Turning Difficulty into Ease: Reflections from Surah al-Balad

 

The basic message of Surah al-Balad (Qur’an: 90) is that we’re in a life of difficulties. The human being has been placed in such a life in order to be tested.

The tests of people may vary; the difficulty of these tests varies too. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that the Prophets have the hardest trials, then those who resemble them the most, then those that are most like the second group. (Tirmidhi)

 

Profiting From the Difficulty

If that is the case for everyone, then what are we expected to do? The surah provides the perfect answer in a succinct way. It encourages us to live in a way that will lead us to have ease after this life of difficulty – not a further difficulty. How? Through good deeds directed towards ourselves and the neediest of people.

This disbeliever, however, who doesn’t heed this advice goes from a life of difficulty to a life of much greater difficulty. This is due to his own choices. The message of the Qur’an was sent to warn and guide one and all of this pitfall.

So what is this elixer that turns difficulty to ease?

 

The Trifecta of Good Actions

Three actions are particularly highlighted in the Surah:

  1. Iman.

Belief in Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is one of the greatest of deeds, and a manifestation of gratitude to Him for creating us and providing us with guidance. Believe in Allah, and work on deepening and developing that Iman you have been blessed with. This is the biggest key to the promised, unending ease in the Afterlife.

  1. Encouraging Each Other To Be Patient.

Seeing as everyone is in some form of difficulty, everyone needs some form of support, encouragement, and direction. Many a time, directing someone to the wisdom underlying their trials can make the world of difference to them and their attitude towards life and it’s tests. 

Provide them with a comforting statement. A reminder of Allah’s care for His servants. Lessons from the trials of others. Listening. Being with someone in difficulty. All these matters, when used to direct someone to Allah, can help someone embrace their tests and the benefits that come from them.

Those who give this reminder and just as in need of it as those who hear it.

  1. Encouraging Each Other To Be Merciful.

If everyone is in difficulty, make your interactions with them a source of comfort, mercy, and kindness for them. Be a person of compassion.

Alleviate their difficulties through your kindness as best you can. It may be difficult in your own difficulties, but the benefits return to you from Allah.

Promoting such mercy also makes it part of the common discourse. It doesn’t remain as an ideal mentioned in a book somewhere. It becomes part of people’s understanding of life. A goal to achieve. A way of life to embody. This connects one to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in a way many other deeds do not.

 

This is the beautiful message of Surah al-Balad. We cannot escape the difficulties that life is woven from, but we can improve the quality of our lives and the lives of others now – through kindness and support – and in the future, forever – through belief and good deeds.

And all praise belongs completely to Allah, the Lord of all being.

 

Quran Series by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

The curriculum is a comprehensive approach to understanding and studying the Qur’an. The introductory Qur’anic Understanding certificate is a one year course consisting of six modules. Three modules provide a detailed tafsir of the last 30th of the Qur’an, and the other three cover the wisdom behind some of its laws, its preservation and proof of it being from God, and building a lasting connection with the Qur’an.

The Introductory Quranic Understanding certificate consists of six courses.

The second element of the curriculum is a complete tafsir of the Qur’an. This is not as detailed as the former, and its lessons are restricted to approximately half an hour. Based on some authoritative tafsirs, it is a comprehensive study of the Qur’an, its themes, message, some of its rhetorical features, and philological nuances. It is sufficient to equip laymen with a thorough grasp of the Qur’an, and students of knowledge with a firm foundation.

The complete tafsir curriculum consists of 30 courses over three years: 10 courses per year.

 

About the Author

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.

 

The Importance of Seeking Knowledge by Shaykh Salih al-Gursi

 

Two: The Importance of Seeking Knowledge

by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

The following article presents the second set out of four counsels. These were recorded by the esteemed Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi for SeekersGuidance. They have been translated and transcribed with subtitles – the video can be found here.

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi is a senior theologian and scholar of the rational sciences based in Konya, Turkey. He delivers a class for Dar al Fuqaha Seminary in Istanbul.


 

In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful.

All praise belongs to Allah. Blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his followers, his companions, and those who follow them.

 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of sacred knowledge, or the Islamic sciences, is that it is the inheritance of the prophets (upon them be blessings and peace). On the other hand, wealth and power are the inheritance of other than the prophets. This is the greatest of merits of sacred knowledge: that it is the inheritance of the prophets. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,  “Prophets do not leave behind dinar or dirham, but they leave behind religious knowledge, so whoever takes it has taken a great share.”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said,  “Whomever Allah wishes well for, He grants deep understanding of the religion.” Thus, of the distinguishing merits of these sciences is that they are a sign that Allah wishes well for the one who seeks them.

Another merit of the Islamic sciences is that its scholars are the inheritors of the prophets due to it. There is no humanly conceivable role greater than the role of the inheritors of the prophets. The one role that is higher than that of the prophetic inheritors is that of prophethood. And the role of prophethood was concluded with our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Seal of Prophets. The highest role attainable by human beings after the Seal of Prophethood is being an inheritor of the prophets. And the inheritors of the prophets are the scholars of Islam. A student of knowledge is in preparation to be an inheritor of the prophets. A student of knowledge should always be aware of this matter, keenly aware that they are being trained to be an inheritor of the prophets. This awareness will lead the student to observe Islamic character & etiquette and lead them towards striving and struggling towards what they are seeking from knowledge, which is the inheritance of the prophets. Thus, the student’s striving will be intense and persistent to attain the rank of the inheritors of the prophets.

In addition, the student of knowledge is being trained to lead the Prophetic community (ummah), leading the Prophetic community and driving it towards preeminence and leadership in the world. In Islam, prophethood was sealed by our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). Those after him who assume this leadership are the scholars and students of knowledge. The Prophet (Allah Most High bless him and grant him peace), says in the noble hadith: “The Children of Israel used to be presided over by prophets: Whenever a prophet died, another prophet would take over his place.” As for the nation of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), it has first presided over the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace). After him, the scholars have presided over it; and they will preside over it until the Final Hour. As is stated in another hadith—which, though its narration is weak, is sound in meaning—“The scholars of my community are like the prophets of the Children of Israel.” Just as the prophets of the Children of Israel were the ones who presided over the Children of Israel, the Prophetic community is presided over by the scholars.

The true leadership of the Ummah consists of the scholars of the community. As for political leadership—caliphs, emirs, and monarchs—their rule is but on the outward aspect of people,

in addition to the external protection of the boundaries of the state. On the other hand, the scholars are always those who have taken on rectifying the Ummah – protecting its religion, creed, faith, character, and understanding. They are the ones who lead it towards awareness regarding struggle in the way of God, and spending one’s self & wealth in the path of spreading Islam, and making God’s word the highest. Thus, those who truly preside over the Muslims are the scholars of the Umma. And the true leaders are the scholars of the Umma. Those who stand guard over the structure of the Umma are the scholars of the Umma, and they are the ones who move forth with it. This is because this community has been placed by God as a leader to the world, pre-eminent and giving instruction; and this is not realized except with the guidance from the scholars, their leadership, and their directing of the Ummah towards these virtues.

And peace be upon you, and Allah’s mercy and blessings.

 

 Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi and Dar al Fuqaha

It is an honour to have Shaykh Salih teach within the Dar al Fuqaha seminary in Istanbul. Read about him here. 

The Prophet’s Smile: The Special Supplication

The Prophet’s Smile Series Part Four: The Special Supplication

Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should put in effort towards connecting with our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).  In this series, we discuss the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and made him laugh. We pray that by applying these lessons, we can gain his pleasure. What can we learn from this special supplication our Beloved Prophet Muhammad made?

By Shaykh Amin Buxton

 

The Prophet’s Special Supplication 

Abd al-Rahman bin Abi Aqil al-Thaqafi narrates that he came to visit the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) with the delegation of the tribe of Thaqif.

He said: “When we entered into his presence there was no one that we hated more than him. We entered, greeted him, and pledged allegiance to him and when we left there was no one that we loved more than him.

I said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, did you not think of asking your Lord for a kingdom like the kingdom of Sulayman?’

The Prophet smiled and said: ‘Perhaps Allah has given your companion (meaning himself) something better than the kingdom of Sulayman. Whenever Allah sent a Prophet he gave him a (special) supplication. Some of them used it for something worldly and they were given what they asked for, and some used it to pray for the destruction of their peoples, and their peoples were duly destroyed.  Allah gave me this special supplication and I have kept it in reserve with Him to use as a means of  intercession for my nation on the Day of Judgement.’” (Narrated by al-Hakim)

The tribe of Thaqif were the noblemen of the city of Ta’if. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to call them to Allah, they rejected him in the most offensive manner. In spite of that rejection, the Prophet refused to command their destruction but rather hoped that they would be guided. If they were not guided, he hoped that their children and descendants would.

The Muslims later defeated Thaqif at the Battle of Hunayn and unsuccessfully laid siege to Ta’if. The tribe eventually sent a delegation to the Prophet to reluctantly announce their acceptance of Islam. The narrator admits that he hated the Prophet when he first met him but during the course of one sitting, that hatred was transformed into love. Instead of bearing a grudge against them, the Prophet welcomed them with open arms. We can only imagine the wise words and the beautiful character that the Prophet showed in order to win over their hearts.

The narrator began to get a glimpse of the Prophet’s status. He began to realize that in front of him was Allah’s Beloved and he could ask whatever he wanted from his Lord. He thought that the greatest thing someone could ask for was a vast kingdom, but the Prophet corrected that notion with a gentle smile. He showed that the greatest thing you can ask for is what benefits people the most in their hour of greatest need. This is one of many narrations which tell us about the intercession of the Prophet on the Day of Judgement.

His mercy surpassed the mercy of other Prophets and he will not be content until as many members of his nation as possible are in Paradise. May none of us be deprived of his intercession on that day.

The Prophet’s Smile: Remembering Allah

The Prophet’s Smile Series Part 3 – Remembering Allah

Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should come to know our Prophet better (peace and blessings be upon him). In this series, we endeavor to do this by looking at the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and at times made him laugh and apply these lessons in our life in order to gain his pleasure.

By Shaykh Amin Buxton

Remembering Allah

Ummayah bin Makhshi narrates that the Messenger of Allah was sitting with a man who was eating. The man did not mention Allah’s name and he kept eating until there was only one mouthful left. When he raised the food to his mouth he said: “In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.”

The Prophet laughed and said: “The devil was eating with him until he mentioned Allah’s name, at which point the devil vomited up everything that was in his stomach!” (Narrated by Abu Daud)

This hadith reminds us of the importance of mentioning Allah’s name before even the smallest and most mundane actions such as dressing, entering and leaving our homes, going to sleep and waking up, and, of course, eating and drinking.

The Messenger of Allah taught us the precise etiquette in all of these situations and revealed to us the consequences of neglecting it. When we mention Allah’s name, it acts as a barrier that prevents darkness and evil from entering our lives. Beyond this, it reminds us that only Allah sustains the existence of all things. When we eat, sleep and walk in Allah’s name, those actions take on a new meaning. This is because they are connected to the Divine and are blessed with Allah’s support and care.

If, however, we are not conscious of this reality (as is often the case) it is never too late. The key is to return to Allah as soon as we remember. If we forget to mention Allah’s name before we eat, we can say the following supplication when we remember:

بِسْمِ اللهِ أَوَّلَهُ وآخِرَهُ

Bismillāhi awwalahu wa ākhirahu

In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.

 

This incident also shows us that the Prophet was actually witnessing the unseen. The angelic and demonic realms were unveiled to him. Although they are veiled to us (with very rare exceptions), it is part of our faith to believe that they exist just as the Prophet informed us of them.

Just as the devil is happy to see our actions come to nothing, the Messenger laughed and was happy to see the devil’s actions come to nothing. His happiness was always for the victory of light over darkness. In this case, a member of his nation was neglectful even though he was in the presence of the Prophet. But what pleased the Prophet was that he made amends. We can take comfort from the fact that however heedless or forgetful we are, we can always make amends. In doing so, we make our guide and teacher happy. May Allah shower him with blessings and peace.

Highest Station – A Poem by Baraka Blue

Highest Station

by Baraka Blue

The greatest of all creation
attaining the highest station
the personification of the final revelation
the weight he shouldered
the mountains would have crumbled
to boulders
the mountains would have
crumbled to…

The most humble
al-Ameen [the truthful]
I wish I could hold your hand
kiss it like the black
stone at the Ka’ba
you rode into Mecca with your head bowed
the rahma [mercy]
those who persecuted you and all of your sahaba [companions]
you forgave, so they could be saved
never in anyone who walked this earth
has their been a heart softer
yet so brave
whether marching in the battlefield,
feeding the poor, or meditating in the cave

I wish I could be the dirt
beneath your sandal
you’re a candle in the darkness
a spark that’s never extinguished
never relinquished
they never could sink this ark
the purest heart
the purest heart.

I wish I could catch the water
that dripped from you
wish I could have been at Uhud
and take that hit for you
How blessed are the companions
that sit with you
I close my eyes
my body trembles as I picture you
my throat swells
my eyes are wells
not being with you in the afterlife
thats hell

We are your umma [community]
we are here in this dunya [lower realm]
Ya RasulAllah [Messenger of God] we try our best
to follow your sunna [way]
I’ll never let you from my heart
on the Isra and Mi’raj [Night Journey and Ascension]
as you traveled
through the stars
Gibreel [Angel Gabriel] left your side
he couldn’t travel that far
I would have grabbed your cloak until
I burned and dissolved.

I bear witness
you have delivered
the Message
peace and blessings
upon your essence
I bear witness
you have delivered
the Message
peace and blessings
upon your essence
and we bear witness
you have delivered
the Message
peace and blessings upon your essence.

Source: https://barakablue.tumblr.com/ – a collection of poems by Baraka Blue.

Baraka Blue recited this poem for the SeekersGuidance Perfect Mercy Program which aired on 23th October. See full program here.  

The 17 Benefits of Tribulation

 

In this article, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani summarizes “The Benefits of Tribulation” by one of the great scholars of Islam: Sultan al-Ulema al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam (Allah be well pleased with him). This discussion took place at the beginning of the pandemic as a reminder for all of us on the attitude we should embody in the face of hardships.

The following has been transcribed (and in parts, paraphrased) from this lecture. Shaykh Faraz describes the benefits and, in parts, weaves in his own experience.


Are There Tests in Life?

Tests are essential to the life of this world. Allah (Most High) tells us that He is “the One who has created death and life to test you” (Qur’an, 67:2).

Testing is from the very wisdom of life. This is why one of the great early Muslims, Abu Abdullah as-Saji (Allah be pleased with him) advises: if you wish to be of the abdal – the unique servants of Allah or the highest of the categories of the beloved servants of Allah then love what Allah has willed. And what Allah wills; He manifests. Because then nothing will befall from Allah’s decree and his judgments, except that you will find it beloved to you.

This is one of the ways of becoming one of the truly beloved servants of Allah (Most High). We will look at this treatise of al-Izz ibn Abdus Salam (Allah be pleased with him), which is about tests and trials and tribulations. And he mentioned 17 virtues.

 

The First Benefit: To Know Divine Lordship

The first of the benefits is to know Divine Lordship and the overwhelming Power of Allah; in his grasp are all things. If we begin to imagine we are in charge and we have built this and we have done that; Allah will send us things that show us who is the Lord.

 

The Second Benefit: To Know the Weakness of Slavehood

The second benefit is related to the first; it is to know the weakness and loneliness of slavehood. Who are we? We are Allah’s weak creation.

 

The Third Benefit: To Acquire Sincerity

The third is acquiring sincerity. Allah (Most High) tells us; “and if Allah touches you with hurt, there is none to lift it except him” (Qur’an, 6:17).

Even just the expression, “if Allah touches you with hurt” (wa in yamsaska), that if the difficulties that befall us result in us getting shaken up; realize that we are just being touched by it! It could be a lot more intense, a lot more encompassing. This is just a touch. “When they ride the stormy ocean, they call upon Allah making their devotion purely for his sake alone” (Qur’an, 29:65). Thus, the wisdom of the stormy oceans of life is that it makes the heedless servant of Allah conscious of Allah, the heedless servant becomes sincere.

 

The Fourth Benefit: To Penitently Turn to Allah

The fourth benefit is to penitently turn to Allah and to direct oneself towards Him. “When the human is touched by hurt, they call upon their Lord turning penitently to him” (Qur’an, 39:8). Do not look at the pain, look at what it is a means for – of ‘Inaba’ (penitently turning) to Allah. And what does penitently returning to Allah result in? Finding the closeness of Allah (Most High).

 

The Fifth Benefit: To Humble Yourself in Front of Allah

The fifth benefit of tests and tribulations is that one humbles oneself and beseeches Allah and calls upon Allah (Most High). Allah tells us; “when the human is touched by any hurt, they call upon us” (Qur’an, 39:49). Meaning of course, that when things are easy, most people do not turn to Allah. That is a mercy from Allah (Most High). Why? Because we are given to heedlessness. And even those with the weakest of faith realize this. “Say who is there who can save you from the darkness of land and sea? Whom you call upon, beseeching Him, imploring Him in your fear” (Qur’an, 6:63), and that’s Allah (Most High).

 

The Sixth Benefit: You Acquire Forbearance 

The sixth benefit is that you acquire forbearance, in Arabic: “Hilm.” One is forbearing with the one tested, but the one tested becomes forbearing. Why? Because when you cannot do anything about the difficulty, you are forced to not react and wait it out, and that is forbearance – “Hilm.” Not that you are not shaken by things, but you wait for their unfolding. The early Muslims would say forbearance is the foremost of traits of character. “Indeed, Ibrahim is ever (in treating us) yearning for us and deeply forbearing” (Qur’an, 9:114).

Tests train one in forbearance, inclemency, and calm. Because what else are you going to do? It is a training ground for forbearance. As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to al-’Ashaj ‘Abd al-Qays; a companion who was part of one of the delegations that came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “you have two traits that are beloved to Allah. You have forbearance and circumspection.” The key is circumspection: you think things through, you are not hasty.

 

The Seventh Benefit: You Overlook the Mistakes of Others

A seventh benefit is the opportunity to overlook those who err against you. That is one of the qualities of those beloved to Allah, “those who overlooked what others do” (Qur’an, 3:134). For example, someone accidentally did something to you and made a big mistake. But instead of reacting to the mistake or responding to the mistake, you took the opportunity to take the high road and you got the great reward of overlooking their mistake. “so, whoever overlooks and rectifies, their reward is upon Allah” (Qur’an, 42:40). And this applies to situations particularly in which someone committed a mistake, such as if someone got very upset with you, and it was not reasonable, but you overlooked it.

 

The Eight Benefit: You Learn Patience 

The eighth benefit of tests and tribulations is the opportunity to have patience in the tribulation. This patience in tribulation necessarily results in the promise of Allah; in the love of Allah (Most High) in immeasurable reward. Why? Because Allah (Most High) says; “Allah truly loves those who remain steadfastly patient” (Qur’an, 3:146).

The steadfastly patient are only given their reward beyond measurement, the only way they are rewarded is in a manner that is beyond measurement. It does not enter any expressible measurement; it comes from our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that no one was granted any gift that is better or more expansive than patience or steadfastness. This is related by Imam Bukhari and others.

 

The Ninth Benefit: You Have the Opportunity to Rejoice 

The ninth benefit of having tests, trials, tribulations, loss, and difficulties is that you rejoice in the test because of its benefits. Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “truly those before you used to rejoice in tribulations as you rejoice in ease” (Ibn Majah).

Why? Because the smart person is the one whose heart is connected to consequences. If you get sick and you get medicine; the fool complains “oh my goodness, I have to have this medicine it is bitter!” But it is an effective medicine. The intelligent person will be happy, why? Because this medicine will be a means to their healing, the bitterness is not the concern. it is fleeting.

Ibn Masud (Allah be pleased with him) said: “What a great thing are the are two disliked matters; death and poverty. The righteous before you rejoiced in them because the difficulty does not hurt you and their bitterness does not hurt you if it is compared to their fruits and their benefits”.

This is a general sunnah of our faith; to rejoice. That is one of the amazing sunnahs that in times that appeared most difficult historically, the Ulema emphasized to people the importance of gratitude and rejoicing in Allah (Most High). Saydi Abdul Hassan as-Shadhili (Allah be pleased with him) was blind, but he participated in some battles against the eastern hordes that were invading the Muslim lands as they caused chaos and commotion. He fought even though he was blind! He participated in the jihad! But those were difficult times, and he built his spiritual path around rejoicing in Allah. You find a similar pattern in the life of Molana Rumi; why did he build his path around the love of the divine and expression of this joy of slavehood? Because everybody was down, everybody was going through difficult times around him.

That is really important, and that is part of the ingratitude of the human being. We see one thing that we have, one thing that we dislike, or even that we are not even touched by it – where is your rejoicing in all that which Allah has blessed you with? Reflect on the wisdom of everything in existence being in orbit, it is as if all of existence is expressing a state of ecstasy and rejoicing at the gift of existence. So, if you consider; what about the gift of life? What about the gift of faith?

 

The Tenth Benefit: The Intrinsic Benefit in the Tribulation

The tenth benefit of tribulation is gratitude for the tribulation because of its benefits; just as the sick person thanks the doctor who cuts a limb that needed cutting. For example, there is a doctor who cuts open someone’s father and takes out his kidney because he needed a kidney transplant. But are they sad by the fact that they lost their kidney or are they grateful that this is a means of healing? They have gratitude because of what one is expecting of consequent healing.

Similarly, the servant sees that these tests and this prevention is a means of eternal reward from Allah (Most High); so, one has gratitude. “If Allah loves a servant, he sends him trials” – one sees the trial as also being a gift from Allah (Most High).

It is said that the difference between the grateful and the truly grateful is that the grateful person is someone who has active gratitude for every clear blessing. Everything that is clearly a blessing; you have active gratitude for it; you are of the grateful believers. And that is not easy.

That requires reflecting (muhasaba), what is everything Allah has blessed me with? How do I express calm comprehensive gratitude? Not just now, but what he blessed me with before.

This is why when someone came from the tribe of Bani Sa’d, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stood up, took off his cloak, and put it down for her to sit on. Why? That person did not do anything, but she was an infant when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was an infant, and she was related to Sayyida Halima (Allah be pleased with Her).

Ibn Tuloon has a treatise that Halima came and believed in the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), there are sound hadiths about it. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would send gifts to old friends of Sayyida Khadijah (Allah be pleased with Her); they did not do anything for him! But they were friends with his wife.

That is thankfulness, and to be thankful is not easy. That is something we should all commit to, but higher than being thankful is to be grateful, not just for the obvious blessings but the things that do not appear to be blessings. You are grateful for both easy and pleasing things and stressful things.

Why? Because Allah is giving you both in what he obviously gives you but also in his withholding. As Ibn Ata-illah says, “if you can behold Allah’s giving when he appears to be withholding, then his withholding becomes from giving itself.” Why? What is he giving you? All these gifts above, to recognize his Lordship, to reflect on his name’s, to recognize your weakness, and neediness, to cultivate sincerity, to turn to Him… All these gifts!

 

The Eleventh Benefit: Sins are Forgiven

The eleventh benefit is that tests wipe away sins and shortcomings. “All that befalls of distress is through what your own hands have wrought, and he wipes away much” (Qur’an, 42:30). A lot of the Ulema explain that Allah wipes away much of the sins that you do through your patience in difficulties.

There are numerous hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) if you look in the chapter of patience in Riyad us-Saliheen: the believer is not touched by any distress nor hardship – even the worries that affect them and the thorn that pricks them except that Allah will expiate for you through it from your ill deeds. With one condition; patience without objection.

 

The Twelfth Benefit: You Become Merciful to Others

The twelfth benefit of tribulations he says: Allah sending you tests is to stir within you mercy for those who are being tested and to help them in their distress. People right now are going around and freaking out about being short of toilet paper.

You realize that there are hundreds of millions of people around the world that do not have basic sanitation and we are worrying about whether we can get enough toilet paper!

There is a state in India wherein all local elections they made a rule: that the only candidates that could run were people who had toilets in their homes. Why? Because they are having a major health crisis, it was the norm (people just not using the toilet) and not because they didn’t want to, not that they were being lazy, but because these people have poverty in many regions in that state. And we take all these things for granted! There is at least one in seven people in the world that do not have access to clean water.

We are not worried about our water supply right now; may Allah protect it. So, part of this then is that when you have a little bit of a test; think of those who have difficulty, have mercy on them, and actively assist them in their tribulation. Express your concern. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a hadith related in the Muwatta of Imam Malik said: “people are between those who are in wellness and those who are in tribulation, so have mercy to those in tribulation and have gratitude to Allah for wellness.”

That is the adab – that people are between those in states of wellness and those in states of tribulation. Have mercy for those in tribulation. One of the worst innovations (bida) is when you decide to judge why people are dealing with or having difficulties. “Do you say about Allah what you do not know?” (Qur’an, 2:80). Why do you know? How do you know why Allah is testing particular people? How do you know?  How do you know? And all of this is the test for you, how are you responding? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us “people are between those in wellness and those in tribulation, so have mercy for those in tribulations and have gratitude to Allah for your wellness” (Bukhari). When you ever see someone in tribulation, remind yourself of wellness.

There is a beautiful dua that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us; “if you see someone who is being tested And the greatest test is in ones’ faith, the Shafi’s mentioned that if you see a disbeliever, make this dua: “All praise is due to Allah who granted us wellness from what he tested so much of its creation and granted us great rank over so much of his creation.”

Imagine the existence as some little critter, just to get randomly squashed… Are you ever afraid of being squashed by something when you are walking down the street? No! Nobody sprays you with pesticides.

I remember once with Sheikh Mohammed Juma’, we were sitting in the Umawi mosque; we’re having class and these Christian Priests came in with these long cloaks. I thought they were just coming out of the middle ages. These long cloaks; the whole cloak from the top of their head, with a big cross. He just looked at them teary-eyed and is repeating this dua; “all praise is due to Allah who granted us wellness from what he has tested so much of his creation from.” And his creation; they are not just human beings, think about the animals, many creatures do not last a whole season let alone a whole year! Imagine if you were a butterfly and you were stuck in one of those intermediate stages like you think it will be boring being at home? How long do they stay in their cocoon? And not much to do in there. Of all things but Allah made us human. Imagine if you were a bear and woke up in the middle of hibernation, like go back to sleep. “Be grateful to Allah for wellness.”

 

The Thirteenth Benefit: You Learn the Worth of Wellness

The thirteenth benefit he says is that tribulations remind us and help us know the great worth of wellness and to have greater gratitude for wellness. Blessings are not typically known by their true worth until when one loses out on them.

 

The Fourteenth Benefit: The Reward in the Hereafter

The fourteenth benefit of tests and tribulations is Allah’s reward in the Hereafter. We are just talking about the dunya right now, this is the short-term reward and the short-term benefits. But what is the true benefit? It is the reward in the Hereafter.

In truth, the reward for any action is not in this life because what Allah has prepared for His believing servants does not fit in this world. There is no actual reward in this life and there is no actual punishment in this life, but rather these are indicators for us. Rewards are eternal, even for the smallest of things! This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said; “never deem anything of the good to be small.” Why? Because that good; what is its consequence? Eternal reward!

That is who you are dealing with. Imagine if you did a favor to someone and from that moment till the end of their life – they are always thanking you! Just for one thing you did! That is just till the end of their life, just one action into eternity – you have reward after its multiplication at least ten-fold.

 

The Fifteenth Benefit: That Which is Within of Subtle Benefits

The fifteenth benefit of tribulations is what is within the tribulation of subtle benefits. It may be that you feel the bitterness of it, but you now may not see the subtle benefits of it. Allah (Most High) tells us of the above as a reality in the Qur’an; “it may well be that you dislike something and Allah places in it tremendous good” (Qur’an, 2:216).

You may dislike something, but you do not know what the outcome is. Sometimes the greatest blessings in our lives begin with bitterness. How many a person – their marriage failed, but that was the greatest blessing they had! How many a person lost a job, and it opened doors for them that they could never have imagined.

It happens all the time, that’s why in the Istikhara: after we ask Allah for the good and its facilitation and to turn us away from harm we say; “destine the good wherever it may be” because the good may be in the apparent good that we’re seeking, but the good may be in the things you didn’t want, and then we say; “make me content with it.”

“It may well be that you dislike something, and it is better for you” (Qur’an, 2:216).

An example of that is the story of Sayyida Hajar (May Allah be well pleased with Her). Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him) was commanded to leave her in the middle of the desert. To us, nothing could be worse than that! And it was painful for him to walk away. She just asked; “did your lord command this?” And it was heavy for a Prophet of Allah to walk away but she told him, “continue to where your Lord has commanded you.” It seems to be a tribulation, but that was the result says al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam for the birth of Sayyidana Ismail (Allah have mercy on him) and that was the means for the coming of Rasulullah (peace and blessings be upon him).

One of the poets said, “how many great blessings are folded up for you between the folds of tribulation” but you must pay attention to it. As Ibn Ata says: “The fool looks at the clouds and complains that it is cloudy, but the wise person is the one that when they see the clouds – they realize that this will bring good fruit down the road.” The fool complains about the clouds, the simpleton claims that it will rain – but the wise person recognizes the outcomes.

 

The Sixteenth Benefit: Trials Prevent One from Evil

The sixteenth benefit of tribulations is that tribulations and hardship prevent one from evil and haughtiness. You are not able to do what you were able to do before. The tribulation prevents you from arrogance and haughtiness and pride and arrogance.

A l-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam says:

Imagine if Nimrod the ruler, who was against Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him), was poor and weak and deaf and blind; would he have argued with Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him) about his lord? No! it is only ease and strength that causes people to inflate and arrogate. Many many of the wrongs that we do; the tests and trials in different ways curb our bad tendencies.

That is why Ibn Ata says; “whoever doesn’t direct themselves to Allah with the garlands of divine grace’s will be dragged to him in the chains of tribulation” but the chains of tribulation too are great blessings from Allah (Most High) in different ways. And one is that they prevent one from turning away, from running away.

If Pharos (Firoun) had been tested with poverty and sickness and weakness and loss of power he would not have claimed:” I am your lord almighty” (Qur’an, 79:24) because he would see his abject weakness, and there are countless examples. How? Because one of the key causes of the human turning away is thinking they have no need. “Truly the human goes beyond all limits when they see themselves as having no need” (Qur’an, 96:6-7), and this is one of the characteristics of all people who went astray. He gives many examples and this why he says here “the poor and the needy, they are the elect servants of Allah and the followers of the Prophets” and for these tremendous benefits, the author says: our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said; “the people most intensely tested are the Prophets (peace be upon Them), then the righteous, then the foremost after them, and then the foremost after them.” The hadith is related in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad.

The Prophets (peace be upon Them), were called mad and magicians and sorcerers, and they were mocked and derided,” but they remain steadfast regarding what they were denied about and heard about” (Qur’an, 6:34).

“Do you imagine you will enter Paradise and there has not come to you the like of what came to or befell those who were before you? And they were tested with distress and difficulty and they were shaken as if by an earthquake until the very Prophet amongst them and the believers close to him ask ‘when is Allah’s victory?’ Indeed, Allah’s victory is close” (Qur’an, 2:214). That is a divine promise and many of the verses in the Qur’an are about Allah (Most High) testing us and highlighting all these pearls of wisdom.

Likewise, if we consider the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), his tests began before he was born! He lost his father before he himself was born (peace and blessings be upon him)! Thereafter, he lost his mother, then his grandfather, and one loss and difficulty after another. His uncle loved him, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) proposed to his uncle’s daughter. But his uncle Abu Talib rejected the proposal of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! Years later, she asked to marry him (peace and blessings be upon him), but then he was not able to marry her. Moment of ease from distress in the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), what do you find? “Constantly cheerful (peace and blessings be upon him).”

Sayidda Aisha (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did not eat bread from barley on any two consecutive days; sometimes an entire month would pass, and not one fire was lit to cook food in any of the houses of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). And all the tribulations in his life; it was within his lifetime that the false Prophets; Musailama and Tulayha and al-Ansi and these others appeared and all the different tribulations that he witnessed befalling his companions. He himself was poisoned (peace and blessings be upon him).

It has come from the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), “the example of the believer is like the example of the crop, the wind continues to blow it in one direction and the other, likewise the believer keeps being afflicted with tribulations one time in this direction one time in that.” And this hadith is related by Bukhari and Muslim and there are many similar hadiths.

So, the situations of difficulty and tribulations are means (he said) for the servant to go to Allah (Most High). And times of wellness and ease could well be causes for a servant to turn away from Allah (Most High).

As Allah warns us, “in difficulty and distress, they call upon Allah with sincerity, but when we lift distress from them, they return as if nothing had ever happened” (Qur’an, 10:12). Now people are rationing, this morning one of the kids went to the supermarket and they are only letting twenty people in at a time.

What did the righteous do? The Prophets (peace be upon Them) chose to do with less of this world – out of choice! Many of the companions (sahaba) – look at Uthman ibn Affan (Allah be pleased with him) who was so wealthy he funded a whole army, but how did he live? Exceedingly simply. Why? Not because he did not have one, but he chose the way of poverty.

Imam ‘Abd il-Kabir al-Kitani, in his abridgment of the Shama’il, says; “anyone who says that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was poor committed disbelief.” Now we do not call someone a disbeliever for that, we just say just they do not get it. But why? Because did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) choose poverty? Yes, did he choose to do without food? Did he choose hunger? Yes, but what does Allah say about him? In Surah Duha: “and he found you in need and he freed you of all need” (93:8), he chose the way of poverty.

That’s why the righteous chose to do with less food, and less drink, and less of the pleasures, and less when it came to their dress, and less in terms of marital pleasures, and less when it came to social gatherings, and less when it came to dwellings, and less when it came to their means of transportation and so on. Why? To be in a state that would keep them close to returning to Allah (Most High).

 

The Seventeenth Benefit: Attainment of Contentment

The final and greatest benefit of tests and tribulations is contentment. It is the means to attain unto the absolute divine contentment. Because difficulties, (he says), befall the righteous and the corrupt, so whoever is upset by difficulties and trials – they have Divine upset. They have lost in this life of sorrow, and heaviness, and dejection, and depression, and all that accompanies this; and they have loss in the next life.

Contentment is better than paradise and all it contains because Allah (Most High) says; “an absolute contentment from Allah Is greater” (Qur’an, 9:72). And this is Allah being content with you, but the state of contentment you find within yourself is greater than paradise in all it contains, by the text of the Qur’an.

We ask Allah Most High and we ask by the asking of this great scholar and we ask Allah likewise for his overlooking and wellness from him in this life and the next. Because we are not of the people who can bear tribulations. May Allah grant us the facilitative grace to act upon that which is beloved to him and pleasing to him and may Allah heal us from tribulations and distresses.

 

The Trial of Wealth: Lessons from Surah al-Kahf

By Imam Yama Niazi

The following article is written by internal scholar Imam Yama Niazi where lessons are taken from Surah al-Kahf. It is part of the series Truth for the Youth. What is your wealth in the grave? How much money or cars will you possess? Zero. What will you take to the Hereafter? Read the article to find out more. 


 

Wealth and children are the adornments of the present life. But the things that last are virtuous deeds. These deeds are better to gain reward from your Lord.

In our weekly reflections for youth, we reflect on the lessons that Allah Most High mentions in Surah al-Kahf or the Cave. 

The story of this week follows that of a man whom Allah Most High granted “two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed cornfields” (Quran 18:32).  It follows a conversation between two people. The one who Allah Most High granted wealth and gardens boasts about his achievements and worldly possessions to the one whom he was speaking with. “I am wealthier than you and greater in manpower” (Quran 18:34). Pride and arrogance dominated and blinded him. He looked down on his companion and believed that his own garden would never perish. It is often that many who are plagued with arrogance and deluded with this worldly life begin to reject belief in the afterlife.“And I do not think the hour is coming. And even if I am returned to my Lord, I will find something better than this in return” (Quran 18:36). He assumed that his wealth was given due to his false assumption that, had he not been dear to Allah Most High, he would not have been given all of these possessions. 

His companion warned him and reminded him about Allah, but was ignored. Finally one day a calamity comes and destroys his gardens and all his wealth. His companion reminded him, “when you entered your garden, why did you not say – ‘As God wills; there is no power except through God?’ Although you see me inferior to you in wealth and children. Perhaps my Lord will give me something better than your garden.” (Quran 18:39-40).  

The Lessons

The lesson that we learn is that all material wealth in this world is only a test from Allah Most High. Having wealth or not is by no means an indication of whether Allah Most High loves a person or not. Rather, true wealth is the faith that the believer possesses in their heart. Being blessed with faith is the greatest blessing. “Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah alone enters Paradise.” (Bazaar) 

Secondly, a Muslim always views material blessings as a test. Allah Most High wants to test us to manifest who amongst us will be grateful and who will not. “He who created death and life—to test you—as to which of you is better in conduct. He is the Almighty, the Forgiving.” (Quran: 67:2)

Thirdly, we learn the great value of these beautiful words, “Masha Allah la quwwata illa billah”, “As Allah wills; there is no power except through God.” These blessed words should serve as a litany on our tongues every time we enjoy one of the many blessings that Allah Most High has showered us all with.

Lastly, every week we are reminded that this world should not delude us. It seems that so many of our youth are lured into seeing rich and famous people as those who have “made it” and we forget they too will one day lose it all. We do not take even a dollar to our graves. 

“When the son of Adam dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (continuous charity); A knowledge which gives benefit, or a righteous child who prays for him (the deceased)” [Muslim] 

 

Realize your Potential: The Prophet as a Remedy

In this illuminating article, one of our internal scholars, Shaykh Jamal ud-Deen Hysaw reflects on the opportunity Rabi Al Awwal presents us to embody the transformational life of the beloved. 

Duaa

In the Name of He that holds my heart, my soul, my beginning and my end in His hand. All Praises to the One that I call upon for aid and for forgiveness, for without Him I am nothing. As I stand before Him I am nothing. He, who is in need of nothing, nor anyone for anything, yet all is in need of Him for everything. Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the warner, the bringer of great news, the key to the Mercy of our Creator. The mercy to mankind, and the seal of the Prophets, our leader, guide, teacher, tutor, and the reviver of our hearts, Sayyid Muhammad. May Allah bless his family and companions and those that follow him until the end of time.

A Plea

My dear beloved brothers and sisters I hope this reaches you in the best of states and increased faith (iman). 

We have come to the time of another year in our Islamic calendar where we commemorate the birth and life of our beloved Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him). As we reflect on the life of the Mercy to all of the worlds, (peace and blessings be upon him), we should reflect upon ourselves and our lives over this past year. We should be looking into those things that have brought us closer to our Lord and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), and those things that have taken us away from being in close proximity to Him and His messenger, (peace and blessings be upon him).  We should be looking at those things that have veiled our hearts from tasting the sweetness of His presence. 

We all know that at the end of every fiscal year, every “good” company takes out the time to review how the past year went and look at those things that have been preventing the company from developing.They begin to look at new ways and methods to increase revenue. They look at what elements of the business are costing them the most money and assess whether those elements are assets or liabilities. From those assessments, if they find that there are elements that do not make good business sense to keep, then they cut loose those elements and find newer ways to focus on that which will help the company grow, save, and aid in increasing revenue.

Review the Self

Just as a good company reflects on these questions year in and year out, are our hearts not infinitely more deserved of such an annual review? Are we not people that seek to acquire Allah’s blessings and true spiritual wealth that we will enjoy in the hereafter? When do we begin to do a thorough review of self? Have we looked at our hearts and seen the stains of arrogance, pride, lusts, greed, lies, deceptions, treachery, ignorance, vanity, selfishness, and ungratefulness, along with other vices too numerous to mention? 

Have we thought about the fact that our Lord is watching all we do, even when we think that no one can see us? Where are we in terms of our closeness to Him? Where are we with our beloved Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him)? What do we know of him? How much of his way of living do we have in our lives? Do we really have love for him, and if we do, how do you define and measure that love? How are you showing that love? What are the consequences of that love? Let’s face it, even the best of us are falling short. 

Harsh Reality

For too many of us our practice of Islam is just routine and devoid of any “real” connection. Our Prayer is filled with thoughts of everything except the prayer.

We give our charity for all to see. We spend more time busying ourselves with social media, movies, music, fashion , work, school, and other worldly things, and give very little time or thought about our Lord and His messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). Every year we learn new lyrics to songs and yet the number of verses of the Quran we have committed to memory diminish.

Some of us go as far as masquerading under the garb of piety, acting as though we are more than what we are, looking for the praises of people instead of the pleasure of our Lord. We have pride in our poverty, acting like a friend of God (wali) in the masjids and gatherings of remembrance, but then act like Satan (Iblis) when we get home behind closed doors. 

Study, Reflect, Act, Connect

The point is we have to take an honest look at ourselves and make the decision that it is time for change. One of the best ways to inspire this change is to commit yourself to the study of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him). I say study. and not just merely reading about him, because study requires one to take notes, and reflect, and act on what one learns.

It is time to become people of experience. It is no longer enough to have the “sunnah look”, there has to be something substantial of the sunnah reflected in our being. There has to be something internal going on so that we can begin to truly feel connected to him (peace and blessings be upon him).

Realize Your Potential

Think of it like this; If we were to study him, (peace and blessings be upon him), deeply reflect upon him (peace and blessings be upon him), deeply, emulate his actions and his treatment of mankind and all of creation, where would we be? Who would we become? We must come to the realization that dressing like him, (peace and blessings be upon him), is not enough, we have to study the internal aspects of him, (peace and blessings be upon him), so that we can begin to taste the sweetness of life that he (peace and blessings be upon him) tasted. The sweetness of proximity to the Divine.

Be Guided by the Light of the Prophet

We learned from our beloved teacher Aisha, radi Allahu ‘anha, our beloved Prophet was like a walking Quran. What does that mean? What does that mean for us? One possible perspective is this: Allah says of the Quran in surah Ash-Shurah verse 52, in a translation that could mean: “We have made it a light by which We guide whom we will of Our servants.” From this we understand that the Quran is a light (among other things), so if it is a light then our beloved Prophet is the living example of that light, so then when you and I finally decide to truly follow the way of our beloved Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), inwardly, then we too can be examples of this light! Think about it! Isn’t just the thought exciting? It should be.

Emulate the Beloved

As Shaykh Nur Ad-Din ‘Itr says, (Allah be pleased with him and raise his rank in the hereafter), in his text Loving the Messenger of Allah: “Emulation is the greatest sign of love” and “such emulation empowers a believer to practically and experientially feel the beauty of what the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him) brought and his perfection.”

Make the emulation of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) your aim, as Hussan Al basri said: “it is rare that one does not become like the company he keeps.” Live as though he (peace and blessings be upon him) is your companion and as if he is with you at all times. Read and study the Quran so that you can institute it in your life daily, so you can be at least a spark of illumination, and find renewed pleasure and proximity to our Creator.

Send Peace and Blessings Upon the Beloved

I ask you my dearest beloveds, to send as much peace and blessings (salawat) upon the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him), for its merits for you are high and it brings safety, comfort, and peace to the heart. The authenticated hadith are many concerning this issue and I challenge you to seek them out and study them and absorb them. Our time is short in this life so we should be looking to build and develop better actions preparing for our hereafter and most importantly, looking for those things that will bring us closer to our Master and His messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

You are the Ummah of the Beloved

We have such a great opportunity to turn our lives around and turn our weaknesses into strengths and acquire all the Baraka Allah has for us. But if we do not take the time to recognize and review and change then we have wasted this life and the blessing of being a part of the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

May Allah bless you all and make us of those who are the emulators of the best of creation. Ameen.

 

Counsels for Students of Knowledge by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

 

One: Counsels for Students of Knowledge

by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

The following article presents the first set out of four counsels. These were recorded by the esteemed Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi for SeekersGuidance. They have been translated and transcribed with subtitles – the video can be found here.

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi is a senior theologian and scholar of the rational sciences based in Konya, Turkey. He delivers a class for Dar al Fuqaha: SeekersGuidance seminary in Istanbul.


 

In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah. May blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad ibn Abdullah, and upon his followers, his companions, and those who follow them.

The following are counsels for students of sacred knowledge.

 

  1. Making one’s intention sound.

The most important thing for the student of knowledge and the first thing one should pay attention to and take care of is to make their intention sound, making the intention sincerely for Allah’s sake alone. 

One does this out of obedience to the Divine Command to learn and read. Because of this, the first revelation Allah sent down from His Book upon his Messenger was: “Read, in the Name of your Lord” (Quran, 96:1). That is, one should read in the Name of God. That means one does not read in the name of worldliness, position, or money, but solely in obedience to the Divine Command.

Likewise, one should refine oneself with knowledge and act on it. One should make it a means to teach, provide guidance, convey the message—all of these are foundations of Islam.

All of this relates to rectifying one’s intention.

Because of the importance of the intention, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) emphasized it, saying: “Verily actions are by their intentions, and one shall only have that which one intended. So whoever’s migration was to Allah and His Messenger, then their migration was to Allah and His Messenger. And whoever’s migration was for some worldly gain, or for a woman to marry, then their migration is for whatever they migrated for.”

In both cases, the individuals are performing migration, getting tired, passing much travel and travail, and forsaking rest. However, one of them attains great reward, of the greatest of rewards; the other does not gain any reward at all—it is enough for them to not be held to account, neither incurring loss nor gain.

Because of the great importance of intention, scholars advised that an author of a book in any of the Islamic sciences should begin with this hadith. They also said that this hadith is a third of the religion.

 

  1. Studying under a scholar who is proficient in the science studied.

This is important because proficiency is the foundation of taking sound knowledge. The teacher should be someone with recognized proficiency and mastery of the science, who themself has to have taken it from trustworthy, recognized, and well-known scholars In addition, the teacher must have correct tenets of faith (‘aqida). This is because the student grows accustomed to the teacher’s character, ideology, and beliefs. Therefore, scholars constantly emphasize that one should take knowledge from a scholar whose tenets of faith are sound.

Today, theology has become weakened, and ideologies have become confused, especially in universities. And among many academics and professors, tenets of faith have been greatly corrupted. Thus, a student of knowledge, especially when studying under academics, must be very cautious. This is because scholars who studied under traditional scholars never—or very rarely—have corrupt beliefs, because they generally would have taken their knowledge from people of sound beliefs. Only very rarely would their creed be unsound. Academics, on the other hand, constantly place us in danger of corrupt beliefs. This is due to the pressure of Orientalism and Western influence, which attempts to use them as tools for its own goals and purposes: to destroy Islam in the name of Islam. Hence, one who takes their knowledge from academics and university professors must observe caution in taking knowledge from them, and likewise regarding whom they take knowledge from and who is unsuitable to take from.

 

  1. Studying in an ordered and step by step manner.

This is the third foundation of learning and study. That it be in an ordered manner means that it follows an established method of teaching and learning. Not—as often occurs—that one takes a class with this sheikh, just like that, and a class with that sheikh, likewise, and a class with another sheikh… This is all done in an unordered manner. It does not bring a good result. It has a weak result. One who studies in this manner does not become strong in their knowledge. Their grounding will always be unsolid; the edifice of sound knowledge cannot rest upon its foundations.

Knowledge can only be built on method-based knowledge. This means there that must be a method which has been approved by scholars experienced in establishing educational methodologies. This must be in a step by step manner: from the first text to the intermediate level to the detailed works; from the basic sciences to the more complex, and from the most important sciences to the other sciences. Imam Ghazali laid this out in his work The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Ibn Khaldun, too, laid it out in his Muqaddimah. Likewise, everyone who discussed the methods and means of education affirmed these: that seeking knowledge must be done in an ordered fashion, that it follow a method— a method placed for it accepted by those of expertise in the field, taught, examined, affirmed, and accepted. Then one follows this method.

Imam Ghazali referred to the first level of this step by step process of learning as al-iqtisar, to the second, intermediate level as al-iqtisad, and to the third level as al-istiqsa’. Meaning that every science has these three graduated levels.

Thereafter, one moves from one science to another. The ideal case is that one becomes proficient in one science before moving onto another. One does not join between two sciences at one time. This is the ideal. This is because if one focuses on one science at a time, one will become proficient in it, then one will move on to another. And if one becomes proficient in a science, one will become accustomed to studying to the level of proficiency. Thus, one will learn the second, third, and forth sciences proficiently. Whereas if one divides one’s attention, often one does not achieve proficiency. This is what is ideal, but this ideal might not be feasible or facilitated; it is not a condition. It is what is better in terms of educational methodology and learning.

 

  1. Striving and struggling.

The fourth foundation we mention—without which firm, sound knowledge does not happen—is striving and struggle in knowledge and making the most of one’s time and spending it on knowledge. It is the ideal and important in seeking knowledge that one devotes one’s time to seeking knowledge; one does not affiliate anything else with knowledge. That is why it is said that knowledge does not accept a co-sharer.

Scholars say, “If you do not give knowledge your all, it will not give you a thing.” If you do not give it your all, it will not give you anything. However, if you give it your all, it may give you something. This is what relates to striving, struggle, making the most of one’s time, and freeing oneself up for knowledge.

 

  1. To observe the proper etiquettes (adab).

It is important for the seeker of knowledge to be observant of the etiquettes of knowledge. Firstly, with one’s teachers: holding them in high esteem and regard, honouring them and respecting them. One is cognisant of the teacher’s rights even more so than one’s father’s. This is because the teacher is the father to the soul, while one’s parent is the father to the body. They have said, “One who is recalcitrant towards their parents, Allah will not place blessing in their lifespan. And one who is recalcitrant towards their teacher, Allah will not place blessing in their knowledge.”

The second component of this is observing the Islamic etiquettes and the etiquettes of brotherhood with one’s peers in seeking knowledge: always honouring them, holding them in high regard, serving them, and being careful with their feelings.

The third component is one’s manners towards books, whether those one is studying or other Islamic texts. One does not place them on the floor. One does not put them in an unbefitting location. Even one of the etiquettes is that, when placing books on top of each other, to put the most important above the others. Firstly, one puts the Book of Allah highest; then works of tafsir, then hadith, then the books which contain the most Quranic verses or hadith, and so on.

The scholars have laid a principle regarding observing the foundations of learning and teaching. They said: “People were only prevented from attainment because they squandered the foundations.” These foundations which we have mentioned must be observed. If one does not observe them, one will be prevented from attaining unto knowledge and from the goal of knowledge.

 And Allah Most High knows best. We will suffice with this amount of counsel.

Blessings and peace be upon our Master Muhammad, and his followers and companions.

And all praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds.

 

 Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi and Dar al Fuqaha

It is an honour to have Shaykh Salih teach within the SeekersGuidance seminary in Istanbul. Read about him here. 

 

 

 

 

Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah: A Quest for Truth

 

Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah Wymann-Landgraf, author of Malik and Medina, beautifully weaves a story in the podcast Diffused Congruence, spanning several decades and countless nations including Spain, Morocco, Pakistan, Canada and Saudi Arabia, inspiring both laughter and spiritual aspiration. Along the way he builds an essential reading list for any seeker of truth and knowledge.  The interview is part an intellectual biography, part social commentary on the later 20th century and part lessons learned over a life spent in seeking knowledge and service to others. We cannot recall a finer personal, oral narrative and warn you that you may not be able to listen only once.

The Seeker:

Dr. Umar begins with his early childhood upbringing in Columbus, Nebraska, near the Platte River. By all means a quintessential all American boy, growing up on a farm, and tending to the needs of country living, he describes how much of the values and character traits he learned during this formative period informs much of the person he is today. Dr. Umar also describes in much detail his early religious upbringing, being christened a Protestant in the Congregationalist, Presbyterian and Lutheran traditions.

As a very young teenager and in the most unexpected of circumstances, Dr. Umar’s belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, is shaken.

The Learner:

Dr. Umar goes on to describe his quest for truth and meaning, particularly during his time at university while at Cornell. His exposer to African-American literature by the likes of W. E. B. DuBois, Jean Toomer, ultimately led him to the autobiography of  Malcolm X who Dr. Umar credits with bringing him to Islam. It was in this period that Dr. Umar gained an emphasis, integrity, beauty, and an assertion of the humanity of Black people during the Civil Rights era. We also learn of how Dr. Umar dabbled with left wing revolutionary politics during the Vietnam War by being a conscientious objector.

The Teacher; perpetual student:

Dr. Umar, “our tradition is a beautiful tradition, one of the richest in the history of human kind, that has all the treasures and wealth in it that is necessary to make sense of the modern/ post-modern world”

Dr. Umar ends by sharing his love for reading and teaching, for in teaching he sees in himself the perpetual student, one that is always learning from his students. Dr. Umar describes that his current work is centred on theology, with respect to studying, researching and understanding modernism, post-modernism, the truth and fallacies of scientism, and in finding the solid ground of first principles, so that it can be properly incorporated into Islamic theology, towards bringing tradition back to life once again – “theology is the foundation of our world view”.

Dr. Umar’s works, especially those published through the Nawawi foundation, are a must read for academics, activists, students of history and seekers of Sacred Knowledge alike. His scholarship focuses on indigenizing Islam and contemporary muslims into the fabric of American history and culture, towards muslims making a first effective settlement.

Above all, in this interview, Dr. Umar is an example of a life lived through conviction, a love for the Scholars (some older, but many younger than him), a love for ordinary Muslims, and a love for the Truth in all its glory.

Based on Diffused Congruence Podcast