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COVID-19: Making the Most of the Opportunity – Mufti Hussain Kamani

Mufti Hussain Kamani reminds us that when a believer meets difficulty, they engage in remembrance and respond by looking at the bigger reality. Even in prayer, our heart is in a different place — it’s with God.

Tests like COVID-19 remind us that matters are not in our hands — they are in Allah’s control. And while we can’t ever say for certain why God is giving us a particular tribulation, we can always use them as opportunities to turn to Him and ask Him for forgiveness. We can ask Him for forgiveness for our shortcomings, for taking our blessings for granted, and for not taking care of our world.

The next step is to learn to cope with the challenges we face. As self-isolation brings our community and social lives to a halt, we need to follow the guidance of both our health professionals and qualified scholars on how to navigate the situations we face. But we also should look for lessons we can learn from the current pandemic. For many, COVID-19 has been an eye-opener to the fact that we could die anytime. And this in turn opens up bigger questions that can cause us to reevaluate our entire lives. What legacy will I leave behind? Am I ready to stand before my Creator?

This valuable process can be hampered, however, by the mind-numbing information overload that is social media. This is why we need to take step back to engage with our heart and soul. This which is where self isolation presents a valuable opportunity: we are afforded far more free time to connect with our family and maximize our time, as it puts us all in a virtual devotional retreat. It would be a tremendous loss if all this potential for benefit is sucked up by digital media and other forms of wasting time.

Mufti Hussain emphasizes that we should build our days around the prayer, and devote ourselves to our ritual salah, reading Qur’an, dhikr, and supplications, using this time to turn inward and focus on God. By doing these things, we can make the most of the opportunities that this quarantine presents.

This reminder is part of COVID-19: A Global Islamic Response series. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. In these videos, Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world provides clarity in these challenging times on how people from all faiths should view and respond to the current situation. Watch the full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list….

COVID-19: Social Isolation in the Life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ – Ustadh Abdullah Misra

Social isolation leaves many of us wondering what to do with ourselves as we spend much of our time at home. Ustadh Abdullah tells us that while our social channels may be disrupted during social isolation, our connection with Allah remains and can grow stronger.

He cites a number of instances we find in the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) of isolation from others, and shares a number of lessons we can find in these incidents.

From the Prophet’s time in the cave, we learn how to use our time to draw closer to Allah and pray to him. From the time of persecution in Mecca, we are reminded to use our time for learning and teaching. From the Boycott of Banu Hashim, we are given an example on gaining solidarity, patience, and faith. From the Prophet’s migration, we learn to be reassured with the realization that Allah Most High is with us. From the siege of Medina during the Battle of the Trench, we learn from the Prophet’s example to look at the bright side of things and maintain a positive outlook. From the Prophet’s separation from his wives, we learn the importance of deliberation and reflection. And from the Prophet’s devotional retreat in the mosque every year, we learn the importance of spiritual retreat.

Ustadh Abdullah closes by reminding that we can bring this spiritual retreat into our homes. He reminds us to makes our homes islands of faith and tranquility, to open up to others, and most importantly to open up to God and what he wants to teach us.

This reminder is part of COVID-19: A Global Islamic Response series. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. In these videos, Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world provides clarity in these challenging times on how people from all faiths should view and respond to the current situation. Watch the full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list….

Poem: Locked Down – Novid Shaid

Novid Shaid, a well respected poet from the UK, writes a poem to lift our spirits during this time of isolation and lock down.

 

LOCKED DOWN

One night as I sat
Shackled up by Facebook
The jitters from the Twitter
Filled my body and my face shook
The trap of the Whatsapp
Enwrapped my intentions
But a voice from beyond
Just arrested my attention
—-
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu alayhi was sallam!
—-
Locked down to the ground
Of the multiplicity
My heart was aground
A beleaguered city
Spellbound in the haze
Of my lusts’ euphoria
But the voice cleared away
The phantasmagoria
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu alayhi was sallam!
I arose with a heave
Enclosed by acedia
My head leaking facts
From the Wikipedia
My eyes bleeding tracks
From the social media
But the voice kindled me
I rejoiced with a fever
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallau alayhi wa sallam!
I strained to my door
To the ways of the speaker
My phone tingling
Making me feel weaker
My soul signalling
To awake like a seeker
The voice echoing
And the light shone brighter
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu alayhi wa sallam!
I followed the voice
In my mind’s metropolis
Approached by these hawkers
And hucksters and sophists
They plied me with gadgets
And pure luxuria
But the voice stirred me
Like the Queens of Nubia
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu alayhi was sallam!
Then beyond the display
Of my urban madness
A pistachio tree
I encountered with gladness
The limbs shivering
With the breezes of Oneness
The leaves whispering
Shimmering with abundance
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam!
The roots of the tree
Spoke to me in a dialect
The fruits of the tree
Was a map to redirect
“To find the essence
When you’re feeling remoteness
Recite this sentence
Tune in to the gnosis.”
Sallahu ala Muhammad! Sallahu Alayhi Was Sallam!

Novid Shahid

The 17 Benefits of Tribulation (Transcription)

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani presented a class on The 17 Benefits of Tribulation. This class was based on a treatise written by one of the great scholars of Islam, al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam. The following is a transcript of the class.

 

The 17 Benefits of Tribulation

Since many people are worried and concerned about what we are facing, we’re going to look at one of the great summaries on the benefits of tests and tribulations called “The Benefits of Tribulation,”  by one of the great scholars of Islam: Sultan al-Ulema al-Izz ibn Abdis-Salam (Allah be well pleased with him). 

 

Are There Tests In Life?

Are There Tests In Life? Tests are essential to the life of this world. Allah (Most High) tells us that He is “the One who has created death and life to test you,” (Qur’an, 67:2).

Testing is from the very wisdom  of life. which is why one of the great early muslims, Abu Abdullah as-Saji (Allah be pleased with him) says: “if you wish to be of the “Abdal,” the unique servants of Allah,  or the highest of the categories of the beloved servants of Allah…. They’ve come in many hadiths, so much so that ibn Taymiyya (Allah be pleased with him) included belief in the abdal in one of his aqida statements; the Aqida Wasatiyya; not that we necessarily take that as authoritative… But if you wish to be of the unique elect servants of Allah, then love what Allah has willed, (And what Allah wills; he manifests). Because then nothing will befall from Allah’s decree and his judgments, except that you’ll find it beloved to you.”

So this is one of the ways of becoming of the truly beloved servants of Allah (Most High). But we will look at this treatise of al-Izz ibn Abdus Salam (Allah be pleased with him), it’s about tests and trials and tribulations. And he mentioned 17 (virtues).

 

The First Benefit: To Know Divine Lordship

The first of these is to know divine lordship and the overwhelming Power of Allah; in his grasp are all things. As long as we imagine we’re in charge and we’ve built this and we’ve done that; Allah will send us things that show us who is the lord. 

 

The Second Benefit: To Know the Weakness of Slavehood

The second is related to that; it is to know the weakness and loneliness of slavehood. Who are we? We are Allah’s weak creation and this is affirmed.

 

The Third Benefit: To Acquire Sincerity

The third is acquiring sincerity. Allah (Most High) tells us; “and if Allah touches you with hurt, there is none to lift it except him,” (Qur’an, 6:17) 

Even just the expression, “if Alllah touches you with hurt,” (wa in yamsaska), and that if the difficulties that befall us (result in us) getting so shaken up; (realize that) we’re just being touched by it! It could be a lot more intense, a lot more encompassing. This is just a touch. “When they ride the stormy ocean, they call upon Allah making their devotion purely for his sake alone,” (Qur’an, 29:65). Thus the wisdom of the storms of the ocean of life is that this makes the heedless servant of Allah become conscious of Allah, become sincere.

 

The Fourth Benefit: To Penitently Turn to Allah

The fourth is to penitently turn to Allah and to direct oneself towards him (Glory be to Him). “When the human is touched by hurt, they call upon their lord turning penitently to him,” (Qur’an, 39:8). So don’t look at the pain, look at what it’s a means for ‘inaba’ to Allah. And what does penitently returning to Allah result in? Finding the closeness of Allah (Most High). 

 

The Fifth Benefit: To Humble Yourself in Front of Allah

The fifth wisdom of tests and tribulations is that one humbles oneself and beseeches Allah and calls upon Allah (Most High). Allah tells us; “when the human is touched by any hurt, they call upon us,” (Qur’an, 39:49). Meaning of course, that when things are easy, most people don’t; that’s mercy from Allah (Most High). Why? Because we’re given to heedlessness. And even the weakest of faith realize this. “Say who is there who can save you from the darkness of land and sea? Whom you call upon, beseeching him, imploring him in your fear”, and that’s Allah (Most High).

 

The Sixth Benefit: You Acquire Forbearance 

The sixth is that you acquire forbearance, Arabic: “Hilm.” One is forbearant with the one tested, but the one tested becomes forbearant. Why? Because when you can’t do anything about the difficulty, you’re forced to not react and wait it out, and that is forbearance – “Hilm.” Not that you’re not shaken by things, but you await for their unfolding. The early muslims would say it is the foremost of traits of character. “Indeed Ibrahim is ever (in treating us) yearning for us and deeply forbearant,” (Qur’an, 9:114). 

Tests train one in forbearance, in clemency, and in calm. Because what else are you going to do? So it’s a training ground for that. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to al-’Ashaj ‘Abd al-Qays – who was part of one of the delegations that came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “you have two traits that are beloved to Allah (Most High). You have forbearance and circumspection.” Circumspection – you think things through, you’re not hasty. 

 

The Seventh Benefit: You Overlook the Mistakes of Others

A seventh of the benefits of tests and trials and tribulations is the opportunity to overlook those who err against you. That’s one of the qualities of those beloved to Allah, “those who overlooked what others do,” (Qur’an, 3:134). (For example) someone accidentally did something to you; made a big mistake… But instead of reacting to it or responding; you took the opportunity to take the high road and you got the great reward, “so whoever overlooks and rectifies, their reward is upon Allah,” (Qur’an, 42:40). And this applies to situations particularly if someone did so out of mistake, they got very upset with you and it wasn’t reasonable but you overlooked it.

 

The Eight Benefit: You Learn Patience 

An eighth benefit of tests and tribulations is to have patience in the tribulation. This patience in tribulation necessarily results by the promise of Allah; in the love of Allah (Most High) in immeasurable reward. Why? Because Allah (Most High) says; “Allah truly loves those who remain steadfastly patient,” (Qur’an, 3:146). The steadfastly patient are only given their reward beyond measurement, the only way they’re rewarded is in a manner that is beyond measurement. It does not enter into any expressible measurement; it comes from our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that no one was granted any gift that is better or more expansive than patience or steadfastness – it’s related by Imam Bukhari and others.

 

The Ninth Benefit: You Have the Opportunity to Rejoice 

The ninth benefit in having tests, trials, tribulations, loss, difficulties is that you rejoice in the test because of its benefits. Our beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: that “truly those before you used to rejoice in tribulations as you rejoice in ease,” (Ibn Majah).

Why? Because the smart person is the one whose heart is connected to consequences. If you get sick and you get medicine; the fool complains “oh my goodness I have to have this medicine it is bitter” this and that… But it’s effective medicine. The intelligent person will be happy, why? Because this medicine will be a means to their healing, the bitterness is not the concern. It’s fleeting.

”I don’t place my love in the things that are fleeting.” Ibn Masud (Allah be pleased with him) said:  “What a great thing are the are two disliked matters; death and poverty. The righteous before you rejoiced in them because the difficulty doesn’t hurt you and their bitterness does not hurt you – if compared to their fruits and their benefits”. 

That’s a ninth benefit and this is a general sunnah of our deen; to rejoice. That’s one of the amazing sunnahs that in times that appeared most difficult historically, the Ulema emphasized to people of the importance of gratitude and rejoicing in Allah (Most High). Saydi Abdul Hassan as-Shadhili (Allah be pleased with him) was blind, but he participated in some battles against the eastern hordes that were invading the muslim lands as they caused chaos and commotion… He fought even though he was blind! He participated in the jihad! But those were difficult times, and he built his spiritual path around rejoicing in Allah.

You find a similar pattern in the life of Moulana Rumi; why did he build his path around the love of the divine and expression of this joy of slavehood? Because everybody was down, everybody was going through difficult times around him. And that’s really important, and that’s part of the ingratitude of the human being that we see one thing that we have, one thing that we dislike, or even that we’re not even touched by it – yet everyone’s like “oh my god!” whereas in comparison; where’s your rejoicing at all that Allah has blessed you with? The wisdom of everything in existence being in orbit, it’s as if all of existence is expressing a state of ecstasy and rejoicing at the gift of existence. So if you consider; what about the gift of life? What about the gift of faith? 

 

The Tenth Benefit: The Intrinsic Benefit in the Tribulation

A tenth benefit of tribulation is gratitude for it because of its benefits; just as the sick person thanks the doctor who cuts a limb that needs cutting. For example, there’s some doctor who opens up someone’s father and takes out his kidney because he needed a kidney transplant… But are they sad by the fact that they lost their kidney or are they grateful that this is a means of healing? They have gratitude. Because of what one is expecting of consequent healing. 

Similarly, the servant sees that these tests and this prevention is a means of eternal reward from Allah (Most High); so one has gratitude. “If Allah loves a servant he sends him trials,” so one sees the trial as also being a gift from Allah (Most High). 

It’s said that the difference between the grateful and the truly grateful is that the grateful person is someone who has active gratitude for every clear blessing. That everything that is clearly a blessing; you have active gratitude for it; you are of the grateful. And that’s not easy, that requires reflecting (Arabic: Muhasaba), what is everything Allah has blessed me with? How do I express calm comprehensive gratitude? Not just now, but what he blessed you with before. 

Which is why when someone came from Bani Sa’d, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stood up, took off his cloak, and put it down for her to sit on. Why? That person didn’t do anything, but she was an infant when the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was an infant, and she was related to Sayyida Halima (Allah be pleased with Her).

Ibn Tuloon has a treatise that Halima came and believed in the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), there are sound hadiths about it. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would send gifts to old friends of Sayyida Khadijah (Allah be pleased with Her); they didn’t do anything for him, but they did something for his wife. 

So that’s thankfulness, and thankfulness is not easy, to be thankful is not easy. That’s something we should all commit to, but higher than being thankful is to be grateful, not just for the obvious blessings but the things that don’t appear to be blessings; you are grateful for both easy and pleasing things and also for stressful things. 

Why? Because Allah is giving you both in what he obviously gives you but also in his withholding. As Ibn Ata-illah says, “if you can behold Allah his giving when he appears to be withholding, then his withholding becomes from giving itself.” Why? What is he giving you? All these gifts above, to recognize his lordship, to reflect on his name’s, to recognize your weakness, and neediness, to cultivate sincerity, to turn to him… All these gifts! 

 

The Eleventh Benefit: Sins are Forgiven

The eleventh is that tests wipe away sins and shortcomings. “All that befalls of distress is through what your own hands have wrought and he wipes away much,” (Qur’an, 42:30). A lot of the Ulema explain that Allah wipes away much of the sins that you do through your patience in difficulties. 

There are numerous hadiths of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), if you look in the chapter of patience in Riyad us-Saliheen that the believer is not touched by any distress nor hardship – even the worries that affect them and the thorn that pricks them except that Allah will expiate for you through it from your ill deeds on one condition; patience without objection. 

 

The Twelfth Benefit: You Become Merciful to Others

The twelfth blessing of tribulations he says: Allah sending you tests is to stir within you mercy for those who are being tested and to help them in their distress. People right now are going around, freaking out about being short of toilet paper. 

You realize that there are hundreds of millions of people around the world that don’t have basic sanitation and we’re worrying about whether we can get enough toilet paper!

There’s a state in India where in all local elections they made a rule: that the only candidates that could run were people who had toilets in their homes. Why? Because they’re having a major health crisis, it was the norm (people just not using the toilet) and not because they didn’t want to, not that they were being lazy, but because these people have so much poverty in so many regions in that state. And we take these things for granted; there’s at least one in seven people in the world that don’t have access to clean water.

We’re not worried about our water supply right now, may Allah protect it. So part of this then; when you have a little bit of a test; think of those who have difficulty, have mercy on them and actively assist them in their tribulation. Express your concern. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in a hadith related in the Muwatta of Imam Malik said: “people are between those who are in wellness and those who are in tribulation, so have mercy to those in tribulation and have gratitude to Allah for wellness.” 

That is the adab – that people are between those in states of wellness and those in states of tribulation. So have mercy for those in tribulation, and one of the worst of bida’s (innovations) is when you decide to judge why people are dealing or having difficulties. “Do you say about Allah what you don’t know?” (Qur’an, 2:80). Why do you know? How do you know why Allah is testing particular people? How do you know?  How do you know? And all of this is the test for you, how are you responding? The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us “people are between those in wellness and those in tribulation, so have mercy for those in tribulations and have gratitude to Allah for your wellness,” (Bukhari). When you ever see someone in tribulation, remind yourself of wellness. 

There’s a beautiful dua that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us; “if you see someone who is being tested… And the greatest test is in their faith, the Shafi’s mentioned if you see a disbeliever, make this dua. “All praise is due to Allah who granted us wellness from what he tested so much of its creation and granted us great rank over so much of his creation.” 

Imagine the existence as some little critter, just to get randomly squashed… Are you ever afraid of being squashed by something when you’re walking down the street? No! Nobody sprays you with pesticide. 

I remember once with Sheikh Mohammed Juma’, we were sitting in the Umawi mosque; we’re having class and these Christian Priests came in with these long cloaks. I thought they were just coming out of the middle ages. These long cloaks; the whole cloak and actually from the top of their head, they had a big cross. He just looked at them teary-eyed and is repeating this dua; “all praise is due to Allah who granted us wellness from what he has tested so much of his creation from.” And his creation; they’re not just human beings, think about the animals, so many creatures don’t last a whole season let alone a whole year! Imagine if you were a butterfly and you were stuck in one of those intermediate stages, like you think it’ll be boring being at home? How long do they stay in their cocoon? And not much to do in there. Of all things but Allah made us human. Imagine if you were a bear and woke up in the middle of hibernation, like go back to sleep. “Be grateful to Allah for wellness.”

 

The Thirteenth Benefit: You Learn the Worth of Wellness

The thirteenth he says is that tribulations remind us and help us know the great worth of wellness and to have greater gratitude for wellness. Because blessings are not typically known by their true worth except when one loses out on them. 

 

The Fourteenth Benefit: The Reward in the Hereafter

A fourteenth benefit of tests and tribulations is what Allah has prepared for all these benefits of reward in the hereafter; we’re just talking about the dunya right now, this is the short-term reward of it, short term benefits. But what’s the true benefit? It’s the reward in the hereafter, and in reality the reward for any action is not in this life because what Allah has prepared for his believing servants does not fit in this world. There is no reward truly in this life and there’s no actual punishment in this life, these are just light indicators for us. Because the rewards are eternal, even for the littlest thing which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said; “never deem anything of the good to be small.” Why? Because that good; what is its consequence? Eternal reward!

That’s who you’re dealing with. Imagine if you did a favor to someone and they from there till the end of their life – they’re always thanking you. For one thing you did! That’s just till the end of their life, just one action into eternity – you have reward after it’s multiplication at least ten fold.

 

The Fifteenth Benefit: That Which is Within of Subtle Benefits

The fifteenth benefit of tribulations is what is within the tribulation of subtle benefits, because you may feel the bitterness of it, but you now may not see the subtle benefits. Allah (Most High) tells us of the above as a reality in the Qur’an; “it may well be that you dislike something and Allah places in it tremendous good,” (Qur’an, 2:216).

She’s not here today, so I’m going to mention it. I was engaged to marry someone before Umm Umar. I lived on cloud 11 for months on campus. Literally I’d walk down the street, and everybody would be smiling at me, in MSA meetings I’d be like staring into the sky and they’d say “Faraz what do you think?” And my friend Abdurahman would say; “don’t ask him, he’s lost, his head’s in such-and-such state in the US.” And then it didn’t work out. But Allah placed a  tremendous substitute for it. You know, you may dislike something but you don’t know what the outcome is. Sometimes the greatest blessings in our lives begin with bitterness. How many a person – their marriage failed, but that was the greatest blessing they had. How many a person – lost a job and it opened doors for them that they could never have imagined. 

It happens all the time, that’s why in the Istikhara after we ask Allah for the good and it’s facilitation and to turn us away from harm we say; “destine the good wherever it may be,” because the good may be in the apparent good that we’re seeking, but the good may be in the things you didn’t want, and then; “make me content with it.”

“It may well be that you dislike something and it’s better for you,” (Qur’an, 2:216).

An example of that is the story of Sayyida Hajar (May Allah be well pleased with Her). Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him) was commanded to leave her in the middle of the desert, it looks like what could be worse than that? And it was painful for him to walk away, she just asked; “did your lord command this?” And it was heavy for a Prophet of Allah to walk away but she told him that “continue to where your lord has commanded you.” It seems to be a tribulation, but that was the result says al-Izz ibn Abdis-Salam for the birth of Sayyidana Ismail (Allah have mercy on him) and that was the means for the coming of Rasulullah (Allah bless him and give him peace), so things aren’t as they appear. 

One of the poets said; “how many a great blessing is folded up for you between the folds of tribulation,” but you have to pay attention to it. And one of the ways as Ibn Ata says: “the fool looks at the clouds and complains that it’s cloudy but the wise person is the one when they see the clouds they realize that this will bring good fruit down the road.” The fool complains about the clouds, the simpleton says well, it’s gonna rain – but the wise person recognizes the outcomes.

 

The Sixteenth Benefit: Trials Prevent One from Evil

The sixteenth benefit of tribulations is that tribulations and hardship prevents one from evil and haughtiness. You’re not able to do what you’re able to do before, and prevents you from arrogance and and haughtiness and pride and arrogance. 

So al-Izz ibn Abdis-salam says: 

Imagine if Nimrod the ruler, who was against Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him) was poor, and weak, and deaf, and blind; would he have argued with Ibrahim (Allah have mercy on him) about his lord? No! It’s only ease and strength that causes people to inflate and arrogate. So many of the wrongs that we do; the tests and trials in different ways curb our bad tendencies and that’s why Ibn Ata says; “whoever doesn’t direct themselves to Allah with the garlands of divine grace’s will be dragged to him in the chains of tribulation,” but they too are great blessings from Allah (Most High) in different ways. And one of the things; they prevent one from turning away, from running away. 

If Firawn had been tested with poverty, and sickness, and weakness, and loss of power he would not have claimed ”I am your lord almighty,” (Qur’an, 79:24), because he would see his abject weakness, and there are countless examples. 

How? Because one of the key causes of the human turning away is thinking they have no need. “Truly the human goes beyond all limits when they see themselves as having no need,” and this is one of the characteristics of all people who went astray. He gives many examples and this why he says here “the poor and the needy, they are the elect servants of Allah and the followers of the Prophets (peace be upon Them),” and for these tremendous benefits the author says: our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said; “the people most intensely tested are the Prophets (peace be upon Them), then the righteous, then the foremost after them, and then the foremost after them.” The hadith is related in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad.

The Prophets (peace be upon Them), were called mad and magicians and sorcerers and they were mocked and derided, ”but they remain steadfast regarding what they’re denied about and heard about,” (Qur’an, 6:34).

“Do you imagine you will enter Paradise and there has not come to you the like of what came to or befell those who were before you? And they were tested with distress and difficulty and they’re shaken as if by an earthquake until the very Prophet amongst them and the believers close to him ask ‘when is Allah’s victory?’ Indeed Allah’s victory is close,” (Qur’an, 2:214). That’s a divine promise and many of the verses in the Qur’an are about Allah (Most High) testing us and highlighting all these wisdoms. 

Likewise, if we consider the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) his tests began before he was born! He lost his father before he himself was born (Allah bless him and give him peace), then he lost his mother, then his grandfather, and one loss and difficulty after another. His uncle loved him, he proposed to his uncle’s daughter but his uncle Abu Talib rejected the proposal of the messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)! Years later, she asked, but then he was not in a position to marry her. Moment of ease from distress in the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), what do you find? “Constantly cheerful (Allah bless him and give him peace).” 

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not eat bread from barley on any two consecutive days; sometimes an entire month would pass, and not one fire was lit to cook food in any of the houses of the wives of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). And all the tribulations in his life; it was within his lifetime that the false Prophets; Musaylima and Tulayha and al-Ansi and these others appeared and all the different tribulations that he witnessed befalling his companions. He himself was poisoned (Allah bless him and give him peace). And it’s come from the beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) “the example of the believer is like the example of the crop, wind continues to blow it in one direction and the other, likewise the believer keeps being afflicted with tribulations one time in this direction one time in that.” And this hadith is related by Bukhari and Muslim and there are many many similar hadiths. 

So the situation’s of difficulty and tribulations are means (he said) for the servant to go to Allah (Most High). And times of wellness and ease could well be causes for a servant to turn away from Allah (Most High).

As Allah warns us, “in difficulty and in distress, they call upon Allah with sincerity, but when we lift distress from them, they return as if nothing had ever happened,” (Qur’an, 10:12). Now people are rationing, this morning one of the kids went to the supermarket, and they’re only letting twenty people in at a time. 

What did the righteous do? The Prophets (peace be upon Them) chose to do with less of this world – out of choice! Many of the Sahaba – look at Uthman ibn Affan (Allah be pleased with him) who was so wealthy he funded a whole army, but how did he live? Exceedingly simply. Why? Not because he didn’t have, he didn’t have to, but he chose the way of poverty. 

Imam ‘Abd il-Aabir al-Kitani, in his abridgement of the Shama’il, says; “anyone who says that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was poor; committed disbelief.” Now we don’t call someone a disbeliever for that, we just say just they don’t get it. But why? Because did the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) choose poverty? Yes did he choose to do without food. Did he choose hunger? Yes but what does Allah say about him? In Surah Duha: “and he found you in need and he freed you of all need,” (Qur’an, 9), he chose the way of poverty. That’s why the righteous chose to do with less food, and less drink, and less of the pleasures, and less when it came to their dress, and less in terms of marital pleasures, and less when it came to social gatherings, and less when it came to dwellings, and less when it came to their means of transportation and so on. Why? So that they be in a state that would keep them close to returning to Allah (Most High).

 

The Seventeenth Benefit: Contentment

Then the final benefit of tests and trials and tribulations: contentment, the greatest benefit of tests and tribulations is contentment. It is the means to attain unto the absolute divine contentment. Because difficulties (he says) befall the righteous and the corrupt, so whoever is upset by difficulties and trials, they have divine upset. They have lost in this life of sorrow, and heaviness, and dejection, and depression, and all that accompanies this; and they have loss in the next life.

Someone asked on our facebook page, “how come the Sahaba didn’t suffer from PTSD?’ Now this is a serious condition right, it’s a serious condition. Even many of the righteous suffer from these conditions and it’s a part of the reality of our humanness. But these were people who had degrees of contentment, degrees of gratitude that were beyond that. Some of them suffered emotionally and had many burdens, but they had unshakable contentment and whoever’s content with tribulations; they have divine contentment. Contentment is better than paradise

And all it contains because Allah (Most High) says; “an absolute contentment from Allah Is greater,” (Qur’an, 9:72). And this is Allah being content with you, but the state of contentment you find within yourself is greater than paradise in all it contains, by the text of the Qur’an. 

He finishes saying that this is a little that we have that has occurred to us of the benefits of tribulations, we ask Allah most high and we ask by the asking of this great scholar and we ask Allah likewise for his overlooking and wellness from him in this life and the next. Because we are not of the people who can bear tribulations. May Allah grant us the facilitative grace to act upon that which is beloved to him and pleasing to him and may Allah heal us from tribulations and distresses.

Transcribed by Zain Ali

If you would like to watch the video of “The 17 Benefits of Tribulation” please click here

COVID-19: Recognizing Divine Control – Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

In this lesson, Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat reminds us of the need to look at the bigger picture. He encourages us to recite and reflect upon Sura al-Mulk (Qur‘an, 67), and looks at several lessons to help us deal with this crisis.

1) Have a good opinion of Allah and expect the best from Him, realizing that everything is under His Power and control. Allah takes care of everything, and will continue to do so. Even this trial contains much good (Shaykh Abdul-Rahim even suggests we make a list!). Indeed, believers find benefit in every circumstance through their response.

2) Relax and don’t they to micromanage—trust in God. Even the companions couldn’t understand some choices the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made until later.

3) Turn to Allah Most High. Ask him for wellbeing, and “seek assistance in patience and prayer” (Qur‘an, 2:153).

This reminder is part of COVID-19: A Global Islamic Response series. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. In these videos, Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world provides clarity in these challenging times on how people from all faiths should view and respond to the current situation. Watch the full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list….

Covid-19: An Islamic Perspective – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

In this essay, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks who is one of South Africa’s most respected scholars, provides clear guidance on Covid-19 and how Muslims should take confidence in the rich Islamic legacy which prioritizes the sanctity of human life and health.

Throughout history various peoples and places have been afflicted by severe plagues and epidemics. Millions of people have been wiped out by these calamities. Each of these peoples had to confront, contend with and rise to the challenge of these blighting conditions. Muslims no less than anyone else. The Covid-19 pandemic – spreading from Wuhan in China – is the latest to assail the contemporary world. 

Fortunately, we have a legacy undergirded by knowledge and wisdom, enveloped, as it were, in love and compassion. We need to embrace and share these timeless values with the rest of the world. 

We cannot, on the other hand, fall into an abyss of pietistic delusions, rigorous ritualism and self-righteousness. At this level the Shari’ah offers a plethora of texts in the Quran and Hadiths which, in turn, precipitated one of the greatest responses in human history to matters of this order. 

The following is but a sample of the many great doctors and pharmacologists who contributed to the evolution of medicine in its current incarnation: 

a) 8th Century: Harun al-Rashid founded the House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah). Here, many medical texts and ancient manuscripts were translated. With respect to a creative and energetic engagement of medicine, astronomy, science, mathematics and many other subjects, this marked one of the most productive periods of advancement – not only in Muslim history – but also in global history. 

b) 9th Century: Abu Bakr al-Razi. Born in Persia he was a physician, chemist and teacher. Many of his books were later translated into Latin and Greek. His contribution to building hospitals was quite immense. 

c) 10th Century: Surgeon al-Zahrawi (Abul Casis) was born in Cordoba. Apart from being the inventor of numerous medical instruments, he was the first to design an illustrated surgical book. 

d) 11th Century: In Baghdad, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) composed the Canon of Medicine (al-Qanun fi l-Tibb). This was a five-volume book that included all the known medicine up to his time. His book was prescribed for hundreds of years in European Institutions of learning. 

e) 12th Century: Ibn Rushd (Averrroes) was born in Cordoba, Spain. He was a polymath excelling in Islamic Law, Philosophy, Astronomy and Medicine. His aptitude for medicine was noted by his contemporaries and can be seen in his major enduring work Kitab al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb (The Book Dealing with the Universals of Medicine). This book, together with Kitab al-Taysir fi al-Mudawat wa l-Tadbir (The Book of Particularities dealing with Facilitation of Medical Treatment and its Planning) written by Abu Marwan Ibn Zuhr, became the main medical textbooks for physicians in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim worlds for centuries to come.

f) 14th Century: The Ottoman, Serafeddin Sabuncuoglu was a surgeon born in Amasya, Northern Turkey. His famous work on surgery was called The Imperial Surgery. This is considered to be the first illustrated surgical Atlas and the last major medical encyclopaedia from the Muslim world. This book also features female surgeons for the first time. 

The ideas and energetic creativity contained in the works mentioned above – while representing only a fraction of Muslim contributions to these and other sciences – capture the mood and spirit that defined the Muslim zeitgeist of those periods. Let us now look at some of the sacred texts both in the Quran and Sunnah that inspired this dynamic elan in Muslim communities throughout the Islamic world. Then let us also briefly look at some of the defining principles and maxims that later scholars developed and that served to animate the sacred textual narratives of the Quran and Sunnah into a living, breathing embodiment of creative and living Fiqh

The need to address this matter becomes even more imperative in view of the dastardly incoherent responses to the current covid-19 pandemic by certain minority “Muslim” groupings. This has led to a state of shocked disbelief by both Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the world. This minoritarian madness appears to have surfaced here in South Africa too. Reports indicate that more than twenty mosques in South Africa are under pressure to open their doors to congregational prayers and activities. What these people are clamouring for are unquestionably prohibited in Islam. Let us not mistake the fact though, that most of these minority groups are obsessed with power politics. Theirs is simply shameless power play. This is often the case with those suffering from minoritarian and certain forms of extremist complexes. These people are in serious need of attention, and possibly equally in need of psychotherapy. However, under the circumstances, there is a serious need to present a reasoned and grounded perspective on the matter. 

As Muslims we need to be cognizant of the fact that we are fully responsible for the consequences of any irresponsible behaviour. The Quranic narrative is quite clear about the condition that whatever good we are beneficiaries of is what we have earned; and that whatever misfortune we might suffer is, likewise, a consequence of what we have earned.

 

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

No soul is burdened beyond its capacity. It receives every good that it has earned; and it suffers any ill that it has earned. (Baqarah, 2: 286).


The Quran is replete with references of this nature. Three of these are pertinent to our point: 

 

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

Mischief (and corruption) have appeared on land and on sea because of what the hands of people have wrought. (Rum, 30: 41). 

وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ

And whatever assails you of misfortune (and calamities) is a result of what your own hands have wrought, but He forgives many. (Shura, 42: 30). 

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ

Every soul will be held responsible for its deeds (Mudaththir, 74: 38) 

It is clear from these – and many other verses – that as people obligated (mukallaf) to observe the precepts of Islamic Law, that a huge measure of personal responsibility is vested in us. This is particularly pertinent with respect to circumstances such as Covid-19. The Quran prohibits us from wanton exposure to life-threatening situations: 

 

وَأَنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And spend of what you have in the Way of Allah; and do not let your hands contribute to your own destruction. (Baqarah, 2: 195). 

There can be little doubt in the minds of most Muslim scholars, and lay people alike, that a wilful – and senseless – disregard for these Quranic precepts is shameless. A larger context for these precepts is provided by the many hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the position of his Companions with respect to plagues and epidemics. 

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: 

لَا عَدْوَى لَا يُورِدُ مُمْرِضٌ عَلَى مُصِحٍّ

Infection (and contagion) is not a matter of superstition! Do not mix the sick with the healthy. (Muslim). 

In his encyclopaedic commentary on the Hadith collection of Muslim, Imam al- Nawawi states that the command “Do not mix the sick with the healthy” is a clear instruction to the effect that anything that causes harm must be avoided; and that, moreover, this act of avoidance would be in consonance with the concepts of preordainment and predestination as understood in Islam. 

In Islam the question of the Decrees of Allah is one that envisages them as multiple and manifold. There is no one decree that forces a person in a particular direction.  

The manifold nature of Divine Decrees, therefore, allows for a large margin of choice. This is evident too – mentioned later – by the response of Umar al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) during a time when he and his army encountered a plague while out in the battlefield. However, in the case of infectious and contagious diseases, the Hadith is clear about the fact that quarantine – or isolation – is mandatory. 

Another Hadith that forcefully speaks about quarantine is the following: 

 

Sa’ad reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: 

إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِالطَّاعُونِ بِأَرْضٍ فَلاَ تَدْخُلُوهَا، وَإِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلاَ تَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا

If you hear about a plague in a particular place then do not enter it: and if it occurs in a place where you are present, then do not leave that place. (Bukhari). 

A particular Hadith that has caused some unnecessary concern for some people is the following: 

‘Aysha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that she asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) about plagues and he said: 

أَنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابًا يَبْعَثُهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ، فَجَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ، فَلَيْسَ مِنْ عَبْدٍ يَقَعُ الطَّاعُونُ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا، يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لَنْ يُصِيبَهُ إِلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ، إِلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ الشَّهِيدِ

It is a trial that Allah sends upon whomsoever He wills, but Allah has made it a mercy for the believers. Any bondsman who resides in a land afflicted by a plague while remaining steadfast and patient – knowing that nothing will befall him except that which Allah has decreed – will be given the reward of a martyr. (Bukhari).

This Hadith must be understood in the context of the aforementioned Hadiths. In this way it becomes obvious that the one who patiently endures the misfortune of being subjected to a plague will be rewarded if he/she exercises the choice to remain in the afflicted area. There is certainly no reward for a person who leaves that place for a non-afflicted one, thereby escalating the potential for that disease to spread further. On the contrary, that would be a criminal act according to Islamic Law. This is precisely the case with those who are demanding unqualified congregational space in mosques and elsewhere. Given the current Covid-19 state, this is criminal. Period. 

A telling case with respect to choices is the case of Umar ibn al-Khattab (alluded to earlier). The narration is as follows:  

خَرَجَ إِلَى الشَّأْمِ حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ بِسَرْغَ لَقِيَهُ أُمَرَاءُ الأَجْنَادِ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بْنُ الْجَرَّاحِ وَأَصْحَابُهُ، فَأَخْبَرُوهُ أَنَّ الْوَبَاءَ قَدْ وَقَعَ بِأَرْضِ الشَّأْمِ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ ادْعُ لِي الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الأَوَّلِينَ‏.‏ فَدَعَاهُمْ فَاسْتَشَارَهُمْ وَأَخْبَرَهُمْ أَنَّ الْوَبَاءَ قَدْ وَقَعَ بِالشَّأْمِ فَاخْتَلَفُوا‏.‏ فَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ قَدْ خَرَجْتَ لأَمْرٍ، وَلاَ نَرَى أَنْ تَرْجِعَ عَنْهُ‏.‏ وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ مَعَكَ بَقِيَّةُ النَّاسِ وَأَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَلاَ نَرَى أَنْ تُقْدِمَهُمْ عَلَى هَذَا الْوَبَاءِ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ارْتَفِعُوا عَنِّي‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ادْعُوا لِي الأَنْصَارَ‏.‏ فَدَعَوْتُهُمْ فَاسْتَشَارَهُمْ، فَسَلَكُوا سَبِيلَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَاخْتَلَفُوا كَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ، فَقَالَ ارْتَفِعُوا عَنِّي‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ادْعُ لِي مَنْ كَانَ هَا هُنَا مِنْ مَشْيَخَةِ قُرَيْشٍ مِنْ مُهَاجِرَةِ الْفَتْحِ‏.‏ فَدَعَوْتُهُمْ، فَلَمْ يَخْتَلِفْ مِنْهُمْ عَلَيْهِ رَجُلاَنِ، فَقَالُوا نَرَى أَنْ تَرْجِعَ بِالنَّاسِ، وَلاَ تُقْدِمَهُمْ عَلَى هَذَا الْوَبَاءِ، فَنَادَى عُمَرُ فِي النَّاسِ، إِنِّي مُصَبِّحٌ عَلَى ظَهْرٍ، فَأَصْبِحُوا عَلَيْهِ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بْنُ الْجَرَّاحِ أَفِرَارًا مِنْ قَدَرِ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ لَوْ غَيْرُكَ قَالَهَا يَا أَبَا عُبَيْدَةَ، نَعَمْ نَفِرُّ مِنْ قَدَرِ اللَّهِ إِلَى قَدَرِ اللَّهِ، أَرَأَيْتَ لَوْ كَانَ لَكَ إِبِلٌ هَبَطَتْ وَادِيًا لَهُ عُدْوَتَانِ، إِحْدَاهُمَا خَصِبَةٌ، وَالأُخْرَى جَدْبَةٌ، أَلَيْسَ إِنْ رَعَيْتَ الْخَصْبَةَ رَعَيْتَهَا بِقَدَرِ اللَّهِ، وَإِنْ رَعَيْتَ الْجَدْبَةَ رَعَيْتَهَا بِقَدَرِ اللَّهِ  

Abdallah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) left for Syria until they reached a place named Sargh. Here he met the commanders of the army, ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah and his companions. They informed him that a plague had afflicted Syria. ‘Umar then addressed the people and said: “I will withdraw in the morning, so you too must return.” 

Abu ‘Ubayda then said: “Are you fleeing from the decree of Allah?” 

‘Umar replied: “Would that another had said so. O Ubayda! Yes, we are fleeing. But we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah! Do you not see that if you descended with your camels into a valley with two fields, one fertile and the other barren, that you would graze the camels in the fertile one? You would graze in the fertile field by the decree of Allah and not the barren field (also there) by the decree of Allah!” (Bukhari). 

In this case – with particular reference to the nature of Divine Decrees – ‘Umar al- Khattab demonstrated a much more coherent and balanced concept of the matter. This is the approach that has defined our classical legacy with respect to the question of Divine Decrees (or Qada and Qadr). Short of that, we could all be fatalists – which, too, is prohibited in Islam. 

 

In addition to the textual evidence cited above, our classical scholars have also developed a host of precepts and axioms – based on their holistic readings of the texts – to aid and facilitate our understanding when confronted with challenges such as Covid-19. 

Under the rubric of Maqasid al-Shar’iah (the Higher Objectives of Islamic Law) a number of principles have been devised. Six of the important ones – also referred to as the Kulliyat al-Sitt (the six universal principles) are the following: 

a) The Preservation of Life – Hifz al-Hayat

b) The Preservation of Religion – Hifz al-Din

c) The Preservation of the Intellect – Hifz al-‘Aql

d) The Preservation of Progeny – Hifz al-Nasl

e) The Preservation of Property and Wealth – Hifz al-Mal 

f) The Preservation of Human Dignity – Hifz al-‘Ird 

To stand in violation of any of the above is considered a cardinal crime in Islam. To consider the Preservation of Life alone ought to be enough to wring the conscience of any Muslim. 

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ

Take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except through justice and law. (al-An’am, 6: 151) 

أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا

If anyone killed a person – unless it be for murder or treason in the land – it would be as if he killed the entire humanity. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the entire humanity. (Al-Ma’idah, 5: 35). 

Another subject in Islamic Law, also based on holistic and integrated perspectives, is referred to as al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah (Maxims of Islamic Law). There are five principle ones: 

a) Matters are to be judged by their purposes and objectives – al-Umur bi Maqasidiha

b) Certainty is not removed by doubt – al-Yaqin la Yazalu bi l-Shakk.

c) Difficulty must be alleviated – al-Mashaqqah Tajlibu l-Taysir.

d) Harm must be removed (whether harm to oneself or another) – al-Darar Yuzal.

e) Custom has the weight of law – al- ‘Adah Muhakkamah

The relevant maxim here is “Harm must be removed”. This is based on a Hadith of the Prophet (saw) where he stated “La Darar wa la Dirar – Intentional harming of oneself or another is forbidden.” (Malik, Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi and Daraqutni). According to the polymath Imam Jalal al-Din Suyuti, this maxim is intrinsically linked with the one before it “Difficulty must be alleviated.” In resolutely adhering to the rules and regulations imposed upon us by the deadly Covid-19 virus, we may eventually overcome the difficulties imposed upon us by this virus. It is our Islamic duty to adhere to all measures that are designed to protect us from the potential harm of the virus with the subsequent objective of alleviating the difficulties we have to endure. In this case the sabr (patient endurance) referred to earlier is an imperative under the circumstances. Human life is sacred in Islam. To disrespect the lives of others is unequivocal proof of the fact that one is undoubtedly bereft of self-respect.  

With respect to the latter imperatives, a further precept referred to as Dhu Nuz’ati Jama’iyyah has been developed. This precept states that the general and collective interests of the public take precedence over individual and/or minority interests – particularly where such individual or minority interests unequivocally militate against the greater and collective public interests. 

As it is in the case of demented groupings such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, this is a toxicity that must be dealt with unremittingly and with firm determination. 

On a final note, let us remind ourselves that spreading fake news about a matter as serious as Covid-19 may have consequences as deadly as the virus itself. We need to shun all forms of paranoia, irrational fears and even flippancy and, instead, embrace responsible action in all that we do. We owe it to ourselves and the rest of humanity. Once again, the Quran is resolutely vocal about this: 

وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ

When a matter related to public safety and fear reaches them, they broadcast it aloud. Had they only referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority amongst them, then those with the expertise would have been able to engage all the necessary investigations. (Nisa’, 4: 83). 

As Muslims we can be proud of our legacy. We need to reclaim that legacy, so that once again we may become a productive and positive force in serving both Allah and the rest of humanity. 

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks , Azzawia Institute (April 2020).  


Biography

Shaykh Seraj Hasan Hendricks is an internationally recognised leading scholar of normative Sunni Islam, steeped in the rich legacy of the classical heritage, based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is Resident Shaykh of the Zawiyah Institute in Cape Town, and holder of the Maqasid Chair at the International Peace University of South Africa. Shaykh Seraj studied the Islamic sciences for more than a decade in the holy city of Makka, and was appointed as khalīfa of the aforementioned muaddith of the Ḥijāz, the distinguished al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, master of the Ṭarīqa ʿUlamāʿ Makka – the (sufi) path of the Makkan scholars.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was a high school English teacher between 1980 and 1982 in Cape Town before leaving for Saudi Arabia in 1983 to study at the Umm al-Qura University in Makka. Before this, he spent many years studying at the feet of his illustrious uncle, the late Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks – erstwhile Life President of the Muslim Judicial Council and widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in southern Africa. Shaykh Seraj was actively engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa during the 80’s and early 90’s.

Shaykh Seraj spent three years at the Arabic Language Institute in Makka studying Arabic and related subjects before being accepted for the BA (Hons) Islamic Law degree. He specialised in fiqh and uūl al-fiqh in the Faculty of Sharīʿa and graduated in 1992. During his studies at Umm al-Qura University, he was also a student of the late Sayyid Muhammad ʿAlawī al-Mālikī in Makka for a period of eight years and from whom he obtained a full ijāza in the religious sciences. He also obtained ijāzāt from both the late Sayyid Ahmad Mashur al-Ḥaddād and Sayyid ʿAbd al-Qādir b. Ahmad al-Saqqaf (d. 1431/2010). These scholars are all known as some of the pre-eminent ‘ulama of the ummah in the 20th century, worldwide.

After his return to Cape Town he received an MA (Cum Laude) for his dissertation: “Taawwuf (Sufism) – Its Role and Impact on the Culture of Cape Islam” from the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is currently at the tail-end of completing his PhD at the same institution.

Apart from fiqh and uūl al-fiqh, some of Shaykh Seraj’s primary interests are in Sufism, Islamic civilisation studies, interfaith matters, gender studies, socio-political issues and related ideas of pluralism and identity. He has lectured and presented papers in many countries, sharing platforms with his contemporaries.

He has translated works of Imam al-Ghazālī, and summarised parts of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Iyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn), most notably in the Travelling Light series, together with Shaykhs ʿAbd al-Hakīm Murad and Yaḥyā Rhodus.

Some of his previous positions included being the head of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Fatwa Committee (which often led to him being described as the ‘Mufti of Cape Town’), lecturer in fiqh at the Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA), and lecturer in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Currently he is a member of the Stanlib Sharīʿa Board, and chief arbitrator (akīm) of the Crescent Observer’s Society, and has been listed consecutively in the Muslim500 from 2009 to 2018. He was also appointed Dean of the Madina Institute in South Africa, a recognised institution of higher learning in South Africa and part of the world Madina Institute seminaries led by Shaykh Dr Muhammad Ninowy. Shaykh Seraj is also a professor at the International Peace University of South Africa, holding the Maqasid Chair for Graduate Studies.

Shaykh Seraj has also been teaching a variety of Islamic-related subjects at the Zāwiyah Mosque in Cape Town, which together with his brother Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, he is the current resident Shaykh of. Alongside his brother, he is the representative (khalīfa) of the aforementioned muaddith of the Ḥijāz, the distinguished al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawī al-Mālikī, master of the Ṭarīqa ʿUlamāʿ Makka – the (sufi) path of the Makkan scholars.


 

Video : A Perspective on the Pandemic – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

* Courtesy of Cambridge Muslim College

The current pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of the world we live in. But is it unprecedented? Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Dean of Cambridge Muslim College, shares his perspective on this humbling phenomenon, one which is not unfamiliar in our Islamic tradition. He also highlights the beauty and healing of our religious practice and provides helpful suggestions on how to remain connected as Muslims.

Seek Refuge in Allah from Anxiety and Grief – Shaykh Salek bin Siddina

* Courtesy of Shaykh Salek Bin Siddina

I hope and pray to Allah that all of you are well, and that this pandemic has not preoccupied your thoughts. I hope that your worries have not led you to spend the precious moments of your time, which are the capital that a believer invests for his true future in the hereafter, squandered on listening to the news. Excessive news consumption leads people to become paranoid and anxious. This anxiety weakens them and makes the body more susceptible to illness. This is why the Prophet ﷺ taught us the well-known supplication as mentioned in an authentic hadith. It begins as follows:

Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from anxiety and grief/depression.

The Prophet ﷺ goes on to seek protection from other things, but note that he began with anxiety and depression. Anxiety and grief are so harmful to the intellect and the body, yet, how much constant worry do you have streaming through constant negative news consumption. This leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, despite much of the news being sensationalized and exaggerated. In fact, the news contains obvious lies, as is clear to any sane person who reflects on it.

Avoid and beware of listening to the news too much. Instead, direct your focus toward Allah with repentance. Learn what Allah has made obligatory upon you and implement it, then Allah will lift the calamity from you.

Allah says “and whosoever has taqwa (God conscious obedience) of Allah, He will make for him a way out (of every problem).” Allah will remove all the pressure, anxiety, depression, and worry with taqwa. “and bless him from where does not expect.”

The great scholar Muhammad bin Ahmad Al Hudayki al- Soussi (who passed away 1189 A.H.) during the time of the plague said, “do not be excessive in your fear, instead, hold firmly to Allah”.

He said (may Allah have mercy on him):

“The slave of Allah should know that panic is not beneficial. Rather, it leads to destruction (in several ways). It leads the panicked one to neglect his/her requirements. It leads to wasting one’s life in delusions, which in reality have no fruitful outcome. What is upon him/her is to fulfill one’s duties as a believer and exerting the effort needed to completely rid oneself of one’s sins before one is taken to account for them. He/She should be ready for the journey back to and the facing of one’s Lord. Allah has already measured out all movements, stillnesses, appointed times (of death), provision and (the number of) breaths. A person will not die until he lives out the time appointed for him and (used up) his provision. “Allah will not delay (the death of) a being one’s its appointed time has come.” The only escape and refuge is (fleeing to) Allah. Being pleased with the decree of Allah is mandatory. Belief in the (divine) decree is mandatory, whether it is good/positive or bad/negative”.


Adhering to the National Lockdown – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this video, Mufti Taha Karaan reminds the Muslim community of Cape Town to continue to adhere to the rules of the national lockdown. Mufti Taha emphasizes the strategic importance and benefit social distancing will have on the outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, he addresses the elders of the community to be an example for others and not to place themselves in vulnerable situations. Furthermore, Mufti Taha makes mention of how we should negotiate the various conspiracy theories that have become extremely prevalent. We should remember that Allah has ordained a destiny for Muslims and humanity, and that should provide us with solace from any anxiety.

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council.


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan:

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi’i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan (may Allah have mercy on his soul), was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.
Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al-Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.
Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of Islamic study.
Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.
In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.
His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopaedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.

COVID-19: Understanding & Responding to Adversity – Ustadh Tayssir Safi

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent events have left many bewildered and confused. How do we make sense of these types of events? How do we respond? It is these two questions that Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi tackles in this brief yet informative discussion.

Ustadh Tayssir begins by explaining how we understand tribulations. He highlights wisdoms of tribulation pointed to in the Qur‘an. He points out that tests indicate the blessing our ability to choose, and are means to turn to God. Evil only relates to human choices—not to the Divine.

In addition, Ustadh Tayssir highlights that the hardship of this life is put in perspective by the eternal life of the Hereafter and expiation of sins. He quotes relevant saying of the Prophets that shed light on the hardship faced in this life and how the believer should respond.

Finally, Ustadh Tayssir explains that the hardships we face can also be means to good and positive change in our lives. They also highlight the fleeting nature of this life, and hence we should respond by turning to the Creator.

This reminder is part of COVID-19: A Global Islamic Response series. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. In these videos, Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world provides clarity in these challenging times on how people from all faiths should view and respond to the current situation. Watch the full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list….