The Fitra Lessons 3/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Dr Umar expounds further on the concept of the Fitra, how it ties to the Primordial Covenant, and how natural and easy it is to believe in Allah.

“Truly, Allah will say to the person of the People of the Fire whose punishment is the lightest: ‘If you had everything that is in the Earth will you pay it as a ransom to rid yourself of this punishment?’ The disbeliever will say: ‘Yes.’ Then Allah will say: ‘But what I asked of you when you were in the loins of Adam [peace be upon him] was much lighter than this. Namely, that you not associate anything with me. Yet your refused to do anything but associate others with me.’” (Bukhari)

Faith Is Easy

What this Hadith tells us is that it is easy to be a Muslim. It is easier to believe than it is to disbelieve. The Qur’an (Sura al Haqqa 69:41) says of the disbelievers in Makkah:

قَلِيلًا مَّا تُؤْمِنُونَ

[L]ittle do you believe.

This can be understood to mean that they did not believe at all. But some commentators say that, no, it means exactly what it says. That the disbelievers believed a little bit. That they could not go beyond that because of the fact that there are consequences they fear. They might fear for their jobs, careers, friends, and so on.

Truth Rings True to Our Nature

One sees this often with people. You present the truth to them. They accept it a little bit but then think “Uh oh, I‘ve got to get rid of this because it will lead to other things.”

That is also why one of the great signs of tawfiq, of success, is when we have the courage to say that “I will follow the truth.” Yet in the end, it is easy for us to be ourselves, and to believe is to be yourselves.

Allah took the primordial covenant in Na‘man, which is Wadi ‘Arafa. That dry valley we cross upon a long bridge to go from the Haram of Makkah to ‘Arafa. All of us who assemble there by the billions go back to the place you already know.

The Mother of All Towns

You are going back to Umm al Qura: The Mother of all Towns. To the place where the primordial covenant was taken. On that day we heard Allah’s Eternal Speech (Sura al A‘raf 7:172):

أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ

Am I not your Lord?

This Eternal Uncreated Speech connected you to the Infinite Knowledge of Allah. We all heard Him speak on that day. And all that we find beautiful – the glitter of jewelry, the playing of a flute, the song of a bird – we think of it as such because it reminds us, deep down, of the words of Allah on that day. “Am I not your Lord?”

We did not just hear Allah. We saw Him, directly. One on one. Just as we will in the Garden. For the greatest reward of the Garden is to see Allah. As He says in Sura al Qiyama:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَةٌ
إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

Faces, on that Day, will be radiant
Looking at their Lord. (75:22-23)


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were originally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Fitra Lessons 2/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

The fitra when it pertains to us includes everything that is true to our nature. The human fitra, is especially great, good, and praiseworthy.

Allah says in Sura al Rum (30:30):

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [To] the fitra of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.

This verse is the verse of the Fitra of Allah. It indicates that human beings are perfectly created. Although all other creatures have fitra we do not call that the fitra of Allah. It is the greatest fitra of them all.

Allah’s masterpiece is the human being when the human being is at his or her best. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “There is no child born but that it is born [entirely] on the Fitra.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah says, in a Hadith Qudsi, “Verily I created My servants as hanifs. Then the satanic demons came to them and diverted them away from their religion. And they declared to be forbidden what I had made permissible for them. And they commanded them to associate with Me that which is not Divine, and for which no authority had been sent down.”

The basic meaning of hanif is “to incline toward the truth and away from falsehood.” All human beings were created this way. The fasiq, who inclines towards falsehood and away from the truth, is the opposite of the hanif. But Allah did not create anyone as a fasiq.

Abraham’s Nursery

On the Night Journey, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said [to the angels]: “Truly, I have some tonight something amazing. So, what is it that I have seen?” And the angels said “As for the tall man in the garden, it is Abraham, peace be upon him. As for the children around him, they are every child born that died on the fitra.” Then some of the Muslims said: “Messenger of Allah, even the children of idolators?” And he, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Even the children of idolators.” (Bukhari)

This is the nursery of Abraham, peace be upon him. It is the place where all children who die before the age of maturity go. All the children present there are described as the most beautiful of children, whether they were born of Muslims, Christians, idolators, even.

The beauty of these children indicates again the beauty of the fitra. They are manifestations of that fitra – the embodiment of it.

These children are worthy of the company of Abraham, peace be upon him, for although they did not follow him, they died on the fitra – on the primordial covenant.

The Primordial Convenant

There are many hadith on the primordial covenant. They are all commentaries on Sura al Araf (7:172-173):

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَافِلِينَ

أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ

And when thy Lord took from the children of Adam, from their loins, their progeny and made them bear witness concerning themselves, “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Indeed, we bear witness.” Lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, “Truly of this we were heedless.”

Or lest you should say, “It is only that our fathers ascribed partners unto God before us, and we were progeny after them. Will You destroy us for that which the falsifiers have done?”

The Cornerstone of Sacred History

All commentators agree that these verses are proof texts on the fitra. The vast majority of commentators take the story literally. Scholars who believe that it is literal allow others who disagreed to take it metaphorically.

The standard position on this text is to take it literally. It is a reference to the Days of Days, the primordial day – the foundation of Allah’s purpose in creation. This verse is the cornerstone of Islamic sacred history and anthropology.

It establishes that the fundamental relationship between Allah and all human beings is premised upon the simple, unmediated recognition of Allah’s Lordship that took place on this day.


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Fitra Lessons 1/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Faith is natural, says Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah. It is our Fitra. Built into us, it orients us toward worship of Allah and the extent to which we conform to our fitra is the extent to which draw close to Allah.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Then I was brought a bowl of wine and bowl of milk and a bowl of honey. I chose the milk. He [Gabriel] said, ‘It is the fitra. You and your Umma are upon it.’” (Bukhari)

The Meaning of Fitra

The fitra is the natural, inborn disposition of human beings. The word fitra has the same form as words like qibla (the way you turn) or jilsa (the way you sit). Literally “the fitra” refers to the special manner in which Allah creates things. And everything Allah creates has its own fitra.

The fitra of humans is a sign of Allah’s mercy, glory, and the bounty He bestowed on us all. All human beings have fundamentally the same fitra. The particulars differ in individuals, but we all have the same potentialities.

The main feature of fitra is that knowledge of Allah is inborn. It is more precise and profound than any great theologian. There is nothing a great theologian can tell you that you cannot dig out of yourself.

The Desire to Worship

We are also born with a desire or rather a need to worship Allah as strong as the need to eat, drink, and so on. It is a drive. Humans will always worship something. This can be derailed toward worship of other things, but what is derailed is the natural disposition.

More importantly we have an inborn love of Allah. The more we love Allah the more in touch we are with our true selves. The more we love Allah the more “natural” we become, in the sense that you get closer to your inborn nature, or fitra.

Every single human being is, in Latin, homo religiosus. It is our nature. We either get good religion and become good for others, safe for others, beneficial to others. Or we get bad religion. Those who do not believe in Allah and the Hereafter create secular alternatives to religion. We see examples of this everywhere.

The Way We Are and Ought to Be

We all yearn for the Infinite and the Absolute. In absence of that we fill this need with secondary things that we idolize and worship.

The word fan originally means fanatic. The word fanatic (fanaticus/fanatica) originally means idol worshiper. The fan pours into the idol their need and quest and yearning for the absolute that cannot be there in the idol.

Finally, the fitra is everything about us that is the way it ought to be. Being called to Allah is being called to the fitra – to the way things ought to be.


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam, by H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad

A new book by H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan has just been launched to critical acclaim. In this video, he explains why the contents are so relevant and timely.

The world is at a crossroads today. A tiny minority of Muslims seems to be bent on hijacking the religion of Islam and bringing it into perpetual conflict with the rest of the world. Because of their actions, very few non-Muslims understand the real difference between Islam as it has always been, and the distorted perversions of Islam today. This book is an attempt to positively say what Islam actually is—and always was—as well as what it is not.

This talk delivered by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan at Waterstones bookstore on Gower Street, London, United Kingdom.

H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan (b. 1966 CE) was educated at Harrow School, UK; received his BA Summa cum Laude from Princeton University, NJ, USA; his first PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK, and his second PhD from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. He is a Professor of Islamic Philosophy and his book Love in the Holy Qur’an has been widely acclaimed, has gone into ten editions and has been translated into a number of languages. He also serves as Chief Advisor for Religious and Cultural Affairs to H.M. King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan.

H.R.H. Prince Ghazi is the author of A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam which may be purchased through Turath Publishing in the UK.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Ad-Diya al-Lami – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

The Resplendent Illumination: A Remembrancer on the Life of the Messenger & The Purifying Drink: On the History of the Resplendent Messenger (Peace be upon him)

Mawlid of Habib Umar bin Hafiz

This commonly recited works, have been prepared and translated by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan and Shaykh Riyad Saloojee. Offered free, with thanks to DTI Publishing House.
Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan, with the aid of [Shaykh] Riyad Saloojee, has translated from Arabic into English two short works on the Prophetic Biography. These works mention the birth, life and attributes of the Messenger of Allāh – may Allāh send peace and blessings upon him, his family and companions – and also contain supplications to Allāh, the Real, exalted is He.
The first book is entitled “The Resplendent Illumination: a Remembrancer of the Life of the Messenger” and the second, “The Purifying Drink: On the History of the Resplendent Messenger”. May Allāh reward them abundantly for this translation; and for the publication of the works in both English and Arabic so that the non-Arabic speaker may follow the Arabic and understand its meaning.
DOWNLOAD: Two free mawlid books from Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Dr. Ramon Harvey’s “The Secrets of Hajj” Now Online

Dr. Ramon Harvey’s exposition of Imam Ghazali’s Book 7 of the Ihya Ulum al-Din, The Secrets of Hajj, is now online, thanks to Travelling Light.

The Hajj is very much the final frontier for the Muslim; the only pillar of Islam that requires a single execution. Yet the journey to the House of Allah symbolizes man’s true end: a return to the Divine Creator. Dr. Ramon Harvey explores Imam Ghazali’s “The Secrets of the Hajj” explaining the pilgrimage’s essential elements, its properties, its merits, and its mysteries. The lecture is delivered from the Trebbus Mevlevihane in Germany. For more lectures on the Ihya Ulum Al-Din, please visit Classes | Travelling Light.

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Photo by Azfar Ahmad.

Last of the Tasburai: New Sci-fi Novel With A Muslim Twist

Dubbed the ‘Halal Game of Thrones’, the epic fantasy novel Last of the Tasburai is an action packed page-turner that will prove popular with Muslim readers, young and old. SeekersHub interviews the author, Rehan Khan.

 

Why did you get into fiction writing?

REHAN: Fiction, particularly fantasy and sci-fi creates a safe place to explore controversial issues the author observes in society. So in the Last of the Tasburai, there is a struggle going on between the forces of extremism and those who seek the middle way. Great works of fiction, such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which the animals overthrow the farmer, are wonderful stories but also powerful metaphors – in the case of Animal Farm, Orwell was making a comment about the brutalities of Stalin’s rule in the former Soviet Union. Last of the Tasburai contains subtle references to historical events, characters, and places. For me understanding history helps make sense of where we are today and provides some idea of where we’re going – history does repeat itself, because human nature remains the same – generosity and greed, love and hate, courage and cowardice.  

What are the key themes in the book?

REHAN: The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle referred to the four virtues a person should strive four – wisdom, courage, temperance (moderation) and justice. I wanted to write a story in which courage was placed at the center. So for Aristotle when courage was in the golden mean it came across as valour, steadfastness and being able to control one’s anger. When courage was unbalanced in a person on the side of excess, it became recklessness and arrogance. When on the side of deficit, it led to cowardice and meanness. So it got me thinking what would happen if the very best people in society developed a misplaced notion of courage. Rather than being steadfast they became reckless and arrogant. What would be the implications for society? From this the idea for the Tasburai warrior emerged. In my mind the Tasburai were the best of the people – an elite selfless warrior class who held deeply mystical beliefs. I like to describe the Tasburai as a cross between Japanese Samurai, with their bushido (the way of the warrior) and Sufi mystics, with their ideas on tasawwuf (spiritual development and cleansing the heart). So the deeper meaning behind the story is the journey human beings take to return to the golden mean, because when we are in the mean, though we’re all different we can connect with other human beings. Whereas when individuals go to the extreme, it polarizes and splits society. The notion of the middle way is reflected in all great traditions. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ reminds the believers to strive for moderation in all actions. Likewise in Confucianism, we have the doctrine of the mean and in Buddhism we have the middle way.

What do your own kids think of it?

REHAN: That’s a difficult one, but I did notice that when my son was reading the novel, he was sitting on the edge of his seat, so perhaps that’s the answer to your question.

Does the book pay particular attention to male, Muslim masculinity? 

REHAN: Not directly, but in a circuitous manner there is a comment. Three of the main protagonists in the novel are women and two are men, which is unusual in the fantasy genre. I’ve always found that women tend to be better at reflecting, whereas men want to do stuff. In their haste and hubris men are often drawn to extremist ideas, which promise immediate results. In the novel there is an extremist group called the Hawarij, which I’ve loosely based on the Khawarij who in the history of the Muslim world were notorious for assuming they were holier than others and as a result everyone but themselves were apostates. Today, groups like Daesh are their inheritors, they’ve always appealed primarily to young men, looking for adventure, or wanting to do something with their life. During the time of Saladin they appear as the Assassins. Saladin was known as magnanimous and generous, even the Crusaders regarded him with reverence, a Knight no less. He negotiated with every group except for the Assassins, who attempted to kill him on at least two occasions. We shouldn’t forget they were called the Assassins or the Hashishins because everyone thought they were taking Hashish – a historical fact to reflect on.       

Who was your muse?

REHAN: I suppose it kicked off in 2009 when my daughter, who was six years old at the time, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Clearly she didn’t appreciate that going to an office every day was work! I wrote a column in The National on 9th November 2009 entitled “What I want to be when I grow up.
It was around this time that I started planning in earnest for the Last of the Tasburai. I attended the Oxford University Summer School for Adults in 2010 and remember sitting under the shadow of Oxford’s medieval castle, scribbling notes about a story centered on courage and valour. It was the genesis of the Tasburai trilogy.

What is your advice to aspiring Muslim writers and what kind of reality check would you offer them?

REHAN: As a writer you must choose to include a selection of elements in your story to arouse a certain emotional response in the reader. These elements relate to: the setting, the characters and the plot. And each of these elements must be infused with conflict. This makes for an interesting read. In order to achieve this, for a first novel you need to spend about 50 per cent of your effort on designing the novel, so designing the setting (location, time period, world/s), the characters (what they look like, who they really are inside) and plot (what is the causation in the story). Last of the Tasburai, took me four years to design and write, end to end. The key is to persevere and keep on practicing. Often the first draft of whatever you write will be poor – I know it happens to me all the time – but keep on uplifting the language, polishing it and it will improve. The horror novelist, Stephen King says that if you want to call yourself a writer, you need to be producing 1000 words per day. That’s advice I’ve always followed.     
Last of the Tasburai is available on Amazon and iTunes.

“On Friendship, Brotherhood and Companionship” now online

There are spiritual advantages to our friendship. Alone we may fall prey to depression, loneliness, or temptation, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks explains in the latest installment of the Travelling Light series.

Shaykh Seraj’s exposition of Imam Ghazali’s Book 14 of the Ihya Ulum al-Din, On the Halal and Haram is now online, thanks to Classes | Travelling Light.

Human beings benefit from companionship, and the company that we keep is extremely important. Shaykh Seraj discusses the importance of fellowship for the spiritual wayfarer in the words of Imam Ghazali.

For more Travelling Light videos, please visit Nursari.

Want to develop your understanding of good character and concern for others? Try taking a FREE online course, such as The Prophetic Call: Imam Haddad’s Counsel on Calling to Allah Explained, taught by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Canada’s first full-time Muslim university chaplain.

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Cover photo by Craig Sunter.

When Will Muslims Take Back Jerusalem? Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

When will Muslims take back Jerusalem? This question has been asked over and over again during the last few decades…but the answer has always evaded us. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, however, has the answer.

Throughout his life, he has seen Muslims reacting to their situations with radicalism, anarchy, horror, and bloodshed. He doesn’t see them emulating the glory of Islam.

When he looks at them, he doesn’t see the character of the Prophet Muhammad, Salah al-Din, and other heroes of Islam, who treated others so well that they were praised by even their prisoners.

The problem, he says, is that Muslims are reacting too much like the ones that hurt them. We react to evil in kind, forgetting that those people who hurt us are not our teachers. He gives the examples of Imam Ghazali, who was ostracized for his teachings, and Imam Ahmad Zarrouq, who fought for the rights of the Jews, but whose teachings carried far into the future.

Now, left to represent Islam are beautiful stones like the Taj Mahal and the Blue Mosque, but the hearts that built them, are long gone.

 

Cover photo by Asim Bharwani.

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Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

Ever felt broken inside, so badly you wondered whether you’d ever be fixed? In Sarajevo, Bosnia, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad discussed Imam Ghazali’s exposition of repentance and how a person can achieve it.

Relevance of Repentance

What is wrong action? How can we understand our damaged inner state, and repair it? Imam Ghazali explains that repentance consists of knowledge of the act, an emotion of sorrow, and a decisive inner and outward action that will erase the wrong action and help the spiritual wayfarer never to return to it. Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad discusses the Imam’s thoughts from The Sinanova Tekke, Sarajevo.

Our thanks to Travelling Light for this recording.

Cover picture by Anil Kumar.

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