The Three Degrees of Fasting – Imam al Ghazali

This is a translation of the passage on the three degrees of fasting from the Ihya of Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al Ghazali. Translation by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

It should be known that there are three degrees of fasting: ordinary, extraordinary, and perfect.

Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual satisfaction.

Extraordinary Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.

Perfect Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world.

Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true saints, and the intimates of Allah. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists of utmost dedication to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than Allah, Exalted is He.

It is bound up with the significance of His words:

قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ

Say: “Allah,” then leave them to their vain play. (Qur’an 6:91)

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment.

See Not What Displeases Allah

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be Allah’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of Allah will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.”

Jabir relates from Anas that Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.”

Speak Not What Displeases Allah

Guarding one’s tongue against idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing, and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and with the recitation of Qur’an. This is the fasting of the tongue.

Said Sufyan: “Backbiting annuls the Fast.” Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: “Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.”

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: ‘I am Fasting, I am Fasting!’”

According to Tradition: “Two women were Fasting during the time of Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing.

They, therefore, sent a message to Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.”

One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”

Hear Not What Displeases Allah

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible, for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer. In His words, Exalted is He:

سَمَّاعُونَ لِلْكَذِبِ أَكَّالُونَ لِلسُّحْتِ

Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain. (Qur’an 5:42)

Allah, Great and Glorious is He, also said:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit? (Qur’an 5:63)

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said:

إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِّثْلُهُمْ

You are then just like them. (Qur’an 4:140)

That is why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “The backbiter and his listener are partners in sin.”

Guarding the Limbs

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful.

A man who fasts like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food is injurious in quantity not in quality. Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison.

The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation.

Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!” This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

Avoid Overeating

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food.

Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering Allah’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods?

It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety.

If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The Secret Nature of Fasting

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting.

No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven.

Layla al-Qadr

The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

We surely revealed it on the Night of Power. (Qur’an 97:1)

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He.

That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

Look To God With Fear And Hope

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of Al-Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Basri, that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: “Allah, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By Allah, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.”

Rather it is the one whose fast is accepted who should be too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while one who has suffered rejection laughter should be precluded by remorse.

Of Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: “You are an aged elder. Fasting would enfeeble you.” But he replied: “By this I am making ready for a long journey. Obedience to Allah, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.”


Ten Steps to Allah. Step 5: Hope

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah. 

The fifth article in this series explains what is truly meant by hope.

Step 5: Hope

The fifth step in getting closer to Allah is hope. Hope is commonly misdirected towards one’s own actions and worldly circumstances. This results in losing hope and falling into despair when one makes a mistake or when things go poorly. Rather, the believer directs one’s hope towards Allah Most High alone. The Aphorisms (Hikam) of Ibn Ata’ Allah opens with, “From the signs that you are relying on your actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” Hope should not be attached to any other but Allah Most High. 

Hope is to desire pleasing outcomes having taken the means to acquire them, but one should not seek those outcomes from other than Allah Most High. He Most High tells us, “Truly you have in the Messenger of Allah the most beautiful of examples for whoever hopes in Allah and the Day of Resurrection”. (Qur’an 33:21) Hoping from Allah means one’s hope doesn’t increase with one’s good deeds nor decrease with one’s sins because one hopes in Allah Most High, seeking pleasing outcomes from Him alone. 

Allah Most High says, “It is the All-Merciful who is established on the throne.” (Qur’an 20:5). He is All-Merciful to whomever you are. Whoever knocks on His door will find it open, so do not despair. 

May Allah Most High realize us in directing our hope towards Him alone.

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 24: Ten Steps to Allah – 05 – Hope | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 10: Supplication

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Allah has promised to answer our prayers—all that is left is for us to ask. But supplication itself is an art. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives practical guidelines on how to engage in dua, what supplications to make and how, and what it means for our prayers to be “answered.”

Step 10: Supplication

Dua is not something that you do. It is not something that you say. It is not something you repeat. Dua is that you ask of Allah Most High. It encapsulates all that you are concerned about so learn the art of asking Allah.

Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Supplication is the very essence of worship.”

The heart of dua is you voicing your need to Allah. There’s a metaphor in you raising your hands. It’s as if you’re saying that I am so much in need that I am like a beggar and I have nothing to beg with except my own empty hands. 

When you make dua remember to have certitude. Our Lord Mighty and Majestic tells us, “Call upon Me, I will answer you.” [Qur’an 40:60] That is a Divine promise. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Call upon Allah with complete certitude in His answer.” [Tirmidhi 3479]

Make dua with hope and contentment. We are assured that when Allah loosens our tongue to ask, He is willing to give. How He will give and when He will give is up to Him. He is Wise and Merciful and Generous, and what He chooses for you is far better than what you choose for yourself. 

Then you should ask yourself, what is it that you are asking from Allah. You should ask for the greatest of your needs. There is no dua we can make like the duas of the Qur’an. The duas of the Qur’an are amazing because it is Allah Himself telling us: Ask Me for this and I will give you. The duas of the Sunna are the duas of Allah’s beloved, our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

The dua’ of the Qur’an and Sunna should be recited but they are not substitutes for you to make heartfelt duas yourself. The scholars tell us to reflect on the meanings when we recite the dua from the Qur’an. Or repeat the same dua in your own language because dua is your asking Allah not just saying the dua. 

You should recite the transmitted duas from the Qur’an and Sunna after you wake up, after your prayer, after Fajr,  before you go to sleep, and also have heartfelt duas in your own words. Make routines of duas. The best of what you could ask from Allah is what He asks of you. Ask Allah for His love, for His closeness, for the Hereafter. Ask Allah for your worldly needs. Ask Allah to change those qualities that keep you away from Allah.

Each of us should have a good manual of dua. The Book of Remembrance by Imam Nawawi is a wonderful thing that every household should have and you should access it. Some scholars say that you should have a large book of duas that you refer to and familiarize yourselves with, but also to have a brief collection of Prophetic duas. We should live with these. Our collections of duas that we can recite by morning and by night like the Hizb al-Bahr or the Wird al-Latif by great scholars train us in how to make dua. Recite them and reflect on their meanings.

It is also important to repeat the duas that you make. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to repeat the duas three times. 

When you make dua, observe the etiquette of dua. You can make dua at any place at any time, but it is better to face the qibla, remove distractions, consider the greatness and majesty, but also the mercy and compassion of the One you’re calling upon. Call with certitude and desperate neediness but also with deep joy in the fact that you have One you can turn to for all your needs.

We ask Allah to open for us the door of dua—the door of all openings and all giving and the door of closeness. Allah make us of the people who go through to our Beloved through this door. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 29: Ten Steps to Allah – 10 – Supplication | Sh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 9: Repentance

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

 A key step on the path to Allah is repentance. Often, we don’t understand what it means or imagine it to be something negative. Shaykh Faraz explains what repentance really means—turning back to Allah.

Step 9: Repentance

Repentance is a key step on the path to Allah. Many say that repentance is the first step. However, we often have a very negative attitude towards repentance. Some people think that repentance means to accept that you’re a loser or that you never forget your sin. But repentance means to resolve to return to Allah. That is why faith is an act of repentance because you leave disbelief and you return to belief. Our acts of obedience are a type of repentance because we leave disobedience and we commit to obeying Allah. Likewise, our virtuous deeds are a type of repentance because we leave blameworthy things and disliked matters and we commit to doing what is better. Every station of the journey to Allah has the meaning of repentance in it. To leave distance and return to Allah.

Practically how do we operationalize repentance in our lives? Firstly, we commit to seeking Allah and desire to be ever-returning to Allah. So first we work at correcting our faith: learning sound beliefs and striving to live those in our lives. Leave your fear of other than Allah, leave your hope from other than Allah, leave your seeking for other than Allah. You leave lesser expressions of faith for pure Divine oneness which is you believe in the One, seek the One, you rely upon the One, you hope in the One, you love the One. 

There’s also repentance related to our actions which is that you leave sin, commit to leave sin, to leave the disliked, to leave things that are not of benefit to you in life,  to leave things displeasing to Allah, and to return to Allah in obedience, return to Allah in what is recommended. The journey continues in degrees of repentance. This quality of repentance, to always return to Allah, make it a habit. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that he seeks Allah’s forgiveness and repents 70 times a day.

You may have bad habits that you have acquired that are sinful, sinful speech such as backbiting, talebearing, gossip. You may have bad habits related to some desires of yours. Bad habits related to the kind of entertainment that you listen to or watch. These are the days of your life. Resolve to leave your bad habits. Have remorse for turning away from Allah disobeying Allah. Resolve to leave it and not to return to it for the sake of Allah Most High. and then any time you err, renew your repentance.

After every prayer, pause and genuinely repent as part of the supplication. Don’t just repent with the tongue, because repentance is not an action of the tongue. We say Astighfirullah: I seek Allah’s forgiveness. That’s like saying I am sorry but repentance is the act of actually leaving the thing that you’re saying you’re sorry for. Without repentance, seeking forgiveness is just words without reality. Repentance and seeking forgiveness together are light upon light. 

This repentance is the key. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, “Indeed Allah loves the oft-repentant.” [Qur’an 2:222] Repentance is a magnificent gift from Allah. What do we need to do to return to Allah? Nothing! You may have a lifetime of turning away from Allah but you repent and Allah is waiting to accept your repentance. The door is open. The treasuries are full. All you have to do is knock on Allah’s door with repentance and you will find that the door was never closed even if you messed up. 

Allah Most High tells us, “O my servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed it is Allah alone who forgives all sins. Indeed it is He who is the all-forgiving and most merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]

It does not matter how many times you have failed to break that habit of sin, how many times you followed the same desire, the same wrong, the same bad habit, turn to Allah with repentance. 

The key to repentance is what Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said, “True repentance  is to leave the sin in such a way that you never return to it.” 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 28: Ten Steps to Allah – 09 – Repentance | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 8: Reflection

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Step 8 is reflection upon Allah. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani sheds light on what reflection means, what to reflect upon, and how to bring this practice into our daily lives.

Step 8: Reflection

Reflection is the fuel of hearts. Without this fuel, the lamp of the heart remains in darkness. We need to reflect upon the attributes of Allah, Most High, and the names of Allah, Most High. We need to take some time to learn sound Islamic beliefs in a manner that it gives us the capacity to reflect, and that is one of the merits of studying Islamic beliefs with teachers connected to those who understand the way of Prophetic Guidance.

We should also reflect upon Allah, Most High, by learning more about the 99 names of Allah, Most High, by studying about them, reflecting upon them by turning to Allah through mentioning these names. We have some very good resources on Seekers including an entire course on understanding the most beautiful names of Allah.

We also reflect on the actions of Allah. These include Creation. Creation is a sign of the Creator. If we reflect upon the marvel of creation, the perfection of creation, the beauty of creation, the wisdom in creation we see that creation points to the Creator just as art points to an artist.

We should also reflect on ourselves and our reality. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing in this life. The reality of our death. The reality of our responsibility. The reality of what you know you must do to rectify your relationship with Allah and then reflect on how to make good your relationship with Allah. How do you become a truly grateful servant? How do you become a truly hopeful servant? How do you become a servant who is truly reliant upon Allah? How do you become a beloved servant of Allah? Reflection on one’s own state helps one turn to Allah.  

Another thing to reflect upon is the examples of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) through the study of his shama’il, his character, life story, and teachings. 

Also reflect on the lives of the past prophets, the lives of the scholars, and the righteous. Why? To derive inspiration, to change your relationship with Allah. 

A moment of reflection is worth more than a lifetime of devotion. May Allah grant us a lifetime of reflection so that our hearts reflect the light of Allah, Most High. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 27: Ten Steps to Allah – 08 – Reflection | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 7: Remembrance

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

The seventh step is the remembrance of Allah. In this episode, Shaykh Faraz discusses how we can make our lives, lives of remembrance.

Step 7: Remembrance

Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Should I not tell you about the best of your actions? And the most beloved of them to your Lord? More precious for you than to spend gold and silver, more rewarding for you than to meet your enemy and to smite their necks and for them to smite yours?” The Companions said, “Do tell us O Messenger of Allah.” He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The remembrance of Allah, Mighty and Majestic.”

It is enough to know about the greatness of remembrance that Allah Most High said, “Remember Me, and I will remember you.” [Qur’an 2:152]

And Allah Most High says, “Indeed, the remembrance of Allah is greater.” [Qur’an 29:45] Greater than what? Greater than anything else whatsoever because anything done with the remembrance of Allah is incomparably greater than the same thing done without the remembrance of Allah. 

It is the remembrance of Allah that is the purpose of life. Humans and Jinns were created only so they may be devoted to Allah. Ibada arises from recognition, devotion begins with recognition of the One worthy of devotion. That recognition is remembrance. The expressions of devotion are all acts of remembrance. Faith itself is an act of remembrance. Prayer is an act of remembrance. Fasting, charity, dhikr itself are acts of remembrance.

This is why the counsel of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when people came to him for advice was: “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

If you want to change your life, uphold the counsel of Ibn Ata’illah. Do not leave the remembrance of Allah even if you have a lack of consciousness of Allah in your remembrance because your heedlessness of remembering Allah is worse for you than your heedlessness during the remembrance of Allah. You are saying  Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, La ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar. You’re engaged in remembrance but your mind is drifting. Through remembrance your mind may wake up at some point and start reflecting and then the meanings may start creeping into your consciousness, permeate your heart, wake your soul, and make you go from heedlessness to consciousness, from consciousness to presence, and from presence to absence from other than Allah Most High.

Dhikr is the purpose of existence because by remembrance you can be with the one Remembered. “Truly it is by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest. ” [Qur’an 13:28]

It begins with an act of remembrance of Allah, then to be in a state of consciousness of Allah, but the goal of remembrance is to be with the One remembered. So let’s move our tongues, let’s move our hearts, and let’s strive for that presence. He is with you wherever you may be.

How can we do that practically? Say Subhan Allah: Glory is to Allah. Try to move your heart with it. Mean it then say it. Alhamdulillah: All praise is for Allah. Mean it then say it. La ilaha illa Allah: There is no God but Allah. There is none free of need of any other whom all are in need of but Allah. Allahu Akbar: Allah is absolutely great and there’s no one great besides Him. Repeat these and say, Astaghfirullah: I seek Allah’s forgiveness. This is asking Allah to cover your shortcomings and manifest all that is pleasing to Allah. Istighfar has a meaning of covering over the unbecoming and manifesting what is pleasing to Allah. This is between fear and hope, between the admission of shortcomings and recognition of Divine generosity. 

Go from remembrance of the tongue to waking your heart up to that remembrance. Seek the presence of Allah, the closeness of Allah, seek to see Allah, and to worship Allah as though you see Him.

May Allah make us go from the stages of remembrance to Him. May He grant us that by His grace and grant that we remain in remembrance. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 26: Ten Steps to Allah – 07 – Remembrance | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 6: Positive Awe

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Sometimes we associate fear of Allah with negative emotion. However, awe of Allah is inherently positive—a recognition of Allah’s greatness that drives us to turn to Him. This is the sixth step on the path to Allah. 

Step 6: Positive Awe

A lot of people do not like fear. Fear of Allah does not mean that you fear Him in a negative way. When you fear something you want to go away from it but that is not the fear of Allah. Fear of Allah is the greatest means to submit to Allah. It is a sense of awe at the majesty, greatness, and glory of Allah. It is to recognize the beauty and perfection of Allah and to recognize how merciful and generous Allah is to us. When we have this awe of both His majesty and His mercy upon us and we are humbled, this is awe of Allah.

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an, “As for the one who fears the station of their Lord and who forbids their lower self from its wayward ways, Paradise is indeed their resting place.” [Qur’an, 79:40-41]

It is a state of amazement and awe in the heart that humbles a person. It calls one to restrain oneself. Free causes one to refrain. Positive awe of Allah is when you think of the greatness of your Lord. This is why we say Allahu akbar with awe. When we say Allahu akbar, we turn fully to Allah in yearning and longing. Fear comes with hope and hope must come with fear, otherwise, there is an imbalance. 

May Allah Most High grant us true awe, coupled with true hope, coupled with true love coupled with true gratitude. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 25: Ten Steps to Allah – 06 – Positive Awe | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 4: Love of Allah

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

The fourth step in getting closer to Allah is love for Allah. This love is a constant inclination with a heart overcome. Shaykh Faraz explains what this constant inclination refers to and how it affects and permeates our lives and relationships.

Step 4: Love of Allah

One of the most powerful meanings in our relationship with Allah is the meaning of having intense love for Allah. Allah Most High tells us in the noble Qur’an, “And those who believe are most intense in their love for Allah.” [Qur’an, 2:165]

The governing meaning in what distinguishes a believer from anyone else is not just having love for Allah but the intensity of love for Allah. Love is not just a mild feeling. Love is a constant inclination with a heart overcome. The intense love for Allah is to love Allah Himself over all else and also to love all else out of this intensity of love for Allah. You love your parents not just a little but intensely, out of your intense love for Allah. You love your teachers, your family, your friends, all for the sake of Allah because this is the creation of Allah and everything that is from the beloved is beloved to the one who loves.

A man came to Ibn Mashish and asked him for advice regarding things he could do. Ibn Mashish said that the ways of good are known, the acts of good are clear, the spiritual routines are evident. He said that if he were to give you one piece of advice, then it would be to hold fast to the love of Allah for the love of Allah is the axis around which all good revolves. 

One of the supplications of our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was: “O Allah, I ask you for Your love, and the love of those whom You love and the love of acts that will make me attain to Your love.”

May Allah grant us this true love because as Hamdoon said, “Lovers take with them all honor in this life and the next.”

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 23: Ten Steps to Allah – 04 – Love of Allah | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 3: Neediness

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

The third step after leaving whim and having sincere intentions is to realize your utter neediness to Allah. When we turn to God, we can’t be truly sincere without realizing our neediness. Our neediness to Allah is existential—and is our true freedom.

Step 3: Neediness

A critical quality that is the basis of our slavehood to Allah is to acquire true neediness for Allah.

You cannot have sincerity without being truly needy for Allah. Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an, “O People, you are the ones who are in absolute need of Allah and Allah is free of all need and worthy of all praise.” [Qur’an, 35:15]

Our existential reality is that Allah has created us and Allah is sustaining us every moment. We do not just need Allah when we are weak, when we are sick, when we are out of a job, when we have a fear, when things are difficult. Our need for Allah is not accidental, it is essential to us. 

How do we express this? When you pray, pray out of need. When you make dhikr, make dhikr out of need. When you make dua, make dua out of need, when you give in charity, give in charity out of need. You are in desperate need of Allah. That is your DNA—your desperate need for Allah.

May Allah grant that we recognize that need. When we realize our need for Allah, that’s when we realize that we are truly free of any other need. That is why our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said that wealth is not through having a lot of possessions; the only wealth is the wealth of self. When you realize that you have no need but for Allah, then are you truly enriched. 

May Allah grant us that wealth and make us express our neediness for Him in all our states and circumstances.

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 22: Ten Steps to Allah – 03 – Neediness | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 2: Sincere Intentions

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Life is a test of our choices. In the second step, Shaykh Faraz discusses the importance of making purposeful choices through sincerity of intention for Allah.

Step 2: Sincere Intentions

Sincerity of intention arises by making choices for Allah. We do not make whimsical choices or choices based on desire alone. Rather, the believer is one who strives to make choices for the sake of Allah.

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an, “They have not been commanded except that they be devoted to Allah making their life-choices for the sake of Allah alone, in uprightness.” [Qur’an, 98:5]

The second step after leaving whim is making purposeful choices through intention in worship, in work, in all your relationships, in your worldly choices, and in the pleasures of life. It begins with your ritual acts of devotion but then extends to all other areas of life. If you can make all your choices enveloped by a sense of devotion to Allah and sincerity for His sake and with uprightness then you have fulfilled the framework for living a purposeful life. 

In acts of worship, don’t make your focus to worship alone; rather, seek Allah through your worship. Similarly, in your work, see that your work is an act of devotion and do it seeking the pleasure of Allah. Your social relationships are not about your wife, your husband, your parents, or your children. They are about being devoted to Allah. For all your life choices, seek to do things in a manner pleasing to Allah, seeking the pleasure of Allah thereby. 

Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How strange is the affair of the believer, everything is for their good.”

We ask Allah Most High to grant us this meaning of cultivating sincerity through purposeful choices.

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 21: Ten Steps to Allah – 02 – Sincere Intentions | Sh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.