Friday, March 31, 2006

Mufti of Egypt

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Jum'aa a.k.a Dr Ali Ghom'aa

An interview with Dr Ali Ghom'aa, maybe one of the best living faqih of Egypt. I met him during my visit to Cairo 2 years ago when he was delivering khutbah in Mosque of Sultan Hassan.Wonderful man and he speaks English better than myself.

By Amina Elbendary in Ahram Magazine

These are difficult and confusing times to be a Muslim.

You talk to Muslims from all walks of life and they tell you: the days of glory are long gone, these are times of strife, and at best of challenge. You listen to people in the West talk of Islam and you're scared. What is this religion that makes people want to kill? What is this archaic system of thought that makes people so backward? Just last month the Nobel prize for literature went to the Trinidad-born British novelist V S Naipaul, who argues vehemently -- among other things -- that Islam is just not fit for the modern world.

Indeed, it sometimes seems that Islam has been hijacked by powers from both ends of an imaginary intellectual spectrum and that reduce it to violence (jihad?) and discrimination against women (hijab?). Whether staunchly Orientalist and anti-Muslim or staunchly fanatic and puritan, these two poles offer a confusing and scary (if unbelievably simplistic) picture of a rich cultural and religious tradition that goes back 15 centuries.

In the midst of this confusion, compounded by international political developments, there have been shy efforts in the Middle East and in the West to (re)define just what Islam is. Others, in apparently more traditional settings, have gone on doing what their predecessors have been doing for centuries. They teach, they preach, they write, they live their lives and call themselves Muslims. Others call them ulama.

There is -- naturally -- a certain aura about Al- Azhar, and a certain majesty. It was a Thursday morning when we went and were guided quite quickly to "Doctor Ali's lesson." It could have been a scene out of the middle ages. Al-Maqrizi could have written this. Across the spotless white marble we entered the doctor's riwaq (gallery). The lesson was already underway, Sheikh Ali Gomaa sitting with his legs up, knees bent, on a large traditional chair, his back to a wall and his students around him in a semi-circle, a halaqa, the men closer to him, the women discreetly at the back. They came in different colours, the students, in different costumes, from various corners of the globe, extremely young and middle-aged, traditionally-dressed, Westernised, you name it. We took our places amongst the women, at the back -- of course. All around the riwaq are bookcases laden with hard-backed volumes of the canons of jurisprudence. This was a lesson in economics, out of Al-Suyuti.

Ali Gomaa is professor of usul al-fiqh (the four canons of Islamic jurisprudence -- Qur'an, Sunna, qiyas or analogy, and ijma' or consensus) at the Faculty of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Al-Azhar University. He is also the khatib (orator) of the Sultan Hassan Mosque. His is not a name that is often mentioned in the press or on television; he's not one of the "popular media ulama," but he too has his sermons recorded on tape, and the Friday prayers at Sultan Hassan have their regulars.

For the inevitable introduction, one had to move out of the women's circle and encroach on the men's. Despite the flagrant trespass, I was completely ignored for a good while. And then suddenly he turned, impatiently it seemed, and asked what it was I wanted. I was from Al-Ahram Weekly? The Profile? "Sit down here on this chair, my child," he said and turned back to the students, who gathered around him asking him last-minute questions and favours. I preferred the ground, thank you.

A middle-aged woman with a little boy pushed her way through. "I want to ask him to help me get the boy into hospital."

Suddenly, the sheikh's mobile phone rang: the Nokia melody. And we were whisked back to the 21st.

And now to business, follow me, my child. Follow him we did, into his rooms off the riwaq, two offices and a sitting room carpeted quite modestly with the mass-produced red carpet now common to most mosques, several cushions thrown around to sit on and an ugly glass table with a mini-fridge on top. Nothing else: quite bare, this room. But there were windows on Al-Azhar street. And there was light.

How does one approach a man of God? Certainly with reverence. Remember not to extend your hand to shake his (I was forewarned). Dress modestly. I came prepared with a headscarf, notebook and tape recorder.

But he is hardly what one would expect of an 'alim.

He does not dress like one; no turban, no quftan; just one of those sporty summery cotton suits, at one time the emblem of the loyal government employee, blue, with a checked shirt underneath. Head bare, silver grey beard fashionably trimmed. Turko- Mongol traces in the face.

And he doesn't talk like the religious scholars on television. Except for the occasional "ya bunayyati," he talks in colloquial Arabic -- even with his students.

Could he please sit there, to let God's light fall on his face? Randa inquired quite respectfully. "What is this business of 'God's light? God's light is everywhere. Why don't you just speak directly? You want to take good photographs. Wait until we're done and then we'll go into my office and you can get better photos there. I've done a little photography myself, you see. You won't like any of those photographs. What you will like is the one you will take in the office." Smile.

Sheikh Ali GomaaSheikh Ali Gomaa is quite well-known in scholarly circles. He has authored more than 20 books. But they're too difficult and specialised for the lay reader, he tells me dismissively. He is the general editor of the Encyclopaedia of Hadith launched just last month as part of the Sunna Project of the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, a mega project aimed at documenting and publishing all works related to Muslim Sunna.

Yet unlike many ulama, Ali Gomaa did not enter the religious establishment in boyhood. He studied at the Faculty of Commerce, obtaining his BA from Ain Shams University in 1973. He then enrolled at the University of Al-Azhar, obtaining a BA in 1979, an MA in 1985 and a PhD in Shari'a and law in 1988. So why the change of course? What urges a man in this day and age to become an 'alim? Was it a family tradition?

"No, my father was actually a lawyer. But I was very influenced by him. I learnt a lot from him. I used to watch him analyse cases and prepare his briefs. I used to watch him stand up for what is right, unafraid of the powers that be. He used to address police officers and judges quite confidently. They were different times. He was also an avid reader, and our library at home was well-stocked. I've learnt to love reading from him. I read everything. My own library takes up three flats, I have more than 30,000 volumes in it."

But did he receive a particular calling? Why did he change paths? Which of his roles does he prefer: teacher, preacher or scholar? He quite cleverly avoids that. "It is not only a matter of choice. It is God who guides you, God who decides. The important thing is always to work hard and do your best at whatever you do, and pray to God to help you succeed."

The seminal Encyclopaedia of Hadith is his latest scholarly achievement. An ongoing project, it so far includes the seven major collections of hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Mohamed), and is also available on CD-Rom. This modern technology makes cross-references and links between hadiths infinitely easier. The documentation of hadith, and indeed hadith scholarship itself, is one of the achievements of classical Islam. But why an Encyclopaedia of Hadith now? Are modern ulama attempting to reinvent the wheel? Hasn't all this been done before?

"We lost it," Gomaa states emphatically. "We lost the methodology, and we are in dire need of it in Muslim thought now. We are not trying to rejuvenate a history that is archaic; we are trying to rejuvenate a paradigm. This paradigm consists of a holistic vision of the universe that includes humanity and animal kind. A Muslim deals with reality, he deals with this door you see here, realising it too worships God; he deals with natural resources respectfully while other cultures are only beginning to think of protecting the environment. He deals with animals respectfully as well, so that a woman who locked up a cat will go to hell because she dealt with the universe violently, while a prostitute who saved a dog from thirst will go to paradise. What beauty! This is the foundation of a whole man, a man who has a certain understanding of the universe."

All through our encounter the sheikh fingered his long, striking prayer beads. They stand out, they are not subdued or traditional beads. Well, he concedes almost shyly, they're modelled after Sheikh Abdel- Qader Al-Jilani's, which he saw in Brunei. They are made of boxwood, which he bought in Saudi Arabia and had made into beads according to this elaborate design, here in Cairo. It is a very tough kind of wood, he explains, used in making handmills. His beads have multiple counters, so that he can actually count to a hundred million prayers on them! Sometimes it takes him a week to finish a round, sometimes less.

But Muslims are now often perceived as violent people, their views archaic and out of this world. So who is this generic Muslim he is after, really? And how is he to deal with the modern world?

"Ever since the time of the Prophet they have been fighting us. This is nothing new, and the clash is not new... I mean the West, the Moscow- Washington axis, has been fighting the Tangier- Jakarta axis ever since the Prophet was sent and is still doing so today. We, on this axis of Tangier- Jakarta/Ghana-Fergana, now referred to as the South, mind our own business; but the other axis, the North, has been fighting us across ages.

"When we entered the countries [during the Arab Muslim conquests of the Middle East in the seventh century], ya bunayyati, we didn't force anyone into anything... We intermarried, and marriage means making a family and complete assimilation. Marriage is not about conflict but about affection, serenity and mercy. We didn't kill the native populations as they did in Australia and America, nor did we set up inquisition courts as they did in Spain, nor did we force anyone to convert to our religion.

"They, on the other hand (and we play dumb and ask 'who's they?'), they stole our children, enslaved them and humiliated them and wouldn't apologise in Durban. They set up inquisition courts and forced Muslims to abandon their religion and tortured them to death in Spain and expelled them. Look at racial discrimination: until today, Anglo-Saxons are the ones controlling those established democracies. Not one black [political leader] has risen, nor will one; no woman has ruled America, nor will one. Something basic is crying out here, saying: these people are good, and these people are evil.

"See, the Muslim is he whose sources of knowledge are both revelation and existence. There is God's visible book, this universe we live in; and God's written book, the mushaf: a major book and a minor book and both are from God. And a Muslim is ordered to read two readings: 'Read; In the name of thy Lord who createth, Createth man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teacheth by the pen, Teacheth man that which he knew not' (The Clot, 96:1-5) -- a reading in the visible book and a reading in the written book.

"You see, a non-Muslim reads only one reading, in God's visible book only, the universe. He does not see a God behind this universe, and when a God is recognised He is seen as detached from this world and man does what he wants: laissez faire, laissez passer. I say no: Laissez faire laissez passer is theirs, not ours. As a Muslim I say listen to the Shari'a, see what God is ordering you to do, see what is good for this universe and do it."

A Muslim's way out of the principal historical predicament passes through rejuvenation of the Muslim paradigm, Gomaa explains. That will only happen through a return to both books of Islam, the visible and the written. The real predicament is that Muslims today are the products of a cultural attack "that has kept us away from the book and from understanding it. Anyone who reads it and understands it will find the first words to be: 'In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate' -- not in the name of God the Merciful the Vengeful, by the way, or in the name of God the Vengeful the Almighty. God is Merciful and Compassionate, as well as Vengeful and Almighty, but God chose two of his names of beauty, rather than two of his names of power, to begin the Qur'an. It is as if God is telling us stay beautiful, keeping power and vengeance for Himself. And even this is out of His mercy; to teach people lessons, so as not to do evil or harm others."

There was quite a crowd at Sultan Hassan for last Friday's prayers, the first of Ramadan. Many came in families, babies and all. There was a noisy air of celebration, especially as the children went on with their games around the open-air ablutions fountain in the middle of the mosque, unmindful of sermon and prayers, the mosque almost an extension of home. Afterwards people gathered to buy recorded tapes of previous sermons. "Last week's khutba was very good, you must get it," a kind gentleman advised. "Has Sheikh Ali shaved his beard this week?" a young boy asked his father.

At the mosque he dresses in the traditional garb. Last Friday's khutba outlined a programme for Ramadan: how a Muslim should spend this holy month. This is a month of prayer, and of charity. The market is stagnant, the sheikh reminded the believers; you need to spend money to enliven it, so spend money on charity. And it is a month of maintaining family contacts, and of mercy; have mercy on each other. It is Muslims who do evil unto themselves and each other, he admonished -- not "others." Particularly pertinent words in light of the ongoing turmoil.

The khutba naturally ended in prayers, the believers chanting after the sheikh from the four iwans of Sultan Hassan, crying "Aamin," their voices moving from one side of the building to the other like the waves of a calm sea. "God grant victory to the mujahidin everywhere... God grant victory to Muslims everywhere... God, we seek your protection from their evil... God, You who are the most Merciful, have mercy on us... God, make our hearts steadfast in faith... God, do not let our calamity be in our religion, do not let this life be our sole concern or all we own... God, You who are the most Merciful,, have mercy on us, You who are the Saviour save us. God, You who are the most Merciful, answer our prayers." Words that have been repeated for centuries, and yet still have poignant relevance today.

"A Muslim today is the product of a [Westernised] education that comes from England and the US," he laments. "Such an education doesn't teach us that the whole universe worships God; it doesn't teach us the hadith that if a Muslim has a budding plant in his hands when the day of judgement comes, let him plant it first. Where did this beauty go? After you teach [a young Muslim] nonsense -- that there is nothing beyond this world, nothing except conflict, and that man is by nature violent, that there is conflict between civilisations, conflict between man and the gods as in Greek mythology, and you deprive him of 'the Merciful, the Compassionate' -- after this sort of indoctrination, a boy is lost between ideas he just doesn't understand, he approaches the books haphazardly and finds that God says 'faqtulu al-mushrikin haythu wagadtumuhum (slay the idolaters wherever ye find them)' (Al-Tawba 9:5) But who is the mushrik, the polytheist? He really doesn't know. Anybody could be a mushrik and so he shoots just anybody."

Muslims today are confused, he insists, because they are brought up according to contradicting doctrines and philosophies. When Muslims were raised according to the truths of Islam, they were civilised people, they were productive. "Now Muslims are lost between two worlds and confused, not knowing what to belong to. There is no consistency between their faith and the governing systems and regimes they live under: educationally, legally, socially, and even politically. The public order Muslims live within is all taken from non-Muslim sources. There is a contradiction here. We need to restore a Muslim public order. This abnormal situation we are in, in terms of terrorism and violence, is something foreign to Muslims and it is the result of this lack of consistency. We need to understand and reinstate the Muslim paradigm and it is for this that we edit books like the Encyclopaedia. It is the duty of each Muslim, wherever he belongs, to work towards living a life consistent with Islam. But unfortunately the powers that be everywhere are afraid of Islam. Others do not trust this paradigm; they think it is too idealistic."

So obviously an individual Muslim needs a helping hand to extricate himself from this modern predicament. He needs someone to guide him, to show him the way to approach God and His books. But who? "Myself," the sheikh says instinctively, reassuringly (himself being the enlightened man of God), but also, perhaps, too confidently.

In addition to his traditional scholarly training, you can tell that his interests are wide. He reads a lot in philosophy, economics and literature. He's quite interested in carpets, he appreciates a good carpet, and semi-precious stones. He's also quite interested in Arabic calligraphy. His handwriting is respectable, yes, but not amazing -- or so he tells me. But he is interested in calligraphy as an art and in its philosophical aspects. Arabic calligraphy is so beautiful, he explains. The most beautiful Arabic script is that used in King Fouad's 1921 mushaf, the writing of the late Sheikh Mohamed Khalaf El- Husseini. And it is this script that was developed into a digitalised typeface for the Encyclopaedia. It is very important that Islamic books be well- produced and attractive. He appreciates beauty, God's work, around him.

And he's travelled widely, from Japan to the United States. Travel is quite important. Contact with people from various cultural backgrounds and trying to explain and spread the message of Islam: this was an important part of Sheikh Ali Gomaa's career. "It changes one's outlook. You see different peoples living differently. One learns a lot in trying to reformulate one's message of Islam to reach different audiences. There are different levels of discourse. I had to deal with African tribes, for example. And their women were half-naked. These are their customs and way of life. You can't just go in there and attack these customs. You learn to reformulate your message so as to make people love God." He also travels frequently to the United States, where one of his daughters lives with her family. The son-in-law is an American, but quite a practicing Muslim, quite a nice chap, we are told. Will things be more difficult for Muslims in America now? "No, no, they can't. They can't undermine the very fundamentals of freedom and equality on which the US is built."

It is perhaps telling that Sheikh Ali Gomaa's curriculum vitae starts with the familiar information name, address, certificates, positions, publications and so on. And then the final section lists his ijazas, like any traditional 'alim. Four ulama have particularly influenced his learning and education: his professor of hadith, Abdallah El-Saddiq El- Ghumari, his professor of usul al-fiqh; Mohamed Abul-Nur Zuhair, his professor of Shafi'i jurisprudence; Gad El-Rabb Ramadan and Sheikh El- Husseini Youssef El-Sheikh.

He himself, like many a contemporary Muslim, is also a product of more than one world. But unlike many others, he seems to have navigated and negotiated a way out of the modern predicament, to be living a modern life consistent with the teachings of Islam. "God doesn't change what is within people until they change what is within themselves. We must each change ourselves. Start with yourself. Start today. Do not confuse yourself, start living your life according to the tenets of Islam," he advises earnestly.

But do we not already?

God knows best...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Deen Intensive Dublin II (DID II)

Deen Intensive Dublin II
26 Mei - 24 Jun 2006
Dublin Mosque, South Circular Road

For second time, Persatuan Pelajar Islam Malaysia Ireland is proud to host a month of intensive study of Islam, covering important branches of Islamic revealed knowledge.This include, Creed ('Aqidah), Jurispundence (Fiqh), Sufisme (Tasawwuf), Prophetic Traditions (Hadith) and Qur'anic Exegesis (Tafsir).The summer course will be lead by Al-Fadhil Sheikh Mohammed Fauzi Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Hadrami student of Al-Azhar University, Egypt.

Sheikh Mohammed Fauzi is a teacher with classical Islamic education background.He was qualified from Dar Mustafa, a renowned traditional Islamic 'madrasah' in Hadramawt Valley in Yemen.After completing 5 years education in Dar Mustafa under various scholars, among them Habib Umar Hafeez, Habib Ali al-Jifri and the Grand Mufti of Yemen, Habib Ahmad Mashur, he pursued his post-graduate study in Al-Azhar University.He was also granted 'ijazahs' from various scholars apart from Yemeni scholars.Among them is the late Muhaddith of Hijaz, Shaykh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki.

These are the details of the programme:

Date: 26 May -24 Jun 2006 (4 weeks)
Venue: Dublin Mosque, South Circular Road, Dublin 8
Fees: 40 Euros (negotiable), 10 Euros per week

Texts covered:

1) Safinah Najah by Shaykh Abdullah bin Saad bin Sumair al-Hadrami
(A basic manual for Shafi'i fiqh but also covers 3 branches of most important aspect of deen, namely Aqidah, Tasawwuf and Fiqh. The text is a basic corpus used for beginners in Shafi'i 'madrasahs' around the globe)

2) Tarbiyatus as-Syibyan by Imam Ahmad al-Ramli al-Shafi'i
(A classical corpus that touches on Islamic parenting or ways to educate children.A traditional touch of 'Tarbiyatul Awlad' by one of the most brilliant Syafi'i scholar of in-depth applications of Sacred Law. Imam Ahmad al-Ramli represents the foremost resource for legal opinion (fatwa) for the entire late Shafi`i school, alongside with Imam Ibnu Hajar Haythami al-Makki.His famous book, 'Nihayah al-Muhtaj' and Imam Ibnu Hajar's 'Tuhfah' reflect a high point in Shafi`i scholarship. Tarbiyatus as-Syibyan was wrote in nazam or verses that cover important aspects in Islamic parenthood.Commentary on the verses will be delivered by the Shaykh Fauzi himself.)

3) Wasiyya of Imam Haddad by Imam Habib Abdallah 'Alawi al-Haddad
(A collection of sayings/advices/kalam of the monumental scholar and spiritual master that lived at Tarim in the Hadramaut valley between Yemen and Oman.He is widely held to have been the 'renewer' of the twelfth Islamic century. A direct descendant of the Prophet, his sanctity and direct experience of God are clearly reflected in his writings, which include several books, a collection of Sufi letters, and a volume of mystical poetry. He spent most of his life in Kenya and Saudi Arabia where he taught Islamic jurisprudence and classical Sufism according to the order (tariqa) of the Ba'Alawi sayyids.)

4) Tafsir Munir (Juz 30) by Shaykh Dr Wahbah Zuhayli
(A continuation of last year's Deen Intensive Dublin. The tafsir of Dr Wahbah is highly regarded as the best contemporary Qur'anic exegesis that combines both traditional and modern interpretations.Classes will cover the main 'surahs' in Juz 30 of the Qur'an)

5) Hadith al-Mukhtar by Habib Umar bin Salim bin Hafeez
(A compilation of 59 important prophetic traditions that were arranged by alphabetical order.The work of the great scholar of Yemen, Habib Umar Salim bin Hafeez is a basic text of hadith, used for memorization in Dar Mustafa in Yemen.Commentary of the hadith will be delivered by Shaykh Fauzi)

*6) Fiqh an-Nisa'
(Special classes for sisters concerning rulings for women.The class will depend on the demand of female participants)

*7) 'Ilm Faraid by Shaykh Mohammed Fauzi Ibn Abdul Aziz
( A corpus in Malay language concerning Islamic law of estate distribution.Summarized from the famous books of faraid like 'Takmilah Zubdah Hadith' by Habib Umar and 'Futuhaat' of Sayyid Abu Bakar bin Abd Rahman bin Shihab. However, the class will depend on demand and subject to changes)

*8) Kitab Salam by Shaykh Mohammed Fauzi Ibn Abdul Aziz
(A small book that covers the rulings regarding the practice and adab of giving salaam. Additional text for DID)

*These texts are additional and subject to changes.It will depend on participant's demand and availability.

All of the texts will be teached with 'isnaad' or unbroken chain of transmission that can be traced back to the writers.This is the methodology of our previous generations (Salaf as-Soleh) in preservering the purity our Sacred knowledge.There will be few lessons per day (for each text).Lessons are in Malay language.Individuals from all over Ireland and UK are invited to join the programme even if it is not for full 4 weeks of study.Non-Dubliners who wish to come will be placed in Dublin's student houses (only by early notice to the contact person).Any enquiries, please contact;

Nik Farhan Nik Fuad -
(Ketua Lajnah Tarbiyah dan Dakwah PPIMI)
Director of Deen Intensive Dublin II
Phone No:+353857110 472

Fauzah Rahimah -
(Naib Ketua Lajnah Tarbiyah dan Dakwah PPIMI)
Vice Director of Deen Intensive Dublin II
Phone No: +353857170928

Shafiq Ayman Rosland -
Phone No: +353857343 888

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The School Meme

I read Nik Nazmi's website and found out about this school meme. Not to forget about Nad from Ukraine who relentlessly pushing me to continue the chain.It was already 6 or 7 years after I left my alma mater, MCKK. It feels so good to reminisce the past.My mother told me that SPM results were out and nowadays getting a dozen of As is no big deal.During my time, getting a six aggregates (we were the last batch before the 'sijil terbuka' system) will secure one's future in tertiary education.

How many schools did I go to?

I went to 4 schools

Sekolah Rendah Jalan Datuk Palembang,Melaka
Sekolah Kebangsaan Chukai, Kemaman, Terengganu
Sekolah Rendah Sultan Ismail, Kemaman, Terengganu
Malay College Kuala Kangsar

My father is a goverment servant that works with JKR.Back then, before he was moved to JKR HQ in Kuala Lumpur, he was always posted to various districts in Malaysia.He used to be the 'Jurutera Daerah' of Kemaman.I can vividly remember that our home in Jalan Sentosa was a big and nice wooden quarter with 3 rooms.3 of my youngest sister and my brothers were born during this period.During my primary school years, I remember that my mother keep pushing me to do well in UPSR so that I'll get a chance to be offered to any boarding school.

"It will give us more space in the house for your younger brothers and sister!"

So, I did really well in UPSR.Offered to MCKK and my parents were overwhelmed with joy.I know it's difficult to be selected and I used to hear that MCKK was once called as the Eton of the East.But, I was too young to bother about the prestige thing.All I knew was Kuala Kangsar is so far from Kemaman, as if it is the other side of the world.It took 13 hours of journey from Kemaman to Kuala Kangsar via bus.Bear in mind that this was pre-Air Asia and cheap-flights era.

Was I the studious nerd, or the last minute hero?

People called me nerd but the fact is, I am a last minute worker.An attitude that I embraced until I'm in medical school. A habit that costs me a lot (and costs the taxpayers money) because I keep resiting my exams and my sponsor JPA had to pay for that!!
Well, like the maxim that I found somewhere in UCD walls;

"I love exams, so I took it twice!!"

Was I the class ‘taiko’ or the teacher’s pet?

To be honest, I was a teacher's pet.From primary until secondary school.I was a brilliant and nerd student in primary school.Nobody ever beat me in exams.In MCKK, I was a prefect.Other students in MCKK abhor the prefects and we were all called 'anjing'.Fortunately, I was not the 'Kepala Anjing' but Akmal Ku was.

I think I was a teacher's pet because I tend to follow every single rules.My seniors in MCKK called me 'Mat Skema'.Always go to prep on time (before I got my cubicle), went to surau early and always dressed up properly etc.Of course, being a 'Mat Skema' was not easy.All the 'taiko' hate me so much.Especially the one that I caught smoking or 'flying'.(Fly is a term that describe an illegal escapade from hostel to town etc).I remember that my 'taiko' juniors used to made graffiti in the toilet,'commemorating' my name.It was batch 96-00, not my batch.

What was the biggest rule I broke in school?

In MCKK, all prefects were given privileges.We got a cubicle each in the dorm.Prep in evening and night are mandatory.I used to force my Form 3 juniors to lock the cubicle's door from outside so that it will look like nobody is inside.Actually, it was just a deceiving method. I was inside all afternoon zZz...zZz.....ZzZ. Sometimes, I went to surau as well to do some 'nawafil' nap.Surprisingly, I was not alone.My best buddy, Shahreeza Safiruz bin Kasim was there as well.

When I was in Form 3, we used to have a 'dirasah' in Madrasah Islahiyyah in Kamunting.So, we (the Badan Revolusi Agama gang) fly to Taiping during weekend.I guess this was my eye-opener regarding the true traditional study of Islam.

And of course in MCKK, we have our 'illegal supper' (order from Che Nah Che Ni restaurant).My favourite supper was NGA and TA (nasi goreng ayam and teh ais).I don't know why but eating inside the 'kelambu' was so good.I always think that the meals were the best in the world.( I wonder what was the recipe)

Three subjects I enjoyed

Mandarin:It was my third language subject.I tried Arabic but failed miserably.So I switched to Mandarin instead.(Refer my posting on Language of Paradise)I love the language.But it is the most difficult language in the world.Unlike bahasa Melayu or Arabic, Mandarin has different character for each word.So, we have to memorize every character for almost every word.I have a lovely teacher who enriched the class with beautiful stories from excerpt of 'Romance of Three Kingdom' etc.('Romance of Three Kingdom' is a must-read corpus of ancient China history regarding famous war between divided kingdoms in China)

History: I love history and I never study history for exams because I can remember every single facts inside the textbook.'Sejarah Peradaban Dunia' was the most exhilarating.During my first winter holiday in Dublin, I went straight away to Andalusia, Spain.I guess the influence of the subject was great.It was always my ambition to visit the places written in the textbook, especially with regard to Islamic empire (Andalus, Egypt, Sham).During my second year summer holiday, I went to Middle East where I met countless new friend including Pangeran Hata in Irbid.

Add Math: I had a boring teacher in Add Math.But I went and learned from another teacher that was the most powerful teacher in the universe.Mr Tan Gim Hoe was a living legend.The most hardworking, selfless teacher that will make things easy for students in Add Math.I love doing his 'one paper' tutorial (questions on one side, answers on behind).

Three teachers that inspired me

Miss Grace Margaret: The most special teacher to me.Physic teaher with dynamic character.Like what Nik Nazmi mentioned, the epitome of the MCKK teacher - selfless, absolutely hardworking and inspirational.She was the only teacher that ever knew my tactics to skip prep when she was during round in the hostels.I was at Pai's room in Prep School (hostel for Form 1) and we were sleeping (Pai is the son of Dato' Mustapha Muhammad, Minister of Higher Education, MP Jeli).That time, it was so hot and humid, so I didn't wear any shirt (topless).Next thing I knew, Miss Grace was screaming hysterically;

"Aaaaaahh....Shafiq!!Bangun ke prep!Baju pun tidak dipakai!!Separuh bogel!!"

Mr Tan Gim Hoe: I already mentioned him.He inspired me to get A1 in Add Maths.Love him so much.Before that, I just lost hope on Add Maths.

Pn. Hidayati – another special MCKK teacher, she joined MCKK when we were in F1.She was like sister to me and the first teacher that I can talk with, just like friends.She wears 'tudung labuh' and her appearance is like a real 'muslimah'.I heard she married another teacher in MCKK and already got a child.

These three teacher are the figures that I hope to meet in Malaysia.I had already 'lost contact' with them and I didn't know their whereabouts.Insya Allah, we'll be destined to meet again in near future.

Seven people (school mates or not) to answer this meme:

Abadi Sufaat
Fahd Razy
Izwan Ismail
Jhaznarul Juharul Zaman
Khairul Azlan
Md Ariff Md Yusof
Reazal Effendi

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Property

My only property after reaching 24 years old. A 'Harley Davidson' XDS 400.Bought it from Penny Farting second-hand store.

The student of learning must have sustenance and have knowledge of those things which increase it.The student should know well what augments life and health in order to be free from other occupations and thus devote himself to the pursuit of knowledge alone.Books have been written describing these matters; so briefly I will cite only some points:

The Messenger of God(peace and blessing be upon him!) said,

"The decress of God are not averted except by supplication and your span of life is not augmented except through piety. For a man is deprived sustenance because of sin he committed."

Duha prayer is very well known act associated with provision; as are reading Sura Waqiah particularly when one usually sleeps..............

"O God!!Make me content with those things You have made permissible as opposed to those things You have made prohibited. And make me satisfied with Your favour to the exclusion of anybody else's"

From Ta'lim al-Muta'allim Tariq al-Ta'allum by Imam Zarnuji)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

With Abadi on the way to Bray (Mt Sinai of Ireland)

There's one chapter in Sabilul Iddikar or Life of a Man by Imam Habib Abdallah Alawi al--Haddad that quote a poem;

"If a youth has nothing to boast of when reaches
twenty years, he'll never have anything to boast of!!"

After reaching 24, I'm still not sure whether I achieved anything worthy enough to boast about myself.Hmmm......

YM Chat
Puteri Nad: Happy Besdayyyyyyyyyy!!

He is very emotional and always allow himself to be very emotional. He can have a good night sleep and be in a good mood, and less than few hours at work he can be very moody. He does not understand things or try to understand things easily. If you notice him carefully, you will notice what kind of moods he is in. He is a thinker and able to do well at work and always succeed. His normal gestures mean he always look at other people faults, but he will not talk about it. He has the ability to know your thought and able to tell you what you are thinking about. He can mostly memorize all his anger, his loves. They are his important secrets and he will keep them to himself and will never let you know. He is not a very ambition man and careless about his position in society. Wealth does not drawn his attention, because he is not greedy man and as well he thinks money is not something that will last. He could be very careless about his future. He does not like to fight against all odds, but instead following the stream and make life easier. Sometimes because he likes to take an easy path, which cause him very unsteady future.
He is kind and slightly lazy, but it is his cute character. He hates rules and regulations. He will never look down on people. He is a polite guy and can be very aggressive when he is mad. He loves to think that he lives in a beautiful world and surround by nice people, so if he finds his world is cruel and not what he expects, he will live in his world instead. His other charm is that he is a funny guy, and it is his real weapon. He can tease you and yet make it looks like one of his joke. Even when he is sad, he still has that funny face, so you could hardly tell if he is mad or depress. He likes to hide his feeling and help other people especially those who need friend or lonely.
He will be everything that you want and everything you do not want. He has a chance to make it as much as a chance to fail. He can determine to make it work and can do it well, except he tends to lost his energy with other important things, that's how he miss many of his good opportunity. He can be happy and content by himself. What he think is important is not "Love" ,but firm status and stability. He has plenty of love for you. He is a good speaker, as much as he is a good listener. When he is with you, he wants to be happy. He understand his partner's emotional. He likes to take a long rest and sometimes being alone. If he needs to be alone, try not to disturb him. He is a sensitive, quiet , shy and easily hurt. He wants to feel worthy. He can be mad and noisy, but once he calm down, he will be that happy person again. He is not a jealous or possessive guy, and if he feels jealous he will hide it. He has many friends of both sex, and he care about his friends. He likes to have lots of friends, so you can not get jealous or else you will loose him.
He likes beautiful things, so if a pretty woman walk by he will look ,so do not get mad at him knowing this fact.
When he is lonely or feeling sad, be close to comfort him. He does not like to take advice,so if you want him to listen or to follow your advice, you have to act as a good sample for him first. He likes a cheery and a smart woman. If you treat him like he is your special person, then he will be that special person for you. He will trust you if he is in love, but try not to over doing it and spoil him too much. You have to know yourself worth all the time too.

Puteri Nad: Memang macam awak boleh?Part tengok pretty woman tuh....
Me: Chet.......

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sirah Tour

Remembering the Beloved - Sirah Tour 2006
18th-24th March ’06

‘Remembering the Beloved’ is a national sirah tour organised by the Federation of Student Islamic societies (FOSIS) and the Islamic Institute for Development and Research (IIDR). The tour aims to highlight the different dimensions of the life of the Final Messenger of Allah – Muhammad (s). A diverse and unique line-up of local and international speakers will address topics ranging from the humour of the Prophet to the Prophetic legacy. In addition to these lectures, the programme will also include the airing of exclusive video clips, scholarly advice, recitation and poetry.


Hotline UK : 07849 786 341
Hotline Ireland: 0870 567 424
Tickets: £5 -


Imam Suhaib Webb (USA)
Born and raised in the State of Oklahoma, USA. During his teens he became a Hip Hop DJ and made many records with different artists and bands. During this period of his life, he was a member of a gang and turned his back on organised religion. Suhaib William Webb accepted Islam at the age of twenty. He graduated with Honours in Education from the Central Oklahoma University and has studied Arabic and Islamic Sciences under many notable scholars. Imam Suhaib is a dynamic and inspiring speaker and is a former Lecturer at the Islamic American University (IAU) in California. He is currently studying Shariah at Al-Azhar University (Egypt) and is the author of the best selling audio CD album ‘Mothers of the Believers’.

Imam Yassir Fazaga (USA)
Imam Yassir Fazaga graduated with a BA in Islamic Studies from Imam Saud University, Fairfax VA. He also obtained a MA in Psychotherapy from California State Long Beach. Imam Yassir currently serves as the Imam of Orange County Islamic Foundation, Mission Vallejo and is the President of the Eritrean Muslim Council. He is currently producing a series of innovative lectures (due to be released late 2006) entitled ‘Free your self; Free your soul’ which explores the Islamic and psychiatric dimensions of a Prophetic invocation related to seeking refuge from anxiety, sorrow, laziness, cowardice and miserliness.

Shaykh Zakariya Siddiqi (France)
Shaykh Zakariya al-Siddiqi memorised the Quran at the very young age of nine. He studied the traditional Islamic Sciences with scholars in Algeria and later went to Egypt for ten years and graduated from Al-Azhar University. He has a MA in the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence and has recently completed a PhD at the University of Sorbonne (France). He is the Former Dean of the Faculty of Quranic Studies and Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at the European Institute of Islamic Sciences (France). Shaykh Zakariya is a member of the IIDR Board of Scholars and the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

Abdur Rahman Helbawy (UK)
Member of the IIDR Board of Directors. Preliminary study of Islam and Islamic Sciences was with his father Dr Kamal el-Helbawy (Founder President of the Muslim Association of Britain) and later with other notable scholars. He graduated with a BA in Islamic Studies from the European Institute of Islamic Sciences (France) and a MA in Islamic Studies (University of London). He has extensive experience in organising educational courses for the youth and lecturing on Islam. Abdur Rahman is also Director of Dome Tours International.

Bara al-Ghannouchi (UK)
Co-founding director of IIDR. Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Arabic & Law (University of London). Preliminary study of Islam and Islamic Sciences was with his father Shaykh Rashid al-Ghannouchi (Islamic Thinker and President of the Nahda Movement) and later with other notable scholars. Bara al-Ghannouchi has extensive experience with scouts and student movements in the UK and is currently studying Islamic Sciences with scholars of Al-Azhar University (Egypt).

S.M.Hasan al-Banna (UK)
Co-founding director of IIDR. Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Arabic & Law (University of London) and completed the Bar Vocational Course (BVC). Preliminary study of Islam and Islamic Sciences was with his father Maulana Abdul Qadir (Former President of Dawatul Islam UK & Eire) and later with other notable scholars. He studied Arabic Language and Literature at the European Institute of Islamic Sciences (France) and the University of Alexandria (Egypt). He is currently pursuing his postgraduate studies at Al-Azhar University in Islamic Jurisprudence. Hasan al-Banna has translated several classical and contemporary works and is the author of the bestselling book ‘Sirah of the Final Prophet’

Venues and Dates

Saturday 18th March
Wellington Church, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ
Starts: 1pm

Sunday 19th March
Astra Hall, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Starts: 1pm

Tuesday 21st March
Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
Starts: 6.30pm

Wednesday 22nd March
Great Hall, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET
Starts: 6.30pm

Thursday 23rd March
Roscoe Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester, M13 9PL
Starts: 6.30pm

Friday 24th March
Lecture Theatre 0.22, Law Building, University of Cardiff, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3XJ
Starts: 6.30pm


The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) is a body that caters for the needs of Muslim students in further and higher education across the UK and Ireland . Established in 1962, the Federation seeks to uphold the Quranic verse: "Hold fast to the rope of Allah, all of you together, and be not disunited." [Quran 3:103] At the heart the FOSIS vision are two central aims: to represent Muslim students and to serve students. FOSIS is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the umbrella organisation for the majority of Muslim organisations in the UK .

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Asking for "Evidences" is a Clear Daleel of Your Ignorance…"

Assalamu'alaikum wbt,

I'm starting my psychiatry rotation this week.I really want to continue my writing on my journey learning the language of paradise as mentioned in my previous posting.But, an event in Tawel's blog really held me back.Now, I realized how ignorant our people in understanding our own culture and tradition in Islam.Anywhere, especially with younger generations that 'jump' into any Islamic movements(MSM,Hizbi,ABIM,JIM,PAS) cannot abstain themselves from acting as 'mujtahids'.One of the favourite question is to question the validity of the four established school of jurispundence in Islam.Usually, the only 'manual' for these young self-acclaimed 'mujtahids' is Fiqh Sunnah of Sayyid Sabiq that contains proofs or dalil that only fit for muftis, not by laymen in jurispundence.Unfortunate for them that they didn't realized grievious mistakes in the Fiqh Sunnah and regard it as the 'best' fiqh manual because it 'contains all proofs in all legal rulings'.There's even one ustadh from northern area of this country that teaches Fiqh Sunnah, considering himself as superior in fiqh by comparing the dalils in Fiqh Sunnah, eventhough he could not even rate the status of each hadith in the manual.Is it not surprising as this 'Shaykh', who graduated from Jordan, used to accused the followers of Asha'ari and Maturidi in creed as deviants during his lecture in PUISI 2003.Pity to my friends who took their deen from this kind of person.For the 'murids' of this 'Shaykh' and the 'murids' of 'Shaykh' , the article of Shaykh Dr Ridhwan Saleem is dedicated for you.May Allah open our heart to understand His deen and value our Islamic tradition.

In the name of Allah. All praise is for Him, our Lord and Protector, and may peace and mercy be upon His final prophet.

The following comments are not intended to offend anyone. We love all our brothers, who love Allah and His messenger (mercy of Allah and peace be upon him), and are working sincerely for this deen, no matter which orientation they take. If the following words are seen to be a little harsh on some, it was in view of the serious nature of the age we live in that we felt it was time to get to the point.

The following brief comment arose as a result of my being asked the legal ruling on a certain issue. The questioner also wanted to know the "evidences" for the ruling. I realized that they intended to compare the "evidences" from different people they asked and come to their own conclusion as to which opinion was "strongest".

I felt that presenting the "evidence" from the Hanafi legal school on this issue to such a layperson was inappropriate. I will try and explain why.

I mentioned the ruling from the Hanafi legal school, and said: Such a fatwa, if it comes from one of the four legal schools of ahlis-sunnah wal-jamaa'ah , is the result of the study, research, and ijtihad of hundreds of the greatest scholars of this ummah, who contributed to, and revised the legal rulings of each school . They were masters of the Islamic disciplines, many of whom memorized over one hundred thousand hadiths of the beloved Prophet (mercy of Allah and peace be upon him). Many scholars of the Hanafi legal school reached this respected rank known as 'Guardian ( Hafidh ) of the Hadith'.

In addition to this they were people of the highest levels of piety and fear of Allah, which is absolutely confirmed from their biographies. Therefore we gladly accept the verdicts they gave without having to question them for their "evidences" , and we do not turn to those who do not submit to the authority of these great scholars of this ummah, and want to examine the "evidence" for every ruling, despite the fact most of them have not even had a basic training in the Islamic sciences, or even studied any of the authentic books of hadith with a teacher.

For such a layperson to ask for "evidence" is ridiculous. It's like someone who hasn't even studied GCSE science arguing about the theory of relativity with a professor of physics. Or like someone who has not even the basic knowledge of biology or chemistry arguing with a leading physician about which medicine is better for a particular disease.

Such a person would be a laughed at! Do you think a professor would even pay any attention to him?
He wouldn't even waste his time engaging him in a discussion. Such a person, if he really wishes to give his opinions on theoretical physics, should first go and study his GCSEs for two years, then do his A-levels for two years, then get a degree (3 years), then a masters (1-2 years), then a PhD (3-5 years). Finally, he will be in a position to begin a discussion with the professor!

Similar, or worse, is the Muslim who hasn't even studied a basic curriculum in Islamic Law, and yet steps forward to challenge the greatest scholars of Law, of the salaf and khalaf of this ummah! He does not even have the basic tools to understand or evaluate an "evidence".

Do you think giving opinions on Islamic Law is easier than giving opinions in theoretical physics?

The very fact that you ask for "evidence" is itself a clear daleel of your ignorance of what the process of ijtihad involves.

Do you think getting an "evidence" is as simple as being told a verse of Qur'an or a single hadith?
Your job as a layperson or a beginner in the sacred knowledge is not to ask for the legal rulings on an issue along with "evidences". Rather, your job is just to ask for the legal rulings alone, from one of the four accepted legal schools, and to know that the rulings are based on a deep knowledge and study of the sources.

If you really are interested in the "evidences" please step forward to study the sacred knowledge. You are most welcome! Just to get to a basic level will take at least 5-8 years of serious study. That's just a basic graduate; you haven't even begun to specialize yet!

Trust me, the "evidences" are there for each of the legal schools. The encyclopaedic reference works which discuss detailed evidences for the rulings of the Hanafi legal school are numerous and well-known, written by great masters of Hadith and Jurisprudence. Please feel free to consult them any time you wish to see the "evidence" for a legal ruling. But an untrained person, such as yourself, reading such works will not be able to make sense of them, like a GCSE science student trying to read advanced research papers in quantum physics, or cutting-edge medical research. He'll end up more confused than anything else.

It is time to be humble. If you are a GCSE student, you need to study the basics, and accept what your teachers tell you for now. In many years time, if you are an intelligent student, and put in lots of hard work, you may be in a position to discuss complicated theories and form your own opinions.

Unfortunately, as part of the reprehensible innovations of modern times, a movement has developed within our ummah which rejects the following of the four established legal schools , and encourages laypersons to question every legal ruling, so they can form their own opinions and forge their own way! (This may well be the sunnah of the American singer, Frank Sinatra, who sang "I did it my way", but it certainly isn't the sunnah of the scholars of the salaf .) If you believe that as a GCSE student you can give opinions on quantum theory, then ahlan wa sahlan!

You should be warned however that what you are doing is completely haraam ie. giving a fatwa/legal ruling directly from the sources without being qualified to do so. If everyone was automatically qualified to issue/choose legal rulings, it would lead to disruption and chaos in the sacred law. (By the way, just because you are an Arab or speak Arabic doesn't make you an automatically-qualified mufti either!) All disciplines have curricula and methodologies for their study. Islamic Law and Juristic Methodology is one of the most difficult disciplines which takes many years to become proficient in.

To become a barrister, for example, you have to get excellent A-level results, then get a Law degree. Even after that you need to pass the Bar examinations. Still that is not enough! You then have to spend a further several years training with a barrister before you are allowed to practice for yourself. This is merely to become a junior barrister! After that how many years of continuing research and experience are required for one to become a QC, or a high-court judge?

Strange then it is that every Tom, Dick and Hamza from our ummah considers himself qualified to issue Islamic legal rulings after reading a few verses of Qur'an and a summarized version of al-Saheeh of al-Bukhari! It is a reflection of our deep ignorance of what it is we are dealing with. You haven't even entered Law school and you want to pass legal judgements!

You are a GCSE science student and you want to enter a discussion between professors!

Be humble! If you want to discuss issues of Islamic Law, go and sit at the feet of the scholars, the inheritors of the prophets (may peace be upon them), and study with them. Learn from their good character as well as their knowledge, purify yourself, so that you may become a worthy recipient of the light that is the sacred knowledge.

If you have spent your life studying engineering or medicine, or pursuing business ventures, instead of seeking the sacred knowledge, and now, in your older age, you have decided to get a bit "religious", start coming to the masjid, and so on, please don't think you can do a "crash course" in the deen by reading "Fiqh us-Sunnah" or the Tafseer of Mawdudi, and come to a level where you can debate with the scholars. Please leave the matters of the deen to those who actually did spend their youth and sacrifice many years of their lives to the study of the sacred disciplines.

As one of my teachers often says: " this is the deen, not teen (fig)!! " This is the teaching of Islam that you are dealing with! It's not the plaything of every common person. It is our western conditioning that makes everyone arrogant enough to believe they can give their opinions on all issues, from theology to Islamic Law.
The plain truth is you are not in any position to evaluate "evidences" for a legal ruling and come to a conclusion for yourself as to which opinion is the "strongest".

I remember once entering a discussion with an 18 year old, clean-shaven youth, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, outside my local masjid. He had started practicing two years previously. He was quite soberly explaining to me how he examines the "evidences" put forward by the different legal schools on each "issue" and then is able to conclude for himself which is the strongest opinion! The fact that he didn't know a word of Arabic was not enough to deter his scholastic pursuits – he would get everything translated into English of course!

Unfortunately, such poor brothers have no idea of how complicated many legal rulings are, and how extensive the discussions between the legal schools on each issue can be. Don't they realize that they are merely "blindly following" whichever "scholar" has presented to them the information on this particular "issue". They haven't even checked the sources themselves, e.g. the reference books of the four legal schools, to see what they say in their discussion on the issue. It is well known that you cannot take Hanafi rulings from a Shafa'i text, or vice versa, because they often give inaccurate presentations of another legal school – you have to go to the texts of the school itself.

I will just give you one simple, commonly-seen, example where the poor brother/sister thinks that they have done a great "ijtihad", and come to their "own" conclusions on an issue (having realized that all the four legal schools got it wrong for the last 1,424 years). This is the issue of where to place the hands in the prayer. It is quite usual now to see Muslims praying while placing their hands on their chests or necks rather than the traditional above-or-below the navel position, which was the practice of the Muslims for over a thousand years until recent times. Indeed all four legal schools agree that the hands should be just above or below the navel – definitely not on the chest (except for women in the Hanafi school), and especially not on the neck! (Some of the Maliki's hold that the sunnah is to place the hands at the sides).

However the young mujtahids of the 21st century know better. Obviously all those great legal experts of the four schools didn't have access to " Fiqh us-Sunnah ", that essential guide for all budding mujtahids! It's even available in a handy translated version for non-Arabic mujtahids! You simply flick open the relevant chapter on: "Sunnah acts of prayer, The Position of the Hands" (vol.1 p.132) and you will discover that al-Tirmidhi narrates a hadith that the Prophet (mercy of Allah and peace be upon him) prayed with his hands on his chest, and that al-Tirmidhi grades this hadith "as hassan". Also you will read that a similar hadith is found in "The Saheeh" of Ibn Khuzayma, and that Ibn Khuzayma "considers it as sahih".

That's it! The young mujtahid has done his job! Obviously there are sahih hadiths about this! (Don't know who that Ibn Khuzayma guy is…but he sounds important!) The four legal schools got it all wrong! Thereafter the brother is seen in the local masjid placing his hands high up on his chest, looking rather scornfully at those who "blindly" follow the legal schools.

Now let's have a closer look at the "evidences" given above in "Fiqh us-Sunnah". We make some startling discoveries.

First of all, those who actually studied "al-Jaami'" of al-Tirmidhi itself would realise that al-Tirmidhi does NOT even mention a hadith that the Prophet (mercy of Allah and peace be upon him) prayed with his hands on his chest! Let alone grade it as hassan!! A very serious mistake on the part of the author of "Fiqh us-Sunnah".

Second major mistake: although Ibn Khuzayma (may Allah have mercy on him) does mention a hadith of the Prophet (mercy of Allah and peace be upon him) placing his hands on his chest, he DOES NOT consider it to be saheeh. In fact Ibn Khuzayma makes no comment on the authenticity of the hadiths that he narrates in his book. But those who know Ibn Khuzayma's methodology will see that all indications are that he did not consider this narration as sound. First of all he does not mention placing the hands on the chest in the chapter heading of that chapter (which is his usual method of indicating his understanding of the legal implications of the narrations in the chapter). Secondly, he places the narration at the end of the chapter, which also indicates its weakness.

Anyhow, a look at the chain of narrators of this hadith will show that it contains Mu'ammal ibn Isma'il, who most scholars of hadith say is a weak narrator, pointing out that he had a terrible memory! Imam al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) actually says he is "munkar al-hadith", meaning his hadith are totally rejected! There are also further criticisms of this narration possible but we will not delve into these right now.

Now we see the problem. The young mujtahid was not really a mujtahid after all! He was the worst type of "blind follower" . He read a chapter from "Fiqh us-Sunnah" and accepted what he read "blindly", all the while thinking that he had done a great ijtihad! Imagine how many more mistakes this book contains. And it is one of the most popular books nowadays amongst Muslims! The type of mistakes pointed out above are serious errors. One of my teachers said that these are not the type of slips you would see sometimes in the writings of scholars. Rather they indicate a real ignorance in the author that is inexcusable.

At the end of the day, the reality is that you are a muqallid, whether you know it or not . The choice simply remains as to whom you follow: is it going to be the author of "Fiqh us-Sunnah", or al-Albaani, or one on the four legal schools. In the end, studying evidences for legal rulings is not wrong in itself, but it has a certain context and place.

Other comments may be made regarding these matters, but we will suffice with what has been stated, praying to Allah that He covers us all in His mercy and guides us to the truth in all matters, and enables us to follow it, and act according to what pleases Him at all times. And may peace and the mercy of Allah be upon His beloved messenger, his family, and all his companions. And all praise is to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

Written by,
servant of the sacred knowledge,
Ridhwan ibn Muhammad Saleem.
Damascus , Ramadhan 1424 H

Further reading:

1. "Refutation of those who follow other than the four legal schools" ("radd 'ala man ittaba'a ghayr al madhahib al arba'ah"), by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Arabic)

2. "Non-madhhabism: The most dangerous innovation threatening the Islamic Law" ("La madhhabiyyah: akhtar al-bid'ah tohaddidu al-sharee'ah al-islamiyyah"), by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad
Sa'eed Ramadhan al-Bouti (Head of the dept. of Sharee'ah, University of Damascus )(Arabic)

3. "The legal status of following a madhhab", by Justice Shaykh Taqi 'Uthmani (Chief Qadi of Pakistan ) (English)

4. "The Four Madhhabs", by Shaykh Abdul-Hakeem Murad (English)

5. "Benefits of the sciences of jurisprudence" ("fawaa'id 'uloom al-fiqh"), introduction to "'ilaa ul-
sunan", by Shaykh Kayranwi (Arabic)

6. "Meaning of the saying of the Muttalibi Imam: 'If a hadith is authentic, then it is my madhhab'", ("ma'na qawl al-imam al-muttalib: itha sahha al-hadith fa huwa madhhabi"), by Shaykh ul-Islam, Imam Taqi ul-Deen al-Subki (Arabic)

7. "Fatwa Concerning the Obligation of Following Rightly Guided Scholars", by Shaykh Murabit al-Haajj and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (Arabic/English)