What Is Proper Student To Teacher Etiquette?

Question: What is the ruling on a student not being attentive in a university class and doing something else like using my phone for something other than study purposes?

Answer:

Al-Salam alaykum.

Thank you for the question.

 

Etiquette

Of the ever-present words on the tongues of our luminaries is, “Whoever has attained success is only due to their etiquette and whoever has fallen is only due to a lack thereof.” [Ma`alim al-irshadiyya li sana’a talib al-‘ilm pg.246] I hereby beseech Allah to grant us the best of etiquette amin.

 

Not Being Attentive In Class

Not being attentive in class and engaging in any other activity conveys a sense of independence from the teacher. Imam Mawardi in his admonishment of the student says, “He (the student) should not manifest sufficiency and independence from him (the teacher). For indeed that amounts to ungratefulness and ingratitude as well as attaching no importance to him.” [Adab al-din wa al-dunya, pg. 120]

Furthermore, it is recorded in the shamail that the prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) would give a person his undivided attention when engaging with him.

 

Getting the Knowledge later From the Students

Knowledge is transmitted from the heart of the teacher to the heart of the student. Settling for a lesser source is a sub-optimal option. Of old, our scholars would go to the greatest of lengths, particularly the muhaddithun (traditionist), to obtain knowledge from its highest possible source.

 

Conclusion

Not paying attention in class without a valid reason is considered a breach of etiquette and is not expiated by covering the content in any other manner. And Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Do We Reconcile With Someone Whom We Backbit?

Question: Do we have to tell someone if we have backbit about them? Can we just pray for them? Also, can we pray collectively about those who we backbit about without mentioning their name? Also, if we backbit about a non-muslim, and we cannot tell them, can we pray for their hidayah? If we tell them, then there is much fear of hurting them.
Answer: 
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate,
I hope you are doing well, insha’Allah. Thank you for the question.
Process

Tawba from backbiting is a process.  It entails:

·        desisting from backbiting
·        resolving not to backbite again
·        expressing remorse
·        seeking Allah’s forgiveness for yourself and the victim of your backbiting

Scholars differ as to whether the backbiter must seek pardon from the victim. Some opine that it is not stipulated as informing him might cause greater distress and anguish. The expiation would then be for the backbiter to praise the person in the very same gatherings in which he backbit him. In addition, the backbiter should stop others from backbiting the victim to the best of his ability. [Tafsir Ibn-Kathir]

According to the Shafi’i school of thought, if the backbiting did not reach the ears of the person, it would suffice him to be remorseful and seek forgiveness for the person as per the detail provided above.

However, if the backbiting has reached the person, then ibra (exoneration) will not be valid unless the details are disclosed to the person. This is because a person may forgive certain things to exclusion of others. [Mughni al-Muhtaj, Nihaya al-Muhtaj]

 

Backbiting a Non-Muslim

As for backbiting against a non-Muslim, Shabralmillisi has the following to say, “The more correct view is that he (the backbiter) prays a prayer of forgiveness for him other than forgiveness of shirk (associating partners unto Allah) or for an increase in his wealth, etc. whilst expressing remorse.” (Hashiya al-Shabramillisi) Moreover, as per your suggestion in the question, the best prayer for a non-Muslim is that of guidance.

Furthermore, a collective prayer for those whom we backbit would not suffice.

 

Conclusion

The expiation requirements for backbiting are telling of its severity. It should serve as a deterrent from this major sin. The devastating impacts of backbiting on the familial and social fabric of our Muslim community cannot be overstated. May Allah grant us the tawfiq (knowledge and practice) to follow through on His commandments and desist from His prohibitions.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Can I Cancel a Service Agreement?

Question: As’salamu Alaikum warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh, I want to inquire about the fiqh of selling services as a teacher. I entered into a deal with someone to teach two kids in a price that was less than what I wanted to charge or normally charge. However, I agreed to it without setting a time frame or duration of services. Later, I regretted the deal terms as I realised the task at hand is time-consuming, and I am charging less and giving energy. I agreed because I needed money.  

Answer: 

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I hope you are doing well, insha’Allah. Thank you for the question.

 

Cancellation of the Service Agreement

It is not permissible for you to cancel the service agreement notwithstanding the reasons that you have mentioned in your question. Being coerced into agreeing to a paltry sum is not a valid reason to cancel the contract. Coercion of this nature – needing the money – falls into the ambit of ikra khafiy (hidden coercion). An example of ikra khafiyy is when you sell your car to somebody due to his insistence and persistence. If you submit to his insistence (to sell the car) the sale is valid and binding, and you have no recourse to cancel.

Likewise, in your case, despite your circumstances, the service agreement is binding. For our mutual enlightenment, the ijara (service agreement contract) is one of the most binding contracts in Islamic Contract Law. According to the Shafi’I school of thought, if access to the contracted service (ma’qud alay) is not impaired, the contract stands and is binding upon both the lessee as well as the lessor (Mughni al-Muhtaj).

 

The Financial Condition of the Lessor

The financial condition of the lessor has no bearing on the contract and is completely extraneous. It is very much like purchasing something thinking that is being sold at a fair price. Later you discover that the item was overpriced. The sale is binding notwithstanding.

 

Advice

We should do our best to deal with our fellow Muslims in the best possible manner— in a manner that promotes unity and fosters love and brotherhood. Our dealings should not create divides and result in disunity.

In our local Cape Town Muslim community, there is a tendency for Muslims to avoid dealing with Muslims in terms of trading and services. They would much rather deal with non-Muslims. There are several reasons for this in our local experience. One reason is that Muslims are generally ignorant of the fiqh of mu’amalat (commercial dealings). At times filled with misplaced indignation, a person would argue for his “haqq” whilst the truth lies with the defendant.

 

The Service

The agreed-upon service must be known to both the lessor and lessee. Employing a person to teach knowledge (ilm) is valid when the student and the content are pre-determined. If while teaching the teacher discovers the competency level of the student is below average, he is given the khiyar (option) to either cancel or continue. The above provides you with reasonable recourse to cancel the agreement as opposed to the reasons stated above obviously if it is relevant.

 

Closing Remarks

May Allah make all your affairs easy and reward you for ensuring that your dealings are Sharia compliant.

All the very best.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Can I Overcome Excessive Waswasa?

new Zealand massacre
Question: Hi, I have been suffering from excessive waswasa lately, and it has reached a point where I am spending so much time in the bathroom washing and washing myself. I am not sure if I am urinating or not. For example, I would find drips on my pants, but I am not sure if it is urine or water. However, I am sure I cleaned myself, but then I think it is urine because of a urine infection. Furthermore, if I sit on a bed  and it makes a noise, I think that  I have passed wind. It is causing me so much stress, and I just keep repeating my wudu. I really need help because I do not have proper concentration in my prayer. 
Answer:

I trust that this correspondence reaches you in the best of health and iman:

To continue:

 

Quranic Verse Concerning Whisperings

Allah provides us with a simple and very effective way of dealing with whisperings of the devil in the following verse:
وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ Qur’an 7:200

“And if a false imputation from the Shaytan afflicts you, seek refuge in Allah; surely He is Hearing, Knowing.”

Al-Raghib and Ibn Atiyyah have restricted the word “nazghun” to apply to inserting one thing into another in order to corrupt it. The devil thus seeks to infuse you with doubts and misgivings about the validity of your prayer, attempting to corrupt your prayer and acts of worship with his insinuations. These insinuations are nothing but baseless doubts which do not affect the certainty of your condition, and thus these doubts should be dealt with clinically and removed from your mind and heart. These doubts appear like looming darkness, but they are quick to dissipate when you apply the rule found below.

 

Principle:

اليقين لا يزول بالشك

Certainty is not removed or dispensed of based on doubt.

To return to the verse quoted above, the devil attempted this with our beloved master Muhammad, and he was commanded to seek refuge in Allah. I heard Shaykh Sha’rawi mention that whenever you are beset with these type of imputations from the devil, even during the course of your prayer, you should say:

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

The only addition that I could advise in the initial stages of resolving these imputations from the devil would be to use other forms of the isti’adhah. Here is one such form that you may use in addition to the one cited above:

أللهم إني أعوذبك من الشيطان الرجيم من همزه ونفخه ونفثه

In conclusion, unless you are absolutely certain that it is urine particles that you can clearly see (since urine particles that cannot be seen with the naked eye are overlooked) or flatulence (that you can smell and discernably experience its emission), you simply need to seek refuge in Allah, dispel these misgivings, and carry on.

May Allah enable you to conquer this insidious enemy and allow you to bask in the light of certainty and resolve.

All the very best.

PS: The above has been empirically proven to work.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Can Someone Fill Out a Form on Another Person’s Behalf?

Question: As Salaamu Alaykum, I am a university student and in order to get a bursary from them I had to fill out a form and my parents also,
For my parents form, by brother filled it out on their behalf and they put the signature down, or the declaration box where the signature goes also has a box for a date and the names in block capitals and all these details have to be filled by the parents even if someone helped them with the form,

Now in my second year I’ve had to get another fork filled and my brother has not filled the signature but he did the date and the block capital signature it seems so I attempt (at this time) to tipex it and get it re-done

Now I think about my last years form where my brother may have done the same (excluding the actual signature) and as a result I was able to get the grant, what would I have to do?

 

Answer:

Thank you for the query. May Allah make your studies easy and facilitate the payment thereof.

Filling out the application form is a type of shahada. Shahada is when a person provides information regarding a right or obligation relating to another (Tuhfa al-muhtaj sharh al-minhaj 4.318).

Shahada does not accept agency (wakala), and thus it is not permissible for you to appoint an agent to bear witness on your behalf. This is because shahada is based on certainty (yaqin) in which agency has no place (Tuhfa al-muhtaj sharh al-minhaj 4.322).

Based on the information that you have provided, your brother served as an agent to fill out the form on your parent’s behalf. He did not bear testimony on their behalf.

 

Filling out the form:

Filling out a form (kitaba) on somebody else’s behalf is entirely permissible. ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) wrote on behalf of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) at the Sulh of Hudaybiyya.

In conclusion, the bursary received based on this application is valid. And Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Can I Overcome Religious Burnout?

Question:  I’m suffering from extreme religious burnout sometimes far beyond the line. Because for the past several _years_ I’d be extremely harsh on rejecting negative thoughts and also seeking forgiveness for them. I know I don’t intentionally think thoughts of shirk,kufr, sin but I keep doubting myself just in case it’s me actually thinking these thoughts – even though I know it’s not me. This results in a seriously low self esteem

But only recently I find out that you’re not accountable for passing thoughts

So imagine how harsh I am when I slip and commit a minor sin. 

How do I overcome this. This burnout makes it very difficult to pray on time. Or even basic obligations

Answer:
Thank you for your important question.
Your Perception of Your Self:

The first most important point is for you to treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Understand that you are a compound being. The nafs (self) forms a very important part of that compound being. In Qur’an, Allah talks about making tarabbus of the self. The term tarabbus refers to observing something external to you. Though the self is an internal phenomenon, you should manage it as you would an external phenomenon. Looking at it from outside of the box as they say. Once you consider the self as other to you, now take care to look after it.

 

Managing your self:

‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “The incapable one is he who is unable to manage his self ” (Adab al-din wa al-dunya, pg. 372).

In brief, the appropriate manner to deal with the self is with diplomacy. Jahiz sums it up perfectly in the following words, “A person must be justified in accusing the self whilst at the same time moderate in having a good thought about it. If a person is excessive in accusing the self, he has oppressed it and in doing so hands it over to the humiliation of the oppressed.”

If a person is excessive in having good thought about the self, he hands it over to the frivolousness/carefree attitude of those that consider themselves safe. And for each of these (extremes), there is a degree of pre-occupation. And every pre-occupation has a degree of saplessness and every degree of saplessness has its portion of ignorance.

 

Treating One’s Self Harshly When Committing a Minor Sin:

One of the measures of maturity is a person’s ability to appreciate the perspective. Treating your minor sins harshly vis-à-vis the devil is a very good thing. He may think twice before ensnaring you again as your harsh response to sin in terms of tawbah is counter-productive for him.

Secondly, your harsh treatment of sins is a good thing as it stands in contra-distinction to istikhfaf, making light of your sins. From this perspective too, harshness is arguably good.

Treating your self with undue harshness due to a minor sin that leads to low self-esteem and inertia vis-à-vis good works is certainly a negative thing.

It is based on utter ignorance of the constitution of man as a species with his empirically proven fallible nature. Success is not measured by infallibility, rather by failing, repenting, and then standing up and trying again. Allah Most High says,“ Turn to Allah in repentance all together, O believers, so that you may be successful” (Quran 24:31).

Acutely aware of this fault line within the self and the devil’s ability to exploit it, Allah states from the very outset, “ Say, O Prophet, that Allah says, “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Quran 39: 53).”

Furthermore, there are two wings that carry a believer upward and onward, twin wings that allow him to soar into Divine proximity. The one is fear counterbalanced, and when the need arises, it is eclipsed by the wing of hope.

Do not despair of the mercy of Allah and allow hope to illuminate your soul.

[Shaykh]  Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Completing Dhuhr During Asr time

Question: If I start praying dhur salah and after I complete one rakah the opening takbeer for asr is given is my dhur valid?
Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

Thank you for your query. May Allah enable us to be punctual and particular about our 5 daily prayers.

To continue:

Legal Ruling:

If a person completes one unit of prayer (raka’ah) during the prescribed time, the entire prayer is ada (on time). If this is not the case, the prayer will be considered qada (having been prayed out of its time).

Proof:

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

من أدرك ركعة من الصلاة فقد أدرك الصلاة
Whoever has attained a (raka’ah) of the prayer, he has indeed attained the prayer i.e. in its time (Bukhari, hadith 580).

Application of the above:

Your question indicates that you completed one unit of prayer for dhur and thereafter the opening takbir for asr was given. The opening takbir for a given prayer is normally given after the call to prayer and the sunan (supererogatory prayers preceding the fard) have been performed.

If this is indeed the case, then your prayer is qada and not ada. Alternatively, if you have completed one unit of prayer and then the adhan (denoting the entrance of the time) for asr is called out, then your prayer will be considered ada (al-Manhaj al-qawim 182). 

Conclusion:

The most beloved action to Allah is to offer the prayers at their earliest fixed times. Do keep in mind and heart the verse of the Qur’an: Indeed, performing prayers is a duty on the believers at the appointed times (Qur’an 4:103).

All the very best
In the care of Allah
[Shaykh]  Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Positivity Begets Positivity by Shaykh Muhammad Carr

Positive Begets Positive: Breaking a Negative Cycle

by Shaykh Muhammad Carr

 

In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah. May the best of blessings and most perfect of peace be upon our master Muhammad, and upon his followers, his companions, and all those guided by his teachings.

At the weekly Friday sermon (khutbah) at Masjid Al Jaamiah, South Africa, Shaykh Muhammad Carr addressed the congregation on constantly striving to maintain a positive attitude and to interrupt a negative cycle with bouts of positivity. This article is based on the session recording.


A Ray of Hope

“Though I have killed ninety-nine persons, is there a chance of repentance for me?”

In an authentic narration of the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), there once lived a man amongst the men of Bani Israel who had murdered ninety-nine human beings. Thereafter, this murderer encounters a pious person and asks concerning his repentance despite his hideous crimes. The pious person responds that there is no possibility for repentance. The murderer, seeing no change to his situation, takes the pious man’s life and continues his journey. For the second time, he comes into contact with a pious person, repeats the question, receives a similar response and proceeds to claim another victim. As the murderer faces a third pious person, he asks again, but this time the answer is different. 

“What possible barrier can be between yourself and forgiveness (tawbah)? There is no barrier. You may have killed a hundred people, but if you turn in repentance to Allah Most High, He is more than willing to forgive you.”

 

Creating Positivity Out of Negativity

When glaring bad habits emanate from our family, friends and colleagues, how do we treat them? Do we add fuel to the fire? According to Shaykh Muhammad Carr, the Qur’anic advice declares that when we decide to intervene, negative situations should not be remedied by increasing the gloom, but by exercising a positive interruption. With this attitude, there is hope that people will change and hope that Allah Most High will change their lives.

 

Beg for Forgiveness

Just as Allah chose His final Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), so too did He choose the companions (Allah be pleased with them). Allah Most High is pleased with the companions and they are pleased with Him. Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali were people of integrity and truthfulness. They were also human beings who, when erred, followed up this negative deed with a positive one; they begged for forgiveness. Allah Almighty in His wisdom revealed a beautiful positive response in the Holy Qur’an.

“We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah’s leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”

(Qur’an, 4:64)

 

Follow Up a Bad Action with a Good Action 

Our teachers often counsel us when we are supplicating, to ask the Creator to deal with us according to His justice and not according to ours. Why is that? Allah Most High says in the Qur’an: 

“Good and evil could never be equal. Respond to evil with what is best.”

(Qur’an, 41:34)

 

Shaykh Muhammad Carr explains that the verse refers to following up a bad deed with a good one. The good deed is not a numerical one, but rather Allah Most High considers it the best of actions. There is only one punishment for a bad action, but when a good action is done, rewards can range from ten to more than seven hundredfold. Hence a good action can never equate numerically to a bad action because of Allah’s bountiful mercies.

 

Future Response

The Holy Qur’an and the Hadith have given us clear signs and examples of how to inspire people to break any negative cycles within themselves through approaches filled with hope and possibilities. 

Despite the ups and downs of everyday life, Shaykh Muhammad Carr refers to the positive psychology of Islam which teaches us to always do our best. For the believers, he highlights that we should strive to be of that elite group of people whom when Allah Most High is mentioned, our hearts tremble out of awe for Him. When the verses are presented to us, our belief increases. When belief increases, positivity increases. Strengthening our faith (iman) is a sure proof method for improving the outlook on our own lives and those with whom we associate.

 

Shaykh Muhammad Carr

Shaykh Muhammad Carr completed Quranic memorization at Dar al-Ulum Zakariyyah in 1997. He has a certificate in the Arabic language from Damascus University in Syria.  He completed an Alimiyyah course at Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in 2007 in South Africa. He subsequently taught there and at Dar al-Na’im. He is one of the SeekersGuidance internal scholars. 

 

Continue Your Search for Knowledge

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The Truth About Tariqas

Question: I’m a 16 yr old girl and I have wanted to join the sufi path and especially find a shaykh to purify myself. My parents find the sufis dodgy. Are they?

Answer:

The Truth about Tariqas

Our scholars say that the first step to Allah is an opening from Allah. Your question is really a manifestation of that opening within. May Allah further facilitate you in your spiritual development and grace you and us all with the divine experience.

Do you require a spiritual guide?

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who is our guide in turn had a guide in the form of Allah, said:

أدبني ربي فأحسن تأديبي
My Lord has reformed me and perfected my reform (al-Durra al-Muntathirah, pg. 24, Abu al-Fadl ibn Nasir has authenticated the narration whilst most consider the narration, to the exclusion of its meaning, to be weak).

Thus a fortiori, you and I require a guide. Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda quoting one of our luminaries states, “You have two types of shuyukh (guides); Shaykh al-ilm and Shaykh al-tarbiya”. The former imparts knowledge in a very general manner whilst the latter takes you by your hand so to say, and delivers you to your destination. It is very much like requiring directions to a venue.  Some of us simply need directions whilst others need somebody to take them by the hand and guide them to the place otherwise they will get lost. I am of the opinion that most of us fall into the latter category and thus require a Shaykh al-Tarbiyah to take us by our hands.

How do you find such a spiritual luminary to guide you?

I quote: When the seeker feels the need for it just as the sick person feels the need for a doctor, then she must have true dedication and correct intention and direct herself to Allah with a broken and subdued heart; calling upon Him in the darkness of the night, in his prostration and in every prescribed prayer saying, “O Allah, Guide me to one who can guide me to You, Cause me to reach one who will cause me to reach you (This is absolutely essential).

She must search those in her land and ask around and investigate looking with resoluteness and detail for a spiritual guide – paying no attention to the people who claim that there is not to be found any true spiritual guide in our age.

If she is unable to find anybody in her own city then she must look in other cities…”

Are there dodgy Sufis?

One of our luminaries was informed that a student of sacred knowledge was caught stealing red-handed. He responded by saying, “Impossible, a student of sacred knowledge can never steal. If verified then it can only be a thief in the guise of a student but a student can never be a thief”.  So to answer your question, yes unfortunately there are dodgy people in Sufi garb but not dodgy Sufis :).

Regarding this phenomenon, Sh. Abd al-Qadir Isa has the following to say:

Sufism has been maligned by spurious individuals who have adorned themselves with its garments and ascribed themselves to it, doing it a great disservice by their statements, actions, and behavior. Sufism is completely innocent of them. It is from the greatest services to the truth that we can provide, to separate between the deviated false claimants of Sufism and the esteemed and truthful Gnostic Sufis. We must stop and take the stand of one who holds fast to the sacred law and religion and say, “There is a huge difference between Sufism and the Sufi; the would-be Sufi and his deviations and corruption in no way represent Sufism, just as the evil act of a Muslim in no way represents his Islam and his religion”.

So you certainly have to be very careful and wary of the charlatans.

As regards to a shaykh, in particular, our scholars say that the spiritual guide has to have conditions that he must fulfill before he is considered fit to guide others:

1) He must be knowledgeable of all things that are individually obligatory.
2) He must be a knower of Allah.
3) He must be well acquainted with the methods of purifying the souls and means to train them.
4) He must have permission from his own Shaykh to guide others.

I pray that with the little that we have shared that Allah infuses us with its understanding and that He enables us to practice upon it and that He, by virtue of His sheer grace and benevolence draw us all closer to him and facilitate for it.

Do remember us in your prayers.
Go well
In the care of Allah.

Wassalam

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani