Black Lives Matter: Racism, Social Activism, Justice | A Reader

SeekersGuidance is always committed to provide clarity, answers, and guidance, especially when new issues emerge.

We feel that in these times it is important for us to listen to our black leaders. In this reader we are featuring the voices of some of our most impactful black Muslim leaders, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Dawud Walid, Shaykha Zaynab Ansari, and others.

May Allah make us of those who stand up for justice, truth and equity with principles. In the spirit of the Quran:

People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (49:13)

You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly- if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do. (4:135)

Articles

Blackness, Racism And How The Arabic Language Rises Above It All

  • When “Black” is good. An insight to what “blackness” truly means in the Arabic language

Black Lives Matter: If You’re Right With God, You’re Right – Imam Zaid Shakir

  • Imam Zaid Shakir has led funeral prayers (janazas) due to blue-on-black crime and black-on-black crime. In this video he touches on the history of the black struggle and sheds some spiritual light on the issue. Allah tells us our lives matter, we don’t need a movement.

Race To The Top – Imam Zaid Shakir – New Islamic Direction

  • It’s okay to get involved. Racism existed, and still does. Let us talk about it.

Spiritual Activism and the Tradition of Salawat in West Africa

  • Imam Dawud Walid discusses the inspiring story of a west African scholar, Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba

 

On Demand Courses

Social Justice In The Islamic Tradition: How to Approach Justice and Uphold Truth with Wisdom and Principle

  • Islam is a truly complete religion; a way of life. Does it lay down foundations for social justice? Of course!

Islam in Blackamerica

  • BayanOnline, an online Islamic seminary, is offering this insightful course for only three easy payments of free, yes, FREE.  Check out this beneficial course with Dr. Sherman Jackson.

 

Answers

How Do I Deal With My Racist Spouse?

  • It’s easier to avoid problems outside your home, but what do you do when the problems lie within?

Hadiths on the “Bad Traits” of Black People

  • How do we understand hadiths which seemingly describe black people negatively?

Would it Be Wrong To Avoid Interracial Marriages For Cultural Considerations?

  • Are you racist if you don’t want to marry someone from outside your race? The following answer discusses some prophetic direction in marriage.

How Do I Deal With Racist Attitudes at Gatherings?

  • Self-hate will lead to a dull fate.

Are the Islamic Rulings Regarding Marriage Racist?

  • Islam doesn’t teach us to be racist. Many people, including Muslims, are simply misinformed.

 

Ummah Orphaned by Loss of Senior Scholars – Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed

* Courtesy Radio Islams International

Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed of South Africa reflects and highlights the great losses the global Muslim community has experienced due to the deaths of senior scholars and saints over the past few weeks.

Futuwwa And The Raw Idealism of Youth – Saad Razi Shaikh

How do we bring about change in light of the prophetic guidance? How do we raise the next generation of changemakers in our communities? A centuries-old Islamic tradition may just hold the answer.

During the last Ramadan, a late evening meal with a newly acquainted brother took a rather unsavoury turn. The food was good, the weather pleasant and our heads light. But as things had to go, our conversation drifted to politics, a topic best served separate from the meal.

The brother hails from a country which is unlikely to top the global HDI charts anytime soon. But while accepting the present malaise raging in his country, he added a quick clarification. He said his country is not poor, throw a few seeds in the soil and you’ll see the barakah sprouting through it. But that is what precisely enraged him, despite the land being blessed with so much, so little reached its people, who for most of the part remained impoverished, to be seen as sad broken stories from a third world country, nothing more.

Much preoccupied as I was with my food, I couldn’t help paying my full attention to the young man’s talk. At the end, he added in a slow mournful tone, these words:

“Everyone just thinks for themselves; no one thinks of the country. I want to go back and do something. Even if I get jailed or something, I must try. If many of us do so, things will definitely change.”

His words brought a smile to my face. Aah, the heady promise of youthful dreams! None but the young can be so naïve yet so determined. Of course, for the cynical, it is easy to dismiss the raging of the young as another headstrong kneejerk reaction to something that is far deeper and complex. But youth are the ones inheriting broken systems, it is out of sheet survival instinct that they often fight against it. Others, like crabs at the bottom of the barrel, are perhaps only too happy to let the new lot sink low too. Think of dipping real incomes, shooting college tuition fees, shrinking welfare systems, pathological surveillance governments, the sheet indifference of previous generation against institutionalised injustice and you get why the youth must protest.

It is the knowledge that the world is imperfect and the conviction that it can be made better that fuels youth activism. However, pure intentions and unlimited energy are not enough. If the youth do not have access to the traditional rites-of-passages, outlets for meaningful expressions, welcoming places of interactions, networks or tariqas that inculcate tarbiyah, it is possible that their youthful idealism may just give way to a nihilistic rage.

It is important then, to have institutions and practices that not only allow expressions of youth potential but also encourage and celebrate it. One such institution traditionally associated with Islamic civilization has been the concept of futuwwa.

It is as the Oxford Dictionary helpfully describes the ‘ideal of youthful manhood and chivalry based on the example of Ali ibn Abi Talib’ (Allah be pleased with him). It is, as the IHU webpage describes, ‘the institution which aimed to raise young generations and gave direction to the youth…based on the articulated thoughts inspired from Quran and Hadiths by the assembly of scholars, Sufis and noble traders.’

As any seasoned reader of social history knows, it is not enough to light the fire of a revolution, one also needs the moral framework and practical alternatives ready once the dust settles down. In the face of setbacks, one needs both guidance and long-term perspectives. One needs to avoid falling prey to interpreting everything in the light of the fleeting present. Institutions like futuwwa allows us this, to help us see a world beyond ourselves, to have an understanding of justice that is both this-worldly and next-worldly, to think beyond the ruling dogmas of the day, to regroup and rethink when the chips are down, to not succumb to despair, to understand reality in light of the Prophetic guidance, and above all, to make our short ephemeral stay in the dunya a means to draw closer to our Lord.

It is the perfume of youthful dreams, the slow interplay of beliefs and practices, that defines the trajectories of societies, even nations. It is the raw, perhaps even maniacal, charms of youthful idealism that help us dream of a better world. Who else but the truly young and the truly naïve would think of throwing away the existing in place of something completely new and untested? It is this leap of faith that moves a society, in either direction. It is the hands of the young that make it possible. And we owe it as a society to make those hands steady and stable.


RELEVANT COURSES

Seekers Youth Curriculum

https://seekersguidance.org/youth-curriculum/

Social Justice In The Islamic Tradition

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/social-justice-in-the-islamic-tradition-how-to-approach-justice-and-uphold-truth-with-wisdom-and-principle/

Change Happens: The Qur’anic Principles for Justice and Social Change

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/change-happens-the-quranic-principles-for-justice-and-social-change/

Faith and Reliance on Allah: Ghazali’s Book of Divine Oneness and Trust Upon Allah Explained

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/faith-and-reliance-on-allah-ghazalis-book-of-divine-oneness-and-trust-upon-allah-explained/

The Trodden Path (Episode 13): Shaykh Wasfi al-Masaddi

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 thirteenth episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Shaykh Shaykh Wasfi al-Masaddi of Syria.

Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed

Shaykh Wasfi al-Masaddi (1335-1431=1917-2010)

Wasfī ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Jalil was a devout scholar, a faqih and an excellent orator and a spiritual guide.

He was born in the city of Homs in Syria in 1917 (1335). His father was a scholar, while his mother was from the al-Jundi family.

His father, Shaykh Ahmad was closely connected to Shaykh Ahmad al-Tuzaqli al-Turkumani al-Naqshbandi who in turn was closely connected to Shaykh Khalid al-Naqshbandi.

He learnt the basic essentials of reading and writing and mathematics from his father. His father was an Imam and a teacher at one of the mosques in the city and he was the young Wasfi’s first Quran teacher.

After his elementary studies he enrolled at the al-Madrasa al-Waqfiyya that was under the supervision of Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Atasi (d.1366=1947). He studied at this institution for six years during which he studied Usul-Fiqh of the Hanafi madhhab, Nur al-Idah and the text of Mukhtasar al-Quduri and al-Kamil by al-Mubarrid all under Shaykh Zahid. Shaykh Wasfi resembled his teacher in his recitation of the Quran and in his gait.

Some of his other teachers were:

  • Shaykh Muhammad Yasin Basmar with whom he studied Imam Nawawi’s collection of forty Hadith, Arabic Grammar, Logic and other subjects.
  • His son, Shaykh Abu al-Sa’ud Basmar with whom he studied Arabic Grammar, Logic and Mukhtasar Ibn Abi Jamrah in Hadith.
  • Shaykh Anis al-Kalalib
  • Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali ‘Uyun al-Sud
  • Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Umar Safi (1276-1367=1860-1948) with whom he read Tafsir alBaydawi
  • Shaykh Salim Safi
  • Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadi al-Khoja (1373=1953) who was an excellent Hanafi faqihShaykh Wasfi studied Hashiya Ibn ‘Abidin and Sharh al-Qastallani ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari. Shaykh Wasfi and Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Uyun al-Sud were fortunate to have had special lessons with the Shaykh in the laws of inheritance and they studied al-Sirajiyyah.
  • Shaykh Tawfiq al-Atasi (1283-1385=1866-1965) with whom he studied Hashiya IbnAbidin
  • Shaykh Najm al-Din al-Atasi  (1278-1352=1859-1933) with whom he studied Multaqa alAbhur
  • Shaykh Taqi al-Din al-Atasi (1285-1360=1868-1941). Shaykh Wasfi and Shaykh Muhammad Tayyib attended lessons in Hashiya Ibn ‘Abidin with him.
  • Shaykh Abu al-Saud al-Atasi (1303-1364)
  • Shaykh Ibrahim al-Atasi (1268-1359)
  • Shaykh Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Ansari al-Himsi (1287-1364=1870-1945).
  • Shaykh Abu al-Nasr Khalaf al-Himsi (1292-1368=1875-1948). He was a scholar and a spiritual guide who had benefited from many illustrious scholars including Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Jafar al-Kettani and his father Shaykh Salim Khalaf al-Himsi. His father, Shaykh Salim had taken the Naqshbandi Sufi way from Shaykh Ahmad al-Tuzaqli. Shaykh Wasfi also took the Naqshbandi way from him.
  • Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghaffar ‘Uyun al-Sud who was a close friend of Shaykh Wasfi’s father.

He met some ‘ulama from Damascus but did not receive ijazah from them. They are:

  • Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id al-Burhani
  • Shaykh Muhammad al-Hashimi
  • Shaykh Abu al-Khayr al-Maydani
  • Shaykh Salih al-Tunusi

He graduated in 1936 and got married in the same year. He remained closely connected to the Mufti of Homs, Shaykh Tahir al-Atasi (1276-1359=1859-1940) under whom he studied Jamu’ alJawami, alTawdih wa alTalwih, alHikam al-‘Ata’iyya and was even given the responsibility of transcribing the Shaykh’s fatwa’s. 

A number of other ‘ulama granted him ijazah. They include:

  • Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Arabi al-Tubbani (1315-1386=1897-1966) whom he met during his Hajj in 1950. On this journey he also met Shaykh ‘Alawi al-Maliki, Shaykh Muhammad Nur Sayf and Shaykh Amin al-Kutbi.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Makki al-Kettani (1312-1393=1894-1973). This erudite scholar was the son of an illustrious scholar in addition to having studied under many luminaries. He was fond of Shaykh Wasfi and even suggested that the Shaykh be appointed as the guide and advisor for all Islamic activities. When Shaykh Makki passed away, Shaykh Wasfi was allowed to see the deceased before his body was taken from the home. On seeing him Shaykh Wasfi said that never in his life had he seen a deceased person like Shaykh Makki with beauty and nur clearly visible.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf al-Binnori (1326-1397=1908-1977) who studied under Shaykh Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri, Shaykh Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani and others. Many prominent scholars narrate from him. Shaykh Wasfi met him during the Hajj of 1950 and he granted ijazah to both Shaykh Wasfi and to Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Uyun al-Sud.
  • Shaykh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-Ustuwani (1275-1383=1859-1963). He studied under some illustrious scholars who included; his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadit al-Ustuwani, Shaykh Salim al-Attar, Shaykh Sa’id al-Ustuwani and Shaykh Mahmud Nasib al-Hamzawi.
  • Shaykh Nu’aym al-Nu’aymi al-Jaza’iri (1327-1393=1909-1973) who narrated from Shaykh Muhammad Tahir ibn ‘Ashur, Shaykh Salim Bo Hajib and Shaykh Mahmud ibn al-Khoja. This scholar came from Algeria to Homs with the intention of studying the modes of recitation under Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Uyun al-Sud
  • Shaykh ‘Alawi al-Maliki (1329-1391=1910-1971) whose chains of transmission were compiled in a book by his son, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki.

After his father’s demise in 1935 he assumed the responsibility of leading the Salat and teaching at the al-Qasimi Mosque. He had trained and acquired the skill as a public speaker during his father’s lifetime.  During his father’s last illness he fulfilled his father’s duties of leading the Salat, delivering the lectures and conducting lessons. He read Tafsir alKhazin with his father in the very mosque. He remained the public speaker (khatib) at the mosque until 1980 when he moved to Saudi Arabia.

He conducted a lesson in the Qasimi Mosque after Maghrib that was attended by students of sacred knowledge and another after ‘Asr for the public. Every Tuesday he had a lesson at his home and every Friday after ‘Asr in the main mosque. He conducted a lesson daily after Zhuhr at the Dalati Mosque.

During these lessons he taught Tafsir al-Khazin, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Maraqi al-Falah, Hashiya al-Tahtawi, Shar’at al-Islami, al-Anwar al-Muhammadiyya an abridged form of al-Mawahib al-Laduniyya by Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani. His practice was to complete the entire book and then continue with another. There were times when he may have repeated a book. He remained dedicated towards calling people to Allah. One of his close friends and aides in the field of Da’wa was Shaykh Mustafa al-Sibai’. 

Shaykh Wasfi’s approach was one that relied on solid proof without any bias towards any religious group or faction. He adopted the way of his Shaykh, Shaykh Abu al-Nasr Khalaf al-Himsi.

Shaykh Wasfi was appointed as a teacher at the Shari’ah Institute that was established in 1946 and a year later he assumed administrative duties at the same place. He withdrew from teaching for about five years and thereafter he resumed where he continued until 1982.

The reason for his withdrawal is that the Shari’ah Institute was known to have had very high academic standards and much of this was attributed to the fact that an excellent teacher like Shaykh Wasfi taught the students in the former years, thus providing them with a firm foundation. However when he was assigned some administrative duties he taught the senior classes and with the result the former classes were neglected. He therefore felt that his presence at the institution was of no benefit and resigned. He returned to his teaching after persistence from his friend, Shaykh Muhammad al-Tayyib. In total he served the institution for thirty-three years.

In 1952 he was appointed as the official teacher of the region of Homs. This was during the period of the Mufti, Shaykh Tawfiq al-Atasi. He held this position until 1980.

He played a very significant role in preserving and renovating the mosques of Homs especially the Mosque of Khalid ibn al-Walid and the attached institution. He also contributed to the preservation of al-Mu’addas Mosque in 1977 that the Christians had tried to convert into a church. In 1978 he worked towards renovating the al-Qasimi Mosque.

In 1980 he migrated to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where he taught Quran at the King ‘Abd al-Aziz University for about six years during which he also conducted some lessons in Sirah. It is interesting to note that when he had arrived in Jeddah, the university required his certificates. However Shaykh Wasfi had studied under the shuyukh and thus requested that the Shari’ah Institute in Homs issue him with a letter of recommendation acknowledging that he had served the institution for many years as a teacher. This letter was issued and on this basis he was appointed as a teacher at the university in Jeddah. He delivered the Friday sermon in the Abu Dawud Mosque in Jeddah for about twenty-five years. He had a weekly lesson in Fiqh, Hadith and Tafsir for people from Homs who were residing in Jeddah and another for Damascenes and a public lesson after ‘Asr during Ramadan. Many sort to meet him and even to pose their questions to him. Shaykh Salman Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman Hajjar and others were among the many who frequented his lessons.

After many years he finally returned to Homs where he was warmly received by the ‘ulama and the public. He continued to move between Jeddah and Homs until he passed away in Homs on the morning of the 25th August 2010 (15th Ramadan 1431). The Janazah Salat was performed at the Khalid ibn Walid Mosque and he was buried in the Kathib Graveyard.

Shaykh Wasfi was a handsome man of fair complexion who was distinct with his clothing. He was an effective lecturer, a successful teacher and a person of captivating personality. His gatherings were filled with immense benefit. He was blessed with insight and knowledge from Allah.

His face was bright and radiant and some his students mentioned that if a person looked at him then he was reminded of Allah. In addition if a person wished to free himself from the anxieties of life, then merely sitting in the Shaykh’s company will be a source of comfort and peace. He was a person whom the young and the old, the layman and the scholar was attracted to on seeing or meeting him for the first time. He was extremely humble before the people and before his Creator. He was eager to serve people and in doing so was an example of kindness and generosity. He possessed immense love for Allah and His beloved Prophet Muhammad.

 


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:

Muslim Scholars of the 20th Century.

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.

Reflections on Surah Taha – Dr Hadia Mubarak

Dr Hadia Mubarak reflects on Surah Taha and how it can provide us with ease and comfort in these current times of difficulty and confusion.

At times of great distress, I find my heart naturally gravitating to Surat Taha, the twentieth chapter of the Quran. Its emotive energy is powerful, taking its reader through one of the most captivating sagas of prophetic history. It puts on display the spectrum of human emotion, beginning with fear, followed by hope, then a life of privilege and access, followed by one of exile, then a sense of complete vulnerability and destituteness to God, followed by blessing, stability and gratitude. 

One of the chapter’s many appeals to its readers is the realization of converse human experiences: betrayal and loyalty, cunning enmity and trusting affirmation (i.e. the magicians), fear and love, doubt and faith. Its verses capture a depth of love that outrivals the best of human love poetry. As a mother, the words “and we returned you to your mother so that her eyes may find coolness and she may not grieve” play on the strings of my heart like music. God identifies this act of divine grace – returning Moses (peace be upon him) to be nursed by his own biological mother – as a favor to Moses’ mother, an unnamed woman whose status is so high that God wants to console and comfort her grieving heart.

The narrative of Moses’ life, from his birth to the final exodus from Egypt, can be found in many junctures of the Quran. Musa (peace be upon him) is the most mentioned prophetic name in the Quran, appearing 136 times in thirty-three chapters of the Qur’an. Yet it is chapter 20, Surat Taha, that tell us a story of love: God’s divine and tender love for Moses (peace be upon him) and Moses’ loyal and yearning devotion to God.

God proclaims His love for Moses in a literary masterpiece that combines eloquence and etiquette. In the Quran (20:39), God declares, “I have cast my love over you so that you may be reared in My eyes” and in Quran (20:41), “I have fashioned/chosen you for Myself.”

Moses is eager to reciprocate God’s love, to be worthy of this divine favor. When the Israelites have neared Mount Sinai, Moses is overtaken by his longing to hear God and rushes to Mount Sinai, leaving behind the Israelites with his brother Aaron (Harun). At this point in the chapter, God asks, “Moses, what has made you come ahead of your people in such haste?” (20:83). The insertion of Moses’ name here reflects God’s gentle tenderness towards Moses. Moses responds, “They are treading in my footsteps. And I rushed to You, My Lord, to please You.” (20:84).

Muslim exegetes interpreted this verse as a sign of Moses’ longing (شوق) to meet God, his love so intense that he could not help but run to meet His lord. In his response to God, Moses reciprocates a high level of etiquette, addressing God directly as “my Lord” and affirming his devotion to God.

Finally, the Arabic-speaking reader might notice the double appearance of the term “أوحينا” (“We have inspired”) in this chapter, first in (20:38) and then in (20:77). It is in the juxtaposition of these two verses that the saga of Moses, his mother and the Israelites comes full circle. The first time this term is used, God inspires the mother of Moses to cast him in a basket in the Nile; she must muster the courage to do the unspeakable for the sake of saving her infant, who would inevitably be killed by Pharaoh’s men if left at home. The second time the term is used, God inspires Moses to flee with the Israelites and to strike a path in the Red Sea for them. Like his mother, Moses must muster the courage and faith that God will not let him down, that he and his people will not drown, that the waters of the Sea will transform into a sanctuary for them, just as the waters of the river became a sanctuary for Moses as an infant.

The juxtaposition of these two terms  (أوحينا), side by side, reveals a deep connection between the two stories. In the first instance of inspiration, the life of one soul is saved; in the second instance of inspiration, the souls of 620,000 people are saved, according to Muslim traditions. Yet the second rescue is dependent on the first. It is only through Moses that God chooses to release the Israelites from a life of slavery, turmoil and death. The Quran’s use of the phrase, “We inspired,” in these two distinct instances threads together one woman’s courage to rescue her infant son with one man’s courage to save an entire nation.


Dr. Hadia Mubarak is an assistant professor of religious studies at Guilford College. Previously, Mubarak taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Davidson College. Mubarak completed her Ph.D. in Islamic studies from Georgetown University, where she specialized in modern and classical Qurʾanic exegesis, Islamic feminism, and gender reform in the modern Muslim world.


 

Preserving the Light of Ramadan – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

How do we preserve the light of Ramadan once the month has ended?

 

One of the keys to preserving what we have attained is in the intentions we make before the month ends. We should make firm intentions to do good in Shawwal and beyond. We also need to beg Allah to preserve and increase the gifts He has given us. We need to be consistent in our attendance of gatherings and classes, consistent in our recitation of the Quran while reflecting upon its meanings and consistent in our recitation of the adhkar with presence of heart. We must also choose the best company and sit in the presence of people who have been given light.

Intentions For After Ramadan – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

What intentions should we make for after Ramadan?

 

We intend to be among those whose entire year is Ramadan

We intend that our connection with Allah is expressed in our actions throughout the day and the night

We intend to serve the Ummah in the best way by focusing on the Three Objectives (knowledge, devotion and service)

We intend to seek the pleasure of Allah and to make His Messenger ﷺ happy in all that we do

We intend to attain an increase in presence of heart with Allah at all times but especially during the prayer and recitation of the Quran and the adhkar

We intend to establish gatherings with our brothers and sisters who we love for Allah’s sake

We intend to fast the Six Days of Shawwal and other blessed days such as Tāsūā’ and Ashura (9th and 10th Muharram) and the Day of Arafah and at least three days in every month

Habib Kadhim al Saqqaf on the Last Ten Days of Ramadan

*Originally Published on 7/06/2018

Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf encourages us to maximise our benefit from the last ten days of Ramadan, and offers advice and practical tips.

Step 1: Appreciation & Intention

We can begin by appreciating the gift of these blessed ten days, and learning about what Allah is offering us therein. We can receive it with gratitude and joy, and thankfulness to Allah for His gift.

We can intend to fast happily, do good works and pray tarawih in order to follow the practice of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Intend to deal with others well this Ramadan.

Step 2: Understanding

We know that the first part of Ramadan is mercy, the middle part of it is forgiveness, and the last part of it is freedom from the Fire. By recognizing that the last ten nights are freedom from the Fire, we can plan to strive harder in order to achieve it.

We can also keep in mind that Allah prescribed the fast to us, just as He did to others before us. It was not meant to be a pointless command to put us in difficultly, but rather to teach us valuable lessons in self-restraint and God-consciousness.

Step 3: Rejoice

Therefore, we can rejoice in the presence of these days, by exposing ourselves to the mercy of Allah, and embodying it by showing mercy to other. This is in the spirit of the hadith, “The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Show mercy to the ones on Earth, and the one beyond the heavens will be merciful to you.” (Tirmidhi) We should pray for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and we should pray that people who are isolated or unaware of the religion, find a connection to it.


 

On Praise and Celebration – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, a leading and renowned scholar of South Africa, discusses the spiritual and internal dimensions of Eid.

On Praise and Celebration

The two salahs (prayers) – along with the khutbahs (sermons) – of the two Eids are significantly placed at the beginning of the day of these two great Islamic occasions. They act as a singular reminder that no matter how joyous a celebration might be for us, the centrality of the Divine and normative spirituality in our lives ought never to be ignored. Our celebrations, festivities and commemorations are invariably configured within the orbit of that quintessentially Islamic practice of spirituality. Nevertheless, it remains a Sunnah to rejoice – to, in effect, feel and experience that joy – regardless of how bleak and dim matters might appear to be.

Our rejoicing, however, need not be read as a moment of insensitivity towards the suffering of others. On the contrary, our rejoicing is an expression of the Qur’anic verse: “Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins.”(39: 53) We have to rejoice at the fact that even if we have nothing other than Islam and Iman (secure faith) that this is enough cause for celebration. “Indeed, the true religion with Allah is Islam.” (Qur’an, 3: 19). Here Islam is not presented as a falsification of other prophets and religions, but as a crystalline distillation of those beliefs, rites and practices that found both their manifestation and actualization – in all their multifarious forms – throughout our sacred history from the time of the Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him) and Hawa (Peace be upon her) to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and salutations upon him). With the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and salutations upon him) the sacred chain of prophets and religions had come full circle and found its perfection in him.

In the latter sense Islam is the ultimate ni’mah (Divine Grace). Within the starkness of this condition we need to remember that in Islam the emphasis is on optimism, not pessimism. This will remain so even though it appears as if we are going through one of our most trying moments in history. There are media and cultural biases against Muslims, religiously bigoted views about Islam and active distortion about the political and social conditions in some parts of the Muslim world. But when we venture below the surface, we encounter another story – that Islam is in fact the fastest growing religion on the planet• despite the best efforts by propagandists to smear and demonize Islam and Muslims. For those in the know in the non-Muslim world, it is not bombs, bullets and the behavior of emotionally disturbed individuals speaking in the name of the ummah that will get Islam and Muslims anywhere, but potentially this demographic fact of the massive conversion rate in the world today – particularly in the Western world. Yet care should be exercised in this regard. Demographics alone is not good enough.

So, what is the position of Muslims vis-à-vis all of this? The Qur’an tells us, “When the help of Allah comes and victory; and you see people entering the religion in droves, then hymn the praises of Allah, be then grateful and seek forgiveness.” (110: 1-3). The message is clear: Islam is not the property or possession of any particular person. It does not belong to “me” to boast about when there is an increase in fortune and capital. It is not a self-aggrandizing condition that entitles cradle Muslims to sport and parade their newly acquired wares. What indeed are required are gestures of humility and thanksgiving that speak of hearts that are fully aware of the fact that Islam requires change founded in a sacred and transcendent order that seeks to spiritually liberate the human condition from the most blameworthy qualities that blight that condition. Qualities such as malicious envy, rancor, belligerence, bigotry and both internecine hatred and hatred of the “other”. In other words, celebrating the entrance of droves of humanity into Islam is meant and designed to celebrate the great qualitative changes that may precipitate from those who adopted Islam as their new faith, on the basis of choice and free will. Choices that may well contribute to elevating those cradle Muslims fossilized in an arrogance and self-righteousness that serve to undermine rather than proclaim the universal message of Islam.

The social importance of events such as Eid, however, should also not be overlooked. These are times during which thousands of Muslims fill our mosques to capacity in a collective moment of elevated togetherness. They are also times of unconditional giving and sharing – moments that know no borders, whether personal, individual, or organizational. Those who fail to participate in this unity of experience can hardly claim to be of the ‘Ai’din (participants in the celebration of Eid).

The very fact too, that it is a sunnah for women to attend the salah of the two Eids underscores the importance of a border-free participation in these two events. Like Hajj and ‘Umrah, they are designed to represent the ultimate in human togetherness. But this “human togetherness” we experience in our mosques – as Muslims proud of our religion, proud to be the bearers of the message of Islam – needs to be transferred into the broader arena of our social living.

As part of our own contribution to this togetherness my brother, Shaykh Ahmad, and I have long ago decided to join hands with those who are both firmly rooted in and creatively linked to our classical legacy and, more specifically, to that great normative Tradition of Islam that finds its expression in the voices of the likes of Hujjat al-Islam Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, al-Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyi l-Din ibn al-‘Arabi, Shykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhuli, al-Faqih al-Muqaddam, Shaykh Junayd al-Baghdadi, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi and others far too numerous to mention. It is a Tradition, too, that has never failed to recognize and acknowledge that the Qur’an and the Sunnah form the twin sources of spirituality and Divine Grace (barakah) – a spirituality and a grace that have found their infinite space and flow upon the shores of those hearts receptive to the perennial rhythms of Divine Providence.
Upon these shores, and across the ages, stand these gladiators of Islamic Spirituality who wield those radiant staves – enlightened and enlightening – of Sufism.

In these representatives, we find an Islam that combines fearlessness with wisdom, methodology with sanity and a state of being imbued with confidence and dignity. It is an Islam that tells us when we invite to the Way of Allah that we do so with hikmah (wisdom) and maw’idht al-hasanah (beautiful exhortations). It is an Islam that tells us that representative Muslims are those who “are guided unto good speech and are guided unto the path of the Praiseworthy.” (Qur’an, 22:24). It is an Islam that teaches us that while it is permissible to requite a wrong, that it is yet better to forgive. It is an Islam that teaches us that if we are oppressed and removed from our homes that we are entitled to fight for the restoration of our natural rights. It is an Islam, moreover, that teaches that if our enemies stop their hostilities with offerings of peace that we, in turn, reciprocate with peace and get on with our lives.

In short, it is an Islam the essence of which is taught in the madrasah of Ramadan. Here we are taught the virtues of taqwa (God-consciousness), the virtues of disciplining the will and aligning it with the Will of Allah, the virtues of purifying the heart and the soul, and the virtues of sabr (patience and endurance), namely, that extraordinary and richly rewarding capacity to live with fortitude in the long term.

In this madrasah we are taught to be truly human. And we can only be truly human, in Islamic terms, if we live up to the highest standards demanded by Islamic Spirituality. It is in the context of realizing the greatness of spirit within each and every human being that we come to recognize the greatness of Allah. Moreover, we need to live up to the greatness of that spirit within each and every one of us in order to realize, not only the meaning of the takbir (magnifying Allah) on both Eids, but also to rediscover that spiritual umbilical cord that connects us to Allah:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar…La ilaha ill Allah wa l-Llahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar wa lillahi l-hamd – Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. There is no deity other than Allah, for He, indeed, is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest and to Him belongs all praise.

Ultimate Praise is for Allah alone for it is nothing other than an echo that found its first articulation when the children of Adam (Peace be upon him) and Hawwa (Peace be upon her) were asked to bear witness to their Lord in their original state of primordial nativity: “Am I not your Lord?” They proclaimed: “Verily, we bear witness!” (Qur’an, 7: 172).

But we should not forget our praise and thanks for those upon whom and within whom the imprints of that Lordship have found their resonance and expression. They are those prophets, saints and savants who have been touched – in varying degrees – with the radiance of Divine Grace. As living symbols of all that constitutes the sacred, these are the people, too, we should never forget in our commemorations and celebrations. They form as much a part of sacred history and memory; as sacred, – if not more on occasion – as those divinely selected and sanctified moments of space and time.

 

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Azzavia Institute 2020

Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 9: Never Lose Hope | Shaykh Edris Khamissa

Ustadth Edris Khamissa reminds us that we should never lose hope in the mercy and blessings of Allah. However, if we wish to be recipients of Allah’s mercy and bounties, we need to ensure that we are manifesting mercy to our fellow human beings. Let us take the opportunity this Ramadan to strengthen our bonds with family, friends and strangers.

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