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10 Ways of Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship you could otherwise do? As Nour Merza writes, there is much to look forward to.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. Many women, when their menstrual period begins, find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities and challenges that God has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salaat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying God, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near God. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

menstruating women in Ramadan

1. Increase dhikr

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such subhanAllah, alhamdullillah and Allahu akbar – if you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking God’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, inshaAllah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase du’aa

Du’aa is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of du’aa is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful du’aas of the Prophet or reaching out to God with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Du’as That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the salawat on the Prophet (pbuh) while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  See also: “Manifesting Mercy: Feeding Your Way to God” – Nader Khan at Brampton Islamic Centre.

4. Gain Islamic knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersHub podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through programs like SeekersHub’s #SpreadLight campaign. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make your responsibilities a form of worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please God, which makes them a type of worship. Ask God to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up  another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

menstruating women in Ramadan

Although the Hanafi schools holds that women cannot cannot touch the mushaf or recite Quran while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Quran. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to God. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask God to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that God is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to help mothers worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more!) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray taraweeh. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman!

10. Spread love and light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

Cover photo by Edward Musiak. Tasbih photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly. Quran photo by Mohmed Althani.

Resources for Seekers

Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadan From Now

With Ramadan just around the corner, many of us are looking for ways to make sure that this will be the year we change, writes Nour Merza. With this in mind, here are ten ways to prepare yourself for Ramadan.

1. Make the right intention

Beginning right now, make an intention that this Ramadan will be a time of great spiritual effort and sincerity. To help turn that intention into reality, make checklists of both daily goals for Ramadan (read a section of Quran or a beneficial lecture every day, etc.) and goals for the overall month (visit a home for the elderly, invite two non-Muslim friends for a chance to experience iftar, etc.).

See What Is the Intention” in The Complete Guide to Fasting

2. Prepare your body

Make sure you are up to par physically by adjusting the amount and quality of your food intake. Start by eliminating snacks and have smaller meals in the weeks leading up to Ramadan. Also reduce your caffeine intake so that the lack of your morning coffee or afternoon tea doesn’t debilitate you in the first few days of the holy month. Of course, if you’re fasting during the month of Sha’baan, you’re halfway there.

See: Ramadan Detox for a Healthy Ramadan – Dr. Rehan Zaidi of MysticMedicine

3. Review all medical situations before Ramadan

Make sure to get your medical business in order before Ramadan arrives. If you suffer from a particular illness, check with a doctor, preferably one who understands the importance of fasting, on whether fasting is a reasonable option for you. If you are taking medication, ask your doctor if you can take your doses during non-fasting hours instead of during the day. Also, check if there are options to take your medication via injection instead of orally, as in the Hanafi school injections do not break your fast.

See: When Does an Illness Allow One To Break The Fast?

4. Observe voluntary fasts

Voluntary (nafl) fasts are a great way to help prepare the mind, body and soul for Ramadan. If you can do it, follow the Prophetic sunna and fast the month of Shaaban, which comes just before Ramadan. If that proves too difficult, try to implement some of these other sunnas: fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, or fasting on the ‘white days’ of each Islamic month: the 13th, 14th and 15th.

See: Should I Fast on the White Days or Mondays and Thursdays?, and Merits of Sha’ban Muwasala

5. Increase Quran recitation

Many people aim to do a complete reading of the Quran at least once during Ramadan. If you don’t have a habit of reading the Quran daily, take this as an opportunity to incorporate that habit into your life. This will enable you to read longer sections of the book during Ramadan. Even if doing a complete reading of the Quran during Ramadan is too difficult, making a habit of reading one page or even a few verses a day will bring many blessings during the holy month and afterwards, as the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones, even if in little amount.”

See: Our Relationship with the Quran – Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

6. Perform extra prayers

prepare for Ramadan

Credits: Ccarlstead

If you have no missed obligatory prayers to make up, start to pray voluntary sunna prayers to prepare yourself for the extra prayers that take place in Ramadan. If you do have missed obligatory prayers, use the time you would give to the sunna prayers to make some of them up. Don’t feel that you are missing out on the opportunity to do voluntary sunnas, because God says in the famous Hadith Jibreel, “My servant draws near to Me by nothing more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory on him.”

See: Informative to Transformative: How to Upgrade Your Prayer, and Praying the Confirmed Sunnas with Make-Ups: I Feel Overwhelmed.

7. Give charity

Use the weeks leading up to Ramadan to increase your acts of charity, be that in the form of giving money to needy people or worthy causes. These could be anything from sponsoring a Syrian refugee family, to  supporting scholars and students of sacred knowledge through SeekersHub’s #SpreadLight campaign. Giving charity is a way to purify your wealth, and you can enter the month of Ramadan in a greater state of purity. It also opens doors for great good in your life, for the Prophet (pbuh) has told us, “Allah says, ‘Spend, O son of Adam, you will also be spent on.’”

See: How Much Should I Give in Charity?

8. Engage in service (khidma)

Spend some time before Ramadan to find a local charity or community service opportunity to work with, whether it be in an Islamic environment or in the wider community. If you begin well before Ramadan starts, you will adjust to the environment before you begin fasting, so that you can explain to co-workers  why you can’t join them for a coffee break or a meal.

See: The Roots of Fruitful Service and Seven Counsels for Successful Service and Activism – Advice from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

9. Focus on your character

Imam al-Ghazali discusses the inner dimensions of the fast in his Revival of the Religious Sciences , which you can observe before Ramadan arrives. He mentioned that one must learn to fast with all the limbs, from all that harms the heart. You can, for example, avoid certain television shows to keep the eyes from seeing nudity, leave particular conversations to keep the ears from hearing foul language, and control the ego to keep the tongue from argument or backbiting. The inner fast is among the most important aspects of fasting Ramadan and is often more difficult than the physical fast from food, water and sexual relations, so the earlier you begin to practice this, the better.

See: The Inner Dimensions of Fasting – Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

10. Organize your life to minimize waste, overconsumption and the ills that come with this

One of the major concerns about how Muslims practice Ramadan today is the high level of overconsumption and waste that takes place during the holy month – a reality which is completely antithetical to the Prophetic tradition. Imam Zaid Shakir and others have spoken about ‘greening’ Ramadan as practiced today in the Muslim community, while Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad has suggested that Muslims use Ramadan to support ethical, fairtrade companies.

prepare for Ramadan

Credits: Mathew Paul Argall

Imam Zaid’s mosque in Oakland, California offers a great model for doing this. With a little bit of extra organization and commitment, communal iftars are served on borrowed crockery and silverware (from friends, neighbors or a local Muslim restaurant) instead of their disposable variation. Washable handclothes are used instead of paper towels. The amount of trash saved by these actions – especially over the course of the month – is enormous, and embodies the Prophetic example of being, as the Quran describes, “a mercy to all the worlds.” See: Global Warming and Wasterfulness

Written by Nour Merza. Cover photo by Oliver Hegenbarth.

How Do We Know When Ramadan Starts? – Shaykh Rami Nsour

Shaykh Rami Nsour discusses how one determines when the month of Ramadan enters and the differences of opinions on the matter.

He brings up the debate concerning actual sightings versus calculation, and mentions that the discussion has a long history, but emphasizes that disagreements concerning these methods should not cause harsh words or the breaking of bonds.

Shaykh Nsour reminds us that the spirit of our faith is to accept differences of opinion in a broad range of subjects and to always seek conciliation and grace.

Our focus should be on the point of Ramadan which is to get closer to Allah through our worship.


With gratitude to Shakyh Rami Nsour and Tayba Foundation.


Husn Dhann and Social Media – Saad Razi Shaikh

How a Prophetic virtue can allow us to have a more positive internet experience.

During one of the GRE Verbal Classes, the tutor threw an interesting question at the students. “Say, you enter my living room, and see the fish bowl smashed, the goldfish not in sight, and the fat cat relaxing on the couch, happily licking its paws. Picture this scenario. What can you infer from it?” The overwhelming response was that the cat ate the fish. The tutor said no. What if actually one of my friends had come, taken the fish to a larger tank, and had thrown some cookies for the cat? Did you consider that scenario? Do we have any evidence the cat ate the fish? No. Do we have any evidence the fish is dead? No. All that we know for sure is that the fish is not in its bowl.

The tutor then gave us some sound advice. Don’t assume anything that you don’t see. Don’t add up stuff. Don’t use your imagination. Take what’s in front of you at face value.

Even for non-GRE folks, this is sound advice. Here, allow me to repeat an example Shaykh Walead Mosaad used in one of his talks. Say, you see a religious scholar walking down the street. At the local pub, he stops and walks in. He then emerges a little while later, walking funnily. Do we assume that our scholar got drunk at the pub, and consider the worst about him? Or do we count for the possibility of something else? For example, he could have walked into the pub as he wished to use a restroom. A few Islamophobic guys, seeing him in, may have attacked him. Injured and shaken, he walked out, with his bruises, although hidden from view, painful enough for him to stumble. Did we consider this possibility?

Psychology points towards an interesting observation. If the uncharitable behavior belongs to others, we tend to explain it in terms of their personality, their choices. If however, it belongs to us, we tend to explain it in terms of the situation. We look for the nuances, the missing details that will somehow excuse us. A friend with whom I discussed this denied this, saying truth is truth. I then dug out two pieces of information about him, and asked him if they were true. The first was a time during university, when he was passing by the gates of the mosque. A brother called him to prayers, he however didn’t go inside, but kept walking ahead. I asked him, was this true? He said yes. Another incident happened during university, when he walked into the girls hostel, even as the watchman tried to stop him. I asked him, if I introduced you to everyone using these two incidents, would it be okay? He protested, saying that while what I said was true, it was not complete.

He didn’t stop at the mosque because he had already prayed at another mosque where prayers were held earlier. He had walked into the girl’s hostel as a university function was happening at the common hall there, where he was appointed a volunteer, a fact the watchman didn’t know. This was the complete picture.

If this is the state of the ‘real’ world, how does the virtual one fare? Not any better, and in all probability, much worse. Non-verbal communication constitutes as much as sixty-five percent of our communication, it includes our facial expressions, our body language, our cues and gestures. In the virtual world, it is well, virtually lost. And so with little facts in hand but much clutter in our heads, it is easy to fall for the wrong picture.

It’s necessary then, that we realize that communication via the internet is even more imperfect than the one in real life. Huss Dhann allow us to remedy this. What is Husn Dhann? It is having a good opinion of others. It’s a simple command, yet one we’re most prone to overlook. Measure the chatter in your head for an entire day, and you’ll see husn dhann being traded for su dhann (ill opinion of others) all too often.

Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Munazil (Allah have mercy upon him), one of the early Muslims, said, “The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.” [Sulami, Adab al-Suhba]

Husn Dhann works at three levels. The first is having a good opinion of  ourselves, to not self-flagellate, to not have waswasa over our actions. The second works at the level of others, how we judge and measure the actions of others. The third works at the level of our relationship with Allah. Do we have a good opinion of our Creator? Do we accept the truth that we know little and worry much, and often fall into despair? Husn Dhann allows us to correct this.

Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.”[Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]

Here’s one way to understand this. Say, you’re given glasses you normally don’t wear. You are then asked to read what’s in front of you. You wouldn’t be able to. Does that mean the text in front of you is blurry? Or is it the case that you have put the wrong glasses on? We need to be honest and accept when the latter is the case, as it often is. As wondrous the world of the social media is, it is a makeshift reality. It is not a complete picture, and we should not assume it to be.

Much of the acrimony and bad taste can be avoided if we pepper our usage with a little husn dhann. We’re not at the other end, we don’t know what’s it like, we don’t know what place the other person is coming from. We’re not yet adept at decoding the nuances of language over the internet. Worse, the rage from the everyday is pumped into the virtual world, where it only rebounds. We need to calm ourselves, before we enter a place where the accountability is little, but the consequences real. Both as an antidote to the misinformation of our times, and as a way to follow the Prophetic character, husn dhann is a virtue we need now more than ever.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter


 

What is the Etiquette in Warning Others from Slandering?

Shaykh Farid Dingle outlines the approach and etiquette that one should adopt when advising others to stop slandering.

 

Question:

As-salaam alaikum,

If someone is being slandered by someone else and I defend them saying that what the person who’s slandering is saying is wrong by way of insulting the words that they used to refer to the person slandered. Does that mean I slandered that person by insulting what they said?

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

An even keel

The believer sees the world and other people from a certain vista that prevents him from lowering his standards to harsh words or insults.

Allah Most High has described his slaves:

‘And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk lightly upon the earth, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say, ‘Peace!’ ‘ [25: 63]

And the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The believer  neither curses, nor backstabs, nor is he immoral in words, nor foul.’ [Tirmidhi and Hakim]

In light of this, the believer does not respond in an insulting, demeaning, or pontifical way to anyone, be they on the right or wrong. The believers hatred to directly solely to the actions or words that are being done or said, no the person who is saying or doing them.

The case at hand

If one were to hear, for example, some say, ‘Zayd is an idiot.’ and then you defended him by saying, for example, ‘No, you are the idiot,’ that would be verbal abuse and it would not be halal. If you were to say, ‘These are stupid words,’ or ‘That is a stupid thing to say,’ you are attacking the action (the initial insult), and what you are saying is true.

If what you said was clearly condescending or vulgar, then it would be a different kettle of fish.

I pray this helps,
Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

How Should We Treat Wild Animals?

Shaykh Jamir Meah advises on how we should treat wild animals such as lions and tigers.

 

Question:

As-salaam alaikum,

We know that our prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) loved cats, and thus we as Muslims are to treat cats with kindness and respect. Does this apply to larger cats like lions and tigers? To what extent?

Thank you

 

Answer:

Wa’alaykum assalam, 

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) showed mercy to all of God’s creation and encouraged others to follow example. This extended to animals, plants and trees, and the earth in general. As such, it is unlawful to abuse, hurt, or mistreat, animals, plants, other organisms, or earthly resources without a valid excuse sanctioned by the shariah.

An example of the Prophet’s concern for animals is when he (peace and blessings be upon him) saw a camel which was burdened with a huge load, and he said, ‘Fear Allah when you deal with these beasts of burden.’ [Abu Dawud]

Cats were not particularly singled out, rather they are treated with the same compassion and respect as other created beings with souls, though the companion Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) did have a personal fondness of cats.

Warmest salams,
Jamir

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Adab 10: The Proprieties of Food and Sleep

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or proprieties of eating and sleeping according to the Sunna.

 

Imam Sha‘rani, the masterful gnostic of the inward sciences, noted that it may well be that the eternal divine pleasure of Allah Most High is found in an act of worship which most people are unconcerned with because of its relative insignificance; and on the other hand, the divine wrath may encircle a relatively meager sin, namely, in the eyes of people. The sunna in its entirety is important, as indicated in the words of the lawgiver, “And don’t deem anything of the good to be insignificant.” (Muslim) Allah Most High cares about the details, especially occasions where heedlessness is normally rife, and when you strive to be gratefully and gracefully prophetic, in whatever capacity you are able, He increases you in wondrous degrees.

One of the great blessings of life is food, so much so, that it serves as a reminder of one of the joys of the hereafter. Allah Most High says, “They will also be served any fruit they choose and meat from any bird they desire.” (Sura al-Waqi‘a 56:20-21) And the gift of rest is not lost on any of us! “And one of His signs is your sleep by night.” (Sura al-Rum 30:23) It is worth noting that food and sleep are mere means, and do not intrinsically cause satiation nor rest. Rather, it is Allah Most High’s creative act at work. But He has commanded that you take the means, as exemplified by His Beloved Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, so we strive to do so as servants seeking to attain unto the divine good pleasure in this life before the next.

1. Eating with Mindfulness

The first thing to keep in mind is the magnitude of the blessing that is food. To be fortunate enough to simply sit with a bowl of food in front of you is sufficient enough as a divine favor. Intend Allah Most High therein, by making His worship your primary aim in eating from the sustenance He has bestowed upon you. Clearly, there are many secondary intentions which may be made at this point, such as gaining strength to fulfill your obligations, to assist those in need, to increase in gratitude, and so on and so forth.

The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us to wash our hands before eating because it brings about “blessings” (Tirmidhi), and to recite the basmala, ideally with the aforementioned presence of mind, heart and soul, “In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate (bismi Llahi Rahmani Rahim).” Some of the righteous would encourage the pronouncement of the short form of the basmala (bismi Llah) with each bite! Proceed to eat with your right hand, unless you have an excuse, as the right is used for noble matters. But there’s no harm in using your left to assist with eating and drinking whenever there is a need.

Once you’re done, you should end with a supplication of praise and wash your hands thereafter. It is reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Praise be to Allah who has fed us, given us to drink, and made us Muslims (alhamdu li Llahi ‘lladhi at‘amana wa saqana wa ja‘alana min al-muslimin).” (Abu Dawud)

2. Eating in Moderation

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that the worst container a human being can fill is his stomach. (Tirmidhi) Accordingly, the sunna is to eat with restraint, and not out of mere desire or fulfillment. The prophetic encouragement was to reserve, “A third for your food, a third for your drink, and a third for your breath.” (ibid.) And as some of the righteous point out, everybody knows their own third! Nevertheless, it is permitted to eat until you are full, and praiseworthy if coupled with genuine, righteous intentions.

It’s also proper to eat when you’re hungry, and not to delay a meal until you are starving. The latter, more often than not, will be a distraction and lead to the kind of covetousness and heedlessness the lawgiver was seeking to direct us away from. It’s important to eat slowly and with dignity. You were created to worship, not eat, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy food. On the contrary, we actually know some of the favored foods of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and on occasion, he would praise food too.

3. Eating with Sunna

From the guidance of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to eat from the side of the plate “and not from its middle” (Abu Dawud) because the “blessing descends in the middle.” (ibid.) This is of particular importance when eating from a shared platter, but equally, may also be implemented in your own, individual plate so that the blessing can continue to descend throughout your meal. Of course, if there are multiple types of food, or parts to the dish, this is excusable, as the recommendation is in the case that the food is of the same type.

One should avoid any form of disrespect toward the food, or any wastage of it whatsoever. This is considered to be a form of ingratitude (kufran al-ni‘ma), and showing such disregard for a tremendous blessing makes one liable to losing it altogether. Further, it is imperative to ensure that you do not use any utensils made of gold or silver. Note that the gold and silver in question is that which is comprised of more than fifty percent of those metals. Otherwise, cutlery or dishes would take the ruling of the preponderating metal used in the alloy.

Blowing on hot food in order to cool it down is acceptable, if without sound, but best avoided unless there is a need because it is indicative of haste and blameworthy covetousness. Moreover, it is reported that eating uncomfortably hot food is a means of its blessing leaving. So what’s proper, then, is to allow the food to cool, and eat when it’s comfortable to do so.

Licking your fingers after eating is also from the sunna because you “don’t know in which part of your food the blessing lies.” (Muslim) Again, remember there is a sunna, or an adab, of the sunna itself. If this isn’t realized, people can often conflate strange or unbecoming behaviour with sunna merely because the words match up. It is important to learn and appreciate true adab lest you ascribe something ugly to the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Finally, using a toothpick or the like is also established prophetic practice, if there is a need for it.

4. Sunna Drinking

The sunna is to begin drinking with the basmala, namely, the same manner in which you begin eating, holding the glass in your right hand. Our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be well-pleased with him) reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Don’t drink in one [breath] like a camel, but drink [in pauses] twice or thrice.” (Tirmidhi) Try to drink with pauses, thanking Allah Most High each time you move the vessel away from your mouth. Further, it is proper to drink in sips and not gulps, which incidentally, facilitates pausing. Gulping is contrary to dignity and it is thus a mannerism disapproved of by the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Sitting to drink is a recommended sunna, and it is improper, yet not religiously wrong nor sinful, to stand without excuse. There are two notable exceptions, however. When drinking the blessed water of ZamZam, the practice of the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to stand in order to drink as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the sunnas of drinking ZamZam are generally the opposite of regular water, perhaps in order to distinguish it for its blessed nature. The same actually applies to the leftover water of the ritual ablution (wudu), for it contains a blessing by virtue of the act of worship which was performed with it.

Importantly, men and women should avoid drinking each others’ leftover water, unless they are spouses or unmarriageable kin (mahram) to one another, as it is something which can arouse sexual desire. This is why the jurists deem it to be generally disliked (makruh).

5. Sleeping with Mindfulness

Just as with food, and in fact, just as with anything, you should make an intention before sleeping. The secret to success in intentions is to direct them to Allah Most High. After that, make secondary intentions which will help you attain unto that one, central point. Thus, intend to strengthen your body for worship, for example, and to give the body its right. “Indeed, your eye has a right over you,” (Bukhari) remarked the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, when he was informed of somebody who was regularly staying up through the night in devoted worship.

Before sleep, you should perform the ritual ablution (wudu), and spend a few moments reciting the prophetic supplications and remembrances (adhkar). There are numerous supplicatory utterances established in the sunna, but a simple formulation is: “O Allah, by Your name I die and I live (allahumma bismika amutu wa ahya).” (Bukhari) Similarly, it is recommended to recite Suras: Ikhlas, Falaq and Nas, and to also recite the tasbih (Subhan Allah), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah) and takbir (Allahu akbar), thirty-three, thirty-three and thirty-four times respectively.

Then, repent for your missteps and erroneous ways so that if your soul is taken that night, your slate will be clean. Repentance takes only a moment of sincerity. And also try to sleep without anything in your heart against your fellow believers, a trait that famously astounded our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, may Allah be well-pleased with him, when he diligently observed one of the Companions who was prophetically singled out as a person of Paradise.

Next, lie on your right side, on a bed that is not too hard nor too soft, with your right hand under your cheek, facing the qibla. If it’s not comfortable for you, do it for a few moments, and ask Allah Most High to bless you with an increase in sunna in your life. Avoid sleeping on the stomach as it is a posture disliked by Allah Most High, the posture of the inhabitants of the Fire – may Allah protect us all. Of course, if you have an excuse or a reason to do so, then it would be fine, but the basis is that when you have a choice, you don’t choose this posture over others.

6. Sunna Sleep

One of the wonders of the prophetic sunna is the encouragement to take a midday nap (qaylula), ideally at some point between the Islamic midday (al-dahwa al-kubra) and the entry of the noon prayer (zuhr). The exception to this would be Fridays, where the scholars recommend doing so after the Friday prayer (salat al-jumu‘a). Our Master Sahl ibn Sa‘d, may Allah be well-pleased with him, commented, “We didn’t used to take midday naps nor eat our morning meals, except after the Friday prayer.” (Bukhari) If you cannot do anything more due to work or other commitments, laying down with your eyes closed for a few moments would minimally suffice.

You should also keep in mind that propriety in sleeping entails avoiding the disliked times, usually the kind of times which could lead a person to miss the congregation, or worse, the prayer entirely. According to some scholars, sleep after the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr) is disliked, but Imam Tahawi explained that the soundest traditions (ahadith) actually permit sleep at this time. Sleep after the sunset prayer (maghrib) is particularly cautioned against, and the same principle applies to sleep after the entry of dawn (fajr). Generally, once the prayer time enters, a concerned believer would first pray, as he cannot rest with ease otherwise, and then consider sleeping.

If you experience something frightening in a dream, you should keep it to yourself, seek refuge in Allah Most High from the accursed devil, and then blow thrice to your left side. (Bukhari) If you see something noble, you may tell others about it, but it isn’t ideal to be distracted by dreams from the reality of your life. Dreams are only normally meaningful when godfearingness (taqwa) and piety (birr) permeates your being. Of course, there is a place for dreams, but the most important thing is the whereabouts of the Sacred Law (shari‘a) in your life. Good dreams don’t take people to Paradise.

We ask Allah Most High to increase us in love and following, that we be genuine in our concern, sincere and true in our emulation, and that we be joined with the Greatest Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the next life, for eternity.

And Allah alone gives success.

 


 

The Two Eyes of Faith – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus reminds us that simple acts arising from complete submission to the will of Allah can do more than move mountains, they can bring people to the religion.

 

We always begin by praising our Lord, Exalted and Most High, and recognizing that al-hamd, that is all praise, is due to our Lord, Exalted and Most High. He is the One that is simultaneously deserving of all praise because of everything that He gifts, not only human beings but all of creation, and He is the One, Exalted and Most High, that is praised for every gift that we experience.

That we show our shukr (gratitude) and our hand (praise) to our Lord, Exalted and Most High, in the greatest blessing of all of the blessings: it is the blessing of “la ilaha illa Allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” The blessing of being affiliated to the best of creation, the Khatim al-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets, sayyidina Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him and his Family and Companions.

This is a blessing that is so great no matter how much that we come to know and appreciate that blessing here in this world, we will only truly come to appreciate it on day on the Day of Judgment. For anyone that is ignorant of whom Muhammad is in this world, everyone will come to know who Muhammad is in the next world. For him belongs the praiseworthy station (maqam mahmud). For him belongs the greatest of all intercessions (shifa‘a al-kubra).

And we know that our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will prostrate beneath the throne and then it will be said to him: “Ask and you will be given. Intercede and you will be granted intercession.” and then our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will intercede for people. But this Day of Judgment is a day that is not easy. It is a day that is subjectively experienced, meaning every single human being will experience the Day of Judgment based upon their degree of faith and upon their acts that they have done.

The very best of all possibilities is for it to be like to light rakats: a couple of minutes. but the very worst of possibilities is that it will be like fifty thousand days. It will be like fifty thousand years. It will be like fifty thousand years – from two light cycles of prayer to fifty thousand years. And there will be people that are somewhere in between.

The Greatest Gift Is Faith

This is why that the greatest gift that we’ve been given as believers is the gift of faith, which means that we can live a life of purpose. This is likewise one of the greatest gifts that we can give to the modern world in which we live. In a day and age where you find people moving further and further away from belief, and that the state that results is oftentimes a state of agitation and a state of panic, because Iman is related to Aman. Iman is related to security.

If you do not have Iman how can you ever ever feel a sense of security? It’s that security that you recognize that you have a Rabb. And our Rabb is Rabb al-‘alamin. He is the Lord and the very meaning of the Rabb is that He is the giver of tarbiya. In other words, that He takes something from its beginning and that He sustains that and He allows it to grow and to thrive until it reaches its fruition.

The ‘alamin is everything that Allah Most High created. Specifically, yes, that we refer to the angels and mankind and the jinn-kind. However, it relates to everything that Allah Most High has created. Everything that we know and everything that we do not know. There is a large percentage of Allah Most High’s creation that we will never ever come to know, because you can’t see it through a microscope or a telescope.

And successively that you find that in relation to the dimensions of creation, that they are larger and that they are larger, and they are more and more vast. And what does our Lord say about the Kursi – Our Lord’s footstool? His footstool encompasses everything that is in the heavens and in the earth.

If you just look at the terrestrial heaven and you look at all of the amazing things that we’ve discovered and the incredible intergalactic distances of the known world, that world that we can either see and observe or that we can determine by a mathematical calculation, it is immense. It it is vast.

But you imagine then what it would be like the other worlds that Allah Most High has created. The other dimensions, the seven heavens for instance, what type of distances are we speaking about here? We can only understand them as a concept. We can’t understand them in reality. If that applies for things even within the terrestrial heaven, what about the other things that our Lord has created, Exalted and Most High?

Seeing with Two Eyes

What is the meaning that we take from that, that relates to our Iman? That we that find a source of security in that, because the Rabb is the One who is going to take care of what He created and what He brought to fruition. This is why we always have to remind ourselves that history is in good hands, with no anthropomorphic meaning. Our Lord is the Lord of history and the Umma of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. There are many things of this Din that you cannot fully understand or comprehend until you take into consideration the next world, the afterlife.

There are certain things that you will never fully come to understand their wisdom in this world, until you see the way that it’s played out in the next. Much of the suffering that we see happening right now, as we speak to the Muslim world, to the Muslim community, and to individuals. We don’t even need to list names because there’s such a long list now that it would take too long to list in how many places that there is affliction and calamity and difficulty, that were you to think about just one incident, it’s hard to really wrap your head around.

Well, what gives you a source of solace is to know that we have a Lord who is Just, and that no one, not one human being ever that has ever lived, after the Day of Judgment happens, will ever feel like they have not been given their right. Everyone will be gifted their right. Every single human being who was wronged will be given retribution.

We should always remember that history is in good hands. We should always remember that the Umma of our Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. That Allah brings forth, in other words, the punishment of this Umma when we go astray in this world before the next.

One Foot in the Hereafter

We have to learn, to teach ourselves to see things from two perspectives. We have to see everything from the standpoint of it being the divine decrees unfolding right before our eyes. Snd also how it is that we that judge that particular incident outwardly from the standpoint of the Shari‘a. We have to look at everything simultaneously in two ways.

That applies to even a sickness that we get. If we all of a sudden find out that we’ve been diagnosed with cancer what is our first response? If we’re no different than any other people, our first response will be one of panic. But to degree that there is Iman will be to the degree that we see that illness or sickness or disease or terminal condition in light of our faith.

I actually know an individual, and this is someone that I met and saw him with my own eyes. This might sound a bit strange but this shows you what happens when you have strong Iman. You have an ability to interpret or, in other words, respond to the divine decree in a way that other people simply can’t do.

This person, when he was informed that he had cancer, the very first thing he did was smile. And they asked him, “Why on earth are you smiling?” He said, “I see this as: now this is the time that I’ve been waiting for. which this is the time for me to meet my Lord.” He interpreted that sickness in a very different way than someone else would.

And we don’t enjoin sickness upon anyone. We don’t want that for our own selves, but when it comes, outwardly you do all the treatments necessary to cure yourself of that disease or sickness. However, when the time comes for us to meet our Lord what is our state? What is going to be our state when we take our last breath, which for us is the ultimate moment of truth?

We Die the Way We Live

Generally speaking we die according to the way that we lived and we will be raised according to the way that we die. So we need to remind ourselves of the life that we’re living here in this world. This world is perishing in and of its nature. It’s been created to do so. Whether it’s going to collapse on itself or whether it’s going to expand so much that it freezes. We don’t really know what’s going to actually happen, and how our Lord, Exalted and Most High, is going to destroy the heavens in the earth. Hut we know it’s going to happen when He wills it to happen.

For us when we take our last breath, that is the Sa‘at al- Sughra. That is the “lesser of the two hours,” because we should always remember that sleep is the brother of death. Likewise our own death is, in that sense, the little brother of the greater Hour, because then we transition into the next world.

Our Prophet taught us, blessings and peace be upon him, that the grave is the first stage of the stages of the afterlife. We know that the grave will either be a garden from the gardens of paradise or a pit from the pits of hell. May Allah, Blessed and Most High, grant us refuge from any punishment in the grave, because if we’re unable to bear that punishment in the grave – and who can? – then how are we going to be able to bear the punishment of the Day of Judgment, let alone what happens after that?

We are all, in that sense, miskin (in dire need) before our Lord, Exalted and Most High, who has decreed that there are two final abodes. This is not about the human beings’ choice. Will the human being have everything that he desires? It is not about what you want, and it is not about what I want, or what anyone else wants. This is the decree of the One who has the traits of Irada, of Divine Will, and He does whatever He wants. If He wills for something to happen, He says “Be! And it is.” How do we respond to that? With complete and total submission.

This is one of the most beautiful things of all, if anyone has had that experience here in this blessed masjid – to have not been in a life of faith and then convert to this blessed religion, and to experience the beauty of submission. Because the reality is is that we’re not in control. If anyone thinks they’re in control it’s a delusion. Thinking that we’re in control is illusory. It’s a delusion.

We Have No Control

We are not in control. And when we learn to submit to the One who is truly in control… How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded to have tawakkul – to place our trust in Allah? How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded of these traits? “And I assign my affairs over to Allah.” None of this negates taking the means. We are required to take the means, but we’re also required to place our trust in our Lord, Exalted and Most High.

Living up to these principles is what’s going to enable us as a community to navigate any difficult time. And for us this is really what it’s all about. In the society outside this door, when you walk out through the streets, when you meet and greet people ,when you’re in the store, when you’re at work, when you’re at school, I just have a plea.

Please remember that whether you realize it or not there will be people looking at you. There will be people that take their understanding of Islam based upon how you interact with them. I just want you to remember that people like myself who didn’t know anything about Islam, if we would have met people who brought a bad name to Islam, how would we have entered into this Din?

This is an absolute responsibility upon the shoulders of every single person in this room. No one is exempt – man woman and even children, although they’re not taken to account until they become legally responsible. We are required to have principled engagement. What is principled engagement? It is that we immerse ourselves in the meanings of Iman, in the meanings of Islam, and in the meanings of Ihsan. Then we engage based upon these principles.

We make contributions in every situation or circumstance that we find ourselves in. It’s very simple there’s people think that there’s some type of overly sophisticated, complicated, philosophical way that we need to be in the societies in which we live. Yes, there is an element of strategy that needs a lot of thought. However, it’s very simple. As believers we very simply need to be.

Try to Just Be Muslim

If we would just be in all the meanings of being – bringing to life the Sunna of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, that would speak with mute eloquence, much more eloquently than anything else that we could say merely on the tongue. Our actions would speak much louder than our words, and what would happen then is that the light of the teachings of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – which is the secret of the penetration of Iman and it’s absorption in the heart of individual – would spread amongst the peoples’ hearts that are around.

Our Lord speaks about “the one who was dead and We brought him back to life,” and then what? That “We brought him back to life and We made him light spread amongst people.” If you look at the way that this is expressed, it is that light flows and it emanates in mankind (fi al-nas).” And for those for whom it has been preordained, they’re going to accept that guidance. It will come to their hearts.

The more that we live up to these teachings, that we live up to these principles, the more people will experience the beauty of “la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah.” By Allah! There is nothing more beautiful than this Din. There is nothing more beautiful than the way of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, his Sunna and all of his teachings.

What we’re required to do is to embrace that beauty so we become beautified through it. To embrace that light so we become enlightened through it. And then share it freely with people, inwardly and outwardly, and see ourselves as servants of all of humanity. If we did this we would see amazing things.


This article is a edited transcript of a Friday sermon given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus at London Muslim Mosque as part of the Age of Anger – Southern Ontario Tour, April 2017.


 

Advice of Leading Muslim Scholars on Seeking Islamic Knowledge

Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Salek bin Siddina and Habib Ali al-Jifri: the keys to succeeding on the path of knowledge, the adab of gaining Sacred Knowledge, and the blessing and high rank of this path.

 

Resources for Seekers

10 Steps to Firm-Footedness in Seeking Knowledge of Fiqh

In this brief podcast, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani provides 10 genuinely useful tips on gaining and retaining a firm grasp of your knowledge of fiqh.

See also:

“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge”
Advice from Habib Ali Al-Jifri for Seekers of Knowledge
The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

Habib Umar’s Advice to the Seekers of Sacred Knowledge
Shaykh Áwwamah’s advice for Students of Sacred Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge