Our Character: Living Faith – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

This article series is based on the course delivered by Ustadh Amr Hashim – Our Character. Refining the self, improving one’s character, and beautifying one’s practice of Islam are quite daunting tasks for the average person. However, there is no need to strive on this path alone, when one can benefit from a great work that will explain all of this and more.

Our Character is a text by Habib Umar bin Hafiz. In this class, Ustadh Amr Hashim will explain and summarize this text and the practical implementation of it in on’s day-to-day life.

This class is an ideal weekly check-in as to one’s state of the heart, and the state of one’s progress in becoming a better believer from week to week. You can access all lessons here.

Wakefulness

Has not the time come for us to awaken from our sleep? Has the time not arrived for us to arise from our heedless state? It is upon us as servants of God to realize what it means to stand beneath the banner of: “There is no deity but God” for by God, it is not mere words uttered on the tongue – rather it is a pledge between us and our Lord. 

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an: “And fulfill the covenant. Surely, the covenant shall be asked about [on the Day of Reckoning].” [Qur’an, 17:34]

Meanings and Words

When you and I read a book, when we speak, when we listen to people speak around us; we don’t seek out the empty words. Rather, we seek out the meanings behind those words. When we read a book on the virtue of reflecting on the Qur’an, we don’t blankly read the words whilst ignoring the meanings, rather, we seek meanings through the means; words.

In the same way, when we remember God through our remembrance (dhikr), we should be focusing on the meanings and not just the words themselves. Words are for conveying meanings, when we say “al-hamdu lillah” (all praise is Allah’s), we should mean the meanings and not just say it out of habit.

The Banner of “No Deity except God”

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, struggled earnestly for many years for the sake of conveying this very meaning; “verily there is no deity whatsoever except God,” only for his people to openly refuse to utter it! If it were just a simple sentence that they had to utter, they would have done so, and the matter would have reached a swift conclusion. 

However, his people realized the true extent of its meaning and the reality and visionary intent such that it became difficult for them to say and acknowledge it – even though they didn’t believe our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to be a liar! Indeed this statement means submitting and surrendering to the true One God in everything that he commanded and warned us against. 

Yes O, Muslims! Understand properly what you profess for verily in “La ilaha ila Allah,”  “there is no deity but God,” lies hidden the secret behind our strength! Lies hidden the life force of our greatness! Verily it is perfect freedom from any type of submission and surrender to any other than Allah, the Independent. And who else has any ability free of dependence? What a beautiful surrender is the surrender of a believer to Allah!

Allah Most High tells us in a hadith qudsi, “‘there is no deity but God’ is my fortress, so whoever says ‘there is no deity but God’ has indeed entered my fortress. And whoever enters my fortress is rendered safe from My chastisement.” 

Giving Victory in the Qur’an

“La ilaha ila Allah” – “there is no deity but God” calls us to give victory to it and to give victory to its meanings in ourselves. Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an: “(They are) the ones who were expelled from their homes without any just reason, except that they say “Our Lord is Allah.” Had Allah not been repelling some people by means of some others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and the mosques where Allah’s name is abundantly recited would have been demolished. Allah will definitely help those who help Him (by defending the religion prescribed by Him.) Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty.” [Qur’an, 22:40]

“O you who believe, if you will help (the religion prescribed by) Allah, He will help you, and will stabilize your footings.” [Qur’an, 47:7] Allah Most High tells us of the virtue in our supporting his way and religion. Of course, none of these verses (ayat) indicate God needing our help, God is exalted above all creation! How could the creator be in need of creation?

Giving Victory to Allah’s Religion

Contained within this banner is the meaning of the entirety of religion and what it entails. But we need to ponder and delve deep into understanding its meanings. When we uphold the meanings of this banner, we give victory to the religion of Allah Most High and his Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and it means to give victory to the way (sunna) of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

How do we give victory to the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)? We stand firm on his teachings and character traits and we don’t do that which contradicts the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). This is the way of true victory.

Togetherness with the Prophet

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an: “Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is the messenger of Allah, and those who are with him…” [Qur’an, 48:29] How many of us are willing to give ourselves and our entireties to be of those that are described by Allah Most High in the Qur’an as “Those who are with him”? With him in this life and with him in the afterlife.

The verse (ayah) continues, “…those who are with him are firm on the disbelievers, compassionate among themselves” [Qur’an, 48:29] “Firm in the sense that they do not compromise their beliefs and values for trivial things that will displease their beloved. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was of the most merciful of people to others.

What Have We Done in the Name of this Banner?

When people around us are immersed in all forms of wrong, we should rally to the standard. If we are invited to places where there are sinful acts, we politely decline. This firmness allows us to be entrenched in our standards. These standards and values enable our ability to be better human beings; these standards make us dignified, these standards ensure our honor and ultimately, they make us acceptable to our Creator and Lord, Allah. What could be better than that?

These standards and guidelines were placed by our Lord, the Wise. His telling us of what is good and bad and what is dignified and what is not supersedes all other imaginations of what is good and bad. We may not understand the wisdom, but we do know that Allah is the All-Knowing, he knows that which we don’t! He is the Creator of us and this world, how could the Creator – exalted is He, not know what is better for you and I, his creation?

Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari, Allah have mercy on him, said, “He’s made it obligatory for you to serve him but in reality, he didn’t make anything obligatory for you except to enter his paradise.” He’s given us these guidelines so that we know any obligation that is given to us has a reality. Its reality is his pleasure and Paradise (Jannah). And on the contrary, the reality of engaging in any of the prohibitions and wrongdoings is Allah’s Most High displeasure. 

We should witness this meaning whenever we stand up to pray; the reality of that prayer is Paradise (Jannah)! How? Because you understand that doing these obligations is the manifestation of our reward to come.

The Way of the Best of Creation

The way (sunna) and character (khuluq) of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, has wisdom behind it, wisdom that we may not perceive. But it is the pinnacle of truth and superiority. Its superiority is due to the fact that it came with him, the best of all creation, peace and blessings be upon him, and due to the fact that he was sent by our Lord, Allah.

We should have absolute confidence in the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and we should love it. To the people of Allah, there can be no affirmation or support to any word of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). No amount of research changes or surprises the people of Allah – He is the pinnacle of truth.

“O you who believe, what is wrong with you that when it is said to you, “Come out in the way of Allah,” you turn heavy (and cling) to the ground. Have you become happy with the worldly life instead of the Hereafter? So, (remember that) the enjoyment of the worldly life is but trivial in (comparison with) the Hereafter.” [Qur’an, 9:38]

 

The Importance of Good Character – Habib Umar Bin Hafiz

This article series is based on the course delivered by Ustadh Amr Hashim – Our Character. Refining the self, improving one’s character, and beautifying one’s practice of Islam are quite daunting tasks for the average person. However, there is no need to strive on this path alone, when one can benefit from a great work that will explain all of this and more.

Our Character is a text by Habib Umar bin Hafiz. In this class, Ustadh Amr Hashim will explain and summarize this text and the practical implementation of it in on’s day-to-day life.

This class is an ideal weekly check-in as to one’s state of the heart, and the state of one’s progress in becoming a better believer from week to week. You can access all lessons here. 

The Author: Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Umar bin Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafiz grew up under the communist government in Southern Yemen, which meant it was very difficult to seek knowledge. Many scholars were kidnapped and tortured, the students would have to seek knowledge secretly. 

This did not deter Habib Umar from seeking knowledge, even after his father was kidnapped when he was just nine years old. Many people thought that he would not be able to study and be like his father or the scholars of his family.

His upbringing revolved around him growing up as a scholar, his parents and forefathers were all scholars. But none of this prevented him from his study of religion. Habib Umar traveled to Bayda’ around age 19 to study under Habib Muhammad al-Haddar and this is when the author wrote this book.

The Goal of This Book

This book sparks our interest and desire in seeking out good character. The author wrote this work at his young age during difficult times; politically and personally as an orphan. This work reminds us to live with good character, in the good times and the bad times, in the times of ease and in the times of difficulty – in all states. 

We see this through the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, even when people tried to inflict distress and hurt on him; he did not let their actions impact how he treated them in return.

The Signs of Good Character

Of the most manifest and clear signs in following the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is having excellent character traits and qualities. This is because good character is of our inner garments. Unlike our outer garments when we pass from this world we take our inner garments with us and leave the former in this world.

If the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, has come for our next worldly salvation, then he is preparing us inwardly to be in high stations, and this is done by being inwardly sound. Good character traits are the inner garments that last forever and go with us into our graves. 

And so their consequences is that if our inner garments are beautiful and pure, then our next worldly result will be beautiful and pure. If our inner garments are filthy and dirty, then what can one expect in their next worldly result?

The Importance of Good Character

Imam Haddad would nurture and teach his students one character trait at a time over several years. He would wait patiently, why? Because instilling good character traits in oneself is worth the work and struggle; it brings change to one’s actions and lifestyle.

Why is instilling character traits important? We possess positive traits that are easy to implement and negative traits that we cannot easily implement. We selectively implement traits when it is simple, convenient, or easy.

For example, a person may only give charity when life is going well but may forget when they enter financial strain. Or a person may give some time to worship when they feel “spiritual” or when they feel bored, but they forget when they have something entertaining to do.

Would anyone consider the person who gave charity when it was easy to be “generous” in of themselves? Is that the reality of generosity? 

Instilling good character traits means we go above and beyond what is merely convenient and go towards what is more pleasing to our Lord most high. As we learn from the author’s own example; he forgave the people who killed his father just as our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, forgave those who killed members of his family and followers.

When one has a character trait instilled in them, it has become their nature. It is not a periodical or occasional trait. One of Imam Malik’s students sat at his feet for twenty years. He spent eighteen of those twenty years learning good character traits from Imam Malik, and the last two years learning law (fiqh) after which Imam Malik passed from this world.

After his passing, the student said “I wished I spent all twenty years learning good character from Imam Malik.” The special nature of learning good character at the feet of our teachers, we observe and learn from their example. The goal is to have these traits embedded and imprinted into our hearts.

One of the objectives of sending the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to us was for his purifying us and to teach us how to act. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Our Lord! Raise from among them a messenger who will recite to them Your revelations, teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them.” [Qur’an, 2:129]

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “I have only been sent to complete the virtues of character.” [Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad; Bayhaqi, Shu’b al-Iman] If we are the followers of the Prophet, and he calls us to follow his character, should we not follow him?

The sign of true love for one’s beloved is to do whatever they say and to try to be like them. 

Points of Self-Reflection

Where is our character in regards to who he was, peace and blessings be upon him? Did we try to embody his traits? Did we try to carry ourselves like him? Did we try to be patient, kind, and generous as he was? Where should we be? 

When was the last time we gave in the way of God when it was hard to? When did we control our anger when we wanted to explode? And this is one of the greater areas of inheritance from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and one that is open to all of us!

May Allah grant us the strength to seek his character, peace and blessings be upon him, and act upon it.

 

 

Eid al-Fitr: A Time to Be Thankful

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Eid al-Fitr (Post-Fasting Festival) is one of the central days of celebration and festivity in Islam. It is a time to be thankful to Allah for the blessing of fasting the month of Ramadan, and the extra worship and good deeds performed in that blessed month. This day is also meant to be a recognition, thankfulnesss, and rejoicing for the material and spiritual favors of God to His creation.

The word Eid itself is an Arabic word, whose root connotation is ‘that which comes back, time after time, and rejoicing.’ Its particular usage in Islam, for the two major holidays, is because these two days are meant to be days of rejoicing. [Raghib, al-Mufradat]

The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “They are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of God.” [Bukhari]

In this same spirit, the Qur’an mentions that, “Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast (eid) for us, for the first of us and for the last of us and a sign from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the Best of Sustainers.’” (Qur’an, 5:114)

On this day, Muslims all over the world thank God for the gift of fasting, in which they avoided food, drink and intercourse from dawn to dusk, out of obedience and servitude. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith, seeking its reward, shall have all their past sins forgiven.” [Bukhari]

The many lessons in Ramadan are acted upon on this day of festivity, in order that they not be forgotten:

1. Devoting oneself to God: Muslims start the day by showering after dawn on Eid day, then go to the short Eid prayer and sermon that takes place early in the morning.

2. Recognizing one’s blessings and thanking God for them: Muslims are encouraged to wear their best clothes, give gifts (especially to children) and celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors.

3. Remembering the plight of the poor and giving in charity: On Eid day, it is especially recommended to give in charity, the best time of which is before going to the mosque or prayer hall in the morning.

It is said, “True rejoicing is not (merely) in wearing new clothes, but in becoming true in one’s devotion to God.”

As a result, it is encouraged for Muslims to fast another six days after Eid during the month of Shawwal, in order to keep alive the lessons learned during the month of Ramadan, and to become of those devoted to God. It is because of this that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever fasts of Ramadan then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal shall have the reward of having fasted the whole year.” [Muslim]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” [Bukhari]

May Allah grant you and us, and the entire community of faith and humanity days of true rejoicing and returning to our Lord.

Sincerely,

Faraz Rabbani
Educational Director, SeekersGuidance

SeekersGuidance (www.SeekersGuidance.org)

Ten Ways to Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship? Nour Merza gives women ten practical ways to spiritually benefit from this blessed month.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. When their menstrual period begins many women find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in. This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities, and challenges that Allaj has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying Allah, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near Allah. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

1. Increase the Remembrance of Allah

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such as subhan Allah, alhamdulliLlah and Allahu akbar. If you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking Allah’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, insha Allah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase Supplication 

Supplication (dua) is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of supplication is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful supplications of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, or reaching out to Allah with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Duas That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed Others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members, or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the peace and blessings  (salawat) on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. 

4. Gain Islamic Knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersGuidance podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your Charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through SeekersGuidance. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make Your Responsibilities a Form of Worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please Allah, which makes them a type of worship. Ask Allah to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

Although the Hanafi school holds that women cannot touch the mushaf or recite the Qur’an while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such a heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to Allah. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask Allah to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that Allah is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to Help Mothers Worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray tarawih. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman.

10. Spread Love and Light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers, and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 5: Hope

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah. 

The fifth article in this series explains what is truly meant by hope.

Step 5: Hope

The fifth step in getting closer to Allah is hope. Hope is commonly misdirected towards one’s own actions and worldly circumstances. This results in losing hope and falling into despair when one makes a mistake or when things go poorly. Rather, the believer directs one’s hope towards Allah Most High alone. The Aphorisms (Hikam) of Ibn Ata’ Allah opens with, “From the signs that you are relying on your actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” Hope should not be attached to any other but Allah Most High. 

Hope is to desire pleasing outcomes having taken the means to acquire them, but one should not seek those outcomes from other than Allah Most High. He Most High tells us, “Truly you have in the Messenger of Allah the most beautiful of examples for whoever hopes in Allah and the Day of Resurrection”. (Qur’an 33:21) Hoping from Allah means one’s hope doesn’t increase with one’s good deeds nor decrease with one’s sins because one hopes in Allah Most High, seeking pleasing outcomes from Him alone. 

Allah Most High says, “It is the All-Merciful who is established on the throne.” (Qur’an 20:5). He is All-Merciful to whomever you are. Whoever knocks on His door will find it open, so do not despair. 

May Allah Most High realize us in directing our hope towards Him alone.

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 24: Ten Steps to Allah – 05 – Hope | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 10: Supplication

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Allah has promised to answer our prayers—all that is left is for us to ask. But supplication itself is an art. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives practical guidelines on how to engage in dua, what supplications to make and how, and what it means for our prayers to be “answered.”

Step 10: Supplication

Dua is not something that you do. It is not something that you say. It is not something you repeat. Dua is that you ask of Allah Most High. It encapsulates all that you are concerned about so learn the art of asking Allah.

Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Supplication is the very essence of worship.”

The heart of dua is you voicing your need to Allah. There’s a metaphor in you raising your hands. It’s as if you’re saying that I am so much in need that I am like a beggar and I have nothing to beg with except my own empty hands. 

When you make dua remember to have certitude. Our Lord Mighty and Majestic tells us, “Call upon Me, I will answer you.” [Qur’an 40:60] That is a Divine promise. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Call upon Allah with complete certitude in His answer.” [Tirmidhi 3479]

Make dua with hope and contentment. We are assured that when Allah loosens our tongue to ask, He is willing to give. How He will give and when He will give is up to Him. He is Wise and Merciful and Generous, and what He chooses for you is far better than what you choose for yourself. 

Then you should ask yourself, what is it that you are asking from Allah. You should ask for the greatest of your needs. There is no dua we can make like the duas of the Qur’an. The duas of the Qur’an are amazing because it is Allah Himself telling us: Ask Me for this and I will give you. The duas of the Sunna are the duas of Allah’s beloved, our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

The dua’ of the Qur’an and Sunna should be recited but they are not substitutes for you to make heartfelt duas yourself. The scholars tell us to reflect on the meanings when we recite the dua from the Qur’an. Or repeat the same dua in your own language because dua is your asking Allah not just saying the dua. 

You should recite the transmitted duas from the Qur’an and Sunna after you wake up, after your prayer, after Fajr,  before you go to sleep, and also have heartfelt duas in your own words. Make routines of duas. The best of what you could ask from Allah is what He asks of you. Ask Allah for His love, for His closeness, for the Hereafter. Ask Allah for your worldly needs. Ask Allah to change those qualities that keep you away from Allah.

Each of us should have a good manual of dua. The Book of Remembrance by Imam Nawawi is a wonderful thing that every household should have and you should access it. Some scholars say that you should have a large book of duas that you refer to and familiarize yourselves with, but also to have a brief collection of Prophetic duas. We should live with these. Our collections of duas that we can recite by morning and by night like the Hizb al-Bahr or the Wird al-Latif by great scholars train us in how to make dua. Recite them and reflect on their meanings.

It is also important to repeat the duas that you make. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to repeat the duas three times. 

When you make dua, observe the etiquette of dua. You can make dua at any place at any time, but it is better to face the qibla, remove distractions, consider the greatness and majesty, but also the mercy and compassion of the One you’re calling upon. Call with certitude and desperate neediness but also with deep joy in the fact that you have One you can turn to for all your needs.

We ask Allah to open for us the door of dua—the door of all openings and all giving and the door of closeness. Allah make us of the people who go through to our Beloved through this door. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 29: Ten Steps to Allah – 10 – Supplication | Sh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 9: Repentance

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

 A key step on the path to Allah is repentance. Often, we don’t understand what it means or imagine it to be something negative. Shaykh Faraz explains what repentance really means—turning back to Allah.

Step 9: Repentance

Repentance is a key step on the path to Allah. Many say that repentance is the first step. However, we often have a very negative attitude towards repentance. Some people think that repentance means to accept that you’re a loser or that you never forget your sin. But repentance means to resolve to return to Allah. That is why faith is an act of repentance because you leave disbelief and you return to belief. Our acts of obedience are a type of repentance because we leave disobedience and we commit to obeying Allah. Likewise, our virtuous deeds are a type of repentance because we leave blameworthy things and disliked matters and we commit to doing what is better. Every station of the journey to Allah has the meaning of repentance in it. To leave distance and return to Allah.

Practically how do we operationalize repentance in our lives? Firstly, we commit to seeking Allah and desire to be ever-returning to Allah. So first we work at correcting our faith: learning sound beliefs and striving to live those in our lives. Leave your fear of other than Allah, leave your hope from other than Allah, leave your seeking for other than Allah. You leave lesser expressions of faith for pure Divine oneness which is you believe in the One, seek the One, you rely upon the One, you hope in the One, you love the One. 

There’s also repentance related to our actions which is that you leave sin, commit to leave sin, to leave the disliked, to leave things that are not of benefit to you in life,  to leave things displeasing to Allah, and to return to Allah in obedience, return to Allah in what is recommended. The journey continues in degrees of repentance. This quality of repentance, to always return to Allah, make it a habit. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that he seeks Allah’s forgiveness and repents 70 times a day.

You may have bad habits that you have acquired that are sinful, sinful speech such as backbiting, talebearing, gossip. You may have bad habits related to some desires of yours. Bad habits related to the kind of entertainment that you listen to or watch. These are the days of your life. Resolve to leave your bad habits. Have remorse for turning away from Allah disobeying Allah. Resolve to leave it and not to return to it for the sake of Allah Most High. and then any time you err, renew your repentance.

After every prayer, pause and genuinely repent as part of the supplication. Don’t just repent with the tongue, because repentance is not an action of the tongue. We say Astighfirullah: I seek Allah’s forgiveness. That’s like saying I am sorry but repentance is the act of actually leaving the thing that you’re saying you’re sorry for. Without repentance, seeking forgiveness is just words without reality. Repentance and seeking forgiveness together are light upon light. 

This repentance is the key. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, “Indeed Allah loves the oft-repentant.” [Qur’an 2:222] Repentance is a magnificent gift from Allah. What do we need to do to return to Allah? Nothing! You may have a lifetime of turning away from Allah but you repent and Allah is waiting to accept your repentance. The door is open. The treasuries are full. All you have to do is knock on Allah’s door with repentance and you will find that the door was never closed even if you messed up. 

Allah Most High tells us, “O my servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed it is Allah alone who forgives all sins. Indeed it is He who is the all-forgiving and most merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]

It does not matter how many times you have failed to break that habit of sin, how many times you followed the same desire, the same wrong, the same bad habit, turn to Allah with repentance. 

The key to repentance is what Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said, “True repentance  is to leave the sin in such a way that you never return to it.” 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 28: Ten Steps to Allah – 09 – Repentance | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 8: Reflection

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Step 8 is reflection upon Allah. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani sheds light on what reflection means, what to reflect upon, and how to bring this practice into our daily lives.

Step 8: Reflection

Reflection is the fuel of hearts. Without this fuel, the lamp of the heart remains in darkness. We need to reflect upon the attributes of Allah, Most High, and the names of Allah, Most High. We need to take some time to learn sound Islamic beliefs in a manner that it gives us the capacity to reflect, and that is one of the merits of studying Islamic beliefs with teachers connected to those who understand the way of Prophetic Guidance.

We should also reflect upon Allah, Most High, by learning more about the 99 names of Allah, Most High, by studying about them, reflecting upon them by turning to Allah through mentioning these names. We have some very good resources on Seekers including an entire course on understanding the most beautiful names of Allah.

We also reflect on the actions of Allah. These include Creation. Creation is a sign of the Creator. If we reflect upon the marvel of creation, the perfection of creation, the beauty of creation, the wisdom in creation we see that creation points to the Creator just as art points to an artist.

We should also reflect on ourselves and our reality. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing in this life. The reality of our death. The reality of our responsibility. The reality of what you know you must do to rectify your relationship with Allah and then reflect on how to make good your relationship with Allah. How do you become a truly grateful servant? How do you become a truly hopeful servant? How do you become a servant who is truly reliant upon Allah? How do you become a beloved servant of Allah? Reflection on one’s own state helps one turn to Allah.  

Another thing to reflect upon is the examples of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) through the study of his shama’il, his character, life story, and teachings. 

Also reflect on the lives of the past prophets, the lives of the scholars, and the righteous. Why? To derive inspiration, to change your relationship with Allah. 

A moment of reflection is worth more than a lifetime of devotion. May Allah grant us a lifetime of reflection so that our hearts reflect the light of Allah, Most High. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 27: Ten Steps to Allah – 08 – Reflection | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 7: Remembrance

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

The seventh step is the remembrance of Allah. In this episode, Shaykh Faraz discusses how we can make our lives, lives of remembrance.

Step 7: Remembrance

Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Should I not tell you about the best of your actions? And the most beloved of them to your Lord? More precious for you than to spend gold and silver, more rewarding for you than to meet your enemy and to smite their necks and for them to smite yours?” The Companions said, “Do tell us O Messenger of Allah.” He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The remembrance of Allah, Mighty and Majestic.”

It is enough to know about the greatness of remembrance that Allah Most High said, “Remember Me, and I will remember you.” [Qur’an 2:152]

And Allah Most High says, “Indeed, the remembrance of Allah is greater.” [Qur’an 29:45] Greater than what? Greater than anything else whatsoever because anything done with the remembrance of Allah is incomparably greater than the same thing done without the remembrance of Allah. 

It is the remembrance of Allah that is the purpose of life. Humans and Jinns were created only so they may be devoted to Allah. Ibada arises from recognition, devotion begins with recognition of the One worthy of devotion. That recognition is remembrance. The expressions of devotion are all acts of remembrance. Faith itself is an act of remembrance. Prayer is an act of remembrance. Fasting, charity, dhikr itself are acts of remembrance.

This is why the counsel of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when people came to him for advice was: “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

If you want to change your life, uphold the counsel of Ibn Ata’illah. Do not leave the remembrance of Allah even if you have a lack of consciousness of Allah in your remembrance because your heedlessness of remembering Allah is worse for you than your heedlessness during the remembrance of Allah. You are saying  Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, La ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar. You’re engaged in remembrance but your mind is drifting. Through remembrance your mind may wake up at some point and start reflecting and then the meanings may start creeping into your consciousness, permeate your heart, wake your soul, and make you go from heedlessness to consciousness, from consciousness to presence, and from presence to absence from other than Allah Most High.

Dhikr is the purpose of existence because by remembrance you can be with the one Remembered. “Truly it is by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest. ” [Qur’an 13:28]

It begins with an act of remembrance of Allah, then to be in a state of consciousness of Allah, but the goal of remembrance is to be with the One remembered. So let’s move our tongues, let’s move our hearts, and let’s strive for that presence. He is with you wherever you may be.

How can we do that practically? Say Subhan Allah: Glory is to Allah. Try to move your heart with it. Mean it then say it. Alhamdulillah: All praise is for Allah. Mean it then say it. La ilaha illa Allah: There is no God but Allah. There is none free of need of any other whom all are in need of but Allah. Allahu Akbar: Allah is absolutely great and there’s no one great besides Him. Repeat these and say, Astaghfirullah: I seek Allah’s forgiveness. This is asking Allah to cover your shortcomings and manifest all that is pleasing to Allah. Istighfar has a meaning of covering over the unbecoming and manifesting what is pleasing to Allah. This is between fear and hope, between the admission of shortcomings and recognition of Divine generosity. 

Go from remembrance of the tongue to waking your heart up to that remembrance. Seek the presence of Allah, the closeness of Allah, seek to see Allah, and to worship Allah as though you see Him.

May Allah make us go from the stages of remembrance to Him. May He grant us that by His grace and grant that we remain in remembrance. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 26: Ten Steps to Allah – 07 – Remembrance | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 6: Positive Awe

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Sometimes we associate fear of Allah with negative emotion. However, awe of Allah is inherently positive—a recognition of Allah’s greatness that drives us to turn to Him. This is the sixth step on the path to Allah. 

Step 6: Positive Awe

A lot of people do not like fear. Fear of Allah does not mean that you fear Him in a negative way. When you fear something you want to go away from it but that is not the fear of Allah. Fear of Allah is the greatest means to submit to Allah. It is a sense of awe at the majesty, greatness, and glory of Allah. It is to recognize the beauty and perfection of Allah and to recognize how merciful and generous Allah is to us. When we have this awe of both His majesty and His mercy upon us and we are humbled, this is awe of Allah.

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an, “As for the one who fears the station of their Lord and who forbids their lower self from its wayward ways, Paradise is indeed their resting place.” [Qur’an, 79:40-41]

It is a state of amazement and awe in the heart that humbles a person. It calls one to restrain oneself. Free causes one to refrain. Positive awe of Allah is when you think of the greatness of your Lord. This is why we say Allahu akbar with awe. When we say Allahu akbar, we turn fully to Allah in yearning and longing. Fear comes with hope and hope must come with fear, otherwise, there is an imbalance. 

May Allah Most High grant us true awe, coupled with true hope, coupled with true love coupled with true gratitude. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 25: Ten Steps to Allah – 06 – Positive Awe | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.