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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

On Praise and Celebration – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, a leading and renowned scholar of South Africa, discusses the spiritual and internal dimensions of Eid.

On Praise and Celebration

The two salahs (prayers) – along with the khutbahs (sermons) – of the two Eids are significantly placed at the beginning of the day of these two great Islamic occasions. They act as a singular reminder that no matter how joyous a celebration might be for us, the centrality of the Divine and normative spirituality in our lives ought never to be ignored. Our celebrations, festivities and commemorations are invariably configured within the orbit of that quintessentially Islamic practice of spirituality. Nevertheless, it remains a Sunnah to rejoice – to, in effect, feel and experience that joy – regardless of how bleak and dim matters might appear to be.

Our rejoicing, however, need not be read as a moment of insensitivity towards the suffering of others. On the contrary, our rejoicing is an expression of the Qur’anic verse: “Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins.”(39: 53) We have to rejoice at the fact that even if we have nothing other than Islam and Iman (secure faith) that this is enough cause for celebration. “Indeed, the true religion with Allah is Islam.” (Qur’an, 3: 19). Here Islam is not presented as a falsification of other prophets and religions, but as a crystalline distillation of those beliefs, rites and practices that found both their manifestation and actualization – in all their multifarious forms – throughout our sacred history from the time of the Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him) and Hawa (Peace be upon her) to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and salutations upon him). With the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and salutations upon him) the sacred chain of prophets and religions had come full circle and found its perfection in him.

In the latter sense Islam is the ultimate ni’mah (Divine Grace). Within the starkness of this condition we need to remember that in Islam the emphasis is on optimism, not pessimism. This will remain so even though it appears as if we are going through one of our most trying moments in history. There are media and cultural biases against Muslims, religiously bigoted views about Islam and active distortion about the political and social conditions in some parts of the Muslim world. But when we venture below the surface, we encounter another story – that Islam is in fact the fastest growing religion on the planet• despite the best efforts by propagandists to smear and demonize Islam and Muslims. For those in the know in the non-Muslim world, it is not bombs, bullets and the behavior of emotionally disturbed individuals speaking in the name of the ummah that will get Islam and Muslims anywhere, but potentially this demographic fact of the massive conversion rate in the world today – particularly in the Western world. Yet care should be exercised in this regard. Demographics alone is not good enough.

So, what is the position of Muslims vis-à-vis all of this? The Qur’an tells us, “When the help of Allah comes and victory; and you see people entering the religion in droves, then hymn the praises of Allah, be then grateful and seek forgiveness.” (110: 1-3). The message is clear: Islam is not the property or possession of any particular person. It does not belong to “me” to boast about when there is an increase in fortune and capital. It is not a self-aggrandizing condition that entitles cradle Muslims to sport and parade their newly acquired wares. What indeed are required are gestures of humility and thanksgiving that speak of hearts that are fully aware of the fact that Islam requires change founded in a sacred and transcendent order that seeks to spiritually liberate the human condition from the most blameworthy qualities that blight that condition. Qualities such as malicious envy, rancor, belligerence, bigotry and both internecine hatred and hatred of the “other”. In other words, celebrating the entrance of droves of humanity into Islam is meant and designed to celebrate the great qualitative changes that may precipitate from those who adopted Islam as their new faith, on the basis of choice and free will. Choices that may well contribute to elevating those cradle Muslims fossilized in an arrogance and self-righteousness that serve to undermine rather than proclaim the universal message of Islam.

The social importance of events such as Eid, however, should also not be overlooked. These are times during which thousands of Muslims fill our mosques to capacity in a collective moment of elevated togetherness. They are also times of unconditional giving and sharing – moments that know no borders, whether personal, individual, or organizational. Those who fail to participate in this unity of experience can hardly claim to be of the ‘Ai’din (participants in the celebration of Eid).

The very fact too, that it is a sunnah for women to attend the salah of the two Eids underscores the importance of a border-free participation in these two events. Like Hajj and ‘Umrah, they are designed to represent the ultimate in human togetherness. But this “human togetherness” we experience in our mosques – as Muslims proud of our religion, proud to be the bearers of the message of Islam – needs to be transferred into the broader arena of our social living.

As part of our own contribution to this togetherness my brother, Shaykh Ahmad, and I have long ago decided to join hands with those who are both firmly rooted in and creatively linked to our classical legacy and, more specifically, to that great normative Tradition of Islam that finds its expression in the voices of the likes of Hujjat al-Islam Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, al-Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyi l-Din ibn al-‘Arabi, Shykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhuli, al-Faqih al-Muqaddam, Shaykh Junayd al-Baghdadi, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi and others far too numerous to mention. It is a Tradition, too, that has never failed to recognize and acknowledge that the Qur’an and the Sunnah form the twin sources of spirituality and Divine Grace (barakah) – a spirituality and a grace that have found their infinite space and flow upon the shores of those hearts receptive to the perennial rhythms of Divine Providence.
Upon these shores, and across the ages, stand these gladiators of Islamic Spirituality who wield those radiant staves – enlightened and enlightening – of Sufism.

In these representatives, we find an Islam that combines fearlessness with wisdom, methodology with sanity and a state of being imbued with confidence and dignity. It is an Islam that tells us when we invite to the Way of Allah that we do so with hikmah (wisdom) and maw’idht al-hasanah (beautiful exhortations). It is an Islam that tells us that representative Muslims are those who “are guided unto good speech and are guided unto the path of the Praiseworthy.” (Qur’an, 22:24). It is an Islam that teaches us that while it is permissible to requite a wrong, that it is yet better to forgive. It is an Islam that teaches us that if we are oppressed and removed from our homes that we are entitled to fight for the restoration of our natural rights. It is an Islam, moreover, that teaches that if our enemies stop their hostilities with offerings of peace that we, in turn, reciprocate with peace and get on with our lives.

In short, it is an Islam the essence of which is taught in the madrasah of Ramadan. Here we are taught the virtues of taqwa (God-consciousness), the virtues of disciplining the will and aligning it with the Will of Allah, the virtues of purifying the heart and the soul, and the virtues of sabr (patience and endurance), namely, that extraordinary and richly rewarding capacity to live with fortitude in the long term.

In this madrasah we are taught to be truly human. And we can only be truly human, in Islamic terms, if we live up to the highest standards demanded by Islamic Spirituality. It is in the context of realizing the greatness of spirit within each and every human being that we come to recognize the greatness of Allah. Moreover, we need to live up to the greatness of that spirit within each and every one of us in order to realize, not only the meaning of the takbir (magnifying Allah) on both Eids, but also to rediscover that spiritual umbilical cord that connects us to Allah:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar…La ilaha ill Allah wa l-Llahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar wa lillahi l-hamd – Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. There is no deity other than Allah, for He, indeed, is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest and to Him belongs all praise.

Ultimate Praise is for Allah alone for it is nothing other than an echo that found its first articulation when the children of Adam (Peace be upon him) and Hawwa (Peace be upon her) were asked to bear witness to their Lord in their original state of primordial nativity: “Am I not your Lord?” They proclaimed: “Verily, we bear witness!” (Qur’an, 7: 172).

But we should not forget our praise and thanks for those upon whom and within whom the imprints of that Lordship have found their resonance and expression. They are those prophets, saints and savants who have been touched – in varying degrees – with the radiance of Divine Grace. As living symbols of all that constitutes the sacred, these are the people, too, we should never forget in our commemorations and celebrations. They form as much a part of sacred history and memory; as sacred, – if not more on occasion – as those divinely selected and sanctified moments of space and time.

 

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Azzavia Institute 2020

Beware of Making Eid Boring, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Eid is just around the corner and Ustadh Salman Younas has an important message for everyone, especially for those with children: Eid is not meant to be boring and dull.

Eid is meant to be a celebration. It is a perfect opportunity for us to show our children how our religion balances between worship and leisurely entertainment. We begin our day with charity, prayer, and supplication and continue it with food, family, and fun.
Historically, Eid was celebrated on a grand scale in the Islamic world. During the Abbasid period, the viziers and military soldiers would march in procession wearing their best clothing accompanied by torchbearers. Mosques, palaces, and even boats on the dock would be decorated and illuminated with lights. Tables would be set out for people to indulge in a variety of foods and sweets. People would sing, exchange gifts, visit family, and have an enjoyable time. In some periods, there would be firework displays as well and a number of other entertaining activities.

If you want to be a bore on Eid, then don’t be surprised when your children grow up with zero excitement and love for this prophetic tradition. As the scholar Abu’l Abbas al-Azafi (d. 633/1266) stated, “festivals are an occasion of delight, joys, permissible play, and licit amusement.” But he also noticed that many Muslim children during his time actually grew up as admirers and enthusiasts of Christian holidays/festivals because they were frankly more memorable and fun for them. Sound familiar? Yup, and this is not someone from the 21st century or the 20th century speaking, but a religious scholar from the 13th century.
If you make Eid memorable for your children by partaking in things that elicit happiness and jubilation, it will become endearing to them. So, don’t just pray the Eid prayer while your family sleeps at home and then go off to work. Don’t have your children spend Eid alone. Don’t just hand your children 20 dollars as “Eidi” and be done with it. Take a day or two off and make it something that they enjoy, remember, and can’t wait to experience again.
P.S. for those wondering, al-Azafi did try to “lecture” and “explain” to those children who adored Christian festivals that they had their own festivals. Did it work? Nope. Why? Because it is the actual experience that counts.

Follow Ustadh Salman Younas on Facebook.

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Closeness & Thankfulness – Eid al-Fitr Khutba 2011 – Faraz Rabbani at SeekersHub Toronto – Video & Audio

SeekersHub’s Free Islamic Podcast: Eid al-Fitr Khutba – 2011:

In the first Eid khutba at SeekersHub Toronto, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains that the central lesson of Ramadan–learned through the fasting, prayer, recitation of Qur’an, and other spiritual acts in the month–is seeking closeness to Allah.

It is this meaning of seeking closeness that we celebrate and express thankfulness for on the day of Eid, and which we must strive to nurture past Ramadan, in all our actions of devotion & life.

It is through realizing our neediness to Allah that we can attain this closeness; and it is only through this realization that we can be truly thankful & find purpose in life.

 

Part I

Part II

 

Audio:


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The Significance of Eid – Faraz Rabbani

 

 

 

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Islam has two major holidays, Eid al-Fitr (Post-Fasting Festival) and Eid al-Adha. The word Eid itself is an Arabic word, whose root connotation is “that which comes back, time after time, and rejoicing.” Its particular usage in Islam, for the two major holidays, is because these two days are meant to be days of rejoicing. [1]

 

The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “These are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of God.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, an authoritative collection of the sayings of the Prophet.]

 

In this same spirit, the Qur’an mentions that, “Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast (eid) for us, for the first of us and for the last of us and a sign from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the Best of Sustainers.'” (Qur’an, 5: 114)

 

Eid al-Fitr celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions, and is meant to be a recognition the material and spiritual favors of God to His creation.

 

On this day, Muslims all over the world thank God for the gift of fasting, in which they avoided food, drink and intercourse from dawn to dusk, out of obedience and servitude. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith, seeking its reward, shall have all their past sins forgiven.” [Also reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, and others]

 

The many lessons in Ramadan are acted upon on this day of festivity, in order that they not be forgotten:

 

1. Devoting oneself to God: Muslims start the day by showering after dawn on Eid day, then go to the short Eid prayer and sermon that takes place early in the morning.

 

2. Recognizing one”s blessings and thanking God for them: Muslims are encouraged to wear their best clothes, give gifts (especially to children) and celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors.

 

3. Remembering the plight of the poor and giving in charity: On Eid day, it is especially recommended to give in charity, the best time of which is before going to the mosque or prayer hall in the morning.

 

It is a day in which Muslims seek to join between worldly and spiritual celebration, for it is said, “True rejoicing is not (merely) in wearing new clothes, but in becoming true in one”s devotion to God.”

 

As a result, it is encouraged for Muslims to fast another six days after Eid during the month of Shawwal, in order to keep alive the lessons learned during the month of Ramadan, and to become of those devoted to God. It is because of this that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever fasts of Ramadan then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal shall have the reward of having fasted the whole year.” (Sahih Muslim)

 

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih]

 

See:

The Fiqh of Eid – Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali (SeekersGuidance Blog)

Sincerely,

 

Faraz Rabbani,

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[1] Raghib al-Isfahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur”an, 594 (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1997). This is a classic work on the vocabulary of the Qur”an.



MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.