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Disciplining the Soul, by Habib Umar bin Hafiz

The Ihya Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences) is considered to be one of the most widely-read, most reliable  books in the Islamic world, covering various topics from practice to spirituality. In this series, Habib Umar bin Hafiz taught the section “On Disciplining the Soul”, during a trip to Denmark.

We are grateful to Muwasala for these recordings

Resources for Seekers

ADVICE: Seeking the Pleasure of Allah and His Messenger – Habib Umar

ADVICE: Seeking the Pleasure of Allah and His Messenger – Habib Umar

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Please benefit from and share the following Rabi’ al-Awwal advice recently delivered by Sayyidi Habib Umar and translated by Ustadh Amin Buxton (Allah preserve and increase him and his teachers).

May Allah Most High bless us with remembrance of Him and His Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in this noble month, make us amongst those who are mentioned in His Presence, and bless our hearts with noble intentions that raise us to the ranks of those beloved to Him.

Welcoming Rabi` al-Awwal
By Seeking the Pleasure of Allah and His Messenger

Sayyidi al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him) said (Mawlid, Dar al-Mustafa, 3rd Rabi` al-Awwal/ 26th January 2012):

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

When you were born the earth and the horizons were illuminated by your light
We remain bathed in that glow and it continues to light the path as we travel it

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

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

They said this openly: “All that we knew of the Messenger of Allah was his shadow.”

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

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

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

It is more fitting that they please Allah and His Messenger if they are truly believers.
(Al-Tawbah, 9:62)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allah will not change what is in a people until they change what is in themselves. (Al-Ra`d, 13:11)

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

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

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

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

Their light will run before them and by their right hands, while they say: “O Lord, perfect our
light for us, and forgive us, for You have power over all things.”
(Al-Tahrim,  66:8)

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

The Gifts of Hajj – Radical Middle Way

The Gifts of Hajj…

Bismillah

Sayyidi al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him) reminds us that the linguistic meaning of Hajj is seeking or intending. Thus the people of Allah are constantly performing Hajj because they are constantly seeking Allah. Just as their whole year is Ramadan, likewise their whole year is Hajj. Just as those performing Hajj respond to the call of Allah by saying “labbayk” they are swift to respond to the call of Allah. They take themselves to account and leave that which is disliked and dubious in all their states and actions. They reject the desires of their lower selves and they are the furthest of people from that which is prohibited. They constantly receive new blessings from their Lord so they constantly renew their ihram.[1] Day and night they make tawaf around the House of their Lord, the One to Whom they turn themselves with absolute sincerity until nothing remains in them which is directed to other than Allah.

The bounty of Allah is available at all times of the day and night. This is why Allah swears by the morning light (duha) and by the night that He has not forsaken His Beloved (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), nor is He displeased with him.

If the Hajj has not been made possible for you, join with those making Hajj and share in their reward: by spending your wealth for the sake of Allah on your relatives, on the needy, by turning to Allah with your whole being. Make numerous your footsteps to good places, especially at the time of Fajr, and you will receive glad tidings from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “Give glad tidings of complete light on the Day of Judgement to those who walk constantly to the mosque in the darkness.”[2] Those whose light is complete will no doubt be in his company (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) on the day on which Allah does not disgrace the Prophet and those who believe along with him. Their light stretches out in front of them and upon their right sides.[3]

Ask to be present with them, and thank Allah for allowing our spirits to be with them. So many hearts in the far East or the far West receive the gifts of `Arafat and Mina because of their truthfulness with Allah.

Actions that carry the reward of Hajj

Nothing of course can equal actually performing the Hajj and worshipping Allah in those blessed places. However, since Allah knows that many people long to make Hajj every year but are unable to do so out of His generosity He made the reward for certain actions similar to the reward of a supererogatory Hajj.

1. Remembering Allah from Fajr until Ishraq. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Whoever who prays Subh (Fajr) in congregation and then sits in the place where he prayed remembering Allah until the sun rises and then prays two rakats has the reward of a complete Hajj and `Umrah.” He repeated “complete” three times.[4]

2. Attending a gathering of knowledge. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The one who goes out to the mosque wanting only to learn good or teach it has the reward of a complete Hajj.”[5]

3. Going to the mosque for the congregational prayer. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Whoever performs ablution in his house and then goes out to perform the obligatory prayer in the mosque has a reward similar to the reward of a Hajj pilgrim. Whoever goes out to perform the mid-morning prayer (Duha) has a reward similar to the reward of the one performing `Umrah.”[6]

4. Performing the Friday Prayer. Sa`id bin al-Musayyib said performing the Friday Prayer is “more beloved to me than a supererogatory Hajj.”

5. Performing the Eid Prayer. One of the Companions said: “Going out to pray Eid al-Fitr is equal to performing `Umrah and going out to pray Eid al-Adha is equal to performing Hajj.”

6. Fulfilling the needs of your brother or sister. Hasan al-Basri said: “Going to fulfil the need of your brother is better for you than performing Hajj after Hajj.”

7. Being good to your parents. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) commanded one of the Companions to be good to his mother. If you do so, he said: “You are a Hajj pilgrim, a person performing `Umrah and someone striving for the sake of Allah (mujahid).”

8. Performing obligatory actions. The slave can only draw near to Allah by performing supererogatory actions after first having performed that which is obligatory. This includes purifying one’s heart from forbidden attributes and guarding one’s tongue and limbs from committing forbidden actions. All of this is much harder on the lower self than many supererogatory acts of worship.

Finally there is no action more beloved to Allah on the Day of Eid than making a sacrifice. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told his beloved daughter Sayyida Fatima al-Zahra that she would be forgiven for her previous wrongdoings with the first drop of blood to be shed from the sacrificed animal. She asked if this reward was specifically for the household of the Prophet and he replied: “For us and for all the Muslims.” If anyone wants to make a sacrifice (qurbaani/udhia) here in Tarim please write to [email protected] for more information as soon as possible.

Welcoming the Month of Sha’ban – Interpreter’s Path Blog

Welcoming the Month of Sha’ban – Interpreter’s Path Blog

Bismillah

We will shortly be entering Shaban. Allah give us the best ending to the month of Rajab and the best entry to Sha’ban.

 

Merits of Sha`ban

The scholars say that the linguistic root of the word Sha`ban is a branch, because the month of Sha`ban “branches off” and leads on to many good things. It acts as a bridge between the two blessed months of Rajab and Ramadan. In spite of this, it is often neglected. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) alerted us to this fact when he was asked why he was fasting so much in Sha`ban. He replied: “It is a month that people neglect, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which actions are raised to the Lord of the Worlds and I love for my actions to be raised while I am fasting.”[1]

What is meant by actions being raised? The scholars say it is a symbolic displaying of our actions to Allah. Of course Allah is All-Seeing, All-Knowing and does not need for our actions to be displayed to him as He is constantly aware of them. However if the slave is not aware of Allah’s constant vigilance then he should at least strive to do good actions at times when his actions are displayed to Allah. If he is able to gain Allah’s pleasure at these times then he hopes that Allah will overlook his wrongdoings and shortcomings at other times. There is a daily display after Fajr and `Asr, and a weekly display on Monday and Thursday, and a yearly display  which takes place in the month of Sha`ban. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was keen to do good works at all these times and was keen for his Ummah to do the same.

One of the greatest works we can do in Sha`ban is fasting, and this is what the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) loved to be doing when his actions were raised, on Monday and Thursday and also during Sha`ban. Sayyida `A’isha said of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha`ban.”[2] She also said: “The month which he loved to fast the most was Sha`ban.”[3] Both hadith of course refer to voluntary fasting outside of Ramadan. Some hadith suggest that he would fast the whole of Sha`ban, although there is perhaps more evidence to suggest that he would fast most of the month and leave a few days. In another hadith he said (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), in response once again to a question about his fasting in Sha`ban: “In this month those who are destined to die are recorded for the Angel of Death. I love for my name to be recorded when I am fasting.”[4]

One of the wisdoms behind the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)  fasting abundantly in Sha`ban is mentioned by  Sayyida `A’isha, who said that in Sha`ban he would make up any voluntary fasts that he had missed during the course of the year.[5] At this time she would fast with him to make up any of the fasts that she had missed in Ramadan.[6] From this we learn the importance of making up supererogatory actions which we are accustomed to performing and also the necessity of making up any days of Ramadan which we have missed before Ramadan comes round again. The scholars also mention that fasting in Sha`ban before Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers before the obligatory prayer, while fasting in Shawwal after Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers after the obligatory prayer. Performing supererogatory actions makes up for any deficiencies in the obligatory actions that we have performed.

In spite of all this the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also said: “When the first half of Sha`ban is finished do not fast.”[7]The scholars of the Shafi`i school understood that this hadith prohibits voluntary fasting in the second half of Sha’ban, except in certain circumstances.[8] The other schools, however, say that there is no prohibition on fasting in the second half of the month but say that it is disliked to fast a day or two before Ramadan.

We have mentioned much detail on fasting and this is due to the sheer number of narrations on the subject. Even if we can just fast the “White Days”[9] or any three days this would have a great effect.

Other than fasting, it is recommended to send abundant blessings and peace upon the Beloved of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It was in this month that Allah revealed:

( إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ وَمَلاَئِكَـتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى ٱلنَّبِيِّ يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ   تَسْلِيماً )

Allah and His angels send their blessings upon the Prophet. O you who believe send blessings and peace upon him in abundance![10]

Perhaps this is why the Prophet called Sha`ban “my month,” when he said in the hadith: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha`bān is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.”[11]Sending blessings upon him is one of the greatest means of strengthening our connection to him in this life and also the next, as he informed us (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “The closest people to me on the Day of Rising will be those who send the most blessings upon me.”[12]

It was also the habit of some of the early Muslims to recite the Qur’an in abundance during Sha`ban. This along with fasting gives us the best preparation for Ramadan, as it takes time for the self (nafs) to become accustomed to doing these things in abundance. If we are already accustomed to doing them before Ramadan it will enable us to do more when the month begins. Perhaps this is why Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: “in Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.”

Two momentous events occurred in Sha`ban. The scholars of Sira say that it was the month in which the moon was split in half for the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It was also the month in which the Qibla (direction of prayer) was changed from Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to the Ka`ba in Mecca. While these events have now passed there is one momentous event which comes around every year, and that is the Fifteenth Night of Sha`ban, one of the greatest nights of the year. We intend to deal with it in detail closer to the time.

We end by asking, as the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) asked:

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ

“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha`bān and enable us to reach Ramadan!”[13]


[1] Narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasa’i

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim

[3] Narrated by al-Nasa’i

[4] Narrated by al-Haythami

[5] Such as fasting Monday and Thursday and three days in every month, which he may have been unable to perform due to expeditions and illness

[6] Narrated by al-Tabarani

[7] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban

[8] Such as if someone begins fasting in the first half of the month and continues his fast into the second half or if someone regularly fasted on a Monday throughout the year. In these situations it is permissible to fast in the second half of the month. A make up fast (qada) is of course permissible, as this discussion only revolves around voluntary fasting.

[9] The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically. The 15th day is regarded as being in the first half of the month and thus there is no prohibition in the Shafi`i school on fasting it in Sha`ban.

[10] Al-Ahzab 33.56

[11] Narrated by al-Suyuti

[12] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban

[13] Narrated by Ahmad

– The above note is compiled by Ustadh Amin Buxton (Allah reward and preserve him and his teachers)

Reflections from the SeekersHub Retreat: “I Want to Study to be an Islamic Scholar”

Reflections from the SeekersGuidance Retreat: “I Want to Study to be an Islamic Scholar” – Allah Centric blog

Bismillah.

Last month, I wrote about the importance of ensuring access to Islamic knowledge to all segments of the Muslim community. At the conclusion, I requested assistance in raising $900 to help several brothers from inner-city Washington DC to attend the SeekersGuidance retreat in Tennessee. Alhamdulillah, within 10 hours, over $2000 had been raised and we had to turn several donors back.

I requested that the brothers who went to do a write up about their experience. The following post is a series of reflections from the brother who arranged the caravan from DC.

– Khuram

Our Experience

By M.R.K

Getting There

After plenty of stops and a late start, we were officially on the road. For the boys, it was a mostly sleepy car ride. We kept up the legal speed, feeling a bit anxious about possibly not making it in time for Jumu’ah (although we were travelers, we all wanted to check out the Jumu’ah khutbah at the Muslim Community of Knoxville). Our GPS estimated our arrival time as 3:00, but as it turned out, we didn’t have the right address locked into the system. After the adjustment, our ETA was determined as 1:00pm. Alhamdulillah!


Khutbah

The khutbah by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah was excellent. I was not sure what to think at first, as I had never heard Dr. Umar speak, but as he delved into the subject matter, I was fixed upon Dr. Umar’s words. He cited a Hadith Qudsi and started to speak about the importance of having a good opinion of God and of each other. He spoke about the Sunnah of being optimistic and greeting others with a genuine good smile and pleasant spirit. He spoke about the magnificence of Lady Khadijah (ra) as she comforted our beloved Prophet (saw) after the first revelation, having such a high opinion of him. Was there a recording? I can’t recall everything else but I sure wouldn’t mind a copy of the recording.. if there is one?

The Environment

 

As we headed up into the mountains after a brief lunch break after Jumu’ah, we made our last phone calls and sent our last texts. Back to the basics for a few days, masha’Allah. It would be different but welcome.

As Dr. Umar duly stated at one point, there was something about the environment which made the retreat really special and impactful. Perhaps it was the predominance of nature, starkly contrasting our normal urban or suburban surroundings, but he also gave us a bit of history behind the location—the fact that this was where the mighty Cherokee natives had once treaded, and that, according to oral history that he has heard straight from the source, there have always been Muslims in their numbers.

The Programming

It was nice to see that there was a well-organized schedule with two tracks set up, an adult program and a youth program, which would run concurrently (and sometimes include both youth and adults). The adult program was more intensive and focused on learning, while the youth had learning but also more time for recreation and physical activity. It seemed to work very well, as several of the youth, once realizing all that the facility offered, were looking forward to swimming, basketball, etc. (Br. Noman did an outstanding job at keeping things in order. Br. Irfan Shuttari did a great job working with our group as well. They all loved his great smile. May Allah reward those brothers for being so ready to facilitate things for us.)

Special Highlights: The Youth

With our group of young brothers from the same area, some of whom were not well-acquainted each other before the trip, a unique bond developed as they were taken from their familiar realm–where certain antagonisms might have lingered–into an unfamiliar environment. As ambassadors of DC’s inner-city, held together by common experiences, terminologies, and all kinds of other local quirks, not only did their internal cohesion develop–with petty hostilities being quickly squashed—but their relationships with others outside of their group also flourished. This because they were placed in an environment where their identity as Muslims was foremost in importance, before any other form of identification. Islam brought everyone together, from the folks in Tennessee to those from California, and others from Chicago, to our group from DC. The youth came to be known as “those DC brothers,” unique in certain ways but still woven easily into the circle of brotherhood and compassion that was shared and promoted by all the attendees. It was nice to see the connections being made between the youth. They spoke some universal youth language where, in one of my observations, they exchanged stories about slang, style, music, etc. and how each of these was approached differently in their respective towns and cities, yet they accepted each others’ differences with ease and brotherliness. In a word, it was awesome.

I sat in on a few of the youth sessions taught by br. Sa’ad Quadri—a wonderful brother and excellent teacher, masha’Allah—and was pleased to see our youth eager to raise their hands and answer questions. There is a look that I know from the youth, when they are focused. It is the look of the attentive student. They hang on to every word and absorb whatever is being presented; it is as if you can see them digesting the information. I saw that look on them at least once each day while we were there, masha’Allah.

Here are some other notables and quotables:

  • “When I took my shahadah, I felt like my iman was really high. But then after a while, it seemed like it got low. But right now, it’s back up again.” – Leo

  • After a period of silence and quiet contemplation, one of our youth, Giovanni, suddenly stated, “I want to study to be an Islamic scholar.” Although many of our youth have said the same at some time in some form or another, this time, it was stated by one of our youth who stands out for a few reasons. After a few conversations with him, it is plain to see that he’s been blessed with intelligence and an inquisitive mind. Also, he remains focused when his mind is set on something. There was many a time during the trip when he beat the others to congregational salah, lectures, etc., simply because his mind was set on it.

  • There was a moment during one of the “Nightly Reflections” sessions that, by itself, made the whole retreat experience worth it. Br. Sa’ad Quadri, in his very engaging style, was telling the youth about certain details of Paradise and the great sacrifices made by pious people in our history. At some point during the talk, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Wadi with a smile and a thumbs up.

  • Another one of our youth, Abdul-Jabbar, always a connoisseur of good times, simply had a great time. Jabbar can be extremely playful but cloaked underneath all of that is a real love for Islam, demonstrated by his consistency, his incessant questions when something is on his mind, and his ability to hold onto and popularize things Islamic (lectures, nasheeds, etc.), even when they are unheard of or unpopular. He was amped about being far away from home, all the way in Tennessee, having new experiences. “They love us down here,” he said at one point. “They’re gonna remember us as ‘those DC brothas’. We comin’ back next year?”

  • “I want to study under Shaykh Yahya.” This was stated at least 3 times by Nasir, who has gone on to post lectures of Shaykh Yahya on his Facebook account. At age 19, Nasir has seen a lot of violence and hardship in his life. He’s bright and has clear leadership potential, easily navigating through different groups of people. If he overcomes some of his current battles and actually commits himself to studying Islam, he could be a great asset in uplifting others who are struggling through circumstances in the inner-city.

  • During the retreat, there circulated the prospect of having a basketball game, potentially featuring some of the shuyukh and the youth. I’m not sure how it got started, but somehow it came after discovering that Shaykh Yahya Rhodus was once an accomplished basketball player. The youth got it in their minds that they’d be playing “the scholars”. The scholars were fortunately spared (just kidding)—the game never materialized due to a rain on Sunday during the intended time.

  • Can I get seconds?” This question issued from several mouths numerous times throughout the trip. The food was delicious and wholesome. Made even better by its zabihah-ness.

Highlights for Me

I personally benefited greatly from the whole experience. There were several moments in which I felt genuinely inspired. I don’t think I can even do justice in words. What I saw in the retreat was the great potential of the Muslim community:

  • How iman, islam, and ihsan can come together in a concrete way; a way that inspires and moves.

  • Great scholarship—scholarship sincerely focused on getting closer to Allah (swt)—radiates this closeness and propels others to follow suit.

  • Muslims can actually get along with excellent manners and good character learned from the example of our beloved Prophet (saw). Muslims can actually avoid arguments!

  • An environment of great scholarship, friendly Muslims, and nature can heal a suffering/ distracted heart and motivate one to be better and aspire to greater heights of one’s potential.

  • I can see the coming emergence of great scholarship, both male and female, in this country. This scholarship will, with Allah’s (swt) help and guidance, transform individual lives and bring communities into harmony with His will. They will be relevant and they will fit naturally into the tapestry of this land.

The Shuyukh: A Few Observations

The shuyukh were outstanding. What stood out to me the most about them was their shining character. They had not only great ‘ilm, but great adab as well. And their outward manners seemed only to reflect a great inward state.

 

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani seems to be very learned in fiqh and the spiritual path, and has an exquisite ability to frame and market ideas and break down big concepts into digestible bits that can stick easily in your mind (and in your notes). He also seems very humble and someone who you wouldn’t mind sharing your problems with, who you could trust to provide sound advice. Although he was not able to make it due to circumstances beyond his control (i.e., the authorities), I benefited much from his recorded lectures which were made specifically for the retreat attendees after discovering that he would be unable to be present.

 

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah had a way of painting a picture with his words and then bringing you into the picture. I found him very inspiring. I listened very intently to his story of how, as a student in the 1960s seeking justice and Truth through revolutionary ideologies, he was strongly impacted by the Autobiography of Malcolm X (a book and a personage I’m very fond of), which moved him to embrace Islam as he saw the connection between “God” and “Allah” and realized them to be one and the same. Dr. Umar’s talks spring from a deep well of knowledge and wisdom. He knows what he’s saying and how to say it, and he feels what he says. He gave some very engaging talks on Aqidah and the importance of being strongly rooted in our beliefs, and his talks on spirituality were absolutely penetrating. As a plus, his lectures were often decorated with intriguing references to the histories of peoples, languages, and lands.

 

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus connected with our group on the first night. He had a very calm and kind demeanor which easily accepted our youth and he was very interested in them and their struggles. He joined us for lunch one day and was very generous with his time. Sitting in on a few of his lectures, I liked how he could draw, through his learning, reading, and experiences, connections of great relevance and insightfulness. I was also drawn to his concern for social ills and his urging fellow Muslims to start bridging gaps within our Ummah to serve those who are underserved. This resonated very well with me. The youth and I were blessed to see him in a recent visit to a masjid in VA.

 

Shaykh Omar Qureshi, a great mind with a very modest and humble demeanor, had those thorough slides that take big concepts and break them down logically into the most essential bits of information. You can’t help but want to jot down the info on each slide. One of his talks were on “Suffering and Divine Wisdom,” which effectively responded to the question—a question with flawed underpinnings—of why suffering and evil are allowed to exist by Allah’s (swt) will. He took an extensive article authored by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller and extracted the main points. Subhan’Allah, you will not believe this, but just last weekend, one of the youth called me and told me that he was asked by someone, “Why does Allah let people do bad things, and if He knows they’ll do them, why does He punish them?”. My notes came to very good use, masha’Allah.

 

Shaykh AbdulKarim Yahya surprised me. I was not able to sit, in full, in any of his classes, but that’s okay. On the last day, we were blessed with his presence at breakfast. To my surprise, he was very familiar with the realities faced by our youth in the inner-city. He knew the implications that an improper versus proper Islamic understanding could have on the youth. He was quite familiar with the narrow-minded trends that often plague Muslim communities in the inner-city. Asked about the differences of Muslims on certain issues, schools of law and why they should be respected, etc., he provided very satisfying answers with strong points and good examples that sunk in well. All with good character and a genuine interest in the youth, masha’Allah.

 

Shaykh Muhammad Mendes, whose classes I was unfortunately unable to sit in, struck me as a very kind scholar with a good understanding of Islam. When I was able to see him–in the gatherings that featured all the scholars–I saw him drawing connections and knowing very well how to provide context and articulate concepts with a very able vocabulary. He also composed an awesome nasheed poem entitled [?].

 

Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef, who I believe is also an imam at a Tennessee masjid, had a very intimate understanding of the Arabic language and a clear love for the Qur’an. He was genuinely passionate and committed to sharing whatever knowledge he has gained so as to benefit others. His talks were often decorated with intriguing stories from scholarly history and tradition, from which he would bring forth strong lessons to reflect on.

 

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, with whom I took a class on SunniPath in the past, had a very able mind and spirit by which she could discuss a subject, explain its significance, and humble us in the process. She has a strong and critical mind and is plainly not a blind follower. She is dedicated to crushing some of the false barriers that we have erected between each other, whether based on race, class, flawed thinking, or anything else, and she also knows how to draw from our rich tradition and history to provide social commentary relevant to trends and challenges that surface in modern times. For example, she spoke about how females in Islamic history have often flourished in their circumstances without feeling “limited,” while interestingly enough, in the self-proclaimed land of freedom, women have seriously struggled with feeling (and being) limited.

 

The Story of One

One of our youth carried with him a very narrow view about what the correct belief and practice of a Muslim is supposed to look like. This is due to his association with Muslims who promote this narrow approach. In the first day, he almost immediately dismissed some of the participating scholars’ claims to scholarship simply because they had not studied under the few scholars he had been familiarized with and taught to revere. Besides that, unlike what he had been accustomed to, these scholars seemed to not flaunt their knowledge by quoting the Qur’an and ahadith in every other sentence. For him, it was a different picture of scholarship.

 

Masha’Allah, as the days passed, we had opportunities to sit down with some of the scholars, including Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and Shaykh AbdulKarim Yahya. All of our youth were encouraged to ask whatever questions might be on their minds. Over time, and particularly on our last morning, I think it began to sink in that: 1) we have many knowledgeable scholars to benefit from in our Ummah; 2) these individuals have gone through rigorous training and have a very thorough understanding of the Deen; and 3) their understandings are, in fact, strongly rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah. This particular youth seemed to come away with a wider acceptance of Islamic scholarship and a preparedness to be less harsh when differences come up. A lot of times, whether we agree or disagree, we can find that our fellow believers are drawing from the same fountain.

 

Coming Home

Headed back to DC, we all jammed to a series of hits from Yusuf Islam’s “I Look, I See”. The boys really gravitated to that album; each of the songs carrying a simple yet very catchy style (several songs had to played twice upon request). We made a few stops for food, Salah, bathroom, and coffee, and hit a little traffic as we got close to home. As we neared home, Nasir stated, “I wish I could do this with y’all every weekend.” Adding further emphasis, and as if to clear any charge of insincerity, he went on, “No lie, I had a good time with y’all this weekend.”

 

I’d like to end with something that we experienced on our ride home. There’s a photo that we took which I’ve entitled “Endless”. It requires a bit of background. As we rode home, after a number of rounds of “20 questions”, there was a discussion that got started around what one should know about Allah (swt)—His qualities and attributes that should be recognized and remembered. In the midst of the discussion, one of the youth said, “He’s endless.” I responded, “Right. You studied this?” He said, “No,” and pointed out of his window to the scene in the photo. No lie. The youth can attest to it.

Video: The Role of the Ulama in Times of Crisis – Habib Umar Bin Hafiz – Toronto, Canada

Video: The Role of the Ulama in Times of Crisis – Habib Umar Bin Hafiz – Toronto, Canada

The media in the West has marginalized the role of the scholars, Imams and faith leaders in the successful uprising in Egypt and Tunisia. They paint this as a Facebook uprising. Many people are confused. Some say that the ‘Ulema are out-dated and not in touch with the people and their suffering. They’ve become immune to the hunger in the streets. Some feel the ‘Ulema are aligned with the government. What is the role of sacred knowledge (‘ilm) in these times and what is the responsibility of the ordinary man with respect to the ‘Ulema?

Introduction of Habib Umar and speech commences at 30:00 mark in the following video with translation from Shaykh AbdulKarim Yahya.
Video courtesy of Islamic Foundation of Toronto‘s web broadcast.

Watch live video from Islamic Foundation of Toronto on Justin.tv

A Spring’s Gift – Rabi’ Salawat – Habib Umar

A Spring’s Gift – Rabi’ Salawat – Shaykh Abdul Karim Yahya

In the Name of Allah; Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This special salawat was given to us by Sayyidi al-Habib Umar for the blessed month of Rabi’ul-Awwal with a beautiful translation provided by Sh. Yahya Rhodus (Allah preserve him).

It is recommended for us to each do 10,000 during this blessed month, or during both this month and the next.  We are encouraged to do all that we can in partaking from the blessings of this month and this special Salawat.

Manifestation of The Divine Will – Shaykh Abdul-Karim Yahya | Interpreter’s Path

Manifestation of The Divine Will – Shaykh Abdul-Karim Yahya | Interpreter’s Path

Commemorating the 16th Anniversary of Dar al-Mustafa – In Memory of Habib Umar’s Father – Interpreter’s Path

Commemorating the 16th Anniversary of Dar al-Mustafa – In Memory of Habib Umar’s Father – Interpreter’s Path

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious and Compassionate

Sunday, Dec. 5, is 29th Dhu’l-Hijja, the anniversary of Dar al-Mustafa along with the commemoration of the life and sacrifice of Habib Umar’s father, Habib Muhammad bin Salim.

The following biography is in honour of him, may Allah have mercy and be well-pleased with him.

Habib Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafiz


His Lineage

He is al-Habib al-`Allamah al-Shahid Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafiz bin `Abdullah bin Abu Bakr bin `Aydarus bin `Umar bin `Aydarus bin `Umar bin Abu Bakr bin `Aydarus bin al-Husayn bin al-Shaykh al-Fakhr Abu Bakr bin Salim bin `Abdullah bin  `Abd al-Rahman bin `Abdullah bin Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf bin Shaykh Muhammad Mawla al-Dawilah, bin `Ali Mawla Darak, bin `Alawi al-Ghuyur, bin al-Faqih al-Muqaddam, Muhammad bin `Ali, bin Muhammad Sahib Mirbat, bin `Ali Khali` Qasam, bin `Alawi, bin Muhammad Sahib al-Sawma’a, bin `Alawi, bin `Ubaydullah, bin al-Imam al-Muhajir il-Allah Ahmad, bin `Isa, bin Muhammad al-Naqib, bin `Ali al-`Uraydi, bin Ja`far al-Sadiq, bin Muhammad al-Baqir, bin `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin, bin Husayn al-Sibt, bin `Ali bin Abu Talib and Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of our Master Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, Allah bless him and grant him peace.    

His Life

Habib Muhammad was born in the village of Mishtah near Tarim in the year 1332 Hijri (1914 CE) and was brought up under the supervision of his noble father, the great scholar Habib Salim. Habib Salim taught his son the foundational sciences of the Din and then took him to Tarim to learn from the city’s scholars. His teachers were the Imams of the time. Among them were Habib `Abdullah bin `Umar al-Shatiri, Habib `Alawi bin `Abdullah Shihab al-Din and Habib ‘Ali bin al-Imam ‘Abdur-Rahman al-Mashhur, his grandfather on his mother’s side.  Habib Muhammad also built a strong connection with the Knower of Allah Habib Ja`far bin Ahmad al-`Aydarus. He took knowledge from Habib Muhammad bin Hadi al-Saqqaf in Seiyun and Habib Mustafa bin Ahmad al-Mihdar in al-Gwayra. He travelled on numerous occasions to the Hijaz to take knowledge from its scholars, among them Shaykh Muhammad al-`Arabi al-Tabani, Sayyid `Alawi bin `Abbaas al-Maliki, Shaykh Muhammad Amin Kutbi and Shaikh Hasan al-Mashat.

The extensive knowledge which he obtained led to his appointment as Mufti of Hadramawt. His use of his time was legendary. A day and a night would not pass except that he had stood in prayer, recited a large portion of the Qur’an, made abundant dhikr, taught his students, visited someone, written something, given fatwa and seen to the needs of a Muslim. He would attend in one day up to 14 gatherings of knowledge and remembrance.

He had a great concern for conveying and preserving sacred knowledge, and authored a number of works in several sciences which are of great benefit to students. Among them areTakmilah Zubdah al-Hadith in the law of inheritance, al-Miftah and al-Nuqul al-Sihahin the law of marriage and Durus al-Tawhidin tenets of faith. He wrote small books to help beginners in the sciences of jurisprudence and grammar and al-Tadhkirah aI-Hadramiyyahwhich covers all religious knowledge that it is compulsory for women to know. He also recorded in several volumes the speech of Habib `Alawi bin `Abdullah Shihab al-Din and wrote a biography of Habib `Abdullah bin `Umar al-Shatiri, Nafh al-Tayyib al-`Atiri. He composed a number of poems as well as a beautiful Mawlid, named Al-Nafhah al-Wardiyyah which shows his intense love for and connection to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace.  He also put the Mawlid of al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir into verse.

He had a passion for calling people to Allah and spreading knowledge, expressed by his constant visits to the towns and villages of Hadramawt. He journeyed to India and Pakistan where he took knowledge from the Hadith scholars there, and to Sudan and East Africa. He also visited Habib `Umar bin Ahmad bin Sumayt in the Comoros Islands.   A socialist government came to power in South Yemen in 1387 (1967) which attempted to eradicate Islam from society. Scholars were persecuted and religious institutions, such as the famous Ribat of Tarim, where Habib Muhammad himself studied, were forcibly closed. This did not, however, deter him from exerting all his efforts in calling to Allah. This did not, however, deter him from exerting all his efforts in calling to Allah and speaking out fearlessly in the defence of truth. He was required to register with the security forces on a daily basis so that they could check on his whereabouts. Thus on Friday morning on 29thDhu’l-Hijjah 1392 (1973) he left his son Habib `Umar, then only nine years of age, in the mosque before the Friday prayer and went to register. He was never seen again.      

His Legacy

The socialist regime thought that by abducting and killing Habib Muhammad bin Salim they would succeed in their mission but they failed completely.

Their intention is to extinguish Allah’s light (by blowing) with their mouths but Allah will complete His light, even though the disbelievers may detest it.[1]

In 1410 (1990) the regime fell and North and South Yemen reunited, paving the way for a revival of the Din. Habib Muhammad’s work did not come to an end but rather was continued by his sons. Habib `Ali Mashhur remained in Hadramawt throughout this dangerous period teaching and preserving the way of his forefathers. He is currently the Mufti of Tarim. Habib `Umar spent ten years in safety in al-Bayda in the North of Yemen under the tutelage of his father’s companion Habib Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Haddar. He then returned to Hadramawt to breathe new life into the religious life of the region. His tireless work led to the establishment of Dar al-Mustafa.

Dar al-Mustafa is a centre for traditional Islamic learning based upon three foundations: knowledge (`Ilm), spiritual purification (Tazkiya) and calling to Allah (Da`wa). It continues to grow and receive students from all corners of the earth. Habib `Umar, like his father before him, is constantly travelling, spreading the pure methodology of his predecessors. All of the fruits that we now see are the result of the steadfastness and sacrifice of Habib Muhammad bin Salim.

Dar al-Mustafa was opened in 1414 (1994) on 29th Dhu’l-Hijjah, the same date on which Habib Muhammad was abducted. Every year on that date Dar al-Mustafa celebrates its anniversary and along with it the life and achievements of this great Imam.

May Allah grant him the best of rewards on behalf of this Ummah, benefit us by him and raise him to the highest station in the company of his grandfather the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

 


[1] Al-Saff 61.8

Welcoming the New Year with Reflection and Prostration – Interpreter’s Path

Welcoming the New Year with Reflection and Prostration
Interpreter’s Path

habib

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious and Compassionate

The following is summarized from a talk given by Habib Umar bin Hafiz (Allah preserve him):[1]

We bid farewell to another year of the Hijra of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, a year which contains a number of days and nights which are what makes up your lifespan. If a day passes then a part of you has passed. You are but a body and spirit existent in a limited time period. When that period comes to an end you come to an end. It is only those of sound intellect who realize the true value of these days and nights that pass. They know that it is He Who made the Night and the Day to follow each other: for the one who wishes to reflect or to show gratitude.[2] Whatever anyone has achieved throughout the days and nights that has not increased them in reflection and gratitude has missed the purpose and fundamental wisdom for which these days and nights were created and for which mankind was created.  We witness the passing of time and the alternation of seasons and changes and events. Things which are agreeable to us; things which are unpleasant – all of which test us.

We witness the passing away of those who live alongside us, some of it expected, some of it unexpected. All of this is by the decree of the All-Powerful Sovereign.

We welcome likewise a new year. Every individual must look at their level of reflection and gratitude so they may obtain their provision from these days and nights. Amongst the meanings of reflection is removing the veils from the spirit to remember the original covenant which it took with its Lord and clearing away the dust to extend its gaze to its eventual destination. As for gratitude, everything which is of any benefit to creation comes into its sphere. The Master of Creation said, Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Should I not be a grateful slave?” He is the most grateful of creation to the Creator, and through his gratitude we show gratitude to the Creator. May Allah bind us to him in this life and the next.

It is He Who made the Night and the Day to follow each other: for the one who wishes to reflect or to show gratitude.

What are the signs and the attributes of the people of reflection and gratitude? Read the eleven attributes that follow this verse, beginning with:  The slaves of the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” (They are) those who spend the night in worship of their Lord prostrate and standing.[3]

Reflect upon these attributes and ask yourself what portion you have of them.  Do not be content merely to pass over them superficially. Delve into them deeply, hold firm to them and embody their meanings. Each of these attributes has a residing place in your inner being. If each attribute finds its place you will, in your inner being, be one of the slaves of the Most Gracious and every day and night you will increase in reflection and gratitude, and He will prepare you for an indescribable reward. “I have prepared for my righteous slaves that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and what no man can imagine.”

The majority of the people of Islam and Iman have made no preparation for the vision of the face of the Best of Mankind, accompanying him on the day of Crowding and then in Dar al-Salam, the Abode of Peace. Does this warrant you giving anything less than your all? How much have you put towards this: of your thoughts, your actions, the attributes of your heart, of the hours of your day and night? After the death of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, Sayyiduna al-Siddiq would spend his nights crying out of his longing for him.

Do we allow the ups and downs of this fleeting life and the desires of our enemies to tear these feelings away from us? Will you exchange the better for the worse?

All you who believe, accompanying him is greater than anything we can imagine. There is no gift more exquisite that the Lord of the Throne may bless you with than his companionship and the vision of his face and addressing the possessor of that face. He is a man like no other, the Beloved of the Creator. If these feelings were alive in the hearts of the Ummah all causes of evil inward and outward would be blocked and the Ummah would be safe from every tribulation.

The level of tribulation in which we find ourselves is according to our deficiency in our love for Allah and His Chosen One, Allah bless him and grant him peace. At the end of this year may Allah grant us the ability to please His Beloved through seeking to improve our states and our transactions and what takes places in our houses and what is in our hearts.

Nothing should be more beloved to us than Allah and nothing in creation, not even Paradise, should be more beloved to us than Muhammad. No created thing can take precedence over Muhammad, because Allah Himself gave him precedence over all of creation.

For this reason the Companion Salama ibn Rabi`a could think of nothing better to ask from the Messenger of Allah than his companionship in Paradise. The response of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, was to order him to make abundant prostration.

The closest a slave is to Allah is when he is in prostration. If you desire to be close to the one who is closest to Allah make abundant prostration. One of the meanings of this prostration is to rid our houses of anything which is contravenes his Sunnah.

Let this Hijri year finish and with it any contravention of the Sunna. This is prostration. You want to accompany him but you do not want to live in accordance with his teaching?

Let this year finish and you are in a state of preparation to meet the best of Allah’s slaves, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

As translated by Ustadh Amin Buxton (Allah preserve him and his teachers, and spread their benefit)


[1] Jalsat al-Ithnayn, Jami` Tarim, the night of 25th Dhu’l-Hijja 1429

[2] Sura al-Furqan, 25.62

[3] Sura al-Furqan, 25.63-74
Filed under: Events, Habib Umar Translations, Reminders