Istanbul Summer 2020 Ijaza Intensive – Postponed Until Further Notice

Istanbul Summer 2020 Ijaza Intensive

ISTANBUL SUMMER 2020 IJAZA INTENSIVE 

This program is especially designed for students of knowledge that want to build strong foundations in the basic Islamic Sciences in both rational and transmitted, such as Theology, Islamic Law, Sacred Legal Theory, Islamic Spirituality, Sciences of Hadith, Logic and others, in a manner that builds upon each other

ISTANBUL SUMMER 2020 IJAZA INTENSIVE –  Postponed Until Further Notice

Surviving Ramadan: How to Make the Most of Your Days & Nights

With Ramadan just a few days away, watch this recorded seminar to learn some tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan. This seminar will include talks from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah , Habib Umar bin Hafiz , and Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf.

 

 

Seven Muslim Scholars on How to Survive Ramadan and Make The Most of It

The blessed month is upon us but are you dreading the long days without food or drink and the sleep disruption? You’re not alone. This timely seminar has loads of tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan.

Talks by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf and Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Imam Zaid Shakir

Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin (Q&A)

 

Cover photo by yeowatzup.

6 Steps to Self-Change – Living Hearts Series

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani covers a critical topic; how to gain nearness to Allah through personal reformation. In this segment, he discusses 6 practical steps to self-change.

Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

By time, humanity is in loss. (Sura 103:1)

The key to avoiding loss is committing to change, which happens through an active choice to make things better. Imam Ghazali outlined how to get closer to Allah through personal accountability. In book 38 of his Revival of the Religious Sciences, he mentioned six steps to achieve this:

Step One: Goal-setting, or musharata. One should commit to upholding the obligatory acts, such as prayer, fasting, and worship. In addition, one should leave all the prohibited acts. After these basics have been established, one should then move onto bringing in the sunnas, and leaving the disliked acts. Doing this properly require knowledge of beliefs, worship, social relations, and transactions.

Step Two: Watching over oneself, or muraqaba. It’s easiest to begin by watching over one’s prayer, and one’s tongue. Prayer is one of the central aspects of the deen, and most of life’s problems happen through toxic speech. Having these standards will bring caution and concern into one’s life.

Step Three: Taking oneself to account, or muhasaba. One should sit down once a day, week, or month, and look over what they did. They should identify the positive and negative, and deciding what could be done better.

Step Four: Self-penalty, or mu’aqaba. This refers to positive self-discipline, as the nature of humans is that they will continue to push boundaries unless there is a consequence.

Step Five: Spiritual struggle, or mujahada. The easiest way to do this, is to strive to be constantly in remembrance of Allah.

Step Six: Self-reproach, or mu’ataba. Nothing harms the self as much as self-satisfaction, and one should remain humble. Scholars would ask themselves, if they died shortly, would they be satisfied to meet Allah? Was there any harm, negligence, or sins on their record? Are there many good deeds on record? It was said about Imam Hamaad, the teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa, that if he were told he were to die tomorrow, he could not possibly increase in good deeds.

About the Series

In this engaging and inspiring series Shaykh Faraz Rabbani covers Imam Ghazali’s brilliant explanation in his Renewal of the Sciences of Religion (Ihya Ulum al-Din) of how one could become God conscious through watchfulness (muraqaba), and self-accounting (muhasaba). This series will give you keys, insights, and timeless wisdom on how to change oneself, through setting goals and conditions, watching over oneself, taking oneself into account, and spiritual striving.


Shaykh Asim Yusuf on Living a God-Conscious Life

Nurulain Wolhuter writes an insightful overview of Shaykh Asim Yusuf’s Canada lecture, where he discussed the concept of tawheed, or Divine unity, and how to connect our needs to living a God-conscious life.

Shaykh Asim Yusuf commenced this insightful and moving lecture on the importance of a life conscious of the divine by exhorting the servants of Allah to become people of mercy. His lecture explained process of actualising such a way of living consciously and authentically. This starts when one understands the interplay between the concepts of unity and multiplicity. He stressed mercy being at the core of the call to the student of knowledge. Those who are merciful to others will receive the mercy of Allah, the All-Compassionate.

While mercy is the foundation of the call to Allah, the servants of Allah must strive to become people of God-consciousness and piety (taqwa). The servant must have a pious heart, in order to reflect goodness and light to those around her or him.

The righteous servant must be imbued with God-consciousness. Shaykh Asim says that living a God-conscious life has three aspects, namely taqwa, active remembrance of Allah (dhikr), and worship (ibadah).  Different people achieve this in different ways.

Understanding Taqwa

Understanding God-consciousness requires understanding the human condition, its wider relationship to the universe, and, most importantly, its relationship to the Creator. Humans are distinguished from animals by the capacity for abstraction. They are able to perceive the past through memory and the future through imagination. They can also conceive of abstract concepts out of time, like good or bad, joy or sorrow.

However, a more insightful way of understanding the nature of humanity is to be found by understanding the Arabic word for human, or insan. Insan is derived two meanings, namely uns and nisyan. While uns refers to the need to be loved, nisyan refers to forgetfulness. Shaykh Asim says humanity is driven by the desire to be loved but has forgotten where to find it. So the human journey is one from forgetfulness to love.

God-consciousness is the ability to recognise the this need, and to seek its fulfilment. Allah made this known primordially when He asked the souls: أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ “Am I not your Lord?”  and they answered: قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا “Yes, indeed, we witness.” (Sura Al-Araf, 7:172) While most people have forgotten this, a glimmer of it remains in the primordial memory, generating an existential fear, and a yearning for the presence of Allah.

Consciousness begins from the time the soul is placed into the fetus. The womb, or rahm, is a place of mercy (rahmah) and all the needs of the fetus are met. However, once it is born, it experiences the trauma of separation from its mother and its first need, namely the need for oxygen. When this is met by the taking of the first breath, it experiences the first fulfilment of a need. After that, it experiences many needs that are met from a multiplicity of sources, such as its mother. The baby, at this time, ascribes the fulfilment of need to its mother. It does not yet have the understanding to ascribe it to Allah. 

Allah’s Divine Unity

Shaykh Asim said that Allah is unity, but His acts are manifested in multiplicity, namely in His 99 names or attributes. The universe can also be described as multiplicity arising out of unity. The relationship between man and Allah works against the backdrop of this concept of unity in multiplicity. This relationship can be described as the connection between the unity of Allah and the multiplicity of His acts. These lead to a multiplicity of effects, which are perceived as a multiplicity of experiences by man. It relates back to the self as a unity, because man experiences himself as a unity although, in reality, he is a multiplicity. This relationship is encapsulated in Allah’s exhortation: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ “O mankind, worship your Lord.” (Sura Baqarah 2:21)

Shaykh Asim’s description of God-consciousness as the expression and growth of the soul’s yearning for the forgotten need to be loved by Allah is an insightful tool that facilitates the reflection and introspection that is necessary for the servant’s journey to His Lord. However, students may benefit from engaging with his concept of unity in multiplicity to ensure that it is kept clearly distinct from the vehicle for the infusion of non-Islamic concepts such as the Trinity, or polytheistic notions of multiple deities.


Questions and Answers – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin answer some commonly asked questions about this topic.

 

Q: How do you find ways to forgive when it’s very difficult?

A: This is a good question, because we should be real in how we cultivate spiritual ideals. The first thing to do is look at the life of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and see the incredible honor that stemmed from his forgiveness. His forgiveness of the Quraysh after the Conquest of Mecca was more than about a few arguments. He and his followers had suffered 20 years of serious aggression, wars, torture, and physical and psychological harm. However, his heart was so attached to Allah, and he wanted what was best for his people. Therefore, when he was given the upper hand, he chose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the biggest steps to healing from pain, and resentment continues to burn us. Sometimes our nafs blocks this meaning from us. If someone is being harmed, then we have the right to prevent that. After that, we can try to look for excuses for them. If that’s difficult, you make duaa for them, that Allah guide them.

Q: How is it possible to have patience without being passive?

A: Scholars say that everything has a knowledge-based response, and then an action-based response. Before we try, we should keep in mind what patience means. Neither patience or gratitude are passive. Gratitude is more than seeing the good; it is using things for what it’s used. For example, being grateful to live in Canada does not mean ignoring the wrongs done by the Canadian government. Rather, we use our blessings to do what Allah has commanded us to do-work towards truth, justice, mercy and the prevention of harm.

Q: How does one explain gratitude to children?

A: Syed Naqib al-Attas, one of the most brilliant minds in education of the 20th century, broke down children’s education into three components. Firstly, there is tarbiya, or education, raising the child. Secondly, ta’deeb is the instilling of correct manners and etiquette to any situation.  Finally, ta’leem is teaching the child, which can be done in many ways.

Q: What about someone who isn’t feeling the essence of gratitude in his heart?

A: Ultimately, Allah does not squander an atom’s weight of good. The scholars define a good action as, “anything that has even a residual aspect of good.” The devil will try to suggest that you are not grateful enough, or not sincere enough, but flee from those thoughts.

About the Series

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


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?


Social Action in Islam – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. This segment speaks about how Muslims should pursue social action.

What Causes Injustice in the World?

As Muslims, we believe that nothing can happen without the will of Allah. It is impossible for anything to happen  against His decree.

What about the injustice that occurs? We believe that Allah has firmly commanded us to establish justice and good conduct, and forbids us from bad conduct. It is our responsibility to uphold these principles and act with righteousness.

However, from a Divine perspective, Allah sends us calamities and difficulties for two reasons: either to admonish us, or to teach us a lesson which can raise us.

Accountability and Oppression

The question then arises: who created actions?

In terms of actual creation, that is, making something out of nothing, only Allah has the power to create. However, we humans have take kasb, or acquisition, of actions which we are responsible for.

Oppression has two forms. There is oppression against others, which can be punished by Allah in this life or the next. However, there is also oppression against the self, which we will also be held accountable for.

Distributive justice, from an Islamic paradigm is based on an equitable distribution of rights and responsibilities, rather than a strictly uniform one. A strict uniformity approach would be unjust. For example, we do not speak to children in the same way that we speak to adults, and vice versa. That is because we have a responsibility towards our children, to raise them and guide them. We do not have the same responsibility towards adults.

In addition, adults are also treated differently according to their circumstances and abilities. A woman, for example, is entitled to different things than a man is, because she can bear children. A man does not have the right to provide for himself by using his wife’s money, but she can use his money.

Enjoining Good and Righting Wrongs

The concept of enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong is one that is shared by both Muslim scholars and modern social  activists.

In fact, Imam Nawawi stated that doing this would be obligatory under the following three conditions. Firstly, the wrong in question would have to be considered harmful by scholarly consensus. Secondly, that in the process of righting the wrong, a greater harm would not occur. Thirdly, the method of reproach had to be within the confines of the Sacred Law.

Similarity, Imam Ghazali determined five steps by which to correct a wrong, as follows:

  1. To assume that the person involved in the action is doing so innocently, and raise awareness and give counsel to them.
  2. To gently admonish them.
  3. To verbally rebuke them.
  4. To physically prevent them, if they are actively engaging in the action.
  5. To physically discipline the guilty party after the fact, if the act could not be prevented. This step is only for the authorities to carry out, and civilians should only report to the designated authority, in order to prevent vigilantism.

Imam Ghazali warned that a person should not move on to the next step, until they have absolutely exhausted all means to succeed on the earlier steps.

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?


Prophetic Parenting Part 4 – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers hadith relating to nurturing older children and teens.

When it comes to parenting, parents should act on what is clearly halal, as per the hadith, “The permissible is clear, and the impermissible is clear, and between them are matters that many don’t know about.”

This hadith is amazing not just because of the meaning, but also because it was narrated by Nu’man ibn Bashir, who was one of the first children to be born in Medina after the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He narrated this hadith when he was only five years old, which shows that he was a product of his parents’ concern, who brought him to beneficial gatherings and raised him to care about them.

Imam Zain al-Abideen, son of Imam Hussein, would teach his young children to regularly say, “Truly I have believed in Allah, and rejected falsehood. ” This indicates that he had taught them about the basics of the faith, and the pillars of Islamic beliefs. In the same way, parents should teach their children the tenants of their faith from a young age.

Another hadith teaches us about the importance of having youth-focused teaching environments, while still being sensitive to their needs. Malik ibn al-Huwairith narrated that a group of youth would come to stay with the Prophet and learn from him, although their families were non-Muslim. They would stay for around twenty days. The Prophet would sense that they were missing their families, even though they hadn’t said anything. He would ask them about their families, and would tell them to return to their people and teach them what they had been taught.

This shows the Prophet’s deep concern for their well-being, and who saw them as adults-in-training rather than “just kids.” In addition, the training and teaching should be demonstrative learning, where the parents teach by example and not just through words.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.


Justice in the Islamic Paradigm – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. This segment covers the Islamic methodology for defining social justice.

Muslims are enjoined to command the good and forbid the wrong. In addition, we are called upon to fulfil the rights of individuals, as well as the general rights of entire communities. Fulfilling the rights of communities is a unique Islamic concept, since most of the social rights we are taught today have a greater focus on individual rights.

We also have methodologies for upholding what’s right and removing what’s wrong. One of our main methodologies, is that we believe that the means by which we alleviate wrong, must be also sound and good, rather than having “the end justifies the means’ idea.

We are not defined by other people’s impressions of us. We seek validation and recognition form institutions and member of society, but we should focus on Allah’s impression of us, which is the ultimate empowerment.

Another part of our methodology for attaining justice, is defined by the hadith, “Help your brother, whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed.” What is meant by that, is that we should help the oppressed to get their justice, but help the oppressor by doing our best to stop them form doing their actions. This also means that we should not resort to name-calling, insulting, or other similar actions, because it cuts off the possibility of redemption. By putting people into a box, such as “he’s a racist,” etc, we lose the opportunity to meaningfully engage them and work for a better future.

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?