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10 September 2020

Three Questions that Help me Focus

The Islamic New Year is an event filled with great stories, meanings, and blessings. It is a time for renewal, reflection, and restoration. In this article, however, you will find special prayers and devotional acts to mark this occasion and get your New Year started right!

18 August 2020

Hijri New Year

The Islamic New Year is an event filled with great stories, meanings, and blessings. It is a time for renewal, reflection, and restoration. In this article, however, you will find special prayers and devotional acts to mark this occasion and get your New Year started right!

14 August 2020

Thoughts on Zakat

One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.

29 July 2020

Truth, Lies, and Social Media

One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.

9 July 2020

Innovation & Creativity: How to Get Islam Moving Forward

One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.

18 June 2020

Islam is Greater than the Muslims

What role, if any, does and should religion play in politics? In an age when we see many, many religious leaders linked with politics and political parties, I make the argument that this is dangerous and a misuse of religion.

20 May 2020

Expressing Gratitude

In the beginning of his Meditations, the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius begins with a section on debts and lessons. He thanks specific family members, tutors, teachers, and friends for a myriad of reasons. For moral lessons like, “not to waste time on nonsense” and “to recognize the malice, cunning, and hypocrisy that power produces” as well as the mundane like, “introducing me to Epictetus’s lectures-and loaning me his own copy.” In just a few pages Marcus Aurelius manages to run the path from the profane to the sacred and acknowledge the debt he owes to all these acts of kindness and moral examples that helped make and form him. Even though he would end up becoming one of the most powerful men in the world, he still found the time to remember, reflect, and express gratitude to the things that helped him along the way.

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