Reflecting on Water, the Anti-DAPL Movement, and Our Stewardship of the Earth

In response to the call from a native American tribal leader, there’s been a groundswell of support among North American based faith leaders to pray and reflect in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock working to preserve local waters from the DAPL project. Ustadh Sharif Rosen delivered the following reflection at a prayer vigil, with particular focus on working to preserve the blessing of water. This movement combining both social justice and our roles as stewards of the earth appears to be one that Muslims should be invested in, however possible, he writes.


***

Ustadh Sharif Rosen’s reflection

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Allah, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth says in the Quran, in the chapter entitled “Rome”,
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ يُرِيكُمُ الْبَرْقَ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَيُنَزِّلُ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَيُحْيِي بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
{And from His signs is that He shows you thunder which incites awe and hope, and He sends down waters from the sky by which the earth is revived after its death; indeed, in this, is a great sign for those of intellect} [30:24]
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
{Corruption has surfaced in the land and the sea from what human hands have earned that they might turn back} [30:41]
***
The current struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project in the United States represents only one flashpoint in the wider crisis affecting each living creature. The insatiable desire to control and exploit our most precious resources is nothing less than a declaration of war on our own selves.
God invites us to witness and reflection upon His signs in the creation; to view existence through the lens of sacred meanings embedded therein.  As scholars like Shaykh Hamza Yusuf remind us, we might then see that the state of the earth’s waters mirrors the inward and outward state of humanity who have been tasked as custodians of the earth.  Thus, when our oceans, rivers and streams are corrupted with acidity, garbage, and toxins; when our seas are over-fished and then, overrun with hyper-consumers like the brainless, heartless, spineless jellyfish on one hand; and the far more destructive predator, ourselves on the other, by sacred measures, the imbalance we have caused is setting the table for our own annihilation.
Water is among the greatest proofs of God’s mercy; in this life as our sustenance and means to purity; in the next life, where the lush, shaded groves of the Garden are nourished by pure, flowing waters.  The Arabic word for water is ma-a, whose letters form the roots for the word mahiya which means “essence”.  Water is who we are, in the very composition of our bodies, and what will enrich us again in the world to come.  Yet, in our relationship with water now — whether through our care or our abuse — we may see the reflection of who we really are, or rather, what we have become.
The noble poet, Imam Muhammad al-Busiri, God have mercy on him, may as well have been describing the blessing of water when he said, “The more familiar and obvious a thing, the more subtle and hidden it is.”
Our prayer is that we not be of those who let all of that which is most valuable, most near to us, go neglected, and then, damaged beyond repair.
May we aid the struggle to preserve the right of all peoples to access the cleansing and pure water that is among God’s great mercies to all of creation.
May we support the centuries-old cause of the native peoples of this continent, and in all lands as they defend their lives, their water, their cultures, their sovereignty and dignity.
May we apply our entire selves to the restoration of sanity and balance in this world — in its ecology, in our consumption, in our political and economic systems, in our social discourse, in our aspirations, in our religion and spirituality, and in our very souls.
May our life’s impact be wide in benefit, but our footprint, gentle.
And all praise is God’s alone.
Amen.

When Confronted With Brutal Injustice, by Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila

Remaining faithful and strategic when confronted with brutal injustice is perhaps one of the most challenging tests of this life. However, it is the right thing to do and it pays off, explains Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila.

The tale of the first murder committed in human history and the ripples of sin that would emanate therefrom is one from which many lessons are drawn. The pride of Qabil, the elder brother, his disobedience of his father Prophet Adam, and his inability to accept God’s divine decree all came together to culminate in him committing the vile act of murdering his own brother in cold blood. Of his sin God says in the Quran,

“We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being, except [as punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, it shall be as if he killed all humanity” [5:32].

The Prophet Muhammad further explained in a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim,

“No person is killed unjustly except that the first share of sin falls upon the son of Adam, for he was the first to introduce killing.”

Greater than that perhaps, as some scholars have pointed out, Qabil’s transgression marks mankind’s first open defiance of his Lord, and it would serve as a divide for all the descendants of Adam to come. From that day there would now be two groups in human civilisation: those who follow prophetic guidance, and those who turn away.
But just before that fateful moment when Qabil struck down Habil, the younger of the two, Habil spoke inspired words. Threatened by his brother, he is quoted by God as saying to him,

“If you raise your hand to kill me, I will raise not mine to kill you, for verily I fear God, the Lord of all the worlds” [5:28].

Referencing this thousands of years later, the Prophet Muhammad would say in narrations collected by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Imam Ahmad, and others that when in times of incredible tribulation, it is upon us to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons”.

When Muslim Commit Wrong

Anger and outrage are natural reactions to encountering injustice. When the injustice is towards our fellow Muslims, we are understandably angered further. But sometimes we find Muslims themselves committing wrong. Be it in the sphere of our immediate family, local community, or on a global level, when injustice and oppression occur so close to home we typically feel shaken and betrayed. We cry out for justice and wish that the perpetrators get their comeuppance. Sometimes the powers that be handle the situation correctly and we are blessed with closure, but other times justice escapes us, be it through systemic failure of a trusted establishment or another reason. At times the guilty party is so close to us and so respected by us that we feel that no matter the outcome, true forgiveness can never take place.

Being Entitled to Justice

We are all entitled to justice, however in its pursuit it is pertinent we keep two things in mind: we cannot let our pursuit of justice be an excuse for transgressing the sacred law, and true justice in God’s sight extends to beyond this world and is ultimately carried out on the Day of Judgement.
The vast majority of us can be thankful that no one is immediately threatening their life, but when we are wronged, the Prophet’s advice to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons” remains golden. For us, his words mean that we should maintain high standards in all our interactions, and that whatever situation we find ourselves in, it is upon us to remain bound by the rulings of the sacred law.
In the Quran, God advises us as to what we should do when facing injustice. He says,

“And surely we will try you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruits [of your labour]; but give glad tidings to those who have patience, who, when assailed by adversity, say, ‘Surely we belong to God, and to Him we shall return.’” [2:155-156].

More than simply being words to utter in times of tribulation, what God is outlining for us here is an understanding that Muslims should have in all their interactions. A way of thought that guides us in our daily dealings. Scholars who have commented on this verse have noted that there are two kinds of adversities which can befall us, and this verse is teaching us how to behave with both:

  1. adversity directly from God, like illness or death, and
  2. adversity which comes in the form of animosity and injustice from other human beings.

“Surely we belong to God” means that when God tests us with some affliction, we reaffirm our status as His slaves, surrender to Him all our affairs, and are ultimately pleased with His decree. As for when another person wrongs us, “surely we belong to God” means we turn to Him for retreat and do not seek appeasement for our anger thorough unlegislated means, for He who we belong to has ordered us so.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

Indeed God specifically mentions three traits of the pious as those “who expend both in joy and tribulation, who suppress their anger, and pardon the people” [3:134]. God also gives us further direction in how to respond saying, “Good and evil are not alike: respond [to evil] with the better deed” [41:34]. We aught to be mindful of this verse and not stoop to the lows of our oppressors. We do not subscribe to the notion that two wrongs make a right and we always strive to seek the pleasure of our Lord through the means he has permitted.

The Hadith of the Lie

A look at the examples of our Prophet, his Companions, and the pious people in Muslim history gives us further guidance in these matters. One of the greatest examples we have is in the well-known Ifk Hadith, or the hadith of the lie.
A lengthy hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, the Ifk Hadith deals with an incident where the Prophet’s wife Sayyida Aisha was falsely accused of promiscuity outside of her marriage. Over a period longer than a month, false accusations were spread in Medina causing much distress to the Prophetic household and the household of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Aisha’s innocence was eventually proclaimed by God in a revealed verse and the propagators of the lie were duly punished. What remains for us are several lessons in correctly dealing with communal problems.
Firstly, throughout the narration Aisha does not slander any of the individuals who blackened her name. She was proven innocent and justice was served, and she did not seek more than that. Indeed during the ordeal, her only words to the Prophet were, quoting the prophet Yaqub, “patience is best. I seek the aid of God alone for what you impute” [12:18]. Out of the several individuals involved, only two are mentioned by name; one who is somewhat essential to the story and the other, the main source of the lies, is only named in passing. We also find that when the Prophet stood on the pulpit in his mosque and addressed his Companions regarding the allegations, he refers to the source of the lies simply as “a man”. The anonymity of those who spread the lie was maintained to the point that even modern hadith scholars disagree as to who exactly was punished.
Furthermore, probably the most astounding thing we see is the behaviour of Abu Bakr, the father of Aisha, during the turmoil. One of the accusers was Abu Bakr’s first cousin once removed. He was a poor man, and Abu Bakr provided him with aid. While his daughter was actively being slandered, Abu Bakr continued providing for his relative fully aware of his role in the matter. Even when the accuser’s own mother cursed her son, Abu Bakr continued to financially support him. It was only when Aisha’s innocence was revealed by God that Abu Bakr swore to end his charity. However even then, upon revelation of the verse, “Let not those of means amongst you swear that they will not give to their relatives, the poor, and those who leave their homes in the service of God. They should forgive and overlook [their failings]. Would you not like God to forgive you?” [24:22], Abu Bakr resumed his aid, saying, “Yes, by God, I wish that God should forgive me”, and, “By God, I will never withhold it from him ever”.

The Case of Yemen

Even in modern times, we find amazing examples of “responding with the better deed”. In parts of Yemen once under communist control, Islamic scholars were silenced with threats, abducted, and even killed, sometimes publicly. The collapse of the USSR brought with it the fall of communism in the region, and religious scholars returned to the vanguard of traditional society. Their return, however, did not usher in of a wave of bitter reprisals for abducted fathers and murdered uncles. Not one scholar used their position of influence to seek revenge on those who had ransacked their homes and evicted their families. Those previously aligned with the oppressive party found that the scholars did not expose them as wrongdoers, and instead encouraged their repentance and return to sound behaviour and faith. The pious scholars, like the pious of the Muslims before them, busied themselves with God’s words, “Indeed, God orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives, and forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression” [16:90], and their trust was with his verses, “Whosoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [99:7-8].

Allah Takes Care of It All

We have been blessed with a religion so complete that we can always find guidance, and a God so merciful that we are never left forsaken. Many scholars state that one of the reasons our Prophet Muhammad endured so many hardships in life was to provide us with a sound example to guide us in our own tribulations. As followers of the Prophet, we cannot let scandals and acts of oppression cause us to forget the moral standards we strive to live by. We are to remember that our God is merciful, and no injustice goes unpunished, be it in this world or in the next.
When we seek justice, we do so for all creation, but without crossing the lines defined by the religious law. We cannot take matters into our own hands in acts of anarchism. We have no rights over any other person’s property. Slander, back-biting, and vilification are all strictly prohibited by our Lord. If justice escapes us, we should remind ourselves that true justice takes place in the hereafter.
As Muslims, we are ordered to do good, but God continuously encourages and calls us to excellence. In acts of obedience and in acts of wrongdoing, we are reminded by the words of our Prophet, “God the almighty is good and accepts only that which is good”.

Resources for Seekers

What You Need To Know About Standing Rock

The Native American tribes of Standing Rock are protesting the construction of a pipeline to transport shale oil from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico across their land. This pipeline threatens their sacred sites and their way of life, their water and very livelihoods. The situation brings to mind countless like confrontations, but this time, with global support, the Sioux of Standing Rock may have turned history’s tide.

“Perhaps you have noticed that even in the slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.”—Black Elk

Since the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the Sioux of Standing Rock and other Six Nations Tribes have seen a great number of promises broken with devastating consequences. One of the most well-known battles of the Great Sioux War of 1876 between the Sioux, allied with Arapaho and Cheyenne, and the US Government was the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The war is also know as the Black Hills War due to the central object of contention between the Sioux Tribes and the Government, namely, the Black Hills—a site sacred to the Sioux. What sparked off the war was a 1874 violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty by General George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry. They entered the Black Hills and found gold, which started a gold rush on Sioux Lands. The Standing Rock Protests of today are, in a similar way, the result of a contemporary gold rush.

The Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota (Montana, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) were discovered in 1951. But only recently, with the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, has oil production boomed since 2000. This kicked off a modern day gold rush, and marked improvements in the economy of North Dakota.

“You have to follow your heart and it will tell you what you can do to help. It’s not for me to say, we need this, we want this, or we have to have this. It’s up to you. Just being here is enough for me: to know that you are here, and that you’re supporting us.”—Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II, to Imam Zaid Shakir

As a result of this oil production increased and shipment of Bakken Oil from the fields to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico became necessary. The solution to this logistic problem was pipelines. The main one being the Keystone Pipeline. However, several plans for new pipelines that can accommodate the volume produced have been on the table for years. One of the more notorious of these is Keystone XL, which has also been met with a great deal of resistance. This was, however, rejected by the Obama administration in 2015.

An alternate plan, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Bakken Pipeline, was made public by Dakota Access, LLC in July 2014. This plan, in turn, gave rise to the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests (NoDAPL) we see today. At the center of these protests are various Native American Tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux. A protest camp was established by a tribal elder in April 2016.

Mainstream media coverage of the protests has been very limited until recently. It seems clear that the coverage is nowhere near that given to the Keystone XL protests in their time. Despite that the protests have received a great deal of international attention and support from other tribal and religious communities throughout the world. Many Muslim leaders and groups have stepped up in support of NoDAPL, among them, Imam Zaid Shakir, who visited the camp in October 2016.

Sources and further reading:

1. From a local protest to a Global Movement: What Standing Rock is about and how it grew
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/standing-rock-standoff-how-north-dakotas-native-protest-became-an-americanmovement/article31764530/

2. Imam Zaid Shakir visits the protest camp.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxt_0rnu-KE

3. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe History.
http://standingrock.org/history/

4. The bigger picture: “The Bakken is the most dangerous oil field to work in the U.S. The energy producers never pay for their mistakes.”
https://www.revealnews.org/article/in-north-dakotas-bakken-oil-boom-there-will-be-blood/

5. Bad News For The Bakken As Obama Administration Blocks Pipeline
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Bad-News-For-The-Bakken-As-Obama-Administration-Blocks-Pipeline.html

6. A Special Report on Standing Rock: The Environmental and Social Justice Consequences of the Dakota Access Pipeline
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/special-report-standing-rock-environmental-and-social-justice-consequences-dakota

7. Standing Rock protests: this is only the beginning. The world has been electrified by protests against the Dakota access pipeline. Is this a new civil rights movement where environmental and human rights meet?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/12/north-dakota-standing-rock-protests-civil-rights

8. Standing Rock Sioux Pediatrician: Threat from Fracking Chemicals is “Environmental Genocide”
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/18/standing_rock_sioux_pediatrician_threat_from

9. The Injustice At Standing Rock Is An American Story
http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/10/29/the-injustice-at-standing-rock-is-an-american-story/

http://www.countercurrents.org/tag/standing-rock-sioux-protest/

10. Boom and Bust in the Bakken Oil Fields
The discovery last decade that fossil fuels could be tapped from rock deep beneath the windswept prairies of North Dakota acted like a magnet on American working people. By the thousands they came, from as far as Texas and California, fortune-seekers in a modern-day Gold Rush.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2015-11-30/boom-and-bust-in-the-bakken-oil-fields

11. Muslims Defend the Sacred – Solidarity with Standing Rock
https://mpowerchange.org/blog/post/muslims-defend-the-sacred-solidarity-with-standing-rock-1

Islamic Logic: Bring Order and Clarity to Your Religious Reasoning

An Introduction to Islamic Logic: Abhari’s Isagoge Explained

Have you ever had trouble arguing for your Faith? Have you ever wished you knew of a better way to clarify what others might find obscure in Islam?

About the course

Islamic Logic is an ancillary science, the main purpose of which is to
• protect Muslim scholars, students and laymen from mistakes in reasoning
• analyze anti-religious arguments in order to show their falsehood
• construct arguments to vindicate the tenets of faith of Sunni Islam

About the teacher

Shaykh Hamza Karamali joined the SeekersHub Global teaching faculty in 2016. This will be his first course with SeekersHub. You can read more about him here.
We are very excited about this new course. We think you should be, too. Sign up now.
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Urgent Support Needed for Scholar and Family Facing Death Threats

Click the video below for a brief update from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on the urgent need for support. Once you’ve donated, please email us here indicating the amount donated for the urgent scholar appeal.


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What is Spirituality, and Who Are Sufis? by Yusuf Latif

The concept of spirituality is rather vague and is used to describe any number of views and practices among peoples. Whether it has always been this way is a question that is difficult to answer, especially as it is posed, argues Yusuf Lateef Zanella.

When the question is general in nature, as if spirituality were one concrete thing among other things, like chairs, dresses, automobiles, and so on. It is not at easy to answer as, say, a question like: Has the use of ankle-length skirts among women of a certain background become more or less widespread?

When we talk of spirituality in relation to Islam, in order to make sense of it, we need to be more specific as to what we mean by the word. Here the word is meant to cover what is traditionally known as Tassawwuf. Now many will not find that distinction to be very helpful, for what is Tassawwuf? The answer that Tassawwuf is merely Islamic spirituality, more commonly known as Sufism, leaves us treading the same water while trying to get a grip on the rope of understanding. It does not answer the question. Because, as we said, there are many views and opinions on what Tassawwuf is. Its use, though not as common, is almost as diverse and wide-ranging as that of the word spirituality. So, whose view should be taken into serious consideration when seeking an answer to that question?

In his concise yet profound article “The Place of Tasswwuf among the Islamic Sciences” (1995) Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller makes it clear that, in order to answer the question: What is Tassawwuf? one must ask those who know, namely, traditional Muslim scholars who are knowledgeable in the science itself and practice it. Justification for this is found in the Qur’anic verse: “Ask those who know if you know not” (16:43). But is this also not, as Shaykh Nuh himself alludes to in recounting his own search for knowledge, what one would do in any matter of great importance?

One Who Knows the Object and the Science

To draw a material analogy, one could say that if one wanted to know what a combustion engine is one would ask a person who not only knows how to repair certain builds or types of engine, but also the principles of combustion and the science behind engine construction. Not only that, the person must have an understanding of the point of combustions engines, their purpose, and the roles these play in human life. For no one (for the sake of argument) wants a combustion engine in and of itself, rather it is a means toward some goal, toward something one wants to attain.

The Heart’s Desire

Anyone who professes Islam will, upon reflection, know that the ultimate goal in the life of a Muslim is Allah Most High. He, alone, is the true heart’s desire. For what, really, could be more rewarding, more awesome in the truest sense of the word, than to stand in His presence. Can one truly imagine being more alert, more awake, more present and aware other than in the presence of one’s Lord and Maker? Common synonyms of the word awesome as can be found in any reputable dictionary are words such as wonder, reverence, and dread. It is for the purpose of awakening this sense of awe that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the Hadith of Muslim stated that “the perfection of faith” (ihsan) is “to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not, He nevertheless sees you.” The presence of mind in worship entailed here lies in realising that one is always in the Presence of one’s Lord. For instance, when one stands in prayer, but not only then, for worship is not limited to prayer.

In a related Hadith of Muslim, which precedes the one mentioned above in Imam Nawawi’s Arba‘in, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) says that “Actions are according to intention. And every man shall have what he intended. So whoever’s emigration (hijra) is for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), his emigration is for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). And whoever’s emigration is for worldly gains or for a woman to marry, his emigration is for the sake of that for which he emigrated.” It is clear that the question of intentions and acts spoken of here can be generalised to include all acts and states in the life of any one Muslim—that any one of our acts with the proper intention is an act of worship.

This state of presence in all acts is also alluded to in the Qur’an, where Allah Most High says: “Truly, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the variation of night and day there are signs for the people of understanding” (3:190). The people of understanding Allah Most High goes on to define as “Those who mind Allah while standing, sitting and lying down” (3:191). The word “mind” here is a translation of yadhkurun, from the verb dhakara (to remember) in the sense of keeping something or someone in mind. They strive to be or are constantly in and aware of His presence. For they know that although they do not see Him, He nevertheless sees them.

To Strive Is No Easy Thing…

This state of presence before Allah Most High is something one can experience or come to an awareness of at any moment. From my own experience I can definitely say that there is a difference, in taste almost, between a prayer prayed alone or behind someone when  in Allah’s presence, that is when mindful of Him, and a prayer in which this is not the case. This is not meant as a slight to anyone or to myself, but rather to say that to strive towards this state is no easy thing. That, however, does not mean it is something one should not strive towards. A sure way of attaining this state, as Shaykh Nuh emphasises, is by keeping the company of the people of understanding mentioned by Allah. That is, the people of the spiritual path.

This Desert Life: Not Even Shoes

In Islam (in Arabic) the word for the Sacred Law is al-Shari‘a and is related to the noun shari‘a (without the definite article) which commonly means water hole or drinking place or the approach to it. Like many things in Islam it is derived from the context of life in the desert. This image of life in a desert, dependence upon water, and the trope of nomadic existence in this world permeates our religion through and through. The first line of the Hadith of Bukhari that rounds off Imam Nawawi’s Arba‘in reads: “Be in this world as if you were a stranger [foreigner] or a traveller on the way.”

In many cultures and languages the words “way” and “law” are often used interchangeably, in the sense of how one properly goes about things, or right conduct. What is sometimes lost sight of in our mode of life is the peril of not acting according to the law. In the context of life in a desert this becomes more apparent, for e.g. the way to water or sustenance is of vital importance for survival, and not acting in accordance with it can have grave consequences. Every word, indeed every action, is a matter of life and death. When viewed from this perspective what one says and does, the meanings of one’s words and actions, are not mere abstractions. The attention and care accorded to them must be commensurate with the situation at hand. To fall short here is not only to risk one’s own life but more importantly the lives of those is one’s care and protection. A true child of the desert will learn how to survive and thrive, where to find sustenance and safety, where to go and when, and to stay put and when, from those who know, through instruction and through imitation. Knowledge in this context is not book learning, but knowing what to day at any time of the day, in any place or situation. Books and diplomas and other things are useful, but as Imam Ghazali said: That which is of greatest value is what you will not lose in a shipwreck.

The point is that, being a traveller in this desert life is so much more that buying a train, boat, or plane ticket and having oneself transported from one point to another. It often means not even having the shoes on which to get through the day, much less the comfort of hot tea on the back of a camel. It also means that one’s goal is ever present to one’s mind, and that is Allah, Most High and Transcendent. We are only passing through this world that is not our “country of origin”. Finally it means that in order to get through this world safely, to make the best of this desert life, it is incumbent upon us to ask those who came before us and who have spent countless hours of their lives learning at the feet of those who came before them the best ways and means of crossing this empty quarter of creation and to make it back home to Allah Most High. To ask those who live this desert life.

They are the people of understanding. The Masters of the Way. The one’s who know the Shari‘a like they know their own hearts. They are those about whom one can say: They have already departed. Their exemplar is of course none other than he “whose character was the Qur’an” (Muslim), who said of himself “I have been sent to perfect righteous character” (Musnad Ahmad), the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). They are the heirs not only of his knowledge (Allah bless him and give him peace) but also of his states. They are the Sufis.

About the Author

Yusuf Latif became Muslim in 1998 at the hands of Shaykh Abd al-Baqi al-Husayni al-Naqshband. The Shaykh sent him to Jordan to learn from Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller in 2001, from whom he took the Shadhili tariqa in 2003. He spent four years in Amman where he studied tasawwuf, fiqh and aqida, and worked for Islamica Magazine. Now, besides working for Seekers Hub, he writes childrens’ books that he one day hopes to see published. 

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Why Did The Prophet Love Madinah? by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

What was it about the city of Madinah that the Prophet Muhammed loved so much? Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said sheds some light.

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem

“Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills.” (Surah An-Nur)

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has blessed everything with the Baraka and Nur of Rasulullah ﷺ, but from places, there is one city, one place, one piece of land that whenever we go back to it we become lost in its aja’ib (wonders):  Madinah!

Maybe it is because Rasulullah ﷺ make dua for Madinah more than double that of Ibrahim (alaih salam) for Makkah.

But why did Rasulullah  love Madinah?  Rasulullah  loved its people, its land, its sand and its fruits; but why Madinah?

Why did Rasulullah  make the sign of iman connected to loving the Ansar (the people of Madinah), and one of the biggest signs of nifaq (hypocrisy) in disliking or hating them?

Why did Rasulullah ﷺ threaten anyone who targets Madinah with any harm to be dissolved like salt in water?

Why did Rasulullah ﷺ curse the one who commits a crime in Madinah or the one who tries any evil design on Madinah or its people?

Why did Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) not make another  portion of Rawdat-ul Jannah (garden of paradise) for Rasulullah  in any place other than Madinah?

Why did Rasulullah tell us that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) made the ajwa of Madinah (a special date) a protection, shifa’a and cure from sihr (black magic) and poison?  Why not any other ajwa?  Why?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say that the land and the sand of Madinah isshifa’a?  Why did Rasulullahﷺ that even the dust is shifa’a!?  Rasulullah ﷺ upon his arrival of Madinah used to uncover his face to the dust of Madinah, as if it were the air-conditioning or freshening agents we enjoy in this time!

Why did Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) choose the people of Baqi to be the first to be resurrected?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say that he would be the intercessor for everyone who dies in Madinah?

Why did Heﷺ encourage people to die in Madinah?

Why does Madinah have more than one-hundred names?  It is said that the number of names that something possesses is a sign of its greatness!

Why did Rasulullahﷺ stay in Makkah for thirteen years and a numbered set of people became Muslim, but when he went to Madinah, the people of Madinah received him and believed in him?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say during the Battle of Hunan to Syedina Abbas (radiallah anhu) to call the Ansar, His Family, and the people of Bayt-ul Ridwan?  Why did Rasulullahﷺ call the Ansar?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say that if everyone was to go one direction and the Ansar were to take a different direction that He would take the direction of the Ansar?  Why?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say to the Ansar that should it not make you happy that others live with money, camels and sheep, but your life is with Rasulullahﷺ?

Why did Rasulullahﷺ say that Uhud is a mountain that He loves and Uhud loves Him?  Why Uhud and why not any other mountain?

Whenever we visit Madinah, we do not want to leave!  Every corner of every part of Madinah has attached with it emotions, feelings and things that can be seen that no one can imagine or dare describe.

In Madinah, you cry, read, smile and you even forget to rest!  Maybe because all of the barakat that was given to this City, and it is suffices that Rasulullahﷺcalled this city “Al Madinah”, “the City!”  When Rasulullahﷺ called it “the City” then that means after that there is no city other than Al Madinah, and that indeed that is the real city.

Al Madinah is a direction.  When Madinah is mentioned, the heart of the mu’min flutters to this City.

Al Madinah is also “Munawarah”.  For the people that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has opened the Nur for, they see this City belit!  Zaid ibn Thabit (radiallah anhu) said that when Rasulullahﷺ came to Madinah, every corner end every street became Nur, and when he departed, everything became dark.  These are the people that do not see except with the eyes of Nur and baseera(insight).  Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in Surah Al-Hajj (46):  “Indeed it is not the sight that goes blind, but rather it is the heart that goes blind.”  Zaid ibn Thabit (radiallah anhu) is telling us that the people of Madinah were the people who saw Nur, in each and every corner what they saw was Nur!

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make us from the people of Madinah, end our life in Madinah, and may He make us from the people of Baqi, from the people of the Rawdah, from the people of Uhud and the Shuhudah of Uhud.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) fill us with the love of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), the Ansar, the Muhajireen, the Ahlul Bayt, the Sahaba and all the Saliheen.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make this a year of Rahma and hidayah (guidance).

2 Muharram 1438

Al Madinah Al Munawarah

 Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

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Hajj: So Much More Than Just A Gathering, by Ustadh Salim Mauladdawila

The Hajj brings millions of Muslims together on a horizontal plane each year but it is so much more than just an enormous gathering. Ustadh Salim Mauladdawila brings us back to a core message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ – the call to and importance of unity amongst Muslims and what there is to gain from it.

Nearly 1384 years ago to the day, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ addressed his Companions on the Hajj pilgrimage. In the valley of Urana and the foot of Mount Arafat, The Prophet ﷺ sat upon his camel al-Qaswa’ before his Companions and advised them in what was subsequently knows as his ‘farewell sermon’. Imam Muslim relates the beginning of the sermon from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir as follows:

“Verily your blood and your wealth are [made] sacred upon you, like the sacredness of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this land of yours.”

Two days later, in the holy valley of Mina, The Prophet again addressed his companions from upon his camel. Imam al-Bukhari narrates that he spoke, “O people! What day is this?”
They replied, “It is a sacred day.”
He then asked, “What land is this?”
They replied, “It is a sacred land.”
He asked again, “What month is this?”
They replied, “It is a sacred month.”
The Prophet then said, “Verily your blood, your wealth, and your honour are sacred upon you like the sanctity of this day of yours, in this land of yours, in this month of yours.”

Brotherhood forged

Certainly one of the greatest accomplishments of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the sacred brotherhood he forged amongst the Companions. The unity found in the melting-pot of Medina at the time of his passing was a living example of the Quranic verse, “O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest amongst you in the sight of God is the most god-fearing of you” [49:13]. Previously-warring Bedouin Arab tribes made peace, Persians were brothered with Ethiopians, and the wealthy befriended the freed slaves. The emphasis the Prophet placed on this unity in his farewell sermon is a fitting capstone to his prophetic message, and the Muslim nation today would do well to reflect upon the poignancy of his words.

The conditions of unity

The unity the Prophet spoke of is a sanctified part of our religion. A Muslim’s blood, wealth, and honour are, as Imam al-Nawawi comments, even more sacred than the holy times and place the Prophet mentioned. As a part of Islam, unity has conditions, and cannot simply be claimed without it having a reality. In the Quran, God tells us signs of its establishment. He says, “Surely all believers are brothers. So reconcile between your brothers, and fear God, so that mercy may be shown to you” [49:10], and “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, establish prayer, give zakat, and obey God and His Messenger. God will have mercy upon them” [9:71]. True unity, then, manifests itself as “[reconciling] between [our] brothers” and “[enjoining] what is right and [forbidding] what is wrong”. It is unity founded upon mercy, and as long as our unity is lacking this mercy, it cannot be called true.

The consequence of merciful unity

In the second halves of the quoted verses, God tells us that a direct consequence of this merciful unity between Muslims is that we receive mercy from Him. Indeed the Prophet tells us, “The merciful are shown mercy by The Merciful [God]”. The Cordovan hadith scholar Ibn Batal explains that the initial mercy between the believers is itself out of God’s mercy, hence, when the believers give the unity forged between them its due, God invariably increases their unity and exposes them to an even greater portion of His mercy. Sanctifying what God has sanctified and giving our unity a reality, we enter into a state of continuous exponential improvement. Conversely, when we do not do this, we expose ourselves to God’s anger, for as the Prophet explained to us, “God will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind”.

When we lie, cheat and plot

Many Muslims today could benefit from being reminded about the sanctity of our unity. When we lie to and cheat one another, when we plot and scheme against our brothers, we are directly calling upon ourselves God’s wrath; and for what gain? Regrettably, it is all too often that we hear Muslims slandering, attacking, disgracing, and shaming other Muslims over frivolous affairs. Imam al-Bukhari narrates in his book of prophetic etiquette al-Adab al-Mufrad, “If one is fed at the expense of a Muslim, God will feed him like it of hell. If one is clothed at the expense of a Muslim, God will clothe him like it of hell. If one achieves a position of ostentation and hypocrisy at the expense of a Muslim, God will put him in a position of ostentation and hypocrisy on the Day of Resurrection”. Will we let these teachings of our Prophet  ﷺ fall on deaf ears?
Several Companions tell the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ looking upon the Kaaba saying, “Verily God has ennobled you, venerated you, and glorified you, and a believer is even more sanctified than you”. The Prophet ﷺ also said, “Whosoever wrongfully harms a believer, it is as if he has destroyed the Kaaba”, and Imam Ibn Majah relates him saying, “The destruction of the world is less [in the sight of] God than wrongfully killing a believer”. Calls of disunity today are heard far and wide, be it on the pulpits of our mosques or in endless social media messages. Vitriolic diatribes have, in some circles, sadly replaced religious knowledge, and we find Muslims seemingly well-versed in technical religious arguments showing ignorance of the basics of cleanliness and prayer.

Together we are stronger

The Quran says, “And hold firmly to the rope of God all together and do not become divided. And remember the favour of God upon you: when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favour, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does God make clear to you His verses that you may be guided” [3:103]. Islam united the Companions of the Prophet and was their salvation. Through remaining united our predecessors in faith accomplished amazing deeds and attained greatness in the sight of God. Imam Malik bin Anas, one of the most highly regarded scholars in Islam and founder of the Maliki madhhab, is famously quoted as saying, “The end of this nation will not be righted except by what righted the beginning of it”. Working towards unity, then, should be of paramount importance to us, and God has given us generous incentives to unite. The reward of our five daily prayers is multiplied by 27 if we pray them in congregation. Once a week a congregational prayer is obligatory upon us. Twice a year we gather in a larger congregation for the Eid prayers. Zakat is a decentralised social welfare charity established over 1300 years ago specifically to benefit needy individuals, as many of the scholars state, in one’s local community. We fast for one month a year, gaining a small taste of the hunger that the less fortunate live every day. Undoubtedly the greatest embodiment of this is the annual Hajj pilgrimage, where Muslims gather from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe, don identical clothing, and perform the one great act of worship at the same place, at the same time.
In the midst of this powerful expression of the immense unifying force of Islam and its respect for humans of all backgrounds such that “surely the noblest amongst you in the sight of God is the most god-fearing of you”, we cannot help but feel united. One feels amongst brethren before their creator, a member of a community who have left their homes desiring only their Lord. Good actions become easy. Generosity and forgiveness become one’s natural disposition. We encounter amazing acts of kindness and humanity on Hajj and we leave feeling firmer than ever in our faith and proud to call ourselves ‘Muslim’. All this is an example of God’s mercy, which he promised us when we “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, establish prayer, give zakat, and obey God and His Messenger”.

Hajj is not just a gathering

We should strive, then, to ensure that our gathering in this holy place, where the Prophet told us of the sanctity of unity, is not merely an assembly of bodies, for Hajj is no mere assembly. Those who are blessed to travel this year should do so representing their families, communities, cities, and all Muslims behind them. They should stand before our Lord as one nation in heart and in form, for how repugnant would it be to outwardly honour the Kaaba, but inwardly commit acts worse in God’s sight than its destruction? Those who travel should return striving to maintain the bonds which they felt when they were in that sacred place. For those not fortunate enough to perform the Hajj, they should pray for those who do travel; for their safety and for the acceptance of their Hajj, for in God’s acceptance is renewed forgiveness and mercy for us all. And we should all pray for all Muslims, and do whatever little we can to spread mercy amongst both believers and non-believers.
Islam’s message is complete and we are to take it all as it was given to us. God told us that we are allies, so we should be so. The Prophet told us that our fellow believers are sanctified, so we should treat them so. The Prophet told us, “You shall not enter heaven until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not direct you to a thing which, if you do it, will foster love between you? Spread the [greeting of] salaam between yourselves”, so let us begin with this small step and may God encompass us all with his divine mercy.
[cwa id=’cta’]

The Impact of Our Choices – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Oftentimes we pass the hours away not realizing how many choices we are making. We also don’t realize how many opportunities we are missing out on, says Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said.

Syedina Abu Dharr (radiallah anhu), the great Sahabi of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), in sharing his wisdom about the choices we make as humans, said:

“Good company is better than being lonely,

And being lonely is better than the corrupted.

The one that spreads khair is better than the one that is quiet,

And the one that is quiet is better than the one devoid of good words. “

The profundity of Abu Dharr’s (radiallah anhu) statement is that it recognizes that we as humans have wants, and as such he is framing those wants as within a set of impactful choices.

Choices that seem as mundane as eating and talking, can at moments be good and at others not be the choicest.

An example of such being when Imam Shafi (rehmatullah alaih) visited Imam Ahmad (rehmatullah alaih), and when the latter’s daughter commented on the amount of food Imam Shafi (rehmatullah alaih) was consuming, he explained that he had done so because of the blessings in the food that was spread before him!

As we tread through the choices that are spread before us, may Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) facilitate the choicest.

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