Book Review – Focus : The Hidden Driver of Excellence


Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman was a book I have always been meaning to read after having heard rave reviews. During a trip to the Blossoms bookstore in Bangalore however, I was only able to find Social Intelligence and Focus, two of Goleman’s other titles. Since Malcolm Gladwell made famous the 10,000 hour rule in The Outliers, I have been a fan of the particular genre of science writing dealing with human psychology.My particular interest in the subject also stems from my quest to understand the confluence between the Islamic tradition and study of the human psyche.

One of the first books I read on the subject was Contemplation by Dr. Malik Badri, an eminent psychologist who has authored many books and articles about Islam and Psychology. Modern psychology tends to apply a more reductive approach to understanding human behavior vis a vis stimuli and response based on chemical interactions.  But I personally prefer a balance between the material and spiritual in understanding why humans behave the way they do and more importantly in bringing about positive societal change.

I digress though, which is something I tend to do a lot. I have also come to the painful realization that I’m too distracted. A seemingly first world problem but the constant deluge of information is something the modern society has to deal with as one of the side effects of a hyper connected world. As mobile devices get more ubiquitous, multiple notifications are constantly trying to grab our attention and the overwhelming streams of information are overloading our brain circuits and affecting how we deal with people and responsibilities. Add to that the age, at which children are introduced to internet devices getting gradually lower, it is of little wonder that experts fear an impoverishment of attention.

While Goleman talks about these phenomena in his book on Focus, the book itself seems to lack focus. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the writing which is a good mix of anecdotes, hard research and statistics along with relevant case studies that prevent the book from becoming too dry. Goleman does tend to talk about the various parts of the brain responsible for various functions a lot and I would prefer a diagram of sorts to keep the names in memory. No harm done however, the casual reader would sparsely remember the names of brain parts because it is the inferences that are more important.

That’s where the book lacks in focus. It starts out well by trying to explain how two distinct portions of the brain (the top down and the bottom brain) are responsible for regulating attention. Goleman tries to explain the value of allowing the brain to wander as a prerequisite for creativity and serendipitous connections. At the same time he explains how the control of the attention muscle so to say, helps improve how we approach and handle tasks. The book then goes into understanding of self-awareness as an important aspect of self-control and how emotions can affect what we focus on.

But as the book progresses, the connection between the theme of Focus with the topics of discussion becomes less apparent. There is chapter on systems thinking which is peppered with evidence of Goleman’s left leaning with his talk on environmentalism and quotes by Jeffrey Sachs. I personally fancy myself as systems thinker yet did not find anything of particular value in the chapter and observations on brain function that could help me be better at it. Social and Emotional intelligence becomes the highlight when talking about leadership skills and becoming a better leader. The issue of focus seems to be an afterthought.  While taking up business cases I have to admit I was looking hard for how the theme of focus fit in.

I would recommend the book for the first few chapters which provide valuable information on understanding the ‘Anatomy of Attention’ as Goleman puts it, along with training yourself in improving self-awareness. Some of the inferences on improving mindfulness are especially important for parents training their children to be less impulsive and more measured. The chapters on mindfulness can also be looked at in the light of Khushu’u (mindfulness) a very important aspect of salah or ritual prayers of muslims.

Overall the book is a bit disappointing considering what I was looking for in terms of managing attention in the age of distraction


RIP Yesterday’s News Story

Amazing how important news stories can easily be buried down under other seemingly important stories. The implications of the Senate committee report on EIT by the CIA was just picking up steam when the story on the hacking of SONY Entertainment’s Network broke. This was allegedly state sponsored hacking by North Korea over the release of the Movie The Interview.

All the hullabaloo about the hacking, decision to not release and then release meant that the USA is back in the books of being the defender of free speech and human rights. The torture report needed to take a back seat while the Koreans were taught a lesson in the name of national security!


I understand if it doesn’t make sense. But it had to cover up the firestorm that the CIA report was kicking up. Through the years since 9/11 details of the US’s exceptionalism in its war on terror are available sprinkled throughout the internet. Zero accountability on those who carry out unbelievably ill conceived attacks and programs with impunity.
The actions of so called radicals taking place across the world especially Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the ME in general weren’t created in a vacuum. They are results of years of oppression from many quarters which were cloaked and sold to the masses in the guise of country, religion and democracy.

This article by Tom Engelhardt summarises the the three key take homes from the war on terror that has in no way reduced the terror in the world but served to increase it

1. Whatever grim actions are the focus of debate at the moment, take it for granted that they don’t “work” because nothing connected to the war on terror has worked

2. In national security and war terms, only one thing has “worked” in these years and that’s the national security state itself

3. Nothing Washington did could ever qualify as a “war crime” or even a straightforward crime because, in national security terms, our wartime capital has become a crime-free zone

Of Elections in India


I have been in India for a few years now and I have realized that of the few matters every Indian always has an (informed) opinion about, Politics and Cricket take the cake. The Election season has just come to an end with the BJP capturing a Majority and their allies taking the numbers well over the halfway mark. The internet and Media is abound with congratulatory messages, expectations from the new government, reasons the old one lost and forecasts of economic growth among other topics. While the general tone seems hopeful of the future to come, it is the Muslims who seem most dejected by the electoral victory of the BJP.

Mr. Modi, who was always seen as a ‘polarising figure’ – a term coined specifically to rid himself of the memories of Gujurat – coming to power means an uncomfortable and uncertain future for Muslims in India. There is a lot to be said about the right wing, pluralism, multiculturalism and the idea of a nation and much more erudite men and women have expressed these opinions in bigger outlets. As for me, there were few thoughts that struck me during and post the elections that I thought I would share and others could benefit vy.

  1. Leadership – The Indian elections are usually fought on the basis of party ideologies and what parties have to offer the people. This election was however turned into the ‘Battle of the Premiers’ by both Mr. Modi and the media. While the champion of the ruling party was portrayed as ineffectual and indecisive, the challenger was the complete opposite. Portrayed as person who can ‘do’ things that would make your life ‘better’, the campaign was won on the back of a leader’s ability. It goes to show that if the leader has sufficient skill and charisma, he can truly rally the masses behind him. As Yawar Baig pointed out in a recent article on Muslim Matters, the Muslim community in India has failed to invest in developing true leaders that could guide the community to greater participation in national affairs.


  1. Victory Comes with Preparation – The elections in India are a numbers game. Be it pre poll alliances, election rallies, voting patterns or votes garnered, one needs to have a good idea of how different segments of society will act in order to campaign successfully. The RSS-BJP combine were better prepared in all aspects of this numbers games. From mobilizing cadres of volunteers early in the campaign to using social media to reach out to a large number of people, no stone was left unturned in attempting to win the elections. Another striking feature of the election was that the party that came to power, did so on the back of the least percentage of votes in their favour (31%).

         One is reminded of the many times in the Prophet SAW’s life when he would prepare of for battle – in terms of material strength            and seeking help from Allah SWT, the measures would never be half hearted

  1. A Reminder to Us – That Muslims cannot rid themselves of the memory of riots in the past and fears emanating from Mr. Modi’s leadership are a challenge that we as a community have to face.  But one can find comfort in the Hadith of the Prophet SAW when he said

         “If the whole of mankind gathered to do some thing to help us, they could not help in anything which Allah had not already                     written for us. And if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm us, then they would not be able to harm with anything                  which Allah had not already written for us.”

           One needs to realize that the decree of Allah SWT is over and above any of the creation in this world and all good or evil that               comes one’s way comes with His permission.

  1. Best of Nations – Realizing this would help a Muslim continue working towards good without a fear of creation but with the consciousness of His Lord SWT. The Muslim nation has been selected by Allah SWT to guide the rest of the mankind to its complete spiritual realization and we as Muslims are tasked with this heavy mission irrespective of the circumstances surrounding us. Muslims form about 13% of the Indian population, spread across the length and breadth of India. The fortunes of this community may not have improved very much through successful governments but in the light of the global awareness and inquiry into Islam, it our job to contextualize our faith to the wider population and espouse clearly the message of Prophet hood (through belief, speech and action) for the benefit of our brethren.


  1. Current System – Though there are many more thoughts about the victory of Mr.Modi, I would like to end with a critical look at our times. Democracy and Capitalism, two bedfellows of each other, can override all notions of morality through its inherent nature. Defining man as a materialistic creature and then giving him to power to decide his economic progress, has led people to be blind to morality and ethics as we know it. This election is another case in point that a sufficient incentive of economic progress can preclude moral considerations in making a decision.

         PS: A cautioning is in order – One might be pro-development without necessarily being anti-minority/Muslim. Please keep this              distinction in mind while interacting with your friends and family.



Ripples over the Mandela Reflection

Alhamdulliulah I was recently published in the Young Muslim Digest, an Islamic monthly magazine, published out of Bangalore for the last three decades. The article was written after Nelson Mandela’s death and might seem a bit dated. Anyway, the article can be found on YMD’s Website and has also been reproduced in full here.


It has been very interesting to see the reactions over the last few days, over the death of Nelson Mandela, the South African icon of the struggle against Apartheid and Colonialism. There has been a clamour across the social media universe, honouring and eulogising the dead man. There are two aspects of this that are interesting to me personally.

One is the general trend of Social Media Herd-Mentality and the other being the Muslim response about the same. Herd Mentality can be described as how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviours, follow trends, and/ or purchase items. The social media seems to be the biggest grazing ground for the lot. When deaths such as Mandela’s happen, it is hard to discern whether the sympathy is heartfelt or just an attempt to be among the ‘in-crowd.’ Or maybe it isn’t so hard, but then, who’s counting the statuses.

Marc Maron, the comedian had a quote about the social media effect in his memoir, Attempting Normal, which is quite telling about the emotional state of social media users. He says that the social media culture feeds into our inner-child’s need to be emotionally sated. The user attempts to fulfil his need to be loved and cared through the trickles of likes and comments that follow the status updates. As cynical as it may sound, moments like these make me a believer.

Very few people would truly understand what it meant to be Mandela. A man who built his own prison which he was to live in for 27 years on Robben Island, who, upon his release, saw it better to forgive his oppressors, is not someone you appreciate through a single status update or two.

The internet and the real world is creaking with the weight of sanitised messages from politicians and leaders alike, who purposely gloss over the fact that many of Mandela’s views would not hold much currency today. After all, he was taken off the US Global Terrorist list only in 1998.

Many of the world leaders, who offer their condolences today, reflect on Mandela’s exceptional courage to not only survive jail, but also lead a nation after his release. Yet, they seem to be quite happy to forget that, under their own watch, there are tens of illegally held detainees often with no charges and usually with no trials. Actually, the detainees – made out as terrorists today to suit the needs of the establishment, and probably made heroes tomorrow if the people and media see it fit – have more in common with Mandela than their leaders.

A real tribute to the likes of Mandela cannot be encapsulated in a statement or two. He spent a lifetime fighting for justice and our closing our eyes to the very injustice he spoke and fought against is an insult to his memory.

The issues of apartheid and social inequality were neither caused by aliens nor have they ended. They were, in fact, human problems, caused by humans and have taken very different, yet distinct, forms for those who see through it. No amount of social messages can hide this fact; yet, a decent-sized friend/ follower list on Facebook or Twitter can surely distract a person from this truth.

Patience and perseverance in attaining the objective of truth and establishing a society of justice was taught to us by our Prophet (saws). If he was the true paragon of the struggle, then the likes of Mandela are also examples. Truth and justice are not the monopoly of a religion or region but are values of universal hope for the human race.

Thus, for those who seem to be in awe of Mandela, yet know nothing about him save a few titbits gleaned from the cyberworld, it would be best if they, at least, read a book about him, learn about his struggle and maybe implement an aspect or two into their own lives, struggling for justice in their own way.

While an attention-seeking post on the social media might bring you momentary benefits, the struggle for the betterment of society itself could bring benefits above and beyond imagination, if Allah (swt) sees it fit.

This brings me to the second point of the article which is the Muslim response – or, rather, the responses – on the net. For everywhere you go, there seems to be a view about it among the internet Jama’ath. Without doubt, Mandela was a great man who achieved a lot in this dunya. That Allah (swt) made his name ubiquitous seems a fitting reward for his efforts.

The question that seems to trouble many though, is his state in the Hereafter (Akhira). On the one hand, there is a trend of wishing RIP (see Herd-Mentality above) and, on the other, a strong statement of his ineligibility for attaining the mercy of Allah (swt) and the castigation of the former or even of anybody appreciating him.

Islam is the religion of the middle path and we judge by what is apparent. The most fitting of examples is of Abu Talib who, in spite of his devotion to the Prophet (saw), was not released from the punishment of the Fire, even as revealed by the Prophet (saw) himself. As for the fate of one already dead, since we have no means of revelation after our Prophet (saw), it is impossible to say which way he, or she, is going. The matter of faith, though, is clear enough: Muslims are not allowed to pray for the forgiveness of those who died in denial of Allah’s Oneness and, therefore, to be on the safer side, it would be better to avoid statements of similar import.

At the same time, an individual’s final resting place is a matter for Allah (swt) to decide, and taking up His role in this act of determination would be blameworthy. Thus, it would be fitting for a believer to concern himself with his own Akhira and not be bothered about that of a person already dead and gone. If that person happens to be someone like Mandela though, then, maybe, he can take a few lessons in how to conduct his Dunya.

Dawah and Our Attitude

Paul Walker, the famed actor from the Fast and the Furious Series of movies died in a car crash. Its an irony that a man who made his name in movies depicting death defying car stunts died in this way. But irony aside, it is quite tragic to see many Muslims pronouncing judgement upon him and act quite self righteously, sometimes in an attempt to deter other Muslim fans from being attracted to the glamour world. On the other hand, the growing irreverence to sanctity in the social media has even resulted in people making fun of his death through memes and hoaxes.

May Allah SWT protect us!

I remember from a lecture by Sh.Yawar Baig, that the reason Muslims invite non Muslims to Islam is because of the fact that we love for them what we love for ourselves. We Muslims are definitely becoming more active in inviting people to Islam, with tables, talks and debates being set up all over the world. But we need to question are ourselves is the reason why we call people to Islam love or is just a way of feeling good about ourselves because “I established the supremacy of Islam by winning arguments with the next guy on the street.”

Dawah is simple because it is mostly action and less speech. What you do regularly is what you are actually calling other people to. Elvis Presley sang about a little less conversation and a little more action. Dawah is just like that, a little more action goes a long way. The Prophet and Sahaba spread Islam through action. Many know the story of Abu Bakr’s conversion and the conversion of his close friends because they trusted the men whose characters were so pleasing.

Paul Walker’s death is interesting because he was famous among he youth and like I mentioned earlier and thus his death is indeed a sign that all the glitz and glamour in the world is short lived. Yes, the ultimate end of one who denied Allah’s Lordship in this world is the fire, Allah SWT forgives every action except associating partners with him, but that is for Allah SWT to decide and not us.

Thus if you really find it necessary to speak to warn your brothers and sisters, then at least avoid actions such as throwing shame grenades at those who don’t know better (70 excuses for the believer, remember). There has to be a better and more pleasing way of talking and directing fellow muslims away from actions that don’t benefit them without alienating them completely. If dawah to non muslims much love then how much more should advice to a fellow believer be?

After all you wouldn’t want your good deeds reduced on the Day in trying to do good in this world. Take a look at the article which I have reblogged below and this one from YMD to get a perspective on Dawah – Calling to Islam and how the Early Generations achieved it.

Note: This post was edited from its initial form after some introspection and research about the content

Life-cycle of a Believer

If you have 10 minutes take a look at this as well

|-| Fajr |-|

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Surah al-‘Asr is a fascinating chapter in the Qur’an because despite it being the second shortest chapter, it sort of sets the details/blueprint and encompasses the cycle of a believer’s life. Think about it:

“By Time.
Indeed, Mankind is in loss.
Except those who believe and do good deeds, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.” [al-‘Asr]

A person’s lifeTime seems to follow a certain pattern: We are all in loss and in danger of losing our Hereafter – except for the believer. But when belief enters your heart, you naturally start doing deeds of righteousness. But then belief can’t stay suppressed in your heart and so you advise others and enjoin goodness – more importantly, you stand up for the Truth. And the moment you stand up for the Truth in this world, is the moment you will…

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Charming the Money Snake

Often times in our community we hear the following

“If I was richer I would definitely contribute to this project or that cause!!!

The money I have is just enough for me to get by!!

One day InshaAllah I well be self sufficient enough to spend more in the Cause of Allah SWT

and so on and so forth
Then we some how console ourselves by saying the day I have enough money I will surely give it here and there for the sake of Allah SWT.

How much is enough and who decides this?

SubhanAllah our Prophet SAW admonished us by saying “Save yourselves even if by the skin of the date”. Yet we fool ourselves in this materialistic/consumerist society that one day we will have enough money to spend in Allah’s SWT way after we have spent on ourselves.

Just yesterday one of the brothers I know reminded me that

He ﷺ said, “By Allah I don’t fear for you poverty, but I fear that the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those before you, so you compete for it as they have competed for it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them.” (Agreed upon)


On the Path of Knowledge

— Written by a good friend

We frequently use Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf (RA) and Uthman ibn Affan (RA) as examples to state that “there is nothing wrong with being rich, it’s how you spend the wealth”. This is true but it’s a “premature” conclusion.

Imam Ghazali writes on the topic of “Love of wealth”:
Know that the likeness of wealth is that of a snake in which there is both poison and medicine, as we have said. Whoever does not know the incantation for the snake and seizes one in his hand will be destroyed. It is for this reason that is not proper for someone to say: “Amongst the companions, there were some who were rich, such as Abdur Rahman bin Awf and the likes of him. Therefore, there is no fault in being rich.” This is as though a child, seeing a magician who takes a…

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Fasting on Ashura

Fasting on the day of Ashura or the 10th Muharram along with the day preceding or succeeding it is a recommended Sunnah as recorded in a number of authentic Ahadith.

Please attempt to fast on these two days – 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th of Muharram to gain immense reward.

The collection of ahadith regarding this day has been collected here

Karbala: A Historical Analysis by Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Below is a timeline of the events preceding and surrounding the death of Hussain RA, based on a recent talk by Sh.Yasir Qadhi from the Memphis Islamic Centre. I would encourage all of you to listen to it and benefit from it.  Following the timeline is some commentary and analysis from the talk abridged and edited for easier reading.

At the outset the Shaik warned that this is a grave and contentious issue that has plagued the Ummah for a long time. This is not an effort to demean anyone but to inform Muslims of the issue surrounding the death of Hussain RA. This presentation is based on the classical historians of Islam such as ibn Hajar and Ibn Kathir. This is a summarised version and not a detailed exposition of the same and should be understood in the same spirit.

I have attempted to put the talk into written form to aid those who listen to the lecture and to ensure those who do not, at least know it in summary. Where information, only in terms of specific dates, was not mentioned in the talk, I have added them based on my own research.

In preparing this I do realise and thus hope to remedy my own ignorance of the History of Islam. By putting this document together, I hope personally that I continue studying the History of Islam and the various issues that shaped our Muslim Ummah. I do hope that this document is not an end but the beginning of such a study. May Allah SWT grant us Tawfeeq for the same. Ameen

In presenting this information in this format, if there are any mistakes in recording the speech or in any additions, then they are from me and Shaithan. May Allah SWT forgive us and unite us on the Straight Path. Ameen

The article is divided into three parts – Timeline, Commentary on Karbala and Commentary on Ahlul Bayth

Time Line

3H Ramadan – Hassan ibn Ali RA born

4H Shaban – Hussain ibn Ali RA born

26H – Yazid son of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan RA born

35H – Ali RA becomes Khalifa after martyrdom of Uthman ibn Affan RA

35H – Battle of Jamal (Ali RA fights Aisha RA over the issues surrounding martyrdom of Uthman RA)

36H – Battle of Siffin (Ali RA fought Muawiyah). It is said that in the Battles of Jamal and Siffin more Sahaba died than all of those who died in battles during the lifetime of Rasool SAW. These battles are together known as the first Fitna and are an extremely sad period of Islamic History.

37H – Ali RA moves capital to Kufa. Shia of Ali or the Party of Ali formed here. (Purely political supporters of Ali with no separate theology)

40H – Ali RA dies

40H – Struggle between Muawiya and Hassan RA. Hassan RA makes peace 6 months later by giving up seat to Muawiya. Muawiya begins rule from Damascus.

40H – Hassan RA leaves Kufa and returns to Medina along with Hussain and Family

~45-46H – Yazid leads Muawiyah’s army into Constantinople. Hasan RA fights along with Yazid in this battle.

50H – Hasan RA dies in Medina

60H – Muawiya RA dies in Damascus. Before dying he nominates his son Yazid as the Khalifah after him. Many of Sahaba pledge allegiance to him. But they leave active politics after the pledge. Hussain and Abdullah ibn Zubair do not pledge.

60H Ramadan – Governor of Medina calls Hussain RA home and asks him to pledge allegiance to Yazid. Hussain RA avoids this and goes to Mecca.

60H Ramadan – When people in Kufa hear about Hussain not giving allegiance to Yazid, they become overjoyed and start sending letters of support to Hussain and ask him to lead them in revolt

60H Dhul Qadah – Husain RA sends his nephew Muslim ibn Aqeel with couple of others to assess situation in Kufa and determine if he has support

60H Dhul Qadah – Neary 40,000 people of Kufa pledge support through their tribe leaders to Muslim ibn Aqeel promising Hussain support against Yazid. Muslim ibn Aqeel asks Hussain to come to Kufa.

60H Dhul Qadah – Rumours of revolt reach Yazid. He deputes 28 year old Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad without an army (only 17 people accompanied him) as governor of Kufa to take charge of situation.

60H Dhul Qadah – ibn Ziyad confirms the possibility of revolt and sends spies to find the heads of Hussain’s support.

60H Dhul Qadah/Dhul Hijja – Hussain gets the message and prepares to leave for Kufa.

60H Dhul Qadah/Dhul Hijja – Host of Muslim ibn Aqeel, Hani bin Urwah caught by ibn Ziyad. When Muslim hears this, prepares an army of 4000 Kufan men and heads to the gates of ibn Ziyaad’s fortress.

60H Dhul Qadah/Dhul Hijja – On the same day between Fajr and Isha, ibn Ziyaad, a master tactician, bribes or scares Muslim’s men away such that by nightfall, not a single man supports him

60H Dhul Qadah/Dhul Hijja – Muslim is caught by ibn Asha’as, a lieutenant of ibn Ziyaad. Muslim makes him promise to send a message to Hussain warning against coming to Kufa.

60H 9th of Dhul Hijja – Muslim martyred publicly. Over next few days chief supporters of revolt arrested and publicly killed. Kufans no more support Hussain RA

60H Dhul Hijja – The Sahaba in Mecca and Medina, ibn Abbas, ibn Umar, Abu Saeed al Khudree, Jaabir ibn Ubaidillah RA along with Hussain’s brother from another of Ali’s RA wives, Mohammed ibn Hanafiyya dissuade him from going to Kufa.

60H Dhul Hijja – Hussain RA leaves for Kufa with the letters of support from Kufa in spite of all the warnings from people of Hijaz, with 70-80 people of his family. Hussain still doesn’t know that Kufa has given up the revolt.

60H Dhul Hijja – ibn Ziyaad intercepts Yazid’s army of 4000 men, on the way to Turkey, led by Umar ibn Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas. He gets permission to keep them at standby.

60H Dhul Hijja – Hussain sends messengers to Kufa on the way but both killed by ibn Ziyaad.

60H Dhul Hijja – Hussain reaches close to Kufa. Ibn Asha’as’ message reaches him along with information of Muslim and the turn face of Kufa.

60H Dhul Hijja – Hussain confers with his party. They encouraged him to continue to Kufa to avenge Muslim and hoping Kufans will still support Hussain. He still thought he could get the support he required and win. He did not go to Kufa to “sacrifice” himself.

61H Muharram – Hussain reaches Karbala (4 – 6 kms out of Kufa). Umar ibn Sa’ad commanded by ibn Ziyaad to negotiate with Hussain. Hussain gives three options – go back to Mecca, meet Yazid or leave in exile. Ibn Ziyaad refuses and asks Hussain to come to him or face war.

61H Muharram – ibn Ziyaad puts Shimir in charge of force over Umar ibn Sa’ad.

61H 9th Muharram – Shimir gives ultimatum to Hussain to come to ibn Ziyaad and give allegiance. He refuses.

61H 10th Muharram – Hussain and other men martyred by the force, now led by Shimir. Women and children spared. Zain ul Abideen, son of Hussain escapes as he was a baby hidden amongst the women. 15 Ahl ul Bayth die.

~63H – Yazid dies.

~64/65H – ibn Ziyaad murdered in a power struggle in Syria.

65H – A party called Tawabbun (The Repenters) emerge from Kufa, feeling guilty of Kufa’s part in the betrayal of Hussain. They head to Damascus to exact revenge.

65H Muharram – Tawabbun stop at Karbala. They lament publicly and beat themselves over the martyrdom of Hussain. Theological Shi’ism is said to have its roots from this incident.


Karbala: Who is to blame?

It could be argued that Hussain Ra did not take the right step by going to Karbala in spite of the warnings of the other Sahaba. Some others hold the view that he went there to sacrifice himself. But Hussain Ra went there believing that Kufa would support him. In fact the letters of support that reached him is said to have been so numerous that it filled 2 bags used on camels. On top of that Muslim’s message later on also supported this assumption. Thus the real blame falls upon some other individuals

  1. People of Kufa at that time – The people of Kufa are squarely to be blamed for their treachery in the face of bribes and threats by ibn Ziyaad. Having first supported Hussain, they did not even turn up to Karbala to defend him. Even companions like Umm Salama Ra and ibn Umar Ra held them to blame for the same
  2. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyaad, Governor of Kufa – Known to be young, ruthless and impetuous, his arrogance is another reason that caused the martyrdom of Hussain. Hussain Ra gave him three options, choosing one of which might have set a different course. But having refused the options, he insisted that Hussain come to him and pledge allegiance. This was something Hussain Ra would not do and thus led him to fight ibn Ziyaad’s army.
  3. Umar ibn Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, Original Commander of the Governor’s Troops  – He is not a Companion nor is he completely to blame for Hussain’s Martyrdom. But he did not take a more strong stance and prevent ibn Ziyaad from attacking Hussain Ra
  4. Shimir and his Henchmen, Stand in Commander of the Governor’s Troops – For delivering the final blow on Hussain Ra, the grandson of the Prophet SAW.
  5. Yazid, Khalifa – While many positions exist on Yazid’s role in the martyrdom, his decision to appoint ibn Ziyaad as governor and his unwillingness to punish him after, are considered to be his primary failing.

The issue of Hussain’s Ra martyrdom is obviously a black mark on the history of Muslims. He was the grandson of the Prophet SAW, yet he was killed in battle by other muslims. This is no doubt heartbreaking for those who love the Prophet SAW and his family. But that portion of Islamic History saw many deaths of Companions of the Prophet SAW and thus without condoning Hussain Ra death, we cannot single it out.


The Position of Ahl Ul Bayth


# Ali bin Husayn or Zayn ul Abideen was the sole male survivor in Karbala and the Prophet’s SAW lineage continues through him.

‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle (SAW) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Hasan b. ‘Ali. He wrapped him under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatima and he took her under it, then came ‘Ali and he also took him under it and then said: Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying) [Sahih Muslim 2424


The Ahl ul Sunnah wal Jama’a take the position between 2 extremes of loving the Family of the Prophet SAW to the point of deifying them or hating them and vilifying them. The Ahl ul Bayth are to be loved as commanded by the Prophet SAW himself and as shown by Sahaba such as Abu Bakr and Umar RA. Moreover, if the Ahl ul bayth are righteous, or from among the Companions or both, then their stature increases even higher in the eyes of the Muslim.

If on the other hand, they are found to be the opposite of righteous, then their deeds are basis of judgement as admonished by the Prophet SAW.

JazakAllahu Khairan

Mutual Admiration

I came across these quotes on Sh. Musa Furber’s facebook page. While we as muslims are easily given to name calling when we disagree with other muslims, it is sobering to see how scholars of the past admired each other. ThabarakAllah

“There are [only] four scholars: Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyib in Medina, al-Sha‘bī in Kūfa, al-Ḥasan in Baṣra, and Makḥūl in Greater Syria.”—al-Zuhrī“All scholars depend on Abū Ḥanīfa in fiqh.”—Al-Shāfiʿī

“[He was an] Imām par excellence”—Aḥmed bin Ḥanbal describing Sufyān al-Thawrī

“I learned from eleven-hundred shaykhs, but none better than Sufyān [al-Thawrī].”—ʿAbdulllah ibn al-Mubārak

“Mālik is God’s proof over His creation.”—al-Shāfiʿī

“I never saw a man whose fiqh resembled his hadith [in rigor] more than al-Awzā‘ī.”—al-Shāfiʿī

“The likeness of al-Shāfi‘ī to other people is as the likeness of the sun to the earth.”—Aḥmed bin Ḥanbal

“I have left no one in Baghdad with more understanding and knowledge, and more scrupulous and ascetic than Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal.”—al-Shāfiʿī

The above show the mutual admiration these scholars had for one another. Please make this one of the lessons you take from them.