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Living Simply: The Love of Meeting Allah (Part Nine)

Living Simply: Letting Go and Holding Fast

The Joy of the Believer (Part Nine)

door masjid

In order to get through life with ease, the early Muslims (salaf) focused on certain key ways of living that would make it spiritually and practically easier and more fruitful. They coined a term for the variegated rules that they lived by, a term that summarized the system of living for the Hereafter. They called it zuhd: detachment from this world. Other terms to describe zuhd are indifference towards worldly matters or simple or minimal living. This is the ninth article from a series of articles and podcasts by SeekersGuidance scholar, Shaykh Farid Dingle.

 

Introduction to Asceticism (Part One)

Listening More, Talking Less (Part Two)

Entertaining Ourselves to Death (Part Three)

Being Extremely Moderate (Part Four)

Evaluation of the Self (Part Five)

Wronging Others in Word and Deed (Part Six)

Spreading Muck (Part Seven)

Active Minimalism (Part Eight)

 

Since the believer’s ultimate goal and joy is Allah Most High and the next life, nothing fills his heart like drawing nearer to the time when he will meet Him. Naturally, then, we find the lore of the early Muslims replete with expressions of their wish to move on to Allah. All that held them here in this life was their occupation with deeds that would please Him. Besides death itself and good deeds, they also rejoiced at calamities because they knew they were expiations for sins. Ultimately, their joy was in the fact that they were believers because they appreciated how dear the believers are to Allah Most High.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever would love to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him. Whoever would hate to meet Allah, Allah hates to meet him. Death comes before meeting Allah.” (Tirmidhi) 

This means that whoever is terrified of dying because deep inside he sees that he has done nothing to establish a relationship with Allah, it is only reflective of the fact that Allah does not love him. The hadith concludes with the poignant mention of death: love of meeting Allah means love of death.

Jalal al-Din al-Rumi said:

O lovers! O lovers! It’s time to depart from the world,

I can hear with the ear of my heart the drum of departure from the Heavens above.

Abdullah ibn Masud said, “The believer has no relief except meeting Allah Himself.” This message was learned and repeated by his student, Masruq, who said, “There is no room that is better for a believer than the grave: he is free from the worries of this life and is safe from the punishment of Allah.” And Rabi ibn Khaytham said, “There is nothing waiting in the wings for the believer that is better for him than death.” This is ultimately because the believer has established a relationship with his kind and caring Lord—he feels how cherished he is in Allah’s eyes. Abu Hurayra said, “The believer is more valuable in Allah’s eyes than even the archangels that are close to Him.”

Those who have not worked on their relationship with their creator are not so keen on death. The Caliph Suleyman ibn Abd al-Malik (d. 99 AH) asked Abu Hazim (d. 140 AH) why we hate to die. He replied, 

“Because you have worked to develop your worldly lives and make it luxurious, and you have left your next life in ruins, so you don’t want to move from luxury to ruin.”

Besides death itself, the believer rejoices at deeds that he has been given the fortune of doing. He loves to see the signs of Allah’s love upon him. Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “Were it not for three things, I would wish that I had gone on to Allah: traveling in the Way of Allah, putting my head down in prostration, and sitting with a group of men who carefully pick out good words just as good dates are selected.” It is noticeable that he put great value in being in the presence of good company. It is an act of worship in itself.

Just as it is a joy to see one’s good deeds, it is also a joy to see what sacrifices one makes for Allah. It is narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whenever you leave something for Allah’s sake, Allah will give you something else that is even better than it.” This is a comfort for those who feel they are “missing out” in this life, support for those who are facing the difficulty of leaving sin, and a reason to rejoice for those who have made this sacrifice time and time again.

Even the fact of being saddened at one’s mistakes is a cause for joy. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever is pleased by his good deeds, and saddened by his bad deeds—that is what a believer is!”

Even calamities are a reason for the believer to rejoice. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The believer is amazing! If good befalls him, he praises Allah and thanks to Him. If an affliction befalls him, he seeks reward and is patient. The believer is rewarded for everything, even the very food he eats!” He is also narrated to have said, “No believer ever slips up, gets a cut, or is scratched for anything except that he committed a sin. And that which Allah overlooks is more.” He rejoices because he knows that it only comes as an expiation for sins or a means to raise him to levels of faith that he could have never otherwise reached.

In general, the believer is happy because he is in good hands: Allah Most High says, 

“Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light.” (Qur’an, 2:257) 

And He says, “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Heavy upon him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned for you and to the believers is kind and merciful.”

 

About the Author

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language which can be found here. 

The corresponding podcast is due for release soon.

 

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Can Women Be a Qadi (Judge)?

Question: Can women be a Qadi (Judge)?

Answer:

Walaikum assalam,

I hope you are doing well, insha’Allah.

It is valid in the Hanafi school for a woman to be a Qadi. [Quduri, Mukhtasar]

Historically, this was generally discouraged, as it was customarily considered to be contrary to a woman’s primary social responsibilities.

But if upheld in a dignified manner, it is permitted. A number of major Muslim countries have active female judges (Qadi’s) in senior positions.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

SeekersGuidance Course: On Worship: Shurunbulali’s Ascent to Felicity

On Worship (Purification, Prayer, Fasting, Zakat, and Hajj): Shurunbulali’s Ascent to Felicity

Need answers to day-to-day issues you encounter in worship? Register for this free SeekersGuidance Course and study one of the most comprehensive works of Sacred Law (fiqh) in the Hanafi school, Shurunbulali’s Ascent to Felicity (Maraqi al-Sa‘adat)

quran dome

About this Course

This course is an introduction to Hanafi law and practice done in great detail. In it, Ustadh Tabraze Azam takes you through the rulings on Purification, Prayer, Fasting, Zakat, Hajj and more providing insight and clarity to its meanings and implications for correct practice in worship. With its twenty-four downloadable sessions, you can progress in the study of this work at your own pace and have your questions addressed through live monthly classes. 

This is a Level One course in the Islamic Studies Curriculum and therefore does not require any prerequisite knowledge to register. It is delivered online and in English.   

 

Who Should Apply? 

Anyone wishing to learn and correctly apply the rules of Islamic law according to the Hanafi school, or for those seeking clarity on the day-to-day issues faced in matters of worship. It is also particularly useful as a primer for students of Islamic jurisprudence. If you would like to enrol for the equivalent of this course according to the Shafi’i school, take this course instead. 

 

Benefits and Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, you are expected to: 

  1. Understand the meaning of slavehood to Allah Most High and why it is important
  2. Learn the rules of purification and prayer that you are likely to encounter in your daily life
  3. Memorize the most important rules of wudu, ghusl, prayer, fasting, zakat and Hajj
  4. Gain an appreciation for the rigor of the science of Sacred Law (fiqh).

 

Register Here:

On Worship (Purification, Prayer, Fasting, Zakat, and Hajj): Shurunbulali’s Ascent to Felicity

 

Curricular Context

Before doing this course, consider taking the Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi): Getting Started With Your Belief and Practice course. 

 

Learn more about SeekersGuidance Curricula 

Click to learn more about the Islamic Studies Curriculum. If you wish to embark on a journey of Sacred knowledge as an absolute beginner in the Islamic science to scholarship and mastery, see more on the SeekersGuidance Steps Curriculum.  

 

Biography of Instructor – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, a small town on the east coast of England. He memorized the Qur’an in his youth and has led congregations in tarawih prayers at home and abroad. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Management from the University of Leicester, serving as the head of the university’s Islamic Society. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Amman, Jordan, to study the Islamic sciences full-time with a variety of distinguished traditional scholars. He is now an experienced teacher himself, answering religious questions regularly, and teaching students of knowledge privately and online. Presently, he is pursuing advanced studies and specialization in Amman where he resides with his wife and children. 

Introducing the Seekers Book Club – Revive the Art of Reading

Revive the Art of Reading

Recite. The first words revealed to our beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon). The birth of our religion is intertwined with recitation.

Our religion values language. It birthed an Ummah of lovers of language. The Muslim scholastic tradition gave the world their first and most extensive dictionaries. It gifted the world with poetry, rhetoric, and vast linguistic miracles. The Holy Quran is the Book of all Books.

After the Mongols sacking the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the River Tigris ran black with ink. Muslims are popularly credited through the “Golden Age of Islam” to have preserved the works of the great writers of the past, while medieval Europe, ignored these during the Dark Ages. Reading and seeking knowledge is an essential skill and practice for an informed and reforming society. Yet, it is becoming an art lost in the advance of technology.

Often, we fall in love with the idea of reading. But we become lost with how to read in order to gain the most benefit from the book.

SeekersGuidance aims to Revive the Art of Reading with the Seekers Book Club – An interactive session where our scholars take you on a journey to connect with the book. This session offers a unique experience to learn about the guest and their story. No prior reading required. 

The session will be live. Sign up now to reserve a place: Sign-up by entering your name and email. 

When you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email. Please follow the instructions to secure your place. Before the event, you will be sent a zoom link (limited numbers) and a YouTube link. As the zoom session is limited in numbers, others will be able to stream the session live on YouTube and still ask questions. 

Save the Date

First Session of Seekers Book Club

Last Sunday of every month, join one of our scholars in an interactive session discussing a book that the scholar personally recommends. Allow them to take you on a journey as they share their own unique experience with their book. Prepare, learn, and ask questions as we enjoy the realm of linguistic arts – thoughts poured into words, directly imprinting onto your heart.

Discover multiple perspectives, guidance on how to connect with the book, and build your understanding of the book. This is a unique opportunity to spend time with an exceptional scholar. 

This month: Sunday 6th December 2020

The Lives of Man with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani at 7pm EST. 

Discover the unique experience Shaykh Faraz Rabbani had whilst reading this book about our existence before we knew ourselves and the reality of our life after this life. What kind of realizations or reflections did you have reading this book? We wish to hear from you at the session.

The session will be live. Sign up now to reserve a place: seekersguidance.org/bookclub

Be Prepared: Understanding the Wisdom of Calamities

Be Prepared: Understanding the Wisdom of Calamities

By Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Pain. We cannot escape pain. Pain, in this life, is inevitable. We are here to be tested to determine our unending rank and recompense in the Hereafter. These tests are usually in the broad categories of ease – which demands gratitude – or difficulty – which requires a combination of patience and the expectation of a reward from God. 

The benefits that rain down upon us from these trials are numerous and well worth examining closely. However, prior to this, the difficulties need to be understood, felt, experienced, and processed. 

This is how those benefits dye a believer’s perception with the hues of a deeper faith. This is how one becomes malleable to the trials that hammer down upon us to shape us into better versions of ourselves. This is how the friction of pain polishes us to the point that we glisten and gleam. 

 


The Prophet’s Approach to Pain 

Running from the pain, or blocking it out with distractions, or feigned shows of strength – deny one of the fruits indicated above. Indeed, the greatest being in God’s creation (peace and blessings be upon him) engaged deeply with his human experiences, whilst remaining within the bounds of his slavehood to God. 

When his son, Ibrahim, passed away whilst only a toddler, he said, “Indeed the eye weeps, and the heart grieves – yet we don’t say anything but that which pleases our Loving Lord. We, by your parting – O Ibrahim – are truly saddened” (Bukhari). He felt the emotions and allowed the physical responses Allah created in us to occur and expressed what he felt. This was tempered with limiting the expression of grief to the words that increase one only in closeness to Allah, and not anything that would do otherwise. This is the response of someone who understood the purpose and benefit of tests and pain. 

 

How Do I Process My Pain? 

Besides the points gleaned from the blessed words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), we have other gifts from the Qur’an’s perfect guidance. It gives us an understanding of the inherent – yet occasionally occluded – beauty in the trials, and the foreknowledge of the inevitable occurrence of these events. 

These two matters grant the believer a deep grasp of the wisdom behind trials, and aid one in seeing that one will grow and benefit from them. Without them, one can be crippled with pain, from not understanding the matter as it should be.

 

Working Towards Iron-Clad Fortitude 

Surah al-Hadid is an ocean that gives wave after wave of goodness and guidance. There are two particular verses that light the way in this discussion particularly well. They will be discussed briefly. 

“No calamity hits in the land, nor in your own selves, except that it has been in a tremendous book before We beautifully created it. Indeed, that, for Allah, is very easy. So you don’t be excessively grieved by what escapes you, nor overly exultant because of what He granted you…”

(Qur’an, 57:22-23) 

There are some Arabic words in the former of the two verses which deserve a closer examination. Seeing the beauty underlying the word choices in the Qur’an eventually gives one certainty that it is from God, and that every single word – in all canonical variants – was specifically chosen by Him. 

“What Hits Was Never Going to Miss” 

The first word of note is asaaba – ‘َأَصَاب.’ It has a root meaning which indicates the occurrence of events in the proper and most fitting manner. Added to this is the nuance of water flowing and settling in a spot, and the usage of a derivative of the root to express an arrow hitting the bullseye. This analysis of the word is not extensive. 

When we factor in the above nuances we see that every trial in our lives is tailor-made for us. It has hit its mark. We can’t escape it, and pondering the “If only…” scenarios is fruitless. 

It came at the right time, in the right way, and with the right intensity. It could not have been escaped, nor could it have been outrun. 

This is beautifully expressed in the hadith, “Know, what hit you was never going to miss, and what missed you was never meant to hit” (Tirmidhi).

This brings great ease to the believer. He takes the necessary precautions but realizes that what came into his life of difficulties, and what he was not affected by, are all matters that were meant specifically for him. 

The result is relief from the paranoia and excessive worry over being affected by the evil eye, black magic, and other matters that are a cause of stress and anxiety to those who don’t realize that Allah is in complete control.

A believer is at ease, knowing that whatever happens is tailor-made to bring him good through some avenue in his life. Everything is perfectly suited for his long-term, ever-lasting benefit. 

 

Perfectly Suited Trials 

We can be sure that everything that happens is perfect, and not just inevitable. What hits is actually perfect and beautiful, as is the missing of the arrows they were not meant to hit the mark. 

How do we know this? In expressing the creation of the calamities, Allah used a verb derived from the root bara – ‘برأ.’ It is understood, generally, to mean ‘creating’. However, a deeper analysis of the word indicates meanings of being devoid of deficiencies and flaws, which gives us the understanding of something being perfected and immaculately formed. 

Infuse these nuances into the reading of the verse, and you get the understanding that all tests are perfectly planned and beautifully designed by God to be the best possible situation for us – with eternity in mind. The benefit of the trial is to elevate, in Paradise, the immortal version of every believer. 

He is the canvas, and the calamity is the paint that alters the immaculate nature of that canvas. Focusing in on the actual point of contact may make one think the paint has stained the perfect white canvas, yet, when one steps back and looks with a gaze that shows the merging on the individual ‘stains’, it present before one an image of striking beauty, nuance, meaning, artistry, and skill. This is how all tests are for the believer, and God is the perfect architect who has designed your life. Reflect on this…

All that remains is the appropriate response. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

[I’m truly amazed] at the affair of the believer. Everything that happens to him is the best possible thing for him – and that’s not for anyone but the believer. If happiness comes he is grateful – and that’s best for him. And if harm comes to him he is patient – and that’s best for Him (Muslim). 

 

All Matters are Decreed 

Everything that afflicts us has been pre-planned by God, the perfect designer. The verse entails guidance about general calamities, such as pandemics, economic instability, floods, earthquakes, and other such wide-ranging trials. It also highlights the personal pain which hits harder and is felt more keenly by the individual. It is all in the right time and place, in the best way. 

Knowing that it is known to God, and preordained is also a huge blessing. With this knowledge, one can process this pain effectively.

Not knowing this can lead one to excessive grief that holds one back, and, in cases of ease, it can lead one to become too fixated on a blessing, such that it can make one forget it came from God. This can then lead people to arrogance and boasting, because they see themselves as intrinsically deserving these blessings, and thereby feel superior to others who don’t have it. But this is a discussion for another time… 

Here, we wish to see that being aware that the slings and arrows of fortune are, in fact, gracious. One need not take arms against the sea of troubles, for it’s waves come to bring benefits to your shores. 

 

Forewarned is Forearmed 

Knowing that all matters are decreed provides a believer to see things differently: the trials of life will come, certainly. But they are carried by wisdom, and they leave gifts and goodness in their wake. 

Knowing that a loved one who passes onto the Hereafter at a particular time was meant to go makes the parting easier. The pain is there, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) expressed. That is the human condition. However, the pain is lessened knowing that matters are being directed by Allah, who has our best interests in mind. More so, than even ourselves. He sees what we do not, and knows what we do not. This knowledge makes his decision better than what we assume to be good for ourselves.

One knows that this life is temporary. Only that which is done for the sake of Allah lasts. One sees that the pain is temporary, and a test, just like the blessings, which are temporary, and a test. 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t feel sadness, or that it negates one’s patience. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) named the year of the passing of his wife, Khadija, and his uncle, Abu Talib, ‘The Year of Sadness.’ He felt grief despite having the perfect spiritual state.

What the verse negates is intense and excessive grief that stems from a lack of understanding of the purpose of calamities. This can be understood from the juxtaposition of the grief with the word that indicates excessive happiness in a blessing that leads to arrogance and boasting. 

Not seeing the wisdom behind trials, and not seeing the benefits they provide for a Muslim, makes detaching from the aspects of this life that we have a strong bond with difficult. One only feels the sense of loss and pain more keenly. 

Knowing that this is the nature of this life allows the believer to prepare himself. Blessings are enjoyed – but they don’t distract one from the Giver of the blessings. The pain of trials is felt, but it develops the believer. He becomes closer to God, and grains further gifts from Him. 

The grief and happiness benefit when one knows it is a trial ultimately designed to raise one higher in Paradise. Happiness and grief devoid of this are – for the believer – dysfunctional. They hinder him from his long-term benefit. That’s why understanding this allows one to be prepared, and so, forearmed.

 

About the Author

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return, he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.

Living Simple: Asceticism (Zuhd) – Listening More, Talking Less

Living Simple: Asceticism

Part Two: Listening More, Talking Less by Shaykh Farid Dingle

In order to get through life with ease, the Early Muslims (salaf) focussed on certain key ways of living that would make it spiritually and practically easier and more fruitful. They coined a term for the different and variegated rules that they lived by, a term that summarised the system of living for the Hereafter. They called it Zuhd: Unattachment in This World. For purposes of this article series, we have found the best match in terms of meaning to be asceticism. Other terms to describe Zuhd are unattachment or being unconcerned for worldly matters, or living simple. This is the second article from a series of articles and podcasts by SeekersGuidance scholar, Shaykh Farid Dingle.

Introduction to Asceticism (Part one)

This article deals with the importance of listening: listening to others and listening to sacred knowledge. One should only speak with knowledge and this requires that one has learned first. The microphone fever and desire to be the next best things bars one from benefiting oneself and others. 


Imam Waki ibn al-Jarrah opens this chapter with the words of Abdullah ibn Masud, ‘If you can, be a listener and not a talker.’

The self-centered ego loves itself, its ideas, and the sound of its voice. This is very dangerous. One has to train oneself to be a listener in relationships so as to give to others, and to be a listener to revelation so that one can learn, apply, and benefit. Ibn Ata Illah says, ‘Bury your existence in the earth of obscurity, for a seed that is not buried properly never grows properly.’ 

One has to train oneself to be a listener in relationships so as to give to others, and to be a listener to revelation so that one can learn, apply, and benefit.

In the Islamic sciences, this means that you listen to your teachers, read what books they guide you to read, and “absorb” their way of doing things. There is room for your own individuality, but not in the beginning. One has to listen a lot first.

In our public lives and on social media, this means being reserved and only expressing opinions that reflect wisdom and benefit to others. Continual reference to oneself, to one’s own opinions, and views that are neither based on religious nor worldly learning are often based left out. As Ibrahim ibn Adham said,

Whoever says whatever he wants kills himself.

Connecting this maxim to the specific sphere of learning Sacred Knowledge, Waki quotes Hasan al Basri saying,

Either be learned, a learner, a listener, or someone who would love to do that. Never be anything else lest you should be destroyed.’

Someone who acts without knowledge, or worse, preaches or teaches without knowledge is in great danger of falling into sin or misrepresenting the religion of Allah. One must listen first in order to learn and act according to the Sunna in a prophet fashion.

Umar ibn al Khattab gave words of encouragement to anyone even so much as trying to try to learn. He said, ‘Someone who is listening but cannot hear has the same reward as someone who is listening and can hear.’  The next hadith:

‘No man ever traveled in search of knowledge save that Allah made easy for him the way to Paradise. Whoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be sped up by his lineage. No people ever sat in one of Allah’s houses studying together the Book of Allah and learning it together save that mercy overspread them, the angels encircled them, and Allah mentioned them to those with him. They remain as His guest as long as they do not delve into something else.’

These words are of the utmost worth and encouragement. It tells us that the physically moving to go and listen to Sacred Knowledge is itself a means of divine help in overcoming one’s spiritual obstacles. Physically being with others is also very important, and not the same as merely reading an article or listening to a recording. This also applies to “being there” for someone: lending someone an ear on the phone is not like being there to give them a hug, and physical contact is a very important medium of communication. How often do we see the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) touch or hold someone he is teaching!

Physical contact is a very important medium of communication.

The hadith also emphasizes the importance of studying with others. The momentum gained by group effort, particularly when it is towards a religious goal that transcends the current generation is something truly felt by any student of knowledge. That is to say, the sense of being part of the tradition. There is, as is said, strength in numbers.

No One Was Born a Scholar

Furthering the theme of the need to listen before one talks (or learn before one teaches), Waki cites the words of Abdullah ibn Masud, ‘No one was ever born a scholar. Knowledge is only acquired by study.’ These words tie in very subtly with the previous hadith: just because you are born Muslim, or born into a “religious” family, it doesn’t automatically make you a scholar or religious. It takes personal effort to get where other people got. This person’s effort means listening, studying, memorizing, and eventually positive debate to order to truly take on and inherit the Islamic science one is trying to learn.

Waki quotes the Abu al Darda saying,

‘Learn before knowledge is taken away. Knowledge goes when scholars go. The scholar and the student have the same reward.’

These words tell us Sacred Knowledge is something rare and precious. It is not something that one can be careless or complacent about. It is not only because its source is divine, or that it can be very complex, it is also because it can only be taken from scholars, and no simply stored on someone’s hard drive. Someone who just reads by himself may when get lots of bytes of knowledge into their brain, but they can never fully understand and master the science without a teacher. 

This concept of inheritance is mirrored by another hadith: The scholars are the heirs of the prophets. The prophets do not leave as inheritance dinars and dirhams. All they leave is sacred knowledge. So whoever takes it, takes a mighty share.’ This “mighty share” must be “inherited” and not simply dug out of books. Through tutelage, listening, discussing, and spending time with teachers, the real inheritance process can happen. That said, it is definitely not true that books are of no use or have no role. The large and vast depositories of Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh, Usul, Arabic language, and literature play an indispensable role in the inheritance process. It is just that cracking the role and use of all these variance pieces of information can only be threaded together by someone who has been truly trained in the tradition.

Through tutelage, listening, discussing, and spending time with teachers, the real inheritance process can happen

The author then concludes this chapter with the non plus ultra of learning: the Qur’an. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace said, ‘The best of you is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.’ The book of Allah is the core of all Islamic learning; its role in the life of the scholar, student, and laymen is central and paramount. It is the ultimate word to physically listen to, to intellectually listen to, and to listen to with one’s heart.

When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and pay heed.

(Qur’an, 7: 204)

The Prophet himself (peace and blessings be upon him) was told to listen to the Qur’an while it was being revealed and not to try and even mouth the words (Qur’an, 75: 16-19).

Although the author doesn’t mention it here, listening to oneself is also important. By “self” I mean soul and not ego. Jalal al-Din al Rumi invites the listener to listen to the internal pain of his own soul by saying,

Listen to the complaint of the Flute as it tells its story…

By putting the word “listen” at the beginning of his spiritual magnum opus, the Masnawi, we can understand that it is of the utmost importance to spiritual change. That is, if we do care to listen!


About the Author

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language which can be found here. 

The corresponding podcast is due for release soon.

Living Simple – Introduction to Asceticism (Zuhd)

An Introduction to Living Simple: Asceticism

Part One: Zuhd Literature by Shaykh Farid Dingle

In order to get through life with ease, the Early Muslims (salaf) focussed on certain key ways of living that would make it spiritually and practically easier and more fruitful. They coined a term for the different and variegated rules that they lived by, a term that summarised the system of living for the Next Life. They called it Zuhd: Unattachment in This World. For purposes of this article series, we have found the best match in terms of meaning to be asceticism. Other terms to describe Zuhd are unattachment or being unconcerned for worldly matters, or living simple. This is the first article from a series of articles and podcasts by SeekersGuidance scholar, Shaykh Farid Dingle. 


About Zuhd Literature

Based on this theme, and exactly under this title, many Early Muslims wrote books collecting hadiths and wisdom of the righteous.

Abdullah ibn Al Mubarak (d. 181 AH), Imam Ahmad, Ibn Abi Dunya, Abu Dawud, and Bayhaqi besides many others compiled the sayings and practices of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the early Muslims regarding the universal approach to life.

One such work on this topic was that a very influential teacher of Imam al Shafii, Waki ibn al Jarrah (d. 197). Waki was a major hadith narrator and scholar of law (fiqh). To get a sense of what kind of a man he was, here are a few lines of poetry that Imam al Shafii composed after he asked him for advice on seeking Sacred Knowledge:

I complained to Waki of my bad memory

So he told me to leave off sin.

He said Sacred Knowledge is a light

And that the light of Allah is not given to sinners.

Waki was not just a scholar of Islamic Law (faqih), or just a hadith narrator (muhadith). Above and beyond his learning, he was someone who had genuinely internalized the spiritual teachings of Islam and become a beacon of light to the hearts of those around him – or rather a beacon of light for all posterity. Waki opens his work on Asceticism (Zuhd) with the words of Muhammad ibn Kab al Quradhi (d. 108), ‘When Allah wishes well for a slave, He makes him uninclined towards This World, gives him a proper understanding of religion, and opens his eyes to his faults. Whoever has been given these have been given the good of this life and the next.’

These three traits summarise the whole book and whole way of life of the Early Muslims (salaf): 1. a heart that is turned towards Allah & the Hereafter and away from the Devil & this life, 2. sound and objective learning in Islam, and 3. the willingness and aptitude to engage in personal change.

Letting Go of This Life

He then follows it up with another piece of wisdom from the Prophetic Companion Abu Waqid al Laythi that shows why exactly the Early Muslims (salaf) focussed so much on Asceticism (Zuhd). He said,

‘We searched all the deeds that could be done in this life, and never found anything more helpful in striving for the next life than being unconcerned about this life.’

The reason why this is so central to the Islamic way of life is that whilst we long for this life and its pleasures, we have to persistently contend with desires that pull us towards the haram: illicit sexual relations, amassing money in haram ways, the lust of showing off or belittling others, etc. As soon as we are able to let go a little, we give ourselves a fighting chance of keeping to the straight and narrow while still giving our bodies what they need. As Umar ibn al Khattab said,

‘You will never be able to work for the next life with anything better than unattachment to this life.’

Live a Balanced Life

Waki then clarifies a very important point: one being uninterested in this life does not mean one does not get involved, or even enjoy, this life. The point is that we use our time and opportunities in this life to maximize our benefit in the next life. Although this often means doing without, consuming less, and generally delaying our own gratification, it doesn’t necessarily mean we ignore our own emotional and physical pleasures. It means we temper them and use our emotional and physical pleasures for worship of Allah.

The Trade-Offs in the Face of Limited Time

The great jurist, hadith scholar, and ascetic Sufyan al Thawri states, ‘Abstinence in this life means working with the assumption that you will not live long. It is not about eating coarse food or wearing poor clothes.’ When you know that your time on earth is extremely limited, and your time in the next life is not limited at all, you “trade-in” whatever you can of this life for the next. Sometimes the trade-off means less immediate enjoyment, such as fasting, and sometimes it is not a trade-off at all: you literally get to keep your cake and eat it. There is a reward, for example, in celebrating Eid, getting married, or breaking your fast, even though there is no obvious and outward “abstinence” in these acts of worship. This is a very fundamental point indeed and makes a very clear and determined line between Islamic asceticism and asceticism as applied by many other religions.

Earn Allah’s Pleasure

The point is to take advantage of your life and not let your attachment to it lead you away from finding ways to earn Allah’s good pleasure. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Take advantage of five things before five things happen: your life before you die, your health before you get sick, your free time before you become occupied, your youth before you get too old, and your wealth before you become poor.’

Avoid Complacency – Life is Short

Another aspect of the way of Zuhd is not being complacent. Waki quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying,

‘There are two blessings that most people sell themselves short on: free time and health.’ As the quote from Sufyan al Thawri stated previously The proper way to live life is to assume you do not have a lot of time. Complacency creeps in when we assume we have all the time in the world to get our obligations done, or to repent from our bad ways. Allah reminds of death’s eminence in the Quran saying, ‘Indeed the very death from which you all are fleeing is already coming to you.’ (Quran, 62: 8).  And as Imam al Ghazali says, ‘Whoever wakes up in the morning thinking that he will be alive at night, or vice versa, will necessarily be plagued by some form of laziness or procrastination, and will only be able to travel forward at the slowest of paces.’

This sense of urgency is exactly what Mujahid, one of the greatest scholars of Quranic exegesis (tafsir) and law (fiqh), learned from Ibn Umar. He told him, as Waki and others narrate to us, ‘Mujahid! When you enter the morning, don’t assume you will be alive in the evening, and when you enter the evening, don’t assume you will be alive in the morning. Take advantage of being healthy before you get sick, and take advantage of being alive before you die. You have no idea what will happen to you tomorrow.’

Understand Life and Seek Basic Knowledge

In order to clarify what is meant by the opening words of Muhammad ibn Kab al Quradhi, Waki cites a hadith that delineates the way and point of studying Sacred Knowledge. ‘O Messenger of Allah,’ said one of the Companions, ‘teach me something really novel (gharaib)!’

‘Why are you asking about what is novel?’ he replied. ‘Have you applied the basics of knowledge yet?’

‘O Messenger of Allah, what are the basics of knowledge?’

‘Do you appreciate who and what the Lord is?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

‘What have you done to honor His due.’

‘Such and such.’

‘Do you recognize the fact that you will die?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

‘So what have you prepared for it?’

‘Such and such.’

‘Go and apply the basics of knowledge properly first, and then come and learn novel sacred knowledge.’

We can see very clearly that Sacred Knowledge in the eyes of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and in the eyes of the Early Muslims was nothing to do with glamour, self-gratification, or debating abstruse and esoteric theories of law, being or anything else. It was about an attitude towards oneself and others that were dyed and imbued by one’s deeds, fear, awe, respect, and love of Allah Most High.

Waki quotes another hadith to the same effect:

‘O Messenger of Allah, verily Allah has blessed all of the Muslims by you, so teach me something special [that no one else knows]!’

‘Are you going to apply what I teach you?’ the Companion replied.

‘Yes.’

‘Whenever you decide to do something, think carefully about its end result: if it is good, do it; if it misguidance, then don’t do it. Now go!’

It is in this very vein that Waki quotes Umar ibn al Khattab saying, ‘Understanding life (fiqh) is not something acquired by becoming old, rather it is a gift from Allah and provision from Him.’

Die Before You Die

As an acid test of sound and meaning Islamic knowledge, Waki cites another hadith:

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) recited, ‘As for he whose heart Allah opens up to Islam, he is on a brilliant light from his cherishing Lord.’ Then he said, ‘When light dawns upon the heart, it dissipates and spreads.’

‘O Messenger of Allah, does it have any tell-tale signs?’

‘Yes, a lack of concern for the abode of delusion, turning to the abode of immortality, and readying oneself for death before one dies.’

This hadith sums up the method and results of this beautiful way of life and provides the checks and balances needed to make sure that one is truly going in the right direction.

First, there is a drive from within to make things right again with Allah. That light spreads and manifests in various aspects of one’s life making life more lucid and meaningful. The sign of this happening is taking the practical measures to fix things up before one dies.

This requires that one let go of this world a little, and it results in one letting go completely. Dying before one dies, so as to speak.

This is the theme of the Asceticism (Zuhd) literature. Easy words to read. Hard words to put into practice.


About the Author

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language which can be found here. 

The corresponding podcast is due for release soon.

Gratitude is the Best Attitude – Friday Reminder with Shaykh Yusuf Weltch 

Gratitude is the Best Attitude – Friday Reminder

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch 

In this week’s Friday Reminder, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch discusses the importance of being in a permanent and active state of gratitude and how we can all learn to arrive at such a state through deep and honest reflection upon our blessings. The prize? A heart at peace through closeness to God.


A Great Quality Praised by the Greatest of Mankind

Amongst the greatest qualities that Allah Most High praises in the Qur’an is gratitude, and we see that shaytan (satan) tells Allah that he will try to misguide us and that he will try to take us off this path to Allah. He says, “you will not find majority of them to be grateful” (Quran, 7:17). Allah tells us that he is our enemy and that we should treat him as our enemy! 

Allah Most High tells us about this quality of gratitude, He (Most High) says, “Allah would not punish you if you are grateful and you believe” (Quran, 4:147)We are often blind to the blessings that God showers upon us in our daily lives. And so we wrongly attribute our talents and blessings to our own efforts and blame our hardships on the failures and shortcomings of others.
This leads the human being into a state of complaint (shakwa). And for the one who complains much, God will give them much more to complain about.

As for the one who recognizes who they really are, they see everything as a freely given gift by God and so enter into a state of complete gratitude (shukr). And for the one that is grateful, God will them much more to be grateful for. “If you show gratitude, I will increase you” (Quran 14:7).

However, this quality of gratitude is very easy to neglect in our day-to-day lives. We see the blessings of Allah Most High as something merely normal, as something that must be there, something that is just common. We don’t realize the gravity of these blessings from Allah Most High. Or even worse – we don’t acknowledge them as blessings of our Lord Almighty.

 

The Conditions of True Gratitude

To have true gratitude to Allah Most High requires three efforts:

  1. To acknowledge that whatever blessing we have – it is from Allah Most High. That blessing is from Allah Most High. 
  2. To acknowledge that what we have is a blessing, this also accounts for those things which are undesirable, even some of the calamities that befall us and the tribulations and the tests that we experience in our day-to-day lives. They tend to be very beautiful for us spiritually. They are lessons that we can take, ways that we can refine our character, ways we can turn to Allah Most High in neediness and tribulation to acknowledge that these things are blessings.
  3. To use these blessings in a way that is pleasing to Allah Most High by reflecting on the blessings that we have, we will grow and we will increase in our love of Allah Most High.

Taking in the virtue of gratitude; we should all strive for this great quality, we should always see Allah Most High in all that we experience and feel. If some difficult affair presents itself to us, we should be thankful that Allah Most High has gifted us an opportunity to draw closer to him. All that we have is from Allah and to him it will all return.

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Human Potential – The Source of Yearning: The Primordial Purpose

Human Potential – The Source of Yearning: The Primordial Purpose

by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

This is the second of a series of articles by SeekersGuidance internal scholar Shaykh Yusuf Weltch on human potential. Shaykh Yusuf poses thought-provoking ideas about what humans are capable of; both success and destruction. How does one truly and deeply desire what the heart desires – God?


You may be asking yourself, “If transcending to the fulfillment of human potential hinges on the deep desire for God, how does one acquire such a passionate desire?” Reflect on the saying of Allah Most High,

“This is a reminder. Let whoever wishes, take the way to his Lord. But you will only wish to do so if God wills—God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Qur’an, 76:29–30).

​This verse and many more like it shed light on realities relating to human desire and inclination toward the Divine.

For this reason, the murid (the one seeking) is sometimes referred to as the murad (the one sought). This means that those who seek Allah Most High are merely those who Allah Most High seeks. We see an elite group of Allah’s righteous servants referred to in the Qur’an as the ​muqarrabun​—those brought near. In essence, the reality is that one’s heart, desires, inclinations, and so on are —as the Messenger of Allah tells us—‘between the two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful; He turns them as He wishes.’ (Tirmidhi, Ahmed)

This realization, that we don’t have as much control over our hearts as we thought we had, can be quite daunting for those who ponder upon it too much. In fact, this realization should greatly humble us and bring forth from deep within us a great state of brokenness and desperation to Allah Most High.

Even though creation is existentially in this shattering state of desperation before Allah at every moment, it is in the embracing of this state that draws us nearer to Him. It is narrated that Musa (peace be upon him) asked Allah, “Where shall I seek You out?” He (Allah) replied, “Seek Me out with those whose hearts are broken for My sake,” (Abu Nu’aym, Hilya al-Awliya)

One can find solace, however, in the fact that Allah Most High has given us a profound gift. He has given us a key to unlock His limitless treasures; supplication (du’a). The best of that which you can ask Allah Most High for is the desire to draw near to Him. Ibn ‘Ataillah al-Sakandari said in one of his aphorisms, “The best of what you can seek from Him is that which He seeks from you.” (Hikam Ibn Ataillah, al-Hikma 75)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would constantly beseech Allah Most High saying, “O Turner of the hearts! Make my heart firm on Your religion and obedience.” (Ahmad)

So, to answer your question, I say plead to Allah Most High to fill your heart with the desire and yearning for His nearness and be certain of His acceptance. The proof that He intends to give you what you ask is that He allowed you to ask. Lastly, strive your best to obey Him and travel the Prophetic path of guidance.

َوإذا َسألك ِعبَاِدى َعنى فإنى قریٌبۖ أجیُب َدْعَوَة ٱل َّداع إذا َدَعانۖ فلیَْستَجیبُو۟ا لِى َولیُْؤِمنو۟ا بى لَعلُهْم یَْرشُدوَن ِِِِِِِِ

When My servants ask you (O Prophet) about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond (with obedience) to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided (to the Right Way).


About the Author

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied inheritance law, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance teachers team in the summer of 2019.

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The Power of Intention -Turning the Mundane into Sacred

“The Power of Intention – Turning the Mundane into Sacred” – Friday Reminder

Imam Yama Niazi

The Best of Actions and the Purest in the Sight of your Lord

In one hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) told the companions, “shall I guide you to an action that is the best of all actions the purest in the sight of your Lord and one that raises your rank and is better than you spending in the way of Allah through gold and silver and better that you should meet your enemies in battle that they strike you and you strike them?” 

They said, “Indeed oh Messenger of Allah! Tell us what is this great action!” He said, “the remembrance (dhikr) of Allah Most High.”

Indeed in another hadith qudsi – a hadith in which the prophet (peace and blessings upon him) mentioned what Allah says – he said: “I am as my servant thinks of me and I am with him when he remembers me. If he remembers me to himself I will remember him to myself. And if he remembers me in a group or gathering I shall remember him in a group and gathering better than theirs.” Meaning: the gathering of the great angels in the heavens.

Allah tells us in the Qur’an “remember me and I shall remember you.” (2:152)

 

The Essence of our Religion

In essence, our religion revolves around the verse from surah Fatiha (1:4), “You alone O Lord do we worship and You alone we ask for help.”

We’re with Allah in this world, we’re with Allah in the next world, we’re with Allah in our grave and we’re with Allah in our hereafter on the Day of Judgment – all that we do is about pleasing our Lord Allah.

 

Turning the Mundane into Sacred

Now remembering Allah often doesn’t entail that we sit from morning to evening and just recite the Qur’an or make remembrance (dhikr) all day long. Though wouldn’t that be wonderful? However, we cannot do that all day long. We have obligations towards our families, towards our parents, we have jobs, we have school and we have a lot of different things that we tend to on a daily basis. However, there is a way to convert all of these mundane simple acts, and make them sacred, make them pleasing to our Lord and Creator Allah Most High.

As when ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) described the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), she said, “he used to remember Allah in all of his states.” 

So how can we remember Allah? 

 

The Key to Transformation

We remember Allah through every action that we do. Ask yourself before you do an action, “is this for the sake of Allah? How did the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) do this? What does the sacred law (shari’a) say about this action that I’m doing?”
For example, you’re going to go to the market to bring some food for your family. You can just get in the car, go to the store and just come back and never have thought about Allah. 

Or, as you leave your home you say, “I intend by going to the market to bring permissible (halal) provisions to feed my family as this is an obligation upon me. Therefore I seek your pleasure and your acceptance and your reward.” Then you go for the sake of Allah while making sure you bring everything that is permissible (halal) and good. This becomes rewarding for you! Even when we go to sleep at night; we intend to rest our bodies so that we can wake up and worship later whether it be through prayer or things like providing for our families.

Even when we go to work – we intend the pleasure of Allah. “I’m going to go seek the permissible (halal) provision for myself and my family and to support myself.” This is rewarded and this is a sacred act. There is nothing that doesn’t become sacred if it is for Allah Most High. All of this becomes sacred, all of this becomes rewarded.

 

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