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Why Muslim Youth Need Guiding Mentorship

In this memoir, a student speaks about how having knowledgeable, concerned mentorship in his teenage years helped him take the right path.

My Two Mentors

One day in my late teens, I remember being out all day with my brothers and younger cousins. We engaged in all kinds of activities, such as football, laser tag, and then going to a restaurant to eat.

We had fun all day. My father simply took us to where we wanted to go and would watch us have fun, until we were ready to go to the next one. When we got home that evening, I began talking to my cousins about the next activity my dad could take us to.

At this, my two older cousins, Umar and Ali, approached me. They both pointed out quite bluntly that I needed to be more grateful to my parents and appreciate how much effort and sacrifice they’d made for me. Only then did I realize how much I was taking them for granted.

I benefitted a lot through Umar and Ali, who served as my mentors through my teenage years. Both about ten years older than me, they had been through the same education system as me, and had been brought up in the West just like me. They’d seen the same challenges to their faith that I was going through. I knew I could speak to them whenever I needed.

I didn’t have the benefit of having learnt sacred knowledge from a young age. As a result, for the first twenty years of my life, my knowledge of Islam was quite basic. Like the other Muslims in my school, I had to figure it out largely on my own. I remember being in school at age 12, where the teacher was asking the students how many of them believed in God. Despite their age, many answered that they did not.

In most subjects there was either an anti-God, anti-religious, or anti-Islamic narrative. In history classes, the Islamic nations were always the bad guys, whether it was the Ottoman armies or the successful “kicking out” of the Muslims from Spain. Religious study lessons would include philosophical challenges to the existence of God, such as the so-called “Problem of Evil,” without mentioning the vast contributions and proofs of the great Muslim thinkers.

And of course, biology lessons always featured evolution in biased ways. When speaking about animals that were well adapted to their environments, the teacher would attribute it to the genius of evolution. But when there were apparent biological flaws in an animal, the teacher would say that a Creator would not have let that flaw to exist.

This environment impacted me greatly. I felt very insecure about not having clear answers. I’d find myself around the age of 14 and 15 lying in bed at night for hours thinking about how the universe began, whether evolution existed, and everything else.

By the grace of Allah, I always remained a Muslim in belief. However, I had fundamental questions that needed answering. During this period, I benefited immensely from Umar and Ali, who would answer my questions. They would explain how there is no problem believing in the Big Bang as long one believes it is God that caused it to happen. They explained the problems with evolution from a scientific perspective, and that explaining how science and Islam are compatible. Their mentorship was so effective because they had gone through the same journey that I had. Because of this, they were able to help me in a way that parents, aunties and uncles were not.

Battling Ideology

But my troubles weren’t over. When I began university I got involved with the Muslim student groups. Their arguments seemed logical and straightforward, and I got caught up in them. After all, why did we need to follow a school of thought, if we had the Qur’an and sunna? And why were we introducing innovations if our religion was already clear?

Alhamdulillah, yet again, there were Umar and Ali. They tried their best to gently explain the issues with textual literalism, and the importance of schools of thought and following traditional Islam. It wasn’t an overnight process, nor was it an easy one.

They would patiently tolerate me debating with them on religious issues, but would not argue with me. “Don’t worry,” I heard Umar say to Ali. “He’ll figure it out for himself one day.” With wisdom and kindness, they gave me the space to explore for myself, while also advising me at the right moments when I most needed it.

A few years later, when I was ready, Ali very generously paid for me to study some Sunni Path courses (now Qibla), including an Aqida al-Tahawi course taught by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, and a course that covered the sources of Islamic law, taught by Shaykh Farid Dingle.

I remembered how I told a brother from university that I was about to take these classes. “Be careful,” he warned. “They may be Asharis!” “What are Asharis?” I asked. “They interpret some parts of the Qur’an figuratively,” he replied. “For example, when the Qur’an refers to ‘Allah’s hand,’ they say it’s a metaphor for His power, because He does not resemble created things.”

I personally couldn’t see what was wrong with that. He gave me a CD and told me to listen to it instead. I tried, but the speaker was just bashing the other methodologies without actually proving his own points.

I decided to go ahead with the Sunni Path courses. They were detailed and well-taught, and confirmed to me the truth of traditional Sunni Islam in a clear, factual manner. The Aqida course included some articles written by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller about the Sunni Aqida. I sent them to the brother from university.
When he finally responded, he told me that the articles were not backed up by sources from the Qur’an and Sunna.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “The whole article is based on hadith!” “Yes, but they need to be verified.” “They are sahih, what more do you want?” I was frustrated with the lack of response. Learning from Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Farid gave me the inspiration to study more. Alhamdulillah, Ali also introduced me to the spiritual teachings of Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, who I now learn from and do not ever want to look back.

However, their work was not yet over. When the time came for me to start searching for a spouse, it was time for them to help me again, as some of my family members, although they wanted nothing but the best for me, weren’t on the same page as me when it came to what to look for in a spouse. My cousins themselves had gone through the same challenges while looking for a spouse. By now, they were both married and starting families, and through their advice I eventually did find a wife who had the same religious perspective and goals as me.

To this day, Umar and Ali continue to guide me with their calm influence, wisdom and life experience. To me, my story is an example of the importance of Muslim youth having role models, who are older than them but not too old, and well-grounded in their own faith.

By Amjad Shaykh


This piece was written by a SeekersHub student. Looking to inspire? Consider writing for our Compass Blog! We are looking for individuals willing to submit feature pieces for publication. Share your stories with us. Contact [email protected] with your pitch and inspire and motivate hundreds – if not thousands – of others.


Parenting – A Reader

Parenting can be a challenging endeavour. This reader gathers various resources on parenting from an Islamic perspective.

General Guidance

Rights of Children in Detail 

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Raising Muslim Children On The Straight Path-Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Ibn Khaldun on the Instruction of Children and its Different Method

Traditional Methods of Raising Children 

When Should Children Start Praying?

Helping our children find the light in dark times, by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children 

Rethinking Our Actions and How They Affect Our Children

Raising Children With A Sound Heart – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

The Sunnas of Parenting

40 Hadiths on Parenting

How To Make the Prophet Muhammad Real for Small Children

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar 

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence

Explaining a Hadith on Disciplining Children 

The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children

Playing with your Children – Advice from Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz

 

Parenting in Challenging Situations

Parenting in the Age of Social Media, by Ustadha Rania Awaad and Hosai Mojaddidi

A Ragged Shirt and Toast Crust: Raising Successful Children

How Do We Deal With Parents Who Emotionally Abuse Their Children

How Can I Raise My Children in the West?

Who Gets Custody of the Children After a Divorce?

Is There a Dua Protecting Children from Bad Intentions of People?

How Do I Protect my Children from Bad Influences in Society?

How To Talk To Children About Death

How Is a Child with Autism Viewed in Islam?

Fitrah and What Happens to Children Who Die Before Puberty 

How to Raise Children in Difficult Environments?

Why Worry About Children If We Know They Will Go to Paradise?

Wanting Children and Infertility

Is It Obligatory to Try to Have Children?

Infertility: Why does Allah Not Bless Some With Children 

Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

My Husband Doesn’t Want to Have Kids. What Can I Do?

Supplications for Having Children and For Dealing With Pain

Is It Obligatory to Try to Have Children? 

The Virtues of Having Children and Stillbirth

The Elements of Gratitude

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani takes a very close look at the meaning of gratitude in Sura Ibrahim 14:7 and how gratitude can be shown in every moment of our lives.

Why do we obey Allah? Out of gratitude. “Should I not be a servant who is truly grateful?” If we look at the Qur’an, Allah tells us in Sura Ibrahim 14:7. There’s a context to this which, is our master Musa’s proclamation to Bani Israel and so on. You can read the tafsir of the context. There’s a specific context to this verse. It’s one of the marvels of the Qur’an.

If a friend of mine and I are having conversation and you strip it of its context, what will happen? It won’t make sense. But the Qur’an has a specific context either within the text of the Qur’an itself or the context of Revelation. That gives insight into the meaning, but the general meaning of the words is not affected by the context, in so far as the general meaning still applies.

If someone asked me: “All right have you had lunch?” And I say: “No. I haven’t. I’m hungry.” If I say I am hungry, it doesn’t apply for all the time. It just applies in this context. But the guidance of the Qur’an, though there’s a specific context here related to Bani Israel. This is what our master Musa is told to tell them: “When your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, surely, My punishment is severe.’”

A Serious Proclamation

There are a number of things related to this verse. Ibn Ajiba in his tafsir, Al-Bahr al-Madid, mentioned that the first thing is: This is a proclamation from Allah. An adhan is a public announcement is a public announcement. So it’s much more emphatic than simply saying something. You are announcing it widely.

But it’s not just that. It says: “wa idh ta’adhdhana Rabbukum.” The tafa‘‘ala pattern in the Arabic language conveys active effort. That is, your Lord fully proclaims – fully proclaims. This is meant like, “Get it!” It’s not just an announcement. This is in bold, red, capital letters. A major proclamation. This is not just something Allah is telling you. He’s proclaiming. Pay attention.

It’s difficult to to translate the Qur’an. It’s impossible to translate the Qur’an because to catch the eloquence you have to be brief, but to convey the meaning you’d have to be very wordy. So “When your Lord openly proclaims, widely, demanding full attention for the proclamation.” Then comes a conditional statement. “If you are grateful then We shall surely grant you increase.”

The Elements of Gratitude

How are you grateful? The scholars of tafsir say, the believers’ gratitude is to respond to the gift of life with recognition of the Bestower of gifts through having faith. Because if you recognize that your life is a gift, who is it a gift from? It’s a gift from the Creator. So, believe in Him! That’s the first element of gratitude.

Then if you recognize that Allah has granted you health, has blessed you with these limbs, what is the recognition for your physical blessings? It is righteous deeds. Each limb has blessings that are due for them.

Literally if you translate the verse, you say, if you have been grateful. It’s put in the past tense. In the Arabic language when you put something in the past tense meaning: “If you are fully grateful,” that gratitude is a standard. It’s not just something you do. It’s done with. You have full gratitude.

The response to your gratitude, Allah emphasizes this several fold in saying “la’azidannakum.” The letter lam here is for emphasis. The letter nun is also for emphasis. The fact that is formed as a conditional sentence, “If you are grateful, then I will grant you increase,” is also for emphasis.

The Promised Increase

It’s fascinating, because what will you be granted an increase in? Normally someone says, e.g. if you clear the snow from the driveway, I’ll give you…” and you mention what you will give. But Allah Most High says: “I will grant you increase.” But the increase is not specified. Meaning it’s unconditional.

The gratitude is a condition. What are you grateful for? Whatever you’re grateful for you’ll be granted increase beyond measure. Beyond measure. Now this increase is both of the good of this life and the good of the next as we know from the Qur’an. So gratitude secures increase in worldly terms but there is also the eternal increase of reward.

The basic increase of any good deed is that Allah rewards it tenfold. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, tells us: “A good deed is rewarded tenfold, up to 700 times, to many times thereof.” One of the things that takes the good deed from having ten rewards to having 700 or beyond measure is if you do the same thing with gratitude Allah will reward it far more than doing the same deed with sincerity but lacking in gratitude.

The Sunna of Action

The sunna of action is that anything that you do should have two qualities. One is sincerity. That will secure you some multiplication for your reward. But the other key to increase the spiritual impact and the eternal rewards is gratitude. That’s the prophetic way. “Should I not be a servant who is truly grateful?”

The scholars mention that if you look at prophetic teachings; if you are grateful, Allah does not say, If you are grateful for the things that are pleasing to you. That is the obvious gratitude. If there’s something pleasing to you be grateful. That is the common person’s gratitude. But the true believers’ gratitude – the gratitude of the righteous believer is in pleasing things but also in difficulty and distress, because the distress is also from Allah Most High.

This is why Ibn Ata’illah in his Hikam says: “If f you can see Allah’s giving when He withholds from you then Allah’s withholding becomes from His giving itself.” Why? Our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, says in a sahih hadith: “How strange are the affairs of the believer, because their affair is all for their good. That’s for no one but the believer. Pleasing things happen to them, they are grateful and that is for their good. Distressful things happen to them, they are contentedly patient, and that too is for their good.”

The Meaning of True Patience

Contented patience is a branch of gratitude, because the patience of the believer is not a begrudging patience. “What can I do about, you know? Just grit my teeth and deal with it.” That’s not gratitude. That’s not patience. They say that the beginning of true patience is leaving complaints.

There is a level below patience which is making yourself be patient. Which is take a breath, don’t complain, but you feel complaint within. That’s not patience. That’s not steadfastness. That is what is called “making yourself be patient.”

True patience has gratitude in it. True gratitude is to see everything as a blessing from Allah. Allah Most High tells us: “Say, it is all from Allah.” Gratitude in one sense has an action and a response. The action is Allah’s, which is, it is all from Allah. Whatever comes to you is from Allah, so you see everything as from Allah.

Your response is to respond in the way pleasing to Allah. That is gratitude. Divine action–human response. The human response is the response that Allah has called you to have. And the response that Allah has called you to have in each situation.

What is the response that Allah has called you to have in each situation? That’s a sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. In any situation there is an outward sunna and an inward sunna. It’s action and attitude. That’s basically life.


Leaving Sins, Both Manifest and Hidden

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani expands on Sura al-An‘am 6:120, detailing what it means to leave manifest and hidden sins, and to find contentment in Allah.

One of the times when people really hurt themselves is in trials, because outwardly the trial itself doesn’t harm you in any way whatsoever. Whatever happens outwardly doesn’t harm you in any way whatsoever. What harms you is how you respond to what happens to you.

If you drown in a tsunami you’re not harmed in any way. If you respond to it right; you accept that you die. You die a martyr. You’re eternally in paradise. You weren’t harmed. Someone beats you up, but you were patient. It’s not the outward that harms you. It is how you respond to it.

So in trials, knowing how you turn to Allah Most High, how you respond, is one of the greatest of possibilities, because if Allah loves the servant He sends them trials.

Whoever Is Content Shall Find Contentment

If you respond to the trial in the way that is pleasing to Allah, you are the beloved of Allah Most High. At the same time the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told us that Allah sends us trials. Whoever is content with Allah shall find contentment. Whoever is angered, whoever is upset, shall find anger and upset.

Whoever is content shall find contentment, meaning that they’ll find Allah’s contentment and Allah will place contentment in their hearts. Whoever is angered and upset will find the anger and upset of Allah upon them. And they will find a heart state of anger and upset.

This is one of the hidden sins. No one sees it. And it’s subtle because it is not simply what you claim, but actually how you are. One way of looking at leaving outward and inward sin. Leaving outward sin is leaving disobedience to Allah Most High. Leaving inward sin is leaving objection to Allah Most High.

That is integral to faith. One of the pillars of faith is that you believe, that you have conviction in, and accept and submit and surrender to the reality of divine decree. That it’s good and it’s bad are from Allah Most High.

Trials Are Tremendous Opportunities

This is why trials are a tremendous opportunity from Allah Most High. The righteous would rejoice more in trials then the common person rejoices in blessings. As the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him said: “The people most tested are the prophets, and then the righteous, and there were those from the people before you who would rejoice more in tribulations than you rejoice in blessings.”

Why? Because they saw the trials, the tribulations, the difficulties as being opportunities of expressing one’s love of Allah. Of expressing the true thankfulness to Allah. Of expressing one’s slave-hood to Allah. Of expressing one’s recognition of the Lordship of Allah Most High.

Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shagouri said: “The slaps of the beloved, how sweet they are.” Because the lover realizes that everything is from the Beloved, and everything that is from the Beloved is beloved.

Ibn Ata’illah al-Sakandari said: “Let your knowing that it is He who is trying you diminish the pain of trials.” And are you accustomed to anything from Him except excellence and has He has he made you habituated to anything but what is good for you? You just need to learn how to turn in each situation in the way that is entailed by that situation.

What Is Entailed by Leaving Sin

Part of what is entailed by leaving sin that is hidden his contentment and surrender to Allah Most High. This is from hidden sin and from the sin that a lot of people are in. “Why is a lot doing this to me?” You are married you wanted a happy marriage. That’s not the way of the believer.

What should the believer seek? “I consign my affair to my Lord. And Allah indeed knows well His servants.” He knows what they need. He knows what they’ll benefit from. He knows what’s good for them. Allah is telling us that He will test us both with good and with bad as a trial. And the trial of good is sometimes more intense than the trial of difficulty.

One of the great Imams of the spiritual path, Ibn Ajiba, in his dictionary of spiritual terms, says that rida (contentment) is to face destruction with a smiling face. Everything that’s coming to you is coming from Allah, so you face it with a heart that is smiling.

The Vision of the Believer

The believer sees with two eyes. One eye is the eye of faith. “Say, It is all from Allah.” At that level the believer is smiling regardless of what’s happening. It’s from Allah. This is the creating of Allah. If He is your beloved, the lover has no objection to their beloved.

Ibn al-Farid says: “Punish me with what You will other than distance from You. For You will find me the most loyal of lovers.” And this is love. This is how love is, otherwise it’s mere pretense.

Another definition of contentment is happiness that one finds in one’s heart as destiny (qada) descends. Qada refers to the blows of destiny. You lost your job and the heart should be smiling. It’s from Allah. You take the outward means because that is what slave-hood entails. You take the means but you see everything as being from Allah Most High.

Another definition of contentment is to leave your choice for the sake of Allah – in what Allah has chosen and made to pass. We make our plans, we take our means, but it is Allah’s choice that comes to pass and you surrender your choice to His.

Leaving Your Plan for His Plan

You are planning to do your PhD and you’ve saved for it and worked for it, and done this and that. Then something happened and your parents need you. They need you to work and not to do your PhD right now. So you leave what you planned for what Allah is pointing you towards.

Yet another definition of contentment is for one’s hard to find expansiveness and to leave all objection to what comes to one from the One and Overwhelming: Allah Most High. That’s contentment. Surrender.

This is a reality of Islam: it is taslim. To leave self-direction. That is that you try to force your preferences in life rather than submitting to what is from Allah and what Allah is pointing one too. Leaving your personal choice.

You take the means. This is what you’d like to do. This is what appears to be good. But as things unfold, if you are awake and conscious and reflective, other things are entailed. So as things unfold you leave your choice for what is preferable with Allah Most High. You leave what you would like to direct yourself to to what Allah is directing you to.

Consigning One’s Affairs to Allah

This is the meaning of consigning one’s affairs to Allah Most High. How do you attain this contentment in surrender? Ibn Ajiba says: “It begins with patience,” which is to hold yourself to what is pleasing to Allah. “And to struggle.” To force yourself to be content. To surrender. To say, “Okay, this is what is right. I’ll do it even though I don’t feel like it.” Fake it…

The first step is patience. The intermediate level of contentment and surrender is to find serenity and to hold yourself to serenity. When the thoughts of objection and dislike come, you don’t even listen to the whisperings of why. “The lover is death to those who deny love.” To be a believer you need to learn how to love.

The end of contentment and surrender – to be fully realized by contentment and surrender – is when you find rejoicing along with that serenity and no impulse towards objection or dislike. These are stations of believers, because in every moment you are in a state of being completely enveloped by divine bounty, and by divine mercy, and by divine blessings.

The Lover Moves by the Grace of the Beloved

Hence the divine command: “Say, in the bounty of Allah and His is blessing, in that let them rejoice,” (Sura Yunus 10:58) because the contentment and surrender is with Allah and to Allah, so that whatever comes from Allah is accepted. True contentment and true surrender is with Him, Most High.

This is a little of what can be mentioned regarding this great verse: “Leave sin, both manifest and hidden.” (Sura al-An‘am 6:120). One has to be careful that one not only leaves disobedience manifest and hidden, but also leaves objection to one’s Lord, Most High.

The first step on the path to Allah is to leave the thing that calls you to turn away from the path to Allah, or that holds you back on the path to Allah, which is what the essence of sin is. May Allah make us of those rush to Him and who draw close to Him. Amin.


Begin Right, Begin Light: New Year Message by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

As 2019 begins, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani encourages us to look forward positively and see everything around us as signs from Allah.

Much is going on in the world, much that can be considered stressful, disappointing and devastating However, the believer looks at the world as a sign of Allah.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, when he would wake up for night worship, would recite:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.  (Sura Ali Imran, 2: 190-191)

Signs in the creation point to the Creator. A believer looks from the eye of faith; everything in this world is from Allah. The struggle of servitude is figuring out how to turn to Allah in the moments where He manifests.

Life is about the Beloved, and there is one Beloved: Allah. The believer sees everything in their life as good, and reminds themselves about Allah’s call to seek Him and know Him.

When we begin something with Bismillah, we are saying, “I am doing this with Allah, for Allah, reliant upon Allah.” These are the keys to the beginning of guidance.

Let’s begin our year with light, and make our year a year of light. Let’s make everything for Allah, reliant on Allah, with Allah and conscious of Allah. If love for Allah is true, what is there to worry about? Everything else is mere dust.

However, there are things to do, so let us direct ourselves to the highest of matters in the best of ways, recognising our shortcomings.

May Allah grant us the most blessed of years, most blissful of years, a year of light, where we begin right and end right, beginning with Allah and ending with Allah. We are Allah’s and to Him we are ever returning.

Reflections on 2018 – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

As December draws to a close, Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives some reflections on 2018 and the growth that she and her family experienced.

I started to write this article when my daughters were asleep. Almost a year ago, my younger one was born in January.  Now I have an 11 month old and a 3.5 year old. It has been both a wonderful and challenging year of growth, for all of us.

Childhood beliefs

I am now a lot more forgiving of my own parents, who had six children in twelve years. My mother migrated to Sydney with us while my father stayed in Singapore to financially support us. These facts alone explain so much about my childhood beliefs. From a very young age, I learned that parental love and attention are scarce, and how stressful it can feel to be part of a racial and religious minority.

Now that I am raising two little girls in Malaysia, I hope to impart different messages to my daughters. I hope that they will learn that there will always be enough love, for both of them, and that Islam is something that adds hope, meaning and direction to their lives.

Divided Heart 

When I had only one daughter, she had my undivided attention. Now, I am always torn between both of them. Part of me feels guilty that even from my pregnancy, I struggled to be present with my second baby, like I was with my first. I try to make peace with the fact that it will never be the same, and I pray that Allah will fill in the blanks.

Ups and Downs of Parenting 

The upside of having two kids is how much they love, play and laugh with each other. It warms my heart to see my eldest daughter feed her baby sister, help change her diaper, or sing to her. Watching my baby try to copy her oldest sister – from pretending to read and even to write – never fails to make me smile.

But, because we are in the dunya, it is never perfect. I am so tired, every day. There are times when I wonder if I will ever sleep well again.

The importance of self-care

My biggest lesson from 2018 year is this – when I look after myself, I can look after everyone else better. When I neglect my self-care, I am more irritable, and less able to attend to the endless needs in my household. I am not only a mother to my children, I am also a wife, a daughter-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.

Looking forward to 2019

I hope that with the gift of 2019, I will be better able to ask for help when I need it. I plan to create a better routine for myself, my daughters, and the rest of my household. I plan to exercise more self-compassion when I make mistakes. I plan to be able to spend more quality time with my husband. I plan for longer hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Most of all, I pray for Allah to accept my good deeds, forgive my mistakes, and increase me in gratitude for His innumerable blessings in my life.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.


A Beauty Most Sublime: New On-Demand Course by Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf

SeekersGuidance is happy to close the year with a new On-Demand course, taught by Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf. The course covers the science of Shama’il, or the description of the Prophet based on the famous hadith by Hind ibn Abi Hala.

Recorded in Cape Town, South Africa at the Mahabbah Foundation’s Annual International Spiritual Retreat 2018, and taught by Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf with translation provided by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan.

Habib Muhammad introduces the science of Shama’il, which is a subject obligatory for all Muslims to know. By knowing more about the Prophet’s character and his daily, life, it increases our love for him. When we send peace and blessings on him, he responds back, which solidifies our connection with him.

The famous hadith was narrated by Hind ibn Abi Hala, who was the stepson of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace. He was a master of the Arabic language, and was extremely skilled at describing people. Furthermore, having being raised in the house of the Prophet, his hadith conveys a lot of love for him.

Benefits of Studying Shama’il

There are many benefits of studying the Shama’il, gathering to remember the Prophet, and reciting his life story. Firstly, it increase our love for him, which is the greatest cause for attaining perfection of faith. Secondly, knowing more about his life helps us understand his biography. Thirdly, we are able to call to mind his image when he is mentioned, which is the greatest way to see him.

For FREE registration, see A Beauty Most Sublime On-Demand Course.


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Your Zakat Helped Female Scholars and Students This Year!

SeekersHub urgently needs your help to raise $500,000 to support deserving scholars and students in need.

Your zakat, once deposited into the SeekersHub Global Islamic Scholars Fund, supports scholars and students of knowledge in need. There are many female students and teachers who would not be able to continue, were it not for your generous donations.

Here is one of the students who benefited from your donations:

The Inspiration

Ustadha grew up in a practicing Muslim family in a very active community. She turned to Him and studying His perfect faith at a time of personal struggle. She was invited to study further and left the Western University for a traditional setting and was excited to see women scholars, including SeekersHub Global teachers, as educators and influencers. They embodied qualities like mercy, generosity, and patience. She took the time to study Islam in depth and flourished in an environment that inspired her journey to teach and transmit precious lessons of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Now she represents the best of that what SeekersHub offers: facilitation for continuing knowledge and guidance; being able to benefit. SeekersHub Global fund helps Ustadha to share her wealth of knowledge as she inspires students on their journeys.

Other Female Students Need Your Zakat

She is only one of several male and female scholars and students of knowledge who are supported by the SeekersHub Global Islamic Scholars Fund. Click here to support the fund. If you’re not sure how much zakat you own, click here to use SeekersHub’s handy zakat calculator.

The Reality of Gratitude and Its Fruits

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the radical reality of gratitude in Islam and how it finds expression in all aspects of Muslim life.

Gratitude is not just a warm sentiment that one has. The believers’ gratitude has an object. Our gratitude is to Allah Most High. So the gratitude of the believer is different from other peoples’ gratitude. Our gratitude is also different because we don’t just feel gratitude for some things. The believer feels gratitude for everything.

This gratitude is radical because this gratitude is transformative. It’s transformative of your emotional state, of your life, of your spiritual state, and of your standing with Allah.

The Reality of Gratitude

To approach gratitude soundly, we begin by looking at the reality of gratitude. The word for gratitude in Arabic, shukr, is a very interesting word, because its essential meaning comes from increase. Gratitude is a response to something with increase – with more than was expected. That’s the sense of shukr. It has the sense of increase in response.

There’s a number of types of plants that were called shakir. You plant one tree and these plants would grow around the tree even though you didn’t plant them. They would form around the prior growth.

The other use for shakir was a type of shrub or bush that would grow in a very dry environment and would have vegetation on it despite there being very little for it to grow upon. So it’s a response with increase.

Similarly in the Arabic language they say of an animal that it is shakur. An animal such as cattle that grows bigger than you would expect given what you fed it. Something is nurtured, something is given some sustenance, and shukr describes that it’s responding to it in the right way but with increase.

They’d also referred to camels as being or having shukr in the sense that it would take you much further than you would expect given how much it had to eat a drink.

Gratitude in Religion

Now gratitude, shukr, religiously has a more specific connotation. Ultimately gratitude in its religious meaning is a spiritual act. It does have worldly implications because the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever is not grateful to people is not grateful to Allah.”

How is it understood religiously that our gratitude to people is done as an expression of gratitude to Allah Most High? Ultimately all gratitude is to Allah. Part of gratitude to Allah is to be grateful to people, but gratitude to people is not separate from gratitude to Allah. All gratitude of ultimate significance is gratitude to Allah.

Someone is a shepherd and has a dog. They have gratitude for the shepherd dog because it is helping you out, but that gratitude is out of gratitude to Allah in that the dog is a blessing from Allah. Someone is grateful to their friend but that too should be from gratitude to Allah Most High.

One of the great scholars of Islam, Imam Ahmed al-Zarruq, defines gratitude as having several as having a basis and an expression. He says: “Gratitude is a rejoicing of the heart at the bestower of blessings, not merely the blessing itself. This is manifest on one’s limbs such that one’s tongue actively praises Allah and one’s limbs Express good works and leave contraventions.”

This is the definition he gives in his third commentary on the Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah. Imam al-Zarruq over 30 commentaries on the Hikam, at least 18 of which were complete. So gratitude is the hearts’ rejoicing at the blessing, but not but not at the blessing insofar as there’s something pleasing to you.

Gratitude Is also a Test of Faith

Gratitude is a type of happiness but it’s not a happiness at the blessing, because that kind of gratitude, that kind of happiness or appreciation, will actually turn you away from Allah Most High. That’s why happiness and rejoicing and blessings can be a more difficult test than sadness and feeling down and being in difficulty. When you’re in difficulty, anyone with some faith in their heart, if you’re in difficulty what do you do? Turn to Allah. The difficulty ends up being good to you. You had a difficulty and you turned to Allah.

When pleasing things happen, when success happens, when joyous things take place in your life, naturally, you rejoice. You feel happy. But the key that distinguishes gratitude or religiously consequential gratitude is that it’s not just feeling happy, it’s not just feeling satisfied, it’s the hearts rejoicing at the bestower of blessings. It’s rejoicing with Allah for having given you that blessing.

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an: “You have no blessing except that it is from Allah.” (Sura al-Nahl 16:53) He also tells us: “Say! In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy, in that let them rejoice. It is far better than the things that they amass.” (Sura Yunus 10:58)

When is Gratitude Real?

So you paid for the new SmartWatch. It arrived. You rejoice. Is that gratitude? No, it would only be gratitude if the rejoicing was by seeing that as being from Allah Most High. That is gratitude and not merely the blessing itself, which is why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, tells us in one of the hadith in Imam al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: “Whoever finds any good let them praise Allah.”

This is a very important definition: “Gratitude is a rejoicing of the heart at the bestower of blessings, not merely the blessing itself.” What is the result of this? That your tongue would be praising Allah, and your limbs would direct the blessing towards the obedience of Allah, towards what is pleasing to Allah in your life. And that you would keep from disobeying Allah with what He has blessed you with.

Imam al-Zarruq says: “There are three integrals of gratitude. The first is the hearts rejoicing at the giver due to his blessings, due to his giving. That is,” he says, “the reality of gratitude.” Gratitude is then expressed on the tongue by praising Allah out of recognition of His gift by saying “Alhamdulillah.”

When is it gratitude to say “Alhamdulillah”? When that saying of “Alhamdulillah” comes from a recognition in your heart of this matter being a blessing from Allah.

Imagine you’re stuck somewhere. You got a notification that the taxi you ordered is one minute away. You went outside but the guy took a wrong turn and you’re stuck in the cold. The taxi comes and you say: “Alhamdulillah.” Are you rejoicing at the taxi coming? If you are, is that gratitude?

It’s not a religiously consequential gratitude. “I feel grateful that the taxi has come.” Okay. Good. It’s better for you than to feel miserable, but that’s just worldly gratitude. The gratitude we’re talking about – that is transformative – is that when pleasing things happen to you you feel grateful to Allah, because the taxi didn’t come on its own. “You have no blessing except that it is from Allah.”

Building Gratitude

We need to train ourselves to be grateful when we say “Alhamdulillah.” Zubayr and Zubayda finally got married. Zubayda was trying to explain the relationship between gratitude and saying “Alhamdulillah” to Zubayr.

They both went to a steak house. Zubayda had a steak and she is in a state of gratitude to Allah Most High. But she didn’t say “Alhamdulillah.” Zubayr ate it. He’d been vegetarian. When you get married you’re basically wrapped around your spouse’s finger, so he stopped being vegetarian for the sake of Zubayda, because she loves steak. He finished and he says: “Alhamdulillah.”

Who is spiritually in a better state, Zubayda or Zubayr? Zubayda, because her heart is in a state of rejoicing at the Giver due to His giving. That is the reality of gratitude. It is light upon light to them that appreciation in the heart is expressed on the tongue by you saying “Alhamdulillah.”

But saying “Alhamdulillah” without this appreciation of this blessing as being from Allah, this is not gratitude. It’s something that’s not quite gratitude. Then if the gratitude is true it will have a manifestation, which is a third aspect of gratitude, which is to keep one’s limbs within Allah’s commands.

Gratitude for each limb is to direct what Allah has blessed you with towards Allah’s good pleasure. And not to use Allah’s blessing towards the disobedience to Allah. If you see it as a blessing from Allah use it within Allah’s limits.


This is taken from a live seminar on Radical Gratitude given by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin at SeekersHub Toronto this year.


Creating a Blessed Home : A Reader

This reader covers various topics relating to creating and nurturing a happy and blessed home.

A Blessed Home

The Adab of Homes – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Prophetic Supplication For Moving to a New House

Look At Everything as a Blessing from Allah and Nurture Gratitude

How Not to Let Stress Get Your Down

Is Seeking Counselling A Sign of Weakness? by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

How Should I Uphold My Family Ties?

What Are the Rewards of Cleaning One’s Home?

On Family – Pause for Thought with Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik

Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good

A Blessed Marriage

Love, Marriage, and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions

What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

What Can Help Endure a Difficult Marriage Due to Financial Issues?

How Do I Deal With an Unhappy Marriage?

A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws

Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages

Blessed Parenting

The Powerful Dua of a Parent 

How To Make the Prophet Muhammad Real for Small Children

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence

A Ragged Shirt and Toast Crust: Raising Successful Children 

Keeping Family Ties Through Intergenerational Trauma – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Keep Calm and Mother On–Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil 

An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections