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Is It Permissible to Show off If It’s Not Done Out of Contempt?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: Is it permissible to show off if it’s not done out of contempt?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum,

It is not permissible to show off in religious or worldly works, even if one is not doing it out of contempt or arrogance.

It says in the Reliance of the Traveler, (p33):

Allah Most High says:

(1) “The hypocrites are trying to fool Allah, while it is He who is outwitting them. And when they stand to pray they do so lazily, showing off to people, remembering Allah but little.” (Qur`an, 4:142)

(2) “0 you who believe: do not nullify your charity by reminding recipients of having given it and by offending them, like someone who spends his money as a show for people.” (Qur`an, 2:264)

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

(1) “The first person judged on Resurrection Day will be a man martyred in battle.” He will be brought forth, Allah will reacquaint him with His blessings upon him and the man will acknowledge them, whereupon Allah will say, ‘What have you done with them?’ to which the man will respond, ‘I fought to the death for You.’ “Allah will reply, ‘You lie. You fought in order to be called a hero, and it has already been saying.’ Then he will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire.” Then a man will be brought forward who learned Sacred Knowledge, taught it to others, and who recited the Koran. Allah will remind him of His gifts to him and the man will acknowledge them, and then Allah will say, ‘What have you done with them?’ The man will answer, ‘I acquired Sacred Knowledge, taught it, and recited the Koran, for Your sake.’ “Allah will say, ‘You lie. You learned so as to be called a scholar, and read the Koran so as to be called a reciter, and it has already been saying.’ Then the man will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire. “Then a man will be brought forward whom Allah expansively provided for, lavishing varieties of the property upon him, and Allah will recall to him the benefits bestowed, and the man will acknowledge them, to which Allah will say, ‘And what have you done with them?’ The man will answer, ‘I have not left a single kind of expenditure You love to see made in Your cause, save that I have spent on it for Your sake.’ “Allah will say, ‘You lie. You did it so as to be called generous, and it has already been saying.’ Then he will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire.” [Muslim]

(2) “The slightest bit of showing off in good works is as if worshipping others with Allah.” [Hakim]

(A: When there is an act of obedience the servant intends to conceal but Allah reveals, then it is merely gratitude for His blessings to admit it to others and thank Him for it. When asked if one is fasting, for example, and one is, then one should say “Praise be to Allah” (alhamdulillah).)

Please see the following links about showing off: Is It Haram to Like One’s Beauty and Appearance? and Showing Off

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

When A Poet From Tipperary Tried To Outdo Al Busiri, By Novid Shaid

Once there was a poet

Who hailed from Tipperary

One day he said: “I know what I’ll do

I’ll be the new Busiri!

I am going to be the one and only

I am going to be a star

Muslims from all around will cheer

This is the new burda!

I’ll use a catchy rhythm

I’ll think of amazing rhymes

Similes and metaphors

It’ll be most sublime!

Then after I’ve completed it

I’ll have a special dream

The Prophet will come up to me

With a cloak from the unseen!

I’ll wake and there I’ll find it

Enwrapped around my chest

A miracle, a fine burda

At the holy Prophet’s behest!

Then people will come and read it

They’ll find it heavenly

The royalties will flow and flow

I’ll be an Islamic celebrity!”

 

So, he went and told his missus

She couldn’t help but deride

“You nincompoop!” She chided him

“Al Busiri was half-paralysed!”

“I don’t care!” Said the poet

“I’m gonna hit the big time

I’ll prove to you that I can write

The most scintillating rhyme!”

 

So, he went and sat on a wooden bench

Inside the local park

He mused: “right here amongst the trees

I will write with perfect art.”

But as he wrote, he struggled

Nothing was forthcoming

So he decided there to take a nap

Maybe a dream would inspire him.

As he was awakening

He felt something enshrouding him

Inside he said: “subhan Allah!

This must be from Him!”

He awoke with expectation

His ego feeling finer

But to his horror and disgust

He was wrapped in a great bin-liner!

“What on earth is this!” He raged

And suddenly he noticed

A bearded most singular man

He thought: “he must be homeless.”

The old man said: “I’m sorry

But I thought you needed that

I didn’t want you to be cold

Especially in this cold snap.”

“You cheeky sort!” Cried the poet

“Keep yourself to yourself!”

The old man gazed into his eyes

“I know what’s good for your health.”

“What are you blabbering on about

You bumbling, dithering looney!”

Growled the poet growing red and red

Like a bloated strawberry.

The old man said: “you need this burda

This burda around my heart.”

The poet stared at the man and cried:

“There’s no burda there you tart!”

“Aah!” sighed the man, glowing

“You have to look carefully

The cloak that I refer to

Is the cloak of sincerity.

Its thread is made of slavehood

The pattern spells out mercy

Then you have to weave it

With the needles of poverty

When you write and only write

For Blessed Mustafa

When you love and only love

For our One Maker Allah

You will see He works through you

You will see His Mustafa.”

The poet went home gloomy

But at home things weren’t much finer

His wife said: “here, I need some help!”

And she handed him a bin-liner!

 

[cwa id=’cta’]

Resources for seekers

How To Avoid Being A "Know-It-All", by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

You should be involved in Islamic learning, argues Shaykh Shuaib Ally. A large reason for that involves a trait that, when lacking, cripples a person’s ability to develop their knowledge base: intellectual humility.

A lack of intellectual humility manifests itself, in discussions related to the Islamic sciences, in various forms. A common expression is for me to arrive at a certain opinion, say, related to a legal matter. I then imagine that I alone understand what the ruling ought to be, and that none others hold a correct view.
However, it is unlikely that my opinion finds no precedent whatsoever in an academic history that spans over 1400 odd years and large swathes of the globe. Such a belief instead derives from my misguided belief in the unique and special nature of my own outlook.
It would be bad enough if this were the lone result of this form of intellectual arrogance. Worse is the nefarious corollary of such a belief, my belief that the fact this unique understanding is not being currently championed must be due to one of two reasons.
One is that the vast majority of scholars are being academically dishonest and are hiding what is the correct opinion for their own ends. The other is that it really is the fact that the understanding I have arrived at has no precedent whatsoever in the inherited tradition. I then take this to be demonstrative of the fact that established scholarship has nothing serious to offer.
This is, of course, wrongheaded.
It is unlikely that there is some sort of conspiracy to cover up aspects of scholarship in Islamic history; in fact, scholarly works are quite good at recording non-mainstream opinions, if for no other reason than academic curiosity. It is simply more likely that scholars have chosen another opinion for other reasons, and that is the one that people are most familiar with.
Moreover, my being unaware of a certain opinion within a body of scholarship hardly indicates that the community of scholarship itself is somehow compromised. More often than not, it simply reflects a gap in my own knowledge base. That is, it says more about me than about the discipline I am considering defective.
In this regard, the late 3rd C Shāfiʿī jurist poet, Mansūr b. Ismāʿīl al-Tamīmī, recited:

Those of diminished intellect critique the study of law
Yet their blame does not affect it in the least
The morning sun rising in the horizon remains unharmed
By those without sight remaining oblivious to its light

Let me give you an example. Imagine I believe that astronomical calculations should be used in lieu of naked eye sightings to determine the beginning and end of months in the lunar calendar. I could have very good reasons for arguing this. Classical scholars, I might argue, worked in a medieval period in which the sciences were not as developed, and therefore did not consider astronomical calculations as possible. I might go on to argue that in the modern age, we have precise methods of measurement, and that this should allow for the formulation of new rulings.
This would be an example of intellectual arrogance because classical works do consider astronomical calculations being used for this purpose; these discussions are alluded to in even fairly elementary works of law. When I make such a claim, I am arrogantly making claims about the absence of a discussion in a certain literature, betraying my lack of knowledge of preceding discussion.
My viewing scholars at large with suspicion, and believing them to be unwilling to entertain this discussion, would likewise be intellectually arrogant. This is because they are skirting an issue; they have simply chosen another opinion for other reasons.
The intellectual arrogance here is born out of a misguided sense of my own academic breadth. This arrogance is criticized famously by Abu Nuwas, the 2nd C Abbasid poet famous for the licentious content of his work, who recited:

Say to one who claims a special understanding:
You have gathered a little bit, but even more escapes you!

This lack of knowledge is therefore exacerbated by my lack of intellectual humility. Had I bothered to engage in the disciplines that purport to deal with the subject matter under consideration, I might have found at the very least a suitable starting point for their research.
However, rejecting at the outset anything a scholarly class busies itself with as having little intellectual worth has necessarily restricted me from benefiting from it. Due diligence demands being thorough in researching my claims prior to making them, but my preconceived notions about the undeveloped nature of the Islamic disciplines have led me to bypass that.
These preconceived notions are often coupled by an actual inability to access scholarly discussions on a given subject. That is, intellectual arrogance has blocked me from acquiring the requisite knowledge of the Islamic disciplines, primary or supporting, such that I can actually engage the textual tradition on the issues I purports to have special knowledge of. Indeed, there is often a correlation between lack of learning and intellectual arrogance.


A lack of intellectual humility can also express itself in my conception of others and their practice. Part of intellectual humility is understanding that while I believe and act in a certain manner, others may have good reason for doing or believing something that is at odds with this. Intellectual humility demands coming to terms with this, even if I do not understand the reason for others choosing another course, or even if I have never come across the rationale underlying their chosen course.
When I am intellectually arrogant, however, I am unable to do this. Instead, I presumptuously think that knowledge begins and ends only with what I myself has come across and understand.This allows me to pompously insist on my own position at all costs, assuming it to be the only correct position. It also allows me to judge others, believing their positions to be inadequate without having actually assessed their merit, and rejecting from the outset anything they could have to say in response as having intellectual worth.
Rejecting something simply because it is unfamiliar is, however, behaviour the Qurʾan criticizes as unbecoming. Imam al- Qurtubī, the famous 7th C Andalusian exegete, mentions that al-Husayn b. al-Fadl, a 3rd C Nishapuri exegete, was asked, Does the Qur’an contain the idea that whoever is ignorant of something opposes it? He said: Yes, in two places: They disbelieve in anything their own knowledge does not encompass (10:39); and If they have not been guided to something, they say, this is an ancient lie (46:11).


Another form of intellectual arrogance can manifest itself when I have acquired some knowledge, and suddenly consider myself intellectually superior to all others, even those who are far above me in their level of scholarship, including my own teachers. Al-Jāhiz, the 3rd C Abbasid polymath, recited these famous lines from the perspective of a teacher complaining of such a situation:

How curious, the one I reared from childhood; I would feed with the tips of my fingers
I taught him to shoot; when his arms became strong, he fired at me
How often I trained him in verse; when he began to recite, he attacked me
I taught him manliness, daily; when his mustache began to grow, he abandoned me
When I act in such a manner, I become the instantiation of the warning that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, as it has contributed to my inflated sense of worth, instead of increasing my humility.

 


The good news is that the cure to intellectual arrogance is fairly straightforward. It is to actually engage in sincere learning. This is why I think you should engage in Islamic learning.
The bad news is that doing so isn’t particularly easy, in that it is much easier to simply be pompous. Acquiring real knowledge takes work.
There is an indication of this difficulty in that the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him – said that whoever embarks upon a path of knowledge, God facilitates for them a path to Paradise.
He does this, scholars say, in two ways. One is worldly, in that he makes it easy for them to do good, and difficult for them to do otherwise. The second is a reference to the afterlife, in that he facilitates for them their crossing of the bridge to Paradise, a task otherwise fraught with difficulty.
There is a general principle when it comes to how reward and punishment is meted out for a specific action; it tends to be commensurate, or similar in kind, to a person’s action, good or bad. This is encapsulated in the maxim: actions are rewarded in kind.
In the case of our knowledge seeker, he has undertaken what is actually an onerous task – knowledge seeking can require, beyond cost, countless hours of attending classes, listening to lectures, recording and reviewing notes, and putting up with teachers with different personalities and teaching methodologies that may not accord with his own.
All of this is near impossible for the intellectually arrogant, as he cannot see why he needs to humiliate himself before knowledge in this manner. But for one who does take it upon himself to traverse this difficult path, they are rewarded in kind, in that God facilitates for them what would have otherwise been an intractable journey.


It has been said that whoever has not tasted the humility of learning for a short time, tastes the bitterness of ignorance for a lifetime. That is, humbling oneself to a sincere knowledge quest can serve to quell many of the pitfalls that come with being intellectually arrogant.
One who does so sincerely will become aware of the kinds of discussions that scholars are engaged in, their range and extent, and the methods they employ to reach their conclusions. A large part of this is because engaging sincerely will provide one with the tools to properly participate in scholarly discussions.
Being apprised of this intellectual heritage protects one from thinking that an entire tradition is undeveloped in that it has little to offer. This awareness also prevents one from viewing the scholarly community with disdain or suspicion, even if one disagrees with their conclusions.
The knowledge that one gains will allow one to develop their intellectual humility in other ways too. At the personal level, it allows one to realize the contours of their own knowledge base; that is, an awareness of what they know and how that roughly fits into the available body of knowledge. For the vast majority of people, this is a humbling experience, as one realizes the limited nature of their grasp, even after years of study.
At a larger level, this humility forces a certain level of tolerance for others’ beliefs and practice, as one no longer pompously believes themselves to have an exclusive grasp of truth in the Islamic tradition. Such a person no longer has the internal urge to object to what others are doing or saying, as he knows that there can be schools of thought or credible scholarship that holds as such. This is why many scholars say: the more one’s knowledge grows, the more his objections diminish.


This is – to finally get to the point – why I think you should be involved in Islamic learning. Aside from the normal reasons for pursuing what is generally considered ‘religious’ knowledge – which are themselves good enough – doing so will allow one to pursue this special knowledge related virtue, that of cultivating intellectual humility.
A community that demonstrates knowledge related virtues, premier among them being a healthy dose of intellectual humility, is the kind of knowledge community we want to build. This is the kind of community that, aside from simply being engaged with knowledge, can build a native tradition of scholarship.
This is because its collective intellectual humility and academic integrity has allowed for the raising of intellectual discourse across the community, beyond the clamor of theories divorced from preceding scholarship and the vague insinuations that often pose as informed comment in popular discourse today.
I want you to be part of this building process, even if in a small way.
It is difficult to approach a knowledge quest sincerely. Yet I encourage you to approach it as sincerely as you can, and pray that your sincerity, even if somehow currently compromised, is perfected over time. Some past scholars used to say, musing on their intentions becoming corrected over time: we started out seeking knowledge for reasons other than God, yet it refused in the end to be for any cause other than God.
The method for participating in this process is up to you; it can and should involve a number of different options. These include attending classes on the ground with those who do embody intellectual humility; taking online courses (such as those offered through Seekershub), listening to lectures, and reading widely.
We don’t lack for resources in learning. We do lack for commitment to learning, a problem that derives largely from arrogance of the intellect.
This is why, in a roundabout way, I think you should involve yourself in sincere Islamic learning.

[cwa id=’cta’]

Is It Arrogant for Me to Decline a Proposal From a Promiscuous Man Who Is Now a Scholar?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I have received a proposal from a young man. I have been advised to accept as he has recently qualified as a scholar.

However, I know that he is flirty and has had relationships with other women. Am I right to refuse him on these grounds? Am I being arrogant by thinking this?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Arrogance

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.” [Muslim]

The definition of arrogance is looking down on other people. Please reflect on this. It is sinful for you to consider yourself better than him because you are chaste and he was not. Repentance wipes his slate clean. In addition to that, the wheel of life is always turning, and we are all in need of Allah’s Mercy.

When registration reopens, I strongly encourage you to do this course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. Before you get married, it is obligatory for you to learn the fiqh behind it. This course will also help you understand the qualities you need to look for in a husband, and inform you about the qualities you need to cultivate in yourself.

Chastity

Being chaste is from the sunnah of our Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). I pray that Allah rewards you for living by this beautiful Prophetic virtue. However, Allah Most High is the One who continues to allow you tawfiq (enabling grace) in being chaste.

“A disobedience that bequeaths humiliation and extreme need
is better than an obedience that bequeaths
self-infatuation and pride.” [Aphorism of Ibn Ata’illah]

Remember to make plentiful shukr for this tremendous blessing from Allah. Focus on Him with humility and gratitude, and not on yourself or your good deeds.

Istikhara

I suggest that you perform the Prayer of Guidance up til seven times to get a clear answer on how to proceed. If it is a negative, then you know that he is not for you e.g. your heart continues to be turned away from him and you continue to hear negative reports about him.

If your istikhara is a positive, then that is a sign for you to give him a chance e.g. if your heart softens, or you receive good news about him.

It is extremely important for you to do your research about each prospective suitor, but please be discerning about your sources of information. Are the people who have warned you about him trustworthy? Or are they the kind who incline towards gossiping?

If this young man is still being lax in his behaviour towards women, then their warning you is a good thing. However, if he has made his repentance and is behaving chastely, then these tale-bearers have committed a major sin by spreading false tales about him, and by exposing his past sin. Please refer to this: Slander, Backbiting and Talebearing.

Judgement

Leave all judgement of his character to Allah, who is the All-Seeing and All-Knowing. Your job is to keep an open mind, be honest with yourself, and pray istikhara. As it is extremely important to you to marry someone chaste, then it does not sound like he fits your criteria. Additionally, his character traits already seem to irritate you. People don’t change for the better after marriage unless Allah wills, so generally what you see is what you get.

If your family asks you why you do not want to accept his offer, just tell them that your istikhara is negative. I pray that Allah blesses you with a husband who has both good character and religion.

Please see:
What is the Islamic Understanding of Pride?
Is It Haram to Like One’s Beauty and Appearance?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: M.G. Kafkas

How Do I Deal With Racist Attitudes at Gatherings?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I sometimes find people making racist comments regarding people of other backgrounds. How should I respond in the best way in accordance with the sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking a response which is pleasing to Him.

Good character

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “I was sent to perfect good character.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

You are right. There is a better way to address your dilemma. Your head-on, confrontational approach probably caused them to become defensive and deny being racist. There is an adab to giving advice, and I strongly urge you to read this excellent article, The Criteria of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil, by ShaykhUstadh Faraz Khan.

Arrogance

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “He who has, in his heart, an atom’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means denying the Truth and holding people in contempt.” [Muslim]

It is tempting to look down on others who display ugly character traits. This is not the way of Islam. This opens the path to falling into arrogance, which is a major sin. May Allah protect the ummah from this. A better response is to advise others out of sincere concern, instead of irritation or disgust. Before you give advice, check the state of your heart and your intention.

Solutions

1) Send them gifts and apologise for being confrontational. Explain that you would like to come back, and hope that more of their lesson will be beneficial.
2) If they persist in their racist speech, stand up, give salams and leave the gathering. You have done your part by pointing out their problematic behaviour, and the rest is up to them. Be a model of good character.
3) Perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to guide these women, and to send you more circles of beneficial knowledge.
4) Seek out better gatherings of people of good character, who increase your love for Allah and His Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).

Please refer to the following link:

A Reader on Calling to Allah, Giving Advice, and Commanding the Good

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is It Haram to Like One’s Beauty and Appearance?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Is it haram to like one’s beauty and appearance, because it can be classified as arrogance? Is it also arrogant to wear nice clothes, put on makeup and do our hair in front of women in order to show off our beauty?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your concern, grant you clarity in this matter, and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.

Definition of Arrogance

“No one with an atom’s worth of arrogance will enter paradise.” A man asked, “But a person loves that his clothes are seemly and his sandals are seemly.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied,” Indeed Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is denying truth and holding people in contempt.” (Muslim)

It is in our nature as human beings to enjoy beauty in its myriad forms. However, it is sinful to look down on others by because we feel superior to them in beauty, wealth, intelligence etc – that is a form of arrogance.

Vanity vs Dignity

“Vanity is when a person deems them self to have some blessing and forgets that it is from Allah and it does not require that a person is looking down on another person. Dignity (‘izzah) is when a person recognizes the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon them (faith, life, health, beauty, wealth, knowledge, prestige, etc) and walks humbly with a recognition of those blessings while not deeming themselves better than others.” From Balancing Confidence and Humility and the Wisdom of Trials from Allah

I strongly recommend that when you feel pleased about your beauty, you immediately remind yourself that this is a blessing from Allah Most High. InshaAllah, this will protect you from vanity.

Showing Off

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.'” [Qur’an, 14:7]

It is unwise to show off anything we have been blessed with. The appropriate attitude to have towards blessings is that one of gratitude (shukr) towards Allah. He is the One who bestows all of our blessings upon us. Whatever Allah grants, He can take away as a means of testing us. The best way to secure our blessings is through having continual shukr, inshaAllah.

Please refer to the following links:

Balancing Confidence and Humility and the Wisdom of Trials from Allah
What is the Difference Between Self Respect and Arrogance?
What is the Islamic Understanding of Pride?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

A Warning Against Kibr (Conceit), from Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

BISMILLAH
“Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills.”  (Surah An-Nur)

Allahumma salli alaa Syedina Muhammad wa alaa Ahli Syedina Muhammad, fi kulli lamhatin wa nafasin ‘adada maa wa see-a-hu ‘il-muLLAH

Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, defined scholars as those who do not differentiate between good and bad, but rather, those who separate the best from that which is good, and the worst from that which is bad.

Allah Most High wanted khair for this ummah, and as such, Allah Most High describes the ummah in Surah Ahli-Imran (verse 110):  “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.”

This khair for the ummah is that the ummah should be khair for all others and all that it encounters!

And Allah Most High blessed this Ummah with the greatest blessing of all:  Rasulullah, peace be upon him!

“And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah . If he were to obey you in much of the matter, you would be in difficulty, but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided and the most sucessful.”  (Surah Al-Hujurat, 7)

Going back to Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, it is not about the difference between good and bad, it is rather differentiating between the best and the worst.

Differentiating between the best and the worst

There is an opportunity in every situation to choose that which is best, and, in doing so, avoid the worst.  In this there is a great blessing; and this is reflected in the character of the people of great himma (determination).

We need to understand who we are as humans; we are the weak, the ignorant and the dependent.

One character trait that leads to kufr is kibr (arrogance or conceit), as Rasulullah, peace be upon him, mentioned that a person will not enter jannah if there is even half an atom of kibr in their heart.

May Allah Most High send his renewed blessing and mercy upon Syedina Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, when he wrote to the Persian King when he heard about is kibr, especially by way of his ornate crown and throne:  Qisra, how can you be so arrogant when you know you came from two shameful things, that which was emitted from your father and that which was conceived in your mother’s body!

As narrated in the Musnad of Abu Yaàla, Rasulullah, peace be upon him, was sitting with the Sahaba, who were praising a man and in his praise they described his martial struggling, his relationship with the Qur’an, and his dhikr.  During the course of their description the man came across the gathering, and the Sahaba pointed the man out to Rasulullah , peace be upon him.

A touch of kibr

Upon seeing the man, Rasulullah, peace be upon him, mentioned to the Sahaba that within this man there is a touch of kibr, and Rasulullah, peace be upon him, during the course of this gathering, asked the man:  Have you not mentioned to yourself that you consider yourself better than everyone else? The man affirmed as such, and went away from Rasulullah, peace be upon him, and the Sahaba to pray.

Rasulullah, peace be upon him, sent Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, to go and kill this man, but when he came upon him he was praying.  Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, came back to Rasulullah, peace be upon him, and told him he could not kill the man as he was in salah, to which Rasulullah, peace be upon him, again gave a clear command, and Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, went to kill the man.

Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, found the man in sujud (prostration), and thus, came back and reported to Rasulullah , peace be upon him.  Rasulullah, peace be upon him, again gave the command, to which Syedina Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, responded, but when he went to the find the man, he was missing!

When Syedina Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, returned to Rasulullah, peace be upon him, Rasulullah, peace be upon him, told the Sahaba that the man, with his touch of kibr, was the start of the fitnah (tribulation), and if he was to be killed, the fitnah would never fall upon the ummah.

Although this man was praised among the Sahaba, he had the arrogance to go and pray on his own rather than sitting with Rasulullah, peace be upon him, and the Sahaba!

Arrogance is never good, even in ibadah.

We have to enjoin the best of characters and avoid the worst; and in order to become closer to Allah Most High we have to fight our nafs (lower selves).

May Allah Most High grant us the beauty of iman (faith), and may He put in our hearts the disdain for disbelief and disobedience.

May Allah Most High Love us, Guide us and Cover us with His Mercy.

 

Shaykh Faid SaidShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.

Read his articles on the SeekersHub blog.

 

Resources for seekers:

The Best for Mankind, by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Allah wanted us to be the best of mankind FOR mankind! The nature of this dunya encourages us to cooperate and live together, as Allah (Most High) said in Surah Al-Maidah (2):  “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.”  Allah (Most High) created us to be together on earth; we need to support each other and to hold each other’s hand in this path.

The-name-of-Allah-1Allah (Most High) has said that He has made us the best Ummah (Surah Al-Imran, 110), but being the best is actually not in it of itself, but rather it is being the best for mankind.  It is to be the best in guiding, helping, serving and being there as a support for mankind.

That being said, help may only be sought from those who are able to support others, and only people with the purest and kindest of hearts can be in a position of supporting and helping others.  That is why the best Ummah is that with the best of characters.

Allah (Most High) praised Rasulullah (peace be upon him) for his great and exalted character in Surah Al-Qalam (4): “Indeed , you are of great and exalted character.”  Rasulullah (peace be upon him) also told us that the most beloved to him are those with the greatest of akhlaq (characters or manners).  [at-Tabarani, Al-Awsat, 7697]

Having the best of akhlaq is one of the purposes of this deen!

In correcting, maintaining and improving ourselves, we often mistakenly look at the symptoms of our illness, rather than treating the cause of our sins.  In looking at the causes of all sin and evil, our Ulama say the source of all sin and evil are three things:


Arrogance

Arrogance was the first sin to be committed, and was done so by iblis. Because of his arrogance, he refused the command of Allah (Most High) to make sujud for Adam (May Allah be pleased with him). Arrogance is not a visible attribute, but rather an internal attribute that manifests itself in actions and words.  When someone feels that he or she is better than everyone else, or when someone feels so happy and content with themselves to the extent that they think that there is no one like them; these are aspects of arrogance.  These forms of arrogance can lead someone to be like firoun (the pharaoh), who thought he was a god.  It can even lead people to be like the Quraysh, who saw Rasulullah (peace be upon him) only as an orphan, and thought it was not possible for him to be chosen as a Prophet, especially because they felt they held greater status.

The heart of an arrogant person is always filled with hatred.  That is why Allah (Most High) said in Surah Al-Araf (146):

“I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right; and if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the way of consciousness, they will not adopt it as a way; but if they see the way of error, they will adopt it as a way. That is because they have denied Our signs and they were heedless of them.”

Allah (Most High) also says in Surah An-Nahl (23):  “Assuredly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare. Indeed, He does not like the arrogant.”

Rasulullah (peace be upon him) also mentioned, as narrated in Sahih Muslim, that no one shall enter Jannah even with a half an atom’s weight of arrogance in their heart!

 

Greed

Adam (May Allah be pleased with him) left Jannah due to greed, as Allah (Most High) says in Surah Taha (120):  “Then Satan whispered to him; he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?” Even though Adam was told not to eat from the tree, he ate because he was promised a eternity, and because of this desire, he was removed from Jannah.

Rasulullah (peace be upon him) mentioned, as narrated in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, that mankind becomes old, but two things do not age with him, greed for wealth and greed for a longer life.

Allah (Most High) tells us in Surah Az-Zumar (30):  “Indeed, you are to die, and indeed, they are to die.”  We forget this reality, and instead we want to have more of everything.  Allah (Most High) also reminds us of this in the following ayahs:

“Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.” (Surah Al-Imran, 114)

“Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”  (Surah Luqman, 34)

“And for every nation is a [specified] term. So when their time has come, they will not remain behind an hour, nor will they precede [it].”(Surah Al-Araf, 34)

We should also remember the Hadith that was narrated by Abdullah ibn Omar (May Allah be pleased with him) when Rasulullah (peace be upon him) told him to be like a wayfarer in this dunya.

Also, we should remember the words of Imam Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) when he said dunya is travelling away from us, and, as such, dunya has given us its back, but al akhira is travelling towards us; both dunya and al akhira have children, so be from the children of al akhira, because no action is taken without accountability, for tomorrow there is only accountability!

 

Hasad (jealousy and envy)

Hasad is the very trait that Allah (Most High) asked us to seek refuge from in the verse of Surah Al-Falaq.  Hasad is also the first sin to be committed by the children of Adam, when Cain killed Abel out of jealousy, and it is the worst of attributes.  Hasad is when you see all that is good as being deserved by you and no one else!  Allah (Most High), by relating to us the story of the children of Adam, is telling us the extent that people can go to via hasad, and the level of crime that hasad may cause them to commit.

In speaking about hasad, Allah (Most High) mentions in Surah An-Nisa (54-55):

“Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty? But we had already given the family of Abraham the Scripture and wisdom and conferred upon them a great kingdom.”

Rasulullah (peace be upon him) also mentioned in a Hadith narrated in Bukhari and Muslim, that we should not hate each other, have jealousy or envy, turn our back on others, and should not cut our relations; rather, we should be in the slavehood of Allah (Most High) as brothers.

fire-burn-woodIn a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him), in Sunan Abu Dawood, Rasulullah (peace be upon him) mentioned that we should be away and warn from hasad, as hasad can do to hasanat (good deeds) what fire does to wood.

Also, Syedina Hasan (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I have never seen an oppressor who looks like he is being oppressed!  This is the reality of hasad; you see the people of hasad always upset and crying upon seeing the khair in others.

Abdullah ibn Masud (May Allah be pleased with him) also mentioned that we should not be the enemy of the blessing of Allah (Most High), as those who have hasad towards what Allah (Most High) has given others.  The problem of hasad is not the fact that one is jealous or envious of a particular person, but rather it is having issue with Allah’s (Most High) decree!

All three attributes mentioned rotate and serve one another.

May Allah (Most High) remove from us all these blameworthy attributes, and may Allah (Most High) fill our hearts with His love and the love of Rasulullah (peace be upon him). May Rabbi guide us, and may He make us the Ummah that spreads khair and helps everyone, and in doing so, is the best FOR mankind!

You’re Wildly Successful, but Do Your Friends Trust You?

Photo credit: Sergey Nivens You might have written bestsellers, but do your friends trust you?

You might have a PhD but do your children hate you?

You might have millions of fans but are you incapable of having a loving relationship?

You might earn a ton of money, but is it all sitting in high-interest accounts or shares in unethical mining or arms companies, while the people around you are eating tinned dog food?

You might have earned the praise and admiration of your peers, but does the old lady at the Post Office secretly call you ‘that pompous, rude git who swans about like he owns the place and couldn’t tell a joke if it bit him in the arse’?

Achievement has about as much to do with what looks good on paper as beauty has to do with plastic surgery. What have Muslims contributed in the last 500 years or so? Many millions of tiny acts of kindness that no newspaper would bother printing and no organisation would bother stumping up the cash for an awards ceremony to celebrate.

Dealing with your own self is a far more difficult task than going to university, getting a job, and rising up the career ladder, gathering accolades on the way. You can employ all sorts of underhanded methods in the latter, but in the former, only ruthless self-accounting and discipline will work – and that doesn’t get you any certificate.

Humility, disinterested acts of kindness, generosity, service to others, being the kind of everyday hero that doesn’t demand a medal – these acts are elevated in Islam to the rank of achievement, far more than winning a battle or having your critics pat you on the back for that paper you just published.

The higher you climb in this world, the further you have to fall. In contrast, practising non-attachment to the world whilst caring for it is surely the greatest challenge humanity faces.

By Medina Tenour Whiteman, Cavemum

 

Resources for Seekers:

VIDEO: The etiquette of battling the self and ego
Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)
The War Within Our Hearts
The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others

What is the Islamic Understanding of Pride?

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: There are narration that speak about the cardinal sin of lowering ones clothing below the ankle out of pride. What is the Islamic understanding of pride – whether in general or in specific to this narration. I am aware (please correct me if I am wrong) that is it disliked to wear clothing below the ankle if not out of pride though if out of pride, the sinful however i do not know what the Islamic understanding of Pride is so can you kindly explain.

Answer:

Clothing Below Ankles

Before defining pride, what we find in many of the work of the four schools of thought is that it is disliked without a sin (makruh). This is not to deny though that there are many scholars today who hold that it is prohibited to for men to have their clothing below the ankle.

Arrogance (Kibr)

The definition of Arrogance (kibr) according to Ibn Juzay is, “A person thinking highly of themselves and looking down upon others.” Imam al-Ghazzali in his Forty Foundations defines pride as, “The reality of arrogance (kibr) is that one deems himself superior to others in regards to qualities of completion which leads to snobbish and overjoyed”.

The Causes and Signs of Arrogance

Arrogance can be caused by having knowledge, worship, lineage, courage, strength, beauty, wealth, or prestige. Some of the effects of arrogance is that a person would want a high position in gatherings, being the first while walking, looking down on others, being hateful towards others if they don’t begin with salam, or that when he looks at the masses its like he is looking at donkeys.

What Pride leads to

Arrogance will cause a person to be driven away from the signs of Allah (Quran 7:146). Ibn Zukri said, “As long as a person is arrogant his heart will not submit to truth, accept it, nor benefit from it.”

(Mawlud, Purification of the Heart)