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Friendship between a Boy and a Girl

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil answers questions about friendship before marriage.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

Months ago, I met a brother in a seminar. We kept in contact and built a friendship with a lot of respect. A few days ago, I asked him how he would react if his sister had contact to a strange guy he doesn’t know. He thought about the question and suggested to break off. (We have written over WhatsApp.) We both are Muslims and he understood it and showed respect to me and my family. But we promised to stay cool if we’re going to see us again.

Now my problem is, since this happened, I feel broken. I feel pain inside me. But it isn’t just because of him. I’m really under stress and feel that it wasn’t the right time to ask him this question even though it’s Islamically right. I’ve lost a good friend. I want to write him again but I don’t understand why it’s Islamically incorrect. I want to have a clear explanation. I’m aware of the relationship between men and women. But I need him right now as my friend. And thinking a lot of Islam makes me just more sad.

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

Friendship between Opposite Genders

Dear sister, I am sorry for your heartbreak. Please know that you have done what is pleasing to Allah, even if it hurts.

For a clear explanation, I encourage you to read this answer by Shaykha Zaynab Ansari: Can a Young Man and Woman be Platonic Friends?

Emotional Regulation

Because you are in pain, I encourage you to treat yourself with love and compassion. Soothe yourself through the different aspects of your being – the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. You know yourself best, so write down the different things you can do for yourself, every hour, every day, until you feel more balanced.

I have some suggestions for you, to help you get started.

Spiritual Self-care

  1. Do everything in your power to have a good opinion of your Merciful Lord.
  2. Guard your obligatory prayers, and strive to perform them mindfully.
  3. Wake up in the last third of the night, even if it is 5-10 minutes before the entry of Fajr and pour out your sorrow to Allah.
  4. Perform the Prayer of Need as often as you need to.
  5. Read these duas as often as you need to: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

Mental Self-care

  1. Write down your troubling thoughts so you can see them in front of you.
  2. Investigate your beliefs, which have often been installed from childhood. Do you believe that the world is a safe place? Do you believe that you are more than enough, as you are? Do you believe that Allah is there for you?

Emotional Well-Being

  1. Journal about how you feel, allow yourself to feel those strong emotions, and let them go. Remind yourself that feelings are signals, but not fact.
  2. Reach out to close family and female friends.
  3. Listen to guided meditations on apps such as Calm and Headspace.
  4. Store your worry on apps such as Worry Box.

Physical Well-being

  1. Walk every day.
  2. Ground yourself in nature.
  3. Strengthen and relax your body through pilates and/or yoga.

Possibility of marriage

Please know that we are all hard-wired for connection. Allah has set loving limits on gender interaction because He knows our easily we can fall. If you feel so strongly about this young man, and feel ready, could marriage be something to explore? Do speak to your parents first, if you think that could be the case. It is far better to have them on board, from the beginning.

Also, please remember that marriage is another big shift. It is not a silver bullet that will heal all of your pain.

In any case, I encourage you to prepare for marriage through empowering yourself with knowledge through this course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages and reading this book Before You Tie The Knot.

I pray this has been helpful. May Allah ease your heartache, and gift you with a husband who is your dearest friend and your companion on the path to Jannat al-Firdaws.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

What Are the Signs of True Love for the Sake of Allah Between Brethren?

Answered by Habib Umar bin Hafidh

Question: Assalam alaikum

What are the signs of true love for the sake of Allah between brethren in Islam?

Answer:Assalam’aleykum,

Signs of true love

Signs of true love for the sake of Allah between brethren in Islam are:

-Cooperation in obeying Allah
-Competing with each other to please Allah
-Adhering to the Prophetic way in worship and gatherings and
-Exhibiting pure and noble character

Thus, every love that is not based on the cooperation in obeying Allah, is not for the sake of Allah.

Love for other motives

And every love that is motivated by other than seeking the pleasure of Allah, such that it is mixed with other motives – large or small – the loss of which leads to a weakening of that love, then that is a sign that it is not for the sake of Allah, the Blessed and Exalted.

The sign that the love is for the sake of Allah, is to be elevated above ulterior motives and lowly aims and to be based on cooperation in obeying Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, and to gain nearness to Him.

Translated by Lama Saud AlKhathlan

Habib Umar bin Hafidh 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.

ما هي علامات صدق المحبة في الله بين الأخوة في الله؟

علامات صدق الحبة في الله بين الإخوة في الله :تعاونهم على طاعة الله وتسابقهم إلى مرضاة الله، والتزامهم في صِلاتهم ولقاءاتهم بالآداب النبوية ، والأخلاق الشريفة الطاهرة ، فكل محبة لا تقوم على أساس التعاون على طاعة الله فما هي في لله ، وكل محبة يكون الدافع إليها غير إرادة وجه الله تبارك وتعالى بأن يحب المرء لا يحبه إلا لله فينتصب له غرض يصغر أو يكبر، عند فقده يحس بفقد المحبة أو ضعفها فذلك دليل على أنها ليست في الله ولا لله تبارك وتعالى ، وعلامة أنها لله أن تتنزه عن حيازة الأغراض والمقاصد الدنيئة وأن تقوم على أساس الطاعة للحق تبارك وتعالى والتقرب إليه .

Inheriting our Legacy from the Prophet of Love ﷺ, by Shaykh Babikir Ahmad Babikir

Many of us display “good Muslim” image in public, while maintaining the “real me” in private. This indicates a lack of connection to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as Shaykh Babikir Ahmad Babikir says.

In this inspiring talk, Shaykh Babikir reminds us of how we have decentralized the idea of love from religion, turning it leading us to lose out on our inheritance from the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We begin to perform our acts of worship as publicized rituals, fraying the connection between us and our Lord. Listen to him discuss how using our inheritance of love can heal us.

Want to learn more? Click here to enroll in SeekersHub’s Free online course about the life on the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Resources for Seekers

 

Our thanks to the Cambridge University Islamic Society for this recording. Cover photo by Amelie Lelarge.

I Did Something to Hurt My Friend in the Past. Should I Tell Her?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I did something to hurt my friend in the past, when we weren’t in contact. Now we’re friends again, and I feel so guilty. Should I tell her what I did?

Answer:Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking out a solution for your dilemma.

Moving forward

Allah Most High says: “Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” [Qur’an, 13:28]

There is no need for you to disclose what you did to your friend. Rather, do everything in your power to rectify and heal your friendship. Give her gifts, make dua for her, and be of service to her.

Additionally, please increase your acts of worship – guard your prayers, increase in recitation of Qur’an, give in charity, and be of service to others.

The beauty of repentance is that your slate is wiped clean. Don’t let shaytan trick you into despair. When you are struck with feelings of guilt, immediately make dua for Allah to forgive you, and to settle your heart. He is the Turner of hearts, and only He can lift your sadness. I pray that He eases your sorrow, and replaces it with tranquility.

Please see:

Is It Permissible to Lie In Order to Conceal Past Sins?
A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Asim Bharwani

“On Friendship, Brotherhood and Companionship” now online

There are spiritual advantages to our friendship. Alone we may fall prey to depression, loneliness, or temptation, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks explains in the latest installment of the Travelling Light series.

Shaykh Seraj’s exposition of Imam Ghazali’s Book 14 of the Ihya Ulum al-Din, On the Halal and Haram is now online, thanks to Classes | Travelling Light.

Human beings benefit from companionship, and the company that we keep is extremely important. Shaykh Seraj discusses the importance of fellowship for the spiritual wayfarer in the words of Imam Ghazali.

For more Travelling Light videos, please visit Nursari.

Want to develop your understanding of good character and concern for others? Try taking a FREE online course, such as The Prophetic Call: Imam Haddad’s Counsel on Calling to Allah Explained, taught by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Canada’s first full-time Muslim university chaplain.

Resources for Seekers

Cover photo by Craig Sunter.

Is It My Duty to Distance Myself From My Friend Who Committed Zina?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: By accident, I found out that my close unmarried friend was having intercourse. I confronted her about the sin, to which she nervously denied. Do I still continue to be friends with her, or is it my duty to disassociate from her influence?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking out clarity on this issue.

Friendship

Narrated Jarir bin `Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.” [Bukhari]

As your friend has fallen into zina, I urge that you approach her from place of sincere concern, and not one of judgement. Ask yourself what you would like from a friend, if you were in her situation. Falling into major sin does not happen overnight. It is often a slow progression resulting from increasing distance from Allah.

If you feel that your presence in her life will remind her of Allah and give her hope in His Mercy, then please stay friends with her. If you feel that she is negatively impacting your relationship with Allah, then distance yourself from her. Weigh the pros and cons. Be honest with yourself.

Istikhara

If you are unsure about how to proceed, please perform The Prayer of Guidance and ask Allah to guide you to what is best. Watch how events unfold in your life. If it becomes difficult to maintain a friendship with her, then that is better for you. If it becomes easier to maintain a friendship with her, then that is better for you.

Time

If you choose to stay friends with her, please give your friend time to make good on her Islam. Support her in acts of khayr e.g. encourage her to join you in attending Islamic classes and other places of good, break fast at each other’s homes during Ramadan etc. Do what you can to support her, while guarding your own acts of worship. Do your best while remembering that only Allah can guide.

Dua

I encourage you to make dua for your friend, even if you choose to end your friendship.

I pray that Allah guides her, protects you, and reunites you both in Jannah.

Please refer to the following links:

How Can I Help Non-Practising Family and Friends?
I Committed Sexual Misdeeds: What Must I Do to Repent?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Can I Attend My Nephew’s First Birthday Party When There Is Alcohol Being Served?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: My non-Muslim family often have events where alcohol is the main feature of parties and get togethers. Most recently my brother is having a first birthday party for his son with alcohol on tap.

What should I do? We are often put down for our beliefs and feel like outsiders.

Answer:Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking out an answer which pleases Allah, and heal the rifts within your family.

Non-Muslim family

This is delicate situation. A gathering in which alcohol is present is not a place for a believer. However, they remain your family, and it is important to keep family ties in a manner which pleases Allah.

I would suggest that you apologise and explain that you are not comfortable being at events where alcohol is served. Instead of attending your nephew’s first birthday party, offer to take them all out for a meal, or a picnic at a park. Provide an alternative setting for them to enjoy your company. Be steadfast on this, and ask Allah to grant them understanding.

Boundaries

Boundaries are important in facilitating harmonious family ties. Make it known to them, calmly and respectfully, that you do not expect them to agree with your religious beliefs, but you do expect them to treat your Muslim family with basic respect.

If you do not stand up to them respectfully, they will continue to think it is acceptable to put all of you down. Your dignity as a believer is sacred. Be an example for your children to follow. Being assertive takes practice, and if you need to, see a counsellor, life coach or psychologist to help you.

Good character

‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb reported from his grandfather that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Shall I tell you about who among you I love the most and the one who will be seated closest to me on the Day of Rising?” The people were silent, so he repeated that two or three times. Then the people said, “Yes, Messenger of Allah.” He said, “The one among you with the best character.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

As challenging as it can be with your non-Muslim family, try your best to have good character when you are with them. Treat them with kindness, be patient with their shortcomings and make dua for Allah to guide them. The wheel of life is constantly turning, and it is not difficult for Allah to guide your entire family, if He wills.

Be assertive when you need to be, and always follow it up with acts of love and kindness. InshaAllah, through your patience with your family, your heart is being constantly polished. May your interaction with your family grant you a heart which pleases Allah, on the Day you meet Him.

Please refer to the following links:

Is Christmas Haram? Being Muslim in a Non-Muslim Family
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Joey Gannon

A Sufi & A Salafi – Love, Warmth and Friendship is Possible

Ustadh Abdul Aziz Suraqa (right) reflects on how small acts of kindness some 20 years ago has had a profound effect on his life.

After nearly twenty years, Allah blessed me to visit and spend time with my former neighbor and dear brother, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, at the Toronto airport as he and his family were making their way back to the U.S.

He Saved My Life

Many of you know Shaykh Muhammad Mendes as a dynamic teacher and active member of the Muslim community in North America. What you do not know about Shaykh Muhammad is that he saved my life. Yes, that’s right. He saved my life. That might seem an exaggeration but it is true. He doesn’t know that so let me share a story with you all.
As a young Salafi in 1997, I moved to Columbus, Ohio and took a job as an apprentice electrician. One of the radiant, smiling faces in the masjid down the road from my apartment was none other than Shaykh Muhammad Mendes, who at the time was a University student. It turned out that we were neighbors on the same street. Shaykh Muhammad invited me to his home, fed me, sat with me, and spent time talking with me. Walking into his humble apartment was like walking into a different world–at least to me at the time. Books in Arabic and English filled his apartment–works from Islam’s greatest minds and spiritual masters, works from authors I never heard of un til visiting his home: authors like Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, Shehu ‘Uthman Dan Fodio, Shaykh Ahmad Bamba, Ibn ‘Ata’illah, just to name a few.

The Islam I Had Been Taught

The Islam I had been taught at the time condemned following schools of Islamic law, and here was Shaykh Muhammad Mendes, the first person I met who followed a school of law (Maliki) and had the ability to rationally and textually explain why it is legitimate and necessary , especially if one is study Islam’s vast legal tradition. I should add that when Shaykh Muhammad and I would spend time together in the masjid or in his home, it was not for the purpose of debating each other.
The Islam I had been taught at the time condemned Sufism (tazkiya, ihsan—Islam’s spiritual tradition)
as an aberration, and here was Shaykh Muhammad Mendes who patiently explained what Sufism was and wasn’t and allowed me to borrow many, many of his books. There I was, a Salafi youth secretly reading Imam al-Ghazali, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Shaykh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio, etc., and benefiting from them and enjoying their works.

Dignity, Warmth, Concern & Love

I was a Salafi and Shaykh Muhammad Mendes was not. We had lively discussions and disagreements, but never once did he argue, raise his voice, use harsh language, or make me feel like less than his brother in Islam. Even in our disagreements he exuded dignity and warmth and showed real concern and love. If we disagreed over something he would explain his position and I would explain mine—over tea and a smile.
Some time later I traveled to Yemen to further my study of Islam, and Shaykh Muhammad Men
des traveled to Syria (and elsewhere), and we lost touch with one another. I later learned that we were both in Morocco and Mauritania around the same time but never crossed paths.

So How Did He Save My Life?

In 2003-2004 I experienced something of an existential, Ghazalian spiritual crisis; the Islam I had practiced and studied was, for the most part, dry and unable to quench the thirst of my soul to know Allah and have a deep spiritual connection with Him. Prayer, once a joyous experience, had became a series of outward motions; something to be completed and out of the way.

“My passions kept me chained in place, while the herald of faith cried, ‘Take to the road! Take to the road! Life is brief, the journey is long. Knowledge ad deeds are nothing but mere outward appearance and illusion. If you are not ready at this very moment for the life to come when will you be ready? And if now you do not break your moorings, when will you break away?’ At that moment, I felt impelled to go; my decision to depart and escape would be made….'” —Imam al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error

The path I was on took me to a dead end. Something had to be done. I took a job teaching English in an extremely remote corner of Europe and kept to myself: lots of time to reflect, take long walks in the forest; lots of time to wrestle with my own struggles and flaws.

Seeds Upon Seeds That Grew Many Years Later

In those difficult days and nights , for some inexplicable reason, my mind and heart kept returning to the memories of the times Shaykh Muhammad Mendes and I had spent together years before . The memories of the warmth and beauty of his character , his optimism, his good opinion of others —these memories inspired me to climb out of the pit I dug for myself . Of course, getting out of that pit required much more than just pleasant memories (that’s a story for another day), but without a doubt it was the time with Shaykh Muhammad Mendes in 1997 that planted seeds upon seeds that grew five or six years later.
I consider Shaykh Muhammad Mendes as such, “and we do not exonerate anyone above Allah ”
(نحسبه كذالك ولا نزكي على الله أحداً). Never underestimate the power of simple, unpretentious warmth of character with those around you. You never know, it might be a seed that Allah causes to grow much later in the person’s life. May Allah preserve Shaykh Muhammad Mendes and give him light upon light and reward him on behalf of those seeds planted in 19 97. Amin.

Resources for seekers

Cover photo: USDA

How Can I Overcome Loneliness and Make Friends?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: How can I overcome loneliness? Does Islam allow us to make friends and spend time with them? Is there any supplication to get new friends?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah lift your loneliness and grant you the gift of good companions.

Friendship

Good friends are an important part of being a balanced Muslim. Please refer to What Are the Qualities of a Friend? by Ustadh Tabraze Azam to help you better understand friendship in Islam. Please also read Bringing Barakah Into Your Wealth and Life by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra.

Solutions

Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, and ask Allah to cure your loneliness, send you good friends, and whatever else you wish. In addition to prayer and dua, please also take proactive steps in seeking out good company. Is there a community service program you can participate in? Is there a local circle of knowledge you can attend?One can often find good people at good places.

Please refer to the following links:

Dealing With Depression Caused by Unemployment and Loneliness
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Trey Ratcliff

On Unspoken Love And Friendship – Nader Khan

I’d first read Imam Ghazali‬‘s Duties of Brotherhood in Islam, translated by Muhtar Holland sometime in the summer of 1995 as reading for a do-it-yourself Islamic study circle that I was in with my brother and some dear friends in ‪‎Toronto‬. That’s when I read the following powerful story:

“It is related in the stories of the People of Israel that two godly brothers were upon a mountain. One of them come down to town to buy a pennyworth of meat. He saw a harlot at the butcher’s shop, gazed upon her, fell in love with her, and carried her off to a private place to copulate with her. After spending three nights with her, he was ashamed to return to his brother in view of his offence.

Meanwhile, his brother missed him and felt concern about him. He descended to the town and kept on asking about him till he was directed to him. Then he went in and found him sitting with the girl. He embraced him and began kissing him and hugging him, but the other denied all knowledge of him, being so ashamed. Then he said:

“Come my brother, for I know your condition and your story, yet you were never better loved nor dearer to me than at this moment. “

Now when he realized that what had happened had not lowered him in his brother’s eye he arose and went away with him. “

Unspoken Conversation

The story stayed with me over the years as a powerful demonstration of true brotherhood and genuine, sincere concern. I often found myself returning to it in my various roles of community activism, and judging myself against this standard. I often wondered what the “unspoken conversation” must have been like between the two friends.
Roughly ten years later in the summer of 2005, I was driving down Shaykh Zayed Road in ‪‎Dubai‬, a highway notorious for an insanely high occurrences of collisions per year. Out of nowhere, the lyrics and tune for what later became my debut album’s title track came at me with such an insistence that I had to pull over to the shoulder and jot it all down. The entire song, including the last stanza that turns the entire song upside down, was completely unplanned.

Unspecified Relationship

I think the best part about the lyrics on this track, is that they leave unspecified the relationship between the two people, and the cause of their estrangement. I regularly get to hear from listeners about this track, both in person and through emails or Facebook messages — each one of them seeing a different relationship from their own lives in these words.
I remember once in late 2009 I’d just finished soundcheck for an Islamic Relief Canada event with Imam Zaid Shakir. An older lady setting up decorations at the back of the hall came up to me with tears in her eyes. She told me that her daughter had recently gone through a rough divorce, and her own husband was unable to be with them to help their daughter through the process. She told me that she would sing this song to her daughter every day to give her strength. I had goosebumps as I teared up myself. Every time I experience self-doubt about my chosen career path, that’s one of the incidents that encourages me to keep moving ahead.
The producer Mohammed Dbooni pulled in Brazilian and South Asian drums for this song, and positioned the vocals really well to keep the lyrics front and centre.
You can stream it on this link (also has lyrics), and follow the instructions to buy it directly from iTunes.
Nader Khan has since released another album – WATER, which contains the track Take My Hand, part 2 — the same story, but from the other friend’s perspective.

Resources for seekers