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An Unwavering Moral Compass

A woman once had something that was more valuable than all her worldly posessions. Imam Khalid Latif reveals what it is, and shows us how, by looking at the world within the heart, we can change the world around us.


Put it in to practice by taking a free course on Ghazali’s book “The Marvels of the Heart.”

Our thanks to the ICNYU for this recording. Cover photo by Andrea Deeley.

Resources on Having An Unwavering Moral Compass

How Can I Purify My Heart? A Reader

“Success is really attained by him
who purifies it”
[Qur’an, 91.9]

The duty to purify the heart

The Place of Tasawwuf in Traditional Islamic Sciences

What Islamic Perspective is Taught at SeekersHub?

How to purify the heart?

How is spiritual excellence attained?

A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

What is Islamic Spirituality? A Reader

How to Strengthen Faith in Allah and Return to Him? A Reader

Presence of Heart in Prayer: A Reader

A Reader on Anger Management and Good Character

Retweeting Sufism: Appreciating Tasawwuf in the Modern Age by Shaykh Ahmad Saad

We live in a world of advanced technology and a pervasive socal media, yet many people feel emptiness and they experience a vacuum in their hearts. Can Tasawwuf help? Is Sufism still relevant today? Can Tasawwuf bring meaning to our lives? Find out as the speaker, Shaykh Ahmad Saad, shares his knowledge and thoughts on this subject.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Curing The Heart

Purification Of The Heart by Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus: DISCIPLINING THE SOUL

A lecture series based on two sections in the third quarter of Imam al-Ghazali’s Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ Ulum al-Din). This course will delve into the foundational principles of disciplining one’s soul, offering a theoretical framework of how this is achieved. Brought to you by, www.zaytunacollege.org

Related courses

Essentials of Spirituality: Ghazali’s Beginning of Guidance Explained (STEP)

The Marvels of the Heart

Recommended readings

Sea Without Shore: A Manual of the Sufi Path

The Beginning of Guidance

Photo: International Rivers

Is orthodox Islam possible without Sufism? Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ever wondered how Sufism relates to classical or orthodox Islam and vice versa? Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (Dr. Timothy Winter) will take you on a journey with much needed clarity. This video was recorded at an event by Sufi World at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

An Age Of Compassion and Ease

Shaykh-Abdul-Hakim-Murad“Khilafa is there by the acclaim of the scholars. If the scholars do not accept somebody to be a khalifa, then this person is not a khalifa. The scholars will only accept that somebody is a khalifa if that person is implementing the Islam of the scholars, which means not some individual full of white hot rage following the American destruction of Iraq, but someone who’s in control of their emotions.

Tasawafa – someone who recognises the weaknesses of the peole of this age and reaches for their most compassionate of the available fatwas rather than the most extreme and the most outrageous. That’s the sign of the authentic khilafa. That which reaches for the most extreme is automatically discounted as being a legitimate member of sunni Islam.

“Every Muslim has to have the aspiration and it’s there in the books of aqida to live in a just political order, one that implements what God really wants for the earth, but that has to be on the basis of what the sharia’a truly is in this age which represents something that has to acknowledge people’s weaknesses. People find it hard to wear even hijab nowadays, if you try to impose niqab on everybody and beat them if they don’t, that’s just not the correct fatwa and scholars will not acknowledge that. So this is an age of taysir, an age of takhfif.”

 

Resources for seekers:

 

Is orthodox Islam possible without Sufism? Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ever wondered how Sufism relates to classical or orthodox Islam and vice versa? Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (Dr. Timothy Winter) will take you on a journey with much needed clarity. This lecture was recorded at an event by Sufi World at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

Raising Children With A Sound Heart – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

There is no doubt in my mind that children have to be raised with a deep, profound understanding of the heart. This is the essence of our deen and a central guiding principle when dealing with the actions of children.

We have a policy at home, that if they tell the truth they don’t get in trouble. “Did you hit your brother? If you tell me the truth you won’t get in trouble,” – we moderate repercussions and disciplinary actions with a focus on all the virtues of the heart. This is what is most important, that you inculcate this in them.

Use ordinary life events as opportunities to teach them about the importance of the heart. You also teach them from early on, that even if someone doesn’t wear a headscarf or have a beard, maybe their heart is in a good state.

You teach them tolerance, you teach them that yes, outward conformity to religion is important but the heart is also important. Unfortunately, most parents’ only concern is the outward dimension and they reinforce that by getting angry only when the outward is violated. You must balance your responses to the inward with your responses to the outward so that in reality you become more concerned with the inward.

How many people have we all known, who have been pushed farther away from the religion because the focus on the outward has been shoved down their throats? There are very few things that push people farther away from the religion more than that.

Teach children the theory about the heart. Sister Aisha Grey Henry is working on a children’s series of the Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din and I highly recommend everyone gets that when it’s published, if it hasn’t been published already. Teach your children these stories. Until then, find other creative and practical ways.

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus was in SeekersHub Toronto recently and gave the above as an answer to a question from a member of the local community. Adapted for print.

This Labor Day weekend, September 3-7, 2015, SeekersHub Toronto invites you to a retreat that engages the heart, mind, and soul with respected teachers from around the world, including Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. Find out more here.

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Resources for Seekers:

Why does Allah Bless Some with Children and Others not?
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children
Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz’s advice on duas to read during pregnancy and labour and for infertility

The Treasure of a Sound Heart, Surat al-Shu‘arā’ (verses 83-89): Duas from the Qur’an Explained

You’re listening to a series of lessons on important duas found in the Qur’an, as explained by Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al Azhari – a distinguished master of the Qur’an and scholar in residence at Seekershub Toronto during Ramadan 2015.

All SeekersHub programming during this blessed month is freely available at the Ramadan Hub. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Can I Say ‘Amin’ When Reading the Qur’an Outside Surah Al Fatiha? How To Purify One’s Heart?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalamualaikum,

(1) Is saying Amin when reciting Qur’an outside Surah Al-Fatiha permissible?

(2) How do you know if you are doing things for Allah and not to show off? Sometimes I find myself not doing a good deed when there are people around me because I am scared that I’m not doing it for Allah.

(3) How can we have a clean heart? How do you know when you have a corrupt heart?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

(1) Yes, it is from the sunna to supplicate for the virtues and blessings mentioned in the Qur’an.

(2) Not doing things for the sake of people, too, can be considered a form of showing off. In general, voluntary acts should be done in private and obligatory acts in public. However, ask Allah for a high intention, facilitation and acceptance.

(3) I’d advise taking the classes on Spirituality at SeekersHub. Please see: Spirituality Deparment

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Video: Purification of the Heart – Hamza Yusuf | Kinetic Typography

This video illustrates part of the introduction for a series of lectures by the brilliant Islamic scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, entitled Purification of the Heart.

What Role Should the Intellect Play When Seeking God?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I am an agnostic, this means that I believe that there might be a God, but due to lack of evidence I do not make a decision. Recently, I have become very interested in Islam. I find the messages are always filled with love and compassion. But certain aspects of religion, and these are not limited to Islam, are seemingly incompatible with my view of the universe.

These aspects are usually of the mystical variety. In particular, I am concerned with angels, jinns, heaven, hell and the day of judgment. I know that these are integral parts of Islam.

The way I was brought up was never to accept anything blindly. Reacting critically to observations and facts, is what makes me a scientist.

I have always felt that science and religion are not contradictory to each other. But attempting to grasp these concepts from a critical point of view makes me want to reject them. I could redefine these terms so that they make sense in such a critical framework, but I am afraid that envisioning them as such would rob them of their place in Islam. For example I could imagine that heaven and hell are states of mind which we experience our time on earth, judgment day a continuous event. But I know that re-interpreting the Qur’an in a metaphorical way at any convenient time, done for example by the Mu’tazilli, is not accepted by most branches of Islam

I can not simply submit to these beliefs; it would make me a hypocrite. Furthermore I feel that refusing to use the capabilities of thought and reason given to me by God would be an insult to him.

Is there any advice you can give me to help me find a way to being a good Muslim without betraying myself? Thank you.

Answer
: In the name of God, Most Merciful, All Compassionate

Thank you for your question – it reflects one of the greatest challenges that religion faces in the modern world. Religion is based on faith, while the modern world has devoted itself to a particular paradigm of the intellect reflected in modern science and critical thought. The following serves only as a summarized presentation of this issue, as it is one that deserves much more discussion.

On Faith, the Heart, and the Intellect

The Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] was asked what faith was, to which he responded, “That you believe in God, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers, the Last Day, and predestination – both its good and evil.” [Sahih Muslim]

A key aspect of this prophetic response is the very beginning of the statement, “That you believe.” Faith is rooted ultimately in what Islamic cosmology terms “the heart,” that is, the spiritual heart. This is the locus of belief for the human. It is the faculty within the human being that enables him to know the Divine, with a knowledge that results from submission, devotion, contentment in His decree, and gratitude. These are the means by which to reach knowledge of God, and they are the only means.

The intellect, as important and valuable as it is, is therefore not the only capacity with which the human can perceive truth. It alone can never reach true experiential knowledge of the Divine. However, it is still an indispensable tool for human success in worldly affairs, as well as an aid in the human pursuit of the Divine. This is because the very first step in one’s spiritual journey to reach Divine pleasure is to learn what He has ordained for us in His revealed Sacred Law. This knowledge is acquired by the intellect. Yet to apply that knowledge in one’s life, in a state of submission and contentment, is a task for the spiritual heart, not the intellect.

Critical thought must be put aside for the heart to thrive. In Islamic cosmology, the most symbolic physical manifestation of human submission to the Divine is prostration, which the Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] described as a position in which the servant is closest to his Lord. It is interesting to note that in that position, the brain is physically lower than the heart. With one’s forehead on the ground, the intellect is made to submit while the heart is elevated to its appropriate place of superiority.

The Place of the Intellect

This understanding by no means negates the value of human intellect. The mind is one of the greatest gifts of God to humanity. Muslim scholars have written much on the merits of the intellect and its lofty place in Islam, as it is the very basis of human civilization and development, as well as the means by which humans learn how to worship the Divine. And coupled with experience – or experimentation – it has immense potential for societal betterment. As an Arab poet once said, “Have you not considered how the intellect is an adornment for its possessor? Yet its perfection is only by plentiful experience.” [Mawardi, Adab al-Dunya wal-Din]

Having said that however, like any organ or faculty in the human being, it does have limitations. This is why the Islamic scholar Imam Zarnuji states:

“The people of truth – those who adhere to the prophetic way and the Muslim majority – seek truth from God, a truth that is clear and that guides and protects, and so God guides them and protects them from deviation.

The people of misguidance, however, are people who are impressed with their opinions and their intellects, and therefore seek truth from this created faculty within them that alone is simply incapable of discerning the truth. This is because the intellect cannot perceive all things, just as the human eye cannot see all things. So they are veiled and prove incapable of discerning truth, and fall into misguidance and go astray…

Therefore, the very first task of the intellect is to realize its limits, as reflected in the prophetic saying, “Whoever knows himself will come to know his Lord.” That is, whoever realizes his own incapacity will come to know the infinite power of the Divine. Such a person will not rely on himself or his intellect, but rather place his complete trust wholeheartedly with God and seek the truth from Him alone. And whoever places his trust completely in God, God proves sufficient for him and guides him to a magnificent straight path.” [Zarnuji, Ta`lim al-Muta`llim]

Although Imam Zarnuji lived 800 years ago, his words are timeless and prove as relevant to us today as they did in his time, if not more so. We live in an age in which the intellect is worshiped – total reliance is placed on it for discerning all types of truth. Yet the intellect, as spectacular and brilliant of a faculty as it is, is nevertheless limited. Just like the human eye, it cannot perceive all of reality. We now know that certain wavelengths comprise what is termed “the visible spectrum,” and that the eye – despite it being an amazing organ – is limited and cannot perceive wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. No matter how much it attempts to focus, the eye alone will not be able to perceive realities outside of those wavelengths.

Does that mean reality is limited to the visible spectrum, since that is all we can see? Of course not. And moreover, we know that certain species of birds and bees, for example, can indeed see outside of our visible spectrum. They have access to what we do not have access to.

This is how we must understand the intellect. It is a phenomenal faculty that we are endowed with, and it can indeed do wonders in the material world. Yet it is limited. There are certain realities it simply does not have access to, no matter how much it endeavors to perceive those realities. Coming to terms with this is not easy for the modern man, who is engrossed in an age devoted to science and critical thought.

This is why Imam Zarnuji’s other counsel proves timeless as well, namely, to not be impressed with our intellects. The more we are impressed with our mental capacity, the more difficult it is to realize its limitations. Sincere desire to discern spiritual realities is predicated upon humility and recognition of one’s limitations. This is the key to accepting truth, as well as the key to moving forward in implementing truth in one’s life. Hence the name of our religion, Islam, is an Arabic word that literally means “to submit.” Submission allows for recognition and acceptance of Divine oneness, and it is the greatest means for spiritual growth after that acceptance.

Prophets and Messengers: Beyond the Spectrum

Just as birds and bees can see realities beyond the visible spectrum, certain humans have been shown realities beyond the scope of human perception. God singled them out and honored them to relay His message of Divine oneness and submission, and He showed them many realities to which we have no access, in order for them to convey to us those realities based on direct experience rather than merely being informed. As the Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] stated, “Being informed is nothing like actual experience.” [Musnad Ahmad; Mustadrak Hakim]

The prophets and messengers directly saw angels, jinns, heaven and hell. They were shown glimpses of events that will take place on Judgment Day. And they received revelation from God as confirmation of what they saw. These realities are integrals of faith, and as you mention, they are by no means metaphorical or allegorical. They are literal, and they are absolutely real.

Accepting these realities, then, is not a matter of cognition but rather one of belief. The human intellect cannot perceive these realities, no matter how intelligent the person and no matter how much technology he has to aid him. Logic or critical thinking will not confirm these realities, and scientific experiment will prove unable to access them.

The mind exists only to understand them, yet it is the spiritual heart that believes in them. It is the spiritual heart that endows the human with full conviction in them, as well as the aspiration and resolve to respond to them appropriately, namely, through fear, love and gratitude to the Divine. Hence, submitting to these beliefs would not make you a hypocrite; it would not entail any sort of self-betrayal. Submission to God is no insult to Him, but instead the very epitome of doing what He loves.

Belief does not entail a rejection of reason. Rather, it is the most appropriate delegation of roles to each faculty. The mind is at home when working within its limits, and the heart is at home when with the Divine.

A Final Note and Some Suggested Reading

Lastly, one can appreciate that the real foundation of accepting such realities lies not in pondering over the nature of the realities themselves, but rather in the one conveying them to us. This is at the heart of the entire discussion. The conviction of the believer in the content of revelation is directly linked to his absolute trust in the honesty, moral integrity, and perfected character of the prophet or messenger.

For a detailed examination of the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad, I would highly recommend the book “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” by Martin Lings.

-“Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” by Martin Lings

And for a more summarized presentation of his exalted character [peace and blessings be upon him], I would recommend the following article:
Why Is the Prophet’s Character Described as Being Tremendous? – Faraz Rabbani

Also, for further discussion on the Islamic worldview vis-a-vis the modern outlook of science and critical thought, I would suggest the following books:

-“Deliverance from Error” by Imam Ghazali [Translated by R.J. McCarthy, Fons Vitae]
-“Marvels of the Heart” by Imam Ghazali [Translated by Walter James Skellie, Fons Vitae]
-“King of the Castle” by Charles Le Gai Eaton
-“Islam and the Destiny of Man” by Charles Le Gai Eaton

I would like to end by sincerely advising you to pray to God for help and guidance on this matter. If you put your mind on hold and instead turn to Him with your heart, in a state of complete humility, He will never let you down.

Please do not hesitate to write back with any other questions. We are here to serve.

And God alone provides success.

Sincerely,

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010 (Video, Lecture)

The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010

Path of Taqwa.jpg

A talk delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani at the Qurba Retreat “Detour Ahead: Staying on the Prophetic Path, August 2010. Shaykh Faraz highlights the Qur’anic call to mindfulness (taqwa); the virtues of taqwa; its three levels; and how mindfulness is manifest in faith, outward actions, the actions of the heart, and also in one’s thinking.

 

See: The Path of Taqwa – Faraz Rabbani – Qurba Retreat 2010 from Qurba on Vimeo

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