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Be Prepared: Understanding the Wisdom of Calamities

Be Prepared: Understanding the Wisdom of Calamities

By Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Pain. We cannot escape pain. Pain, in this life, is inevitable. We are here to be tested to determine our unending rank and recompense in the Hereafter. These tests are usually in the broad categories of ease – which demands gratitude – or difficulty – which requires a combination of patience and the expectation of a reward from God. 

The benefits that rain down upon us from these trials are numerous and well worth examining closely. However, prior to this, the difficulties need to be understood, felt, experienced, and processed. 

This is how those benefits dye a believer’s perception with the hues of a deeper faith. This is how one becomes malleable to the trials that hammer down upon us to shape us into better versions of ourselves. This is how the friction of pain polishes us to the point that we glisten and gleam. 

 


The Prophet’s Approach to Pain 

Running from the pain, or blocking it out with distractions, or feigned shows of strength – deny one of the fruits indicated above. Indeed, the greatest being in God’s creation (peace and blessings be upon him) engaged deeply with his human experiences, whilst remaining within the bounds of his slavehood to God. 

When his son, Ibrahim, passed away whilst only a toddler, he said, “Indeed the eye weeps, and the heart grieves – yet we don’t say anything but that which pleases our Loving Lord. We, by your parting – O Ibrahim – are truly saddened” (Bukhari). He felt the emotions and allowed the physical responses Allah created in us to occur and expressed what he felt. This was tempered with limiting the expression of grief to the words that increase one only in closeness to Allah, and not anything that would do otherwise. This is the response of someone who understood the purpose and benefit of tests and pain. 

 

How Do I Process My Pain? 

Besides the points gleaned from the blessed words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), we have other gifts from the Qur’an’s perfect guidance. It gives us an understanding of the inherent – yet occasionally occluded – beauty in the trials, and the foreknowledge of the inevitable occurrence of these events. 

These two matters grant the believer a deep grasp of the wisdom behind trials, and aid one in seeing that one will grow and benefit from them. Without them, one can be crippled with pain, from not understanding the matter as it should be.

 

Working Towards Iron-Clad Fortitude 

Surah al-Hadid is an ocean that gives wave after wave of goodness and guidance. There are two particular verses that light the way in this discussion particularly well. They will be discussed briefly. 

“No calamity hits in the land, nor in your own selves, except that it has been in a tremendous book before We beautifully created it. Indeed, that, for Allah, is very easy. So you don’t be excessively grieved by what escapes you, nor overly exultant because of what He granted you…”

(Qur’an, 57:22-23) 

There are some Arabic words in the former of the two verses which deserve a closer examination. Seeing the beauty underlying the word choices in the Qur’an eventually gives one certainty that it is from God, and that every single word – in all canonical variants – was specifically chosen by Him. 

“What Hits Was Never Going to Miss” 

The first word of note is asaaba – ‘َأَصَاب.’ It has a root meaning which indicates the occurrence of events in the proper and most fitting manner. Added to this is the nuance of water flowing and settling in a spot, and the usage of a derivative of the root to express an arrow hitting the bullseye. This analysis of the word is not extensive. 

When we factor in the above nuances we see that every trial in our lives is tailor-made for us. It has hit its mark. We can’t escape it, and pondering the “If only…” scenarios is fruitless. 

It came at the right time, in the right way, and with the right intensity. It could not have been escaped, nor could it have been outrun. 

This is beautifully expressed in the hadith, “Know, what hit you was never going to miss, and what missed you was never meant to hit” (Tirmidhi).

This brings great ease to the believer. He takes the necessary precautions but realizes that what came into his life of difficulties, and what he was not affected by, are all matters that were meant specifically for him. 

The result is relief from the paranoia and excessive worry over being affected by the evil eye, black magic, and other matters that are a cause of stress and anxiety to those who don’t realize that Allah is in complete control.

A believer is at ease, knowing that whatever happens is tailor-made to bring him good through some avenue in his life. Everything is perfectly suited for his long-term, ever-lasting benefit. 

 

Perfectly Suited Trials 

We can be sure that everything that happens is perfect, and not just inevitable. What hits is actually perfect and beautiful, as is the missing of the arrows they were not meant to hit the mark. 

How do we know this? In expressing the creation of the calamities, Allah used a verb derived from the root bara – ‘برأ.’ It is understood, generally, to mean ‘creating’. However, a deeper analysis of the word indicates meanings of being devoid of deficiencies and flaws, which gives us the understanding of something being perfected and immaculately formed. 

Infuse these nuances into the reading of the verse, and you get the understanding that all tests are perfectly planned and beautifully designed by God to be the best possible situation for us – with eternity in mind. The benefit of the trial is to elevate, in Paradise, the immortal version of every believer. 

He is the canvas, and the calamity is the paint that alters the immaculate nature of that canvas. Focusing in on the actual point of contact may make one think the paint has stained the perfect white canvas, yet, when one steps back and looks with a gaze that shows the merging on the individual ‘stains’, it present before one an image of striking beauty, nuance, meaning, artistry, and skill. This is how all tests are for the believer, and God is the perfect architect who has designed your life. Reflect on this…

All that remains is the appropriate response. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

[I’m truly amazed] at the affair of the believer. Everything that happens to him is the best possible thing for him – and that’s not for anyone but the believer. If happiness comes he is grateful – and that’s best for him. And if harm comes to him he is patient – and that’s best for Him (Muslim). 

 

All Matters are Decreed 

Everything that afflicts us has been pre-planned by God, the perfect designer. The verse entails guidance about general calamities, such as pandemics, economic instability, floods, earthquakes, and other such wide-ranging trials. It also highlights the personal pain which hits harder and is felt more keenly by the individual. It is all in the right time and place, in the best way. 

Knowing that it is known to God, and preordained is also a huge blessing. With this knowledge, one can process this pain effectively.

Not knowing this can lead one to excessive grief that holds one back, and, in cases of ease, it can lead one to become too fixated on a blessing, such that it can make one forget it came from God. This can then lead people to arrogance and boasting, because they see themselves as intrinsically deserving these blessings, and thereby feel superior to others who don’t have it. But this is a discussion for another time… 

Here, we wish to see that being aware that the slings and arrows of fortune are, in fact, gracious. One need not take arms against the sea of troubles, for it’s waves come to bring benefits to your shores. 

 

Forewarned is Forearmed 

Knowing that all matters are decreed provides a believer to see things differently: the trials of life will come, certainly. But they are carried by wisdom, and they leave gifts and goodness in their wake. 

Knowing that a loved one who passes onto the Hereafter at a particular time was meant to go makes the parting easier. The pain is there, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) expressed. That is the human condition. However, the pain is lessened knowing that matters are being directed by Allah, who has our best interests in mind. More so, than even ourselves. He sees what we do not, and knows what we do not. This knowledge makes his decision better than what we assume to be good for ourselves.

One knows that this life is temporary. Only that which is done for the sake of Allah lasts. One sees that the pain is temporary, and a test, just like the blessings, which are temporary, and a test. 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t feel sadness, or that it negates one’s patience. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) named the year of the passing of his wife, Khadija, and his uncle, Abu Talib, ‘The Year of Sadness.’ He felt grief despite having the perfect spiritual state.

What the verse negates is intense and excessive grief that stems from a lack of understanding of the purpose of calamities. This can be understood from the juxtaposition of the grief with the word that indicates excessive happiness in a blessing that leads to arrogance and boasting. 

Not seeing the wisdom behind trials, and not seeing the benefits they provide for a Muslim, makes detaching from the aspects of this life that we have a strong bond with difficult. One only feels the sense of loss and pain more keenly. 

Knowing that this is the nature of this life allows the believer to prepare himself. Blessings are enjoyed – but they don’t distract one from the Giver of the blessings. The pain of trials is felt, but it develops the believer. He becomes closer to God, and grains further gifts from Him. 

The grief and happiness benefit when one knows it is a trial ultimately designed to raise one higher in Paradise. Happiness and grief devoid of this are – for the believer – dysfunctional. They hinder him from his long-term benefit. That’s why understanding this allows one to be prepared, and so, forearmed.

 

About the Author

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return, he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.

Do You Want to be Closer to God? – Friday Reminder with Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Do You Want to be Closer to God?

Friday Reminder with Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Many people can differentiate between right and wrong, but find it challenging to do what is right. Why? In this week’s Friday Reminder, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch answers the most crucial question of our age – how do we learn to practice that which we know? How do we rediscover and reclaim our primordial yearning to seek and be with God alone?

As with everything, it begins and ends with sincere supplication. Dua made with certainty in its answering and with neither tiredness or shyness in its asking. God loves this type of dua and He loves the ones who make it. Shaykh Yusuf also reminds us, that we don’t have to walk this path alone. That we must seek the company of those who seek what we seek. Fellow seekers, seeking guidance and seeking God together. That is the secret to becoming closer to God!

 


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Human Potential – The Source of Yearning: The Primordial Purpose

Human Potential – The Source of Yearning: The Primordial Purpose

by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

This is the second of a series of articles by SeekersGuidance internal scholar Shaykh Yusuf Weltch on human potential. Shaykh Yusuf poses thought-provoking ideas about what humans are capable of; both success and destruction. How does one truly and deeply desire what the heart desires – God?


You may be asking yourself, “If transcending to the fulfillment of human potential hinges on the deep desire for God, how does one acquire such a passionate desire?” Reflect on the saying of Allah Most High,

“This is a reminder. Let whoever wishes, take the way to his Lord. But you will only wish to do so if God wills—God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Qur’an, 76:29–30).

​This verse and many more like it shed light on realities relating to human desire and inclination toward the Divine.

For this reason, the murid (the one seeking) is sometimes referred to as the murad (the one sought). This means that those who seek Allah Most High are merely those who Allah Most High seeks. We see an elite group of Allah’s righteous servants referred to in the Qur’an as the ​muqarrabun​—those brought near. In essence, the reality is that one’s heart, desires, inclinations, and so on are —as the Messenger of Allah tells us—‘between the two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful; He turns them as He wishes.’ (Tirmidhi, Ahmed)

This realization, that we don’t have as much control over our hearts as we thought we had, can be quite daunting for those who ponder upon it too much. In fact, this realization should greatly humble us and bring forth from deep within us a great state of brokenness and desperation to Allah Most High.

Even though creation is existentially in this shattering state of desperation before Allah at every moment, it is in the embracing of this state that draws us nearer to Him. It is narrated that Musa (peace be upon him) asked Allah, “Where shall I seek You out?” He (Allah) replied, “Seek Me out with those whose hearts are broken for My sake,” (Abu Nu’aym, Hilya al-Awliya)

One can find solace, however, in the fact that Allah Most High has given us a profound gift. He has given us a key to unlock His limitless treasures; supplication (du’a). The best of that which you can ask Allah Most High for is the desire to draw near to Him. Ibn ‘Ataillah al-Sakandari said in one of his aphorisms, “The best of what you can seek from Him is that which He seeks from you.” (Hikam Ibn Ataillah, al-Hikma 75)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would constantly beseech Allah Most High saying, “O Turner of the hearts! Make my heart firm on Your religion and obedience.” (Ahmad)

So, to answer your question, I say plead to Allah Most High to fill your heart with the desire and yearning for His nearness and be certain of His acceptance. The proof that He intends to give you what you ask is that He allowed you to ask. Lastly, strive your best to obey Him and travel the Prophetic path of guidance.

َوإذا َسألك ِعبَاِدى َعنى فإنى قریٌبۖ أجیُب َدْعَوَة ٱل َّداع إذا َدَعانۖ فلیَْستَجیبُو۟ا لِى َولیُْؤِمنو۟ا بى لَعلُهْم یَْرشُدوَن ِِِِِِِِ

When My servants ask you (O Prophet) about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond (with obedience) to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided (to the Right Way).


About the Author

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied inheritance law, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance teachers team in the summer of 2019.

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The Prophet’s Smile – Giving Charity

Giving Charity to Please our Beloved Prophet Muhammad

By Shaykh Amin Buxton

 

In this series, the Prophet’s Smile, we visit the moments where the Prophet smiled and laughed. We also discuss how he was described when smiling and laughing.

By studying his characteristics, we gain insight into what he talked and thought about, and ultimately, the undeniable beauty of his character.

By knowing more about him, we hope to increase our love and longing for him. We also hope to gain his love and pleasure, which cannot be separated from the love and pleasure of Allah Most High.

 

Giving Charity to Please the Beloved

Jarir bin Abdullah narrates that he was sitting in the middle of the day with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) along with some of the Companions when a group of people appeared. They were barefoot and hardly had any clothing. Jarir recognized them to be from the tribe of Mudar. The Prophet’s face went pale when he saw the state they were in. After everyone had assembled and prayed the congregational prayer, the Prophet stood up and addressed the people. He reminded them to have taqwa and to prepare for their meeting with Allah. Then he exhorted them to give whatever they could in charity: gold, silver, clothing or food, even if it was only half a date.

A man from the Ansar then came with a bag of coins so large that he could hardly carry it. From then on, people came one after the other bringing donations. Soon there were two piles, one of food and one of clothing.

When the Prophet saw this, his face shone with joy. He then said: “When someone establishes a good practice in Islam, they will have the reward for it and the reward of those who later act upon it without this detracting in the least from their reward.  When someone establishes a bad practice in Islam, they will bear the responsibility for it and for those who later act upon it without it detracting in the least from their responsibility.”  (Narrated by Muslim)

 

Take Action to Help Your Community

 It pains the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to see members of his nation in a state of destitution and hardship and nothing pleases him more than to see people making sacrifices to help those in need.

When he saw these people in a state of hardship – he was greatly moved. The fact that he shared a common ancestor with them – since he himself was a descendant of Mudar – made him treat them with extra compassion. By helping them the Prophet was also honoring the ties of kinship which was something at the heart of his message.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) could have asked Allah to feed and clothe these people in whatever way He wished, but he wanted his Companions to take action. Once the community had come together for prayer, he called upon them to give whatever they could to help these unfortunate people. But he only did this after reminding them of their relationship with Allah – to show them that their belief in Him and awareness of Him dictated that they act in situations such as this. He wanted each person to give according to their means and their intention. So half a date from one man may have been more significant than another man’s gold or silver.

What made his face shine with joy was to see a man from the Ansar coming forward with a generous donation. He loved the Ansar dearly and Allah Himself testifies to their readiness to sacrifice out of love for Him: “they give others preference over themselves, even if they too are poor” (Quran, 59:9). He was happy that this man had taken the initiative and that others would follow his example. He then clarified an Islamic principle: that when someone establishes a good practice, they will be rewarded for doing so and they will be rewarded for the actions of those that follow that practice. The opposite is also true, as the Prophet stated.

We ask Allah to grant us the ability to do things that please Him and His Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him) and that in doing so we set an example for others to follow.

 


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Gratitude, Celebration & Mercy as Sunnah of the Believer: Allah’s basis of dealing with creation is the overflowing tremendous good that he has bestowed on us, says Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this uplifting and lofty reminder, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani calls the community to gratitude and contemplation of the sheer gift of being alive. “Allah’s basis of dealing with creation is the overflowing tremendous good that he has bestowed on us,”  says Shaykh Faraz, and these blessings culminate and manifest in the life of the believer.

The life of the believer highlights the tremendous  gifts of life,  guidance and mercy.  Mercy encompassing over every moment and event for the believer is one who looks at reality and sees not only form and the temporary and the fleeting nature of things, the believer is one who sees meaning and recognises that all is from Allah.  Shaykh Faraz explains that, “the believer sees that it is all Mercy and Allah sent it and the blessing in it is how one responds to it.” When one responds to affairs in ways pleasing to Allah then that opens the door of Mercy.  “Wondrous is the life of the believers, ” proclaims the Messenger of God, ” for when pleasing things happen to them they are grateful and if distress comes to them they remain contentedly patient.”  It is not what comes to you, but how you respond to it and the response itself is mercy; that is why the believer sees everything in a positive attitude.

Resources for the Seekers

How To Be Like The Prophet Muhammad In His Gratitude to Allah
A Reader on Thankfulness to Allah and True Gratitude
The True Cause of All Happiness and Good is Turning to Allah
Invite Allah’s Generosity into your Life – Shaykh Muhammad
Understanding the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah: Al-Rahman
“His Mercy is our only constant”, by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said
The Believer’s Clarity When Tested: The Power of Patience
Clarity in Crisis: How Believers Look at Trials
Worship, Coffee and the Meaning of Life

Cover Photo by Anita Anand. Video courtesy of Seekershub

The Beginning is Allah; the End is Allah~ Imam Amin

The Beginning is Allah; the End is with Allah.

Join Safina Society and leading contemporary teachers and scholars in the premiere of the Converts Conference  as we visit essential themes and issues facing the awakened community and how to benefit and enrich the faith within every heart.

Imam Amin  begins our conversations with a moment of reflection. Imam Ghazali in his magnum opus indicates that there are two fundamental aspects ,that if properly understood by the individual would lead them to the purpose of life.   Take a moment and reflect on what is your beginning? and  what then is your End? If you can answer these then you have your purpose at hand. sTherefore,  the ultimate purpose of paradise is not itself , it is Allah.

When you are with Allah, there is no End; and when you start with Allah there is no Beginning.

 

Why knowledge?
The purpose of life is to know Allah. Since knowing Allah is the Ultimate goal, how do we go about this? What then is beneficial knowledge?

It is that which leads you to Allah; that which leads you to realisation of Allah.

everything other than Allah is truly false; and when you understand that you will never get trapped in any other than Allah.

Whatever you imagined ; it is not Allah.
When you are no longer in the forms of words, sounds and imaginations…you are in reality.
Why beneficial knowledge? So that we may possess what we need to fulfil our purpose. We are travelling, on a journey to get back to our location; back to our Lord. It takes knowledge to get there.

everything other than Allah is truly false; and when you understand that you will never get trapped in any other than Allah.

when you have a hard time with worship, good deeds or kindness to others…know that you are cut off from Allah.

Allah commanded Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the Quran–” My Lord, Increase me in Knowledge.”
The prophet will teach us, increase us  in knowledge and purify us so that we may receive the gift of a Sound Heart : Qalb Saleem.

Seeking the knowledge of the religion is an obligation on every Muslim.Knowledge is that which is necessary for your existence at your present condition.

What do I need to know right now to get right with Allah?

There are 3 basic  types of knowledge:
1) knowledge of tenets of faith that will help you know Allah — what am I supposed to believe as a Muslim?
because if the belief is firm and established then you will make a connection with Allah
The Prophet (SAW) was asked, which knowledge is superiour? Faith that is not shaky– faith that is firm.
Think of big mountains–do you notice that they do not crumble? but if they are faced with something that is unshakeable.

Your faith needs to be unshakeable

2) The knowledge of how to serve Allah; Islamic Jurisprudence  opens the doors to practice what you learn and strive to fulfil what your personal responsibility is to Allah. Within yourself you need to be One. ‘You need to have a faith that if everything else was gone, I would still stand on La Ilaaha Illallah’, states Imam Amin; for our Lord is truly , ” with you everywhere you go.”

3) Spirituality. This is where  you taste the sweetness of Faith; for faith has a sweetness like nothing else in the world.

All of our sciences lead us to our purpose…to please our Lord.

Why do I marry? I want this person to help me to reach Allah
Why do I have friends? I have friends to help me know Allah
These righteous people have ” no fear and no anguish”; Allah takes care of all of their concerns.

Society has taken  the soul of the religion; and the body without a soul is just a hollow form. We need to put the soul back into the body.

How do we get there?

Knowledge is required by an active process of learning.
Islam is the religion preserved by the relationship based on the framework of the  teacher and student transmission of knowledge.
The one who acquires knowledge comes to the realisation that they have no knowledge to speak of; and humility sets in.

Humility of the heart is to be able to say ‘I do not know’ in its own proper place.’ explains Imam Amin.

for knowledge to transform you need 3 matters:
1) Sources and evidences: ask yourselves where do we get it from? Our primary resources in the whole world are the Quran and Sunnah.
The true wayfarer finds all his sources from the Quran, if you are getting things from somewhere else then you are without.
2)  Now that we have connected to the Quran and the Prophetic Traditions; you need a methodology of how to extract rulings and understandings from these sacred sources.  If you do not have a way, then you will be caught up in opinions.
3) You need someone with the ability and the  divine gifts from Allah to understand the received knowledge.

I’ve learned enough to know that I don’t know anything…knowledge is a journey that never ends.

A student is not a student who doesn’t learn from those who know more than him,  from the  one  equal  in knowledge and the one less  in knowledge.
Traditional learning is defined as the studying with a teacher; so no book without a teacher. The framework set in place, requires a deep respect and love for the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Knowledge is vital and ‘ learning is from the cradle to the grave, ‘reminds Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

We are grateful to Safina Society for this video. Cover Photo by  Al Maaida

 

 

Resources for Seekers:

Worship, Coffee and the Meaning of Life

Habib Hussein Al Saggaf on Beneficial Knowledge and Intentions

Audio & Notes: What is Beneficial Knowledge

How does Islamic knowledge transform us and why?

The Treasure of a Sound Heart, Surat al-Shu’arā’ (verses 83-89)

The Rights of Our Hearts 

On Knowing Yourself to Know God

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

Bringing Certainty to the Heart: A Step-by-Step Guide

Who is looking out for Muslim converts this Ramadan?

How Can A Convert Follow A School Of Thought Correctly?

Family Problems, Islamic Support, and Marriage Preparation for Converts

What Role Does Culture Play in Islam?

What Is The Difference Between God’s Will And His Love And Mercy?

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: What Is The Difference Between God’s Will And His Love And Mercy?

Answer: Dear questioner,

Thank you kindly for your question, and may Allah increase you in light, knowledge and ambition.

Short answer:

Allah’s will is what we term one of Allah’s attributes [sifat], and its role is to specify how and when things come into existence. This is an attribute of His essence, and which He does not acquire by using it. He has always had a will.

His love and mercy, in technical terms, are simply a combination of His will and power when they result in something describable as loving or merciful from the slave’s point of view.

Fuller answer:

The use of theology (Ilm al Kalam)

Theology developed to clearly define exactly what we believe as Muslims, and to defend those beliefs. Because it is based on debate, it is purely academic, and puts aside much of the spiritual side of the Qur’an and its rhetoric. This is necessarily so because when things are not spelt out very pedantically, it defeats of the object of the science, which is precisely being very clear and pedantic.

This kind of approach is excellent when engaging in debate with a trinitarian, materialist, or agnostic, etc. : both sides define their terms, and work with some logical reasoning, and actually get somewhere. This is what Islamic theology does.

As such, the science of theology does not help us understand the nature of Allah’s love and mercy vis-a-vis our experience of it, because it is not the subject that it deals with.

Contextualising theology (Ilm al Kalam)

Since Islamic theology is just one among many traditional Islamic sciences, it is not necessary the only way to talk about Allah, nor it necessarily the more direct way to get to know Him in all His glory.

Reading the Quran and applying its teachings in one’s life — come weal or come woe — would probably be more helpful. (That’s not to say that there is anything un-Qur’anic about Islamic theology.) So too, losing a child, and working on one’s contentment with Allah’s will would teach things about Allah that no theologian could either put a definition to. Getting to know Allah on a spiritual level, is completely different knowing how to say certain very exacting things about Him in a technical way.

Islamic theology, like many other sciences such as grammar, hadith criticism, inheritance law, has a certain function in the preservation of the whole religion, and is not so useful outside of that function.

Dissecting the unfathomable

To make things very clear, the Muslim theologians breakdown Allah’s attributes into categories — with full knowledge that no one could ever understand His true reality.

They say that He has attributes that are eternal and that He never acquired. These describe His being. They are:

His existence
His beginninglessness
His endlessness
His oneness
His self-substistance (not needing anything, place, time, or determiner)
His utter dissimilarity to other beings
His power
His will
His knowledge
His hearing
His seeing
His speech
His life
(Jawharat al Tawhid, Laqqani)

Every other attribute or name of Allah can be categorised, technically speaking, into one or two of these attributes. So, for example, when we say and acknowledge tha Allah is forgiving: His forgiveness can be reduced to three attributes: knowledge, will, and power. He knew that the slave sinned, repented, and will enter Paradise; He willed that the slave sinned, repented, and will enter Paradise; and created the slave and his actions (the sin and the repentance) and entered him, by His omnipotent power, into Paradise.

Such attributes really describe what Allah does, and not what attributes He has. For this reason, they are called attributes of action.

So no one is claiming, or ever claimed, that Allah was not merciful or not loving, but it just served certain academic goals to reduce everything to the simplest level for our own human understanding.

Allah’s names and how He shows himself

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, ‘And Allah’s are the most beautiful of names, so call on Him by them.’ (Qur’an, 7:180)

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Verily Allah has ninety-nine names. Whoever grasps them, will enter Paradise.’ (Bukhari and Muslim) Hakim narrates the same hadith with two different chains that mention the ninety-nine names that we are all familiar with. For more detail, please see: Understanding the Most Beautiful Names: The 99 Names of Allah Explained in Detail

Contemplating upon these beautiful names, calling upon Him by them, and seeing and feeling them in one’s life, this is the really way to know Allah.

When you get you your paycheck, for example, and you thank Allah for providing you with a livelihood, He is showing you how he is al-Razzaq [the Ever-Providing]; when you see someone who does not worship Allah, He is showing you His names al-Khafid and al-Mani [the Abaser and the Withholder].

The more you recognise His names, the stronger this sense becomes, and you see that He is al-Qarib [the Close]. Even though you were not aware of Him, He was never unaware of you, and you feel the meaning of His name al-Wadud [the Loving-One].

‘Grasping’ Allah’s names has been explain by Abu Sulayman al-Khattabi his book on supplications to mean one of four things:

1. to recount the names so that one calls upon Him by each name.

2. to master them so that you ‘keep them in mind, and keep to their limits.’ meaning that one, for example calls upon Allah by His name al-Rahman [the Merciful One] bearing in mind that He is actually merciful, hoping for His mercy, and never giving up hope of his forgiveness.

3. to comprehend them and take them as a firm belief.

4. to recites the whole Qur’an thereby reading out each of Allah names. (Shan al-Dua, Khattabi)

All in all, the comprehension and internalisation of His beautiful names is not an academic process, but rather a journey of putting them into practice, and deeping one’s appreciation of who and what He is.

Allah the Loving

In his book, Khattabi explained what Allah’s name al-Wadud means. He said that is derived from al-wudd [love], and has been understood in two ways:

The first is that is that has the sense of the passive participle, in that Allah is ‘the object of love of those who are close to Him by dint of their unceasing receipt of kindness and benefits from Him.’

The second acceptation is that it has the sense of the active participle in that ‘He loves His righteous slaves, in as much as He is content with them and accepts their deeds.’ (Shan al-Dua, Khattabi)

Raghib in his work on Qur’anic vocabulary adds another side to His love: His care and nurture of them. He quotes unknown hadith qudsi in which Allah says to Musa (upon whom be peace), ‘Never am I heedless of the small just because they are small, nor am I heedless of the elderly because they are elderly: I am the Loving [al-Wadud] and the Appreciative.’ (Mufradat Alfadh al-Quran, Raghib)

Conclusion

Although we do not technically count Allah’s love and mercy as one of His attributes, both stem from His names, and He is most definitely Merciful and Loving.

Our experience and appreciation of the names grows by learning about them, and keeping to their practical and spiritual implications.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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

Preserving the Light of Ramadan – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

How do we preserve the light of Ramadan once the month has ended?

 

One of the keys to preserving what we have attained is in the intentions we make before the month ends. We should make firm intentions to do good in Shawwal and beyond. We also need to beg Allah to preserve and increase the gifts He has given us. We need to be consistent in our attendance of gatherings and classes, consistent in our recitation of the Quran while reflecting upon its meanings and consistent in our recitation of the adhkar with presence of heart. We must also choose the best company and sit in the presence of people who have been given light.

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service – Ustadha Umm Umar

Ustadha Umm Umar reminds us of incorporating the aspect of service in Ramadan as a means of drawing near to Allah Most High. She advises to not make Ramadan just revolve around one’s self, rather to also be concerned with others and their needs. Ustadha Umm Umar gives key advice and practical methods on how to engage in service through Ramadan.

I wanted to talk about another aspect of Ramadan that sometimes we forget. Often people think of Ramdana as my month. It‘s between me and Allah. Then they sort of annihilate the idea of doing goodness to others. It’s about me and my time with Allah. About how much time I can put in with the Qur’an. And then when we talk about service some people get a little bit bitter.

Especially the sisters. They’re like, well, why do I have to be the one to do this? why do I have to be the one to cook the iftar? I’d like to spend all day reading Qur’an. It’s sort of losing sight of what Ramadan is really about. And what the the scholars today talked and emphasized a lot is the love of Allah Most High. And rectifying the self. Turning to Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

But these two concepts do not contradict each other. Rather they run in parallel. Because it’s when we turn help each other, help fellow believers, and it’s all done out of love for Allah, that we manifest that love. That we love to have His creation turned to Him. And if there is anything we can do to help other people turn towards Allah we should run to that opportunity. Whether that be to people in our own family, whether it be our children, whether it be members of our community. We should be avid to do what we can to help other people.

Balance Service and Self

That being said, it needs to be balanced of course, because you can’t just spend all of your Ramadan running around serving other people with neglect to oneself. One needs that personal time where you’re turning to Allah. Reading the Qur’an with reflection and understanding. Spending time reading other beneficial material or listening to beneficial lectures. Benefiting the self.

But there are a lot of things, there is a lot of extra time in the day, in which one can do things for other people. And as our teachers say, it’s almost as if there’s a sale during Ramadan, because now actions that you do are multiplied. Good actions that you do, even reading the Qur’an – all the good things that you can think of doing are multiplied. So it is best to take advantage of this time .

And doing what you can to help other people is also part of making the most of one’s time. It is not that one spends a little time in intensive worship and then closes the book and goes to relax, and just sort of vegetate for part of the day. Or one decides to go to sleep for another part of the day. One strives to make the most of every moment. As we should on every other day of the year.

We should make the most of all parts of our day on a daily basis. Even when we get up from this gathering we should be striving to make the most of our lives as believers. To make all of our moments count for us and not against us.

Primary Benefits of Service

There are three primary benefits of service. One is that it erases your past sins. When you do things for other people these things get erased. So there is nothing better you can ask for. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and would do anything to not face Allah with those on our record. And by His mercy He can forgive a lot of those things when you’re serving other people with that intention.

Another benefit of doing service at this time is that you get the dua of fasting people. When you’re doing things to benefit them you’re earning their dua. And Allah knows whose dua is accepted. When you’re doing it for a number of people, that includes even small children, know that when we do things for other people they make a dua for you.

The Hidden Secret of Service

And perhaps that single dua from one single person, child or adult, known or stranger, is the reason for your success. It might not be all of these customs that you’ve done in the past or all of these other things. It might be the dua of one elder in the community that you helped in a real time of need. Allah has this knowledge. It is with Allah Most High.

It’s a hidden secret in our service to other people that we don’t know where where our ultimate success will lie. And with what action and with what person. That leaves us continuously striving to do our best at every moment.

And finally the third aspect of service is that the deeds are multiplied during Ramadan. So one might be doing things for other people at other times of the year but in Ramadan these deeds are actually multiplied. They weigh heavier on your record. So strive in this regard and in sha Allah the reward for your service will be multiplied.

 

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service

 

Ramadan Seminar Q&A Session – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally posted on May 8, 2018

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers questions on the fiqh of fasting, including the nullifiers of fasts, expiation for broken fasts, and the spiritual retreat.

Among the many questions and points Shakyh Faraz addresses, he mentions that if one breaks fast deliberately or by accident, the time of fasting is not over, and one is able to fast, then one refrains from everything a fasting person refrains from until fasting ends. This is a sign of contrition and remorse.

Hasten to Break Fast

The Shaykh also mentions that one should not delay breaking fast excessively out of a mistaken sense of piety or fervor. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَحَبُّ عِبَادِي إِلَيَّ أَعْجَلُهُمْ فِطْرًا

Allah Mighty and Majestic said: “The most beloved among my servants are those who hasten to break their fast.” (Tirmidhi)

Be Tactful and Considerate with Others

But one must also remember that when in a group of people who believe they are in the right to delay, one must be discreet about the matter and not make disagreement a point of contention or rancor. If you consider breaking it in such a situation do it tactfully.

These and many others points and rulings are covered in this session. And you should listen to it even if you know all the answers as there is no harm and abundant good in reviewing what one knows and strengthening one’s knowledge.

May Allah grant us eternal success in the blessed month of Ramadan and in all the months He has decreed for each and every one of us until we are brought before Him. Amin.


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al Kallas, may Allah have mercy on him, as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersHub in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

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