Posts

Owning or gifting books on other religions

Question: Is it sinful to have textbooks on other religions or to give them to others?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Having books of other religions would only be sinful if there was a very high chance of reading them, leading to disbelief. Most of the time that is not usually the case. They are just used for educational reasons to help us understand the world around us.

If there is a genuine concern that a particular book would misguide people or that a particular person would be misguided by exposure to a certain book about other religions, then it would be forbidden for them to buy it.

Returning a book about other religions to a school is their property, and one would have no choice but to return to them.

Please also see:
https://seekersguidance.org/courses/the-bible-through-a-muslim-lens-exploring-christianity-with-an-expert-in-comparative-religion/

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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 craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Ten Ways to Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship? Nour Merza gives women ten practical ways to spiritually benefit from this blessed month.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. When their menstrual period begins many women find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in. This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities, and challenges that Allaj has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying Allah, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near Allah. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

1. Increase the Remembrance of Allah

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such as subhan Allah, alhamdulliLlah and Allahu akbar. If you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking Allah’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, insha Allah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase Supplication 

Supplication (dua) is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of supplication is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful supplications of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, or reaching out to Allah with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Duas That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed Others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members, or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the peace and blessings  (salawat) on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. 

4. Gain Islamic Knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersGuidance podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your Charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through SeekersGuidance. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make Your Responsibilities a Form of Worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please Allah, which makes them a type of worship. Ask Allah to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

Although the Hanafi school holds that women cannot touch the mushaf or recite the Qur’an while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such a heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to Allah. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask Allah to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that Allah is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to Help Mothers Worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray tarawih. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman.

10. Spread Love and Light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers, and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

 

The Night Journey & Ascension – Layla al-Isra wa al-Mi’raj – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills [Quran, 24:35] 

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent 

“He certainly saw of the Greatest of Signs of His Lord.” [Quran, 53:18]

In describing what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw on the Night of Ascension, Allah (Most High) says that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw the “Greatest of Signs”!  

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw beyond everything to the Light of Allah Most High; whilst Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) had only seen the mountain!

“The heart did not lie [about] what it saw.”  [Quran, 53,11]

Speaking about the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), Allah (Most High) calls Him ‘Fuad’ or ‘Heart’; and in describing His experience on the Night of Ascension, Allah Most High said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did not lie in what He saw. 

Normally, we would say that ‘he did not lie in what he said’, thus describing for us that what was seen cannot even be described by words or even comprehended by us. 

“The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve…” [Quran, 53:17]

On that night, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did not even blink upon seeing what He saw, but Syedina Musa (Peace be upon him) collapsed upon seeing what he saw!

 The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw the Greatest of the Signs (ayat) of Allah (Most High) – Al Kubra. 

Hell is a sign, Paradise is a sign, the Throne is a sign, but if you see the Greatest of Signs, the rest becomes nothing; when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw Gabriel (peace be upon him) from where he had ascended, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) described him as a small bird, and then as a worn and tattered cloth. 

In what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw there is a secret: He did not tell all that He saw, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw what He saw as it is – He saw the reality of it!  the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saw with his heart, and He saw reality and how it works.

For us, the baraka (blessing) we take from the journey of Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and what he saw is that when he came back and after seeing the Greatest of Signs, Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) cried when the young baby died. Then, he carried stones to build his masjid, he asked about the black woman who used to clean the masjid and he was told: “you claim to be a Prophet!”

And all this despite having seen the greatest of signs.

Hence, for us, if the Greatest of Creation after seeing the Greatest of Signs humbled himself to come back and be with us, to whom else should we look! 

“…Follow Me and Allah will love you…”  [Quran, 3:31]

Allahumma salli alaa Nur.

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

 

Courses Offered by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Your Faith in Challenging Times: Turning to Allah in all One’s States

Articles, Podcasts, and Answers from Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

 


Continue Your Journey for Knowledge

All SeekersGuidance offerings are free. Convenient and reliable knowledge taught by trained and reliable scholars, delivered over a decade.

Sign up for an on-demand course, or engage in a structured live course.

Browse relevant articles, discover answers to your questions or listen to podcasts anywhere and anytime on inspirational and useful topics.

Visit seekersguidance.org for more.

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Filial Piety: Being Dutiful Towards One’s Parents: A SeekersGuidance Reader

Filial Piety: A Collection of Trusted Resources on Being Dutiful to Your Parents

SeekersGuidance Readers provide the seeker with a purposely curated list of articles, answers, podcasts, and courses from SeekersGuidance on a particular topic. These guides serve as a gateway to knowledge and guidance. 

My Father Was Smarter Than I Though – By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

It is a central Islamic virtue to be thankful to one’s parents, for everything they have done and continue to do for us. Allah Most High says,

“And We have charged man concerning his parents — his mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning was in two years — Be thankful to Me, and to thy parents; to Me is the homecoming.” (Qur’an, 31:14)

Thankfulness arises from recognizing another’s favor upon one. Allah emphasizes in the above verse that, like Allah’s favor, the favor of one’s parents simply cannot be repaid. After all, they were the reason for our existence and took care of us when we were helpless.

This recognition of parental favor entails both being thankful for what our parents did for us and also learning from their positive points. It isn’t easy being a parent in these rushed times — where so many matters vie for our precious hours and minutes.

But few matters are more important than our precious children and their proper upbringing. There are invariably positive lessons we can learn from in how our parents raised us.

Read the full article here: My Father Was Smarter Than I Thought – Faraz Rabbani

Articles

Parents Matter More Than Peers – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Parents – Your Door to Allah’s Acceptance, by Ustadh Uthman Bally

Serve Your Parents Now Before It’s Too Late, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Prepare Yourself for Your Parents Old Age – Advice from Imam Tahir Anwar

Daily Qur’an Reflections: (15) Call to the Highest Virtues, Excellence with Parents, Human Honour, and Keeping the Best of Company

Supplication of Excellence to Parents – Du`a’ Birr al-Walidayn

The passing of Habib ‘Umar’s mother

Reconnecting With Family–Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil 

Can I Pay for the Hajj of My Parents? 

“To Mothers” – Moving Poem by Baraka Blue

The Passing of the Father and Grandfather of Ustadh Salman Younas

 

Questions and Answers

On Marriage

A sampling of some of the answers to questions about issues with parents in regards to spouses.  For more information about this subject please see our  Guide to Marriage: SeekersGuidance Reader.

The Virtues of Parents

Supplication of Excellence to Parents – Du`a’ Birr al-Walidayn 

The Noble Intention of Parents

Parents – Your Door to Allah’s Acceptance, by Ustadh Uthman Bally

Highest Virtues, Excellence with Parents

10 – Umm Ayman – The Prophet’s Mother After His Mother

Prayer of a Concerned Father, Surat al-Baqarah (verses 127-128)

How Can I Guide My Parents to the Right Path?

The Close Proximity of Single Mothers to the Prophet 

Authenticity of Hadith Stating That Paradise Lies Beneath the Feet of Your Mother

Navigating Common Problems

Dealing With a Dysfunctional Relationship With Parents 

How Can I Deal With My Difficult Mother in a Respectful Way

I Have Bad Dreams About My Late Father. What Can I Do?

How Should I Deal With a Mentally Ill Mother?

My Mother Is Not Muslim. How Can I Help Her?

My Mother Makes Supplications Against Me. Will Her Duas Be Accepted?

Can I Give My Zakat to My Father?

To What Extent Should I Obey My Mother? 

Should I Listen to My Husband or My Mother?

How Can I Advise My Mother to Come Back to Islam? 

How Can I Deal With My Elderly Mother Who Refuses Assistance

My Mother Does Not Want Me to Read up on Death and Judgement

How Can My Husband and I Should Split Time Between His Parents and Mine?

Can a Man Prevent His Wife From Visiting Her Parents?

My Father Is Emotionally Blackmailing Me to Get Married. What Do I Do?

What to Do When My Parents Reject My Choice of Spouse Because of Cultural Reasons?

How Can I Convince My Parents That I Am Not Ready For Marriage?

Why Did My Parents Reject My Potential Suitor?

 

Difficult Relationships With Parents

Am I Wrong to Not Want to Speak with My Parents?

How Do I Deal With My Toxic Parents Who Give Me Constant Stress?

My Parents Emotionally and Physically Abuse Me. Can You Help Me?

To What Extent of a Boundary Can I Have with Dysfunctional Parents?

My Parents Are Angry with Me and Hit Me What Do I Do?

My Parents Are Always Fighting. What Do I Do?

Do I Have to Obey My Parents If They Stop Me From Listening to Religious Talks?

 

General Questions On Excellence Towards Parents

Am I Sinful For Always Making Mistakes That Displease My Parents?

Can I Treat My Adopted Parents As My Real Parents?

Which Child Takes Care Of the Parents?

How Can I Take Care Of My Parents?

How Do I Obey My Parents If They Follow a Different Madhab?

Should I Wear the Hijab? – My Parents Don’t Agree

Rights of Parents

Promise to one’s parents

I Am a Convert and Live With My Adopted Parents. What Are My Obligations to Them?

Do I Have to Live with My Parents?

When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How?

 

Continue Your Journey for Knowledge

All SeekersGuidance offerings are free. Convenient and reliable knowledge taught by trained and reliable scholars, delivered over a decade.

Sign up for an on-demand course, or engage in a structured live course.

Browse relevant articles, discover answers to your questions or listen to podcasts anywhere and anytime on inspirational and useful topics.

Visit seekersguidance.org for more.

Help Preserve the Spread of Beneficial Knowledge and Guidance

Through the efforts of our generous supporters, we have spread beneficial knowledge and guidance to thousands. Join the community of supporters and gift generously to preserve and transmit Islamic Scholarship – donate now by clicking here. 

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.

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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.