SeekersHub Toronto Retreat 2018: Planting Seeds of Faith

“Planting Seeds of Faith,” was the theme of the SeekersHub 2018 Retreat. With the world in desperate need of spiritual nourishment, we reorient ourselves by planting and cultivating these seeds.

This year’s retreat was graced with a wonderful array of scholars from diverse backgrounds, including Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and his wife Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, Shaykh Amin Buxton, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, and Shaykha Muniba Mohammed.

The retreat was a full five days and four nights, in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. The day started at tajahhud time, where participants gathered in the lecture hall, beautifully lit and decorated with Islamic calligraphy and lanterns.

After the early morning remembrance and Fajr prayer, there was a rest period. After breakfast, attendees gathered in their cabin groups and reviewed the previous day’s lessons.

Throughout the day, the various scholars spoke about different themes that related to personal self-development, and cultivating faith within ourselves.

Shaykha Muniba Mohammed spoke about love of Allah, and how to achieve it. She taught that love of Allah comes when love of material things disappears, which comes from much dhikr and fikr-or supplication and reflection.

Shaykh Riad Saloojee spoke on the reality of faith, covering different parts from the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah. He covered topics such as suffering, how we gain life experience, and struggle. For example, many people get confused at why there is so much turbulence in life. However, after accepting that life will include struggle, a person will get better at withstanding them.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spoke about overcoming hurdles to personal reform. These hurdles, such as greed, laziness, procrastination, and lust, prevent us from developing in our relationship with Allah.

Shaykh Amin Buxton taught the tafsir, or commentary, on Surah Furqan, which gives a description of the believers and the qualities they posses. These qualities include humility, gentleness, patience, mindfulness of God, moderation, honestly. At the end, he said that if a person does not have these qualities, they should at least surround themselves with people who do, as they will be a good influence on them.

Shaykh Walead Mosaad spoke about the reality of dua, or supplication. He mentioned that most people turn to Allah when they need something. However, the reality of dua is more than just asking for what you need; it’s beholding Allah is all His attributes, and progressing through your neediness.

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin spoke on the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his centrality in our religion. We are commanded to love Prophet in the Qur’an, and our tree of faith is watered and irrigated by him. Our love of him comes naturally when we come to know more about him, because he has done so much for us.

Shaykh Yahya taught us about inner traits that impede development. High on the list were the qualities of riya and ujub. Riya is to seek recognition for one’s deeds, and ujub is when a person is impressed with themselves because of the good things they did, not acknowledging that Allah was the One who enabled them to do it.

 

In the afternoon there was opportunity for activities such as canoeing, hiking, archery and swimming, as well as a program called Heart Clinic, where participants could sign up for one-on-one sessions with the teachers.

In the evening, after dinner and Maghrib prayer, there would be a general session, as well as a nasheed performance. This would be followed by campfire and evening remembrance.

The SeekersHub Retreat was a wonderful change to take a step back form the daily grind, and reconnect with our Creator in a beautiful natural environment.


Resources for Seekers

 

O Seeker! – Habib Ali al Jifri

Habib Ali al Jifri speaks on overcoming the seven obstacles in spiritual wayfaring to Allah Most High, and the fruits thereof.

This is the third and perhaps final series of “O Seeker!” by His Eminence al Habib Ali al Jifri, may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him.

The first series filmed in 2008 in the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, may Allah grant its people relief, was about the concept of spiritual wayfaring to Allah, the Exalted, and awakening a desire for it.

The second series held in the Heart of Chechnya Mosque in Grozny in 2016 detailed how to overcome each of the seven obstacles during spiritual wayfaring to Allah.

The current series of thirty episodes is about the fruits of overcoming these obstacles, which are spiritual stations and spiritual states. If Allah wills, a new episode will be added to this playlist everyday this Ramadhan (2018).

The program also airs on TV on the following channels (GMT +3 Makka time):

Al Irth al Nabawi (Nilesat 11334H) – 7:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
CBC (Nilesat 11488H) – 10 p.m., 12 p.m.
CBC +2 – 12 a.m., 2 p.m.
Extra CBC – 3.10 a.m., 3:45 p.m.
Palestine (Nilesat 11823H) – 2:30 a.m.
Libya (Nilesat 10872H) – 1:10 a.m., 5 a.m.

Among the works referred to are Al Risala al Qushayriyya of Imam Abd al Karim al Qushayri (465 AH / 1072) of Nishapur, Iran, and Manazil al Sai‘rin of Shaykh al Islam Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (481 AH / 1088) of Herat, Afghanistan. May Allah be pleased them!

The program airs with English subtitles.


With gratitude to Muwasala.org and Almoreed.com.


Adab 02: Seeking Sacred Knowledge – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Ustadh Tabraze Azam delves into the necessary adab for the student seeking sacred knowledge based on Revelation, Hadith, and advice from Scholars and sages of Islam.

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

“Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim,” said the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Namely, learning specifically that by which you can validate your religious obligations is a duty which none are exempt from. Beyond that, however, we enter the realm of those who want to learn and apply the Divine Address more fully. In doing so, there are duties and manners which need to be upheld in order to truly benefit from a share of the prophetic inheritance.

The famous sage and scholar, Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al Iskandari, may Allah sanctify his secret, remarked in an aphorism: “If sacred knowledge is accompanied with reverential awe (khashya) [of the divine], it will be for you. Otherwise, it will count against you.” Knowledge, thus, brings about a weighty responsibility and essentially entails carrying something of the prophetic message. Naturally, the expectation for those who carry it and have been honored with it isn’t the same as that for others.

At the end of the day, this matter is about you and your Lord. It is not about test scores, refutations or knowing more than others. This realization should bring about in us a sense of reverence for what this is and what it is for, namely, worship. If sacred knowledge isn’t transforming us and altering our very being, it is time for some introspection.

A good start, then, is to remind ourselves of the adab, or proper duties and manners, to be upheld in studying and seeking. This is what we’ll be striving to remind ourselves of here, insha’Allah.

Intention and Sincerity

It cannot be lost on any of us that the point of learning what Allah Most High and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, commanded is to actually do what they said. Accordingly, the primary intention in one’s seeking should be to please Allah Most High alone. A reminder of this point is the verse, “they were only commanded to worship Allah alone with sincere devotion to Him in all uprightness.” (Sura al Bayyina 98:5) Learning is worship when it is for Allah. But worship only truly takes place when there is knowledge.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Actions are only by their intentions, and each person shall get whatever they intend.” He also said, Allah bless him and give him peace: “The intention of a believer is greater than his action.”

This gives us something to be hopeful for because even if our studies never fully kick off, we will be rewarded in accordance with our intention and not what actually happened. But take your first step with the right intention, and ask Allah to take care of the rest for you.

Priorities and Focus

Khatib al-Baghdadi relates from Qadi Abu Yusuf, the most senior companion of Imam Abu Hanifa, that he remarked that “Knowledge is something which will not give you even a part of itself until you give it all of yourself. And even if you give it all of yourself, it may not give you anything at all.”

What he is telling us here is that you will not attain unto this sacred knowledge until you give it all you’ve got of your time and energy. Essentially, it cannot be a mere hobby, but something taken very seriously.

Now, this is obviously with respect to somebody on the road to becoming a scholar, but the same can be applied to somebody merely seeking to learn something of their religion. If you are listening to recordings or attending live sessions, don’t browse the internet, update your social media, have a conversation, sleep (!) or do anything which indicates a lack of sincere concern and interest.

If you want to learn, you have to give what you’ve got. Anything worth having takes time and effort, and gaining sacred knowledge is no different.

Consultation

Consulting is imperative for anybody seeking to traverse the path of the righteous scholars of the past. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, indicated this “trodden path” in the famous tradition (hadith) of seeking knowledge. It should be noted that consultation in this context would refer to a variety of matters, but what is of primary concern here, is to consult regarding from whom knowledge should be taken. Clearly, there is a difference between a caller (da‘i) and a scholar (‘alim/shaykh), and you should know well how to benefit from both.

Imam Shatibi demarcated what should be sought of in a teacher of sacred knowledge. If any of these matters are missing, you should be wary of taking from such a person. One: he acts in accordance with his knowledge. Two: his knowledge is taken from genuine scholars. Three: he follows the way of those he took from.

The point of consultation is to ask somebody knowledgable, righteous and trustworthy about the wisdom in undertaking whatever you are about to do. If you don’t know who to ask, you should read about the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the way he was, and ask the person that most resembles what you read.

Mastery

As ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-San‘ani said: “Every type of knowledge which doesn’t enter the lavatory with you isn’t real knowledge.” This doesn’t mean you should take your library into the restroom! Rather, the sign of knowledge is mastery and memorization such that you don’t need your books to explain the point. Others have noted this as “students of the day” and “students of the night.” The former require light to look in their books, but the latter aren’t in need of them. Imam Ghazali reportedly learnt this the hard way when his books were stolen from him on a journey.

The early Muslims would learn prophetic traditions and the religion in general by taking something small and applying it in their lives until it became second nature to them. There are two lessons we can take away from this. Firstly, memorization needn’t be specifically rote, but anything by which you can learn the details would be considered memorization.

Secondly, you need to be gradual and practical in your learning. If you jump ahead to commentaries, glosses or specialized sciences, you will simply get lost in a sea of knowledge. Rather, the first step is to learn the most important rulings, and then to grow in knowledge by consulting with those who have already traversed the path. There is much that can be said here, but we’ll suffice with this, insha Allah.

Preparation and Review

This is an extension of the previous point. The only way to become a person of knowledge, namely, scholarly in the outward sense, is to take the means of mastery. What this practically entails is that you prepare for your classes by, at the very least, going over the material you’ll be covering. This process of preparation, when done right, is extremely beneficial. Similarly, reviewing the material after the lesson, or ideally, discussing it with your fellow classmates, if any, is very important as it helps to actually consolidate the material covered.

The idea is to ensure that you are always actively engaging with the material. Knowledge cannot simply be deposited into you. “Seeker” is an active participle. It entails that some effort and action is going into the matter. Any manner of fulfilling this which demonstrably works would be acceptable, but the key is to have something in place. Again, there are many specifics which have been left out here, but hopefully the idea is plain.

We ask Allah Most High to facilitate for us His Good Pleasure in this life before the next, and that He bless us with the tremendous gift of true knowledge and practice so that we may be with those He loves.

“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be in the company of those blessed by Allah: the prophets, the people of truth, the martyrs, and the righteous — what honorable company!” (Sura al Nisa 4:69)

And Allah alone gives success.


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


Seeking Allah Through Service – Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari discusses how we can seek Allah through voluntary service during Ramadan, whether in our homes or in our communities.

Ramadan is all about two things:

1. The actual physical fact of the fast.
2. The intention behind the fast.

When one fasts one’s entire being is oriented toward Allah Most High. When one feels pangs of hunger one cannot help but feel a sense of empathy for those around one. Especially for those less fortunate. Ramadan is about being of service. Being of service to Allah Most High, and then being of service to the slaves of Allah.

Be of Service to One Another

As our beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “As long as we continue to be of service to one another, Allah continues to help us.” We need to keep that in mind as we go about our fasting day.

Ramadan, from morning till night, is really an act of ibada (worship) as we all know. It is the outward ibada of abstaining from food and drink. But it is also the inward ibada of turning to Allah. Of understanding that any type of anger that arises, any type of frustration that we feel as a result of fasting, must be channeled and leveraged.

We have to understand that if we feel a bit snappish or frustrated, we need to keep in mind that at the end of the day of fasting, we will have a refrigerator full of food. Whereas our neighbor might not be so fortunate.

Combine the Inward and Outward Fast

What I would encourage all of us to do, starting with myself, is to change things up a bit in Ramadan. Have a shift so that Ramadan is not solely about the inward act of worship. Combine the inward and outward fasting.

Take a step toward your neighbor’s house. Check on that person and make sure he or she is doing well. Sign up to sponsor afters at your local masjid. Visit that person who is sick. Make sure that you reach outside of yourself. It is very easy for many of us to turn inward during the month of Ramadan because of the strenuous activity of fasting.

We want to retreat to the interior of our homes or into the masjid. We want to be with our Qur’an, reciting all day long. We want to make our dhikr, to read, to contemplate. And that is part and parcel of fasting. At the same time, though, we want to be able to reach outside of our selves.

So, take the opportunity in the month of Ramadan to perform an act of service you might not ordinarily do. Make a point of surrounding yourself with food. It is good for your discipline. Good for your will power.


SeekersHub Global seeks to bring authentic Islamic education to our homes and communities to the Ends of the Earth – through the radiant light of Prophetic Example. Support now: https://seekersguidance.org/donate and please share with friends and family, and encourage them to do likewise.


Adab of Dua 28: When Praying Is Haram

Allah Most High says, “I am near – I answer the call of the one who calls upon me (2:186).” Yet, many of us wonder: Are my du’as being answered? Is there a certain du’a I have to read for each of my concerns? Do my du’as have to be in Arabic?

In this series of short talks, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the reality of du’a (supplication) and how to turn to Allah. It is based on a classical text on the same subject by the great Shaykh al Islam Zakariyya al Ansari.

He divided this work into the 11 concise, apt sections described below.

In this video, he explains when making du’a is legally impermissible.

1. The reality of du’a
2. Our being called on to make du’a
3. The great virtue of du’a
4. The integrals of supplication, its wings, and its means
5. The conditions of supplication
6. Its proper manners
7. The times of du’a and the state in which it should be made
8. Signs of acceptance of du’a
9. Explaining the religious ruling of du’a
10. Some encompassing supplications
11. Explaining what the greatest Divine Name is

Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global, a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.


Resources for Seekers

Method of Seeing the Prophet ﷺ – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al Haddad

Sayyid Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad Mashhur al Haddad narrates that his grandfather, Habib Ahmad Mashhur al Haddad, may Allah have mercy upon him and benefit us by him, gave permission for the following to be recited in order to see the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.


Recite this verse of the Burda of Imam al Busiri followed by any prayer upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Repeat this ten times:

نَعَمْ سَرَى طَيْفُ مَنْ أَهْوَى فَأَرَّقَني
وَ الْحُبُّ يَعْتَرِضُ اللَّذَّاتِ باِلأَلَمِ

Na‘am sara tayfu man ahwa fa arraqani

Wa’l-hubbu ya‘taridu’l-ladhdhati bi’l-alami

Yes, a vision of the one I love came to me by night, and I could not sleep,

Oh, how love hinders the tasting of delight with its suffering

A second method Habib Ahmad mentioned was to go to bed on Thursday night in a state of complete purity and to recite the same verse of the Burda once followed by this prayer upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, seven times:

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ على سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ حَبِيبِ الرَّحْمَن وسَيِّدِ الأكْوَان الحاضِر مَعَ مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَيْهِ في كُلِّ زَمَان ومَكان

Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammadin habibirrahman wa sayyidi’l-akwan al-hadir ma‘ man salla ‘alayhi fī kulli zaman wa makan

O Allah, bestow Your blessings upon our Master Muhammad, the Beloved of the All Merciful, the master of all creation, the one who is present with whoever bestows prayers upon him in every time and place.


With gratitude to our Content Partner Muwasala.org.


Seeker Story: How Amira Healed Spiritually

Amira, a mother of seven children shares her story on how seeking knowledge through SeekersHub Global helped her recover from the loss of her husband.

“As a mom of seven children, it’s not always easy for me to attend classes and make it to different events to learn.

“The blessing of SeekersHub is that I have access to teachers from all around the world. All I have to do now is logon, learn and ask questions.

“After the big loss of my husband, I don’t how else I’d have spiritually healed.”

SeekersHub Global

Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.


Adab of Dua 27: Impermissible Duas

Allah Most High says, “I am near – I answer the call of the one who calls upon me (2:186).” Yet, many of us wonder: Are my duas being answered? Is there a certain dua I have to read for each of my concerns? Do my duas have to be in Arabic?

In this series of short talks, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the reality of dua (supplication) and how to turn to Allah. It is based on a classical text on the same subject by the great Shaykh al Islam Zakariyya al Ansari.

This video looks at the five different legal rulings that a dua can take, including when it is haram.

He divided this work into the 11 concise, apt sections described below.

1. The reality of dua
2. Our being called on to make dua
3. The great virtue of dua
4. The integrals of supplication, its wings, and its means
5. The conditions of supplication
6. Its proper manners
7. The times of dua and the state in which it should be made
8. Signs of acceptance of dua
9. Explaining the religious ruling of dua
10. Some encompassing supplications
11. Explaining what the greatest Divine Name is

Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global, a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.

Resources for Seekers

Seeker Story: How Jamal Found Clarity

Jamaaludeen, a student from Cape Town, South Africa, shares his story on how he managed to find clarity in an age of confusion.

“I’ve been studying Islam with SeekersHub for many years now. It has made a great impact on my life. The courses are well-planned, taught by traditional scholars with whom you can interact and ask questions related to the curriculum.

“We live in a world with lots of confusions and having ready access to study our faith is a huge benefit. I encourage you to study with SeekersHub.”

SeekersHub Global

Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.


Adab of Dua 26: Why Is My Dua Not Answered

Allah Most High says, “I am near – I answer the call of the one who calls upon me (2:186).”
Yet, many of us wonder: Are my duas being answered? Is there a certain dua I have to read for each of my concerns? Do my duas have to be in Arabic?

In this series of short talks, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the reality of dua (supplication) and how to turn to Allah. It is based on a classical text on the same subject by the great Shaykh al Islam Zakariyya al Ansari.

In this video, Shaykh Faraz explains some of the reasons why one’s dua appears to not have been answered.

This work is divided into 11 concise, apt sections described below.dua not answered

1. The reality of dua
2. Our being called on to make dua
3. The great virtue of dua
4. The integrals of supplication, its wings, and its means
5. The conditions of supplication
6. Its proper manners
7. The times of dua and the state in which it should be made
8. Signs of acceptance of dua
9. Explaining the religious ruling of dua
10. Some encompassing supplications
11. Explaining what the greatest Divine Name is

Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global, a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.


Resources for Seekers