Your Iman is Not Safe In The Hands of Just Your Intellect

Many of us are struggling with the theory and the intellectual level of our understanding of this religion, for one reason or another. Shaykh Hamdi Benaissa argues that we are shortchanging ourselves if we consign the entirety of our faith to our intellect. Inevitably, the intellect cannot give you iman. In fact, the intellect is not a safe place for your iman. With your intellect – specifically the kind of intellect of today, it is not sufficient to expect to be united with the Prophet ﷺ.

Keep the company of the people of dhikr and pray in the deepest part of the night for Allah to show you the truth.

Watch this brief but profound clip below.

Sincere thanks to the Rhoda Institute of Islamic Learning for this recording. Photo credit: Rajarshi Mitra.

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Charity in the Qurʾān: Preservation of the Inherent Dignity of Recipients

When he was at a stoplight behind a long row of cars a couple of weeks ago, Shaykh Shuaib Ally noticed a man by the side of the road, going from car to car, asking for change.

When he saw the car in front of me, his attitude noticeably brightened, and he walked up to it happily in a confident manner, far removed from the way he had been going about his business before.
The woman in the car had already rolled down her window, and they started exchanging pleasantries, even before he had reached her car or she had given him anything. It seemed to me from the exchange that they already knew each other. He probably regularly saw her when she drove that route, and she had likely made it a habit of giving him some money every time she saw him.
This encounter stayed with me. I thought about it again when I was reading the exegesis of verses describing the righteous: ‘In their wealth, there is a right; for the one who asks, and the one prevented from work’ [51:26]; as well as: ‘Those whom, from their wealth, is a known right, for the one who asks, and the one prevented from work’ [70:29].

With dignity intact

The Qurʾān describes the giving of the righteous right or a due, meaning that they recognize that they aren’t doing anybody else a favour by giving them something they otherwise had no right to. Rather, they consider it a due being returned to the recipient, and a right being fulfilled. They realize that God has placed this wealth in their hands as a trust, and part of fulfilling that trust is to disburse it to those in need.

Ibn ʿĀshūr, the Mālikī exegete, has a related take on the use of ‘right’ in these verses. He says that from the perspective of the giver: “it is as if they have considered the recipient as actual co-owners of their wealth. They do this because of their inherent desire to take into account the feelings of the recipient.”

The recipient too recognizes this. That is why they aren’t made to feel inferior for asking for it, or being in a position in which they must take it. When they take something that is their due and their right, they can do so with their dignity intact. It is not the case that they have been given it as handout, such that they have to feel that their personal honor has been in some way compromised, or that they are beholden to others.
The Qurʾān also calls what is given something set or known. This indicates that the giver already has an idea that they have put aside a set amount to be disbursed to others. This is to say that their mental preparation is to give, not that they need to be convinced to do so.
The recipient also knows this – that the person has money set aside to give. This too preserves their inherent dignity, because they don’t feel like they need to beg them to give them something. Rather, they already know that there is something there for them, irrespective of whether the amount is small or large.
This may be one of the reasons why the trait is so praiseworthy in the Qurʾān, because not only does a person give, but their overall orientation towards giving affects how they give and the manner in which they perceive others. In doing so, they not only benefit others financially, but also positively affect the psychology and behaviour of the recipient as well.

charity in the Quran

Credits: Danny Hahn

Giving privately is best

The situation I described above also reminds me of other instances in the Qurʾān in which a premium is placed on giving due consideration to the dignity and personhood of recipients.
One such indication is found in the special praise reserved for giving in private. The Qur’an says, ‘If you give openly in charity – how excellent that is!  If you conceal the charity, and give it to the poor, it is better for you…’ [2.271].
This concern with privately-given charity is meant to ensure one’s own sincerity in giving by focusing the act of charity rather than the self, and also on the needs of others. At the same time, it is a means of preserving the inherent dignity of the recipient’s personhood, because the public act of giving exposes what is often considered their inferior position to others.

Give what is good

A second indication can be found in the way the Qurʾān demands that what is given to recipients is also what the donors themselves would actually themselves use. It says, “Its expiation is to feed ten poor people, out of what you would normally feed your families” [5:89].
The reason for this is that those involved in charitable efforts might sometimes suffice themselves with the provision of low quality food or itens to those in need, thinking that those in need should be happy with whatever they get.
However, this treats recipients in an undignified manner, as they can see that they are being provided with something that the giver would not themselves consider suitable for normal consumption.
The general Qurʾānic principle, as established in this verse, is to be attuned to the needs of others; to act in a manner that at once assists, while also preserving their human dignity.

Speak kindly

The manner in which the man and the woman that I described above spoke to each other, also reminds me of the important connection the Qurʾān draws between giving and speaking kindly. This is meant to offset any shame or resentment a person who is forced to ask and receive might naturally feel. This is highlighted in a number of verses dealing with this theme.

As the default, the Qurʾān prohibits us from speaking harshly to beggars [93:10]. When a person is forced into a situation in which they have to ask others for assistance, their doing so is generally indicative of an underlying need. If a person does not want to assist them, the least they can do is not exacerbate their situation by speaking unkindly, thereby humiliating them.

Better than this, however, is to want to give to those asking. In a situation in which one has nothing to give and has to turn those asking away, the Qurʾān nevertheless commands us to speak kindly to them [17:28]. This is a means of consoling those asking and rehabilitating their dignity, even though they have not actually benefited materially from you. Because this benefits them psychologically, it is superior to harming or ignoring them.
If a person can give, the Qurʾān praises those who do so without following it up with reminding the recipient about it [2.262]. This is because doing so would then become a constant source of shame for the recipient.

charity in the Quran

Credits: Spyros Papaspyropoulos

One of the reasons people do not like to benefit materially from others is because they feel like they will then be beholden to the other. The Qurʾānic model shows that the outlook of a charitable person is to give without expecting anything in return; it is to benefit others without the idea that they will then hold some type of right over them.
Finally, there are some situations in which a person does not ask, but you know that they internally desire something because of their impoverished situation. The Qur’an describes such a situation: the estate of a deceased is being divided, and there are those present who have no legal share to claim, yet internally desire some of it [4.8]. In such a situation, the Qurʾān commands us to speak kindly to them, even though they have no legal claim to any of this wealth.

Kindness is excellence

The Qurʾān’s insistence on treating others with kindness when asked for charity is thus part of a general Qurʾānic theme of describing the attitude of those who give with excellence.
The Qurʾān is not only concerned with our benefiting others materially and financially. It also demonstrates a concern for us changing our orientation towards giving, in a way that not only benefits financially, but also psychologically. This new Qurʾānic outlook is one that situates giving in a context that takes into account and preserves the dignity of those who are in less desirable economic circumstances.
And God knows best.

Cover photo by Rui Duarte. Others by Danny Hahn and Spyros Papaspyropoulos.

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Why Islam Makes Sense. Shaykh Ahmad Sa’ad Makes A Compelling Case.

Why are we Muslim and do we often take our faith for granted? What makes this faith unique and why does it make so much sense? What does Allah mean when he says he has perfected this religion?
Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad al-Azhari, Director of the Ihsan Institute, takes on the enormous task of trying to answer these questions. Our sincere thanks to Simply Islam in Singapore for making this recording available.

Why Islam?

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VIDEO: Sins of the Heart, Imam Nahlawi’s Uncovered Pearls

A two-part course with Shaykh Faraz Khan on the sins of the heart from Imam Nahlawi’s Uncovered Pearls on the Lawful and Prohibited, A Manual on Ethics, Character, and Creed.

Imam Nahlawi was a Damascene scholar of the last century (d.1931CE/1350AH) whose book is a notable contribution to the Islamic legal and ethical canon. The sections discussed in this course are summations of earlier formative works on Islamic ethics, such as Imam Ghazali’s Revival of the Religious Sciences.
Imam Nahlawi’s fascinating work expounds upon the lawful and prohibited related to food, clothing, gender relations, earning a living, and general sins of the tongue, heart and limbs. However, far from being just a fiqh text, it discusses the ethics and virtues related to these issues, providing a well-rounded understanding. Many of the questions you have about daily life will be answered through this manual; you will be exposed to those areas of fiqh rarely looked at, but that govern our everyday actions; and most importantly, you will gain confidence in your every act of worship.
Most of the major fatwā collections contain a chapter on the lawful and prohibited (hazar wa ’l-ibaha). This manual draws from the major works and is supplemented with ample evidence from the Qur’an and hadith. It has been used as a scholarly reference for decades. The rulings in this work are relevant to all Muslims seeking an authoritative Sunni manual on the halal and haram in Islam. [source]


This course was held over two Saturdays, March 19th and 26th, 2016 at MCC East Bay 5724 W Las Positas Blvd, Pleasanton, CA 94588.

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Cover photo by Syed Nabil Aljunid.

Can I Make Dua In My Own Language and Not In Arabic?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani was asked if we may supplicate to Allah in a language other than Arabic, particularly as many are not fluent in the Arabic language.

His answer may surprise you – he says not only may we make dua in any language we are comfortable with, in fact, we should.

Dhikr for the Month of Sha’ban – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

*This blog is sourced from Muwasala. Click here for the original post.

Sayyidi al-Habib Umar bin Hafīz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) said:
We would like our brethren to make the following dhikr in Sha`bān, 4000 times if possible:

لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنْ الْظَّالِمِين                                               

La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu min az-zalimin

‘There is no deity other than You. Transcendent are You, truly I am one of the wrongdoers.’

They should also read the following prayer upon the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in abundance:

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وسَلِّمْ على سَيِّدِنا مُحَمّدٍ و على آلِ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمّدٍ ، صَلاةً نَكونُ بِها

مَحْبُوبِينَ لَكَ و مَحْبُوبِينَ لَه فِي عَافِيَة

Allahumma salli wa sallim `ala sayyidina Muhammad wa`ala ali sayyidina Muhammad salatan nakunu biha mahbubina laka wa mahbubina lahu fī `afiyah.

O Allah, bestow Your prayers and peace upon our Master Muhammad and upon the family of our Master Muhammad, and by these prayers make us beloved to You and beloved to him in a state of wellbeing.


Merits of Sha’ban – Muwasala

Welcoming the Month of Sha’ban – Interpreter’s Path Blog

The Blessings of the Night of Mid-Sha’ban | Nur Sacred Sciences
It is Recommended to Perform Extra Worship on the Night of the 15th of Sha’ban?
Preparing For Ramadan Advice from Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Muharram & New Beginnings, a sermon by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

‘Think not of those who are slain in the way of Allah as dead. Nay they are living! With their Lord they have provision. Jubilant are they because of that which Allah hath bestowed upon them of His bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not joined them but are left behind: that there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. They rejoice because of favour from Allah and kindness, and that Allah wasteth not the wage of the believers’. Surah Al-Imran Verses 169-171

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad began his khutba by noting that shahada is not to be simply translated as martyrdom, but rather an act of ultimate sincerity and testimony. In the pre-Islamic period a death was a cataclysmic event, but tawhid brought with it the knowledge that as you die, you pass through the veil towards God Himself. This is why the martyr is shaheed, witnesser, as he lays down his life knowing where his destiny lies.

Shaykh Abdal Hakim then went on to explore the themes of the Holy Month of Muharram, a month where acts are subjected further to the Divine Scrutiny, especially in the first 10 days and none more so than on the 10th: Ashura. The history books – sometimes verifiably, sometimes less so – tell of an Ancient day resonating through the ages with tremendous affairs: the day of the Exodus of Musa, the day Allah relented toward Adam, the end of the Flood of Nuh, the day Sulayman was crowned, the day Allah relented toward Dawud, the day Isa was born, may Allah’s peace be on them all. The thread that runs through all these events is one of spiritual renewal, a movement from sin toward obedience, shadows to light.

The day was also of course the day upon which the most tragic event in the history of Islam after the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, occurred. The events of the dread day of Karbala are well known and the shaykh recounted them, but he moves on to ask ‘what should be the monotheistic response to this apparently terminal and unimaginable disaster?’ Of course grief and sorrow spring forth. But hanging onto the thread of spiritual renewal we note that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan gave an Ashura speech last year when he noted that “Karbala is a sign of Unity, everybody agrees on the principle of it, nobody supports the killing, nobody takes the side of the killers”.

The shaykh went onto note how Karbala – not just Ashura – is commemorated by the Sunni population in Istanbul, for example at the Sunbil Sinan Pasha Camii in Koca Mustafa Pasha district, where thousands take part in mersiye (lament) poems and read a khatm of the Qur’an for the shuhada of that day. What emerges from these gatherings is a feeling of optimism and joy, spurred on by the words of Allah “they are alive in the presence of their Lord, receiving sustenance”. To the extent of what we believe about shahada, something in us is glad. We grieve because those we love are no longer here and their relatives suffer, but in our heart of hearts we rejoice for they have moved through this Vale of Tears and are in the presence of their Lord, in the highest of gatherings.

Listen to this sermon on the SeekersHub podcast. Re-published with sincere gratitude to the excellent cambridge khutbas etc. site. Support the New Cambridge Mosque Appeal.

 

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