Notes by Sister Shagufta Pasta
On Feb 17th, we were blessed to sit in Shaykh Yahya’s second session for the new SeekersGuidance live class, Exploring the Qur’an. This week, Shaykh Yahya reminded us to make learning about the Qur’an a priority, and emphasized that we need to reflect upon the akhira. He spoke about the reality of the Garden and the Fire and stressed that because it is difficult for the mind to accept these realities, we need to have environments where we can understand these topics.
He also spoke about the need to have role models we can follow, the importance of connecting ourselves to scholars who are part of a tradition, and advised us to take ourselves to account daily. Shaykh Yahya stressed that the more we take ourselves to account now, the better we will be when it comes to the Ultimate Accounting.
I love this class because Shaykh Yahya’s lessons are nuanced. At one point in the class for instance, he mentioned that “no one can ever say that if someone doesn’t wear hijab they are not going to Jannah. One of the most dangerous things you can do is have someone despair of the mercy of Allah and feel distant”. He followed this statement by reminding us that “the rules of the sacred law are beautiful, and we should strive to implement them.” An answer of perfect balance alhamidullah, and the whole session was like that. My notes from class 2 are below.
Exploring the Qur’an with Sh Yahya Rhodus (Class 2 Notes)
- According to our understanding of knowledge, all knowledge comes from Allah, and the greatest of knowledge is that which He revealed in His Book.
- One of the greatest ways we can spend our time is in learning the meanings of wahy (revelation) that were descended to our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). How many difficulties did he go through to convey to us the message?
- The risalah is not light, it is heavy. Allah when He refers to this amana (trust), He mentions that He showed it to the mountains, to the heavens, to the earth and they refused to assume it. And it was the human being that assumed it. The human being accepted. That is why legal responsibility is heavy.
- The reality is that everything is serious. The more we reflect on the final abodes, the more we will take our lives seriously. For some people it takes a near death experience, or a tragedy in their lives, or tragedy in the lives of others for this to happen.
- Time is experienced in a relative manner. Surah is talking about the stages after death. The resurrection, the gathering and then we will be driven to the plain of Judgement.
- Every nation will be with their Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). This is where we have to think twice: who are we following in this world? Who do we follow? Who are our exemplars? Allah has given us the exemplar par excellence. If you look around at people, especially youth, who are we following? There are people who see celebrities and faint. As human beings it’s very natural for us to follow people in positions in leadership. But if we follow people who don’t deserve to be followed, where will it lead us?
- If you have patience, or don’t have patience, won’t change situation. What is going to happen will happen. But patience helps you cope. Patience helps you, you aren’t helping patience. Allah made it that we feel naturally good. Allah could have made it the opposite where could have felt bad after doing good, but this is from His blessing that we feel good.
- Then the horn will be blown 2nd time, and people will come to plain.
- Verse 19: The sky is opened and becomes as gates/doors.
- One of the rhetorical devices of saying something in the past, is that it asserts the fact that it is happening.
- The structure of the earth is going to change. We don’t normally think of mountains as being in motion. When we think of mountains, think of stability. On the Day of Judgement, mountains will be set in motion, they will be a mirage. Like scattered dust. Right now when it is daytime, and the sun is shining, see particles in the air. These things are so insignificant, that unless light is shining, we cannot see them. So mountains normally the easiest of things to see. But once they are uprooted, will be a mirage.
- See several verses pertaining to this in succession. Earth will be flattened, will be like wool, when earth violently shakes, it will be like scattered dust, the mountains will be uprooted from the earth. We have phenomenon that are going to take place.
- One of the great overarching themes of the Qur’an is the return. Everything that is going to happen on the Day of Judgement. We forget how much previous people were connected to the Qur’an. Ordinary Muslim would apportion Qur’an in seven parts, so that they would finish it once in seven days. Scholars would finish it much sooner. Previous ummahs had a very close connection to the book of Allah. People had great knowledge of the Book of Allah because they were reciting it often.
- When we come to the book of Allah, must go with humility. If go with arrogance, will miss its signs. Will go astray. When you go to the Qur’an, you will find what you are looking for. Allah tells us this in a Hadith Qudsi where He says, “ I am in the opinion of my Servant.”
- Way you look at the world will be confirmed for you. Believer who is looking at the world will find what they are looking for, an atheist looking at world will find what they are looking for. Both will find confirmation for their beliefs. The person who is going to Qur’an to find guidance will find guidance. Ultimately Islam is about submission. Islam does not go against the intellect, there is nothing in our deen that goes against the intellect. But certain things that the intellect cannot understand, but the heart and the spirit can.
- When we submit to reality, we will be privileged to see things as they are.Then the higher levels of intellect will kick in. At this stage will be light upon light. Light of intellect and light of revelation will complete human being. But to subscribe to a purely rationalist framework and expect everything to be understood through intellect, is setting up a way of understanding the world that is very limited.
- Rational and rationalism (different). Science and scientism are different. A lot of things, most things in existence are beyond science. The things that we can know are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of reality.
- Then Allah goes into series of judgements, and here, it is important to note that yes we have a discourse that divides people into disbelievers and believers.
- Kafir is a farmer. A farmer covers a seed with dirt. Kufr linguistically speaking relates to a covering because the seed of iman exists in the heart of every human being. Every person has the potential to believe.
- Hell is a reality and Jannah is a reality and the Garden is a reality.
- Important to deal with this now because going to come to many verses about Heaven and Hell in this course. Understanding the reality of Hell is not something that is easy for the human being to come to terms with. When we realise that this is eternal punishment, it’s unimaginable. Have to really understand these things theologically, and then do the work so that there is a submission at the heart level.
- Our deen is not taken from books. Our deen is about a tradition of sitting in front of people who sat in front of people, who sat in front of people (..) who sat in front of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In traditional societies, there is a widespread sense of connection to the scholars.
- Difficult for human being to come to terms with Hell in and of itself. But have to understand that this affair has nothing to do with us, Allah has decreed the way it is going to be, and this deen is about submission. Unfortunately we live in a time where it is very difficult to transmit the deen as it is. People if you talk about Hell, they don’t want to listen. But when are we going to put ourselves in an environment where we can grow? Where we can accept the book of Allah as it is?
- Remember:The truth is not in need of us. We need to align our selves with the truth. Things are as our Lord has decreed them to be.
- The Qur’an has promises but also warnings. Fear is an important emotion, even though it’s not liked in the modern world. So is hope. So is love.
- In Surah 21 we are told, indeed Hell lies in wait. We are told the Sirat is 3000 years long and we will cross to the degree that we have istiqama and uprightness in this world.
- Jannah and Naar created now, and they exist right now. This surah is telling us that Hell is a destination for transgressors. To reside therein for ages. They will not taste coolness of drink. There will be nothing that quenches thirst. This is a fitting requital, and this is a suitable reward.
- Note: Allah is Just; everyone will get what he/she deserves. Allah gives His Bounty, His Fadl where He wishes. No one will feel like they were slighted.
- No punishment greater than the naar.
- Take yourselves to account before you are taken to account. The more we take ourselves to account now, lighter it will be on the Day of Judgement. Imam Ghazali mentions how to take ourselves to account.
- Not taking yourself to account is like if someone never looks at bank account, may have all these charges, spent too much etc. Or if you have a business and never crunch the numbers to evaluate how you’re doing. More we take ourselves to account ( for example: before go to bed) the better it is for us.
- Kafr: Someone who has been sent a messenger, given the opportunity to believe and refuses
- Theological distinction: someone who isn’t Muslim, doesn’t mean that are going to the Fire. They may not have heard the message. Ultimately someone’s state with their Lord we don’t know. We just have theological guidelines.
- We need to have environments where we can come to terms with these realities. Let us take our affairs seriously so that we can be among the successful in this world and next. When was the last time that we really seriously pondered the true nature of the way things are?
- People who are taking their lives seriously will do everything possible to be in the Divine bounty.
- No one can ever say that if someone doesn’t wear hijab they are not going to Jannah. One of the most dangerous things you can do is have someone despair and feel distant. At the same time, the rules of the sacred law are beautiful and we should strive to implement them.
- We have to have priorities in our life and we have to make reading the Qur’an a priority. For two months if you worked hard every day you would be reading Qur’an. If you sat with a teacher for 2 months every day for an hour, an hour and a half, you would be reading. There are people who study for several months for the GRE, etc!
- If you were serious, you could learn Arabic. Arabic is not a hard language to learn. Could memorise Quranic vocabulary in a short period of time.
- It has to do with priorities. In your off time, try and recite the Qu’ran. Open it every day and try and read at least a page. If you don’t know Arabic, open a translation and read that alongside. Foundation is that we recite the Book of Allah. and at other times we listen to the book of Allah.
- The more we arrange our lives to learn and take ourselves to account and make dhikr and recite Qur’an, every time you do these things, it increases your iman. And iman is related to light. Move from knowledge of certainty to eye of certainty to truth of certainty.
- I’ve seen people who are in a wakeful state. They don’t fall into ghafla (heedlessness).
- Murabit al Hajj, didn’t even want people around him to talk to him about dunya.
- He is a scholar and a worshipper. He is in the middle of the Sahara desert, and people come to him from the corners of the earth, his sustenance comes to him from all over the world, and he has impacted people from all over the world sitting in the middle of the sahara desert. The things we are experiencing from Zaytuna, Shaykh Hamza, all from light of Murabit Hajj.
- Our goal is to create environments of upcoming scholars and righteous people that we can go to and connect to. There are people who have text and context. This is the essential link that is going to connect us back.
- Salawat and istighfar – we have to focus on these things.