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How Do We Know When Ramadan Starts? – Shaykh Rami Nsour

Shaykh Rami Nsour discusses how one determines when the month of Ramadan enters and the differences of opinions on the matter.

He brings up the debate concerning actual sightings versus calculation, and mentions that the discussion has a long history, but emphasizes that disagreements concerning these methods should not cause harsh words or the breaking of bonds.

Shaykh Nsour reminds us that the spirit of our faith is to accept differences of opinion in a broad range of subjects and to always seek conciliation and grace.

Our focus should be on the point of Ramadan which is to get closer to Allah through our worship.


With gratitude to Shakyh Rami Nsour and Tayba Foundation.


Making the Most of Ramadan – Shaykh Muhammad Abu Bakr Ba-Dhib & Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this reminder, Shaykh Muhammad Abu Bakr Ba-Dhib advises how to take advantage of sacred times of the year where blessings are multiplied. He especially emphasizes making righteous intentions for righteous works to gain their reward if circumstances change. He illustrates how to use religious understanding to make the most of such blessed opportunities in both righteous works and obligatory duties. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, who translates throughout, closes by highlighting key points related to intention and completing the Qur’an.

Review: The Divine Opening Explained by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Nurulain Wolhuter shares her excellent review of The Divine Opening: Surah al-Fatiha Explained, a course offered on SeekersGuidance by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

 

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus takes the seeker on an insightful journey into the meanings of Sura al Fatiha. He commences by exploring its many names. It is called Fatih al- Kitab because it is the opening chapter of the holy Qur’an. It is also called Umm al – Quran because it is the source of the Qur’an; and it is al – Assaas, containing the Qur’an’s foundational meanings. Its names reflect its limitless meanings as well as its merits, most notably that it is regarded as the best of the Qur’an.

Against this backdrop, Shaykh Yahya engages in an extensive exegesis of Sura al Fatiha, starting with the istiaatha – the seeking of refuge in Allah from the accursed devil. He says we seek refuge because we know we’re in need, and the more we realise our need, the more Allah will grant us sufficiency. Thereafter, the sura commences with the basmala, invoking all its blessings and enabling us to encloak ourselves with them. These blessings flow because the divine name is the greatest word of all, deserving of all perfection, and it is coupled with the attributes of al – Rahman, the universally merciful to all creatures, and al – Raheem, the specifically compassionate to the believer. Both are emphatic words derived from rahmah, meaning softness of heart, and compassion that necessitates showing goodness and grace to someone.

Turning to the ayat of al – Hamd, Shaykh Yahya explains that we praise Allah with the intention of glorifying and exalting Him, because He is the Lord of the Worlds. Integral to this praise is deep gratitude to Allah for all His blessings.

The next ayat repeats Allah’s divine attributes of al-Rahmaani Raheem, emphasising His mercy.

We then move from praise to a focus on Allah’s sovereignty and possession in the next ayat: Maaliki Yawmid Deen. The word maalik comes from either of two verbal nouns. The first one, Mulk, refers to the kingly traits of dominion, rule or sovereignty. The second one, Milk, refers to possession. So Allah is al – Mulk, the king, or al-Maalik, the owner. We are His Mamluk, subjects or property, and we connect with Him by doing His will. Our hearts should be in a state of reverential awe and fear at the mention of Yawmid Deen. It is the day of resurrection, the day of reprisals, the day where wrongs will be righted. And our Lord is king or master of it.

Thereafter, the sura moves to us, the servants of Allah: Iyyaaka na’budu – we worship You alone. We’re commanded to worship with the utmost humility and a deep sense of exaltation. Allah has placed worship before Istiaana (seeking help) because it is the appropriate etiquette to follow this order, and also because supplicating after worship is more amenable to a response.

Next, we ask Allah to guide us to the straight path (Ihdinas Siraatal Mustaqeem). Shaykh Yahya explains that al – Siraat is a path, a traverse, a way – the bridge over hell that all people will cross on their way to Paradise. It is thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword, and its length is 3,000 years. It is a straight path (al – Mustaqeem), involving outward compliance with the shari’a and inward submission. The way we adhere to the straight path in this world is the way we will cross the traverse in the next. This path is the path of those whom Allah has blessed (Siraatal latheena an’amta ‘alaihim), namely the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. There was a multitude in the beginning and there are only a few in the end times, but we can be people who move upwards in rank, if we have guidance and uprightness.

Finally, we ask to be spared the way of those who anger Allah or who have gone astray: ghayril maghdoobi ‘alaihim wa lad daalleen. It is said maghdoobi ‘alaihim are the Jews, or the disbelievers, or those who know what is right but don’t do it because of a blameworthy trait in their hearts. al – Daalleen are variously said to be the Christians, or the hypocrites, or those who go astray because they don’t know the truth.

Shaykh Yahya’s journey through the Mother of the Book gives us the opportunity to attain a deeper understanding of its meanings, and, concomitantly, a closer relationship with our Lord. May Allah grant us openings as we listen.


Click here to register for: The Divine Opening: Surah al-Fatiha Explained

The Unconditional Hope – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us of one of the sunnas of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which is that he never lost hope, had complete trust in Allah, and His plan.

 

One of the key sunnas of our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is that our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, was always positive. He was always full of hope in Allah Most High. It didn’t matter what was happening to him; what was happening around him; the Prophet’s hope and positive attitude was unconditional.

The reason for this is that the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is the hope that Allah Most High has commanded believers to have. It is not a home based on your hopefulness of whether things will work out according to your plans, according to your means, according to your facilitation.

Normally when we hope is when we think things are going right – that I’ve got things in order, so I’m hopeful. You prepared so you say, “I am hopeful that this will work out.” This is worldly hope. But the nature of dunya is that things are not in your control. Zubayr may want to marry Zubayda, but it’s not in his control. Uncle Jamil’s involved. And there’s a big problem of Zubayda herself.

As the poet said, “I went mad and madly in love with Layla, but she went madly in love with someone else.” And the most difficult of madness is her madness. And you feel you are going to lose hope, because why are things not working out according to my plans? They’re not working out according to my circumstances.

In our times when so many things around us are so distressful that we want our communities, not just in the West but also in the Muslim lands, to be communities of faith, communities of Mercy, communities of excellence, communities that embody the good that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, has come with of the religious good. But also spreading that mercy and beauty and excellence that is the embodiment of the prophetic way.

Though we see much that is not the way we want it – not the way that we would hope – and then distressful things happen. Syria is happening. Iraq is happening. The Rohingya situation in Burma. What’s going on in Congo. What’s going on in Sudan. Name a country and there’s problems. What is going on in India with Muslim rights being under threat. What is going on with the rise of Islamophobia in Canada.

We were hopeful for a while there: “Trudeau’s in power and this and that. Everything’s “fine.” So we had hope as things seem to be going well, but then all these things happen and “Oh, what’s going on?” People lose hope. This is all from shortsightedness of the Sunna of our beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him.

The True Nature of Hope

The reality of hope that Allah Most High has called us to have – the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – is not a hope that’s dependent on ourselves. It’s not a hope that is dependent on our circumstances. It’s not a hope dependent on whether things are going according to our plans and the way things appear to us. Our hope is in Allah Most High and the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.

We can’t even begin to imagine the states of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Ima al-Ghazali said that “No one knows a prophet in reality except a prophet.” What makes a prophet a prophet is the fact, the reality, that they receive revelation from the Lord of the universe. That’s what prophethood is. That this person is being directly granted revelation from beyond creation, from the Lord of the unseen.

How can any one who doesn’t experience that reality truly comprehend what is a prophet? We see some shadows of what the prophetic reality is in his teachings, in his guidance, in his example. But what is his reality? As one of the Sahaba said, “My eyes never had their fill of The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. We never gained everything that we could from him.”

The Prophet’s hope, blessings and peace be upon him, is in his Lord and his Lord is beyond limits – beyond limitation. Allah Most High has called us to place our hope in Him. He has called us to place our trust in Him. He has called us to seek from Him. But He has also made promises that He is the sufficiency; that He will fulfill the hope of all those who place their hope in Him. That he will take care of those who trust in Him. That he answers the call of those who call upon Him.

Three Basic Realities

These are three basic realities that we can never forget. That Allah has commanded us to have hope in Him and promised us. That He will fulfill the hope of those who place their hope in him. He will take care of all who trust in Him. That He answers the call of those who call upon Him. “Whoever places their trust in Allah, He is their complete sufficiency.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:3) And His promise is a reality. “Allah does not go against his promise.” (Sura Aal Imran 3:9)

We believe this, so our hope, that hope that we see manifest in our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is not a contingent hope. It is not a hope dependent on ourselves or on anything in creation. Our hope is in Allah Most High. Our trust is inAllah. We don’t trust based on our taking of means. The key for that is our dua.

Many people make grave mistakes when they make dua, that “Will Allah answer my dua?” This is not permissible to think. It’s not permissible to think because Allah Most High tells us, “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” (Sura al-Ghafir 40:60) Our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Call upon Allah with complete certainty (yaqin) in His response.”

It is actually a point of aqida. If you look at in the classical works of Islamic beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna, [this is] one of the principles they mention – so this is not just a matter of fiqh. It’s not just a sunna to make dua. It’s a point of aqida. Imam Ibrahim al-Laqqani in Jawharat al-Tawhid, says: “The truth is that dua benefits.” This is a point of belief.

Allah tells us: “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” Allah Most High also tells us: “If my servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:186)

We believe this. It is manifest truth. So we should uphold this. Are you feeling hopeful about your own faith? Are you feeling hopeful about your family, your children? Are you feeling hopeful about our community? Are you feeling hopeful about the Umma of the Beloved of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him? If your answer is not “Absolutely!” then your hope is misaligned with the hope that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, has taught us.

Because our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is not in others. Our hope is not in circumstances. Our home is in Rabb al-‘alamin, the Lord of all existence. And who is the Rabb? Even the meaning the word Rabb – we typically translate it as Lord. But Rabb has the meanings of mercy. He is the caring, the cherishing, the nurturing, the loving.

Rabb Is of the Names of Mercy

When we say, Allah, this called lafdh al-jalala: the Name of Majesty. It is the absoluteness of Allah. But Rabb is from the Names of Mercy. The ulama tell us that when we make dua from the dua of the Qur’an and the Sunna – when we say, “Allah,” the predominant meaning is of awe of Allah and of our neediness before Allah. But when we say, “Rabb” – “Rabbana atina fi al-dunya asana, wa fi al-akhira asana, wa qina min adhab al-nar,” for example – Lord, we say this with hope and with a sense of Allah’s mercy. That is why it is better to translate Rabb as “the merciful Lord, the cherishing Lord, the caring Lord, the loving Lord.”

This is where our hope lies. Our hope is in Allah. “Upon Allah, let trust those who place their trust,” as Allah Most High tells us. (Sura Ibrahim 14:12) Our master Umar, Allah be pleased with him, relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Were you to trust upon Allah as He deserves to be trusted,” with a sense of whom are you placing your trust in, because even in worldly life most people aren’t that trustworthy but there are some people that, if they give you their word, you know they’ll do it. So we trust them, but what about the One who’s sustaining all existence? If He makes you a promise and He has told you to trust in Him and everything tells you that this is true?

“Whoever places their trust in Allah then Allah is their sufficiency.” To the extent that you place your trust in Allah, to that extent He will be sufficient for you. So we should not feel at all afraid about the way things are. We should not lose hope [asking] “What will happen to my din? What will happen to my family? What will happen to my children? What will happen to my community? What will happen to the Umma?

Our responsibility is to have hope. That’s why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, though full of concern was always positive and cheerful. Even in Mecca when people were being oppressed, even his own Companions, he would be unerringly positive, blessings and peace be upon him. He would promise the Sahaba that a day will come and tell them of how things would be in the future. Why? Because he has absolute trust in Allah Most High, absolute hope in Allah. We should be wary of losing hope. Of fearing things around us.

Trust in Actions Is Misplaced

One of the great scholars of our din Ibn Ata’illah says, in one of the great works of Islamic spirituality, [al-Hikma], which is explaining the sunnas of the heart of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him: “From the signs that you are relying on actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” When disliked matters occur.

From the signs that you’re relying on actions, whether it’s your actions or the actions of others. – What will my children do? What will my family do? What will my community do? What will the Umma do? – Are you relying on them? If you do then here’s a basic principle: The dunya disappoints. You’ll be disappointed.

Rather we are commanded, we are obligated, to hope in Allah, to trust in Allah, and to seek from Allah. The test of that is when distressful things happen does it shake your hope, your reliance, your trust, and it shouldn’t, because the giver is not you. The giver is not people. The giver is Allah Most High.

The test of hope though is what Allah Most High tells us in Sura al-Kahf 18:110, “Whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let him work righteousness.” So you have that hope that I want to meet Allah in a good state. I want to meet Allah and he is pleased with me. I want to meet Allah. with him accepting me amongst his beloved servants. You have that hope.

Our responsibility is not to worry, is not to be concerned. Our responsibility is to act with excellence. Like they say in the service industry, “you don’t ask what is going on. Your responsibility is service with a smile.” Keep smiling and keep serving, and you get paid. It doesn’t matter if the company is making money. It’s not my business. You’re working for the Lord of the universe. There is no loss in the business of being a servant of Allah. This business is lasting until the Last Day, so don’t worry.

The other part of worrying is, who makes things happen? Some people get so distressed: “Oh my God, what happened in London?” Yes, we are saddened, angered, upset, at what happened. But insofar as this is wrong, and this is not what we should do, and this is something that we have to say has nothing to do with our religion, has nothing to do with our Prophet, has nothing to do with what we accept. But taking it beyond that to being worried about what’s going on in this world? Guess what? Allah is the Creator of everything.

What You Don’t Have to Worry About

Everything happens by Allah’s decree. There’s a wisdom in it. You don’t have to worry about that part. What you do have to worry about is: “Let them do works that are righteous, that are good,” so when distressful things happen it’s not your business. Why are they happening? Did you do it? No. If you did you have to repent and redress and so on. But that’s your action. If you didn’t do it why you feeling responsible for it?

Your responsibility is, what can I do about it? So what do we do? Renew your hope in Allah. Renew your trust in Allah. Ask Allah for the good. No amount of news will change things. If anything it will put you more down, make you more fearful, make you more hesitant and less trusting. Rather, renew your hope in Allah, renew your trust in Allah, and ask Allah for the good. If it’s a test you are facing, ask Allah for the good for yourself. If it’s a test happening elsewhere, ask Allah for the good in that situation.

Many people say, “Oh my God, what’s going on in…?” Name the country. Even if you answer that question does it make things better? No, so you ask Allah for the good. That is hope. It is seeking the good from Allah and then taking the means for that good yourself. So you say, “Okay, there are people who are misguided. Individuals in our communities with wrong understandings of religion. Whatever caused them to be instigated, to be alienated, there’s no justification for the wrong, because our religion then teaches us that we are people of principle. Our Messenger is a Messenger of principle. So even if someone else is doing wrong, even if others are doing wrong ,it does not allow us to do the wrong.

Read how the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, entered Mecca after two decades of being wronged, then abused and attacked and opposed and derided. That is what we take as our standard. We only respond with the good or that which is better.

So you asked for the good and then wonder, What can I do about it? Now you might not be able to do something about what happens in London. You may not be able to do something about what happens in Iraq. Say, Well there is something I can do? There are wrong understandings of religion being promoted. I want to promote good understandings of religion. These people who have bad impressions of Islam. I want to be involved in our own community to spread sound perceptions of Islam. How? Just uphold the Sunna. Feed people. Give gifts to people. Thank people.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was nursed for a brief period of time by sayyida Halima al-Sa‘diyya, and of course he was nourished when he was a child. Five decades later, more than fifty years later, in Madina, if anyone from her tribe would come to Madina, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would honor them. Why? He taught us that “Whoever does not express thanks to people does not thank Allah.”

We don’t do good in the community, in the society, for public relations. We do it because we are followers of the Beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. Thank people. We live in a society where so many things work well. Have we thanked the garbage collectors? Have we thanked the people who are putting salt on our roads so the cars do not slip? There are so many things that happen well in our community, in our society.

Thank people. Give respect where respect is due. Be part of good initiatives because – that’s the question for us – we don’t have to fear, we don’t have to be scared, we don’t have to lose hope. Rather, the believer, our hope is in Allah. We ask Allah for the good and then we take the means to it. And that’s it.

A Beautiful Reminder

We’ll close with a beautiful example of the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allahe be pleased with him, had prepared for the Hegira in advance. He knew that it that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was most likely going to migrate too. And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told him to hold back. So he was hopeful that he’ll be the one who traveled with the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He hadn’t asked explicitly, but he’d already purchased his mount and the mount for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, a month in advance.

This is action. Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, did not worry. “Who will I travel with? Who will the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, travel with? Oh, my goodness, what’s going on?” You place your trust in Allah, but you take the means with excellence. When they left on the Hijra – of course the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, paid for his own mount, even though much of his wealth had been misappropriated by the Meccans. He paid for it in full. It is one of the miracles of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Where did he pay from for things when you didn’t have money?

When they headed out sayyidina Abu Bakr was doing something really strange because he was concerned. Sometimes he’d walk ahead of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He’d be looking around. Sometimes he’d walk to the right of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes he’d walk behind the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes to his left and then back to the front.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, smiled and said, “O Abu Bakr, why are you walking in this way?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, when I think that they may attack I walk ahead of you. When I think that they may catch up to us from the back, I walk behind. What if they try to ambush us from left or right? I stand on that side.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was just smiling. Why? Because his trust in Allah. Review the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. We should all connect to it.

In the cave, sayyidina Abu Bakr, out of his overflowing love and concern for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, he was taking the means, but his heart was, at that time, a little overwhelmed. According to some narrations he ripped his own clothing, as much as he could, to plug the holes in the cave, and he stuck his toe, it is said, in some narrations, and he was getting bitten by the scorpion. And his face was changing but he made no noise, because he didn’t want to disturb the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, when he was resting.

When they saw that the enemy approaching, he said to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “They just have to look towards their feet and they will see us!” What the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said then is something that applies for eternity. It is an eternal eternal truth.

When he says to his Companion – sayyidina Abu Bakr is the Companion of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, by the word of the Lord of the Heavens – “Fear not. For Allah is with us.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:40) This is the message. Don’t be afraid of all these things. Allah is the Lord of the world. We place our hope in Allah. We place our trust in Allah. We asked Allah Most High and He said, “Call upon Me and I will answer you.”

So don’t worry about your faith, in this sense take, the means. Don’t worry about your children. Don’t worry about your family. Don’t worry about your community. Don’t worry about the Umma. Ask Allah for the good, but then take the means, with excellence, to fulfill it.

And always remember, “Fear not. For Allah is with us.”

 

 


This article was transcribed and edited from a Friday khutba delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in March 2017 at the Jame Masjid Oakville, Noor-ul-Haram.


Shaykh Jamir Meah on Science and the Qur’an

Shaykh Jamir Meah recently answered a host of questions on seeming contradictions between science and the Qur’an. It is so good it needed to be featured here.

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I have had a lot of questions about some claimed scientific mistakes in the Qur’an that I haven’t had any answers too (or any good answers to). I would like for you to have patience with me, since I have a lot of questions that have been bothering me.

    1. 1. In the verse, يخرج من بين الصلب والترائب (

Sura al-Tariq 86:7

    1. ) I haven’t seen a good explanation that doesn’t feel forced or تكلف that explains the verse, which is against what is seen.
    1. 2. The hadith of the “tail bone” (عجب الذنب), I want references from credible scientific sources that this bone doesn’t go away and it is where the human is created or any explanation as to how is this hadith can be interpreted.
    1. 3. The verse of وحلائل ابنائكم الذين من اصلابكم (

Sura al-Nisa 4:23

    1. ) and واذ اخذ ربك من بني آدم من ظهورهم ذريتهم. (

Sura al-A‘raf 7:172

    1. ) I want an explanation for how can this reconcile with what is known. How is it that children are from the back?
    1. 4. It is known (and correct me if I am wrong) that circumcision for young ladies is permissible and some say it is good. This leads to a weird contradiction, since the Qur’an and Sunna never asks us to do anything that harms us, but there is a whole movement trying to stop it for young ladies, since it harmful.
    1. 5. I also wanted to ask about cousin marriages, and how is it permissible as scientifically it is may be more harmful?
    1. 6. There is a sahih hadith that says a woman has a role in the gender of the child, which is مَاءُ الرَّجُلِ أَبْيَضُ، وَمَاءُ الْمَرْأَةِ أَصْفَرُ ، فَإِذَا اجْتَمَعَا ، فَعَلَا مَنِيُّ الرَّجُلِ مَنِيَّ الْمَرْأَةِ ، أَذْكَرَا بِإِذْنِ اللهِ ، وَإِذَا عَلَا مَنِيُّ الْمَرْأَةِ مَنِيَّ الرَّجُلِ ، آنَثَا بِإِذْنِ اللهِ . ً(Muslim) What is the correct interpretation for this hadith?
    1. 7. Last thing is the verse, ومن كل شيء خلقنا زوجين. (

Sura al-Dhariya 51:49

    ) What is the correct interpretation for this ayat?

May Allah help you and help me, and may you help me to reach clarity and strong faith.

Thank you.

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Thank you for your questions. I have answered them in order below.

Questions 1-3: Qur’an and Science

I am unable to provide scientific proofs to your questions as I am not a scientist. However, please note the following points in regards this set of questions:

A. There is a lot of literature out there which discuss scientific facts found in the Quran. While it is true that the Quran does indeed contain scientific miracles and will I’m sure continue to shed light on numerous facts about our universe, much of the information written on this subject is unfortunately often poorly researched.

Therefore, Muslims who do not have both a solid understanding of the Qur’an; it’s language and exegesis, alongside a firm understanding of the relevant branches of modern sciences, should avoid too much discussion on these aspects of the Qur’an. The most important matters in the Qur’an that man needs to know and hold onto have been made clear, while other verses are not so clear to the laymen, and should not be delved into by the unqualified, for Allah Most High tells us in regards some verses, “What does Allah mean by such a parable? Through this He leaves many to stray, and guides many.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:26)

B. The Qur’an is not a scientific book, it is the Divine Speech of God, which contains guidance for man to fulfill his earthly needs and attain to eternal salvation, and a warning of what awaits those who transgress. Unless for general interest or scholarly specialization, one should focus on these aspects of the Qur’an and attaching ones’ heart to Allah and his Messenger, as ultimately, this is what matters and the point of the guidance.

C. The Qur’an has an endless depth of meaning. This is one of the Miracles of the Qur’an. Because it is the eternal Speech of God, it indicates to some of the eternal knowledge of God, which is limitless. No one will ever fully encompass its full meanings, but new meanings become apparent over time, and occur to people of varying abilities and insight. However, it’s meanings never change, and its inward meanings do not contradict its outward implications.

D. When the Qur’an mentions facts about the created universe, it is often implicit and indicative to these facts, and not usually explicit or apparent immediately.

E. The universe is still mainly undiscovered territory. What science knows now maybe different tomorrow. It is a tool for discovering facts, not the fact itself, therefore it is subject to change as new facts become undisclosed. It cannot be relied upon as the standard to measure the absolute truth. The first thing we learnt from even our basic science texts at school is that in science, “no theory is accepted as absolute truth.”

F. Despite science and modern medicine making immense advancements in the understanding of human anatomy and physiology, it is by no means complete knowledge. Moreover, in regards the human being as a whole, such as psychologically and spiritually, and how this connects to the physical, modern science’s understanding of these are deeply inadequate and relies on various assumptions and theories. The interconnection between the somatic and non-somatic levels of the human being are only now being explored and new ways in how we view and study the human body are being discovered.

G. In regards the hadith, “There is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone; the little bone at the end of the coccyx of which the human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari) It actually doesn’t matter whether this bone decomposes or not, as the hadith does not explicitly state that the whole bone does not decompose, nor delineate what is meant by “tail bone.”

Therefore, it is valid to state that what the hadith could be referring to is that even the tiniest part of the tail bone does not decompose, as a part is necessarily a part of the whole, so one may use the whole to describe the part. Thus, even if the smallest part of the tail bone is left intact, perhaps even extending to the molecular or atomic level, then this suffices to make the statement true, as is supported by the hadith, when asked about the tailbone, he, peace and blessings be upon him, replied, “[It is] like a grain of mustard.’ (Ahmad)

Furthermore, there is a difference of opinion on how humans will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement. One opinion is that we will be assembled and resurrected from all our scattered remains. Another opinion holds that when the trumpet blows all our parts and remnants will be utterly annihilated and taken out of existence, except whatever remains of the “tail bone” (even if nanoscopic), and then we will be created again, almost ex-nihilo, similar to how we were created the first time. (Sharh al-Kharida al-Bahiyya)

H. Know that Allah Most High is the Creator of all things, and this includes natural laws and normative relationships of cause and effect. If He so willed, He could turn these laws and relations on their heads or create entirely different laws. Therefore, when Allah Most High informs us that He bought forth the children of Adam from their “backs” it is irrelevant whether this coincides with the ordinary manner that we observe the reproduction system to work or different to it, as Allah Most High has power over all things and may do as He pleases. Secondly, most reliable translators translate the words “min dhuhurim” “from their backs” as “from their loins,” in which case, there is no contradiction between these words and what is normally observed in this life.

Question 4: Female Circumcision

Female circumcision is mentioned in various narrations, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a woman who circumcised females, “Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman.” (Abu Dawud) The Mujtahid Imams differed on its rulings; some holding it obligatory, others recommended, and others still, considered it good etiquette.

I specifically quoted the hadith above, because it contains a warning; “Do not go to extremes” and this is the important point. Proper female circumcision consists of removing a tiny flake or shaving of skin from the hood of the clitoris, nothing more. This is what is described in our fiqh books. Advanced hospitals in the UAE perform this very well.

It does not in any way consist of excess skin or flesh being removed, harm to the woman, mutilation of any kind, or anything else that interferes with or diminishes the functioning of the genital area.

The whole point of correct female circumcision is increased hygiene and sexual pleasure for the woman. This is obviously not achieved by the malpractice we have just mentioned, but rather the opposite occurs.

Unfortunately, in many cultural practices of female circumcision this is what happens, and in this we wholeheartedly agree with those who speak out about such practices, while at the same time, we uphold the correct and Shari‘a-defined female circumcision we have outlined above. This is certainly an area which needs serious addressing and educating.

Question 5: Cousin Marriages

There is nothing wrong with cousins marrying one another, and the possibilities of any defect occurring is not significant unless the cousins in question are from generations of cousin marriages or they have genetic defects themselves. Cousin-marriage is permitted in Islam, Judaism, and has been within Christianity at various periods of time, or still is depending on the Christian denomination.

What has been observed by medical scientists as a significant concern is the repeated marrying of first cousins, generation after generation, due to the increased chances of sharing recessive traits. In these cases, the Shari‘a ruling would also be that it is not recommended to do so.

Question 6: Gender

The gender of the child can depend on many factors, among them the manner of fluid exchange during intercourse, which is what is mentioned in the hadith, “Man’s discharge is thick and white and the discharge of woman is thin and yellow, so the resemblance comes from the one whose water prevails or dominate.” (Muslim)

Imam al-Nawawi mentions that the scholars have explained prevailing or dominant to mean here either the one who emits first, or the one whose discharge is more plentiful and stronger in relation to whose desire was stronger. (Sharh Muslim)

Question 7: Duality in Creation

The verse, “And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect,” (Sura al-Dhariya 51:49) means that creation has been created in two types or two kinds, such as the land and sea, night and day, the sun and moon, sweetness and bitterness, earth and sky, light and dark, male and female. Pairs are either opposites or similar.

These pairings point to one Creator, to His Power and Ability and that the one who is able to create them is able to recreate them at will and bring them together again, and that one may reflect that pairs and plurality belong to all things possible (mumkinat) while a necessary being (al-wajib bi dhat), namely God, does not accept plurality or division (Most of these arguments require further logical explanation). (al-Baydawi, al-Qurtubi, al-Wahidi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir)

A Word of Advice

Lastly, I would suggest you focus more on studying the broader aspects of religion, particularly aqida and tafsir. This will help you in your understanding. Unless one is firmly grounded in both their religious knowledge and the secular sciences, entering into discussions or answering other people’s questions on such topics such as science and religion (and many more subjects) can often do harm and turn people away, even if one’s intentions are good.

I pray the above provides sufficient guidance and clarification.

Warmest salams,

Jamir


 

All That Remained – Navigating Dementia With Faith

A student observes his grandmother dealing with dementia, and discovers the one thing that remains with her as her memory slowly fades.

Dementia is a heartbreaking illness. It impairs a person’s ability to think, changes their personality, and can cause them to forget their most beloved ones. In times of hardship, when all else is stripped away, true character shines through. Some conditions, like personality changes, are not the person’s fault. But Allah is never far, and He manifests His mercy in amazing ways.

In the early 60s a pious woman, married a simple bus driver in Pakistan. Three weeks later, she relocated to the United Kingdom, where she is now the matriarch of over 30 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Now in her eighties and despite her age and her deteriorating health, she remains steadfast in her prayers and fasting, seems to constantly be in a state of Dhikr, and is often reading the Qur’an. She is always present for family events, whether they be weddings, funerals, mawlids or casual get-togethers.

For decades she would cook and serve food to the entire family, always offering to serve others. Her food was not just tasty, but had a lot of love and baraka in it.

But dementia has taken its toll on her life, and she is unable to do many of the things she once enjoyed. She recently asked one of her daughters, my aunt, “How many children do I have?” and on another occasion, “How many children do you have?” In addition, I once overheard my uncle say that it’s difficult to plan trips and outings, because she will forget about it when it’s time to go.

When dementia strips a personality down to the bare bones, it reveals what lies underneath. The night before my brother’s wedding, she came to stay at our house, and Allah showed me her rank. I was reading from Sura al-Baqara, the longest chapter of the Qur’an, while she was lying down alongside me. She seemed to be dozing, oblivious to what I was doing. Suddenly, she shouted out and grabbed me on the arm.

At first, I was confused as to what she was doing until I rechecked the verse and discovered that I had mispronounced one of the letters. I reread the word correctly and she nodded and allowed me to continue. I thought it was a coincidence, or that maybe I had been reading a verse that she knew well. But a few minutes later, she woke up again when I’d made another mistake, and she corrected me again in the same way. She corrected me in the same manner that Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa corrects those who slip up while reciting a mawlid.

She has not memorized the Qur’an, nor is she a scholar of tajwid. Yet somehow, she sensed my mistake and been able to correct me. I always knew that she had a love for the Qur’an. It amazed me how Allah had beautifully preserved her memory for His Book, even as the memories of her own children faded.

My grandmother is now entering into the final chapters of her life. We pray that Allah grants her a good end and a felicitous entry into Paradise, by His Grace.

By Zaid Malik


This piece was written by a SeekersHub student. Looking to inspire? Consider writing for our Compass Blog! We are looking for individuals willing to submit feature pieces for publication. Share your stories with us. Contact [email protected] with your pitch and inspire and motivate hundreds – if not thousands – of others.


The Most Hopeful Verse and Prophetic Forgiveness

Shaykh Walead Mosaad talks about prophetic forgiveness, relating it to the most hopeful verse in the Qur’an, and what it means to let grievances go.

If we were to kind of summarize this idea of forgiveness, especially prophetic forgiveness, it has to be predicated number one on the idea that you shouldn’t expect it to begin with. Many of the scholars of the heart say that, whenever you affirm for yourself something; a particular State or maqam, then you’re not that thing.

If you say, I think I’m very humble, you’re not humble. I think I’m very generous, then you’re not generous. I think I am a salik, I am a seeker on the path to God, then you’re definitely not a seeker on the path to God, because your own awareness, and not just awareness but your own assertion, that you are this thing, it’s a veil. It’s actually an obstacle to being a seeker on the path to God – to being humble.

Most people who are on this particular path they just are. Without asserting or attributing to themselves those things or trying to be. True humility is seeing yourself as nothing. Not seeing yourself as humble, because if you see yourself as humble, that means you see yourself as something.

The Important Other

It’s to be unconcerned with the self and to be completely concerned with the other. The most important other that you have is Allah Most High. If all of your concern, if you’re completely consumed in that, who has time to worry about if this person should come and ask my pardon and ask my forgiveness. Or they walk in and they didn’t give me salami the same way they give to the other person. Who has time for that nonsense? right

You have this type of grudge that kind of grows in your heart and you’re expecting some type of acknowledgement of a mistake made and you want people to seek your forgiveness. You should want people not to seek your forgiveness. You should walk into rooms and say I forgive everybody in this room for everything they’ve ever done to me. You should go to sleep at night with salamat al-sadr, with a heart that’s free, that’s liberated.

All the grudges that you hold against people, they’re like nooses around your neck. They’re like handcuffs. They hold you hostage and prisoner and you are held prisoner to them until you liberate yourself. One of the ways to liberate yourself is to let all of that go.

1) to seek forgiveness from Allah Most High, and
2) don’t expect forgiveness from other people.

Don’t expect them to ask for that. Just let it all go and walk into rooms and say, I forgive all of these people.

Wanting Good for Others

This is what some of the Salaf used to do, as reported by Imam Sha‘rani. Just say, I’m going to read Sura al-Fatiha, and I’m going to have the ajr (reward) for all of these people. Walk into the marketplace where people are engaged in swearing and maybe lying and doing all sorts of devilish things, but nevertheless you say, I want good for these people.

I’m going to walk in there and say al-Fatiha and I make the intention that the reward is for all of them. And if that’s your intention, they’ll get it. That’s as simple as that. It’s the least you can do.

There’s this powerful type of da’wa we’re not availing ourselves up. We’re so into the very outward forms. This feeling of agency that we like to attribute to ourselves. I was doing this. I invited these people. I got him to become Muslim. When in reality that’s not how it works. All you’re doing is inviting.

Powerful Da’wa

And perhaps the silent but yet perhaps more powerful form is that which takes place within you; you wanting them surely and only for Allah Most High. That was the secret or one of the secrets of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and the early generations. They truly wanted the best for their people.

Remember he’s inviting his cousins, his uncles, his aunts, his tribesmen, his clansmen. These are all people the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, grew up with. These are people the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, who would call him al-Amin. They knew him and he knew them. He loved them, blessings and peace be upon him. He didn’t want punishment for them.

One time he had an incident that was so severe, blessings and peace be upon him. He, blessings and peace be upon him, was just praying in Mecca. And Abu Jahl came and he took some entrails of a camel and maybe even some fecal matter and stuff like this and he threw it next to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – perhaps on him.

Then Fatima, his young daughter ,who was maybe eight, nine, ten years of age at the time, she heard about it. And she ran to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. While he was in sujud, blessings and peace be upon him, she was the one who was wiping it off.

The Most Hopeful Verse

Later on they mentioned that the angel of power and of the mountains, via Gibril, peace be upon him, comes to him and he says, “If you so desire, I can make the two mountains come and fall and destroy all of Quraysh for what they have done, for their transgression against you.”

If someone did that to me, I might be very tempted actually to go through with that. But the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “I am hopeful that from among their progeny, from those that will come after them, there will be those who will follow this way.” There will be those who believe in Allah Most High. And it was as he said, blessings and peace be upon him.

He said, “I am hopeful.” When the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, hopes for something Allah doesn’t disappoint him. Some of them were asked, “What is the most hopeful verse in the Qur’an?” Some of them said, “And have fear of the fire that has been prepared for the disbelievers.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:24) They said this is a very hopeful verse because it hasn’t been prepared for the believers and if I’m a believer then that’s not for me.

The Extent of His Love and Forgiveness

But some of them said, “That’s not the most hopeful verse. The most hopeful verse is “Surely, Allah will give you and you will be pleased.” (Sura al-Duha 93:5) And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would be displeased with any one of us finding our way to kufr and Hellfire. So, this is the most hopeful verse because his mercy and his forgiveness and his love didn’t extend only to the people around him, but to the people who will be coming after him, blessings and peace be upon him.

He said, blessings and peace be upon him: “I long and desire for my when my brothers and sisters.” And they said: “Are we not your brothers and sisters?” He said, “No, you are my companions. My brothers and sisters they will come after you. They will have difficulties. They will not have what you have.” They will not have the the aid and the help that you have. And he said, blessings and peace be upon him: “The amal of one of them is like 50 of you.” And the Sahaba were confused. They said, “50 of us or 50 of them?” He said, “No, 50 of you.”

In other words, the one person, despite their circumstances, will have an award equivalent to maybe fifty of the Companions. Why? Because there’s no one to help. I have to be honest we’re living this Islam, right now, despite ourselves. Despite all of the things that are happening. It’s actually somewhat miraculous.

Letting Things Go through Forgiveness

Allah is the one who is protecting this din. What if it was left up to us? There would be no din left. But we still have the prayer, we still have the Qur’an, we still know basically what Islam is. It’s well defined. We know how to practice it. But despite all of the difficulties and our inability or lack of resolve in practicing it in the way that it was meant to be, we still have the din. We still have Islam. That’s a beautiful thing.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would be disappointed to find that any one of us would be disappointed. So when we think about forgiveness, let’s have prophetic forgiveness. Let’s not expect forgiveness. Let’s forgive people before they ask. Let’s let slights and things that some people will take the heart – just let it go.

Go to sleep at night and say, I forgive this person, that person, and it’s over with. and wake up the next morning like it’s not there. You may say, “Well, that’s really hard. That’s really difficult, because some people just will get on your nerves and and so forth. But if you really desire it and you really want it and you want to do it for Allah Most High, you will do it.


Listening to Qur’an While Solving Math Problems

Ustadh Farid Dingle is asked about listening to the Qur’an while doing something else.

I pray this note finds you in the best of spirits insha Allah

Alhamdulillah, I love Islam and try my best to practice it in the best way possible.

In my eagerness to do more at the same time, I sometimes listen to Qur’an while solving math problems. Is that permissible or it is against the adab of Qur’an?

Please advise.

Jazak Allah khayr

It is permissible, but the proper way to listen to the Qur’an is to give it your full attention and ponder on its meanings.

Allah Most High says, “So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” (Sura al-A‘raf 7: 204)

One of the scholars that I that asked about this was actually a mathematician and felt it farfetched that someone could ‘pay attention’ while working on something that is very mentally taxing.

Another quoted the verse of the Quran, “Never has God endowed any man with two hearts in one body.” (Sura al-Ahzab 33:4) That is to sat that one cannot focus on two things at the same time.

So, it is not the best way to listen to the Qur’an, but it is not forbidden and certainly better than listening to something inappropriate.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

What Is the Umm al-Kitab?

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about the meaning of the term “Umm al-Kitab” and how it relates to the speech of Allah.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I hope this finds you in the best health.

My question is about the Umm al-Kitab which is mentioned three times in the Holy Qur’an. What is the Umm al-Kitab? Is it the same as the Lawh al-Mahfuz? Is it true that the Holy Qur’an we posses is a portion of the Umm al-Kitab which is a part of the pre-eternal speech of Allah?

Thank You.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Umm al-Kitab

The term Umm al-Kitab is mentioned a few times in the Qurʾan. The first time it is used, in Sura Aal Imran 3:7. It refers to the verses of the Qurʾan which are absolutely clear and decisive. It would be apt to translate this usage as “The Foundation of the Book.” This means that those verses – such as those which state that Allah is unlike anything else (Sura al-Ikhlas 112:4) – are the lens through which other verses are to be understood if one wants an accurate understanding of the meanings and message of the Qurʾan.

Other verses refer to the Protected Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mazfuz) as Umm al-Kitab, such as Sura al-Ra‘d 13:39. This is a creation in which knowledge of all of the events from the beginning of time to the Day of Judgement are recorded.

The Qurʾan is written in the Protected Tablet, and it was from there that it descended to the heart of the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Allah’s attribute of Speech expresses the infinite knowledge He has in an unfathomable way. There is no beginning, no end, no letters, no words, etc. The Qur’an, which is written in the Preserved Tablet, points to some of what the attribute of Speech expresses, not all of it. (Alusi, Ruh al Maʿani; Sawi, Sharh Jawhara al-Tawhid; Fawda, al-Sharh al-Kabir ʿ ala Aqida al-Tahawiyya).

I hope this clarifies matters for you. May Allah benefit us through His blessed words in the life and the next. Amin.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Adab 07: The Proprieties of Earning a Living

Ustadh Tabraze Azam dives deep into the proprieties of earning a lawful income, its virtues, and its rewards in this life and in the life to come.

The trustworthy, honest trader will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs [on the Day of Judgement], said the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

When we live up to the ideals and deep, moral standards of the religion, we can be hopeful of something tremendous from Allah in the hereafter. After all, this life is merely a means to the next, and not an end-goal in and of itself. Earning a livelihood is something that most of us can probably relate to, but our fast-paced lives, however, can sometimes hinder our ability to simply pause for a moment and review our trajectory into eternity. Seldom is a moment of contemplation void of any lasting benefit when it is for Allah.

As we try to reconnect with our faith and live it more faithfully, with propriety, we should recall the words of Allah in which He informs us that He “made the day for livelihood.” (Sura al Naba’ 78:11) Thus, it is Allah’s favor upon us by which we are blessed with days in which we can fulfill the purpose of that time. A believer is a “son of his moment,” namely, somebody concerned with being in the right places at the right times, and doing what will be most pleasing to Allah therein. With gratitude, we can come to appreciate the most menial of tasks, and with gratitude, Allah increases us in ways we couldn’t otherwise imagine.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to some of the proper manners to be upheld in seeking a living for Allah.

Righteous Intentions (Niyya Saliha)

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us that a believer’s intention is better than his action or work itself (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman). Accordingly, getting our intentions right will ensure that we receive a splendid, unspeakable reward from Allah Most High even if we’re not prosperous, even if we don’t fulfil our hopes and dreams and even if it simply wasn’t meant to be. This is a huge mercy.

What, then, should we intend? Above all, to seek the pleasure of Allah Most High as this is the point of life itself. When you have such a noble intention, the most mundane of tasks can transform into something sacred. But given the difficulty of maintaining such a lofty state, the scholars recommend having secondary intentions which act as the pathways to the central intention.

Thus, intend to:

    1. 1) abstain from begging,

 

    1. 2) abstain from coveting what others have,

 

    1. 3) become financially strong and independent,

 

    1. 4) provide for your dependants,

 

    1. 5) uphold the values and ethics of the Sacred Law of integrity, commanding the good and otherwise,

 

    1. 6) fulfil a personal and a communal obligation (fard ‘ayn/kifaya),

 

    1. 7) make regular charitable donations,

 

    8) be of service to Allah’s creation, and similarly any other intention that comes to mind of virtuous matters.

Reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah Most High

Our Master ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you relied upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would give you sustenance just as the birds are given sustenance: they leave hungry in the morning, and return satiated in the evening.” (Tirmidhi) He, Allah bless him and give him peace, also told the Bedouin man who asked about the manner of true reliance (tawakkul) to “tie the camel, and then rely upon Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

Reliance, as defined by Jurjani in his Ta‘rifat, is confidence and contentment with what is Allah’s, and despair with respect to what is in the hands of people. Namely, realising that Allah alone is the sole doer, and consequently, that it is not people who will prevent your livelihood from reaching you as they are intrinsically incapable and needy. Rather, He is the Sufficer (al-Wakil), and He alone gives and constricts as He wills. So what’s the point of taking the means? Because the lawgiver commanded it.

True reliance upon Allah isn’t negated by taking the means as the two matters are distinct. Reliance upon Allah is a state of the heart whereas taking the means (asbab) is an action of the limbs. When the two are conjoined, the fullest and truest meaning of reliance is realised. And this is why Imam Birgivi wrote, “Taking the outward means which normally lead to the outcomes desired doesn’t negate reliance at all, and this is why earning a living is an obligation.” (Al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya)

Practizing a Lawful and Dignified Trade

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us, “No one eats any food better than the one who eats from what he earns by work of his own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Dawud, peace be upon him, used to eat from what he earned by the work of his own hands.” (Bukhari) Note that this is a metaphor for earning a living and not that the best line of work is carpentry, baking or any other work in which the hands are directly used! Moreover, the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, wasn’t in need of such work and wealth as he was the Caliph of the entire earth at the time. However, the tradition (hadith) informs us of the nobility of the rank of working and his desire to do what was superior and more pleasing to Allah Most High.

When choosing a line of work, look for the kind of opportunities which you are deeply interested in, and also allow you to fulfill your potential, yet at the same time, don’t infringe upon any of your religious obligations. Primarily, this latter point entails that your very line of work needs to be lawful. Engaging in, encouraging or abetting sin is destructive to your hereafter. Keep such lines of work at a healthy distance so that you don’t have to explain yourself, or worse, bear the consequences, later. If you’re unsure regarding the legality or otherwise of your work, you should consult a reliable scholar before making any serious decisions.

Avoiding the Unlawful (Haram) and Offensive (Makruh)

The basis in transactions is the verse of the Qur’an, “You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth but trade by mutual consent.” (Sura al Nisa’ 4:29) The masterful Ottoman Qur’anic exegete, Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, clarified that “wrongfully” means anything that is contrary to the Sacred Law, whether that is by way of theft, misappropriation, deception, gambling, engaging in usurious dealings, or anything else that the Sacred Law interdicted.

Our religion encourages us to engage in trade, but it is imperative that we avoid the kind of unethical behavior that many, unfortunately, fall into, let alone sin. The recognition that lack of clarity in transactions leads to unnecessary disputes and argumentation, for example, should move us to do something about it. Appreciate that things sometimes go wrong so be clear with one another about the terms of your agreement so that you don’t lose each other in mere worldliness. The way out, then, is to be grounded in sufficient law, or fiqh, which will ensure that you don’t fall into the religiously blameworthy or unlawful altogether.

As part of a longer tradition, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be resentfully envious of one another, do not artificially inflate prices against one another, do not loathe one another, do not give a cold shoulder to one another, do not undercut one another in business transactions, but be, servants of Allah, brothers.” (Muslim)

Learning A Trade Well (Itqan) and Doing A Good Job (Ihsan)

Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We granted David a great privilege from Us, commanding: ‘O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well.’ We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: ‘Make full-length armor, perfectly balancing the links. And work righteousness O family of David! Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do.’” (Sura Saba 34:10-11) Something we can take away from this latter verse is the Divine injunction to the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, to perfect his trade and not simply to produce something that others couldn’t.

Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, continually guiding us to what Allah loves, is reported to have once stated, “Allah is pleased when any of you does some action and perfects it.” (Tabarani) One of the hallmarks of believers is that they work, not only to produce, but to beautify. The trait of excellence, or ihsan, is deeply rooted in tradition and a foundational principle of the prophetic way. Practically, if you’re doing something, do it well. Don’t sell yourself short, and be an example to others in the trade, particularly when you are noticeably religious in societies where Islam is something unfamiliar.

Exhibiting Mercy (Rahma) and Other Praiseworthy Traits in Dealings

Whether you run your own business or work for another, you should always try to keep your heart in the right place, and at the same time, exhibit what you can of lofty, prophetic character traits. Taking it easy with people, particularly with those of lesser means, is a sure way of attaining the great good foretold by the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous and easy-going when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” (Bukhari)

Use the opportunity of work to remember your Lord and reset your intentions. Imam Sha‘rani related that his teacher and guide, ‘Ali al-Khawass, used to supplicate to Allah upon opening his store every morning, “O Lord, make this a means of benefiting your creation.”

Likewise, there is great virtue in remembering Allah in the marketplaces or in places of general heedlessness. Make it a point to say the takbir (Allahu akbar), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah), tahlil (La ilaha illa Llah) and tasbih (Subhana Llah) at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon in seeking the closeness of Allah Most High. If you have more motivation, you can recite the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “There is no god but Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He gives death. He is alive and does not die. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.” (Tirmidhi)

Giving from What You Love: Charity (Sadaqa) and the Afterlife

Allah Most High says, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:92) Further, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that charity is a “proof.” (Muslim) A proof of what? Faith. When you give, you are showing your deep certitude and faith in Allah Most High, in the truth of the prophetic message, in the veracity of the hereafter and everything that entails.

The best of giving is when it is selfless, sincerely for Allah and swiftly forgotten. Consistent donations, even if only slight, are superior to sporadic payments, even if large. Charity wards off calamities, wipes out sins, cleanses and purifies wealth and draws you nearer to your Ever-Merciful Lord.

Finally, it behooves us to recognize that the reality of earning a living is that it is Allah Most High who is the Provider (al-Razzaq). The wage which you earn is merely a means which He has created, and, at the end of the day, He is the one who creates sustenance (rizq) through it. So although wealth may sometimes come and go, know that it doesn’t intrinsically aid one.

The ultimate objective is to be ever-cognizant of the Divine, and to travel toward Him with a deep desire to live an ethical, pleasing life: the kind of life the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) directed us towards. “Say, O Prophet, ‘If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Sura Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

And Allah alone gives success.