The Powerful Dua of a Parent

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful

All praises are for Allah SWT, the most Compassionate, the most Forgiving.

Salutations and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad SAW, his family and companions.

Oh Allah, I submit myself to You.

I realize that parenting a child is a very difficult task and I turn to You in humility for Your help.

I implore You for Your wisdom and guidance.

Oh Allah, I know that our children are an amaanat from You, to care for and to raise in a manner that is pleasing to You.

Help me do that in the best way.

Teach me how to love in a way that You would have me love.

Help me where I need to be healed, improved, nurtured, and made whole.

Help me walk in righteousness and integrity so that You may always be pleased with me.

Allow me to be a God-fearing role model with all the communication, teaching, and nurturing skills that I may need.

Oh Allah, You know what our children need. Help and guide us in praying for our children.

Oh Allah, put a hedge of safety around our children. Protect their bodies, minds, and emotions from any kind of evil and harm.

Oh Allah, I pray that You protect them from accidents, diseases, injuries, and any other physical, mental, or emotional afflictions and abuse.

Oh Allah, I pray that You keep our children free from any addictions and vices.

Draw them close to You for protection from every ill and evil influence of our society, whether it’s apparent to us or not.

Oh Allah, grant them the best of company as their friends — people who will inspire them to love and worship and obey You.

Oh Allah, grant our children hidaaya and a heart that loves to obey You.

Shine Your light on any secret or unseen rebellion in their hearts and destroy it before it takes root.

Oh Allah, guide them away from any pride, selfishness, jealousy, hypocrisy, malice, and greed and make them uncomfortable with sins.

Penetrate their hearts with Your love and reverence today and always.

Oh Allah, make apparent to them the truth in any situation and let them not be misled by falsehood.

Oh Allah, grant our children the ability to make clear decisions and let them always be attracted to good things that are pure, noble, true, and just.

Oh Allah, guide them in making choices that please You.

Oh Allah, help them to taste the sweetness of walking with a humble spirit in obedience and submission to You.

Oh Allah, grant them the wisdom to choose their words carefully and bless them with a generous and caring spirit.

Oh Allah, I pray that they never stray from the path of deen and that You give them a future filled with Your best promises.

Oh Allah, always keep our children cleansed and pure from evil and shaytaan.

Oh Allah, keep them steadfast in establishing Salaah and help them revere the Glorious Quran as Your Word and Law and to read it with understanding daily. Let it be their source of light and guidance.

Oh Allah, let our daughters love wearing hijab and our sons the dress of a humble Muslim.

Let their dress be a representation of their Imaan and of their love and respect for Your commands.

Lead them to a position where they rely truly on Your power alone and fear You in the open and in secret.

Oh Allah, make them so strong in their deen that they never encounter doubt.

Oh Allah, do not allow any negative attitudes in the place of our children’s lives.

Oh Allah, guide our children in honouring and obeying You, Your Rasool (peace be upon him), and us as parents (when we are commanding that which is pleasing to You).

Make them the coolness of our eyes.

Oh Allah, fill our children with compassion and caring that will overflow to each member of our family.

Oh Allah, grant them piety.

Oh Allah, help them love, value, appreciate, and respect one another with good communication between them always.

Oh Allah, drive out any division between our children and bring them healing.

I pray there be no strain, breach, misunderstanding, arguing, fighting, or severing of ties.

Oh Allah, allow them to one day marry righteous, God-fearing, kind, hard-working, intelligent, beautiful, healthy spouses who get along with and respect and love (and genuinely enjoy) every member of our family and who lead our children (i.e. their spouses) even closer to You and Jannat ul Firdaus.

Oh Allah, please grant me the company of pious friends, relatives, extended community members, and teachers who will be inspirational role models for my children and will help me raise them to be the best of believers.

Oh Allah, please don’t let me become self-satisfied and arrogant in my parenting, but please don’t humble me or shame me through my children’s misdeeds either. Please let me always give credit for their good character to You and please don’t ever let me stop praying for them.

Oh Allah, please don’t let my children be “late” in meeting any of life’s milestones that are expected of them.

Oh Allah, protect my children from debt. Make them givers and not takers.

Oh Allah, grant my children noble professions with halal incomes that give them respect and dignity in Your Eyes and in the eyes of their fellow human beings.

Oh Allah, grant them worldly comfort so that my children can come to You through the Door of Gratitude and so that they are not forced to come to You through the Door of Patience. Please let them always be grateful…and patient.

Oh Allah, I pray for a close, loving, happy and fulfilling relationship with them for all the days of our lives and to be reunited with them in Jannat ul Firdaus. آمِيْن يَارَبَّ الْعَالَمِينْ


Edited by Hina Khan-Mukhtar, who said, “This list of duas was not started by me but I edited it and added a few of my own and am now sharing…feel free to add your own and continue sharing!” Khan-Mukhtar is a mother of three boys and one of the founders of the homeschooling co-operative known as ILM Tree in Lafayette, California, which now serves over 30 homeschooling families in the East Bay. In addition to teaching Language Arts to elementary, middle school, and high school students, she has written articles on parenting and spiritual traditions for children and is involved in interfaith dialogue.

 

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

Raising a Muslim with Manners by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

muslim-little-boys
Photograph by Audrée Marsolais.

I once asked a scholar for advice on what we should be teaching our children and he immediately responded, “Adab and akhlaq (manners and etiquettes). Parents don’t emphasize these enough anymore.” He went on to define “adab” as “the appropriate action, attitude, and response in any given situation”.

Another scholar once said, “Adab beautifies everything it touches. We have Muslims who know rules and rituals; we don’t have nearly enough Muslims who know how to have adab. Sell your misbaha (prayer beads) and go buy some adab instead.”

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated, “I have only been sent to perfect good manners.”

It was at a friend’s house that I saw copies of the books “Islamic Manners” by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and “How to Raise a Gentleman” by Kay West lying side by side on a coffee table.

“What are these all about?” I asked, picking up one of the books and flipping through its pages.

“That? Oh, nothing,” the mother of four boys shrugged nonchalantly. “Just making sure nothing falls through the cracks is all.”

The concept fascinated me. A systematic way of making sure that our sons are learning the proper etiquettes and manners? Sign me up!

Pooling elders and friends, I asked around to find out what they thought are some basic adab and akhlaq concepts that all children should be learning while under our tutelage and here are just some pointers we came up with…

1) Personal Grooming and Hygiene

Like me, how many moms have cringed when hugged by sons drenched in that particular stench of sweat, sunshine, and sports which seems to be specific only to growing boys? I try not to grimace when I see the state of their “holey” socks and their long fingernails, but it’s hard not to be repulsed when you’re a fastidious girly-girl like I am. Instead of nagging, I have tried to set them up for success by providing them with their own “grooming kits”. We trekked out to the local drugstore and bought nail clippers; deodorant; floss; and travel-size containers of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, cologne, and bandages. Packed in a zipped-up case, all of the boys’ grooming essentials are easily accessible whenever they are heading out the door for a sleepover at a friend’s or a weekend visit to the grandparents’ or even a two week trip overseas. We have tried to inculcate in our sons the Friday routine of showering, perfuming, and dressing neatly in their best clothes (no ripped jeans!) for Jumah (Friday) prayers, and one of the sunnahs (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) that they follow is to clip their fingernails before leaving the house for their weekly act of worship. Having their own set of nail clippers readily available in their grooming kits ensures that I don’t ever have to hear the excuse: “Sorry, Mama! I couldn’t find the nail cutter anywhere! What was I supposed to do?”

When my older two hit the age of puberty, my husband Zeeshan sat them down and talked to each of them about the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) behind ritual cleaning and purification. He provided them with clippers and razors and instructed them in their use, explaining how they were supposed to groom themselves as young men from now on. Mothers of girls have told me that they have demonstrated for their daughters how to dispose of sanitary pads in as discreet a manner as possible, wrapping them up in layers of toilet paper before tucking them deep into trash cans so that they are not visible to the next person who comes to throw something away.

Back when our sons were first becoming independent, I taught them how to do istinja (the ritual washing of private parts after using the restroom), showing them how they needed to use their left hands to clean themselves and then firmly cautioning them against touching the toilet flush or sink faucet with anything but the dry right hand afterwards. One girlfriend recently shared that her mother taught her and her sister that part of good manners entailed leaving the istinja can full of water for the next person. Just one more etiquette I’m going to add to my checklist from now on!

2) Being a Good Guest

When my older two were younger, I would do a quick review with them before they left us to spend the night at anyone else’s house. (I still follow this routine with my 11-year-old by the way.) I tried to keep my instructions short and simple so that they weren’t overwhelmed, but there were quite a few basic instructions that I made sure to drill into them over the years:

  • Make your bed (or fold up your bedding if you were camping out on the carpet) to the best of your ability first thing in the morning.
  • Close the toilet lid and dry the counter after you’re done using the restroom.
  • Either wash your dishes, put them in the dishwasher, or place them in the sink (depending on what your host prefers) after having your meals.
  • Compliment the chef!
  • Clean up the games and toys after you’re done playing.
  • Don’t open closed doors, cabinets, closets, drawers. Ask for whatever you need; don’t go searching on your own.
  • Notice what chores your friends help with and offer your assistance as soon as possible.
  • Thank Auntie and Uncle and your friends for hosting you before you leave.

Years ago, my boys had a friend over with whom they were playing Hide-and-Seek all over the house, running upstairs and downstairs. At some point during the game, Shaan came running into my bedroom with his friend Yusuf following closely behind — except that Yusuf came to a screeching halt at my bedroom door as if he had just slammed into an invisible force field. “You have to come out and play in the loft, Shaan!” he called to my son while holding onto the door frame with both hands. “I’m not allowed to go into parents’ bedrooms!” I remember taking note of the fact that this little boy clearly knew what was and wasn’t off-limits in other people’s homes; since then, I began talking to my kids about boundaries and respect for privacy as well.

3) Being a Gracious Host

Every now and then we have friends and relatives come to visit with whom my children may or may not be familiar. Before their arrival, Zeeshan and I make sure to give the kids some background information about the guests and suggest some topics for conversation. I once overheard someone trying to make friendly conversation with my son where he (my son) would respond with polite but short answers that didn’t carry the conversation any further. I later took him aside and told him that part of being a charming conversationalist and a gracious host is making people feel important, like you’re actually interested in talking to them. “If you can’t think of a topic to discuss, just ask polite questions that show that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them,” I said. “Don’t be nosey. Be sincere. If nothing else, just ask them what they think of California.”

I was really impressed when I went to visit a girlfriend recently. She and I relaxed in the family room while her son and daughter took over the kitchen, emerging one after the other to serve us water and tea and cookies on a little pedestal stand. My friend didn’t have to get up even once. Her daughter was no more than 10 years old and her son was only 11. I left inspired, rushing home to show my own kids how to balance cups on a tray and to explain the importance of using coasters when serving glasses of water. I want my guests to feel like they’re being taken care of the same way I felt pampered in her home, insha’Allah (God willing).

Being shy isn’t an excuse that any of my friends have allowed their children to use to get out of greeting elders and guests. Modesty and shyness is part of our religion and no one should be forcing kids to be anything they’re not, but saying salaams (greetings of peace) is a non-negotiable for most families who are teaching their kids manners. I have noticed that the children with the most impeccable adab always say “Assalaamu alaikum” (peace be upon you) and “Walaikum as salaam” (and upon you be peace) instead of the generic “Hi!” and “Hello” when greeting fellow Muslims. They are also quick to jump up and offer their seats to elders.

Other signs of budding ladies and gentlemen are kids who insist on carrying adults’ bags and packages for them (and refuse to take “no” for an answer), teenagers who walk guests to the door and beyond when it is time for them to leave, little ones who offer visitors water before they even have a chance to ask, and children who put away the smart phones and laptops when elders engage them in conversation.

4) Being a Kind and Considerate Friend

As parents, it is our job to teach our kids how to be a good friend and how to fulfill the rights their friends actually have over them. Part of learning manners and etiquettes is knowing that you are never allowed to backbite your buddies (i.e. saying that in their absence which they wouldn’t like to hear in their presence), that you must always return any items you’ve borrowed in exactly the condition you received them in (and replace/compensate for anything that is broken or lost), and that you must be willing to pick up the phone and call with your congratulations when someone dear to you receives good news and with your condolences when someone is dealing with bad news. A cousin recently told me how touched she was when her eldest son’s good friend called to give the whole family his heartiest congratulations upon hearing that his friend had been accepted into a prestigious university. A few years ago, we had a health scare and were worried about the upcoming test results for one of our sons; tears sprang to my eyes when my son’s friend telephoned to wish him the best and to reassure him that all would be well, insha’Allah. (It was, alhamdulillah.)

We teach our kids that adab entails having a healthy, sensitive understanding of how people around you are feeling and then responding appropriately to those feelings. One of our favorite quotes is from the author Jonathan Swift: “Good manners is the art of making people comfortable. Whoever makes the fewest people uncomfortable has the best manners.”

5) Being a Model Student

When my son began attending public high school, he was startled by how different the rules of engagement between teachers and students seemed to be when compared to the adab he was expected to have with his mentors in all the years of homeschooling prior. Giving up your seat for seniors, helping them carry heavy items, greeting elders first, and not interrupting or talking back are all givens. In an Islamic learning environment, however, our adab goes to another level. Many of my friends have taught their kids the subtleties of sitting in front of scholars and teachers. They are cautioned against ever pointing their feet towards their instructors and are instructed to always have a pen and notebook ready for note-taking. No one should be sitting around with a glazed look in their eyes while a speaker drones on; that is considered to be the height of disrespect. Muslim students also do not make jokes at the expense of their teachers and wait until the end of a lecture to ask their questions.

What I have found, however, is that all the books and discussions and checklists are pointless unless manners and etiquettes are actually actively being modeled for our young ones. Kids are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. When squeezed, whatever is inside comes gushing out. There’s a reason why people say “His/her parents raised him/her well” when commenting on someone’s refined behavior. It is up to us parents to rise to the occasion and be whatever we want our kids to be, insha’Allah. In the process of trying to prepare the next generation to be more considerate and compassionate than the dominant culture around them, it’s quite possible that we’ll improve our own worlds as well.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant us all success! Aameen (amen).


The author, Hina Khan-Mukhtar, is a mother of three boys and one of the founders of the homeschooling co-operative known as ILM Tree in Lafayette, California, which now serves over 30 homeschooling families in the East Bay. In addition to teaching Language Arts to elementary, middle school, and high school students, she has written articles on parenting and spiritual traditions for children and is involved in interfaith dialogue.


Resources for Seekers:

Raising Children With A Sound Heart
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

Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow

by Nour Merza

Girl-Reading-Quran.pngA crackling fireplace. Cookies and milk on the table. A brightly-lit tree crowned with a star and surrounded by gifts. Few of us have grown up without these images of Christmas. Similarly, few of us have grown up with such warm images of Muslim holidays. In fact, in today’s environment, Muslim children are repeatedly faced with a stern, intolerant Islam that has no room for such frivolities.

This is no fertile ground in which young, believing hearts can grow.

How can we, as Muslim parents, create an environment that does? One way is through a thoughtful approach to Muslim holidays – particularly Ramadan. Below, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, SeekersHub teacher and scholar-in-residence at Sakina Collective, explores how we can build our children’s love for Islam through participation in this blessed month.

Fasting is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when considering participation in Ramadan. Although scholars differ on if and how children should practice fasting before puberty, Shaykh Walead said it is important to do so in a way that encourages participation in the month without making it too difficult on them.

“Do a half-day, or just one day [periodically],” said Shaykh Walead, if full-time fasting is too difficult. “At the very least you can delay their dinner, so they feel that they are participating.”

Giving fasting a social aspect also helps make it enjoyable for children who don’t have an appreciation for the higher meanings of this form of worship. Traditionally, Ramadan brought communities together – it was not practised in isolation. Many of our societies today have lost the sense of community that brings warmth and joy to the month. Taking time out of our busy schedules to plan and go to periodic gatherings with friends and family to break the fast helps make the month a memorable one for children.                              

Engaging children in activities traditionally associated with Ramadan in one’s culture is also helpful. Offering them special sweets or engaging in special dhikrs usually reserved for this month – which differ from culture to culture – highlight Ramadan as a unique time. Moreover, they help make Islam a living tradition that they can relate to, rather than a set of abstract ideas divorced from everyday life.

“Islamic practice is steeped in culture, you can’t practice Islam outside of culture,” said Shaykh Walead. “One of things that extremists try to convince you of is all that is insignificant, or it corrupts the deen. But when you leave the deen as a set of ideas that you implement any way you want, it leads to a form of extremism.”

For those living in the West, where authentic local expressions of Islam are still being formed, this is an issue that religious and community leaders must work diligently to address, said Shaykh Walead.

Some people have welcomed the moves of  stores such as Macy’s in the U.S., to do Ramadan promotions and advertisements as a way of making Ramadan an accepted part of Western culture. But in making Ramadan relevant to young Muslims, our communities must be careful about moving in the direction many other holidays – such as Christmas and Easter – have gone in the West: that of commercialization.

“Highly commercial activities are a celebration of the self, while Ramadan traditionally is a celebration of Allah,” said Shaykh Walead. Commercially-driven campaigns relating to Ramadan often promote a self-indulgence that rubs uncomfortably against the virtue of restraint that the month is all about.

Some ways of making the month enjoyable for children without the negative impacts of commercialization include engaging them in arts and crafts, such as teaching them calligraphy or making the brightly colored Ramadan lamps known as fawanees.

While striving to make the month an enjoyable one for our children, it is important to remember that, ultimately, this is a month of moving closer to God through learning self-control and self-restraint. The lamp-building activity mentioned above, for example, could be coupled with less screen time on various electronic devices. Some of the time spent normally in play could be used to begin a habit of daily interaction with the Quran.

Finally, focusing on the universal meanings of love and service to others, as exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has great benefit during this month. Islam, when practiced properly, is ultimately an expression of good character, and making that clear to children gives them a confidence in the moral calling of this faith that nothing else can.

“Islam is not just the sum of religious practices,” said Shaykh Walead. “It is not just the five pillars – it is built on the five pillars. They are the anchors that bring out all of the beautiful things about Islam.”

Through these individual and community efforts, we as Muslim parents can teach our children to appreciate the spiritual rigors that Ramadan brings, as well as the joys it offers – helping them build a strong, healthy bond with this religion of love, mercy and light.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Raising a Muslim with Manners
Planting the seeds of prayer in our young ones

Prophetic Advice For Raising Righteous Children
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

We need to raise $100,000 by Ramadan – A message from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,
Dear fellow seekers on the path to Allah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits. As Ramadan is fast approaching, I wanted to make an urgent appeal for support – and share some good news with you.
First, the urgent appeal…
SeekersHub urgently needs to raise $100,000 before the start of Ramadan to pay our scholars and staff; assist a number of scholars and seekers who are in dire need; and cover the costs of our upcoming programs and initiatives that will directly benefit you and your community.
You can make an immediate one-time donation; become a monthly donor; or give your zakat – which is used to support deserving and needy scholars and seekers of knowledge (considered the best of zakat).
Remember that hastening your charity has greater reward than ‘waiting for Ramadan’.
Click here Support SeekersHub

Second, the good news:

(1) Alhamdulillah, SeekersHub Global will be broadcasting a full range of daily Ramadan programming from our website.
This will include live broadcasts of the lessons and Tarawih recitation by Shaykh Ahmad Saad al-Azhari, whom SeekersHub Toronto is hosting for the entire month of Ramadan.
(2) In Ramadan, SeekersHub is launching its full Spanish-language site – with thousands of Answers, articles, audio and video lessons, and other resources, alhamdulillah. (BTW: The site is up, but in development… try to find it!)
(3) During Ramadan, our Term 3 courses will open for registration. We have many new courses, including:
Being Muslim: A Clear Introduction to Islam and Principles of Calling to Allah, with a new SeekersHub teacher, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin;
Explanation of Surat al-Fatiha, with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus; and
New courses in our Arabic Steps curriculum for both beginners (with new SeekersHub teacher, Shaykh Shuaib Ally) and more advanced seekers (with Shaykh Ali Hani, one of the foremost specialists of Qur’anic and Arabic studies in the world).
Take the Ramadan Short Courses: In the meantime, registration is open for our special Ramadan short courses. These are all completely free – supported by our Knowledge Without Barriers program.
Help us spread light by enrolling, and sharing widely with your friends and family.
Register here for Ramadan courses

Third: help us #SpreadLight:

In Ramadan, we’re launching our #SpreadLight campaign, to increase our capacity and reach from serving tens of thousands of students across the world to reach and serve hundreds of thousands of students.
This is at the counsel and call of our senior scholars – who have labelled our work as “the most pressing communal obligation of our times.”
Another of our teachers has challenged us, “This project needs to reach millions of people.”
We’re taking this challenge, trust, and responsibility on – with your support, prayers, and active involvement – and have set a goal of striving to reach a million students through our programs by the end of 2018, by Allah’s leave.
To make this happen, we need three things from you:
(1) Your immediate support, even if small; Donate Now.
(2) Host a fundraising iftar at your home or in your community, to raise funds for the #SpreadLight campaign. Just email [email protected]
(3) Join Team Lanterns. We’re putting a team together to raise funds by taking our message to your family, friends, and community. It’s simple and can be done online. Join the team here.
(4) Join the SeekersHub team – whether to help get the word out about our courses and services in the Outreach team; or to help directly with the #SpreadLight campaign in the Development team; or to help with the Techology team.
Just email [email protected] with the subject line: Volunteering with Seekers, and share some background about yourself, your interests, skills, and time commitment. We need a lot of hands on deck to make this happen, alhamdulillah!
May Allah make this Ramadan a Ramadan of light, in which we turn to the Light of Allah’s Closeness, Love, and Good Pleasure-through turning to His Light of the Qur’an, the Light of His Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), through the lights of prayer, fasting, recitation, charity, remembrance, service, and all doors of good that our Merciful and Loving Lord has facilitated for us.
May Allah bless you, your families, communities, and the Umma of the Beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his folk).
Wassalaam,
Faraz Rabbani
Executive Director and Senior Instructor, SeekersHub Global
Click here to Support SeekersHub

Elevation of Spirit: Attitudes and Approaches to Fasting, by Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said

Muslim orphan praying during Ramadan, ThailandMuslims the world over will soon observe the fast of Ramadan, abstaining from all food consumption and other circumscribed activities from dawn till dusk.  The annual cycle of Ramadan in the calendar continues to coincide with the longer days of summer, at least in the western hemisphere, making for a debilitating experience.  But Muslims need not draw back from the prospect of physical hardship when confronted by the length of the day or the heat and humidity.  That is the experience of abstention, which is the willing sacrifice of mundane comforts.  It is the experience of discomfort that makes the reward all the more appreciable.

In authentic Hadith Tradition, the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Companion Ubay ibn Kaab narrates, “There is a man, and I do not know of any who lives furthest from the Mosque than him, yet he has never missed a congregational prayer.  The people said, ‘If you have a donkey you can ride by night when it is cooler or in the scorching heat of the day.’  So the man said, ‘I do not wish my house to be closest to the Mosque for I prefer the reward of walking to the Mosque.  I walk to the Mosque where, on arrival, I meet Allah, Who is Appreciative.  And I walk back to my house where, on returning, I meet my family, in joyous appreciation.’” And the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – said, ‘Allah has bestowed on you all those blessings.’”

Thus, hardship is in itself an achievement and the experience of hardship, the willing sacrifice of comforts, awakens the inner purpose of abstention.

In Hadith tradition again, the Companion, Aus ibn Aus, tells us, “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Whoever baths on a Friday, completing full bodily purification, and then ventures early to the Mosque and walks there, though he may have a mount to ride, and then sits close to the Imam and listens attentively, then Allah will reward him for each step of that journey equal to the reward for standing in night vigil the whole year.’”  (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasai, Ibn Majah).

And Ali ibn abi Taalib said, “It was the Prophet’s custom to walk to the eid prayer congregation.” (Tirmidhi)

These traditions speak to us about the inner meaning of sacrifice, the experience – the means of achieving closeness to Allah.  For Allah takes no satisfaction from our discomfort, rather, He desires the elevation of our mind and spirit through the sacrifice of bodily comforts.  There are many, young and old, able-bodied and disabled alike, that shall experience physical discomfort while Allah, knowing what they are enduring, draws them nearer to Him.

Once we are able to rethink and better understand what it means to fast, the transformation of the mind will help to change prevailing attitudes and approaches to Ramadan.  The predominant sensibility of consumption in our contemporary world, whether in the west or east, means that for most Muslims the fasting experience is a tyranny of clock-time with only a few hours of relief.  Time itself becomes ponderous so that the countdown to breakfast is torture for a great multitude.  During the hours of fasting, relief comes in the form of “distraction” that seeks to escape the pangs of hunger, parching thirst and mental instability.

Iftar Muslim ChildFor many Muslims distraction from hunger and thirst comes, paradoxically, by increased exposure to food.  Many people actually spend a significant part of the day engaged in food purchase and preparation ahead of ifthar or breakfast.  In fact, the problem is not only one of exposure to food but also expenditure on food, so that instead of decrease there is increase in consumption in Ramadan.

Welcome news for traders perhaps but the individual Muslim may well experience deficit in more than one sense.  An appreciation of socio-economic dynamics helps to explain Muslims’ attitudes to fasting in the contemporary world.  Muslim or non-Muslim, we are universally accustomed to enjoying at least three meals a day.  Until quite recent times the greater part of humanity was accustomed to only one meal a day.  This was also the case in the Muslim context for many centuries.  Our three-meals-a-day privilege was not a luxury enjoyed by the famous Companions and all those who in every age have sought to emulate them.  When we fast today the assumption is that the goal has been achieved simply because we have abstained from food and drink – even though that abstention is based on a false consciousness – for the very act of denial in the physical sense finds compensation in a mind filled with thoughts of food.  This compensatory strategy is shaped by the dominant sensibility of our era, which is that of ever-increasing consumption.  Thus, we have the contradictory phenomenon of Muslims collectively experiencing a consumptive boost in Ramadan at the very moment when the spiritual nature should be eclipsing the material nature.

Fasting becomes a debilitating physical experience only because, in losing sight of its spiritual significance, we are increasingly ill-prepared for Ramadan.  Like any all-round experience involving mind, body and spirit, preparation is crucial.  Everybody would be surprised if athletes were to compete in a sports tournament without a comprehensive training programme involving diet, physical activity and mental preparation, based on a keen desire to achieve success.  Muslims would do well to genuinely want to emulate the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – and his Companions.  Their fasting record was a before-and-after process, which emphasised advance-preparation.  The Prophet – on him peace and blessings – would always make advance preparation for Ramadhan, instructing his Companions to do likewise.  For them, fasting was a regular feature on Mondays and Thursdays and the middle days of each month but they would devote almost the whole of the month of Sha’ban to fasting, so that by the first day of Ramadan their minds and bodies were completely at ease and their spiritual faculty ready for elevation.  Needless to say, they had absolutely no need for illusory compensations.
The Prophet – on him peace and blessings – subsumed the physical aspect of fasting under the spiritual aspect.

In the tradition narrated by Abu Huraira we are told that the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – said, “Allah says, ‘Whatever good deed you perform is for your own self but fasting is especially for Me.  I Alone write the reward of fasting.’

Fasting is a shield against sins and protection from the fire… By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the unpleasant smell that emanates from the mouth of a fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.  Two pleasures await the fasting person, one at the time of breaking fast and the other when they will meet their Lord.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Since fasting is exclusively for Allah, the reward is exclusive to Him.  As the most secret worship, fasting has its own gradations and hierarchies.  It is between the servant and Allah, so the All-Knowing alone can distinguish between a complete fast and an empty fast.  A fast driven by spiritual hunger for connection and intimacy with Allah stands in contradistinction to the limitations of physical hunger which seeks distraction from the state of fasting.  Far from operating as a shield, the fast that is centred purely on physical hunger may in extreme cases lead a distracted mind to commit indiscretions.  

On the other hand, the sincere fast – driven by a desire for self-annihilation – is likened to the most powerful odour imaginable, as testified by the Prophet’s oath. And there is no soul more ineffable than his – on him salutations!  It is for this reason that the Imam Abu Hamid al Ghazzali categorized fasting as taking three forms.

  1. The lowest form is that some people abstain only from food and sexual intimacy.  The only measure at this level is hunger and thirst but it rarely achieves the purpose of fasting.
  2. The next level is the abstention of organs from all that Allah forbids, such as the tongue from useless talk, the ears from hearing unnecessary sounds, the eyes from seeing the forbidden and so on.
  3. But the highest level and the most elevating is the fasting heart.  When the heart is dominated by Allah alone then all thought is channelled into consciousness of the Most Merciful and the realization that abstention, with all its discomforts, is solely for absolute intimacy with Allah.

That is the purpose of fasting, absolute intimacy with the Beloved.

In this regard it is vital that Muslims recall the connection between Allah, the Prophet Muhammad – on him peace and blessings – and the month of Ramadan.  By appreciating the Divine Attribute as “Salam, the Source of Peace” and His Messenger as “Mercy to the worlds”, we also appreciate Ramadan as the “month of peace” when Mercy was revealed.  The Mercy of Allah is manifest in the mercy to the Creation, and through His Word, the message of peace.  Abstention, always with the same purpose, was enjoined on all peoples in all times.

Thus Allah says, “O you who have attained to faith!  Fasting is ordained for you, as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of Allah, [fasting] during a certain number of days; but whoever of you is ill or on a journey [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days, and [in such cases] it is incumbent upon those who can afford it to make sacrifice by feeding a needy person, and whoever does more good than he is bound to do does good unto himself thereby, for to fast is to do good unto yourselves – if you but knew it” (Al Baqarah, 2:183-184).

It is here that the purpose is spelled out: fasting solidifies God-consciousness.  Fasting is not a test of thirst or hunger but a means to help promote intimacy with Allah, Who says, “O mankind! Worship your Sustainer Who has created you and those who lived before you so that you might remain conscious of Him.” (Al Baqarah, 2:21).

QuranConsciousness is stressed in both these Quran verses.  Intensive worship such as fasting leads to greater consciousness of Allah.  When there is heightened awareness of Allah, the devotee develops a heightened intimacy with Allah.  And such intimacy must necessarily move beyond fasting of the organs to fasting of the spiritual faculty.  The heart itself is an organ, of course, but by “fasting heart” we mean a spiritual state purified of every concern except intimacy with Allah.  Intimacy leads to greater awareness of His merciful attributes and the realization that our return is back to Him.  Quite simply, fasting should make us focus on the Hereafter.  And this is sufficient to make us increase in remembrance of Allah and yearn for the Mercy of Allah.

From among the chief virtues of fasting are

  • satisfaction with one’s lot in life and the life to come,
  • remission of misdeeds and safeguard against excess,
  • intercession on the Day of Judgement,
  • entry through Ar-Ray’an, a unique gateway of Paradise reserved for those that fast and
  • protection from the terror of hellfire.

Likewise, the virtues of Ramadhan are many but we do say that the greatest virtue of all is the opportunity to connect with the Quran, which is the greatest miracle brought to us by the mercy to the worlds – Muhammad, on him peace and blessings.

Allah explains this Mercy in His saying, “It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was [first] bestowed from on high as a guidance onto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance and as the standard by which to discern the true from the false, hence, whoever of you lives to see this month shall fast throughout it but he that is ill or on a journey [shall fast instead for the same] number of days, Allah wills that you shall have ease and does not will you to suffer hardship but [He desires] that you complete the number [of days required, and that you extol Allah for His having guided you aright and that you render your thanks [unto Him].” (Al Baqarah, 2:185).

It is for us to reach out and benefit from that Mercy.  To do so we must prepare accordingly.  With good preparation there will be no need for distraction.  The heart will incline to spiritual purification when the mind and body are prepared in advance.  To attain the benefits of Ramadan then, we must reorient our focus on the very purpose of fasting.

 

Shaykh Faid SaidShaykh Faid Mohammed Said was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.

 



Resources for Seekers: The Ramadan Reader: A Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan

Join SeekersHub for Ramadan 2015 in Toronto or plug in online from wherever you are in the world. Find out more here.

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He only wants to Forgive and Give! Nisfu Shaban: The Middle Night of Sha’ban – Sh. Faid Said

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BISMILLAH
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is the Most Merciful and Compassionate, and as He has mentioned in Surah Al-A’raf (156):

“…My Mercy encompasses all things.”

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in the next two ayahs (Surah Al-A’raf, 157-8):
“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they, who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful. Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death.” So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided.”
From His Rahma, He sent us His Rahma, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in the Qur’an: “We did not send you other than as a Mercy to all the worlds.”
The Rahma of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is clear and evident, as we are able to see it and feel it in Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him).
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) described Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) as Basheer, the one who Glad Tides, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) mentioned this in Surah Al-Ahzab (45-47):

“O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And one who invites to Allah , by His permission, and an illuminating lamp. And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah great bounty.”

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

It is from the Rahma of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) glade tides us, and one of these glad tidings is the night of the 15th of Shaban, tonight; and as Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) has given us this glad tiding, we have to take it, enjoy it and make the most of it.
Muadh ibn Jabal (radiallah anhu) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) looks at all of His Creation on the middle night of Shaban, and He forgives all of them, except for the mushrikeen, those who associate others with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and the mushahin, those who have hatred towards others.
[Narrated in Imam Al-Bayhaqi in Shuab al Iman (3674); At-Tabarani in Al Mu’jim al Kabir (215), Al Mu’jim al Ausad (6976), and Musnad Ash-Shamiyeen (198,203,3497)]
This Hadith has been narrated by many of the Sahaba, some of which vary in the content of the narration. The narration of Muadh ibn Jabal (radiallah anhu) has been also narrated by:

  • Abu Musa Ashari (radiallah anhu): ibn Majah (Chapter of the Blessings of the Night of Nisfu Shaban)
  • Abu Hurrairah (radiallah anhu), with slightly different words: Al Bazzar (Musnad),Imam Haythami
  • Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (radiallah anhu): Imam Bayhaqi (Shuab al Iman, 3668), Al Bazzar (80), Ad-Daylami (Musnad al Firdous, 8017)
  • Awf (radiallah anhu): Al Bazzar (Musnad, 22754), ibn Abi Shayba (30479), Abdur Razzaq (Musanaf, 7923), Al Bayhaqi (Shuab al Iman, 3672)

The same Hadith has also been narrated differently by other Sahaba:
Abdullah ibn Amr al Aas (radiallah anhu) narrated this Hadith, but instead of “mushrikeen” he narrated that the two types of people that would not be forigiven are those with hatred and anyone who has killed an innocent human being. [Imam Ahmad, 6353]
Also, this Hadith was narrated by Abi Thalaba (radiallah anhu), who narrated that on this night, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) forgives the mu’mins, gives time to the disbelievers and leaves the people with hatred alone until they correct themselves. [Al Bayhaqi, Shuab al Iman (3673); At Tabarani, Al Mu’jim al Kabir (590,593); Ibnu Qainah, Mu’jim al Sahaba (264)]
Uthman ibn Al Aas (radiallah anhu) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said that during the night of the middle of Shaban, it will be asked: Is anyone is asking for forgivness so He (subhana wa ta’ala) can Forgive, is anyone asking for their needs so He (subhana wa ta’ala) can Give; except for two groups of people, those who commit zina and those who are mushrikeen. [Bayhaqi, 3673]
Howling_at_the_Moon_in_Mississauga
These are some of the Hadith that were revealed, among the many, regarding the special night of Nisfu Shaban.
We advise ourselves and our brothers and sisters to look at this Hadith and see the Rahma of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala); He only wants to Forgive and Give!
His name is al Ghaffar, the All Forgiving!
His name is Al Mu’ti, the Giver!
He is Al Karim, the Most Generous! We see His Subtle Kindness, as He is Al Latif.
How can we not love Him?
He is the One who reminds us by Nights, and is the grantor of those Nights of khair!
He tells us this is our Night! And the blessing of it is from Him (subhana wa ta’ala)!
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make us worthy of His Blessing.
Also, from the Hadith that were mentioned, we see the importance and greatness of this Night. Even though we apologize that we did not send this message earlier, we see, however, the Lutf of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), that maybe if we sent this message earlier, it would be forgotten amongst the endless needs of this dunya!
The common action that we see in the Hadith, that is not forgiven, is hatred, which is the cause of envy and the worst of crimes. It is as if Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is telling us, this is the action I do not forgive; this is the act that causes My anger!
How can our hearts be a vessel for the love of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) if there is room in the vessel for hate!
We are not saying people should not get upset or anger; there are moments where we as humans experience these emotions. However, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) warned us in a Hadith he mentioned to a Sahabi that a man asked Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) for wasiyah, to which Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said “Do not get angry! Do not get angry! Do not angry!” [Narrated in Bukhari and Muslim]
Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) also mentioned that anger is from shaytan, and that shaytan is made from fire, and nothing extinguishes fire better than water, so perform wudu when you are angry.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned to Abu Dharr (radiallah anhu), speaking about anger, that if someone is angry and they are standing, they should sit, until the anger dissipates; and if the anger still persists, to then lie down.
Here we see that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) is guiding us away from hatred, to love. We see what the Quraysh did to him, but yet he was making dua for their forgiveness and guidance, and not only that, but he was making excuses for them!
If we are really followers of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), as is mentioned in Surah An-Nisa (80): “He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah…”, then we should embody and live forgiveness and care for others.
Looking again at the Hadith, the only thing that will prevent us from the forgiveness of this Night is hatred!
Let us try, on this Night, to forgive everyone, in order to gain the forgiveness of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Let us make this night a night of dhikr, dua and istighfar. Let us call each other, ask about each other, and replace negative thoughts of one another with something positive.
As Syedina Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu) mentioned, if you see something you do not like in your brother, look for excuses until you get to seventy, after which there may be an excuse you are unaware of!
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) Forgive us, Accept us and Gather us with Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him).
Further resources on SeekersHub Global:


The Fiqh (Law) of Peace – 12 Points Summarizing the Islamic Values Related to Peace Building by Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah

[Human Values]

Harmony and cohesion in a society are directly proportional to its adherence to share moral values. A society that does not adopt common values and turns away from a higher moral path becomes self-centered, and, as a result, experiences deterioration both internally and in relationship to others.

It may also adopt a negative value system based on an absence of individual limitations until society itself becomes absolutist, and people see themselves as absolute, so no restrictions apply to their behaviour not those set by scripture, not by consensus, not by general principles and axioms, and not even for the sake of the common good. Such a society can wage unlimited war, which is the very definition of fundamentalism, regardless of the belief system that drives the aggression.

The values of reason, justice, and moderation promote love and nourish humanity. It is our duty to revive the values of reconciliation and forgiveness and to commit ourselves to peace instead of conflict.

While some try to justify conflict in Islamic terms, these values are not Islamic. They are Western Hegelian values, for it was Hegel who believed that “Destruction is the basis for construction” and that society is based only on the struggle between slave and master. Destruction, which is an expression of ignorance and intolerance, has never been an Islamic value. Our tradition teaches us that trust and love are the basis for coexistence.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not demolish the Ka’aba. He left it untouched so that he could rebuild it on the base laid by Abraham, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, all while winning the favor of Quraysh. When the ‘Abbasid caliph wanted to demolish it and rebuild it on the location of Maqam Ibrahim (Abraham’s station), Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on his soul, forbade him from doing so and said, “Do not let this House (of Allah) be a toy for princes.” In addition, neither the Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, not any of his successors ever demolished any churches, synagogues, or fire temples, as Ibn al-Qayyim discusses.

When the pious caliph, ‘Umar ibn Abd al-‘Aziz, assumed the caliphate, the understanding of the Shari’ah was already in decline, yet he wrote to his governors, “Do not demolish any church, synagogue, or fire temple.” Demolition and destruction are not Islamic values; they are values that grew out of ignorance and intolerance.

The following Hadith can be applied to a solidary society:

“The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example foe those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving us from troubling those who are above us.’ So, if the people in the upper part left the others to do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.”

Learning about differences leads to an open mind, as Al-Maqqari advised:

“Learn about differences in order to open your mind, for he who learns about the differences between scholars and of their knowledge and opinions will surely have an open mind.”

We must navigate our differences without arrogance or abusive language, with an open mind and the intention of discovering truth rather than winning an argument. We can learn from the example set by Imam al-Shafi‘i, as described by Yunus al-Sadafi: “I have never seen anyone more reasonable than al-Shafi‘i. I debated with him once on a matter, and then we parted ways. He met me again, took my hand, and said, ‘Abu Musa, is it not right that we remain brothers even if we disagree?”

Imam al-Shafi‘i also said, “I have never debated people without praying to Allah to grant that the truth manifest in their hearts and on their tongues so that they may follow me if I am right and that I may follow them if they are right.”

Giving others the benefit of the doubt means assuming their best intentions, as did the Mother of Believers, Our Lady ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “Abu Abd al-Rahman did not lie; perhaps he forgot or made a mistake.”

Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “No man more learned than Ishaq has crossed the bridge, and if we disagree, it is because people disagree.”

Distinguishing among the categories of prohibitions and obligations menas understanding that there are degrees of prohibition: what is prohibited may be haram (prohibited) or makruh (disliked). The same applies to obligations, as we explained earlier.

In summation, our Islamic values are as follows:

  1. Cooperation and solidarity: “You shall cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety; do not cooperate in matters that are sinful and evil” (Qur’an)
  2. Maintaining good relations: “And keep straight the relations between yourselves.”
  3. Brotherhood and mutual understanding: “O people, We created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous. Allah is Omniscient, Cognizant.” (Qur’an) These are the bases of relationships, and not the Hegelian argument that is based on constant struggle in what he described as the “master and slave” theory.
  4. Wisdom: “And whoever attains wisdom has attained a great bounty. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.” (Qur’an)
  5. Righteousness: “Never shall We cause the reward of the righteous to perish.” (Qur’an)
  6. Justice: “Allah calls for justice, charity, and giving to relatives. And He forbids evil, vice, and transgression. He enlightens you, that you may take heed.”
  7. Mercy: “We have not sent you except as mercy from Us towards the whole world.” (Qur’an)
  8. Patience: “Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.” (Qur’an)
  9. Tolerance: Being open-minded, assuming the best of others, and distinguishing between the various categories of prohibitions and obligations.
  10. Love: Love means loving Allah the Almighty, who is the source fo all blessings; loving His Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, upon who He bestowed the blessings of mercy and generosity; and loving people and wishing the best for them, including those in tribulation. Ahadith states, “None of you is a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself,” and according to another narration, “… until he loves for people what he loves for himself.”
  11. Dialogue: Muslims established the etiquette of debate because without a culture of dialogue, individuals become selfish and narrow-minded, and society becomes fractured. A hadith also mentions this: “But if you see overwhelming stinginess, desires being followed, this world being preferred (to the Hereafter), every person with an opinion feeling proud of it, and you realized that you have no power to deal with it, then you have to mind your own business and leave the common folk to their own devices.”
  12. Moderation: This includes individual behavior, scientific moderation, and moderation between literal and whimsical interpretations of scripture. Moderation is a form of relativity and is integral to all ife in the universe, as described by al-Shatibi.

Excerpted from the “Framework Speech for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies,” Abu Dhabi, 9–10 March, 2014 — In Pursuit of Peace: 2014 Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
In March 2014 H.E. Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah founded this groundbreaking initiative as Chair and President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. The forum addresses the critical humanitarian crisis within the vast framework of the Islamic tradition and legal theory.
In 2014 Over 250 of the world’s leading Islamic scholars from different persuasions, academics and thought leaders gathered to attend the opening of the Forum. The Forum is the first global gathering of scholars ever organized to form a unified front against the scourge of extremist ideologies, sectarianism, and terrorism that has afflicted the Muslim world for decades.
Since the opening of the Forum, delegations of experts, academics and scholars from the Forum have travelled to Africa to countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Morocco to engage with Governments, NGO’s and religious actors to gain insight on how to stop the increasing violence in Africa. These trips have resulted in the planning of two proposed reconciliation initiatives that will be held in April and June of 2015.
These events’ encourage a multi-disciplinary participation, in order to develop mechanisms and support required for peace and reconciliation in Central Africa Republic (C.A.R) and Nigeria.
The 2nd Annual gathering of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societieswill take place April 26th — 30th in Abu Dhabi

War is not the Way: Peace is the Path by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The following is the foreword to the booklet entitled, “Pursuit of Peace: 2014 Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.”

Click here for the original link

[Spread Peace]

The pursuit of peace is a most noble human endeavour. The Qur’an states,

Now if they incline towards peace, then incline to it, and place your trust in God, for God is the all-hearing, the all-knowing. And if they mean to deceive you, surely you can count on God” (8:61-62).

This verse indicates that one should not avoid reconciliation out of fear that it may only be an enemy’s subterfuge. That is not our teaching. We are asked to seek peace and place our trust in God. Such is the preciousness of peace that its mere possibility, however remote, demands our most sincere and faithful efforts. The New Testament also reminds us, in words attributed to Jesus, peace be upon him, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the dependents of God.”

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah is a peacemaker and has placed his trust in God. He believes that peace is not simply the starting point but the only point. War, should it arise, is a disruptive suspension of peace, one that all men of intelligence should seek to end by any means necessary. Shaykh Abdallah once said that the only blessing in war is that when it befalls men, they fervently hope for peace.

[Calling to ‘Jihad’]

1505575_10154847648185038_4169699459438496389_nAs for those who claim that calling to peace is canceling out jihad, the converse is true, as Shaykh Abdallah cogently argues: Jihad is not war, and while it does have military applications, Muslims waging war on other Muslims is not one of them. That is called fitnah, something our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, shunned so much that he sought refuge from it.

Shaykh Abdallah, a master of usul – the tools of ijtihad – and a man who profoundly understands the time we live in, is uniquely qualified to determine when the military application of jihad is valid and when it is not. Hence, his call for peace, far from cancelling out jihad, is itself an act of jihad.

The pre-Islamic Jahili Arabs knew war all too well, as they lived in societies rife with strife: blood vengeance was their way, and the cycles of violence, like a millstone grinding its grain, constantly ground the bones of their bodies. When Islam appeared as an oasis in the desolate desert where wars were far too common, and the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings upon him, offered another path, the path of peace through submission, the Arabs saw a way out of their wanton violence that invariably left children without fathers and women without husbands.

[End the Madness]

A new world order was born, and though not immune at times to violence, it was one in which learning, science, and commerce prevailed, not war, violence, and vengeance. These became the pursuits of men who went forth to form societies that became some of the most tolerant and peaceful in human history. But that was then: this is now a turbulent time for Muslims. Failed states, senseless violence, and teeming refugees now characterize large parts of the Muslim world. 

Despite these troubles, some Muslims are still calling, like pre-modern physicians, for a bloodletting to cure the social body. But blood leads only to more blood, and the body, far from being healed, is further sapped and drained of its strength. Much like the pre-modern patient whose bloodletting often led to his demise, today’s victims of this militant bleeding are drowned in rubble, dazed and confused, wondering when it will all end. 

Shaykh Abdallah is calling Muslims to end the madness and restore the way of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings upon him, the way of peace and prosperity. He is reminding us by using our own sources – the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the prescriptions of our pious predecessors – that peace, not war, is the only way out.

For those who would believe otherwise, let them contemplate the words our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, repeated throughout his life after each daily prayer:

“O Allah, You are Peace, and from You is Peace, and to You returns Peace, so let us live, O our Lord, in Peace.” 

Shaykh Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Father of the United Arab Emirates, was committed to peace and unity, and it is no surprise that his honorable sons, following in his illustrious footsteps, would be the ones to host and support this powerful initiative from Islam’s teaching by the great Mauritanian scholar, Shaykh Abdallah b. Bayyah. With war being waged on peace all around us, Shaykh Abdallah’s message is a simple cure: Wage war on war in order to have peace upon peace. For war is not the way: peace is the path. The path is peace.

Resources for Seekers:
The Menace of So-called “Jihad” – Imam Zaid Shakir
Jihad, Abrogation in the Quran & the “Verse of the Sword”
Understanding the Qur’anic Verse “Slay them wherever you find them”: Balance, Justice, and Mercy in Islamic Rules of Jihad

Parenting: Planting the seeds of prayer in our young ones

Teaching our children and teenagers to perform obligatory prayers, and enforcing it, is a delicate and often stressful matter for families. What is the prophetic guidance on the matter? When and how is it best done? Parenting expert Hina Khan-Mukhtar sheds some light.

I was driving a girlfriend to her house when my son Shaan called me from high school on my cell phone. I had him on speaker, so his anxious voice reverberated around the inside of the vehicle for us both to hear: “Mama, can you please be sure to pick me up exactly at three? I need to make it home in time to pray my Dhuhr (afternoon prayer) and I don’t want to risk missing it.”

After I assured him more than once that I wouldn’t be late, I hung up and found my friend staring at me with a quizzical look on her face.

“What?” I asked.

“Explain that to me,” she said.

“Explain what to you?”

“How the heck do you get a teenage boy in public high school to actually care about not missing his prayer?”

It is a question that I’ve been asked more than once, and there has never been a simple, easy answer to give. The quickest and most honest one is to frankly admit that all guidance is a blessing and a mercy from God and none of us are in any real control of what our children choose to take — and not take — from our teachings.

But let’s face it — we all know that’s not what parents want to hear (even if they know it’s the truth). Parents are looking for tips and advice, some kind of handbook to follow, a checklist of do’s and don’ts. The fact of the matter is that saying “Tell me what else to do besides pray about/for it” is a false premise to begin with — every success is dependent first and foremost upon prayer for that very success. After hoping I’ve made that clear, I will say that for the purposes of this article, I did sit down and reflect on what has brought us to where we are now after almost 18 years of raising sons, alhamdulillah (praise be to God). I write this article with the full knowledge that we are no experts; we are no authority figures; we are no success stories (if for no other reason except the fact that the “story” simply isn’t over yet). We just happen to be parents who for whatever reason are blessed with children who choose to pray…for now (may the desire always remain with them and only grow in conviction — amen). I asked my kids what they think has helped make prayer a priority for them in their lives, and I informally interviewed some friends to get their insights as well. Here’s what has worked for our families so far, and we hope that our experiences may help others in turn, insha’Allah (God willing)…

1) For God’s sake (literally), leave those kids alone for the first 7 years!

We’re not contending that you shouldn’t teach your kids about their religion or that you shouldn’t encourage them to stand with you in prayer, but we are saying that you shouldn’t have any real expectations of them until after they are 7 years old. I still remember how I cringed when I once saw a well-meaning father pretty much forcing his 6-year-old daughter to join the congregational prayer. She kept running off, and he kept bringing her back, insisting that she fold her hands and stand silently by his side as he recited the Quranic verses aloud. His intentions were noble and sincere, no doubt, but the execution left much to be desired. It was painful to watch, and I remember hoping that his plans weren’t going to backfire on him one day. Another time, I heard a mother tell her son that “Allah will be mad at you if you don’t pray; the angels are writing down that you’re being a bad boy”, and it took all my willpower not to cry out loud, “Stop! Please don’t say that to your 5-year-old!”

There is a reason God has not made prayer incumbent upon children — what baffles most adults is trying to figure out how they are supposed to take the spiritual souls that have been placed under their care and then successfully prepare them for the lifelong duty of praying five times a day once their physical bodies have attained puberty. The responsibility on parents is no joke, and some of them can crack under the pressure.

In the early years, children should be allowed to join and leave the prayer at will, letting themselves get acclimated to the motions and the sensations of the ritual prayer at their own pace. Praying with the family should be an enjoyable experience — one that kids can partake in (or not) as much as they desire. Their association with prayer should be one of sweetness. I know one father who has all of his children share their duas (supplications) aloud one by one after the prayer is over so that everyone can join together in asking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to grant their siblings’ wishes. Once the duas are over, the kids often dissolve into tickling and wrestling matches while the father finishes up his supererogatory prayers on his own. Kids can be taught the basic adab (etiquettes) of prayer from an early age — i.e. being mindful of not walking in front of people while they are praying and resisting the urge to make loud, obnoxious noises while others are engaged in worship — but these guidelines about the prayer are all related to respectful consideration towards our fellow Muslims; as far as these little Muslims themselves are concerned, no one should be demanding any personal obligations of them just yet!

2) When the time to begin formally praying finally does come, go all out and make the initiation into prayer a celebration to remember! Treat it like an exciting honor, a real rite of passage.

When each of my boys turned 7 years old, I bought them beautiful journals which I gave to my friends and family to fill with inspiring messages about prayer. A few of my more “crafty” friends went all out and used their art supplies to create elaborate 3-D cards complete with embossed ink and sequined beads. My parents and my in-laws each wrote messages to their grandsons, sharing their hopes and wishes for their futures with them. Older cousins wrote about how prayer helps them in good times and in bad; aunties and uncles gave advice on what helps them get through “prayer slumps” which — if we are truly honest — are bound to come in one’s life at some point or another. I remember my husband Zeeshan getting teary-eyed as he read his message aloud to our middle son Ameen. The general theme was one of encouragement and excitement. It’s been almost 10 years since I put together those gifts for my older two sons, and even now, I will sometimes catch them perusing their Prayer Books with smiles on their faces as they read the heartfelt messages to themselves.

A friend recently organized an elaborate “Salah (Prayer) Party” for her daughter who had turned 7 years old earlier this year. There was a delicious cake and a colorful piñata and many goody bags, but there was also a “Prayer Mat Making Station”, a “Misbaha (Prayer Beads) Making Station”, and a “Pin the Moon Over the Mosque” Game for the kids to enjoy. Along with yummy treats, each little girl also left the party with a “Prayer Chart” where she will now be able to track how many prayers in a day she is able to complete. I overheard the birthday girl excitedly bragging to her guests, “Guess what? I get to wake up for Fajr (dawn) prayer now!”

Zeeshan and I have found that slow and steady wins the race. When each of our sons turned 7 years old, we allowed them to choose one prayer that they wanted to take on as their daily commitment. Every single one of them chose the Maghrib (evening) prayer — probably because that was a time their father was usually home from work, they could pray in congregation behind him, and worship at that particular time of day seemed to fit seamlessly into our hectic schedules. The understanding was that — no matter what — Maghrib would never be neglected from that day (i.e. their 7th birthday) forward. If the boys wanted to pray any of the other prayers, that was all well and good (and highly praiseworthy), but it was their choice and we made it clear that we would not be monitoring them or holding them accountable. Maghrib, however, was non-negotiable. Whether they were at a play date or in the middle of a shopping mall or at a swimming lesson, if the time for Maghrib came in, they made sure to take a few minutes to complete it. (One note: we didn’t expect more than the fard/obligatory of Maghrib from them at this age.)

We continued this routine for twelve months. When a year of praying Maghrib on time had finally passed by successfully, we told the boys that they were now “qualified” to take on a second prayer. We treated it like an honor that only the most responsible could be trusted to handle! Once six months of praying two prayers had passed, we announced that it was time for them to commit to a third prayer. We tracked the completion of their prayers with star stickers on calendars that we had made at home out of cardstock. Using this method, all three of our boys were praying all five of their daily prayers by the time they were 9 1/2 years old, alhamdulillah. By age 10, prayer was an established routine. After the age of 10, the boys eventually began adding on the sunnah (supererogatory) prayers as well.

It is important to note that during this period (i.e. before the age of 10), we did clearly explain to the children that we were not requiring them to stick with their prayers because we considered it sinful for them to leave them (we didn’t) but because we were trying to train them for the time when fard prayers would eventually be required. We told them that we were trying to teach them how to honor commitments, we knew that it took practice and discipline to do so, and we accepted that it was our job to slowly but surely teach them those tools for success.

During the course of writing this article, I asked my almost-16-year-old son Ameen why he prays all of his prayers on time, and he responded, “I don’t remember ever not praying, so I can’t imagine not doing it now. It’s a part of who I am.”

My most fervent prayer is that he always feels that way. I am no fool; I know prayer is a gift and, if not treated with gratitude and humility, it can be lost at any moment. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) protect us from ever experiencing such a devastating void in our lives. Aameen. (Amen.)

3) “If it was good enough for the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam), it’s good enough for me.”

When I asked Shaan why he is committed to his prayers, he said, “It was the last thing the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) told us to hold onto; he was talking about it right up until the point he passed away. How can we ignore that? How important must prayer be if he (peace be upon him) was reminding us about it even with his last breaths?”

If children are taught the seerah (biography of the Prophet Muhammad) and Islamic history, they will learn that our pious predecessors performed their prayers even in the middle of a battlefield, even when they were ill and dying, even when they were being harassed and humiliated. They learn that missing a prayer just isn’t an option for anyone who has taqwa (God-consciousness).

4) Teach them what they’re saying, what they’re doing, and why.

Prayer should not be allowed to become a series of robotic yoga-like motions devoid of meaning or purpose. Zeeshan and I have been forthright with our kids and confessed to them that there will be times when prayer might feel like an inconvenient, rote duty that just needs to be discharged — and they may find themselves feeling disillusioned and disheartened when those thoughts come to them — but, nevertheless, the canonical prayer is never to be abandoned, no matter how ambivalent one might be feeling towards it in that moment.

“We worship Allah with our minds, bodies, and souls,” I remind my children. “If our minds and souls aren’t ‘into’ prayer for some reason, we can at least force our bodies to obey Him. And then we pray that He will eventually lead our minds and souls to follow our bodies in joy and submission as well. Allah is the One Who is in charge of our hearts. He can turn us to Him at any time He wills. We just have to make sure that we’re not the ones who’re turning away first.”

One of the ayahs (verses) of the Quran that I often quote to my kids is 51:56: “And I have not created jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me.”

“That’s the purpose of life right there,” I tell them. “If you want to know why we were created and what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re here, you have your answer in that one line. Look no further.”

When we discuss the creation of man and the time when Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) commanded Iblis (Satan) to bow down to Adam, we point out how it was nothing but arrogance that made Iblis rebel. “With every prostration, you are choosing to obey God and humble yourself before Him in a way that Satan refused to,” Zeeshan tells them.

We have made sure to make it clear to the kids, however, that God is not in any need of our prayers or our praise or our prostrations; on the contrary, it is we who are in need of Him.

We have also emphasized that none of us should ever feel self-righteous or holier-than-thou about the fact that we are choosing to pray when others are not. “We need prayer; it’s like taking medicine that the Doctor prescribes,” I tell the boys. “Would any of us go around bragging about taking meds or look down on others because they aren’t taking the prescription that we’ve chosen to take for our own health?”

At the same time, we have encouraged friendships with those families and children where prayer is a taken-for-granted part of the daily routine. We all know that you are only as good as the company you keep, and being in an environment where prayer is as natural as eating or drinking just helps create a new type of “normal” for the kids. My boys have grown up seeing not only their parents and their friends praying in congregation but seeing their parents’ friends and friends’ parents giving significance to the five daily prayers as well.

Teaching our children about the Isra and Mi’raj (Night Journey and Ascension) has been instrumental in getting them to understand how the prayer was revealed and what the different parts of the prayer mean to us on a spiritual level. The position of ruku (bowing) is compared to the way one would bow in front of a king. In the humbling position of sajdah (prostration), we point out how that is the only position in which the human heart is elevated over the human brain. “At a certain level, yes, we can recognize Allah by using our thinking minds,” we tell our kids, “but — ultimately — we come to Him via our hearts. It is the heart that truly knows God; it is the heart that truly recognizes Him.”

Once the kids are taught that the same “attahiyat” that we recite while we are sitting in prayer is in fact the actual repetition of the conversation between Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the angels, they will not be so prone to mindlessly speed through it, insha’Allah. The prayer will suddenly have relevance for them. When we sit and recite our dhikr (litanies) after prayer, we tell the kids that each whisper on our tongues is a polishing of the heart. “We want to have hearts that shine like mirrors and only reflect Him on the Day of Judgement,” we tell them. Making sure that we teach them what the Arabic words that they are reciting actually mean helps in bringing about some consciousness in the prayer, insha’Allah.

Finally, it’s really important to talk to the kids about intention. One of my favorite quotes by Imam Ali (radiAllahu anhu) that I like to share with the boys is his comparison of worshippers to three types — the first is the worshipper who worships out of desire for Heaven (he is like the businessman looking only for a profit); the second is the worshipper who worships out of fear of the Hellfire (he is like the slave who wants only to avoid punishment); and the third is the worshipper who worships out of gratitude because he recognizes that Allah is worthy of worship (he is the truly free man).

“Which one are you?” we ask our sons…and then we leave them to reflect.

And we reflect on ourselves as well.

5) Set them up for success.

We make sure to equip each of our cars with what I like to call “a prayer pack” — a small knapsack that contains a clean prayer mat, a bottle of water for wudu (ablutions), a squeeze bottle for istinja (ritual washing of the private parts after using the toilet), a compass for ascertaining the Qibla (direction of the Ka’aba in Makkah for prayer), and a prayer garment that will cover any woman who is in need of one. Before smart phones arrived on the scene, I used to keep a print-out of the month’s prayer timings in the pack as well. This prayer pack ensured that I didn’t need to worry about whether I had the ability to fulfill my prayers properly and on time or not.

Once Shaan started high school, I helped him create his own “prayer pack”. In his backpack, we placed a zip-up prayer mat made out of parachute material; it was light and compact and easily folded up and unfolded on a moment’s notice. I also included a digital timer that snapped around his thumb and could be discreetly clicked for dhikr while accurately keeping track of how many litanies had been completed. And I bought him a really cool compass that he uses regularly to figure out the direction for prayer. We recently invested quite a bit of money in some high quality khuffs (waterproof socks) for him so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of having to stick his foot in the sink while making wudu in the boys’ restroom at his high school. He can just wipe over his khuffs during school hours now. On Shaan’s first day as a freshman, his father and I helped him come up with talking points so that he could approach the principal with confidence when he requested a private space for prayer; we promised to have his back if he ran into any resistance. Our “support” turned out to be unnecessary however. It’s been three years now, alhamdulillah, and the high school front office staff knows Shaan really well — he’s the kid who comes in every day during lunch to go to the conference room to pray.

While all of these gadgets and gizmos may be great to have around for convenience’s sake, the kids understand that they will have to make do for prayer — one way or the other — whether they have their prayer packs on hand or not. “Guard your prayer” is the mantra in our home.

6) “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

For some kids, positive sensory associations are very important in creating an attachment to prayer. From a young age, my boys have taken great pride in dressing up for Jumah (Friday) prayers in their best clothes, wearing their best perfume and their best kufis (prayer hats). We always set out their most special clothes for the most special of days, and they feel noble and dignified as they wash and dress for going to the mosque on Friday afternoons. I know of one mom who created a magical “prayer corner” in her daughter’s bedroom, complete with a lace canopy that cascaded down over an intricately embroidered prayer mat and an ornate table that held a beautifully designed Quran and crystal prayer beads. Other parents regularly light sweetly scented incense or candles during prayer time in the home. One mother used to wear a silk prayer gown stamped with gold and silver block print for her night prayers; her children sometimes have compared her to a princess, other times to an angel. Another parent told me that she always baked the kids’ favorite treats to share after the congregational prayers on Fridays and also played nasheeds (devotional hymns) in the house after Surah Kahf had been recited for the week. These are all examples of kids who saw, heard, smelled, and tasted nothing but beauty and elegance when it came to prayer in their homes.

7) Aspire to be what you want them to be.

No one recognizes hypocrisy quicker than a child. The truth of the matter is that you can encourage and teach a child to pray all you want, but if you’re not going to pray, the chances are highly likely that he/she’s not going to pray either. And letting a child witness that you pray isn’t always enough either. What about how you pray? Are you rushed and distracted? Do you drag your feet when the prayer time comes in? Are you nonchalant if you miss a prayer? I know of an adult who remembers his own father weeping when he once missed a prayer, and that reaction made more of an impression on him about the importance of prayer than all the lectures in the world ever could.

In conclusion, I feel it’s important to confess how emotionally difficult it was for me to actually write this article. I’ve been analyzing what my hesitation was, and I realize that it was rooted in the fear that my words will come across as preachy and imbued with a sense of self-satisfaction when nothing could be farther from the truth. Another part of me worries that I will somehow jinx my family by admitting to the world that my husband and kids are regular with their prayers (for now). After a lot of back and forth debate with myself, I finally decided to pray to Allah to purify my intentions and asked Him to allow me to write just one thing that will benefit even one parent out there. I remember when I had my first son in 1997, how desperate I was to find any kind of reading material that would help motivate and guide me in teaching him the fundamentals of this beautiful religion. I didn’t need proofs for why I needed to teach the prayer; I was already more than convinced. But I did desperately crave real-life examples of how Muslim parents got down in the trenches and actually did the hard work of passing on this most important pillar of the faith to the next generation. I have been fortunate in that I have been surrounded by many inspirational parents and have had the opportunity to learn from them all, alhamdulillah. I am hoping that their techniques can now help a new generation of parents, insha’Allah.

A year ago, one of my girlfriends who has a son in college somberly told me that he had recently confessed to her that he was no longer praying because he “just wasn’t feeling it anymore”. This was a mother who had “done everything right”; she was a mentor to many of us when it came to raising children to be practicing and believing Muslims. I tried to comprehend what she was telling me and then thoughtlessly blurted out, “Why aren’t you panicking?” I didn’t understand how she could tell me such devastating news in such a calm and matter-of-fact manner.

“Because I have faith in my Lord” was her forthright response. “From Day One, I have been praying for my children’s imaan (faith), and I don’t think those prayers just disappeared into thin air. They have been heard and they will be answered, insha’Allah…but in His time and not mine. I’ve done my part; I’ve done what was commanded of me. Now I leave my children’s fate to Allah while I continue to pray for their guidance and His Mercy.”

As of this writing, her son is praying all five prayers once again.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Traditional Methods of Raising Children
Raising a Muslim with Manners

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
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

Prophetic Guidance in Times of Tribulations – Muwasala

Click here for the original link


In light of recent political events in Yemen and other countries, Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) clarifies the Prophetic perspective on how to deal with tribulations.

Habib Umar delivered the lecture in Dar al-Mustafa on 9th Jumada al-Akhirah 1436 / 29th March 2015 and it was attended by students of forty two nationalities. In it Habib Umar gave general guidelines as well as specific advice for those currently studying in Tarim. What follows is a summary of the main points.

[Introduction]

We must clarify to every individual, young and old, the methodology which we must follow and the foundations upon which it is built. We need to realise the true meaning of coming together in this blessed place under the banner of the Prophetic Call. 

This dictates that we realise our duty and responsibility and how we deal with events that take place on the earth.

[The Reality of Recent Tribulations]

Among those events are the attacks that several nations have launched against certain groups in Yemen. The majority of those involved in this conflict have power and worldly aims as their main motives and this is what has driven them to take up arms. The people who are involved in these struggles have no desire to make the Word of Allah transcendent. 

They have no desire to establish the Sunnah of Muhammad. They are not motivated by mercy and compassion for the weak and for orphans. Their Lord knows best what their intentions are. None of those who threw themselves into these struggles in various places attained any good out of it. I believe that they would all say that had they seen what has now happened they would have acted differently. But most people have not looked carefully at the teachings of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). Had they done so, they would have taken a different path from the beginning.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) informed us of the tribulations that would befall his Ummah at the end of time. The events we are now witnessing are like a link in a chain most of which has passed and only a little of which remains. These tribulations will take their course in the places and ways that have been decreed for them. They will not increase or decrease except in the case where Allah permits certain actions or supplications to have an effect. 

In reality the affair has been sealed – “the pens have been lifted and the ink has dried.”

He informed us that the most severe tribulations would come to pave the way for the victory that Allah will give him once again and for the raising of His banners. Relief will come from Allah and the triumph of truth and guidance in a way that people would not be able to imagine.

Those who will be harmed most by these tribulations will be those who deliberately get involved and throw themselves into the conflict and will thus have the greatest responsibility. They will be asked why they got involved, for whom, in what way and whether they have proof from Allah for what they are doing. As for those who suffer harm despite not deliberately getting involved they are potentially martyrs in Allah’s sight and will not have lost anything.

These days will pass and we await the days in which Allah pours His generosity upon us and upon the Muslims. This region (Hadramawt) will remain, with Allah’s permission, in a state of wellbeing, but we ask Allah to show His gentleness to our brethren in Sana`a, Aden, and all areas of Yemen and all areas of the world.

[Prophetic Guidance]

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), the one entrusted with guiding mankind, told us how to deal with tribulations when they arise. He said that:

“The one who exposes himself to them will be caught up in them.”

He said that in these times the one lying on his side is better than the one sitting; the one sitting is better than the one standing; the one standing is better than the one walking and the one walking is better than the one running. 

Did he convey the message or not? 

He definitely conveyed the message (Peace and blessings be upon him). One of the Companions asked the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) which side he should take if the Muslims were divided into different groups. He said to him:

“Distance yourself from all these groups.”

[The People of Truthfulness]

In times of tribulation, Allah singles out truthful people who honour their covenant with Allah. They are not shaken by the events that take place. They are guided by the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and their hearts are filled with trust in Allah, reliance upon Him, hope in Him and fear of Him. 

Allah describes them as follows:

Those that convey Allah’s messages and fear Him and fear none other than Allah. Allah suffices as a Reckoner [1]

Those to whom men said: “The enemy have gathered against you, so fear them!” But this only increased their faith, and they said: “Allah is sufficient for us! He is the best Guardian!” So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah and no harm touched them. They attained the good pleasure of Allah and Allah possesses immense bounty [2]

Those who possess these attributes regardless of the time in which they live attain high stations and live in a state of safety and tranquillity. 

Allah says:

When the believers saw the Confederates they said: “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us. Allah and His Messenger have spoken the truth.” It only increased them in faith and submission (to Allah). Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah. Some of them have died and some are waiting. They have never changed their determination in the least. Allah may then reward the truthful for their truthfulness and punish the hypocrites if He wills or relent toward them [3]

[Our Methodology]

We follow the path which the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) laid out for us and the way of the people of truthfulness. This has been the correct way throughout our history. It is not something which we have invented. 

This was the way of the Prophetic Household, the Companions, the Followers and all those that came after them. It was the way of Zayn al-`Abidin `Ali bin al-Husayn, Hasan al-Basri, Sa`id bin al-Musayyib, Sa`id bin Jubayr, al-Harith al-Muhasibi, Abu Talib al-Makki, Imam al-Ghazali, al-Junayd bin Muhammad and Imam `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani. It was the way of al-Muhajir, Ahmad bin `Isa and all his forefathers. It was the way of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam Muhammad bin `Ali Ba `Alawi and it was the way of my father and my teachers. 

From them I took the path and from them I received the understanding of the Book and the Sunnah, the understanding of our duty in life, the purpose for which Allah created us and how we prepare to return to Him, our connection to Muhammad and our duty in dealing with every event that occurs.

The way of the people of truthfulness was to avoid tribulations. They fulfilled their obligations in doing that which is clearly good and avoided anything in which the Devil had a hand. This is the path they took and we follow in their footsteps by Allah’s permission.

We consider the work which we are involved a form of jihad to which no-one may raise any objection. It consists of working with truthfulness and sincerity towards attaining the three objectives of attaining knowledge, acting upon it and calling people to Allah on an individual level, a family level and a community level in whatever time, place or situation we find ourselves. 

Our leader in this is the soul of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), his clear Sunnah and the way of his Companions and those who follow them in excellence. We have chosen this form of jihad in the way of Allah. We refuse to get involved in any affair unless it is completely good and completely clear and only if we will be free from being subordinate to any group and safe from the meddling of the Devil. 

If we have any doubt then we return to the advice of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him):

“Leave that which causes you doubt in favour of that that which does not cause you doubt.”

This is our advice to those who will listen. As for those who do not wish to listen we will not declare anyone a disbeliever (kafir), someone who associates partners with Allah (mushrik) or an innovator. We will not struggle against anyone, abuse anyone, or look for support from anyone. We do not fear evil from anyone. Let them busy themselves with the conclusions which their intellects have caused them to arrive at. 

We are concerned with conveying the message of Allah and His Messenger and fulfilling our responsibility in the way that Allah loves. 

Allah says to our Master (Peace and blessings be upon him):

So remind, for you are but a reminder – you are not their controller… for to Us will be their return; then it will be for Us to call them to account [4]your duty is only to convey the message [5].

We have been taught to respond to our Most Generous Lord by saying:

If You punish them, they are Your slaves and if You forgive them You are the Mighty, the Wise [6]

He who follows me is of me; while he who disobeys me.. You are Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [7].

These are the teachings we have inherited from the previous Prophets.

Praise be to Allah for the fact that you have no Muslim blood on your hands. May He also cleanse your hearts and your minds so that you are not taken to account for any blood that has been spilt, or any person whose honour has been violated or for putting fear in the heart of any believer. 

Likewise guard your tongues. You have not physically entered any battle but you may be taken to account for what you say. Someone may say: “So and so deserved to be killed,” and he may then be taken to account for his part in killing him.

Allah knows best what people’s intentions are. We cannot judge people’s intentions. Our role is only to teach people and not to control them.

Our leader did not control anyone so how can we? 

Allah says:

You are not their controller.

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) taught us to say in the morning and evening:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الَّذِي لا يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيءٌ في الأَرْضِ ولا فِي السَّمَاءِ وهْوَ السَّميعُ العَلِيمُ
“In the Name of Allah. Nothing in the heavens and earth may harm the one who mentions His name. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”

“Nothing in the heavens and earth..” 

Do you know what that means? 

You read this in the morning and evening. 

Are you a believer or a disbeliever? 

Are you sincere or are you a hypocrite?

Allah shows us what our methodology should be in the face of adversity:

If you have steadfastness (sabr) and taqwa their schemes will never harm you.[8]

091223_fatehpur_sikri_jama_masjid_courtyard_muslim_men_praying_travel_photography_MG_7951Say: “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Protector. In Allah let the believers place their trust.” Say: “Are you waiting for anything to befall us except one of two glorious things?” [9]

All praise be to Allah – everything that is awaiting us is good for us.

Every Muslim has the ability to give advice, teach others and help those in need so they should do what they can sincerely for Allah’s sake. This is their duty regarding their concern for the affairs of the Muslims. They are thus safe from being part of the problems confronting the Ummah or causing more problems.

[Specific Advice for those Living and Studying in Tarim]

Many of you in this place knew nothing about what was going on until a family member from outside Tarim contacted you after seeing what has been happening on the news or when some of your governments requested that their citizens return home. It is fitting that you have only heard about it from outside Tarim because naturally people outside Tarim are affected by the media, whose mission is to shake and scare people and spread false rumours and in doing so serve the Devil. People have become completely captivated by the media.

May Allah reward those countries that wish to protect their citizens. This is what they believe to be correct and it is natural that they be worried. The whole arena in which they operate is based upon fear and worry and they only have a small portion of faith and tranquillity. If they feel that it is in the interests of their citizens to return home and if they have provided means of transport, may Allah reward them. 

Families are naturally affected by these events and this is excusable. They are not excused, however, from doing their duty.

Thus if someone wishes to leave, we will not prevent them and if someone wishes to stay, we will not prevent them. However, these days of tribulation will pass and meanwhile we will be amongst the safest of people on the face of the earth. We will be in a state of complete tranquillity due to the fact that we receive special protection and care from Allah. Neither our food supply, nor our safety nor our tranquillity will be affected.

Had we known that any harm would come to any one of you in your religion or your worldly affairs, we would order you and request you to leave. This, however, will not happen by Allah’s will. Even if some harm were to befall us and we told people to leave then those who are completely truthful would say:

“I do not prefer myself over you.”

Let each one of you decide how we deal with these events and how he speaks to his relatives at home. He cannot, however, change his path in fulfilling his obligation in this life due to these events. 

We must convince our relatives that our path is correct, but we are not content for a student, a teacher or a worker to remain here if his parents are not content with that. We must give each person the rights that are due to them. 

The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) turned away someone who wished to perform jihad with him due to the fact that his parents were not content for him to do so. 

He said to him:

“Your struggle is with them.”

If someone is truthful, Allah will enable him to convince his parents to allow him to stay.

Your concern for the affairs of the Muslims should be expressed in your supplications and pleading with Allah and your presence of heart when you remember Him. Do not waste your time following events in the news. 

You have a role to perform. 

Your focus should be on the Qur’an and the Sunnah and your studies: whether it be fiqh, tafsir, hadith or grammar. Let your hearts be present in your studies for this is your provision for your meeting with Allah. This is what you are involved in now. None of you are in government and are thus responsible for the decisions governments makes.

[Closing Supplications]

O Lord, it is Muslim houses, Muslim airports and Muslim property that are being destroyed! 

It is Muslim honour that is being violated! 

It is Muslim blood that is being spilt! 

It is Muslim women and children that are being frightened! 

What is the cause of this? 

O Allah, save the Muslims and remove the tribulations that have befallen them. 

Your enemy and his followers have divided the Muslims so unite them, O Lord, by Your power and the station of Your Beloved Muhammad.

Let us and our loved ones be with Your Beloved in this life, at death, in the Barzakh, on the Day of Judgement and in the Abode of Honour. 

Allow them to see him, to kiss his hand, to be with him, to be in the same row as him, to follow him and to receive his care and compassion. 

I take refuge in the light of Your countenance that anyone who is connected to us, has attended our gatherings or received knowledge from us be separated from him (Peace and blessings be upon him). 

Let us gaze at his face and let he be the one who gives us to drink from the Pool along with `Ali and may Fatimah be pleased by this. 

The raising of voices in supplication in places of worship causes tribulations to be lifted. 

This gathering is more effective than whole squadrons of fighter planes. 

May Allah save the Muslims whatever school or group they belong to. 

May He guide everyone that says la ilaha ill’Allah.

Go forth with Allah’s protection, with your path illuminated and complete tranquillity. Be truthful with your Lord and work together for His sake. 

May we be among those who are accepted by Him.
All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

 ——

[1] Al-Ahzab, 33.39

[2] Al `Imran, 3:174-4

[3] Al-Ahzab, 33.22-24

[4] Al-Ghashiyah, 88:21-22/25-26

[5] Al-Shura, 42.48

[6] Al-Ma’idah, 5:118

[7] Ibrahim, 14:36

[8] Al `Imran, 3:120

[9] Al-Tawbah, 9:51-52

Relevant resources:

Clarity in Crisis: How Believers Look at Trials and How they Respond, Guided by Prophetic Light – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Trials are a blessing, and blessings are a trial – Faraz Rabbani

A Time to Build: How Believers Respond To Trials and Tests – Faraz Rabbani Eid Khutba at SeekersHub Toronto

The Believer’s Clarity When Tested: The Power of Patience and Prayer in Responding to Tests and Trials – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Daily Qur’an Reflections: (10) Anfal 41-75 to Tawba 1-93: Highest Love, Trials and Trust, Mercy and Belief, Qualities of Believers

Daily Qur’an Reflections: (18) Successful Believers, Knowing the Prophet, Allah’s Generosity, and Patience in Trials – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mandela: A Lesson in Patience – Imam Zaid Shakir

Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

Habib Umar on Dhikr in Times of Hardship « Interpreter’s Path