Posts

The Prophet’s Special Supplication – Shaykh Amin Buxton

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

A Special Supplication

Abd al-Rahman bin Abi Aqil al-Thaqafi narrates that he came to visit the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, with the delegation of the tribe of Thaqif. He said: “When we entered into his presence there was no one that we hated more than him. We entered, greeted him and pledged allegiance to him and when we left there was no one that we loved more than him.

I said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, did you not think of asking your Lord for a kingdom like the kingdom of Sulayman?’

The Prophet smiled and said: ‘Perhaps Allah has given your companion (meaning himself) something better than the kingdom of Sulayman. Whenever Allah sent a Prophet he gave him a (special) supplication. Some of them used it for something worldly and they were given what they asked for and some used it to pray for the destruction of their peoples and their peoples were duly destroyed.  Allah gave me this special supplication and I have kept it in reserve with Him to use as a means of intercession for my nation on the Day of Judgement.’” (Narrated by al-Hakim)
The tribe of Thaqif had previously rejected the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, when he came to their city, Ta’if, to call them to Allah. In spite of that rejection, the Prophet refused to command their destruction but rather hoped that they would be guided. If they were not guided, he hoped that their children and descendants would.

The Muslims later defeated Thaqif at the Battle of Hunayn and unsuccessfully laid siege to Ta’if. The tribe eventually sent a delegation to the Prophet to reluctantly announce their acceptance of Islam. The narrator admits that he hated the Prophet when he first met him but during the course of one sitting that hatred was transformed into love. Instead of bearing a grudge against them, the Prophet welcomed them with open arms.

The narrator thought that the greatest thing someone could ask for is a vast kingdom, but the Prophet corrected that notion with a gentle smile. He showed that the greatest thing you can ask for is what benefits people the most in their hour of greatest need. This is one of many narrations which tell us about the intercession of the Prophet on the Day of Judgement.

His mercy surpassed the mercy of other Prophets and he will not be content until as many members of his nation as possible are in Paradise. May none of us be deprived of his intercession on that day.

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

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


The Hamlet in Ruins: Similitudes and Parables in the Qur’an II

Shaykh Jamir Meah discusses the parable of the Hamlet in Ruins – a profound, existential parable in the Qur’an on death and resurrection.

One of the most striking parables in the Qur’an is what is sometimes referred to as the Hamlet in Ruins. This simple yet profound parable touches upon the essential theological and existential questions that man, in every place and time, necessarily reflects upon.

The parable is found in Sura al Baqara 2:259:

Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins. He wondered, ‘How could Allah bring this back to life after its destruction?’ So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years then brought him back to life. Allah asked, ‘How long have you remained [in this state]?’ He replied, ‘Perhaps a day or part of a day.’ Allah said, ‘No! You have remained here for a hundred years! Just look at your food and drink — they have not spoiled. [But now] look at [the remains of] your donkey! And [so] We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of the donkey], how We bring them together then clothe them with flesh!’ When this was made clear to him, he declared, ‘[Now] I know that Allah is Able to do all things.’

Commentary

Believer or skeptic, man is never more certain of anything more than the fact that he will one day die, and for man, earthly life and demise are only understood within the framework of time.

Time is a created concept only understood by change, such as change in motion. Because all creation is subject to change, the passing of time reveals the true limited nature of all temporal creation, whose state is in constant fluctuation, waxing and waning, blossoming and withering, living and dying.

Just as the cycles of all things in the created universe are constrained by time and change, all created things are limited in nature and ability.

This is in complete contrast to the Eternal Being, who is free from the notion of time and space, change and limitations. He is the Possessor of absolute perfection, whose Knowledge and Omnipotence are boundless, incomparable, and inconceivable.

Such was the firm belief of the pre-Islamic monotheist (Hanif), Quss bin Sa’idah, when he addressed the people at the fair at Ukadh,

Whoever lives dies,
Whoever dies perishes,
And whatever is bound to happen, will happen …
Everything is mortal,
Immortality lies only with the Almighty,
Who is One, without partners, without a like …
There is many a passage to enter the river of death,
But alas, no way out!

– Al Bayhaqi, Dala’il al Nubuwwa

The Parable

The hamlet in the parable is said to be Jerusalem, which was laid siege to in 589 BC and raised to the ground by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. The passerby on his donkey, is said by some exegesis, to be Uzayr, one of the righteous slaves of Allah, associated with the biblical Ezra.

Looking at the absolute destruction of what was once a populated and thriving town, Uzayr ponders, “How will Allah bring this town back to life after such utter ruin and annihilation?”

Little did the passerby expect that the answer to his innocent question would come in extraordinary fashion, that would become a parable for all mankind (“We will make you a sign for the people”), for God caused the man to die for a hundred years!

God then spoke to Uzayr through the intermediary of an angel, who asks him, “How long did you stay in that [death] state?” Uzayr replied, “A day,” and then he looked around and noticed that the sun was still out and had not set, so he added assumingly, “Or part of a day.” It was then made known to him that, “No, rather you remained in such a state for a hundred years!”

Now, if you and I woke up from what we thought was a short nap at noon, and our spouse, husband, or child, walked in and we asked them “What time is it?,” and they told us that it was Maghrib time, we’d get a shock! Assuming we don’t have a clock in the room, what would be the first thing we would do to ascertain if what they are saying is really true, or whether an impish trick was being played on us? We would look around.

The reason why our first reaction would be to look around is to observe any changes that may have taken place since we were last awake (or in Uzayr’s case, since he was last alive).

If we find that the things around us are roughly the same, or slightly changed as we would have expected them to be in a short passage of time, then we confidently assume that not much time has passed. So if we were to see the sun still high in the sky and the sky bright blue, and hear the normal sounds of movement in the street etc. we would assume that very little time had passed and we were only asleep for a short time. This is what Uzayr presumed when he looked at the sun.

The angel then turns his attention to his food, “Look at your food and your drink — they have not spoiled.” Uzayr turns to his food, which he had had with him on his prior travel, which is said to have been grapes, figs, and juice, and he notices they too are unchanged and fresh, confirming his initial assumption that only a short amount of time must have passed.

But then he is told, “Look at your donkey.” Uzayr turns to where his donkey once stood, but unlike his food and his own self, the donkey was nothing but old bones. The 100 earthly years had passed on the donkey as normal.

At this juncture, a most wondrous miracle takes place; “And look at the bones” says the angel, “How We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.” Before Uzayr’s very eyes, the decayed bones of the beast are gathered together and assembled in perfect order, then the skeletal frame is connected and covered with cartilage, tendons, and flesh, organs developed, nerve pathways formed, the raw body clothed with skin, and then hair is grown, the heart pumps, the blood flows, the eyes move, and thus life is bought back to it, just as it was before death!

The closest you and I would get to observing such a miracle is through CGI animation on a computer screen. One can only imagine the sight of this taking place in real life, before one’s very own eyes.

Lessons

1. To Give Life and Cause Death Belongs to Allah Alone

The first lesson to take away from the parable is that the power to give and take life, in its true sense, is in Allah’s hands alone.

This is made clearer by the related verses preceding the parable, which relates the dispute between Sayyidna Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and, according to most Qur’anic exegesis, Nimrod, the Babylonian King.

Contesting the rightful claim to Lordship, Sayyidna Ibrahim says to Nimrod, “My Lord is the One Who has power to give life and cause death.”

According to some commentators, it is said that Nimrod’s response to this was to order two men be bought forth. He then ordered the execution of one of the men and spared the life of the other, and then fallaciously asserted, “I too have the power to give life and cause death,” knowing full well the meaning that Sayyidna Ibrahim had meant by giving life and causing death.

Seeing Nimrod’s folly and rebelliousness, Sayyidna Ibrahim throws down the gauntlet, with a marvelous challenge to silence the king once and for all, “Allah causes the sun to rise from the east. So make it rise from the west.”

There was no response this time from the king, for the Quran tells us, “The disbeliever was dumbstruck.” One can only imagine the embarrassing predicament Nimrod was in at this point, especially in front of his entire court.

Whether it is faith in deities besides Allah, belief in our own intellect and power, faith in science, in nature; none of these possess the power to give life and cause death in its true meaning, in the same way that none of these things have any power over the government of the universe.

2. Believe in the Resurrection

The narrative of Sayyidna Ibrahim and Nimrod establishes that only Allah Most High has the power to give life and cause death. This is then followed by our parable, which takes this understanding and builds up on it, introducing the concept of the Resurrection; giving life again after death.

The resurrection is a central tenant of Islam, as it is in all Abrahamic religions. The idea of a resurrection is a mighty “leap of faith” for those who claim to be atheists, given that they have trouble believing God gives life once, let alone twice!

Naturalists, who believe that only natural laws govern the universe, and the majority of philosophers of both East and West, who maintain that everything in existence is built on a cause and effect relationship, necessarily deny the concept of a Resurrection.

Such theories hold that time is infinite and forever moves on, never to be interrupted. Since resurrection is bringing to life that which is dead and decomposed, this is impossible, for what natural force or law of nature brings rotten remains to life? Or what cause would bring the effect of decaying bones gathering, assembling, bodies forming, and breathing back into existence?

These theories are in direct contradiction to the creed of the believer, who believes not in the power of nature, nor cause and effect, but in the Omnipotent Power of the Sovereign Creator, who wills whatever He wishes, and does whatever He wills.

He is the Architect of the laws of nature and the causal relationships in His creation. Should He so wish, He could turn these laws and relationships on their heads, or do away with them all together, a fact which will be made terrifyingly clear to those who live to see it, by one of the greatest apocalyptic signs; the rising of the sun from the West (which if we recall, is the very challenge Sayyidna Ibrahim presented to Nimrod).

Uzayr was of course not a disbeliever or skeptic, far from it, he was among the most righteous. However, the utter obliteration of the town he saw caused him to wonder how revivification was possible. Through the event, God made Uzayr “a sign for the people” – a reminder of the coming Resurrection and that Allah Most High is capable of all things.

On a subtler note, one may view the Resurrection as a symbol of hope. Terrifying as the Resurrection will be, it is also the Day when true justice will be served. For those who suffered, for those who were oppressed, for those whose earthly life was full of sadness and forbearance, the Resurrection marks the beginning of one’s real life which after the initial upheaval of the Day, admits no grievance nor sorrow, only sheer comfort and happiness for those who were faithful and patient.

3. Time

Time and space began with the beginning of the universe, as is also attested to by modern physics and cosmology. Time does not apply to Allah Most High, the Creator of the cosmos.

We mentioned that time is a created concept only understood through change. The passing of time affects things only according to God’s Will and He is able to do as He pleases.

Change does not occur due to nature, habit, nor cause and effect. This is pointed out in the parable, for God showed Uzayr that while he, and his food, were preserved after 100 years passed, his donkey had perished with the passing of time. For that which never changes, time cannot be understood, while time is only understood through that which changes.

Ibn Kathir mentions that one of the ways that Allah made Uzayr a sign, was that when Uzayr returned to his people, he was younger than his children!

Just as Uzayr reckoned he was dead for a day or part of a day, on the Day of Judgement, mankind will have only a vague recollection of time or space. People will be asked on the Day of Rising, ‘How many years did you remain on earth?’ They will reply, “We remained [only] a day or part of a day.” (Sura al Mulk 23:114-115)

4. Power and Ability

Despite modern scientific and technological advances, we should not forget that ancient civilizations, particularly Babylonian, were very advanced in the sciences and arts, and the mysteries of life baffled scientists then, as it is does scientists now. However, religion has always provided definitive answers to these mysteries and is always accessible for those who sincerely seek the truth.

Man holds powers, rank, and ability and these are relative only among creation. While he may have advanced a great deal when compared to his basic roots, man must necessarily acknowledge that his intellect, power, abilities, and resources, are nothing compared to the limitless Power and Ability of his Creator. In fact, our powers and abilities are only through Allah, so, therefore, to take pride in them is folly, and to use them to transgress the limits of Allah is both ingratitude and rebelliousness.

But for those who have faith, who seek to rise beyond the limits of the finite, who ponder upon the wonderful and magnificent signs of God in themselves and all around them, surely they will respond with exactly the same conclusion of Uzayr, “[Now] I know that Allah is Able to do all things.”


How Did Iblis Know That There Would Be a Day of Resurrection?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaikum. I was going through Surat A’raf where there’s an ayah: [Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.” [Allah] said, “Indeed, you are of those reprieved.” [7:14-15]. How did Iblis know that there would be a day of resurrection at that time?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate

Thank you for your question. May Allah grant you the best of states and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.

The short answer to your question is, yes, the beings created before man, e.g. angels and jinn, had knowledge of the Final Resurrection.

The Qur’an, while being the ultimate and perfected guidance for man, does not delineate every detail of information in the Book. Allah, in his supreme Wisdom has revealed to us in the Qur’an the most significant and imperative knowledge man needs in order to fulfill his role on earth. Further clarification was given by the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), his Companions and subsequent scholars, and interpretations were offered by those qualified.

We should also note that many of the explanations given in the books of Tafsir, including the early works, comprise of numerous details gleaned from Judeo-Christian traditions, and therefore do not always represent authentic positions in Islamic scholarship.

Satan’s Respite

When Satan asked for reprieve until the Day of Resurrection it was a calculating attempt to escape death. Out of dislike for death, and his immeasurable arrogance, Satan intended by the request to be given respite until the second blow of the trumpet, thereby attaining eternal life and permanency in both worlds. This is because it was well known [to all of the created beings] that upon the first blow of the trumpet everyone will die, and upon the second blow, all will be resurrected. By specifically asking for respite until the day they will be Resurrected (Ila yawm yub’athun), he was essentially trying to bypass the death that all men and jinn will taste upon the first blow of the trumpet!

However, Allah the All-Knowing, replies with the specific words “Be thou amongst those who have respite (min al-mundharin)”, which through other supporting verses in the Quran is well understood as referring specifically to the first blow of the trumpet when all men and jinn will die, thereby thwarting Satan’s ruse and giving him no escape from the inevitable taste of death of this world and the everlasting torment of Hell.

[Hashiyat al-Khaluti ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tafsir al-Wasit, Ma’ani al-Quran li al-Zajjaj, Safwat al-Tafasir]

According to this explanation, we can see that not only did Iblis have knowledge of the Day of Resurrection, but also the details of the Final Hour such as the first and second blow of the trumpets.

This leads us to ask the question, when were the jinns created?

Created Beings

Allah, Exalted is He, tells us in Surat al-Hijr, verse 26 -27,

“We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded in shape; and the Jinn race, We had created before, from the fire of a scorching wind.”

The words “created before” here mean, created before the creation of Adam [Tafsir al-Jalalayn]

Accordingly, al-Tabari relates in his Tafsir from Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them both), that,

“The first to inhabit the earth were the jinn. They spread corruption thereon and shed blood, and killed each other. So Allah sent Iblis against them with an army of angels, and Iblis and those with him killed them, pursuing them as far as the islands of the oceans and the summits of the mountains.”

And he also narrates from al Rabi‘ ibn Anas that,

“Allah created the angels on Wednesday, and He created the jinn on Thursday, and He created Adam on Friday. And some of the jinn disbelieved, so the angels would descend to earth and battle with them. There was bloodshed and corruption on earth.” [Al Tabari]

At the same time, al-Tabari also provides counter-arguments that hold that jinns did not proceed men in creation. While there is some discussion on the topic on which was created first, it does not negate the fact that Iblis knew about the Day of Judgement and that his kind will be held to account on the Day of Judgement.

Legal Responsibility:

Contrary to angels, jinn and man have been given a certain amount of free will and therefore have legal responsibility in this life, and will be held to account on the Day of Judgement. This is explained in Surah al-Ahqaf 29-32:

“And when We inclined toward thee (Muhammad) certain of the Jinn who wished to hear the Qur’an, and when they were in its presence, said: Give ear! and, when it was finished, turned back to their people, warning. They said: O our people! Lo! we have heard a Scripture which hath been revealed after Moses, confirming that which was before it, guiding unto the truth and a right road. O our people! respond to Allah’s summoner and believe in Him. He will forgive you your sins and deliver you from a painful doom. And whoso respondeth not to Allah’s summoner he can not frustrate (Allah’s plan) on earth, and ye (can find) no protecting friends instead of Him. Such are in error manifest.’ (Al-Ahqaf: 29-32)

And in Surah al-A’raf 179, Allah tells us,

“Many are the Jinn and men We have made for Hell.”

To summarize, we can conclude from the above information that the jinn were created beings before Adam, and like man, they are legally responsible beings. Along with men and angels, jinns have always possessed the knowledge that there will be a Day of Resurrection. Like men, they will either be in the eternal Garden or Fire.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir

[1] Nawawi, M, Riyaad as Saliheen, Mu’assasah al Risalah, annoted by Shuayb Anaut, p. 29

[2] The Holy Quran, [13:11]

[3] Nawawi, M, [Hadith: 19] 40 Hadith al Nawawi, Dar al Minhaj, p 71.

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007 he travelled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim. Sciences studied include: grammar and morphology, theology, and legal methodology, with my main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh, completing the entire Hadrami curriculum. His teachers include Mufti Muhammad Ba’Oudan, Habib Ali Mashhur Bin Hafiz, Mufti Muhammad Ali al-Khatib, Habib Abdullah Mehdar, and Habib Abu Bakr Bilfaqih.

Photo: umar nasir

How To Benefit from Remembering Death?

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: Asalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I know that remembering death is beneficial but how does one remember death? Is it simply by thinking about it?

Answer: Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

The Importance of Remembering Death

It is important for people to consider their mortality by thinking of and remembering death, because doing so allows one to distance themselves from this temporal existence and turn towards the hereafter.

Conversely, neglecting the reality of death causes one to immerse themselves in the pleasures of this life. The Qur’an reminds: Every soul is certain to taste death: We test you all through the bad and the good, and to Us you will all return (21:35). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Frequently remember what ends all pleasure! (Tirmidhi).

The Importance of Preparing for Death

It is likewise important to prepare oneself for death, because of its certainty and proximity.

The Qur’an says: Believers, do not let your wealth and your children distract you from remembering Allah: those who do so will be the ones who lose. Give out of what We have provided for you, before death comes to one of you and he says, ‘My Lord, if You would only reprieve me for a little while, I would give in charity and become one of the righteous.’ Allah does not reprieve a soul when its turn comes: Allah is fully aware of what you do (63:9-11).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: An intelligent person takes himself to account and works for what follows death (Tirmidhi).

Al-Ghazali on How to Remember Death

Imam al-Ghazali, in his Ihya’, includes a section on how to accomplish the foregoing:

An Explanation of the Manner of Bringing about the Recollection of Death to one’s Heart:

Know that death is horrible, its importance significant. People’s neglect of it is due to not thinking about and remembering it. Even those who do remember it, don’t do so with an unoccupied heart, but rather with one that has been occupied with the worldly desires, such that the remembrance of death does not actually affect their hearts.

The correct manner of remembering death is for a servant to empty their hearts of everything except for remembering the death that is before them. This is similar to the manner in which a person, who wants to travel to a desert, or to embark upon a nautical voyage, cannot think of anything else. When the remembrance of death actually touches their hearts, and makes an impression upon them, their happiness and pleasure with respect to this world diminishes, and their hearts break.

The most effective manner of bringing about this change is for them to frequently call to mind their peers and contemporaries, those who have passed away before them. They should reflect on their deaths, as well as their decomposition below the earth. They should remember how they looked in their former positions and circumstances, and consider how the earth has now effaced their external beauty; how their limbs have become dispersed in their graves; how they left their wives widows, their children orphans! How they have lost their wealth; how their mosques and their gatherings have become empty of their presence; how all traces of them have been erased!

To the extent that people remember others and call to minds their circumstances and how they died; imagine their forms; remember their activities; how they used to move about; the way they planned their lives and its continuation; their neglect ofdeath; how they were deceived by the facilitated means of life; their reliance on strength and youth; how they inclined toward slaughter and amusement; their neglect of the quick death and destruction that lay before them; how they used to move about, while their feet and joints have now rotted away; how they used to speak, while worms have now devoured their tongues; how they used to laugh, while dirt has now eaten away their teeth; how they used to plan for themselves what they hadn’t actually needed for another ten years, when all that lay between themand death was a mere month; they were ignorant of what had been decreed for them, until death came to them at a time they have not expected; the angel’s form was revealed to them; the call rang in their ears, Heaven or Hell! At that point, a person can engage in self-reflection, and see that they are like them, and that their neglectfulness is similar to theirs, and that their end shall be one.

Abu al-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) said: When you think about the deceased, count yourself amongst them. Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said: A happy person is one who can derive lessons from the situation of others. Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz said: Don’t you see that every day you prepare a traveller, by morning and night, to Allah (Mighty and Sublime is He), placing him in a hole in the earth? He has made dust his pillow, left behind his loved ones, and cut himself off from the means of this life!

Continuously thinking about this and similar thoughts, as well as going to graveyards and seeing sick people, renews the heart’s remembrance of death, until it takes control of it and is constantly at the forefront of one’s mind. At this point, one will be nearly ready for death, and will leave aside the world of delusion. Lacking this, remembrance with the mere superficial aspects of the heart, and the saliva of the tongue, will be of little benefit in warning and alerting oneself.

No matter how pleased one’s heart may become with something of this world, one should immediately remember that they must at some point part ways with it. Ibn Muti’ one day looked at his house and was pleased by its splendour. He then began to cry, saying: By Allah, were it not for death, I would be overjoyed with you! Were it not for what we are headed towards, the narrowness of graves, we would be contented with this world! He then began to cry intensely till his voice rose loudly.

Sources: Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din; Dalil al-Falihin; al-Adhkar

Shuaib Ally

Are We Resurrected from Our Graves or the Place We Died?

Answered by Ustadh Torab Torabi
Question: When we get resurrected, will it be from our graves
or from where we passed away at the time of death?
Answer: Walaikum Asalaam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh.
Insha Allah this reaches you in the best of inward and outward states.
We will be resurrected from our graves.
Imam al Haddad mentioned in his book, The Lives of Man, that on the Day of Resurrection we shall be brought forth from your graves. He says:
“When God, Who is of mighty Ability, wishes to resurrect mankind, the sky pours down a rain which resembles male sperm, after which hey grow from the places where they were buried, in the way that crops grow. Then He resurrects Israfil, upon whom be peace, and commands him to blow the Horn for the Resurrection. The spirits will then be returned to their bodies and brought back to life, by the leave of God the Exalted.”
And Allah knows best.
Torab Torabi
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani