Ramadan: The Fortunate Ones, by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Ramadan is a month of khair (blessings) and Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) chose it to be the month of the Qur’an, and He chose for it a special form of ibadah, fasting, which is one of the pillars of Islam.  As Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in Surah Al-Baqarah (183):

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may attain piety.”

In prescribing fasting, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is not only telling us the history of fasting, rather, He is giving us direction; He is telling us that the means by which we may attain a connection with Him is fasting. 

Fasting is patience.  It is the avoidance of that which we want and enjoy. Fasting is controlling your desires rather than being controlled by them.

Fasting is freedom; absolute freedom from being under the power of your desires, your nafs, and this is the freedom that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) created you with. 

Fasting is a means of escape from everything other than Him to Him!  Firr-uLLAH!  Escape towards Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) described the exalted nature of fasting in a Hadith Qudsi, narrated by Abu Hurrairah (radiallah anhu), Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said: 

Allah (azza wa’jal) said every deed from the sons and daughters of Adam is for them, except fasting, which verily is for Me, and only I reward for this ibadah.  Fasting is a protection.  If anyone is fasting, they should show restraint and control what they say, and if anyone disturbs or perturbs them, they should say ‘Verily I am fasting.’  I swear by the soul of Muhammad, the bad smell that comes from the mouth of the one who is fasting is better than the smell of musk, and there are two moments of joy and happiness for those that fast, the first is when they break their fast, and the second is when they meet their Lord, pleased in their fasting.  [Bukhari and Muslim]

We can learn a lot from this Hadith. Firstly, the Hadith is “Qudsi”, which means that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) narrated these words from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  Also, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) mentioned that we should share what we do, with regards to praying and other forms ofibadah, except fasting.  Only He knows!

The Quraysh used to worship their idols using forms of ibadah that resemble those of Islam, except for fasting!  They never worshipped their idols through fasting.

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) also made it clear that it is not only the stomach that fasts, but rather, it is all of our organs. In the Hadith Qudsi, we see that excessive eating and drinking can provoke our desires, therefore Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us to exercise restraint and control in dealing with others, while fasting.  In case the environment around us, or any other trigger, pulls us towards our desires and our nafs, we should declare that we are fasting.  Therefore we see that fasting is more than just not eating and drinking; fasting encompasses all things from this dunya.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) swore by  Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) that what we see is not necessarily the absolute reality, and that which we smell may not be connected with the reality of the purpose of what we are doing and its connection, or result, in the sight of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).There are many people that we see, in the dahir (physical), that are undergoing trials and test, and we may even feel sorry for them, but it might be that by the means of those trials and tests they will achieve proximity (qurb) to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  Similar to the smell of the mouth of the one who is fasting, the test is increasing theirmaqam (station) to that which is even closer to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)! 

So what matters is not what we see; what matters is what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) sees!

We have to leave our obsession of thinking about how others see and, instead, focus on the absolute meaning and pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and how He see things!

In the Hadith Qudsi, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) also says fasting is for Me. What about the rest of the forms of ibadah?  They are all for Him as well, but Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has honoured fasting, in particular, by relating it to Him directly! 

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has told and described for us the reward for the various acts of ibadah, except for fasting, for which only He knows the reward!  He loves our fasting so much that He did not relate or tell anyone about our fasting other than Himself!

Also, we know that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is Self-Sufficient, so in effect those who are fasting are getting closer to Him by way of His own attributes! Imam al Qurtubi (rehmatullah alaih) says that all forms of ibadah compliment the nature of human creation, except for fasting, as fasting is self-sufficiency and is from the attributes of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!  

Thus, those who fast are getting closer to Him by way of His own attributes

Even the Malaika (angels) are unable to record our fasting as they do with other actions!  As only He knows!

We are very fortunate to be in the month of Ramadan, and even more fortunate to be from the Ummah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) !

But who are the fortunate ones who find success in the month of Ramadan?

One:  Those who Know the Reality of this Dunya

The Fortunate Ones are those who know the reality of this life and dunya, that it is not a permanent abode, and therefore they make the most of it by using every moment as an opportunity to get closer to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  As Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said to Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu), “Live in this dunya as a stranger or wayfarer.”  In another Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam)  said in the evening do not wait for the morning, and in the morning do not wait for the evening, do in health before sickness, and in life before death (speaking of making the most of every moment).

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) described the life of this dunya in Surah Aal-Imran (185), when He said:  “…And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”

Two:  Those who Choose Wisely

The Fortunate Ones are those who do not say or hear except for that which is wisdom and khair; they choose their words and their company as others choose what they eat and drink. 

Syedina Omar (radiallah anhu) used to say if it were not for two things he would not wish to live in this dunya: the first was salah; the second was to be in the company of people who choose their words as others choose the best of food!  Syedina Omar (radiallah anhu)  used to say this speaking to the Sahaba!  So what about us!  What do you think he might say if he saw us! 

In our history there have been great personalities that were described as deaf, while in actuality they were not, but it was as if they had a filter through which nothing could go through unless it was pleasing to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  That is taqwa (constant awareness and consciousness of Allah)!

Three:  Those who Remember

The Fortunate Ones are those who remember Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) while they are standing, sitting and laying down, and they ask forgiveness for all their sins and shortcomings; they are the Ones that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) describes in Surah Ahli-Imran (191):

“Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”

The Fortunate Ones are those that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) remembers, as He said in Surah Al-Baqarah (152): “So remember Me; I will remember you.” 

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) also told us who the Fortunate Ones are when he mentioned to the Sahaba,“Should I tell you the best of deeds,”  To which the Sahaba eagerly answered in the affirmative.  “Remembering Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!”

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make us from among them!

Four:  Those who Account Themselves

The Fortunate Ones are those who remain busy their own introspection, and work hard in order to correct themselves, purify their hearts, and they look at their shortcomings and shameful acts with disdain, continually accounting themselves. 

The Fortunate Ones constantly look at themselves, as if they were a mirror that requires perpetual cleaning.  They look at every particle of dust on the mirror, and, therefore, do not have time to look at others. 

The constant worry, of the Fortunate Ones, is to make themselves presentable to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam)  confirmed the approach of the Fortunate Ones when he said in a Hadith that from the greatest forms of Islam is when someone leaves that which does not concern them! [Tirmidhi, ibn Majah]  

In the end, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will never ask anyone about anything except for themselves.  Not the kufr(disbelief) of the kafr (disbeliever) or the iman (belief) of the mu’min(believer)!  They will only be asked about themselves.

As Allah (swt) said in the Qur’an, in Surah Mariam (95):  “And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone,”  and He said in Surah Al-Muddathir (38):  “Every soul will be accounted for what it has done.” 

So the Fortunate Ones look at themselves and abandon everything besides looking at themselves; they stop looking at the faults of others, and thereby distance themselves from the attributes of the munafiqeen(hypocrites) who, as Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam)  mentioned, look at their own faults as minor and those of others as mountains!

Five:  Those who Follow

The Fortunate Ones are those who follow Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in Surah Ahli-Imran (31):  “Say, if you really love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you!” 

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is making it clear to us that source of His love is Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), and if you want Him to be pleased with you, than follow him!

If you want to achieve more than your love for Him, which is His love for you, than follow Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam)!

Most of our saliheen (righteous ones) use to say that what matters is not your love for Him, but rather, His love for you!

Imam Hasan al Basri (rad) used to say some people claim they love Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) so He tested their love by this ayah, and made following Rasulullah (saw) the measurement and standard of His love!

In this ayah it does not say to obey him, or learn from him, but He said follow him!  You can obey someone wherever you are, but following is more than that, it is physical, mental, and spiritual; it is to connect and bind yourself to him. 

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is making it clear that following him is the manifestation of His love!  This is how the Sahaba and Saliheen were. Syedina Uthman (radiallah anhu), when he was sent to Makkah, the Quraysh saw that he was using miswak, so they asked him why he was doing so. Syedina Usman (radiallah anhu) responded that he was doing so because he saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) doing so.  He did not give any explanation; he was just following! 

You follow Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) as he is and as he did! Syedina Ali (alaih salam) said:  “If I were to use my logic, I would wipe the bottom of my sock (when making purifying and preparing oneself), but I saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) wiping the top, so I follow!”

Imam Abu Hanifah (rehmatullah alaih) had many followers, but yet he wanted to visit and learn from the grandson of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), and hence he went and to visit Syedina Muhammad Al Baqir (alaih salam). After they had exchanged salams(greetings), Syedina Muhammad Al Baqir (alaih salam) asked who he was, to which he replied Abu Hanifah. Syedina Muhammad Al Baqir (alaih salam) had heard things regarding Imam Abu Hanifah (rehmatullah alaih) so he asked him:  “Are you the one who has corrupted the religion of my Grandfather using ra’ee (opinion) and qiyas (analogy)?”  

Imam Abu Hanifah (rehmatullah alaih) replied: “I love your Grandfather, but please hear what I have to say.  Your Grandfather’s religion says I have to give women half the mirath (inheritance) of men, but women are weaker (in society), so my logic would say to give them half, but I follow and say women take half of that of men. The religion of your Grandfather says if you urinate than you have to make wudu, but if you release seminal fluid, than you have to make ghusl (washing of the entire body).  If I were to use my logic, urine is najis (impure), and semen is not, so I was to do the opposite, but I follow your Grandfather.  The religion of your Grandfather says when women are in menstruation they repeat their fast, but are not required to repeat their salah, whereas my logic would say that salah would be easier to make up, rather than the fast, but I follow your Grandfather!”

After hearing this, Syedina Muhammad al Baqir (alaih salam) came down and kissed the forehead of Imam Abu Hanifah (rehmatullah alaih). 

Following is knowing Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) knows more than you, even if it seems that your logic or opinion make sense, seek refuge by Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and follow him, for all the khair is in doing so! 

That is why Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in Surah An-Nisa (65): 

But know, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.”

The submission that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is speaking of comes in stages: first, you turn to him for not only your major issues, but even your minor ones; then you do not keep anything in your heart; and thereafter you submit fully!

Those who submit are the Fortunate Ones and thereby revel in joy in happiness.

Six:  Those who are Optimistic

The Fortunate Ones are those who are always optimistic, because they believe that whatever has happened to them comes from Him; everything that is achieved is from Him; and everything they have not achieved, they know there is khair in not achieving it. 

It was narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) taught Abdullah ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) to be certain that if the entire ummah (not individuals, not groups, tribes nor families) were to gather and try and benefit you, they would not be able to benefit you unless Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) wrote that benefit for you, and they would never be able to harm you except in something that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) wrote for you – all the pens have been raised and the book is dry! 

In this authenticated Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) is teaching us that everything that happens to us happens from Him!  As Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in Surah At-Tawbah (51): 

Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely.”

This is the core of our religion and ouriman

It was narrated by Walid, the son of Syedina Ubadah ibn as-Samit (radiallah anhu) , the great Sahabi, that he went to his father when he was on his death bed and said to him: 

“Oh my father, please give me wasiyah (will), and please give everything by way of effort in telling me the best of wasiyahs.” 

His father than asked to helped to sit up, to which Walid obliged.  Ubadah (radiallah anhu) then said:

“Oh son, you will never taste the sweetness of iman and you will never achieve, understand, or get Haqqiqutul-ilm (absolute real knowledge) by Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) until you believe in qadr (decree of Allah), whether it be good or bad.” 

Walid replied:  “Oh my father, how can I know what is good and bad from qadr?”

 His father then gave him the example of an arrow being thrown; if that arrow was meant for you, it will never miss you, and if it was not meant to hit you, by the qadr of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), it will never hit you, not matter how great the archer, or the perfection of the aim! 

And Ubadah (radiallah anhu) continued and said:  “I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) say that the first thing created was the pen, and He said ‘write’, and it wrote everything that will happen till Yaum ul Qiyamah; and if I die without believing this, I will never enter jannah” 

We know that whatever happens is from Him, and this causes us to be optimistic because we believe He is the source of khair and absolute Rahma. 

The Saliheen used to say, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) does not write except that which is khair for us, and even the things that make us upset and sad, there is a lot of khair behind them. 

Optimism because you trust your Lord, optimism because you know that it will be khair, optimism because you know that even when the trials are extremely difficult, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is rewarding you for that. 

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) make us from the patient ones, grant us rida(contentment) and make us from the grateful.

Seven:  Those who find Peace and Tranquillity in His Remembrance

The Fortunate Ones are those that find tranquillity and peace of the heart in remembering Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).  Their joy is His company and closeness!  When any difficulty arises, just by calling His name, their situation changes to joy and happiness, and these are the very people that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) clearly pointed out in the Qur’an when He said in Surah Ar-Raad (28):

 “Unquestionably, only by the remembrance of Allah  do hearts attain peace and tranquillity.”

In a Hadith, narrated by Abu Hurrairah (radiallah anhu), he said that they were walking with Rasulullah (saw) in the way of Makkah near the mountain of Jamadan, and as they were approaching Rasulullah (saw) said“Keep walking, this is Jamadan, and the mufarridun have reached their before you!”  The Sahaba asked Rasulullah (saw) who the mufarridun were, to which he responded “Those who remember Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) abundantly, whether they be male or female. 

Imam al Manawi (rehmatullah alaih) said in Fayd ul-Qadir, the mufarridunare those who abandon everyone, and give everything they have for ibadah, and thereby attain the closest and highest of degrees with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!

When the Fortunate Ones in the company of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), not only do they get the baraka of peace and tranquillity of the heart, but they also receive the baraka of Him remembering them, as He said in Surah Al-Baqarah (152):  “So remember Me; I will remember you.” 

When Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is remembered, our existence is one and continuous, our mind, soul and heart, but when we forget to remember Him, we are in actually forgetting ourselves!

We should not be like the ones Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) mentioned in Surah Al-Hashr (19):  “And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.”

It was narrated in Tirmidhi, Imam Ahmad and by Imam Hakim (rehmatullah alaihum), that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said to the Sahaba:  Should I tell you by the best of your deeds and that which is most beloved to your Lord and the one that will raise your maqam and that is better than spending gold and silver, better than facing your enemies, whether you kill them or they kill you?  Please tell us!  Dhikr-ULLAH!  Remembering Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

So the Fortunate Ones are those upon whom Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has bestowed the sweetness of His remembrance and the joy in His company!

Ya Allah!  Make us from them!

In this very blessed month, we beg Him to make us from the Fortunate Ones, to change our haal and state to a better one, and to open the doors of Marifah!

 

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

 

 


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

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Husn Dhann and Social Media – Saad Razi Shaikh

How a Prophetic virtue can allow us to have a more positive internet experience.

During one of the GRE Verbal Classes, the tutor threw an interesting question at the students. “Say, you enter my living room, and see the fish bowl smashed, the goldfish not in sight, and the fat cat relaxing on the couch, happily licking its paws. Picture this scenario. What can you infer from it?” The overwhelming response was that the cat ate the fish. The tutor said no. What if actually one of my friends had come, taken the fish to a larger tank, and had thrown some cookies for the cat? Did you consider that scenario? Do we have any evidence the cat ate the fish? No. Do we have any evidence the fish is dead? No. All that we know for sure is that the fish is not in its bowl.

The tutor then gave us some sound advice. Don’t assume anything that you don’t see. Don’t add up stuff. Don’t use your imagination. Take what’s in front of you at face value.

Even for non-GRE folks, this is sound advice. Here, allow me to repeat an example Shaykh Walead Mosaad used in one of his talks. Say, you see a religious scholar walking down the street. At the local pub, he stops and walks in. He then emerges a little while later, walking funnily. Do we assume that our scholar got drunk at the pub, and consider the worst about him? Or do we count for the possibility of something else? For example, he could have walked into the pub as he wished to use a restroom. A few Islamophobic guys, seeing him in, may have attacked him. Injured and shaken, he walked out, with his bruises, although hidden from view, painful enough for him to stumble. Did we consider this possibility?

Psychology points towards an interesting observation. If the uncharitable behavior belongs to others, we tend to explain it in terms of their personality, their choices. If however, it belongs to us, we tend to explain it in terms of the situation. We look for the nuances, the missing details that will somehow excuse us. A friend with whom I discussed this denied this, saying truth is truth. I then dug out two pieces of information about him, and asked him if they were true. The first was a time during university, when he was passing by the gates of the mosque. A brother called him to prayers, he however didn’t go inside, but kept walking ahead. I asked him, was this true? He said yes. Another incident happened during university, when he walked into the girls hostel, even as the watchman tried to stop him. I asked him, if I introduced you to everyone using these two incidents, would it be okay? He protested, saying that while what I said was true, it was not complete.

He didn’t stop at the mosque because he had already prayed at another mosque where prayers were held earlier. He had walked into the girl’s hostel as a university function was happening at the common hall there, where he was appointed a volunteer, a fact the watchman didn’t know. This was the complete picture.

If this is the state of the ‘real’ world, how does the virtual one fare? Not any better, and in all probability, much worse. Non-verbal communication constitutes as much as sixty-five percent of our communication, it includes our facial expressions, our body language, our cues and gestures. In the virtual world, it is well, virtually lost. And so with little facts in hand but much clutter in our heads, it is easy to fall for the wrong picture.

It’s necessary then, that we realize that communication via the internet is even more imperfect than the one in real life. Huss Dhann allow us to remedy this. What is Husn Dhann? It is having a good opinion of others. It’s a simple command, yet one we’re most prone to overlook. Measure the chatter in your head for an entire day, and you’ll see husn dhann being traded for su dhann (ill opinion of others) all too often.

Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Munazil (Allah have mercy upon him), one of the early Muslims, said, “The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.” [Sulami, Adab al-Suhba]

Husn Dhann works at three levels. The first is having a good opinion of  ourselves, to not self-flagellate, to not have waswasa over our actions. The second works at the level of others, how we judge and measure the actions of others. The third works at the level of our relationship with Allah. Do we have a good opinion of our Creator? Do we accept the truth that we know little and worry much, and often fall into despair? Husn Dhann allows us to correct this.

Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.”[Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]

Here’s one way to understand this. Say, you’re given glasses you normally don’t wear. You are then asked to read what’s in front of you. You wouldn’t be able to. Does that mean the text in front of you is blurry? Or is it the case that you have put the wrong glasses on? We need to be honest and accept when the latter is the case, as it often is. As wondrous the world of the social media is, it is a makeshift reality. It is not a complete picture, and we should not assume it to be.

Much of the acrimony and bad taste can be avoided if we pepper our usage with a little husn dhann. We’re not at the other end, we don’t know what’s it like, we don’t know what place the other person is coming from. We’re not yet adept at decoding the nuances of language over the internet. Worse, the rage from the everyday is pumped into the virtual world, where it only rebounds. We need to calm ourselves, before we enter a place where the accountability is little, but the consequences real. Both as an antidote to the misinformation of our times, and as a way to follow the Prophetic character, husn dhann is a virtue we need now more than ever.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter


 

Reflections on Isra’ (Night Journey) and Mi’raj (Ascension) – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

This article is sourced from Muwasala: Click here for the original post

Every created thing longed to have its portion of Allah’s Beloved (Peace be upon him). It was not until he (Peace be upon him) made his Mi’raj that the heavens got their portion of him.
— Al-Habib- Abdul Qadir Al Saggaf

Importance of Isra’ and Mi’raj

We are approaching the night on which the Islamic world traditionally celebrates the Isrā’ (Night Journey) and Mi`rāj (Ascension) of our Prophet, the Chosen One ﷺ. The Isrā’ and Mi`rāj was a great sign and an immense miracle which Allah gave to the Master of the people of the heavens and the earth, to demonstrate his superiority over mankind, jinn-kind, angels and the whole of creation. There are great lessons in the events that took place and a means of increasing in belief and certitude.
The scholars say that the best night in relation to the Ummah as a whole was the night on which the Prophet was born, whereas the best night in relation to the Prophet himself was the night of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj.

Trials and Tribulations

Prior to this night the Prophet had displayed great patience in the face of hardship and it is one of Allah’s wisdoms that He bestows His gifts accompanied with hardships.
Allah says: They encountered suffering and adversity and were shaken such that the Messenger and those of faith who were with him said: “When will Allah’s assistance come?” Truly Allah’s assistance is always near.[1]
At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah said that the worst treatment that he received from the disbelievers was his violent rejection at the hands of the people of al-Ṭā’if. Most of the scholars of the Sīrah say that that the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj took place shortly after this, a year prior to the Hijrah on the 27th night of the month of Rajab.[2]

Preparation & Journey

The Prophet ﷺ saw some of the events of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj in his dreams as a preparation for them before the events actually occurred. Some people claim that all the events of the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj took place in a dream state but this is not the case: the Prophet experienced them with his body and soul. Had the Isrā’ been merely something the Prophet experienced in his dream, the disbelievers of Quraysh would not have had difficulty accepting it. They would not have asked: “How can you have travelled to Jerusalem last night and be with us in Makkah this morning?”
Allāh says: Transcendent is the One Who caused His slave to travel by night from al-Masjid al-Ḥarām to al-Masjid al-Aqṣā.[3] Allāh tends to express His transcendence before mentioning a great affair which is beyond what people are accustomed to.
When Allāh wished to speak to Sayyidunā Mūsā, He told him to wait thirty days and then a further ten days: We appointed for Mūsā thirty nights and we completed (the period) with ten more.[4]
Allāh, however, did not tell His Beloved to wait. Rather His order came suddenly, without any warning. The Prophet’s chest was split open and his heart was washed and filled with knowledge and forbearance. The Burāq was then brought to him. Allāh could have caused him to travel without the Burāq, but it was a means of honouring and ennobling him. Jibrīl said to the Burāq after some initial obstinacy: “Are you not ashamed, O Burāq? By Allāh, no one more noble in the sight of Allāh has ever ridden you!”
The Prophet stopped in a number of places on the Isrā’ to emphasise the importance of visiting the places in which Allah bestowed His bounties upon His pious slaves. He was ordered to seek to draw close to Allah by praying near the tree where Allah spoke to Mūsā, by praying at Mount Ṭūr, where Allah gave revelation to Mūsā, and at Bayt Laḥm, where Īsā was born.
The whole earth was made a place of prayer and prostration for the Prophet so what was the significance of him praying in those places if it was not seeking blessings (tabarruk) and spiritual assistance from them? It is also narrated in Saḥīḥ Muslim that he visited the grave of Mūsā and witnessed him praying in his grave. He said to his Companions: “If I was there I would have showed you his grave.” He was thus teaching his Ummah the importance of knowing the location of the graves of the Prophets and thus the importance of visiting them.
While on his journey, someone called him on his right side but he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that this was the caller of the Jews, and had he responded, his Ummah would have followed the way of the Jews. Then someone called him on his left side and once again he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that this was the caller of the Christians, and had he responded, his Ummah would have followed the way of the Christians. Thus, in spite of all the efforts of the Christians to convert people to Christianity, the Ummah remains in Allāh’s care and protection due to the steadfastness of the Prophet ﷺ.
He was called a third time, and once again he did not respond. Jibrīl informed him that it was the dunyā or the material world calling him, and had he responded, his Ummah would have chosen this life over the next. The dunyā then appeared to him in the form of an old woman. Jibrīl informed him that all that remained of the life of this world before the Day of Judgement is like the time this old woman had left to live. We witness all the wars and struggles that take place and in reality this life is like an old woman on the verge of death and ahead of us is the next life! May Allāh give us the best of endings! Due to the Prophet’s refusal to respond to the callings of the dunyā, there remain to this day people who know its worthlessness.

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺled the Prophets in prayer in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā. Jibrīl informed him that the soul of every prophet sent by Allāh from the time of Ādam to the time of Īsā was brought to pray behind him so that they would come to know the station of their master, Muḥammad. He was the imām who led all the prophets and angels in prayer. Why do we not make him our imām?
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The Ascent to Heaven

The Prophet then ascended from heaven to heaven. The angels in the heavens had been informed that he would come and it was their opportunity to be honoured by meeting him just as his Companions had that honour on the earth. The people of the earth threw stones at him and insulted him but the people of the heavens gave him the warmest of welcomes. In the Prophet’s meeting with his father Ādam and the other Prophets in the various heavens there is a lesson. In spite of the Prophet’s superiority over them, he was still ordered to greet them. There was no-one less in need of anyone else than him but he met them and displayed great etiquette and manifested his slave-hood to his Lord.
Among the things he witnessed was people who turned down freshly cooked meat and chose to eat putrid rotting meat. He was told that this was like those who leave that which is lawful and choose that which is unlawful. He saw people’s heads being smashed with rocks. As soon as their heads were smashed they would be restored and then smashed again and so on. He was told these were the people who were too lazy to pray the obligatory prayer.
He ascended to al-Bayt al-Ma`mūr, which resembles the Ka`bah above the seventh heaven. It lies directly above the Ka`bah, and every day 70,000 angels enter it. The Prophet entered it and prayed in it, along with the spirits of some of the elect of Allah. Then he came to al-Sidrat al-Muntahā, a tree whose size and beauty is indescribable. Were one of its leaves to fall it would cover the heavens and the earth. This is the end point of the knowledge of creation.
It was here that Jibrīl stopped. He said that if he went any further, he would burn but he told the Prophet to continue his journey alone.

The Divine Meeting

He duly ascended to the Throne of Allah and fell into prostration. Mūsā had been ordered to remove his sandals when Allah spoke to him, but the Beloved was not ordered to do so. Allah then ordered him to raise his head and he addressed Allah: “Greetings, blessings and the best of prayers to Allah.”
Allah responded: “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.”
At this point, when Allah was manifesting Himself to him, the Prophet wished to remember the pious members of his Ummah and the previous nations. He said: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious slaves.”
The angels of the heavens then cried out: “We testify that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.”
When Allāh spoke to him, He said: “I have taken you as My beloved and I have expanded your heart and raised high the esteem in which you are held so that whenever I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me. I made your nation the best of nations and I made them the last and the first on the Day of Judgement. I made you the first prophet to be created and the last to be sent.” Allāh thus spoke gently to His Beloved and reminded him of His blessings upon him. He said things to Him which only He knows.

The Blessed Gift

He made fifty prayers compulsory on his nation. This was eventually reduced to five with the reward of fifty. Are those who are unable to perform the five not ashamed of their Lord? What would they have done if it was fifty prayers that they had to perform? Allāh made five prayers compulsory upon His slaves, in which there is the opportunity to converse with Allāh and draw close to Him. “The closest the slave is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.”
The Prophet was blessed with the vision of his Lord, a blessing which no-one else will receive until they enter Paradise. The vision cannot be understood in a conventional way since Allah is transcendent and cannot be limited to a place or direction. Some Muslims deny that the vision of Allah is possible and we agree with them that the vision of Allah in a conventional sense is impossible. However, we understand the vision of Allah to be something far greater than that, a pure manifestation of Allah’s light, which is indescribable.
Sayyidunā Mūsā was keen to receive some of the light that was on the face of the Prophet ﷺ who himself had just seen his Lord. Mūsā had asked to see Allah while on the earth but his request was not granted. He thus took as much light as he could from the Prophet’s face. The Prophet ﷺ informed us that there will come a time when the Muslims will seek victory through people who had seen him, and later through people who have seen people who have seen him.[5] This shows us that secrets are transmitted through the vision of people’s faces.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺremained firm while witnessing all the things that he witnessed: His vision did not stray, nor did it go wrong[6]; His heart did not lie about what it saw, for truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the greatest.[7]
All of this took place in a few instants. So little time had elapsed that the place where he had been sleeping was still warm. All of these are amazing examples of divine power. We are so accustomed to the pattern of cause and effect and the laws of creation that we tend to forget the presence of divine power in everything. In reality the things which we regard to be normal are miraculous – our sitting and standing, our eating and drinking.
Allah says: Do you see the water which you drink? Did you bring it down from the clouds or did We?[8]
May Allah bestow prayers upon the one who made this awesome journey and may He resurrect us with him. Make us among those who are truthful in their following of him. Do not deprive us of the vision of him in this life, the Barzakh and the next life. Allow us to see the face of the one who You allowed to see Your countenance so that we are ready to see Your countenance in the abode of Your pleasure.

[1] Al-Baqarah, 2:214
[2] In the Islamic calendar the night precedes the day, so what is meant is the night before the 27th day
[3] Al-Isrā’ 17:1
[4] Al-A`rāf, 7:142
[5] Narrated by al-Bukhāri
[6] Al-Najm, 53:17-18
[7] Al-Najm, 53:11
[8] Al-Wāqi`ah, 56:68


Adab 10: The Proprieties of Food and Sleep

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or proprieties of eating and sleeping according to the Sunna.

 

Imam Sha‘rani, the masterful gnostic of the inward sciences, noted that it may well be that the eternal divine pleasure of Allah Most High is found in an act of worship which most people are unconcerned with because of its relative insignificance; and on the other hand, the divine wrath may encircle a relatively meager sin, namely, in the eyes of people. The sunna in its entirety is important, as indicated in the words of the lawgiver, “And don’t deem anything of the good to be insignificant.” (Muslim) Allah Most High cares about the details, especially occasions where heedlessness is normally rife, and when you strive to be gratefully and gracefully prophetic, in whatever capacity you are able, He increases you in wondrous degrees.

One of the great blessings of life is food, so much so, that it serves as a reminder of one of the joys of the hereafter. Allah Most High says, “They will also be served any fruit they choose and meat from any bird they desire.” (Sura al-Waqi‘a 56:20-21) And the gift of rest is not lost on any of us! “And one of His signs is your sleep by night.” (Sura al-Rum 30:23) It is worth noting that food and sleep are mere means, and do not intrinsically cause satiation nor rest. Rather, it is Allah Most High’s creative act at work. But He has commanded that you take the means, as exemplified by His Beloved Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, so we strive to do so as servants seeking to attain unto the divine good pleasure in this life before the next.

1. Eating with Mindfulness

The first thing to keep in mind is the magnitude of the blessing that is food. To be fortunate enough to simply sit with a bowl of food in front of you is sufficient enough as a divine favor. Intend Allah Most High therein, by making His worship your primary aim in eating from the sustenance He has bestowed upon you. Clearly, there are many secondary intentions which may be made at this point, such as gaining strength to fulfill your obligations, to assist those in need, to increase in gratitude, and so on and so forth.

The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us to wash our hands before eating because it brings about “blessings” (Tirmidhi), and to recite the basmala, ideally with the aforementioned presence of mind, heart and soul, “In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate (bismi Llahi Rahmani Rahim).” Some of the righteous would encourage the pronouncement of the short form of the basmala (bismi Llah) with each bite! Proceed to eat with your right hand, unless you have an excuse, as the right is used for noble matters. But there’s no harm in using your left to assist with eating and drinking whenever there is a need.

Once you’re done, you should end with a supplication of praise and wash your hands thereafter. It is reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Praise be to Allah who has fed us, given us to drink, and made us Muslims (alhamdu li Llahi ‘lladhi at‘amana wa saqana wa ja‘alana min al-muslimin).” (Abu Dawud)

2. Eating in Moderation

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that the worst container a human being can fill is his stomach. (Tirmidhi) Accordingly, the sunna is to eat with restraint, and not out of mere desire or fulfillment. The prophetic encouragement was to reserve, “A third for your food, a third for your drink, and a third for your breath.” (ibid.) And as some of the righteous point out, everybody knows their own third! Nevertheless, it is permitted to eat until you are full, and praiseworthy if coupled with genuine, righteous intentions.

It’s also proper to eat when you’re hungry, and not to delay a meal until you are starving. The latter, more often than not, will be a distraction and lead to the kind of covetousness and heedlessness the lawgiver was seeking to direct us away from. It’s important to eat slowly and with dignity. You were created to worship, not eat, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy food. On the contrary, we actually know some of the favored foods of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and on occasion, he would praise food too.

3. Eating with Sunna

From the guidance of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to eat from the side of the plate “and not from its middle” (Abu Dawud) because the “blessing descends in the middle.” (ibid.) This is of particular importance when eating from a shared platter, but equally, may also be implemented in your own, individual plate so that the blessing can continue to descend throughout your meal. Of course, if there are multiple types of food, or parts to the dish, this is excusable, as the recommendation is in the case that the food is of the same type.

One should avoid any form of disrespect toward the food, or any wastage of it whatsoever. This is considered to be a form of ingratitude (kufran al-ni‘ma), and showing such disregard for a tremendous blessing makes one liable to losing it altogether. Further, it is imperative to ensure that you do not use any utensils made of gold or silver. Note that the gold and silver in question is that which is comprised of more than fifty percent of those metals. Otherwise, cutlery or dishes would take the ruling of the preponderating metal used in the alloy.

Blowing on hot food in order to cool it down is acceptable, if without sound, but best avoided unless there is a need because it is indicative of haste and blameworthy covetousness. Moreover, it is reported that eating uncomfortably hot food is a means of its blessing leaving. So what’s proper, then, is to allow the food to cool, and eat when it’s comfortable to do so.

Licking your fingers after eating is also from the sunna because you “don’t know in which part of your food the blessing lies.” (Muslim) Again, remember there is a sunna, or an adab, of the sunna itself. If this isn’t realized, people can often conflate strange or unbecoming behaviour with sunna merely because the words match up. It is important to learn and appreciate true adab lest you ascribe something ugly to the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Finally, using a toothpick or the like is also established prophetic practice, if there is a need for it.

4. Sunna Drinking

The sunna is to begin drinking with the basmala, namely, the same manner in which you begin eating, holding the glass in your right hand. Our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be well-pleased with him) reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Don’t drink in one [breath] like a camel, but drink [in pauses] twice or thrice.” (Tirmidhi) Try to drink with pauses, thanking Allah Most High each time you move the vessel away from your mouth. Further, it is proper to drink in sips and not gulps, which incidentally, facilitates pausing. Gulping is contrary to dignity and it is thus a mannerism disapproved of by the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Sitting to drink is a recommended sunna, and it is improper, yet not religiously wrong nor sinful, to stand without excuse. There are two notable exceptions, however. When drinking the blessed water of ZamZam, the practice of the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to stand in order to drink as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the sunnas of drinking ZamZam are generally the opposite of regular water, perhaps in order to distinguish it for its blessed nature. The same actually applies to the leftover water of the ritual ablution (wudu), for it contains a blessing by virtue of the act of worship which was performed with it.

Importantly, men and women should avoid drinking each others’ leftover water, unless they are spouses or unmarriageable kin (mahram) to one another, as it is something which can arouse sexual desire. This is why the jurists deem it to be generally disliked (makruh).

5. Sleeping with Mindfulness

Just as with food, and in fact, just as with anything, you should make an intention before sleeping. The secret to success in intentions is to direct them to Allah Most High. After that, make secondary intentions which will help you attain unto that one, central point. Thus, intend to strengthen your body for worship, for example, and to give the body its right. “Indeed, your eye has a right over you,” (Bukhari) remarked the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, when he was informed of somebody who was regularly staying up through the night in devoted worship.

Before sleep, you should perform the ritual ablution (wudu), and spend a few moments reciting the prophetic supplications and remembrances (adhkar). There are numerous supplicatory utterances established in the sunna, but a simple formulation is: “O Allah, by Your name I die and I live (allahumma bismika amutu wa ahya).” (Bukhari) Similarly, it is recommended to recite Suras: Ikhlas, Falaq and Nas, and to also recite the tasbih (Subhan Allah), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah) and takbir (Allahu akbar), thirty-three, thirty-three and thirty-four times respectively.

Then, repent for your missteps and erroneous ways so that if your soul is taken that night, your slate will be clean. Repentance takes only a moment of sincerity. And also try to sleep without anything in your heart against your fellow believers, a trait that famously astounded our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, may Allah be well-pleased with him, when he diligently observed one of the Companions who was prophetically singled out as a person of Paradise.

Next, lie on your right side, on a bed that is not too hard nor too soft, with your right hand under your cheek, facing the qibla. If it’s not comfortable for you, do it for a few moments, and ask Allah Most High to bless you with an increase in sunna in your life. Avoid sleeping on the stomach as it is a posture disliked by Allah Most High, the posture of the inhabitants of the Fire – may Allah protect us all. Of course, if you have an excuse or a reason to do so, then it would be fine, but the basis is that when you have a choice, you don’t choose this posture over others.

6. Sunna Sleep

One of the wonders of the prophetic sunna is the encouragement to take a midday nap (qaylula), ideally at some point between the Islamic midday (al-dahwa al-kubra) and the entry of the noon prayer (zuhr). The exception to this would be Fridays, where the scholars recommend doing so after the Friday prayer (salat al-jumu‘a). Our Master Sahl ibn Sa‘d, may Allah be well-pleased with him, commented, “We didn’t used to take midday naps nor eat our morning meals, except after the Friday prayer.” (Bukhari) If you cannot do anything more due to work or other commitments, laying down with your eyes closed for a few moments would minimally suffice.

You should also keep in mind that propriety in sleeping entails avoiding the disliked times, usually the kind of times which could lead a person to miss the congregation, or worse, the prayer entirely. According to some scholars, sleep after the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr) is disliked, but Imam Tahawi explained that the soundest traditions (ahadith) actually permit sleep at this time. Sleep after the sunset prayer (maghrib) is particularly cautioned against, and the same principle applies to sleep after the entry of dawn (fajr). Generally, once the prayer time enters, a concerned believer would first pray, as he cannot rest with ease otherwise, and then consider sleeping.

If you experience something frightening in a dream, you should keep it to yourself, seek refuge in Allah Most High from the accursed devil, and then blow thrice to your left side. (Bukhari) If you see something noble, you may tell others about it, but it isn’t ideal to be distracted by dreams from the reality of your life. Dreams are only normally meaningful when godfearingness (taqwa) and piety (birr) permeates your being. Of course, there is a place for dreams, but the most important thing is the whereabouts of the Sacred Law (shari‘a) in your life. Good dreams don’t take people to Paradise.

We ask Allah Most High to increase us in love and following, that we be genuine in our concern, sincere and true in our emulation, and that we be joined with the Greatest Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the next life, for eternity.

And Allah alone gives success.

 


The Two Eyes of Faith – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus reminds us that simple acts arising from complete submission to the will of Allah can do more than move mountains, they can bring people to the religion.

 

We always begin by praising our Lord, Exalted and Most High, and recognizing that al-hamd, that is all praise, is due to our Lord, Exalted and Most High. He is the One that is simultaneously deserving of all praise because of everything that He gifts, not only human beings but all of creation, and He is the One, Exalted and Most High, that is praised for every gift that we experience.

That we show our shukr (gratitude) and our hand (praise) to our Lord, Exalted and Most High, in the greatest blessing of all of the blessings: it is the blessing of “la ilaha illa Allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” The blessing of being affiliated to the best of creation, the Khatim al-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets, sayyidina Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him and his Family and Companions.

This is a blessing that is so great no matter how much that we come to know and appreciate that blessing here in this world, we will only truly come to appreciate it on day on the Day of Judgment. For anyone that is ignorant of whom Muhammad is in this world, everyone will come to know who Muhammad is in the next world. For him belongs the praiseworthy station (maqam mahmud). For him belongs the greatest of all intercessions (shifa‘a al-kubra).

And we know that our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will prostrate beneath the throne and then it will be said to him: “Ask and you will be given. Intercede and you will be granted intercession.” and then our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will intercede for people. But this Day of Judgment is a day that is not easy. It is a day that is subjectively experienced, meaning every single human being will experience the Day of Judgment based upon their degree of faith and upon their acts that they have done.

The very best of all possibilities is for it to be like to light rakats: a couple of minutes. but the very worst of possibilities is that it will be like fifty thousand days. It will be like fifty thousand years. It will be like fifty thousand years – from two light cycles of prayer to fifty thousand years. And there will be people that are somewhere in between.

The Greatest Gift Is Faith

This is why that the greatest gift that we’ve been given as believers is the gift of faith, which means that we can live a life of purpose. This is likewise one of the greatest gifts that we can give to the modern world in which we live. In a day and age where you find people moving further and further away from belief, and that the state that results is oftentimes a state of agitation and a state of panic, because Iman is related to Aman. Iman is related to security.

If you do not have Iman how can you ever ever feel a sense of security? It’s that security that you recognize that you have a Rabb. And our Rabb is Rabb al-‘alamin. He is the Lord and the very meaning of the Rabb is that He is the giver of tarbiya. In other words, that He takes something from its beginning and that He sustains that and He allows it to grow and to thrive until it reaches its fruition.

The ‘alamin is everything that Allah Most High created. Specifically, yes, that we refer to the angels and mankind and the jinn-kind. However, it relates to everything that Allah Most High has created. Everything that we know and everything that we do not know. There is a large percentage of Allah Most High’s creation that we will never ever come to know, because you can’t see it through a microscope or a telescope.

And successively that you find that in relation to the dimensions of creation, that they are larger and that they are larger, and they are more and more vast. And what does our Lord say about the Kursi – Our Lord’s footstool? His footstool encompasses everything that is in the heavens and in the earth.

If you just look at the terrestrial heaven and you look at all of the amazing things that we’ve discovered and the incredible intergalactic distances of the known world, that world that we can either see and observe or that we can determine by a mathematical calculation, it is immense. It it is vast.

But you imagine then what it would be like the other worlds that Allah Most High has created. The other dimensions, the seven heavens for instance, what type of distances are we speaking about here? We can only understand them as a concept. We can’t understand them in reality. If that applies for things even within the terrestrial heaven, what about the other things that our Lord has created, Exalted and Most High?

Seeing with Two Eyes

What is the meaning that we take from that, that relates to our Iman? That we that find a source of security in that, because the Rabb is the One who is going to take care of what He created and what He brought to fruition. This is why we always have to remind ourselves that history is in good hands, with no anthropomorphic meaning. Our Lord is the Lord of history and the Umma of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. There are many things of this Din that you cannot fully understand or comprehend until you take into consideration the next world, the afterlife.

There are certain things that you will never fully come to understand their wisdom in this world, until you see the way that it’s played out in the next. Much of the suffering that we see happening right now, as we speak to the Muslim world, to the Muslim community, and to individuals. We don’t even need to list names because there’s such a long list now that it would take too long to list in how many places that there is affliction and calamity and difficulty, that were you to think about just one incident, it’s hard to really wrap your head around.

Well, what gives you a source of solace is to know that we have a Lord who is Just, and that no one, not one human being ever that has ever lived, after the Day of Judgment happens, will ever feel like they have not been given their right. Everyone will be gifted their right. Every single human being who was wronged will be given retribution.

We should always remember that history is in good hands. We should always remember that the Umma of our Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. That Allah brings forth, in other words, the punishment of this Umma when we go astray in this world before the next.

One Foot in the Hereafter

We have to learn, to teach ourselves to see things from two perspectives. We have to see everything from the standpoint of it being the divine decrees unfolding right before our eyes. Snd also how it is that we that judge that particular incident outwardly from the standpoint of the Shari‘a. We have to look at everything simultaneously in two ways.

That applies to even a sickness that we get. If we all of a sudden find out that we’ve been diagnosed with cancer what is our first response? If we’re no different than any other people, our first response will be one of panic. But to degree that there is Iman will be to the degree that we see that illness or sickness or disease or terminal condition in light of our faith.

I actually know an individual, and this is someone that I met and saw him with my own eyes. This might sound a bit strange but this shows you what happens when you have strong Iman. You have an ability to interpret or, in other words, respond to the divine decree in a way that other people simply can’t do.

This person, when he was informed that he had cancer, the very first thing he did was smile. And they asked him, “Why on earth are you smiling?” He said, “I see this as: now this is the time that I’ve been waiting for. which this is the time for me to meet my Lord.” He interpreted that sickness in a very different way than someone else would.

And we don’t enjoin sickness upon anyone. We don’t want that for our own selves, but when it comes, outwardly you do all the treatments necessary to cure yourself of that disease or sickness. However, when the time comes for us to meet our Lord what is our state? What is going to be our state when we take our last breath, which for us is the ultimate moment of truth?

We Die the Way We Live

Generally speaking we die according to the way that we lived and we will be raised according to the way that we die. So we need to remind ourselves of the life that we’re living here in this world. This world is perishing in and of its nature. It’s been created to do so. Whether it’s going to collapse on itself or whether it’s going to expand so much that it freezes. We don’t really know what’s going to actually happen, and how our Lord, Exalted and Most High, is going to destroy the heavens in the earth. Hut we know it’s going to happen when He wills it to happen.

For us when we take our last breath, that is the Sa‘at al- Sughra. That is the “lesser of the two hours,” because we should always remember that sleep is the brother of death. Likewise our own death is, in that sense, the little brother of the greater Hour, because then we transition into the next world.

Our Prophet taught us, blessings and peace be upon him, that the grave is the first stage of the stages of the afterlife. We know that the grave will either be a garden from the gardens of paradise or a pit from the pits of hell. May Allah, Blessed and Most High, grant us refuge from any punishment in the grave, because if we’re unable to bear that punishment in the grave – and who can? – then how are we going to be able to bear the punishment of the Day of Judgment, let alone what happens after that?

We are all, in that sense, miskin (in dire need) before our Lord, Exalted and Most High, who has decreed that there are two final abodes. This is not about the human beings’ choice. Will the human being have everything that he desires? It is not about what you want, and it is not about what I want, or what anyone else wants. This is the decree of the One who has the traits of Irada, of Divine Will, and He does whatever He wants. If He wills for something to happen, He says “Be! And it is.” How do we respond to that? With complete and total submission.

This is one of the most beautiful things of all, if anyone has had that experience here in this blessed masjid – to have not been in a life of faith and then convert to this blessed religion, and to experience the beauty of submission. Because the reality is is that we’re not in control. If anyone thinks they’re in control it’s a delusion. Thinking that we’re in control is illusory. It’s a delusion.

We Have No Control

We are not in control. And when we learn to submit to the One who is truly in control… How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded to have tawakkul – to place our trust in Allah? How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded of these traits? “And I assign my affairs over to Allah.” None of this negates taking the means. We are required to take the means, but we’re also required to place our trust in our Lord, Exalted and Most High.

Living up to these principles is what’s going to enable us as a community to navigate any difficult time. And for us this is really what it’s all about. In the society outside this door, when you walk out through the streets, when you meet and greet people ,when you’re in the store, when you’re at work, when you’re at school, I just have a plea.

Please remember that whether you realize it or not there will be people looking at you. There will be people that take their understanding of Islam based upon how you interact with them. I just want you to remember that people like myself who didn’t know anything about Islam, if we would have met people who brought a bad name to Islam, how would we have entered into this Din?

This is an absolute responsibility upon the shoulders of every single person in this room. No one is exempt – man woman and even children, although they’re not taken to account until they become legally responsible. We are required to have principled engagement. What is principled engagement? It is that we immerse ourselves in the meanings of Iman, in the meanings of Islam, and in the meanings of Ihsan. Then we engage based upon these principles.

We make contributions in every situation or circumstance that we find ourselves in. It’s very simple there’s people think that there’s some type of overly sophisticated, complicated, philosophical way that we need to be in the societies in which we live. Yes, there is an element of strategy that needs a lot of thought. However, it’s very simple. As believers we very simply need to be.

Try to Just Be Muslim

If we would just be in all the meanings of being – bringing to life the Sunna of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, that would speak with mute eloquence, much more eloquently than anything else that we could say merely on the tongue. Our actions would speak much louder than our words, and what would happen then is that the light of the teachings of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – which is the secret of the penetration of Iman and it’s absorption in the heart of individual – would spread amongst the peoples’ hearts that are around.

Our Lord speaks about “the one who was dead and We brought him back to life,” and then what? That “We brought him back to life and We made him light spread amongst people.” If you look at the way that this is expressed, it is that light flows and it emanates in mankind (fi al-nas).” And for those for whom it has been preordained, they’re going to accept that guidance. It will come to their hearts.

The more that we live up to these teachings, that we live up to these principles, the more people will experience the beauty of “la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah.” By Allah! There is nothing more beautiful than this Din. There is nothing more beautiful than the way of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, his Sunna and all of his teachings.

What we’re required to do is to embrace that beauty so we become beautified through it. To embrace that light so we become enlightened through it. And then share it freely with people, inwardly and outwardly, and see ourselves as servants of all of humanity. If we did this we would see amazing things.


This article is a edited transcript of a Friday sermon given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus at London Muslim Mosque as part of the Age of Anger – Southern Ontario Tour, April 2017.


 

The Unconditional Hope – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us of one of the sunnas of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which is that he never lost hope, had complete trust in Allah, and His plan.

 

One of the key sunnas of our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is that our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, was always positive. He was always full of hope in Allah Most High. It didn’t matter what was happening to him; what was happening around him; the Prophet’s hope and positive attitude was unconditional.

The reason for this is that the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is the hope that Allah Most High has commanded believers to have. It is not a home based on your hopefulness of whether things will work out according to your plans, according to your means, according to your facilitation.

Normally when we hope is when we think things are going right – that I’ve got things in order, so I’m hopeful. You prepared so you say, “I am hopeful that this will work out.” This is worldly hope. But the nature of dunya is that things are not in your control. Zubayr may want to marry Zubayda, but it’s not in his control. Uncle Jamil’s involved. And there’s a big problem of Zubayda herself.

As the poet said, “I went mad and madly in love with Layla, but she went madly in love with someone else.” And the most difficult of madness is her madness. And you feel you are going to lose hope, because why are things not working out according to my plans? They’re not working out according to my circumstances.

In our times when so many things around us are so distressful that we want our communities, not just in the West but also in the Muslim lands, to be communities of faith, communities of Mercy, communities of excellence, communities that embody the good that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, has come with of the religious good. But also spreading that mercy and beauty and excellence that is the embodiment of the prophetic way.

Though we see much that is not the way we want it – not the way that we would hope – and then distressful things happen. Syria is happening. Iraq is happening. The Rohingya situation in Burma. What’s going on in Congo. What’s going on in Sudan. Name a country and there’s problems. What is going on in India with Muslim rights being under threat. What is going on with the rise of Islamophobia in Canada.

We were hopeful for a while there: “Trudeau’s in power and this and that. Everything’s “fine.” So we had hope as things seem to be going well, but then all these things happen and “Oh, what’s going on?” People lose hope. This is all from shortsightedness of the Sunna of our beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him.

The True Nature of Hope

The reality of hope that Allah Most High has called us to have – the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – is not a hope that’s dependent on ourselves. It’s not a hope that is dependent on our circumstances. It’s not a hope dependent on whether things are going according to our plans and the way things appear to us. Our hope is in Allah Most High and the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.

We can’t even begin to imagine the states of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Ima al-Ghazali said that “No one knows a prophet in reality except a prophet.” What makes a prophet a prophet is the fact, the reality, that they receive revelation from the Lord of the universe. That’s what prophethood is. That this person is being directly granted revelation from beyond creation, from the Lord of the unseen.

How can any one who doesn’t experience that reality truly comprehend what is a prophet? We see some shadows of what the prophetic reality is in his teachings, in his guidance, in his example. But what is his reality? As one of the Sahaba said, “My eyes never had their fill of The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. We never gained everything that we could from him.”

The Prophet’s hope, blessings and peace be upon him, is in his Lord and his Lord is beyond limits – beyond limitation. Allah Most High has called us to place our hope in Him. He has called us to place our trust in Him. He has called us to seek from Him. But He has also made promises that He is the sufficiency; that He will fulfill the hope of all those who place their hope in Him. That he will take care of those who trust in Him. That he answers the call of those who call upon Him.

Three Basic Realities

These are three basic realities that we can never forget. That Allah has commanded us to have hope in Him and promised us. That He will fulfill the hope of those who place their hope in him. He will take care of all who trust in Him. That He answers the call of those who call upon Him. “Whoever places their trust in Allah, He is their complete sufficiency.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:3) And His promise is a reality. “Allah does not go against his promise.” (Sura Aal Imran 3:9)

We believe this, so our hope, that hope that we see manifest in our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is not a contingent hope. It is not a hope dependent on ourselves or on anything in creation. Our hope is in Allah Most High. Our trust is inAllah. We don’t trust based on our taking of means. The key for that is our dua.

Many people make grave mistakes when they make dua, that “Will Allah answer my dua?” This is not permissible to think. It’s not permissible to think because Allah Most High tells us, “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” (Sura al-Ghafir 40:60) Our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Call upon Allah with complete certainty (yaqin) in His response.”

It is actually a point of aqida. If you look at in the classical works of Islamic beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna, [this is] one of the principles they mention – so this is not just a matter of fiqh. It’s not just a sunna to make dua. It’s a point of aqida. Imam Ibrahim al-Laqqani in Jawharat al-Tawhid, says: “The truth is that dua benefits.” This is a point of belief.

Allah tells us: “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” Allah Most High also tells us: “If my servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:186)

We believe this. It is manifest truth. So we should uphold this. Are you feeling hopeful about your own faith? Are you feeling hopeful about your family, your children? Are you feeling hopeful about our community? Are you feeling hopeful about the Umma of the Beloved of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him? If your answer is not “Absolutely!” then your hope is misaligned with the hope that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, has taught us.

Because our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is not in others. Our hope is not in circumstances. Our home is in Rabb al-‘alamin, the Lord of all existence. And who is the Rabb? Even the meaning the word Rabb – we typically translate it as Lord. But Rabb has the meanings of mercy. He is the caring, the cherishing, the nurturing, the loving.

Rabb Is of the Names of Mercy

When we say, Allah, this called lafdh al-jalala: the Name of Majesty. It is the absoluteness of Allah. But Rabb is from the Names of Mercy. The ulama tell us that when we make dua from the dua of the Qur’an and the Sunna – when we say, “Allah,” the predominant meaning is of awe of Allah and of our neediness before Allah. But when we say, “Rabb” – “Rabbana atina fi al-dunya asana, wa fi al-akhira asana, wa qina min adhab al-nar,” for example – Lord, we say this with hope and with a sense of Allah’s mercy. That is why it is better to translate Rabb as “the merciful Lord, the cherishing Lord, the caring Lord, the loving Lord.”

This is where our hope lies. Our hope is in Allah. “Upon Allah, let trust those who place their trust,” as Allah Most High tells us. (Sura Ibrahim 14:12) Our master Umar, Allah be pleased with him, relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Were you to trust upon Allah as He deserves to be trusted,” with a sense of whom are you placing your trust in, because even in worldly life most people aren’t that trustworthy but there are some people that, if they give you their word, you know they’ll do it. So we trust them, but what about the One who’s sustaining all existence? If He makes you a promise and He has told you to trust in Him and everything tells you that this is true?

“Whoever places their trust in Allah then Allah is their sufficiency.” To the extent that you place your trust in Allah, to that extent He will be sufficient for you. So we should not feel at all afraid about the way things are. We should not lose hope [asking] “What will happen to my din? What will happen to my family? What will happen to my children? What will happen to my community? What will happen to the Umma?

Our responsibility is to have hope. That’s why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, though full of concern was always positive and cheerful. Even in Mecca when people were being oppressed, even his own Companions, he would be unerringly positive, blessings and peace be upon him. He would promise the Sahaba that a day will come and tell them of how things would be in the future. Why? Because he has absolute trust in Allah Most High, absolute hope in Allah. We should be wary of losing hope. Of fearing things around us.

Trust in Actions Is Misplaced

One of the great scholars of our din Ibn Ata’illah says, in one of the great works of Islamic spirituality, [al-Hikma], which is explaining the sunnas of the heart of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him: “From the signs that you are relying on actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” When disliked matters occur.

From the signs that you’re relying on actions, whether it’s your actions or the actions of others. – What will my children do? What will my family do? What will my community do? What will the Umma do? – Are you relying on them? If you do then here’s a basic principle: The dunya disappoints. You’ll be disappointed.

Rather we are commanded, we are obligated, to hope in Allah, to trust in Allah, and to seek from Allah. The test of that is when distressful things happen does it shake your hope, your reliance, your trust, and it shouldn’t, because the giver is not you. The giver is not people. The giver is Allah Most High.

The test of hope though is what Allah Most High tells us in Sura al-Kahf 18:110, “Whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let him work righteousness.” So you have that hope that I want to meet Allah in a good state. I want to meet Allah and he is pleased with me. I want to meet Allah. with him accepting me amongst his beloved servants. You have that hope.

Our responsibility is not to worry, is not to be concerned. Our responsibility is to act with excellence. Like they say in the service industry, “you don’t ask what is going on. Your responsibility is service with a smile.” Keep smiling and keep serving, and you get paid. It doesn’t matter if the company is making money. It’s not my business. You’re working for the Lord of the universe. There is no loss in the business of being a servant of Allah. This business is lasting until the Last Day, so don’t worry.

The other part of worrying is, who makes things happen? Some people get so distressed: “Oh my God, what happened in London?” Yes, we are saddened, angered, upset, at what happened. But insofar as this is wrong, and this is not what we should do, and this is something that we have to say has nothing to do with our religion, has nothing to do with our Prophet, has nothing to do with what we accept. But taking it beyond that to being worried about what’s going on in this world? Guess what? Allah is the Creator of everything.

What You Don’t Have to Worry About

Everything happens by Allah’s decree. There’s a wisdom in it. You don’t have to worry about that part. What you do have to worry about is: “Let them do works that are righteous, that are good,” so when distressful things happen it’s not your business. Why are they happening? Did you do it? No. If you did you have to repent and redress and so on. But that’s your action. If you didn’t do it why you feeling responsible for it?

Your responsibility is, what can I do about it? So what do we do? Renew your hope in Allah. Renew your trust in Allah. Ask Allah for the good. No amount of news will change things. If anything it will put you more down, make you more fearful, make you more hesitant and less trusting. Rather, renew your hope in Allah, renew your trust in Allah, and ask Allah for the good. If it’s a test you are facing, ask Allah for the good for yourself. If it’s a test happening elsewhere, ask Allah for the good in that situation.

Many people say, “Oh my God, what’s going on in…?” Name the country. Even if you answer that question does it make things better? No, so you ask Allah for the good. That is hope. It is seeking the good from Allah and then taking the means for that good yourself. So you say, “Okay, there are people who are misguided. Individuals in our communities with wrong understandings of religion. Whatever caused them to be instigated, to be alienated, there’s no justification for the wrong, because our religion then teaches us that we are people of principle. Our Messenger is a Messenger of principle. So even if someone else is doing wrong, even if others are doing wrong ,it does not allow us to do the wrong.

Read how the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, entered Mecca after two decades of being wronged, then abused and attacked and opposed and derided. That is what we take as our standard. We only respond with the good or that which is better.

So you asked for the good and then wonder, What can I do about it? Now you might not be able to do something about what happens in London. You may not be able to do something about what happens in Iraq. Say, Well there is something I can do? There are wrong understandings of religion being promoted. I want to promote good understandings of religion. These people who have bad impressions of Islam. I want to be involved in our own community to spread sound perceptions of Islam. How? Just uphold the Sunna. Feed people. Give gifts to people. Thank people.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was nursed for a brief period of time by sayyida Halima al-Sa‘diyya, and of course he was nourished when he was a child. Five decades later, more than fifty years later, in Madina, if anyone from her tribe would come to Madina, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would honor them. Why? He taught us that “Whoever does not express thanks to people does not thank Allah.”

We don’t do good in the community, in the society, for public relations. We do it because we are followers of the Beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. Thank people. We live in a society where so many things work well. Have we thanked the garbage collectors? Have we thanked the people who are putting salt on our roads so the cars do not slip? There are so many things that happen well in our community, in our society.

Thank people. Give respect where respect is due. Be part of good initiatives because – that’s the question for us – we don’t have to fear, we don’t have to be scared, we don’t have to lose hope. Rather, the believer, our hope is in Allah. We ask Allah for the good and then we take the means to it. And that’s it.

A Beautiful Reminder

We’ll close with a beautiful example of the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allahe be pleased with him, had prepared for the Hegira in advance. He knew that it that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was most likely going to migrate too. And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told him to hold back. So he was hopeful that he’ll be the one who traveled with the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He hadn’t asked explicitly, but he’d already purchased his mount and the mount for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, a month in advance.

This is action. Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, did not worry. “Who will I travel with? Who will the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, travel with? Oh, my goodness, what’s going on?” You place your trust in Allah, but you take the means with excellence. When they left on the Hijra – of course the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, paid for his own mount, even though much of his wealth had been misappropriated by the Meccans. He paid for it in full. It is one of the miracles of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Where did he pay from for things when you didn’t have money?

When they headed out sayyidina Abu Bakr was doing something really strange because he was concerned. Sometimes he’d walk ahead of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He’d be looking around. Sometimes he’d walk to the right of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes he’d walk behind the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes to his left and then back to the front.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, smiled and said, “O Abu Bakr, why are you walking in this way?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, when I think that they may attack I walk ahead of you. When I think that they may catch up to us from the back, I walk behind. What if they try to ambush us from left or right? I stand on that side.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was just smiling. Why? Because his trust in Allah. Review the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. We should all connect to it.

In the cave, sayyidina Abu Bakr, out of his overflowing love and concern for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, he was taking the means, but his heart was, at that time, a little overwhelmed. According to some narrations he ripped his own clothing, as much as he could, to plug the holes in the cave, and he stuck his toe, it is said, in some narrations, and he was getting bitten by the scorpion. And his face was changing but he made no noise, because he didn’t want to disturb the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, when he was resting.

When they saw that the enemy approaching, he said to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “They just have to look towards their feet and they will see us!” What the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said then is something that applies for eternity. It is an eternal eternal truth.

When he says to his Companion – sayyidina Abu Bakr is the Companion of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, by the word of the Lord of the Heavens – “Fear not. For Allah is with us.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:40) This is the message. Don’t be afraid of all these things. Allah is the Lord of the world. We place our hope in Allah. We place our trust in Allah. We asked Allah Most High and He said, “Call upon Me and I will answer you.”

So don’t worry about your faith, in this sense take, the means. Don’t worry about your children. Don’t worry about your family. Don’t worry about your community. Don’t worry about the Umma. Ask Allah for the good, but then take the means, with excellence, to fulfill it.

And always remember, “Fear not. For Allah is with us.”

 

 


This article was transcribed and edited from a Friday khutba delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in March 2017 at the Jame Masjid Oakville, Noor-ul-Haram.


 

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Seeking Beneficial Knowledge

In this series of five videos, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers some common questions people ask about seeking knowledge.

 

1. Why study Islam?
2. Don’t I know enough already?
3. What should I prioritize in my study?
4. Who should I study with?
5. When reconnecting or considering Islam, where do I begin?

Resources for Seekers

The Blessed Experience of Seeking Knowledge, by Shaykh Faiz Qureshy
Ten Adab of Seekers of Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge
10 Steps to Firm-Footedness in Seeking Knowledge of Fiqh

The Elements of Gratitude

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani takes a very close look at the meaning of gratitude in Sura Ibrahim 14:7 and how gratitude can be shown in every moment of our lives.

Why do we obey Allah? Out of gratitude. “Should I not be a servant who is truly grateful?” If we look at the Qur’an, Allah tells us in Sura Ibrahim 14:7. There’s a context to this which, is our master Musa’s proclamation to Bani Israel and so on. You can read the tafsir of the context. There’s a specific context to this verse. It’s one of the marvels of the Qur’an.

If a friend of mine and I are having conversation and you strip it of its context, what will happen? It won’t make sense. But the Qur’an has a specific context either within the text of the Qur’an itself or the context of Revelation. That gives insight into the meaning, but the general meaning of the words is not affected by the context, in so far as the general meaning still applies.

If someone asked me: “All right have you had lunch?” And I say: “No. I haven’t. I’m hungry.” If I say I am hungry, it doesn’t apply for all the time. It just applies in this context. But the guidance of the Qur’an, though there’s a specific context here related to Bani Israel. This is what our master Musa is told to tell them: “When your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, surely, My punishment is severe.’”

A Serious Proclamation

There are a number of things related to this verse. Ibn Ajiba in his tafsir, Al-Bahr al-Madid, mentioned that the first thing is: This is a proclamation from Allah. An adhan is a public announcement is a public announcement. So it’s much more emphatic than simply saying something. You are announcing it widely.

But it’s not just that. It says: “wa idh ta’adhdhana Rabbukum.” The tafa‘‘ala pattern in the Arabic language conveys active effort. That is, your Lord fully proclaims – fully proclaims. This is meant like, “Get it!” It’s not just an announcement. This is in bold, red, capital letters. A major proclamation. This is not just something Allah is telling you. He’s proclaiming. Pay attention.

It’s difficult to to translate the Qur’an. It’s impossible to translate the Qur’an because to catch the eloquence you have to be brief, but to convey the meaning you’d have to be very wordy. So “When your Lord openly proclaims, widely, demanding full attention for the proclamation.” Then comes a conditional statement. “If you are grateful then We shall surely grant you increase.”

The Elements of Gratitude

How are you grateful? The scholars of tafsir say, the believers’ gratitude is to respond to the gift of life with recognition of the Bestower of gifts through having faith. Because if you recognize that your life is a gift, who is it a gift from? It’s a gift from the Creator. So, believe in Him! That’s the first element of gratitude.

Then if you recognize that Allah has granted you health, has blessed you with these limbs, what is the recognition for your physical blessings? It is righteous deeds. Each limb has blessings that are due for them.

Literally if you translate the verse, you say, if you have been grateful. It’s put in the past tense. In the Arabic language when you put something in the past tense meaning: “If you are fully grateful,” that gratitude is a standard. It’s not just something you do. It’s done with. You have full gratitude.

The response to your gratitude, Allah emphasizes this several fold in saying “la’azidannakum.” The letter lam here is for emphasis. The letter nun is also for emphasis. The fact that is formed as a conditional sentence, “If you are grateful, then I will grant you increase,” is also for emphasis.

The Promised Increase

It’s fascinating, because what will you be granted an increase in? Normally someone says, e.g. if you clear the snow from the driveway, I’ll give you…” and you mention what you will give. But Allah Most High says: “I will grant you increase.” But the increase is not specified. Meaning it’s unconditional.

The gratitude is a condition. What are you grateful for? Whatever you’re grateful for you’ll be granted increase beyond measure. Beyond measure. Now this increase is both of the good of this life and the good of the next as we know from the Qur’an. So gratitude secures increase in worldly terms but there is also the eternal increase of reward.

The basic increase of any good deed is that Allah rewards it tenfold. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, tells us: “A good deed is rewarded tenfold, up to 700 times, to many times thereof.” One of the things that takes the good deed from having ten rewards to having 700 or beyond measure is if you do the same thing with gratitude Allah will reward it far more than doing the same deed with sincerity but lacking in gratitude.

The Sunna of Action

The sunna of action is that anything that you do should have two qualities. One is sincerity. That will secure you some multiplication for your reward. But the other key to increase the spiritual impact and the eternal rewards is gratitude. That’s the prophetic way. “Should I not be a servant who is truly grateful?”

The scholars mention that if you look at prophetic teachings; if you are grateful, Allah does not say, If you are grateful for the things that are pleasing to you. That is the obvious gratitude. If there’s something pleasing to you be grateful. That is the common person’s gratitude. But the true believers’ gratitude – the gratitude of the righteous believer is in pleasing things but also in difficulty and distress, because the distress is also from Allah Most High.

This is why Ibn Ata’illah in his Hikam says: “If f you can see Allah’s giving when He withholds from you then Allah’s withholding becomes from His giving itself.” Why? Our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, says in a sahih hadith: “How strange are the affairs of the believer, because their affair is all for their good. That’s for no one but the believer. Pleasing things happen to them, they are grateful and that is for their good. Distressful things happen to them, they are contentedly patient, and that too is for their good.”

The Meaning of True Patience

Contented patience is a branch of gratitude, because the patience of the believer is not a begrudging patience. “What can I do about, you know? Just grit my teeth and deal with it.” That’s not gratitude. That’s not patience. They say that the beginning of true patience is leaving complaints.

There is a level below patience which is making yourself be patient. Which is take a breath, don’t complain, but you feel complaint within. That’s not patience. That’s not steadfastness. That is what is called “making yourself be patient.”

True patience has gratitude in it. True gratitude is to see everything as a blessing from Allah. Allah Most High tells us: “Say, it is all from Allah.” Gratitude in one sense has an action and a response. The action is Allah’s, which is, it is all from Allah. Whatever comes to you is from Allah, so you see everything as from Allah.

Your response is to respond in the way pleasing to Allah. That is gratitude. Divine action–human response. The human response is the response that Allah has called you to have. And the response that Allah has called you to have in each situation.

What is the response that Allah has called you to have in each situation? That’s a sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. In any situation there is an outward sunna and an inward sunna. It’s action and attitude. That’s basically life.


When You Can’t See the Vision, Trust the Visionary

Imam Siraj Wahhaj share his thoughts on the importance of supporting SeekersHub and the SeekersHub Islamic Scholars Fund.

Assalaam alaykum, brothers and sisters.

I have become a lover of the SeekersHub. I mean I fell in love with Shaykh Faraz. I’ve always loved the Shaykh, Alhamdulillah. You know what you remind me of? I think of you and I think of something that the Prophet, upon him be blessings and peace, did with his wife Aisha. He said one day, “Ya Aisha… Oh Aisha, here is Jibril, and he’s given you the salams. He’s saying to you: ‘Assalam alaykum.’” She said, “Peace and blessings be upon him and the mercy of Allah. You see, what I don’t see.”

“You see what I don’t see.” And sometimes when you can’t see the vision then trust the visionary. The insight and the wisdom of what has been done with you and others is astounding. It is so great I’m embarrassed that more people don’t know about it and I’m embarrassed that more people don’t help it.

So I’m going to spend a couple of minutes in trying to show our support for this fine institution. I want to tell you something. You know Allah blessed me and every time I say this, Shaykh, I get this big response. I’m going to tell you how many children I have.
Allah blessed me with nine children. I told you.

Instilling Sadaqa

And the one thing I will tell you that I’ve always done. I’ve always given my children allowance. How many of you give your children allowance? Raise your hand. How many don’t? Mashallah, mashallah. But I always believed in giving my children allowance. I gave them allowance every week but I would always tell them that whatever allowance I give you you should give some to sadaqa.

And you know when you have children whenever you give them a commandment, you should look at their faces, shaykh. So one of my children, Muhammed, may Allah bless him, he looked like he had an attitude when I said give some money. The allowance, give it to sadaqa. And I said, “Muhammed, what’s the matter?” He said nothing. I knew better. I know my son. I said, “Muhammed what’s the matter?” “Nothing.” I said, “Come on man, I know you. What’s the matter?”

He said, “Dad, how come I got to give some money to Sadaka?” Sadaka is a name of his older sister. True story. And he thought he had to give money to Sadaka. You know you will learn today, none of you ever knew my kunya. You know what my kunya is? Abu Sadaka. Sadaka is my first child. So I am Abu Sadaka. So today I want you to give to Sadaka, she lives in New York. No.

Food for Thought

I just want you to think about this, right? I’m going to ask you for your financial support and the beautiful thing about this; what we’re asking you for tonight ain’t much. When you study the Qur’an you will see that often in the Qur’an Allah is speaking to the Prophet, peace be upon him. It is almost as if we’re like on the outside listening to this conversation that Allah is having with the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him.

Example, you said the word “qalat.” He said “qalat” (she said). But if he said the word “qul” what does that mean? “Say…” It’s a command. But the Arabic language is very precise. So when you say “qul” you’re not talking about two people. You’re not talking about a bunch of people. You’re not talking about women. You’re talking about one person and that’s Muhammed, peace be upon him. I counted over 360 something times in the Qur’an where Allah says to Muhammed, peace be upon him, “qul,” say this.

I’m going to show you another, part of another verse where Allah is speaking to the Prophet, peace be upon him. Listen to how Allah says it. “They ask you, oh Muhammed, ‘How much should we spend?’” Allah is telling the Prophet that the people asking you, “What should we spend?” “Qul.” “Say, what is extra.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:219) Why is that important?

In my community, in other communities, we have people literally who work two and three jobs just to make ends meet. They work two and three jobs just to have a place to live in. They work two and three jobs to put food on the plates of their family. Others Allah blessed with more. They have what is called disposable income meaning that after they pay all of their expenses, they pay for their rent, they pay for everything, and yet they still got money left.

Compete in Charity

Let me tell you something about the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them. They, you know, they’re so pure. In this hadith some of the poor of the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him came to him, and I don”t want to use the word complain, so I put it in quotation marks. They complained to the Prophet, peace be upon him. The rich ones, the wealthy are among us. They take away the reward. They pray like we pray. They fast like we fast. But they spend out of the excess of their wealth. We can’t be like them. We can’t compete with them. We want more. We want to compete.

I don’t want more money so I can build a better house. I don’t want money so I can get some jewellery. I want more money so that I can give in sadaqa. So today I’m not asking you to spend your rent money. I’m not asking you to spend your food money. I’m asking you to look if you have anything excessive and to spend that.

I want to give you one person and then I’m going to ask for your money. There’s a woman, I think her name is Laurene. I’ll think of her name in a moment. But this is the 25th wealthiest woman in America. 25th wealthiest woman in America. And she’s the 25th wealthiest person, not woman, person in America and the 45th wealthiest person in the world. And you know how much money she’s worth? 19 billion, 500 million dollars. And to put that in perspective she has more wealth than 80 nations you know gross domestic product. That’s how wealthy she is.

What Is Truly Yours

Lot of money, okay. I didn’t tell you her, that was her maiden name. I just wish I could remember her last name, her maiden name. Laurene, yeah. Where did she get her money from? Where she get that 19 billion dollars from? Where she get it from? I’ll give you a hint. I’ll give you her last name, her married name, Jobs. Where’d she get it from? Steve Jobs. How she get it. That money belonged to him. He died, she inherited it. That’s the way it is.

The reality is everything that you have you don’t use it’ll be inherited. This is why the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said the people said, “My wealth, my wealth.” Really, for real? He said, what is really yours is what you eat and consume, what you wear and wear out and what you send ahead in sadaqa, that’s yours.

How do you know? Steve Jobs, his wealth, 19.5 billion dollars belonged to him until he died and it no longer belonged to him. Think about this. The car that you drive one day won’t be your car. All your beautiful clothing, your shoes. Shaykh, am I allowed to ask the sisters a question? Laurene Powell, mercy, I knew the Shaykh would get it. Shaykh, can I ask the sisters a question? Brothers, can I ask the sisters a question? Your permission, Shaykh, can I ask the sisters? [Shaykh Faraz:] “By all means.”

How Many Pairs of Shoes…

By all means. Now sisters you got to be honest with you, right. How many of you own more than two pairs of shoes? Raise your hand. Mashallah, Allahu Akbar. You should see what I see. How many of you have more than five pairs of shoes? Raise your hand. Allahu Akbar, all right.

I’m almost finished. How many of you own more than 10 pairs of shoes? Come on, Mashallah, Allahu Akbar. How many of you have more than 20 pairs of shoes? Come on, Allahu Akbar. The average American woman, okay good, okay.

Oh, ask the brothers. I should ask the brothers. [Women:] “Yes.” I don’t want to ask the brothers. They ain’t got no shoes. They got one or two pairs of shoes (laughter) Let me tell you though, right. The average American woman has 20 pairs of shoes. Average American woman, average, has 20 pairs of shoes.

What’s my point? The point is that there’s going to come a time. Every soul is going to taste of death. What about what we have left? This excess wealth that we have, what are we going to do with it? Why not spend some of it and get some ajar (reward) for SeekersHub?


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Frequently Asked Questions – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. In this segment, he answers some frequently asked questions about the topic.

Q: Should we partner with groups with whom we have some differences of opinion?

A: The Qur’an tells us to co-operate in good and God-fearingness. Is it not wrong to ally with someone on a just cause, however you should take care. Many times, these issues are political in nature, with a sense of “we do something for you, you do something for us.” If you do go into an alliance with such a group, you should go in with eyes open and be clear on which points you agree and don’t.

Q: How should we act as a Muslim minority?

A: For most of Islamic history, Muslims have been the minority, in places like Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and more. Places that do have a Muslim majority, such as Somalia, Indonesia, Kenya and Mozambique, became such without a single Muslim army entering them. Being a minority group is nothing new in Islamic history.

Q: How should we navigate unjust laws? 

A: We need to make a distinction between the laws that we can accept, and the laws that we absolutely cannot accept. For example, if a government makes a low forbidding people from praying five times a day, then we need to do something about it. However, if the law relates to things that are not required by Islam, we should follow it, but can oppose it or work towards it.

Q: How should we view the idea of civil disobedience?

A: On one hand, if we agree to live in a society, we should abide by the law. However, there may be situations that arise when we might need to take action, such as when Rosa Parks protested racial segregation. Civil disobedience does not always mean breaking the law, but we should be careful not to harm the people we seek to convince. For example, having a protest that shuts down an airport, will do the most harm to people who need to fly for medical reasons, or to meet important deadlines. We have to consider what we will be doing, and whether it will actually help the outcome.

Q: What should we do if we are called to jury duty?

A: There is nothing impermissible about being a member of the jury, and it is generally a civic duty. However, you could do what many scholars did, which was to avoid being judges. Once, Imam Abu Hanifa and two other scholars were called to be interviewed for the position of Qadi, or judge. The first pretended to be insane, and Abu Hanifa declared that he was unfit for the post, which caused the ruler to dismiss them both. The third was confused as to what to say, and became the Qadi by default.

Q: What advice would you give to parents of children who feel marginalised?

A: We cannot shield our children from the world, and we should teach them that these things are going to happen. We need to give them a good sense of identity. From a young age, we should instil in them a sense of self-worth, and that the dunya will necessarily include tribulations.

Q: Why is speaking about social justice important, while most Muslims lack even basic tawheed (creed)?

A: Questioning peoples tawheed is questioning their Islam, so that is not a fair assessment to make. If a person believes in Allah and His Messenger, part of their tawheed would necessarily be upholding social justice, as well as the rest of the Prophetic teachings.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?