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Salawat: A Source of Joy for the Prophet – Shaykh Amin Buxton

Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should come to know our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, a little better. In this series, we try to do this by looking at the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and at times made him laugh.

Abu Talha narrates that one day the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was in good spirits. Joy could be seen on his face. The Companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, today you are in good spirits and joy can be seen on your face.”

“Yes,” said the Prophet, “A visitor came from my Lord and said: ‘When a member of your nation bestows one prayer upon you, Allah records for that person ten good deeds, erases ten of his bad deeds, raises him ten degrees and bestows upon him a prayer like the prayer he bestowed.’” (Narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasa’i)

There was nothing that pleased the Companions more than to see the Prophet with joy on his face. They could not help remarking on this, hoping to know why this was the case. The Prophet explained that an angel had come to him bearing good tidings. In some narrations this angel is named as Jibril, peace be upon him.

The message which the angel conveyed from his Lord relates to the reward given to someone who bestows one prayer upon the Prophet. The Prophet was overjoyed at what had been gifted to his nation through this simple act. His joy was in what benefited his followers the most – an increase in their good deeds, an erasure of their bad deeds and the raising of their ranks  – all of this multiplied ten fold! But what is even greater, is that Allah Himself bestows prayers upon such a person.

Allah’s Prayers Upon Us

Other hadith tell us that if we bestow one prayer upon the Prophet, Allah responds by bestowing ten prayers upon us. But even if it is only one, this is more than enough since a prayer from Allah is something which cannot be measured or quantified. Imam Ibn Ata’illah al-Iskandari said that if all the good actions you performed in your entire life were weighed against one prayer from Allah, the prayer from Allah would outweigh them all.

This is one of many hadith that inform us of the benefits of bestowing prayers (salawat) upon the Prophet. When we take a few moments to do this, we recognise the huge debt that we owe our guide and acknowledge our inability to recompense him. We thus ask Allah to do this on our behalf and hope that it brings joy to our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).


Shaykh Amin Buxton was born in London and became Muslim in 1999. He studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London, and then enrolled at Dar al Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen. There he studied the sacred sciences under the supervision of Habib Umar bin Hafiz.

He has edited and translated a number of books which explain the Prophetic way such as Imam al-Haddad’s ‘Beneficial Counsels’ and provides content for Muwasala. Since 2017 he has resided with his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is involved in a number of educational initiatives around the UK, including the iSyllabus, and has taught at the SeekersHub Retreat.


Why Can’t I Find Peace and Contentness in My Heart?

Answered by Shaykh Riad Saloojee

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I am struggling to find peace in my heart now. I have been divorced 5 years ago on no fault of my own.

Since then I have struggled to find that peace in my heart. 5 years on and I am in search of a decent spouse. I sometimes feel that I am being constantly judged on the fact that I have been divorced when it wasn’t even my fault. This is breaking me completely and now I am so lost that all I see is darkness.

Why can’t I find peace and contentness in my heart now?

Answer:Wa’alaykumsalam wa rahmatullah wa barakaatu,

I pray you are well, by Allah’s grace. What follows is a general answer, without regard to specific details that I do not have.

It appears your lack of peace of mind and heart is connected to your difficulty in finding a compatible spouse.

I would remind myself and my sister to always keep in mind that Allah created every aspect of life to test us, purify our hearts, reveal us to ourselves and draw us nearer to Him.

It is important to keep your difficult situation within this Islamic spiritual understanding. It is Allah’s decree that your finding of a spouse has been delayed. Through that, you are tested, purified, will be led to a deeper understanding of yourself and, Allah willing, draw closer to Him.

As you continue, know that your patience and surrender to Allah is a tremendous act of worship. Allah teaches: “Surely, those who practice patience will be rewarded without measure” [Qur’an: 39:10].

Your future spouse is a rizq, or provision, not unlike material provision. While you seek a spouse, know that your actions will not produce the result or guarantee it. It will come when and how Allah decrees.

If we do not surrender in patience to Allah’s decree, the inner difficulty that we experience can be far more bitter than the difficulty of patience. Allah knows your limits. With hardship, there will be ease.

I would advise my sister to seek nearness and strength from Allah with much supplication (du’a).

Your brother,
[Shaykh] Riad Saloojee

Shaykh Riad Saloojee graduated and taught in an Islamic seminary in Cape Town, South Africa.  He is a lawyer by training and worked in the field of civil rights advocacy. Currently, he teaches and translates.

No peace, no justice – Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa

Muslims have sadly become a people who are focused on the idea of justice, and justice above all, writes Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa. Our actions and concerns are governed by the mentality: no justice, no peace. Thus, we have become known to the world as fighters for our rights, demanding justice from all those who would oppress us or challenge our way of life.

Is this how we should be known to this beleaguered and hurting world of ours? Is this the sum total of what Muslims have to offer humanity? And on top of that, not even justice for all, but only that which extends to our own kind?
We have reached this place of valuing justice above all else because we nurture this concern in ourselves and our children above the concern for moral integrity and spiritual refinement (ihsaan) and kindness, magnanimity, and empathy (rahma) in our personal behaviour and interactions with others. An international survey evaluating levels of empathy in children of various religions found Muslim children to have one of the lowest levels of empathy (which is another word for rahma) and the highest sense of justice, ie. swiftness in declaring the actions of another as “unfair” and demanding punishment of the other for perceived wrongdoing.
I visited an Islamic elementary school a short while ago, and when I asked the children what they wanted to do with their lives, those who had some sense of mission were in the minority. Amongst them, those whose mission had something to do with Islam were an even smaller minority. And amongst the latter, their sense of mission revolved around the need to defend Islam and its image.
This is what we have bequeathed to our children – this sense of concern for their rights, and a sense that the rights of all Muslims are under attack. Thus those who feel some sense of awareness among them can think only of how Islam is under constant attack and needs to be defended.

Self-fulfilling

The truly oppressed is he who allows himself to believe that he is oppressed. He believes that other human beings have the ultimate control over his circumstances, have power over him and are able to give him the justice he seeks or withhold it. Such a person will be reacting to the action of injustice like a ping pong ball thrown at the wall, not having any other option but to rebound eternally, getting weaker and weaker each time until it gets crushed.
Re-action is simply the continuation of action. Thus he who reacts is never free because his actions are in reality but a perpetuation of the original action of his oppressor.

Consumed by our victimhood

What made the Muslims of Makkah liberated, even when they were in the midst of severe oppression and persecution, was that they did not believe their human oppressors had any actual power. What made Bilal a freeman even when he was a “slave” is that he only ever acknowledged the One (Ahadun Ahad) as having any power, control or role in his life.
Our obsession with the wrongs others are committing against us as a community gets us nowhere. And takes all our energy. Just today a sister wrote to me to say that seeing all the horrible things happening in the world is disabling. This is exactly right. We allow ourselves to be disabled when we fixate on these things – they get the better of us. And then, we have no time or attention left to seek God and to make an honest evaluation of our own ihsaan (where are we in terms of moral integrity? are we more refined spiritually today than we were yesterday, or less so?). When we become fixated on what is happening in the world, we are no longer able to take on the most important battle that stands before us : that of begging our Lord to guide us toward moral integrity and spiritual refinement, living everyday in search of the opportunities He sends us for this. This is the true and inevitable battlefield – even for those who are out on a battlefield!
One who turns to face the battle for the heart, before attending to the battle for justice, will hold himself to four principles, which will produce in him four qualities.

The four principles before battling for justice:

1. cultivation of compassion and empathy (raḥma) before cultivation of anger (ghaḍab), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
2. cultivation of love for God’s sake (al-ḥubb fi Allah) before cultivation of aversion for God’s sake (al-bughḍ fi Allah), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
3. cultivation of permeability to beauty and goodness and those who uphold the like (athillatan ‘alal mu’mineen), before cultivation of impermeability towards wrongdoing and injustice (a’izzatan ‘alal kaafireen), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
4. cultivation of loyalty to what is pleasing to the Lord (al-walāʿ) before cultivation of the disavowal of what is displeasing to Him (al-barāʿ), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it.

The four beneficial qualities that will arise within us

As a result of the believer holding himself to the above four principles, four qualities will arise within him, and these are the missiles of the heart, the fuel of a true Islamic Revival:
1. forgiveness for the one who wrongs him
2. generosity and a giving attitude to the one who denies him
3. a continuous reaching out and connecting to the one who disconnects from him
4. moral integrity and magnanimity towards the one who mistreats him.
With these qualities, a person treads the Earth as a shining guide (dāʿī) and not as an arrogant judge (qāḍī).
He puts aside his own expectations for people’s spiritual improvement according to what he would like for them, in order to submit to God’s Wisdom and Will with respect to the guidance of His Creation. As a result of this surrender to God’s Will, God uses this person as an instrument by which He guides whomsoever He Alone has chosen to receive His Guidance. (Thus this person is truly living and acting for God and by God.)

The four principles that reflect warped priorities

In contrast, one who chooses to face the battle for justice before the battle for the heart, operates by four principles that are the exact opposite of those mentioned above. These four principles are:
1. cultivation of anger (ghaḍab) before cultivation of compassion (raḥma), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
2. Cultivation of aversion for God’s sake (al-bughḍ fi Allah) before cultivation of love for God’s sake (al-ḥubb fi Allah), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
3. Cultivation of impermeability towards wrongdoing and injustice (a’izzatan ‘alal kaafireen) before cultivation of permeability to beauty and goodness and those who uphold the like (athillatan ‘alal mu’mineen), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
4. Cultivation of the disavowal of what is displeasing to the Lord (al-barāʿ) before cultivation of loyalty to what is pleasing to Him (al-walāʿ), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter.

The four blameworthy qualities that will arise within us

As a result of a person structuring his inner being according to the above four principles, four qualities arise within him, which are the destroyers of the Islamic revival:
1. judgement of others’ faults (tafsīq)
2. pointing out of innovations in the religion (tabdīʿ)
3. excommunication of fellow Muslims (takfīr)
4. exploding with violence and destruction (tafjīr)
Thus, he walks amongst people as an arrogant judge (qādī) and not as a shining guide (dāʿī). Satan misguides through him more people than he himself – out of his apparent concern for the Ummah’s wellbeing – sets out to guide, correct, and reform. He holds fast to his own vision of how people should improve religiously, and seeks to impose this vision on them even if it destroys them.
Because he does not submit to the Will of God, he is not used by God as an instrument of good.

Day 8 In A Nutshell – War Is Good For Business, #YourRamadanHub Xtra

If you missed the livestream of the two extraordinary short talks Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes gave, you can listen to them in full on the SeekersHub podcast on iTunes (please subscribe for automatic updates). In the meantime, we present you with #YourRamadanHub Xtra – the best of the day’s events in a nutshell.

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.

Is Islam More About Peace Or Mercy? Ustadh Ibrahim J. Long

If you had to summarize Islam with one word, what word would that be, asks Ustadh Ibrahim J. Long. What word can express for you the beauty of Islam and the comfort it brings to your heart?

For many, perhaps, that word is peace (salam). This is due, in part, to the peace in our heart that we are seeking as Muslims, but also to the fact that both islam and salam share the same Arabic tri-literal root (S-L-M).
For those who don’t know, most classical Arabic words are composed of three root letters from which we derive the primary meaning of the word. Because the words Islam and Salam are composed of a seen (S), lam (L) and meem (M), many draw a linguistic connection and say: “Islam is peace,” or “Islam means peace.” For this reason, peace (salam) may have been your chosen word. But, despite these reasons, peace is not the quality I find most striking about our faith.
When I read the ayat of the Glorious Qur’an something else stands out to me. It is something I also see when I read about the life of our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions. It is something I also think about when I hear stories about the righteous women and men of Islam and when I interact with pious men and women within our community. This quality is mercy (rahma).
Consider when a student of hadith first sits with his or her teacher. It is customary that the first hadith they hear from the lips of their teacher, the first hadith that connects him or her through their teacher to an unbroken chain of narrators going back to the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) is:

The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said:
“The merciful are shown mercy by the Most Merciful (al-Rahman). Be merciful on the earth, and you will be shown mercy from He that is above the heavens.”
[al-Tirmidhi]

My brother or sister, our Lord is the Most Merciful (al-Rahman) and His Messenger is the Messenger of Mercy (al-Rasul al-Rahma) and he has not been sent except as a mercy to all of the worlds.

But, how merciful are you and I?

If someone were to ask a friend about you, would they describe you as a merciful, understanding, or compassionate person?
What if someone were to ask your parents, your spouse, your children, your family, your neighbors, your class-mates, or your co-workers? Would they each describe you as a merciful person?
One of the miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that we do not speak enough about is his constant state of mercy even when he experienced difficulty. Whereas many among us may attribute our poor behavior, lack of patience, or lack of mercy with each other to our “having a bad day,” the Prophet (peace be upon him) was always merciful even under the most dire of circumstances.

Even when mocked and stoned

After having been kicked out of Ta’if, the incident he later described as having been the most difficult experience he ever faced, and after having been mocked and had stones thrown at him so much that he bled, he was given permission by God to ask His angels to destroy the city. But, this was not the way of our Messenger (peace be upon him); he always had hope and mercy in his heart for others. Instead of being vengeful, he maintained hope that a generation of believers would arise from the very city that rejected him. And, his hope was not in vain; there has been a generation after generation of believers since.
Consider, as well, that during the Battle of Uhud a group of archers disobeyed the direct orders of the Prophet (peace be upon him); a mistake that contributed to the death of several Companions and the physical injury of the Prophet himself.

What would you have done?

How you would you feel in this situation if you had been in the Prophet’s place? How would you feel if you were risking your life along with your closest companions and family members and, just when it appears that you are victorious and that the battle is nearly over, the tables are quickly turned due to the actions of a few who disobeyed your instructions? How would you feel?  What would you do?
Consider my brother or sister that Allah choose to reveal to our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) at this difficult time the following ayah:
“Out of mercy from God, you were gentle in your dealings with them—had you been harsh, or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed and left you—so pardon them and ask forgiveness for them. Consult them about matters, then, when you have decided on a course of action, put your trust in God: God loves those who put their trust in Him.” (Q3:159)
Our Prophet (peace be upon him) was gentle with them and was commanded by the Most Merciful to pardon them and even ask forgiveness for them. And, on top on this, Allah commanded the Prophet to even consult them regarding their advice on matters. This is an amazing request that only a true Messenger of the Most Merciful could have fulfilled. Not only did he forgive them, but he still requested and took into consideration their opinion and expertise in matters despite their past mistakes!

A greater degree of mercy

Now, let us be honest with ourselves. Forgiving others can be very difficult; especially if we have experienced personal, emotional, or physical injury. Though, I am sure there are those of us who have a greater potential to forgive, or to at least try. But, to even go beyond that and to seek advice from someone who might have caused us pain; that takes an even greater degree of mercy.
The Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) always kept in mind the bigger picture: that he was guiding a people who had not been guided before. They were going to make mistakes, but through mercy they could be guided to that which is best for them and the Ummah.

Mercy toward our young and old

My brother or sister, these are not the actions of a normal man. His merciful character is a miracle and example for us to strive to follow. But how are you and I in our dealings with others? And, in particular, how merciful are we with our youth who are also in need of guidance and who are also going to make mistakes? If our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was gentle with his Companions “who would have dispersed and left” Islam if the Prophet had been “harsh, or hard-hearted” (Q3:159), how can we expect anything more from our youth?
My brother or sister, you and I are undoubtedly familiar with the hadith of our Messenger (peace be upon him) stating that, “He is not one of us who does not show respect to our elders” [Ahmad; al-Tirmidhi]. And, of course, our elders are deserving of our respect. But I would like to draw attention to a lesser quoted statement of our Beloved Messenger (peace be upon him), “He is not one of us who does not have mercy upon our young” [Ahmad; al-Tirmidhi].
As our elders have a right to our respect, especially given their age, wisdom and life-experiences, our youth also have a right to our mercy given their young age, still developing understanding of the world, and their limited life-experiences.

“Speak to people in a way they will understand”

With this in mind, we need to also consider the advice of ‘Ali (May God be well-pleased with him) who said, “Speak to people in a way they will understand.” To which we may further add: Speak to people in a way that brings about that which is good for them. My brother or sister, take into consideration your words, the way you say it, and even your body language when you are seeking to guide our youth. Are you expressing mercy and concern?
If we truly want to help our youth we need to show wisdom and mercy. And, this means that when we ask them to listen to us, we, too, need to listen to better understand them. For, how can we speak in a way they understand if we do not first understand where they are coming from?
My brother or sister, what if no one is there to listen to our youth? What if our young men and women never felt like they could confide in their parents the trouble and pressures that they were facing in life? Who is it that could help them?

The wrong tools, for the wrong time

Some of you may be thinking that perhaps the only way to care for our youth and our children is to be tough on them. I don’t deny that sometimes our youth need clearer guidance and boundaries. But, we cannot be like poor carpenters who only carry a hammer; using it to fix all the problems we see.
Every problem is not a nail and every solution is not a hammer. Sometimes it is, but the default in our religion is mercy and so even when the hammer is wielded, it is used in a way that brings stability to a structure, not in a way that causes it to weaken and crumble.
Take a moment, my brother or sister, and reflect upon the mercy you have been the recipients of in your own life. Perhaps you have been forgiven by someone you love who you hurt. Or, perhaps you have received assistance from others when you really needed it. Or, perhaps you have had someone in your life who you could always call on. Haven’t these events made you want to be a better person like those who have helped you? Doesn’t the mercy of others push you and I to want to be better people?

He was not sent to curse and neither were we

One day one of the Prophet’s companions was going through an immense difficulty and asked our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) to curse those who were making things difficult for him. In response the beloved Messenger of God said, “I have not been sent to curse people; I have been sent as mercy to mankind’” [Muslim; al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad].
As followers of the Beloved (peace be upon him), how can we be a mercy to the world? As followers of the Messenger of Mercy (peace be upon him), how can we show mercy to our youth?
Ibrahim J. Long is a Muslim chaplain and educator. You can follow his blog at ibrahimlong.org

Photos by Michał Huniewicz and Dynamosquito

Are You Pursuing Happiness?

Are you pursuing happiness? How do we pursue it in the modern world? Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad discusses the meaning and pursuit of happiness in our lives. He eloquently describes the role of religion and specifically Islam in defining and pursuing happiness.

Shaykh-Abdul-Hakim-MuradShaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, also known as Timothy John Winter, is one of the most influential and highly regarded Muslim scholars in the world today. He is Director of Studies (Theology and Religious Studies) at Wolfson College and Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, United Kingdom. He is Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, which trains imams for British mosques. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic, including several sections of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ Ulum al-Din. He is a frequent international speaker and writer and also a regular contributor to the prestigious BBC Radio 4’s prestigious Thought for the Day.

Resources on happiness:

Cover photo by Muhammad Irfanul Alam.

"Stop Cherry-Picking From Islamic Texts To Justify Hatred"

SeekersHub seminars are unmissable. Broadcast live from Toronto, anyone, anywhere can log in and benefit. To receive a reminder before the next seminar on Refuting Radicalism, register your interest today.
In the meantime, watch a brief teaser of what’s in store. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speaks unequivocally on the dangers of cherry-picking hadiths and verses of the Qur’an to further an understanding that goes against the spirit of Islam.

Remember to register to take a course with SeekersHub online academy. There are over 30 brilliant ones on offer and no one is turned away for lack of funds.

Resources on ISIS and related issues for seekers:

On Fences and Our Neighbours. Dr Ingrid Mattson reflects.

Religions for Peace USA’s Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative  is a national effort to end Islamophobia. Since the Paris attacks the U.S. has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric that isolates our Muslim neighbors and feeds into a culture of fear. What can you do to counteract this trend?
Ingrid-MattsonFor the last three years the Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative has been on the ground in Tennessee buidling communities of trust across racial and religious lines. Over the years, they have developed strategies and resources to help people reach out and relate to their neighbors, to understand Islam and Muslims better, and to build communities of trust that break down stereotypes eating away at the goodwill that is so necessary for strong communities to thrive. To that end, they invited Dr. Ingrid Mattson to address the issue. Dr Mattson is a professor of Islamic Studies and the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is also the former president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Watch Dr Mattson’s lecture below and read her article on the same topic.

Resources for seekers:

The Modern Extremists – Who Are They? What Are The Consequences?

Who are the modern extremists and are they a recent phenomenon? How can we understand them and their motivations? And what are the utterly devastating consequences of their words and actions?
Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari, Director of the Ihsan Institute, gives a detailed and engaging explanation at this event hosted by SimplyIslam of Singapore.

Send Your Zakat To Besieged Scholars of Sacred Knowledge

Did you know SeekersHub actively provides financial support to traditional scholars whose lives – and ability to teach, have been utterly devasted or disrupted by the acts of violent extremists? These scholars are zakat-eligible – contribute your zakat today and earn the rewards from these noble efforts.

sh_saadShaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari is the Founder and Director of the Ihsan Institute of Arabic & Islamic Studies (United Kingdom). He was born into a family of scholars whose lineage goes back to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and became a master of the Qur’an at a very young age. Shaykh Ahmed was the SeekersHub Ramadan Scholar in Residence in 2015 and much of the content can be found on the SeekersHub archives.

Resources for Seekers:

Nothing more American for American Muslims

American-Flag-Hijabi

Simply Continue

There is nothing more American for American Muslims to do at this time than to simply continue remaining as Muslims.

Foundations

This country was founded by those who escaped religious persecution and insisted on practicing their deen in the manner in which they deemed important.

No Apology

They did not compromise, apologize or feel they had to change their beliefs and actions in order to thrive.

In Good Company

This country’s history is also filled with many religious groups who faithfully maintained their religious practices and beliefs.

Compromising is Un-American

It is not only unbecoming for American Muslims to compromise their Islam, but it is the most un-American thing they can do right now.”

Statement from Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia
Founder & President, Darul Qasim

 

Resources for Seekers: