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Calling to Allah (Da’wah): Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin recounts an encounter he had with a Jehovah’s Witness representative, who was an example to those calling to Allah.

Conveying the Message

Ustadh Amjad was at home before Jum’ah prayer and there was a knock on the door. He opened the door and saw two people who are older, maybe in their late fifties or early sixties. One of them was on crutches, and handed him a Jehovah’s Witness brochure, and they had a brief, pleasant conversation. Shortly thereafter, the man picked up his crutches and walked off to the next house.

“These people are working so hard for something that’s not true,” Ustadh Amjad observed, “and we don’t work that hard for something that is true.”

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Convey [my teachings] to the people even if it were a single verse.” (Bukhari, Tirmidhi) While going door-to-door may not be the best way to do this, the least we could do is try to push past our discomfort. By forming relationships with our neighbours, coworkers, and friends, we can be in a better place to share what we know about the Prophet and this beautiful religion. If we make an effort to establish a connection, Allah may choose to open the doors of guidance.

The Prophet is reported to have said to Ali ibn Abi Talib, “For Allah to guide one person through you, is better for you than the most precious of merchandise.”

A Dedicated Caller to Allah

One of Ustadh Amjad’s teachers, Syed Umar bin Hamid al-Haddad, would continuously think about people whenever he went, in hospitals, on the streets, in airports. He was once sitting at home, and fervently prayed, “O Allah, guide someone to Islam.” Someone then knocked on his door and accepted Islam.

He was once in an elevator with Ustadh Amjad and a group of businessmen in the United States. He told Ustadh Amjad, “Tell them where I’m from.” When he told them that Syed Umar was visiting from Saudi Arabia, he said, “From Medina, the holy city.” The men were impressed, and hoped he’d have a nice stay. Everywhere this man went, his heart was turned to Allah for guidance of others.


How the Ihya Overcame Apartheid–Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Mishkat Media have produced a wonderful interview with Shaykh Seraj Hendricks on the deep influence of Imam al Ghazali in Cape Town, and the Shaykh’s own role in the struggle against apartheid.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks is among the third generation of scholars who have been teaching the Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences) in South Africa. The Ihya is a 40-volume work on Islamic ethics, spirituality, and religious practice, written by the great Imam Ghazali. It has gained fame not as a manual of Islamic law, but because of its essential focus on spirituality and purification of the self. Shaykh Seraj’s grandfather was reportedly the first man to bring the book to the lands, where he was delegated to teach it.

Shaykh Seraj’s first exposure to the Ihya series, was the Book on Halal and Haram, which was when he was eighteen. He found himself fascinated by it. While studying psychology in university, he interviewed a scholar called Shaykh Mahdie, who was in his seventies. Shaykh Mahdie mentioned that he had just finished his 20th reading of the Ihya. Later on, Shaykh Seraj learned that it was part of the litanies of the Ba’lawi spiritual path, to do 20 readings of the Ihya in a lifetime.

In this interview, he speaks of the Ihya and its effects on the South African communities. Religious scholarship was established when the Dutch colonisers exiled many Muslims leaders to South Africa. Rather than cutting off the spread of Islam, ot served to establish a small community, whose leaders painstakingly kept up their religious practices. They dedicated rooms in their houses for worship, and kept up the readings of Sura Yasin and the litanies of the B’lawi tariqa, with their love for spirituality and connecting with Allah. In this way, Islam survived through slavery and colonialism. However, it still had to suffer through apartheid.

The Muslims were heavily involved in the struggle against apartheid. Shaykh Seraj himself was imprisoned briefly for his role in the movement. While in prison, he was invited by other prisoners to give a talk in the prison square. He began preaching that Muslims should not harbour hostility to others, even to the prison guards. He then turned to the prison guard in charge, and reminded him that oppression is not limited to a particular group, but is a mindset build on prejudice, and that the guard, a dehumanized being, needed their help as much as anyone else to overrule oppression. The guard got angry and threatened to shoot.

Shaykh Seraj finishes the interview with encouraging all Muslims to support institutions that teach Islam, in order to overcome personal and societal barriers.

 


Posted with gratitude to Mishkat Media. Connect with Shaykh Seraj Hendricks at Azzavia Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.


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Day 23: Give Gifts– 30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 23: Give Gifts

With Eid coming up soon, let’s talk about gifts. Not the last minute rush to the shopping centre, to get one (or more) fancy gifts for friends or family members. Of course, these things are all good. But gift-giving in the Sunnah is so much more than material things. We know that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, recommended gift-giving as a way to increase love between people.

This year, try looking a little further. Our Ramadan and Eids are a golden opportunity to share the message of Islam with others.  On your Eid list, add the crossing guard, the receptionist, and your coworkers. Add family members or friends you haven’t seen in a long time. Your gift doesn’t have to be pricey or elaborate. It can be as simple as a small trinket. But give a gift to someone, and let them see the truest portrayal of Islam.


Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course. 

Habib Ali al Jifri and the Man Who Killed His Teacher

Habib Ali al Jifri tells the story of the day he met the man who killed his teacher and unfolds it into a lesson on showing mercy to those who wrong us.

I was in Aden.

Someone who was one of the leaders of the regime which killed scholars in this blessed valley [of Hadramawt] was present in a gathering I was in. Fate had it that I should meet him.

This man was one of the key suspects in the abduction of my master, the Imam and Martyr, Habib Muhammad ibn Salim ibn Hafiz. On merely seeing him and being told who he was, I felt extremely uncomfortable. This is human nature.

It was difficult for me to talk to him even for the sake of dawah. I confess this is a mistake and a shortcoming. Regardless of how much I love my teachers, calling to Allah is a duty which dictates we speak to everyone whoever they are.

All of a sudden, he came up to me and said: “I want to repent. How do I go about this?”
I tried to contain myself so I could answer his questions. Tried to smile so I would not turn him away from the truth.

After I returned from the gathering, I still felt uncomfortable. So I phoned my master, Habib Umar, and told him about this person. He asked: “What does he want?”

I said: “He approached me saying he wants to repent to Allah. I knew you would tell me to call him to Allah, but I had great difficulty speaking to him and I disapproved of my state.”

He said: “Ali, fulfill Allah’s right upon you in guiding him to Allah. Bring forth mercy and concern for him from your heart. As for you disliking being in his company or looking at him, turn it into hatred for his actions and not for him as a person.”

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted Wahshi’s Islam even though he had killed his uncle Hamza but he found it difficult to look at him. So he said: ‘Let him not show his face to us.’”

These words are priceless.

These words are priceless, because the one who said them is talking about a man who did the greatest evil to him: he caused him to lose his father and caused the family to be split up.

Yet look at how he applied the Prophetic principle. He immediately brought to mind the statement of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Let him not show his face to us.”

This is what Habib Abu Bakr al Adani speaks of regarding the concept of trying to find a precedent from the life of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, for every event that occurs.

 


With gratitude to Muwasala.


Day 9: Share the Quran – 30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 9: Share the Quran

The Quran. It’s the greatest gift we have, it’s our connection to Allah and it plays a centre role in the month of Ramadan. Hopefully this month, we are not only reading the Quran but also exploring its meaning through a good translation. Most of all, we are trying our best to follow it to the utmost. Through the Quran, we not only understand more about Allah, but also about our Prophet Muhammad.

This Ramadan, try to share the meanings of the Quran. Share the meaning of an ayah in a conversation with the family, or clarify a common misunderstanding with a co-worker. Spread the message of Allah in your effort to get closer to Him.


Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course.


Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part 5 by Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

We regularly hear of the great heroes and heroines of Islam. However, we know little about what made these men and women so beloved to Allah and their people. In these series of talks, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf speaks about these famous men and women.

In the fifth and final installment of the series, Habib Kadhim speaks about the qualities that gave these people their strength and courage. heroes and heroines of Islam

Returning to Allah

As an example, we have Umm Salama, who was faced with difficult times. She made a duaa to Allah, asking that her losses be replaced with something better.  For many people, it is difficult to think of finding fulfillment after suffering a loss. However, it is important to remember that Allah can, indeed, make that happen. The Prophet promised us that even the smallest test, such feeling the pain of a thorn, is a chance for believers to return to their Lord and be rewarded for their patience.

Using Our Talents

Habib Khadhim concluded the lecture by encouraging everyone to use their particular talents for the benefit of Islam. Whether it is a good memory, deep empathy, or good speaking skills, we can bring great benefit if we use these qualities well. We may or may not be recognized for our efforts, but we can be sure of our reward with Allah.

In the next life, we will see many great women who we did not know about on this Earth, but caused great light to be brought to Islam. For example, the mothers of Imam al-Bukhari and Imam al-Shafi, were both single mothers who likely did not have a lot of resources. However, through their piety, commitment, and righteous parenting, they were both a means for reviving many Islamic sciences.

This concludes the series “Heroes and Heroines of Islam,” by Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf. 


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Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part 4 by Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

We regularly hear of the great heroes and heroines of Islam. However, we know little about what made these men and women so beloved to Allah and their people. In these series of talks, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf speaks about these famous men and women.

In the fourth segment of this series, Habib Kadhim continues to speak about the great women of Islam.heroes and heroines of Islam

Umm Salama

Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, was an extremely wise woman. The Prophet would seek her advice, such as the time when the Companions were heading to Mecca to make Umra. When the Meccans prevented them, the Prophet commanded his Companions to shave their heads and sacrifice their animals, to release themselves from the state pf ihram.

However, they were in a state of shock, because they though that the promise of them entering Mecca was specific to that year. When they did not begin to release themselves from Ihram, the Prophet came to Umm Salama to seek her advice. Rather than jumping to conclusions and blaming anyone, she immediately realized that they were still in shock, and she suggested to the Prophet that he begin the sacrifices himself. Once he did, the Companions immediately jumped to follow him.

This story teaches us an important lesson. When analyzing historical events, we should take care to see them from an illuminated perspective, rather than an egotistical perspective. An egotistical perspective will inherently be biased and flawed, and using it can lead to misjudging the people in question.

We live in a time where everyone wants others to follow their opinions. When calling to Allah, we should avoid trying to convince people to follow our particular sect, perspective, or school of thought. Rather, we should help the person to find their way to Allah, and not harm to speak ill of, or condemn, anyone.


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A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam, by H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad

A new book by H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan has just been launched to critical acclaim. In this video, he explains why the contents are so relevant and timely.

The world is at a crossroads today. A tiny minority of Muslims seems to be bent on hijacking the religion of Islam and bringing it into perpetual conflict with the rest of the world. Because of their actions, very few non-Muslims understand the real difference between Islam as it has always been, and the distorted perversions of Islam today. This book is an attempt to positively say what Islam actually is—and always was—as well as what it is not.

This talk delivered by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan at Waterstones bookstore on Gower Street, London, United Kingdom.

H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan (b. 1966 CE) was educated at Harrow School, UK; received his BA Summa cum Laude from Princeton University, NJ, USA; his first PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK, and his second PhD from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. He is a Professor of Islamic Philosophy and his book Love in the Holy Qur’an has been widely acclaimed, has gone into ten editions and has been translated into a number of languages. He also serves as Chief Advisor for Religious and Cultural Affairs to H.M. King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan.

H.R.H. Prince Ghazi is the author of A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam which may be purchased through Turath Publishing in the UK.

How Two Of The Salaf Proved the Existence of God, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Sometimes we imagine that the problems of our age are unique, but this is not the case. Atheism is not new. At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and even before that, at the time of previous prophets (peace be upon them all), there were people who denied the existence of God. Rebecca Slenes tells us more, based on Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s teaching of Ghazali’s Foundations of Islamic Belief.

In one of the commentaries of the Creed of Imam al-Tahawi (Aqida Tahawiya), Siraj al-Din al-Ghaznawi, an eminent Indian scholar who migrated to Egypt, gives some examples of how the early Muslims (salaf) discussed with atheists about the existence of the Creator. Through these examples, we see the importance of translating knowledge into wisdom and insight that speaks directly to people’s realities and to their hearts.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us that a good argument is not just sound and coherent, but it is also compelling and convincing. To be effective, one needs to have a deep understanding of the context and where people are at, coupled with a deep concern for their eternal well-being. This is the concern of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. It is the concern shown by the the salaf in these stories. We have translated two of them here.

Story of Jafar al-Sadiq

One of the great imams of Islam, Jafar al-Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him) was the 5th descendant of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and died in the year 148.

It is related that some the atheists denied the existence of the Creator in the presence of Jafar al-Sadiq. Jafar said to him, “Have you ever seen the sea and its awesomeness?”

Here, Jafar used an example that the man would relate to. This man probably lived far away and had travelled by sea. There may have been signs of this on him. It shows us the need to be attentive to people and their backgrounds.

The man said, “Yes, I have travelled by sea and there was a storm and the ship sank and the sailors drowned. I clung onto some planks of wood, then even the planks went away from me. I was pushed away by the clashing of the waves until I reached the shore.”

Imam Jafar said: “You were initially relying on the ship, the planks, and the sailors, but when these things left you did you still hope for safety?”

The man said “Yes”.

Imam Jafar said: “From whom did you hope for safety?”

The man was silent.

Imam Jafar said: “Verily in the Creator, He is the one in which you had hope in at that moment and He is the one who saved you from drowning.” And the man accepted Islam at his hand.

There are many lessons in this story, particularly related to the sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) of knowing the background of the person one is dealing with. Saidina Ali ibn Talib, inspired by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), reminds us: “address people according to their understanding.” The story is also a marvelous depiction of our fundamental belief in God that cannot be denied. In moments of great danger all people, whether they affirm belief or not, tend to cling to hope of survival. The place of this hope is none other than God. Allah often tests us by taking things away from us so that we learn to place our hope in Him alone, showing us that “all things perish, except His face” (Quran 28:88).

Story of Abu Hanifa

The founder of the Hanfi school of jurisprudence, Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the major jurists and scholars of Islamic civilization and passed away on the year 772.

It is related that Imam Abu Hanifa was a decisive debater against atheists. They used to be on the look out for any opportunity to kill him. One day they attacked him with their swords brandished as he was sitting in the mosque. They were about to kill him.

He said to them: “Answer me on one question and then you may do as you wish”.

They said: “go ahead!”

He said: “What would you say of a man who says: ‘verily I saw a ship full of cargo in stormy sea surrounded by surging waves and turbulent winds, yet the ship is sailing straight without a sailor directing her.’ Would you say that this is possible?”

They said: “No, that is not rationally possible.”

Abu Hanifa said: “Oh, Glory be to God, if the mind cannot accept that a ship sails straight without a sailor, how can it be possible for this world with its higher and lower details and all its changing states to exist with order without a Creator?”

They all cried and repented and entered Islam.

Here Abu Hanifa spoke directly to people’s intellect, calling them to believe through reason, which is a gift from God. They had come to kill Abu Hanifa and they all became Muslim at his hands. Subhanallah! He gave them life – the life of faith – after they had tried to kill him.

The importance of wisdom and mercy in addressing people

These are just a few examples of the ways of disputation of the early Muslims. We see how Imam Jafar and Imam Abu Hanifa used simple and relevant examples that spoke to people’s minds and hearts. We should reflect on the importance of wisdom and mercy in addressing people, speaking to them in accordance to their understanding, with patience and gentleness, using logical arguments and examples that they can relate to. These stories are timeless because they speak to all those of intellect. They are beautiful in that they show us the mercy of these early Muslims; even when faced with great hostility (when their lives were in danger), they used patience and wisdom and had a deep concern for those who were rejecting God. They were not debating with the intention to prove they were right or to demonstrate their knowledge; they were doing so out of sincere concern for people and for God. This is the concern and love of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that embraces all humanity and all living creatures.

We must learn and nurture this certitude and this love in ourselves and then learn to convey it with clarity in a compelling and beautiful manner because, as our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us, “None of you believes until you wish for others of the good that which you wish for yourselves!”

This reflection is based on a SeekersHub live class by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Ghazali’s Foundations of Islamic Belief Explained. Translation of stories from al-Ghaznawi’s Sharh Aqida Imam al-Tahawi, p. 40-42. Listen to the recording of a clip on the SeekersHub podcast: Stormy Seas: Two Stories on Proving the Existence of God.

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How Do I Give Da’wah to (Call to Islam) the Opposite Gender?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I am part of a da’wah effort in our city centre. Often, members of the opposite gender approach us and ask about Islam. Not all of their nudity is covered, and sometimes I have to look at them to communicate effectively. Is the odd glance permissible, or must I avoid looking at them altogether?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Da’wah

A general rule: It is wiser to make continual da’wah to a person of the same gender.

In the meantime:

1) Uphold the principles of gender interaction.
2) Involve Muslim sisters in ongoing da’wah effort with women, and aim to ‘hand over’ all ongoing interaction to said Muslim sisters.

Lowering gaze

In regards to your excellent question, please refer to this excerpt from Ustadha Zaynab’s answer:

Guarding your gaze is a good practice that fosters modest interaction between the sexes. The Quran commands both believing men and women to guard their gaze. Unfortunately, many Muslims have lost this practice. What guarding the gaze means is that you should refrain from staring at a woman’s face (if she’s not a member of your unmarriageable kin or your wife). It does not mean keeping one’s eyes glued to the ground. In Western societies, guarding one’s gaze can sometimes be interpreted as a lack of assertiveness or respect for the other person.


However, with Muslims, guarding one’s gaze indicates respect for the other person’s space and modesty of intention. Our scholars have said that looking at a woman’s face is permitted in certain occasions. For example, if you are seeking a woman in marriage, it is permitted to look at her face. If you work in any type of job that requires you to look at people and interact with them, looking is permitted as long as you don’t look with desire. If you are a teacher, looking at your female students is permitted as long as you don’t look more than necessary or with desire. In short, be modest and respectful.

Intention

At all stages of your da’wah work, please regularly remind yourself of your intention behind your actions, observe taqwa, and always strive to uphold good character. If anything begins to sit uncomfortably with you, then stop and reassess your situation, and ask for support.

Please see:

Can I Call Others of the opposite Gender to Islam?

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi‘i fiqh, Arabic, Sirah, Aqidah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajwid. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.