Assisting in Sin

Question: I made a mistake around 6 months ago by assisting in grave sin. My class gifted my teacher an idol (she is a hindu) and everyone had to contribute and so did I. I have recently been made aware that helping in sin means that you have sinned too and that I have to repent and advise them to not do the sin.  If I repent and take my shahada again and do not advise those involved (the teacher and other students) of their sin, will this be sufficient? Please do reply, I have been feeling very distressed. Thank you.

Answer:
Assalamu alaykum
Thank you for writing to us. The first part of the advice you received is sound. It is impermissible to assist someone in sin, especially in the sin of ascribing partners to Allah. In surah al-Ma’idah, Allah said, “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty” [Qur’an, 5:2].
Repentance
We do appreciate that your intention was not to assist anyone in sin or shirk, and that you merely joined the class in purchasing a gift for your teacher. However, it is crucial that you repent to Allah that He pardons you and overlooks your error. We are all Allah’s slaves, and we all sadly do things that may anger Him. And Allah loves nothing more than His slave turning to Him, seeking His pardon, knowing that none forgives our sins save Him High and Mighty.What about the effects of sin?
As for advising your teacher regarding her sin of worshipping an idol, this will not be necessary. The fact that Muslims reject the worship of idols is well known to your teacher, whether you inform her of this or not. Also, the idea of her worshipping an idol that you partially purchased will be erased from your account, if your repentance was sincere.Mulla Ali Qari, quoting ibn Hajar, raised the question of whether the repentance of someone who spread misguidance will be accepted even though the effects of his misguidance still exist. He answered by saying that the person’s repentance will be accepted and that he will not be held accountable for the impact of his wrongdoing [Mirqat al-Mafatih].

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Relationship with Allah

Question:
For the last few years as my desire to be closer to Allah has increased, my spirituality in Salat and general recitation of Quraan has decreased! Earlier, from time to time, I would have a salaat in which I would feel very connected to Allah, and tears would flow. The same would happen when I would be sitting reading Quraan. Now it has been a couple of years since I had that feeling, and my eyes have not wetted. I am now afraid that as I am nearing the end of my life, I am ending up becoming mechanically better but worse off spiritually.

I feel it was my bad mind and tongue that did me in. I had a lot of bad, angry, and vicious arguments with Salafis, and others. It would keep me angry inside for days. I thought and said many many things that I later regretted. Shaytan deceived me and led my tongue down the wrong path. These things happened off and on over more than a couple of years. I should have just stayed quiet and not engaged in anything. I feel convinced that I have lost all the good deeds I have ever done. I look back at my life and only see mountains of sins piled up to the sky.

Besides the arguments, I have done lots of wrongs in my life. I have routinely wronged everyone around me in all kinds of ways. I get doubts, suspicions, and bad thoughts about other people all the time. Often for selfish or even petty reasons I find myself wishing bad for some others or their families, even some who have passed away years ago, even people from whom I don’t expect to talk or see them ever again in this life. I am not a person who holds grudges and acts on such things. I always unconditionally forgive all who did bad to me so that Allah, who is Most Forgiving, will forgive me completely too.

As I am getting closer to my older age, and my beard and hair almost went white, I am constantly in a situation that is greatly distressing. I don’t want to reach the end of my life with all these bad problems. Please guide me on how to fix it.

The one great silver lining I see, Alhamdulillah for His Mercy on me, that I don’t have any doubts in any matters of deen like aqeedah and ahkaam, I may lack knowledge in many matters, and I may be lax in many practices, but I don’t doubt what Allah has sent us through His Messenger (Peace be upon him) Alhamdulillah my heart is completely at ease with it, I love Allah and I love His Messenger, and the Quran, and the believers. May Allah forgive my failure and lapses, and make me improve up in whatever I am lacking in the deen. Ameen. Please tell me how I can fix this situation. Please, regularly make lots of duas for me.

Answer:
Assalamu alaykum

Thank you for writing to us.

Our relationship with Allah
Drawing close to Allah is our primary reason for existence. We come from Allah, and to Him, we shall return. The reality, however, is that drawing close to him is not an easy or straightforward journey.  In short, there are two primary challenges.

The first one is that this world is full of tests. Many of our pious predecessors stated that faith increases and decreases. Thus, in our journey to Allah, we encounter hurdles. Sin is one of the greatest of these hurdles. It may distract us or lengthen our journey, but the journey continues. Many a wrongdoer has become one of the great saints after repenting and persevering. Read the biography of Bishr al-Hafi – a transgressor who became one of the greatest saints. Persevere and know that Allah is aware of your efforts and worries.

The second challenge is that we are not in control. The matter of being close to Allah and connected to Him is not in our hands. Yes, we must strive to perfect our way. We must increase in worship and devotion. We must abstain from all that causes Allah’s displeasure. We must do all of these, but we are not in control. Allah described those who are close and present with Him in surah Waqi’ah as muqarrabun – those who are drawn close. They strive to attain closeness to Allah, but, ultimately, Allah draws us closer to Him. Again, persevere and when nothing else in existence is more dear to you than proximity to Allah, wait for Him to draw you near.

I have shared these two points in relation to your challenge for the following reasons.

Firstly, do not think that your wrongs are so great that you cannot attain pardon or forgiveness. Know that Allah’s Mercy is greater.

Secondly, desire Allah’s closeness more than anything and you will achieve it. Be more focused on the fact that Allah is pleased with your good deeds and actions than on whether you are shedding tears or having any other spiritual experiences. Spiritual experiences are peripheral; the objective is for Allah to be pleased.

Lastly, there is nothing that assists one more in gaining closeness to Allah than being connected to the pious. Search for them, and keep their company.

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true” (Qur’an, 9:119).

Bad thoughts of others
Imam Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) defined good thoughts as not interpreting “a person’s action in a bad way for as long as it could possibly be interpreted in a good way” (Ihya Ulum al-Din).

This means that the one who has bad or ill thoughts is continually interpreting the actions of others negatively. This is a major internal sin. Ibn Hajar mentioned that one of the evil effects of having bad thoughts is that when they persist, they become part of you and embedded in your heart (Zawajir). This means that you live your life in sin, seeing only bad things in creation.

Imam Ghazali provided the following remedy for bad thoughts: “You must dispel bad thoughts from yourself and emphasize to yourself that his state (or intention) is hidden from you and that his action (or words) could contain bad or evil” (Ihya Ulum al-Din). This means that you do not know what he intended. His intention is the domain of Allah Most High. Claiming to know what is hidden within him is indirectly competing with Allah and His Knowledge.

Yes, one is not in control of bad thoughts that may appear in one’s head or mind. However, one is required to block these thoughts as best as one can. Most importantly, one should not allow them to materialize in one’s heart or limbs. Bad thoughts materialize in one’s heart when one believes them and develops an aversion or hatred towards the person. They materialize in one’s limbs when one begins acting on them.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give peace) said, “Three things will afflict the believer, but he can deflect them: 1. bad thoughts (of others). He can deflect bad thoughts by not allowing them to materialize …” (Tabarani).

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Naming our daughter Emaan

Question: 
Salaam,
We’re expecting our baby daughter to arrive this fall InshAllah, and had the name Emaan/ Imaan in mind. However, a relative told us that we aren’t allowed to keep the name Emaan on its own. It has to be followed by a middle name, which we were going to keep as her father’s name as we did for our son. She suggested Emaan Fatima and said that whenever we call our daughter, we will have to say both names and arent allowed to just say Emaan.

Answer: 
Wa alaykum as-Salaam

Thank you for writing to us.

Ibn Hajar, quoting the scholars, deducted from the hadith of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) two essential rules or guidelines with regards to naming children [Fath al-Bari].  They are:

1. Avoid names with bad meanings.

The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed the name of one of the daughters of Umar (Allah be pleased with him). Her name was ‘Asiya (with an ‘ayn) which means disobedient and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed it to Jamila, which means beautiful [Muslim].  The name change of ‘Asiya to Jamila was also attributed to one of the wives of Umar (Allah be pleased with him), and Allah knows best [Tabaqat ibn Sa’d].

2. Avoid names that glorify (tazkiya) the person receiving the name.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed the name of his wife, Zaynab bint Jahsh. Her previous name was Barra which means pious. The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed her name for it contained self-glorification, and also, he did not want it to be said that when he left her home that he left barra or piety.

Emaan is undoubtedly not a bad name. I have seen certain scholars make the argument that the name entails self-glorification. However, their argument does not seem all that convincing. Emaan is a quality that makes us believers. Having this quality does not mean that we are angels or infallible. I may have Emaan in my heart and yet err. Accordingly, I do not see any excessive glorification in the name Emaan, and similarly, I do not see any problem with you giving your daughter that name.

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

 

Who with reference composed salawat Nariya? 

Question: 
Please enlighten us with reference as to who composed Salawat Nariya? 

Jazak Allahu khairan.

Answer: 
Wa alaykum as-Salaam

Shukran for writing to us.

From the outset, it seems rather challenging to determine who compiled this formula of salutations and when it was formulated. After reading several online articles, the following points are important to consider:

1. Some have attributed it to Sayyid Ibrahim al-Tazi.  For this reason, the formula is also known or called Salawat Taziyyah.
2. Others have attributed it to Imam Ahmad al-Rifa’i.
3. I’ve also seen some attributing it to Imam Qurtubi, even though most articles only quote Imam Qurtubi speaking of its virtue.
4. Some reports cite Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani speaking of its virtue as well.

None of these points are referenced, and therefore one is not able to provide clear guidance. However, if it was indeed Sayyid Ibrahim al-Tazi [d. 866] that compiled it, as Shaykh Ali Jumu’ah and others have suggested, then Imam Qurtubi [d. 671], as well as ibn Hajar al-Asqalani [d. 852], could not have spoken of its virtue.

Either way, the formula holds many great meanings and virtues. Not knowing who precisely the compiler is, should not deter one from reciting it. For more information on its merits, please read the following:

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/halal-and-haram/can-i-recite-salawat-al-nariya/.

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Is drinking milk against the sunna?

Question: 
Salam alaikum wa rahmatullah,

If a friend is against the use of milk saying is not healthy what is the ruling? Does drinking milk go against the sunna?

Answer:
Wa alaykum as-Salaam

Thank you for writing to us.

You are correct to advise your friend not to speak out against an action of the Messenger (peace be upon him). It is from the core beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah that all practices and decisions made by the Messenger (peace be upon him) are loved and preferred by Allah. This would include matters beyond worship, such as dress and cuisine. Anas (Allah be pleased with him) made himself love dubba’ (pumpkin) after he observed the Messenger enjoying it [Shamail al-Tirmidhi].

Nonetheless, one could argue in favor of your friend that foodstuff, in general, was much more wholesome and organic in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  Also, the Prophet’s diet is not considered obligatory to follow, and therefore not adhering or favoring certain aspects does not render one a heretic. Vegetarians by way of example, do not have to consume meat and will not be seen as people who have abandoned the way of the Messenger (peace be upon him).

Yes, Muslims must be cautious not to criticize the Prophet (peace be upon him), or to question his decisions, or to mock any of his practices as this may lead to disbelief.

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Promise to one’s parents

Question: 
Without my consent, my mum made a promise that I would pay for a poor person’s Hajj if certain things happened. My mum believes those things have happened. It’s actually difficult to pay for a person’s Hajj as I do not know anybody personally who would be eligible for this charity. Is there an alternative I can do to fulfill her promise?

Answer: 
Assalamu alaykum

Thank you for your question.

Obedience to one’s parents has a high position in Islam. Allah says in surah al-Isra, “And your Lord has decreed that you do not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” [Qur’an, 17:23] Accordingly, good treatment of one’s parents is the best of actions after belief in Allah.

Nonetheless, there are instances where one is not obliged to show parents obedience.  The 18th-century Shafi’i jurist, Bujayrami, listed some of these instances:

1. when they instruct one to leave an act of worship;
2. when they tell one to sin;
3. when they instruct one to divorce a spouse that he or she loves; and
4. when they instruct one to sell one’s property (Hashiyah al-Shirwani).

The fourth example establishes that one is not under an obligation to fulfill the financial instructions of one’s parents. Accordingly, you are not obliged to send someone for Hajj in the first place. If, however, you wish to fulfill the promise made by your mother, you could do so, and in turn, you will earn a great reward from Allah.

If your only concern is identifying someone who is eligible for this charity, you may speak to your local imam or contact us at Seekersguidance, and we will gladly put you in touch with a worthy candidate.

Dealing With Difficult Parents and Keeping Promises

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

What is the punishment for apostasy in Islam?

Question:
Assalamu Alaikum

What is the punishment for apostasy in Islam? One set of scholars say apostates should be put to death and others say only apostates who commit treason/blasphemy should be put to death. Which is correct?

Allah says “There’s no compulsion in Religion” in Quran 2:256. In that case, can we compel someone to be in Islam when they can’t be true to it? We don’t put non-Muslims to death for not accepting Islam. So how can we punish those who have left Islam? Please, clarify.

Answer:

Wa alaykum al-Salam

Thank you for your question.

The Schools of Jurisprudence
Abdullah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever changes their religion, kill them” (Bukhari).

The above narration and others form the basis for the ruling agreed upon by all four schools of jurisprudence that the apostate must be killed. However, they agree that such an order may only be passed by an Islamic ruler or a representative of his court. In addition, three of the four schools require that the apostate, after having been declared as such in court, be given an opportunity to repent. The Hanafi school considers the giving of this opportunity to be recommended and not required. It also takes the view that a female apostate may not be killed (al-Mawsuah al-Fiqhiyyah).

The fact that the execution of apostates is only permitted in an Islamic country where the ruler or his representative passes the judgment is of utmost importance. No human being, no matter how serious his crime, can ever be killed without the process of a valid Islamic court.  This effectively means that the death penalty will not be passed on an apostate in 99 percent of countries around the globe.

A wisdom
In the early Muslim communities, apostasy was often associated with revolt. A revolt meant that the rule of Islam might be eradicated, and that would spread injustice and oppression.

There is enough evidence to establish that, Islamic conquests spread peace, harmony, and understanding throughout the lands. This was clearly expressed in the words of Ribiy ibn Amir when he said addressing the Persian general, Rustam, “Allah has sent us to deliver you from the worship of creation to the worship of the Creator of creation; and to deliver you from the constriction of this world to the vastness of the afterlife, and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam.” [al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya]

There is no compulsion in Religion.
As for the verse, “There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an, 2:256), the scholars advise that it refers specifically to compelling a non-Muslim to embrace Islam.

Non-Muslims always had a place in Muslim communities and countries. They had rights and were dealt with fairly. The incident where a Jew made a claim against the Caliph of the time, our master Ali bin Abi Talib, and the court passed judgment in his favor, serves as ample proof to establish this point.

And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Following Others in Sin

Question: 
If a person commits a sin without intending to be followed and someone else sees him doing the sin and does it, will the former bear the burden of the latter’s sin as well?

Answer: 
Assalamu alaykum

Shukran for your question.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever sets a good precedent will receive the reward of that good as well as the reward of all who follows him in that good. Whoever sets a bad precedent will receive the sin of that deed as well as the sin of those who follow him in that bad.” [Muslim]

Despite reading a few commentaries on this narration, I have not seen any of the commentators distinguishing between a sin perpetrated with the intention of being followed or not.

However, the hadith is general and would consequently include all sin, whether the perpetrator intended to be followed or not.

Lastly, the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “Whoever calls to misguidance receives the sin of those who follow.” [Muslim]

Imam Nawawi, when commenting on this report, highlighted that while the first narration spoke of inventing a sin, the second speaks of perpetuating a sin that already exists. Either way, when sinning, whether intending to be followed or not, one is inviting to that sin and consequently carries the sin of those who follow.

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

The Masters and the Millennials | Part 8: Challenges in Living the Way of the Prophet – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This is the eighth part of a series, click here for the previous article.

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

We continue our discussion of the book al-Fawa‘id al-Mukhtarah – selected beneficial anecdotes for the wayfarer – by Habib Zayn bin Sumayt. Our focus in this podcast is on the importance of books and reading in the life of students of knowledge.

The text provides insight into the lives of the scholars of Hadramaut and their attachment to books and reading. The west has lost its love of reading, and our youth almost completely neglect it. Let us take guidance from these great people and start reading.

Important books and their sequence of study

Imam al-‘Aydarus bin ‘Umar al-Habshi said that the six primary works of tasawwuf that should be studied are the following:

  1. Ihya′ ‘Ulum al-Din by Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali
  2. Minhaj al-‘Abidin by Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali
  3. Arba‘in fi Usul al-Din by Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali
  4. Al-Risalah al-Qushayriyyah fi ‘Ilm Al-Tasawwuf by Imam al-Qushayri
  5. ‘Awarif al-Ma‘arif by Imam al-Suhrawardi
  6. Qut al-Qulub fi Mu’amalat al-Mahbub by Abu Talib al-Makki

These six works are foundational. Students of knowledge in western academic circles often believe they are able to study any text. This belief is mistaken and students who try to study any text often misunderstand the scholars. It is vital that they follow a specific sequence. For instance, the Hadrami scholars of fiqh follow this sequence:

  1. Al-Risalah al-Jami‘ah wa al-Tadhkirah al-Nafi‘ah by Imam Ahmed bin Zayn al-Habashi
  2. Safinah al-Najah fi Fiqh al-Shafi’i by Salim ibn ʿAbdullah ibn Saʿd ibn Samir al-Hadrami al-Shafiʿi
  3. Mukhtasar al-Latif fi Fiqh al-Shafi’i by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-Rahman Balhaj BaFadl al-Hadrami
  4. Al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyyah by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-Rahman Ba-Fadl al-Hadrami
  5. Al-Ghayah wa al-Taqrib fi al-Fiqh al-Shafi’i by Abu Shuja’ Hussayn bin Ahmad al-Asfahani
  6. Safwah al-Zubad by Ahmad bin Husayn bin Hasan bin ‘Ali ibn Arslan al-Ramli
  7. ‘Umdah al-Salik wa ‘Uddah al-Nasik by Shihab al-Din Abu al-‘Abas Ahmad bin al-Naqib
  8. Minhaj al Talibin by Abu Zakariyya Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi

This order of study involves moving from a smaller to a larger text, each discussing the fiqh in greater detail. Students must not try to jump the queue. Those who do so have become raisins before being grapes! They remain unenlightened, devoid of understanding.

Sayyidi Habib ‘Umar wrote a book, Maqasid Halaqat al-Ta‘lim, on the importance of understanding the sequence of the books in the various disciplines. It has been translated by Shaykh Amjad Tarsin and published by Dar al-Turath al-Islami.

The Ihya of Ghazali
Imam al-Haddad said it is important to read books such as the Minhaj in fiqh and the Ihya in tasawwuf because, through them, one receives great openings, as well as elevation of the soul.

Habib ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf was the qutb of his time. A qutb is a pole or axis around which everything revolves. It is one of the highest stations of sainthood. However, even if one reaches this station, he is not necessarily the qutb of his time because there can only be one quṭb at a time. Habib ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf read the Qur’an eight times every 24 hours. He said: “Whoever does not study the Ihya does not truly have modesty”.

Imam Haddad loved the Ihya and collated whatever was mentioned in it in one of his books, Al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, which has been translated into English under the title of Counsels of Religion. Some of the pious say that the one who reads and acts on the Ihya will be of the people of Paradise.

Our pious predecessors emphasised the reading of the following four introductions:

The books of Imam Nawawi
Imam Haddad had three books that would constantly be recited to him, one reading after the other. One of these books was Riyad al-Salihin by Imam Nawawi which has been translated into English. It has many benefits and Allah grants many openings to the one who reads it.

An enlightened person once visited a scholar. He saw the scholar’s library and asked why some of the books emit light while others do not. The scholar asked him to remove the books which were emitting light and he did so. They were all Imam Nawawi’s books.

Imam Nawawi was regarded as the qutb of his time. Habib Ahmad bin Hasan al-‘Attas said that Ibn Hajar al-Haytami memorised the Minhaj of Imam Nawawi, and through that, Allah blessed his writings so that their benefits spread throughout the world.

Other books of great benefit

  • Muqqadimah of al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi up to Surah Baqarah
  • Muqqadimah Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Nawawi
  • Muqqadimah al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab by Imam Nawawi
  • Muqqadimah of Ibn Khaldun

Al-Shifa by Qadi Iyad, which has been translated into English by Aisha Bewley, under the title, “Muhammad: Messenger of Allah”, is said to have been tried and tested for the removal of difficulties.

Let us attach ourselves to the books of the predecessors (salaf) for they contain blessings, knowledge and openings. Reading their books is like sitting at their feet, taking from them, connecting to them and receiving their secrets. It is an invaluable opportunity to insulate ourselves from the trials and tribulations of western society by seeking their light and guidance.

The Masters and the Millennials | Part 7: Importance of Etiquette – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This is the seventh part of a series, click here for the previous article.

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

We will be focusing here on good etiquette (adab). We are in need of good manners because we live in a society where the youth do not respect the elderly, and the elderly do not display much care for the youth.

Virtues of good etiquette (adab)
It is narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one who does not show etiquette to the elderly is not of us.” In addition, many narrations discuss etiquette. Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mubarak said, “We are more in need of a little adab than we are in need of much knowledge.” Imam Shafi’i said, “My teacher Imam Malik advised me to let my knowledge be the salt and my adab be the dough.” The vast majority of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s students attended his classes to learn adab.

The work Ta’lim al-Muta‘allim tells the story of two men who left home seeking knowledge. They studied together for the same number of years. When they returned home, one had gained deep knowledge of fiqh but the other had not gained that much. When the people asked why this had happened, they were told that the scholar who had gained a deep understanding of the religion had faced the qiblah whenever he studied. Allah granted him an opening because of his adab. The other one had sat with his back to the qiblah and therefore had gained little knowledge.

You will receive knowledge in proportion to the amount of adab you show to your teachers. Abdurrahman ibn Qasim said, “I served Imam Malik for twenty years. I received knowledge from him for two years, and received adab for the other eighteen years. How I wish I had dedicated all twenty years to adab”.

Our level of adab is often connected to our opinion of ourselves. The more a person considers himself a great man of knowledge and demands respect from others, the more the illness of pride enters his heart, and the more difficult it is for him to display adab. On the other hand, the more a person considers himself the least of people, the more he is able to display beautiful adab.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I was only sent to you to perfect your character.” He also said, “The best of you are those who are best in character.” Our scholars, especially the Ba’Alawi sayyids, take the view that tasawwuf is entirely about having good character.

Examples of Adab
For example, the seating arrangements for major events at Dar al-Mustafa, the institute of Sayyidi Habib Umar, reflect the utmost adab. Senior scholars sit in front of the gathering, facing the rest of the participants. The first few front rows are reserved for senior men, who are seated according to seniority. Younger students of knowledge are seated behind them. Many times when Habib Ali Mashhur (Allah have mercy on him) attended the gathering, he would be seated in the front, facing the gathering, and Habib Umar (his younger brother) would sit in the first row out of adab to his brother.

There are many examples from among the Prophet’s companions illustrating their adab to him. For instance, Thabit sat crying in the road after Allah Most High revealed the Quranic verse: “O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not” (Sura al-Hujurat, 49:2). A passing companion asked him why he was crying, so he said, “I fear this verse of the Qur’an was revealed regarding me, because I have a loud voice, and when I speak my voice is naturally louder than that of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). I fear that my deeds have been blotted out and I am going to be from among the people of the fire.” The companion, whose name was Asim, told the story to the Prophet, who asked him to call Thabit. When Thabit came to the Prophet, he said, “O Thabit, why are you crying?” Thabit said, “My voice is too loud and I fear that this verse of the Qur’an refers to me.” The Prophet cheered him up, saying, “Are you not pleased that you will live in this world praised and that you will be killed as a martyr and enter Paradise?”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was displaying excellent adab by saying this, because it is good etiquette to cheer someone up by saying something that makes them feel good about themselves. His statement was very good news for Thabit, who also undertook never to raise his voice above the voice of the Messenger.

Self-sacrifice: a Form of Adab
The following narration is important within the current context of coronavirus: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said it is haram for Muslims living in a city afflicted by plague to leave that city. They must remain in the city. No one must travel to or from the city. The Prophet is telling us not to run away to save our lives. We should stay in the city, fearing that we may already be carrying the disease, and prefer to be afflicted and die because Islam is about self-sacrifice. We must be prepared to sacrifice ourselves so that others can be safe.

If we develop the quality of self-sacrifice, it will become much easier to serve others, to give them preference, to honour and respect them, to display etiquette towards them, and to have a good opinion of them.

Etiquette with Our Teachers
Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani once saw the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) before Zuhr. The Prophet told him to deliver discourses and teach and call people to Allah. He said, “I do not have a pure Arab tongue so how can I speak among the eloquent people of Baghdad?” The Prophet said, “Open your mouth.” So he opened his mouth and the Prophet spat into it seven times. He told him to speak in front of people and call them to the way of Allah Most High with wisdom and good admonition. Shaykh Abd al-Qadir prayed Zuhr and thereafter a large number of people gathered around him to learn from him. However, he was struck with fear and unable to speak. Then he saw Sayyidina Ali (Allah be pleased with him) standing at his side. Sayyidina Ali said, “O my son, call people to Allah.” He said, “O my father, the crowd has instilled within me a sense of fear that is causing me to become tongue-tied and I cannot speak.” So Sayyidina Ali told him to open his mouth and, when he had done so, Sayyidina Ali spat into it six times. Shaykh Abd al-Qadir asked why he had not done so seven times, so he said, “I stopped at six so I may have adab with the Messenger of Allah.” Thereafter Sayyidina Ali left and Shaykh Abd al-Qadir was able to speak to the people.

Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf once remarked on the importance of adab. He said their nurturing had been such that they would always make sure that they dressed less well than their teachers.

Our community has a very insightful saying: you may achieve whatever you like in life, in the form of degrees, academic knowledge and wealth, but if you do not have etiquette and good character, you have nothing.

May Allah make us people possessing good etiquette.