“Optimism Has to Come from the Belief That It Is Not About Us”
An Interview with Asim Qureshi
By: Danial Akif and Usama Bin Ansar
In the Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful
What responsibility do we bear as Muslims living in a world plagued by misery, injustice and oppression? That is the central question we have in mind as we begin this series of interviews for the Muslim Voice Magazine (TMV). Over the course of the upcoming year we will be approaching Muslims activists, philanthrophists and scholars from around the world and asking them about what it means for them to be a Muslim in the 21st century.
Many of the present ills plaguing the west today from the rise of the surveillance state, to the growth in extrajudicial detentions and the increase in deportations, can be traced back to George Bush’s War on Terror, so we felt it was reasonable to start our series with an interview featuring CAGE’s Asim Qureshi. CAGE is a UK based charity advocating for those affected by the policies resulting from the War on Terror.
Br. Asim grew up in London graduating in law (LLB Hons and LLM), specializing in Human Rights and Islamic law, and later completing his PhD in Political Science. He has been involved with CAGE since 2003.
I am Usama Ansar, editor-in-chief of the TMV, and I, alongside Danial Akif, Vice President (Internal) at the University of Toronto Muslim Students’ Association, sat down with Br. Asim on Wednesday the 21st of August 2019 to talk about his life as a student, his activism, the role of Islam in giving direction to his life and his newest book “A Virtue of Disobedience”. An abridged and paraphrased version of the conversation is published below.
Usama Ansar: Br Asim, your work with CAGE involves anti-guantanamo work, work on the UK’s infamous counterterrorism policy “Prevent” and work on institutionalized racism. You are also an author, a lawyer and an avid reader. How would you describe yourself to our readers? Which aspect of your life do you feel dominates you as a person?
Asim Qureshi: Good question. The only correction to that would be that I am not a lawyer, I do not practice law as a profession.
I am primarily a researcher. My role in CAGE is that of the Research Director. I have conducted investigations all around the world. The books I have written, they are primarily a by-product of this main function of mine. Even the consultancy work I do for legal teams around the world, it is in my capacity as a researcher and an investigator, so I guess that is my main function of my work.
UA: When we enter university, we are coming from a very different environment. In high school there seems to be a tendency to tell us that we are the center of the universe. Life seems a bit fairytale-ish. Then we come into university and we are on our own, in terms of finances, in terms of time, and even in terms of tending to ourselves, living away from home. It’s quite a jump. This seems to be the perfect mix of circumstances where we make or break the thoughts and habits that come to define our future.
How was your university experience? Were you involved with student groups and/or community organizations back then? Was the university experience, in terms of student life and academics, significant in changing your world view.
AQ: Yeah, somewhat. I was involved with the university Isalmic Society when I started my law degree, which is a bachelor’s degree in the UK. At that point I was much less involved with activism and more with da’wah, but I was, nevertheless, always politically aware. During those days I was reading a great deal of law.
I guess one of the reasons were my parents. Until then I had done relatively good without trying very hard. My parents had sent us siblings to good schools so when I came to law school, I really exerted myself into my studies, so the level of reading of law I did was really intense. I was not into the activism scene until my last year, and it really took off in my masters
UA: So how did you get involved with CAGE, like was it a chance encounter, or did you steadily build up to it?
AQ: It is a funny story. I was supposed to do corporate law for my masters but in the last year of my undergraduate the images coming out from Guantanamo really affected me. I felt there was something particularly egregious about Muslim men in orange jumpsuits on an island prison held without charge or trial. So on the first day of my masters, I changed all my courses to international law and human rights modules.
The funny story is that one day, four months into my masters, my mom walks into my room and is like, “none of your books say corporate law”. I was like, “funny story, might have forgotten to tell you that I might have changed my line completely”. That was quite an amusing conversation, but alhamdulillah, my parents have always been very supportive.
I had to write a 15,000 word dissertation for my masters, and from the beginning I had decided that it was going to be on Guantanamo Bay. I signed up, had a professor give me a list of books, and started reading and researching literally the next day. That was in 2003. I also started researching on the internet and came across the website of Cageprisoners (now CAGE). I was like, wow, these are Muslims who are looking at this issue, so I emailed them saying I am doing a dissertation on Guantanamo Bay and you guys might be able to help out. The reply I got was on the lines of: You Idiot, it is us, your friends from South London. We’ll send one of our friends who is your fellow student to meet you. It was pure Qadr1, that a group of friends living close by started off the project.
From that day onwards, I was on board, writing pieces for them and researching for them. I was not one of the founding members, but I got involved almost immediately.
UA: Right, so it is almost like you were tilting towards that side yourself and to top that off, things worked out nicely.
AQ: Yeah, alhamdulillah2, I had some good tarbiyah3 in my life too. The scholars around me, looking at my aptitude for the law, always encouraged my delve into subject areas aside from classical Islamic studies – subjects which might help Muslims in different ways. They suggested to me that instead of going down the route of everybody else – going to Egypt to study Arabic – I should specialize in international law.
UA: It seems that your surroundings and the circumstances around you in life had a big role to play in encouraging you.
AQ: Alhamdulillah, I had good murrabbis4 in my life who encouraged me towards the khair5, and that was a big part of my life. Then there have also always been my parents taking time to force us to stay around good people. I remember even when I was six I was attending adult halaqat6 of people concerned about their deen7, who were interested in what was going on in the world and wanted to learn for the sake of Allah. This whole idea of akhuwah8, it is really important in my life.
Danial Akif: This actually ties into the next question we had for you. When we first enter university as students, a lot of us are passionate about a particular cause. We tend to join campus organizations and start to get involved but at some point there seems to be an expectation that we lend our support to every cause the organization works for regardless of whether we are comfortable with it or not, regardless of whether our faith may have reservations about it or not. Then we find ourselves torn between the two calls: stick to principle and risk being eyed seen as not perfect enough in the student organization, or cave in, cut corners in faith, and try to mitigate the situation that way. A lot of us are torn between these struggles. What would be your take on how to deal with this situation.
AQ: I think that is a really hard question to answer. I would say whenever we are making a decision regarding something which might affect our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala [SWT]9 it is important that we always seek guidance, not only from Islamic scholars, but also from subject area experts.
Generally, every situation is different. A change in dynamic might change who you cooperate with from day one to day two. I think Br Dawud Walid’s book, “Towards Sacred Activism” is possibly one of the best attempts to try and put forward some religious criteria on how to understand where the red lines might lie. Ultimately, we have to remember, life is about both, our relationship to Allah SWT and the world around us. We can’t secularize the two from one another.
I know it is not giving a direct answer but I feel it is hard, sometimes, to come down too hard on this particular issue. It depends on context, on the issue at hand and also on, on whose terms are we collaborating. These are things we really need to think about.
DA: Yeah that makes sense, often times it is hard. Things aren’t always black and white, when there’s a little bit of complexity, things are often grey. Even being involved in the MSA you find who/which organizations you are cooperating with, how you’re cooperating with them. Its difficult and you don’t – you can’t – always do it the same way with all these organizations. You might agree with some of them or disagree with, you might agree with some policies of the organizations but disagree with other policies they have so it’s a fine line.
AQ: Yeah, there are certain things that are personal red lines for me, like racism, I won’t ever work with a fascist organization, I won’t ever work with Zionists, regardless of circumstances. For me there are certain things that are more important in my life, based on my experience. These are important personal red lines that I have established for myself, I may cross others at other times though. Religious ethics are extremely important in these decisions but our personal experiences also tend to have a bearing on these issues.
DA: Thank you for that response. It was very insightful.
Unfortunately, in our times oppression and injustice is widespread all over the globe. Any Muslim people you look at, whether they’re in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa etcetera. there is tyranny and corruption, and injustice present. Additionally, there is injustice happening in other parts of the world as well like Hong Kong, Russia and Venezuela.
When we see news we feel an urge to do something, yet we also feel powerless because somewhere in our unconscious we know we are students in debt, dependent on a family, with responsibilities for the future. We feel tied down, torn between our lack of influence and our urge to act.
In your opinion, is it a valuable investment to give our time and efforts for a cause we are passionate about, and do you think student activism has a meaningful impact? How can we continue to remain optimistic despite all the evil we see?
AQ: I have an entire chapter in my book called “The Community of Witnesses” and it is literally to answer this question.
Surah Burooj all the way through, it’s about witnessing, those who are witnessing, those who are being witnessed and He who witnesses in all His Majesty SWT.
We have different types of witnessing taking place in the world. Say a farmer in Afghanistan from whom Allah SWT is withholding the rain, his test in life is very different than our test in life as Muslims living in the West. I don’t think there is any expectation, not only from Allah SWT, but also from us, from him to do anything for the people of Palestine, or the People of Sudan. Du’a10 is perhaps the best he could do. And obviously Allah knows best but from a real-world perspective, this is what we expect from Him.
Now take us, having grown up in the West, we tend to not think of all that we have been given as rizq11. We think of money, or the ways to earn money as rizq, but we don’t think of knowledge, our careers, the environments we are in and the sort of access we have, as rizq. It is as if we have a very secular notion of rizq which dissociates it from its widest meaning. Our responsibility stems from, as they say in leftist circles, “checking our privilege”. We just don’t secularize that privilege, we say that everything down to the minutiae of the way our eyes work was given to us by Allah SWT. I think as part of self accountability, the question we should be asking ourselves is that can I justify the rizq I have been given in terms of the activities I have been involved in? I think the only way we can hope to find salvation is by making sure we make good use of the distinct rizq we have been given, and that we are constantly trying to do the best with it.
Allah says “Fear Allah as much as you can”. It is an active process, we can not say one day, ooh, I dont feel like doing anything. No, think about it, are you doing enough? Are you conscious of Allah SWT enough?
I think as a general ethic, we have to think of our relationship with Allah in a different way and change the way we see ourselves and what we are supposed to do with our lives.
DA: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense so basically the rizq – everything that is given to us by Allah SWT – is, like you were saying we have an obligation on it [and] we have some sort of responsibility and accountability for everything we’ve been given, and like you said for even something like our eyesight and especially for our knowledge which is neglected a lot.
AQ: Let me ask you something. If you saw a brother with a hundred million pounds, hoarding it for themselves, what would you think of him? You would think of him as a bit stingy but, we don’t even think of intellect as being worth so much. There are enormous amounts of money people are spending to acquire education, but that is also part of rizq – what do we do with that, how do we use it. Our belief is that this thing inside our heads – it belongs to Allah, He put knowledge into it in a way He did not to other people. Now what obligation does that bring for us, we need to ask ourselves these things.
DA: Yeah, i was reading somehting similar. It was just about the basic contrast of the economic system and it was saying that in capitalism wealth is the private property of a person. It is purely their, but in an islamic framework the property that you own, at the end of the day that is something Allah SWT has given to you So really, it is His and that’s why it’s mandatory for you to pay zakah or pay sadaqah on that property, right, so that is a different framework of thinking.
AQ: Yes, absolutely
DA: It was really insightful. Thank you. And what about the second part of the question was that how do you remain optimistic despite all this, because sometimes it feels like no matter how much you try as well, or that there is so much evil evil in the world – so much fitnah in the world – how do you remain optimistic and motivated to keep going?
AQ: Remember the statement of Umar Bin Khattab12, when he says the condition of a believer is strange – when ill afflicts him, he remains patient and thanks Allah for what he has. Similarly, when good happens to him he is even more thankful.
Optimism has to come from the belief that it is not about us. I think when we centre ourselves so much as to come to believe that we are central to a cause, we gradually condition ourselves towards pessimism. We should think of it as, you know, there could have been millions others who Allah could have chose to do this work but He SWT chose me, there is not necessarily something special about me. We need to always remember that we are slaves of Allah and that the cause is never about me, that I am not going to seek gratification in empirical markers of success.
There are multiple reasons for pessimism, not to take anything away from mental health issues, but, I think a big factor is also that we fall into pessimism when we forsake humility. You know, the story of Khabbab ibn Arat13, who was tortured, and the Prophet peace be upon him told him, there were generations before you who endured more for the sake of Allah. He peace be upon him was encouraging Khabbab to remain strong, to endure with the hope that InshaAllah14 Allah SWT would take him through this phase. I think that is a very important lesson for us.
DA: JazakAllah Khair.
UA: JazakAllah Khair, it was a very comprehensive, and rather unconventional [response]. This is one of the aspects which doesn’t come up in secular conversations about activism and our responsibility towards it.
Speaking of the merits of activism, you could have built a career in corporate law yet, you have been working with CAGE for for quite some time on issues which place you at odds with the political and business establishment. How significant are the pressures, economic or social, trying to make you backtrack or even just leave behind and move on from what you have been doing?
AQ: I think it really helps when you or your parents are practicing themselves. I can not deny having a somewhat more solid foundation than others, benefiting from a good support network. In Ramadan, I put up a story on Facebook about how in the early period of my work with CAGE. My two older brothers, they had been reading my articles and had noticed the sort of work I was doing, came into my room and they said “we really like what you are doing and we want you to know that as long as you want to do this, you do it, even when you get married, even when you have kids, and if you never make enough money from this, we will always be there to support you, but promise us that you will not leave this path you have chosen for yourself”. I recognize this is a very unique situation to be in [of] having people that remind you that rizq is from Allah and nothing that you do will take away from what has been assigned to you. It makes a huge difference.
Allah SWT brought rizq from so many different directions. I have friends of mine in the corporate world who are constantly complaining about how much of a problem money is in their lives. Even CAGE, CAGE has now not have had a bank account for 6 years. The charities which had their bank accounts shut at the same time as us, none of them survived, and this is such a profound reminder that is Allah wants something to survive, it will survive. The moment Allah wants to end CAGE, it will end, in that moment, there is nothing we can do to keep it alive. When we say La Hawla wala Quwwata Illa Billah15, it means there is no power greater than Allah. The brothers and sisters at CAGE, SubhanAllah, they have endured much more than me but Allah SWT always found a way out for them, which is a remarkable thing.
UA: A very strong, and I would say very important reminder about the power of Allah. We always hear stories from the past but sometimes we struggle to make the connection with people in the past. I think it is important that we highlight stories like this from the present times.
DA: Your newest book, it has an interesting title, “A Virtue of Disobedience”. Usually disobedience has negative connotations – it is seen as a threat to order in society, it is presented in the context of “even if there is some benefit, there is more harm” so we should avoid resisting authority. What can be virtuous about disobedience?
AQ: I chose the title because in the Ramadan of 2017, I was attending a Friday prayer with my sons, very young kids, and the Imam was saying “one day of anarchy is worse than a thousand years of oppression”. I was like, okay, this is a narration used widely in some circles, but then we went on to say that disobedience to the state is disobdience to Allah SWT, and even further, that, even if the police brutalizes you, you should not resist, that demonstrating against it is an act of kufr16. I was sitting there, fuming. Not wanting to walk out of Jummah, I remained seated. Remember we teach our children obedience to parents, to grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, anyone in a position of tutelage, but that day, for the first time, I told my kids that look, the scholars don’t always get things right, sometimes they are unable to reach the depths of the message Allah SWT is trying to give us. Obviously in a much more child-like way, I explained to them that if the police brutalized you, it is not kufr to resist that. You must stand up for yourself.
That night I started writing notes to myself, trying to understand where this idea of subservience to tyranny came from, whether this ethic existed in the Quran and, going further, whether the ethic of disobdience to power is there.
So every night, between Qiyam ul Layl17 and Fajr, I used to write, and by the end of Ramadan I had finished the book. The more I read the Quran, the more I was convinced that the Quran presents disobdience to zulm, all forms of it, including shirk, as virtuous. That is what I mean when I talk of disobdience being virtuous.
DA: Thank you, that’s very comprehensive and it actually reminds me of the story of Musa AS and his clear disobdience with his brother to Firoun at that time because, Firoun was obviously a tyrant so I think that’s a good example.
AQ: Musa AS features heavily throughout the book, it was always going to happen because His story is the archetypal story of disobedience.
UA: Right. During this conversation, I couldn’t help but recall what Marx says about religion – that it is the opium of the people. I sort of get the context in which he might have said that.
You, on the other hand derive a lot of inspiration from the Quran. What is it about the Quran that makes it so important to your work?
AQ: I think all of the ideas we have around justice and injustice in the world, they all exist within the Quran. Whatever topic I addressed in the book, and the book is essentially a treatise against authoritarianism, I found them all in the Quran.
I went through the whole Quran and did not find a single ethic which said subjugate yourself to tyranny. The closest I found was, if oppression gets overwhelming, run away, do not cave in, run away and seek refuge like the Ashab ul Kahf.
Because of the way I work, as a researcher, I catalog quotes from everything I read so, while writing the book I was going through the works of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis through the Quran and I was like, well, all their ethics are present here. The most fascinating for me was when I got to Surah Ghafir and I came across the story of Qaroon. He was from the oppressed community, from Bani Israel, but Allah condemns him. His name is mentioned alongside Firoun and Haaman – tyrants – despite the fact that he is from the community of the oppressed. He is a compromised individual, a native informant. Qaroon embodies [Frantz] Fanon’s colonized subaltern, as he describes it in “Black Skin White Masks”. Predominant civil rights movement activists talked about this, Maya Angelou talked about this, Mohammad Iqbal talked about this – this compromised individual, this native informant.
Similarly, one of the things that struck me, and in the book I mention this, I had a conversation with Dr. Uthman Latif on how in Surah Burooj Allah SWT uses the word (قعود) “Qu’ood” for the guards who dug the pit and were looking at the believers burning in it. Qu’ood is not just sitting and watching, it is sitting leisurely – the guards were sitting and leisurely watching the believers burn. Later when I read “The Holocaust: A New History” by Lawrence Rees, he mentions a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the person describes SS guards listening to Mozart and Beethoven while people were burning behind them in the crematorium. So it had everything Surah Burooj had and suddenly it becomes a reminder that these things also happen in the real world.
It is important that we know, and we understand, and we remember that the Quran is a book of guidance – it is the truth of the world we live in. It is not something that exists in an abstract space, you know, when Allah talks about ahsan-ul-qasas19, yes it is a great story but it is a story with meaning. I have interviewed prisoners all over the world who were in Guantanamo and other prisons around the world, they say they went to the university of Yusuf AS. For them, Surah Yusuf is not just ahsan-ul-qasas, it is a Surah of actual guidance in their life. Speaking to one prisoner who wouldn’t sign a statement accepting he was Al-Qaida, just like Yusuf AS, when he was told to come and meet the king and he says yes but first clarify that issue about my case.
These people embody the Quran, not just as ahsan-ul-qasas but as guidance, these people who held onto the Quran in the most difficult circumstances, I think we should admire them for that.
UA: Definitely. You mentioned bad representation, by compromised individuals. We might say to counteract bad representation, there is good representation.
You mention representation quite a bit in your book, tying this to research published recently about Liverpool [F.C.’s] forward Mohamed Salah which noted how racist behaviour in Liverpool has gone down significantly since Salah’s inclusion in the team, I would like to ask you this, how do Salah, Pogba and Khabib fit into this representation debate?
AQ: You know, I am not a fan of representation politics. I think whenever we see Muslims doing something praiseworthy, we should praise them but I think we set a very low bar for ourselves when we say that we can only become human beings for wider society if we excel at the level of Mohamed Salah. If we weren’t that exceptional, somehow our value has not been achieved. It becomes tricky terrain for us when we commodify ourselves by believing in the neoliberal notion that our value is not intrinsic to our humanity but associated with some outside marker.
In the newer version of my book I have a complete section addressing just this, the issue of neoliberalism. Look, I enjoy football [soccer], and of course when we see Muslim prayers acknowledging their Islam in public, we feel proud but, what is the long term value of this happiness? Imagine Mohamed Salah didn’t score those goals, and he hadn’t been successful, are we saying, then, that he is now somehow responsible for racism in Liverpool city, that he is at fault for not representing Muslims?
A friend of mine Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, she has a poem which asks questions around this idea. She says, “Love us when we are broken, love us when we have absolutely nothing to give you, because if you want me to prove my humanity, I am not the one that’s not human”. Our Islam is not predicated on our ability to produce, it is based solely on taqwa, and of course the ultimate arbitrer of taqwa is Allah SWT, we, as humans, can never gauge taqwa.
We need to have that marker in our lives, that what is my level of taqwa compared to my performance in the world, and do I link the two, or do I secularize my life and separate the two? Because, in my view a person who secularizes it will always end up putting the dunya first.
UA: We are approaching the end of the interview, and here I would like to address one of the issues I feel is very important given the circumstances of the world today. Today, the woes of the ummah are so many, from Burma to Kashmir to China, but here in the West, we also have our own problems like the growth of Islamophobia, and the growth of the surveillance state. There seems to be a growing idea that we should not worry about what goes on five thousand miles away and start looking inwards. In your view, is there still merit in upholding the idea of the ummah today?
AQ: These are very hard questions. Previously the concept of fard-ul-kifayah20 in the context of zulm21, was understood in terms of geographical proximity. In Imam Malik’s Mutawwa22 there is an analysis around cities being attacked. When one city gets attacked, it is fard-ul-ain23 for them to defend themselves, but if it is unable to do so, the obligation gets transferred to the next closest city.
Let us expand a military attack to all injustice. The question I ask myself is, in a globalized world where it is easier for an American to send aid to Syria than an Egyptian to do so because of the realpolitik of the world, how does that obligation change? I think we need to understand our obligation to the ummah24, and upon whom the primacy to act falls upon, in the context of politics, access to technology and wealth all combined. Going back to my Afghan farmer, my understanding is that we have a greater obligation to the people of Palestine than him.
The question I ask in the new version of the book is around ayah twenty nine of Surah Nisa25, where Allah says, “do not engage in unjust trade except my mutual consent,” and later, “whoever does so will find hellfire in store for himself.” What is mutual consent in an unjust trade? Say, for example, you go to Primark to buy clothes, it is a Halal contract, but behind this is another contract between Primark and a Bangladeshi sweatshop; the only choice those workers have is to take a slave wage or die. Is that a contract of mutual consent? I am not giving a ruling here, but I am asking, knowing this, is the contract in the West still legitimate? What does that mean in the context of this ayah26? Can we really say what goes on five thousand miles away has no bearing, no implication, on our lives? I don’t think so. Remember there is a hadith27 of the Prophet peace be upon him about a traveler in the desert making du’a, and Allah says how can I accept his du’a when his food, his drink, and his clothes – a category we often overlook – are sourced from non-permissible means.
How can we secularize the situation five thousand kilometers away when we are being asked these important questions in the Quran itself. In this context, I think not caring is just a way of trying to evade culpability and Allah knows best.
There is a sister in Chicago, Hoda Katebi, who has been thinking about these questions and working on to produce ethical fashion. I learnt a lot from her.
I think it is important that we take from everyone everything even if we are not from the same theological tradition – that brings us closer to Allah SWT.
DA: I actually didn’t think about that issue in this way, you really gave a fresh perspective on the issue, jazakAllah Khair for that.
To end it off in a lighthearted way, I would like to ask you what a rather personal, and perhaps the most difficult question of the day. If you were to suggest two books, one fiction and one non-fiction to our readers, what would they be?
Man, that is a tough one, like I am surrounded by thousands of books right now.
Okay, there is one non-fiction I recommend, “Locking Up Our Own” by James Forman Jr. about how sometimes we ourselves can be responsible to produce legislation which ultimately goes to harm ourselves. I benefited from it a great deal.
Fiction, man I love fiction, I love Dune [by Frank Herbert] man.
DA: The Dune series.
AQ: Even the first book. There are probably a hundred more I can suggest, but it’s just an amazing book.
Arabic Words Used in the Text of this Article and their Meanings
- Qadr: predestination
- Alhamdulillaah: All praise belongs to Allah
- Tarbiyah: Nurturing of one’s character
- Murrabbis: The person responsible for tarbiyah. A teacher.
- Khair: Good
- Halaqat: Circles
- Deen: Faith
- Akhuwat: Brotherhood
- Subhanahu wa ta’ala: Above everything
- Du’a: Supplication
- Rizq: Sustenance
- Umar bin Khattab: A companion of the Prophet PBUH who later served as the second rightly guided Caliph.
- Khabbab ibn Arat: A companion of the Prophet PBUH who was badly tortured by the people of Makkah.
- InshaAllah: God willing
- La Hawla Wala Quwwata Illa Billah: There is no power except Allah
- Kufr: Disbelief
- Qiyam ul Layl: Nightly prayer prayed in congregation during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar
- Ashab ul Kahf: A group of believers mentioned in Surah Kahf (the 18th chapter of the Quran) who, fearing persecution took refuge in a cave outside their settlement.
- Ahsan al Qasas: The best of stories
- Fard-al-kifayah: The collective obligation of a society
- Mutawwa: One of the earliest collections of the sayings of Muhammad PBUH compiled by Imam Malik bin Anas
- Fard-ul-ain: An obligation upon believing every individual
- Ummah: Nation
- Surah Nisa: The fourth chapter of the Holy Quran
- Ayah: A verse of the Holy Quran.
- Hadith: A saying and/or action of the Prophet PBUH