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Students of Knowledge Stepping Into The Spotlight Before Their Time

One of the biggest mistakes students of knowledge make – including myself – when embarking on the path of traditional study is to remain plugged into the internet and social media, writes Ustadh Salman Younas.

Whether it is having debates on forums, writing lengthy Facebook posts, coming up with catchy tweets, or posting pictures of your student adventures on Instagram, the base assumption that every student (actually, every person) should have is that these are largely ways to aggrandize the self (nafs) whether one realizes this or not.

A Destructive Distraction

Spiritually, it is destructive for a student. From the perspective of ilm-seeking, it corrupts intentions and distracts a student from the higher aims of seeking knowledge: God. There is an element of putting oneself out there and assuming a role before one is actually ready to step into the spotlight. There are indications that one feels his opinion counts and needs to be spread (if you pass a glance at how many shares your post got, you know you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons).

There is a hidden desire that perhaps people should follow me – the layman taking the hand of the learned. Often times, there is argumentation, sometimes ill-will developed towards others, and the construction of a false image for the public. The consequence of this is summed up in a famous legal maxim:

“Whoever rushes something before its time is punished by being prevented from attaining it.”

If you are a beginner student, stick to studying and worship. Don’t waste the opportunity God gave you by occupying a station that He did not place you in.

This is a problem of my generation. Go look at our elders, such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Shaykh Hamza, Imam Zaid, Habib Umar, Mufti Taqi, and others. How many of them were putting themselves out while still students? None of them. They waited. They focused their attention on what they needed to do – on seeking knowledge for the sake of God. They understood the statement of Ibn Ata’illah:

“Bury your existence in the earth of obscurity. If something sprouts before it is buried, its fruits will never ripen.”

They took counsel from their teachers. They rectified themselves spiritually in addition to gaining knowledge of the outward. And God eventually opened the door of scholarship and spreading knowledge for them… and how beneficial was it when it was opened at the time He desired and not when they desired it.

Resources for seekers

 

Day 18: Break Your Ego–30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 18: Break Your Ego

Allah is the All-Powerful, All-Near. We know this and believe this. However, we know that there is a veil between us and Him. That veil is our nafs, our ego and lower self. One of the scholars said, “One nafs is worse than seventy devils.” This is more apparent in Ramadan, where we know that the devils are chained, but we are still having problems.

This Ramadan, try to do something to overcome your ego. It could be forcing yourself to seek advice from someone you don’t like, or offering extra prayers. After all, the path of struggle is the path of love.


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

What Is the Best Way to Put the Ego in Check? (Habib Umar bin Hafiz)

Answered by  Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Question: Assalam aleykum

What is the best way to attain beneficial knowledge in such a way that puts the ego in check?

Answer: [Assalam alaykum]

Seeking Knowledge With Excellence

The best way to attain beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check is: sincere focus, with humility, attentive listening, and concentration upon what is imparted to one, of the words of Allah or the words of the Chosen One (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk), assuming you find a teacher who is a “possessor of heart,” i.e. one who imparts this knowledge from his heart and soul.

Connecting to the Inheritors of Prophetic Guidance

This, along with connecting oneself to a chain of transmission that goes back to the Prophet and observing good manners, is the way we are familiar with from the Successors of the Companions (tabi’in), those who followed them, and those who followed them, until this day and age.

Knowledge is the Prayer of the Soul

For knowledge is not perfected with caprice or pride. Nor is the reality of knowledge acquired by studying, “so and so said”, or mastering legal scenarios. It is rather acquired through sincerity to the Most Great and Most High, and through approaching this endeavor with veneration, love, and longing to draw close to Allah (Mighty and Majestic) thereby, while also connecting one’s self to a chain of transmission to the Chosen One, Muhammad (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk). This is indeed the way to acquire beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check and elevates it to high stations.

Translated by: Abdullah Alrajhy.

Habib Umar bin Hafiz  is a descendant of the Prophet (upon him be Allah’s peace and blessings). Born into a family of scholars, Habib Umar, pursued the sacred sciences from a young age, including Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, ‘Aqeedah, Arabic, and Spirituality. In 1994, he established Dar al-Mustafa, an educational institute in Tarim, Yemem.

Link to the original answer

ما هو الطريق الأمثل للوصول إلى العلم النافع الرادع للنفس ؟

الطريق الأمثل للوصول إلى العلم النافع الرادع للنفس هو: إقبال صادق، بتذلل، وحسن إصغاء، واجتماع قلبٍ على ما يُلقى من كلام الله وكلام رسوله المصطفى محمد صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله؛ إذا وجدت من يلقيه. وهو صاحب قلب يلقي ذلك العلم من قلبه، ويلقي ذلك العلم من فؤاده. والاتصال بسند العلم إلى النبي محمد مع حسن الأدب هو الطريق التي عرفناها في التابعين وتابعي التابعين وتابعي تابعي التابعين من خيار الأمة إلى عصرنا هذا، وإلى وقتنا هذا. فإن العلم لا يتفق مع هوى ولا مع تكبر، ولا تتحصل حقيقة العلم بالقيل والقال ولا بتصوُّر المسائل، ولكن بالإخلاص للكبير المتعال، وأخذِ الأمر بالتعظيم وبالمحبة وبالشوق إلى القرب من الله تعالى، مع الاتصال بهذا السند إلى المصطفى محمد؛ هو الطريق التي يحصل بها العلم النافع الذي يردع النفس ويأخذ بها إلى العلو

What Is the Difference Between Waswasa and Ego? [Video]

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

What is the difference between waswasa and ego?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

True Hunger vs. The Greed of Our Stomachs, by Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa

Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa explains the meaning of true hunger where your body is truly calling for food rather than being driven by your desires.

Resources for seekers

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How To Avoid Being A "Know-It-All", by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

You should be involved in Islamic learning, argues Shaykh Shuaib Ally. A large reason for that involves a trait that, when lacking, cripples a person’s ability to develop their knowledge base: intellectual humility.

A lack of intellectual humility manifests itself, in discussions related to the Islamic sciences, in various forms. A common expression is for me to arrive at a certain opinion, say, related to a legal matter. I then imagine that I alone understand what the ruling ought to be, and that none others hold a correct view.
However, it is unlikely that my opinion finds no precedent whatsoever in an academic history that spans over 1400 odd years and large swathes of the globe. Such a belief instead derives from my misguided belief in the unique and special nature of my own outlook.
It would be bad enough if this were the lone result of this form of intellectual arrogance. Worse is the nefarious corollary of such a belief, my belief that the fact this unique understanding is not being currently championed must be due to one of two reasons.
One is that the vast majority of scholars are being academically dishonest and are hiding what is the correct opinion for their own ends. The other is that it really is the fact that the understanding I have arrived at has no precedent whatsoever in the inherited tradition. I then take this to be demonstrative of the fact that established scholarship has nothing serious to offer.
This is, of course, wrongheaded.
It is unlikely that there is some sort of conspiracy to cover up aspects of scholarship in Islamic history; in fact, scholarly works are quite good at recording non-mainstream opinions, if for no other reason than academic curiosity. It is simply more likely that scholars have chosen another opinion for other reasons, and that is the one that people are most familiar with.
Moreover, my being unaware of a certain opinion within a body of scholarship hardly indicates that the community of scholarship itself is somehow compromised. More often than not, it simply reflects a gap in my own knowledge base. That is, it says more about me than about the discipline I am considering defective.
In this regard, the late 3rd C Shāfiʿī jurist poet, Mansūr b. Ismāʿīl al-Tamīmī, recited:

Those of diminished intellect critique the study of law
Yet their blame does not affect it in the least
The morning sun rising in the horizon remains unharmed
By those without sight remaining oblivious to its light

Let me give you an example. Imagine I believe that astronomical calculations should be used in lieu of naked eye sightings to determine the beginning and end of months in the lunar calendar. I could have very good reasons for arguing this. Classical scholars, I might argue, worked in a medieval period in which the sciences were not as developed, and therefore did not consider astronomical calculations as possible. I might go on to argue that in the modern age, we have precise methods of measurement, and that this should allow for the formulation of new rulings.
This would be an example of intellectual arrogance because classical works do consider astronomical calculations being used for this purpose; these discussions are alluded to in even fairly elementary works of law. When I make such a claim, I am arrogantly making claims about the absence of a discussion in a certain literature, betraying my lack of knowledge of preceding discussion.
My viewing scholars at large with suspicion, and believing them to be unwilling to entertain this discussion, would likewise be intellectually arrogant. This is because they are skirting an issue; they have simply chosen another opinion for other reasons.
The intellectual arrogance here is born out of a misguided sense of my own academic breadth. This arrogance is criticized famously by Abu Nuwas, the 2nd C Abbasid poet famous for the licentious content of his work, who recited:

Say to one who claims a special understanding:
You have gathered a little bit, but even more escapes you!

This lack of knowledge is therefore exacerbated by my lack of intellectual humility. Had I bothered to engage in the disciplines that purport to deal with the subject matter under consideration, I might have found at the very least a suitable starting point for their research.
However, rejecting at the outset anything a scholarly class busies itself with as having little intellectual worth has necessarily restricted me from benefiting from it. Due diligence demands being thorough in researching my claims prior to making them, but my preconceived notions about the undeveloped nature of the Islamic disciplines have led me to bypass that.
These preconceived notions are often coupled by an actual inability to access scholarly discussions on a given subject. That is, intellectual arrogance has blocked me from acquiring the requisite knowledge of the Islamic disciplines, primary or supporting, such that I can actually engage the textual tradition on the issues I purports to have special knowledge of. Indeed, there is often a correlation between lack of learning and intellectual arrogance.


A lack of intellectual humility can also express itself in my conception of others and their practice. Part of intellectual humility is understanding that while I believe and act in a certain manner, others may have good reason for doing or believing something that is at odds with this. Intellectual humility demands coming to terms with this, even if I do not understand the reason for others choosing another course, or even if I have never come across the rationale underlying their chosen course.
When I am intellectually arrogant, however, I am unable to do this. Instead, I presumptuously think that knowledge begins and ends only with what I myself has come across and understand.This allows me to pompously insist on my own position at all costs, assuming it to be the only correct position. It also allows me to judge others, believing their positions to be inadequate without having actually assessed their merit, and rejecting from the outset anything they could have to say in response as having intellectual worth.
Rejecting something simply because it is unfamiliar is, however, behaviour the Qurʾan criticizes as unbecoming. Imam al- Qurtubī, the famous 7th C Andalusian exegete, mentions that al-Husayn b. al-Fadl, a 3rd C Nishapuri exegete, was asked, Does the Qur’an contain the idea that whoever is ignorant of something opposes it? He said: Yes, in two places: They disbelieve in anything their own knowledge does not encompass (10:39); and If they have not been guided to something, they say, this is an ancient lie (46:11).


Another form of intellectual arrogance can manifest itself when I have acquired some knowledge, and suddenly consider myself intellectually superior to all others, even those who are far above me in their level of scholarship, including my own teachers. Al-Jāhiz, the 3rd C Abbasid polymath, recited these famous lines from the perspective of a teacher complaining of such a situation:

How curious, the one I reared from childhood; I would feed with the tips of my fingers
I taught him to shoot; when his arms became strong, he fired at me
How often I trained him in verse; when he began to recite, he attacked me
I taught him manliness, daily; when his mustache began to grow, he abandoned me
When I act in such a manner, I become the instantiation of the warning that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, as it has contributed to my inflated sense of worth, instead of increasing my humility.

 


The good news is that the cure to intellectual arrogance is fairly straightforward. It is to actually engage in sincere learning. This is why I think you should engage in Islamic learning.
The bad news is that doing so isn’t particularly easy, in that it is much easier to simply be pompous. Acquiring real knowledge takes work.
There is an indication of this difficulty in that the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him – said that whoever embarks upon a path of knowledge, God facilitates for them a path to Paradise.
He does this, scholars say, in two ways. One is worldly, in that he makes it easy for them to do good, and difficult for them to do otherwise. The second is a reference to the afterlife, in that he facilitates for them their crossing of the bridge to Paradise, a task otherwise fraught with difficulty.
There is a general principle when it comes to how reward and punishment is meted out for a specific action; it tends to be commensurate, or similar in kind, to a person’s action, good or bad. This is encapsulated in the maxim: actions are rewarded in kind.
In the case of our knowledge seeker, he has undertaken what is actually an onerous task – knowledge seeking can require, beyond cost, countless hours of attending classes, listening to lectures, recording and reviewing notes, and putting up with teachers with different personalities and teaching methodologies that may not accord with his own.
All of this is near impossible for the intellectually arrogant, as he cannot see why he needs to humiliate himself before knowledge in this manner. But for one who does take it upon himself to traverse this difficult path, they are rewarded in kind, in that God facilitates for them what would have otherwise been an intractable journey.


It has been said that whoever has not tasted the humility of learning for a short time, tastes the bitterness of ignorance for a lifetime. That is, humbling oneself to a sincere knowledge quest can serve to quell many of the pitfalls that come with being intellectually arrogant.
One who does so sincerely will become aware of the kinds of discussions that scholars are engaged in, their range and extent, and the methods they employ to reach their conclusions. A large part of this is because engaging sincerely will provide one with the tools to properly participate in scholarly discussions.
Being apprised of this intellectual heritage protects one from thinking that an entire tradition is undeveloped in that it has little to offer. This awareness also prevents one from viewing the scholarly community with disdain or suspicion, even if one disagrees with their conclusions.
The knowledge that one gains will allow one to develop their intellectual humility in other ways too. At the personal level, it allows one to realize the contours of their own knowledge base; that is, an awareness of what they know and how that roughly fits into the available body of knowledge. For the vast majority of people, this is a humbling experience, as one realizes the limited nature of their grasp, even after years of study.
At a larger level, this humility forces a certain level of tolerance for others’ beliefs and practice, as one no longer pompously believes themselves to have an exclusive grasp of truth in the Islamic tradition. Such a person no longer has the internal urge to object to what others are doing or saying, as he knows that there can be schools of thought or credible scholarship that holds as such. This is why many scholars say: the more one’s knowledge grows, the more his objections diminish.


This is – to finally get to the point – why I think you should be involved in Islamic learning. Aside from the normal reasons for pursuing what is generally considered ‘religious’ knowledge – which are themselves good enough – doing so will allow one to pursue this special knowledge related virtue, that of cultivating intellectual humility.
A community that demonstrates knowledge related virtues, premier among them being a healthy dose of intellectual humility, is the kind of knowledge community we want to build. This is the kind of community that, aside from simply being engaged with knowledge, can build a native tradition of scholarship.
This is because its collective intellectual humility and academic integrity has allowed for the raising of intellectual discourse across the community, beyond the clamor of theories divorced from preceding scholarship and the vague insinuations that often pose as informed comment in popular discourse today.
I want you to be part of this building process, even if in a small way.
It is difficult to approach a knowledge quest sincerely. Yet I encourage you to approach it as sincerely as you can, and pray that your sincerity, even if somehow currently compromised, is perfected over time. Some past scholars used to say, musing on their intentions becoming corrected over time: we started out seeking knowledge for reasons other than God, yet it refused in the end to be for any cause other than God.
The method for participating in this process is up to you; it can and should involve a number of different options. These include attending classes on the ground with those who do embody intellectual humility; taking online courses (such as those offered through Seekershub), listening to lectures, and reading widely.
We don’t lack for resources in learning. We do lack for commitment to learning, a problem that derives largely from arrogance of the intellect.
This is why, in a roundabout way, I think you should involve yourself in sincere Islamic learning.

[cwa id=’cta’]

Perform An Act To Break Your Ego (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Perform An Act To Break Your Ego, by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

 

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Photo credit: Matthew G

Day 19 in a Nutshell – Fighting The Hellish Fires Within Us, #YourRamadanHub Xtra

Fighting The Hellish Fires Within Us - Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
If you missed the livestream of the extraordinary short talks by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, you can listen to them in full on the SeekersHub podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe for automatic updates. If you could take a moment to rate the podcast and leave a review, we’d really appreciate it! In the meantime, we present you with #YourRamadanHub Xtra – the best of the day’s events in a nutshell, with Abdul-Rehman Malik and his guest, Bilal Muhammad.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Day 13 In A Nutshell – Weed The Garden of Your Ego, #YourRamadanHub Xtra

If you missed the livestream of the two extraordinary short talks Shaykh Walead Mosaad gave, you can listen to them in full on the SeekersHub podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe for automatic updates. If you could take a moment to rate the podcast and leave a review, we’d really appreciate it! In the meantime, we present you with #YourRamadanHub Xtra – the best of the day’s events in a nutshell.

 

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

POEM: Seven Nufus Were On The Loose, by Novid Shaid

Seven nufus were on the loose
One day from Ramadan
They met in Sousse for some couscous
Before the maghrib azaan.
The first, a rioter, the sin-inciter,
The crazy imp, Ammara.
The second ilk, ridden with guilt,
Reproachful soul, Lowwaama.
The third, on fire, with love inspired
The stirring one, Mulhama.
The fourth, serene, like mountain streams,
The earnest, Mutmainna.
The fifth, contented, with perfume scented,
The honourable, Raadiyya.
The sixth, found-pleasing, the love unceasing,
The gracious one, Mardiyya.
The seventh, perfect, from the elect,
The wondrous, Kamila.
As they met and sat then began their chat,
Awaiting their great couscous,
Ammara cursed like the devil’s nurse
His face twisted with disgust:
“This Ramadan; it does me harm,
I really can’t be bothered!
One whole month, down in the dumps,
Pleasures are banned; O brother!”
“I’ll try my best to pass this test,”
Lamented poor Lowwaama,
“I find it hard to stay on guard
I wish I was a llama!”
“I can not wait to taste a date
At the end of each day’s fasting
A blessed time will here arrive,”
Mulhama said, forecasting.
“Enjoy the food, enjoy the mood,”
Exulted Mutmainna,
“Be pleased with fasting, grace everlasting
Purifying the sinner.”
“I am contented with this unprecedented
Occurrence of Divine favour
Each year unique, with special mystique
I love Ramadan,” Said Raadiyya.
“I am most pleased with His decrees,”
Celebrated Mardiyya,
“We are so blessed, with Ramadan our guest
It’s sustenance from our Sharia.”
“Come join me brothers! Let’s rediscover
Our origins in Ramadan,
We’re nothing but meanings, which is He conceiving,”
Said Kamila, so captivating and so calm.
“Don’t give me drama!” argued Ammara
“I ain’t missing out this month, mate!
X-Men will be on, the Euros are on
And a girl has asked me out on a date!
You keep up your fasting, I’ll keep flabbergasting
the ladies with my exhilaration
I ain’t got the time for things so sublime
Ramadan is a scourge on my reputation!”
Lowwama got haughty: “you are such a naughty!
Haven’t you got any shame?
I don’t find it easy; I find fasting queasy
But I’ll still have a go all the same.”
A smile had arrived upon the other five
Who sat eating their couscous so gently
“Ammara, we’ll guide you, Lowwama we’ll help you
Ramadan will fill you with plenty.
If you listen to us; follow without a fuss
Allah will make you His familiar
In just a brief moment, His works are so potent,
Ammara can become Kamila.
We are seven nufus, we’re all on the loose
And our gathering here was intentional
The prince and the pauper, the sinner and scholar
Ramadan equalises our potential.
We are seven positions, in the Quran we are mentioned,
The seven degrees of the soul
Allah bless Al Shabrawi, wise as the Kalahari,
The author, the crown of the poles.”

Novid Shaid

This poem was influenced by the following work, Degrees of the Soul by Shaykh Abdul Khaliq Al Shabrawi, translated by Dr Mostafa Al Badawi. 
Nufus. Plural Noun, egos/selves/souls