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Keep Good Company In The Last Ten Nights Of Ramadan, by Imam Khalid Latif

*Originally Published on 25/06/2016

In these last nights of Ramadan, gatherings unlike any other time of the year are taking place. We should make sure we are a part of them, writes Imam Khalif Latif.

Gatherings are taking place in which no individual is turned away. The rich, the poor, the strong, the weak, young and old, male and female, skins of all color, complexions of every shade — gatherings that server as reminders of and truly encompass the presence of the Divine. No one is left out, and everyone is welcomed in.
Men and women from all walks of life remove from themselves the shackles of the material and for a moment seek to feed only their spirits. The pursuit of the world becomes a fleeting thought and in its place is the pursuit of a tranquility and contentment that could never be satisfied by the possession of anything worldly.
Titles and ranks and social class are left at the door. You simply stand as yourself. The worth of your standing is not assessed by anything other than the heart that you bring and how willing you are to let its presence define the moment instead of the tyrannical ego you have battled with for almost a month’s time prior to this moment.
Hearts will tremble. Tears will be shed. Bodies will feel a sense of strength unlike any other as they are relenting towards a soul that they no longer control yields them not weakness, but a power unlike anything experienced before.
Indeed, in His remembrance do hearts find rest.
Our Lord, ya Allah, bless our gatherings and all those who are in them. We stand for your sake, do not turn us away.
Answer our prayers and grant us the courage, wisdom, sincerity and compassion to be the answer to the prayers of others — You Are One Who Responds, Al-Mujeeb, The All-Hearing, As-Sami’.
Free our hearts of any anxiety, anguish, or unwarranted anger, from any bitterness, jealousy, or envy. Detach them from loving anything that causes us harm or gives us simple complacency and fill them instead with a lightness strengthened through gratitude, understanding, tranquility and contentment — You are The Source of Peace, As-Salaam, The One Who Enriches, Al-Mughni.
Envelop us in your Divine Love and help us to build a love for ourselves. We are weak and imperfect, but the perfection of Your Love stems from its embracing of us despite our being imperfect — You Are The Loving One, Al-Wadud, The Compassionate, Ar-Rahman.
Free from us oppression, including oppression by our own selves, and keep us from being oppressive, including oppression against our own selves. Grant justice and ease to all those who are held down, peace and stability to those in conflict. Make us satisfied with all that You have given to us, and make us not amongst those us who unjustly take from others — You Are the Most Just, Al-‘Adl, The All-Seeing, Al-Baseer.
Make us amongst the honest, the truthful, the kind, and the conscious. Help us to honor the rights of all those around us, our families, our neighbors, and the societies in which we live. Free us from arrogance, hatred, and racism and endow us with a sense of respect for the diversity of Your creation — You Are the Creator, Al-Khaliq, the Most Generous, Al-Karim.
Give us leaders who are actually leaders, and make us followers who are deserving of great leaders. Grant us knowledge, wisdom, patience, and sensibility as well as good intention and a strong sense of passion. For organized evil will always triumph over disorganized righteousness, and it is time for us to stand better for those who need to be stood up for. Let our serving be not for our own selves but simply because it is the right thing to do. And forgive us, oh Lord, for not doing everything that we are able to — You Are The Most-Wise, Al-Hakim, the Patron and Helper, Al-Wali.
Shower upon us Your Divine Mercy and make us amongst the merciful ones who are merciful to all people, all creation, and to the earth we walk upon — You Are the Most Merciful, Ya Raheem.
Help us to be gentle with each other. Forgive us for our harshness and the mistakes we have made, and let kindness be found in all of our deeds and decisions. Give us a character that is beautiful in its nature and make us amongst who remind the world that hope, mercy, and compassion do exist. You Are Ever-Gentle, Ya Latif.
Make not the pursuit of this world our goal, but let our goals be for the best in the next world. Help us to sustain the lessons learned in this blessed month and let us not turn back to being those who we were prior to its advent.
Give us confidence that helps us to see our strength as well our weaknesses and protect us from arrogance which lets us only see weakness in the world around us.
Give us the courage to reach our potential and protect us from the fear that keeps us from doing so. Let our growth be gradual and consistent and help us to strive every day, even if it is very little and enrich our lives with a richness of our souls.
Grant us companionship that helps us to reach our best and keep us from companions who hold us back. Grant us friends who encourage us towards all that is good, and keep us from friends who take us towards that which is not. Arrange our hearts with those hearts that are gentle and tender, and make us amongst those whose presence brings benefit and relief.
Accept from us our prayers and our fasting, our bowing, our kneeling, our standing, our prostrating. Grant us and our loved ones only the best in this world and the best in the next.
Forgive all those who love us and those whom we love, all those who have wronged us and all those whom we have wronged.
Protect us from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise, and eyes that have forgotten how to cry.
Make the best of our deeds the last of our deeds and let us not leave this world other than in a state that is most pleasing to You.
Our Lord, ya Allah, accept from us, forgive us, and guide and bless us all. Ameen.

Imam al-Ghazali on Guarding the Tongue

Shaykh Walead Mosaad presents Imam al-Ghazali’s thoughts on guarding the tongue to protect the heart from nonsense and make room for dhikr of Allah.

Imam al-Ghazali puts a particular emphasis on the importance of guarding one’s tongue and that the tongue is indeed like a double-edged sword. It can do much good but it can also do much harm. There are two major things we need to know about what we say.

    1. 1. What we say is significant, it’s not insignificant.

 

    2. It has an effect.

It affects other people who are in earshot of it. It can affect people who may not even be in earshot of it, by hearsay. Someone might say, “Well, I heard NN say this and this about you.” And if you actually said that or you disseminated that, then it does have the potential to do a lot of damage.

Speech Is Not Just Verbal

While the pre-modern books such as the Ihya are talking about things we actually say, that we pronounce [verbally], obviously, that extends to any which way we may communicate. That includes not just what we say, but what we write, what we tweet, what we disseminate. Even what we retweet. What we propagate. We may not have said it, we may not have originated it, but if we contribute to its dissemination, then we have a role in whatever they said or what is retweeted in affecting other people. It’s significant.

How often have people’s reputations been completely maligned, if not destroyed, based upon something that happened on the social media, or something along the lines of the Internet? This is particularly important because as some of our ulama have stated, there’s this type of call you out, gotcha, culture that we have going on. Many people assume that somehow that’s supported by our Islamic principles. That if someone makes a grievous error, then we need to name and shame.

If they’re caught on camera doing something or saying something or maligning someone or even saying something that’s racist or abusive to other people, and we catch them on camera, then there’s this automatic assumption: name and shame. Let’s make these people famous. Let’s put them out on the Internet. Let’s get their photo everywhere, so everybody knows who they are.

When I see stuff like that, my next question is, and then what? Now we know who they are. Now what? Are we supposed to completely erase them from humanity, because they said something under their breath, even if it was to one of our Muslim sisters that was offensive? Does that fit the offense? Can they be completely maligned and destroyed, and lose their job, and publicly humiliated?

It’s a very powerful tool, especially now when we have access to these tools that – depending on how many followers someone may have or other people may have – within a matter of minutes something can exponentially be spread to all parts of the globe. That power, and it is powerful, wasn’t there ten years ago, let alone 20 and 30 and 40 and and 50 years ago.

The Book and the Wisdom

I think it behooves us to be even even more careful. To heed the words of our Imams, of our ulama, like Imam al-Ghazali and others, who pondered these issues and studied the Qur’an and Sunna very closely. They arrived at this articulation of the hikma, the wisdom. And the Qur’an refers to the Sunna itself as hikma, as wisdom. Everything about our Sunna is wise. Everything about what the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, did – the way he acted, his mannerisms, the way he treated people. There was a wisdom about it. Nothing was done in vain. Nothing was haphazard.

One of the Sahaba asked him, “Are we taken to task by what we say?” You read the hadith and it is as if he’s surprised. Is that like a big deal? The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, replies back very emphatically: “Are people not dragged on their noses [or on their faces] to Hellfire as a result of what their tongues harvest?” In other words, it does have an effect. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, talked about the night of ascension where he saw some of the types of punishment people go through. Among them were the people who backbite, who slander. They will have punishments that reflect what they did in the dunya.

Think of the dunya the life that we live now. It’s representative of something that is more figurative and metaphoric. When we get to the Akhira, those things that are metaphoric will now be literal. The one who slanders will, literally, be carrying the weight of his tongue. It will become huge and he’ll have to carry it on his back like a satchel or a burdensome thing. Why? Because that’s exactly what happened in the dunya.

Speak Only of What Concerns You

Sura al-Hujurat 49:12 gives us a very physical description of the person who backbites. “Would you like to eat the dead flesh of your brother?” One of the hadith mentions that there were two women who were fasting and they started backbiting people and they became very ill. Then they regurgitated, they threw up, and the hadith says that meat and bones and blood came out. And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “These two were backbiting.” It became literalized within them, because that’s how ugly it is in the eyes Allah, Exalted and Most High.

Imam al-Ghazali goes in an order of least worst to the worst. From the one that is it’s bad but not really bad to the last thing he talks about; the one that’s really bad. He says, “The first one is to speak about those things that do not concern you.” We know the hadith. “From the good Islam, the good din, of the person – the woman or the man – is to leave that which does not concern one.”

The question will be, “What is it that concerns me then?” Well, the Sunna makes tafsir of the Qur’an, and the Qur’an makes tafsir of the Sunna. So when the verse says, “There is no good in their private conversations (najwa),” talking about the Quraysh, “except for three things: to enjoin to charity or something that is good or to rectify between two people or two parties; ” (Sura al-Nisa 4:114) This is good speech. These are examples of things that would concern us. It means that pretty much everything else is going to fall at least in the category of not concerning us.

Giving Yourself a Break

Obviously, there is the other concept also. What we call istijmam (recreation), which is like tarwih (relief). You do need to go to less serious times in order to have aid and help for your more serious times. We are human beings. We can’t be very on 24/7. We’re not angels in that regard.

Some of the Sahaba complained to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. They said, and I paraphrase, “You know, when we’re with you we find that we are on, but when we go back to our families and our homes and so forth it’s not the same thing. Is this a sign of nifaq (hypocrisy)?” – Even Umar ibn al-Khattab and Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allah be pleased with them, were part of this conversation. – The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “No. If you were to do that, then, the Angels would have greeted you in the streets as you walk, but some time for this and some time for that.”

So there is a halal type of taking a break, istijmam, and things like this. But we have to be careful that that thing of itself doesn’t lead us to falling into something that would be blameworthy, something that would be either makruh, disliked, reprehensible, or haram. People want to take a break and watch a little bit of the game, and enjoy the athleticism of the athletes. I’m not going to say that’s wrong. Athleticism and paying attention to one’s physical prowess and things like this, that is part of the din. We can’t deny that. If you’re not healthy physically, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be healthy spiritually. They go hand in hand.

At the same time we should recognize that it’s very easy to fall into a cycle where these things dominate our thoughts and our attention and our time. It’s about indibat. It’s about trying to do it in a way so that we’re not falling into a place where we lose sight of what’s important.

Excessive Speech

So fudul al-kalam, it’s about leaving that which is doesn’t concern one. It’s better to err on the side of caution. The Sahaba used to count the number of words they would say in the day. I’ll bring up social media again because social media makes you feel like whatever you have to say is important. It also makes you feel like “I need to have an opinion about this thing.” If you see other people putting their opinions, “Well, I have more followers than them I should have an opinion too. I should be getting those likes and comments as well, because I have to say when I need to say and so forth.

We have to be very, very careful with that impulse and recognize it as a nafsani impulse. It’s an impulse of the nafs. It’s an impulse of the ego. It’s not something that the din is going to exhort you to. The din will tell you that you have good counsel for the people, no matter where it comes from. It doesn’t have to be you, and actually, preferably, it shouldn’t be you. I prefer it not to be me. I prefer that it be someone else who can do a better job than I can.

Imam al-Ghazali is strict in that sense. He’ll say, “Where you went on your trip and who you saw and what you did and how much you pay for the onions at the market are all things that are in the category of not that important.” Obviously, he’s addressing people who are not from the awwam. He’s addressing people who have made a commitment to living a life dedicated to the prophetic principles and ideals.

If that’s what you want to do, then what it’s saying is, if you’re going to go that route, then go all in. Do it the right way. Don’t just focus on the ritual aspects of the din: the number of prayers and number of days that you fast and things like this, and then neglect what really is the important underpinning of the whole thing altogether, which is to avoid those things that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, avoided. Avoid the haram and embody the character of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.

What Distinguishes the Awliya

How many of the people who can boast of their ritual prayers, how many prayers they’ve done, how many days they’ve fasted, how much money they give to sadaqa. Then this comes emblematic of the din. It’s an aspect of the din, even pillars of the din, but it doesn’t mean that that’s the measure of where one is with one’s relationship with Allah Most High. Especially if you want to have a committed, dedicated, principled way about living your life. These are the things one has to be aware of. These are the things that separate the people who are true awliya and then those who just make claims.

Another thing is talk that is a trivial or repetitive of something that’s not important. Sometimes people just speak so that they can bring people’s attention to themselves. They’re looking for people’s attention. This is called fudul al-kalam. Remember these are in increasing order, so these are the two least bad ones. As we go to the three, four, five, six, all 20 of them, they get worse and worse.

The third one is to talk about things that are actually haram to be doing. Haram to do, but then you go speak about them. You talk about some illicit type of gathering that took place. “I couldn’t believe I saw that roulette wheel on TV, and look at how much money that guy made from a slot machine, and wow, that’s interesting. Look at that drunk person and how much of a fool he made out of himself,” and things like this.

That’s talking even in a condemning way. To talk about it in a praiseworthy way is even worse. I would also include in this, the mushahadat, the things that we see, that we look at, that also depict things that are haram. They should also be avoided. There’s a general principle: “Everything that is not permissible to speak about, it’s also not permissible to look at or to engage with. The images that enter us, we think that are innocuous and don’t have a long-term effect, they do have an effect. They stay with you. Especially images, pictures, or video, because any type of simple reminder will have you recollect them, as long as they’re imprinted on your heart.

Free Up Your Memory

Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari says, “How are you going to reach a greater understanding of the divine, Allah Most High, and the pictures of the forms are imprinted on your heart?” They occupy your thoughts. Your subconscious works continuously and your subconscious can work for you or against you. You may not be actively watching that last movie or listening to that last pop song or rock song but your subconscious may be busy with it. And when your subconscious is busy with it that means it’s not busy with other things.

One of the things about creative people is that even when they’re not actively doing something creative their subconscious is helping them do that creative thing. That’s why ideas come to them sort of spontaneously, but they’re not really that spontaneous, because in the background you were working on it to begin with. If we’re going to use an example of software: you have an app running in the background. Your subconscious is kind of like that app. It’s running in the background. If you have too many other apps open that are nonsense, then they’re taking up all of your computer power, your RAM, your memory, and as a result the thing that’s in active mode doesn’t run that well.

The app that you’re on right now which is you as well as the things that you’re doing. I would venture to say that this is one of the the secrets of dhikr, of the remembrance of Allah Most High. It is one of the reasons why the ulama say that it’s better to do dhikr and with no hudur, no presence of mind, than to avoid dhikr. It’s obviously better to have dhikr and have hudur or presence of mind and heart, but that doesn’t preclude you from doing dhikr even without that, because that has a benefit as well.

Even when only the tongue is working it’s at least getting you on a spiritual level, so that even when you’re not doing the dhikr actively with your tasbih or reading the Qur’an, it begins to get imprinted upon the conscious of your spirit. Then it’s working for you even when you’re not actively doing it. And the adverse is true. When you’re working with nonsense things, those things are also working against you even when you are not actively doing them.

Increasing Presence with Allah

That’s why when people ask, “How do I have more presence of mind and heart in the prayer? I just get in the prayer and I’m just busy and I can’t focus and I can’t concentrate.” The problem is not your prayer, the problem is what you’re doing outside of the prayer. When you begin to have hudur or presence outside of the prayer, then you have presence inside of the prayer, because they feed off one another.

That is why in the hadith of Bukhari, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, mentioned that “If the prayer time is upon us and the food is ready at the same time, then begin with the food.” Why begin with the food? Because that is what’s keeping you busy. You’ll be not focused in your prayer. So when you go into the prayer and you’re not focused on the food, you’ve at least removed the busyness and the lack of focus at least with the food.

During Ramadan for example ,also a hadith of Bukhari, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would single out a particular space in the Rawda, in his masjid, and pray in that space consistently, because it helps one focus better. All the things that would lend us to focus more not just in the prayer but outside of the prayer, if it leads us to a greater focus, then that thing becomes meritorious in and of itself.

Imam Malik is reported to have said, “If I knew that sitting on a pile of trash would bring my heart closer to Allah, then I would do it.” Because the point is to bring you closer to Allah Most High. That’s the whole idea. Sometimes a sin brings you closer to Allah. Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari said, “Perhaps a sin that breeds within you, that engenders within you humility and a sense of poverty towards Allah Most High, a sense of a need of Allah Most High, is better than obedient acts that breed within you arrogance and haughtiness.” If it makes you arrogant and it makes you feel like you’re better than everybody else, and that you have a degree over others. If that’s what your ‘ibada is doing for you, it’s having the opposite effect.

Humility Is the Child of Dhikr

The effect it should have is to make you more humble, to make you more agreeable with people. Not more difficult with people. More agreeable, more humble, easier to get along with. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “The closest people to me on the day of judgment will be the ones who are best in character,” the ones who get along with people very easily and people get along very easily with them “and they lower their wing for people.” He always had a smiling face. He always greeted people with a smiling face. He had that quality about him, Allah bless him and give him peace.

So, aimless disputatious and arguing about things that may in and of themselves be haram to argue about and discuss. These would be discussion many people have about political realities or political situations and things like this, and then people have heated arguments. It happens in Ramadan so much too, because our routines are upended a little bit and we see each other more often and so there’s more of a opportunity for people to start talking about things like that. That has a you know a damaging effect on the heart. You come away with conversations like that and you feel constricted.

Obviously, it takes two people to to engage in it. What do you do when somebody is talking about things like that? How do you disengage? Either you try to change the topic or you could say, “You know what? I rather talk about something else.” Sometimes you just have to walk away, but exhaust the other possibilities first. Do it in a nice way, but if that doesn’t work … at the end of the day we’re all responsible for ourselves.

 


 

Wird without the Permission of a Spiritual Guide

Shaykh Farid Dingle gives advice on making it a habit to remember Allah by taking up a wird and whether permission from a spiritual guide is necessary.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question about the “Al-Wird al-Latif.” This Wird is common and based on the prophetic Sunna. Can I read this Wird (say, two times a day) without the permission of my Shaykh or any other Shaykh? Or can I be harmed if I engage in these litanies without their permission?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It is permissible and recommended to make a habit of reciting any form of remembrance (dhikr) that has come with a sound or even passably weak chain of transmission, for the general divine command, “Remember Me and I will remember you.” (Sura al Baqara 2:152)

As for any other form of remembrance (dhikr), it is also recommended in principle, even if it is non derived directly from one of the prophetic formulae, and even if it is repeated.

That said, what we have heard from certain scholars is that repeating certain names of Allah repeatedly without any guidance from a spiritual guide (murshid, pir) can be dangerous and should be avoided.

It is worth noting that the litany (wird, wazifa) formulae of the various scholars are like medicine: they are designed to deal with specific problems, and not supposed to be taken without guidance and counsel.

In light of this, we would encourage anyone without a spiritual guide with whom they have contact to just keep themselves to the well-known and established morning and evening remembrances that are found in books of fiqh and hadith.

And Allah knows best.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Don’t Forget to Mention Allah’s Name! – Shaykh Amin Buxton

Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should come to know our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, a little better. In this series, we try to do this by looking at the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and at times made him laugh.

Remembering Allah

Ummayah bin Makhshi narrates that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace was sitting with a man who was eating. The man did not mention Allah’s name and he kept eating until there was only one mouthful left. When he raised the food to his mouth he said: “In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.”

The Prophet laughed and said: “The devil was eating with him until he mentioned Allah’s name, at which point the devil vomited up everything that was in his stomach!” (Narrated by Abu Daud)
This hadith reminds us of the importance of mentioning Allah’s name before even the smallest and most mundane actions such as dressing, entering and leaving our homes, going to sleep and waking up and, of course, eating and drinking.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, taught us the precise etiquette in all of these situations and revealed to us the consequences of neglecting it.When we mention Allah’s name, it acts as a barrier which prevents darkness and evil from entering into our lives. Beyond this, it reminds us that only Allah sustains the existence of all things. When we eat, sleep and walk in Allah’s name, those actions take on a new meaning. This is because they are connected to the Divine and are blessed with Allah’s support and care.

If, however, we are not conscious of this reality (as is often the case) it is never too late. The key is to return to Allah as soon as we remember. If we forget to mention Allah’s name before we eat, we can say the following supplication when we remember:

بِسْمِ اللهِ أَوَّلَهُ وآخِرَهُ

Bismillāhi awwalahu wa ākhirahu

In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.

This incident also shows us that the Prophet was actually witnessing the unseen. The angelic and demonic realms were unveiled to him. Although they are veiled to us (with very rare exceptions), it is part of our faith to believe that they exist just as the Prophet informed us of them.
Just as the devil is happy to see our actions come to nothing, the Messenger laughed and was happy to see the devil’s actions come to nothing. His happiness was always for the victory of light over darkness. In this case a member of his nation was neglectful even though he was in the presence of the Prophet. But what pleased the Prophet was that he made amends. We can take comfort from the fact that however heedless or forgetful we are, we can always make amends. In doing so, we make our guide and teacher happy. May Allah shower him with blessings and peace.

Shaykh Amin Buxton was born in London and became Muslim in 1999. He studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London, and then enrolled at Dar al Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen. There he studied the sacred sciences under the supervision of Habib Umar bin Hafiz.

He has edited and translated a number of books which explain the Prophetic way such as Imam al-Haddad’s ‘Beneficial Counsels’ and provides content for Muwasala. Since 2017 he has resided with his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is involved in a number of educational initiatives around the UK, including the iSyllabus, and has taught at the SeekersHub Retreat.


 

Should I Apply the Rules of Tajwid When Reciting Remembrances?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Should a person apply the rules of tajwid while reciting/reading morning and evening dhikrs (rememberance of Allah) ?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

The specific rules of tajwid (ghunna/madd) are applicable to the Qur’an alone, as Shaykh Ali Hani confirmed when I consulted him about this matter. As for other remembrances (adhkar) and the like, the expectation is to recite them with correct pronunciation and grammar. This applies to supplication and remembrance inside and outside of the prayer.

Please also see this answer.

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Nasheed Hub: Biha Tathbut al-Iman

The Nasheed Hub, an initiative of SeekersHub Global, aims to showcase the traditional Islamic art of nasheed, or Islamic devotional songs.

Biha Yathbut al-Iman (It Strengthens Faith)

There are many hadiths that speak about why repeating the Testification of Faith is beneficial, such as this one.

“Belief is seventy and some branches. Its lowest branch is the removal of harm from the road while its highest is to say: There is no god but Allah.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad). 

Sometimes, repetition can become dry, and that’s when this beautiful nasheed comes in, which literally sings the praises of singing praise. Whenever you feel like you’re losing focus, this poem, authored by ShaykhʿAbdul-Qadir al-Lubni, will come to your rescue.

With it faith is strengthened, with it security is obtained

Repeat it, whoever you are, “there is no God but Allah!”

The poem lists the benefits of saying this blessed phrase, including reaching success, healing from illnesses, and lifting of tribulations.

It cures all maladies, it rectifies all defects,

Mention it without fear of boredom, “there is no God but Allah!”

It’s pleasant tune and encouraging theme makes it a nice song to sing alone, in a group, or with children.

Click on the image below to scroll.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://seekershub.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/la-ilaha.pdf” title=”la ilaha”]

 

About Nasheed Hub

Throughout the decades and civilisations of Islam, the vocal tradition, sometimes known as nasheed or devotional songs, were penned as a way of celebrating and giving thanks to Allah for the message of Islam, as well as for the Messenger himself.
These nasheeds were a way for people to turn towards their Lord in joyful celebration, rather than stringent routine. They were also tools to spread the message of Islam in a non-confrontational way. These nasheeds were able to reach out to those who were alienated or indifferent to the religion and the Muslim community, as well as to teach children who were too young for academic study.
These nasheeds originating from all corners of the Muslim world – from West Africa to Malaysia, from Turkey to Great Britian – mirror their own culture but all carry a common thread: love of Allah and His Messenger.
This series will explore the different nasheeds, penned by some of the great historical Muslim figures, poets, and scholars.

Resources for Seekers

How Do I Know If My Dhikr Is Rewarded and Accepted?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

1. When I make dhikr for example, is it obligatory to move my tongue in order to be rewarded or is it sufficient if I just do it in my head? will it still be counted as good deeds?

2. If I make istighfar, how do I know that I have been forgiven?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam, Jazakum Allah khayran for your questions.

1. Dhikr (Remembrance)

Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi has explained dhikr of the tongue, heart and limbs as:

1. The dhikr of the tongue is the expressions that stand for exaltation, praise, and glorification.

2. The dhikr of the heart is in reflection of Allah’s essence and His attributes, on obligations including what is enjoined and what is forbidden, and on the secrets of Allah’s creation.

3. The dhikr of the limbs consists in their being immersed in obedience.

Dhikr, as Imam al Nawawi mentions, ‘’May be in the heart, or on the tongue, but the best is that which is both in the heart and on the tongue. If it is limited to just one of them, then the heart is better.’

Some scholars held that dhikr made with the heart alone, or dhikr not said loud enough such that one cannot hear themselves, is not rewarded. However, as Ibn Hajr al Haytami explains, ‘We should understand these words [of some of our scholars] that there is no reward as pertaining to specific [legislated] dhikr. As for the preoccupation of the heart with the meaning of it [dhikr but without utterance] … there is no doubt, based upon what the evidence necessitates, is that one is rewarded for it.’

This nuanced understanding of the opinion of some scholars that dhikr of the heart alone is not rewarded correlates with what Imam al Nawawi also mentions, ‘Know that specifically legislated dhikr in prayer or other, whether obligatory or recommended, is not counted or deemed valid unless expressed with the tongue such that the person can hear himself, if sound of hearing.’

Specifically legislated dhikr means specific adhkar (plural of dhikr) which have been handed down to us and we have been obligated or encouraged to say, through the Quran, Sunna or other legally binding means, in specific situations. For example, saying the Basmalah before eating, or the Tashahud in prayer.

In summary then, dhikr can be in the heart alone and by the tongue alone, but combining them is optimal. The reliable opinion is that dhikr of the heart alone is rewarded except in specifically legislated dhikr, in which the dhikr must be said with the tongue in order to be considered valid and rewarded. The minimal of saying dhikr with the tongue is that one can hear themselves saying the words. And Allah knows best.

[al Adhkar, Tafsir al Razi, al Fatawa al Hadithiyya]

2. Al Istighfar (Seeking forgiveness)

One takes comfort in the boundless Mercy of Allah when making Istighfar, because He has told us Himself, ‘O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth’ [al Tirmidhi]. There are many other similar ahadith.

Glory be to our Lord, who forgives and forgives and never tires of forgiving!

The scholars have mentioned that forgiveness is conditioned by the following:

1. One is sincerely sorry for their mistake

2. One resolves in their heart that they will not return to the mistake (even if they actually do slip, as long as they are sincere in their repentance each time).

3. That if the sin involves the right of another human being, then one first restores the person’s right.

After this, one assumes one has been forgiven, and has only a high opinion of Allah.

May Allah keep our hearts and limbs engaged with His remembrance always, and forgive us through his loving Mercy.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Letter To A Cape Townian Muslim, by Shaykh Riad Saloojee

Shaykh Riad Saloojee looks back at Cape Town. Triggered by the live stream dhikr from Awwal Masjid, he reminisces on the sounds and sights, the daily happenings and grand occasions, and penned this lovely letter of farewell to the city he loves and had to leave in haste.

Assalāmu‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātu,

I am writing this letter to you. But it’s also for me.

I left Cape Town for Canada in haste because of illness. I didn’t have time for a proper goodbye. It was a hard and fast break from the past. There was no time to reflect or reminisce or recollect.

A month has passed. My attention was devoted to convalescing. But even as my physical strength was returning, alḥamduliLlāh, I felt an inexplicable and barren sadness.

I first attributed this feeling to the frigid winter, grey-clouded skies and cabin-fever. I mentioned it to my wife. She told me to listen to the Awwal Masjid dhikr on MixLR.

And when I finally did yesterday, every dear memory of my 11-year life in Cape Town revived in me – and my frozen heart shattered into a million tears.

I’ve never been one to feel homesick. Is home really a physical geography? Other countries, too, neighbour on sea and mountains. How important is culture and custom in itself? Some prize difference even as others hold fast to the familiar. Geography, culture, custom are all valued only for the meanings woven into them by the fabric of our lives.

When the dhikr played, there was no memory of a Point where you could see an endless ocean South, East and West; or a mountain sculpted perfectly into a table (but only when you came at it from its good side); or daily weather so coquettish that it forces you to pack for four seasons; or waiting for fresh koeksisters on Sunday mornings with an aunty in curlers, a fireman and a policeman; or the shukrans of cashiers that are clearly not Muslim.

When the dhikr played, I remembered the adhān you could hear every time salāh came in, no matter where you were; I remembered the Jumu‘ah Mubārak messages to remind you that this was not any day, but the ‘Eīd of the week – where men and boys attended in angel-white thawbs, women in Ka‘bah-black abayas; I remembered how everyone wore a fez in the masjid; I remembered the congregants that raised their voices in Divine remembrance after salāh with a formula that, though the same, was always intoned with genuine emotion; I remembered people lingering in dhikr and du‘ā’ long after the mosque emptied; I remembered the familiar faces of elderly botas making the mosque their home during their twilight years; I remembered the takbīrs of ‘Eīd; I remembered people who took the Mawlid more seriously than life itself; I remembered my teachers who worked side jobs to make ends meet so that they could continue to teach; I remembered mapping out routes to visit the wondrous, resting places of the Awliyā’ and how some of those places must be earthly-pictorials of Paradise itself; I remembered the Burdah and how those who came, came with love, and how I wished to be among them; I remembered a teacher of mine who kept teaching at the height of a debilitating illness, day after day, night after night. And other memories, so poignant, so moving, that I only have strength to bring them to heart in fragments.

On the Day when we are called to account for our histories, it is only the space-time of His remembrance that will matter: those times, places and spaces where we remembered Allah, celebrated Him, loved Him, congregated and departed because of Him. What else is more worthy of being deposited in the vaults of our commemoration? Or of being the precious, shared capital of our social experience?

And this – the customs, cultures, times, places and spaces – are simply inanimate forms given life only through the hearts that inhabit them – hearts that love Allāh, love His Messenger (ṣallalāho ‘alayhi wa sallam), revere the symbols of His dīn. Hearts that illuminate you, remind you, provide you true solace in the winter of your life, and give you the strength to keep walking to Him, and never stop, come what may. What is more valuable in all our histories? More worthy of mourning for its loss?

It is from His Divine Beauty that the true beauty of Cape Town lies in His remembrances and the reverence for His symbols, at a time when one of our greatest crimes lie in a collective religious life of academic, political or social pursuit conceitedly cultured with the profanity of our heedlessness.

The Messenger (ṣallalāho ‘alayhi wa sallam) told us that the one who does not thank people does not thank Allāh. To melt this tundra in me, I have to say to you – teacher, colleague, fellow student, friend – may Allah reward you during these 11 years for the invaluable company of your heart’s remembrances. May He increase you in His remembrance and the lifelong pursuit to beautify your character.

“Play the Awwal dhikr in your background,” my wife said.

Yā Laṭīf, may it be, and never cease, always and forever. Āmīn, Thumma Āmīn.

Cover photo by Mickey Bo.

You Don’t Have To Be In Madinah For The Prophet To Hear You, by Shaykh Faid Said

Whether you are in Madinah or in a far corner of China, there is no inherent barrier between you and Allah’s beloved messenger, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. As Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains, this is a promise from Allah Himself.

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem

Allah, the Most High, said in Surah Al-Ahzab (56): “Indeed, Allah and His angels send their salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. Oh you who have believed, send your salawat and salam upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.”

Allahumma salli wa salim wa barik ala Syedina Mawlana Muhammadin wa alaa Ahli Syedina Muhammad!

Allah Sends His Salawat

Most of the learned ones have said, with regards to this verse, that in order to show the station (maqam) of the Messenger of Allah to all of His creation, Allah Most High said that “Indeed, Allah sends his salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him” and this salawat is a constant praise for the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and Allah Most High is followed in this praise by the angels and the people of the heavens.

The angels, in following the praise of Allah Most High, and in seeing and hearing the praise of His Beloved, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, send their salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, which is, in essence, making dua for the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, by means of which they are getting closer to Allah (The Most High)!  

It’s The Way The Angels Worship

This means that the angels are worshipping Allah, the Most High, by making dua for the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him! And Allah, the Most High, commanded the believers to send salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

In a hadith, narrated by Abu Dawud, Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with Him, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said that

“Whoever sends salawat upon me, Allah, The Most High, returns my soul back to me in order that I may reply to that person!”

This is a great gift and blessing from Allah, the Most High, to give us this connection with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and that too a continuous connection!

By sending your salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, he responds to your salawat directly, as he said:

“Allah returns my ruh back to me in order that I may reply to that person.”  

What a great gift to renew this relationship and continuous blessing that Allah, the Most High, has granted you by giving you the this very blessed chance!

May Allah, the Most High, make us from the people of salawat, wherever we are.

It was narrated by Sa’id ibn Mansur, may Allah be pleased with him, that Suhail ibn Abi Saleh, may Allah be pleased with him, said that:

Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, the son of Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, the son of Syedina Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him once saw me while I was giving my salam [at the Hijr of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him], and He called me. He was in his grandmother’s house [house of Syeda Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her)] eating dinner, so he invited me to eat. I said, ‘no, I do not want to eat.’ Then he asked me, ‘What were you doing?’ I said, I was giving my salam to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.  He said to me, when you come into the masjid, you can send your salawat, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said:  “Whoever sends salawat upon me, Allah Most High returns my soul back to me in order that I may reply to that person!”  Then he said: Those that are in Madinah are not closer to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him than those who are in Andalus, [giving their salaam from there]!”

It is not about distance!

In the words of Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, the son of Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, the son of Syedina Ali, may Allah be pleased with him,

“Those who are living in Madinah and have access to give salam to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him are not closer than the ones who are in Andalus.”

There is immense hope for us: wherever you are, when you send your salawat upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, He responds to your salawat!  

It is not about distance! It is not about where you are, it is about what you are doing, especially if what you are doing is sending your salawat upon the Beloved, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

May Allah grant us the tawfiq and strengthen our connection and relationship with the Beloved, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

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

[cwa id=’cta’]

Resources on sending blessings on Prophet Muhammad for seekers:

 

Is It Wrong to Perform a Daily Amount of Dhikr With a Specific Number?

Answered by Ustadh Sharif Rosen

Question: Assalam alaykum

I have recently become the student of a Scholar, and as students we were assigned to a series of daily Dhikr, that we are to do a certain number of times. Some individuals have mentioned that this is something wrong. As a result I am very conflicted now. What should I do?

Answer: as-Salamu ‘alaykum.

Jazakum Allah khayran for your question.

Without doubt, following the Quran and sunna provide the definitive basis for the validity of one’s Islamic practice. Yet, understanding how one follows the Quran and the way of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, has never returned to the mere opinions of the untrained. Such explanations are the domain of specialists, namely the Islamic jurists, as established by the verse, “Ask those of who recall if you know not” (Quran 16:43).

In practical terms, we are commanded to take our operative understandings from the elite jurists, also known as the mujtahid Imams whose mastery of the Islamic sacred texts comes by way of, (1) their command of all the primary and ancillary fields required to comprehend and practice upon the Quran and prophetic sunna, and (2) their being connected in learning a given religious discipline through unbroken chains of transmission to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. It cannot be understated that great care should be taken to assure that one’s own Islamic learning comes by way of scholars who fulfill both conditions, or at minimum, the second criteria of scholar and teachers, who by obligation, transmit their knowledge from scholars and Imams of the first category.

Individuals who criticize or condemn the inauguration of practices not explicitly taught by the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, often cite the hadith related by Sayyida ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, who said, “Whoever initiates in this matter of ours what is not from it, will have it rejected” (Bukhari, Muslim).

What critics may fail to realize is that the words crucial to understanding this authenticated hadith turn on the phrase “what is not from it” [ma laysa minhu] as it qualifies the types of initiated or “innovated” actions intended here, namely those without any basis in the foundational precepts and objectives of the Quran and sunna (Al-‘Arfaj, Mafhum al-Bid’a, 89). Moreover, the inauguration of a new practice [bid’a] in Islam cannot be categorically condemned since a bid’a will fall into one of the five classifications of Islamic legal rulings; those that are impermissible [haram] and thus misguidance and punishable “refer to matters that are not good innovations with a basis in Sacred Law” (Al-Jurdani, al-Jawahir al-lu’lu’iyya fi shahr al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyya).

We know there are both praiseworthy and blameworthy inaugurated practices based on the hadith related on the authority of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “Whoever initiates in Islam a commendable innovation has its reward and the reward of those who act on it after one without any diminishing of one’s reward. And whoever initiates in Islam a reprehensible innovation has upon them its [awful] burden and the burden of those who act on it without any diminishing of one’s burden” (Muslim).

From this starting point, the following passage enhances further our knowledge of what following the sunna actually means, with attention to the evidentiary basis for practicing adhkar apart from those related in the Quran or hadith.

The Prophet himself (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us that the sunna does not discourage other prayers and supplications, but rather they are part of the sunna, as is attested to by the rigorously authenticated hadith that Burayda (Allah be well pleased with him) said, ‘I entered the mosque of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) where a man was at prayer supplicating: “O Allah, I ask You by the fact that I testify You are Allah, there is no god but You, the One, the Ultimate, who did not beget and was not begotten, and to whom none is equal,” and the Prophet said (Allah bless him and give him peace), “By Him in whose hand is my soul, he has asked Allah by His greatest name, which if He is asked by it He gives, and if supplicated He answers” (Ibn Hibban [53], 3.174:892. S).

This hadith shows that when the prophetic Companions made up their own supplications without previous instruction from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), he did not merely tolerate it, but rather encouraged it with the highest degree of approbation and acceptance — thereby legislating in our shari’a until the end of time that supplications other than those explicitly taught are recommended in a general sense as part of the sunna. Secondly, he intended (Allah bless him and give him peace) that they should be remembered and transmitted to others, as his emphatically praising the Companion’s supplication above ensured that this supplication would be.

This is why the Companions, their students (tabi’in) and the Imams of both the outward (such as Shafi’i, Tabarani and Sakhawi) and the inward (such as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Abu Hasan al-Shadhili, and Ahmad al-Rifa’i) composed their own supplications and litanies of dhikr and passed them on to Muslims after them, who have recited them from that day to this.

Imam Nawawi, who compiled his much-beloved collection of 1,212 Prophetic hadiths of prayer and dhikr in Kitab al-Adhkar, also composed and recited his own daily litany known today as Hizb al-Imam al-Nawawi. As a scholar and a Muslim, he found it superior to do both…

Ulema such as ‘Abdullah Mahfudh al-Haddad tell us that making a supplication or dhikr at a certain time at one’s own initiative does not become a bid’a or reprehensible innovation unless it competes against a specific sunna legislated for that time and place (al-Sunna wa al-bid’a [9], 197). For example, saying Subhana Llah forty times immediately after the last word of every call to prayer (adhan) would be a blameworthy bid’a because the Sacred Law calls for the Blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) at that time instead, after which one may say what one wishes.” [Keller, Sea Without Shore, 174-175]

Finally, these links should provide added depth into the subject of innovation as the ‘ulema have understood and expressed its reality. And through them alone are we obliged to take our knowledge of the Quran and sunna, and thereby our religion entirely — from its law and theology to its spirituality.

Defining the Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’a

Are Weekly Group Dhikr Gatherings a Reprehensible Innovation (Bid’a Sayyia)?

And Allah knows best.

wa-Salam,
[Ustadh] Sharif Rosen

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sharif Rosen is the Muslim Chaplain at Williams College (in the Northeastern United States).  His formative Islamic studies in Amman, Jordan for five years, and ongoing, have been at the hands of scholars connected through unbroken transmission to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.