ADAB 14: The Proprieties of Prioritizing in Religious Practice

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or the proprieties of prioritizing religious practice.

“From the marks of following whimsical desires is rushing to perform supererogatory acts of devotion, and laziness in the fulfilment of religiously obligatory duties.” Profound words from the remarkable Ahmad b. ‘Ata Illah al-Sakandari (may Allah sanctify his secret). You don’t start profiting until you’ve broken even, and a lack of religious priority and guidance can lead to loss in this life before the next. Fortunately, the scholars don’t just leave us in the dark about how to function prophetically, and with true, praiseworthy adab, but they take us by the hand to ensure that we grow, recognise, appreciate and are subsequently grown, even without our own doing.

Our Master ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported that a man came to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: “I have come intending to set out in jihad with you, seeking thereby the countenance of Allah and the next abode. I have indeed come, but my parents are weeping.” He said, Allah bless him and give them peace, “Return to them and make them laugh just as you made them weep.” (Ibn Majah) It doesn’t matter about your emotions, how much you want something, how beloved it appears to be to the lawgiver, or anything else. What matters is priority, and this is not it in your life at this time. Priority is what the Lawgiver wants from you and I, and that takes time to realise, absorb, consider and do.

1. Divine Love in Priority

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said in a holy tradition (hadith qudsi), transmitting Allah’s Speech to us: “My servant draws near to Me with nothing more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory upon him; and My servant continues drawing nearer to Me with supererogatory works until I love him.” (Bukhari) It is not by jumping to recommended or mere charitable deeds that a believer wins unto the great, good pleasure of the Divine, but by fulfilling that which He has made obligatory upon us. 

In another tradition, our Master Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported that a man came and said to the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Do you think that if I pray the prescribed prayers, fast [the month of] Ramadan, deem the lawful to be lawful and the unlawful to be forbidden, and I do not add anything beyond that, I shall enter Paradise?” He, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Yes.’ (Muslim) The religion is comprised of different duties, of course, but there is something special about the obligatory acts, a secret by which a person can attain unto ultimate bliss. 

Obligatory, missed duties also need to be made up and should be given precedence over supererogatory works, unless that which requires attention is minimal. So you should focus, for example, on the missed dawn prayers (fajr) rather than praying extra cycles (rak‘as) of the mid-morning prayer (duha). Generally, makeup prayers and fasts should be prioritised, as is the case with missed zakat payments. Mandatory duties such as missed end of Ramadan charity payments (sadaqat al-fitr), missed ritual sacrifices (udhiya/qurbani), expiations for fasting, oaths and the like, should also be given precedence to other monetary acts of devotion

2. Duties: Communal and Personal

Allah Most High says, “However, it is not necessary for the believers to march forth all at once. Only a party from each group should march forth, leaving the rest to gain religious knowledge then enlighten their people when they return to them, so that they too may beware of evil.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:122) In his exegesis, Ibn ‘Ashur explains that seeking knowledge is also a communal obligation, and that the entire community of believers (umma) would have been negligent if they had all left in jihad. Rather, there were multiple obligations to take care of, and a sufficiently large group needed fulfil each duty. Both were prioritised and of equal, communal importance. 

The communal obligation (fard kifaya) is that which is due upon every community of believers in a particular place. It is not limited to seemingly religious roles. An example would be the need to have doctors, lawyers and traders, all of whom are required to run a healthy society. This obligation is only lifted if a sufficiently large number of people fulfil it whereby the need is taken care of. Otherwise, the entire community is sinful. The personal obligation (fard ‘ayn) is that which is due from every single individual without exception. Similarly, there is a communal sunna, such as the spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf), and personal sunnas, such as the emphasised cycles (rak‘as) associated with each prescribed prayer. All of these also require fulfilment as such sunnas are duties which cannot be left without a genuine, shari‘a-countenanced excuse. 

The personal obligation is of greatest importance because matters which pertain to the generality are lesser in emphasis. But some individuals have a greater responsibility to take care of duties on behalf of the entire community because of their aptitude and personal circumstances, and their reward will be commensurate with the sincerity of their service and devotion. What this also means is that each person may get the reward of fulfilling an obligatory duty by intending their permissible work as such whenever they set out in the morning or night. Each person has a place, and actions are but by their intentions. When there is a choice, prioritising entails choosing a communal duty that is not yet fully fulfilled.

3. Knowledge of Your Current Circumstances (‘ilm al-hal)

It is obligatory, of course, to know enough that you can worship Allah Most High in the situations you normally find yourself in. In this context, worship relates to three things: (a) that which relates to the mind, ‘aqida; (b) that which relates to the limbs, fiqh; and that which relates to the heart, tasawwuf. All of this is required, albeit to the extent of the need, in order to fulfil your duty to worship. 

The Ottoman scholar, and the Shaykh of the Sacred Mosque (al-masjid al-haram) of his time, Yusuf al-Amasi (d. 1000 AH), writes in his brilliant treatise, Tabyin al-Maharim: “It is obligatory to know the [basic] rulings of (1) the five prescribed duties [assuming that they are due]; (2) the details of sincerity, because the soundness of actions depends upon it; (3) [basic] rulings of the lawful and the unlawful; (4) the details of showing off, because the worshipper is deprived of reward otherwise; (5) the details of envy and conceitedness, because they consume a person’s good deeds just as fire consumes wood; the details of (6) buying, selling, (7) marriage and divorce, for somebody who intends to do these things; and the (8) [basic] rulings related to foul and impermissible language.” A fair deal to work on! Note that this is just a list with respect to the obligatory. There are also mandatory (wajib) acts which require performance and severely offensive (makruh tahriman) acts which need to be avoided. 

What this means is that knowing the details of logical arguments, debates of ancient philosophers, when particular penal punishments are applicable, what Razi said about a particular verse, the names of the Companions who fought at Badr, in what situations the predicate is hidden in classical Arabic, and other non-essential issues from the various Islamic sciences may wait for another time. The sincere person is focused and clear about what he needs and he takes the requisite steps in order to attain unto it. Otherwise, one should look to their heart as to why they are studying whatever it is they are studying, and if it is at the expense of the above or not, because the scholars would state that this is following one’s desires and not acting in accordance with prophetic guidance. “Consult your heart,” said the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, even if the scholars answer you time and again.

A related issue is that a man would also need to know a sufficient amount of worldly knowledge such that he can earn a living and support his family, and accordingly, he is fulfilling an obligatory duty by learning a trade or preparing himself for that.

4. Different Priorities at Different Times

The scholars of the science of Islamic Spirituality (tasawwuf) mention that the true aspirant is a “son of his moment.” This is characterised in the words of Imam Junayd who said, “The believer’s state changes forty times daily,” pointing to the idea of prioritising whatever is required at any given time. It is clearly preferable to do certain things at certain times, and other things at other times. The key to all of this is knowledge, wisdom and sincerity. A brief example would be choosing between extensive night worship and being fresh and ready for work in the subsequent morning, even if in the month of Ramadan. Negligence in fulfilling one’s responsibilities with due care, a matter related to the rights of others, is far more serious than any reward earned for extra rak‘as or recitation of the Qur’an.
The jurists expressed this idea of priorities in the legal maxims (qawa‘id fiqhiyya) they developed to help those in the judiciary and elsewhere to understand the underlying principles which are shared between particular groups of rulings, but to also forward universals, something that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, also encouraged. An example of this is the statement: “Warding off harms is given precedence over the attainment of benefits.” Similarly, “Severe harm is warded off by undertaking lesser harm.” It may well be that the circumstance calls you to behave in a manner which is contrary to that which is normally expected because there is some kind of grave harm entailed in doing otherwise.

The cases of this are too numerous to mention, but, as an example, consider the following list of scenarios which the jurists deemed to take precedence over the ritual prayer, even if it meant that the prayer time would exit: (1) a midwife who fears for the life of a baby; (2) anybody able to help a drowning or burning person, or anybody else in need of urgent, life-saving assistance; (3) a traveller who genuinely fears for his life or wealth from armed criminals. Please note that this is a technical discussion and if you face any of these scenarios regularly, it’s best to consult with a learned scholar first to ensure you fully understand the details of when such a choice is religiously acceptable and when it is not.

5. Avoiding the Unlawful versus Fulfilling the Obligatory

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “That which I have prohibited you from, shun it, and that which I have commanded you with, do it to the best of your ability.” (Bukhari) Not doing something is far easier than doing something, and this is partly the reason for the prophetic dispensation provided for the obligatory, contrary to the prohibited. One’s dedication in leaving the unlawful should be more intense than one’s performance of the obligatory, given that all it entails is not doing something, but the omission of both is obviously inexcusable. 

It is important to progress in learning with gradualness and wisdom. One should start with the obligatory (fard) and the prohibited (haram) and work to establish and remove those matters, respectively, and then move on to the mandatory (wajib) and the severely offensive (makruh tahriman) and so on. If you are jumping ahead to undertake commendable or praiseworthy (mustahab/mandub) actions, and you haven’t taken care of that which comes before, you are only kidding yourself. Fulfilling such matters is fine in moderation, even whilst you haven’t mastered the other things, but not at the expense of those which are hallmarks of sincere believers. The early righteous would say, “Works of piety are done by both the righteous and the corrupt, but nobody has the strength to leave sin except the sincerely faithful.” 

6. Public and Personal Benefit

The general principle is that benefit which accrues to other than oneself is better and more beloved to Allah Most High than personal benefit, except in some situations. An example of this latter case would be, according to Sultan al-‘Ulama al-‘Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salam, the remembrances (adhkar) after the prayer wherein one recites subhana Llah, alhamdu li Llah, Allahu akbar, thirty-three, thirty-three and thirty-four times respectively.

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Every person’s joints have [an associated] charity due each day in which the sun rises: to reconcile between two [disputing] people is a charity; to assist another by helping him onto his mount, or lifting his merchandise onto it for him, is a charity. A good word is a charity. Each step one takes to the prayer is a charity. And removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.” (Bukhari)

Our religion is service at its very heart; the scholar is a servant, the doctor is a servant, everybody with a profession serves, even if only their dependents. “Whoever doesn’t serve, shall regret it,” as one of the righteous once remarked. 

Priority, then, is in recognising that some matters are more urgent than others, and for the believer, that the next life is far more important than this life. May Allah Most High grant us the vision to be farsighted enough to recognise where our eternal benefit lies, to facilitate the attainment of such goals, remove obstacles and hardships from our lives and the lives of all believers, and allow out hearts to thrive with His Pure Love. 

 

And Allah alone gives success.

ADAB 12: The Proprieties of Ramadan

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or the proprieties of Ramadan.

The fast is mine, and I shall recompense for it” (Bukhari). This is what Allah Mighty and Majestic instructed the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, to inform his community (umma). The centrality of Ramadan and the fast is not lost on any of us. Allah Most High says, “Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful of Allah” (Sura al-Baqara 2:183). A month of seemingly endless mercies, blessings and spiritual joy which returns, by Divine grace, year after year to stir up the believers into performing works of everlasting consequence. The secret to a successful Ramadan is in recognizing that, whilst the blessed month comes and goes, the one who makes it come and go is the All-Generous, Ever-Present. The point of Ramadan is to reorient our lives to Allah Most High. This is what we see in the prophetic example, and this is what we aspire to. 

1. Sowing the Seeds & Preparation

Genuine and sincere longing for the blessed month entails preparation, namely, some time to sow the seeds, and then to harvest when the noble guest of Ramadan arrives. The proprieties of true preparation include repentance and seeking forgiveness for wrongs, returning any rights owed to their respective owners, reconciling relationships after having wronged people, refraining from sin, planning ahead to ensure that you will have time to reap your harvest, and making lofty intentions. 

On the evening following the twenty-ninth day, it is recommended to seek out the new crescent. If it is seen, the recommendation is to supplicate with the words, “O Allah, make it rise over us with safety and faith, and security and submission. My [Lord] and your Lord is Allah (allahumma ahillahu ‘alayna bi’l yumni wa’l iman wa’s salamati wa’l islam rabbi wa rabbuk Allah)” (Tirmidhi). If the sky is overcast, the thirtieth of Sha‘ban is termed the Day of Doubt (yawm al-shakk). Fasting a voluntary fast on this day is recommended, but not necessary, nor disliked, as long as your intention is unequivocally clear. 

2. Recommended Sunnas of the Fast

From amongst the recommended sunnas is to partake in a pre-dawn meal (sahur). The Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Partake in the pre-dawn meal, for indeed, it has blessing [in it].” (Bukhari) Of course, it isn’t necessary to actually have an entire meal, rather a sip of water or a single date also fulfils the sunna. The proper time for this extends from just after the halfway point of the islamic night right up until dawn. Delaying it until just before dawn is also recommended. 

When breaking the fast, the sunna is to hasten it. The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Allah Mighty and Majestic said, ‘The most beloved of My servants to Me are those who are quickest to break their fast.’” (Tirmidhi) An excessive or undue delay would be to avoid breaking the fast until the stars become manifest in the sky, which, incidentally, is the entry of the disliked time for the sunset (maghrib) prayer. Moreover, the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, would regularly break his fast with fresh dates (rutab) or normal dates (tamr), and in their absence, water. (Abu Dawud) But failing that, anything sweet would also suffice, such as various types of fruit. Needless to say that facilitating the means for others to break their fast is also something tremendous in the sunna. 

From the greatest of times for supplication is actually any point during the fasting day, but particularly at day’s end. The Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would supplicate with the words, “The thirst is gone, the veins have been moistened and the reward is assured, if Allah wills (dhahaba al-zama’ wa ‘btallati ‘l-‘uruq wa thabata al-ajr in sha Allah).” (Abu Dawud) Lastly, and most importantly, the greatest sunna of them all is to fast spiritually by abstaining from all that is displeasing to Allah Most High. The warnings of doing otherwise are plain in the prophetic sunna, “… Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari)

3. Generosity & Charity

Our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Supreme Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was “the most generous of people,” and in the month of Ramadan, he was more generous than “an encompassing, swiftly flowing breeze.” (Muslim) Generosity can be in knowledge, service, charity, assistance or otherwise. 

From the wisdoms of the month of Ramadan is that we get to appreciate what those of somewhat lesser means experience much more regularly. With our bellies starved of nourishment, our souls weaken and are humbled before our Lord, and what better way to increase in manifest good in such a state than to pull something out of our pockets to give in the way of Allah Most High.

The lawgiver encourages us to give by stipulating a mandatory requirement of charity. Specifically, this is to pay the end of Ramadan charity (sadaqat al-fitr) whereby we strive to lend a hand on the day of ‘Eid to the poor and needy so that they can be as joyous as others. The amount due is the local monetary value of approximately two kilograms of wheat, but each believer may pay beyond that whatever he likes. In order to meet needs, it is preferable to pay it early enough so that it may reach the poor in good time. There’s also nothing wrong with pooling funds together to give a larger amount to a needy person or family. 

4. The Secret of Taqwa

The secret of benefiting from this month is in upholding the spiritual dimensions of the fast. What this means is that you protect your mouth from engaging in lying, slander and the like, your eyes from impermissible gazes, your ears from hearing the unlawful, and the rest of your limbs from succumbing to the self’s weakness in this sensitive time. The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, encouraged us to be steadfast when he explained that you should say, “I’m fasting,” (Muslim) to the one provoking you to the unbecoming. He also informed us, Allah bless him and give him peace, “How many a fasting person gets nothing from his fast except hunger.” (Ibn Majah)

As well as being vigilant not to break one’s greater fast, one should strive to avoid making up for lost food in the evenings! Many scholars have expressed the harm and undoing of any spiritual gain which comes about by indulging after sunset. Being a little less nourished is sought, and acting in a manner contrary to that vitiates the very experience one is supposed to have in the blessed month. Similarly, one should be avid with time. Disengage from social media and other forms of gratificatory engagement so that you have time for Allah Most High. Keeping up one’s warm family ties (silat al-rahim) is always encouraged, but strive to decrease in unneeded commentary and entertainment. 

5. Recitation of the Qur’an

Allah Most High says, “Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard to distinguish between right and wrong.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:185) This is the month of reconnecting to the Qur’an, engrossing oneself in its recitation and meanings, and changing one’s life for the better by its blessings. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to mutually recite and review the Qur’an with our Master, the Archangel Jibril, may Allah give him peace, in this month, and notably, twice in the year he left this world. (Bukhari) The same, incidentally, occurred in his final spiritual retreat where he performed it for twenty days, teaching us, once again, that works of devotion should increase, as the days of our life pass by, and not decrease. 

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Recite the Qur’an in every month.” (Bukhari) The best of times you can fulfil this sunna is in this blessed month. If difficult, you can also combine your recitation of the Qur’an with listening sessions where you can focus instead on the meanings of what is being recited. Optimally, you would use the month of Ramadan to understand the actual message of the Qur’an, and how to apply it in your life. There are a handful of useful works in English which may help with this, but the best situation is being able to read a reliable work of exegesis (tafsir), ideally with a teacher. 

6. Night Prayer

The Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that, “Whosoever stands [in prayer] in the month of Ramadan, out of faith and sincerity, his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari

The night prayer (qiyam al-layl) of Ramadan is tarawih. These twenty cycles (rak‘as) were originally prayed by the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, only later to be institutionalised by the Companions (sahaba). All four canonical schools of Islamic Law hold that the tarawih prayer is twenty cycles, and that they are to be prayed after the nightfall (‘isha) prayer. Praying less doesn’t fulfil the sunna fully, but it is superior to not praying at all, particularly in the presence of a genuine excuse. Ideally, these cycles should take place at the mosque because of the special benefits found therein, but praying individually also minimally fulfils the sunna. 

The Lady ‘A’isha, may Allah be well-pleased with her, transmitted to us that Allah’s messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to pray eight cycles of night vigil (tahajjud) both inside and outside of Ramadan. (Bukhari) The takeaway is that the month of Ramadan is about struggle, increase and striving, and not simply using the expected works of devotion as replacements for existing routines of worship. But whatever you can do with sincerity is better than nothing at all, and if one does so, one can be hopeful of attaining unto an enormous windfall from an All-Generous Lord. 

7. The Spiritual Retreat (i‘tikaf)

One of the dearest of the sunnas of the month of Ramadan is the spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf). Our Master Abu Huraira, may Allah be well-pleased with him, reported that the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to perform the ten-day retreat every single year. (Bukhari) The jurists explain that it is a communally emphasised sunna (sunna mu’akkada kifaya) to perform retreat, that is to say, the duty is fulfilled if somebody in the community performs the retreat at the local mosque, yet all have committed something blameworthy if entirely omitted without excuse. 

The retreat entails spending approximately the last ten days and nights in the mosque, worshipping Allah Most High, intending to rise to angelic levels of obedience and devotion, entirely detached from the world and worldliness altogether. The one in the retreat would eat, drink and sleep in the mosque, leaving only for something essential such as to perform the ritual ablution (wudu) and to use the bathroom. Merely being in the mosque and waiting from prayer to prayer, engrossed in learning, remembrance and sincere adoration of the Divine can be a life-changing experience.  

If there is a dignified and safe space in the mosque for women, it would be permitted for them to also perform the retreat in the mosque if there is some otherwise unattainable benefit to be found therein. But the Sacred Law (shari‘a) has also permitted them to perform the retreat at home, and it is usually superior for them to do so, all else being equal, something which men are not permitted to do. 

8. The Night of Power (laylat al-qadr)

Allah Most High says, “The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months.” (Sura al-Qadr 97:3) 

There are many different narrations and positions amongst the scholars of Islam regarding when the Night of Power actually occurs. But many scholars are inclined towards the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. Needless to say that this is also one of the wisdoms for being in a spiritual retreat in the last days of Ramadan! Incidentally, in the nights which may possibly be this special occasion, it is recommended to bathe, cleanse oneself and adorn oneself with perfume and good clothing. But with that, the scholars explain, outward purity is meaningless if unaccompanied with inward purity, namely, deep repentance. 

The Beloved Prophet of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would strive in Ramadan in a manner greater than other months, and in the last ten days in a manner unlike the others. (Muslim) The Lady ‘A’isha, may Allah be well-pleased with her, said that when the last ten days of Ramadan arrived, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, “would worship in the night, awaken his family, strive and really dedicate himself to working [righteous deeds].” (Bukhari

She also reported, may Allah be well-pleased with her, that she asked the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “If I know which night the Night of Power is, what should I supplicate in it? He said, ‘Say: O Allah, You are Pardoning and you love pardon, so pardon me (allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbu ‘l-‘afwa fa‘fu ‘anni).’” (Tirmidhi

9. Keeping up the Forward Impetus

The early Muslims (salaf) would supplicate for up to six months after the ending of Ramadan, asking Allah Most High to accept their works. A meaningful Ramadan is a month in which routines of consistent devotion are established, godfearingness (taqwa) settles in the heart and a desire to please Allah Most High covers one’s states and works. Finally, the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whosoever fasts [the month of] Ramadan and follows it up with six [fasts] of Shawwal, it is as if he has fasted the entire year.” (Muslim)

We ask Allah Most High to grant us the ability to become people of deep faith, certitude and godfearingness, solely for His sake, increasing in each and every moment to higher states of Divine Good Pleasure. 

 

And Allah alone gives success.


 

Muharram: An Opportunity to Transcend Hypocrisy (Video) – Dr Yusuf Patel

* Courtesy of ITV

In this Pre Khutba talk, Dr Yusuf Patel discusses the importance of transcending the recurrent partisan and divisive issues of Muharram, and rather focus on following the universal values that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), Imam Hussain (Allah be pleased with him) and other great personalities stood for. Many people claim to love Imam Hussain (Allah be pleased with him), the prophetic family and the companions, but very few actually represent them in a manner which would honor their legacies. By reflecting and analyzing on how we as Muslims have failed to eliminate contradictory and hypocritical behavior, we can make an active effort to follow the path of virtue which our great predecessors paved for us.

* This Pre Khutba talk was recorded in Masjid al-Furqan (Cape Town) on the 25th of September 2018 by ITV Networks.

Adab 13: The Proprieties of Clothing and Dress

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or the proprieties of clothing and dress.

 

Allah Most High says, “The garment of God-consciousness is the best of all garments” (Sura al-A‘raf 7.26) True clothing is that which leaves a spiritual imprint in our hearts whereby we recognise the Lordship of our All-Seeing Lord, and strive to work righteous deeds, remain distant from wrong and busy the heart with remembrance so that it may be moulded into something that shields us instantly from the unlawful. Taqwa, linguistically speaking, is the central focus of garments, protecting and shielding us from the weather and from unwanted gazes, and it is metaphysical taqwa that we seek to adorn ourselves with so that we may be hopeful to find Allah Most High’s Aid and Divine Care in this life before the next. 

1. Defining Nakedness and the Duty to Cover

Allah Most High says, “…Their nakedness became exposed to them when they had eaten from the tree: they began to put together leaves from the Garden to cover themselves.” (Sura al-A‘raf 7.22) And also, “O children of Adam! We have provided for you clothing to cover your nakedness and as an adornment.” (Sura al-A‘raf 7.26) From these and other verses, the jurists derived the obligation to cover one’s nakedness. In the context of covering, what is sought is opaque clothing which actually covers the area without displaying whatever is underneath and its colour. In doing so, we intend to fulfil a religious obligation and to guard our private parts from the unlawful and sin because “Actions are but by intentions.” (Bukhari)

The nakedness (‘awra) of men is from just below the navel till the bottom of the knee. For women in front of the opposite gender, it includes their entire bodies except face, hands and feet. In front of an unmarriageable kin (mahram), it is from navel to knee, and also the stomach and back; and in front of other women, it is from the navel to knee alone. When in seclusion, however, both men and women should strive to keep their minimal nakedness — navel to knee — covered as an expression of their modesty and humility before their Lord, unless there is a need to uncover such as when using the restroom or the like. 

With respect to children, there is some detail and some of the specifics may differ depending on how big or small any particular child looks. Generally, a very young child up to the age of about three or four has no nakedness of religious consequence. Then from four to seven, their nakedness is their private parts. From seven till ten, it gradually increases from just the private parts up to the navel and down to the knee; and then at age ten, their nakedness is akin to that of an adult. Having said all of that, it is important for caregivers and parents to ensure that children remain covered, within reason, and are taught about their nakedness and that the only person who can touch or uncover them in those sensitive areas is their mother. We live in difficult times and we are duty-bound to protect our children from harm and trauma. 

 

2. The Central Sunna of Looseness and Modesty

One of the central sunnas related to clothing and dress is that of looseness which is a result of preferring modesty. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Modesty is from faith.” (Bukhari) Praiseworthy modesty is a character trait which drives one to uphold the limits of the Sacred Law (shari‘a) in one’s life. Clothing is supposed to cover one’s nakedness and when it is tight, it is effectively akin to showing whatever is beneath it. This is why we need to be careful to ensure that the clothing we choose to wear is indicative of our values, namely, that covering well and fully forms the basis of how we present ourselves before those who are not permitted to see our bodies. 

Accordingly, both men and women should avoid form-fitting tightness, or simply tightness which sufficiently defines the size or shape of a limb between the navel and knee. Ladies should additionally be careful to avoid clothing which hugs the body, particularly in the chest area, but also generally around the rest of her nakedness. As an aside, praying in form-fitting, tight clothing is considered to be valid, yet prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) and seriously reprehensible because it is not the kind of covering that was sought in the prayer. Tightness is of degrees and the degree of blameworthiness would be in accordance with its extent.

3. General Sunnas in Dressing

There are a number of sunnas to keep in mind when dressing oneself, or even undressing! Given that clothing is a favour and blessing from Allah Most High, it only befits us that we begin to wear it from the right, as the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to “prefer the right in everything.” (Muslim) Similarly, we undress with the left first, allowing the right side to remain clothed for a lengthier period of time as doing this would be a form of honouring it. The same would apply to footwear which, incidentally, should be worn whilst seated, if required, like all clothing worn beneath the navel. There are two wisdoms in this: (1) you will generally be more covered whilst seated, and (2) you are less likely to have an undignified fall! 

Another sunna to be aware of is supplication in undressing which Imam Nawawi records from Ibn al-Sunni, “In the Name of Allah, the one who there is no deity save He (bismi Llahi ‘lladhi la ilaha illa Hu).” In the same vein, whenever the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, wore something new, he would supplicate saying: “All praise belongs to God who clothed me in this and provided me with it without any power from me nor might (alhamdu li Llahi ‘lladhi kasani hadha wa razaqanihi min ghayri hawlin minni wa la quwwa).” (Abu Dawud) Moreover, he would often choose Fridays for wearing a new garment for the first time because Friday is a blessed occasion, the ‘Eid of the week, and deserving of being honoured. 

Men are also encouraged in the sunna to wear white. The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Wear white clothes.” (Tirmidhi) The reason for the prophetic preference and encouragement to wear white was due to the fact that you can easily see any dirt or the like which has affected it, it is indicative of simplicity and humility, and it is also distant from particular types of ancient, natural dyes that were deemed problematic for men to wear. Despite this, the Blessed Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would often wear other than white to indicate either permissibility or due to the absence of white. But on the two ‘Eids, the recommendation is to wear one’s best clothes, even if they are other than white, which was also the practice of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. 

4. Restrictions: Jewellery and Certain Forms of Dress

Jewellery is permitted for women, yet not for men. The only exception to this is a silver ring which may be worn occasionally, unless somebody has a need for wearing one. In our times, this could be understood in the context of a wedding band which serves a strong societal purpose and is customary in many places. Otherwise, it is only considered to be a sunna for a man to wear a ring on the days of ‘Eid because they are days of dressing up much more than usual. The specific reason for this is that jewellery is considered to be from adornment and beautification (zina), something that is considered particular to women. Men may seek to be presentable or well put-together (tajammul), yet not excessively so that it becomes beautification. 

Similarly, there are some types of dress which are interdicted for men. For instance, silk is only exclusively permitted for women. Generally, a pure silk blend item of clothing may not be worn by a man unless the quantity of silk therein is less than roughly fifty percent. The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, also interdicted the wearing yellow or saffron for men, either because they were deemed feminine or because of the dye and subsequent smell which omitted from them. However, given the lack of ancient methods of dyeing and a change in cultures, any item of clothing that isn’t exclusive to the opposite gender would be acceptable. Finally, clothing containing sizeable pictures of animate life is something that needs to be avoided.  

5. The Dress of Notoriety

It is reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever wears a garment of fame in this life, Allah will clothe him in a garment of humiliation on the Final Day.” (Abu Dawud) The scholars point out to us that this includes many different types of impermissible clothing, such as silk for men, and clothing worn with ill intentions. Examples of the latter include wearing clothing with a desire to look down on others, to feel proud or conceited about the quality or worth of one’s clothes or even to wear that which is either very costly or too cheap, assuming that the quality indicates this. Of course, this is in relation to a particular segment of society, and not necessarily those of limited means, and it is also conditioned by social attitudes and standards. The hallmark is a believer is humility and the sign of sincerity is that one’s heart is the same before and after wearing the clothing in question. 

Another issue of note is dressing contrary to the customary clothing of the land. Many jurists extrapolated this from the aforementioned tradition (hadith) and affirmed its offensiveness (karaha) because of the shared meaning, namely, that it will be a cause for others to look and point at one and perhaps even lead them to slander. Perhaps in multicultural societies it can be less of an issue as most are used to seeing different styles of dress, but this isn’t universally applicable, especially if the dress isn’t representative of normative culture. Similarly, there are matters related to calling people to Allah (da‘wa) which need to be kept in mind as appearance can have an effect and perhaps even become a stumbling block to accepting the message; yet, undoubtedly, the opposite can also be true. So one has to exercise wisdom and act in accordance with what the other person may be drawn to. 

But it is also important not to make claims with one’s clothing, such as by wearing a large turban, especially when a person is not living up to such high standards. Otherwise it could be interpreted as a form of hypocrisy by professing love, but acting in clear contradiction to prophetic guidance. This is also perhaps the reason why previous societies had unspoken rules of dressing so that distinctions between classes of people were clear, namely, so and so can be clearly identified as a scholar, so and so is clearly from Ahl al-Bayt, and so on. Conformance in dress is praiseworthy out of an expression of love, but there are many religious duties that we may be unaware of, and correcting and giving attention to those deserves far more attention because Allah looks not to your bodies and wealth, but to “your hearts and actions.” (Muslim)

6. Imitating Disbelievers

An important issue which needs clarification is the idea of imitating the disbelievers. In a tradition reported by Imam Muslim, the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Whosoever imitates a people is from amongst them.” (Abu Dawud) What counts as imitation? Fortunately, the jurists clarified this for us, and the entirety of the discussion may be summarised in the following points. Firstly, the matter at hand must be a distinguishing characteristic of people of another faith tradition, of the faithless, of the opposite gender, or even of morally and religiously corrupt believers. What this means is that if we take the example of a particular type of hat, wearing it would be a signifier that “I’m with them.”

Secondly, the matter at hand cannot be something of universal benefit, such as new computers, vehicles, medication or the like. Finally, the person must deliberately intend to do the thing in question because he wishes to be like the disbelievers. In fact, this is actually the crux of the matter. Just as the inward manifests on the outer body, the outer can have an impact on the inward, and when something is a manifest sign of those of other faiths and a person is doing it, there is a fear for their faith. For something to be religiously impermissible, then, based on the above, we are looking for a fulfilment of these three conditions. Otherwise, it may be blameworthy and wrong, yet not outright prohibited.

We ask Allah Most High to clothe us in godfearingness, to make us recognise the great blessings in our lives of clothing and covering, by His Generosity and Mercy, and to keep us on the path of the righteous, ever-grateful, until we breathe our last.  

And Allah alone gives success.


 

What Are the Conditions of Making Tawba? (Transcript) – Ustadh Abdullah Misra

The following is a transcript of a Q&A session of the Essentials of the Islamic Tradition course by Ustadh Abdullah Misra.

 

The conditions of making tawba are that first a person leaves the action that they are doing. Let’s take for example a common action that affects people: let’s look at pornography. One of the ways to make tawba from that is, first of all, that they leave what they are doing, meaning that they stop: they actually close the computer, they close the phone, and get away from it. Then there is remorse, and then there are tears, and there is tawba. One maybe goes to the sink – you do not need to do this formally – just saying sorry to Allāh, going to make wuḍū’, and praying two rakʿas, and crying to Allāh, and begging Him to forgive one for the mistake, and begging Allāh to wipe that mistake away, and to take them out of their bad habits or their weaknesses. And to continuously do that every single time one slips.

The way that you know your tawba is accepted is if you stop that sin. Now, that does not mean that you do the tawba once and then that’s it, finished. Even if you slip again, and again, and again, you come back again, and again, and again, with the firm belief that if one keeps making tawba from the sin that Allāh will take it away and accept the tawba, and basically rescue that person from that sin.

The third thing – the first is having regret and the second is leaving the sin – is that they resolve never to do that again. They should stop doing the sin as soon as possible, which means that once you are aware that there is something that is wrong, they should stop themselves. Do not say “Okay, well, just a little bit more.” “Just wait till this, wait till that.” Instead remove yourself from the situation, and then resolve never to do it again. So, regret in the heart and tawba, sincere tawba with tears if possible, and resolve never to do it again. Even if one feels like “You know what? I am so weak, I do not know if I am ready to make this promise,” one says “No, Allāh, for Your sake, I need Your help! Help me! Strengthen my heart and make it easy for me to completely leave this forever!” And then refrain.

If it involves the rights of another person, one must restore that person’s rights. If they stole from someone, they must give that money back, or something else similar. Or apologize to that person unless going back to them will cause more harm.

Some people say that the last part of tawba is to not go back to the places where you engaged in the act. What that means is: do not go back to the company that you had. In the olden days a lot of sin was about the company that you kept. It is still like that, but here is the trick: these days we do not have physical, actual company anymore. We have virtual company. And rather than going out to a bad part of town to do your wrong things… It started with the invention of the radio, then the TV, where sins were coming into the home. Now it has happened where our sins can be with us all the time, because we have got this little phone, this smartphone – may Allāh protect us from its evil and harms in every way physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional – this little phone is following us around everywhere. And behind it is an Internet that is saying “Come look at me! Come access me! I have every single sin freely available!” And for the first time in human history everything has been available to see in such a way that nobody will know. There is no veil anymore between one’s heart and one’s raw desires. This is a great danger. A great danger.

I am sorry for using an example that is very specific, but I feel like we do not actually talk about this stuff enough in order to help get it out of our lives. And that is why were are all suffering, right?

So, what do you do? Do you get rid of the phone? No. One can do things like asking oneself “When do I usually fall victim to this sin?” – maybe when they are alone with their phone or alone with their laptop, in the bathroom or in the bedroom, or at a certain time of night. Or saying “Bismi Llāh” before using the phone, making dhikr while one is using the phone, or making wuḍū’ and holding the Qur’ān while one uses the phone or Internet. Resolving never to use the phone while the entire house is asleep. Resolving never to use the phone or Internet when one is alone in a room. And making a promise to Allāh, saying “If I do this, I will give a certain amount of money in charity.” “I will pay 20 dollars,” or “I will pay 200 rupees every single time,” or something like that. Something that pinches a little bit or maybe more, something that hurts a little bit but not too much. Let’s say the equivalent of a fancy meal outside. And if you do that enough times the nafs itself will say “You cannot afford to make this mistake.” And then it will start to wean one away from those situations and warn one when one’s desires start to arise, or when one starts to feel that they are getting close to the place where they used to sin, then a spidey sense or a tingling will go off in their heart. And then they will be able to withdraw from that because they have had a bit of time away from the sin.

So that is an example using one type of sin. But there are many other ways of doing that too. Other ways are just completely disconnecting. Just completely saying “You know what? I do not want to be on the Internet. I do not want to be on anything else.” Taking a trip, going somewhere else, and trying other things to complete one’s desires in a ḥalāl way, or to control them. E.g. lowering the gaze, these types of things

The Trodden Path (Episode 8): Shaykh Yusuf ibn Ismail Al-Nabhani

In this series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed of South Africa will take us on a journey through the lives and biographies of some of the most celebrated and well known scholars of the twentieth and twenty – first century. These historical accounts will provide us with refreshing insights and lessons, and motivate us to follow in the footsteps of our pious predecessors.


In this eighth episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Shaykh Yusuf ibn Ismail Al-Nabhani.

The Trodden PathShaykh Yusuf ibn Ismail Al-Nabhani 1265-1350=1849-1932 (Palestine)

Yusuf ibn Ismail ibn Yusuf ibn Ismail ibn Muhammad Nasir Al-Deen Al-Nabhani was a scholar, a poet, an author and a Qadi whose lineage links up with Banu Nabhan, a Palestinian Bedouin tribe who settled in the town of Ijzim near Haifa in North Palestine. He was born there in 1849 (1265) where he grew up.

He studied the Quraan under his father who was a righteous scholar and a meticulous memorizer of the Quraan whom Allah blessed, even in his old age, by maintaining all his senses and he spent most of his time in various acts of worship. His father’s daily practice was to read one third of the Quraan and thus completed the Quraan thrice every week.

Shaykh Yusuf’s father sent him to Cairo, Egypt to study. For six years 1866-1872 (1283-1289), he studied at the Al-Azhar under illustrious and accomplished scholars and masters in the Shariah sciences. One of them, Shaykh Ibrahim Al-Saqaa (d. 1298) was probably the leading scholar at the time and was known for his precise understanding. Shaykh Yusuf spent about three years studying under him, during which he read the two commentaries Al-Tahrir and Al-Minhaj of Shaykh Zakariya Al-Ansaari together with their marginalia by Al-Sharqawi and Al-Bujayrimi. His other teachers were:

  1. Shaykh Al-Sayyid Muhammad Al-Damnahuri (d. 1869-1286)
  2. Shaykh Ibrahim Al-Zurru Al-Khaleeli Al-Shafi’ (d. 1870-1287)
  3. Shaykh Hasan Al-Adawi Al-Maliki (d. 1881-1298)
  4. Shaykh Abdul Hadi Naja Al-Abyari (d. 1888-1305)
  5. Shaykh Shams Al-Deen Muhammad Al-Anbabi (d. 1908-1326)
  6. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Rafiie Al-Hanafi (d. 1905-1323)
  7. Shaykh Yusuf Al-Barqawi Al-Hanbali

 

After graduating, he returned to Ijzim, Palestine where he held various courses and lessons in his home town. He travelled frequently to Beirut and Damascus where he met prominent ulama. One of the leading scholars he met was Shaykh Mahmood Effendi Al-Hamzawi with whom he read the beginning of Sahih Al-Bukhari and obtained a general written Ijazah. He is presumed to have met Shaykh Abdullah ibn Idris Al-Sanusi, Shaykh Muhammad Abu Al-Khair Abideen, Shaykh Husain ibn Muhammad Al-Habashi, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khaani and other renowned scholars.

He went to Istanbul twice where he worked for several years and worked as the editor of the Al-Jawaaib newspaper and proof read some Arabic books. His monthly salary was ten pounds for editing and proof reading for about two to three hours daily. The newspaper’s owner was very sad when Shaykh Yusuf planned to leave this job for his new position as a Qadi in Iraq. He offered him the chance to work as his partner or accept an increase. Shaykh Yusuf refused both these offers.

Shaykh Yusuf left Istanbul for the first time for Iraq and went to Kawi Sanjaq, a district in Mosul. Thereafter he returned to Istanbul. In (1300), he left for the second time when he was appointed as the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court in Latakia, a Mediterranean Sea port. 

After five years of distinguished service, he was transferred to the position as Chief Judge in Jerusalem, Al-Quds. Eight months later, he was promoted in1888 (1305) to Chief Justice of Beirut, Lebanon where he remained for about twenty years.

Some of his books are:

 

  • Riyad Al-Jannah fi Azhkaar Al-Kitab wa Al-Sunnah
  • Jami’ Karamaat Al-Awliya
  • Al-Majmuaat Al-Nabhaniyah fi Al-Madaaih Al-Nabawiyah
  • Wasaail Al-Wusool ila Shamaail Al-Rasul
  • Afdal Al-Salawaat ala Sayid Al-Saadaat
  • Tahzheeb Al-Nufoos
  • Hujat Allah ala Al-Aalimeen
  • Al-Fath Al-Kabir
  • Nujoom Al-Muhtadeen
  • Al-Sabiqaat Al-Jiyaad fi Madh Sayid Al-Ibad
  • Al-Sharaf Al-Muabad li Aal Muhammad
  • Al-Anwaar Al-Muhammadiyah
  • Khulasat Al-Kalam fi Tarjeeh Deen Al-Islam
  • Hadi Al-Mureed ila Tareeq Al-Asaanid
  • Al-Fadaail Al-Muhammadiyah
  • Al-Asaalib Al-Badia’t fi Fadl Al-Sahaba wa Iqna’ Al-Shia’
  • Muntakhab Al-Sahihayn
  • Al-Ahadith Al-Arbaeen fi Fadl Al-Jihad wa Al-Mujahideen
  • Arbaoun Hadithan fi Arbaeen Sighatan fi Salat ala Al-Nabi
  • Al-Bashaair Al-Imaniyah fi Al-Mubashiraat Al-Manaamiyah
  • Dalil Al-Tujaar ila Akhlaaq Al-Akhyaar
  • Al-Dalalaat Al-Wadihaat Sharh Dalaail Al-Khayraat
  • Hizb Al-Awliya Al-Arbaeen Al-Mustaghitheen bi Sayid Al-Mursaleen
  • Husn Al-Shir’ati fi Mashruiyat Salat Al-Zhuhri izha Taddadat Al-Jumuah
  • Irshaad Al-Hayaraa fi Tahzheer Al-Muslimeen min Madaris Al-Nasara
  • Ithaf Al-Muslim bi Ahadith Al-Targheeb wa Al-Tarheeb min Al-Bukhari wa Muslim
  • Jawaahir Al-Bihaar fi Fadaail Al-Nabi Al-Mukhtar
  • Mithal Al-Na’l Al-Shareef 
  • Mufarrij Al-Kuroob wa Mufarrih Al-Quloob
  • Al-Nazhm Al-Badi’ fi Mowlid Al-Shafi’
  • Qurrat Al-Ayn min Al-Baydawi wa Al-Jalalayn
  • Rafu’ Al-Ishtibah fi Istihalat Al-Jihat ala Allah
  • Al-Tahzheer min Itikhaazh Al-Suwar wa Al-Tasweer
  • In some of his works he strongly criticized Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn Qayim, Muhammad Abduh, Jamal Al-Deen Al-Afghani and Rashid Rida. He was specifically critical of Ibn Taymiyah’s fatwa affirming direction and place to Allah, but he also praised and applauded Imam Ibn Taymiyah’s book Al-Sarim Al-Maslul ala Shaatim Al-Rasul. 
  • There are various treatises in Hadith in his handwriting in the archives in Rabat, Morocco.

After retiring, he engaged in writing and worshiping and he traveled to Madinah where he lived for a while. 

He returned to Beirut where he passed away in the beginning of Ramadaan in 1932 (1350). One of his last students, Shaykh Husayn Usayran, passed away in July 2005 and was about 97 years old.


Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed is a well respected South African Islamic scholar who lives in Pretoria, South Africa. He studied at the King Saud University in Riyadh and the faculty of Shariah at the Islamic University of Madina. He has attained a M.A. in Islamic Studies from the University of South Africa. Through his extensive travels he has met and benefited from many senior scholars from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, India, Turkey etc. He has received numerous Ijazahs from the various scholars that he has met, studied with and served. He is currently a senior educator at the al – Ghazzali College in Pretoria.

He has authored two books:

  1. Muslim Scholars of the 20th Century.
  2. Muslim Scholars of the 21st Century.

He was one of the translators of Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al – Maliki’s work: The Way of the True Salaf.


 

The Passing of Mufti Umer Esmail

We are deeply saddened at the news of the passing of one of our beloved teacher’s, Mufti Mohamed Umer Esmail. A religious scholar, community leader, and loving father and husband, he is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Let us pray for Mufti Umer and his family, may God grant him the highest levels of Jannah and may God’s Mercy shower his family and may the Razzaq, the Provider, provide for his family.

“Mufti Umer Esmail was a wonderful person, of gentleness, and good akhlaq. Much beloved by all those who knew him.”

– Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Help us raise $100,000 by the end of the week to support his estate in this challenging time. The funds raised will be through our Islamic Scholars Fund initiative and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to his family.

SeekersGuidance Canada: Six Month Update Report

Six Month Update Report

In the Name of Allah, Merciful and Compassionate

In six months, we’ve established a full schedule of classes; on-boarded two capable, dynamic scholars; moved into a beautiful New Home; held a sold-out 5-day Summer Retreat; and a full schedule of Fall classes and programs–including launching our Steps Essentials Certificate, a Seekers Youth Certificate, and new Islamic Arts and Calligraphy seminars.

As we reach the end of Summer–and the at-capacity SeekersGuidance Retreat 2019–we’d like to share a six-month update on SeekersGuidance Canada.

 

The Knowledge & Guidance Continues

Alhamdulillah, after establishing our new project at the beginning of 2019, we began a full schedule of week-day and weekend classes at Jame Masjid Mississauga (Coopers). Attendance was very good, and in some cases higher than ever.

In the meantime, we began a careful search for a New Home for SeekersGuidance Canada. As part of this, we held a fundraising luncheon with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Muhammad Badhib, and our teachers.

Your generous support at this fundraiser helped us raise enough to sign the draft of the lease for our New Home. Shaykh Yahya’s memorable keynote titled, ‘Knowledge Is Only Spread Through Sacrifice’, and ‘Supporting the Spread of Knowledge in Society by Shaykh Muhammad Ba-Dhib’ is worth listening (or re-listening!) to.

Daily Classes, and Moving into the new location

For Ramadan, we had a special daily program on Embracing Excellence, where Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani covered Imam Haddad’s manual on personal transformation, The Book of Assistance, in full. The first half of this was covered at Jame Masjid Mississauga. We would like to thank the mosque and its administration for their generous hosting of our classes, and their support.

In mid-Ramadan, we moved into our New Home at 220 Britannia Rd E, at Hurontario, Misssissaga. This local is a stand-alone unit with a sizeable hall; six rooms; and two spacious lounge areas. For the Night of 27th Ramadan, we had a special program at Candles Banquet Hall. The program was at-capacity with over 600 people in attendance. Imam Yama Niazi (a SeekersGudince teacher then based in Santa Barbara, California–now in Vancouver, BC), Ustadh Amjad, Shaykh Faraz, and a wonderful Syrian nasheed group showcased a memorable night of devotion, celebration, and reflection. You can catch the reminders and nasheed on our YouTube channel.

The Summer Programming Picks up

For the Summer of 2019, we launched a fuller schedule of classes, including:

(a) an Arabic and Islamic Studies Summer Intensive (which was at-capacity, with over 70 people enrolled in it);
(b) relaunching our monthly Critical Issues Seminars–with topics including Perfecting Prayer, for which we were honoured to host the esteemed Shaykh Mohsen al-Najjar (an Egyptian scholar based in the UK);
(c) our popular monthly Family Circle led by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed;
(d) our weekly Friday Circle of remembrance and reflection; and
(e) a full-lineup of classes for both a general audience (such as our Mondays Qur’an Circle) and students of knowledge.

These classes have been held in the entrance lounge area–which can accommodate 70 people–as we were awaiting for final approvals to begin the renovations on the beautiful main teaching hall.

The Arrival of Shaykh yusuf and Ustadha halimah in July

Then, in July, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch and Ustadha Halimah–two capable, dynamic, teachers of the Islamic sciences and both certified hafiz of the Qur’an–joined the SeekersGuidance Canada teaching faculty. See: SeekersGuidance Canada Welcomes Two New Teachers–Shaykh Yusuf Weltch and Shaykha Halimah Maideen–Both Students of Habib Umar.Immediately, they began public and private classes. Some of these can be found on our YouTube channel.

Shaykh Yusuf has been teaching in the Summer Intensive, the Sundays Coffee and Connections class, and has been actively teaching our seminary-track students. Ustadah Halimah has been tutoring young, keen female students–and teaching at our weekly Qur’an Clinic.

Progress of Our Seminary Track Students

In February, two of our seminary-track students went to Tarim, Hadhramawt, to pursue full-time studies under the mentorship of Habib Umar bin Hafiz–after completing three years of foundational Islamic studies here with Seekers here in Toronto.

We presently have three full-time students studying daily under Shaykh Faraz, Shaykh Yusuf, and other teachers. They are making good progress, and are actively training to become future teachers and leaders for our communities, insha’Allah.

We hope to expand our Seminary-track program further in the upcoming months.

Annual SeekersGuidance Retreat Over Labour Day Weekend

Our annual Retreat has been one of our most impactful programs: the five days of immersion in a beautiful natural environment, with close interaction with inspiring scholars, and good company are a life-changing experience for many of the attendees. Many of these go on to become regular students in our classes and programs.

This year’s Retreat, held over Labour Day weekend at the beautiful Bark Lake in the Muskoka region,  is at full-capacity (nearly 150 attendees), with eight diverse teachers–Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Yama Niazi, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch, Ustadha Halimah Maideen, and Ustadh Tayssir Safi.

The 2019 Fall Schedule of Classes and Programs

This Fall, we are launching three key new programs:

(a) the one-year, Steps Essentials Certificate;
(b) the new Seekers Youth Certificate;
(c) new monthly Islamic Arts seminars with leading world-class calligraphers and artists.

This is along with a full schedule of seminars, classes, and programs. You can view the full Fall 2019 schedule by clicking here.

And all of this is offered completely free–through your consistent support.

Please consider becoming a monthly donor–even a dollar a day goes a long way–and help us spread reliable knowledge and guidance in our community and around the world.

 

Why Islam is True E12: Who Designed the Designer? – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Atheists object to the argument for God’s existence from design by asking the question, “Who designed the designer?” This objection is, in fact, a sound objection because the design argument in its common formulation by Christian theists is, in fact, flawed. But it is not a valid objection to the inferences that Muslim theologians make from design because they make a different argument.


 

Two Year Specialization in Hanafi Fiqh

Attention to all interested students. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will be teaching:

 

Dars al-Tanwir al-Absar wa Ifadat al-Anwar

 (A Two Year Specialization in Hanafi Fiqh)

In the Name of Allah, Merciful and Compassionate, with blessings and peace upon our Master Muhammad, his folk, and companions

  1. Imam Tumurtashi’s Tanwir, with extensive readings in Haskafi’s Durr
    al-Mukhtar and Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar;
  2. Imam Haskafi’s Ifadat al-Anwar Sharh al-Manar, in intermediate Hanafi
    usul, with extensive readings from Ibn Abidin’s Nasamat al-Ashar.
  3. Later, we will cover Ibn Abidin’s Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti, and
  4. Select readings from Ibn Nujaym’s al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir.

Class Format

Two live classes per week, 2.5 hours each. Students are expected to attend live, or to follow the recordings.

Preparation, participation, questions, and doing recommended readings is expected.

There will be an online forum for questions, discussion, and for related texts, and resources. The pdf of the commentary, and other important works will be provided.

Purpose of the Class

The goal of the class is to begin the journey of gaining mastery of the fiqh details of the Hanafi school.

We will study the meta-matn (Tanwir al-Absar) that is the basis of the central commentary for legal details (al-Durr al-Mukhtar) in the later Hanafi school–and for the central work for the fatwa positions of the Hanafi school
(Radd al-Muhtar).

We define “mastery” as thorough understanding of the text itself, its legal reasoning, and key details. Fiqh is deep knowledge, with understanding of nuances and implications.

The purpose in this mastery is to seek the pleasure of Allah, through benefiting oneself and others by preserving, acting upon, and transmitting this noble Prophetic inheritance in ways that assist others in seeking the pleasure of Allah by following Divine Guidance with conviction and clarity.

The means to mastery would be through understanding of eight matters related
to the text:

  1. Tawdih (clarification of the text, in expression and indication)
  2. Taqyid (conditioning the text, where essential conditions are needed)
  3. Tafsil (detailing the text, where essential details are needed)
  4. Taswir (describing the text’s issues, through practical examples)
  5. Taq`id (clarifying the legal principles the text’s issues are based on or entail)
  6. Tafri` (important derived rulings, classical and contemporary, that serious
    seekers must know)
  7. Ta`lil (understanding legal reasoning and wisdom underlying text’s rulings)
  8. Tadlil (understanding the legal proofs for the rulings of the text)

Conditions for Joining the Class

This is an upper-intermediate to advanced class in Hanafi fiqh. Students need to have completed at least two complete works in all chapters of Hanafi fiqh, including at least one intermediate-level commentary (such as Sharh al-Wiqaya, or the Ikhtiyar, or Hidaya, or similar), with understanding.

Student Expectations

The expectations from the students would be to:

  1. Prepare for the class, by [a] thorough reading of the matn; [b] careful reading of the commentary–with focus on the legal details and reasoning mentioned in the commentary; [c] preparing properly thought-out questions related to the text and its implications. It is encouraged, especially for more advanced students, to research key issues in the reference works and commentaries. (This is not an expectation. Students are welcome to email the instructor for advice on this.)
  2. Attend the class, with [a] attentiveness, through cutting out distractions (no surfing, messaging, texting, etc); [b] participation when the instructor asks questions; [c] asking questions, from their preparation or from things unclear in the text or the instructor’s explanations.
  3. Review of the class notes and text. Research of issues that arise is encouraged, and asking questions regarding things that remain unclear is essential. The more you can keep reviewing the text (especially the matn), the better. Test yourself, by checking whether you remember the key details. Diagramming the text helps.
  4. Take notes. It is best to write out the matn itself, and essentials from the commentary (such as the key details and reasoning). This is also good Arabic writing practice.
  5. Participate in the Class Forum by asking questions, sharing issues of benefit, and getting involved in the relevant discussions, with the proper manners of a keen seeker of knowledge (talib `ilm).
  6. Seek Allah’s assistance, make this a means of seeking His pleasure, have high secondary intentions of acting upon what you learn with excellence, preserving and transmitting Prophetic guidance, to benefit yourself and to benefit others, and to gain all the benefits mentioned by Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) for those who seek and transmit sacred knowledge for the sake of Allah.

 

And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz Rabbani


All interested students who wish to take this class need to fill out a brief application by clicking here.