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Muharram: An Opportunity to Transcend Hypocrisy (Video) – Dr Yusuf Patel

* Courtesy of ITV

In this Pre Khutba talk, Dr Yusuf Patel discusses the importance of transcending the recurrent partisan and divisive issues of Muharram, and rather focus on following the universal values that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), Imam Hussain (Allah be pleased with him) and other great personalities stood for. Many people claim to love Imam Hussain (Allah be pleased with him), the prophetic family and the companions, but very few actually represent them in a manner which would honor their legacies. By reflecting and analyzing on how we as Muslims have failed to eliminate contradictory and hypocritical behavior, we can make an active effort to follow the path of virtue which our great predecessors paved for us.

* This Pre Khutba talk was recorded in Masjid al-Furqan (Cape Town) on the 25th of September 2018 by ITV Networks.

Am I a Hypocrite for Losing Focus in Prayer?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I think I might be a hypocrite. Whenever I do an act of worship, I find it very difficult to think about Allah, and I nearly always end up thinking of something or someone else, and it feels like I am worshipping them. Am I committing major shirk?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Being Fearful of the State of one’s Worship

Having fear that one’s worship will not be accepted is not a sign of hypocrisy or shirk. It is, rather, a sign that a person recognizes the importance of worship, and is trying to fulfil them, while also recognizing their own shortcomings.

The Qur’an describes fear over one’s state as a sign of belief, not one of hypocrisy or shirk. It describes believers as “those who are fearful of the punishment of their Lord;” [Qur’an; 70.27]; and “those who give what they have been given, while their hearts tremble at the thought that they will return to their Lord” [Qur’an; 23.60]; and, “for those who fear standing before their Lord shall be two gardens” [Qur’an; 55.46].

It is in this vein that ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “Had I known that God had accepted one of my prostrations, or one silver coin in charity, nobody would have been more beloved to me than death.”

However, the proper way to deal with this fear is not to be paralyzed by it, but to take the steps towards beneficial action.

Difficulties in Focusing in Prayer

Building focus and concentration in prayer here is the desired goal, as prayer is truly beneficial when one’s heart and body work in concert, not when one is distracted by outside concerns. The Qur’an says, “Successful are believers; those who are attentive in their prayers” (Qur’an; 23.1-2).

However, while one should work on building this presence of mind, one should recognize that being distracted is a good sign that the devil is attempting to come between you and your Lord.
The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) said that “when the iqama is done, the devil approaches, to the point that he comes between a person and his soul, saying, ‘Remember this and remember that,’ about things that he hadn’t thought about prior, until a person can no longer remember how much he has prayed” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Imam al-Shaʿrawi, in his exegesis, explains the verse, “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and be on guard…” [Qur’an; 5.92] by saying that we are instructed here to be on guard because the devil cannot stand one obeying, and thus seeks to confuse a person or otherwise compromise their worship while they are doing so.

In this regard, al-Shaʿrawi relates a story that has been told about Imam Abu Hanifa (may God be pleased with him), who was approached by a man who had buried some money and could no longer find it. He instructed him to spend the night in prayer, and then come back and report to him. The man later came and told the Imam that while he was standing in prayer, he suddenly envisioned the precise location of his money. The Imam replied, ‘By God, I knew that the devil would not allow you to complete the night with your Lord.’

Achieving Presence of Mind in Prayer

Imam al-Ghazali, in his Ihya ʿUlum al-Din, puts forward various pieces of advice related to building concentration in prayer. He lists among them:

-Proper preparation for prayer, including thinking about the afterlife and standing before your Lord

-Pondering over the words and meanings that are recited during prayer

-Removing from one’s immediate surroundings anything that can distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s life things that distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s heart love of this world, that is a root cause for much distraction

-Immediately dragging one’s mind back to prayer when you catch it wandering

For further practical advice on how to achieve presence of heart in prayer, please see the following comments from a number of leading scholars: Presence of Heart in Prayer: A Reader

Please see also: How to Strengthen Faith in Allah and Return to Him? A Reader

Shuaib Ally

Going Back on a Pledge

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I pledged 200 Euro at a mosque fundraiser, but then found out that my cousin in Iraq needs help for her basic food and needs. Can I go back on my pledge?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Such a pledge is a promise. It is sinful to make promises without the firm resolve to fulfill the promise. Allah Most High says, “Believers! Fulfill all commitments.” [Qur’an, 5.1]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) mentioned that among the signs of a hypocrite is that they don’t fulfill promises.

It is highly recommended to actually fulfill the promise, and wrong not to. However, it is not blameworthy not to fulfill a promise when there is a greater interest in not doing so, though high resolve would entail trying to take the reasonable means to both fulfill the promise and the greater interest.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

How Do I Combat Thoughts of Disbelief That Enter My Mind?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I recently had trouble with 1 ayat in the Qur’an. I took it out of context and thoughts of doubt flooded my heart. I almost even skipped one of my salat. During this prayer I had all sorts of disheartening thoughts. I later found out i was misinterpreting this verse and praised Allah. But I just don’t want to become like the hypocrite who believes one second then chooses disbelief.  I felt a that moment I was walking a fine line. What can I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Your fear of hypocrisy is a sign of your iman.

Doubts and thoughts of disbelief are from the devil. Take the means to ward him off, as taught by our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

These include the following:

(a) Seek refuge in Allah Most High, by saying, A’udhu bi Llahi min ash-shaytani r-rajim [Bukhari, Muslim]; and recite Ayat al-Kursi, as well as the last three surahs (Ikhlas, Falaq, Nas) [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir].

(b) Find good company – people who make much remembrance of Allah, and who remind you to do the like, such as those described by the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as follows: “Verily among people are keys to Allah’s remembrance – when they are seen, Allah is remembered.” [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir]

(c) Turn to Allah and seek His help in this situation. As Ibn Ata’illah says, “No task is arduous if you seek to fulfill it through your Lord, and no task is facilitated if you seek to fulfill it through yourself.”

And Allah knows best.

wassalam

Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)

Fighting the Ego (Jihad an-Nafs)
By Imam Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with him)

Imam Shafi`i said, may God have mercy on him:

“Only the sincere one (mukhlis) knows hypocrisy (riya’).”

This means that it is impossible to know the reality of hypocrisy and see its hidden shades except for one who resolutely seeks sincerity. That one strives for a long time (yajtahidu azmanan) searching and meditating and examining at length within himself until he knows or knows something of what hypocrisy is. This does not happen for everyone. Indeed, this happens only with the special ones (al-khawass). But for a given individual to claim that he knows what hypocrisy is, this is real ignorance on his part.

I shall mention in this book a chapter, God willing, in which you will see a type of wonder that will cool your eyes. To illustrate the great extent of the concealment of hypocrisy we only need relate the following from the Teacher and Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri [the sufi shaykh], may God have mercy on him, from his ‘Risala’ with our isnad previously mentioned.

He said:

“I heard Muhammad ibn al-Husayn say: I heard Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Ja`far say: I heard al-Hasan ibn `Alawiyya say: Abu Yazid [al-Bistami], may God be well pleased with him, said: I was for twelve years the blacksmith of my ego, then for five years I became the mirror of my heart (mir’atu qalbi), then for a year I looked at what lay between the two of them and I saw around me a visible belt [i.e. of kufr]. So I strove to cut it for twelve years and then looked again, and I saw around me a hidden belt. So I worked to cut it for five years, looking to see how to cut. Then it was unveiled for me and I looked at creation and saw that they were all dead. So I recited the funeral prayer over them.”

I (Imam Nawawi) say: That hypocrisy should be as inscrutable as this to the peerless master in this path [i.e. tasawwuf] is enough to show how greatly hidden it lies. His phrase: “I saw them dead” is the apex of worth and beauty, and seldom do other than the Prophet’s words, Blessings and Peace be upon him, gather up such wealth of meanings. I shall touch upon its meaning briefly. It means that after he had struggled long and hard and his ego had been disciplined and his heart illumined, and when he had conquered his ego and subdued it and achieved complete mastery over it, and it had subjected himself to him totally, at that time he looked at all created beings and found that they were dead and completely powerless:

  • they cannot harm nor can they benefit;
  • they cannot give nor can they keep back;
  • they cannot give life nor can they give death;
  • they cannot convey nor can they cut off;
  • they cannot bring near nor can they take away;
  • they cannot make happy nor can they make sad;
  • they cannot bestow nor can they deprive;
  • they possess for themselves neither benefit nor harm,
  • nor death, nor life, nor resurrection.

This, then, characterizes human beings as dead: they are considered dead in all of the above respects, they are neither feared nor entreated, what they have is not coveted, they are not shown off to nor fawned upon, one does not concern oneself with them, they are not envied nor disparaged, their defects are not mentioned nor their faults pursued and exposed, one is not jealous of them nor thinks much of whatever God-given favors they have received, and they are forgiven and excused for their shortcomings, although the legal punishments (al-hudud) are applied to them according to the Law. But the application of such punishment does not preclude what we have mentioned before, nor does it preclude our endeavoring to cover up their faults without disparaging them in the least.

This then is how the dead are viewed. And if someone mentions human beings in a dishonorable manner we forbid him from entering into that subject in the same way that we would if he were going to examine a person who died. We do not do anything for their sake nor do we leave Him for them. And we no more stop ourselves from fulfilling an act of obedience to God on their account than we do on account of a dead person, and we do not over-praise them. And we neither love their own praise for us nor hate their insults, and we do not reciprocate them.

In sum, they are as it were non-existent in all the respects we have mentioned. They are under God’s complete care and jurisdiction. Whoever deals with them in such a way, he has combined the good of the next world with that of the lower world. May God the Generous grant us success towards achieving this. These few words are enough to touch upon an explanation for his [Abu Yazid al-Bistami’s] saying — May God be well pleased with him.

Blessings and Peace upon the Purified Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

[Imam Nawawi’s ‘Bustan al-`arifin’ (The Garden of Gnostics), Beirut: Dar al-kitab al-`arabi, 1405/1985 p. 53-54.]

© 2001 – 2008 Tasawwuf.org

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad – Hypocrisy and Sincerity – a Talk

cambridge khutbas etc.: Hypocrisy & Sincerity

In this sermon, the sheikh relates a hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about the qualities that indicate hypocrisy (nifaq) in someone’s heart: telling lies, breaking promises, distorting the truth in an argument and breaking one’s pledge. He highlights the seriousness of these faults because of God’s command to be among the people of truth and sincerity (sidq), and discusses how they can affect us in everyday life.

Listen to this sermon

Download this sermon (21.7 MB, MP3)

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