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Rajab is the Month of Allah – Habib Umar

Rajab, the seventh month of the Muslim calendar, is the month of Allah. It is singular as it is neither preceded nor followed by another holy month. For this and many other reasons Habib Umar encourages the Umma to ask for forgiveness and strength in this blessed month.

Habib Umar’s Message

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz, may Allah protect him and benefit us by him, said:

We would love for our brethren in faith, male and female, young and old to plead with Allah during the blessed month of Rajab by reciting the following Qur’anic prayer for forgiveness which also contains a prayer for the Muslims.

ربَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

Rabbana ’ghfirlana dhunubana wa israfana fi amrina wa thabbit aqdamana wa ’nsurna ‘ala ’l-qawmi ’l-kafirin

Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our transgressions, make our feet firm and assist us against those who reject faith. (3:147)

We hope that we will swiftly see the results of this prayer, as Allah mentioned in the Qur’an regarding the followers of previous Prophets:

So Allah gave them both the reward of this world and the best reward of the Hereafter: “Allah loves those who act with excellence” (3:148).

We should aim to recite this verse at least 3,000 times this month. Better than this would be 5,000 or even 7,000 and the best would be 10,000 and those who do more will be given more.

May Allah accept us all.

Some Virtues of Rajab

The virtues of Rajab are many. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha‘ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Umma.” (Suyuti)

When Rajab entered he, Allah bless him and give him peace, would say:

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ

Allahumma barik lana fi Rajabin wa Sha‘ban wa ballighna Ramadan

O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha‘ban and enable us to reach Ramadan. (Ahmad, Bayhaqi, Tabarani)

May Allah bless this Umma with forgiveness and strength and deliver it to Ramadan in the best of health and faith.

Source: Muwasala.org


Resources for Seekers

Was the Prophet Really Merciful?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Was the Prophet really merciful? I read in Abu Dawud and Nasai that Abu Bakr said that killing anyone for insults is for no man after the Prophet, is this authentic? Abu Bakr’s own daughter Aisha had said that the Prophet would not repel evil with evil but rather overlook it and pardon it. She that he did not take revenge for the wrong done to him. It would clash with Allah’s command for the Prophet in the Qur’an which was to forgive and turn away from the ignorant. And It clashes with Allah own criterion for the Prophets in the bible, where Zaid Ibn Suna’ the rabbi told Umar that intense abuse increases one in forbearance.

Answer: Assalamu alaykum Brother,

I thank you for your question. The Prophet’s greatest quality was mercy. He was known during all his years of Prophethood for being silent against those who insulted him, for avoiding killing prisoners, and for choosing mercy for his enemies when he was given the option of destroying them, in hopes that their descendants would convert.

The hadith that you refer to is here in full: Abu Barzah said, “I passed by Abu Bakr and he was furious with one of his companions. I said, ‘O Khalifah (Caliph) of the Messenger of Allah, who is the one with whom you are furious?’ He said, ‘Why are you asking about him?‘ I said, ‘I will strike his neck (kill him).‘ By Allah, the seriousness of what I said took away his anger. Then he said, ‘That is not for anyone after Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace.‘“ [Hadith Hasan; Nasa’i]

Hadith commentators have said that the meaning of “That is not for anyone after Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace“, is that the Prophet left behind three scenarios in which it would be permissible for the Caliph to give capital punishment: apostasy, adultery, and murder. The only other scenario where it would be permissible is discretionary punishment (ta`zeer). This is where a judge would decide, at his own discretion, what punishment should be given for a certain crime, taking into consideration the customs of the place and time. This hadith proves that an imam can choose a punishment in order to discipline, or he can forgive and not punish at all. [Atraf al-Ghara’ib wa al-Afrad]

Abu Bakr, as caliph did have every right to act as he saw fit, but he chose mercy instead. He learned this mercy and compassion from the Prophet himself, may Allah bless him and give him peace. This hadith in no way indicates that the Prophet wasn’t merciful, it only shows that an Islamic government can pursue justice as they deem fit, as any other government would.

Please read the following article about seventy examples of the Prophet’s mercy, brilliantly written by Mohammad Elshinawy. After this, one can no longer doubt that the Prophet was anything else but a mercy to the worlds. Below are the words of a French historian from the 19th century, who also speaks of the Prophet’s mercy, may Allah bless him and give him peace.

It is such a distortion of historical facts when some writers accuse Prophet Muhammad of cruelty…They forget that he spared no effort in eliminating the inherited desire for revenge between Arabs; despite the fact that revenge was highly esteemed in Arabia, like fencing was in Europe. They do not read the Quranic verse by which the Prophet broke the horrible habit of burying new-born girls alive. They never think of the pardon he granted to his worst enemies after the Conquest of Mecca. Neither do they consider the mercy he showed to many tribes during war. Do they not know that he never misused his power in fulfilling the desire for cruelty? If any of his Companions committed anything wrong, he would stop them and correct them. It is well known that he refused the opinion of his close Companion, Omar bin al-Khattab, on killing the prisoners of war. When the time came to punish Banu Quraydha, he left the judgment to Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh who used to be their ally and was well acquainted with rabbinic law. He also forgave Hamza’s killer and never refused any request for kindness and forgiveness. [Louis Sédillot (d. 1875), Histoire des Arabes (Brief History of the Arabs), pp. 63-64 – published 1854]

May Allah bless all of us with abounding mercy in this world and the next.
Shazia Ahmad

The Light and Mercy of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said
The Primacy of Mercy

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterwards, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

A Poetic Gift for Rabi al Awwal – Novid Shaid

Novid Shaid pens a heartwarming poetic piece on the Beloved (peace be upon him and his family):

 

When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
I was circling the house of Allah
With a mission engaging me
To murder Muhammad
The troublemaking Hashimi
He had shattered the bonds
Of our families and our certainties
He had poisoned the hearts of our friends
From our rites and our deities
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
I approached him, prepared, through the crowds
Steadying to dispatch of him
He was easy prey in the open
Not a soul was protecting him
But before I could render the blow
His eyes burrowed into me
I sensed an absorbing radiance
A profundity
 
Then he lifted his hand to my heart
He was still odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was my sworn enemy
When he lifted his hand from my heart
I was mended eternally
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
His beliefs were absurdities
When he lifted his hand from my heart
There was no other guide for me
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me

Novid Shaid 2019 Rabbi Al Awwal 1441

Welcoming the Month of the Greatest Beloved (Peace Be Upon Him) – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

In the above video, Sayyidi al-Habib `Umar (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) talks about the state we should be in and the ways to prepare ourselves and our loved ones in welcoming the month of the Noble Birth of the Beloved ﷺ.

Welcoming Rabi al-Awwal by Seeking the Pleasure of Allah and His Messenger – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafīz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) teaches us how to welcome the month Rabi al-Awwal by. The following is an extracts from a talk in the mawlid in Dar al-Mustafa, 3rd Rabi` al-Awwal 1433 (26th January 2012)

The new moon of Rabi al-Awwal has appeared, the month in which Allah brought forth His best and most perfect slave, His Chosen One, His Beloved, the Most Noble of the First and the Last in the sight of the Lord of the Worlds. His uncle al-`Abbas addressed him at the end of his life, on their return from Tabuk, his last expedition, with the following verse:

وأَنْتَ لَمَّا وُلِدْتَ أشْرَقَتْ الأَرْضُ وضَاءَتْ بِنُورِكَ الأُفُق

ُفَنَحْنُ في ذلك الضِّياءِ وفي النُّورِ وسُبْلِ الرَّشَادِ نَخْتَرِق

When you were born the earth and the horizons were illuminated by your light

We remain bathed in that glow and it continues to light the path as we travel it

Every mawlid composed later is merely echoing what the Companions said to the Chosen One. They were the first people to celebrate the mawlid.

Our Master `Isa will descend to the earth and you will see how he will be ennobled by following Muhammad. Any of you that are with him at that time will see how he mentions the Master of Creation. His heart and the hearts of those present will be filled with veneration when they mention his name. He knows our Master Muhammad better than us, for a Prophet knows a Prophet. No member of this nation knows him in the way that the Spirit of Allah knows him.

The Master of the Followers, Uways al-Qarani, said to the greatest of the Companions, our Masters `Umar and `Ali, who knew the Beloved better than anyone: “All that you knew of the Messenger of Allah was his shadow.”

They said: “True, all that we knew of the Messenger of Allah was his shadow.”

Direct your hearts to attain His pleasure and a portion of His gifts. In every day and night there are gifts, and in every month, and in this month in particular. You attain these gifts according to your connection to the one who taught us, the unique one. Take a portion of his vast, noble, priceless teachings, with sincere desire, to attain the reality of:

It is more fitting that they please Allah and His Messenger if they are truly believers.

Strive in this noble month to please the Chosen One, seeking to please Allah. Please him with your intentions, your ambitions, your words and deeds. Allah is pleased with those that praise his Prophet, those that venerate His Prophet, those that support His Prophet. He is pleased with that which pleases the Prophet.

You have spent so much of your time and thoughts seeking to please yourself, your family, your relatives and your friends. This may have caused you to travel from one country to another. Have you sought the pleasure of the Beloved? How much do you think about this? How much do you worry about this? How far have you travelled seeking his pleasure? How much hardship have you borne? How much have you sacrificed? There is nothing on the earth or in this life whose pleasure is more worthy of seeking than Muhammad.

According to your faith you strive to please Allah’s Beloved. Seek his pleasure! When the Companions saw that he was pleased, when his face shone with happiness, they said: “It was more beloved to us than red camels.” Nothing was harder for them to bear than seeing him angry, seeing the vein between his blessed eyes swell up.

Look for the true meaning of seeking his pleasure in this month. You will not find it on the satellite channels. Seek it from its source, connect to the light of his message. This will show you how to seek his pleasure, in which is the pleasure of the Most High. If you have in your heart an attribute which does not please him, then strive to rid your heart of it. He is not pleased with arrogance, so do not be content to show arrogance, even to inanimate objects, let alone animals or humans, for the Lord of all things dislikes you doing this.

Seek it by giving life to the sunnah in your house in Rabi al-Awwal! If your family are heedless of Allah between Maghrib and `Isha, joking or watching TV then bring to life the sunnah of venerating this time. Teach them at home at this time. If they are young, teach them the Arabic letters so that they are connected to the Qur’an. If they are older, go over with them the parts of the Qur’an that they have memorised.

If the sunnah of seeking forgiveness before Fajr is absent, bring it to life in Rabi al-Awwal. Let there be at least one person seeking forgiveness before Fajr in the house, one person saying to the Oft-Forgiving “forgive me!” at the time which Allah loves for people to seek His forgiveness, at the time when delegations came to the door of the Bestower.

If no-one in the house prays in congregation then teach your wife, your sister, your daughter to only pray in congregation. Bring life to these sunnahs. Remove anything that displeases your Lord from your house, anything that displeases your Prophet, audio or visual. Let the house be filled in Rabi with the remembrance of the Beloved, with the mention of his attributes, his life, his birth. You will be enlightened and so will your family.

Allah bless the people of good who are striving in the East and West, the people who are remembering and reciting the mawlid, for they are the keys to removing tribulation. People raising their voices with the remembrance of Allah and His Messenger in their houses, in the mosques and in the streets are a cause for hardships to be relieved. So many Muslim groups have lost the way. They do not know how to rectify themselves or those around them. They do not seek it from the door that Allah has opened:

Allah will not change what is in a people until they change what is in themselves.

Let us change what is in ourselves. Let us make our children feel that Rabi al-Awwal has entered, and that it is connected to the Beloved. Make them feel that their lives are founded upon loving him, venerating him and following him. This is the foundation of the whole religion. May Allah grant you strong ambition and high intentions! May the end of the month not come before some of the rays of the Beloved’s light bring some relief to the suffering of the Muslims.

O Lord, bless us in this month. Bless us in our remembrance of You and Your Messenger. Make us among those who are mentioned in Your presence, and among those who are mentioned in his presence. Bless our hearts with noble intentions that raise us to the ranks of those beloved to You, so that on the Day of Judgement we are with those that you mentioned:

The Day on which Allah will not humiliate the Prophet and those who believe with him.

Make us with him, and our families, our children, our friends, our neighbors, our students.

Their light will run before them and by their right hands, while they say: “O Lord, perfect our light for us, and forgive us, for You have power over all things.”

If anyone has anything in their heart that prevents them from seeking Your pleasure and Your Messenger’s pleasure then remove it so that they prefer You and Your Messenger over everyone else.  So that when we sleep tonight nothing is more beloved to us than You and Your Messenger. Increase us in love tomorrow and in the coming days until we meet You, O Most Generous.


 

An Ode to Our Elders & Teachers – By Shaan Mukhtar

In this Pre Khutba talk, Sidi Shaan Muktar reminds us of the importance of respecting our elders and teachers. Sidi Shaan also emphasizes the critical need of showing mercy, compassion and respect to the young. In order for a community to thrive there has to be a mutual respect and harmony between the elders and the young.

* This video was originally posted by Muslim Community Center (MCC East Bay) on the 12th of April 2019.

Is Allah Really Merciful?

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My question is simple “Who is Allah really?”. On paper (quran, hadidth) Allah is mentioned as being most merciful.

But in reality He is simply not merciful or anything (at least for me). He is mean, stingy, non merciful. I even feel that He likes that I am in pain.

Answer: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Had Allah willed, you and I would not exists, you and I would not breathe, you and I would be forever hungry, be forever in fear, be forever in pain. We must reflect upon this and thank Him for that.

Above and beyond this, Allah has given us the chance to abide in Paradise for ever, and ever and ever. All we have to do is hold on to His guidelines for a short time and then we die and pass the test, inshaAllah. This is huge blessing. We should never stop thanking Allah for this.

So Allah is merciful and kind. I pray this has answered your question.

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle

Shaykh Farid Dingle grew up in a convert family in Herefordshire, UK. In 2007, he moved to Jordan to pursue traditional studies. Shaykh Farid continues to live in Amman, Jordan with his wife and kids. In addition to continuing his studies he teaches Arabic and several of the Islamic sciences.

Shaykh Farid began his journey in sacred knowledge with intensives in the UK and Jordan (2004) in Shafi’i fiqh and Arabic. After years of studying Arabic grammar, Shafi’i fiqh, hadith, legal methodology (usul al-fiqh) and tafsir, Sh. Farid began specializing in Arabic language and literature. Sh. Farid studied Pre-Islamic poetry, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Andalusian literature. He holds a BA in Arabic Language and Literature and continues exploring the language of the Islamic tradition.

In addition to his interest in the Arabic language Shaykh Farid actively researches matters related to jurisprudence (fiqh) which he studied with Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, and continues with Shaykh Amjad Rasheed. 

Don’t Take the Devil’s Side Against Your Brother – Shaykh Abdurrahim Reasat

What Got Him To This Stage?

I was driving down White Abbey Road in Bradford in the direction of a famous old restaurant, probably with samosas – it’s speciality – on my mind. The car in front of me slowed down and eventually stopped to allow some pedestrians – no doubt on their way to invade the local clothes shops – to cross the road. I too stopped.

 

When the traffic started moving, I noticed that there was a crowd gathered on the left. It was some young men who had been playing football in an all-weather pitch by the side of the road. They were loosely following an older man, probably in his fifties. Clean shaven, and raggedly dressed in western clothing, he walked clumsily away from them. He was clearly drunk, and probably holding a bottle of alcohol in his hand at that moment too.

 

The youths were jeering and hurling abusive comments at him. He simply walked away and left them. Perhaps he had said something foolish, or inflammatory to them. Maybe he was a someone who was always treated that way by local miscreants because of his ‘sinful’ lifestyle. I don’t know. What I do know is that there was a look on his face which betrayed feelings of extreme anguish, pain, turmoil, sadness, and rejection.

 

As I started to move along with the rest of the traffic I felt a deep sadness for the plight of this man. Was he committing a haram act by drinking? Undoubtedly! That is something we wish that he didn’t do – as it is harmful for him on many levels.

 

Why the sadness, then? Well, I began to wonder ‘What got him to this stage?’ Nothing happens in a vacuum. Allah told us, ‘God brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers not knowing anything…’ (16:78). Sins, addictions, destructive habits and actions are not pre-programmed into us. What led him to this lifestyle, then? It’s not something most Pakistani men of a comparable age would do.

 

So I prayed for him. Perhaps he’s lived through circumstances which have pushed him into this corner. Allah will judge him and the rest of us; and that judgement will be based on Allah’s knowledge of this man’s collective life experiences – not just a solitary incident. Our role is to advise according to the standards of the Shariʿa: to enjoin the good and forbid the evil – but with wisdom.

 

Wisdom – The Best Course of Action

Wisdom entails doing this properly, appropriately, and with the appropriate level of firmness or gentleness. Look at the Qurʾanic Firʿawn, who was most likely the historical figure Ramses II. A tyrant; a slave-monger; a child-killer; a genocidal maniac who convinced himself and the Egyptian populace that He was their god most high. When Allah sent Musa and Harun to him, what instructions did they recieve? ‘Go and beat him over the head with your admonishment!’? No.

 

Allah said, ‘Go [you two] to Pharaoh for indeed he has crossed all limits, and speak to him ever so gently!’ (20:44). Gently? To him? Yes. Going in guns blazing would have been contrary to wisdom.

 

Only after his repeated, stubborn refusals was he addressed with sternness in the hope that he would be shaken into realising his mistakes. All the prophets do this. In many places in the Qurʾan they are described as givers of good news (mubash-shirun) first and then as warners (mundhirun).

 

Sometimes, when seeing someone openly committing sins, or is in a destructive cycle, or in a drug or alcohol addiction, many people forget the above. Yes, hating the sin is part of faith – but not hating the sinner. How many of the companions went from being idolaters to the elite of the saints of Islam? What happened? They left the disbelief and the sins – but they remained the same individuals.

 

Seeing a sinner – someone who is wronging himself – should bring out the gentle, merciful nature in a believer. Did Allah not say to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, ‘Is it the case that you will kill yourself over them out of pure sadness if they don’t believe in this great discourse?’ (18:7).

 

Many people are broken internally and this may not show outwardly. Perhaps the guilt they feel for their sin is pain enough to expiate that sin. Maybe they are in a situation beyond their control, which they cannot escape try as they might.

 

Was Adam not forbidden to eat from the tree? Of course he was – but he ended up doing it because he was meant to leave Paradise and come to Earth for the real test. In the afterlife, Musa had some firm words to say to him about that, to which Adam responded with a justification based on what had been decreed for him. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said Adam won that argument (Bukhari).

 

Does this mean that people can commit any sin and say ‘I can’t help it. It’s decreed for me’? No, and that’s not the point of the hadith.

.

Gentleness – The Door to All Good

When someone in this unfortunate situation approaches a religious person, be he a scholar or a layman, he usually does so with a degree of reverence for this individual. A cruel or harsh approach to this person can have disastrous consequences. You could chase him away from the din, or worse – out of it!

 

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, has many beautiful and important saying on this matter: ‘Truly, whenever gentleness is in a matter it beautifies it; and whenever it is purged from something that thing becomes flawed.’ (Muslim). ‘O Allah, whoever governs any affair of the believers and then makes things hard for them, make things hard for him; and whoever is gentle to them, be gentle to him.’ (Muslim).

 

He also said, ‘Whoever is made bereft of gentleness he is made bereft of good itself.’ (Muslim) and ‘O ʿAʾisha, be gentle; because, when Allah wants great good for a family, He points them to the door of gentleness.’ (Muslim).

 

This is the approach which needs to be taken.

 

Saints and Sinners

Abu al ʿAbbas al Mursi, the famous Egyptian saint, was said to be kinder and gentler to the morally corrupt than he was to his righteous students – not to mean that he wasn’t kind to them. He saw who was more in need of the kind treatment. We see that this has its roots in the sunna of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace.

 

ʿAmr b. al ʿAs – after fighting the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, for years –  accepted Islam just before the conquest of Mecca. He later noted that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would give special attention to the ‘worst’ of the people with him, and go out of his way to make conversation with them. Why? To aid them in their development in Islam. So much so, that ʿAmr ended up convincing himself that he was better than Abu Bakr and ʿUmar, until he realised what was going on.

 

But wasn’t the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, firm with people at times? Didn’t he get angry at times? Yes, but this was always a drop in the oceans of his loving and kind dealings with people. Never did he repeatedly, and persistently, be harsh to anyone. How could he, when he prayed for those who had tried to assassinate him at the battle of Uhud? This does not mean that he was meek, or that he could not stand up for himself. On the contrary – he was the bravest of men!

 

What it means is that the gentle side greatly outweighed the occasions where he had to be firm. Even with Kaʿb b. Malik, who, along with two other companions, didn’t take part in the military campaign against the Romans to Tubuk – despite the great need for every available man to go. Out of laziness they didn’t end up going, so, the sin was expiated by a period of them not being actively included in the community. The companions were told not to communicate with them for what eventually ended up as fifty days.

 

Even during this intense period Kaʿb would notice that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, kindly look at him whist Kaʿb was praying, but then avert his gaze when he finished his prayer. This brought solace to Kaʿb, and counterbalanced the difficulty he was experiencing.

 

He even received a letter from one of the enemies of Islam inviting him to leave Madina to go to him with the promise of looking after him generously. What role did those glances from the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, play in him resisting that temptation?

 

People are not always as them seem. Someone could come across as confident, smiling, and joking, but internally they could be carrying many wounds accumulated over the years. If this person then receives repeated harsh treatment from those he looks up to as being righteous, or from teachers, elders, respected community members, then the door to righteousness becomes less and less appealing. Which other door remains for him, then?

 

Inspire People With Hope

Turning away from bad actions – if possible – becomes less appealing, as they become a sure barrier to keep away those who treated him harshly despite him wanting and needing their help, support, and approval.

 

Such people should be directed to what’s best for them with kindness, and never should they be made to feel like there is no hope for them. A perfect example of this is the hadith in Sahih al Bukhari which mentions the mass murdered who killed ninety-nine people. He went to a worshipper wanting to know if he could repent somehow. When he was told ‘no’ he killed him and made the tally one hundred.

 

He then went to a scholar with the same question. The scholar filled him with hope, and showed him the way to repent and attain forgiveness with kindness, mercy, and wisdom. He was advised to get out of the places which he kept committing those sins in and to go to another city where there were righteous people living. He died on the way, closer to his hometown.

 

When the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed over him, Allah told them to measure the spot where he died in relation to his hometown and his destination. If he was closer to the former he would be punished, otherwise, he would be shown mercy. He was in fact closer to home, but Allah caused the ground to expand and contract such that he ended up closer to his destination! Compare how Allah treated him to what the first man told him!

 

What Is Not Visible On The Surface

I once attended a Wing Chun class with a friend. There was a Muslim man there with his young sons; he had been learning for a few years, and was quite skilled.

 

During the practice element of the lesson, he raised his shorts quite high, exposing most of his thigh to everyone whilst making some point. One of those present said something like, ‘Bro, I don’t think you should be showing that.’ The comment wasn’t harsh, but it might have been better said in private afterwards. The lesson was held in the basement of a masjid, so perhaps this person assumed everyone there was religious.

 

The man who lifted the shorts got incredibly upset. To me it seemed like he was overreacting. He was quite emotional, and wanting to leave.

 

It later transpired that he was abused as a child by the teacher who he memorised the Qurʾan with. When he told his father he was told to be quiet, and when he told his mother she had the issue brushed under the carpet. This hafiz then ended up leaving Islam. He eventually returned thanks to the efforts of the martial arts instructor, but was left very scarred and sensitive to religious criticism.

 

How many people are pushed away from religion – partially or fully – due to harshness from those who they admire and expect leniency from?

 

One of the Companions who would regularly make the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, laugh had a drinking problem. Yes, a drinking problem! And, yes; he was a Companion. His name was ʿAbdullah, but was usually loving referred as ‘the Donkey’ – probably due to him humorous antics.

 

After wine had been prohibited, and the punishment for being caught drunk was in place, he ended getting punished for this on a number of occasions. This was his particular test that Allah had chosen for him. Allah had also chosen him for the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace.

 

Being someone with a drinking problem did not mean that he had no virtue or standing before Allah. The drinking was a problem, but it didn’t mean that all the good he had ever done was worthless – that he was worthless.

 

After one public punishment, one of the Companions said, ‘May Allah completely humiliate you!’ In another narration he said, ‘O Allah curse him! How many a time is he brought [for punishment for this crime]!’ This was probably as a result of the disgust he felt for the sin – after all hating sins is a part of faith.

 

Yet, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not allow this sort of statement. He said to him, ‘Do not take the Devil’s side against your brother!’. What? Taking the Devil’s side? Helping him? Yes! The Devil wants all the descendants of Adam in Hell. Closing the door of warm, affectionate support for this person, such that it would prevent him from wanting to associate with the Muslims, is akin to helping the Devil lead him to Hell.

 

Not only that, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, ‘Do not curse him! [I swear] By Allah, all I know of him is that he loves Allah and His Messenger!’ (Bukhari).

 

What was that again? He loves Allah and His Messenger? That’s no small feat! And this statement came from the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, himself too! This internal act made him deserving of kindness and compassion, just like he got the flogging for publicly drinking.

 

Perhaps there are some similarities between him and the man swaying and staggering up White Abbey Road…

 

Something merely broken can usually be fixed without much difficulty; but something severely shattered is not at all easily fixed…

Is the Night of the 27th of Ramadan Special? – Ustadha Shehnaz Karim

* Originally Published on 30/06/2016

Ustadha Shehnaz answers the important question of whether or not the night of the 27th of Ramadan is special. She speaks of the meanings behind seeking out the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) .

Playing Kids, Praying Adults: A Taraweeh Lesson – Saad Razi Shaikh

Ramadan is a good time to teach children. And to learn from them.

 

Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good. (3:134)

Sometime in early Ramadan, our blessed mosque was hit with an expected Taraweeh problem. This was a menace many foresaw, but few had the stomach to tackle it. The problem was of children. Yes, children running around Taraweeh, screaming their lungs out, creating a racket not unlike birds on an early morning. Elders were distraught, they were bound by the obligation to be kind to children, while at the same time they desired a hassle-free Taraweeh. It took two spirited warnings from the Imam to cut the din out and restore some normality. Save for the odd kid, still merrily gliding from the stair rails, the prayers went about with little disturbance.

My own thoughts on the matter were torn between two urges. The first was to show patience and mercy to the kids. The next, more pressing desire, was to send them back home. Surely, there had to be some decorum in the mosque? Kids need to be taught by their parents as much, I reasoned. Otherwise, how on earth were the worshipers supposed to pray? The mosque would not be reduced to a child’s playground.

But this line of argument couldn’t hold for long. If the children were not praying, rather playing during the prayers, it was because they did not know any better. Their nature was not attuned to silence and attention, and they fell easy prey to distraction. One mischievous glance would bounce off from one child to the other, an elbow jab, a back slap, all before it would spread into a full-blown pandemonium. The children were just acting upon their distractions.

Acting upon their distractions. These words stuck to my mind, for they made me uncomfortable. As an adult, I knew the importance of the prayers. I knew the importance of attention. I had been taught the manners regarding the prayer. Yet my prayers were far from perfect. At the spiritual level, particularly retaining to attention and reflection, I knew my prayers fell well short of the desired levels. Was it not true that my mind wavered often? On particularly tiring days, did my attention not slacken? The more I reflected on my own shortcomings, the more the noise of the children receded away from my mind. For while both the children and I were distracted, falling woefully short in our prayers, the distraction of the children was visible. Mine wasn’t. That was the lone difference between us.

Imam Ghazali, in his characteristic brilliance, mentioned in ‘The Beginning of Guidance’ that one shouldn’t see oneself as being superior to anyone else, even children. He writes:

‘If you see a child, you should say [to yourself], “This child has not transgressed against Allah, and I have, so certainly he is better than me.”

‘If you see an ignorant person, say, “This person has transgressed against Allah most high in ignorance, while I have done so knowingly, so Allah’s evidence against me is greater. And what do I know about what my final state [at death] will be and what his state will be?’

This short piece is not intended as a manual on how to go about dealing with children in mosques. Rather, it is about how the pulls and the triggers of everyday can serve as a means to check ourselves, who we are and where we are in our standing with our Lord. We often fall prey to the slightest provocations, the slightest turn away from the expected norm. Things often ‘rub us the wrong way’. Ire is predictable as the first line of reaction. But if we restrain for a moment, and prevent the worst of our impulses from bursting out, we could look into the clues the situation is providing us.

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I was sent to perfect good character.Ramadan is the perfect month to better ourselves, to begin anew, to hold our tongues, to watch what we do, to reflect on what can be the better course of action. If the kids are creating a racket, perhaps it’s a test to see which one of us will show mercy to them, which one of us will rise to the Prophetic ethos and show the best of character. It’s easy to lose our patience, if not our minds. But as the Prophet ﷺ reminded us, ‘Circumspection brings nothing but the good.’ We need to remember this, in thought and action. We need to be those who remember the rank of forbearance, as ‘forbearance (hilm) is the best of character’. And that’s a struggle. But without the inner struggle, how will we improve?  

These are reflections, meant as a reminder, a ‘pull-up-your-socks’ moment first and foremost for my own self. Would I be more comfortable with silence during prayers? Certainly. Would I have improved as a person if the calmness of my own mind overcomes the noises outside it? Most certainly. This is the aim, Inshallah. And Ramadan is a great time to intend it sincerely, in thought and practice. May Allah make us those who are patient, who are kind, who are attuned to the Prophetic ethos, particularly in showing mercy, to ourselves and to others.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter