Shaykh Ibrahim on Prophet Muhammad’s succession | Translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Shaikh Ibrāhīm Inyās, may God be pleased with him, on the Explanation of Why the Prophet, peace be upon him, Refrained from Clear Designation of His Khalīfa (Successor)

Regarding the Quranic statement, “And warn them that there is no god but so be conscious of Me , Shaikh Ibrāhīm Inyās, may God be pleased with him stated in Riyadh al Tafsir, Vol.3, commenting on Surah al-Nahl, pg. 275-76, the following:

‘and He creates that which you do not know.’ (16:8) For this reason the Messenger, peace be upon him, refrained from designating a khalīfa (successor after him). He didn’t appoint anyone as a khalīfa at the time of his death because he knew that there would be someone in his community who would receive knowledge from Allāh without an intermediary.

For this reason he said, ‘Allāh is my khalīfa in over every Muslim’. (Muslim) So, the Walī encounters knowledge from Allāh, be He blessed and exalted, just as the angel received it who consequently revealed it to the Messenger, peace be upon him and just as the Messenger, peace be upon him received it. The difference between the Khalīfa and these others is that he is not autonomous. Rather, he is a follower.

The task of the Walī is not to bring a new ruling for he is a follower of the Messenger, peace be upon him, before him. Rather, he takes from the same mine that the Prophet, peace be upon him, took from and from the mine that the angel who descended upon the Messenger, peace be upon him took from. Since the Messenger, peace be upon him, knew that this would occur in his community he refrained from appointing a khalīfa, ‘Allāh is my khalīfa over every Muslim’.

If he had not know that there would be one amongst us who would take from Allāh directly he wouldn’t have stated, ‘Allāh is my khalīfa over every Muslim. ‘And He creates what you don’t know’, after the annihilation of the slave and the continuity of the Truth, be He blessed and exalted from the sciences of witnessing and secrets that are only known to Allāh, be He blessed and exalted. ‘And He creates what you do not know’ (16:8), ‘rather they disbelieved in what they couldn’t comprehend of His knowledge’ (10:39) These two ‘whats’ (literally ‘what’ they do not know and ‘what’ they could not comprehend) is the knowledge that encompass all things.

Commentary:

Baye, may Allāh be pleased with him, explains why the outward appointment of a political/religious head after the Prophet, peace be upon him, wasn’t done. He states, ultimately, that it was already appointed before his death in the decree of Allāh. Discussing this point he mentions four elements: 1) Allāh 2) The Prophet, peace be upon him 3) The Wali 4) The Khalifa. He also places these elements in context to the point at hand. To summarize the above we can say that according to Shaikh Ibrāhīm, may Allāh be pleased with him that:

  • The Prophet, peace be upon him, refrained from assigning his Khalīfa as he knew that Allāh had already done so.
  • The Khalīfa of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is the Wali.
  • As the Wali is the Khalīfa of the Prophet, peace be upon him, then the Wali is the Khalīfa of the Prophet, peace be upon him, over every Muslim, as the Prophet, peace be upon him held such authority.
  • The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that Allāh is his khalīfa over every Muslim.

Question:

How can the Khalīfa and Allāh both be the khalīfa over every Muslim?

  • It has been stated that the Khalīfa of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is one chosen already for him in the decree of Allāh to represent Allah directly without intermediary in place of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
  • Thus the meaning of Allāh is my khalīfa over every Muslim is practically achieved through the Walī or Khalīfa who would manifest on the ground in place of the Prophet, peace be upon.
  • This is the meaning to, ‘Allah is my khalīfa over every Muslim’, and Allāh knows best.

Question: Then what did Baye mean in saying: ‘And He creates what you do not know’ (16:8), ‘rather they disbelieved in what they couldn’t comprehend of His knowledge’ (10:39) These two ‘whats’ (literally ‘what’ they do not know and ‘what’ they could not comprehend) is the knowledge that encompass all things’?

  • ‘And He creates what you don’t know’. What is not known, above, is the nature of the continuity of the Truth.
  • We know from the above that the Truth continues in the Khalīfa appointed by Allāh.
  • This Khalifa, as stated above, is charged with representing Allāh, Himself, directly and without the intermediary of a prophet or angel or anything else for that matter.
  • Thus this ‘what’ in the hadith is the Khalīfa whose nature is to be a clear window to Allāh.
  • Through him, we can see that Allah, Himself, is the Truth that encompasses all things in knowledge…’ As the Quran states, ‘and He knows all things.’ (57:3)

Translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and had assisted Zaytuna College’s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch  has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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Shaykh Ibrahim on Unlimited Mercy | translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

One of the Speeches Given in the Celebration of the Birth of the Prophets, peace be upon him

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, the Owner of the Day of Judgment who prescribed Mercy for Himself and sent the Prophet, peace be upon him, as both benevolent and merciful [Ra-uf Raḥīm] toward the Believers and as a mercy to the worlds, ‘And We have not sent you, [O Muḥammad], except as a mercy to the worlds, (2:107) [s]o by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them, and if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allāh loves those who rely [upon Him]. (3:159)

He began His revealed books with the statement, ‘In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful’, and said, ‘Verily, Allāh is truly Benevolent and Merciful toward people’. (2:143) He also made His Mercy that encompasses all things close to the People of Iḥsān (al-Muḥsinīn) (an apparent indication of the quranic clue, Surely the mercy of God is near to the People of Iḥsān , (7:56)) after Him having said, ‘The Most Merciful (55:1) taught the Qur’an, (55:2) created man, (55:3) and taught him eloquence (55:4) all as an expression of the all-encompassing nature of His Mercy in every living being. The forms of His Mercy, be He exalted, and its elements in every atom are unlimited in their capacity to clear away harm and as fundamentals of the good (found in those places).

We known already that Islām, which is Allāh’s eternal religion, is the leader of the Divine Mercy from the start of the revelation of the Sacred Law until that point in which Allāh inherits the earth and those upon it and He is the Best of Inheritors. The Noble Qurān has recorded the commitment of all the Prophets and the pride they have in their submission to Allāh. Regarding Nuḥ, upon whom be peace, it says, ‘[a]nd I am commanded to be of those who submit to Allah (10:72). It said, regarding the Father of the Prophets and Messengers, ‘Ibrāhīm was neither a Jew nor a Christian but was rather a submissive monotheist and was not from the polytheists’. (3:67) The Book also states, ‘And Ibrāhīm instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Ya’qūb, [saying], “O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims.” (2:132) It states, regarding the Prophets of The Tribe of Isra-īl, ‘Surely We revealed the Torah, wherein is guidance, from error, and light, that is, an exposition of the rulings, by which the prophets, from the Children of Isrā-il, who had submitted. (5:44) It said, with regard to Mūsā, upon whom be peace, ‘Oh my people! If you have believed in Allāh then trust in Him if you are of those who submit. (10:74) It narrates, regarding the supplication of Yūsuf, upon whom be peace, ‘Cause me to die as one who submits and include me amongst the Righteous’. (12:101) It says, regarding Suleymān, upon whom be peace, ‘Do not be exalted against me, but come to me as those who submit’. (27:31) It says, regarding Bilqīs, ‘And I have submitted with Suleymān, to the Lord of the Worlds. (27:44) It says, regarding Īsā and the Disciples (al-Ḥawāriyyīn), upon whom by peace, ‘We have believed in Allāh and bear witness that we are Muslims’. (3:52) It said regarding the Seal of the Prophets and the Master of the First and the Lasts, ‘Say: My prayer, my devoutness/ceremonies, my life, and my death are all for Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds. He has no partner. This is what I was commanded with. I am the First of Those Who Submit.’ (6:163)

Oh Brothers! Adherence to Islām is being exposed to the Divine Mercy. Thus, encounter this Mercy by adherence to this eternal religion that Allāh said regarding it, ‘Truly, the religion with Allāh is Islām’, (3:19) ‘and whoever seeks a religion other than Islām, it will never be accepted of him…’(3:85) Islām is the rejection of polytheism and the worship of the Single, the One, the Unique, the Everlasting, ‘He hasn’t begotten nor was He born and no one is comparable to Him’(112:4), with sincerity , ‘They have only been commanded to worship Allāh with sincerity making religion for Him alone’. (98:5) ‘None of you will ever enter Paradise by virtue of his deeds. (He/she will only do so) by His being enveloped by Allāh’s Mercy, as the authentic tradition narrates, just as the Noble Āyah says, ‘Say: By the Grace of Allāh and His Mercy. Let them rejoice on account of that, it is better than that which they amass’, (10:58) with that one must act in accordance (with command of Allāh) ‘And And establish prayer and pay the alms, and obey the Messenger, that perhaps you may find Mercy.’(24:56)

Oh Brothers! Be certain with a firm decision that with faith in Allāh, alone and submission to the rules of Islām and Iḥsān in worship that Divine Mercy will descend just as the āyah indicates, ‘Verily, the Mercy of Allāh is near to the People of Iḥsān, (7:56) and His saying, ‘And obey God and the Messenger, so that you may find Mercy. (3:132) Obedience to the Prophet, peace be upon him, is adherence to the Book and the Prophetic Habit and His character was the Quran, ‘A.L.M. That is the Book in which there is no doubt. It is a guidance for the People of Allāh Consciousness. They are those who believe in the unseen, establish the prayer, and spend from that which they have been provided ‘ (2:1-3) and He said, ‘Those who repent, those who worship, those who give praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who enjoin decency and forbid to indecency, those who maintain Allāh’s bounds…’ (9:112) ‘Indeed the men who have submitted and the women who have submitted, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obedient men and the obedient women, and the men who are truthful and the women who are truthful, in their faith, and the patient men and the patient women, [steadfast] in [performing] acts of obedience, and the humble men and the humble women, and the charitable men and the charitable women, and the men who fast and the women who fast, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard their private parts, from what is unlawful, and the men who remember God often and the women who remember God often — for them God has prepared forgiveness, of [their] acts of disobedience, and a great reward, for their acts of obedience. (33:35)

Oh My Brothers! This is the path to practically desire the Mercy of Allāh with. From that which cools the chest is the Mercy of Allāh has no limit, nor perimeter. Al-Ṭabarī says in his book (note: his book of quranic exegesis) that when Allāh created Paradise He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend 100,000 years.’ Thus it complied and extended. He said to it, ‘Extend. It replied, ‘To what extent’? He replied, ‘Extend to the extent of My Mercy ’ and thus it is ever expanding. So Paradise has no limit just as the Mercy of Allāh has no limit. The inroad to that reality is learning the religion and following it.

Through this example you know and can quantify the value of these kinds of gatherings for the remembrance of the appearance of this Mercy that the Most Gracious and Most Merciful bestowed on this great day and huge celebration, and noble festival that is the celebration of his birth, peace be upon him. I renew my advice to the Muslim youth that they should learn this religion and then to learn every beneficial knowledge and that you remember His saying, be He exalted, ‘ And all that, ‘We relate to you of the accounts of the messengers, that with which We might strengthen your heart’. (11:120) They said, ‘The stories of an army from amongst Allāh’s armies helps the heart of whom He wants from amongst His slaves and they are armed by the path of the Pious Ṣufiyya, the Slaves of Allāh, the-Ones-Drawn-Close, the Allāh-Conscious, whom blazed the path of the Muḥammadaic Habit and made it too difficult for the hands of the invading colonial tyrants to tamper with the foundations of Islām by their own admittance and the truth that the enemies bear testimony to. From that which is regrettable is the ignorance of the educated that is found today. They slander the Ṣufiyya while mentioning the Prophetic Habit, claiming protectiveness over it. However, is the Prophetic Habit anything other than what Muḥammad, peace be upon him, brought?

From amongst these people are those who busy themselves with the Tijānī Tarīqa-that path that is only attributed to Shaikh Aḥmad al-Tijānī in terms of the authorization he has to disseminate it. Otherwise its “owner” has described it as being Muḥammadaic-Abrahamic. It is comprised of seeking forgiveness, salutation upon the Prophet, peace be upon him, in any formulation, and reciting the ‘there is no god but Allāh-all to be recited morning and evening.

Is it disbelief in Allāh for the sincere slave to say, ‘There is no god but Allāh?

Or to ask Allāh forgiveness hoping for His forgiveness for the sins his hands committed?

Oh People! If that is disbelief, then stick to disbelief, for you will praise its outcome….

-Shaikh Ibrāhīm ibn al-Hāj ‘Abdullāh Inyās, al-Jūz al-Thālith min Khuṭab wa Rasā-il, 196-200

Translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and had assisted Zaytuna College’s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch  has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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Trouble free-ness – a thought from Imam Abdul Latif Finch

paradise

It seems like every person wants their life to be trouble-free.

There is nothing in this world that is free from trouble.

So, where do we get this notion of trouble-free-ness from?

Since all of us regardless of our backgrounds and times long for this kind of life, without having ever experienced it here.

This collective condition indicates that all of us without exception, know of it but from some other time and place; one we’ve all experienced and remember.

This life that we recall that is free from problems and consequently attempt to re-create here was in paradise.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

July 2015

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Soft Hearts – a recording my Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Below is a quote from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s short talk on ‘SOFT HEARTS’

Click HERE to listen to the Soft Hearts recording

hard heart

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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A Life that Makes Sense | from ‘Quranic Soul Food’ – a recording by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Below is a quote from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s talk ‘Quranic Soul Food’, which is mashAllah full of more deep reminders.

Click HERE to listen to the Quranic Soul Food recording

Imam Abdul Latif Finch Soulfood 8

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

< Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s recordings

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Best of Foods | from ‘Quranic Soul Food’ – a recording by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Below is a quote from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s talk ‘Quranic Soul Food’, which is mashAllah full of more deep reminders.

Click HERE to listen to the Quranic Soul Food recording

Imam Abdul Latif Finch Soulfood 7

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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Aḥmadiyya and the Nature of Muḥammadaic Sainthood – an article by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Introduction:

            Ḥ.m.d is an ‘Arabic root which indicates commendation, laudation. [1] A commendation is an expression of approval. To approve is “to attest (something) with authority.” [2] When these root letters are expressed in their various patterns, multiple meanings manifest for us to consider. “Aḥmad,” is such a name appearing as a form of these foundational letters, which will be contemplated here. The Quran embraces this form when addressing the Messenger of God, (ﷺ), when it states,

And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allāh to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.” [61:66]

Regarding this Qurānic sign, Shaikh Ibrāhīm Niās, may God be pleased with him, stated

“…of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Aḥmad,” ‘(‘Isā, (ﷺ)) gave glade tidings regarding the coming of the Prophet, (Muḥammad) (ﷺ) and that his name in the revealed books was “Aḥmad.” God preserved this name such that He never named any one such before the Messenger, upon him be peace, so that there wouldn’t be any ambiguity (as to who is referred to when the name is used). His name Muḥammad signifies the time his appearance drew close. The monks and priests discussed the fact that a messenger named Muḥammad is to come from the Inviolable Precinct (in Makka). There were six children from amongst his people named “Muḥammad.” They include Muḥammad ibn Salma, Muḥammad ibn Aḥyaḥa…however none of these children had amongst them anyone who claimed to be a prophet nor have a state that would cause anyone to speculate about him being the Messenger of God( ﷺ).

“…whose name is Aḥmad,” he said, (ﷺ), ‘I have five names. I am Muḥammad. I am Aḥmad. I am al-Māḥī, by whom God erases disbelief. I am al-Ḥāshr, the one who gathers the people at my feet. I am al-‘Āqib, the last of the Prophets. I am Ṭāhā. I am Yāsin. He has a thousand names, the most famous of which are his name in the heavens, “Aḥmad,” and “Muḥammad.”

 

Aḥmad is an exaggerated expression of the concept of praise (fi-l ḥamd). Muḥammad is on the pattern of mufa’al of the concept of praise that acts as an amplification of praise as well. Also from the names is al-Ḥamādūn. The previous books depict the community of Muḥammad as al- Ḥamādūn, those who praise God in every state. When they eat, they say, ‘al-ḥamdulillah.’ When they drink they say, ‘al-ḥamdulillah.’ When they put on clothing they say, ‘al-ḥamdulillah.’ In good times they say, al-ḥamdulillah,’ and in bad times they say, ‘al-ḥamdulillah.’ (They also say it) when they die, when resurrected, and when they enter into Paradise.’ [3]

 

Here we will demonstrate that “Aḥmad,” indicates the intimate friendship that the Prophet (ﷺ) has with God, reflected in the authority to praise Him. This clout consequently denotes some of the mastery inherent in the slavery of the Messenger of God, (ﷺ). All these characteristics manifest in his sainthood or Aḥmadiyya.

Al-Walī is one of the Divine Names. The Book mentions, “Alläh is the Walī of those who believe; He causes them to come out of the darkness into the light [2:257]” and “Allāh is the Walī of the pious.” [45:19] Obviously God’s attributes have neither beginning nor end. When applied to human beings, the name does have limitations. Michel Chodkiewicz mentions some of these constraints

‘The Muslim exegetes […] attempted to classify the different meanings of wali in the sacred Book. Muqātil (eighth century) detected ten meanings which can in fact be reduced to two. The first is directly related to the idea of proximity […] is the primary meaning of the root, and signifies, according to the context, ‘friend,’ ‘companion,’ ‘relative,’ ‘ally,’ ‘counselor.’ The second meaning is ‘protector’ or ‘governor.’ The existence of these two classes of meaning is connected with the very nature of the word wali. This word is constructed on the ambivalent fa’īl pattern which in Arabic can possess both an active sense (normally expressed by the form fā’il) and a passive sense (corresponding to the form maf’ūl). Thus the wali is simultaneously one whom is close, the beloved, he who is protected, taken in charge, and the protector, the ‘patron’ (in the Roman sense), the governor (al-walī, the active principle constructed on the fā’il paradigm. [4]

According to Muqātil, the root word w.l.y. may be considered in two capacities. The first (walāya) is the common application of the term wali (commonly translated as, “saint.”), i.e., one whom is God’s friend, having all the makings of one drawn near to God. This aspect of the term may be exemplified in the Quranic sign, “Know well that the confidants (saintly servants) of God; there will be no reason for them (awliyā, the plural of wali) to fear, nor shall they grieve.” [5] [10:62]

An object is known through its attributes. The one who knows another’s attributes best may be said to be the most intimate in knowledge of the latter. The walī (saint) is intimate with the knowledge of God. Therefore, he/she is familiar with God’s attributes. God’s attributes are essentially praiseworthy. Therefore, the walī is closely acquainted to His fundamental praiseworthiness. Every prophet is a walī. The Prophet (ﷺ) is the best of the prophets. As his walāya is commensurate with his prophethood and he (ﷺ) is the greatest of the prophets, it follows that he is also the greatest of the awliyā and the most capable of praising Him due to his superbly intimate knowledge of God’s attributes. His name, “Aḥmad,” or “The Most Praising” indicates this station as Shaikh Ibrāhīm mentioned above, “Aḥmad is an amplified expression of the concept of praise (fi-l ḥamd).” The Most Praising is also the most intimate. When one is intimate with another there is a kind of synchronicity between the two. According to ‘Amr ibn al-Jamūḥ, the Prophet,(ﷺ) stated “the awliyā are those who, when you see them, you are reminded of Allāh.” [6] In other words, the intimacy between the friend of God and their Maker is such that to see the former is to “see” the latter though only symbolically. The Divine Tradition says, “My awliyā among My servants, and My beloved among My creatures are those who are remembered with My remembrance, and I am remembered with their remembrance,” [7] a statement that further emphasizes this point. After all, one can say “Allāh” without remembering the Prophet (ﷺ) but one cannot say “Aḥmad “ without remembering Allāh. Therefore, the name “Aḥmad” indicates the intimate friendship or walāya that the Prophet (ﷺ) has with Allāh.

The second application of the root word w.l.y. as explicated by Muqātil above (wilāya) provides for a more terrestrial application of the term walī; one who governs. To repeat the previous formula, one is known through their attributes. The one who knows another’s attributes best may be said to be the most intimate with the latter’s characteristics. The walī is intimate with God. Therefore, he/she is familiar with God’s attributes. God’s attributes are essentially praiseworthy. Therefore, the walī is closely acquainted to His fundamental praiseworthiness. Therefore, as compared to one who is not as closely associated, the walī serves as an authority regarding God’s praise. One who has authority regarding God’s praise is rewarded with God’s pleasure. The one rewarded with God’s pleasure has God on his/her side. The one with God’s assistance is victorious in the earth. Therefore, it is through God’s ḥamd (praise) that the walī yields influence in the world and the hereafter.

An anecdote of such worldly authority is found in the Leader of the Faithful, Umar ibn al-Khaṭāb, may Allāh be pleased with him

It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that ‘Umar, may Allāh be pleased with them, had sent an army for a military campaign. He had appointed a person as the leader of this army, who was called “Sāriya.” While ‘Umar, may Allāh be pleased with him, was giving a sermon, he started saying: O Sāriya! To the mountain! After this, a message-bearer came and said: O Commander of the faithful! We were fighting against our enemies. They had almost defeated us. When we heard someone calling out: O Sāriya! To the mountain! We stood with the mountain at our back and Almighty Allāh gave them a crushing defeat. [8]

As the khalīfa (vicegerent) of Aḥmad (ﷺ) he was also both a governor and a friend of God through proximity to His praise at one and the same time. As such, he had God’s facilitation to cause Sāriya to hear him at a mountain in Persia, hundreds of miles away. He was able to do so through Allāh’s leave alone and by virtue of his association with the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ). This indicates that the Prophet’s (ﷺ) that the intimacy and authority endures in his representatives after him.[9]

‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, occupied the station of the external regency of the Prophet (ﷺ). Acting as Aḥmad’s substitute (ﷺ), the new khalīfa’s task was to further establish the worship of God on the planet. One charged with such a task has been given authority regarding h.m.d. (praise). Both Umar’s success in expanding the borders of Islām, and the open miracles he performed show the support he received from the Divine. It follows that his own state of intimate friendship with God or Aḥmadiyya proves this station’s authority to praise Him in this world.

As mentioned above, the name al Walī belongs to God. His Names abide forever. The Hereafter is a realm without end. The one blessed with the name walī, then, is suited for the Hereafter for like his name suggests, his/her station will also endure permanently in the Hereafter. As the Prophet (ﷺ) is the greatest walī, his authority will manifest in a superior fashion in the Hereafter just as it does in this world. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “I am the master of the children of Adam on the Day of Judgment, and I am not boasting. The Banner of Praise will be in my hand, and I am not boasting. There will not be a Prophet on that day, not Adam nor anyone other than him, except that he will be under my banner. And I am the first one for whom the earth will be opened for, and I am not bragging.” [10] We see the honor that he has, ﷺ regarding praise’s banner here. We also see that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is master of the descendants of Adam (ﷺ). This fact is apparent in at least two ways: his slavery and mastery. Both aspects are manifested in the following tradition:

It was narrated from Abu Hurayra, may Allāh be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “I will be the leader of mankind on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know why that is? Allāh will gather mankind, the first and the last of them, in one place, so that the caller will be able to make them all hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see them all. The sun will be brought close and the people will suffer such distress and trouble that they will not be able to bear it or stand it. The people will say, ‘Don’t you see in the state you are in and the condition you have reached? Why don’t you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord?’ The people will say to one another: ‘Go to your father, Adam.’ So they will go to Adam (ﷺ) … I will go and prostrate beneath the Throne. Then I will be given words of praise such have never been given to anyone before me, then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Raise your head; ask, for it will be given to you, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will raise my head and say, ‘My ummah, O lord! My ummah, O Lord!’ It will be said, ‘O Muhammad, admit from among your ummah those who will not be brought to account from the right-hand gate of Paradise, and they will share the other gates with the people.’ He said, By the One in Whose hand is my soul, the distance between two of the gate-posts is like the distance between Makkah and Humayr, or between Makkah and Busra.” [11]

Here, on the Day when all people will be concerned over their own fate, the Prophet (ﷺ) will be concerned about all of humanity. A weak tradition states, “The servant of a people is their master,” [12] however, its meaning is emphatically strong. Given that the Prophet (ﷺ) will serve as the intercessor for the Day of Judgment to relieve people from the agony of awaiting

On the Day when all people will be concerned over their own fate, the Prophet (ﷺ) will be concerned about all of humanity

On the Day when all people will be concerned over their own fate, the Prophet (ﷺ) will be concerned about all of humanity

judgment, we can see the extent of his service to mankind. As the Great Intercession is an honor only granted to him (ﷺ), his mastery over the rest of creation seems abundantly clear as all will rush to him on that Day, prophet and non-prophet alike. This authority eloquently reflects some of the mastery inherent in the slavery of the Messenger of God (ﷺ).

A perfect wali (one drawn close and one who governs) or has complete Aḥmadiyya, a fact that may be illustrated in the famous tradition of Abū Hurayra, may God be pleased with him, who narrated through the Prophet (ﷺ) that God said

Whosoever shows enmity to My friend, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant, he hates death and I hate hurting him. [13]

It may be understood from the words, “were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him,” that this person has a special kind of access to God. This specialness is a result of his/her submission to Him. This harmony may reach such a stage that whatever He wants is what he wants. This relationship manifests in the latter’s supplications being answered and God’s will manifest through him/her on the earth. Indeed, this appears to epitomize the meaning of the term khalīfa (vicegerent), the representative of God’s presence in the terrestrial realm. With reference to these two aspects, Imam al-Qushayri states, “Both of these descriptions are necessary for a wali to be a true wali, from his discharge of the rights due to God Most High through close study and full performance and God’s continual protection of him in joy and sorrow. “ [14]

To this end, Chodkiewicz states regarding these two aspects of intimate and friendship:

One of these is ‘to be a friend,’ and the other is ‘to direct, to govern, to take charge.’ Thus the walī, and properly speaking, is the ‘friend,’ he who is close; but as ibn Manẓur emphasizes in the Lisān al-‘arab, he who is also the nāṣir, ‘he who assists’ and the mudabbir, he who disposes. [15]

The two faces of the root w.l.y. (walāya and wilāya) merge into the personality of the individual described in the above tradition. The one who has intimacy with God’s praise is given intimacy and authority. The Prophet’s name, Ahmad denotes the intimate friendship, and authority of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) attributes manifested in the servant hood of the Prophet (ﷺ) as attested to in the display of his slavery on the Day of Judgment; a submission that will earn God’s attention, and grant him, ﷺ the authority that will cause people who were at a distance from God to have His intimacy, God willing.

Conclusion

We have stated above that when we look at the subject of God’s praise, the name “Aḥmad” indicates the intimate friendship or walāya that the Prophet (ﷺ) has with Allāh. Through the same evaluation we have shown that it is through God’s ḥamd (praise) that the walī yields influence in this world and the hereafter through their wilāya. The authority afforded to the Prophet, Aḥmad, (ﷺ) on the Last Day is, arguably, the objective of the appearance of the name al-Walī made manifest through him, ﷺ , and eloquently reflects some of the mastery inherent in the slavery of the Messenger of God (ﷺ). As such, the Prophet’s name Aḥmad is indicative of an inner reality or Aḥmadiyya, (sainthood) lying beneath his prophet hood that endures well after prophecy has ended in the world. It is both the epitome of intimacy with God and authority within His creation.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

2015

 


[1] The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic s.v. “Hamd.”

[2] Douglas Harper, “Commendation” http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=commendation&allowed_in_frame=0 (accessed January 21, 2014).

[3] Ibrāhīm Niās, Fī Riyāḍ Al-Tafsīr, vol. 5 (Tunis: Majma’ al-Yamāma li-al-Ṭabā’a wa-al-Nashr wa al-Tawzī’, 2010), 135-137. For an exact tradition that confirms the multiple names of the Prophet, (ﷺ), see Shamā-il Tirmidhī Chapter 051, Ḥadīth Number 001 (360).

[4] Michel Chodkiewicz, Seal of Saints (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1993), 24.

[5] The Quran refers to God’s friendship in several instances in the Book.  “Allāh is the Walī of those who believe; He causes them to come out of darkness into light.” [2:257] “Allāh is the Walī of the pious.’ [45:19] Know you not that it is Allah to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth? And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper. [2:107] Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim (Abraham) are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad SAW) and those who have believed (Muslims). And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers. [3:68] Allah has full knowledge of your enemies, and Allah is Sufficient as a Wali (Protector), and Allah is Sufficient as a Helper. [4:45] Your ally is none but Allah and [therefore] His Messenger and those who have believed – those who establish prayer and give zakah, and they bow [in worship]. [5:55] Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. [2:277]

[6] For the specifics regarding this tradition see Gibril Fouad Haddad, The Muhammadan Light (Londom: Centre for Spirituality and Cultural Advancement, 2012), 268-269.

[7] For details regarding this tradition see ibid., 269.

[8] Dalāil al-Nubuwwah, Ḥadīth No. 2655; Mishkātul Masabīḥ, Bab al-Karamāt; Zujaja al-Masabīḥ, Bab al-Karamāt)

[9] These representatives are found scattered throughout the world. It is to this end that we find a report that states,”

Verily, ‘Umar, may God be pleased with, exited the mosque.  He found Mu’ādh crying at the grave of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ). So he asked him, ‘What makes you cry?’ ‘Words I heard from the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) who said, ‘The slightest example of ostentation is polytheism. Whoever shows enmity with one of God’s friends has had a declaration of war made against him. Allāh loves the exposure of the hidden ones who are God-conscious whom were they to disappear no one would miss them. When they are present no one knows them. Their hearts are lamps in the darkness. They come forth from every gloomy recess of the Earth.’ Narrated by Mu’ādh ibn Jabal as found in the collection of al-Hāfiḍ a-Mundharī in his “al-Targhīb wal-Tarhīb 148/4

[10] Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhī, Chapters on Virtues, Ḥadīth 3975

[11]  al-Bukhārī, 4712

[12] Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbās, Anas ibn Mālik, and Sahl ibn Sa’d. Anas’s version states, “The servant of a people is their master and the one who gives them drink is the last to drink.

[13] Al-Bukhārī

[14] Abu’L-Qasim al-Qushayri, Sufi Book of Spiritual Ascent, trans., Rabia Harris, 4th ed. (Chicago: KAZI, 2006), 249-250.

[15] Chodkiewicz, 21.

Sources

al-Qushayri, Abu’L-Qasim. Sufi Book of Spiritual Ascent. Translated by Rabia Harris. 4th ed. Chicago: KAZI, 2006.

Chodkiewicz, Michel. Seal of Saints. Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1993.

Haddad, Gibril Fouad. The Muhammadan Light Londom: Centre for Spirituality and Cultural Advancement, 2012.

Harper, Douglas, “Commendation” http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=commendation&allowed_in_frame=0 (accessed January 21, 2014).

Niās, Ibrāhīm. Fī Riyāḍ Al-Tafsīr. Vol. 5. Tunis: Majma’ al-Yamāma li-al-Ṭabā’a wa-al-Nashr wa al-Tawzī’, 2010.

Wehr, Hans, The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic London:Macdonald and Evans, Ltd., 1974.


Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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