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Seven Muslim Scholars on How to Survive Ramadan and Make The Most of It

The blessed month is upon us but are you dreading the long days without food or drink and the sleep disruption? You’re not alone. This timely seminar has loads of tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan.

Talks by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf and Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Imam Zaid Shakir

Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin (Q&A)

 

Cover photo by yeowatzup.

Mercy, the Stamp of Creation

Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah examines the role of mercy and eternal salvation in the Islamic tradition, and its imprint on all affairs of the universe.

Although Islam is often proclaimed as the “religion of peace,” theologically, it is more accurate to refer to it as the “religion of mercy.” God has designated mercy as his primary relation to the universe and sent his greatest prophet, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, as its emissary.

Following this, Muslims are commanded to be vanguards of mercy to the world in fostering benefit and averting harm. Islam enjoins a healthy and spiritually alive heart and teaches a law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from the unmerciful.

The explicit link between the Arabic words Islam, literally “entering into peace,” and salam, “peace” or “perfect peace” has been frequently highlighted of late. It is mainly because of this etymological connection that many Muslims and others advance the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, just as Christianity is customarily called a religion of love. Certainly, in terms of their creed and the historical record, Muslims are no less justified in equating Islam with peace than Christians are in identifying their faith with love. From a theological perspective, however, it would be more precise to describe Islam as the religion of mercy.

Islamic revelation designates the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, as “the prophet of mercy,” and Islam’s scriptural sources stress that mercy — above other divine attributions — is God’s hallmark in creation and constitutes his primary relation to the world from its inception through eternity, in this world and the next. Islam enjoins its followers to be merciful to themselves, to others, and the whole of creation, teaching a karma-like law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from those who hold it back from others.

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “People who show mercy to others will be shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, and he who is in heaven will be merciful to you.” (Tirmidhi) Because these words epitomize Islam’s fundamental ethos, it was called “the Tradition of Primacy” and, for generations of Classical Muslim teachers, constituted the first text that many of them handed down to their students and required them to commit to memory with a full chain of transmitters going back to the Prophet Muhammad.

God: The All-Merciful

In Arabic, God is called by many names, but his primary and most beautiful name, embracing all others, is Allah (God, the true God). Allah is a derivative of the same Semitic root as the Biblical Elohim (God) and ha-Eloh (the true God) of Moses and the Hebrew prophets or the Aramaic Alaha (God, the true God) of Jesus and John the Baptist. The formula “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving” (bismi Allah al Rahman al Rahim), occurs one hundred and fourteen times in the Qur’an — Islam’s holy book — at the beginning of all but one chapter and twice in another. The phrase is central to Islamic ritual.

In Islam, the All-Merciful (al Rahman) and the Mercy-Giving (al Rahim) may be said to be the greatest names of God after Allah. Of all his names, they are most descriptive of his relation to the world and emphasize his will in salvation history and throughout eternity to benefit creation and ultimately bring about the triumph of supreme good over evil.The Qur’an states: “It is the All-Merciful who assumed the Throne,” (Sura Ta Ha 20:5) meaning that God designs the world and rules the universe in his aspect as the All-Merciful.

Consequently, mercy is the stamp of creation and the ontological thread that runs through everything. All that transpires — even temporal deprivation, harm, and evil – will, in due course, fall under the rubric of cosmic mercy. One Islamic luminary maintained: “If God had revealed instead that ‘the Overpowering (al Jabbar) [another of God’s ninety-nine principal names] had assumed the throne,’ creation would melt” Another verse reads: “God ordained mercy upon himself,” (Sura al An‘am 6:12) again emphasizing that mercy is a universal law (sunna), the dominant theme of the cosmos, and the fundamental purpose of the creative act.

Two prophetic Traditions reveal God as saying: “My mercy has vanquished my wrath,” and in the second: “My mercy takes precedence over my wrath.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Because we live in a universe bearing mercy’s imprint, harmony and beauty permeate all things: “Our Lord, you have embraced all things in mercy and knowledge.” (Sura al Ghafir 40:7) In the verse, mercy — technically an attribute of act— is given priority of reference over knowledge — an attribute of essence — again emphasizing mercy’s predominance in the universal plan.

The Prophet of Mercy

According to Islamic revelation, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, was the last and greatest of God’s messengers, fulfilling the legacy of the Biblical and extra-Biblical prophets and confirming the teachings of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As the All-Merciful’s chief emissary, he was fittingly called the “prophet of mercy” (nabi al rahma . The Qur’an says of him: “We did not send you but as a special mercy to all the worlds.” (Sura al Anbiya 21:107) The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stated: “In certainty, I was not sent to bring down curses; I was only sent as a special mercy.” (Muslim)

As in English, “mercy” in Arabic is tied to compassion and closely linked with the act of forgiveness and pardon. Theologically, Islamic tradition defines mercy as the intent to bring good to others and cause them benefit. As such, being merciful implies the desire to avert evil and harm. When associated with acts of pardon and forgiveness, mercy is retroactive and after the fact. But as it relates to the intent to bring about good or avert evil, mercy assumes an elemental and proactive dimension and is often before the fact, evincing a forward-looking quality that seeks to set things right, make a break with the past, and foster new beginnings where goodness and benefit can thrive.

The thread of proactive mercy ran throughout the fabric of the Prophet’s life and was the key to his phenomenal, hard-earned, and lasting success, Allah bless him and give him peace. The loyalty and love of his followers and the awe and respect he evoked among his enemies were the fruits of such magnanimity. He said: “The closest of you to me on the Day of Judgment will be the best of you in character.”

Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, jested with children, showed a kindly humor toward adults, and even gave his followers friendly nicknames. He visited the sick, inquired after the welfare of neighbors, friends, followers, and even those who disbelieved in him. He was a warm egalitarian and shared everything with those around him, including their poverty. He was always willing to forgive, rarely chastising those who disobeyed him.

He did not restrict his mercy to his followers. One day in Medina, he was sitting with his Companions, who later related: “A funeral procession passed us by, and the Prophet, may God bless and keep him, stood up so we all stood up because he had. Then we said: ‘O Messenger of God, it is only the funeral procession of a Jew.’ He replied: ‘Was he not a human being?’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Like Moses and other Biblical prophets, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, took part in battle. He was victorious but not a “world-conqueror.” Although he engaged in war, he waged peace, and his inclination toward amnesty and diplomatic solutions is unmistakable. Above all it was the attitude of perpetual mercy that enabled him ultimately to forge for the first time in history a pax islamica in the Arabian Peninsula.

That same attitude combined with masterly statesmanship enabled him not only to rescue the city of Medina — which had invited him for that purpose — from generations of civil war between its feuding clans but to create an island of stability in a sea of chaos and then extend that island gradually until it claimed the sea.

Those who died in the Prophet’s battles were relatively few, Allah bless him and give him peace, and, according to some estimates, numbered around two hundred on both sides. He laid down rules of engagement and parameters of war that became a central part of Islamic law, forbidding the predation of civilian populations, the wanton destruction of lands and livestock, and the use of fire, flooding, and poisons that kill indiscriminately.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted people at their word and forgave them easily. He harbored no desire for vengeance and rejected the pagan custom of blood feuds and revenge. There was nothing mindless or fanatic about his piety. He was never intransigent or bent on war.

Men who had been numbered among his most relentless and unforgiving enemies — like Abu Sufyan ibn Ḥarb, ʿIkrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Safwan ibn Umayya — ultimately came not only to accept and follow the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, but, during the last years of their lives, devoted themselves heroically to his mission with a passion surpassing the enmity that had driven them before.

Even in the midst of bitter war, the Prophet inclined toward peaceful solutions. The Armistice of Hudaybiyya exemplified this spirit and his desire for the ultimate welfare of his enemies, in this case the pagans of Mecca. It was reached at a time when Muslim strength was reaching a high point and the power of the Prophet’s pagan opponents — now in irreversible decline—was vulnerable and could have been ruthlessly crushed.

Yet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted without hesitation conciliatory concessions which initially appeared so humiliating that they bewildered his followers. The Qur’anic revelation proclaimed the armistice a “manifest victory,” and within weeks it was clear that it had set the stage for winning the hearts of the Prophet’s harshest enemies, Allah bless him and give him peace, and opening doors of reconciliation, which for years had been stubbornly shut.

In due course, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “conquered” Mecca peacefully. As he approached the city with the largest army ever assembled on the Arabian Peninsula till that time, he noticed a wild dog on the roadside nursing her litter and posted one of his Companions, Juʿayl al Damari, to stand guard near her so that the entire contingent could pass without disturbing her or the pups.

After years of bitter conflict, some of the Prophet’s Companions — in keeping with the ancient Arabian code of revenge — were sure that the day they took Mecca would be the hour of vengeance. One of Medina’s tribal chieftains, Saʿd ibn ʿUbada, noticed Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, former leader of pagan Mecca, standing near the Prophet and told Abu Sufyan ominously: “This will be a day of slaughter.” Saʿd was proudly bearing his tribal banner. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, took it from him, handed it to Saʿd’s son, and declared: “What Saʿd has said is wrong. No, this will be the day that God glorifies his House (the temple of Abraham in Mecca) and decorates it with a new covering.”

By any measure, it was a day of mercy. In Mecca, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, gathered his former enemies at the House of Abraham and asked them: “What do you think I am about to do with you?” They replied: “You are a magnanimous brother, the son of a magnanimous brother.” He answered: “Go to your houses. You have been set free.” It was this merciful and forgiving nature that finally established the Prophet’s authority in Mecca after its peaceful conquest, fostered mutual understanding, and forged new bonds. In the end, it was above all this proactive mercy that spelled the death of idolatry and paganism in Mecca and throughout Arabia and prepared the way for Islam’s unparalleled triumph in the world beyond.

The Command to be Merciful

In imitation of the Prophet, Muslims are expected to be merciful, to bring good, and to seek the benefit of others — all others — not wish them harm or rejoice in the evil that befalls them. Indeed, the Tradition of Primacy promotes a doctrine of universal, all-embracing mercy. Commentators emphasize this point, clarifying that the mercy Muslims are commanded to show is not exclusively for themselves or the righteous among them.

It extends to all human beings: Jews, Christians, the believing and unbelieving, the upright and the immoral, and it goes beyond the human family to include both the animate and inanimate: birds and animals, even plants and trees. In English, “be merciful to those on earth” tends to imply human beings. Translated here as “those,” the Arabic word man is broad and inclusive. Its primary reference is to rational beings, but it includes, by secondary reference, non-rational ones also: animals, plants, and, by extension, what today would be termed the environment.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told an anecdote of a sinful man suffering from thirst one oppressively hot day who came across a well. He went down into it — (Middle Eastern wells are often open and with deep, winding staircases) — drew water, and drank. (Bukhari) When he came back up, he noticed a dog, panting from thirst and eating the clay around the well for moisture. The man said to himself: “This dog is suffering from thirst like I was.” He went down into the well a second time, filled his shoe with water, and let the dog drink. God loved the man’s humane act, showed him mercy, and forgave all his sins. When Muḥammad’s Companions heard the story, they asked: “O Messenger of God, will we be rewarded for being good to animals?” He answered: “Yes, there is reward in showing good to every living creature.” In another Tradition, the Prophet emphasized the atrociousness of merciless behavior in God’s eyes and told of a woman condemned to hell for intentionally starving a cat to death.

Mercy begins with the individual by taking care of the self physically, emotionally, and spiritually and includes exercise and diet, pursuing education, and keeping good company. It also means having a good opinion of oneself — without being arrogant or blind to one’s faults — living in constant anticipation of God’s help and mercy along with other Islamic corollaries of behavior like the categorical prohibition of suicide and despair. From the individual, concentric rings of mercy extend outward, taking in parents, spouse, children, family, neighbors, community, and the world. Part of being merciful toward others is having a good opinion of them, defending their good name, and doing whatever makes their lives better and averts harm.

The Qur’an looks upon marital life as a primary locus of mercy and, consequently, exalts the institution of marriage as one of creation’s marvels and chief proofs of God, next to the creation of the heavens and the earth and of humankind itself. Marriage is not just the basic mode of human generation, manifesting the biological continuity of divine creation, but forms the primary social nucleus of love: “Among God’s signs is his creating for you partners in marriage from yourselves so that you find happiness in them and his putting between you bonds of affection and mercy. Certainly in that there are signs for people who think.” (Sura al Rum 30:21)

The Arabic words for “affection” and “mercy” in the verse are mawadda and raḥma. Matrimonial “mercy” means that both husband and wife seek to make each other happy, desiring what is good, prosperous, and beneficial for each. It implies that each spouse treat the other honorably and that neither be content with evil or harm as the other’s lot.

Mawadda — translated above as “affection” but more frequently as “love” — precedes raḥma in the verse, implying that love is mercy’s spiritual bedrock. While Arabic has many words for love, mawadda represents a special type. One of the ninety-nine principal names of God in Arabic — Al Wadud, “the Loving” — is derived from the same linguistic root.

Mawadda does not refer to physical love but to an active, emotive love that is direct and personal, involving affectionate care and abiding attention to others’ needs. With regard to God, al Wadud (the Loving), mawadda refers to his providential care for creation and the personal bounty and protection that he grants those he loves. With regard to human interaction, both in a general and marital context — as in the above-quoted verse — mawadda refers to loving involvement in the life of another, not simply through care or concern for that person’s well-being but also by personal faithfulness, emotional support, good counsel, and a general regard for that person’s interests.

The Law of Universal Reciprocity

As discussed at the beginning of this essay and as the Traditions above concerning kindness to animals indicate, mercy — God’s signature in creation — is linked to a law of universal reciprocity: Mercy will be shown to the merciful, and it will be withdrawn from the merciless. The positive side of this universal law is reflected in the words of the Tradition of Primacy: “Be merciful to those on earth, and he who is in heaven will be merciful to you,” a lesson often repeated in the Islamic scriptures.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, taught: “Truly, God only shows mercy to those of his servants who are themselves merciful.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Here the complementary side of the law of mercy is clarified. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said elsewhere: “Whoever shows no mercy will be shown no mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim) In the same authoritative collections, we find: “God will show no mercy to those who show no mercy to humankind.”

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, warned his community: “Being merciful is only stripped away from the damned,” (Tirmidhi) implying that mercy is the natural condition of the human soul and is only stripped away and exchanged for mercilessness in people with callous, unnatural hearts that can no longer receive it. A heart that no longer has the capacity to feel mercy cannot be a receptacle of salvation either or a container of true faith; to become ruthless and void of compassion is to carry the mark of divine wrath and bear the brand of damnation and is the sure sign of an evil end.

Thus, the reciprocity inherent in the universal law of mercy embodies another dimension: the fact that mercy is linked with faith and opens the door of salvation, while mercilessness is linked with the rejection of God and invites damnation. Classical commentators explain that mercy springs from a healthy heart, one that is spiritually alive and suitable for sincere faith. Utter lack of mercy, on the other hand, reflects a heart that is spiritually dead. The implications are profound: Mercy and true belief do not cohabit hearts where hatred and the utter disregard for others reign.

Conclusion

The imperative to be merciful — to bring benefit to the world and avert harm — must underlie a Muslim’s understanding of reality and attitude toward society. Islam was not intended to create a chosen people, fostering exclusive claims for themselves, while looking down upon the rest of humanity like a sea of untouchables or regarding the animate and inanimate worlds around them as fields readied for wanton exploitation. Wherever Muslims find themselves, they are called upon to be actively and positively engaged as vanguards of mercy, welfare, and well-being.

Islam’s call to mercy should not render Muslims incapable of a wise and measured response to transgression, oppression, or injustice, which in some cases can only be checked by force. Islam is not a pacifist religion, although it commands its followers to incline toward merciful solutions and seek peace, while always remaining within dignified bounds and proper parameters consistent with Islam’s overarching doctrine of mercy. In a faith like Islam, which teaches that a person may be condemned to hell for starving a cat, it goes without saying that acts of ruthless barbarity must be rejected and never given the aura of religious sanctity.

The merciless heart abides in the spirit of the damned, while the healthy heart is instinctively humane and comprehends the pricelessness of mercy. It is to people who are not “damaged goods” but humanly intact and spiritually alive that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, directed his admonition: “Take an informed opinion (literally, fatwa) from your heart. What is good puts your self and your heart at rest. What is wrong is never fully acceptable to your self and wavers in your heart, even if people give you a different opinion (fatwa) and keep on giving it to you.” (Ahmad, Tabarani, and Darimi)


The above article was originally published by The Oasis Initiative. This edited version conforms to SHG Style and is printed with gratitude to the author and The Oasis Initiative.


The Fitra Lessons 4/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah talks about the Sibgat of Allah and how it pertains to taking on the color of Allah, which is the Fitra of Islam.

Allah Might and Majestic says in Sura al Baqara 2:138:

صِبْغَةَ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ صِبْغَةً ۖ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ

The baptism of Allah; and who is there that baptizes fairer than Allah? Him we are serving.

The word translated here as baptism: “sibgat,” connotes notions of dyeing or coloring of cloths, notions of immersion into a substance such that one takes on the coloring through and through.

The Dye of Allah

The Dyer of the cloth being Allah Most High. Allah dyes His servants in the most lasting and most beautiful of colors. This indicates that the Fitra – this coloring – is natural and that it promotes our inherent beauty in disposition and character.

The context of this verse also suggest that the baptism of the People of the Book, Jews and Christians, comes through the mediation of men. Whereas the baptism of Muslims by Allah comes to us directly from Allah.

The Fairest Stature

In Sura al Tin 95:1 Allah says:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

We indeed created Man in the fairest stature

Referencing the Fitra or our true nature. This goes against our common understanding when viewing creation through worldly eyes. The common conception, if we look through history and so on, is that man generally behaves badly. That implies, in the perspective of the Qur’an, that man generally behaves contrary to his nature.

This is an important point that one must not lose sight of. The call of Allah, the call of Revelation, is the true call for us to return to nature – primordial nature. The Fitra. It is a call to immerse ourselves in the coloring of Allah.

Allah’s call to the Truth is His call for us to truly become who we are. This is the return.


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Fitra Lessons 3/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Dr Umar expounds further on the concept of the Fitra, how it ties to the Primordial Covenant, and how natural and easy it is to believe in Allah.

“Truly, Allah will say to the person of the People of the Fire whose punishment is the lightest: ‘If you had everything that is in the Earth will you pay it as a ransom to rid yourself of this punishment?’ The disbeliever will say: ‘Yes.’ Then Allah will say: ‘But what I asked of you when you were in the loins of Adam [peace be upon him] was much lighter than this. Namely, that you not associate anything with me. Yet your refused to do anything but associate others with me.’” (Bukhari)

Faith Is Easy

What this Hadith tells us is that it is easy to be a Muslim. It is easier to believe than it is to disbelieve. The Qur’an (Sura al Haqqa 69:41) says of the disbelievers in Makkah:

قَلِيلًا مَّا تُؤْمِنُونَ

[L]ittle do you believe.

This can be understood to mean that they did not believe at all. But some commentators say that, no, it means exactly what it says. That the disbelievers believed a little bit. That they could not go beyond that because of the fact that there are consequences they fear. They might fear for their jobs, careers, friends, and so on.

Truth Rings True to Our Nature

One sees this often with people. You present the truth to them. They accept it a little bit but then think “Uh oh, I‘ve got to get rid of this because it will lead to other things.”

That is also why one of the great signs of tawfiq, of success, is when we have the courage to say that “I will follow the truth.” Yet in the end, it is easy for us to be ourselves, and to believe is to be yourselves.

Allah took the primordial covenant in Na‘man, which is Wadi ‘Arafa. That dry valley we cross upon a long bridge to go from the Haram of Makkah to ‘Arafa. All of us who assemble there by the billions go back to the place you already know.

The Mother of All Towns

You are going back to Umm al Qura: The Mother of all Towns. To the place where the primordial covenant was taken. On that day we heard Allah’s Eternal Speech (Sura al A‘raf 7:172):

أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ

Am I not your Lord?

This Eternal Uncreated Speech connected you to the Infinite Knowledge of Allah. We all heard Him speak on that day. And all that we find beautiful – the glitter of jewelry, the playing of a flute, the song of a bird – we think of it as such because it reminds us, deep down, of the words of Allah on that day. “Am I not your Lord?”

We did not just hear Allah. We saw Him, directly. One on one. Just as we will in the Garden. For the greatest reward of the Garden is to see Allah. As He says in Sura al Qiyama:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَةٌ
إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

Faces, on that Day, will be radiant
Looking at their Lord. (75:22-23)


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were originally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Fitra Lessons 2/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

The fitra when it pertains to us includes everything that is true to our nature. The human fitra, is especially great, good, and praiseworthy.

Allah says in Sura al Rum (30:30):

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [To] the fitra of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.

This verse is the verse of the Fitra of Allah. It indicates that human beings are perfectly created. Although all other creatures have fitra we do not call that the fitra of Allah. It is the greatest fitra of them all.

Allah’s masterpiece is the human being when the human being is at his or her best. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “There is no child born but that it is born [entirely] on the Fitra.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah says, in a Hadith Qudsi, “Verily I created My servants as hanifs. Then the satanic demons came to them and diverted them away from their religion. And they declared to be forbidden what I had made permissible for them. And they commanded them to associate with Me that which is not Divine, and for which no authority had been sent down.”

The basic meaning of hanif is “to incline toward the truth and away from falsehood.” All human beings were created this way. The fasiq, who inclines towards falsehood and away from the truth, is the opposite of the hanif. But Allah did not create anyone as a fasiq.

Abraham’s Nursery

On the Night Journey, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said [to the angels]: “Truly, I have some tonight something amazing. So, what is it that I have seen?” And the angels said “As for the tall man in the garden, it is Abraham, peace be upon him. As for the children around him, they are every child born that died on the fitra.” Then some of the Muslims said: “Messenger of Allah, even the children of idolators?” And he, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Even the children of idolators.” (Bukhari)

This is the nursery of Abraham, peace be upon him. It is the place where all children who die before the age of maturity go. All the children present there are described as the most beautiful of children, whether they were born of Muslims, Christians, idolators, even.

The beauty of these children indicates again the beauty of the fitra. They are manifestations of that fitra – the embodiment of it.

These children are worthy of the company of Abraham, peace be upon him, for although they did not follow him, they died on the fitra – on the primordial covenant.

The Primordial Convenant

There are many hadith on the primordial covenant. They are all commentaries on Sura al Araf (7:172-173):

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَافِلِينَ

أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ

And when thy Lord took from the children of Adam, from their loins, their progeny and made them bear witness concerning themselves, “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Indeed, we bear witness.” Lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, “Truly of this we were heedless.”

Or lest you should say, “It is only that our fathers ascribed partners unto God before us, and we were progeny after them. Will You destroy us for that which the falsifiers have done?”

The Cornerstone of Sacred History

All commentators agree that these verses are proof texts on the fitra. The vast majority of commentators take the story literally. Scholars who believe that it is literal allow others who disagreed to take it metaphorically.

The standard position on this text is to take it literally. It is a reference to the Days of Days, the primordial day – the foundation of Allah’s purpose in creation. This verse is the cornerstone of Islamic sacred history and anthropology.

It establishes that the fundamental relationship between Allah and all human beings is premised upon the simple, unmediated recognition of Allah’s Lordship that took place on this day.


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Fitra Lessons 1/4 – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Faith is natural, says Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah. It is our Fitra. Built into us, it orients us toward worship of Allah and the extent to which we conform to our fitra is the extent to which draw close to Allah.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Then I was brought a bowl of wine and bowl of milk and a bowl of honey. I chose the milk. He [Gabriel] said, ‘It is the fitra. You and your Umma are upon it.’” (Bukhari)

The Meaning of Fitra

The fitra is the natural, inborn disposition of human beings. The word fitra has the same form as words like qibla (the way you turn) or jilsa (the way you sit). Literally “the fitra” refers to the special manner in which Allah creates things. And everything Allah creates has its own fitra.

The fitra of humans is a sign of Allah’s mercy, glory, and the bounty He bestowed on us all. All human beings have fundamentally the same fitra. The particulars differ in individuals, but we all have the same potentialities.

The main feature of fitra is that knowledge of Allah is inborn. It is more precise and profound than any great theologian. There is nothing a great theologian can tell you that you cannot dig out of yourself.

The Desire to Worship

We are also born with a desire or rather a need to worship Allah as strong as the need to eat, drink, and so on. It is a drive. Humans will always worship something. This can be derailed toward worship of other things, but what is derailed is the natural disposition.

More importantly we have an inborn love of Allah. The more we love Allah the more in touch we are with our true selves. The more we love Allah the more “natural” we become, in the sense that you get closer to your inborn nature, or fitra.

Every single human being is, in Latin, homo religiosus. It is our nature. We either get good religion and become good for others, safe for others, beneficial to others. Or we get bad religion. Those who do not believe in Allah and the Hereafter create secular alternatives to religion. We see examples of this everywhere.

The Way We Are and Ought to Be

We all yearn for the Infinite and the Absolute. In absence of that we fill this need with secondary things that we idolize and worship.

The word fan originally means fanatic. The word fanatic (fanaticus/fanatica) originally means idol worshiper. The fan pours into the idol their need and quest and yearning for the absolute that cannot be there in the idol.

Finally, the fitra is everything about us that is the way it ought to be. Being called to Allah is being called to the fitra – to the way things ought to be.


Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.


The Gift of Speech And Using Our Tongues Wisely

The Prophet ﷺ  said, “The faith of God’s servants will not be right until his heart is right and his heart will not be right until his tongue is right”.
In this Friday Sermon, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah expands on this and talks about the gift of speech, and using our tongues wisely for beneficial speech.

Resources on The Gift of Speech

SpeechCover Photo by Christopher Rose

The Limits to Differences of Opinion In Islam – Dr Umar F Abd-Allah

Differences of opinion in Islam – do they harm Muslim communities or are they a source of strength and mercy? Are such discussions the domain of the knowledgeable or us laymen? What are the limits to this within the shariah?

Are you fed up of hearing, “I don’t believe in schools of thought or madhabs, I follow Islam – pure and simple!”?

Watch this captivating and enlightening explanation of differences of opinion in Islam from one of the foremost scholars of our time, Dr ‘Umar Faruq ‘Abd-Allah.


With sincere gratitute to the Beacon Foundation.

Resources on differences of opinion in Islam:

Want a deeper understanding? Take an online course with reliable, qualified scholars at the SeekersHub Academy.
Dr Umar Faruq AbdAllah on Differences of Opinion in IslamDr ‘Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (Wymann-Landgraf) is an American Muslim, born in 1948 to a Protestant family in Columbus, Nebraska. Dr. Abd-Allah did his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri with dual majors in History and English Literature. He made the Dean’s list all semesters and was nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. In 1969, he won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and entrance to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to pursue a Ph.D. program in English literature. Shortly after coming to Cornell, Dr. Abd-Allah read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which inspired him to embrace Islam in early 1970. In 1972, he altered his field of study and transferred to the University of Chicago, where he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies under Dr. Fazlur Rahman. Dr. Abd-Allah received his doctorate with honors in 1978 for a dissertation on the origins of Islamic Law, Malik’s Concept of ‘Amal in the Light of Maliki Legal Theory. From 1977 until 1982, he taught at the Universities of Windsor (Ontario), Temple, and Michigan. In 1982, he left America to teach Arabic in Spain. Two years later, he was appointed to the Department of Islamic Studies at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, where he taught (in Arabic) Islamic studies and comparative religions for the next 16 years.
During his years abroad, Dr. Abd-Allah had the privilege of studying with a number of traditional Islamic scholars. He returned to Chicago in August 2000 to work as chair and scholar-in-residence of the newly founded Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. In conjunction with this position, he is now teaching and lecturing in and around Chicago and various parts of the United States and Canada, while conducting research and writing in Islamic studies and related fields. He recently completed a biography of Mohammed Webb (d. 1916), who was one of the most significant early American converts to Islam. The book was released September 2006 under the title A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb (Oxford University Press).

Essential Islamic Aqida, with Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Dr Umar Faruq AbdAllahDr Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (Allah preserve him and grant us benefit) taught this brilliant series of classes on the essentials of Islamic aqida during a retreat in Spain.

SeekersHub teacher, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani highly recommends it.

All five parts are available below.

VIDEO GUIDE: How To Make Your Ramadan Count – Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, Dr. Umar Abd-Allah, and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ramadan advice from great luminaries of our time:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on the fiqh of fasting

Habib Umar bin Hafiz on the stations of those who love Allah

Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf on the many ways to beloved states

Dr. Umar al Faruq Abd-Allah on finding Allah through fasting

With Ramadan fast approaching, SeekersHub Global wants to aid you and your loved ones in meeting the goals of this noble month.

That’s why we’ve compiled a simple, three-step video guide on how to make the most of Ramadan.

These three steps are the keys to right guidance in any matter: knowledge, sincerity, and action.

(1) Knowledge:  Fiqh of Fasting: How to Make Your Fast Last – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

  • KnowledgeThe verses on fasting Ramadan are only four: Surat al Baqara verses 183-187. Reflect on these verses
  • The spiritual purpose of fasting is to attain imindfulness, thankfulness, and magnification of Allah which results in realization of His closeness
  • The validity of our fasts rests on abstaining from a few permissible things. It does not rest on staying away from all that is impermissible. This is a mercy from Allah Most High.

BONUS: Question & Answer Session – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

(2) Sincerity and Love : The Stations of Those Who Love Allah – Habib Umar bin HafizSincerity

  • People become enraptured in their love for creation, but as Allah Most High tells us “those who believe are more intense in their love of Allah”
  • A sign of loving Allah, and of Allah’s loving His servant, is that the servant loves the remembrance of Allah
  • We must strive to make our fasts an expression of our love of Allah

(3) Action: Finding Allah Through Fasting – Dr. Umar Abd-Allah and Seeking Allah: The Many Ways to Beloved States – Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

  • Action We were created to worship God through acts such as fasting
  • We must prioritize our acts of worship according to the Divine command. Obligatory acts come first
  • Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) have told us what leads to the love of Allah — of actions, words, and states
  • We should strive in this month to leave sin, and inculcate virtue

 Finding Allah Through Fasting – Dr. Umar al-Faruq Abd-Allah

Seeking Allah: The Many Ways to Beloved States – Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

ACT NOW: Join our #SpreadLight campaign: Can we reach one million students? Help SeekersHub Global #SpreadLight: support us through your generous Ramadan donation: become a monthly supporter; or give one-time support — or give your zakat through SeekersHub, to support needy and deserving scholars and students of knowledge.