Beware from ignorant shaikhs. What should one’s surname be?



This letter, written in Arabic to ’Abdurrahîm ‘rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ ’alaih’, who was known by the name of Khân-i Khânân, prohibits learning Islam from the ignorant and discusses choosing last names:

May Allâhu ta’âlâ deliever us all from empty words and bless us with the lot of doing something. For the grace of the best of all people and the Prophet of all ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’, may He protect us against knowledge without practice, against useless knowledge! An Arabic couplet in English:

If a person says ‘âmîn’ to this prayer,

Allâhu ta’âlâ will have mercy upon him.

O my high-natured brother! May Allâhu ta’âlâ bless the perfect qualities in your creation with becoming evident! This world is the field for the next world. Woe betide those who do not sow their seeds here; who do not cultivate their potential capacity, which, like soil, exists in their creation; who do not utilize this; and who thus miss the seeds of deeds and worships! Not to cultivate the growing capacity, which is like soil, means not to sow anything on it, or to sow harmful, poisonous seeds. The harm, the corruptness of this latter type is much greater than the former. To sow poisonous, corrupt seeds is to learn the religion and elements of the religion from those who know nothing of the religion and to read them from the books [and magazines] of the enemies of the religion. For, religiously ignorant people follow their nafses and run after their pleasures. They explain the religion as it suits their purposes. They also cause the nafs of anyone who listens to them to go astray and their heart to darken. When giving religious lessons, [and when writing religious books,] religiously ignorant people cannot distinguish what is agreeable with the religion from what is not agreeable with the religion. They cannot know what to teach and how to teach youngsters. Like themselves, the pupils they educate become ignorant, too. By reading and memorizing many things, [by becoming an authority in other branches of knowledge, by becoming specialized in branches of science and arts,] one cannot become a man of religion, write books of religion, or give knowledge of religion.

When a savant of religion teaches religion to youngsters, first he detects the fallacious propaganda and defamation instilled into them by the irreligious, by the enemies of Islam, [and by the ignorant men of religion,] and purifies their clean fresh minds of these poisons by counselling them. He cures their poisoned souls. Then, in accordance with their ages and understandings, he places in them Islam and its virtues and benefits, the ultimate divine causes and subtleties in its commands and prohibitions, and the fact that it makes humankind attain happiness. Thus, fragrant flowers that are a panacea for cares and food for souls begin to grow in the spiritual gardens of youngsters. It is the greatest advantage to obtain such a savant of the religion. His look penetrates into souls. His words affect hearts. Only with the presentation of such a pure man of Allah could it be possible to embrace the Islamic religion like a ready-made candy or a cool sherbet that would assuage you down to your lungs. May Allâhu ta’âlâ keep us all in Hadrat Muhammad’s ‘’alaihissalâtu wassalâm’ way! Âmîn. For, it is this way only which makes men attain ease in this world and the next. The following Persian poem has been expressed so well. Its translation is:

Hadrat Muhammad ‘’alaihi-s-salâm’, who was born in Arabia,

Is the highest of mankind in both worlds!

May he who will not become earth at his door

Remain under the earth all the time!

May our salâms be to the highest and the most superior of Prophets ‘’alâ nabiyyinâ wa ’alaihimussalawâtu wa-t-teslîmât’

To my astonishment, I have heard that one of the poets who had been honoured with your valuable tawajjuh adopted a disbeliever’s name as his surname. Moreover, he is one of the Sayyids, one of those great people whom we are to love. I wish I had not heard about this. I wonder why he accepted this base name? I can never see why he should. It is necessary to beware of accepting such names more than bewaring of dreadful lions. Such names should be deemed uglier than anything ugly. For these names and their owners are the enemies of Allâhu ta’âlâ. They are His Prophet’s ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ enemies. Muslims have been commanded to deem all disbelievers as enemies [whether they be Christians or Jews or disbelievers without a book]. It is wâjib for every Muslim not to give such dirty names to his children. Tell him on my behalf to change that name! Let him replace it with a name that is better and which becomes a Muslim! What suits a Muslim is to accept a Muslim name. It is this only which Allâhu ta’âlâ likes, which His Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ likes, and which is suitable for the position of a person who has been honoured with being in the Islamic religion.

[Abu Dâwûd and Ibni Habbân state that Rasûlullah ‘sall- Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ declared: “On the Day of Rising you will be called with your names and with the names of your fathers. Therefore, accept beautiful names!” As Tirmuzî states, Hadrat ’Âisha ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anhâ’ said that Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ used to change ugly names.]

Tirmuzî and Ibni Mâja ‘rahmatullâhi ’alaihimâ’ state: ’Abdullah bin ’Umar ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anhumâ’ said that the name of one of Hadrat ’Umar’s daughters was ’Âsiya (meaning rebellious). Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ changed it. He replaced it with Jamîla. Also, Abû Dâwûd reported that he replaced the names of many another men, places and streets with those names suitable for Muslims. Muslims have been commanded: “Keep away from places that will cause you to be under suspicion!” It is every Muslim’s duty to avoid accepting names, [uttering words, using instruments and doing actions,] that are the symptoms of irreligiousness or which provoke this suspicion. Allâhu ta’âlâ declares in the two hundred and twentyfirst âyat of Baqara Sûra: “A slave who is a Believer is more valuable than a master who is a disbeliever!”

May Allâhu ta’âlâ give safety to those who follow Hadrat Muhammad’s ‘’alaihi-s-salâm’ way! Âmîn.


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