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

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship you could otherwise do? As Nour Merza writes, there is much to look forward to.

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.

menstruating women in Ramadan

1. Increase dhikr

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 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 du’aa

Du’aa 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 du’aa 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 du’aas 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 salawat on the Prophet (pbuh) 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 SeekersHub 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 SeekersHub’s #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

menstruating women in Ramadan

Although the Hanafi schools holds that women cannot cannot touch the mushaf or recite 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 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?

Cover photo by Edward Musiak. Tasbih photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly. Quran photo by Mohmed Althani.

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.Dala'il al-Khayrat

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.


http://seekershub.org/articles/islam/adab-08-proprieties-travel/
http://seekershub.org/answers/quran/adab-07-proprieties-earning-living/
http://seekershub.org/articles/knowledge/adab-05-adab-mosque-pt-i/

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.


Adab 07: The Proprieties of Earning a Living

Ustadh Tabraze Azam dives deep into the proprieties of earning a lawful income, its virtues, and its rewards in this life and in the life to come.

The trustworthy, honest trader will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs [on the Day of Judgement], said the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

When we live up to the ideals and deep, moral standards of the religion, we can be hopeful of something tremendous from Allah in the hereafter. After all, this life is merely a means to the next, and not an end-goal in and of itself. Earning a livelihood is something that most of us can probably relate to, but our fast-paced lives, however, can sometimes hinder our ability to simply pause for a moment and review our trajectory into eternity. Seldom is a moment of contemplation void of any lasting benefit when it is for Allah.

As we try to reconnect with our faith and live it more faithfully, with propriety, we should recall the words of Allah in which He informs us that He “made the day for livelihood.” (Sura al Naba’ 78:11) Thus, it is Allah’s favor upon us by which we are blessed with days in which we can fulfill the purpose of that time. A believer is a “son of his moment,” namely, somebody concerned with being in the right places at the right times, and doing what will be most pleasing to Allah therein. With gratitude, we can come to appreciate the most menial of tasks, and with gratitude, Allah increases us in ways we couldn’t otherwise imagine.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to some of the proper manners to be upheld in seeking a living for Allah.

Righteous Intentions (Niyya Saliha)

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us that a believer’s intention is better than his action or work itself (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman). Accordingly, getting our intentions right will ensure that we receive a splendid, unspeakable reward from Allah Most High even if we’re not prosperous, even if we don’t fulfil our hopes and dreams and even if it simply wasn’t meant to be. This is a huge mercy.

What, then, should we intend? Above all, to seek the pleasure of Allah Most High as this is the point of life itself. When you have such a noble intention, the most mundane of tasks can transform into something sacred. But given the difficulty of maintaining such a lofty state, the scholars recommend having secondary intentions which act as the pathways to the central intention.

Thus, intend to:

    1. 1) abstain from begging,

 

    1. 2) abstain from coveting what others have,

 

    1. 3) become financially strong and independent,

 

    1. 4) provide for your dependants,

 

    1. 5) uphold the values and ethics of the Sacred Law of integrity, commanding the good and otherwise,

 

    1. 6) fulfil a personal and a communal obligation (fard ‘ayn/kifaya),

 

    1. 7) make regular charitable donations,

 

    8) be of service to Allah’s creation, and similarly any other intention that comes to mind of virtuous matters.

Reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah Most High

Our Master ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you relied upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would give you sustenance just as the birds are given sustenance: they leave hungry in the morning, and return satiated in the evening.” (Tirmidhi) He, Allah bless him and give him peace, also told the Bedouin man who asked about the manner of true reliance (tawakkul) to “tie the camel, and then rely upon Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

Reliance, as defined by Jurjani in his Ta‘rifat, is confidence and contentment with what is Allah’s, and despair with respect to what is in the hands of people. Namely, realising that Allah alone is the sole doer, and consequently, that it is not people who will prevent your livelihood from reaching you as they are intrinsically incapable and needy. Rather, He is the Sufficer (al-Wakil), and He alone gives and constricts as He wills. So what’s the point of taking the means? Because the lawgiver commanded it.

True reliance upon Allah isn’t negated by taking the means as the two matters are distinct. Reliance upon Allah is a state of the heart whereas taking the means (asbab) is an action of the limbs. When the two are conjoined, the fullest and truest meaning of reliance is realised. And this is why Imam Birgivi wrote, “Taking the outward means which normally lead to the outcomes desired doesn’t negate reliance at all, and this is why earning a living is an obligation.” (Al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya)

Practizing a Lawful and Dignified Trade

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us, “No one eats any food better than the one who eats from what he earns by work of his own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Dawud, peace be upon him, used to eat from what he earned by the work of his own hands.” (Bukhari) Note that this is a metaphor for earning a living and not that the best line of work is carpentry, baking or any other work in which the hands are directly used! Moreover, the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, wasn’t in need of such work and wealth as he was the Caliph of the entire earth at the time. However, the tradition (hadith) informs us of the nobility of the rank of working and his desire to do what was superior and more pleasing to Allah Most High.

When choosing a line of work, look for the kind of opportunities which you are deeply interested in, and also allow you to fulfill your potential, yet at the same time, don’t infringe upon any of your religious obligations. Primarily, this latter point entails that your very line of work needs to be lawful. Engaging in, encouraging or abetting sin is destructive to your hereafter. Keep such lines of work at a healthy distance so that you don’t have to explain yourself, or worse, bear the consequences, later. If you’re unsure regarding the legality or otherwise of your work, you should consult a reliable scholar before making any serious decisions.

Avoiding the Unlawful (Haram) and Offensive (Makruh)

The basis in transactions is the verse of the Qur’an, “You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth but trade by mutual consent.” (Sura al Nisa’ 4:29) The masterful Ottoman Qur’anic exegete, Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, clarified that “wrongfully” means anything that is contrary to the Sacred Law, whether that is by way of theft, misappropriation, deception, gambling, engaging in usurious dealings, or anything else that the Sacred Law interdicted.

Our religion encourages us to engage in trade, but it is imperative that we avoid the kind of unethical behavior that many, unfortunately, fall into, let alone sin. The recognition that lack of clarity in transactions leads to unnecessary disputes and argumentation, for example, should move us to do something about it. Appreciate that things sometimes go wrong so be clear with one another about the terms of your agreement so that you don’t lose each other in mere worldliness. The way out, then, is to be grounded in sufficient law, or fiqh, which will ensure that you don’t fall into the religiously blameworthy or unlawful altogether.

As part of a longer tradition, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be resentfully envious of one another, do not artificially inflate prices against one another, do not loathe one another, do not give a cold shoulder to one another, do not undercut one another in business transactions, but be, servants of Allah, brothers.” (Muslim)

Learning A Trade Well (Itqan) and Doing A Good Job (Ihsan)

Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We granted David a great privilege from Us, commanding: ‘O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well.’ We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: ‘Make full-length armor, perfectly balancing the links. And work righteousness O family of David! Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do.’” (Sura Saba 34:10-11) Something we can take away from this latter verse is the Divine injunction to the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, to perfect his trade and not simply to produce something that others couldn’t.

Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, continually guiding us to what Allah loves, is reported to have once stated, “Allah is pleased when any of you does some action and perfects it.” (Tabarani) One of the hallmarks of believers is that they work, not only to produce, but to beautify. The trait of excellence, or ihsan, is deeply rooted in tradition and a foundational principle of the prophetic way. Practically, if you’re doing something, do it well. Don’t sell yourself short, and be an example to others in the trade, particularly when you are noticeably religious in societies where Islam is something unfamiliar.

Exhibiting Mercy (Rahma) and Other Praiseworthy Traits in Dealings

Whether you run your own business or work for another, you should always try to keep your heart in the right place, and at the same time, exhibit what you can of lofty, prophetic character traits. Taking it easy with people, particularly with those of lesser means, is a sure way of attaining the great good foretold by the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous and easy-going when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” (Bukhari)

Use the opportunity of work to remember your Lord and reset your intentions. Imam Sha‘rani related that his teacher and guide, ‘Ali al-Khawass, used to supplicate to Allah upon opening his store every morning, “O Lord, make this a means of benefiting your creation.”

Likewise, there is great virtue in remembering Allah in the marketplaces or in places of general heedlessness. Make it a point to say the takbir (Allahu akbar), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah), tahlil (La ilaha illa Llah) and tasbih (Subhana Llah) at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon in seeking the closeness of Allah Most High. If you have more motivation, you can recite the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “There is no god but Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He gives death. He is alive and does not die. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.” (Tirmidhi)

Giving from What You Love: Charity (Sadaqa) and the Afterlife

Allah Most High says, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:92) Further, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that charity is a “proof.” (Muslim) A proof of what? Faith. When you give, you are showing your deep certitude and faith in Allah Most High, in the truth of the prophetic message, in the veracity of the hereafter and everything that entails.

The best of giving is when it is selfless, sincerely for Allah and swiftly forgotten. Consistent donations, even if only slight, are superior to sporadic payments, even if large. Charity wards off calamities, wipes out sins, cleanses and purifies wealth and draws you nearer to your Ever-Merciful Lord.

Finally, it behooves us to recognize that the reality of earning a living is that it is Allah Most High who is the Provider (al-Razzaq). The wage which you earn is merely a means which He has created, and, at the end of the day, He is the one who creates sustenance (rizq) through it. So although wealth may sometimes come and go, know that it doesn’t intrinsically aid one.

The ultimate objective is to be ever-cognizant of the Divine, and to travel toward Him with a deep desire to live an ethical, pleasing life: the kind of life the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) directed us towards. “Say, O Prophet, ‘If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Sura Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

And Allah alone gives success.


Don’t Forget to Mention Allah’s Name! – Shaykh Amin Buxton

Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should come to know our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, a little better. In this series, we try to do this by looking at the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and at times made him laugh.

Remembering Allah

Ummayah bin Makhshi narrates that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace was sitting with a man who was eating. The man did not mention Allah’s name and he kept eating until there was only one mouthful left. When he raised the food to his mouth he said: “In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.”

The Prophet laughed and said: “The devil was eating with him until he mentioned Allah’s name, at which point the devil vomited up everything that was in his stomach!” (Narrated by Abu Daud)
This hadith reminds us of the importance of mentioning Allah’s name before even the smallest and most mundane actions such as dressing, entering and leaving our homes, going to sleep and waking up and, of course, eating and drinking.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, taught us the precise etiquette in all of these situations and revealed to us the consequences of neglecting it.When we mention Allah’s name, it acts as a barrier which prevents darkness and evil from entering into our lives. Beyond this, it reminds us that only Allah sustains the existence of all things. When we eat, sleep and walk in Allah’s name, those actions take on a new meaning. This is because they are connected to the Divine and are blessed with Allah’s support and care.

If, however, we are not conscious of this reality (as is often the case) it is never too late. The key is to return to Allah as soon as we remember. If we forget to mention Allah’s name before we eat, we can say the following supplication when we remember:

بِسْمِ اللهِ أَوَّلَهُ وآخِرَهُ

Bismillāhi awwalahu wa ākhirahu

In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.

This incident also shows us that the Prophet was actually witnessing the unseen. The angelic and demonic realms were unveiled to him. Although they are veiled to us (with very rare exceptions), it is part of our faith to believe that they exist just as the Prophet informed us of them.
Just as the devil is happy to see our actions come to nothing, the Messenger laughed and was happy to see the devil’s actions come to nothing. His happiness was always for the victory of light over darkness. In this case a member of his nation was neglectful even though he was in the presence of the Prophet. But what pleased the Prophet was that he made amends. We can take comfort from the fact that however heedless or forgetful we are, we can always make amends. In doing so, we make our guide and teacher happy. May Allah shower him with blessings and peace.

Shaykh Amin Buxton was born in London and became Muslim in 1999. He studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London, and then enrolled at Dar al Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen. There he studied the sacred sciences under the supervision of Habib Umar bin Hafiz.

He has edited and translated a number of books which explain the Prophetic way such as Imam al-Haddad’s ‘Beneficial Counsels’ and provides content for Muwasala. Since 2017 he has resided with his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is involved in a number of educational initiatives around the UK, including the iSyllabus, and has taught at the SeekersHub Retreat.


 

Intention for Seeking Knowledge by Imam Haddad

In this article, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani provides commentary on Imam Haddad’s famous “Intention for Seeking Knowledge.” Text and translation of this supplication is also provided.

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Actions are by their intentions, and each person shall have whatsoever they intended.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The reality of our actions is not merely what we do, but also why we do it. As Ibn Ata’illah explained, “Actions are lifeless forms, whose soul is the subtle reality of sincerity within them.” (Hikam al Ata’iyya)

Seeking Knowledge as a Spiritual Work

Seeking sacred knowledge (talab al-ilm) has been described in the Qur’an and Sunna as one of the highest of spiritual works. Thus, a sincere intention is particularly important.

Seeking knowledge can also be a source of honor and recognition in this world. This can be dangerous, as it can result in sinful inward traits such as pride, conceit, and arrogance. Only sincere intentions can protect a person, and fulfill the spiritual potential of seeking knowledge.

What is an Intention?

The scholars explain that an intention (niyya) is, “The resolve to (a) perform an act of obedience to Allah, (b) drawing closer to Allah thereby, (c) at the beginning of one’s action.” (Taftazani, quoted by Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar)

This has three components:
(a) “The resolve to perform an act of obedience” entails mindful, purposeful action. Bring to mind what are you doing, and that you are doing it as an act of obedience.
(b)“ … drawing closer to Allah…” entails bringing to mind that you are acting for the sake of Allah alone – seeking His Closeness, Love, Good Pleasure, and reward.
(c) “… at the beginning of the action,” entails pausing for a moment before you begin any action, at any time, in order to renew your resolve.

What is Sincerity?

Sincerity, or ikhlas, is the heart of Islam. It is defined by the scholars as, “Seeking to draw closer to Allah with one’s actions, without any ulterior motive.” (Qushayri)

Sahl ibn Abd Allah said, “The intelligent looked at sincerity, and the best description they found is that it is for one’s motions and rest – in private and in public – to be for Allah alone without partner, without anything being mixed into one’s motives. Not one’s ego, nor one’s whims, nor any merely worldly aspirations.” (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman)

Imam Haddad’s Intention for Knowledge: A Practical Means for Making High Intentions

Part of having sincere intentions (al-niyya al-saliha) is to reflect deeply on all the multiple ways one is seeking the Pleasure of Allah through one’s actions. This is called “multiplying one’s intention,” or ta’addud al-niyya.

Because such deep reflection is rare for most of us, the scholars compiled statements of intention to help us make high, transformative intentions before we act.

One such powerful statement of intention for seeking knowledge is Imam Abd Allah ibn Alawi al-Haddad’s “Intention for Seeking Sacred Knowledge.”

This intention defines both the ultimate purpose of seeking knowledge – “seeking Allah Himself, His Good Pleasure, Closeness, and Reward” –  as well as the multiple ways one can make one’s knowledge sincerely for Allah.

The scholars encourage making it a deliberate, purposeful habit to make such a statement of intention – in one’s heart or uttered – every time one begins studying, teaching, reading, or listening to Islamic knowledge.

Imam Haddad’s Intention for Seeking Knowledge