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Can I Cover My Knees With Compression Tights?

Question: I follow the Hanafi school, in which I have to cover my knees to cover the awrah. Is it permissible to wear compression tights for men(which cover the knees undershorts?

Answer:
Walaikum assalam,

I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah.

If you are wearing long shorts—at or near knee level, then there is nothing wrong with covering the remaining area obligatory to cover (‘awra) with compression tights or the like.

But it would be disliked to cover the thigh area—especially mid- and upper-thigh—with tight clothing. [Nahlawi, al-Duran al-Mubaha fi’l Hadhr wa’l Ibaha]

In the Hanafi school, it is obligatory for men to cover from the navel down to and including the knees. [Ala’ al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya] It is necessary (wajib) to avoid skin-tight covering, especially around the mid-area (front and back). It is sunna to cover in loose, dignified, and modest clothing. [Ibid., Sarakhsi/Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, Kitab al-Kasb]

May Allah bless you for your religious concern. The Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Truly, modesty (haya’) is a branch of faith.” [Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him)]

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

Wassalam,

[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani

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.

The Prophet’s Smile: Responding to Rudeness With a Smile

The Prophet’s Smile Series Part Six: Responding to Rudeness With a Smile

By Shaykh Amin Buxton

In this series, we discuss the practices and acts that brought a smile to the Prophet Muhammad’s blessed face and made him laugh. We hope that by applying these lessons, we can gain his pleasure, and gain closeness to Allah Most High.  In this article, we explore valuable lessons from an incident our beloved Prophet had with a bedouin.

 


Responding to Rudeness With a Smile

Anas narrates that he was once walking with Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), who was wearing a Najrani shawl with a rough edge. All of a sudden, a bedouin came up behind him, took hold of the shawl, and pulled it with great force. The Prophet turned to face the man and Anas noticed that the force of the pull had left a mark on the Prophet’s neck.

“Muhammad,” he said, “Give me some of Allah’s money which is in your possession!”

The Prophet looked at him, smiled and instructed that he be given something.

(Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

 

This short incident brings to the forefront a number of the Prophet’s astounding character traits. 

He was walking with a servant, Sayyiduna Anas, who was a child at the time, shows his humility. Although he was the greatest human ever to walk the earth, he was glad to walk with anyone regardless of their age, gender, race and social standing. His choice of clothing is further evidence of his humility and lack of concern for worldly things. He could have worn the finest and smoothest of fabrics but he was happy with a shawl made in the Najran region of Yemen with an edge so rough – it was uncomfortable.  

Further, we witness the immensity of the Prophet’s forbearance, a beautiful quality known in Arabic as hilm. We are told that the description of the Prophet in the Torah is that the more rudely he is treated, the more he increases in forbearance. The Bedouin came from behind and, without any warning, grabbed the Prophet’s shawl, pulling it so hard that it physically hurt him. To add to this, he addressed him in a rude and blunt fashion. We are told in the Quran not to address the Prophet as we address our peers and equals, but this man was obviously ignorant of this. With no regard for good manners and without explaining his situation, he demanded that he be given some charity or zakat. 

We have to ask ourselves, how would we react in a similar situation? Our surprise and shock at being accosted from behind would quickly turn to anger and indignation. Then perhaps some pride and arrogance would creep in: how dare this person treat me like this! Who does he think he is? Does he really think he’ll be given anything after this?

This might well be our reaction. But it was not the reaction of Allah’s Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). He had justification for becoming angry, but he did not. He could have turned away and ignored the man, and this would have taken great self-control, but rather he turned towards him. Instead of turning away from him, he turned towards him. The companions tell us that whenever someone called the Prophet from behind, he would turn his whole body to face them, give them his full attention and then respond. 

The Prophet’s response to the rudeness of the man’s demand was a smile or even a chuckle, depending on how the hadith is translated. Ugliness was met with beauty. He then instructed that the man be given something.

The Prophet recognized the truth of the Bedouin’s statement – that indeed it was not his money, but rather Allah was the true giver and he was merely distributing what Allah had given. This is true humility – to accept words of truth from whoever utters them, even if they come in such a blunt form.

The Bedouin had most likely recently embraced Islam and the Prophet knew that he had to be treated with special care. In this, there is a valuable lesson for us in how we should treat anyone, particularly those who are new to the faith or new to practicing it. They may not be familiar with some of the manners and etiquettes that we have learned over time. They may have grown up and lived in difficult environments.

This was perhaps the only time that the Prophet and the Bedouin were to meet and had the Prophet rebuked him, it could have shaken the man’s faith. 

Instead, his faith would have been made firm by the Prophet’s beautiful character and the receipt of financial support. This would have been his abiding memory of the Prophet. This is what he would have told his family, his children and his tribe about. The Prophet’s beautiful and warm smile would have lived with him for the rest of his days. 

 

Using Shortcuts to Type Religious Phrases

Question: Is it disrespectful to use shortcuts to type blessings on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) or the like?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

No, it is not disrespectful to use shortcuts to type blessings on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) or the like.

One should do whatever best expresses veneration of the one being blessed or praised, while also showing as much care and concern for the time needed to complete the duties to Allah and to others.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

Is Standing for a National Anthem Shirk?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is standing for national anthem shirk? If yes, then if a student stands for the national anthem because it is the rule of the school and hates to do so would he or she be out of the fold of Islam what should a student do in such a case?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

No, standing for the national anthem is not shirk.

What is Shirk?

Shirk would be to:
a. Say there is another independent god besides Allah.
b. Say that Allah is part of another god – like the trinity.
c. Say that someone else is worshipped because he can make you closer to Allah.
d. Worship others besides Allah due to following another person.
e. Affirm that conventional causes bring about their effects independently of Allah.

For more details on this please take one of our Courses on Theology. (Sanusi, al Muqaddimat).

So, clearly, standing for the national anthem is none of the above, therefore it is not shirk. It is a mark of respect, which is not impermissible.

If, however, the anthem has any lyrics which clash with belief or values of the din then the ruling would change accordingly. In this situation, it would be best to speak to the school and clarify that you mean no disrespect, but there are elements that are problematic, and you would like to be excused from it.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Are Muslims Allowed To Be On Television?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is it okay to have a YouTube channel if you are a Muslim and you cover properly? Are Muslims allowed to be on television?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

It would be permissible to have a YouTube channel you make videos for, if:

a. you are covered properly, and

b. the content you are producing is clean – meaning it has no impermissible elements to it, and it does not promote what is clearly impermissible.

If there is anything impermissible on the channel then think of it as getting a fresh sin with every view. It’s simply not worth it.

Benefitting Others

Although this won’t affect the permissibility directly, it should be a major factor in your decision. If there is a particular benefit you can provide for people, religious or otherwise, then the channel may be a good idea, and, with a proper intention, rewarding.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give peace, said, “Whoever is able to benefit his brother, let him do so.” (Muslim) Good deeds that benefit oneself and others are better than good deeds which only benefit yourself.

If the content is just the owner’s views on Brexit, chocolate, and fashion, then it’s probably better to direct oneself which will be more beneficial. The ruling would be the same for TV too.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Sincere Memorization of Quran

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Is it considered shirk [polytheism] or even being insincere to tell someone that you are going to memorize some of the Quran?

Answer: It is not shirk [polytheism] but could be considered showing off [riya]. You shouldn’t get too tied up in it.

Developing innate sincerity takes time and effort. You should work on that as a universal goal, and not get bogged down with the specifics of what you just said or meant.

Shirk-like Things

There are no such things as Shirk-like things: one either worships something besides Allah or does not. It is very clear.

In your case, you are clearly not worshiping your father or teacher, so there is no question as to whether or not your actions or words constituted shirk.

The hadith that says that ‘Shirk [polytheism] is more hidden among my nation than the crawling of ants over a smooth boulder on a dark night.’ (Hakim) does not mean that every Muslim is accidentally committing shirk every now and then. Rather it is referring to the propensity of people to show off in good deeds. (Sharh Umdat al Ahkam, Ibn Taymiyya)

The Graveness of Showing Off

Showing off in good deeds is a very natural thing. After all, we grow up “showing off” to our parents and teachers trying to please them by doing good things. That said, upon the onset of puberty we are obliged to re-tune our psyches such that the driving force behind all good deeds — indeed deeds as a whole — is Allah Most High alone.

Allah Most High says, ‘And all they were ordered to do was to worship Allah, keeping religion purely for Him, as men by nature upright, and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion.’ (Qur’an, 98:5)

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) explained in a lengthy Hadith Qudsi that the very first people for whom judgment will be made on the Day of Rising with be the martyr, the scholar, and the philanthropist who only did their good deeds out ostentation and showing off. All of whom will find their fate in the Hell-Fire. (Muslim)

So ostentation is no small matter.

Being Realistic

That said, completely purity of heart does not come overnight, and it takes work and perseverance. As the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said when they complained to him of their late of sincerity, ‘I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, were you to be forever as you are will me in remembrance [of Allah and the Next Life], why, the very angels would be shaking your hands as you lay in bed or walk down the street! But, O Handhala [the questioner], sometimes [you are one way], and sometimes [you are another]! (Muslim)

This means we cannot expect to be perfect all the time. Rather we should resolve to try to be perfect: ‘But rather aim right, try your best, and “travel” in the morning, in the afternoon, and a little bit at night. Stick to moderation … Stick to moderation, and you will get where you need to be.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

So we must strive to remove the cancerous diseases that we have in our hearts while bearing in mind that it is not flick-of-a-switch operation. As described by Imam Junayd, ‘Spiritual change [tasawwuf] is a war of attrition with no cease-fire.’ (al Risala al Qushayriyya, Qushayri)

Baby Steps

There are two simple things to ward off ostentation.

The first is to decide on a certain regular system of worship etc., and not change it no matter where you are or whom you are with.

The second is to watch the motives that come to your heart, and whenever you see that you are about to show off, stop yourself and make a new sincere intention to do the action purely for Allah’s sake.

This takes a lot of work, and it helps a lot to keep the company of people who have done this to themselves or are at least working on it too.

For more detail, please see: Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Taking A Non Muslim As A Role Model

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is it permissible to admire and take non-Muslim as a role model for their humility and good qualities without wanting anything to do with their disbelief?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barkatuh

I pray you are well.

Yes, this admiration of good conduct and character is permissible. The Messenger of Allah said, “Clearly, I have only been sent to complete righteous character.” (Ahmad). This hadith indicates that other nations have good character, but its pinnacle is found in the teachings of Islam.

Follow the Messenger of Allah

Allah told us the He sent us the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, as an excellent role model for us to follow: “Indeed there is for you, in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent exemplar…” (33:21). Make him the person who you emulate, you’ll never be let down.

From amongst the living, there are many righteous people and scholars who embody some aspects of his perfect conduct. No one can embody it all besides him, Allah bless him and give him peace. This is safer, as they are likely to uplift and inspire you in every way. More than someone who does not know or embody the sunna can.

Islam recognizes the virtue of individuals, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, honored the daughter of Hatim al Tayyi’, a man is known for his great generosity, simply because his father was an honorable man.

A sounder approach is to pray for those non-Muslims within whom we recognize virtue. Ask Allah to guide them to Islam, and they’ll have the virtue of iman to add to their list.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Quran Etiquette

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Salaam Alaykum,

What is the ruling regarding reading Quran with shoes on. Must the shoes be removed if there is mud or impurity on them? Is it Sunnah to remove the shoes when reading Quran? Jazakallah Khair

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

It is permissible to recite the Qurʾan with your shoes on. What is we have reverence for the Qurʾan when reciting it.

Cultural Expressions of Respect

There are many practices which entail respect, such as not turning your back to someone distinguished, and in some places these practices were also applied to the Qurʾan. This is why many Indo-Paks, Turks, etc do not turn there backs to a copy of the Qurʾan.

All such practices are praiseworthy, because they emanate from a deep-seated reverence of the Book of Allah. They are, however, mostly cultural, and so subject to change from place to place. Removing one’s shoes before reciting could also be one of these.

Islamic Expressions of Respect

There are other practices which are rooted within the religion, such as reciting the Qurʾan with wudu – even if one is not touching a physical copy, facing the Qiba, cleaning one’s teeth with a miswak before reciting. These practices do not change from place to place.

Permission from the Sunna

Having said that, we have examples of when the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would lie in the lap of his wife ʿAʾisha during her menstrual cycle, and recite the Qurʾan. (Bukhari). This is a beautiful expression of spending quality time with one’s family and imbuing that time with the remembrance of Allah. ʿAʾisha herself would recite her daily portion of the Qurʾan whilst lying down.

Imam Nawawi, in his book al Tibyan, has mentioned the proper conduct of reciting the Qurʾan, and we should try to apply that as much as possible. However, should we see that someone is not facing the Qibla, or is reciting from memory without wudu, or whilst lying down, we should remember that we have permission from the Sunna to do such things.

I hope that helps.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. In the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

Reading Qur’an For A Deceased

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

A few years ago I signed up to read a juz of the Quran as part of a khatm sign up sheet for someone’s passing.. I had forgotten about that for a while and now I don’t even remember what juz number I signed up for.. I feel very worried. What should I do? Do I read the whole Quran with the intention of all of it being towards that same khatm? JazakAllah Khair.

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

The moral weight of promises

Allah Most High has said:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [2: 177]

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The signs of a hypocrite are three, even if he fasts and prays and claims to be a Muslim: when he speaks he lies, when he gives a promise he breaks it, and when he is trusted he is treacherous.’ [Bukhari and Muslim]

We can learn from these divine teachings that fulfilling one’s promise is of the perfection of faith, and breaking one’s promise is of the signs of hypocrisy.

The believer vs. the hypocrite

That said, there is a big difference between making a genuine promise with full intent to fullfil, and just lying to someone’s face. The latter is what is meant by the hadith.

So, if one makes a promise, one must keep it, but if you unable to or you just happen to forget this is not a sin: ‘Indeed Allah has overlooked for my the mistakes of my nation does, and that which they do forgetfully or under compulsion.’ [al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Majah]

This means that if you generally meant to fulfill the promise but then forgot, you are not sinful, and the hadith of the signs of hypocrisy does not apply to you.

It is however a deficiency in one’s faith, even if it is not sin, to forget about something that you are supposed to do. May Allah forgive us all?

What to do now?

InshaAllah, you are not sinful for forgetting to recite then portion of the Quran you had promised to do, but this is a wake-up call from Allah to raise you to a higher level of trustworthiness with Him and His creation.

What you should do is, this month, when you are reciting Quran intend that the whole khatm is dedicated to whatever the original cause was and when you finish each day make a special dua to Allah to make you a trustworthy slave. Please make that dua for me too, if you remember.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

ADAB 14: The Proprieties of Prioritizing in Religious Practice

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or the proprieties of prioritizing religious practice.

“From the marks of following whimsical desires is rushing to perform supererogatory acts of devotion, and laziness in the fulfilment of religiously obligatory duties.” Profound words from the remarkable Ahmad b. ‘Ata Illah al-Sakandari (may Allah sanctify his secret). You don’t start profiting until you’ve broken even, and a lack of religious priority and guidance can lead to loss in this life before the next. Fortunately, the scholars don’t just leave us in the dark about how to function prophetically, and with true, praiseworthy adab, but they take us by the hand to ensure that we grow, recognise, appreciate and are subsequently grown, even without our own doing.

Our Master ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported that a man came to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: “I have come intending to set out in jihad with you, seeking thereby the countenance of Allah and the next abode. I have indeed come, but my parents are weeping.” He said, Allah bless him and give them peace, “Return to them and make them laugh just as you made them weep.” (Ibn Majah) It doesn’t matter about your emotions, how much you want something, how beloved it appears to be to the lawgiver, or anything else. What matters is priority, and this is not it in your life at this time. Priority is what the Lawgiver wants from you and I, and that takes time to realise, absorb, consider and do.

1. Divine Love in Priority

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said in a holy tradition (hadith qudsi), transmitting Allah’s Speech to us: “My servant draws near to Me with nothing more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory upon him; and My servant continues drawing nearer to Me with supererogatory works until I love him.” (Bukhari) It is not by jumping to recommended or mere charitable deeds that a believer wins unto the great, good pleasure of the Divine, but by fulfilling that which He has made obligatory upon us. 

In another tradition, our Master Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported that a man came and said to the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Do you think that if I pray the prescribed prayers, fast [the month of] Ramadan, deem the lawful to be lawful and the unlawful to be forbidden, and I do not add anything beyond that, I shall enter Paradise?” He, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Yes.’ (Muslim) The religion is comprised of different duties, of course, but there is something special about the obligatory acts, a secret by which a person can attain unto ultimate bliss. 

Obligatory, missed duties also need to be made up and should be given precedence over supererogatory works, unless that which requires attention is minimal. So you should focus, for example, on the missed dawn prayers (fajr) rather than praying extra cycles (rak‘as) of the mid-morning prayer (duha). Generally, makeup prayers and fasts should be prioritised, as is the case with missed zakat payments. Mandatory duties such as missed end of Ramadan charity payments (sadaqat al-fitr), missed ritual sacrifices (udhiya/qurbani), expiations for fasting, oaths and the like, should also be given precedence to other monetary acts of devotion

2. Duties: Communal and Personal

Allah Most High says, “However, it is not necessary for the believers to march forth all at once. Only a party from each group should march forth, leaving the rest to gain religious knowledge then enlighten their people when they return to them, so that they too may beware of evil.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:122) In his exegesis, Ibn ‘Ashur explains that seeking knowledge is also a communal obligation, and that the entire community of believers (umma) would have been negligent if they had all left in jihad. Rather, there were multiple obligations to take care of, and a sufficiently large group needed fulfil each duty. Both were prioritised and of equal, communal importance. 

The communal obligation (fard kifaya) is that which is due upon every community of believers in a particular place. It is not limited to seemingly religious roles. An example would be the need to have doctors, lawyers and traders, all of whom are required to run a healthy society. This obligation is only lifted if a sufficiently large number of people fulfil it whereby the need is taken care of. Otherwise, the entire community is sinful. The personal obligation (fard ‘ayn) is that which is due from every single individual without exception. Similarly, there is a communal sunna, such as the spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf), and personal sunnas, such as the emphasised cycles (rak‘as) associated with each prescribed prayer. All of these also require fulfilment as such sunnas are duties which cannot be left without a genuine, shari‘a-countenanced excuse. 

The personal obligation is of greatest importance because matters which pertain to the generality are lesser in emphasis. But some individuals have a greater responsibility to take care of duties on behalf of the entire community because of their aptitude and personal circumstances, and their reward will be commensurate with the sincerity of their service and devotion. What this also means is that each person may get the reward of fulfilling an obligatory duty by intending their permissible work as such whenever they set out in the morning or night. Each person has a place, and actions are but by their intentions. When there is a choice, prioritising entails choosing a communal duty that is not yet fully fulfilled.

3. Knowledge of Your Current Circumstances (‘ilm al-hal)

It is obligatory, of course, to know enough that you can worship Allah Most High in the situations you normally find yourself in. In this context, worship relates to three things: (a) that which relates to the mind, ‘aqida; (b) that which relates to the limbs, fiqh; and that which relates to the heart, tasawwuf. All of this is required, albeit to the extent of the need, in order to fulfil your duty to worship. 

The Ottoman scholar, and the Shaykh of the Sacred Mosque (al-masjid al-haram) of his time, Yusuf al-Amasi (d. 1000 AH), writes in his brilliant treatise, Tabyin al-Maharim: “It is obligatory to know the [basic] rulings of (1) the five prescribed duties [assuming that they are due]; (2) the details of sincerity, because the soundness of actions depends upon it; (3) [basic] rulings of the lawful and the unlawful; (4) the details of showing off, because the worshipper is deprived of reward otherwise; (5) the details of envy and conceitedness, because they consume a person’s good deeds just as fire consumes wood; the details of (6) buying, selling, (7) marriage and divorce, for somebody who intends to do these things; and the (8) [basic] rulings related to foul and impermissible language.” A fair deal to work on! Note that this is just a list with respect to the obligatory. There are also mandatory (wajib) acts which require performance and severely offensive (makruh tahriman) acts which need to be avoided. 

What this means is that knowing the details of logical arguments, debates of ancient philosophers, when particular penal punishments are applicable, what Razi said about a particular verse, the names of the Companions who fought at Badr, in what situations the predicate is hidden in classical Arabic, and other non-essential issues from the various Islamic sciences may wait for another time. The sincere person is focused and clear about what he needs and he takes the requisite steps in order to attain unto it. Otherwise, one should look to their heart as to why they are studying whatever it is they are studying, and if it is at the expense of the above or not, because the scholars would state that this is following one’s desires and not acting in accordance with prophetic guidance. “Consult your heart,” said the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, even if the scholars answer you time and again.

A related issue is that a man would also need to know a sufficient amount of worldly knowledge such that he can earn a living and support his family, and accordingly, he is fulfilling an obligatory duty by learning a trade or preparing himself for that.

4. Different Priorities at Different Times

The scholars of the science of Islamic Spirituality (tasawwuf) mention that the true aspirant is a “son of his moment.” This is characterised in the words of Imam Junayd who said, “The believer’s state changes forty times daily,” pointing to the idea of prioritising whatever is required at any given time. It is clearly preferable to do certain things at certain times, and other things at other times. The key to all of this is knowledge, wisdom and sincerity. A brief example would be choosing between extensive night worship and being fresh and ready for work in the subsequent morning, even if in the month of Ramadan. Negligence in fulfilling one’s responsibilities with due care, a matter related to the rights of others, is far more serious than any reward earned for extra rak‘as or recitation of the Qur’an.
The jurists expressed this idea of priorities in the legal maxims (qawa‘id fiqhiyya) they developed to help those in the judiciary and elsewhere to understand the underlying principles which are shared between particular groups of rulings, but to also forward universals, something that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, also encouraged. An example of this is the statement: “Warding off harms is given precedence over the attainment of benefits.” Similarly, “Severe harm is warded off by undertaking lesser harm.” It may well be that the circumstance calls you to behave in a manner which is contrary to that which is normally expected because there is some kind of grave harm entailed in doing otherwise.

The cases of this are too numerous to mention, but, as an example, consider the following list of scenarios which the jurists deemed to take precedence over the ritual prayer, even if it meant that the prayer time would exit: (1) a midwife who fears for the life of a baby; (2) anybody able to help a drowning or burning person, or anybody else in need of urgent, life-saving assistance; (3) a traveller who genuinely fears for his life or wealth from armed criminals. Please note that this is a technical discussion and if you face any of these scenarios regularly, it’s best to consult with a learned scholar first to ensure you fully understand the details of when such a choice is religiously acceptable and when it is not.

5. Avoiding the Unlawful versus Fulfilling the Obligatory

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “That which I have prohibited you from, shun it, and that which I have commanded you with, do it to the best of your ability.” (Bukhari) Not doing something is far easier than doing something, and this is partly the reason for the prophetic dispensation provided for the obligatory, contrary to the prohibited. One’s dedication in leaving the unlawful should be more intense than one’s performance of the obligatory, given that all it entails is not doing something, but the omission of both is obviously inexcusable. 

It is important to progress in learning with gradualness and wisdom. One should start with the obligatory (fard) and the prohibited (haram) and work to establish and remove those matters, respectively, and then move on to the mandatory (wajib) and the severely offensive (makruh tahriman) and so on. If you are jumping ahead to undertake commendable or praiseworthy (mustahab/mandub) actions, and you haven’t taken care of that which comes before, you are only kidding yourself. Fulfilling such matters is fine in moderation, even whilst you haven’t mastered the other things, but not at the expense of those which are hallmarks of sincere believers. The early righteous would say, “Works of piety are done by both the righteous and the corrupt, but nobody has the strength to leave sin except the sincerely faithful.” 

6. Public and Personal Benefit

The general principle is that benefit which accrues to other than oneself is better and more beloved to Allah Most High than personal benefit, except in some situations. An example of this latter case would be, according to Sultan al-‘Ulama al-‘Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salam, the remembrances (adhkar) after the prayer wherein one recites subhana Llah, alhamdu li Llah, Allahu akbar, thirty-three, thirty-three and thirty-four times respectively.

Our Master Abu Huraira reported that the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Every person’s joints have [an associated] charity due each day in which the sun rises: to reconcile between two [disputing] people is a charity; to assist another by helping him onto his mount, or lifting his merchandise onto it for him, is a charity. A good word is a charity. Each step one takes to the prayer is a charity. And removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.” (Bukhari)

Our religion is service at its very heart; the scholar is a servant, the doctor is a servant, everybody with a profession serves, even if only their dependents. “Whoever doesn’t serve, shall regret it,” as one of the righteous once remarked. 

Priority, then, is in recognising that some matters are more urgent than others, and for the believer, that the next life is far more important than this life. May Allah Most High grant us the vision to be farsighted enough to recognise where our eternal benefit lies, to facilitate the attainment of such goals, remove obstacles and hardships from our lives and the lives of all believers, and allow out hearts to thrive with His Pure Love. 

 

And Allah alone gives success.