Caribbean Calling, An Interview with Ustadh Nazim Baksh

At the beginning of the blessed month of Rabi’al Awwal 1438, Shaykh Ahmad Saad Al-Azhari and Ustadh Nazim Baksh will visit the twin-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Shaykh Ahmad will give a series of talks on the life of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, at local mosques and will teach from Al-Nubdhah Al-Sughra at the prestigious San Fernando Jama Masjid.

In this special podcast episode, Ustadh Nazim speaks to SeekersHub’s Amr Hashim about why the Caribbean and why now.

Our thanks to Raihan for the beautiful singing in this podcast episode.

VIDEO: Is The End of the World Near?

What are the signs of the end of times? How do we prepare? Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari address the above questions and more in this month’s Focus On seminar.

Click here to receive access to the full video playlist.

Juz 2 – Daily Qur’anic Reflections by Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari

Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari, SeekersHub scholar in residence for Ramadan 2015 explores the key themes in each juz of the Qur’an before he recites it during tarawih prayers.

All SeekersHub programming during this blessed month is freely available at the Ramadan Hub. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Imam Al-Husayn: Light in the Prophetic Household by Shaykh Ahmed Saad Al-Azhari

For the original article: Click here
[Who are Ahlul Bayt?]
Yahya b. Mu‘adh Ar-Razi once visited Al-‘Alawi Al-‘Umari who asked him: What do you say about us Ahlul-Bayt[i]? He replied: What can I say about plants watered by the water of revelation, clay mixed with the water of Divine Message? Nothing will emanate from them except the musk of guidance and the amber of righteousness.[ii]
This is exactly what we expect when we read or write about any member of the blessed Ahlul-Bayt or the family of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). 
Even the term Ahlul-Bayt which literally means; ‘the household’ or ‘the family’ and can thus refer to any family; it has become uniquely referring to them when used in this absolute and general form indicating that they are ‘the family’ or ‘the household’. 

Just like their leader or father, the Best of Creation is the Prophet, they are the Family. 

Ahlul-Bayt have always been the guides of this community since the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him); they are the rope to salvation and the ship that delivers the ummah to safety. 
Jabir b. ‘Abdillah narrated, 

“I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) at the back of his camel Al-Qaswa’ on the day of ‘Arafah in his Hajj and heard him saying: ‘O People! I will leave after me things which if you attach yourself with, you will never go astray; the Book of Allah and my close family who are my household.”[iii]

Imam ‘Abdullah b. ‘Alawi Al-Haddad describes Ahlul-Bayt in his famous diwan[iv] as:

[They are] a ship to salvation when,
You are fearful of the floods of evil
So, gain safety by taking it and do not stay behind
And seek the help of God in all affairs

[Virtues of Imam Al-Husayn]
One of the blessed pillars of the household is one of the two grandsons of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); that is Imam Al-Husayn son of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib and As-Sayyidah Fatima daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). 
Imam Al-Husayn was born in Sha‘ba in the fourth year after the Hijrah and on his seventh day, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) gave an amount of silver equal to the weight of his hair as a charity and asked to see him saying: Show me my son. 
It was the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who gave him his name and it seems that because of this he was very similar to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in his features. He was of great nobility, immense devotion and worship and remarkable character.
Imam Al-Husayn witnessed in his lifetime his grandfather spreading his light on mankind and guiding them to Allah, standing up for truth and helping the oppressed. He also witnessed his father’s bravery and nobility. It was his father who slept in the bed of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on the night of Hijrah and stood up to fight ‘Amr b. Wudd the icon of bravery and the exemplary knight of Arabs at that time. 
He also saw his mother, the mistress of all women of mankind Fatimah Az-Zahra (peace be upon her)[v] standing beside her husband and serving her family in absolute humbleness while she was the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him). This filled the heart of Imam Al-Husayn with all these noble qualities of bravery, standing up for justice and against oppression and oppressors.
When the days of trouble came later on in his life, Imam Al-Husayn had to bury his father who was assassinated by one of the kharijites and later on had to bury his older brother Imam Al-Hasan who was poisoned by the enemies of Ahlul-Bayt; by people whose main focus was power and, in their march towards it, they did not care even about the family of their Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). 
Imam Al-Hasan was poisoned although he gave up the position of caliphate in order to reunite the ummah that was scattered by political differences. He gave up the position he deserved for a better position that is to protect the ummah and unite the hearts of Muslims; this sense of sacrifice was but a way of following the example of his grandfather and his father.
However, things got worse when Yazid b. Mu‘awiyyah became the caliph and evil shone on the whole ummah. Imam Al-Husayn who was trying to avoid all the troubles received messages from the people of Kuffa city giving him their pledge of allegiance and asking him to travel to them to become the caliph.  Sending his cousin Muslim b. ‘Aqil b. Abi Talib to them, Imam Al-Husayn wanted to make sure that their invitation is genuine and their messages are true. 
Muslim b. ‘Aqil who left to Kuffa was betrayed by its people and left along with thirty people only who even diminished to no one to be arrested by the newly appointed governor of Kuffa ‘Ubaydillah b. Ziyad. After being promised that he will not be killed and realising that the promise is fake, Muslim cried and said: By Allah, I am not crying for myself; rather, crying for my family who are coming to join me; crying for the family of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn.[vi]
While Muslim b. ‘Aqil was killed in Kuffa, Imam Al-Hussayn, who received another group of invitations and assurance to come to Kuffa, was on his way with just above eighty individuals. Upon his arrival to the land of Iraq and meeting some army leaders sent to him by Ibn Ziyad, Imam Al-Husayn offered them three options; either to allow him to go to Yazid and speak to him face to face or to let him go back to where he came from or to let him move to the borders and spend the rest of his life guarding the Muslim lands. ‘Ubaydullah b. Ziyad refused the three offers and insisted on fighting him.
[The passing of Imam Al Husayn]
The tragic killing of Imam Al-Husayn (peace be upon him) shows not only the ugly face of his murders, the plots prepared for the family of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) but also unveils the bravery of the men and the women of Ahlul-Bayt. On the verge of the death which was even seen in a dream by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas who saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) carrying a bottle full of blood and saying: I am picking up the blood of Al-Husayn, the Imam (peace be upon him) said:

O life! What an unpleasant friend!
How often at day beginning and at its end,
Many friends and noble men are killed,
And you never accept a substitute for them,
Yet, all affairs belong to the Mighty One.
And every human has to tread this path one day

Seventeen men of the family of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were killed with Al-Husayn (peace be upon him) amongst whom was his first son ‘Ali. His sister Sayyida Zaynab (peace be upon her) stood up in absolute bravery against Yazid after the death of her brother Imam Al-Husayn and protected her other nephew ‘Ali known as Zayn Al-‘Abidin (peace be upon him).
After all these many years which witnessed even many more killings of members of Ahlul-Bayt like Mowlay Idris the founder of Fez and Muḥammad b. ‘Abdillah known as An-Nafs Az-Zakiyyah[vii], Ahlul-Bayt continued to guide the ummah and lead it back to its Lord.
They continued the path of knowledge and righteousness bearing in mind that it is their responsibility to look after people whether they are in the position of physical and political leadership or not; spiritual leadership is greater than anything else.
The ummah continues to learn and benefit from Ahlul-Bayt who were described by their grandfather (peace and blessings be upon him) as the companions of the Qur’an; they are inseparable from the book of guidance and truth because they are the bearers of guidance and truth.
May Allah bless the soul of Imam Al-Husayn and allow us to benefit from his example.

[i] Prophet’s Family
[ii] Al-Itḥāf bi Ḥubbil Ashrāf by Shaykhul-Islam ‘Abdullah Ash-Shabrawi (1091 – 1175 AH)
[iii] At-Tirmidhi; Chapter on the Merits of Ahlul-Bayt
[iv] Collection of poems
[v] Imam Al-Bukhari always mentions the statement ‘peace be upon him/her’ next to the names of Imam ‘Ali, Sayyidah Fatimah, Imam Al-Ḥasan and Imam Al-Ḥusayn
[vi] Maqātil Aṭ-Ṭalibiyyīn by Abil-Faraj Al-Aṣfahāni
[vii] Literally means ‘the pure soul’
Relevant Resources:
Check out Ihsan Institute and their programmes: Click here
YouTube Video of Shaykh Ahmed: Embracing our Chosen Land
YouTube of His Quran Recitation: Tahajjud Recitation
The Rights of the Companions and the Family of The Prophet – Dr Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Qasidah with Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad

Beautiful recording of a number of qasidas, with Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad.

On the Sacred Journey: Meeting at the Oasis of the 2014 Seekers Retreat “Awakening the Heart”

Reflection by Maryam J. Mathieu

During the drive to Camp Couchiching for the annual SeekersHub Toronto retreat, all I could think about was what questions I could ask the scholars to help me figure out how to make hijra into a new life. For years, and especially since I converted to Islam a year and a half ago, I’d obsessed about where I want to go, besides where I am, and what I want to do, besides what I’m doing.
I thought the answer to my happiness and my salvation was just around the corner. I believed that somewhere else is where I needed to be in order to be who I want to be and do what I’m meant to be doing. I felt like the friends and community I yearned for were somewhere else, and the work I longed to be doing was something else. I believed that in order for me to be happy and beloved to All Mighty Allah, I needed to go find that community where I belonged and that work for His sake that I longed to be doing.
My mind turned and turned on these questions, but within hours of arriving at the retreat, that changed. In one of the very first lectures, before I could think of the right questions or find the opportunity to seek counsel from any of the scholars, the questions I couldn’t even articulate were answered with finality, Praise be to God.
In his lecture from the Hikam of ibn Ata’illah, Shaykh Ahmad Saad warned us of the barriers that prevent our hearts from waking up to hear All Mighty Allah’s Call and the Messages He Sends everyday to Guide us on our Journey to Him. One of these barriers, Shaykh Ahmad told us, is the danger of attachment to states, the belief that another state of being, whether it’s a place or way of living, is the key to our happiness and salvation.
Rather, he explains to us, the state we are in at the moment is the state we are meant to be in, and yearning for another state, believing it is the key to our happiness and salvation prevents us from achieving that very happiness and salvation. Our mission is in the moment, and we need to trust All Mighty Allah to bring us to successive beautiful states while we focus on navigating the terrain He lays at our feet and heeding His Guidance as we travel terrain we can only see with our hearts.
As Muslims, we understand that this life is temporary; it’s a bridge between worlds, and we’re travelers on a Journey to our eternal Home, insha’Allah. And as Muslims, we know we’re traveling together. We’re on a sacred caravan through the worlds, and we have a responsibility to help each other on this Journey. We are instructed by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) to feed each other when we’re hungry, support each other when we’re weak and protect each other when we’re in danger. Our strength is in community, and it’s in unity and coming together to guide, protect and shelter each other from the ravages of the dunya that our success in the akhira, both individually and as an Ummah, depends. The question is not, who do I want to be helping on the Path, but rather, who has Allah put on my Path to help?
Being at the SeekersHub retreat, I realized that my mission as a Muslim is to be where I am, on the terrain that All Mighty Allah has placed me. I need to be here with excellence, and while I’m focusing on what is at my feet, I need to put total trust in All Mighty Allah to Guide me to the next state I am meant to be in, God Willing. I realized also that retreats like this one, and like the Al Maqasid retreat I was at just a couple weeks prior, are oases on this Journey. I may not be where I long to be, but here are the people I love all gathered in remembrance of The Most Merciful, preparing to return to their homes to do His work, God Willing.
As Muslims, we all recognize this Journey, on some level, but it is easy to forget our mission and the responsibilities of the trusts that All Mighty Allah has put in our care. We get transfixed by the kaleidoscope of our fears, desires, conflicts, jealousies, resentments and other fleeting impulses meant to divert our gaze from the Face of Allah. In the daily grind of life in the dunya, our internal map becomes shredded and worn out and our compass, our heart, becomes unbalanced. We focus on our own needs, or the needs of those we love, rather than focusing on our neighbors’ needs and our community’s needs. But this retreat reminded me that we’re all in this together.
That’s why retreats like this one are vital to us, as individuals and as an Ummah. They are an oasis on the Journey where we can pause from the frantic pace of life and have our scholars help us repair and update our maps while they help us re-calibrate our hearts. The Qur’an with the Sunnah is our map and our hearts are our compasses, and without both in working condition, we are lost.
These oases are also a place to meet up with fellow travelers and seekers who remind us of what it means to be a Muslim. They offer the kind of companionship that is the promise of Islam, but which is so often lacking in our communities, so much so that we can forget it even exists. I’ve begun to meet friends at these retreats who I hope will be reminders on my Path and who I pray will be my neighbors in the akhira, God-willing. It’s also an opportunity to drink deep from the Spring of faith and prophetic guidance, which we will need for the next leg of our Journey, before we reach the next oasis retreat.
So as my map was filled in and updated, my compass calibrated and my heart warmed by the fire of companionship with gentle and soft-hearted Muslims, I’m reminded of my sacred mission on my Journey. I’m given renewed faith and energy to undergo the trials and tribulations that are the nature of the Path through life, because it’s not where I will end up on my Path that is important. Rather it’s where I am now that matters, and my sacred mission is to navigate the terrain at my feet with faith, patience and excellence, and to trust Allah to take care of the rest. Ameen.