* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan (Cape Town)
* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan (Cape Town)
Rajab is traditionally the month where Muslims start seriously mentally preparing for the greatest month of our calendar.
Part of this mental preparation is the believer’s natural reflection on their relationship with the Qur’an. Every Ramadan we have an annual opportunity to focus on this relationship and strive to improve it.
Before we decide how to improve our relationship, we must evaluate where we are now. That’s the purpose of this article.
The Qur’an has many rights over us, some compulsory to maintain and others Sunnah. I’ve summarized six of them:
Now, leaving out rights 1, 2 and 6 as actions taken in the realm of aqeeda, tajweed and fiqh, we are left with three core habits which Muslims should be striving to uphold.
‘Ulema sometimes describe these three habits in a hierarchy:
Level 1: Recitation
Traditionally, in maktabs and madrasas around the Ummah and throughout history, Muslim children are first taught to recite the Qur’an. For perhaps 80% of the Ummah, this is without understanding of the meanings. Nonetheless, it’s still a mighty act of worship and a powerful form of dhikr.
A popular aspiration for many Muslims is to read at least a juz of Qur’an within Ramadan and up to half a juz in other months (as many of the Tabi’een did).
Level 2: Study of the Qur’anic Sciences
The Qur’an is a book of guidance and is intended to be read and reflected upon. How is this possible without knowing Arabic?
Imagine an urgent message in Chinese was written to you. Since you couldn’t even read the language, you first learned how to decipher the symbols. Then – as you believed it to be praiseworthy – you learned how to recite the words aloud (this could help you pass the message onto family and friends.) But imagine if you didn’t learn to understand the meaning of the actual message, the actual words. And imagine if the message was something to the effect of: ‘You must leave the city within 10 days as you will be attacked by enemy forces.’ How pointless would be all the reading and reciting!
Without going into the more detailed sciences of the Qur’an, the lay Muslim should at least aspire to:
a)Actively learning Qur’anic Arabic so to understand the spirit of the verses
b)Learn the meanings of commonly recited surahs like the Fatiha, last 20 surahs, etc.
c)Read the translation In your native language cover-to-cover
d)Study the tafsir (commentary) of the Qur’an, both in book form and with scholars.
Level 3: Deep Reflection
Tadabbur or reflection is highly encouraged by Allah Most High:
“Will they not then ponder (ya-ta-dabbaruna) on the Qur’an?” (4:82)
This practice is really the fruits of all the other rights of the Qur’an. When there is firm belief, action upon the Qur’an’s injunctions (by respecting all halal and haram), regular recitation and study, then the soil for nurturing reflection is healthy. However, it is only watered through sincere intention, unwavering focus and a heart that is conscious of Allah.
An illiterate, ignorant, humble woman reciting the Qur’an with fear of Allah and love of His Book is far, far superior than a ‘professor’ of Quranic studies who reads with pride and heedlessness. Indeed, the former is much more knowledgeable than the latter.
If knowledge of the Qur’an does not increase the reader’s fear, reverence and Iman then it is not true knowledge at all:
“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith.” (8:2)
How we are Failing
Returning to my bold assertion in the title of this article, I believe there are at least three ways we are failing the Qur’an.
#1 – Neglecting one of the Level 1 or 2 rights
Sadly, it is not an exaggeration to say that many – if not most – Western Muslims are grossly deficient in fulfilling even the wujub (obligation) of reciting with correct Tajweed. Similarly, if you have not studied fiqh of worship and all other fard al-‘ayn topics, then this is disobedience of the Qur’an’s injunction to ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.)’.
And what about Arabic? I could – and perhaps will – write a whole article about the importance of making this a major part of our life.
If you have not spent several years of concerted effort in attempting to learn the language of the Qur’an, then, frankly, you are negligent.
Arabic should be our second language.
The Qur’an is designed to be experienced every time it is recited. In our glorious past – when Islam was at its zenith in the politcal and spiritual realms – learning and knowledge of Arabic was assumed necessary for all educated Muslims, much like English is deemed important now.
Courses, like that offered in SeekersGuidance, help remedy these rights. If you are deficient in Tajweed or Arabic, enrol on a course after finishing this article. I challenge you!
#2 – Failure to make our Quranic reading a solid habit
Many of us grew up witnessing parents and elders recite a healthy portion of Qur’an every morning without fail. For our generation – with our workday hustle and evening exhaustion – such a simple practice seems miraculous!
In our youth we easily managed to recite half a juz a day. After marriage and kids, it can be a challenge to steal a page or two, reciting when we get a chance.
Reciting Qur’an regularly isn’t the proper wird (daily spiritual habit) that it should be.
#3 – Not making the Qur’an our favourite book in the world
Even if we have mastered level 2, why are we so mediocre with our study of the greatest book in existence? We spend our intellects on degrees, dissertations and professional training; we decode complex textbooks, pass challenging exams and analyse famous literature.
And yet how little time have we spent – in comparison to all that – on the book authored by God Almighty?
I realize this article is a little downbeat, but I make no apology. The Qur’an warns as well as gives good news; threatens punishment and promises reward.
Likewise, a coach sometimes must scold, look you in the eye and tell you how it is.
Feel bad, make tauba and reflect on your shortcomings. It’s a massive part of our Deen and the prerequisite for true change.
Then from next week, you’ll be ready to hear some innovative solutions.
These matters are:
Watch the video to learn about these pertinent points.
One of the most common excuses I hear for not completing big goals is ‘I just don’t have the willpower’ or the common variant: ‘I need to have more discipline.’
Even if people don’t verbalise these beliefs aloud, their actions speak for them: they are waiting until they feel motivated or are hoping that, somehow, they can summon up willpower later. Then they’ll get onto fulfilling their dreams.
A surprising find of modern research is that willpower is overrated. As James Clear, in Atomic Habits, has noted:
“When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.”
So that sister you see going on a jog every morning, or the brother who consistently makes Fajr, probably are no more ‘disciplined’ than you. They’ve managed to establish a habit – which requires hardly any willpower to maintain.
If you think about your own life, I guarantee there is at least one habit which you do regularly that others find extremely hard.
Don’t believe me? Try driving. I have relatives – both male and female – who are in their thirties and still can’t drive. For them, the thought of paying for and taking dozens of lessons, preparing for the theory and practical exam, etc., is like a mountain of willpower they need to overcome.
But if you are one of the thousands of drivers reading this, it’s no sweat at all. Driving – which is an incredibly complex skill if you think about it – is completely second nature for us.
Much more important than willpower in breaking or making habits, is environment.
Here’s a powerful proof of this assertion.
During the Vietnam War the American public were shocked to find that up to a whopping 20% of soldiers and service users were addicted to heroin. This caused consternation and immediate government intervention, with the setting up of organisations and research initiatives. One of the startling findings was that 90% of these addicts managed to eliminate their habits overnight.
But how? They came home.
Conventional wisdom preached that these soldiers must have been morally corrupt or undisciplined.
But the truth was that the constant stress of war and the particular friendships made on the battlefield all created triggers for heroin use.
Once the soldiers returned to the USA they were removed from the environment. Remove the cues/triggers and you remove the habit.
What was supposed to be a permanent, irreversible condition got treated in one day.
Islamically, we can call this the power of our suhba – which is both the company we keep and environment.
Think of the famous hadith of the man who murdered 100 people (if you don’t know it, or need a reminder, you can read it here: https://sunnah.com/bukhari/60/137) before finding a monk who wisely advised him to travel to a certain village. He passed away before reaching his destination, but Allah, in His mercy, accepted this serial murderer’s repentance and forgave him!
SubhanAllah, let’s think about this hadith in the context of our discussion on habits. This man was saved due to the advice to change his environment, change his suhba. He wasn’t advised to spend time in isolation, work on himself or to do this deed or that deed.
He was directed to completely change his environment, as that is one of the most powerful ways to uproot your habits and replace bad deeds with good ones.
The Qur’an itself encourages one to seek a positive environment in the strongest terms. In Surah Nisa (4:97) we read a powerful dialogue between the angels and the sinners whose souls they are taking (Allah, cause us to die in a goodly state! Amin!). The sinners complain, ‘We were too weak and oppressed on earth.’ But the angels reply:
‘Was God’s earth not vast enough for you to migrate to some other place?’
In my own life, and with many of my friends, I’ve seen this principle played out through witnessing countless sincere Muslims making ‘hijra’ (emigration for Allah’s sake). Many moved to the Middle East to be in a Muslim country where they could hear the azan resounding and reminding five times a day; others moved to live with their shaykh and his community of students. Even my beloved city, Leicester Sharif, is fondly known as ‘The Medina of England’ and attracts many practising Muslims who move here for the quality of Hifz and Islamic education, abundant masajid and active scholarly community.
Another surpassing wisdom of our Deen is the encouragement – and with men, the near obligation – of praying our salahs in the masjid. Allah knew in His infinite wisdom – before science caught up to confirm – that we need to be constantly buffeted by an environment of Dhikr (remembrance) and that’s why places, like the masjid, or Makkah Sharif, or houses of remembrance, are one of the most sanctified places in our life.
In today’s article I’ve scratched the surface on the power of habits to transform our lives. We’ve explored how one’s environment and suhba can easily overpower willpower. Building up to Ramadan, my series of articles termed the ‘Pre-Ramadan Runway’ will explore other aspects of habit forming that we can utilise in the holy month, and in life generally.
For now, if you ever start thinking that you’re not disciplined enough or are short on willpower, ask a different question. How can you improve your environment or suhba?
Thinking back on my life so far, the age 15 strikes me so much. When previously I had little self confidence, that was the first year I grew out of my shell and started to realize what it was I actually believed in and stood for.
And a large part of that, I owe to Shaykh Faraz, whose institution, SeekersGuidance I had discovered through my brothers. I decided to enroll in the basics of “Hanafi Fiqh” at their prompting, to better grasp my faith and practice it correctly. Up until this point, I was Muslim, I believed, I cared but it still didn’t sit right with me. Even though I knew I had something deep and beautiful, I was living between two worlds. At high school, most people didn’t have conception of religion. It didn’t envelope them and while I tried to follow, I felt alone and my Muslim identity felt inferior.
But after I enrolled in this course, somehow, everything thereafter just felt like it filled and pervaded with meaning. Praying was no longer just a chore, or empty actions, but a conversation with the Divine. It was from this introduction, I became enraptured with Islam as a whole and became concerned with spirituality.
This started to show in my daily life. As one of the few Muslims in my school, I no longer felt afraid to pray the noon pray outside the little portable where my math class was held. I no longer cared when being gazed upon by my peers, whose opinions had been constricting me and my self esteem for so long. The same people I felt inferior to, it meant nothing. I no longer minded being interrogated about why my foot was in the sink to make ablution, or why I would lower my gaze during a movie or why I needed to pray in the first place.
Because nothing else mattered. I had purpose. I had direction. I learned not to put my faith in “perishing things” but in the One who sustains us all and never dies. I learned the place of good character, and made it my goal to reflect this goodness as much as I could. I strove to embody beautiful qualities, mercy, kindness, forbearance. And after setting my sights to connect with the Divine, I learned to entertain and grapple with the deeper philosophical and sociological realities which plague our society. I saw Islam and its intricate spiritual, political and legal system as a solution.
I fell in love with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the people who love him. I learned what to value in my friends and see them for their beautiful qualities – both Muslim and non.
And from this love, I learned to stand up for what I believe in. I was comfortable in my own skin and no one could take that away.
All this, an entire paradigm shift and at such a young age, largely in part because I was pointed to Shaykh Faraz. While others struggle with finding their convictions til their death beds, I was blessed to know who I was at a young age.
I am indebted to so much of my development to Shaykh Faraz since I was 15. The funny thing is that he probably doesn’t even know the impact he has had on me and how my life has changed because of him.
This is because that first course I took was online, along with the other hundreds of courses that Seekers offers for free. Other than that, I only see Shaykh Faraz once or twice a year when I have time to visit. But even if he didn’t see it, I owe him so much and have deep love and reverence for him.
May Allah bless and protect all of our teachers who selflessly sacrifice and work to spread their light. May Allah allow us to take advantage of them, as their heirs, and to be worthy of serving them and furthering their causes.
– Sidi Tamim Faruk, SeekersGuidance Student
Acquiring money and building wealth can be a confusing topic for Muslims.
On one hand, when we read the Seerah and learn of the extreme frugality and hardships borne by the Sahaba it seems as if our luxurious, consumer-fed lives are opulent in comparison.
But then we have many other Sahaba who amassed and spent their great fortunes on helping the Ummah. For example, the third caliph, Uthman ibn ‘Affan, during a famine in Madinah, purchased a large caravan of food and goods at 10X the price before giving away the entirety to the sufferers!
This is the wonderful balance and perfection of Islam: we have prophets like Sayyidia Ayyub (a.s.) who was the personification of patience during adversity, having suffered extreme poverty, sickness and loss. In contrast, Allah sent us Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) – whose wealth, power and kingdom will never be matched.
What’s remarkable is that both prophets are praised by Allah with the same words: ‘How excellent a servant, verily he was ever-returning in sincere repentance.’ (see Qur’an 38:30 & 38:44).
Sometimes, a thought may come to you – as it has to me many times – that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) himself was frugal and actually chose to be poor. Indeed, I asked this very question to Shaykh Ahmad Saad al-Azhari (who has taught tafsir for SeekersGuidance) when he visited my local masjid.
‘Didn’t the Prophet (s.a.w.) choose to be a servant prophet, rather than a ‘king prophet’ and therefore it’s his Sunnah to be poor?’
The shaykh replied that a ‘servant prophet’ is interpreted here as being ‘close to the people’. Think of a leader who is a king – distant and far in his ivory tower; now compare that to a leader who mingles with his people. The point was effective dawah and leadership, not poverty.
SubhanAllah, this is why we need the guidance of ‘ulema to help us navigate through such topics!
To summarize, Shaykh Ahmad Saad told me that there are ‘no restrictions’ in earning wealth as long as the ‘money doesn’t change their personality’, i.e. it doesn’t get a grip on our hearts.
In one of the finest contemporary manuals of spirituality ‘Sea without Shore’, Shaykh Nuh Keller gives a comprehensive list (my emphases):
“Beneficial wealth is that which is spent on one’s family, or gifts to others, charity, gaining useful knowledge, facilitating one’s works or worship, making final bequests… saving up for such things as buying a home, the children’s education, building mosques, training ‘ulema, or fulfilling other Islamic communal obligations – all of which are sound reasons to make and save money.”
IN OUR TIMES, WE NEED MORE WEALTHY PRACTISING MUSLIMS
The priorities for the Ummah change according to time and place. When Islam was a dominant force culturally and politically, scholars and righteous Muslims were the superstars, the celebrities! That’s why many shaykhs of the past placed heavy emphasis on zuhd (non-attachment to the world), frugality, anonymity, etc.
Now though, it is no secret that Muslims are in a state of extreme weakness. Our Ummah is filled with refugees, political prisoners, persecuted minorities, oppressed civilians and starving orphans (Ya Allah, aid them all!).
For those of us who are fortunate not to be in those groups – or living in the West – one of the greatest acts of worship we can do is to gain wealth and power for the sake of helping the Ummah. Living in the West, we have privileged access to quality education, technology and opportunity which can help us build powerful institutions – like SeekersGuidance, masajid, darul ulooms and charities – which can help heal our Ummah.
Think of Sayyidah Khadija (r.a.) – a mother of the believers. She was one of the wealthiest women of Makkah and her charity was critical in supporting the new, emerging Muslim community.
Remember Abu Bakr (r.a.) and his freeing of Bilal (r.a.) and many other slaves.
Are we not in a similar situation?
ENTREPRENEURS – TODAY’S TRADERS
Another amazing emphasis in our Deen is the status of traders.
In Hadith we read: ‘Verily the trustworthy and truthful trader will be counted among the siddiques and the martyrs.’ (Tirmidhi)
Our contemporary ‘ulema have encouraged Muslims to excel in trade and business. An amazing example is recounted in Faza’il-e-Tijaarat where ‘Umar (r.a.) bemoaned the fact that many Muslims had given up trade due to becoming independent through the wealth flowing from conquered lands.
He replied: ‘If you are going to do that and discard trade as a profession, you will find your men will be in need of their men and your women in need of their women.’
Allama Abdul Hay Kattani comments on this prophecy that indeed Muslims left the ranks of trade and commerce whilst ‘others took hold of it and controlled the business world to such an extent that the entire Ummah came to be in need of others.’
SubhanAllah, this was written over 40 years ago, before the digital revolution and the rise of massive Western monopolies. We are now witnessing the corporate take over of the planet; businesses and businessmen are wealthier than entire nations.
Today’s traders are entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Richard Branson. Rather than buying and selling in the physical marketplace – they leverage technology and modern skills of marketing to amass fortunes.
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT ‘MONEY MASTERY’
I hope I have convinced you that it really is part of our Deen to become wealthy enough to support our families and communities.
Indeed, many readers will be familiar with the heavy modern costs of merely owning a house and educating one’s children to university level.
For women, who already have to juggle considerable parenting and wife responsibilities, entrepreneurship is a unique solution. We are seeing an impressive rise of Muslima ‘mompreneurs’ who are modern day Khadijas!
However, there is still a huge lack of knowledge – in society as a whole – about wealth creation.
We still are caught up in outdated models of ‘work hard, go to uni, get a salaried job, save and enjoy your pension.’
It was only when I read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ that I had my own personal paradigm shift and realised that one should ‘not work for money, but make money work for you.’
We weren’t taught financial intelligence at school. And unless your parents were businessmen, you weren’t taught by them either.
How do you learn the fundamentals of wealth creation, money management, savings, investment and entrepreneurship (even if you are working fulltime) – all within an Islamic framework?
I am delighted to be able to invite you to a remarkable workshop Money Mastery for Purpose co-organised by one of my respected readers, Tanim Zaman – a serial entrepreneur.
This is a two-day workshop with so many raving testimonials from Muslim professionals that it needs no praise from me.
And Tanim has given a very special discount ONLY for readers of SeekersGuidance and my community. Alhamdulillah, he has generously discounted more than I asked – over 50% off the public price!
There are only 20 seats left. Deadline is Sunday 1 March, 23:59. Please read about the event below:
I’d love to meet my readers in person. InshaAllah, I shall be speaking on Day 2 of the event.
For readers who can’t make it to London for the event, you can still benefit from watching this unique panel discussion with 3 Muslim Entrepreneurs discussing how they ‘Escaped the Rat Race’ in search of a more meaningful path. The 3 speakers who are from very different backgrounds shared some incredible insights from their journeys and valuable tips for anyone thinking of doing the same:
Shaykh Abul Hasan, the great scholar, thinker and author of many books was born on the 5th December 1913 (1333) in a family of scholars and people who had a long history of serving Islam. The family lineage may be traced to the Sahabi Ali ibn Abi Talib. Also, one of the ancestors of this family was the nephew of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Jaylani who lived in Delhi, India. The family moved from Madinah via Baghdad to India.
His father, Shaykh Abdul Hakim Hay (d. 1923) was a scholar, who wrote an eight volume biographical work of about 500 scholars of India. When Abul Hasan was ten, his father passed away and his brother took care of him. His mother was a righteous woman who had memorized the Quran and supplicated to Allah for her son. Once his brother, Abdul Ali (who combined knowledge of Islam with his knowledge of medicine) had completed his medical studies, he took personal care of Shaykh Abul Hasan’s education.
He received his early education at home. In 1924, his brother entrusted him to Shaykh Khalil ibn Muhammad Al-Yamani, who taught him Arabic. At the age of thirteen, he could speak Arabic fluently. This was achieved under his brother’s supervision. He then joined the Nadawatul Ulama and completed the course in 1927. From 1927-1930 he studied the Urdu Language and its literature after which he began studying English His mother sent him a letter wherein she convinced him and impressed upon him about the importance of Arabic over and above English.
He began his Arabic studies under the guidance and supervision of Shaykh Khalil ibn Muhammad Al-Ansari Al-Bahufali and his uncle, Shaykh Talha ibn Muhammad Al-Toki. He entered a literature program and after successfully completing the examination in 1929, he entered the Hadith program for a year.
His paternal aunt invited him to Lahore, where her husband was an Arabic teacher. During this period, he met many scholars and poets. He attended lessons in Hadith conducted by Shaykh Haidar Hasan Al-Yaghistani Al-Afghani (a student of Shaykh Husain ibn Hasan Al-Ansaari) and Shaykh Nazhir Husain Al-Bihari. He stayed with him for about two years during which he read Sahih Al–Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abi Dawud and Sunan Al–Tirmidhi as well as a portion of Tafseer Al–Baydawi and some lessons in logic.
Then he accompanied Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Al-Din Al-Hilali. He travelled to Lahore in 1930, to benefit from his teacher, Shaykh Ahmad Ali Al-Lahori. He read Surah Al-Baqarah to him. He was very impressed with his Shaykh’s lessons, so he returned in 1931. During this trip, he attended lessons in Hujatullahi Al–Baaligha by Shah Wali Allah Al-Dehlawi. He visited Lahore again in 1932, after which he was a registered student at Madrasah Qasim Al-Uloom where he passed and received a certificate at the hands of Shaykh Husain Ahmad Madani. In the same year, he went to Deoband and attended lessons in Sahih Al–Bukhari and Sunan Al–Tirmidhi by his teacher, Shaykh Husain Ahmad Madani. He received Ijazah from Shaykh Abdur Rahim Al-Mubarakfuri. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Raipur honoured him with successorship. He studied some Fiqh with Shaykh I’zaz Ali. He also benefited greatly from his paternal aunts husband, Shaykh Muhammad Talhat Al-Hasani, in Lahore who took him to accompany prominent personalities. He also met the famous poet and writer, Muhammad Iqbal.
In 1934, Shaykh Abul Hasan began his academic career as a teacher of Arabic and Tafsir, but later expanded to included history, Hadith and other subjects. Initially, the advice he received from his friend, Shaykh Masud Al-Nadwi helped him in becoming a better teacher. He began teaching in the Dar Al-Uloom affiliated to Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow. He formulated syllabi for teaching Arabic and he wrote Qasas Al–Nabiyeen, Al–Qiraat Al–Raashidah and Mukhtaaraat min Adab Al–Arabi. In many ways he revolutionized the way Arabic was taught. He compiled a book of Arabic prose Mukhtaraat min Adab Al-Arab which was commended by Shaykh Ali Al-Tantawi and Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat Al-Baytar. Under his supervision, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Rabi’ Al-Hasani Al-Nadwi authored a book in Arabic Literature that was taught at the Dar Al-Uloom. He continued writing and he wrote his amazing book, Mazha Khasira Al–Aalam bi Inhitaat Al–Muslimin between the years 1943-1974. He left teaching in 1944 but remained connected to the institute until he was appointed as the dean of educational affairs in 1953 and then the Head of Nadwatul Ulama in 1961.
His desire to spread Islam brought him into contact with the Jamat Islami. He was in contact with Abul Ala Al-Maududi and some of his books, although he did not approve of some of his views. He was disappointed so he disassociated himself from it.
In 1940, he went to Nizamudeen where he spent time with Mawlana Ilyas. During his stay there he met Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya. In 1947, he performed Haj and stayed in the Hijaz for six months, where he was involved in various Islamic activities and he met the ulama. He performed Haj again in 1950. He travelled to Egypt and other countries in the East in 1952, during which he met many prominent Muslim personalities and he delivered some talks. In Egypt, he was accompanied by Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali and was even invited by Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi (a student at the Al-Azhar at the time) to deliver talks in his village.
He was hoping to meet Imam Hasan Al-Banna, but he had already been assassinated. Instead, he met his father, Shaykh Ahmad Abdur Rahman Al-Banna. In 1956, he travelled to Damascus, Syria in response to an invitation from Shaykh Mustafa Sibaaie and the Faculty of Shariah. He was received with a warm welcome from many including Shaykh Mustafa Zarqa. He remained in Damascus for about three months and delivered a few lectures that were later published in a book entitled Rijaal Al–Fikr wa Al–Dawah fi Al–Islam.
He traveled to Turkey via Aleppo. Dr. Saeed Ramadaan (Hasan Al-Banna’s son-in- law) organized a conference on Palestine in Damascus. Shaykh Abul Hasan returned from Turkey to Damascus to participate along with many prominent scholars that included Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ of Pakistan. He loved Syria and visited it again in 1964 and 1973.
In 1960, he went to Burma where he stayed for a month delivering lectures. In 1962, he travelled to some countries in Europe including Spain. There he met some of the orientalists. This followed with other travels to America, Morocco and the Gulf. His visit to Europe was in 1963 as per invitation from the Islamic Centre in Geneva. During subsequent visits to Britain, the Oxford Islamic Centre was established in 1983 and he was appointed as its head. He visited America and Canada in 1977 and followed it with other visits, the last was in 1993.
He presented his message in an excellent manner that was relevant to people of all walks of life. He was well aware of the different challenges and ideas within Muslim communities all over the world.
His writing gained tremendous popularity amongst the scholars, not only in India, but also amongst the Arabs who took a special interest in his writings as well. This was mainly because he selected Arabic more than Urdu.
He was invited to deliver lectures on various topics in Makkah and Madinah.
He proved through his writing, that the material and spiritual prosperity of any system hinged on its concept of following divine guidance and amongst other issues through text and rational evidence as well as the finality of Prophethood. Sayid Qutb praised his book ‘Islam and the World’.
He was well versed in many fields of Islam. One of his greatest contributions was in the field of history and cultural studies in Islam. His book, ‘Saviours of the Islamic Spirit’ in four volumes deals with separate individuals who were portrayed as revivers and restorers of Islam. He wrote a number of other books totaling to about thirty-one in number. Many have been translated into many different languages. Some are:
He was always at the forefront in combating all kinds of trials and tribulations (Fitnah). Many times this resulted in confrontation between him and the government. He strongly opposed the move to make the national anthem compulsory in UP schools. The anthem contains lines that are clear examples of Shirk. He also opposed the government’s attempt to include Hindu Mythology in the school syllabus.
He participated in many organizations internationally and many recognized and acknowledged his excellence as a scholar. Some of his activities and affiliations were:
Among the great honours granted to him by Allah in this world, was the occasion when the door-keeper of the Ka’ba placed the keys of the Ka’ba in his hand. Then, in the presence of many scholars Shaykh Abul Hasan opened the door and on the request of the prince made Dua inside.
Around about March 1999 he was afflicted with semi-paralysis and he was treated in a small hospital and he sensed that his death was near. Shaykh Muhammad Ijtiba Al-Nadwi visited him before Ramadan and asked him about the contemporary personalities that impressed him. He replied and said that he was impressed with Hasan Al-Banna, Shaykh Mustafa Sibaaie, Muhammad Al-Mubarak, Dr. Saeed Ramadan, Shaykh Ali Al-Tantawi, Shaykh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz, Shaykh Ahmad Ali Lahori, Shaykh Husain Ahmad Madani, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Raipuri and Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya Khandelwi.
On the 20th Ramadan, he went to the village (Takih Kalan).
He passed away on the 31st December 1999 (23 Ramadan 1420) after preparing for the Jumuah Salat and after he sat down ready to recite Surah Kahf. But he began with Surah Yasin instead and after reading a few verses, he passed away.
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.
بِفَـاطِــمَـةْ قَـدْ صَــفَـا حَــاِلـي وَ نـِـلْـتُ الْـمَـرَ امْ
بِــضْـعَــةْ مُـحَــمَّـدْ حَــبِـيْبُ اللهِ خَــيْـرُ ا لأَ نــَامْ
By Fatima my state has been purified and I’ve attained all that I seek.
A piece of Muhammad, Allah’s Beloved, the best of humanity
أَعْــلَـى لــَــهَـا الُلهُ قَـدْرً ا فِـي اْلــعُـلا َ وَ الْــمَــقَـامْ
نِــعْمَ الْــبَــتُـوْ لِ الرَّ ضِــيَّـةْ نُــوْر كُـلِّ الــظُّـلا َمْ
Allah raised her rank and station to the highest
How excellent is the Chaste, Pleasing One, a light in every darkness
أُمُّ الْـحَـسَـنْ وَ الْـحُـسِـيـن أَهْـلُ الْــمَرَاقِـي الْــعِـظَـامْ
لــَـهُمْ عَـطَـايــَا مِنَ الْــمَـوْلَـى كِــبَـارْ جــسَـامْ
Mother of al Hasan and al Husayn, of tremendous ascension
Recipients of grand, momentous Divine gifts
هُمْ سَـادَة أَهْــل الْـجِـنَـانِ الْــعَـالـِـيـَّةْ يـَـا غُــلا َمْ
مَــنْ حــبُّـهُمْ صــدقْ بـَـا يـَـسْـكُــنْ بِــدَ ارِ الــسَّــــلا َمْ
They are the masters of the highest paradise
Whoever loves them truthfully will dwell in the abode of peace
وَ مَـنْ تـَـــعَـلَّـقْ بِـــهِمْ يــَـظْــفَرْ بِـــنَــيْـلِ الْــمَرَ امْ
أَكــرَ مْـتِ يـَـا بِــضْــعَـةْ أَحْــمَـدْ فَـانْــعِـمِـي بـِالـتَّـــمَـامْ
And whoever attaches himself to them shall attain all desires
How generous you are, O piece of Ahmed, so please complete the favour
وَ امْــنَـحِــيْ عَــبْـدَ كُمْ فِـي الْــقُرْ بِ أَعْـلَـى و سَـــامْ
نقوم بحمل الريات الهد أحسن قيام
And confer upon your slave the highest distinction of proximity
The distinction of upholding the Flag of guidance most excellently
تَـــعُمُّ دَ عْــوَ تَـــةُ فِـي ا لأ َ كْــــوَ انِ كُــلَّ ا لأَ نَــامْ
نــَـلْـــبَــسُ خَــلْـعِ إِرْثُ مَــا يــَصِـفْ سَــنَـاهَــا كَـــلا َمْ
So that the Prophets call encompasses all humanity
And thus we are dressed with the robe of Prophetic inheritance, whose brilliance is indescribable
يـَـانُــوْ رُ قَــلْـبِـيْ وَ يــَا أُمِّـيْ عَــلَــيْـك الـسَّـــلا َمْ
فِـيْ كُــلِّ حَــالٍ وَ شَــأْنٍ كُــلِّ لــَحْـظَــةٍ دَ وَ امْ
O light of my heart, o my mother, upon you be peace
Perpetual in every state, affair, moment
عَــلَــيـْكَ صَـلَّـى ِإ لـــهِـيْ مَــعَ أَبِــيْـكَ ا لإِ مَـــامْ
ِإمَـــامْ كُــلِّ الْــوَ رَ ى فِـي كُــلِّ خَــاصٍّ وَ عَــامْ
May Allah send Blessings upon you along with your father, the imam
Imam of all creation, the elite and the commoners
الــشَّــا فِــعُ الْــمَــبْـتَــغ يَــوْ مُ الـلِّــقَـاءِ وَ الزِّ حَـــامْ
يـَـوْ مُ الْــمَــلا َ ئِــكْ تُـــنَـادِ يْ جَــمْـعَ كُــلّ ا لأَ نَــامْ
The sought over intercessor on the day of meeting and thronging
The day the angels call out to all in the assembly
غُـضُّــوْ ا أَبـْـصَــارَكُمْ تَــمُـرُّ بِــنْـت الـنَّـبِـيِّ بِـالـسَّــــلا َمْ
وَ نــَكِّـسُـوْ ا رُ ؤُ وْ سَـكُـمْ مَــاأَعْــظَـمَـهُ وَ الله ُ مَــقَـامْ
“Lower your gaze for the daughter of the Prophet is passing in safety and bow your heads”.
O how tremendous a station!
أتَــَـذْ كُـرِ يــْنِـي مَــعَـكِ أَعْـبُرْ وَ مَـنْ لَــهُ ذِ مَـــامْ
حَـاشَـــاكِ يـَـا أُمُّـــنَـا تـَــنـْسِـيْنَ هَــذَا الْـغُــــلا َمْ
Please remember me, so I cross with you, and all under your care.
Far be it for you, O mother, to forget this boy of yours!
مَـحْــسُـو بِــكُـمْ يـَـرْ تـَـجِــيْـه مِـنـْكُـمْ بِــهِ ا لإِ هْــتِـمَـامْ
أَ نْـتُــمْ مَــرَ ا مُــهْ وَ مَـقْـصُـوْ دُهُ وَ نـِـعْمَ الْــمَـرَ امْ
Your child is hoping for your attention
You are his goal and desire, and what an excellent desire!
يـَـا بِــنْـتَ طــهَ فَـــؤَ ادِ يْ فِـيْ مَـحَـــبَّــتِـكِ هَــــامْ
وَ اللهِ أَ نْــتُـــمْ مُــرَ ادِ يْ فِي الــدُّ نــَا وَ الْــقِــــيَـامْ
O daughter of Taha, my heart is enraptured by your love
By Allah, you are my desire in this world and the Resurrection
وَ مَــا أَنــَا ِإ لاَّ بِــكُـمْ يـَـا سَـــادَ تِــيْ يـَـا كِــرَ امْ
عَـــلَــيْـكِ مَـــعَ وَ الِـــدكِ أَذْ كَـي الـصَّــــلا َةُ وَ الـسَّـــلا َمْ
And I am through none other than you, O my generous masters
Upon you with your parents be the purest of salutation and peace
وَ أَهْـلُ الْـكِــسَـاءْ وَ اهْـلِ بَـــيـْتِـهِ عَــالِــيِـيْنَ الْــمَـــقَـامْ
وَ الـصَّـحْـبِ أَجْــمَــعْ وَ مَـنْ عَــلَـى هُـدَ اهُ اسْــتَــقَـامْ
And the people of the cloak and his family; all of lofty stations,
And all the companions and those steadfast upon guidance.
There’s a story in ‘al-Risala al-Qushayriyya’ of a young man who regularly attended a gathering (majlis), when he heard a shaykh discussing sincerity: how is it, how should it be when performing actions, etc. The young man found this heavy upon himself, and from that day forward he made a firm intention that he would not attend the gathering anymore, and refrained from going until the point he was harmed because of that. The Shaykh noticed his absence and asked regarding him. He eventually met with him and asked him why he was absent; he answered, “I heard from your words and was afraid for myself”. The Shaykh replied to him, “My son, that’s not the solution. We point you to sincerity (ikhlas) in actions, not to abandoning actions!”
Act! Thoughts such, “I’m doing this pious act and I fear the interest of people and their interest in my actions” may come to a person. One must not pay attention to this and should correct their intention. Even if he is actually one of the ostentatious, he should remain upon the action, and continue the deed. Like when they said, “We sought knowledge for other than Allah, and knowledge refused to be for any but Allah.”
Every action is such! Just like prayer may not be perfect because of what comes to the person of thoughts and notions; the solution isn’t to abandon prayer all together. Rather, the solution is in rectification, and this is done with training.
It is upon the person to adhere to actions, even if notions, whispers, or thoughts come to him. Thoughts of the self are like whispers of Devil: their remedy is to disregard them.
In the issue of the person who doesn’t like notoriety, and in this state, thoughts of people noticing this come to him. This is from the hidden and intricate matters that are warned against in spiritual training. As mentioned earlier, the approach here is to disregard these thoughts and to continue the actions he was doing. This is how these thoughts and things which resemble them go away.
One thing that helps the person in this is clarity (as-Safaa) and of the means of obtaining it are:
You cannot remove darkness, but you can bring light. When light becomes present, darkness disappears.
Whoever knows Allah is not the slave of fame nor of obscurity; rather, he will be a slave of Allah. Whatever state Allah places him in he submits to Him, outwardly and inwardly, and he doesn’t pay attention to anything else. If he places him in one situation he is content, if he places him in another, he is content. He doesn’t look back on these matters.
As for the issue regarding people venerating a person for his work in da’wah while he doesn’t see himself deserving such treatment from them since there are people more knowledgeable than him, deserving something comes from Allah. If we were to look at worthiness then none of us would actually qualify by ourselves. What occurred is that which the divine will selected, so it’s from Allah’s decree and we have no control over the matter.
Furthermore, don’t look at the external and apparent. Rather, look at the fact that Allah is the one who moves them and their hearts; and that you are similar to them in that you are in Allah’s possession. You exchange the same love and respect. See in everything that it is from Allah, and say, “All praise is due to Allah” and this will push you to many things.
It is said, “Whoever has good opinion of you, work towards realizing it.”
Not by saying, “You spoke the truth” or “What you said regarding me and your good opinion of me is true, I am exactly what you say and think of me”.
Rather, the meaning is to act in accordance with their good opinion, make them truthful by actually doing the actions; that you are actually like that!
It has also been said:
When a rumor spread that Abu Hanifah used to pray Fajr with the wudu of ‘Isha he forced that upon himself and took it as a sign for himself from Allah.
O Allah grant us sincerity.
Taken from the words of Shaykh Dr. Mahmoud Masri, click here to read the Arabic original.
Translated by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
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