Never an Empty Shell: The Purpose of Guidance

Islam is a difficult word for many to grapple with these days. Associated with some of the ugliest images we see in the media, both Muslims and non-Muslims today have found themselves confused by what this term means and what set of values it represents. While most Muslims argue that the greatest value it represents is mercy, some – be they extremists or news pundits – make very different claims regarding what Islam is about, seeing it either as a fascist philosophy promoting violence or an empty shell of rules and regulations meant to control society. Frustratingly, these people use and interpret Islam’s own texts to promote such views, leading to much confusion and doubt among Muslims and their non-Muslim peers.

Beyond sensationalism

So what is Islam really about? In SeekersHub course The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi), Shaykh Faraz Rabbani offers some insight into this question.

Shaykh Faraz begins to discuss Islam by moving beyond the sensationalism and spectacle of the media, saying that, ultimately, Islam offers what all serious religions and philosophies attempt to provide: an explanation for the miraculous and jarring fact of our existence.

“If you look at human beings in this life, their example is like someone who wakes up on a train that’s moving really fast,” said Shaykh Faraz. “Those of intelligence, if they suddenly woke up and found themselves on a train that is moving, they’d ask themselves certain urgent questions… How did I get here? Where am I going? What’s going to happen? Then, given all that, what am I supposed to be doing while I’m [here]?”

These questions have weighed on some of the greatest human minds, from ancient philosophers to modern quantum physicists, and the discussions emerging from them among Muslim scholars, under the subject of creed (aqidah) are the foundation on which Islam rests. Ignoring them means building a religion on shaky ground, and ultimately makes religion collapse in on itself.

Such topics are completely off the radar of the fanatics and Islamophobes who put forward a shallow and contorted image of this faith. They prefer to focus on the laws of Islam as the ultimate manifestation of religiousity, but even then their focus on the law is imbalanced.

Sharia as the ethic of mercy

The shari’a, or legal system, of Islam is one that has always been founded on the ethic of mercy, said Shaykh Faraz. Any legal rulings that are not founded on mercy cannot be considered true to the tradition of the Prophet (pbuh), who was a fount of mercy.

“Every teaching of Islam is a manifestation of divine mercy, and any understanding of Islam that is lacking in mercy is lacking in understanding,” said Shaykh Faraz, quoting well-known scholar Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.

The root of extremism

Man reading Quran learning studentThe lack of mercy present in the Islam put forward by extremists often stems from two things. The first is when people not properly trained by qualified teachers begin to take rulings from old books of law without understanding the context those rulings were used in nor the context in which they must be interpreted and applied today. This is contrary to much of Islamic history, when scholars underwent decades of training in vast subjects so they could appropriately understand how the law could fit into the cultures and expectations of their time.

The second reason the brand of Islam expounded by extremists lacks mercy is that it is completely cut off from what has traditionally been the heart of the faith: ihsan, or spiritual excellence. Throughout the centuries, it was well-accepted that as a Muslim one had to constantly strive against one’s ego. Sins like greed, jealousy, lust and a hunger for power – present in many extremist ideologies – had to be continuously purged from the heart. If they were not removed from the heart of the one representing Islam or putting forward Islamic law, then what would come from that person is spiritual poison merely coated with an Islamic veneer. This is far from what the Prophet ﷺ taught.

Never an empty shell

“The teaching of the Prophet ﷺ was not merely to transmit guidance,” said Shaykh Faraz, “but also to explain to us and manifest to us the very purpose of guidance, which is… how to be characterized by excellence in your relating to God and your relating to God’s creation.”

Islam, when understood and practiced correctly, was never an empty shell of rules and regulations that could be twisted to conform to the destructive desires of extremists. It was and remains a path to reflecting God’s love, mercy and beauty as we make good our relationship with Him and serve Him in this world.
Nour Merza

To learn more about what Islam truly represents and how it functions as a practical source of wisdom and mercy in a Muslim’s life, sign up for our Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) course today! 

Resources for Seekers

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks’ "On the Halal and Haram" now online

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks’ 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.

Relevance in the Modern World

In this book, Imam Ghazali synthesizes theory with application, discussing features of the halal and haram, and then offers a way of applying one’s knowledge to overcome day to day challenges. Shaykh Seraj navigates this difficult terrain with erudition and insight into how the words of Imam Ghazali resonate in the modern world.
All revenue from purchases will support the establishment of the Cambridge Mosque, to be built in the historical city of Cambridge, UK. Please visit Travelling Light for more information on the Cambridge Mosque project. For more lectures on the Ihya Ulum Al-Din, please visit Classes | Travelling Light.

Cover photo by Matt Harvey.

“Signs of the Scholar of the Hereafter” – By Imam al-Ghazzali & Translated by Shaykh Nuh Ha Meem Keller

By Imam al-Ghazzali & Translated by Shaykh Nuh Ha Meem Keller in “Sea Without Shore”


[1] He does not seek this world by his religious learning, for at [the] very least a scholar is someone aware of this world’s wretchedness, triviality, sordidness, and ephemerality; and the next world’s magnificence, permanence, blessings, and vastness – and that the two are opposites.

[2] His deeds do not belie his words, and he does not tell anyone to do something without himself being the first to do it.

[3] He is devoted to knowledge beneficial in the next world, that which increases desire for acts of worship, and he shuns branches of religious learning that are of little benefit, or mainly debate and gossip.

[4] He is disinclined to luxury in food and drink, enjoyment of clothes, and embellishment of furnishings and housing, preferring less therein, emulating the early Muslims (Allah have mercy on them), and inclining towards the minimum in everything.

[5] He keeps as far from rulers as possible, never going to visit them as long as there is any way to evade them.

[6] He is reluctant to give formal legal opinion (fatwa), refrains from verdicts about matters unclear, and avoids giving opinions whenever he can.

[7] His main concern is knowledge of the inward and keeping watch over his heart, knowing the path of the next world and traveling it, knowing the path of the next world and traveling it, sincerely hoping to be shown it by combating his ego (mujahada) and spiritual vigilance over himself (muraqaba), since subduing the ego leads to beholding the Divine (mushahada).

[8] He perpetually strives to deepen his inward certitude (yaqin), which is one’s capital in religion.

[9] He is somber, subdued, bowed of head, and spare of words, the awe of the Divine being plain in his manner and dress, movements and rest, speech and silence. No one sees him without being reminded of Allah Most High, his mien bespeaking his works.

[10] He mainly seeks knowledge of spiritual works and what vitiates them, what disturbs the heart, what raises baseless misgivings (waswasa), and what provokes evil, for preventing evil is the basis of religion.

[11] He relies in his branches of learning upon genuine insight and what he knows from the bottom of his heart, not merely upon what he finds by reading treatises and books, or blindly repeating what he has heard another say. For the only one unconditionally followed is he who brought us the Sacred Law (Allah bless him and give him peace), in what he commanded and stated. The prophetic Companions are but followed because their deeds indicate what they heard from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

[12] He shuns spurious matters in religion newly begun [such as, for Ghazali, purely speculative scholastic theology], even if a scholarly majority adopt them, being undeceived by what was inaugurated after the Companions (Allah be well  pleased with them); but rather dedicating himself to learning how they were, and what they did in their lives.”

(Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din [33], 1, 53-70])

Resources for Seekers:

Love & Balance: Following Our Scholars to Allah
The threat to religious guidance – the importance of Spreading Prophetic Light
Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean?

SeekersHub’s Reading List for Kids

As summer winds to a close, school is once again on the horizon. Parents can make the most of these last weeks of time at home by exposing their children to beautiful, inspiring literature that they may not come across in the classroom.

The problem with many children’s books today, however, is that they are often made to entertain rather than educate and may promote values that are at odds with Islamic morals. To address this issue, the language arts teachers at ILM Tree Homeschool Cooperative in Lafayette, California, have offered us a reading list of classical and contemporary children’s books that both delight and enlighten. Their message and book recommendations are below:

After years of reading children’s literature, the teachers at ILM Tree have assembled this list of recommended reading by grade, up to the end of junior high. Books were chosen primarily based on the values taught and the quality of the writing, but an effort was also made to ensure the ethnic diversity of the characters. Please note that, although these are books we love, we cannot expect a complete reflection of our worldview in books written by people of other faiths, so discussion is always recommended. Please make du’a for the children of the ummah struggling to hold onto their deen and for the compilers of this list. Jazak Allau khairan.

Chair for my Mother Vera Williams

Age 0 – Kindergarten:

1. The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown: Available as a picture book or a board book, the simple but poetic prose helps children connect to nature while lulling them to sleep.
2. The Hundredth Name by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim: This beautifully illustrated tale features a boy who turns to Allah in prayer out of care and concern for his camel.
3. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell: A touching story that teaches about perseverance, patience and putting others before oneself.
4. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams: A heartwarming story that teaches about a community coming together to help a neighbor in need; the protagonist is a little girl who looks out for her mother’s comfort.
5. Erandi’s Braids by Tomie dePaola: A valuable lesson about sacrifice and putting one’s own needs aside in order to help one’s mother.

 

A-Days-Work-Bunting-Eve

First Grade – Third Grade:

1. A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting: A heartwarming story about the importance of telling the truth and the value of honest labor.
2. Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik: Sweet stories about family life; the protagonist has exquisite adab (manners) when addressing his parents.
3. A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban: Teaches about fair play and not letting oneself be taken advantage of.
4. Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett: In this book, readers will meet one of the most admirable characters in literature, who teaches us by example that one’s circumstances aren’t what make you a noble person; it’s how you respond to adversities in life that show us what you’re really made of.
5. The Stray by Dick King-Smith: A rare find: a story full of love and compassion for our elders.
6. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich: Readers develop an understanding of Native American ways and compassion for the main character, a young girl who loses her little brother to smallpox.

 

When Wings Expand

Fourth Grade – Sixth Grade:

1. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park: A tale of patience, perseverance and selflessness set in 12th-century Korea.
2. When Wings Expand by Mehded Maryam Sinclair: A beautiful example of how a pious Muslim family copes with the loss of a loved one.
3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: There’s so much to learn in this classic tale of a pioneer family’s hard work, courage and compassion – but make sure also to explain that Native Americans would have a very different understanding of this history.
4. Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg: Simple poetic verse conveys the story of a young Haitian girl who, in the face of poverty and disaster, loves her family, learns from her mistakes and holds high aspirations to serve her community.
5. Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry: It is refreshing to see a young man shoulder the responsibility of running a ranch with a developing sense of taqwa (God-consciousness); an interesting discussion about perspective can be held because the family is both Catholic and Quaker, and the father is an American soldier serving in Iraq (for an older classic with a similar storyline, try Little Britches by Ralph Moody).

 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

Seventh Grade – Eighth Grade:

1. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham: Readers learn about the American Revolution as they follow this true story of a young man whose life is an amazing example of perseverance and compassion.
2. Silver People by Margarita Engle: Evocative and emotional verse captures the voices and experiences of those affected by the building of the Panama Canal, including the segregated labor force, their overseers, the indigenous population, and even the plants and animals.
3. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor: Some great lessons about what effect your friendships have on your outcome in life; this Newbery Medal winner’s story is set in the South during the Great Depression and is told from the point-of-view of a nine-year-old African-American girl who is learning about racism for the first time in her life.
4. Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix: A heroic tale of friendship and courage which teaches about the history of immigration, labor practices, and the suffragette movement in the United States.
5. Zeitoun by David Eggers: An eye-opening true account of a Muslim man who, after New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina, tried to save others’ lives and property until he was picked up by the police.
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Valuable lessons about polite manners, generosity towards others and respect towards elders. The second half of this book has some of the most beneficial marital advice a young woman could ever hope to read.

 

With editorial support from SeekersHub blogger, Nour Merza

Meetings with Men of Knowledge and Illumination

During our last weekly Circle Of Light, author Haroon (Michael) Sugich visited SeekersHub Toronto for a special book reading, from Signs on the Horizons – a collection of Sidi Haroon’s encounters with great saints of modern times.

He says about the book: “This is a book of memories, a commemoration of remarkable men who have defined my life, and I dare say, the lives of many others. While a few have been celebrated, most have passed through life in obscurity. Inwardly driven, they have had an alchemical impact on me for precisely the reason that they are unknown. They did not seek anything from the world; not recognition, position, wealth, influence, prestige or admiration. They were not ethereal or otherworldly, nor were they powerful in the sense most of us imagine saints and holy men to be. What characterized every one of these men was humility, kindness, sweetness of temper, patience, insight, and, most importantly, the remembrance of God at all times. By and large, they are men who have transcended the ordinary and achieved stations of spirituality and enlightenment we in the West only attribute to the Biblical fathers of ancient times or to myth. They are hidden treasures. At this writing, some are still alive but most have passed away. They are missed.”

You can purchase it online through Amazon in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

#SpreadLight!

Support the SeekersHub #SpreadLight campaign and gain the sadaqa jariyah of facilitating sacred knowledge for thundreds of thousands of students around the world. This campaign will enable SeekersHub to double its operating capacity to meet the increasing demand for our courses. Watch the video to learn how you can help.

Being from the People of the Right by Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

[Biography of the Noble Habib]
Al Habib Ahmad Mashhur bin Taha Al-Haddad, was one of the most powerful Alawi influences in East Africa and is generally considered to have been the “Renewer” of Islam in those parts. He was born in the town of Qaydun, one of the towns of Hadhramawt, in the year of 1325 H (1907). He was raised up in the bosom of ‘ilm and taqwa and righteousness by his mother, the virtuous and saintly Safiyya, daughter of the great Imam Taher ibn Umar al-Haddad, from whom she received her instruction in the Quran and religious sciences.
Being from the People of the RightHis early education was taken over by another two great masters of the house of Al-Haddad, Habib Abdallah and Habib Alawi, the two brothers who founded the Ribat of Qaydun, the school of religious sciences where Habib Ahmad was soon to become, at an early age, a teacher. Then he joined the Ribat at Tarim and studied under the firmly established Master as well as its ulama’.
Knowledge in Islam must be supported by unbroken chains of transmission to the Prophet, may God’s blessings and peace be upon him. Those who receive one or more sciences or part thereof from a master and are considered by him worthy, receive the ijaza, the authorisation to transmit it, in their turn, to others. Habib Ahmad, as has always been the Alawi custom, sought to receive the ijaza from as numerous master as was possible. Habib Ahmad learned from dozens of shaykhs in Hadramawt, the Hijaz, Indonesia and East Africa. As for the Shaykh under whose tutelage he attained his spiritual unveiling, he was al-Imam ar-Rabbani Ahmad bin Muhsin al-Haddar.
He travelled to Indonesia to add to his sum of knowledge and supplement his heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul corpus of ma’arif from the firmly established Masters who were there. He also went there for the purpose of trade so that he may thereby gird his integrity. However, his stay there did not last long.
In the early 1350’s H (1931) he settled in Mombasa, the major seaport of Kenya. In addition to his business affairs, he held study circles in mosques as well as at his own home. By the grace of Allah, he climbed up the African firmament as a luminary amongst its luminaries, a leader, a guide, a reconciler, a religious and social eminence. People gathered around him and turned up in large numbers to listen to his distinguished darsas. He was the ultimate authority to whom people turned in matters of religion and Shari’a. He extinguished a lot of innovations and quickened to life a lot of Sunnas.
He took innumerable trips to the villages in the Kenyan bush, calling the tribes to Islam. His fame spread across all of East Africa and he was soon to become known simply as “Habib”.
In 1375 H (1955). he moved to Kampala in Uganda where he was to stay for 13 years. Eventually, he gave up commerce and devoted himself exclusively to teaching and calling people to Allah. Many African youths benefited and graduated from his school and went on to become Qadis, teachers and caller-unto-Allah. He himself also went into the bushes and forests that he may call people unto Allah – he travelled to Uganda, Congo, Tanzania and to other East African countries, as a caller unto Allah, as a guide. He succeeded in building many mosques and schools. Countless idol worshippers and Christians embraced Islam at his hands.
Habib Ahmad’s work in Kenya and Uganda led to a massive increase in the number of Muslims. He was a tireless teacher and all those who wanted knowledge, baraka, advice, or comfort flocked to his house.  Arabs, Indians and Africans in their thousands came to him and benefited from his knowledge and the light radiating from his presence and also from his du’a.
Being from the People of the RightHabib Ahmad Mashhur was amongst servants of Allah who singled themselves to exclusively serve Allah, preserve the awrad and the Sunna and the supererogatory prayers. He would not fail to rise for tahajjud, both when at home and away; he walked in the footsteps of his ancestors, he was their very replica in their conduct a living exemplar of how the Prophet’s Sunna is to be lived. Every movement, every word, every smile immediately evoked the radiant presence of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). None looked at him without remembering God. His awesome dignity imposed courtesy on his visitors and excluded frivolity, yet his gentle, gracious manners and equal respect for everyone soothed their hearts and made them forget their trouble and experience the serenity and joy of being accepted by one so close to God and His Messenger.
Then towards the end of his life, he took to commuting between Africa and the two Sacred Places. When old age overwhelmed him and his strength weakened he resided in Jeddah amongst his people and children.  He was an open house for guests of all walks of life because in him they found the righteous murshid and a sincere guide and an erudite scholar. They partook from him the aroma of ma’arifah and sainthood and divine secrets. He continued with his virtuous works until the decisive writ came down to meet him and he journeyed to meet the Ever-Living, the Self-Sustaining.
Al-Habib Ahmad Mashur Al Haddad passed away on Wednesday 14 Rajab 1416 (7 December 1995 ) at the age of 87. His life had been in complete service to Allah in all its total manifestation.  He was buried at Ma’la, at Makkah Al Mukarammah.
[Key to the Garden]
Habib Ahmad also authored many books, one of his most notable works is ‘Key to the Garden’.
An excerpt from the book:
Being from the People of the Right“God alone, and none other, is the true Deity, the Necessary Existent, who is Creator, Producer, Fashioner, Provider, Giver of life and death, and Wise Disposer; who has perfected everything He has created, and excelled in everything which He has made; who directs all things with ultimate precision, and has determined everything He has decreed. He alone is the true God, Pre-existent and Eternal, worthy of inward and external worship, exalted above all blemish, who possesses the most exalted attributes and the most beautiful names. His are might and majesty none shares in His essence, attributes or actions. There is no other God than He.”
The book can be purchased here: Key to the Garden
[Relevant resources]
The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad
Rare Video of Habib Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad Reciting the Testification of Faith (tahlil) – YouTube

Shaykh Muhammad Ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki’s Letter To Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya

Click here for the original link
Below is a letter in the handwriting of the Hijazi scholar Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), addressed to Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).
It was written after Shaykh al-Hadith had gifted  the Shaykh a copy of Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri’s (may Allah sanctify his secret) Badhl al-Majhud, commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud This particular edition, published in 20 volumes, was the first of many al-Maktabah al-Imdadiyyah (Makkah) prints and included Shaykh al-Hadith’s beneficial ta’liqat (annotations).
Shaykh al-Hadith gifted the work to various notable ‘ulama’ of al-Haramayn.

Translation:

In the name of Allah, most Beneficent, most Merciful,
Possessor of Excellence, the learned hadith scholar, remnant of the predecessors and splendour of the successors, the embodiment of blessings, Imam, caller to Allah, my master and my teacher: Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya, may Allah protect him …
Al-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatu Allah
I congratulate you on the arrival of the New Year. May Allah make it one of prosperity, blessings, happiness and favour. Amin.
I thank you for kindly sending to me a copy of the great, renowned and praiseworthy commentary, Badhl al-Majhud, which is crowned with your blessed annotations.
May Allah protect, aid and assist you, and may He lengthen your life in His obedience and the excellence of His servitude, and may He enable us to benefit from you. May you always remain [in prosperity].
Your lover and humble servant,
Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki
Servant of the honourable students at the [Umm al-Qura] University and al-Masjid al-Haram
04/01/1394 (AH)
Image taken from:
Fihrist Ta’lifat-e-Shaykh
, Volume 1, p. 346
 (Saharanpur: Maktabah Yadgar-e-Shaykh, Ramadhan 1417 AH / January 1997 CE ed. ) by Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Shahid Saharanpuri.

The Hidden One’s – A Debut Novel by Novid Shaid

They pass us on the street; they serve us in shops; they go to our schools, but their profound realities are hidden… They are the hidden ones and the light that protects them ensures that they will remain hidden until the end of time. Layla, Khadim and Rose live in an average town in the UK. Each of them is haunted by a darkness which threatens to consume them and those around them. An assassin has been dispatched; a child-snatcher is on the prowl and a ruthless gang is closing in. Unique, alienated and vulnerable, the hidden ones must confront these darknesses with their hidden lights.
No fear is upon them; nor shall they grieve.
This debut novel by Novid Shaid weaves together the genres of supernatural, mystery and Sufi mysticism. Fast-paced, haunting and moving, this tale was written as a consequence of the author’s travels and meetings with remarkable people around the world. Inspiration was also drawn from an eclectic range of works including Stephen King’s “The Green Mile”, Ibn Al Arabi’s “Sufis of Andalucia” and Yann Martell’s “The Life of Pi”.
NOVID SHAID’S DEBUT NOVEL, THE HIDDEN ONES, IS NOW AVAILABLE In PAPERBACK FOR $9 FROMAMAZON.COM AND ALSO WITH AMAZON KINDLE/KINDLE APPS FOR ONLY $5 DOWNLOAD IT TODAY!

Marvelling at the Heart – Reflections by Sidi Suhayb

“Verily, in the body is a small piece of flesh that if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy and if it is sick, the whole body is sick. This small piece of flesh is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

[Marvels of the heart course]Marvelling at the Heart
Knowledge of the heart is considered to be fard al-ayn (an individual obligation), and after completing the Marvels of the Heart course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, I understand why.
This is my first time doing a course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. I found him to be a person who reminds you of All Mighty Allah when you look at him. He exudes gentleness and mercy and I was left wanting whatever it is that he has. His character alone would guide people to Islam.
[Transforming and life changing]
The course is nothing short of amazing and to this day remains my favourite Seekers Guidance course, and if acted upon, the most transformative and life-changing. From the beginning of the course to the very end it is full of insight and deep meaning.
I have only done this course once but intend to do it again God Willing. With this course in particular, I bought a translation of the text. I would read the relevant chapter in English before listening to the lesson and then read along again during the lesson, ultimately reading the book twice throughout the course. This really helped me to grasp the concepts.
I converted to Islam around thirteen years ago Praise be to be God, and really just thought that after taking my shahadah that somehow I would be miraculously cured of all the problems I had in life. Somehow without making any effort except saying I believe that All Mighty Allah would grant me a huge spiritual experience and all would be well. Thirteen years later I realise this is not going to be the case for me and that I am going to have to struggle against my ego and my desires, that I need to really strive to seek Allah’s pleasure, All Mighty Allah owes me nothing but I owe Him (God Almighty) everything.
The thing that really hit me throughout the course was the realisation of the state I am in. I am a person who has suffered from addictions in life to one thing and another and doing this course made me realise that even though I am in recovery alhamdulillah, I am still what you might call a suffering addict in my behaviour. I am impulsive by nature and often act on a whim to please myself. This course brought these things to my attention and made me realise that there is a better way to live my life.
[Closeness to God]sh.-yahya-and-cam.png
“The special characteristics of the heart are that by which we draw near to All Mighty Allah. These special characteristics are based on knowledge and will, ‘ilm and irada. The will follows the guidance of the intellect. If the intellect sees something as beneficial it will drive the will to do it. It is different to the animals as the will of the human being can go against your desires based on the judgement of the intellect”.
After hearing this I realised that I have an intellect and that I need to use this to keep my ego and desires in check.  Amazingly, even though the book was written so long ago, the lessons from it are so relevant today, especially in dealing with addiction. When overcoming an urge to use, the addict is encouraged to listen to the rational part of his or her brain to control that urge. Very much like the battle that takes place for the heart with the intellect acting as the advisor to the kingdom (heart) and directing the foot soldiers (our ego and desires) to stay in line. There is a battle underway for this kingdom and we must be ever vigilant.
Perhaps the scariest part is that I have now learned that the heart is ever-changing, and the science of the heart (tasawwuf) is required in every single moment because of this. There is no miraculous overnight cure heading my way, only a lifetime of struggle. But perhaps my miraculous cure is the realisation and acceptance of that.
I recommend this course to everyone and feel that it is perhaps one of the most important things we should learn. From the way it is taught to the teachings it conveys, it will change your outlook on life and how you practise your deen. If more of us are aware of the state of our hearts, its disease and how to treat them then the world will be a better place.
“If you know your heart you will know yourself, and if you know yourself you will know your Lord”
———
Purchase the book, Click here 

SeekersGuidance Course:
The Marvels of the Heart with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
Relevant Resources:
Habib Umar’s Morning Lessons on Imam Ghazali’s Marvels of the Heart – Day 1 – Select Quotes
The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development – Imam al-Ghazzali
On Knowing Yourself to Know God – A SeekersCircle Reflection

The Glorious Legislation of Endowments – Shaykh Ramadan al-Bouti

[Book on Endowments]
Alhamdulilah, Imam Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti’s, may Allah have mercy on him, article on how to revive endowments, orawqaaf, is now available from the Naseem al-Sham English site.
The Arabic text can be located here and it was originally published in the Imam’s book k Qaḍāyā Fiqhiyyah Muʿāṣirah (Damascus: Dār al-Fārābī, 2009). The translation will also be published in a forthcoming book on endowments, insha’Allah.
Relevant Resources:
The Role of the Intellect with Respect to Revelation & Religion – Shaykh al-Bouti
Recommended Works on the Life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)