Spiritual Prescription for Shaban – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) recommends reading the following 40,000 times in the the month of Sha`ban:

 

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنْ الْظَّالِمِين

Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum la ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu min az-zalimin

‘O Living, O Self-Subsistent! There is no deity other than You. Transcendent are You, truly I am one of the wrongdoers.’

The Believer, Futuwwa, & Times of Crisis – Shaykh Salman Younas

A few days ago, I visited the local supermarket to stock up on some basic supplies for the home – some rice, canned food, tissues, cleaning items, and medicine. An announcement from the government was imminent, and anticipating a potential decision to close schools, offices, and other public venues and activities, people were rushing to prepare themselves for the worse of the coronavirus crisis. 

Finding some of the items on my list proved a difficult task. Fever reducing medication, such as paracetamol, was sold-out in most places despite efforts to limit the quantity individuals could purchase. I went from store to store until finally I was able to purchase the maximum two packets of medicine allocated to each customer. This was the fifth store I had visited. Earlier, as I walked in the medicine aisle of one chain pharmacy, I saw an elderly couple looking for the same medicine that I was. There was none, of course, and I informed them that the situation was the same at the local supermarket. 

The coming days will prove to be challenging for many of us: increasingly confined to our homes and uncertain of what to expect in the coming few weeks and months. Some people, however, will be faced with difficulties of an entirely different magnitude. The coronavirus, which has gripped the entire world, is particularly dangerous for those above the age of sixty and those with underlying health conditions. Significant numbers will succumb to the virus, while many others will be hospitalized in critical and intensive care. The empty shelves we are seeing as a result of the paranoia that has gripped various nations also means that many will probably find themselves struggling to find basic supplies and medicine, at least until a system is implemented to ensure demand is met.

Islam teachers us that the believer is someone who maximizes benefit and minimizes harm for all those around him. Often, when we speak about our treatment and dealing with other people, the concept of mercy, love, care, selflessness, etc., come to mind. In Islam, there is another concept that is all encompassing of the adab a believer is meant to display: futuwwa, or chivalry.

Its foundation, as stated by Imam al-Qushayri, is “that the servant of God always exerts himself in the service of others.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This is in keeping with the statement of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), “Allah is in the aide of his servant as long as the servant is in aide of his brother.” (Sahih Muslim) There are several futuwwa traits that we should uphold in these trying times, among them:

  1. Minimizing harm to others. Imam al-Junayd said, “Chivalry means keeping trouble away from others.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This is an all-encompassing definition. In the current context, keeping trouble away from others entails ensuring that one is not a cause for the spread of this illness in any way shape or form to an interdiction on hoarding, raising prices, spreading false news, and more. The believer is someone who avoids causing difficulties for others, while bearing the difficulties caused by them.
  2. Making active efforts to assist those around us. Imam al-Qushayri said, “Chivalry is that you do not hide from those who seek your assistance.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) The coming weeks will see individuals in our community struggle: financially, emotionally, and in other ways. They will look to the wider community to lift them up and it is the duty of every Muslim to extend them his hand in support. This should be something we do actively without being asked. As Sufyan al-Thawri said, “It is contrary to proper adab to not serve when you are able to.” (Kitab al-Futuwwa)
  3. Giving to people freely. Imam al-Qushayri said, “Chivalry is that you neither hoard wealth nor seek excuses to avoid giving to those in need.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) The past few days have shown that people are concerned about the future, which has resulted in buying goods in bulk often at the expense of others. This is contrary to trust in Allah (tawakkul). Part of chivalry is to have trust that one’s sustenance is guaranteed and not let concern for it prevent from assisting others.
  4. Giving preference to others. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq said, “Chivalry is that if we are given something, we prefer to give it to someone else.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This only arises from worldly detachment, being satisfied with little for oneself, and wishing much for others. It is expected of the Muslim in good times and is demanded of him even more when hard times fall on people. As the current crisis unfolds, Muslims will have to freely and generously give of their wealth, time, and resources in order to ensure the well-being of wider society.
  5. Showing compassion to all of creation. This manifests in numerous ways: a cheerful smile, a kind gesture, soothing words, tolerating the actions of others, overlooking faults, empathy, and praying for all. Everything we do in these moments should embody prophetic compassion. In times of uncertainty and anxiety, the believer will encounter unsavoury things, but he must confront them not with negativity, harshness, or complacency, but positivity, patience, and decency.

In Islamic discourse, the fata was essentially the word used to describe the ideal, noble man whose hospitality and generosity was so expansive that he left little for himself. The term futuwwa came to denote a code of honourable conduct that followed the examples of the prophets, saints, and righteous. At its core was the notion of not just generosity, but an almost heroic generosity of time, wealth, and spirit where one went above and beyond for his fellow human beings. If there was any time for Muslims to adopt the ethics and traits associated with futuwwa – loyalty, generosity, humility, courage, etc. -, it is this time we find ourselves in right now.

Getting the Most Out of Rajab – Habib Umar

There are a number of ways to get the most out of Rajab. Some of the most important are as follows:

1. Seeking forgiveness in abundance and making sincere repentance;
2. Making a sincere resolve to seek to approach Allah through performing acts of obedience and avoiding acts of disobedience;
3. Assessing your state, rectifying it and striving to follow the Prophet ﷺ in all that you do;
4. Improving your performance of the prayer by making sure that you implement the sunnahs pertaining to the prayer and pray with presence of heart. Also strive to pray in congregation in the first row without missing the opening takbir;
5. Improving your relationship with the Qur’an by increasing the amount you read and reflect upon daily and seeking to act upon it;
6. Being consistent in reading your adhkar in the morning and evening, after the prayer and in your varying states (such as eating, entering the house and preparing for sleep);
7. Improving your interaction with your family, friends, relatives, neighbors and with Allah’s slaves in general and the elect of His slaves specifically;
8. Fasting whatever days you are able to, especially Monday and Thursday and the White Days (13th, 14th and 15th days of the month);
9. Giving a portion of charity and doing what you can to help those in need and treating them kindly;
10. Worshiping Allah in these nights, especially in the last portion of the night. Improve your state at this time so as to enter into those who Allah praises in the Qur’an: Those who spend their wealth (in charity) and seek forgiveness in the last portion of the night.

Regarding Sincerity: A Conversation About Truthful Intention and Self Accountability – By Dr. Mahmoud Masri

There’s a story in ‘al-Risala al-Qushayriyya’ of a young man who regularly attended a gathering (majlis), when he heard a shaykh discussing sincerity: how is it, how should it be when performing actions, etc. The young man found this heavy upon himself, and from that day forward he made a firm intention that he would not attend the gathering anymore, and refrained from going until the point he was harmed because of that. The Shaykh noticed his absence and asked regarding him. He eventually met with him and asked him why he was absent; he answered, “I heard from your words and was afraid for myself”. The Shaykh replied to him, “My son, that’s not the solution. We point you to sincerity (ikhlas) in actions, not to abandoning actions!”

Act! Thoughts such, “I’m doing this pious act and I fear the interest of people and their interest in my actions” may come to a person. One must not pay attention to this and should correct their intention. Even if he is actually one of the ostentatious, he should remain upon the action, and continue the deed. Like when they said, “We sought knowledge for other than Allah, and knowledge refused to be for any but Allah.”

Every action is such! Just like prayer may not be perfect because of what comes to the person of thoughts and notions; the solution isn’t to abandon prayer all together. Rather, the solution is in rectification, and this is done with training.

It is upon the person to adhere to actions, even if notions, whispers, or thoughts come to him. Thoughts of the self are like whispers of Devil: their remedy is to disregard them.

Section:

In the issue of the person who doesn’t like notoriety, and in this state, thoughts of people noticing this come to him.  This is from the hidden and intricate matters that are warned against in spiritual training.  As mentioned earlier, the approach here is to disregard these thoughts and to continue the actions he was doing. This is how these thoughts and things which resemble them go away.

One thing that helps the person in this is clarity (as-Safaa) and of the means of obtaining it are:

  • remembrance of Allah (dhikr)
  • good companionship (suhbah)
  • self striving (mujahadah)
  • self training and exercise (tadreeb wa riyadhatu-nafs)

You cannot remove darkness, but you can bring light. When light becomes present, darkness disappears. 

Whoever knows Allah is not the slave of fame nor of obscurity; rather, he will be a slave of Allah. Whatever state Allah places him in he submits to Him, outwardly and inwardly, and he doesn’t pay attention to anything else.  If he places him in one situation he is content, if he places him in another, he is content. He doesn’t look back on these matters.

As for the issue regarding people venerating a person for his work in da’wah while he doesn’t see himself deserving such treatment from them since there are people more knowledgeable than him, deserving something comes from Allah. If we were to look at worthiness then none of us would actually qualify by ourselves. What occurred is that which the divine will selected, so it’s from Allah’s decree and we have no control over the matter.

Furthermore, don’t look at the external and apparent. Rather, look at the fact that Allah is the one who moves them and their hearts; and that you are similar to them in that you are in Allah’s possession. You exchange the same love and respect. See in everything that it is from Allah, and say, “All praise is due to Allah” and this will push you to many things.

It is said, “Whoever has good opinion of you, work towards realizing it.”

Not by saying, “You spoke the truth” or “What you said regarding me and your good opinion of me is true, I am exactly what you say and think of me”.

Rather, the meaning is to act in accordance with their good opinion, make them truthful by actually doing the actions; that you are actually like that!

It has also been said:

When a rumor spread that Abu Hanifah used to pray Fajr with the wudu of ‘Isha he forced that upon himself and took it as a sign for himself from Allah. 

O Allah grant us sincerity.

 

Taken from the words of Shaykh Dr. Mahmoud Masri, click here to read the Arabic original.

Translated by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

On Lowering the Gaze – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Habib Umar provides guidance on what helps us to lower our gaze

The beginning of lowering the gaze is sincere resolve. If someone maintains that resolve then Allah will allow him to taste the sweetness of faith and thus assist him in continuing to lower his gaze. The stronger the believer’s faith is, the more able they are to lower their gaze.

Furthermore, we should strive to be more present with Allah and we should have a true longing to see Allah’s Messenger.  When your gaze falls upon the opposite sex you should envisage the Ka`bah and al-Hujrah al-Sharifah (in which the Prophet is buried) and think about being in the company of the Prophet ﷺ in Paradise. Allah says: Say to the believing men that they must lower their gaze.  Reflect upon this verse and upon Who is issuing the command. Persevere in this and realise that you are in a type of jihad. You will then acquire a hatred for disobedience.

 

Daily Checklist for the Spiritual Traveler to the Divine – Compiled by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Sha‘ār

Any individual wishing to turn to Allah on a daily basis should try their upmost to implement the following checklist and advice.This daily checklist was compiled by Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Sha’ar, son of Sidi Abu Munir, the longtime personal attendant of the great Damascene scholar of Islamic spiritually, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri.

صلاة ركعتين في السحر
1. Performing 2 units (rak‘a) of prayer in the last part of the night

أداء الصلوات الخمس جماعة وخصوصاً الفجر مع الخشوع والحضور في الصلاة
2. Performing the five obligatory prayers in congregation, especially Fajr, with presence and humility before God ﷻ

المحافظة على الوضوء
3. Consistency upon ablution (wudū’)

المحافظة على السنن الرواتب وأربع ركعات الضحى
4. Consistency upon the supererogatory prayers (sunan) associated with the obligatory prayers and four units of the morning prayer (duhā)

قراءة جزء من القرآن مع قراءة (الواقعة, الملك, أواخر البقرة والحشر) كل ليلة
5. Reciting a juz’ of Qur’ān every day, as well as al-Wāqi‘a, al-Mulk, and the endings of al-Baqara and al-Hashr every night

وقراءة (100) استغفار – (100) صلاة على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم –       (100)  لا إله إلا الله – (100) سبحان الله وبحمده صباحا ومساء
6. Reciting 100x istighfār, 100x prayer on the Prophet ﷺ (salawāt), 100x lā ilāha illā Allāh, and 100x subhān Allāhi wa bi hamdihi every morning and evening

صلاة ركعتي التوبة كل يوم قبل النوم مع البكاء من خشية الله
7. Performing 2 units of the prayer of repentance (tawba) every night before sleeping, crying out of humility before God ﷻ

التصدق ولو بشيء يسير كل يوم
8. Giving in charity, even very little, every day

صيام الاثنين والخميس على قدر الاستطاعة
9. Fasting Mondays and Thursdays as much as one is able

الجدية التامة وقلة الخلطة وعدم الانشغال بسفاسف الأمور
10. Maintaining complete solemnity, spending little time intermingling with people, and not wasting time in trivial matters

حسن الخلق والتزام الآداب الشرعية
11. Having good character and maintaining the etiquette (adab) of the sacred law

الاضطرار والحرقة للوصول إلى الله تعالى وإشغال الفكر بالتقدم في السلوك وترقية الحال
12. Having a deep, burning need to arrive at God ﷻ and busying one’s thoughts with spiritual advancement and the elevation of one’s state

إحكام الصمت الشرعي واغتنام الوقت
13. Staying silent in accordance with the law and taking advantage of one’s time

النصيحة لكل مسلم
14. Advising every Muslim

محاسبة النفس كل يوم
15. Taking oneself to account every day

مسامحة الخلق أجمعين
16. Forgiving all people

التواضع والشعور بأنك أقل الناس قدراً
17. Being humble, feeling that one is the least worthy of people

الحرص على تتبع السنة في كل الأمور
18. Covetousness in following the Sunnah in all matters

التفاني وبذل النفس للدين
19. Spending and exhausting the self in service of the religion

ملازمة مجالس العلم
20. Constantly attending gatherings of sacred knowledge

قراءة أصول الطريق كل أسبوع مرة على الأقل
21. Reading the foundations of the spiritual path at least once a week

الابتعاد عن الأمور التالية
Avoiding the following matters:
– Love of being seen and of leadership | حب الظهور والرياسة
– Anger | الغضب
– Tale-telling | النميمة
– Backbiting | الغيبة
– Lying | الكذب
– Deceit | الغش
– Ostentation | الرياء
– Letting others hear of one’s religious works | السمعة
– Conceit | الغرور
– Mentioning immoral acts | الخوض في الباطل
– Arguing | الجدال
– Reliance on oneself | الاعتداد بالنفس
– Being intimate and delighted with the people of heedlessness | الانبساط والاستئناس مع أهل الغفلة
– Satisfying one’s hunger beyond filling one-third of the stomach | الشبع بمجاوزة ثلث المعدة
– Looking down upon other people | التعالي على الخلق
– Coveting this world | الحرص على الدنيا
– Sloth in acts of worship | الكسل في الطاعات

Welcoming the Month of the Greatest Beloved (Peace Be Upon Him) – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

In the above video, Sayyidi al-Habib `Umar (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) talks about the state we should be in and the ways to prepare ourselves and our loved ones in welcoming the month of the Noble Birth of the Beloved ﷺ.

The Scholar Who Worked as a Waiter – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

One of our teachers was Habib Muhammad bin Alawi al-Attas, a scholar and a true worshipper. He was known as ‘al-Zabidi’ because he spent some years studying with the scholars of Zabid (once a great centre of knowledge in Yemen). During his time there he chose to work as a waiter in a restaurant, not because he needed the money, but in order to refine his lower self (nafs): running round taking people’s orders, bring this, do this..

We visited him in his home in Huraydah at the end of his life with a group of scholars: among them Habib Mashhur bin Hafiz, Habib Umar bin Alawi al-Kaf, Habib Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Shihab and Habib Salim al-Shatiri.

He said:

“Last night someone saw the Prophet ﷺ in this very room.”

May Allah have mercy upon him – a scholar who knew the importance of refining the nafs.

– Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) during his commentary on the Ihya Ulum al-Din, Dar al-Mustafa, 28th Dhu’l-Qa’dah 1440.


 

Imam Hasan and the Effect of Hajj – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Imam Hasan, the son of Imam Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad was a seeker, a person of piety and a scholar who acted according to his knowledge. Imam al-Haddad, however, was waiting for him to reach higher levels. He said: “When that son of mine performs hajj something will be ingrained in him which was not in him before.”

So he went to perform hajj and implemented all the sunnahs, exerted great caution and effort until the hajj had its effect upon him. Then he returned to Hadramawt and became a paragon of renunciation of worldly things (zuhd).

They told him that part of his house was falling and it needed to be repaired (houses in Hadramawt are built from mud bricks and require regular repair) but he replied that he did not need that part of the house and life was short.

He focused on teaching and preparing for the next life until one half of the house caved in. He said: “The other half of the house is sufficient.”  He carried on in this way until only one room of the house was left standing. When people criticised him, he replied with a verse of poetry:

They say your house is so small it could have been woven by a spider!

I say to them I will not live long in it and it is plenty big enough for someone who is sure to die

This is the exact opposite of what hajj does to some people. They go to hajj and they have some humility but they return with more desire and concern for worldly things. This would be a sign that their hajj has not been accepted and we seek Allah’s refuge from that.

The whole purpose of hajj is to draw us closer to Allah, the King, the Living and that we see things as they truly are.


 

 

The Gifts of Hajj – Habib Umar

The Meaning of Hajj

Sayyidi al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him) reminds us that the linguistic meaning of Hajj is seeking or intending. Thus the people of Allah are constantly performing Hajj because they are constantly seeking Allah. Just as their whole year is Ramadan, likewise their whole year is Hajj. Just as those performing Hajj respond to the call of Allah by saying “labbayk” they are swift to respond to the call of Allah. They take themselves to account and leave that which is disliked and dubious in all their states and actions. They reject the desires of their lower selves and they are the furthest of people from that which is prohibited. They constantly receive new blessings from their Lord so they constantly renew their ihram. Day and night they make tawaf around the House of their Lord, the One to Whom they turn themselves with absolute sincerity until nothing remains in them which is directed to other than Allah.

The bounty of Allah is available at all times of the day and night. This is why Allah swears by the morning light (duha) and by the night that He has not forsaken His Beloved (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), nor is He displeased with him.

If the Hajj has not been made possible for you, join with those making Hajj and share in their reward: by spending your wealth for the sake of Allah on your relatives, on the needy, by turning to Allah with your whole being. Make numerous your footsteps to good places, especially at the time of Fajr, and you will receive glad tidings from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “Give glad tidings of complete light on the Day of Judgement to those who walk constantly to the mosque in the darkness.” Those whose light is complete will no doubt be in his company (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) on the day on which Allah does not disgrace the Prophet and those who believe along with him. Their light stretches out in front of them and upon their right sides.

Ask to be present with them, and thank Allah for allowing our spirits to be with them. So many hearts in the far East or the far West receive the gifts of `Arafat and Mina because of their truthfulness with Allah.

 

Actions That Carry the Reward of Hajj

Nothing of course can equal actually performing the Hajj and worshipping Allah in those blessed places. However, since Allah knows that many people long to make Hajj every year but are unable to do so out of His generosity He made the reward for certain actions similar to the reward of a supererogatory Hajj.

1. Remembering Allah from Fajr until Ishraq. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Whoever who prays Subh (Fajr) in congregation and then sits in the place where he prayed remembering Allah until the sun rises and then prays two rakats has the reward of a complete Hajj and `Umrah.” He repeated “complete” three times.

2. Attending a gathering of knowledge. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The one who goes out to the mosque wanting only to learn good or teach it has the reward of a complete Hajj.”

3. Going to the mosque for the congregational prayer. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Whoever performs ablution in his house and then goes out to perform the obligatory prayer in the mosque has a reward similar to the reward of a Hajj pilgrim. Whoever goes out to perform the mid-morning prayer (Duha) has a reward similar to the reward of the one performing `Umrah.”

4. Performing the Friday Prayer. Sa`id bin al-Musayyib said performing the Friday Prayer is “more beloved to me than a supererogatory Hajj.”

5. Performing the Eid Prayer. One of the Companions said: “Going out to pray Eid al-Fitr is equal to performing `Umrah and going out to pray Eid al-Adha is equal to performing Hajj.”

6. Fulfilling the needs of your brother or sister. Hasan al-Basri said: “Going to fulfil the need of your brother is better for you than performing Hajj after Hajj.”

7. Being good to your parents. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) commanded one of the Companions to be good to his mother. If you do so, he said: “You are a Hajj pilgrim, a person performing `Umrah and someone striving for the sake of Allah (mujahid).”

8. Performing obligatory actions. The slave can only draw near to Allah by performing supererogatory actions after first having performed that which is obligatory. This includes purifying one’s heart from forbidden attributes and guarding one’s tongue and limbs from committing forbidden actions. All of this is much harder on the lower self than many supererogatory acts of worship.

Finally there is no action more beloved to Allah on the Day of Eid than making a sacrifice. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told his beloved daughter Sayyida Fatima al-Zahra that she would be forgiven for her previous wrongdoings with the first drop of blood to be shed from the sacrificed animal. She asked if this reward was specifically for the household of the Prophet and he replied: “For us and for all the Muslims.”