25: Patience & Thankfulness, Fear & Hope, Poverty & Abstinence – Renewing Religion: Overview of Ghazali Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, gives an overview of the chapters on patience and thankfulness, fear and hope, poverty and abstinence from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya.

In this chapter, Imam Ghazali explains that faith is of two halves: half is patience and half is gratitude and having certainty of Allah is the whole of faith. Ustadh Amjad explains that everything that one goes through in life is neither a blessing or punishment rather our response to it is what matters. That is why the Prophet would pray to Allah not to turn away His decree but to have gentleness in His decree.

The next section of the lesson deals with the chapter on thankfulness. Allah says that if you are thankful then Allah will increase you. Ustadh Amjad advises that we should be especially thankful when we have things to complain about, turn to your numerous other blessings and be thankful for them.

Ustadh Amjad then speaks to the chapter on fear and hope and explains that one should have a balance of both. On fear, he says that some of the most fearful people of are the companions of the Prophet, particularly those that the Prophet had told them that they would enter Paradise. However, one should also have hope in Allah’s mercy. Remember that particularly when you sin and want to return to Allah. But one should never underestimate the gravity of their shortcomings and that should always push us to do better.

Lastly, Ustadh Amjad speaks to the chapter on poverty and abstinence. Our deen advises us to have less, and the Prophet would often praise the poor people of the community. The Prophet would continually warn of worldliness. Ustadh Amjad counsels us to not be attached to the things of this world but attached to the things that one can do in this world that will yield results in the hereafter.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: http://seekershub.org/ramadan2017.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

20: Breaking Desires – Renewal by the Book: Quran Tafsir Based on Imam Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, gives an overview of select verses from the Quran that correspond with the chapter on breaking desires from Imam Al-Ghazali’s Ihya. Allah tells us that our salvation is connected to not giving in to one’s lower self and that is why it is crucial for one to control their desires. The lesson will overview the verses 40-41 from Chapter 79 of the Quran.

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ

But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge. [Quran, 79:40-41]
The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us that at the end of time is sanctifying choice and that people should do anything that they wish. However, this goes against the core values of our religion that require one to discipline their desires and whims. The verses show us that our path to paradise is through withholding the things our lower self desires and that will result in the highest level of felicity. The Prophet told us that the road to paradise is surrounded by things that are not easy or liked by us.

It is of the mysteries of our time that we are now told to act upon all of our whims and desires, while every dignified society before us was based on withholding from your desires. However, those who constantly give in to our desires are always miserable. That is why Allah tells us that whomever purifies the self is successful and whomever doesn’t can enter very dark places. Ustadh Amjad reminds us that we were not created to give into our whims and that is why doing so makes us miserable. Instead, our freedom from the shackles of servitude to this world is through being a servant only to Allah to attain peace and tranquility. The result of disciplining your desires, is that that which was once bitter and difficult to do becomes sweet and desired by yourself.

Ustadh Amjad concludes by reminding us that our desires don’t always call us to what is in our best interest, that is why even in worldly matters, attaining success always requires sacrifice, such is the case for pursuing the spiritual path. In addition, remember the reward that awaits those who discipline their desires is felicity, salvation and paradise. However, remember that none of this is attained overnight, it requires patience, perseverance and continually asking God to allow us to continue down the path.

In this series Shaykh Faraz, and the other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Quran. The series will follow the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya, so that we experience a renewal by The Book.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: http://seekershub.org/ramadan2017.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

21: The Heart & Breaking Desires – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, gives an overview of three books from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya: Marvels of the Heart, Discipling the Soul, and Breaking Desires. Struggling against one’s lower self is an obligation that Allah talks about in the Quran, that whoever purifies their heart is successful and whomever doesn’t is at loss. The importance of this purification is displayed in the example of the Shaytan, despite his certitude of the existence of God, his lower self and ego still got the best of him and pushed him to disobey Allah.

Ustadh Amjad explains that by treating the diseases of the heart it becomes purified and by leaving it to its devices it becomes ugly. The path to purifying the soul is through beautiful character and that is why the Prophet was sent to perfect noble character. In addition, there are some characters that are naturally innate to a person and others that need to be cultivated. So one should be mindful of their innate good characters and cultivate others that they might not have.

Allah tells us that He sent us the Messenger to teach us the scripture and to purify us. As such the Prophet was able to teach the companions by example how to purify our souls and trained the companions how to do so as well. This is exemplified most in the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, responded to his enemies and those who have wronged him with beautiful character. Ustadh Amjad reminds us that the path to beautiful character begins with small consistent steps that will lead to larger changes in character.

The next book of Imam Ghazali’s is breaking the desire. Ustadh Amjad explains that this book can be summed up in not giving yourself everything it wants, even if that which is permissible. Such is the example of fasting, where one withholds from the permissible because of the command of God. Even then Imam Ghazali says that one should not give in to all it desires of food after you break your fast.

Ustadh Amjad concludes by reminding us that it will be a struggle to control our desires but we must start from where we are at right now and work slowly towards change. Our nafs may resist that change but it is important to be in control of it and not let it be in control of you.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: http://seekershub.org/ramadan2017.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

20: Prophetic Living – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin gives an overview of the chapter from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya on the etiquette of living and the prophetic mannerism. This chapter is the last in the section on worship and it details main life skills that one should utilize on a daily basis.

One of the most damaging things to a community is people following the outward actions of religion having bad character. This is due to the self’s inclinations when first seeking the spiritual path and for this reason it is important to study and connect to the Prophet, peace be upon him. That is why Imam Ghazali says that having outward etiquette is a sign of having inward etiquette; and your deeds are the consequences of your character; and your etiquette is the sprinkles that come out of the knowledge of Allah; and the secret areas of the heart are the planting ground for good deeds; and the lights that are in the heart are the things that emanate on the limbs.

Ustadh Amjad advises everyone to study the Prophetic character to understand his normative sunnah and exceptional situations. One of the most interesting aspects of the Prophet’s life is his character and habits at home because it is the most intimate and it is where a person’s true character manifests. For example, the Prophet, peace be upon him, never used a harsh word and never insulted any of the believers and he never cursed a woman or a servant with any form of curses.

Imam Ghazali focuses part of the chapter on the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, dealt with his enemies and times of difficulty. Many times the Prophet asked the companions to have patience during times of great and grave injustices and the Prophet did not curse his people, instead, he asked Allah to guide them. The Prophet did not return to Mecca victorious except after 21 years of serious problems and injustices from the non-believers. Even after all that, the Prophet, peace be upon him, still forgave them. With that the Prophet teaches us that even the worse of people need Allah and even the worst of people can change and become one of the best.

Ustadh Amjad concludes with a reminder to always live the Prophetic character because that is what has the greatest impact in our interactions with others, not through our words but actions.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: http://seekershub.org/ramadan2017.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

08: Etiquettes of Reciting Quran – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin reviews the chapter on etiquettes of reciting the Quran from Imam Al-Ghazali’s book Ihya Ulum al-Din. The Chapter goes through the outward etiquettes of recitation as well as the inward implications of those practices.

Learning the Quran and teaching the Quran is not limited to teaching, but rather should extend to an internalization of its virtues and meanings. The Prophet, peace and blessings upon him said: “the most virtuous of worship of my Ummah is the recitation of the Quran”. The virtues of reciting the Quran are many so one should strive to increase their recitation especially during Ramadan.

Ustadh Amjad explains in this lesson the 10 internal etiquettes of the recitation of the Quran:
[1] Knowing the greatness of these words, their exaltedness and their weightiness.
[2] Having reverence for the One speaking. Part of that reverence is approaching the Quran in a state of purity.
[3] Having presence of heart and leaving internal conversations
[4] Pondering the Quran
[5] Understanding as you recite the Quran such that you achieve a deeper understanding as you read.
[6] You remove from yourself things that prevent you from understanding, such as continually engaging in sins.
[7] Know that Allah is talking to you
[8] Being affected by the Quran, both by verses of punishment and reward.
[9] Experience the Quran and this is of many levels
[10] Absolve yourself from anything related to yourself. Such that anything you read about the people of righteousness you don’t think that this about you and when you read about people of evil that you don’t absolve yourself from their characteristics.

In summary, Ustadh Amjad reminds us that the Quran is the greatest form of remembrance and worship so we must strive to increase our recitation and understanding of it.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

 

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: https://seekersguidance.org/ramadan.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

07: Hajj – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, reviews the chapter on Hajj from Imam Al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din. Imam Al-Ghazali begins by outlining a general rule: that one cannot draw nearer to Allah except through letting go of their worldly attachments.

Ustadh Amjad explains that Hajj, unlike any other forms of worship, cannot be rationalized as to the meaning behind each of its actions. The only lesson that one can derive from Hajj is that you are a servant to Allah and you need to fulfill His commands.

Imam Al-Ghazali outlines in this chapter the etiquettes that one must have during Hajj:
[1] Yearning for the two Holy mosques: this yearning stems from an understanding that this is the House of God, placed for you to fulfill your servitude. The reward for which is gazing upon Allah in the Hereafter.
[2] Buying the two garments of Ihram: then the person should remember that they will be buried in this clothing and even though you have put on these garments you might not actually make it to the Hajj but you will meet Allah in them.
[3] Talbiyyah: At your service Oh Allah, I am at your service, at your service You have no partner, I am at your service. All praise and all blessings belong to You and everything in existence belongs to You, You have no partner. This is the worldly response to what Allah has asked you to do in the spiritual realm, it is a response to the call that Allah tasked Prophet Ibrahim with making for Hajj.
[4] You should be fearful when you enter that you are not worthy but your hope should be greater than your fear. The fear should bring upon you humility and the hope reminds you of the generosity of Allah and His generosity is given to everyone.
[5] At ‘Arafah: when you see many people of various races, backgrounds and groups; that should remind you of the Day of Judgement, each comes with their Prophet. At the end of the day of A’rafah, Allah forgives all the people there and it is a sin to think that Allah has forgiven you.

In conclusion, Ustadh Amjad reminds us to always think of Allah’s mercy as greater than our sin and that Allah is the most forgiving.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: https://seekersguidance.org/ramadan.

Checkout all of the SeekersHub podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

05: Zakat & Charity – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin gives an overview of the chapter on zakat (alms) and charity from the Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), the fifth chapter. He highlights the adaab (etiquettes) of giving charity that Imam Al-Ghazali mentions in this chapter. Ustadh Amjad also emphasizes the importance of learning the fiqh (legal rulings) of giving zakat, as well as all the other actions of worship that are personally obligatory.

Imam Ghazali says about zakat that it is one of the tests that Allah has placed for the believers. It is also one of the foundational pillars of Islam. Imam Ghazali then says that one of the wisdoms of the obligation of zakat, is because wealth is beloved to people. So sacrificing what is beloved for the sake of Allah is a sign and indication of loving Him.

He then goes to outline the different levels of people who give charity. The highest level is to give everything for the sake of Allah Most High, unconditionally. At that level, Ustadh Amjad recounts the example of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), who gave all of his wealth to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him for the benefit of the Muslims.

Ustadh Amjad then looks at some of the adaab (etiquettes) that Imam Ghazali mentions about giving out zakat and charity. The first one he mentions is giving charity secretly, and the great merit in doing so. Giving charity in private is closer to sincerity and guards from falling it showing off and ostentation. He gives the example of Imam Ali Zain al-Abidin the great grandson of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and how he used to personally carry money to the poor in the depths of the night.

Another etiquette Ustadh Amjad highlights is to not destroy charity by holding oneself in favour over the person they gave the charity to. Allah says in the Quran that doing so, nullifies the charity and hurts the receiver of charity. Imam Ghazali mentions that cure for this, is for the one giving charity to see themselves as the ones being in need of help and favour by giving charity.

Finally, Ustadh Amjad advises that when giving charity, one shouldn’t expect anything in return, and do it purely for the sake of Allah, as is mentioned in the Quran. He explains also that one shouldn’t fear decrease in wealth because of giving charity. Rather, the reality is that it is a means of increase and blessing in one’s wealth.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: https://seekersguidance.org/ramadan.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

04: Prayer – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin reviews the chapter on prayer from the Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), the fourth chapter. Imam Al-Ghazali emphasized the importance of both the outward and inward in prayer. This condition is in line with the purpose of prayer and that is remembrance of Allah.

Imam Al-Ghazali adds in his book that a condition of prayer to be in a state of awe, humility and presence in prayer. This condition had not been previously included by the jurists in their detailing of the conditions of prayer.

The Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, said: “Whoever’s prayer does not prevent them from vile things and bad things, they have not increased with Allah anything except distance.” The purpose of i’bada (worship) is therefore taqwa. That is why one’s character needs to be inline with their outward performance of worship. Ustadh Amjad illustrates this point using various examples and stories of the companions and righteous people, may Allah be pleased with them.

Imam Al-Ghazali continues to explain that every action within prayer has a purpose and the overarching goal is to have the utmost reverence of Allah through both the heart and the body. That is why during prostration one humbles the most honored part of our being, our face, to our Lord.

Ustadh Amjad goes on to explain the two causes of distraction during prayer and their remedies:
[1] Outward distractions that can be avoided by seeking out a quiet places.
[2] Inward distractions which are more difficult to overcome. The way to deal with this is through preparation before beginning prayer by remembering the hereafter and standing before Allah and the severity of the outcome of that day. As well as freeing yourself of any worldly responsibilities prior to prayer so you are not rushed during prayer.

Lastly, Ustadh Amjad reminds the audience that the main purpose of prayer is to bring you closer to Allah and remove the veils (of all worldly things) between you and Him. As such we need to free ourselves of the distractions and bring our hearts to be more present with Allah during prayer and if we do that our prayer will be transformative.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

Join our Ramadan 2017 program: #RamadanRenewal, in-person at SeekersGuidance Toronto or online through the SeekersGuidance Global platform. For more details, visit: https://seekersguidance.org/ramadan.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

Learn to Live – 03 – Interview with Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this interview, Ustadh Amjad shares with us his story that revolved around one of Imam al-Haddad’s books, which inspired him to study Islam. He tells us about some of the challenges he initially faced and how he overcame them. Ustadh Amjad also shares some of his first memories from going to Dar al-Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen and the positive and reassuring impact they had.  He then talks about some of the challenges he faced during his studies overseas, and then after he came back. Ustadh Amjad highlights one of the stories that he holds dear with his teacher Habib Umar bin Hafiz. He then shares with us some of the transformative principles that led him along the continuum of knowledge from student to teacher. Finally, he gives key advice to the aspiring students of knowledge.

This interview with Ustadh Amjad Tarsin is part of a series we’re calling “Learn to Live” – where we’ll be exploring the journey of the student of knowledge — by speaking with the teachers and students who are traveling that path. We’ll explore what inspired them to pursue the path of knowledge. We’ll chronicle some of their stories and experiences along the way, and we’ll ask them to share their best advice for the student’s of today.

Checkout all of the SeekersGuidance podcasts by visiting https://seekersguidance.org/podcasts/

Loving the Prophet’s Family and Companions – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Loving Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) entails loving his family and companions (may God be pleased with them). There is a special sanctity to all believers, and we should love them for that. There is also a special rank and virtue to the household of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and a specific texts in the Qur’an and sunna to love them.

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explains in this talk the beautiful balance of unconditionally loving all those who are connected to the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him). He also cites some narrations of the special virtue of the prophetic family. Ustadh Amjad calls us to have have that unconditional love to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), his family, his companions, and broadly all the believers.

Cover photo by Nysa.