Welcoming three new teachers to the SeekersHub Family

By the Grace and Mercy of Allah, we have three new teachers joining the SeekersHub faculty this term. May Allah reward them for their dedication to spreading sacred knowledge.

sh_ahmed_saad_zakatShaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari

Shaykh Ahmed was born into a family of scholars whose lineage goes back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) through his grandson Al-Hasan ibn Ali.

Alongside his academic studies, Shaykh Saad studied traditional Islamic sciences at the hands of senior scholars and specialists in Egypt, the most notable of whom is his late father Shaykh Muhammad Saad and Shaykh Ali Gomaa.
This term, Shaykh Ahmed will be teaching:

Find out more about Shaykh Ahmed Saad

shuaib-181x300Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Shaykh Shuaib Ally is a scholar who has recently returned to Toronto after completing his studies overseas.
He has studied a number of Islamic disciplines privately with scholars in Saudi Arabia, including Tafsir, Qur’anic Sciences, Shafi’i law, Usul, Hadith, Hadith Methodology, Grammar and Balagha.

This term, Shaykh Shuaib will be teaching:

Find out more about Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent his early childhood there. He has also lived in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, growing up within diverse cultures.
It was during his university years that Amjad developed a deeper connection to his faith, studying the Islamic sciences with teachers locally and internationally.
This term, Ustadh Amjad will be teaching:

Find out more about Ustadh Amjad

Registration for term three is now open, visit our course page for a full list of courses. All our courses are free of cost, making them accessible to everyone.

Was salaam,
Erin Rutherford,
SeekersHub Outreach

Raising Children With A Sound Heart – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

There is no doubt in my mind that children have to be raised with a deep, profound understanding of the heart. This is the essence of our deen and a central guiding principle when dealing with the actions of children.

We have a policy at home, that if they tell the truth they don’t get in trouble. “Did you hit your brother? If you tell me the truth you won’t get in trouble,” – we moderate repercussions and disciplinary actions with a focus on all the virtues of the heart. This is what is most important, that you inculcate this in them.

Use ordinary life events as opportunities to teach them about the importance of the heart. You also teach them from early on, that even if someone doesn’t wear a headscarf or have a beard, maybe their heart is in a good state.

You teach them tolerance, you teach them that yes, outward conformity to religion is important but the heart is also important. Unfortunately, most parents’ only concern is the outward dimension and they reinforce that by getting angry only when the outward is violated. You must balance your responses to the inward with your responses to the outward so that in reality you become more concerned with the inward.

How many people have we all known, who have been pushed farther away from the religion because the focus on the outward has been shoved down their throats? There are very few things that push people farther away from the religion more than that.

Teach children the theory about the heart. Sister Aisha Grey Henry is working on a children’s series of the Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din and I highly recommend everyone gets that when it’s published, if it hasn’t been published already. Teach your children these stories. Until then, find other creative and practical ways.

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus was in SeekersHub Toronto recently and gave the above as an answer to a question from a member of the local community. Adapted for print.

This Labor Day weekend, September 3-7, 2015, SeekersHub Toronto invites you to a retreat that engages the heart, mind, and soul with respected teachers from around the world, including Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. Find out more here.

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Resources for Seekers:

Why does Allah Bless Some with Children and Others not?
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children
Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz’s advice on duas to read during pregnancy and labour and for infertility

Clarity Amidst Turmoil – A Response to the Paris Shootings by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, many Muslims around the globe have been left angered with a small group of people for hijacking their religion (killing others in the name of their religion). Muslims have also felt anger towards the cartoonists for publishing unnecessary degrading photos of the Final Messenger (peace be upon him) when asked not to. Others have been left victimised following backlashes within their communities, workplaces, schools, etc. and are generally in a state of confusion on how to understand and address the issue as a whole.

Shaykh Walead Mosaad provides beautiful nasiha and clarity, using Prophetic traditions to determine how Muslims of today can use the examples and lessons learned through the Seerah of the best of creation Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to deal with this situation along with the modern challenges we face.

May Allah bless Shaykh Walead and his family, and allow the Ummah to benefit immensely from him. Ameen. Al-Fatiha!

This was originally published by the Ha Meem Foundation. Jazak Allahu Khairan!

 

Resources for Seekers:

“The World Has Lost A Giant” – Imam Zaid Shakir on the passing of Shaykh Shukri al-Luhafi

Shaykh Shukri Luhafi

Photo credit: Official Tweets from the Students of Shaykh Shukri al-Luhafi

The Muslim world has lost one of its giants with the passing of Shaykh Shukri Al-Luhafi. Despite his stature, it is unlikely that anyone reading these words who is not from Syria has ever heard of Shaykh Shukri. Before I arrived in Syria, in 1994, to begin my studies there, I too did not know who he was.

Upon arriving in Damascus, Shaykh Shukri was one of the first scholars I met. Our most generous host, Abu Munir Sha’ar, had arranged callighaphy lessons with the Shaykh. A motley gang of Americans made our way through the streets of Damascus to the Shaykh’s apartment for an introduction. Upon arriving at the building housing the Shaykh’s home, we descended down a tight stairwell into a dimly lit, cramped basement apartment. This was the Shaykh’s humble abode.

Only Musa Furber proved to be a consistent student of the Shaykh. I had become involved with other pursuits, although I would visit from time to time. I would also see the Shaykh at every public dhikr and the accompanying lessons that I was able to attend. The Shaykh had a very distinct way of arriving at the various masjids where the Dhikrs would occur. Specifically, on a rugged, Chinese-made black bicycle. He usually had a couple of children on the crossbar and two or three more on the makeshift backseat.

Shaykh Shukri Luhafi serving waterAs the attendees filtered into the venue, Shaykh Shukri, with the hint of a smile teasing his lips, would serve water. He was the waterman. This beautiful practice, like his home, like everything about him, spoke volumes about his humility. What exactly is humility? Some define it as assuming a station lower than that one could rightfully claim. By this definition, Shaykh Shukri was truly humble. Why? Because he could claim being a leading scholar in Damascus. He could claim that he was a renowned callighapher. He could claim being a master of the ten canonical readings of the Qur’an. We could add to the list of the things he could rightfully claim, however, he renounced all claims. He was the waterman.

When the great master, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Shaghuri, became too ill to continue commenting on the various texts read at the public dhikrs, that task fell upon my teacher, Shaykh Mustafa Turmani. One day Shaykh Mustafa was unable to make it to the dhikr, and hence, the lesson. The attendees, knowing Shaykh Shukri’s scholarly attainment, asked him to comment on the text. The Shaykh read the text, verbatim, not adding a single word of his own commentary, and then quietly closed the book. His respectful reverence, despite his qualifications, would not allow him to speak in the place of Shaykh Mustafa.

Shaykh Shukri Luhafi smilingUpon the passing of Shaykh Mustafa, the leadership of the Shadhuli Tariqa in Damascus was assumed by Shaykh Shukri. Now, at last, he spoke, and he guided the faithful with wisdom, courage and vision from that time until his demise.

I write these words with tears welling in my eyes as I remember this humble servant and as I reflect on how blessed I am to have had the honor of sitting in his home, eating his food, been served by his hand, listening to his silence, and benefiting from his state as well as his very parsimonious speech. May Allah grant him the highest ranks of Paradise and may He bless us to elevate ourselves to begin to carry even a small fraction of the load Shaykh Shukri has entrusted to us.

“There is no one who humbles himself for Allah’s sake, except Allah elevates him.” Prophetic Hadith.

This tribute was first published on Imam Zaid Shakir’s blog New Islamic Directions.

Some sobering reflections on the discovery of Qur’an pages

A university assistant shows fragments of an old Qur'an at the University in Birmingham, in Birmingham central England on 22 July, 2015.

A university assistant shows fragments of an old Qur’an at the University in Birmingham, in Birmingham, Central England on 22 July, 2015.

Written by Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari

With great joy in the discovery of the Qur’an manuscript, here is what Qur’an expert and scholar, Shaykh Ayman Rushdi Suwayd (one of the highest authorities on Qur’anic Sciences today) says:

[Note, this is a summary of Shaykh’s words with my additions and observations]

1. We have to know one important point of difference between Western research methodology and research methodology in Islamic sciences. In western academia, ‘oldness’ represents a source of authenticity while in Islamic sciences ‘being old’ is not the only way or even the main way of proving the authenticity of something. We cannot accept a manuscript without knowing who wrote it and what he copied it from. If someone has written something from his head, even if this was during the Prophet’s time, peace be upon him, that is not authority. A manuscript of an unknown writer could have been written even by an enemy.

2. The Qur’an has been handed down through generations by means of tawātur (mass-narration) which technically means that the number of narrators is so huge that it is impossible to think that they have produced a lie. The number of narrators eliminates the possibility of fabrication or a mistake. The Quranic copies printed and used widely in the world today are based on tawatūr which means a Muslim in India and another in South America, who have never met, actually read the exact same Qur’an. An individual manuscript, even if its origin is known, remains a solitary narration which carries a possibility of error and therefore, its content is judged by its compliance with the mutawātir Qur’an, not the other way round.

3. As for the case in hand, Muslim scholars have developed rules relating to the script and the verse counting to confirm the authenticity of any discovered manuscript of the Qur’an. The copy of Sayyidna Abu Bakr is copied from the Qur’an written at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him. And the copy of ‘Uthman was copied from the Abu Bakr copy. Scholars have studied deeply and documented what was there so that if today or in the future anyone says they have discovered a manuscript, we say: If it is in conformity with what we have, it is welcome but if not, then it has no value to us in terms of considering its content. Unless a manuscript is written in the proper process by known individuals, i.e. through the well-known methods of copying the Qur’an, we cannot refer back to it to validate or invalidate the Qur’an. What has been developed by the scholars through the ages is a structure and process that is enough and the Qur’an as it is in the Muslim hands today is as authentic and accurate as it was at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

4. We should calm down and stop making assumptions and adding our own spices to the incident. We do not have to think that the discovery is a miracle unfolding for this or that reason. We believe in the Qur’an and we do not need miracles to increase our belief. Wisdom is appreciated. Do not be over joyous and do not try to read things in any excessive way.

Only Allah knows best.

Resources for Seekers:

Allah’s Promise of Preserving the Qur’an, and the Essence of Guidance

Be Light: Three Keys To Being Ambassadors Of The Prophet – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s khutbah at Houghton Masjid, South Africa

SouthAfrica2015-HoughtonMosque-ShaykhFarazRabbani-IMG_459426428-3Listen to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s jummah khutbah at Houghton Masjid, South Africa on 24th July 2015.

While other Prophets were given “manifest proofs” (bayyinat) by Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was himself sent as a manifest proof (al-bayyina) of the truth.
“Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them manifest proofs, A messenger from Allah, rehearsing scriptures kept pure and holy, Wherein are laws (or decrees) right and straight.” [Surat al-Bayyina, verses 1-3]
He embodies, manifests and serves as clear proof of Guidance and Truth.This is why he is referred to as being the Shining Light (siraj munir). “And as one who invites to Allah’s (grace) by His leave, and as a shining light.” [Surat al-Ahzab: verse 46]
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the essential characteristics of the Prophetic way in this Friday khutbah at the Houghton Mosque in Johannesburg. The Prophetic way is a way of beauty, virtue, mercy and excellence.To be true followers of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his folk) we must strive to reflect this shining light–and to strive to become “manifest proofs” in our own examples of truth, guidance and good.
Shaykh Faraz explains three keys to this, namely:
(1) the light of faith, nurturing it with dhikr and uprightness
(2) the light of good character in dealings, seeking Allah thereby — Hadith.
(3) the light of excellence in choices, choosing Allah in tests, trials and all decisions.
Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year. This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Spread Light in South Africa – SeekersHub Tour starts with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

It has been a great start to the Spread Light tour of South Africa. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani arrived earlier in the week and has already appeared on local radio and given the jumuah khutbah at Houghton Masjid.
Follow the full tour schedule on our webpage, or join the facebook event page for regular updates.
We pray that this tour serves as a means to reflect on what it means to “Spread Light” in these troubled time and how we – individuals, families, communities – can be a means of spreading the light and life-giving Prophetic wisdom and example to heal and change our condition.
For their assistance and partnership on this tour, SeekersHub would like to thank, The Kazee Family, Sandton Islamic Association, Islamic Forum, DTI Cape Town, FEED, Madina Institute South Africa and DeenTV.

Ramadan, Rumi, and Love By Zeshan Zafar

It is part of life to have a difference of opinion with various individuals or groups of people. Terry Tempest Williams, in one of her books, states, “Most of all, difference of opinions are opportunities of learning.”

However, generally speaking, on many occasions, when this occurs, if one doesn’t manage it well or lacks comportment, the result can turn into a feeling of animosity. Furthermore, when uncontrolled, it can turn into hatred, a spiritual disease that sits at the core of one’s heart, dictating and defining one’s behaviour unbeknown to oneself.

When such hatred sets into our way of life, individuals choose to deal with it in a variety of ways. Some try to mask the emotion or seek validation for that hatred; others seek revenge or violent harm with devastating consequences to those they may have loved unconditionally at one time. We also see the modern phenomenon of social media being used to spread this hatred, unfairly sowing the seeds of doubts that stick and label many unfortunate individuals with “justified” gossip becoming an accepted discussion on each of our tables.

Such behaviour has unfortunately broken down many marriages, families, friendships, communities, business partners, etc. as this trait continues to become rampant to the point that we no longer discern the goodness and sacrifices that many still work towards in our respective communities, regardless of our opinions. Instead, we tend to sideline them and bad mouth them, thinking we are safe to share statements against people in the confines of our close circles, yet at the same time we do not realise the terrible human beings we are all becoming through the mismanagement of this emotion.

One of my teachers once said in one of his lectures, “Do not have a crablike mentality whereby when crabs are put in a bucket together, each one tries to escape by pulling the other one down, just to escape themselves, leading to collective demise.” This is exactly what hatred is doing to the development and growth of our communities in times when our real challenges are elsewhere and which we should all really be focusing our energies on. Unfortunately, we cry out emotional slogans such as “Muslim Unity” without realising that little can be changed without changing oneself.

One of the most notable scholars and thinkers of Islam, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, recently shared a profound insight from the Qur’an that states, “Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” He stated that our community is besot by changing the world whilst forgetting the simple hard rule of changing oneself, and that the role of changing the condition of people as a collective is the role of God. So if we all focused on changing ourselves first, ridding ourselves of our hatred for one another and purifying our own hearts, God will take care of the rest.

The question arises, how can we move beyond this hatred and begin to remove this infection so that goodness can be achieved in the short time we tread on this earth, with the invaluable gift we have been given of life?

Many have their own mechanisms of dealing with this. Recently, whilst on a journey to the States, a dear friend of mine gave me valuable and practical advice on a way to manage such tendencies, by making a conscientious and sincere effort to reach out to individuals you feel you have wronged, or who you feel wronged you, or who seem distant to you. He suggested making a prayer for them to rid your heart of antagonistic presumptions by reaching out to them on a weekly basis, until all that is contained or constricts your heart disappears until you only have mahabba (love) for that person.

The Muslim community as a whole is known to be a giving community, especially when it comes to charity and hospitality, and they continue to hold tight to the noble virtues that are fast disappearing in a globalised world. Yet charity as described by our Prophet (peace be upon him) is also through actions and good deeds: hence being altruistic through your generosity, kindness, compassion, and time are equally important. Letting go of the self is important to move away at an individual level, especially in a world where the “self” has become a dictator over our natural inclination of moderation. Many argue over the ownership of ideas and whether certain ideas are relevant and can work. The best advice I was given was to let people learn from their mistakes but to not cause further rift that our communities are regularly torn by. Instead, you must choose the incision point that you feel can best help and support individuals that you perhaps disagree with, as our commonalities are far greater than our differences.

For those who feel they do not need help from someone sincerely trying to offer their support or help, remember even if such advice is not appropriate or compatible with your aims, never ignore it. You will always find a time when such advice can be found to be valuable at a different stage of your life or applicable to a different situation.

This is what distinguishes people of wisdom, such as Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who represents someone that keeps love at the centre of how he lives (may Allah grant him good health and a long life), through his acts of consistency. He epitomises renewal in his scholarship, but, more importantly, through his self-discipline and observance, he embodies renewal in his character. He is someone who knows not of hatred. He is someone who cannot but love and be objective to those who may be fierce critics or who oppose him or his approach. What struck me in my observances of the Shaykh is that despite any animosity shown to him, he always takes the time to listen and offer his help as he would to those who are amongst his family. This is evident in the Shaykh’s writings and rulings that speak with kindness, graciousness, and nobility of the other. I am sure everyone can relate to an individual out there who embodies such prophetic characteristics, and if you can, do not be ashamed to acknowledge your shortfalls before making that effort of change required by those who inspire you.

As Ramadan makes its yearly entrance into our homes, lives, and hearts, this is what I will be aiming to strive for, being mindful and realistic that things do not happen over night. I hope others can have mercy with me and forgive me for any wrongdoing. Imam Shafi’i famously said, “Be hard on yourself and easy on others,” noting that our God is a God that is all-merciful and all-forgiving; these are utterances that we grow up on and repeat daily.

So if your heart has flipped once, let it flip repeatedly until you have nothing but love for those who are around you. This can be achieved only by empathising. Ramadan Kareem. I will leave you with the words of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Zeshan Zafar is the Director of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.

Taken from Healing Hearts

The complete Wird Latif of Imam al-Haddad, with transliteration

As with all the litanies of Imam al-Haddad, al-Wird al-Latif is made up of nothing but the ‘prayers’ of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the formulae that he instructed his community to recite mornings and evenings. It is therefore strictly in conformity with the sunna, and once it is well-rehearsed and becomes regular practice, one can rest assured that he is following the ‘Prophetic’ instructions as to which adhkar he should use to begin and end his day.

It may be used for protection from various inward and outward perils, for curing certain illnesses, for increasing certain kinds of provision, for haraka, and for the recompense promised for the recitation of each of its letters. Knowing this, Muslims all over the world have always recited both the Qur’an and the Prophetic invocations in their original Arabic, even when unable to understand the language, to make sure that they lose none of the secrets and baraka, much of which are lost in translation.

Brief Biography of Imam al-Haddad (may Allah have mercy on him)

Imam Abdullah al-Haddad was the renewer of the twelfth Islamic century. He was renowned, and deservedly so, for the breadth of his knowledge and his manifest sanctity. The profundity of his influence on Muslims is reflected by the fact that his books are still in print through out the Islamic world.

He was born in Tarim, in the hills of Hadramaut, one of the southerly regions of the Arabian peninsula, and grew up in an environment where the accent was upon piety, frugality, erudition, and an uncompromising thirst for gnosis fma’rifal. His lineage is traced back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) through Imam al-Husayn. His illustrious ancestors, the ‘Alawi sadat, had for centuries produced generation after generation of great scholars, gnostics and summoners to the Straight Path.

Imam al-Haddad died on the eve of the 7th of Dhu’l Qa’da, 1132 A.H., having spent his life bringing people to their Lord through his oral and written teaching, and his exemplary life. For a more thorough biography of this great Imam, see “The Sufi Sage of Arabia” by Dr. Mostafa Badawi.


The following was compiled by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Muslim Chaplin at the University of Toronto and SeekersGuidance  teacher.

Advice for the Last Week of Ramadan from Habib Hussein as-Saqqaf

Habib Hussein as-SaqqafThis week is your last chance to really put forth your efforts – do not allow or be satisfied by losing any of these last moments to be in the remembrance of Allah Most High.  Take advantage of this time that the shayateen are in chains, such that one can do more.

Fasting of the average Muslim is to fast from food, drink & relations. However, the fast of the elite is to fast from

  • Committing any sins of the limbs
  • Fasting from what is useless of this worldly matters
  • Fasting of the heart from other than Allah Most High – nothing occurs to one’s heart except Allah Most High.  Do not allow one’s heart to delve into this worldly matters, or sin.  If a stray thought comes to one, then just repel it.  Thoughts are like knockers at your door, one is only accountable if one opens that door.

Do not allow one’s eyes to look at useless this worldly affairs, nor one’s ears to listen to useless news about this or that, you should be cut off from this worldly matters at this time and tie yourself to Allah Most High.  By listening to these kinds of news, nothing beneficial will occur, other than taking from your your time, your life, and to preoccupy your heart.  But this is a time that your heart should be wholly occupied by Allah Glorious & Exalted  is He.

Occupy yourself with remembrance of Allah by day and night, between you and your Lord, and by the end or Ramadan you will taste the sweetness of this closeness to Allah Most High, that you will be unable to leave it even after Ramadan and will continue to remember Him until the next Ramadan comes.

 

Habib Hussein as Saqqaf is of noble heritage, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings me upon him). Born in the city of Jeddah, Hijaz, Arabia, in the year 1391 Hijri / 1971 A.D, his father raised him on the love of seeking knowledge, love of the spiritual scholars, love of the righteous and saints of Allah. He attended one of the circles dedicated to the memorization of the Holy Qur’an where he memorized the Holy Qur’an before reaching his teenage years. Read more of his biography and visit Habib Hussein’s youtube channel, HemmahNet TV.

 

Resources for Seekers:
Ramadan: The Fortunate Ones
Worship in Ramadan For a Menstruating Woman
Ramadan with Purpose: Fasting As An Expression of Love for Allah
VIDEO GUIDE: How To Make Your Ramadan Count
The Ramadan Reader: A Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan