THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PEOPLE OF ADAB
[This entry is a selected summary and report of the RZS-CASIS Saturday Night Lecture (CSNL) given by Prof. Wan Mohd Nor on 10th July 2021.]
by Nabila Hassanah (RZS-CASIS Master Student)
The lecture was held on the 10th of July 2021, 9-11pm, via zoom and the social media platform, facebook, addressed at RZS-CASIS (Raja Zarith Sofiah Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science, and Civilization) facebook page, is a continuity of the previous lectures of the RZS-CASIS Saturday Night Lecture 11th series, which is unified by the theme of adab; the discipline of the body, the mind, and the soul and Ta’dib as the proper terminology for the incalculation of adab.
Saturday nights by convention is the night for socializing and enjoyment, here, RZS-CASIS hosts this scholarly social event akin to a banquet of knowledge where the invitation is open to Malaysians and the international public. The founder of ISTAC, the esteemed and much revered Professor Tan Sri. Dr. Muhammad Syed Naquib Al-Attas bin Ali Al-Attas (Prof. Al-Attas), was the key speaker for most of the years. Since 2015, due to health reasons, Professor Dr. Wan Mohd Nor bin Wan Daud (Prof. Wan) succeeded him. Prof. Wan was the natural selection due to his professional and personal relations with Prof. Al-Attas; as he was formerly under the tutelage of Prof. Al-Attas, remains as a trusted confidant, founded and directed the Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science, and Civilization (CASIS) which has been renamed as Raja Zarith Sofiah Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science, and Civilization (RZS-CASIS) since 2019, and has not only published numerous books and journal articles in his multiple decades long of professional scholarship, but also touched the heart of seekers of knowledge, educators, administrators and general thinking masses throughout the years of his intellectual activism. Hence, his authority as a scholar of Islam is genuine and true.
Due to the wide outreach available via live streaming, this banquet of knowledge has become more accessible to those who are interested in drinking from a fountain of knowledge and consuming multiple courses of knowledge and wisdom.
This session was moderated by Professor Dr. Tania Denisova (Prof. Tatiana), a scholar, academician, historian, author, and Professor of History and Islamic Historiography of RZS-CASIS; where among her expertise lies in the historiography of the Malay World. The audience of the night were a spectrum of people from a myriad of backgrounds; aristocrats, commoners; scholars, working professionals, students, alumni of ISTAC and RZS-CASIS, the RZS-CASIS community, supporters, and friends, and the general public.
Prof. Tatiana began the session with pleasantries warmly welcoming all who attended; commented on contemporary issues, mainly being the Covid-19 Pandemic. She then officiated the fifth session of this RZS-CASIS Saturday Night Lectures series with the Surah Al-Fatihah (The Opener). The floor was then given to the Director of RZS-CASIS, Associate Professor Dr. Khalif Muammar bin A. Harris (Dr. Khalif).
PRELIMINARY SPEECH BY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR. KHALIF MUAMMAR BIN A. HARRIS, DIRECTOR OF RZS-CASIS
Dr. Khalif communicated pleasantries before giving a brief speech. This year, 2021, marks a decade of the existence and excellence of RZS-CASIS, which with the will of the All-Mighty, will continue to thrive and prosper. This ten year anniversary has been commemorated with articles written by an international network of friends and alumnis of RZS-CASIS who are based in Singapore, Turkey, Indonesia, and other localities. Currently, there are more than ten articles published on the RZS-CASIS website,where the impressions, and experiences at RZS-CASIS of the writers are reflected upon. Some write of their spiritual sojourn, their path on seeking knowledge, the profound yet subtle effects of learning under the tutelage of RZS-CASIS scholars, and organic companionships that would last two lifetimes; this world and the next. It is expected that RZS-CASIS would receive more than 20 submissions, and naturally would publish them into a book; that would commemorate the ten years of warps and woofs of this academic institution.
In this preliminary speech, Dr. Khalif announced to the audience of a successful programme recently conducted by RZS-CASIS. It was taught by Prof. Tatiana, Professor of History and Islamic Historiography of RZS-CASIS. This short course which comprises of four two-hour sessions on Malay Historiography, entitled “Islam and the Malay World: New Age in the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago” commenced on the fifth of June 2021 and ended on the third of July 2021. Appreciation and congratulatory remarks were duly given.
The next short course, in the near future will be guided by Dr. Wan Suhaimi bin Wan Abdullah. And more information regarding this programme will be disclosed soon enough.
Being a centre of knowledge, RZS-CASIS has its own publications, and official bookstore managed by CASIS student volunteers, the Casis Bookstore. Among the publications available are the books produced by the scholars of RZS-CASIS with a few new titles of books fresh from the press being sold there too. To obtain desired titles and copies, it is advisable to purchase directly through the Casis Bookstore via the Casis Bookstore Facebook Page and the official website for RZS-CASIS.
The Director then welcomes the newest academic member on board, Dr. Mohd Hilmi bin Ramli, a senior lecturer in the centre. Dr. Hilmi has been with RZS-CASIS since its infancy, it was conferred upon him both his Master’s degree and PhD degree from the centre he now serves. Upon his graduation, he became a fellow prior to being a senior lecturer.
Not only that, Dr. Khalif welcomes those who are interested and have the intention to pursue knowledge at RZS-CASIS, by firstly visiting the official RZS-CASIS website for guidance in application for study.
In addition to that, Dr. Khalif touched upon the RZS-CASIS Endowment Fund. He made known the financial plight faced by the centre, specifically the financial challenges of the students in paying tuition fees, where financial and moral support is sought from the audience. Again, the participants of the night are invited to visit the RZS-CASIS website to give their monetary contributions to the centre.
The prelude to the main event ends with his expressions of gratitude towards Allah, and his thankfulness to the Patron of RZS-CASIS, Her Majesty Permaisuri of Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Iskandar Al-Mutawakkil Alallahi Shah Afifullah, the honorary audience, the generous donors, and friends and supporters of RZS-CASIS. With the hope and prayer that RZS-CASIS will continue to benefit the Ummah of Muhammad and attain Allah’s pleasure.
MAIN LECTURE BY PROF. WAN MOHD NOR BIN WAN DAUD
The previous speech was the appetiser to this main course of knowledge and banquet of wisdom. After whetting the appetite of the souls in search of knowledge by Dr. Khalif, the floor was given to the main speaker, Professor Dr. Wan Mohd Nor bin Wan Daud; where he conducted the lecture as a discussion of a philosophical nature and storytelling was employed. As per customary law, pleasantries were first given to the audience.
The lecture started off with recapitulation of the previous sessions. In the sessions prior, Prof. Wan discusses the theoretical aspect of adab and ta’dib, the consistency and perseverance of Prof. Al-Attas in defending his argument; that the true concept of education in Islam is Ta’dib. Ta’dib is the complete terminology that reflects the comprehensive meaning it holds and signifies. It is neither merely a rendition of ta’lim nor tarbiyah. Although ta’lim (training) and tarbiyah (instruction) are two of the elements that make up the terminology of ta’dib, independently both ta’lim and tarbiyah are not sufficient in meaning to symbolize the concept of education in Islam. The preponderance of ta’dib is that it contains the required elements in signifying, reflecting and codifying the comprehensive meaning of education in Islam, which is the inculcation of adab; with additional dimensions of meanings being and having more fundamental elements of the spiritual, ontological, semantic and lexical perspectives, in addition, the period of inculcation of adab is from the birth of an individual to one’s death. It is a lifelong journey of perfecting one’s soul.
On the dark night of the tenth of July 2021, Prof. Wan gave special focus on the historical aspect of adab and its manifestation as told by the histories of Men of Adab in the Muslim civilization. In the ambit of the Muslim civilization, the entire and whole civilization of Islam is a concerted attempt and effort for Muslims to inculcate adab in themselves, individually and in their communities.
In the same vein, with this ijtihad, striving to impress upon each soul right actions (adab), the Malay civilization, which is a Muslim civilization employs the terminology peradaban which reflects the same concept and goal to produce men and women of adab, insan adabi. Another terminology for civilization is tamaddun, both terms being arabic adopted by the Malays; Peradaban Melayu and Tamaddun Melayu.
The Arab missionaries who came to this part of the Malay world to disseminate Islam were not simpletons. In the Muslim civilisation, a person of adab is one who possess a discipline to do good such that it reflects into their actions. For the Malays, one method of manifestation is a child kissing the hands of the parents to convey their utmost respect and to acknowledge their position in their lives.
THE AMBIT OF ADAB
Lest we forget, Prof. Al-Attas has summarized the fundamental essentials of adab and ta’dib; Adab is the discipline of the soul, mind, and body which recognises the proper places of everything in the system, hence, leading us to recognize the proper place of Allah in the being and existence, consequently, enabling one to act accordingly to this proper understanding. Therefore, Adab is not only the distilled knowledge of knowing, understanding, and accepting of the right places of things in a system, it is also acting appropriately towards this knowledge.
“Adab is the synergy of right knowledge and right action”
Henceforth, Adab is the synergy of right knowledge and right action; building upon this, adab is the manifestation of justice as reflected by wisdom; this is due to justice being a condition of things in the right and proper places. The absence of wisdom debilitates justice to be achieved in itself, rendered unattainable. Unless wisdom is present, only could justice be erected; thus, Justice is adab as reflected by wisdom.
In addition, adab also carries the meaning of being the theatre of justice as reflected by wisdom. Justice is a fundamental keyword in the Qur’ān, for this reason being, it emanates as a fundamental element in the foundation of the worldview of Islām.
According to the Qur’ān, the most honourable amongst mankind are the ones who are highest in the element of taqwa, god-consciousness, and the ultimate god-conscious individual is the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The closest element to taqwa is justice; justice is adab as reflected by wisdom. As stated in Surah Al-Maidah (5:8), “Do not let your hatred towards a particular group of people cause you to commit injustice. Be just. That is the closest to taqwa.”
In this unity of knowledge, Prof. Al-Attas links taqwa to justice and wisdom. Mankind was created to worship Allah, hence, all essential key terms in the worldview of Islām functions to make certain that individuals know the right and proper action in worshipping Allah and to avoid error of knowledge which leads to the loss of adab. The interconnectedness of the major elements of adab, justice, and wisdom are apparent; which transcends all walks of life and arena.
In making judgements over certain recommended actions with religious implications, there are five major categories or five decisions, al-Ahkam al-Khamsa; wajib (the compulsory), mandub (recommended), mubah (neutral), makruh (disliked) and haram (forbidden).
One must understand to practice them without confusion. For example, brotherhood is compulsory (wajib) in Islam while the number of raka‘ats in the Tarawih prayer is sunnah. The confused gave up on the compulsory brotherhood for the sunnah number of recommended raka‘ats.
ADAB OF THE SAYEDS
The Sayeds being the blood descendants of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, are incumbent to understand and fulfil their responsibilities as they instilled with the adab, discipline of the body, mind, and soulof following the footsteps of the Prophet s.a.w.
THE GREEKS AND ADAB TOWARDS TEACHERS
We can safely say, with proofs throughout history that the only preserved civilization based on Revelation is Islam. Revelation was purposely properly recorded and preserved, together with its explanation was also properly recorded, preserved, exemplified and memorized. There are other civilizations that benefitted from Revelation, but they were mere remnants and decayed in its essential messages due to lack of preservation of their Primary Sources. The Greek civilization, for one, benefited from revelation and the floating wisdom of earlier prophets, in Syria and Egypt, however, since the times of the Ancients, their foundation largely redirected to solely reason.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) wrote The City of God Against the Pagans. Where he explained the conception of City amongst the Greek philosophers differs from the Christian faith. St. Augustine compared the Earthly City versus the City of God. And that founding a civilization based on reason alone creates conflicting ideas. In his book he discusses the eight generations of Ionic Greek scholars, that for the purpose of this lecture, we will reflect in their interactions and exchange of ideas between scholars.
1.Thales of Miletus is the first recorded philosopher of the Greeks with only fragments of his writings found and preserved. According to St. Augustine, Thales states that the fundamental reality of existence is water as he saw water as being ubiquitous. He did not mention water to be god, but water being the first principle of nature. This differ when it comes to his student, Anaximander.
2. Anaximender refutes Thales, that water isn’t the primordial substance but apeiron, that all dying things are returning to the element from which they came from. Aperion means something indefinite rather than something specific. And that each things spring from its proper principle. Of which his student, Anaximenes would propose otherwise.
3. Anaximenes proposed that all was made from air, that air is the arche, the one underlying physical yet divine basis of everything. Anaximenes was the teacher to Anaxagoras and Diogenes.
4. Anaxagoras proposed that a divine mind was the productive cause of all things which we see, and said that all the various kinds of things, according to their several modes and species, were produced out of an infinite matter consisting of homogeneous particles, but by the efficiency of a divine mind. Teacher to Archelaus.
5. Diogenes said that a certain air was the original substance of things out of which all things were produced, but that it was possessed of a divine reason, without which nothing could be produced from it. Diogenes approves the theory of Thales, water as the First Principle.
6. Archelaus, who also thought that all things consisted of homogeneous particles, of which each particular thing was made, but that those particles were pervaded by a divine mind, which perpetually energized all the eternal bodies, namely, those particles, so that they are alternately united and separated. Archelaus, is teacher to Socrates
7. Socrates believed in the will of the One true and Supreme God and focused on discovery of something manifest and certain. Socrates is the teacher to Plato.
8. Plato theorizes that the reality of existence is from One god. However, good is placed higher than God because good is the source of everything.
It can be seen that each student has different views on the fundamental understanding of reality, differing from their teachers. The chains of knowledge at times seem like shackles to be broken. This is in much contradiction to the intellectual scholarship of Islam, that wears the isnad or inherited intellectual scholarship like a badge of honour and for the women scholars, badge of honour and chains of gold, not shackles that imprison.
As for Aristotle, God is alleviated above all as the Prime Mover who does not know particles. Nearly each philosopher differs in their concept of existence and reality, which has a ripple effect. On a different note, not much is known of the Greek philosopher’s moral character except a little. On the contrary, the life of the historical men in Islam who were Men of Adab is made known and relevant to their calibre.
The departure from their teacher’s teachings may be a form of good intellect on the Greek’s behalf, yet in Islam, the adab towards teachers is that their fundamental concepts are retained through their chain of knowledge or isnad in order for truth be prevailed.
ADAB TOWARDS LEADERS.
In the ‘Aqa‘id Nasafi, the leader is considered still as a leader, eventhough he may commit injustice and errors, as long as he is a believer and does not commit kufr, the authority of leadership is with him. We are to correct and advice them while still respecting the seat they occupy. This is exemplified when a woman corrected Umar when he tried to set the limit of the mahr.
ADAB TOWARDS POLITICAL LEADERS
The Muslim scholars though tortured knew that the Ummah required political leaders. And if they turned oppressive and created injustice, they would be replaced by an internal system; not by scholars denouncing them, as this ripples into instability and possible anarchy.
The hadith of a just Sultan states that a just ruler is a shadow of Allah on earth and that one day of a just ruler is equivalent to the works of 60 pious and sincere servants of God. Therefore, there exists a connection between justice, leadership, God-consciousness, and a just ruler.
The best of rulers is the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. which was succeeded by his four Companions.
ADAB TOWARDS IBADAT
The Prophet prayed and stopped, and wasn’t celibate. This goes against extremism in worship, where some companions of the Prophet prayed and fast without pause. From here we can learn that there is to be balance in life, as everything we do for the sake of Allah is considered worship.
ADAB TOWARDS TIME
As accorded by Miqdad Ibn Amr, as he was approached by youths who yearned to live in the same time of the Prophet, Miqdad ibn Amr instead taught them the adab of time.
Firstly, one is to accept the will of Allah in placing one in a certain time, without wishful thinking to live in another period. He wisely said “Respect the time that you are in”. Secondly, so not beseech Allah to grant you something you are not given as it may not be within your capacity. Thirdly, seek the benefits of the current situation.
Also, Prof Wan added that when it is time to pray, fast, and break your fast, respect the gift of time bestowed upon Allah by doing them in the given timeframe.
ADAB WITH MONEY
Uthman ibn Affan, Umar al-Khattab, and Saad ibn Waqas have manifested adab with money towards their own family, community, and in charity. Another example is to focus on preventing hunger amongst your family and neighbours before spending money on things that are not compulsory.
ADAB TOWARDS FAMILY AND NEIGHBOURS
Their needs are to be taken care of first before we spend our money on extravagance. For example, people are spending money to go to Umrah while they have starving family members or neighbours, which goes against the adab towards family members and neighbours.
ADAB TOWARDS THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY
Which encompasses adab during the state of anger; firstly, do not assume about someone’s heart, do not have any doubt of perception regarding someone’s sincerity in entering Islam, do not hurt them in the moment of anger, and that a muslim is safe from another.
ADAB WITH THOSE WHO FLAUNT THE RULES AND THE UNBELIEVERS (KAFIR)
Unless a person regards himself as an unbeliever (Kafir), he is not to be labelled as one. This is the adab with people. But if he does unfavourable things although he affirms the trueness of Islam, that is a different matter. We should not resemble the practice of the Khawarij who simply label those who go against their creed as Kafir, like the Salem Witch Hunt where women are easily labeled “witch” for being unique, leading them to live a life of torture and inescaple horrendous death. Hence, it is the discipline of one’s creed to not simply throw around the word Kafir.
ADAB TOWARDS THE DEAD
Upon hearing the death of a Muslim, regardless of our personal relationship with the deceased and the level religiosity displayed while that person was living, we must pray for the deceased, “O Allah, forgive [name of the person] and elevate his/her station among those who are guided. Send him/her along the path of those who came before, and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds. Enlarge for him/her his/her grave and shed light upon him in it.”
This proper action is the inculcation of adab, the giving the dead what is due as a human being.
THE MANIFESTATION OF ADAB IN MEN
The key historical figures in the civilization of Islam are mostly men of adab with the ultimate embodiment of adab being Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Other great men who are manifestations of adab arealso to be found in his companions and their successors, the likes of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (573-634), Umar Al-Khatab, (584-644), Uthman bin Affan, (576-656), Ali ibn Abi Talib, (599-661), Salim Mawla Ab Hudhayfa, (D. 633), Al Miqdad bin Amr (590-652),Uwais Al-Qarni (594-657), Saad ibn Waqas (595-674), Usamah ibn Zaid, (615-673), Hasan ibn Ali, (624-670), Ja’far al-Sadiq (702-765), Imam Shafie (767-820), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855), and Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi (1138-1193) to name a few.
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD S.A.W. (570-632)
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is the perfect historical manifestation of what a man of adab is; regardless of time and space coupled with the timeliness of his good character which transcends gender.
It is through the Hadith Sahih, “My Lord has instilled adab in me (addabani) and so made my education (ta‘dibi) most excellent,” that could be ascribed to Prof. Al-Attas and his profound discovery on the concept of adab. Therefore, in his argument of ta’dib being the proper terminology for education in Islam. Prof. Al-Attas has properly interpreted ta’dib as the process of education in connection to the interpretation of ta’dibi: ‘Allah educated me”; therefore my education, is synonymous to my adab, that was instilled in my understanding of the right place of everything and my acting towards this knowledge is perfected.
This Hadith has exemplified that the concept of education in Islam is not merely theoretical, it is exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. After the death of the Prophet, a group of companions went to visit Aisya to seek the answer to their question. They asked her about his personal character, she replied that his character is based on the Qur’an. Hence, there is no disparity of good character in public and in private.
ISTAC LOGO/ EMBLEM
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is the example of the Perfect Man. Though he was a man, his exemplary character transcends beyond gender, age, time and space. Due to this the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC)’s – an institute born out of al-Attas’ re-articulation of the concept of ta’dib – logo is designed with the Prophet’s name in the middle, as he is The Man of adab, and the principle goal of ISTAC was to produce people of adab.
The emblem of RZS-CASIS, followed through with the main goal to produce men and women of adab, hence, retained the Prophet in the emblem. This brought bliss to Prof. Al-Attas; as his teachings were properly understood and his legacy was continued. Asides the primary goal to produce men and women of adab, RZS-CASIS aims to produce great scholars and researchers.
ABU BAKR AS-SIDDIQ (573-634)
When the Muslim world was led by Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, where the Qur’an was still not yet a complete mushaf, he did not relay much hadith because he was concerned that people might confuse the hadith and the Qur’an. The sole copy of a rough compilation was in his possession, which he then gave it to Umar who then gave it to Hafsah. What Abu Bakr did was a form of discipline towards Islam, to prevent confusion amongst the non-memorizers of the Words of Allah.
Abu Bakr had the habit of going to the marketplace and freeing slaves. During the draught in Madinah, he donated 200 camel loads of food and resources to the Muslim community of Madinah. He followed the steps of the Prophet without any question as he knew and accepted the true status of the Prophet. War was continued by sending Usamah bin Zaid to Byzantium as a sign to the enemies that the passing of the Prophet did not deter them and as a show of confidence that this small state is certain of itself.
The leader of the Muslims was also ready to fight those who became apostates and false prophets, attacks from the outside of the ummah and within the Muslim community.
When people started asking the name of this new leadership or caliphate, Khulafa ar-Rashidin, was chosen, thus it affirmed their identity as Muslim leaders.
UMAR AL-KHATTAB (584-644)
The greatest adab is shown in the moment of death. In the moment of his assassination, Umar stated his gratitude by saying, “thank God, that the one who tried to murder me was not a Muslim.” The man found guilty was an enslaved Persian by Al-Majuz. Al-Majuz oppressed him, hence the enslaved person, who worked as a blacksmith sought Umar to erect justice on his behalf, and justice was still not given by Al-Majuz despite Umar’s attempt. Enraged, the enslaved man waited in the same mosque as Umar and struck when Umar was praying his Fajr prayers. Knowing his murderer was a non-Muslim, Umar breathed a breath of relief as no Muslim blood would be shed. In a heartbeat, his mind’s attention was on the Ummah, “What would have happened if the murder attempt was successful and who was to lead the Muslims after his death?”
Therefore, Umar called upon the selected to further scrutinise them on who would be the best fit for his shoes. The six men granted heaven were called upon. Yet, Abdullah bin Umar was not allowed to have a say in the voting process, he was only there to act as a moderator.
The interview session consisted of them praying three days without being led by any of them, so none will have superiority over the other by leading the congregation prayer.
The most feared man in the Muslim world was dying. When medicine was applied to him, food came out of his stomach, yet in his mind, the state of the Ummah took precedence. In the group of six, whoever went against the consensus was eliminated. This was then later replicated by the Ottomans. As the leader of the Ummah, Umar showed excellent adab by putting the rights of the Ummah first before his own needs.
On his deathbed, he instructed his son of five things, that Abdullah bin Umar buries him moderately, with moderate cloth, without any praised towards him, clears his debts and seeks the permission of Aishah so that Umar may be buried along her husband, the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and her father, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq at her house. This is a manifestation of adab towards death and debts, and towards the family members of the deceased and the owner of the land; the discipline of the mind, body, and soul.
During his lifetime, as a Muslim, he had the habit of going to the market place each Friday to free slaves.
UTHMAN BIN AFFAN (576-656)
Upon the migration to Madinah, the Muhajirin had no well to drink from except a well of a Jew who placed a price upon the water. When Uthman learnt of this, he purchased a well for the convenience of the Muslims in Madinah. Due to the migration, the Mosque of the Prophet became overcrowded and cramped; hence, he bought land for the mosque. In another occasion, Uthman donated from his own wealth 700 hundred camels and 100 horses in the Great Famine of 639, Arabia, This is adab towards the community as he was in the position of wealth.
During Uthman’s reign, he was surrounded by the internal and external enemies of Islam, the followers of Abdul bin Saba’, the hypocrites, and the Khawarij. They wanted Uthman gone, hence, they accused his appointed governors of being inefficient and corrupt. And they would not stop at nothing unless he was gone for good. As a response, Muawiyah extended his helping hand and promised protection to Uthman if he took refuge in Syria, but was politely declined by Uthman. Uthman didn’t want to leave the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad, so he chose to stay.
Uthman had also declined the help of the Meccan people for he did not want any Muslim blood on his hands. Not only that, he had also declined the help of Ali bin Abi Talib, who sent his sons, Hasan and Husein to fight and defend for Uthman. The reason being was that Uthman didn’t want a Muslim civil war. Especially one started by him. This is the adab of a leader towards his subjects, neither to create civil war, nor to kill each other.
Uthman had also displayed his worries towards the youths who did not know the real history of things, this is because a group of unlearned youths from Egypt and Syria accused him of wild things due to their ignorance of history.
ALI BIN ABI TALIB (599-661)
Muawiyah was a sahabi of the Prophet, who misunderstood a few teachings, yet he never challenged the position of Ali as a khalif. Muawiyah did an ijtihad but was proven to be a wrong move by Ali. Muawiyah was swift to punish those who murdered Uthman. There existed fabricated letters by Uthman and Aishah which created confusion among Muslims as never in their wildest dreams that they could have conceived the reality that the greatest enemy of Muslims were pseudo-Muslims themselves.
Muawiyah and Ali fought for the sake of Allah, in upholding the Shariah. They conducted themselves with the adab bestowed upon them. No name calling and definitely not calling each other kafir, a non-believer. The kafir labelling people were the khawarij, the enemies of Muawiyah, Ali, and Aishah.
In battles and wars, Ali instructed his men not to chase those who ran away, not to mutilate the dead, and not kill the dead as they were Muslims; regardless of which side they were on, they would still go to heaven. Even if people were fighting to get them killed, and they are fighting back to preserve their life, the adab is to keep them in their prayers.
SALIM MAWLA ABU HUDZAIFAH (D. 633)
Salim Mawla Abu Hudzaifah was a man honoured by the Prophet in one of the most noble of manner. Salim’s life began as an enslaved person of Abu Hudzaifah. During pre-Islamic times, due to his social status of an enslaved person, he was considered of the lowliest. Upon taking the Shahadah, he became liberated. He then became literate in the knowledge of the Qur’an.
His social status was alleviated much higher when the Prophet instructed people to learn the Qur’an from these four greatest Qur’an teachers; 1. Salim Mawla Abu Hudzaifah, 2. Abdullah bin Umar, 3. Muaz ibn Jabbal, and 4. Umar bin Kibsa. Though the major companions knew the Qur’an, however, the Prophet said to the people to learn Qur’an from the fabulous four ordinary people who were high in ranks according to the Prophet.
From a lowly enslaved non-Muslim, to a liberated teacher of the Qur’an, the Muslim community of Madinah knew his true rankings, he is of those amongst the celebrated in Islam. The discipline of the community was high as they recognised Salim as a great Qur’an teacher stemming from the respect the Prophet had for him due to his knowledge of the Qur’an.
The Prophet asked Salim to follow Khalid ibn Walid to battle; Khalid al-Walid is man of Arabic noble lineage, an aristocrat, and great general of war of both Islam and when he was the enemy of Islam in his jahiliy days. Upon the command of the Prophet, they fought a tribe of men. The general already had bad blood between the tribe during his pre-Islamic days and was sceptical towards them. He especially had enmity towards one particular man of the tribe who was not officially a Muslim though he had entered Islam. Khalid slain him still.
As a response, Salim criticized Khalid’s action of spilling Muslim blood. Upon learning this, the Prophet judged Salim to be true, and Khalid wrong for killing a Muslim out of personal enmity. However, Khalid was not angry at Salim, for he knew Salim was brave because he knew he was right.
In the worldview of Islam, a person attains high social ranking due to his adab, especially his good character, not their social background. It is to be emphasized that when a soul utters the shahadah, that soul is automatically safe in our hands, and saved from our hands and tongue, during this lifetime and after the soul’s departure to alam barzakh.
MIQDAD IBN AMR (590-652)
Miqdad ibn Amr lived during the time of the Prophet. Therefore, he was able to witness, learn, and socialize with the Prophet. After the passing of the Prophet, young muslims used to gather around him, asking about the events in the lifetime of the Prophet and stating their grievance for not living in the same period as the Prophet.
Hence, Miqdad ibn Amr decided to give them a lesson on time. The adab towards time is firstly, to accept wholeheartedly in whatever time Allah has placed us in; not wishing to live in a different time or a different epoch; secondly, one is to respect the time that one is in, hence not asking Allah for something you are not given and do not have the audacity of imagination to think that you have the capacity to carry the responsibilities of the first generation of Muslim community.
Take Bilal ibn Rabbah for example. He was tortured. Sumaiyah and her family, and so many early Muslims were tortured, and the Prophet himself was harmed and hurt, by consciously cruel people. Therefore, do not wish for something you may not be able to withstand, for surely, the imagination of being a great muslim is surely an easy thing.
Thirdly, look at the benefits of living in the time you are in. And develop yourself accordingly. One is placed in a specific time because Allah has willed so. And nothing happens without his will.
Uwais Al-Qarni (594-657)
Uwais Al-Qarni story is the story of a man who is ranked as the Sahabah of the Prophet although they have never met in person. His story is so profound due to the love and devotion he had towards his mother and the Prophet. Uwais travelled to see the Prophet but had to leave before he had the opportunity to meet the Prophet in flesh and blood. He left because he wanted to fulfill his promise to his mother who was waiting alone at home for him to return to Yemen.
The Prophet instructed Ali and Umar to search for Uwais al-Qarni after his demise. They were missioned to convey the Salam of the Prophet to Uwais and to relay the message of the Prophet asking Uwais to pray for the Ummah. And so they did, they were in search of Uwais. During the Hajj pilgrimage they asked around if anybody knew of Uwais, of Yemen. Eventually, a group of Yemenis recognized Uwais and described him. They said that he was a strange and peculiar man. He is in the desert tending to his sheep, he does not eat what they eat, when they laugh, he cries and when they cry, he laughs. The people of that place could not comprehend Uwais al-Qarni, he was the opposite of them. Uwais was judged by the common people’s eyes.
With the information given, Umar and Ali, men on a mission, travelled to Yemen. They found him, conveyed the Salam of the Prophet and asked him to pray for the Ummah as requested by the Prophet. Uwais honoured their mission. Soon enough word spread of the mission, and the people in his hamlet started to look up to him, respected him, purely because of the mission the Prophet had given Umar and Ali. Uwais wasn’t comfortable being the celebrity of his town, a place where the community once judged him poorly.
So he left, fought for Islam in the battle of Sifil, and eventually was buried in Syria. Where ISIS destroyed his grave in the twenty-first century.
The Prophet stated that Uwais is a man of high spiritual sensitivity and station, and the Ummah is in dire need of his prayers. The Prophet himself sought only his prayers. Uwais al-Qarni manifested great adab in ways no simpleton could comprehend, he was respected by the Prophet, and celebrated by the residents of the sky.
SAAD IBN WAQQAS (595-674)
In the search of the next Caliph succeeding Umar, Saad ibn Waqqas was one of the six men guaranteed heaven. He was absolutely wealthy. However, there was a time when he thought the angel of death was about to take him away, he wanted to bequeath two thirds of his assets to charity. And he intended that his only daughter was to inherit a third of his wealth. Hence, the advice of the Prophet was sought.
The Prophet forbade that. He spoke that it is best to leave your children wealthy than leave them poor begging for help. The rulingsof permitting only to give a third of wealth to charity is derived from this hadith. This is the adab in giving to charity and the adab of protecting your family.
Yet, Saad ibn Waqqas did not meet death like an old friend, instead he lived long and fathered many children and remained generous.
USAMAH BIN ZAID (615-673)
Zaid ibn Haritha was one of the most beloved to the Prophet and his love towards Zaid rippled to his son, Usamah bin Zaid. Usamah was sent to battle by the Prophet. During the battle, a non-Muslim’s sword was dripping with blood. In a fit of rage, Usamah then fought his man, and won. As Usamah was going in for the kill, the defeated man uttered the Shahadah. And still he was slain. Usamah had killed a Muslim.
Word reached the Prophet who then became upset. Usamah was called upon to give his justification. He justified the murder by stating in confidence that that newly reverted man was insincere in entering Islam, he just wanted to be saved from the sword of Usamah. The Prophet questioned Usamah on how he knew the degree of sincerity in the hearts of men. He was trying to instil the adab in the state of anger. When one is in anger, he must control himself, to let his rational soul take charge, not his animal soul. Do not assume what is in the hearts of men, as the degree of sincerity is only known to him and Allah. The perimeter in ensuring one to be safe in our hands and saved from our hands and mouth is the Shahadah. This is stated in the hadith reported by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘as, in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet s.a.w. Ssaid, “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir is one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden.”
HASAN BIN ALI (624-670)
Hasan ibn Ali was already a leader before the death of Ali. Upon the demise of Ali, many gave their oath and allegiance to Hasan. Among them were the people of Mekah and Madinah, who were still populated by the Companions of the Prophets; the Kuffa people, and many good people. When threats of war were sent to Hasan, it was reported that more than 40,000 people were willing to shed blood in defending his honour and right to the Caliphate. When he was younger, the Prophet had once spoke to Hasan that it would be Hasan who defines what a true muslim is. Hence, holding strong to his grandfather’s precognition, Hasan declined the treatment of war, as he didn’t want any civil unrest amongst the Muslims, especially with his name to it.
To avoid civil war and to hold strong to his grandfather’s hope, Hasan relinquished his power to Muawiyah. Upon his resignation, and his giving his oath of allegiance to Muawiyah, Hasan spoke the Words of Allah, “I don’t know if this is a fitnah for you and an enjoyment for a short period.” And thus lived his life in private as an ordinary man with the occupation of teaching.
Hasan knew of the responsibilities and wretchedness of being the leader for Muslims, when he ceded the Caliphate to Muawiyah, he exemplified that the education he received from his grandfather and father, which was guided by Allah, they instilled in him education most excellent. This is the conception of ta’dib; the incalculation of adab in the soul, where adab is the discipline of body, soul, and mind. When we recognise and acknowledge the places of things in our Worldview and in our existence, ultimately leading to recognizing the proper place of Allah and everything else and we act accordingly to it. Succeeding that, we produce a state of justice as reflected by wisdom where we understand these kinds of things. Adab is not just for the people of noble lineage in Islam, it is for each and every individual who bears witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s messenger.
The previous was the adab of Hasan on a major scale which had a major impact on others. This story is of him not taking advantage of his lineage, which showcases adab in business and lineage. Imam Hasan went to the market and the shopkeeper recognised him as the grandson of the Propher Muhammad s.a.w. With the intention of honouring Hasan, the price of goods were reduced. Hasan left because he didn’t want to take advantage of people’s kindness and his family connections. This has set the tone of the descendents of the Prophet to not take advantage of their family connections to the Prophet s.a.w. Hence, Adab in Islam is not merely theoretical, it is also pragmatic.
JA’FAR AL-SADIQ (705-765)
Ja’far al-Sadiq is a great scholar of Islam, Sufi thinker, and great grandson of Husein ibn Ali. His disciples include Imam Abu Hanifah and many others. Imam Abu Hanifah was the teacher of Imam Daud Tha’i. Imam Daud Tha’i achieved greatness in his spiritual aspect, thus, he went to Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq for spiritual advice due to him being directly descended from the Prophet s.a.w.
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq said to him that our spiritual aspects and spiritual status are not connected to our lineage, rather, it is founded upon the state of our soul in the presence of Allah. And declined to give advice. The juxtaposition here is that Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq didn’t want to give advice to Imam Daud Tha’i, but by declining, he had already given consultation. The adab in Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq was not to abuse lineage, rather have individual accountability, by the state of our soul in the presence of Allah; an adab he wanted Imam Daud Tha’i to inculcate.
To add to that, he stated his worries that being a descendent of the Prophet s.a.w. has given him a rational sense of fear, how was he to face his great great grandfather on the Day of Judgement for not being able to fill in his shoes, or follow in his footsteps.
On the same note, a group of his friends met him and he asked if one of them would be saved in the hereafter, to grant intercession for the others. Astonished, his confused friends reminded him of his lineage and his position as their best leader, and yet he asks for intercession from his friends. He told them of his fear of meeting his great great grandfather and his inability, in his eyes, to follow the Prophet’s footsteps. This showcased the humility inherent in Ja’far al-Sadiq. Humility is an element of adab, the discipline ingrained in one’s body, mind, and soul.
IMAM SHAFIE (767-820)
Imam Shafie was mistreated by the Caliph of his time, due to misunderstandings. Yet he knew that the Ummah required political leaders. And if they turned oppressive and created injustice, they would be replaced by an internal system; not by scholars denouncing them, as this ripples into instability and possible anarchy. This is adab towards political leaders.
IMAM AHMAD IBN HANBAL (780-855)
Al-Ma’mun and his successor tortured Imam Hanbal. Throughout the torture sessions and when he was no longer captive, not once did Imam Hanbal utter any words to denounce al-Ma’mun as a political leader despite his large following. This is adab towards political leaders.
SALAHUDDIN AL-AYYUBI (1138-1193 CE)
Salahuddin al-Ayyubi was a man best in adab towards Allah, his enemies, and those around him, as recorded in his biography by ibn Shaddad. Ibn Shaddad’s authority is derived from being one of the advisers to Salahuddin, a close confidant and a constant companion.
ALI UTHMAN AL-HUJWIRI (1009-1072 CE)
He was born in Central Asia yet lived in India, being amongst the earliest Muslim scholars and Sufi in India. ‘Ali Uthman al-Hujwiri wrote Kashf al-Mahjub.
He wrote that adab towards companionship is the combination of virtues. On the similar veins of Prof. Al-Attas’s conception of adab. Being adab is the theatre of justice reflected by wisdom and justice is the condition of things in the right and proper places, therefore adab is a combination of all these things.
There are three levels of adab, the lowest being adab as adabiyat; the Muslim literary tradition, poetry, prose, novels, shorts stories, literary works, literary criticism, eloquence of speech and the aesthetics of language. Rising up is adab as the discipline of the mind, body, and soul. And the highest level is being aware of Allah at all times, at each heart beat and every breath.
At the core, it is the discipline of the mind, body, and soul and it must be reflected in justice, hence, justice is essential in the worldview of Islam. When the scholars of Islam in the past speak of adab and ta’dib, this is what they meant.
Prof. Wan recommends the audience to read the works of Ali al-Sallabi as his approach is similar to Prof. Al-Attas’, where he used reason, is objective, following tradition, and is critical towards some of the Western and Muslim sources to reflect the life and times of the Prophet, his companions and several important figures in our tradition. He wrote 3 Volumes on Salahuddin al-Ayyubi, 2 Volumes on Umar al-Khattab, 2 Volumes on Saidina Ali Ibn Ali Thalib and 3 Volumes on the Prophet Muhammad to name a few. His works are monumental, though in the Arabic language, there are translations in English that are just as good.
According to Prof. Tatiana, the inculcation of adab is apparent in the Russian people, who are linked to knowledge and personal responsibilities. Western civilisation received virtues from the Renaissance which stemmed from Islamic scholarship.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
The lecture winded down with the Question and Answer session. The first question was “How does adab relate to the Four Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Temperance, Wisdom, and Courage.” Prof. Wan answered, “Muslims absorbed them and add more to them. Ibn Khaldun said that the virtues of the Greek civilisation are only of this world; they do not think of the hereafter. Example, suicide. Aristotle forbade suicide because the state would lose a potential worker. However, suicide in Islam is forbidden because only Allah has the right to take and give life.”
The next question was, “How does one identify a teacher in adab?”
Prof. Wan answered, “We must have knowledge and seek advice from a trusted and knowledgeable person. Be sincere and have patience.” His answer reflects the importance of acquiring the preparatory virtue of a student in order for one is able to be the one to know.
The moderator, Prof. Tatiana closed the lecture with a reminder to stay safe, to not leave the house unless necessary, and to comply with the standard operating procedure given by the health ministry of Malaysia.
The gist of the lecture was Prof. Wan’s attempt to showcase that when education is the inculcalation of adab in the soul and being adab is the discipline of the soul, mind and body; enabling one to recognise the place of things in our worldview and our existence, ultimately to recognise the proper place of Allah and everything else, which makes it incumbent upon us to act accordingly. Hence, the creation of a state of justice as reflected by wisdom. Therefore, each individual is able to obtain and manifest adab in life without discrimination of conventional social status.
Next CSNL will be on the 21st August 2021 or via Zoom, click here to register.
To read the previous summaries of the 10th RZS-CASIS Saturday Night Lecture Series:
- July 2020 “Arriving at the Problem of Knowledge”
- August 2020 “Knowledge and Islamic Creed in the Context of Contemporary Challenges”
- September 2020 “The Past and Present Attitudes Towards Possibilities of Knowledge”
- October 2020 “Significance of Defining Key Terms in Islam”
- November 2020 “On The Importance of Definition: Greek Struggles and Islam’s Emphasis on the Proper Places of Things”
- December 2020 “On Al-Attas and Al-Faruqi, Studying Philosophy and Matters Concerning the Representation of Islam”
Below are the summary for the 11th RZS-CASIS Saturday Night Lecture Series