Answered by SunniPath Answer Service Team
Please define me about you? Who are you? And from whom you take guidance before answering us?
Wa Alaykum Assalam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu,
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful & Compassionate
May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, and his folk, companions, and followers.
Below you will find a little bit about who Sidi Faraz is, who his teachers are, and why he runs SunniPath.
From Teacher Biographies at www.SunniPath.com,
“Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a student of Hanafi fiqh and the Islamic sciences. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Commerce and Economics, he spent three years in Damascus where he studied fiqh, ‘aqida, and other subjects with Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, Shaykh Muhammad Jumu’ah, Shaykh Muhammad Qaylish, Shaykh Mu’min al-Annan, and others.
He then moved to Amman in the summer of 2000, where he has lived since then, continuing his studies with teachers in Jordan, and corresponding regularly with scholars in the Indian Subcontinent. Sidi Faraz is a student of Shaykh Nuh Keller and teaches Hanafi fiqh and other subjects in Amman.”
On a forum, Sidi Faraz recently responded to a similar question as follows:
“It is quite simple: I only answer questions on www.SunniPath.com because I was commanded to work on that project by my teacher and spiritual guide, Shaykh Nuh Keller. He was also the one who told me to develop “some kind of distance learning program.”
I am just a student of knowledge. I am not a scholar by any meaningful standard of what a “scholar” (shaykh) is. However, I have the permission and approval of my teachers to teach and convey the sciences I have learned under them, including fiqh, aqida, and hadith. And Allah alone gives success.”
as-Salam’Alaykum Sidi. We pray you are well inshaAllah. Could you start with telling us about your background?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah, Sidi.
Ultimately, we are from Allah, and He places us where He wills.
My parents are Indo-Pak. My father was born in Bareilly, India, in 1947, right around Partition time. My grandfather (Allah have mercy on him) moved to Karachi shortly thereafter. My mother was born in Punjab, Pakistan, from parents also from UP (Delhi), India. I’ve lived all over: Karachi, UAE, Toronto, London, Cairo (5 years, 78-83), London (83-85), Madrid (85-90), Toronto (90-97), Damascus, and now Amman.
Can you tell us about your experiences while in Egypt and Spain and how they led you to study Sacred Knowledge full time?
I lived in Egypt and Spain as a child. I felt I belonged, in a comfortable, young way: went to private schools; had a warm, caring family.
But, right at the end of my high school years, we suddenly moved to Toronto. This was a big ‘shock’. The question arose: who am I? Am I Pakistani, despite not having lived there? I am certainly not Spanish, nor Canadian (not yet, at least)… So: who am I? Like many thoughts, this lingered on for a few years, and most strongly over my first year at university. The realisation dawned that while “Pakistani” (or, is it “Indian” or “Indo-Pak”?) may describe my origins and certain cultural characteristics, it is not “me.” So: who am I? This haunted me for a while.
I wondered, then, maybe I am “Muslim”. But what does that mean? It was answered for me by a few people who transformed my life, especially Sidi Iqbal Ahmed. He was involved in some local da`wah projects, and invited me to help. Through the company of Sidi Iqbal and others, and then getting involved in the MSA at the University of Toronto I was beginning to find the answers to my lingering questions.
A few years of activism followed with the MSA. Throughout this, however, it was clear in my mind I needed knowledge of my religion, and that I should go abroad – somewhere – to study in depth.
You are well known through your efforts on the very popular Hanafi Mailing List. How did that project come about and what were it’s aims and objectives?
It was initially just emails sent to friends and family, answering their day-to-day fiqh questions. When the number reached around 30, one of the brothers suggested that we turn it into a Yahoo mailing list. After this, the numbers started ballooning. I thought about shutting it down – I have never considered myself fit for such a public service. However, my teachers and friends insisted that I continue. As the list increased, scholars and students of knowledge were added to the team of those answering questions.
The goal of the list is simple: to answer questions facing Muslims in their daily lives, based on the methodology of traditional Sunni Islam, according to the understanding of living scholars. We try to be sensitive to the circumstances and situations of people, without forgetting what is best for them in their relationship with Allah.
You’ve launched the SunniPath website as an extension of the Hanafi list. Please tell us about this project and your future plans for it inshaAllah.
The project is really Sidi Imran Chowdhury’s. He along with Sidi Abdullah Totten, Sidi Ismael Rumzan, Sr. Huma Shah, and others are the soul of SunniPath.
The purpose of SunniPath is to provide people with knowledge they need in their daily lives. This is through 3 main services: the Question and Answer forum; the School (whose purpose is to convey ‘essential knowledge’ through online lessons and materials); and a Library of materials. The Question and Answer service is up and running. The School has a lot of courses that have been prepared, and the ‘coming soon’ sign will be coming off soon inshaAllah. Stay tuned folks…
What are your views on the Internet as a medium for learning Sacred Knowledge? Do you think the madrassas of the future will be online?
I hope not! The teacher-student relationship is essential in conveying knowledge soundly; in conveying sound understanding; in conveying the sound attitude towards Sacred Knowledge; in learning the character and conduct befitting of people of knowledge, devotion to Allah, and sincerity.
This relationship is one of the key sunnas of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Companions of the Prophet were the best of generations because they kept the company of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The Followers were the next best generation, because they kept the company of the Companions (Allah be pleased with them all). The scholars and awliya generally only became what they were through keeping the company of those of realisation. If we seek beneficial knowledge or to travel the spiritual path, the way of success lies in finding true scholars, and following their guidance, example, and teaching.
The services offered by Sunni Path are meant to complement the learning one obtains from living scholars one interacts with; and to give those far from scholars an access to the teaching and guidance of living scholars.
You must receive a large volume of email via the Hanafi list. What can you tell us about the state of the ummah from the mails you receive?
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “My community is like rain: it is not clear whether its first is best or its last.” This refers to the fact that when one looks at the good within the community of the Beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in any generation, one finds unimaginable good. Why? Because every believer’s heart is a mirror reflecting something of the lights of the guidance, example, and perfections of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
There are a lot of people serious about their religion; serious about their relationship with Allah; seeking to learn what they need to draw closer to their Lord. At the same time, there is a genuine lack of knowledge within the Muslim community. This is why it is our duty to seek knowledge; and to support endeavours to spread sacred knowledge. It is a genuine pity that there are many highly talented people who tried to go abroad to study (and were successful in their studies), but had to return home because they did not have the means nor support to finish.
What are the challenges you feel Muslims are facing in terms of religious education?
We need scholars who have deep traditional learning, and an awareness of modern life, culture, and society. In order to develop such scholars, we need to raise awareness of the need for Islamic educational institutions and garner support for them. At the same time, we need scholars and committed Muslims of living hearts – knowledge without the light of faith and piety in the heart is of little benefit. This is why authentic manifestations of Islamic spirituality are key to the success of the Muslim community.
Many people who seek to go abroad to learn, for example, are not seeking knowledge as much as they are trying to find themselves. The way to find oneself is to realise the reality of one’s slavehood to Allah, and then to live and love according to the implications of this realisation.
You were president of your MSA. What advice would you give Muslims on campus?
The words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Have piety of Allah wherever you may be; follow an error with a good deed and it will wipe it out; and deal with people with excellence of conduct.” [Tirmidhi and Ahmad, with a sound (hasan) chain of narrators]
It is essential that Muslims spend time with Muslims in positive ways. For MSAs, it is vital that they be inclusive and make marginal and wary Muslims comfortable within the organization. This is why one of the sunnas of effective calling to religion is to feed people and deal with them with excellence of conduct. Also, it is vital that local MSAs learn from other MSAs, and communicate – they can learn a lot this way, and benefit from the experience and successes of others.
Currently you are based in Jordan, can you tell us about your daily activities there and what you do to relax?
I’m a student of fiqh. I spend my day studying, teaching, answering questions, and researching. In my free time, I like reading (books and online), and spending time with my family (wife and 2 young boys) and friends.
Thank you for your time Sidi and for answering our questions. Can you give us some nashia as we conclude inshaAllah.
Find living scholars of living hearts. Learn from them; emulate their example; seek their guidance; and seek to be as they are.
And Allah alone gives success.
Seeker’s Digest: http://blog.masud.co.uk/faraz.htm
Useful links and articles related to Islam, current affairs, Islamic songs, literature, general interest issues… and life, gathered by Faraz Rabbani (of www.SunniPath.com), a seeker of knowledge.
SunniPath: http://www.SunniPath.com/ An Online Center for Traditional Islamic Knowledge
© 2004 Deenport.com
SunniPath Fiqh Team