Ghazali on the Inner Manners of Qur’an Recital

Ghazali on the Inner Manners of Qur’an Recital

Based on Imam Ghazali’s explanation in his Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din

In the Name Of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

1. One should understand the magnificent nature of the Qur’an. This is a divine gift from Allah, and a tremendous favor. One should bring to mind the favor of Allah and be thankful.

2. Magnification of the Speaker. Bring to mind the magnification of the One who is addressing us. The reciter will then remain conscious of the fact that this Book is the speech of Allah. So when one recites, it is not like reading any book, rather the very speech of Allah. Allah is speaking to the reciter through his recitation.

3. Paying attention to the Qur’an: One may avoid whisperings of the self. “Oh Yahya, take the book firmly,” which may be understood as … take the words contained in it with seriousness and sincerity.

4. Pondering over the verses. How? Recite it according to the Sunna with tarteel, a slow, measured, distinct manner. Tajweed helps in inward reflection. There’s a hadith from Nasai and ibn Majah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, prayed at night reciting one ayah repeatedly: “in tuaddhibhum fa ‘innahum ‘ibaaduk…” If You punish them, then they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, surely You are the Mighty, the Wise. (5:118)

5. Seek to understand the meanings. 1) in the linguistic sense – study a translation if you do not know Arabic, 2) and the deeper meanings found in tafsirs, 3) and with reflection. Studying ‘aqida helps, for example, reading verses about the power of Allah, and about His qadr. Don’t interpret it with your own opinion; go look it up in a tafsir.

6. Remove obstacles to understanding the Qur’an. There are four veils according to Imam Ghazali:

* Being overly concerned with outward recitation (this is one of the tricks of Shaytan to turn you away from reflecting on meanings). Find a middle path.

* Superimposing one’s ideas/perspectives/beliefs on the guidance of the Qur’an (ex: someone is a feminist, socialist, economist – reading the Qur’an according to his or her own perspective – preventing true spiritual benefit from the Qur’an.) Take guidance from the Qur’an itself with an open mind.

* Sin, both outward and inward. Sin creates darkness in the soul and clouds the mirror of the heart, so it doesn’t reflect the light of Divine guidance. How to polish the heart? With sincere and consistent repentance, and leaving sin. Keep doing this and striving until you leave those sins. This is a process: cleaning the heart and approaching Allah Most High.

* One finds sufficiency on finding how meanings relate to you from tafsir. However, this is an interpretation; these tafsirs shouldn’t take the place of personal reflection and application.

Take everything in the Qur’an as guidance for yourself because it is for all creation. When it talks about the oppressors, sinners, etc. look at your life, act on what’s implied relative to your life. “Fastaqim kama umirta,” be steadfast as you were commanded. Imagine how the Prophet, peace be upon him, applied the Qur’an to his life – his hair turned gray! His companions asked why his hair had turned white. He, peace be upon him, said, “Sura Hud and its sisters made my hair white.” He was upright and truthful in following the Qur’an. He took every address to apply to himself personally.

Feel the Qur’an when talking about Paradise, Hell, or anything, put yourself in tune with the Qur’an.

Rise in degrees of recitation. There are three grades of recitation. Any recitation is a tremendous grade.

* The lowest grade: one supposes one is reading the Qur’an to Allah, as if one is standing before Allah, in His Divine Presence, and Allah is listening to one’s recitation. This is an inward state of begging, entreating, and supplicating.

* The middle grade: When one beholds Allah and sees for themself that Allah is addressing us with His favor. He is bestowing His gifts, His mercy through the Qur’an. There is a sense of shame, modesty (haya) and magnification (ta’dhim). One seeks to understand and be more serious. Now it is from Allah to you! There’s also a feeling of ecstasy, thankfulness, and joy! One piece of dust like you is being addressed by the Lord of every speck of dust!

* The highest grade: When one beholds the Speaker Himself and His Attributes. One does not see his own actions, but completely engrosses himself in beholding Allah Most High Himself. Then next, he sees the address of Allah Most High, then sees his own recitation.

10. Recite the Qur’an while knowing that there is no might or power except with Allah. Qul bifaDlillahi wa biraHmatihi… say by the Grace of Allah and His Mercy; in that let them rejoice – better than what they amass – whether (worldly or spiritual amassing).

Thank Allah upon good deeds. In addition, one always beholds one’s shortcoming in reciting it. And reminding ourselves that we are not being thankful enough, look even the Prophet’s hair turned gray…The soul is what turns to Allah…the body is just dust. We have infinite fear, and infinite hope in Allah… so turn to Allah and hope for His Pleasure.

See Also:

Dua before reciting Qur’an – Qari Ismet

Reciting From a Copy of the Qur’an (Mushaf) in Tarawih and Other Prayers

Can A Menstruating Woman Recite The Qur’an?

Are Supplications Made After the Entire Qur’an Has Been Recited Considered Accepted By Allah?

Reciting the Qur’an Properly and With a Beautiful Voice

Do Grammatical and Pronunciation Mistakes While Reciting the Qur’an Invalidate Your Prayer?

The Sunna Method of Reciting the Qur’an and the Legal Status of Reciting With Tajwid

Handling Clothing With the Name of Allah and His Prophets

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I sometimes see t-shirts with the names of the Prophets’ on them, either in English or in Arabic. Is there any adab to observe should one wear such clothing, e.g. should one avoid wearing them to the washroom, etc? Thank you.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

It is permissible to wear shirts with the name of Allah or or His prophets (peace and blessings be upon them) on them, yet one must have proper etiquette (adab). The person must prevent anything filthy from touching the blessed names. Also, he should not wear such clothing in the toilet area or while relieving himself, as that is disliked.

Also, such clothing should not be thrown on the floor, stepped on or disrespectfully tossed, but rather neatly placed in its proper place.

Allah Most High states, “Whoever venerates the symbols of Allah, that is indeed from the piety of hearts” (22:32).

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

Treating the Qur’an and the Name of Allah With Respect

Carrying a Small Copy of the Qur’an

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is carrying or keeping a small quran on your person permissible?


Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

The basis of dealing with the book of Allah is with reverence. Allah Most High says, “And whosoever venerates God’s waymarks, that is of the godliness of the hearts.” [Qur’an, 22:32]

Thus it is permitted to carry the Qur’an on your person, albeit in a respectful, dignified manner. As such, it would be proper to keep it raised in your shirt pocket, for example.

Moreover, if the mushaf is without a detachable cover, it would not permitted to touch it without ablution (wudu). Allah Most High says, “None but the purified shall touch” [Qur’an, 56:79]

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; `Ala’ al-Din `Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya]

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

Treating the Qur’an and the Name of Allah With Respect

Qur’an Application on an iPhone: Can I Touch My iPhone Without Ablution?

Placing the Qur’an on the Floor: Not Permissible

Etiquette of Reading and Handling the Qur’an

Sending a Qur’an in the Mail

Ramadan Reminders (7): Observing the Inward Manners of the Qur’an by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ramadan Reminder (8): Living the Qur’an by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Reciting Qur’an Without Ritual Purity (Wudu)

The Adab of Electronic Devices – Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf – Muwasala

SeekersGuidance Student Assembly – Term 3 2012

SeekersGuidance Student Assembly – Term 3 2012

Seeking Knowledge with Manners and Virtue


Yesterday, students gathered online and at the SeekersHub in Toronto. Surrounded by our Teachers, we listened to their wise words and counsel as we approach the end of our studies for this term.

Sayyid Mohammed Assagaf, teacher at SeekersGuidance, softly and humbly spoke about the importance of intention and adab in respects to knowledge. He also mentions how the seeker of knowledge should maintain consistency to reach a point of felicity. He graciously adds that we should purify our heart for it is the vessel for the light of Allah.


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Executive Director and teacher at SeekersGuidance, passionately gave counsel to students referring to the teachings of Abu Madyan. Giving students these four points to ponder upon:

  • 1. Renunciation (Zuhd). Seek Allah, and detach your heart from worldly matters.
  • 2. Knowledge. Know what you need to know, and avoid things that are not beneficial.
  • 3. Rely on Allah. Trusting in Allah was the Prophet’s State, taking means was his Sunnah.
  • 4. Certitude. Have certitude without any doubt of Allah and His Messenger.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani also advises that Allah and His Messenger have us given all knowledge we will ever need, without any doubt.

LIVE courses are still taking registrations, so please visit the Live Courses webpage if you would like to participate in one of them.

Online Academy


Thanks to @farazrabbani @alfroz on #twitter for the notes taken during the assembly.

Keep in touch with our Scholars online:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani Biography Facebook Twitter

Sayyid Mohammed Assagaf Biography Twitter

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus Biography Facebook

Some further relevant resources on Seeking Knowledge, and maintaining Adab as a student:

Ten Adab of Seekers of Knowledge – Notes by Ayaz Siddiqui

The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge – Nur Sacred Sciences

Keys to Successful Seeking of Islamic Knowledge: Advice from Teachers and Teaching Assistants

Islamcast – The Virtues of Seeking Knowledge

Advice Regarding Being a Student of Knowledge and Taking Notes

The Loss of Adab, The Corruption of Knowledge, and The Moral Dislocation of the Muslim World (Sayyid Naquib al-Attas) – Allahcentric Blog

Study Questions for Understanding Works of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas – Adi Setia

Study Questions for Understanding Works of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas – Adi Setia

The following questions are taken from a midterm examination of an ethics course taught by Professor Adi Setia at the International Islamic University, Malaysia. They provide a useful companion to the books of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas and have been cr0ss-posted here for those who wish to explore a deeper study of the ideas of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas.

Part 1: Textual Understanding

This part tests your comprehension of selected sentences/passages from Professor al-Attas’s text, “Islam: The Concept of Religion and the Foundations of Ethics and Morality.” Give concise answers with one or two concrete, real-life examples to illustrate your point, and support your point by relevant quotations from Professor al-Attas’s text.

1. What is the nature of man’s indebtedness to God and how it is related to gratitude?

2. How does Professor al-Attas understand the verse “Verily man is in loss (khusr)…”?

3. What is the meaning of “real submission” and how is it related to ibadah, ikhtiyar and sense of purpose in life?

4. Explain the meaning of the statement: “The trust (amanah) refers to responsibility and freedom of the self to do justice to itself.”

5. How do man attain to freedom, and what is the difference between real freedom and pseudo-freedom?

6. What do change, development and progress refer to according to the Islamic viewpoint, and constrast it with the western secular viewpoint?

7. What is the physical and spiritual significance of trade (bartering, buying and selling)?

8. Why is the external structure or pattern of Muslim society not divided by the gap of generations such as we find prevalent in Western society?

9. How do individuals in Islamic society establish their identity and establish their ultimate destiny, and thus ariive at a correct understanding and experience of true happiness?

10. “Knowledge is not neutral, and can indeed be infused with a nature and content which masquerades as knowledge.” Elaborate on this statement.

Part 2: Intellectual Quiz

This part tests your creative, critical and analytical understanding certain key ethical ideas and concepts discussed so far in class. Again, give concise answers with at least one personal real-life examples.

1. Can an educated person be “ignorant”?

2. How do you differentiate between “normal” and “abnormal” conduct?

3. Clarify the statement: “Progress has meaning only when the goal is clear.”

4. What do you mean when you say, “I trust you”?

5. What is “responsibility”?

Part 3: Research Assignment

This part is to encourage to research into ethical issues so that you can clarify them and articulate your own stand in regard thereof. Choose only one research topic, preferably the one most related to your academic major. Write up your findings in essay form in not more than two or three pages.

1. Write a short critical, ethical analysis of the mainstream, western definition of economics as “the science that studies the allocation of scarce resources to meet unlimited human wants.”

2. Write a short critical essay to explore to what extent the University’s slogan “Garden of Knowledge and Virtue” is an accurate or inaccurate description of the reality of campus life.

3. The purpose of law is to serve justice. Write a short critical essay to highlight aspects of the Malaysian legal system and/or administration that fail to serve justice. Provide at least three real-life cases in point, and if possible provide solutions.

4. Write a short ethical critique of the concept of “economic growth,” from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

5. Write a short ethical critique of the notion of “knowledge economy,” from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

6. Write a short ethical critique of the proposition that the Government should be “pro business,” from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

7. Write a short ethical critique of the use of children in commercial advertisements, from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

8. Write a short ethical critique of western style “sex education,” from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

9. Write a short ethical critique of long distance learning by means of information and computer technology, from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

10. Write a short ethical critique of mobile phone companies’ advertisements that promote a lifestyle of endless chatter (“bual tanpa had”), from both the Islamic and Western perspectives.

11. Do a library and/or internet research on the concept and practice of “green architecture” and evaluate it from both the Islamic and western ethical viewpoints.

12. Do a library and/or internet research on the concept and practice of “green engineering” and “green chemistry” evaluate them from both the Islamic and western ethical viewpoints.

13. Do a library and/or internet research on the concept and practice of “organic agriculture” and evaluate it from both the Islamic and western ethical viewpoints.

14. Write a short essay exploring the extent to which “change, development and progress” in Malaysia or China or Dubai conforms or not conform to the Islamic understanding of “change, development and progress” as outlined by Professor al-Attas.

15. Malaysian law does not generally grants legal recognition for the customary land rights of the Orang Asli and the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Explore this issue from both the Islamic and secular ethico-legal perspectives.

16. Among the five fundamental objectives of the Shari‘ah (Maqasid al-Shari‘ah), the objective of preservation of wealth (hifz al-mal) is placed last in fifth place. Why is that?

17. Do a library and/or internet research on the theme of “Islam & Ecology” or “Islam & the Environment” or “Animals in Islam,” and then write a short summary of the Islamic ethical attitude towards nature, and thereby determine to what extent this attitude is or is not reflected at IIUM campus.

18. Do a ethical analysis of the meaning of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) from both the Islamic and secular perspectives, and evaluate to what extent Malaysian do or do not realise in practce the principle of CSR.

19. Analyze and explore the concept of “intellectual integrity” from both the Islamic and secular perspectives, and evaluate to what extent this concept is or is not realized in practice at IIUM.

20. Do a library and/or internet research to determine to what extent Confucian ethics is or is not compatible with Islamic ethics.

21. Do a library and/or internet research to determine to what extent utilitarian ethics is or is not compatible with Islamic ethics.

On the Path to a Sacred Journey: The Courtesies (Ādāb) of Hajj – Nur Sacred Sciences

On the Path to a Sacred Journey:

The Courtesies (Ādāb) of Hajj

The Hajj has specific courtesies and actions that it is recommended to perform in order to ensure that one returns from Hajj with his or her pilgrimage both accepted and rewarded, inshāʼ Allāh. Among the recommended ādāb of the great pilgrimage are the following.

1)      It is recommended that every person who has made the intention of performing the Hajj and has set out to settle his or her travel arrangements to first and foremost make a sincere repentance (tawba) from all sins and actions which distance one from God. In addition, one must strive to make his or her intention to be one which is sincerely for the sake of God and to exert an effort to purify it from any form of vanity or a desire to be known. All of this is an essential form of preparation in order that one sets out for the House of Allah with a heart that is pure and ready to absorb the sweet breezes of divine mercy and spiritual favors which are bestowed in this sacred journey.

2)      To return all materials one has borrowed or has been entrusted with to their owners. One should also make up for any rights that another individual may have upon them which has yet to be fulfilled as well as pay off all debts or assign someone to do so on one’s behalf if one is unable.

3)      To reach out to all of one’s relatives and friends and ask them for forgiveness. One should also rectify all relationships in which there is any form of misgiving, hurt, or dispute. This is especially important with one’s neighbors. One should also strive to acquire the pleasure of one’s parents and those who have a right upon him or her from among one’s teachers, religious guides, and close relatives.

4)      To write a will and have it witnessed. One should also leave for those he or she has a financial obligation towards, such as a spouse, child, or parent, enough money to spend until one’s return.

Continue reading here…

The Reality of Bad Manners – From Imam al-Haddad’s “Two Treatises” – Immersing in the Sea blog

The Reality of Bad Manners – From Imam al-Haddad’s “Two Treatises”

Read this following today in Mostafa al Badawi’s Introduction to Imam Haddad’s text, “Two Treatises, Mutual Reminding and Good Manners, and thought it was a powerful, needed reminder for myself. Posting to help keep the lesson close at hand.

“It is bad manners of the most sever degree to be informed that the Hereafter is immensely better than this world and is everlasting, yet prefer this world and concentrate all one’s energies therein. It is bad manners to be informed that it is possible to draw near to God, yet decide that the effort required to do so is too troublesome and so settle for the minimum necessary to barely escape the Fire. It is bad manners to be informed that some people ascertain profound knowledge of God through contemplation, yet decide that other things are more important as the objects of your concerns. It is bad manners to devote time and energy to studying the insignificant and the ephemeral, yet neglect to devote equal time (at least) in studying that which helps deliver one from chastisement in the Hereafter and from moral indifference in this life. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “God loathes those who are learned in the affairs of this world but are ignorant of the Hereafter.”

For it behooves those who have been gifted by God with intelligence and skills to apply these gifts towards what benefits them in the most profound way, to gain knowledge and insight about the Real and the purpose He has created us. This is not to say that one should abandon the world  altogether; on the contrary, Islam encourages excellence in things of this world, but not at the expense of matters related to the Hereafter and religious conduct of one’s life. Detachment from the world is a thing of the heart, a mental attitude, an objective view of prioritization, so that one does everything that is required to do but without inordinate preoccupation. As for studying the sciences of the religion., it is a duty that that no Muslim can evade. “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim man and woman,” said the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). This goes side by side with learning a trade, a craft or obtaining higher university degrees.”

~ Mostafa al-Badawi, Translator’s Introduction, Two Treatises: Mutual Reminding and Good Manners (by Imam Abdullah ibn Alawi al-Haddad)

Ten Good Manners for Hajj by Imam al-Ghazali – Translated Abdal Hakim Murad

Ten Good Manners for Hajj by Imam al-Ghazali trans. Abdal Hakim Murad

There are ten good manners which the pilgrim should observe.

Firstly, the money he spends must come from halal sources. He must strive, likewise, to avoid carrying on any business while on Hajj, such as would occupy the heart and distract his attention; for his purpose should be solely to remember Allah and to honour His rites. It is related that ‘at the end of time, four types of people will perform Hajj: the rulers (for enjoyment), the wealthy (to do business), the poor (to beg), and the Quran-reciters (to show off).’ This report indicates the kind of worldly purposes which can lie behind people’s Hajj, and they all destroy the Hajj’s merit and prevent people from performing the ceremony in its inward reality. Particularly devoid of benefit is the Hajj made by someone on another’s behalf in exchange for money, for such a pilgrimage is done for the sake of this world, not the next. Scrupulous believers and people of pure heart have said that the only exception which ever occurs to this is when the intention is to stay in Makka for some time, and the only way to afford the journey is this kind of surrogate Hajj. If this is the intention, namely, that one is using dunya to pursue din, and not the other way around, then such a paid pilgrimage is not wrong. But the intention should be stated as ‘visiting Allah’s pure House, and helping an incapable Muslim brother to discharge an obligation’.

Secondly, the pilgrim must not assist Allah’s enemies by paying them unlawful taxes and levies. Such people are considered among ‘those who obstruct God’s path’, and include the desert Arabs who ambush pilgrims along the route. Because to hand them money is to give support to injustice, one must find ruses and tricks to avoid this as much as one can. Wearing poor and humble clothes will often help. But if this is not possible, then some scholars have said that if the Hajj is a second or subsequent one, then it is best to return home without making the payment. Such charges are a disgraceful innovation, and to submit to them gives them the appearance of legitimate custom, and brings only humiliation and abasement to the Muslims.

Thirdly, one should bring much food with one, and be open-hearted and generous in sharing it with others. But one should not go to wasteful extremes in enjoying delectable kinds of food and drink, as those who live in luxury do. Other than this, one cannot be too generous and liberal in feeding other pilgrims, for ‘goodness knows no extravagance’. To share one’s food supply with others during the Hajj is to spend in God’s path; as Ibn Umar said: ‘The best pilgrim is the noblest in intention, the purest in giving, and the greatest in certainty.’ The Prophet, upon him be blessings and peace, once said: ‘A fulfilled Hajj has no reward other than Paradise.’ He was asked, ‘O Messenger of God, and what is the “fulfillment” of Hajj?’ and he replied: ‘Speaking good words, and giving out food.’

Fourthly, during the Hajj one must renounce all rafath, fusuq, and jidal, as the Quran says. ‘Rafath’ is an inclusive term for loose and obscene talk. It includes flirting with women and mentioning anything connected with sexual desire. ‘Fusuq’ is a term for any departure from obedience to Allah, while ‘jidal’ means boastful and argumentative talk of the kind that provokes rancour, scatters one’s intention, and violates the rules of good manners and behaviour. It is reprehensible, therefore, to criticise or go against the wishes of one’s companions, for one should always be gentle and respectful of travellers to God’s House. Good character is not the repayment of harm, but the endurance of it. It is said that travel (safar) received its name because it unveils (sufur) people’s character traits, which is why Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) told a man who claimed that he knew a friend well, ‘Have you travelled with him?’ When the man replied that he had not, Umar simply said, ‘Then you do not know him.’

Fifthly, one should perform as much of the Hajj as possible on foot. On his deathbed, Ibn Abbas told his sons: ‘My sons, you should make Hajj on foot, for the walking pilgrim receives seven hundred blessings from the Sacred Sanctuary with every step he takes.’ One should take particular care to walk during the important rituals, such as the movement from Makka to Arafat and to Mina. Some ulema, however, have held that riding is better, because this allows one better to assist others, is safer, and keeps one away from situations which may provoke anger and resentment in one’s heart. In reality, this view is not in conflict with the former opinion: one should simply use one’s discernment, so that one walks if one finds walking easy, but rides if one is weak or fears that walking will worsen one’s behaviour and damage the quality of one’s actions. When performing the rites of Umra, it is best to walk, and to spend the money thus saved in good works.

Sixthly, the pilgrim who chooses to ride should ride on a saddle rather than in a canopied howdah. The only exception is the pilgrim who is weak or unused to riding, and fears that he may fall off the normal camel-saddle. There are two considerations here. Firstly, one should give ease to the camel, and howdahs are uncomfortable for them to bear; and secondly, one should avoid imitating the appearance of the proud and wealthy. The Prophet, upon him be peace, made Hajj riding, in order that people could follow him and note his actions, but he rode on an old cloth-saddle which had cost only four dirhams. In later times, caravans became splendid affairs, so that Ibn Umar, beholding one of them, said: ‘Few pilgrims, but so many beasts!’ He then noticed a pauper in rags, and said, ‘Here is a hajji that is magnificent indeed!’

Seventhly, one should have a ragged, dusty, untidy appearance, with uncombed hair, without much external ornament or any inclination to pomp and show. For otherwise, one might be inscribed among the proud and haughty who live in luxury, rather than among the weak, poor, and pure in heart. The Prophet (upon whom be peace) observed that ‘the [true] hajji is untidy of hair and unkempt’. And Allah the Exalted declares: ‘Behold the visitors to My House. They have come to Me dusty and with unkempt hair, from every deep valley.’ And He says: ‘Then let them end their unkemptness’ – by shaving their heads and trimming their nails.

Eighthly, one must be gentle with the animals one rides. It is not allowable to overburden them, or to sleep on them. The pious Muslims of old never slept on animals, except for accidental dozing; neither did they sit on them for extended periods without a break. Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace, has said: ‘Do not treat your animals as chairs’. It is recommended, and this is the Sunna, that one dismount from time to time to allow the animal to rest. When on his deathbed, Abu’l-Darda said to his camel: ‘My camel, I never overloaded you, so do not complain of me before your Lord!’ Allah rewards people for kindnesses shown to any living thing; so we must uphold the beast’s right, and the right of the owner of the beast who rented it out. To descend for a while and walk beside it gives relief to the animal, and pleasure to the camel-agent. A man once asked Ibn al-Mubarak to take a book with him and deliver it at his destination. ‘I shall ask the agent’s permission’, he said, ‘for I have already agreed on an animal and a fee.’ See how scrupulous he was over carrying a single book, whose weight was negligible. For if one opens the door to a little, then after a time, much will flow through it.

Ninthly, the pilgrim should seek to please Allah by offering a sacrifice, even if this is not obligatory upon him. He should strive to ensure that it is a plump and valuable animal. If the sacrifice is optional, he should eat from it, but not if it is obligatory. What is intended is not the supply of great quantities of meat, but the purification of the soul and the suppression of the ego’s love of avarice. ‘Their meat and flesh do not reach God; but the piety from you reaches Him.’

Tenthly, one must be pleased by the expenditures and sacrifices one makes, and the losses one suffers to one’s money or person; for such trials are a sign that one’s Hajj has been accepted by God. A misfortune on the way to Hajj is like one of the difficulties which confront the warrior in Jihad, so that for every pain one feels, and for every loss one sustains, one has a reward – and Allah does not allow the reward of any good person to be lost

The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge – Nur Sacred Sciences

The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

The Islamic tradition teaches us that both students of sacred knowledge and their teachers have lofty principles and refined codes of conduct that they must adhere to in order to ensure that they can truly achieve virtue through their knowledge and that God opens up for them (futūḥ) the full extent of wisdom and perception.  From the most distinguished of these etiquettes (ādāb) that must accompany teaching and seeking knowledge are the following.

1)      To have respect in one’s heart and exhibit reverence for gatherings of knowledge. This is embodied in some of the following practices:

a)       To have ritual purity and cleanliness before leaving to attend gatherings of knowledge.  The Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and their followers used to be very attentive to this matter.  It is reported that Imām Mālik used to be meticulous in his veneration of gatherings of knowledge to the point that before narrating hadiths, he would make wuḍūʼ, wear his best clothes, sit upon his cushion, comb his beard, put on perfume, and sit in the most dignified and respectful posture.  When asked about this he replied, “I love to exalt the hadiths of the Messenger of God (PBUH).”

Another form of purification before attending gatherings of learning is that of the purification of the heart from traits such as backbiting, envy, grudges, and other spiritual diseases through various forms of worship and acts of obedience.  This is done to exert an effort to expand one’s heart and state of mind in a way that will make the student more susceptible to absorbing knowledge and implementing it.  It is commonly said, “In the presence of scholars guard your tongue.  And in the presence of the knowers of God, guard your heart.”

b)      A student should come in a state of stillness of the heart, mind, and body (sakīna) along with a demeanor of a dignified seriousness (waqār) that is derived from an understanding of the gravity and significance of being in a circle of learning.  Ḥasan al-Baṣrī used to say, “Seek knowledge and seek in order to [attain] knowledge stillness and seriousness (sakīna wa al-waqār) as well as humility towards whom you are learning from and towards those you are teaching.”

Due to the intense reverence that Imām Mālik had for the hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH), it is reported that he once remained seated in the same position while teaching for four hours, even though he had been stung by a scorpion and his color had changed.  Upon being asked about this he replied, “I did not want to interrupt the hadiths of the Messenger of God (PBUH).”  In this is revealed the depth of Imām Mālik’s understanding of the majesty of God and the rank of His Messenger, upon him be peace.  Indeed, God has said in the Qur’an, “Whoever honors the symbols of God, verily it is from the piety of the hearts.”[1]

2)    To have humility and respect for scholars and to honor them.

Humility is an essential characteristic that a student must have to truly benefit from his or her teacher.  In the hadith of the Messenger of God (PBUH), when the angel Jibrīl (AS) came to ask the Prophet (PBUH) about Islam, Imān, and Iḥsān, he is described as having, “put his knees against the knees [of the Prophet PBUH] and placed his hands on his thighs.”[2] When the Companions used to sit with the Messenger of God (PBUH), they did not used to raise their heads up to him out of their reverence for him.  It is reported on the authority of Anas (RA), “If the Messenger of God (PBUH) used to enter the mosque, none of us used to raise our heads except Abū Bakr and ʽUmar.  They used to smile at him and he used to smile at them.”[3] It is also reported on the authority of ʽUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit that the Messenger of God (PBUH) said regarding respecting scholars and honoring them, “He is not from my community who does not venerate our elders, have mercy on our youth, and know the rights of our scholars.”[4]

Imām ʽAlī (RA) would say regarding the manners of respect a student should have with his or her teacher, “From the rights of the scholar over you is that you give greeting to people generally and greet him specifically, that you do not ask him questions excessively, you do not meet his answers with discord, you do not pressure him if he tires, you do not grab his garment if he sets forth, you do not reveal to him secrets, you do not back bite anyone in his presence, you do not seek out his shortcomings, and if he makes a mistake you accept his excuse.  It is incumbent upon you to respect and honor him for the sake of God as long as he adheres to the commands of God.  And [you must not] sit with your back towards him, and if he has a need you should hasten before everyone in serving him.”

It is related by Shaʽbī that, Zayd b. Thābit led a funeral prayer.  He then brought his riding animal near so he could ride it and  Ibn ʽAbbās came to assist him in mounting.  Upon this, Zayd said, “Do not do this O, son of the Messenger of God’s uncle.”  Ibn ʽAbbās replied, “This is how he ordered us to treat our scholars and elders.”

Sufyān al-Thawrī entered the gathering of Imām Mālik while his students around him were seated as if there were birds perched on their heads.  He later recited the following poem to describe this:

يأبى الجواب فلا يراجع هيبة          والسائلون نواكس الأذقان

أدب الوقار وعز سلطان التقى       فهو المهيب وليس ذا سلطان

He refuses to answer [excessive questions and the questioner] will not return out of awe

Those who ask [in his presence] sit with their necks bent

Refined manners, grace, and the dignity of a chief of piety

He inspires awe [in hearts] yet he is no king

Al-Shāfiʽī said: “Out of my reverence for him, I used to turn pages while being seated in the presence of Mālik with gentleness so that he does not hear the pages turn.”

It is related by Ṣāliḥ b. Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, “Al-Shāfiʽī came one day to visit my father while he was ill.  He [Ibn Ḥanbal] leapt towards him, kissed him between the eyes, made him sit in his place and he sat in front of him.”  He said, “Then he spoke to him for an hour.  When al-Shāfiʽī got up to leave, my father rose and took hold of his saddle and walked with him.  When [news] of this reached Yaḥya b. Maʽīn, he questioned my father saying, ‘O Abū ʽAbd Allāh, subḥānallah!  Were you forced to walk by the side of al-Shāfiʽī’s riding animal?’  My father replied, ‘And you O Abū Zakariyya, had you walked on the other side you would have benefitted.’  Then he said, ‘Who wishes for goodness should follow the tail of that beast.’”  It was said to Iskandar, “Why is your reverence for your spiritual guide (al-muʽaddib) greater than your reverence for your father?”  He said, “Because my father is the cause of my temporary life while my spiritual guide is the cause of [success] in my eternal life.”

Many of the Muslim rulers and caliphs also used to give immense importance to knowledge and the reverence of scholars.  It is related that Hārūn al-Rashīd used to send his two sons al-Amīn and al-Māʼmūn to learn from Imām al-Kisāʼī who was one of the seven reciters of the Qur’an.  One day after class was finished; al-Amīn and al-Maʼmūn were competing to carry the sandals of the shaykh. Each one wanted to carry them and then they settled for each of them carrying one sandal.  Meanwhile, Hārūn al-Rashīd was watching them from an elevated place in his residence.  He later invited him to a table he had prepared for him.  He then asked him during the meal, “Who is the happiest of people?”  The shaykh said to him: “You are O Leader of the Believers.”  He said, “No.  The happiest of people is the one who the two heirs of the Leader of the Believers (amīr al-muʼminīn) quarrel to carry his sandals.”

From amongst the forms of respect that students must have for teachers is that they should listen with complete attentiveness, even if the teacher is saying something which they already know from a quote, story, or poem.  ʽAṭāʼ said, “I listen to a hadith from a man and I am more knowledgeable of it than him.  However, I do not show him that I surpass him in anything.”  Similarly, he should not precede the scholar in explaining a matter or answering a question posed by one of the students. It is said, “Learn silence the way you learn to speak.  And be more vigilant about listening than speaking.”

As for humility, this not only means that students should be in a state of humbleness while learning but that they must also humble themselves to knowledge in the exertion of their efforts to seek it.  Ibn ʽAbbās used to say, “I lowered myself seeking, and then I became sought (dhalaltu ṭāliban fafiztu maṭlūban).”  It is also related that he said, “When the Messenger of God (PBUH) died, I said to a man from the Anṣār come lets seek out the Companions of the Messenger of God (PBUH) for they are many today.  He said, ‘I am surprised by you, O Ibn ʽAbbās!  Whom amongst the Companions of the Messenger of God (PBUH) do you see as better than yourself?’  He said, ‘So I left him and I set out to ask the Companions of the Messenger of God (PBUH) and [news of] a hadith from a man had reached me.  I came to the door of the one saying [the hadith] and I spread my cloak on his doorstep, all the while the wind was blowing sand in my face.

He came out and saw me and said, ‘O son of the Messenger of God’s (PBUH) uncle, what brought you here?  Had you sent for me, I would have come.’  I said to him, ‘It is more fitting that I should come to you.’ He said, ‘And I asked him about the hadith.  This man of the Anṣār then lived until he saw me when people had gathered around me asking me, and he would say ‘This youth is more intelligent than me.’”

It is also related that Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī would not abandon anyone he knew to possess any knowledge except that he sought him out and found him.  Ibrāhīm b. Saʽd said, “I asked my father, how did Ibn Shihāb surpass you?”  He said, ‘He used to come to the center of gatherings and not leave an elderly person except that he asked him and not leave a youth except that he asked him.  Then he used to go to the homes of the Anṣār and he would not leave a youth he did not ask or an elderly person he did not ask.  He used to even speak to the women of the households.’”

Finally, it is incumbent that a student does not acquire pride or vanity after having gained an amount of knowledge, remembering that it is ultimately God who granted this to him or her.  Also because the amount of knowledge that one has accumulated regardless of the heights a student has reached is insignificant in comparison to the knowledge of God the Exalted and High.  God says in the Qur’an, “He has taught humans what they knew not.”[5] He also says, “And God took you out of the wombs of your mothers [with] you not knowing anything.”[6] God also says, “I have not given you from knowledge except a little,”[7] and He says, “Above each [person] with knowledge is [one] more knowledgeable.”[8]

3)      Sincerity: It is essential that those seeking of knowledge do so with an intention sincerely for the sake of God, both when learning and practicing it.  This is also the case when teaching and spreading knowledge.  The Messenger of God (PBUH) said, “Who learns a science which is learnt for the sake of God not seeking from it anything but a portion of the world will not smell the scent of Heaven on the Day of Resurrection.”[9] He also said, “Whoever learns knowledge to rival scholars, to debate with fools, or to draw people to him, is in the Fire.”[10] Ḥasan al-Baṣrī said, “The punishment of the scholars is the death of the heart.  The death of the heart is seeking the world through the works for one’s hereafter.”  And Sahl has said, “All of knowledge is of this world except for the portion one practices which is of the other world.  And all of deeds are dust except for sincerity.”

4)      Trustworthiness: From the codes of conduct associated with knowledge in the Islamic tradition is trustworthiness (amāna). In a related hadith, “Be faithful in knowledge for the betrayal of one in his knowledge is worse than his betrayal in his property.  And God will be your questioner on the Day of Resurrection.”[11] From the trusts of knowledge is that the scholar remains within the bounds of what he knows and does not say that which he does not know.  Also, from intellectual honesty is to attribute sayings and ideas to their sources.

[1] Qur’an, Al-Ḥajj: 32.

[2] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim: vol.i/ Kitāb al-imān 1-bāb 1/h. 1

[3] Al-Mustadrak: vol.i/ p.121.

[4] Majmaʽ al-zawāʼid: vol.i/p.127

[5] Qur’an, Al-ʽAlaq: 5.

[6] Qur’an, Al-Naḥl: 78.

[7] Qur’an, Al-Isrāʼ: 85.

[8] Qur’an, Yūsuf: 76.

[9] Sunan Ibn Māja: vol.i/al-Muqaddima-bāb 23/h. 252

[10] Majmaʽ al-zawāʼid: vol.i/ p. 141.

[11] Majmaʽ al-zawāʼid: vol.i/ p.183.

More About Nur Sacred Sciences

Physical Descriptions of the Four Imams – ilmgate

An excellent detailed article from ilmgate on the appearance of the mujtahid imams. Visit for more excellent articles on Islam and contemporary issues.

Physical Descriptions of the Four Imams

Collected from Imam Dhahabi’s Siyar A’lam an-Nubala

Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man bin Thabit:

Abu Yusuf said: “Abu Hanifah was well-formed, was from the best of people in appearance, the most eloquent of them in speech, the sweetest in tone, and the clearest of them in expressing what he felt.”

Hamad bin Abi Hanifah said: “My father was very handsome, dark, had good posture, would wear a lot of perfume, was tall, would not speak except in reply to what someone else had said, and he – may Allah have Mercy upon him – would not involve himself in what did not concern him.”


Abu ‘Abdillah Malik bin Anas:

‘Isa bin ‘Umar said: “I never saw anything white or red that was more beautiful than the face of Malik, or any clothes whiter than Malik’s.”

And a number of people relate that he was tall, firm, serious, blond, had a white beard and hair, had a large beard, was balding, and would not shave his moustache, as he considered this to be a form of mutilation.

It is said that he had blue eyes, and some of this was narrated by Ibn Sa’d from Mutarraf bin ‘Abdillah.

Muhammad bin ad-Dahhak al-Hizami said: “Malik’s clothes were clean and soft, and he would constantly wear different clothes.”

al-Walid bin Muslim said: “Malik would wear white clothes, and I saw he and al-Awza’i wearing black and green caps.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it hanging between his shoulders.”

Khalid bin Khidash said: “I saw Malik wearing a cap, and I saw him wearing woven clothes.”

Ashhab said: “If Malik would wear kohl for a necessity, he would remain in his house.”

Mus’ab said: “Malik would wear ‘Adani clothes, and he would wear perfume.”

Abu ‘Asim said: “I never saw a Muhaddith with a more handsome face than Malik’s.”

It is said: “He was so light colored that he was blond. He had wide eyes, a raised, pointed nose, and he would let his moustache grow long based on ‘Umar’s curling of his moustache.”

Ibn Wahb said: “I saw Malik dying his hair with henna once.”

Abu Mus’ab said: “Malik had the most handsome face of the people, the widest of eyes, the whitest skin, and was the greatest of them in height – all in the strongest body.”

al-Waqidi said: “He was well-formed, would not dye his hair, and would not enter the public baths.”

Bishr bin al-Harith said: “I entered upon Malik and saw him wearing a cap that was worth about 500 dirhams.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it behind his back, and he would scent himself with musk and other scents.”


Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i:

Ibrahim bin Buranah said: “ash-Shafi’i was serious, tall, and noble.”


az-Za’farani said: “ash-Shafi’i visited us in Baghdad in the year 95. He stayed with us for a few months, then left. He would dye his hair with henna, and he had thin cheeks.”

Ahmad bin Sinan said: “I saw him with a red beard and hair – i.e. he used to dye them.”


Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Hambal:

Ibn Dharih al-’Ukbari said: “I requested to see Ahmad bin Hambal. So, I greeted him, and he was an old man who dyed his hair. He was tall and extremely dark.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abbas an-Nahwi said: “I saw Ahmad bin Hambal with a handsome face, well-formed, and dyeing his hair with henna that was not too dark. He had black hairs in his beard, and I saw his clothes extremely white. When I saw him, he was wearing a turban and an izar.”


‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymuni said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.”


One man said: “In Khurasan, they did not think that Ahmad resembled a human being. They thought that he resembled the Angels.”


al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the winter, and he was wearing two shirts with a colored vest between them, and maybe he was wearing a shirt with a heavy sweater. And I saw him with a turban over a hood and heavy outer garment. So, I heard Aba ‘Imran al-Warkani saying to him: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! All of these clothes?” So, he laughed and said: “I cannot stand the cold,” and he would also wear the hood without a turban.”

al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the summer wearing a shirt, trousers, and robe.”


Courtesy of Abu Sabaya of iskandrani