quran. How we understand this is that the Quran is the recitation of the Kithaab. 2. The Kithaab makes clear 3. The Kithaab contains Aayaths 4. The Kithaab contains ZIKR for us 5. The Quran is in Arabic 6. It is in Arabic so that we would use our AQL Combining all these points we see that the Kithaab contains Aayaths in Arabic and that we must make ZIKR of these Aayaths whilst using our AQL. Then the Kithaab becomes clear. The Kithaab becoming clear would also mean that the Quran becomes clear and also that the Aayaths become clear. I think to myself that the operating system of the AQL is in Quranic Arabic. So now we learn that we must, especially in this case, read with understanding in Arabic the Aayaths of the Quran that describe Birr, and use our AQL so that the reality or the Haqqeeqath of Birr would become clear. In Aayath No 177 of Surah Baqarah, we find a more elaborate description of Birr. In that Aayath I could count 16 items that constitute Birr. [002:177] It is not Birr that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is Birr - to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers;


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to spend of your wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.

Now from what I read, these 16 points can also be classed in to 6 categories as follows; There are 5 points that could be categorized as Beliefs There is one point that could be categorized as Spending wealth for love of Allah There are 6 points that could be categorized as People to spend on Then there are 2 points which we could categorize as Swalaath & Zakat Then the point on fulfilling contracts could be categorized as Muamalaath or worldly dealings Then there is the point of Swabr which could be categorized as Qualities of a Mumin So to find out whether we are preaching Birr whilst using our AQL or not let us go through the Birr Aayath, by discussing these categories, one by one.

Series 5
The Talks Numbered # 151 onwards is a series on Pleasing Madrasah Reforms The titles are as follows: Talk No #151 #152 #153 #154 #155 #156 #157 #158 #159 #160 Talk Number & Title Some Puzzling Mismatches Seeking Allah Attributes of Allah Combinations of Dual Attributes Some interesting factors that lead to Al Yauwmil Aakhir Allah grants Shaithaan Conditional Authority Evidence for Al Yauwmil Aakhir Lessons from the story of Yusuf (AS) Is GOD Just or Unjust? Why should WE be Forgiven? Comments

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Series 4

The Talks Numbered 125 to 134 are a series of Six Minute Talks presented in the month of Ramadhlaan (2013). The titles are as follows: Talk No 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 Talk Number & Title The Muslim Shaithaan How did the Prophets Earn? The Swudhoor Scoldings the Prophet Received Understanding Allahs Justice Arabic language of the AQL Pretending to be Mumin Jinns and Insaan The Mu'min Comments

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Series 3 Note on Talks on History of Muslims


As Muslims it is necessary that we are aware of the History of Muslims over the last 1400 years. It is necessary for us to realize the winds of change over these last 1400 years especially since Muslim Populations have been through quite some turbulent times. I have covered this vast area in 5 talks. (This is insufficient) The first two talks were on the history and the next three talks were from another viewpoint. I discuss the response of the Muslims due to the many changes that were affecting their lives their religion and thus their culture. These Talks are numbered and titled as follows: Talk No 114 116 117 118 119 Topic The History Series The Effects of 1400 Years - Part 1 Effects of 1400 years - Part 2 The Muslim Response Series The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events surrounding the Caliphates of the Khulafaa Ur Raashidheen The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events surrounding the beginning of the Ummayyads The Religious Response of Muslims due to Events in the Period of the Muslim Empires Date Broadcast Jan 25th 2013 Feb 8th 2013 Feb 22nd 2013 March 29th 2013 April 5th 2013

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Series 2 The Talks numbered 054 to 071 is under a series titled Knowing Allah Taaalah or Knowing GOD
The details of the scripts of these 16 Episodes (Talks) are as follows;
Talk No Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Talk Number & Title 054 Ilm Knowing Allah 055 Rationality - The Foundation of Islam 056 Is Man Special? 057 Ar Rahmaan - The Beneficent 058 Nature or GOD? 059 Our Relationship with GOD! Sub Series: 060 Is this what we are created for? (Is this what we are created for? Part 1) Sub Series: 061 What do we see on Earth (Is this what we are created for? Part 2) Sub Series: 062 Who are WE? Where do we fit in? (Is this what we are created for? Part 3) Sub Series: 063 Our benefits on Earth (Is this what we are created for? Part 4) Sub Series: 066 What makes us 'Stand Out'? What makes us 'Special'? (Is this what we are created for? Part 5) Sub Series: 067 Who is in charge? (Is this what we are created for? Part 6) Sub Series: 068 What ALLAH Teaches Us, About Himself (Is this what we are created for? Part 7) Sub Series: 069 Our Special Faculties How they should be used, How they should not be used! (Is this what we are created for? Part 8) Sub Series: 070 The TWO Paths 071 Is this what we are created for? A review of Parts 1 to 8 from the Sub Series Is this what we are created for? Date Broadcast th Dec 9 2011 Dec 16 2011
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Details of Picture on Cover Wellawatte Jummah Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka Parasangaswewa Mosque (a remote village) in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka Mutwal Jummah Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka The Akbar Mosque in Slave Island, Colombo, Sri Lanka Mosque in Matara, from the Southern Province of Sri Lanka Beach Mosque at Kalmunaikudi in the Eastern Province, Sri Lanka A Mosque in the Kurnegala District, Sri Lanka Maradana Jummah Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka Colpetty Jummah Mosque, in Colombo, Sri Lanka The Jummah Mosque at Natpidimunnai, in the Ampara District, Sri Lanka The Devatagaha Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka A Mosque in a rural village in the Ampara District, in Sri Lanka The Jummah Mosque in Oluvil a village in the Ampara District, Sri Lanka The Dhanakawewa Jummah Mosque in a remote village in the Anuradhapura District in Sri Lanka Mosque at Madhavakulam in the Puttlam District, Sri Lanka A Mosque by a river in the Eastern Province, Sri Lanka

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Please Note
1. I have had the great privilege, (since Aug 2010), of presenting talks on the weekly Radio Program Culture of Islam [Friday 5.30 to 6.00 am, Radio Sri Lanka - FM 97.4] 2. Since these are Radio Talks, I refer to, or address the audience as listeners 3. I am well aware that the audience to these talks would consist of people belonging to a variety of faiths. So as to make people of all faiths feel included, I very often use words and names that are common to all religions. 4. For these reasons, I use the name GOD, as well as Abraham, Moses, Jesus etc as well as the names Allah, Ibrahim (Alaihis Salaam), Moosa (Alaihis Salaam), Easa (Alaihis Salaam) etc 5. Muslims by habit usually say Sallallahu Alaihiwasallam, when the name of Prophet Muhammad is mentioned, and Alaihis Salaam' when the name of a Prophet is mentioned. However, in these series of talks I have reduced the use of these prayers & sayings to the bare minimum. 6. Muslims, also by habit, use a number of Arabic prayers or sayings, such as Alhamdulillah, Insha Allah and so on. Again, I have reduced the use of these prayers or sayings to the bare minimum. 7. Sometimes I have to write Arabic words in the English script. I have devised my own way of writing Arabic in English, as follows;

th TH

s Ss SW

DHL DHZ

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Gh GH

The dates or the schedules of these talks can be viewed on the Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/ImtiazMuhsin786) The Scripts of these talks can be downloaded from www.ScribD.com (http://www.scribd.com/imtiaz_muhsin_1) (www.ScribD.com Author Imtiaz Muhsin) The audio files of these talks can be downloaded from YouTube (YouTube Channel Imtiaz Muhsin) The YouTube Link to this talk is at

All Praise and Thanks is due to Allah and Allah alone Alhamdulillah!

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