Eid al-Fitr: A Time to Be Thankful

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Eid al-Fitr (Post-Fasting Festival) is one of the central days of celebration and festivity in Islam. It is a time to be thankful to Allah for the blessing of fasting the month of Ramadan, and the extra worship and good deeds performed in that blessed month. This day is also meant to be a recognition, thankfulnesss, and rejoicing for the material and spiritual favors of God to His creation.2D554755-5073-4FD7-84E2-ECD0E7D0417D.jpg

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

The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “They are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of God.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, an authoritative collection of the sayings of the Prophet.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Faraz Rabbani
Educational Director, SeekersGuidance

SeekersGuidance (www.SeekersGuidance.org)
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Istikhara – a Powerful Prayer When in Need of Guidance

What is the istikhara prayer and how does one perform it?

The istikhara prayer is a very simple prayer of seeking guidance.

  • One prays two rakats at any time that is not disliked, after which one recites the supplication of istikhara.
  • It is best to recite it before sleeping, though in no way necessary.
  • Like other duas, it is recommended that one face the qibla.
  • It is recommended to open the dua of istikhara, with praise of Allah and sending blessings on the Prophet ﷺ and to close it in this manner, too.
  • It is disliked to ‘hasten’ in seeking the answer to one’s istikhara, like other duas, because the Prophet ﷺ said, “Your prayers are answered, unless you hasten, saying, ‘I prayed, but no answer came.’”

The Prayer in Arabic

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِي الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي

Transliteration

Allâhumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azimi, fa innaka taqdiru walâ aqdiru wa ta’lamu walâ a’lamu wa anta allamul ghuyubi. Allâhumma in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra khayrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri faqdir-hu li wa yassir-hu li thumma barik li fihi wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra sharrun li fi dini wa maâshi wa aqibati amri fasrifhu anni wasrifni anhu waqdir liyal-khayra haythu kâna thumma ardini.

Translation

“O Allah, verily I seek the better [of either choice] from You, by Your knowledge, and I seek ability from You, by Your power, and I ask You from Your immense bounty. For indeed You have power, and I am powerless; You have knowledge and I know not; You are the Knower of the unseen realms. O Allah, if You know that this matter is good for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then decree it for me, facilitate it for me, and grant me blessing in it. And if You know that this matter is bad for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then turn it away from me and me from it; and decree for me better than it, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.”

Looking for signs

One should suspend one’s own judgement or inclination about the particular matter, and wait for Allah to show one a sign or to make things happen in a way that indicates what to do. When one is not clear about the result of the istikhara, the fuqaha mention that it is recommend to repeat it, up to 7 times if necessary (usually done on separate occasions). [cf: Radd al-Muhtar].

Shaykh Nuh Keller mentions that the more one prays the istikhara prayer, the clearer its answers become to one. He prays it for all matters, even things one would not imagine doing istikhara for.

It is not necessary that you get a dream or even a “feeling.” Rather, the istikhara is a prayer that Allah guide you towards that which is best (khayr) for you. If you do the prayer of guidance (istikhara) with the proper manners, the most important of which is to truly consign the matter to Allah and suspend your own inclinations, then Allah will make events unfold in the direction that is the best for your worldly and next-worldly affairs.

When unable to offer salah

In general, when it is not possible to perform the istikhara prayer itself (such as when one is out on the road, or in one’s menstrual period), it is recommended to simply read the dua itself. [Radd al-Muhtar]

For even the smallest things

The great Hanafi scholar and hadith expert from Aleppo, Shaykh Abdullah Sirajal-Din mentions in his book on the virtues of prayer that it is the way of many Sufis, including Shaykh al-Akbar Muhiyyuddin Ibn al-Arabi (Allah sanctify his secret), to pray the istikhara prayer at the beginning of their day, after sunrise, asking Allah to guide them in general to all good and to keep away all evil from them.

Istikhara gives the best answer, for one’s worldly and religious life (not worldly life alone), when coupled with another essential sunna: istishara (seeking sound counsel) of those worthy of being consulted and taking the sound means of assessing the situation at hand.

Imam al-Nawawi mentioned that before the istikhara prayer, one should seek advice from those whose knowledge, wisdom, and concern one is confident. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and others mentioned that one of the benefits of this is to further distance oneself from the desires of one’s own egotistic inclinations.

The istikhara prayer may be made for a specific matter or be made for a general seeking of all that is best. Some scholars, including Imam Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rani and Ibn `Arafah before him saw this kind of istikhara prayer as being superior. Others, including Shaykh Ibn al-Arabi, recommended performing a general istikhara prayer for all that is good every day, ideally at the time of the Duha prayer (after sunrise).

One should be pleased with what Allah chooses for one, and not seek to follow one’s whims after the answer to one’s supplication becomes clear. We ask Allah to give us beneficial knowledge, and the success to act upon it in the way most beloved to Him, on the footsteps of His beloved Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Listen to Shaykh Faraz debunk common misconceptions about istikhara in this SeekersHub podcast, including

  • Misconception 1: Istikhara is a prayer in matters of marriage
  • Misconception 2: The signs come in the form of dreams
  • Misconception 3: A sinful person must ask a pious person to perform the prayer on his behalf
  • Misconception 4: Istikhara is only for the big decisions, not small matters

Resources on istikhara and other related matters

How Is Spiritual Excellence Attained?

Question: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) defined spiritual excellence (ihsan) as, “To worship Allah as though you behold Him,” in the Hadith Jibril. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this, and and have found this message of beholding Allah in many other hadiths too, like the hadith in the Forty of al-Nawawi in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Take care of Allah and He’ll take care of You. Take care of Allah, and you will find Him before you…” How is this spiritual excellence reached?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

 

Spiritual excellence (ihsan) comes from a root linguistic sense of perfecting and beautifying something. The state of spiritual excellence (ihsan) is a gift from God, normally granted the one who sincerely and consistently strives to perfect and beautify their faith, submission, worship, conduct, character, and dealings, on the footsteps of the
Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

Spiritual excellence (ihsan) is the result of true sincerity (ikhlas), which is defined as seeking Allah Most High alone in all one’s actions, in the ways most beloved to Him.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Actions are by their intentions,” defining for us that the reality of actions is not in their forms but, rather, in the sincerity of intent underlying them. “And each person shall have whatever they intended,” from which the foremost of his followers realized that the best of what is sought–in every matter–is Allah Himself. This is the essence of the Prophetic concern, and the sum of the Prophet’s way.

Allah Most High tells us, “Truly you have in the Messenger of Allah the most beautiful of examples, for whoever seeks Allah and the Last Day, and makes much remembrance of Allah.” [Qur’an, 33.21] This is spiritual excellence: seek Allah in all your affairs; take the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as your example in all your affairs; uphold that example in the best and most beautiful of ways; and make much remembrance of Allah.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

www.SeekersGuidance.com

Habib Umar – Cautioning Against Greed and Materialism in Australia

Greed and materialism blamed for world woes – The National Newspaper

Conquering the pernicious greed that has savaged the global economy and curbing rampant materialism have been among the key messages brought to Australia by one of the eminent scholars of Islam, Sheikh Habib Umar Bin Salim Bin Hafiz.

Sheikh Umar has spoken to packed mosques and halls in Sydney during a hectic and much anticipated week-long Australian tour that also includes events in Brisbane and Melbourne.

To his supporters, the Yemeni-born cleric is a charismatic and revered descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.

To an enthralled audience of mostly Muslim students crammed into a lecture theatre at the University of Technology, Sydney, he emphasised the critical importance of self-control in suppressing the demons of selfish consumption.

“Those people who believe that this life is just a material existence will find that history has recorded many failures from them in the past and also in the present,” said the softly spoken religious leader, his words in Arabic translated by a colleague.

“They have lost their values and in so doing have lost their very humanity and need to be emancipated from this material cage into a realm which is vast and more sublime.

“The greed for money that is unchecked will produce the likes of the current financial crisis that we see now, just as it has in previous times.”

Speaking after his 40-minute address, he insisted that an insatiable desire for wealth was a cancer that had to be removed.

“When greed and avarice exist within a human being and they don’t have control over them, this person will try to devise ways to bring wealth by any means. So, perhaps they won’t mind if they have to be treacherous or plotting nor will they mind if they harm others. These are powerful causes that lead to any crisis,” he said.

Tyranny, he said, along with Aids, were the result of “the diseases of the human soul” and he was waiting for “a spiritual rain to descend” to wash away such ills.

His ideas have fallen on fertile ground. Australia’s 350,000 Muslims have often felt victimised at the hands of mainstream society following the attacks in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, and, for some, Sheikh Umar’s tour has been an opportunity to re-energise their faith.

“I’ve heard so much about this wonderful, wonderful person,” said Farah, a 23-year-old arts student. “He is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The way he talks is just so amazing, it is so humble, so beautiful and to be in his presence is just an inspiration. He is someone we can learn from.”

Ghassan Baghdadi, 31, who is studying ancient history, was equally enthusiastic about Sheikh Umar’s visit. “I have come seeking more spiritual knowledge and guidance. He is a very different type of Sheikh to what we usually get from other imams. His message is deeper, more spiritual. It’s been a privilege to be here.”

“The world needs more spiritualism,” Mr Baghdadi added. “When you are at peace with yourself, you can accomplish more when you have a clearer mind, a clearer view of life.”

Sara, a 19-year-old law student, said, “Spirituality is not just important to Muslims but even non-Muslims can appreciate the messages he sends across because it is all about humanity and love for the planet, so it is pretty good. Everyone can get something out of it.”

Sheikh Umar lives in the community where he was born in southern Yemen, the ancient town of Tarim that sits in the Hadhramaut Valley, which is steeped in rich theological and academic history.

As a young man, he saw his father, a distinguished scholar, abducted by communist forces. He has never been seen since, and Sheikh Umar has assumed the
responsibility of continuing his father’s work in the field of Da’wah, which promotes and spreads the word of Islam.

His missionary fervour has taken him to all corners of the globe, from the House of Lords in Britain to Africa and the Gulf States as well as Pakistan and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim democracy.

Islamic groups in Australia regard his lecture tour as a chance for Muslims to reaffirm their beliefs that can often weaken under the pressures of modern, western life, according to Ramzi Elsayed, president of the Islamic Council of Victoria.

“He is in the business of connecting people with our creator and god and reviving their spirituality. In a day and age when people are spiritually malnourished, he brings out in people a feeling they don’t often get and that guidance is being embraced.”

“We do find that when we get speakers and scholars of his calibre, it is a big morale boost to the Muslim community. It is uplifting and these messages will linger.”

Prophetic Supplication for Allah’s Love – and the Means to It

Abu’d Darda’ (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said that from the supplication (du`a’) of the Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him) was, “O Allah, I ask You for Your love, the love of those who love You, and the actions that make me attain unto Your love. O Allah, make love of You more beloved to me than my self, my wealth, my family, and from cold water.” [Tirmidhi]

(ت) أبو الدرداء – رضي الله عنه – :قال : قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- : «كان من دُعاء داودَ ، يقول : اللَّهمَّ إِني أسألك حُبَّك ، وحبَّ من يحبُّك ، والعَمَل الذي يُبَلِّغُني حبَّكَ، اللَّهمَّ اجعل حُبَّك أَحَبَّ إِليَّ من نفسي ، ومالي، وأَهْلي ، ومن الماءِ البارِد ، قال : وكان رسولُ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إذا ذُكِرَ داودُ يحدِّث عنه ، يقول : كان أَعْبَدَ البَشَرِ».أخرجه الترمذي .

Islamic Knowledge Podcasts

Download podcasts directly onto your device by visiting the SeekersHub Podcast or click on each individual link for direct download.

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icon-podcastThe Prophet – A Tremendous Blessing

In His Book, Allah Most High describes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a person of tremendous character. In this khutba, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains what a tremendous blessing the Prophet is, and provides practical advice on how to establish a living connection with Allah’s Final Messenger.

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icon-podcastPrayer – The Best Remembrance

(No Summary)

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icon-podcastProphetic Supplication for Guidance, Piety, Restraint, and Freedom from Need

(No Summary)

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icon-podcastSeeking Allah – The Goal of Seeking Knowledge

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Introduction) – This is the first of a series of podcasts in which Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover the text Fada’il al’A’mal by the great Imam Diya’ al-Maqdisi. In this lecture Shaykh Faraz sets the context for approaching this work of hadith.

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icon-podcastWudhu – Purifying Oneself Inwardly and Outwardly

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson One): This is a series of daily podcasts in which Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover the text Fada’il A’mal by the Great Imam Diya al-Maqdisi. In this lesson Shaykh Faraz examines the significance of wudu.

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icon-podcastWudhu and Rising in Rank with Allah

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson Two): It is related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Should I not point you to that which Allah wipes away errors through and by which He raises one numerous ranks.” In this lesson Shaykh Faraz Rabbani comments on the three actions one can do to raise in rank with Allah.

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icon-podcastOpening the Gates of Paradise with Wudhu

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson Three): In this lesson Shaykh Faraz explain how a believer can have the gates of paradise opened by perfecting their wudu. Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever performs the ritual ablution and does so well, and then says, ‘Ashhadu al-la ilaha illa’l Llah(a) wahdahu la sharika lahu wa anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh(u). Allahumma’j`lni mina’t tawwabin wa’j`alni mina’l mutatahhirin (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, One without partner, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. O Allah, make me of the truly repentant and make me of those who truly purify themselves),’ all eight of the doors of Paradise are opened for them–and they can enter from whichever they wish.” [Muslim (144), Tirmidhi (55), and Abu Dawud (169), though Muslim didn’t mention the second part of the supplication]

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icon-podcastThe Virtues of the Call to Prayer

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson Four): ” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), said, “Everything that hears the call of the muezzin — whether jinn, human, or otherwise — will bear witness to it on the Day of Resurrection.” In this lesson Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reflects on the greatness of the call to prayer, and the sunnahs related to the call to prayer.

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icon-podcastVirtues of Supplicating Between the Adhan and Iqama

Understanding Virtue Through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson Five): It is related that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Supplication between the adhan and iqama is not rejected.” In the following lesson Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the merit of calling upon Allah during specific sacred times, and shed light on what a believer should be asking for from Allah.

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icon-podcastVirtues of Building Mosques

Understanding Virtue through the Prophetic Teachings (Lesson Six): It is related that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever builds a mosque seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah builds for them its like in Paradise.” In this lesson Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the importance of building and maintaining mosques.

Restraint in an Age of Excess – by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

In this sermon, the shaykh relates a sound hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that what he feared most for his community was the following of the uncontrolled urges of gluttony and lust. Although we often hear important warnings in sermons and elsewhere against the influence of the sad and tawdry modern culture of immodesty and sexual permissiveness, less attention is paid to the greedy and dysfunctional attitude toward food that the Western monoculture promotes. Yet not only is it a problem against which the the Blessed Prophet strongly warned us (peace be upon him), but one which is increasingly and obviously widespread among Muslims. The shaykh therefore reminds us of the importance of the prophetic virtue of restraint, which has so many important benefits, both spiritual and physical, and discusses how we can attempt to imitate it.

Listen to this sermon or download this sermon (24.0 MB, MP3)

“the Strong Believer Is Better and More Beloved to Allah Than the Weak Believer, Though There Is Good in Both.”

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, though there is good in both.”

See also:

The Believer’s Clarity When Tested: The Power of Patience
The Struggle and Strife Of A Believer’s Life
Will a Believer Who Doesn’t Practice Islam Go to Paradise?
Is There a Prophetic Supplication to Relieve My Hopelessness?

The Best of What You Can Seek From Allah

dua_hands

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Ibn Ata’illah clarified a key to excellence in supplication (du`a’):

“The best of what you can seek from Allah is what He seeks from you.”

Then, he explained that,

“What He seeks from you is fulfilling the rights of His Lordship and the duties of your slavehood.”

The Requisites of Leadership, by Imam Zaid Shakir

imam_zaid_shakirimage18“This lecture examines the requisites of leadership at both the individual and the communal level. It emphasizes the importance of good followers as one of the greatest factors aiding good leadership. Imam Zaid mentions some of the trials leaders will encounter at various levels of endeavor. This lecture will prove insightful for community leaders and organizers as well as for the generality of the community.”

Listen in full on Imam Zaid Shakir’s New Islamic Directions blog.