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Taqwa: Content of Character 05 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus unfolds the essential etiquette we should have with our Lord, with ourselves, and with other people as is found in the concept of taqwa.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: اتّق الله حيثما كنتَ و أتبع السيئة الحسنة تمحها و خالق الناس حسن

The Messenger of God said, “Keep God in mind wherever you are; follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; and treat people courteously.” (Tirmidhi)

In this hadith our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is telling us about the three dimensions of etiquette (adab) that we need to have. First and foremost with our lord, secondly with ourselves, and thirdly with people.

This hadith is from the comprehensive words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and you will find that it is a very short hadith. But because it is from his comprehensive words, it is packed with meaning.

Centrality of Taqwa

If we look at the benefits, the first is in the primary etiquette that we should have with our Lord. This is reflected in the words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “Have taqwa of Allah wherever you are,” and taqwa is a difficult word to translate.

Some translate it as mindfulness. Others translate as God consciousness. Yet others will translate it as fear of Allah. However, taqwa is a very important word and I think it is best that we use the word taqwa, and define what it means, until it actually becomes a word in the English language.

Taqwa is of the utmost importance. The reality of taqwa pertains to our relationship with our Lord, praise be to Him, and the decisions that we make. It begins at the basic level with protecting ourselves from anything that would take us outside of the fold of Islam. And it ends in the highest degree where we try to be constantly present with our Lord, praise be to Him.

Inclination and Aversion

What our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us in this hadith is a very subtle etiquette, and we should have taqwa wherever we might be. Think about our own selves and all the different places and times we might be in – by ourselves or with other people. We could be at work or at home, with friends, acquaintances or elders. We can be in times of ease or in times of difficulty. In all of this our nafs inclines or has an aversion towards something.

In all these different states, times and places, what has to be consistent is that we have to be people of taqwa. Taqwa is a very sophisticated reality and it pertains to the way that we ultimately exercise our freedom of choice and choosing what is right or, as we move up in the degrees of closeness to Allah, what is best.

We need to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles which is so common in the world which we live. We think it is fine for us to focus on one aspect of our lives only. We can be different at home as opposed to the way that we are in the mosque, or as opposed to the way that we are at work.

A Comprehensive Religion

Islam is a comprehensive religion that deals with every aspect of the human being. We want to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles. Rather, we want to have taqwa at work, at home, at the masjid, in our financial dealings and interactions with people. Even when we are going through difficult times and times of ease, whether we like or dislike something.

Taqwa remains in all of these different states and our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us that this is what we need to be aware of at all times, because we know that as human beings we are weak and we fall short in this. Educating us and teaching us, The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is exemplifying how we should be before our Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings about His pleasure.

Never Lose Hope in Your Lord

The benefits of taqwa are so vast we can go on about them. Allah mentions taqwa more than ninety times in His Book and if we trace the verses that pertain to taqwa, you will end up with a long list of great things that Allah gives to the people of taqwa.

The first benefit of this hadith is teaching us how to be with our Lord. The Primary aspect of that is taqwa. Secondly, it teaches us how we should be with our own selves. These are the words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “follow a wrong with a right that offsets it.”

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us how to deal with our selves, particularly when we slip up. We know, as children of Adam, we are prone to slip ups. We are prone to mistakes and we know that we have faults that we are working on. But we fall short at times.

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that: Every time you fall short, immediately dust yourself off and keep moving forward. This is extremely important. This is essential and this will protect us from so many things that other people fall into, whereby they become depressed, lose hope in life and they start to spiral downwards from that.

How many people do we not come across who, because of their past and the things they have done, lose hope for the future? But in reality we’ve only lost if when cease to dust ourselves off, get up and keep moving on. Every time you fall short, dust yourself off, and keep on.

The Blessing of Good Deeds

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that we should immediately follow a bad deed up with a good deed, so the latter will erase the former. It will erase it from our scrolls and it will also erase the traces of that mistake or that sin from our hearts.

In other words it will be erased from our psychological profiles so even if it was us, we didn’t do it because it no longer will cease to be us. It will no longer will be us because it was erased from our hearts and our scrolls.

Allah says in Sura Hud 11:114:

إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

Indeed, good deeds do away with bad deeds.

Kaffara – Atonement

On the occasion of revelation of this verse, a man that had embraced a woman came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him and this verse was revealed. The man asked, “Is this in reference to me?” And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “This is not just for you. It is for all of my Umma.” And this man was sincere.

He realized he did something with a woman he shouldn’t do and so he came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. And Allah revealed this verse for him in on this occasion, but also for all people. To inform them that every time you make a mistake and fall short you should strive to immediately do something good.

The Prophet told us in a hadith that the five daily prayers, jumu‘a to jumu‘a, Ramadan to Ramadan, are an atonement for sins accumulated in between them, if the major wrong actions are avoided. So from the blessing of performing what it is that we are supposed to be performing is that it will be an atonement in and of itself.

This atonement will again be a means of forgiveness for the sin and erasing of the blemish of sin that is in our hearts. In other words our hearts will be polished and we will be able to move forward on our path to Allah.

Engage with Courteousness

The third etiquette relates to other people this is the primary principal that we should interact with all people with and that is good character. Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “Interact with people with good character, treat people courteously.”

Notice that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “khaliqin naas.” Treat people courteously, not just Muslims courteously. We should treat all people courteously. We should have manners and respect for all the people we interact with.

This principle of good character should guide us in everything we do. Again, when we are with people – if they are Muslim or non-Muslim, old or young, close or distant, and all of the other social distinctions that we have – does not matter. We maintain good character with everyone.

This is a constant. This is a standard. And the ethical standards of the Qur’an are very. very high. Read the book of Allah. It is filled with great passages and great verses that pertain to good character.

Every time we read those verses we should apply them to ourselves instead of trying to bring the Qur’an down to our own lowly selves, which you can never do and is a grave mistake. We should raise ourselves up to the ethical standards of the Qur’an.

Alhamdulillah, we have been gifted our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who gave us the great words of advice. Words that are from his comprehensive words, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaching us that the essential etiquette with our lord is to have taqwa. The essential etiquette with ourselves is to follow up a bad deed with a good deed. And the essential etiquette in our dealings with other people is to have good character.

 


The Content of Character podcast is brought to you by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus of Al-Maqasid Institute, and powered by SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Listen to this episode in full on the SeekersHub website, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Android, or RSS.


 

Remembering the Sunna to Find Love – Habib Kadhim al Saqqaf

Habib Kadhim states that it is an obligation for a Muslim to reach a high level of love for Allah and His Messenger. This can be achieved by following the Sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate. All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the worlds. And peace and mercy be upon the most noble of prophets and messengers: our master and beloved, our Prophet Muhammad, and upon his good and pure family and elected companions—and upon all those who follow them with excellence until the Day we meet You, O Lord of the worlds. And may we be included among them and with them, through His mercy. Truly, He is the Most Merciful and the Most Generous.

Among the greatest of Allah’s favors on His Muslim slave, and from the greatest blessings of this glorious religion is when a Muslim actualizes their love for Allah and for His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, his family, and companions.

This refined sense of love for the Generous Lord and for His great Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is the spirit of this religion, and the spirit of acts of worship, and it is a individual obligation upon every male and female Muslim.

Love of Allah and His Messenger

It is an obligation for a Muslim to reach the levels of love for Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. And our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, prescribed words, actions, and traits that allow a Muslim who follows his Sunna to reach to the reality of this lofty degree of faith and high sanctified state of loving Allah the Glorious and Majestic. And what is greater than that Allah will love him?

Many Qur’anic verses and Prophetic narrations indicate this trait of belief in the hearts of the Muslims from the Umma of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace. The greatest and easiest path that allows the Muslim man and Muslim woman to reach love of Allah and His Messenger is by following the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. As our Lord informed us in His Wise Book by His saying:

Say [O Prophet], ‘If you love Allah, follow me, and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is most forgiving, most merciful.

When we reflect on this great Qur’anic description which is full of mercy and compassion for Allah’s servants, our Lord informs us that if we want His love, Majestic and Exalted is He, then we must follow the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, according to our ability, for each and every Muslim man and woman in their environment or in their home.

The Door to Allah’s Love

The door to attaining Allah’s love and a way to increase one’s love for the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, is following the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, and to remove any obstacles that block Muslims from higher and more sacred and refined levels of faith.

When we ponder the Qur’an, our Lord, Glorious and Exalted, informs us that the relationships that exist between the Muslim and those around him or the way a Muslim interacts with others in general, that these relationships could prevent or delay one from attaining the love of Allah.

Positive relationships rooted in one’s faith that a Muslim has with his father, relatives, spouse, with the environment he lives within — these help one reach this exalted and refined love of Allah. As Allah the Glorious and Exalted says:

Say [Prophet], ‘If your fathers, sons, brothers, wives, tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the trade which you fear will decline, and the dwellings you love are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger…then wait…

So we see these as obstacles that could delay one from attaining love of Allah the Exalted and His Messenger (peace and mercy of Allah be upon him, his family, and companions).

On the other hand, these relationships can be rooted in faith, radiant, and positive thereby assist one in attaining Allah’s love. For a Muslim to have a good relationship with his or her parents is a way to attaining Allah’s love and the love of His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, his family, and his Companions.

A Great and Lofty Goal

In this brief lesson, we exhibit this great attribute of faith and lofty goal that every Muslim should strive to actualize in their lives and seek from their Lord the Exalted, as we’ve been taught by the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Every Muslim should make it a goal in their lives to reach this refined level of love for Allah and His Messenger, so that the moment of death does not come to him and he is lowered into his grave except that he has is a lover of Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The first means that helps one attain this love is following the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family and Companions, in blessed days, such as Ramadan and other sacred months, and throughout the year.

For in these seasons acts of righteousness have greater blessing, reward, and affect on the heart of the Muslim.

The Blessed Month of Ramadan

This occurs in Ramadan, the sacred months, and the month in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family and Companions, was born.

Therefore, firstly, a Muslim must have the lofty goal in this life, through the affects of righteous actions, to attain the love of Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. And not leave this world or enter his grave without being a lover of Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

When a Muslim actualizes this attribute, death comes to him and he yearns and loves to meet Allah, and Allah loves to meet him.

How does one attain this? There are a number of means and actions that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, prescribed for us to do and taught us, that if we perform we will attain love of Allah the Glorious and Exalted.

Which means that we will love Allah the Exalted—and greater than that is Allah the Exalted will love us.

Attaining the Love of Allah

From among what the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, prescribed are qualities we need to actualize. If we actualize these qualities then Allah the Exalted will love us.

From among what he prescribed are actions that we need to perform, and if we perform them then we attain the love of Allah. Another means prescribed are statements we must say and repeat abundantly so that their lights and blessings reach our hearts, which then help us reach the love of Allah the Glorious and Majestic and we become beloved to Allah.

Also, pay attention how a Muslim cannot truly love Allah until Allah the Glorious and Exalted loves him. Our Lord the Exalted says:

You who believe, if any of you go back on your faith, Allah will soon replace you with people He loves and who love Him.

Look, O Muslim, how Allah mentioned His love for His servants before mentioning the servants’ love for Allah because a person cannot truly love Allah until Allah the Glorious and Exalted loves them.

Allah Reminds You to Rememeber

A person cannot remember Allah until Allah reminds them. A person cannot turn to Allah until Allah turns towards them. Or to put it another way, they cannot turn to Allah until Allah manifests Himself with His Name, Al Tawwab, so then the lights of repentance and regret take place in the person’s heart so they turn back to Allah and they take the means of turning to Him through saying: Astaghfirullah.

Our Lord says at the beginning of Sura Hūd:

Ask your Lord for forgiveness, then turn back to Him. He will grant you wholesome enjoyment.

So by having a foothold in seeking Allah’s forgiveness, one reaches the station of turning to Allah. And in the station of turning to Allah, through actualization, one attains the fruits of love.

As our Lord has told us, Glorious and Exalted:

Allah loves those who turn to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean.

So we can summarize this great and important subject within the religion, love of Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, by taking the means to it.

What is the most important means to it? Following the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, as indicated by the Qur’anic text.

Words Beloved to Allah

Another aspect of this love is that Allah will love you and if Allah loves you, you will know some of the meanings of your shared love for Him as well, O Muslim. Another means are certain statements that we can utter.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, tells us in authenticated Hadiths some of the statements that are beloved to Allah.

What does it mean that these statements are beloved to Allah? That whoever abundantly says these statements becomes beloved to Allah and helps one reach the love of Allah.

The explanation of love of Allah is a broad and lengthy subject; it is an immense ocean, of which Imam al Ghazali has dedicated an entire book within his great work Ihya Ulum al-Deen, called the “Book of Love, Intimacy, Longing, and Contentment” due to the subtleties of this love and the its difficulty for some people to understand.

Is Love More Than Obedience?

Some scholars even denied this kind love and said that “Love is obedience. By obeying Allah, fulfilling the obligations and voluntary act of worship—this is love!”

They denied that there are any other refined feelings that a believer would feel towards Allah the Exalted. It is more refined than the feelings a man has for his wife, and greater than the feelings a parents has for his children, and greater than other any feelings of love one may have for people.

It is a refined love that is rooted in transmission and in the intellect, rooted in the Qur’an and the Sunna, and rooted in the lives of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad , Allah bless him and give him peace.

Love of the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, was clear and simple, and during the lives of the noble Companions, all their hearts, both men and women, were overflowing with love.

What might be difficult for some to understand is the love of Allah the Glorious and Exalted, but when we read the Qur’an with deep reflection we find that this love is a rooted matter in the Book of Allah the Exalted. We see this in the verse from Sura al Ma’ida in which Allah the Exalted says,

You who believe, if any of you go back on your faith, Allah will soon replace you with people He loves and who love Him.

This verse confirms that there are people who love of Allah, and whom Allah the Exalted loves.

The Qur’an on Love

So the way to reach this love is through reflection upon the verses of the Qur’an and through following the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, in all times and periods, especially during the seasons of goodness when righteous acts bear more fruit, bring greater reward, and have a more immediate affect on the heart of the believer, such as the sacred months, as we mentioned, and during the great month of Ramadan.

Firstly, we should ponder the qualities mentioned:

Allah loves those who turn to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean.” “Allah loves those who act with excellence.

We find that there are qualities, if a member of the Umma actualizes them, Allah will love them, Muslim man or Muslim woman. Whoever actualizes the quality of excellence (ihsan): perfecting worship, perfecting obedience, and perfecting everything that is beloved to Allah the Exalted. Repentance: whoever continuously turns towards Allah becomes beloved to Allah.

Purity: whoever remains in a state of purity, whether inward or outward purity. Purifying the heart from dishonesty, hatred, pride, vanity—which corrupt a person’s relationships with those around him and nullify righteous deeds with Allah. We cannot have pride, because it belongs to Allah the Glorious and Majestic.

The Way of the Servant is Humility

The way of the servant and of humanity is humility, and we are all servants of Allah, or slaves. Those who are upon the Way of Prophecy are called servants, and those who strayed from the Way of Prophecy are called slaves in the Quran.

As your Lord the Glorious and Exalted says:

Your Lord is never unjust to His slaves.

So we must actualize the qualities mentioned. Then we must abundantly say the words that are beloved to Allah: Subhan Allah, and Al-hamdu lillah, and la ilaha illa Allah, and Allahu Akbar

“The most beloved statements to Allah are four,” the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Subhan Allah, Al hamdu lillah, la ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar. There is no harm in starting with whichever you choose.”

He also said: “Two statements that are beloved to the Most Merciful, easy on the tongue, weighty on the scales: Subhan Allah wa bi hamdihi, Subhan Allah al adheem.”

These are two great statements whose affect on the heart of the believer is immense in illuminating the heart and in actualizing the love of Allah and Allah’s love for him.

The Secrets of Ikhlas

Additionally, abundantly reciting Sura al Ikhlas. It has come in narration that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said about a man who would recite Sura al Ikhlas abundantly, “Tell him that Allah the Exalted loves him.” Therefore, we should recite it in abundance.

We should send invocations of Allah’s peace and mercy upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

We should not allow our following the Sunna and worship only to be limited to the in the great month of Ramadan. We should follow even the detailed aspects of the Sunna in Ramadan, for there are Sunnas that are specific to Ramadan, such as breaking our fast by eating dates or praying Tarawih.

If a person follows even these specific Sunnas — like eating an odd number of dates when breaking one’s fast in Ramadan, or praying the Witr prayer, then this person will attain the secrets of this religion like Laylat al-Qadr because his heart will then be prepared to attain the blessings of Laylat al-Qadr.

He breaks his fast on an odd number of dates and prays the Witr prayer, and Laylat al-Qadr comes on one of the odd nights.

Following the Sunna

So following the Sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, in all seasons, and especially during the sacred months and Ramadan, has the fastest effect on the heart of the individual, until his heart experiences the love of Allah and the greatness of these acts of worship, and he will experience Allah’s love for him and Allah’s being with this person.

We ask Allah that He actualizes us and this Muslim Umma in love of Allah the Glorious and Exalted, and that He makes us of those beloved to Allah and followers of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

And that we worship Allah in all states and not, like some people who worship Allah in Ramadan and follow the Sunna in Ramadan, but when Ramadan is over he forgets the Sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The statement applies to this kind of person: “Whoever worships Ramadan, Ramadan has ended. And whoever worships the Lord of Ramadan, He is Everlasting and never fades.”

Our Lord is One

So the Lord we worship in Ramadan, He is the same outside of Ramadan. And our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, whose Sunna we give life to in Ramadan, we should give life to outside of Ramadan.

We ask Allah that He prepares our hearts for this exalted love and that He gives us felicity through it in this life, and in the hereafter after death, and in Paradise with our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the elect of Allah’s righteous servants, and all praise belongs to Allah.


Habib Kadhim currently teaches at the prestigious Islamic institute, Dar al-Mustafa in Tarim as well as sitting on the Council for Legal Verdicts at the same establishment.

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Consideration: Content of Character 04 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus reflects on the act of consideration, of thinking things through before you act, and how it is framed in the Qur’an and Sunna.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

التأني من الله والعجلة من الشيطان

Consideration is from Allah and haste is from the devil. (Bayhaqi)

We find an alternative narration of the hadith narrated by Tirmidhi. They are similar in meaning and language as well. Another version reads: “Having clarity about things (or making sure that one knows the true nature of something) is from Allah.” So be clear about things and make sure you know about things before you judge them.

The word ta’ni stems from the root in the Arabic language a’na/ya’ni and it connotes the idea of maturing, becoming ripe, and that also in relation to time: “The time for something has come.”

If we look at these two nouns a’na and ta’ni translated here as consideration or deliberation, but it also has meanings of preservation and patience.

Think before You Act

The idea behind this hadith is that we think about things well before we do them. If we think about things that we do, we are conscious. We have an intention behind things that we do. When I do things – fully considered before I do it – it is not impulsive. That is, we do things in a thoughtful, careful, unhurried way – over a period of time as opposed to quickly – and with sensitivity to others. All of these meanings are packed in to this one Arabic word.

Even the other narrations that have these other words for example “al tabayun.” This is when things become clear, its to ascertain and seek to ascertain something.

This word tathabut means to consider carefully. As we will see there is a verse that relates to this. Lets look at some of the meanings and benefits of this hadith. We must see this hadith and all the hadith of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as advice of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “There is no good except that He told us about it. And there is no evil except that He warned us from it.”

If It Is from Allah It Is Good

Here this is a great blessing. Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is informing us of our reality and anything that is from Allah must be good and anything that is from the devil must be evil.

The meaning from this sense is that Allah is pleased with it and He will reward for it. And the intellect is the distinguishing feature of the children of Adam. In other words, to act in accord with the intellect is to act according to what is pleasing to Allah.

To not do so is to fall short and it is to fall victim to the plots of the devil. What we are warned about here is ‘ajala. This translates as haste.

Let’s think for a moment about haste and the nature of our nafs, our lower soul. One of the contentions of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad is “Haste is usually the consequence of sloth not of diligence.”

Often times when we are hasty, if we would tear back the layer and see what’s really taking place deep within the heart, it is because we are spiritually lazy. We don’t want to take the time necessary to look into, to ascertain, to carefully consider what it is we should be doing.

The Irony of Fate

The irony of this whole thing is, in our attempt to be hasty and to get things done quickly, often times it causes more problems for us and we end up having to put in more energy as a result and thus that we have the English proverb, “Haste makes waste.”

In other words we don’t really save time by working too fast. By hurrying, you will make mistakes, and you have to take extra time either correcting what you did wrong or to do the job again. And there is a similar proverb in Arabic that says: “How many times did haste actually make you waste more time.”

We know that this is a part of how we are, Allah says in Sura al Anbiya 21:7: “Man was created of haste. I shall show you my signs so do not demand that I hasten.”

This is the way Arabs say, “If someone is so generous it is as if they have been created from generosity and because human beings are constantly and continuously so hasty is that it is as if we have been created from haste.”

This is a part of the human experience but our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is giving us this overarching principal. Its general application covers so many different aspects of our lives. We are going to speak about:

    1. 1. Decision making

 

    1. 2. Judgements

 

    3. Worship

Deliberation before Decision

As for decision making, this is one of the most important that aspects of this hadith, how it is that we make decisions. Even though there is lots of research and lots of books that are coming out that get into a lot of details of when we need to make quick decisions and when we need to make very thoughtful decisions.

The general principal of this hadith and how that applies to the vast majority of our affairs.

We are encouraged to really think things through before we make a decision. In other words, haste will prevent consideration and prevent deliberation. What we mean by consideration and deliberation more importantly is reflecting on the end result of things and that will require intellectual strength.

What is going to be the end result of what I do?

Ibn Khayyim comments on this hadith. He notes that haste leads someone to putting something in its improper place. It could potentially prevent much good and bring about much harm and it is a trait of character that stems from an imbalance.

Desire Matures through Deliberation

It is a desire for things to happen before their time, this is where we could take it back to the linguistic root of the word ‘ana ya’ni’ which is to mature, to become ripe. There are certain things that you cant do at other than its given time. That you try to pick a fruit too early, its not going to taste right, likewise if you try to give something to someone too early that maybe they are not ready to receive it. And so forth and so on.

Things have an appropriate time and that one of the companions said: “If we try to be hasty, what will end up happening is we will constantly be afflicted with remorse.”

At this level of decision making we are considered to think things through and to deliver it. And we have been gifted with istikhara and praying the prayer whereby we can come to know whether this is something we should do or not. This all takes time.

Implications of Consideration

Often times we find people don’t reflect on the consequences of things. They don’t reflect on the potential outcomes especially that in many of the modern innovations that we have, such as genetic engineering, cloning and many different types of technology.

We are playing with things that we do not know the result of. These things are going to be. But just because it is possible doesn’t mean that we should do it. This is also interlinked with impatience and the way of life these days that is unsustainable.

The reality is that we have more access to knowledge now in many ways than we did previously. Outward forms of knowledge. We don’t have a way to process that knowledge and from here we can understand another contention of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad: “Today we grow up quickly but into something childish.” It is as if we are like children. This is the nature of children, to act impulsively.

This hadith also applies to our interactions with people. Allah says in Sura al Hujurat 49:6: “O you who believe, if a fasiq comes to you, ascertain. Verify what he is saying. You might afflict a person through ignorance and thus be remorseful for what you did.”

Damage Done By Incomplete Information

How many times have people brought us that part of the story that if we were to look into the entire story we wouldn’t have had the same opinion? How many times have fights broken out or bad opinions resulted in a damaged relationship as a result of people telling other people things.

Or bringing them other news about other things that people have done, or said or of that nature. It is what Allah is speaking to the people of faith: If someone who cant be trusted comes to you, with some type of news, ascertain what they are saying and verify it and make sure that we don’t fall into something that we shouldn’t as a result.

Here being hasty in terms of viewing other people and understanding the situation and judging between a husband and his wife trying to resolve a dispute between them we need to deliver it.

Hasten to Worship, Not Through

Also it applies to worship. If we are hasty, there is something about the celebrity culture that we live in the instant gratification of the nafs that goes along with that, the people then also apply this to the religious sphere.

People often times prefer to be entertained. They don’t want to roll up their sleeves and do the real work, to do service, and to work on their lower self and to struggle.

People are also quick when they learn just a little, they want to have a platform where they can speak to other people and so forth.

In previous times it was expected that people were grounded in knowledge, before they do this. There was an idea of mastery and we know that some have estimated that it would take 10,000 hours to master anything. This is one the tricks of Shaytan in worship as well. He wants us to hasten in our worship, do it quickly and get it over with.

There are two types of haste:

  1. 1. Blameworthy haste is doing something before its time. Doing something without proper deliberation and consideration.
  2. 2. Praiseworthy haste is doing something in its right time. “Hasten to the forgiveness of your Lord.” “Indeed they used to hasten to do good things.”

This is something that is praiseworthy: to hasten to do good. In other words that you were motivated to take on a life in learning and worship and do what is right. But when it comes to decision making and our interaction with people and worship and learning, the words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, apply.

Consideration is really important here, there are times we have to respond in a split second. There are times we need to respond quickly. But the general principle is we need to deeply consider the things before we do them. We need to deliberate before we act.

This is from God. This will lead to the pleasure of God. It will lead to Him rewarding us.

May Allah give us tawfiq and bless us to be people of consideration and deliberation and be people who receive the divine contentment.


The Content of Character podcast is brought to you by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus of Al-Maqasid Institute, and powered by SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Listen to this episode in full on the SeekersHub website, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Android, or RSS.


Finding Allah Through Fasting – Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Dr Umar Faruq Abd-Allah reminds us of the ultimate purpose of fasting Ramadan: to find Allah Most High.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

I did not create jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Sura al Dhariya 51:56)

So we were created to do this. We were created to fast. We were created to pray. We were created to pay zakat. We were created to make Ramadan and Hajj and to do other types of worship like dhikr and like vows that bring us close to Allah, and so forth.

Ramadan: The Great Guest

The month of Ramadan is a great month. It is the great guest that we all welcome every year with fervor. And it’s an amazing thing that although this is the time of the year which physically is the most demanding on the Muslims as an Umma, it is the time of the year that we all welcome with great joy and great fervor. And may you find that joy in your heart every single day and every single night of this month.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, that patience (sabr) or endurance is half of faith. People who do not have sabr, they cannot believe in Allah. We have got to be able to do the things that the belief requires, and we have to be able to avoid the things the belief requires us to avoid. And that is an act of sabr, of patience and perseverance.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said that fasting is half of sabr, so therefore that also makes fasting one-quarter of Iman.

The Gate of Worship

And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said that fasting is the gate of worship (bab al ‘ibada). And he urged his blessed wife Aisha, Allah be pleased with her, to always keep knocking at the door of God. So she asked what is that door. And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said it is hunger. That is, it is fasting.

So we ask that we utilize this month properly. This is a great month. This is a unique opportunity. And this is what our lives are all about. The month of Ramadhan is of course conspicuously the month of fasting, because that is the main thing that we do during the daylight hours. Of course also it is the month of prayer because during this month standing up in prayer doing tarawih is one of its important elements.

We want to join these two together with the same intensity and never forget that the same wisdom that is there in the divine legislation for fasting is also there in the divine imperative that we pray special prayers in Ramadan.

Making Up for Lost Prayers

Of course we need to remind ourselves that some of us may have had lapses in our lives and there may have been days and years when we didn’t pray. And if that’s the case, then in Ramadan and also at other times of the year, you should have a very diligent program to be making up all the prayers that you missed.

Because this is a debt that you owe to Allah. And in the month of Ramadan, if you have prayers that you haven’t made that’s what you should be doing. You should be making them up and not praying tarawih when others are praying tatarawih. You should be making up your prayers.

This is very, very important: until the obligatory prayers are made up there is no room for voluntary or for supererogatory prayers. You have to focus just on the obligatory prayers and then making up those prayers that have been missed.

You need to sit down you need to make a list. You need to determine reasonably how many prayers did you miss and then begin to work at that. Keep a record of what you’re doing in any case. This is a great month. The act of worship, of prayer, is one that is in its entirety and act of heedfulness.

Practice Heedfulness with Each Breath

In prayer we go into the prayer with Allahu Akbar. We invoke Allah to envelop us in the Hadra, in the presence of His absolute greatness that makes all creation fade in His glory and greatness.

And when we pray we aspire to attain that kind of prayer that the great Sahaba and the great Salaf had in which they would not even be aware of who was on their right hand or their left hand as they prayed and they wouldn’t be thinking about anything but Allah until they came out of it. That’s the nature of prayer.

One of the amazing things about fasting is that fasting doesn’t require that kind of total
heedfulness. The more heedful that you are in fasting then the greater the fast is, the more lofty it becomes, the more fulfilling. So we should be heedful of every breath we take in the days of Ramadan. Every moment that we spend.

The mere fact of giving up our passions for food and drink and marital relations and the other things that are not allowed during the time of fasting, this in itself is sufficient to plant the seed of heedfulness, so that it grows into a great tree that bears fruit.


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Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part Two–Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

We regularly hear of the great heroes and heroines of Islam. However, we know little about what made these men and women so beloved to Allah and their people. In these series of talks, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf speaks about these famous men and women.

In the second segment of the series, Habib Kadhim speaks about the lesser-known heroes and heroines of Islam; those who struggled behind the scenes. We might not know their names, however we definitely feel their influence on us.heroes and heroines of Islam

The Unknown Teacher

There were some companions around the Prophet, whose work was famous although their names remain unknown. For example, Abu Huraira, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  is famous in the Muslim world for his great legacy in the transmission of Hadith, or Prophetic narrations.

However, we do not know much about the Companion who taught Abu Huraira about Islam, and supported him in becoming Muslim. Whoever this man was, we know that he is receiving the like of Abu Huraira’s rewards, because of the knowledge and help he gave.

The Famous Poet

Another example occurs later on in Islamic history. Imam al-Busiri is well-known for his work, Qasida Burda (the Poem of the Cloak), one of the most famous poems in praise of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Imam al-Busiri was an extremely talented poet, well-known among royalty and kings at the time, whose praises he used to sing. However, he soon became paralyzed and could not move.

When one of his close friends visited him, he said, “You are a skilled poet, why don’t you write a poem in praise of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace?” Imam al-Busiri asked him, “I am paralyzed, what use will it be?” His friend said, “What use is this mastery of the Arabic language and rhetoric that you possess?”

Imam al-Busiri spent the rest of the night writing the poem, and when he woke up in the morning, he was completely healed. Not only that, but the poem of praise is frequently recited in Muslim communities all over the globe, because of the friend of Imam al-Busiri that supported him.


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Adab of Dua 24: The States That Can Change Fate

Allah Most High says, “I am near – I answer the call of the one who calls upon me (2:186).
Yet, many of us wonder: Are my duas being answered? Is there a certain dua I have to read for each of my concerns? Do my duas have to be in Arabic?

In this series of short talks, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the reality of dua (supplication) and how to turn to Allah. It is based on a classical text on the same subject by Shaykh al Islam Zakariyya al Ansari.

This video covers the various states when we are called upon to make dua, and when it is particularly likely to be answered.

It also contains many gems about the etiquettes of visiting and being with people.

The text is divided into the 11 concise, apt sections described below.

1. The reality of dua
2. Our being called on to make dua
3. The great virtue of dua
4. The integrals of supplication, its wings, and its means
5. The conditions of supplication
6. Its proper manners
7. The times of dua and the state in which it should be made
8. Signs of acceptance of dua
9. Explaining the religious ruling of dua
10. Some encompassing supplications
11. Explaining what the greatest Divine Name is

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Adab of Dua 10: Leave All Rhyme and Ask the Divine

Allah Most High says, “I am near. I answer the call of the one who calls upon Me (2:186).”

Yet, many of us wonder: Are my du’as being answered? Is there a certain du’a I have to read for each of my concerns? Do my du’as have to be in Arabic?

In this video, Shaykh Faraz explains the etiquettes of not using flowery, rhyming speech during du’a, and asking Allah for high matters.

It is from a series of short talks in which Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the reality of du’a (supplication) and how to turn to Allah. It is based on a classical text on the same subject by Shaykh al Islam Zakariyya al Ansari.

The text is divided into the 11 concise, apt sections described below.

1. The reality of du’a
2. Our being called on to make du’a
3. The great virtue of du’a
4. The integrals of supplication, its wings, and its means
5. The conditions of supplication
6. Its proper manners
7. The times of du’a and the state in which it should be made
8. Signs of acceptance of du’a
9. Explaining the religious ruling of du’a
10. Some encompassing supplications
11. Explaining what the greatest Divine Name is

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Take a SeekersHub online course. All courses are completely free, and are taught by reliable, qualified scholars.

SeekersHub Global, a non-profit Islamic educational portal, makes sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, at any time, through online courses, on-the-ground seminars, engaging and inspiring Islamic media and direct access to scholars through our Answers service — all for FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.

 

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Islam and the Spiritual Realm by Sheikh Ahmed Abdo

How much do you know about the spiritual realm?

We think we know ourselves. We know that we need fresh air, water, food, and shelter for our bodies to survive. We know that because we are discomforted when these things are absent.

In addition to the physical realm, there is another: the spiritual realm. This realm is even more deserving of attention, because it’s more expansive. For example, a physical cancer lasts as long as the body does, but a spiritual disease lasts for eternity.

In this lecture, Sheikh Ahmed Abdo talks about the spiritual realm and how it relates to our afterlife.

Want to know more about the spiritual realm? Sign up for SeekersHub’s FREE online course “The Marvels of the Heart” taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

 

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What a Second-Degree Burn Taught Me About Focus, by Chloe Idris

Chloe Idris writes about losing focus and the searing pain of regret.

I’m writing this right now as I sit in bed, with my leg elevated and wrapped, nursing a second-degree burn. This is in fact my second second-degree burn since I left my home country to seek sacred knowledge, which seems oddly poetic – my first burn was in Jordan (where I was studying Arabic), and now my second has happened in Egypt (where I am studying the Islamic sciences). And although they’ve both been extremely painful, it’s clear that sometimes our most important life lessons come from that which hurts the most (and there’s nothing like sharp, searing pain to really drive a lesson home).

For this to make sense, I’ll have to tell you the story of how I got this latest burn. Since living in the Middle East, my husband and I have always had troubles with our kitchens and bathrooms. Blown fuses and exploding light fixtures that don’t get fixed for months, periods of no running water, periods of no hot water (always fun in the middle of a cold Jordanian winter)… I could go on. At the moment, we’ve been lucky enough to get the bathroom lighting repaired and the water running again, but the hot water seems to be gone for now. We’ve learned to take things in our stride and just have fun with it (it is an adventure, after all).

Which brings me to tonight, when we were doing the washing together – my husband was pouring the hot water (which had been boiled on the stove) and I was pouring the cold water into a single container to use. Of course everyone knows that any time boiling hot water is involved, you have to pay full attention. And we were paying attention, that is until the fifth round of water-pouring.

It was late, we were tired and joking around as we normally do, so it’s no surprise what happened next: something got bumped, the boiling water that was supposed to be pouring into the container was now pouring down my leg, and I was crying in pain.

My husband, being the quick thinker that he is, had me bundled straight into the bathtub and had cold water running over the burn in no time. And I know at this point you’re probably thinking ‘well that sounds painful Chloe, but I’m not really sure what you getting burned has to do with life lessons and seeking sacred knowledge.’

When You Least Expect It

We were discussing later how it had happened, because even though it was an accident, my husband felt terrible for even having accidentally caused me pain. And the reality is, it happened because we both stopped focusing. We took our eyes off the task at hand, and became distracted. We had nearly finished up with the washing, we felt like we were all done, so we stopped paying attention. And then I got burned.

As I was laying down later that night nursing my wound, I reflected over this incident. I believe everything always happens for a reason, that God has planned our lives perfectly, and that in hardships there are always lessons to be learned. And I realised, what if my distraction that lead to my burn, was really a reflection of my current state in life?

I mentioned earlier that I’m currently studying the Islamic sciences in Egypt, and I have exams just around the corner. But the process is being delayed and dragged out, and I could feel myself losing focus. It’s hard to maintain the same level of discipline and focus over a long period of time, whether it’s a university degree you’re working towards, your own private Islamic studies, or even just your personal ibadah (worship) that you are wanting to improve in.

Eyes On The Prize

So here’s the lesson: if you have a goal that you’re working towards, it’s essential that you keep your eyes on that goal, especially when you’re close to the finish line. It’s easy when you’re close to achieving your goal to start slowing down, to relax a bit more, to start looking around at what else is going on. But the final stretch isn’t the time to lose focus; that’s the time to renew your intention, fix your eyes firmly on your goal, and double down on the work that will get you there.

If you need to take the breaks, take them. If you need to recharge, do it. Do what you need in your daily life to keep yourself healthy and well, and then get back to work with focus and intention.

Because I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing like the sharp pain of regret (or a second-degree burn…) to make you wish you had paid more attention when it really mattered.

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What We Need More Than Food or Water, by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Allah, Most High, tells us in Qur’an about the most important thing we need in our life; the thing that we need more than food and drink, more than family and friends, more than the air that we breathe: peace and tranquility. Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains.

Allah, Most High, placed absolute peace and tranquility in His remembrance, as He said in Surah Ar-Ra’d (28): “Those who believe and they find peace and tranquility in remembering Allah; verily, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are made tranquil.”

We would not enjoy anything if we do not have peace and tranquility in our hearts. You cannot enjoy the best of anything if your mind is all over the place, if you are worried about something, anxious to get something, or if something is bothering you.

Remembrance is to see the problem that you have, to recognize its magnitude, to not discount the problem and how it may affect your life, affect your reputation and relations, and when taking into account all of this your Remember the only solution – to say Ya Allah! This is Remembrance!

The Story of Musa

Remembrance is the story of Musa, may Allah bless him, when he was between the sea and the soldiers of the pharaoh, when no one saw a solution, Musa, may Allah bless him, said: “My Lord is with me and He will guide me” – that is Remembrance!

In that situation, Musa, may Allah bless him, was under pressure from the people of Israel, as they did not see other than the soldiers of the pharaoh and the sea, but Musa, may Allah bless him, said: “My Lord is with me and He will guide me!” (Surah Ash-Shu’ara,62)

The story of Abu Bakr

Remembrance is the story of Syedina Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, when he traveled on the night of hijrah with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him,, and whilst in the cave Syedina Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, out of worry said, if they were to tie their shoelaces they would see us!

He realized that they were in a small place that was not protected – he was seeing the practicality of the situation out of his love and care for the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. But in response, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Do not be worried, indeed Allah, Most High, is with us!” the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, is teaching Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, and us that we take practical steps and do all that we can, but we do not rely on anyone other than Allah, Most High!

In that moment of worry, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, redirected our attention to say: “Indeed, Allah is with us!” – So do not be worried!

The story of Yaqub

Remembrance is the story of Yaqub, may Allah bless him, when he was tested by the loss of Syedina Yusuf, may Allah bless him, and his younger brother; he was blamed by his children when they said:

“By Allah , you will not cease remembering Yusuf until you become fatally ill or become of those who perish.”

In response, Yaqub, may Allah bless him, said: “Verily, I complain and I speak about my sadness to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know.” (Surah Yusuf, 85-86)

So in that moment of sadness, when he needed to take a breath and talk about his sadness, Yaqub, may Allah bless him, spoke to Allah, Most High,! He knew Allah, Most High, would listen and not judge him, and that there was no One to listen, comfort or help him other than Him – that is Remembrance!

The Remembrance of Allah, Most High, is to remember His Mercy, His favors and in our moments of joy to thank Him – that is Remembrance, and that is gratefulness!

The Story of Sulaiman

Remembrance is the story that Allah, Most High, tells us in Surah An-Naml when the ant spoke to its fellow ants and said – go to your places so that Sulaiman, may Allah bless him, and his army do not crush you while they are unaware. Upon hearing this Sulaiman, may Allah bless him, smiled and said: “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for the blessings you have bestowed upon me and my parents, and enable me to do righteous deeds that please You. And by Your Rahma, admit me into the circle of your righteous slaves.”

When Sulaiman, may Allah bless him, heard what the ant was saying, while no one else heard, he did not think about his Prophethood or any good he has done that Allah, Most High, made him to be in that position, but rather, he did not only thank Allah, Most High, but he begged Allah, Most High, to make it easy for him and to facilitate his gratefulness for the favors that had been bestowed upon him and his parents – that is Remembrance!

Every time, in every place, secretly and openly

The Remembrance of Allah, Most High, is not limited to a time or place, as Allah, Most High, said in Surah Ahli-Imran (191): “…remember Allah while standing, sitting or lying on their sides…”

Remembrance is in every time, in every place, secretly and openly. That is why Allah, Most High, says: “And remember your Lord, alone, beg Him, when no one can see you, in the early morn and late in the evening, and do not be among the heedless. Indeed, those who are with your Lord (malaika) will never stop remembering Him; they glorify and worship Him.” (Surah Al-A’raf,205-206)

Remembering Allah, Most High, is the life vof the heart and the light of the heart! It is the foundation of all that is good. That is why Allah, Most High, said in Surah Al-Anfal (24):

“Oh you who believe respond to Allah, Most High, and to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, when they call you to that which brings life.”

That life and that light (nur) is in the Remembrance of Allah, Most High,! This remembrance is an invitation that has been given by Him and through the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. The Call is beyond our understanding our even conception, and that is why Allah, Most High, summarized its meaning by saying “when they call you to that which brings life”, it is the absolute life, and we only beg Allah, Most High, as Musa, may Allah bless him, begged Him in Surah Taha, to open our chests and our hearts to understanding the meaning of this life.

May Allah, Most High, bless you and your jummah with every khair.

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