Grateful Servants of God – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explains how having gratitude can positively affect our lives.

It’s important for us to understand gratitude and cultivate it into our hearts, so that we can draw closer to Allah. Imam al-Haddad said that one the main kinds of reflection that we should do, is to reflect on Allah’s blessings, and its fruit is love of Allah. Therefore, gratitude is a direct route to drawing closer to Allah.

With a lot of focus on mental health today, many psychologists are trying to see how gratitude can help us. A psychiatrist told Ustadh Amjad that most of mental illness today is a reaction to the toxicity in the world today, not a sickness.

As Muslims we have a responsibility, first to rectify our own states with Allah, and then to help others in need. Many people are searching for what we Muslims have already been taught by our Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Benefits of Gratitude

One of the many benefits of gratitude, is stronger relationships. One of the largest indicators of happiness is the quality of relationships; family, friends, etc. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever does not thank people, has not thanked Allah.”

Grateful people are also known to have better physical and mental health. Studies have shown that grateful people had fewer aches and pains, and felt happier, had less depression and aggression, and more empathy. In fact, the Applied Psychology reported in 2012 that writing in a gratitude journal improved the quality of sleep.

A Deep Connection

More than ever, what we really need is a deep connection to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. As people, we need someone to help us make sense of everything. The world is confusing and challenging, and we need someone to trust. Sometimes we give people more trust than they deserve, and get hurt when they break our trust. But if we connect to the Prophet, he will never disappoint us. He is above and beyond any life coach, mentor or adviser.  His advice will always be the best, as “His character was the Qur’an.” Connecting to him will give us the strength and meaning to continue.

Having gratitude can also lead to an increase and a protecting from deprivation.  Allah says, “If you are grateful for my blessings, I will grant you increase.” (Surah Ibrahim 14.7) The scholar Habib Abu Bakr bin Salim, who used to give away a thousand loaves of bread every day in charity, was once presented with a small gift of wheat. He profusely thanked the woman who had brought it, then said, “Those who are not grateful for small things, are deprived of big things.”


Adab 08: The Proprieties of Travel

Ustadh Tabraze Azam writes on the proprieties of travel and how one can make even a simple journey an act of true worship.

True, meaningful journeying is found in spiritual wayfaring. In other words, the journey from sin and disobedience to righteous acts and godfearingness, from heedlessness to presence, from distance to proximity, and from everything which Allah hates to everything Allah loves. This is the kind of journey that we will be deeply grateful for when we cast a backwards glance, to here, from the next life. This life is a time of planting the seeds, and the next is when we’ll harvest. Allah Most High says, “It will be as if they had stayed in the world no more than one evening or its morning.” (Sura al-Nazi‘at 79:46)

If things seem bleak for us, then let us be optimistic, as was the prophetic sunna, and make a change for the better today. In an instant, the turmoil and degradation of life in disobedience can be transformed, by His Grace, into something tremendous and everlasting. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, as part of a lengthier tradition (hadith), “One of you would observe the works of the people of the Hellfire until there is only a cubit between him and it, but then the register would forestall him and he would perform an act of the people of Paradise and consequently enter it.” (Bukhari) Whoever strives for Allah will find Him before him, and whoever traverses an upright, trodden, prophetic path will find great blessing, or baraka, in his life journey.

Purpose in Journeys

In the famous tradition (hadith) of intention, the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever has migrated to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger. And whosoever has migrated to obtain worldly means or to marry a woman, his migration is for the sake of what he has migrated for.” (Bukhari) What we can learn from this tradition (hadith) is that travel should be to Allah, and by extension, His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. This doesn’t mean travel only to Makka and Madina, but to travel with Lordly intent, direction and focus.

Realize that all travel is a reminder of the soul’s trajectory from this world to the next, and the successful person is the one who recognizes the need for His Lord, traverses the journey of his life for His Lord, and attains the Pleasure of his Lord for eternity. In deciding to journey, let the intention be clearly for Allah, and naturally, your spiritual compass will be facing the right direction as you proceed. As Ibn ‘Ata Illah al-Sakandari stated, “Whoever’s beginning is illumined, their ending is illumined.” (al-Hikam)

Religious Preparation

A consistent theme in prophetic practice was prayer before any meaningful matter, and travel, in this sense, is no different. It is reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would regularly perform two cycles (rak‘as) before heading out on any journey. (Tabarani) Make it a point to renew your repentance, pay back anybody that’s owed anything from you and to leave sufficient food and money for your family, if required.

It would be from proper manners and due diligence to ensure that you pack everything you’ll need, both for your worldly and religious affairs. The former is straightforward for most, so let us concentrate on the latter. Thinking ahead would entail traveling with some kind of compass and prayer rug. Compasses are easily available on most handheld devices, but it’s useful to have a backup. Similarly, and depending on the nature of the journey, you should consider taking a smooth stone with you for the purposes of the dry ablution (tayammum). Razors, or anything similar which does the job, and nail clippers should also be carried with you as these are facilitators of personal hygiene, namely, something which is of religious significance.

The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, encouraged us to leave a bequest or final testament. (Bukhari) This document should expressly state your desire to have your possessions distributed according to the Islamic laws of inheritance. If this document can also be officially recognized in your country of residence, you should take the means to make it as such, not merely for travel, but as a document which you have ready in the case of death. Moreover, you should include any debts owed, whether to other people, or to Allah Most High in the form of missed prayers, fasts and the like. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make these matters up in your lifetime! Rather, it affirms your commitment to lift your dues, even in the case of death. The general rule is that you should make up anything which requires making up as soon as possible.

Setting Out: When and How

Our Master Ka‘b ibn Malik, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to “like setting out on Thursdays.” (Bukhari) And Sakhr ibn Wada‘a, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to supplicate by saying “O Allah, bless my community in their early mornings.” (Abu Dawud) From these and other traditions, the scholars explain that there is a secret of increase, or baraka, in setting out in the morning times, particularly on Thursdays. When this isn’t possible, some of the scholars recommend Mondays, then Saturdays – which has also been related, and then any other day (avoiding Fridays as much as possible).

In setting out, it is also from the sunna to bid farewell to family and loved ones in order to attain the blessings of their supplications for safety, facilitation and otherwise. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is reported to have bidden farewell by saying, “I entrust your affair to Allah who doesn’t allow his trusts to go to waste.” (Ibn Majah) Upon leaving, he, Allah bless him and give him peace, would often supplicate with the following: “Glory be to the One who has subjected these to us, for we could have never done so on our own. And surely to our Lord we will all return. O Allah, we ask You in this journey of ours for piety and godfearingness, and action which is pleasing to You. O Allah, make this journey of ours easy for us, and fold up its distance. O Allah, You are the Companion in the journey and the Protector of our family. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the hardship of this journey, any sight which brings sorrow, and a harmful return in [our] wealth, family and children.” (Muslim)

It is also established to say the takbir (Allahu akbar) often, and to supplicate as much as you reasonably can as the supplication of a traveler is accepted. (Abu Dawud) For example, you could ask Allah to facilitate your purification and prayers, and not to reject even a single supplication on your journey. More often than not, reciting various remembrances (adhkar) and supplications in such a manner sets the tone for the remainder of the journey. Be the believer who thanks Allah sincerely for the blessings of facilitated travel.

Traveling in a Group and Appointing a Leader

One of the sunnas of travel is to choose righteous companions. The Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, cautioned against lone travel by saying, “If people knew what I know about the harms of being alone, no rider would travel alone through the night.” (Bukhari) Unsurprisingly, the point is about the harms of loneliness in travel, and issues of riding or otherwise, and doing so during the night, are secondary. What the scholars explain is that among the reasons for the interdiction of being alone is that you don’t have anybody to assist you in your affairs, particularly in the case of great harm or injury. Similarly, you cannot fulfill your religious duties fully, such as prayer in congregation, for example. Further, it is known that the devils come out at night, spreading their harm and whispers so it’s best to be with others in order to ward off such matters with greater strength. It’s a lot easier to fall into sin when nobody else is looking.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, also said, “If three people head out on a journey, let them appoint one of them as a leader.” (Abu Dawud) There is great, prophetic wisdom in this because travel is “a piece of torment,” namely, emotionally, psychologically and physically draining, and thus, it is far easier to fall into disagreement with others, get upset with people and to generally fall short in upholding noble character. When there is a chosen leader, ideally the person who is most senior in religiosity and most experienced in travel, then the others are bound to follow his decisions in matters related to travel. When that happens, there is less likely to be discord, or fitna, and any form of argumentation between the traveling companions.

Gracious character entails looking out for your fellow travelers, sharing with them what you have, spending on them – both financially and emotionally, preferring them to yourself, consulting with them, encouraging them to the good, smiling at them, assisting them, checking in on them once in a while, and supplicating for them.

Knowledge of Acts of Religious Devotion

It is important to recognize that different life circumstances have different rulings, and that “the strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer.” (Muslim) Strong believers put Allah first, learn what He has commanded and then strive to implement those Commands, and by extension, Prohibitions, as best they can wherever they find themselves. Although it’s not a condition to know all the details, the general rulings which pertain to your situation should be known as they fall under that which is personally obligatory knowledge or ‘ilm al-hal.

Accordingly, you should make it a point to ensure that you know well the rulings relating to the acts of religious devotion which are altered by travel. The most significant of these, because of its regularity, is the prayer. The basis is that the four cycle (rak‘a) obligatory prayer is shortened to two cycles (rak‘as), and the sunset prayer (maghrib) is left as it is. However, you don’t begin shortening until you have left the city limits, or if not designated, the customarily accepted boundaries of a particular town or city. In the same way, you are only legally considered to be a traveler (musafir) when you are staying somewhere for less than fifteen complete days. If you are staying longer, you’d pray as a resident prays, without shortening any prayers.

During the journey, you would pray the emphasized sunna prayers if you aren’t in an active state of travel. Active travel means that you are hurrying to get to a boarding gate, for example, or are doing something which requires your full attention. In our times, the matter of praying in travel is very much facilitated as you can pray voluntary prayers (except the sunna of fajr) in your seat, in the direction of travel, in almost any mode of transport. In doing so, you would pray with head movements, keeping your head upright for the standing position (qiyam), bending slightly for the bowing (ruku‘) and slightly more for the prostration (sujud). Praying in this manner on modes of transport is an established sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

As for fasting in Ramadan, it is superior to fast unless it will cause you hardship or difficulty. If you choose not to fast, then you must ensure that you have left your city limits by the entrance of dawn (fajr). In the case that you’re still in your hometown at this time, you’d need to fast that day.

Returning with Adab

The general sunna was to return home after the need had been fulfilled, and not to remain in a state of journeying and travel when there was no need for it. Abu Huraira, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said as part of a longer tradition (hadith), “So, when one of you fulfills his need, let him return to his family.” (Bukhari) Similarly, he, Allah bless him and give him peace, disliked for somebody to return home in the middle of the night lest he surprise his family in a manner which will cause him harm. Rather, his practice was to return in the morning or afternoon. (Bukhari) Of course, when you have no choice, or when you inform your family of your precise return, then there is no issue. Note that to return after having performed the ritual bath (ghusl) is also meritorious.

Another sunna was to recite the aforementioned supplication [of setting out] on return, with the additional phrase, “Returning, repenting, worshiping and praising our Lord.” Other traditions explain that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, would repeat this just before and until entering Madina, indicating the merit of expressing one’s gratitude for the blessing of returning home safely. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, would then proceed to pray two cycles (rak‘as) at the mosque before heading home. (Bukhari) This can be done at any mosque in your city, if reasonably possible without inconvenience and hardship. Otherwise, you can pray it at home in your designated prayer space (musalla) or anywhere else. Why? So that you begin and end your journey with worship and prayer; and secondarily, use it as an indication of a new point of departure in your spiritual life, seeking Allah at the very beginning and every point thereafter.

Great Journeys

Some of the scholars explain that there are some journeys which are truly worth making. From among them, the sacred pilgrimage for either Hajj or ‘umra. The former, especially, is an act of great virtue by which, according to tradition, a person is able to return “like the day his mother gave birth to him,” (Bukhari) namely, cleansed of the lowliness of sin and heedlessness.

In the same vein, great journeys include traveling to redress wrongs, to repay debts, to seek sacred knowledge which cannot otherwise be reasonably attained, to seek safety and protection from oppression and strife, to free oneself from the shackles of habit and sin, to take a break from the rigors of worship and to follow the Divine Command: “Travel throughout the land and see how He originated the creation, then Allah will bring it into being one more time. Surely Allah is Most Capable of everything.” (Sura al-‘Ankabut 29:20)

As for the tradition (hadith) of not journeying to other than the three sacred mosques (Bukhari), this means that you should not travel to pray in other than these mosques in light of their immense, established virtue. It does not mean that you shouldn’t travel at all except to travel to one of these mosques. This is what many scholars have explicitly explained, such as Munawi, Ghazali, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Suyuti and others.

Finally, and just as we began, the greatest journey of all is the journey of your soul into eternity. As each moment passes, we’re all a single moment closer to leaving this worldly life. It is there, in the hereafter, that actions will take forms and provisions from this life will be required. Let each of us look well to their own lives and how much it corresponds to what Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, called us to. “Whoever finds great good, let him thank Allah. And whoever finds other than that, let him blame none other than himself.” (Muslim) A complete change of direction takes a single moment of sincere repentance, and in that moment, all sin and its traces can be completely wiped away. We ask Allah Most High to bless us with journeys He is eternally pleased with.

And Allah alone gives success.


 

The Patience of Umm Ayyub

Umm Ayyub was an ordinary lady with extraordinary patience and strength.

She was a very ordinary women, so ordinary that you wouldn’t notice her. She was so ordinary that I still don’t know her name to this very day.

I don’t remember where I first met her, or when I met her. In fact, I don’t  think I ever actually met her. Rather, I’d see her, floating around in the background at various masjid and community organization events across the city.

She always wore the exact same clothes, a dark blue hijab and a white square hijab, folded over her head and secured under her chin. She said very little. In the beginning I thought that she didn’t speak English well, but later I found out that her English was quite good, despite the fact that she had recently immigrated from the Middle East with her husband and their two little girls.

Her husband was a very nice man, always helping others and driving their daughters to Qur’an classes at the masjid. From what it seemed, they were a stable and happy family.

All this time, I didn’t really take note of her. I didn’t even know she was pregnant with her third child, a boy, until someone from the community told me that she had gone to the hospital to deliver, only for the medical staff to inform her that his heart was no longer beating.

She gave birth to a stillborn baby, and named him Ayyub, after the patient Prophet, peace be upon him. The janazah prayer was held in the masjid and then the tiny coffin was taken to be buried.

Patience In Losing A Child

It can’t be easy to lose a child at any stage, much less through a stillbirth. The Umm Ayyub must have felt extremely sad, but she bore it all with extraordinary patience. Some sisters who visited her said that she was up and taking care of her family as normal. The words “Alhamdulillah” were always on her lips. After such a difficult situation, doing routine things takes enormous courage and strength, and she must have had a lot of it.

I didn’t think too much about her situation, besides sympathizing with her difficulties. Later, as I grew older and wiser, I learned more about the enormous rank granted to mothers whose children have died.

In a Hadith related in Sahih Tirmidhi the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said:

“When someone’s child dies, Allah Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken the life of the child of My slave?’ They say yes. Allah then asks them, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They say yes. Thereupon He asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ The Angels say, ‘He praised you and said, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return)’ At that Allah replies, ‘Build a home for my slave in Jannah and call it ‘Bayt al-Hamd’ (The Home of Praise).’”

Khalid al-‘Absi said, “A son of mine died and I felt intense grief over his loss. I said, ‘Abu Hurayra, have you heard anything from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, to cheer us regarding our dead?’ He replied, ‘I heard the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, say, “Your children are roaming freely in the Garden.” (Bukhari)

If there was one thing I learned from this experience, it was that sometimes the most amazing people are not the ones that we look up to most. Sometimes, they are the most ordinary people that we don’t notice.


Balancing Family and Seeking Knowledge – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil, a student of knowledge, teacher and mother, offers valuable advice to women who wish to pursue studies in sacred knowledge.

I am a mother of two children under 3 and a half years, and everyday is a juggling bonanza of love and service.

There are my physical acts of service for my daughters; bathing them, cooking, feeding them, tidying up, helping use the potty, driving them to swimming class, preschool, playdates and parks.

There are my emotional acts of service; playing with them, helping them feel safe and unconditionally loved, accepting their big feelings, helping them with conflict resolution, and setting empathetic limits.

There are my mental acts of service; reading to them, teaching them phonics, teaching them numbers, and describing different patterns in the world.

Most importantly, there are my spiritual acts of service; connecting their hearts with Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, through telling them stories, bringing them to gatherings of Divine remembrance, and being their spiritual role model, even – or especially – when I make mistakes, apologise and make amends.

Balancing Family Duties

On good nights, both of my daughters sleep well – or as well as they can, given their tender ages. On bad nights, at least one or both of them wake every 1-2 hours, in varying states of distress. Allah has gifted me with two living tahajjud alarms, alhamdulilah.

In the precious pockets of free time that I have between all of this, I revise my Arabic, my Shafi’i fiqh, write, and counsel. I do so little now, compared to my days as a full-time student of knowledge, years ago. I do so little, and yet, I strive to do so daily, and this hadith comforts me:

Narrated by Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, who said:

“Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.’”[Bukhari]

Despite my scarcity of free time – and perhaps, because of it – every day with my daughters helps me refine my character in ways nothing else can. My capacity for patience, gratitude, forgiveness, contentment and wonder has been pushed to new heights. They can either break me, or make me grow. Truthfully, it has been a potent combination of both. My love and commitment to raising them peacefully has taught me to undo old and painful triggers. I am calmer because of them.

While I raise my daughters, through the long days and the nights, I make dua for their safety, guidance and well-being. The world we live in today is unkind to women. Women and women’s work are undervalued. The sacred covenant of marriage is no longer a refuge for too many women around the world. Toxic masculinity has harmed so many levels of the ummah. Hurt people hurt people, and there is so much pain in our world.

Why We Need Female Scholars

Because of the troubled times we are in, more than ever, we need to hear the voices of women in Islamic scholarship. We need more women trained in traditional Islamic sciences. We need more women whose hearts are alight with love for Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, so wherever they are, in whatever role they find themselves in, they will be means of God-centred connection, compassion, and guidance. We can speak of Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ourselves, and follow in the luminous footsteps of our blessed foremothers. We have a rich history of female scholarship, and it is up to us to learn more about our heritage, and teach our sons and daughters.

If you are a young female student of knowledge, my advice to you is this: make the use of your free time. Devote yourself to your study of sacred knowledge, and study as much as you can, as deeply as you can. Know that when you get married and have children, everything will change. In the early years of motherhood, your needs will come last, and this will chafe your nafs, but it will be good for your soul. You will grow alongside your children. Everything you have studied will manifest in how you are with your household. You cannot speak of patience and forgiveness if you do not embody it, and you will get better at it, one mistake at a time. Choose love and forgiveness, especially when it is difficult. And one unimaginable day, your children will peel away from you, and you will suddenly have long, luxurious, uninterrupted hours to yourself, to study and to teach. And yet, your heart will be bruised from longing for your children. This is the nature of the dunya – it is always imperfect. There is always something missing. This is not our final home.

For Ladies Without Families

And if, dear sister, Allah does not write marriage or children for you, know that you are still beloved to Him. Being on the path of sacred knowledge and teaching it will become your mother’s milk, and your path of nourishing those around you, just as it was for our Mother ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her. There will always be a need for you, and your time can be spent mentoring families who need your wisdom and connection to Allah. It will never be same as having a husband or a children of your own, so trust that Allah will recompense you for your sacrifice and patience.

May Allah grant tawfiq to all of those on the path of study, and teaching. May He facilitate the days and nights of all mothers, especially those who are juggling their studies and teaching of the deen. May He help manifest the fruits of our sacrifice through the gift of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who love Allah and His Prophet and may we all be reunited in Jannahtul Firdous.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.


The Reality of Gratitude – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani helps us understand the reality of gratitude.

All Gratitude is for Allah

As Muslims, our perspective on gratitude is very different from the commonly accepted definition. We practice gratitude for every situation we come across, not just the ones that we enjoy. This has a radically transformation effect on our mental state, spiritual state, and standing with Allah. This is the reality of gratitude.

The word for gratitude in Arabic is shukr. It’s essential meaning comes from the word “increase,” which gives it the meaning of a response to something with increase. A shakira was a type of bush that would grow in very dry environments, and would produce a lot of vegetation despite the difficult circumstances. Camels and other animals were also referred to with that word, because of their ability to give much benefit despite the little they ate and drank.

Outwardly, gratitude is a spiritual act. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever is not grateful to people, is not grateful to Allah.” This teaches us that even our gratitude to others is a means of showing our gratitude to Allah, since ultimately all gratitude is for Allah.

Imam Ahmad Zarruq defined gratitude as, “the heart’s rejoicing at the Bestower of blessings, not merely the blessings. This is manifest on one’s limbs, such that one’s tongue actively praises Allah, and one’s limbs express good works and leave contraventions.”

This is why sometimes blessings can be a more difficult test than sadness. When in a difficult situation, it’s easy to turn to Allah with sincerity. However, in times of ease, people tend to forget Allah.

For Every Situation, A Sunna

Allah says, “If you are grateful for my blessings, I will grant you increase.” (Surah Ibrahim 14.7) There are two levels of gratitude; gratitude, and true gratitude. Gratitude is to respond to blessings with joy and thankfulness to Allah. But true gratitude is to see all situations, good or bad, as coming from Allah.

The bridge to love to Allah is true gratitude. Allah says, “Few of my servants are truly grateful.” When Imam Junayd was asked about it the reality of gratitude, he said, “To do your utmost in the presence of your Lord.” Gratitude is not just to say “alhamdulillah,” but to use the blessing well. He also said, “Gratitude is to not disobey Allah with what He has given you.” Since Allah has given us all our facilities, true gratitude entails doing our best to never disobey Allah.

About the Series

“If you are grateful, We shall surely grant you increase,” Allah promises in the Qur’an. “Should I not be a truly grateful servant?” said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In this seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore Radical Gratitude: How Thankfulness Transforms Our Life and Religion.


Food Consumption – A Reader

This reader gathers various guidelines on food consumption, from the etiquette of eating, to what is considered impermissible to eat.

Adab of Eating and Feeding Othersfood consumption

Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food

Should We Cover Food?

Is It Permissible to Do Dhikr and Then Blow on Food for Barakah?

Day 1: Food – 30 Deeds 30 Days 

How to Dispose of Leftover Food

True Gratitude for Food – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Food And Worship -The Enormous Correlation

When the Call to Prayer is Given and Food is on the Table What Should I Do?

08 – Food Etiquette – SeekersHub Podcast

Avoiding the Impermissible

A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Products and Cosmetics

Is It Permissible to Blow on Food to Cool it Down?

Is It Permissible to Eat Vegetarian Food Prepared by Non-muslims? 

Can I Give Impermissible Food to Non-Muslims?

Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Issues?

Are Dishes in Which Pork and Other Haram Food was Eaten Made Pure by Washing?

What Is the Ruling Regarding Accidentally Consuming Haram Food?

Is Unethical Food Permissible to Eat?

Adab 07: The Proprieties of Earning a Living

Ustadh Tabraze Azam dives deep into the proprieties of earning a lawful income, its virtues, and its rewards in this life and in the life to come.

The trustworthy, honest trader will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs [on the Day of Judgement], said the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

When we live up to the ideals and deep, moral standards of the religion, we can be hopeful of something tremendous from Allah in the hereafter. After all, this life is merely a means to the next, and not an end-goal in and of itself. Earning a livelihood is something that most of us can probably relate to, but our fast-paced lives, however, can sometimes hinder our ability to simply pause for a moment and review our trajectory into eternity. Seldom is a moment of contemplation void of any lasting benefit when it is for Allah.

As we try to reconnect with our faith and live it more faithfully, with propriety, we should recall the words of Allah in which He informs us that He “made the day for livelihood.” (Sura al Naba’ 78:11) Thus, it is Allah’s favor upon us by which we are blessed with days in which we can fulfill the purpose of that time. A believer is a “son of his moment,” namely, somebody concerned with being in the right places at the right times, and doing what will be most pleasing to Allah therein. With gratitude, we can come to appreciate the most menial of tasks, and with gratitude, Allah increases us in ways we couldn’t otherwise imagine.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to some of the proper manners to be upheld in seeking a living for Allah.

Righteous Intentions (Niyya Saliha)

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us that a believer’s intention is better than his action or work itself (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman). Accordingly, getting our intentions right will ensure that we receive a splendid, unspeakable reward from Allah Most High even if we’re not prosperous, even if we don’t fulfil our hopes and dreams and even if it simply wasn’t meant to be. This is a huge mercy.

What, then, should we intend? Above all, to seek the pleasure of Allah Most High as this is the point of life itself. When you have such a noble intention, the most mundane of tasks can transform into something sacred. But given the difficulty of maintaining such a lofty state, the scholars recommend having secondary intentions which act as the pathways to the central intention.

Thus, intend to:

    1. 1) abstain from begging,

 

    1. 2) abstain from coveting what others have,

 

    1. 3) become financially strong and independent,

 

    1. 4) provide for your dependants,

 

    1. 5) uphold the values and ethics of the Sacred Law of integrity, commanding the good and otherwise,

 

    1. 6) fulfil a personal and a communal obligation (fard ‘ayn/kifaya),

 

    1. 7) make regular charitable donations,

 

    8) be of service to Allah’s creation, and similarly any other intention that comes to mind of virtuous matters.

Reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah Most High

Our Master ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you relied upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would give you sustenance just as the birds are given sustenance: they leave hungry in the morning, and return satiated in the evening.” (Tirmidhi) He, Allah bless him and give him peace, also told the Bedouin man who asked about the manner of true reliance (tawakkul) to “tie the camel, and then rely upon Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

Reliance, as defined by Jurjani in his Ta‘rifat, is confidence and contentment with what is Allah’s, and despair with respect to what is in the hands of people. Namely, realising that Allah alone is the sole doer, and consequently, that it is not people who will prevent your livelihood from reaching you as they are intrinsically incapable and needy. Rather, He is the Sufficer (al-Wakil), and He alone gives and constricts as He wills. So what’s the point of taking the means? Because the lawgiver commanded it.

True reliance upon Allah isn’t negated by taking the means as the two matters are distinct. Reliance upon Allah is a state of the heart whereas taking the means (asbab) is an action of the limbs. When the two are conjoined, the fullest and truest meaning of reliance is realised. And this is why Imam Birgivi wrote, “Taking the outward means which normally lead to the outcomes desired doesn’t negate reliance at all, and this is why earning a living is an obligation.” (Al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya)

Practizing a Lawful and Dignified Trade

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us, “No one eats any food better than the one who eats from what he earns by work of his own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Dawud, peace be upon him, used to eat from what he earned by the work of his own hands.” (Bukhari) Note that this is a metaphor for earning a living and not that the best line of work is carpentry, baking or any other work in which the hands are directly used! Moreover, the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, wasn’t in need of such work and wealth as he was the Caliph of the entire earth at the time. However, the tradition (hadith) informs us of the nobility of the rank of working and his desire to do what was superior and more pleasing to Allah Most High.

When choosing a line of work, look for the kind of opportunities which you are deeply interested in, and also allow you to fulfill your potential, yet at the same time, don’t infringe upon any of your religious obligations. Primarily, this latter point entails that your very line of work needs to be lawful. Engaging in, encouraging or abetting sin is destructive to your hereafter. Keep such lines of work at a healthy distance so that you don’t have to explain yourself, or worse, bear the consequences, later. If you’re unsure regarding the legality or otherwise of your work, you should consult a reliable scholar before making any serious decisions.

Avoiding the Unlawful (Haram) and Offensive (Makruh)

The basis in transactions is the verse of the Qur’an, “You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth but trade by mutual consent.” (Sura al Nisa’ 4:29) The masterful Ottoman Qur’anic exegete, Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, clarified that “wrongfully” means anything that is contrary to the Sacred Law, whether that is by way of theft, misappropriation, deception, gambling, engaging in usurious dealings, or anything else that the Sacred Law interdicted.

Our religion encourages us to engage in trade, but it is imperative that we avoid the kind of unethical behavior that many, unfortunately, fall into, let alone sin. The recognition that lack of clarity in transactions leads to unnecessary disputes and argumentation, for example, should move us to do something about it. Appreciate that things sometimes go wrong so be clear with one another about the terms of your agreement so that you don’t lose each other in mere worldliness. The way out, then, is to be grounded in sufficient law, or fiqh, which will ensure that you don’t fall into the religiously blameworthy or unlawful altogether.

As part of a longer tradition, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be resentfully envious of one another, do not artificially inflate prices against one another, do not loathe one another, do not give a cold shoulder to one another, do not undercut one another in business transactions, but be, servants of Allah, brothers.” (Muslim)

Learning A Trade Well (Itqan) and Doing A Good Job (Ihsan)

Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We granted David a great privilege from Us, commanding: ‘O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well.’ We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: ‘Make full-length armor, perfectly balancing the links. And work righteousness O family of David! Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do.’” (Sura Saba 34:10-11) Something we can take away from this latter verse is the Divine injunction to the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, to perfect his trade and not simply to produce something that others couldn’t.

Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, continually guiding us to what Allah loves, is reported to have once stated, “Allah is pleased when any of you does some action and perfects it.” (Tabarani) One of the hallmarks of believers is that they work, not only to produce, but to beautify. The trait of excellence, or ihsan, is deeply rooted in tradition and a foundational principle of the prophetic way. Practically, if you’re doing something, do it well. Don’t sell yourself short, and be an example to others in the trade, particularly when you are noticeably religious in societies where Islam is something unfamiliar.

Exhibiting Mercy (Rahma) and Other Praiseworthy Traits in Dealings

Whether you run your own business or work for another, you should always try to keep your heart in the right place, and at the same time, exhibit what you can of lofty, prophetic character traits. Taking it easy with people, particularly with those of lesser means, is a sure way of attaining the great good foretold by the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous and easy-going when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” (Bukhari)

Use the opportunity of work to remember your Lord and reset your intentions. Imam Sha‘rani related that his teacher and guide, ‘Ali al-Khawass, used to supplicate to Allah upon opening his store every morning, “O Lord, make this a means of benefiting your creation.”

Likewise, there is great virtue in remembering Allah in the marketplaces or in places of general heedlessness. Make it a point to say the takbir (Allahu akbar), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah), tahlil (La ilaha illa Llah) and tasbih (Subhana Llah) at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon in seeking the closeness of Allah Most High. If you have more motivation, you can recite the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “There is no god but Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He gives death. He is alive and does not die. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.” (Tirmidhi)

Giving from What You Love: Charity (Sadaqa) and the Afterlife

Allah Most High says, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:92) Further, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that charity is a “proof.” (Muslim) A proof of what? Faith. When you give, you are showing your deep certitude and faith in Allah Most High, in the truth of the prophetic message, in the veracity of the hereafter and everything that entails.

The best of giving is when it is selfless, sincerely for Allah and swiftly forgotten. Consistent donations, even if only slight, are superior to sporadic payments, even if large. Charity wards off calamities, wipes out sins, cleanses and purifies wealth and draws you nearer to your Ever-Merciful Lord.

Finally, it behooves us to recognize that the reality of earning a living is that it is Allah Most High who is the Provider (al-Razzaq). The wage which you earn is merely a means which He has created, and, at the end of the day, He is the one who creates sustenance (rizq) through it. So although wealth may sometimes come and go, know that it doesn’t intrinsically aid one.

The ultimate objective is to be ever-cognizant of the Divine, and to travel toward Him with a deep desire to live an ethical, pleasing life: the kind of life the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) directed us towards. “Say, O Prophet, ‘If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Sura Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

And Allah alone gives success.


Tasawwuf and Human Potentiality

Ustadh Salman Younas discusses the concept of tasawwuf, its place in the Islamic sciences, and its role in growing human potential.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when a Muslim hears the word tasawwuf? Often, a person’s thoughts are directed to the institution of the spiritual path (tariqa) and the figure of a spiritual guide (murshid) to whom allegiance is pledged by an aspiring spiritual novice. Other times, this word evokes exotic and mysterious imagery: saints performing miracles; masses congregated around graves; dervishes engaged in ecstatic sessions of spiritual audition.

In the minds of many, these constitute essential elements and practices in the world of tasawwuf, which some embrace as valid expressions of the Islamic faith, while others view it in less favorable terms. This conflation of tasawwuf with one or another of its institutional or cultural expressions is not particularly surprising, but the reality of tasawwuf is far greater and much more profound than any of this.

Focusing on these aspects tends to distract people from a science whose ultimate aim and vision is not merely something Muslims should recognize and embrace, but one they would readily accept regardless of their particular attitudes towards the institutional, religious, and cultural aspects mentioned above. This vision is one centered around identifying and actualizing human potential in light of the worldview of tawhid, the most fundamental principle of Islamic thought.

Between the Animalistic and Angelic

Junayd al-Baghdadi (d. 298/910) defined tasawwuf as “a battle in which there is no peace.” The battle that all humans face stems from their essential nature: dirt and dust combined with a heavenly spirit. The Qur’an describes this basic human composition in the following verse:

Who gave everything its perfect form. He first created man from clay then made his descendants from an extract of insignificant fluid. Then He fashioned him, and He breathed into him of His spirit (ruh). He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts; how seldom you are grateful. (Sura al Sajda 32:7-9)

The human being is a paradox. He is insignificant and lowly when viewed from the perspective of the basic materials from which he is created, such as dirt, dust, and sperm. These materials do not reflect life. They are dark and inanimate. The spirit, on the other hand, is life endowing. It is lofty and angelic as seen in its ascription to God in the Qur’an: “Say, ‘The spirit is of the command of my Lord.’” (Sura al Isra 17:85)

For this reason, Imam al-Ghazali describes the human self (nafs) as a divine matter (min al-umur al-ilahiya) that gathers within itself indescribable mysteries and secrets regarding God. In other words, the human self serves as the vehicle through which one can know the divine on an experiential level, a level above and beyond mere acknowledgment with the lips or abstract ideas in the mind: “We shall show them our signs on the horizons and in their selves.” (Sura al Fussilat 41:53)

Human beings are constantly engaged in this struggle to see if the self assumes the characteristics of the spirit – heavenly, luminescent, and connected to God – or that of dead earth. The spirit pulls man upwards towards light; his earthly body pulls him downwards towards darkness. When the spirit dominates through reflection, submission, and good works, a person ascends to the level of angels; otherwise, he is worse than animals: “They are like cattle; nay, rather they are further astray.” (Sura al A‘raf 7:179)

The Higher Spiritual Stations

In discussing the positive transformation of the self and its spiritual ascent, the scholars of tasawwuf often refer to ‘stations’ or ‘states of being’. These terms are often incorrectly associated with notions of saintly hierarchies or miraculous gifts, but they actually refer to something more profound: the condition of the heart as a result of righteous action, acquiring praiseworthy character traits, and shunning that which is displeasing to God. The move from actions to states is vividly illustrated in the following hadith qudsi:

My slave approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave keeps drawing nearer to Me with voluntary works until I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he seizes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks me, I will surely give to him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely protect him. (Bukhari)

The first part of this tradition concerns actions. The obligatory duties mentioned in this tradition are to be understood as including the actions of the mind, limbs, and the heart. These correspond respectively to sound belief, worship, and keeping away from inner diseases of the heart, such as envy, hatred, rancor, and the like. The supererogatory extends beyond this and entails going above and beyond base requirements in order to further nourish and purify the self. Fulfilling that which is obligatory and supererogatory results in the acquisition of a particular state of being where the will of the servant aligns with the will of God in a manner where the servant begins to see and interact with the world around him through the lens of pure tawhid.

The spiritual stations that the great Sufi scholars identify on this transformative journey have little or nothing to with miracles in the popular sense. In al-Risala, Imam al-Qushayri dedicates the final third of his text to detailing these spiritual stations: repentance (tawba), God consciousness (taqwa), renunciation (zuhd), silence (samt), fear (khawf), hope (raja’), contentment (qanaʿa), trust in God (tawakkul), gratitude (shukr), patience (sabr), and sincerity (ikhlas), among several others.

These stations do not merely manifest as the righteous actions of the limbs, though such actions are necessary for their emergence and continued presence, but they pertain to one’s innermost being and the heart’s becoming firmly established with a particular quality. A person who fully actualizes the station of repentance, for example, never fails to manifest it in mind, body, and heart at every moment it is required.

The highest degree of each of these stations returns to beholding God (mushahada) with the heart. In Ihya Ulum al-Din, Imam al-Ghazali routinely explains these praiseworthy traits by listing their various stages and degrees. To give an example, the lowest degree of tawhid is to declare with the tongue and heart that there is only one God. This is the tawhid that is required of anyone to be deemed a Muslim. It is the tawhid that we comprehend with our intellects and whose details we study in creedal texts. Then there is the highest stage of tawhid where only God is witnessed and nothing besides Him.

This level of tawhid escapes description, but the words of Imam al-Junayd indicate its reality: “It is a reality in which all outward traces (rusum) disappear and all knowledge passes away, while God Most High remains as He always has been.” (Al-Qushayri, al-Risala) Meanwhile, Abu Saʿid al-Kharraz said that tawhid is that “any awareness of mundane things vanishes from the heart and one is left alone with God.” (Ibid.)

Indeed, the reality of mushahada is affirmed in the primary texts and by leading traditional scholarly authorities. This concept finds its basis in the saying of Prophet (blessings upon him), “Ihsan is to worship God as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him, know that He sees you.” (Bukhari) Explaining this, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali states:

Some of the Salaf said that whosoever acts for God while witnessing Him (mushahada) is a gnostic (ʿarif), and whosoever does so while being aware that God is witnessing him is a sincere individual (mukhlis).

These are two stations. The first is the station of vigilance (muraqaba). It is for the servant to bring to mind God’s closeness to him and His knowledge of him. So, he imagines himself between the hands of God, and, therefore, is aware of Him in his movements and state of rest, and in private and public. This is the station of the sincere muraqib, and it is the lowest station of ihsan.

The second station is the servant witnessing this with his heart and so he is akin to someone who sees and beholds God. This is the highest station of ihsan, and it is the station of those who possess knowledge of God directly and experientially (ʿarifin). (Fath al-Bari)

It is worth pondering over the words of Ibn Rajab and realizing what he is stating. The absolute lowest station of ihsan is to have a constant awareness that God is witnessing one. Imagine then the highest station of ihsan. One is reminded of the words of Imam al-Junayd regarding those who have arrived at the utmost realization of tawhid: “They have arrived at bewilderment.” (Al-Qushayri, al-Risala)

The Path of the Prophet

This station of mushahada, or perpetually beholding the Divine, was the state of the Prophet (blessings upon him) who embodied it in its purest, loftiest, and most perfected form. In a report related by ʿA’isha, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was said to have remembered God in all of his moments. (Bukhari, Muslim) This ‘remembrance’ was not the typical verbal utterances often associated with the term dhikr for the moments of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, covered the spectrum of everyday human action, such as eating, sleeping, worship, spending time with his family, speaking to his companions, and so forth. Rather, his remembrance of God related to his heart and soul being connected to God and constantly beholding Him.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was therefore never engaged in a mundane action. His moments were never disconnected from God. Every moment of his manifested the highest form of repentance, God consciousness, renunciation, contentment, trust in God, gratitude, patience, sincerity, divine oneness, etc. His self and inner nature was pure spirit. Qadi Iyad describes this in al-Shifa’:

Their outward form, bodies, and structure are characterized by the qualities of men as far as non-essential matters are concerned, such as illnesses, death, and passing away, and human traits. However, their spirits and inward parts have the highest possible human qualities, associated with the Highest Assembly, which are similar to angelic attributes, free of any possibility of alteration or evil. Generally speaking, the incapacity and weakness connected with being human cannot be associated with them… Thus, they have the aspect of men as far as their bodies and outward parts are concerned, and that of angels in respect to their spirits and inward parts.

The way of tasawwuf involves following the Prophet (blessings upon him) in all of his outward actions and inward states. Though non-prophetic figures can never attain the rank of a prophet, they do possess the ability to ascend to a higher, more angelic plane where the whisperings of the lower-self abandons one and thoughts about anything else but God never enter the heart: “As for those elect adherents of the Prophet’s sunna, blessings and peace be upon him, who kept every breath they made with God and who protected their hearts from the onslaughts of forgetfulness, they were distinguished by the name ‘Sufism.’” (Al-Qushayri, al-Risala)

The Modern World

If Islam is orienting the mind, body, and soul towards a single center that constitutes the truly real and the cause of all things, the modern world is increasingly characterized by the opposite. It lacks a single center, a single purpose, and a single orientation. This does not mean that there is no goal, orientation, or meaning as people do not exist in a complete vacuum, but that the object of ‘worship’ in modernity is a plethora of mini-‘gods’ that are either impossible to subordinate to a supreme God or they are subordinated to one that is the product of ideologies. William Chittick defines some of these modern objects of worship:

To mention some of the more important ones would be to list the defining myths and ideologies of our times – freedom, equality, evolution, progress, science, medicine, nationalism, socialism, democracy, Marxism. (Science of the Cosmos)

Modern thought is, therefore, antithetical to tawhid, the major pillar of Islamic thought that defines the way things really are. In place of the unity, coherence, balance, and order established by tawhid, the result of the modern world’s stepping away from this transcendent principle is incomprehension, chaos, disorder, and disintegration on an individual, social, and cosmic level. Tawhid demands that humans see the world as interrelated and interconnected, all arising from, subsisting through, and returning to God.

Even an act as fundamental as the daily prayer involves a connection not simply between God and humans, but between humans and the entire created order who together turn their focus to the One: “Do you not see that all those who are in the heavens and earth praise God, as do the birds with wings outstretched? Each knows its own way of prayer and glorification.” (http://tanzil.net/#24:41) In contrast, the modern world increasingly sees the world around it as disconnected and lacking any unifying principle or source in the Real, which results in universal disharmony.

The importance of tasawwuf in the modern world cannot be understated. Muslims may recognize God through the mind or express their submission through particular actions, but the fundamental reorientation that humans require is one that relates to their hearts and actualizing the spirit that God has bestowed them with through adherence to His commands. The core of tasawwuf returns to tawhid, which is not merely creedal points rationalized in the mind or movements of the limbs, but a state of being that follows emerges from these that fundamentally alters the manner in which one understands and interacts with the divine, oneself, and the cosmic realm. In other words, tawhid is not something one thinks or writes about but a reality that is experienced and lived.

As Abu al-Tayyib al-Maraghi said, “The intellect demonstrates and gnosis witnesses and experiences [God] directly.” (Al-Qushayri, al-Risala) It is only through attaining the high stations aspired to in the path of tasawwuf that people can harmonize their minds, actions, and being with God and grasp the true nature of things around them by viewing them through the prism of their transcendent source. This brings about good in both the worldly and next-worldly contexts.

While discussions on tasawwuf often revolve around peripheral points in popular discourse, such as particular Sufi practices, Muslims should not lose sight of the essential aims of this science and its grounding in a deeply profound understanding of Islam’s fundamental pillar of God’s oneness that serves to ameliorate and make wholesome the condition of the individual, society, and the entire cosmic order. People should recognize that history and the scholarly tradition attests to individuals having attained these high levels of realization, figures such as Sari al-Saqati, Imam al-Junayd, Abu Sulayman al-Darani, Imam al-Qushayri, Imam al-Ghazali, Ibn Ata’illah, and numerous others who strived to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet blessings and peace be upon him.

Then, at the very least, one may reflect on where one stands in relation to these figures in terms of understanding, recognizing, and submitting to God. Tasawwuf is ultimately about God, but it also lays out a vision of limitless human potential. Every person should be cognizant of this if only to raise their hands to the sky in order to seek forgiveness from God for not truly realizing who He is and for not worshiping Him in the manner He truly deserves.


 

Adab 06: The Adab of the Mosque Pt II

Ustadh Tabraze Azam reminds is of the honor Allah has bestowed upon the mosque as a place of worship and the importance of right conduct in it.

Allah Most High says:

Light upon light! Allah guides whoever He wills to His light. And Allah sets forth parables for humanity. For Allah has perfect knowledge of all things. That light shines through houses of worship which Allah has ordered to be raised, and where His Name is mentioned. He is glorified there morning and evening. (Sura al Nur 24:35-36)

Proper manners take time to inculcate. But the more sacred the space or setting, the greater the emphasis is in maintaining a high bar. Each time we display something of a higher level of religion, and thank Allah for it, He increases us out of His generosity. Each time we apply ourselves to a deeper level of excellence, it only shows Allah Most High that we truly care and that His religion is certainly something very dear to us.

“And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.” (Sura al Hajj 22:32) A heart stationed between regular gratitude for Allah’s blessings and a look to the eternal life is the kind of heart that is moved to work righteous deeds, even if only seemingly slight.

With this in mind, let us now turn to the remainder of the proper manners (adab) and sunnas relating to mosques, the houses of Allah Most High.

Sanctity: Physical and Spiritual

One matter which must be remembered at all times is that the mosque has a sanctity (hurma). Upholding this entails that we keep it not only physically clean, which is obvious, but spiritually clean too, namely, from distractions and matters which disturb the stillness and serenity therein. Accordingly, young children who don’t understand the concept of what a mosque or prayer is should be left at home. If there is a need for them to be present, they should be kept beside you so that they can be reminded to remain quiet.

Similarly, you should take a moment to ensure that your phone is muted or turned off as you enter the mosque. It is unbecoming to enter into a sacred space of worshipers and then disturb them with, sometimes, unfortunate ringtones. This is much more emphatic when it occurs during the prayer, so you should use slight movements to quiet down the phone if it happens.

If the phone is away from you, you may need to break the prayer lest it cause further annoyance to the other praying persons. Needless to say, the same would apply to an inconsolable child. Infringing upon the rights of others is a serious matter.

Public Lessons, Sermons, and Recitation

Generally, recitation is something which is a private matter. There is, however, benefit in louder recitation which has a more powerful effect on the heart, mind and soul as more limbs take part in the process. If you would like to recite aloud, you should choose an appropriate place to sit, away from those who are praying and others who may be engaged in worship. The basis is that the mosque is for private devotion so you should be careful that your recitation doesn’t unknowingly become something else.

The exception is when there are public events such as the weekly Friday sermon, or the occasional marriage ceremony (nikah) – depending on the time of year! – or the ‘eid sermon. When such sermons begin, it is not permitted to talk or pray until, depending on circumstance, the sermon or prayer ends. Other public lessons or events in appointed times are also exempted from the general rule and you should strive to give the speaker the respect due.

Worldly Activities

Part of maintaining the dignity of this sacred space is ensuring that we don’t violate what is was made for by engaging in worldly affairs in it. Buying and selling in the mosque is something that was interdicted by the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as the mosque isn’t supposed to be a kind of marketplace, even if you entered to pray. (Abu Dawud) So that book you wanted from Amazon will have to wait some minutes!

In the same way, eating and drinking was generally inappropriate as it is distracting, brings in smells and affects the entire space. But this doesn’t negate the fact that the one who is engaged in a spiritual retreat (mu’takif) is in fact permitted to do these things because he is bound to stay in the mosque. Otherwise, activities other than prayer, remembrance, recitation and other devotion is best done elsewhere.

Obeying the Imam (Wali al Amr)

The basis is to obey those who have authority over one in a particular context. Putting aside the legal nuances, the general idea is that, for example, you should listen well to the host when he directs you, as the guest, to your seat or the food.

Similarly, the imam of the mosque is working within his capacity as the authority figure and he should be obeyed when he orders the rows to be straightened, gaps to be filled or appoints somebody to lead the prayer on his behalf, namely, those matters which are in the greater interests of everybody within the mosque and taking part in the congregational prayer.

All of these matters are within his domain and he has a right to choose as he sees fit. Nevertheless, when he is mistaken, he remains a fellow believer who deserves dignity, respect and sincere counsel (nasiha), so it should be afforded to him with full and proper decorum.

The Call to Prayer (Adhan)

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When it is time for prayer, let one of you give the adhan.” (Bukhari) This is one of the strongest of the sunnas of our religion and a sign and marker of Islam itself. It is a means of reminding us of the pre-eternal call of the Divine and a reminder of the reality of life and the proximity of the Hereafter. So it behooves us to make it a point to become of those who “respond to Allah and His messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.” (Sura al Anfal 8:24)

The one giving the call to prayer (adhan) should know the prayer times, face the qibla, be in a state of ritual purification, beautify his voice, and elongate the words, yet without exaggerating such that the adhan becomes very long.

The sunna of the one listening is to respond to the adhan by repeating the words after the caller. Then one and all should send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and supplicate for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be granted the Station of Mediation (wasila).

Supplication upon Entering and Exiting

It from the sunna to supplicate when entering and leaving mosques. Imam Nawawi writes in his Book of Remembrances (al-Adhkar) that a person can recite the following supplication, for example, upon entering: “O Allah, open for me the doors of Your mercy’ (allahumma iftah li abwab rahmatik).” And upon leaving, he would say, “O Allah, I ask of You from Your bounty’ (Allahumma inni as’aluka min fadlik).” (Muslim)

We ask Allah Most High to clothe us inwardly and outwardly in beauty so that our hearts and limbs fall into true submission at all times, and so that we genuinely become “masajid” ourselves, or vessels of sincere, humble, perpetual worship.

And Allah alone gives success.


In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.


Keeping Family Ties Through Intergenerational Trauma – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil reflects on why she travels with two small children, and how to break the cycle of  intergenerational trauma.intergenerational trauma

I started to write this while my two jetlagged daughters were finally fast asleep. My husband, young daughters and I have just returned from our annual visit to Sydney, Australia. There, I finally get to reconnect with my mother, my siblings, their spouses, my nieces and my nephew. We are exhausted, and yet, we plan to visit again next year, if Allah wills, and the year after that.

These experiences allow me to see this hadith in a new way:

Malik related to me from Sumayy, the mawla of Abu Bakr from Abu Salih from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Travelling is a portion of the torment. It denies you your sleep, food, and drink. When you have accomplished your purpose, you should hurry back to your family. [Muwatta Malik]

There are the challenges that come with being trapped in an aeroplane with small children. And there are the hardships when we land. And there are the readjustments when we come home. It’s not easy. And yet, we keep visiting our family in Sydney, year after year.

Why? I have my sentimental reasons. I miss the city I grew up in. I miss my family, my friends, tasty Arab and Turkish food. I miss the bush, and I miss the beach.

But my most important intention in our annual trip to Sydney is linked to blood. I want my daughters to know their grandmother, aunties, uncles and cousins. My daughters are unlikely to remember these early years of their life, but I pray that their hearts will always know how much they are loved. In a world so fragmented, I want my daughters to be deeply rooted in the foundations of our families.

We are all bound by blood, and blood is not always easy. My family and I have gone through deep valleys of pain. I am grateful that my trials brought me on a journey towards Allah. Now, I am at the most challenging and rewarding leg of my journey – motherhood.

Every day, I commit to breaking my family’s cycle of intergenerational trauma. I commit to intentional, peaceful parenting. I refuse to inflict my nafs on my children. On good days, I can stay calm and rise above the challenges that come with being the main caretaker for my children. On bad days, when I am running low on sleep and patience, I can see the temptation to lash back. And when I slip up, I always say sorry. I want my daughters to learn how important it is to take responsibility for their mistakes, to make amends, and repair their relationships. I hope to model that for them, I pray that Allah fills in the rest and forgives me for my shortcomings.

While my daughters sleep, I look up flights to Sydney for next year. Until then, I tell stories to my children about their grandfather, grandmother, aunties, uncles and cousins. They are too young to understand the meaning of divorce, estrangement, and inherited pain. But what they do understand is love.

May our children never hunger for our love. May we teach them how much Allah and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) love them. May we all be reunited with our loved ones in Jannahtul Firdaus.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.