Saturday, December 12, 2015

Maqasid Shari'ah

Maqasid shari'ah

Literally, maqasid shari'ah refers to the objective of shari'ah is to protect the well being of every human being lives in the Earth. Maqasid shari'ah itself developed through stages, like usul fiqh and fiqh. It did not established directly to be a single subject of study, but further developed from time to time until the time of Imam al-Shatibi,he recorded the maqasid shari'ah with complete explanations. Later on, more ulama' developed the conceptions of maqasid shari'ah until it is systematically arranged.

Maqasid shari'ah is an objective applied by the syara' to come out with a hukm, considering the public interests and also harmonizing the society as a whole. According to Ibnu Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, the purpose of shari'ah is to safeguard people's interest and well-being both in the worldly life and the Hereafter.

The maqasid shari'ah is divided into three branches:

  1. Al-Dharuriyyat- This basic theory comprises five main things; al-din, al-nafs, al-'aql, al-nasl and al-mal. Evry religious matter that has been decided based on these maslahah will work out smoothly. Without maslahah considering these matters, there will be the instability of the society and it will also bring punishment in the Hereafter.
  2. Al-Hajiyyat- It is important for the need of reducing or preventing harm and make a situation more convenience for the people. But, without it, it will not bring such instability of the society like the one in al-Daruriyyat. It will just bring a kind of hardship for an individual's life. 
  3. Al-Tahsiyyat- To do good deeds and to practice good traditions. Without practicing it, it will not bring any harm or hardships to the society and individual, but it will not portray an individual's good way of life.
Maqasid shari'ah and education

Basically, maqasid shari'ah is significance of preserving human development and well being. It is considered  as a blessing for all mankind because this system did not restricted to only Muslims or certain group of people, but it was introduced as an integral concept. It comprises improving one's life condition, preserving dignity and respect, brotherhood, social justice, uplift the people's spirit and moral, provide proper education for the people and others.

Maqasid shari'ah also explained the theory of faith enrichment. The society should be given proper motivation and proper education to strengthen their faith towards al-din. The education system must be based on the worldview subjects like tawheed, khilafah, risalah and also the knowledge about akhirah. This will be resulted with a good system of governance with the people became more educated, mainly enabling the environment of righteousness, integrity, solidarity and stability.

The preservation of education according to maqasid shari'ah is the enrichment of al-'aql. The government should provide a proper education system to the people and give financial support and provide enough facilities. Besides, the students should also be exposed into the idea of freedom of thoughts and expression. This will generate the establishment of new ideas towards the betterment of the country and ummah itself. What is more important is that the education should be a balance system between the religious education and the other sciences. 

The ideal education system

  • The idea of education by Muhammas Natsir (Indonesia's Fifth Prime Minister)
If I am to be the Minister of Education of a state, I will refer to Muhammad Natsir's idea of education system. According to Muhammad Natsir, the Quran and Sunnah should be the main sources of knowledge, always encouraging people to learn and to observe knowledge. Knowledge and Islam can help to improve someone's faith and would trigger the spirit of seeking knowledge more. An Islamic education system would promote the idea of 'abid and khalifah al-ard, which would drive mankind towards being a good servant of Allah and to act as a proper leader in the world. 

Besides, an Islamic education system would be a balance system, weighing between the religious understanding and the other sciences. But the sciences should be the sciences directed people towards morality and good deeds; be the intermediary between the triangle relationship of (Allah- Human beings- Environment). This kind of education system will help to strengthen the paradigm and intellectual premises that centered to the well-being and improvement of the society.
Moreover, Islamic education never recognized the restrictions of education, which means that kind of act will made Islam to be seen as a religion of restrictions. So, Islam encourages the development of new ideas in various fields, as long as it is not opposing the Quran and Sunnah.

Muhammad Natsir's is really impressing when he revised the education system of Indonesia and made all schools to adopt Islamic subjects in the learning sessions, to prevent students from not knowing religion. This act seems had manage to balance the education system of Indonesia at that time. He also encouraged the establishment of Islamic schools that teach religious subjects besides highlighting the other modern subjects like mathematics, geography, history, literature and others. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sindh: The Gateway of Islam to India (Critical account)

Sindh was one of the important provinces located in today's Pakistan and India border. Sindh is famous for its fertile land and also is covered with green fields. Besides, it is also known with the name 'Mehran' or 'Bab al-Islam'. With the name of the 'Door of Islam', it means that Sindh area had been the first land to be introduced to Islam. Although Islam is not the religion of majority in India, Islam is known to be the second largest one in India besides Hindu. It existed in India since thousand years aback and had contributed a lot in Indian history. This fact was justified with the claim that Sindh became the first province to experience Islamic rule before the other places. 

In the time of Khulafa' al-Rashidun, particularly in the time of Umar r.a., from the suggestion of his governor, he sent a naval fleet to attack a port near Bombay, known as Thana. Not long after the first attack, Caliph Umar sent another naval fleet to Debal in Sindh. From this attack, which was led by Commander Al-Mughira, Raja of Sindh was victorious. Al-Mughira was killed at the battlefield and the Muslims fleet lose. Actually, there was another expedition from Iraq to Makran led by Commander Rabi ibn Ziad al-Harith.

In the time of Uthman r.a., there were numerous ship expeditions of the Arabs went to the west coast of India, insluding Sindh area. Mainly the ship expeditions were to engage in trade businesses and while doing the trade, the Arabs would preach Islam to the local people. Caliph Uthman was once sent a delegation of a Companions group to India, and this group managed to reach Sindh. After made some observation and research of the area, the delegation went back to the caliph and described the condition of Sindh. From their description, Sindh was a land of desert. and it was impossible for them to send any military expedition towards the area unless they would be just killing the soldiers in the desert. Upon hearing the information, Caliph Uthman refrained himself to send military expeditions there. But, however, the coming of Arab Muslims into the area at that time, more or less sparked the recognition of Islam among the local people.

Mainly, Islam was first widely known to come into India through the expansion of territory made by the Arabs during the Umayyad dynasty under the supervision of Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik. Caliph al-Walid under suggestion of his governor, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Saqafi, sent a group of army led by a commander named Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Saqafi in the 706CE. In this expedition, Muhammad ibn Qasim was assisted by Abu al-Aswad Jahm.

Muhammad ibn Qasim

Sindh was actually a wide area consisting a number of smaller provinces including Debal, Armail, Makran and others, led by a Hindu raja, Raja Dahir who was residing in Debal. So, Muhammad ibn Qasim went to Debal and fight against Raja Dahir  as they refused to accept Islam. The Muslims sieged the city with a great resistance from the Hindus. Raja Dahir then realized for his defeat, tried to fled to Makran. Later, Raja Dahir who fled to Makran had to face another difficulties against the Muslims army. The Muslims army who knew about this escape plan, went to the force and captured the Raja. Consequently, Raja Dahir forces were defeated and thus, Muslims moved further into Sindh. More, and more cities came to be under Muslims' hands. The captured of Debal, Qanzbur and Armail helped Muslims to go deeper into Sindh. From there, the army of Muhammad ibn Qasim marched towards the other cities like Sehwan and Multan, until they managed to capture the entire province in Sindh. After the captures, Muhammad ibn Qasim was appointed as the governor of Sindh by Caliph al-Walid.

At Sehwan and Nerun, the Muslims also faced a great resistance from the local people. However, with a strong determination and spirit, they managed to defeat the Hindus. In the cities, Muslims built mosques to replace the Hindu temples. A huge amount of booties were gathered including gold, jewelries, women and children were sent to the central administration to serve the caliphate. This group managed to successfully captured Sindh which situated along the bank of Indus River. This group of Arab people however besides capturing the cities, they also taught Islam to the locals. Muhammad ibn Qasim and his people helped to establish Islamic political ideologies in the province. If they found the Hindus refused to follow Islamic teachings, but still did not fight against them, they would not force them, but would be treated with respect. This idea was all according to the Quran, which says: "There is no compulsion in (acceptance of) Religion." (Surah al-Baqarah; 256). This verse mainly telling a Muslims to not force a non-believer to accept Islam. Islam is a clear religion and clear evidences has been provided to justify Islam, and it is Allah alone that will direct or open a man's heart to embrace Islam.

The people of Sindh at that time became the first persons who lived under the banner of Islam from any other provinces as the Arab Muslims came through this province to enter India. After conquering this place, Muhammad ibn Qasim applied Islamic policy in this region, without forcing the people to change their everyday customs. The Brahmans were allowed to collect taxes and the Buddhists were given opportunity to keep their temples. This policy helped Muslims to be accepted by the locals and they became interested to learn about the religion which led to the conversion of the locals into Islam.

However, there are some critiques saying that Islam came into Sindh before expanded into India through violence and force. But, there is no strong evidence to prove such statements. If the Muslims really brought Islam through force, the local Hindus and Buddhists would not tolerate with them, but what had happened was that, the people voluntarily converted to Islam. And this matter did not occurred only in that region, but also throughout India. 

From history, we know that there were Muslims came into India, especially in the southern and western shores of India to do trading business. And, those Muslims might contributed in some extent to preach Islam while doing their businesses. How long they have travelled across India while living there to reach Sindh and introduce Islam to the people? Or did they really have a deep knowledge of Islam to be able to preach it? And besides, as merchants, maybe their scope of mingling might be around those people who got involved with their trade business only. So, when Islam arrived Sindh through the Arabs conquest, it marked the starting point when the local people of Hindu and Buddhism to live within the Muslims presence. 

The Arab Muslims that came into Sindh who were appointed as administrators, governors or supervisor in administration would reside among the locals as their neighbours to be an easy access for the people if they have any problem to consult these officials. Besides, they were also shops owned by Muslim traders. Muslim traders were considered as more trustworthy in business. From there, the local people started to learn about the beauty of Islam and some of them even converted to Islam. Moreover, the interactions of locals and the Muslim traders led to the cultural mixing and Islam started to established in Sindh.

Alongside with the administrators, the Muslims came into this area were also included with a numerous number of ulama' and dai'e. There were numerous missionaries visited Sindh during the Arab period. The ulama' and dai'e in the missionaries were responsible in the process of converting the people of Sindh. A number of Sindh lords, rajas and the prominent Hindus were attracted and converted to Islam under their supervision. And, it is believed that the most successful missionary was the one that had been joined by Muhammad Alfi, the earliest Sufi reached the Indian land together with Muhammad ibn Qasim.

Under the Islamic rule, the non-Muslim government had to pay for annual tribute as a sign of loyalty to the Islamic Caliphate. Apart from that, any non-Muslim who refused to convert into Islam would have to pay jizyah. Jizyah is a kind of tax imposed over the non-Muslims for their protection while living under the Islamic administration. The people who need to pay for it were the non-Muslims men or the head of the family, who actually suitable and physically fit to serve in the army, but did not serving in it. Another tax imposed was kharaj or the land tax. This is also a tax for the non-Muslims but did not really burden the people with its low percentage from a person's income.

Besides that, when Islam arrived Sindh, it abolished the caste system that had been practiced by the local Hindus. Islam promotes equality and justice so all the people would be on the same level and only faith would differentiate people. Before Islam came, the Hindus who would like to run away from the caste system would take refuge under Buddhism, but when Islam came into Sindh, the chose Islam.The coming of Islam into Sindh was actually benefited the local people in abolishing the caste system that humiliated people from under privileged class. The group of higher class people or the Brahmans controlled the administration and did not let the people from  lower class to particpate in any political activity. So, that was why there were also local people who were willingly supported the Muslims to come into their region. 

Besides, the caste system did not also affect the political field. The lower class people were prohibited in learning how to write and read. In much simple words, they were left illiterate. From the fact of their illiteracy, they could not even read their own Holy Scriptures. In fact, the reading of Holy Scriptures itself was prohibited to be done by the lower class citizens. From the history, we can see that during the early period of Muslims conquest of Sindh, the Buddhists themselves received the Muslims with a big hand because they did not favour the Hindu ruler, Raja Dahir who chose to fight against them. 

In the records, Muhammad ibn Qasim's administration was described as the most liberal in the Indian history. He treated the non-Muslims with justice and equality. Of course in some provinces, he appointed Hindus to be the senior officials to help the Muslim governors in managing the state's affairs. But, there were also some provinces that he did not change the administration system. The current Hindu or Buddhist ruler would stay to be the ruler and they would have to pay their allegience towards the Islamic Caliphate. Besides, there were also Brahmanas that became so loyal to Muhamamd ibn Qasim. They even voluntarily went from village to villages to promote their supports for the Muslims. What is to be said, when the news of Muhammad ibn Qasim's death reached them,these people even built his statue and embraced it for a long period of time to show their respect and sincerity. 

Muhammad ibn Qasim expedition map
After Muhammad ibn Qasim died, the Muslims expedition to continue from Sindh into the greater India had been slowed down. There was no qualified ruler or commander to perform this duty. It was then until three centuries later that another Muslims expedition came into India. It was led by Sultan Mahmud al-Ghaznavi from Afghanistan. These expeditions by Sultan Mahmud again raise Islam to its expansion and put the whole India under Muslims' hands. There were also larger number of ulama' and dai'e came into Sindh and India to preach Islam during Sultan Mahmud's time. 

As a conclusion, we may say that Sindh could be the gateway for Islamic expansion in India. Although the Arab Muslims influence was just temporary, but their effort by making Sindh as a fort for a launching pad before entering the larger India had been a success. From there, they managed to enter Indian lands and that was why Sindh is called 'The Gateway of Islam' and maybe it was suitable to be known as the gateway for India too. However, there is also another view stated that Kerala was actually the earliest part of India that had received Islam. It refers to the story of one group from the Prophet s.a.w's Companions came into India in the 7th CE, and they built a mosque there. Today, that mosque is known as the first mosque in India, named Masjid Cheraman Juma. Another view available stated that Islam might be arrived earliest in Kalakari, Tamil Naidu with the building of another mosque that is believed to be oldest mosque in India; The Old Jumma Masjid. This mosque was built by the Yemeni traders settled in the area in 7th CE by the request of a Yemeni governor resided there at that time.

Keith Syakil, Dec 10, 2015.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Baghdad as The Best Islamic City During The Time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid (Architecture & Social Contacts)

Baghdad as The Best Islamic City During The Time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid (Architectural & Social contacts)

Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one of the prominent caliphs in the early period of Abbasid Caliphate. He was widely known by his successful administration and it marked the peak of the caliphate's glorious era during his time. There were so many changes made by Caliph Harun al-Rashid to make the government became more systematic and organized, until Baghdad which was the caliphate's capital became the best model of Islamic city.

One of the reasons why Baghdad became the best model of Islamic city was because its architectural design. The city was built in an organized way, surrounded by strong, thick walls. The caliph's palace was built in the middle of the city along side with the centre mosque. Then, the residency of the soldiers would be inside the outer wall; this would be easier for them to protect the city wall. Besides, the organized residency of the countrymen would be outside the outer wall. The city was built in a round-shape because it will be easier for the soldiers to detect the incoming dangers from the outside of the wall.

Besides, the city was also provided with a canal system. The canals were connected to every house in the city providing enough water supply for the people. there were also roads built connecting places in the city, and there were even roads covered with tar, mainly the main roads to the palace of the caliph. Another interesting system was the lighting of lamps at the main roads during the night time. So, from here, we can see that Baghdad was a great model of a city that have been taken as an example mostly by the Europeans during that time.

During the time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, he emerged the system of Dawawin. Dawawin was a system which the administration was divided into several important departments to control their assigned affairs. During his time, he added new dawawin besides of what have already been established in the time of khulafa' al-rashidin. The new dawawin were like Diwan al-Shurtah, Diwan al-Zimam and Diwan al-Nazar fi al-Mazalim. The establishment of these new dawawin further helped to maintain the well-being of the city and the caliphate. And of course, the security of the people was also levelled up.

Furthermore, Baghdad was also famous with intellectual and learning activities. The Caliph was so encouraging in the field of learning. As from this fact, many scholars were born during his time and there were also many teachers were given opportunities to share their knowledge. Many madrasah, schools and educational institutions were founded and sponsored by the government. The most famous educational institution was Bayt al-Hikmah. Bayt al-Hikmah was known to be a library, school and the translation centre for various books.

Another important reason to justify Baghdad was the best model city is because the social system practiced by Caliph Harun al-Rashid. The Caliph did not practice any class or caste system but rather treated the people with justice and equality. All people were living peacefully despite their differences in faith and race. Religious tolerance was so much encouraged to maintain peace and harmony.

Besides that, the poor residents were not left behind, and they were given help by the government. As during Caliph Harun's time, many hospitals were built. From there, if a person was admitted into the hospital for his illness and he did not have money to pay for the treatment, the government would sponsor his treatment until he recovered. There were also orphanages built for orphans. A special institution for prisoners was also built to provide the prisoners with proper trainings for their self-improvements. Aside from that, asylums for the insanes were also built and proper treatments were provided for them.

The city of Baghdad


Diwan al-Barid

Diwan al-Barid was established since the time of Caliph Umar al-Khattab. It was founded to be the office of postal system. But, in the Abbasid period, its official tasks were later been improved. Diwan al-Barid was led by an officer entitled Sahib al-Barid. This diwan managed all the matters involving the moving of letters, correspondence or any imperial orders across the world. In the Abbasid period, it was also used as the medium of spying and giving information for the caliphate.

Using horses to pass the mails


The Importance of Health in Islam (Islamic Civilization)

Islam always encourages Muslims to take care of health and the well-being of the body. A human body is actually was given from Allah to the human as a sign of liability. So, a Muslim should know that as a borrower (of the body), he should take care of the body and provide a better healthcare for it. In the Islamic civilization, we can see that the previous rulers and scholars were encouraging the people to take care of health. The rulers often supported and encouraged scholars to produce medicines. Many scholars were also involved in learning on medical field and served as physicians to help curing people's illnesses. Besides, there were also many hospitals were built in the previous time to show the importance of health and to provide necessary healthcare for the people. Some of the hospitals were known as Ibnu Tulun Hospital, Al-Nuri Hospital, Al-Salahani Hospital and others.

Al-Razi treating a patient

Hospital in the mosque

The Importance of Tolerance, Universality and Rationalism as main Foundations of Islamic Foundation

Islamic civilization was founded on some important foundations involving many branches like economics, social and also politics. The Islamic foundations particularly in the political branch, it focused on the establishment of an Islamic government. By having an Islamic government that implemented the Islamic foundation, it would then led to the establishment of Islamic civilization. The Islamic foundations or principles that are important in the establishment of an Islamic government involve tolerance, universality and also rationalism

In Islam, it is important for Muslims to do justice. Justice here refers to the act of tolerance for all human beings who are living in the world. An Islamic ruler who was chosen to the throne, should implement the act of tolerance unto his people. This means to do justice for the people regardless of their backgrounds; whether they were Muslims or not, their skin colours or their different races. In the previous Islamic civilization, usually the Sultan or the ruler would try to implement the act of religious tolerance towards his people, where all the people including the Christians and the Jewish community could practice freely their religion. Besides, their places of worship also were given respect by the Muslims by not destroying them.

For example, during the time of Sultan Muhammad al-Fateh, after he captured Constantinople he did not kill the Christians who were seeking refuge in Hagia Sophia. He told them their lives would be spared and they could practice their religion freely in the city. After all, the people were joyful hearing the declaration of the Sultan. So, from there, even the Christians respected and paid their loyalty to the Islamic government. This event somehow showed the importance of tolerance in an Islamic government, that it could strengthen it by gaining support from the people.

Another important foundation in Islamic government is universality. As Islamic government further expanded into a wider area, it even included the non-Arab countries. From history, we would know that there were attempts made by some Arab rulers to spread the idea of Arabism. These Arab rulers did not agree with the Turkish people who were getting stronger in the Islamic government at that time. They started to preach the idea of Arabs superiority and this made the non-Arabs dissatisfied. It led to series of revolts against the Arab rulers. To highlight the importance of universality, the Arab rulers should not implement that idea in the first place as it obviously represented the feeling of Arabs superiority which means the opposite of universality. So, from history itself we can take that a government without the principle of universality would be in total disputes and stagnation.

Besides that, an Islamic administration in the Islamic civilization also implemented the principle of rationalism. Rationalism is an act of which the ruler governs his government based on reality and reasons. But, rationalism as an Islamic foundation does not only constitute of thinking and reasoning activities of the ruler. But, the ruler has to maintain and balance between reasoning and also the revelation of the Quran and Sunnah. By having these two subjects as the basis principle, the ideal Islamic government could be established.

Rationalism also means that the ruler should conduct all his affairs with all rationality and sound thinking without referring to any assumptions without proofs. All matters that are opposite to the Quran and Sunnah must be rejected. That is because all the issues that have been mentioned in the sources is the absolute truth and carry their own benefits. Thus, if the ruler follows what have been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, it is most likely he will successfully maintain the harmony and peace of his government. And, all the people would support him as a ruler. This is exactly like in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) era, where all the people in Madinah were living peacefully under his supervision.

As a conclusion, the Islamic foundations are important to be implemented by every Islamic government. Any action that opposing the foundations will spark the disputes and downgradation of the Islamic rule. But, however, these principles were only meant to set up an ideal government according to the Quran and Sunnah while the Islamic governments that we are having today is the reality that we have to face.

December 4, 2015