What is Special About the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah? – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

* Originally Published on 1/09/2016

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains why the first ten days of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah are so special, and what actions we can take to benefit from them.

The life of a Muslim is very special as it is full of opportunities to get closer to Allah ﷻ‎ by doing the various forms of worship that Allah ﷻ loves.  These forms of worship turn the life of a Muslim into a life of righteous action, speech and continuous activity for the benefit and goodness of everyone.  This means that the life of Mu’mins should be devoted to worship, obedience, righteous deeds and absolute connection with Allah ﷻ in every part of their life, and in all their affairs.  They do not need to go to the mosque, in particular, to approach Allah ﷻ, as He is with them all the time, as He said in the Qur’an (Surah Qaf: 16):  “…and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.”
From this we know that our life cannot be cut off from the Mercy of Allah ﷻ.  So, from having this connection, during the five prayers that are spread over twenty-four hours, the special day of jummah once a week, fasting during the month Ramadan once a year, fasting the six days of Shawwal, fasting on Monday and Thursday every week, fasting the three bright days every month, and then, add to this, the ten days of Dhul Hijjah; those days in which every good deed we do, not only are we rewarded, but Allah ﷻ loves good deeds in these days more than any other time of the year.

What is Special About the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah?

The special worship, hajj is particular to these ten days, and Rasulullah ﷺ said if Allah ﷻ accepted the hajj of someone, they go back from their Hajj as a new born baby. Umrah is also performed in these days.  For those who do not go for hajj, they can fast for the first nine days, give charity, and they can do a lot of forms of worship. Ibn Hajr (radiallah anhu) said that “during these ten days you can do all the major forms of worship, but this is not possible to gather in any other set of days.”
So our life and our striving does not stop anywhere, and neither does are ability to get closer to Allah ﷻ.  There is no limit to qurb!
Speaking of having no limit to closeness with Allah ﷻ, Surah Alam Nashrah alludes to the station of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

Did We not expand your breast? – the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is absolutely Rahma (mercy)!

And raised high for you your repute. – Whenever Allah ﷻ is mentioned the name of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is mentioned

And to your Lord direct [your] longing!  Keep striving in your connection with Allah ﷻ as there is no limit to closeness

The Virtues of the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah in the Qur’an and Sunnah

Qur’an

In Surah Fajr (1-2), Allah ﷻ swears by the time of fajr and by the ten days, and for Allah ﷻ to swear by something is to make it great.  Ibn Abbas, ibn Zubayr, Mujahid and others (radiallah anhum) all agree that the mention of the ten days is those first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
In Surah Al-Hajj (28), Allah ﷻ says:  “…remember the name of Allah ﷻ in the known days…”  ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) mentions that the days referred to in this ayah are the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.

Sunnah

In a Hadith narrated by ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that “The best days that Allah ﷻ loves good deeds the most in are these days, meaning the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.” (Abu Dawud 2438)
And in a Hadith narrated by Syedina Jabir (radiallah anhu), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:  “[of] the ten best days, the tenth is the day of  sacrifice (Adha), and the uneven numbered day is the day of Arafah, and these are the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”  (Imam Ahmad)
And in another Hadith, Syedina Jabir (Radiallah anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that there are “no days better than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”  (ibn Hibban 3853)
Ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:  “the best of deeds to Allah ﷻ, that which He loves and rewards greatly and generously, are those actions performed in the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.  (Sunan al Darimi 1774)
In a Hadith, the Sahaba (radiallah anhum) asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ if the mujahid could compare to the one who worships in these ten days, to which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ responded that no one can compare to the person who worships in these ten days except for the mujahid who gives away everything he owns and takes what remains with him and leaves it all on the battlefield, including his life.  Only this person can compare to the one who worships in these ten days!

Best Actions for the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah

1)      Nawafil: try to do as many supererogatory prayers as you can, as it is a mentioned in a Hadith that a person’s station is raised and that bad deeds are erased with each prostration.
2)      Fast as much as you can.  It is mentioned in a hadith, when a companion asked what the best of deeds was, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to fast.
3)      Qiyam ul Layl.  Night prayers should be encouraged in these ten days.  Abdullah ibn Salam (radiallah anhu) mentioned that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came to Madinah with all his radiance he mentioned three things to the community:  spread peace, feed people, and pray while others are asleep.  Normally, after such a migration, people would be sceptical and cautions of others, but instead the Messenger of Allah ﷺ summarized the deen upon his arrival in Madinah al Munawarrah.  The great tab’ee Said ibn Jubayr (radiallah anhu) said in the first ten nights of Dhul Hijjah, do not turn off your lights!
4)      Tahlil, Tahmeed, Takbeer:  To repeat La ilaha illallahAlhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar – La ilaha illallah – wAllahu Akbar wa Lillaahi’l-hamd.  Abdullah ibn Omar and Abu Hurrairah (radiallah anhum) were known for reciting takbeer in the market place.  Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu) would keep reciting his dhikr, and would only return salam in these ten days.
5)      Day of Arafah:  The day of Arafah should be occupied with dua and tawbah.  The life of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was dua, to remember Allah ﷻ with every action in every moment.

Dua on Day of Arafah of Sayyidina Ali 

In making dua on the day of Arafah, Sayyidina Ali (RA) used to repeat the following dua:

Oh Allah! Free me from the hellfire.

Ya Allah! Grant me abundant halal rizq.

Ya Allah! Keep away from me the disobedient ones, whether they be jinn or human.

Practically, on the day of Arafah, you should try to take off from work if possible, that way you can spend your day in dua.  In addition, sleep directly after isha the night before, and wake up a hour before fajr in order to be present at the time Allah ﷻ loves to accept dua.  Make the intention to make this a different day of Arafah; make it a day that is different from all the rest.
In closing, it is important to remind ourselves of the purpose of our deen, as is stated in Surah Anbiya:  “We did not send you other than to be a Mercy to all the Worlds,” speaking about the Messenger of Allahﷺ.  So we can never stop striving, we must be that mercy.
May Allah ﷻ grant His Mercy and the company of His Mercy ﷺ, and may He make these ten days those of forgiveness and acceptance of our duas.

How Does a Seeker of Knowledge Attain Openings? – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

* Courtesy of Muwasala.org

Habib Umar bin Hafiz advises seekers how to attain openings in their studies.

Seekers must abide by the etiquettes of seeking knowledge. They must spend time reviewing what they have studied with fellow students and write down important points which they learn.

They should call upon Allah by His names the Opener, the All-Knowing 100 times a day:

يا فَتَّاحُ يا عَلِيمُ

Ya Fattāḥ ya `Alīm

They should also repeat Ayat al-Kursi followed by this prayer upon the Prophet ﷺ :

اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَ سَلِّمْ عَلى سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ عَلي آلِ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ في كُلِّ لَمْحَةٍ وَ نَفَسٍ بِعَدَدِ كُلِّ  مَعْلومٍ لَكَ

Allahumma salli wa sallim ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad wa ‘ala ali sayyidina Muhammad fi kulli lamhatin wa nafasin bi `adadi kulli ma`lumin lak

O Allah, bestow prayers and peace on our master Muhammad and his Family in every instant and every breath equal to the amount of everything known to You

Farewell Ode to Ramadan – Hafith Abdullah Francis

* Originally Published on 3/07/2016

Hafith Abdullah recites odes of farewell to Ramadan after the Tarawih prayers, in the Cape Malay tradition. He concludes with supplications asking for God’s mercy, forgiveness and His emancipation from the hellfire.

Playing Kids, Praying Adults: A Taraweeh Lesson – Saad Razi Shaikh

Ramadan is a good time to teach children. And to learn from them.

 

Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good. (3:134)

Sometime in early Ramadan, our blessed mosque was hit with an expected Taraweeh problem. This was a menace many foresaw, but few had the stomach to tackle it. The problem was of children. Yes, children running around Taraweeh, screaming their lungs out, creating a racket not unlike birds on an early morning. Elders were distraught, they were bound by the obligation to be kind to children, while at the same time they desired a hassle-free Taraweeh. It took two spirited warnings from the Imam to cut the din out and restore some normality. Save for the odd kid, still merrily gliding from the stair rails, the prayers went about with little disturbance.

My own thoughts on the matter were torn between two urges. The first was to show patience and mercy to the kids. The next, more pressing desire, was to send them back home. Surely, there had to be some decorum in the mosque? Kids need to be taught by their parents as much, I reasoned. Otherwise, how on earth were the worshipers supposed to pray? The mosque would not be reduced to a child’s playground.

But this line of argument couldn’t hold for long. If the children were not praying, rather playing during the prayers, it was because they did not know any better. Their nature was not attuned to silence and attention, and they fell easy prey to distraction. One mischievous glance would bounce off from one child to the other, an elbow jab, a back slap, all before it would spread into a full-blown pandemonium. The children were just acting upon their distractions.

Acting upon their distractions. These words stuck to my mind, for they made me uncomfortable. As an adult, I knew the importance of the prayers. I knew the importance of attention. I had been taught the manners regarding the prayer. Yet my prayers were far from perfect. At the spiritual level, particularly retaining to attention and reflection, I knew my prayers fell well short of the desired levels. Was it not true that my mind wavered often? On particularly tiring days, did my attention not slacken? The more I reflected on my own shortcomings, the more the noise of the children receded away from my mind. For while both the children and I were distracted, falling woefully short in our prayers, the distraction of the children was visible. Mine wasn’t. That was the lone difference between us.

Imam Ghazali, in his characteristic brilliance, mentioned in ‘The Beginning of Guidance’ that one shouldn’t see oneself as being superior to anyone else, even children. He writes:

‘If you see a child, you should say [to yourself], “This child has not transgressed against Allah, and I have, so certainly he is better than me.”

‘If you see an ignorant person, say, “This person has transgressed against Allah most high in ignorance, while I have done so knowingly, so Allah’s evidence against me is greater. And what do I know about what my final state [at death] will be and what his state will be?’

This short piece is not intended as a manual on how to go about dealing with children in mosques. Rather, it is about how the pulls and the triggers of everyday can serve as a means to check ourselves, who we are and where we are in our standing with our Lord. We often fall prey to the slightest provocations, the slightest turn away from the expected norm. Things often ‘rub us the wrong way’. Ire is predictable as the first line of reaction. But if we restrain for a moment, and prevent the worst of our impulses from bursting out, we could look into the clues the situation is providing us.

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I was sent to perfect good character.Ramadan is the perfect month to better ourselves, to begin anew, to hold our tongues, to watch what we do, to reflect on what can be the better course of action. If the kids are creating a racket, perhaps it’s a test to see which one of us will show mercy to them, which one of us will rise to the Prophetic ethos and show the best of character. It’s easy to lose our patience, if not our minds. But as the Prophet ﷺ reminded us, ‘Circumspection brings nothing but the good.’ We need to remember this, in thought and action. We need to be those who remember the rank of forbearance, as ‘forbearance (hilm) is the best of character’. And that’s a struggle. But without the inner struggle, how will we improve?  

These are reflections, meant as a reminder, a ‘pull-up-your-socks’ moment first and foremost for my own self. Would I be more comfortable with silence during prayers? Certainly. Would I have improved as a person if the calmness of my own mind overcomes the noises outside it? Most certainly. This is the aim, Inshallah. And Ramadan is a great time to intend it sincerely, in thought and practice. May Allah make us those who are patient, who are kind, who are attuned to the Prophetic ethos, particularly in showing mercy, to ourselves and to others.


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


 

10 Ways of Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

10 Ways of Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship you could otherwise do? Nour Merza gives women 10 practical ways to spiritually benefit from this blessed month.

 

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. Many women, when their menstrual period begins, find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

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

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

1. Increase the Remembrance of God

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

2. Increase Supplication 

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

3. Feed Others

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

4. Gain Islamic Knowledge

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

5. Increase your Charity

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

6. Make Your Responsibilities a Form of Worship

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

7. Listen to the Quran

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

8. Increase Repentance

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

9. Babysit to Help Mothers Worship

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

10. Spread Love and Light

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

Resources for Seekers

Giving Life to the Night of the 15th of Shaaban and Its Virtues – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this talk Ustadh Amjad highlights the virtues of the night of the 15th of Shaaban, and encourages everyone to seek it out and to give life to that night.

 

The Historical Significance of the Dala’il al-Khayrat

Laila Abdel Ghany explores the history behind the Dala’il al-Khayrat, and why it had such a massive impact on Islamic history.

The Dala’il al Khayrat wa Shawariq al-Anwar fi Dhikr al-Salat ‘ala al-Nabi al-Mukhtar (The Index of Good Things and the Advent of Blazing Lights in the Remembrance to ask for Blessings upon the Chosen Prophet) is a compilation of salawat, or sending of blessings and peace upon the Prophet, combined with supplications for oneself, for the umma, and callings upon Allah Most High. It was authored by Imam Jazuli from Fez, Morocco, a North African center for knowledge.

The text can be read many different ways. In Fez, it is read in one sitting on Fridays. Later, text was divided into sections, in order to facilitate a weekly completion.

Who Was Imam Jazuli?

One day Imam Jazuli intended to perform his ablutions from a well,  but failed to find something with which to draw water from the well. A young girl saw him and wondered how this well-praised man could be confounded by this matter. She merely spit into the well, and the water flooded up. After finishing his ablutions he asked her how she had attained this station. She answered, “through constantly invoking blessings upon the one, who if he walked on the dry lands, the beasts would cling to him.” Tihis encounter impacted him greatly, and he swore that he would write a book of invocations of blessings upon the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Imam Jazuli lived in 9th Hijri-century Morocco, a time of weakness in the Muslim umma, with weakening scholarship and corruption that lead to a normalization of major sins. He compiled this text for an umma that was increasingly in need of re-establishing its connection with the very foundation of the religion; the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. By understanding his centrality to our religion, it becomes even more important that we follow the command of our Lord Most High:

“Indeed Allah and His angels confer blessings upon the Prophet, O believers! Confer blessings upon him and salute him with a worthy salutation” [33:56]

The Chain of Transmission

The lesson by Sheikh Muhammad Ba-Dhib and Sheikh Faraz Rabbani also addresses the times of confusion that we live in, with ideologies springing up and bringing doubt to what have for centuries been established traditions. Texts like the Dala’il were taught continuously, its inheritors becoming scholars of the Dala’il al-Khayrat, who carried out gatherings of reading the text. The chain of transmission is a symbol that proves the longevity of the tradition. This teaches us, as inheritors of the religion and the next links in its chains, that such gatherings can be traced all the way back to Imam Jazuli’s life, and that each link in the chain is benefitting through this continuity.

To conclude, the benefits of invoking blessings upon the Messenger are plentiful and numerous. Among them is the chance to draw near to Allah through praising His Chosen and Beloved Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. And as it is impossible for anyone in a lesser rank to truly see the value that lies in the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, it is only through asking Allah that we are able to do so.

May we continue to benefit from the many blessings Allah Most High has continued to preserve for the umma of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.


Laila Abdel Ghany lives in Cairo, Egypt. She studied Comparative Literature, with minors in Anthropology and Education, and is interested in how these fields can be brought together and perfected through the Islamic tradition.


The Genre of Love and Beauty: al-Shama’il – Tarek Ghanem

Al-Busiri’s Burda and Celebrating the Mawlid – Shaykh Muhammad Ba-Dhib

Can A Sinner Love the Prophet? – Ustadh Salman Younas

Forgiveness in Light of Being With The People, by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Forgiveness in Light of Being With The People, by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Capturing the Spirit of Ramadan
Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation

Every night our Ramadan scholars will explore one of the three key spiritual goals of Ramadan. Each talk will conclude with a dynamic conversation as we explore mercy, forgiveness and salvation deeply and see how we can attain these divine gifts practically. These talks will enliven and inspire us as we begin our nightly ‘isha and tarawih prayers.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Art by Tom Gowanlock

Adab 09: The Proprieties of Fridays

Ustadh Tabraze Azam writes on the proprieties of Fridays, the sermon, prayer, Qur’an recitation, and supplications.

Out of His pure grace, Allah Most High has blessed the Muhammadan community (umma) with a day as special and sacred as Friday. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, remarked that Allah has made it “an Eid for the believers.” (al-Muwatta) A day of joy, then, blessings and magnificent rewards from an all-Generous Lord, if only we took some moments to pause and reflect.

It behooves us to recognize that Friday is not like any other day, but rather the chief (sayyid) of days, so we should endeavor to treat it differently. It is the day in which much good and righteous work, which may be otherwise lost or missed throughout the week, may be made up and surpassed. It is the day in which the bounties of Allah will continue to reach us in the hereafter, the day in which our sins from the previous week are expiated for, and the day for which the scholars have listed over a hundred virtues.

As the moments of our collective lives pass, we should strive to present ourselves before the sweet, graceful winds of Allah’s Mercy as they pass us weekly. And what better state than to greet them with complete gratitude (shukr) and full propriety, or adab, so that we can sow our humble seeds of sincere worship in hope of a momentous harvest in the next life.

The Purificatory Bath and Dress

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever performs the ritual ablution on Fridays has done well; and whoever bathes has done what is superior.” (Abu Dawud) It is an highly emphasized sunna to bathe on Fridays for those attending the Friday prayer. The reason for this is so that the prayer can be prayed with the most complete form of purification out of veneration for the tremendousness of the obligatory, major, congregational prayer of this day.

However, there is a more expansive position that states the sunna of bathing on Fridays is unconditional, and thus, applies to all Muslims, whether they’re attending the prayer or not. This is particularly useful for life in a western context where many of those attending the prayer may be simply unable to bathe right before attendance. As an aside, some of the early Muslims (salaf) would use Fridays as an opportunity to engage in conjugal relations with their spouses, and then bathe accordingly, so that they could head out into the world with lesser worldly distraction.

Further, it is recommended to take care of one’s personal, bodily upkeep on Fridays, unless one is trying to uphold the recommendation of avoiding such upkeep during the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijja [namely, until one’s animal has been sacrificed, if sacrificing]. That includes clipping one’s nails, from both the hands and feet, shaving one’s underarm hair and the hair below the navel, trimming the mustache, and other similar matters. You should also use the tooth-stick (siwak) and apply perfume.

Thereafter, it is from the sunna to dress in your best clothes. Needless to say that if you cannot, due to work or other undue hardship, it would be excusable. But the basis is that venerating the prayer and the occasion is from venerating the blessing of being gifted with witnessing the day itself. Many scholars encourage the wearing of white because it was the type of clothing the the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to encourage wearing most of the time. “It’s the best of your clothing,” he said, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

However, the practice of different lands naturally differs, so wearing lighter colors in the summertime and darker shades in the winter is also quite reasonable, and actually the custom in some Muslim societies. This is due to the fact that “white” could also be understood as lighter colors, because of the shared meaning, and darker shades will usually hide the effects of any adverse weather. But what is minimally expected is something dignified, modest and covering as this is the central point.

Qur’an Recitation: Sura al-Kahf and Other Chapters

Recitation of the Qur’an is a strongly encouraged act of devotion on Fridays. Many scholars note the virtue of reciting even the night before, which is, religiously, the “night of Friday,” as well as on the actual morning itself. Moreover, the evening before, Thursday night, is also a time to increase in glorification (tasbih) and seeking forgiveness (istighfar).

The most emphasized recitation on Fridays is that of Sura al-Kahf. Our Master, Abu Sai‘d al-Khudri, may Allah be well-pleased with him, said, “Whosoever recites Sura al-Kahf on Friday will have an illuminating light between this Friday and the next.” (al-Mustadrak) On the night before, some scholars have noted the praiseworthy nature of reciting Sura al-Dukhkhan and Sura Ya Sin, and even Sura al-Baqara and Sura Aal ‘Imran. Some have said that if one finds any of the aforementioned to be a high bar to uphold, then recite Sura al-Ikhlas much instead.

Nevertheless, whatever you can do, however little it may be, is superior to nothing at all. But strive to make your recitation meaningful. Take a moment to ask Allah Most High for the matters which are praiseworthy, and to seek His protection from the manners and ways of the godforsaken. Consider also using a copy of the mushaf which has the translation or exegesis besides it, if it helps.

Sending Many Blessings on the Prophet and Supplication

Of the greatest of actions a believer can engage in is sending blessings upon the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Sending blessings on Fridays is especially meritorious, as he himself instructed us. In a lengthier tradition (hadith) recorded by Abu Dawud, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “So send many blessings upon me therein [i.e. Fridays], for indeed your blessings are presented to me.” ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, the noted sandal-bearer of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is reported to have encouraged recitation of the following on Fridays: “O Allah, send blessings upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace (allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin salla ‘Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).” (Hilyat al-Awliya’)

But of course, any simple formulation of sending peace and blessings upon him would fulfil this, even if it’s only “allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad.” Interestingly, some of the scholars noted that sending “many blessings” means to recite at least three hundred blessings during the night and three hundred in the day!

In another tradition (hadith) of note, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that, “Indeed, there is a moment on Friday that not a single Muslim coincides with whilst he is asking Allah for [something] good, except that He gives it to him.” (Muslim) The scholars have come to different conclusions regarding the indication of this tradition (hadith). Some said that it appears either at sunrise, at midday (zawal), after the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr) or at sunset, and others said that it is at some point between the moment at which the imam takes his seat on the pulpit (minbar) for the sermon and until he says the exiting salams of the prayer (Muslim).

Ideally, one would strive to catch the varying times, even if only briefly. The reality of supplication, nevertheless, is that its greatest manifestation is when one asks with complete neediness and sincerity, maintaining a sense of presence of heart and mind in one’s intimate discourse with the Divine. Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al-Sakandari remarked, “Whenever He loosens your tongue with a supplication, realize that He wants to give to you.” (al-Hikam)

Attending the Friday Prayer

An oft-forgotten sunna is to arrive early for the Friday prayer. Fortunately, especially given our busy lives, and particularly work on Fridays, contrary to the practice of many Muslim societies, there are varying scholarly positions of what being early entails, yet starting, generally speaking, after sunrise. The scholars would usually explain that the morning is divided into six parts, with those arriving in the first attaining the greatest virtue.

For all intents and purposes, getting there in sufficient time to get a place in the front row, besides the pulpit (minbar), with some moments of worship before the proceedings begin, would be sufficiently early for most and what the traditions (ahadith) are directing toward. The latter issue of being close to the place from where the sermon will be delivered is also a religiously legislated and encouraged action. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Attend the sermon, and sit close to the imam.” (Abu Dawud)

As you enter the mosque, it is recommended to intend the spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf) and pray the prayer of greeting the mosque (salat tahiyyat al-masjid), on condition that it is not a disliked time to pray. Practically, this would refer to the moment the sun is at its zenith (zawal), or highest point in the sky. However, given the disagreement on the issue among the legal schools, and even within the Hanafi legal tradition, it wouldn’t be necessary to correct anybody except from the perspective of wishing well and good for them (nasiha).

Imam al-Ghazali notes that it’s also virtuous to pray a voluntary prayer, reciting therein, Sura Ya Sin, Sura al-Sajda, Sura al-Dukhan and Sura al-Mulk respectively. (This is actually his dispensatory set of chapters!) After the entry of the time of the noon prayer (zuhr), the sunna is to pray the strongly emphasized (sunna mu’akkada) four cycles (rak‘as). The sunna is to pray another four cycles, with one set of exiting salams at the end, after the Friday prayer is over.

Finally, there are two miscellaneous issues to keep in mind. Firstly, what if ‘eid happens to also fall on a Friday? The overwhelming majority of Islamic scholarship held that the obligation to pray the Friday prayer remains, and nobody has an excuse to omit it. Not that it requires clarification, but the ‘eid prayer is a duty (wajib), yet the Friday prayer is a decisive obligation (fard), and getting priorities right would entail ensuring that the obligation gets taken care of before something lesser. And secondly, ladies aren’t obligated to attend the Friday prayer.

But if there is some benefit to be attained, such as being with religiously upright company (suhba), or hearing an inspiring lecture live, then it would be fine to attend on condition that (a) it doesn’t entail the neglect or non fulfillment of other duties, (b) the sanctity of the space is upheld by, for example, dressing in modest, covering clothing, and (c) there is a safe and dignified space for women.

The Sermon (Khutba)

Allah Most High says, “O believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, then proceed diligently to the remembrance of Allah and leave off your business. That is best for you, if only you knew.” (Sura al-Jumu‘a 62:9) The general rule is that whenever there is a sermon, one is duty-bound to remain silent and be attentive, irrespective of the language the sermon is being delivered in. As an aside, giving a sermon in other than Arabic in environments where Arabic is not understood is both valid and permitted.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you say to a fellow attendee on Friday, ‘be quiet,’ and the imam is delivering the sermon, you have slipped.” (Bukhari) Note that what is meant is that he has violated the sanctity of the sermon. The most emphasized of sermons is the one before the Friday Prayer, given that it is a condition for the prayer’s validity. Consequently, it is the kind of sermon that many people will often be in attendance for, and thus, it is important to know the details of how to act therein.

The moral obligation to remain silent extends to all forms of speech as the sermon is being delivered, whether it be saying the greetings of salams to a fellow attendee or “amin” to the imam’s supplications, and until the end of the prayer itself. Technically, the duty begins at the moment the imam proceeds to rise for the pulpit (minbar). What then of the position that the “moment of acceptance [of supplication]” occurs between the two sittings of the sermon?

The scholars explain that the supplication made in the heart at this time is also of real consequence, and the moment will not be missed by supplicating sincerely without actually uttering anything. Your spiritual state can also be a form of supplication (lisan al-hal). The imperative to remain quiet at this time is so emphasized that even in the case of harm, you would only say something if it cannot be averted by mere motioning and the like. (As for a pre-sermon lecture, one should give it the respect it deserves, but the rulings aren’t quite the same.)

The same applies to the sunna four cycles (rak‘as) before the Friday prayer, namely, that it is impermissible to pray them during the sermon as it would distract one from the duty to be attentive, let alone the recommended prayer of greeting the mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid). However, if you’re already praying, you may simply complete the prayer. If you do arrive late, and during the sermon, you would delay this sunna prayer until after the obligatory Friday prayer, whereby you would pray two sets of four cycles (rak‘as).

The only exception to praying at this time would be in the case that a person missed the same day’s dawn (fajr) prayer. The reason for this is that maintaining order (tartib) between makeup prayers (qada’) is also a duty, yet more so, since the subsequent prayer’s validity depends upon its fulfillment. Hence, you would pray in this instance to ensure that your Friday prayer is valid.

Praiseworthy Deeds and Actions

There are a number of other meritorious actions which can obviously take place at any time, but are specifically encouraged by the scholars on Fridays. Marriage ceremonies, for example, are ideally to occur on Fridays and after the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr). Similarly, visiting graveyards on Fridays is generally praiseworthy, as is giving something in charity (sadaqa). Another tremendous act of devotion is the prayer of glorification (salat al-tasbih). This is specifically encouraged by the scholars as a prayer which should be prayed, at the very least, yearly. The person who can make a consistent habit out of it, such as on Friday mornings, is certainly somebody blessed and chosen by Allah Most High. Note that the prayer of seeking aid in memorizing the Qur’an is to be prayed on Thursday night.

As for traveling on Fridays, it is permitted without dislike, as long as you avoid doing so after the entrance of the time of the noon prayer (zuhr). In such a case, you would need to pray before heading out. Any type of trade after the first call to prayer (adhan), or anything which delays one’s attendance at the Friday prayer, is usually wrong and impermissible. Another issue is that fasting is both valid and permitted on Fridays. However, due to the fact that there are conflicting traditions (ahadith), and consequently differences between the jurists, it is perhaps superior, barring other considerations, to omit fasting that day unless it coincides with your fasting habit or you conjoin with a day before or after it.

In closing, let us remind ourselves of the virtue of those who die on Fridays. It is reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever dies on Friday or its night is inscribed with the reward of a martyr, and is protected from the tribulation of the grave.” (Tirmidhi) We ask Allah to bring our hearts to life by virtue of our striving to bring our Fridays to life. And we ask Him to increase us in the great, lasting good deeds (baqiyat salihat), particularly those on Fridays, with the kind of sincerity and love that will be pleasing to Him for eternity.

And Allah alone gives success.


The Reality of Gratitude – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani helps us understand the reality of gratitude.

All Gratitude is for Allah

As Muslims, our perspective on gratitude is very different from the commonly accepted definition. We practice gratitude for every situation we come across, not just the ones that we enjoy. This has a radically transformation effect on our mental state, spiritual state, and standing with Allah. This is the reality of gratitude.

The word for gratitude in Arabic is shukr. It’s essential meaning comes from the word “increase,” which gives it the meaning of a response to something with increase. A shakira was a type of bush that would grow in very dry environments, and would produce a lot of vegetation despite the difficult circumstances. Camels and other animals were also referred to with that word, because of their ability to give much benefit despite the little they ate and drank.

Outwardly, gratitude is a spiritual act. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever is not grateful to people, is not grateful to Allah.” This teaches us that even our gratitude to others is a means of showing our gratitude to Allah, since ultimately all gratitude is for Allah.

Imam Ahmad Zarruq defined gratitude as, “the heart’s rejoicing at the Bestower of blessings, not merely the blessings. This is manifest on one’s limbs, such that one’s tongue actively praises Allah, and one’s limbs express good works and leave contraventions.”

This is why sometimes blessings can be a more difficult test than sadness. When in a difficult situation, it’s easy to turn to Allah with sincerity. However, in times of ease, people tend to forget Allah.

For Every Situation, A Sunna

Allah says, “If you are grateful for my blessings, I will grant you increase.” (Surah Ibrahim 14.7) There are two levels of gratitude; gratitude, and true gratitude. Gratitude is to respond to blessings with joy and thankfulness to Allah. But true gratitude is to see all situations, good or bad, as coming from Allah.

The bridge to love to Allah is true gratitude. Allah says, “Few of my servants are truly grateful.” When Imam Junayd was asked about it the reality of gratitude, he said, “To do your utmost in the presence of your Lord.” Gratitude is not just to say “alhamdulillah,” but to use the blessing well. He also said, “Gratitude is to not disobey Allah with what He has given you.” Since Allah has given us all our facilities, true gratitude entails doing our best to never disobey Allah.

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.