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The Patience of Umm Ayyub

Umm Ayyub was an ordinary lady with extraordinary patience and strength.

She was a very ordinary women, so ordinary that you wouldn’t notice her. She was so ordinary that I still don’t know her name to this very day.

I don’t remember where I first met her, or when I met her. In fact, I don’t  think I ever actually met her. Rather, I’d see her, floating around in the background at various masjid and community organization events across the city.

She always wore the exact same clothes, a dark blue hijab and a white square hijab, folded over her head and secured under her chin. She said very little. In the beginning I thought that she didn’t speak English well, but later I found out that her English was quite good, despite the fact that she had recently immigrated from the Middle East with her husband and their two little girls.

Her husband was a very nice man, always helping others and driving their daughters to Qur’an classes at the masjid. From what it seemed, they were a stable and happy family.

All this time, I didn’t really take note of her. I didn’t even know she was pregnant with her third child, a boy, until someone from the community told me that she had gone to the hospital to deliver, only for the medical staff to inform her that his heart was no longer beating.

She gave birth to a stillborn baby, and named him Ayyub, after the patient Prophet, peace be upon him. The janazah prayer was held in the masjid and then the tiny coffin was taken to be buried.

Patience In Losing A Child

It can’t be easy to lose a child at any stage, much less through a stillbirth. The Umm Ayyub must have felt extremely sad, but she bore it all with extraordinary patience. Some sisters who visited her said that she was up and taking care of her family as normal. The words “Alhamdulillah” were always on her lips. After such a difficult situation, doing routine things takes enormous courage and strength, and she must have had a lot of it.

I didn’t think too much about her situation, besides sympathizing with her difficulties. Later, as I grew older and wiser, I learned more about the enormous rank granted to mothers whose children have died.

In a Hadith related in Sahih Tirmidhi the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said:

“When someone’s child dies, Allah Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken the life of the child of My slave?’ They say yes. Allah then asks them, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They say yes. Thereupon He asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ The Angels say, ‘He praised you and said, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return)’ At that Allah replies, ‘Build a home for my slave in Jannah and call it ‘Bayt al-Hamd’ (The Home of Praise).’”

Khalid al-‘Absi said, “A son of mine died and I felt intense grief over his loss. I said, ‘Abu Hurayra, have you heard anything from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, to cheer us regarding our dead?’ He replied, ‘I heard the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, say, “Your children are roaming freely in the Garden.” (Bukhari)

If there was one thing I learned from this experience, it was that sometimes the most amazing people are not the ones that we look up to most. Sometimes, they are the most ordinary people that we don’t notice.


When Confronted With Brutal Injustice, by Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila

Remaining faithful and strategic when confronted with brutal injustice is perhaps one of the most challenging tests of this life. However, it is the right thing to do and it pays off, explains Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila.

The tale of the first murder committed in human history and the ripples of sin that would emanate therefrom is one from which many lessons are drawn. The pride of Qabil, the elder brother, his disobedience of his father Prophet Adam, and his inability to accept God’s divine decree all came together to culminate in him committing the vile act of murdering his own brother in cold blood. Of his sin God says in the Quran,

“We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being, except [as punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, it shall be as if he killed all humanity” [5:32].

The Prophet Muhammad further explained in a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim,

“No person is killed unjustly except that the first share of sin falls upon the son of Adam, for he was the first to introduce killing.”

Greater than that perhaps, as some scholars have pointed out, Qabil’s transgression marks mankind’s first open defiance of his Lord, and it would serve as a divide for all the descendants of Adam to come. From that day there would now be two groups in human civilisation: those who follow prophetic guidance, and those who turn away.
But just before that fateful moment when Qabil struck down Habil, the younger of the two, Habil spoke inspired words. Threatened by his brother, he is quoted by God as saying to him,

“If you raise your hand to kill me, I will raise not mine to kill you, for verily I fear God, the Lord of all the worlds” [5:28].

Referencing this thousands of years later, the Prophet Muhammad would say in narrations collected by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Imam Ahmad, and others that when in times of incredible tribulation, it is upon us to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons”.

When Muslim Commit Wrong

Anger and outrage are natural reactions to encountering injustice. When the injustice is towards our fellow Muslims, we are understandably angered further. But sometimes we find Muslims themselves committing wrong. Be it in the sphere of our immediate family, local community, or on a global level, when injustice and oppression occur so close to home we typically feel shaken and betrayed. We cry out for justice and wish that the perpetrators get their comeuppance. Sometimes the powers that be handle the situation correctly and we are blessed with closure, but other times justice escapes us, be it through systemic failure of a trusted establishment or another reason. At times the guilty party is so close to us and so respected by us that we feel that no matter the outcome, true forgiveness can never take place.

Being Entitled to Justice

We are all entitled to justice, however in its pursuit it is pertinent we keep two things in mind: we cannot let our pursuit of justice be an excuse for transgressing the sacred law, and true justice in God’s sight extends to beyond this world and is ultimately carried out on the Day of Judgement.
The vast majority of us can be thankful that no one is immediately threatening their life, but when we are wronged, the Prophet’s advice to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons” remains golden. For us, his words mean that we should maintain high standards in all our interactions, and that whatever situation we find ourselves in, it is upon us to remain bound by the rulings of the sacred law.
In the Quran, God advises us as to what we should do when facing injustice. He says,

“And surely we will try you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruits [of your labour]; but give glad tidings to those who have patience, who, when assailed by adversity, say, ‘Surely we belong to God, and to Him we shall return.’” [2:155-156].

More than simply being words to utter in times of tribulation, what God is outlining for us here is an understanding that Muslims should have in all their interactions. A way of thought that guides us in our daily dealings. Scholars who have commented on this verse have noted that there are two kinds of adversities which can befall us, and this verse is teaching us how to behave with both:

  1. adversity directly from God, like illness or death, and
  2. adversity which comes in the form of animosity and injustice from other human beings.

“Surely we belong to God” means that when God tests us with some affliction, we reaffirm our status as His slaves, surrender to Him all our affairs, and are ultimately pleased with His decree. As for when another person wrongs us, “surely we belong to God” means we turn to Him for retreat and do not seek appeasement for our anger thorough unlegislated means, for He who we belong to has ordered us so.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

Indeed God specifically mentions three traits of the pious as those “who expend both in joy and tribulation, who suppress their anger, and pardon the people” [3:134]. God also gives us further direction in how to respond saying, “Good and evil are not alike: respond [to evil] with the better deed” [41:34]. We aught to be mindful of this verse and not stoop to the lows of our oppressors. We do not subscribe to the notion that two wrongs make a right and we always strive to seek the pleasure of our Lord through the means he has permitted.

The Hadith of the Lie

A look at the examples of our Prophet, his Companions, and the pious people in Muslim history gives us further guidance in these matters. One of the greatest examples we have is in the well-known Ifk Hadith, or the hadith of the lie.
A lengthy hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, the Ifk Hadith deals with an incident where the Prophet’s wife Sayyida Aisha was falsely accused of promiscuity outside of her marriage. Over a period longer than a month, false accusations were spread in Medina causing much distress to the Prophetic household and the household of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Aisha’s innocence was eventually proclaimed by God in a revealed verse and the propagators of the lie were duly punished. What remains for us are several lessons in correctly dealing with communal problems.
Firstly, throughout the narration Aisha does not slander any of the individuals who blackened her name. She was proven innocent and justice was served, and she did not seek more than that. Indeed during the ordeal, her only words to the Prophet were, quoting the prophet Yaqub, “patience is best. I seek the aid of God alone for what you impute” [12:18]. Out of the several individuals involved, only two are mentioned by name; one who is somewhat essential to the story and the other, the main source of the lies, is only named in passing. We also find that when the Prophet stood on the pulpit in his mosque and addressed his Companions regarding the allegations, he refers to the source of the lies simply as “a man”. The anonymity of those who spread the lie was maintained to the point that even modern hadith scholars disagree as to who exactly was punished.
Furthermore, probably the most astounding thing we see is the behaviour of Abu Bakr, the father of Aisha, during the turmoil. One of the accusers was Abu Bakr’s first cousin once removed. He was a poor man, and Abu Bakr provided him with aid. While his daughter was actively being slandered, Abu Bakr continued providing for his relative fully aware of his role in the matter. Even when the accuser’s own mother cursed her son, Abu Bakr continued to financially support him. It was only when Aisha’s innocence was revealed by God that Abu Bakr swore to end his charity. However even then, upon revelation of the verse, “Let not those of means amongst you swear that they will not give to their relatives, the poor, and those who leave their homes in the service of God. They should forgive and overlook [their failings]. Would you not like God to forgive you?” [24:22], Abu Bakr resumed his aid, saying, “Yes, by God, I wish that God should forgive me”, and, “By God, I will never withhold it from him ever”.

The Case of Yemen

Even in modern times, we find amazing examples of “responding with the better deed”. In parts of Yemen once under communist control, Islamic scholars were silenced with threats, abducted, and even killed, sometimes publicly. The collapse of the USSR brought with it the fall of communism in the region, and religious scholars returned to the vanguard of traditional society. Their return, however, did not usher in of a wave of bitter reprisals for abducted fathers and murdered uncles. Not one scholar used their position of influence to seek revenge on those who had ransacked their homes and evicted their families. Those previously aligned with the oppressive party found that the scholars did not expose them as wrongdoers, and instead encouraged their repentance and return to sound behaviour and faith. The pious scholars, like the pious of the Muslims before them, busied themselves with God’s words, “Indeed, God orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives, and forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression” [16:90], and their trust was with his verses, “Whosoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [99:7-8].

Allah Takes Care of It All

We have been blessed with a religion so complete that we can always find guidance, and a God so merciful that we are never left forsaken. Many scholars state that one of the reasons our Prophet Muhammad endured so many hardships in life was to provide us with a sound example to guide us in our own tribulations. As followers of the Prophet, we cannot let scandals and acts of oppression cause us to forget the moral standards we strive to live by. We are to remember that our God is merciful, and no injustice goes unpunished, be it in this world or in the next.
When we seek justice, we do so for all creation, but without crossing the lines defined by the religious law. We cannot take matters into our own hands in acts of anarchism. We have no rights over any other person’s property. Slander, back-biting, and vilification are all strictly prohibited by our Lord. If justice escapes us, we should remind ourselves that true justice takes place in the hereafter.
As Muslims, we are ordered to do good, but God continuously encourages and calls us to excellence. In acts of obedience and in acts of wrongdoing, we are reminded by the words of our Prophet, “God the almighty is good and accepts only that which is good”.

Resources for Seekers

The Unconditional Rejoicing of the Believer, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

One of the most important Prophetic traditions of our religion is to always rejoice. A believer isn’t happy because nice things happen, because this life and all that happens in it, is fleeting. We rejoice because of our connection to Allah, the Everlasting. Listen on in this brief reminder from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Learn A Comprehensive Dua For The Deceased (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Learn A Comprehensive Dua For The Deceased, by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

 

Photo by Md. Mafizul Hasan Hawlader.

Imam Khalid Latif on “Losing Someone Close To You”

grave-coffinThere is a narration that is found in the Islamic tradition in which a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, named Abdur Rahman ibn Awf speaks about visiting the Prophet’s infant son, Ibrahim. In this particular narration, he mentions that the Prophet kisses Ibrahim and takes him close, and then later begins to shed tears because Ibrahim is in his last breaths. Abdur Rahman asks about these tears to which the Prophet responds “Oh Ibn Awf, this is mercy.”

The Prophet then cries more and says: “The eyes are shedding tears, and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”

Losing someone close to us is always a hard situation to deal with. Just as hard is also knowing how to help and support someone who has lost someone close to their hearts. The pain of that separation causes even the hardest of hearts to tremble and puts us in a place where we at times don’t know what to do. The reality of this life being something that is finite comes as a secondary thought as we begin to deal with the aftermath of a heaviness placed upon our hearts. How do I cope or help someone to cope with this loss?

Primarily we want to understand that feeling grief at the loss of loved one is not somehow an absence of faith or a deficiency of it. Faith can actually become a potential source of making sense of the loss, and we lose out on it if we tell ourselves getting sad is somehow wrong. For the Muslims who are reading this, the Prophet Muhammad cried when his son died. None of us would say he is lacking in faith. We shouldn’t tell ourselves or each other that we somehow are lacking faith simply because we are responding the way most humans would respond.

There is no set amount of time that one has to reconcile the loss of a loved one. One can very subjectively make a determination as to how much time they need and telling yourself or someone else that because a certain number of days have passed they should now move forward doesn’t necessarily make sense. Although time is an important factor, reconciliation isn’t purely a product of time and making yourself or someone else feel as if they are doing something problematic by taking the time they need isn’t going to help the situation.

Moving on also does not entail completely forgetting. How we remember becomes key as does what we do through that remembrances. Our hearts will respond to things that remind them of what they hold as beloved. The Prophet Muhammad deeply loved his first wife Khadijah. The year in which she, as well as the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib, passes away becomes known as the “Year of Grief.” Khadijah definitely had a special place in the Prophet’s heart and his “moving on” did not entail forgetting her. On one instance after her passing, he is sitting with a group of his companions when someone brings to him a necklace. He holds the necklace and recognizes it as once belonging to his wife Khadijah and begins to cry as he remembers her.

He builds upon this remembrance through his action. After Khadijah’s passing, the Prophet would regularly send gifts to her family and friends. He would speak of her and mention how important she was to him. His moving on did not include forgetting entirely. Our moving on doesn’t have to either.

We can remember those that we have lost through actions undertaken through their remembrance; coming together to remember and doing good in their memory. Islam teaches its practitioner that even after a person has passed, those who remain in this world can bring benefit to them by performance of deeds on their behalf. I can give of myself with the sole intention that the person I have lost should be the benefactor of any reward from my actions and in the process I still maintain a relationship with the one I love while at the same time bringing their presence into the lives of others.

Losing someone close to you can definitely be tough. Whether it’s a parent, a child, a friend, or really anyone, that loss hurts. You don’t have to deny that pain and you can take your time to deal with it. But just keep in mind that although the person is not physically there, they can still be present in your life and the lives of many others, based off of how you remember them.

Imam Khalid LatifImam Khalid Latif is a University Chaplain for New York University, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at NYU, and a Chaplain for the NYPD. He is also the co-founder of Honest Chops, the first-ever all-natural/organic halal butcher in NYC, the Muslim Wedding Service, an agency specializing in providing charismatic and inspirational marriage officiants for wedding ceremonies.

 

Resources for Seekers:

The Loss of a Child: Seeking & Turning to Allah in Difficult Times
Basic Rulings and Length of the Waiting Period (`idda)
The Ruling on Women Visiting Graves and Etiquettes of Visiting
How Can I Deal with Several Pregnancy Losses?
How Do We Deal With the Death of a Loved One?
How To Benefit from Remembering Death?
How to Deal With a Non-Muslim Relative’s Death
How To Overcome My Fear of Death?
The Soul’s Journey after Death and The Day of Judgement
Dealing With Anxiety About Death and Dying
Dealing with Death: Inward & Outward Manners
How Do I Deal With Excessive Fear Of Death?

Man’s Indebtedness to Allah (exalted be He) – Sayyid Naquib al-Attas

Man’s Indebtedness to Allah (exalted be He)

by Sayyid Naquib al-Attas

The following excerpt is from “Prolegemona to the Metaphysics of Islam: An Exposition of the Fundamental Elements of the Worldview of Islam” by Sayyid Naquib al-Attas. In it, he challenges the modern portrayal of man as a rational agent with independent creative capabilities and powers. al-Attas uses several ayahs of the Qur’an to remind us that all human beings are created in a state of absolute neediness to Allah (exalted be He)- the one who is absolutely free from all needs.

The mere fact of existence places man in a state of debt the moment he is created. As Allah (exalted be He) is the Master, Creator, and Sustainer of the universe – man cannot utilize material things to repay this debt as he is not their proper owner. The only way man can ever repay his momentous debt to his Creator is by engaging in khidmah (service) to others and humbly submitting his very self to His pronouncements.

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“How can the concept of being indebted be explained in the religious and spiritual context? – one may ask; what is the nature of the debt?, and to whom is the debt owed?

We answer that man is indebted to God, his Creator and provider, for bringing him into existence and maintaining him in existence. Man was once nothing and did not exist, and now he is.

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