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The Problem of Evil – Why We Suffer Series

“Why We Suffer” is a series that explores why there is suffering in the world, and how we should respond to evil according to Allah’s teachings. In this segment, Shaykh Hamza Karmali speaks about the so-called “Problem of Evil.”

The so-called “”Problem of Evil, is the name given to a false dilemma about suffering: If God is kind and good, then why is there so much evil in the world?

The root of philosophy began with the Ancient Greeks. The philosophers of the time came up with the idea of humanism, which was the idea that “man is the measure of all things.”  This meant that the person themselves determines whether something is good is bad, right or wrong.

This idea was rediscovered in the Renaissance, where the corrupt church would demand indulgences, or monetary favours in exchange for lessening the donor’s suffering in the afterlife. The church also had the idea of the “absolute rule,” of the monarchy, which the peasants had to unconditionally follow.

The peasants’ natural response would be, “What about me? Why is this oppressive ruler sanctioned by God over me? Why can’t I use my mind?”

As Muslims, we agree so far. We believe that rulers should not oppress the people, and we know that we are encouraged many times in the Qur’an to use our minds. We do not object to using rational thought, but rather  seek to understand it in its proper context.

However, the difference begins. Philosophers believe that life is divided into pleasure and suffering, which means that anything that causes suffering is bad. Muslims believe that this life is a combination of pleasure and tribulation, while the afterlife is filed with pleasure only.

Here lies the core of our approach to suffering. As Muslims, we believe that Allah sends us trials and suffering in order to tests us. These test are only temporary, and will be compensated for in the Hereafter. Having this perspective allows us to look at suffering in a positive and hopeful light.

About the Series

Shaykh Hamza Karamali (Dean of Academics at SeekersHub Global) and our founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explain the Islamic understanding of why there are tests, trials, evil and suffering in this life. They address questions such as: What is the wisdom and purpose behind evil and suffering in this life? How should we respond to evil, suffering, tests, and trials? What are the spiritual teachings of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to respond with trials?


Resources for Seekers

 

The Urgency of Stewardship – Living Green Series

The Living Green Series takes us through our responsibilities towards green living and environmental stewardship. In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains why we all have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth.

Stewardship a necessary part of living in this world. We are actually commanded to work towards justice to everything around us, and we have been given the moral ability to do so.

Allah commands us in the Qur’an:

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. (16:90)

Justice entails giving everything its due, whether it be other humans, plants, and animals. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, would give names to his tools and household objects, signifying that he had a relationship with them.

Muslims have an overarching commitment to environmental protection, and are called to have a good balance with everything in our daily lives. This includes doing things like avoiding waste, knowing that small amounts of waste and extravagance are disliked, while gross waste is sinful.

It also involves  having a commitment to do well in work, studies, and family and social life, but not be excessively attached to them. This balance involves being in a position where we seek the good for ourselves, while still seeking good for others. We do this while being mindful of Allah, and doing everything with the intention of reaching Him.

About the Series

What is the place of green and environmental stewardship in Islam? How does the Qur’an view concern for the environment?  What is your responsibility towards the environment? Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Ali Hani answer these are other critical questions by citing several prophetic traditions emphasising environmental consciousness and awareness.


Resources for Seekers

Resolutions for the New Year and Beyond – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin & Sh. Faraz Rabbani

In the first week of the Hijri New Year, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin offer reflections and advise us on how to benefit from this occasion.

Ustadh Amjad reflects on the hijra of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace and its applicability in our own lives. He mentiones how the Islamic New Year marks a turning point for Islam, when the Prophet made hijra, or migrated, from his native city of Mecca to the city of Medina. Although that time period is over, we are still called upon to  make a spiritual hijra, where we migrate and move ourselves away from heedlessness, and begin to move closer to Allah. Our guide on this Hijra is none other than our Prophet Muhammad.

He advises us to begin this year with a sincere intention to draw closer to the Prophet, and learn more about him. We should aim to learn about him in a way that perfects our relationships with our family and those around us, rather than just a dry list of facts. In fact, we should intent to try to emulate him in every one of our dailty tasks. When we do this, even our small actions can become acts of worship.

Finally, he advises to set spiritual goals for 1440 AH, by resolving to become a better person by the time 1441 comes around.

Next, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani encourages us not to be afraid of making resolutions, thinking that we are full of shortcomings. Rather, we should know that our faults are an opportunity for us to get closer to Allah by overcoming ourselves. We are not responsible for attaining success, rather we are responsible for making an effort.

He closes by speaking about the event of Karbala and the martyrdom of Hussein, and how his sacrifice teaches us about love and commitment to Allah.


Resources for Seekers

The Wisdom of Suffering – Why We Suffer

“Why We Suffer” is a series that explores why there is suffering in the world, and how we should respond to evil according to Allah’s teachings. In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speaks about why we experience difficulty.

Shaykh Faraz opens the session by exploring the reasons behind tests and trials, and how we can benefit from difficulty, tests and trails.

Trials tend to bring out the hidden virtues, or vices, in people. These trials serve as an examination, allowing us to realise our potential and limits as human beings. But most importantly, trials and difficulties are a means of  getting to know our Creator.

The purpose of these tests can be found in the following verse of the Qur’an:

  [He] who created death and life to test you, which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving. (67:2)

Both the times of ease and times of difficulty teach us more about Allah and His different attributes, and help us build our connection to Him. Furthermore, they teach us that only Allah is in charge. When we experience suffering or some sort of difficulty, we are humbled to this reality.

Therefore, we are tested not just how we respond to the obvious tests of difficulty, but also how we respond to times of ease and success and happiness.

About the Series

Shaykh Hamza Karamali (Dean of Academics at SeekersHub Global) and our founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explain the Islamic understanding of why there are tests, trials, evil and suffering in this life. They address questions such as: What is the wisdom and purpose behind evil and suffering in this life? How should we respond to evil, suffering, tests, and trials? What are the spiritual teachings of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to respond with trials?


Resources for Seekers

SeekersHub Toronto Retreat 2018: Planting Seeds of Faith

“Planting Seeds of Faith,” was the theme of the SeekersHub 2018 Retreat. With the world in desperate need of spiritual nourishment, we reorient ourselves by planting and cultivating these seeds.

This year’s retreat was graced with a wonderful array of scholars from diverse backgrounds, including Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and his wife Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, Shaykh Amin Buxton, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, and Shaykha Muniba Mohammed.

The retreat was a full five days and four nights, in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. The day started at tajahhud time, where participants gathered in the lecture hall, beautifully lit and decorated with Islamic calligraphy and lanterns.

After the early morning remembrance and Fajr prayer, there was a rest period. After breakfast, attendees gathered in their cabin groups and reviewed the previous day’s lessons.

Throughout the day, the various scholars spoke about different themes that related to personal self-development, and cultivating faith within ourselves.

Shaykha Muniba Mohammed spoke about love of Allah, and how to achieve it. She taught that love of Allah comes when love of material things disappears, which comes from much dhikr and fikr-or supplication and reflection.

Shaykh Riad Saloojee spoke on the reality of faith, covering different parts from the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah. He covered topics such as suffering, how we gain life experience, and struggle. For example, many people get confused at why there is so much turbulence in life. However, after accepting that life will include struggle, a person will get better at withstanding them.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spoke about overcoming hurdles to personal reform. These hurdles, such as greed, laziness, procrastination, and lust, prevent us from developing in our relationship with Allah.

Shaykh Amin Buxton taught the tafsir, or commentary, on Surah Furqan, which gives a description of the believers and the qualities they posses. These qualities include humility, gentleness, patience, mindfulness of God, moderation, honestly. At the end, he said that if a person does not have these qualities, they should at least surround themselves with people who do, as they will be a good influence on them.

Shaykh Walead Mosaad spoke about the reality of dua, or supplication. He mentioned that most people turn to Allah when they need something. However, the reality of dua is more than just asking for what you need; it’s beholding Allah is all His attributes, and progressing through your neediness.

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin spoke on the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his centrality in our religion. We are commanded to love Prophet in the Qur’an, and our tree of faith is watered and irrigated by him. Our love of him comes naturally when we come to know more about him, because he has done so much for us.

Shaykh Yahya taught us about inner traits that impede development. High on the list were the qualities of riya and ujub. Riya is to seek recognition for one’s deeds, and ujub is when a person is impressed with themselves because of the good things they did, not acknowledging that Allah was the One who enabled them to do it.

 

In the afternoon there was opportunity for activities such as canoeing, hiking, archery and swimming, as well as a program called Heart Clinic, where participants could sign up for one-on-one sessions with the teachers.

In the evening, after dinner and Maghrib prayer, there would be a general session, as well as a nasheed performance. This would be followed by campfire and evening remembrance.

The SeekersHub Retreat was a wonderful change to take a step back form the daily grind, and reconnect with our Creator in a beautiful natural environment.


Resources for Seekers

 

It’s Not Too Late for (Unburdensome) Eid Visits! – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

It’s not too late to visit family and friends for Eid, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani notes in this timely reminder. He advises to connect these crucial ties with our ultimate motivation in mind – seeking the pleasure of Allah Most High.eid visits

Eid occurred about a week ago, with people celebrating on one of two different days, and our religion is one of difference of opinion.  Shaykh Faraz reminds us that our tests don’t just come practically. Sometimes, the greater test is how we react emotionally and intellectually when people differ with us. We need to promote acceptance for others opinions, because the reward is in doing good, not in just being smart.

One of the neglected Sunnas is to visit others in Eid. Even of the days of Eid have passed, we can still do a “make-up visit.” particularity to invite those who might be alone, or the elderly.

Sometimes we may feel shy about our house not being perfectly neat, or not having a full meal ready. Shaykh Faraz reminds us not to have takalluf, or put on airs. He recounts a story where guests came to his house a day early, and were hastily served tea and coffee. The fact that the kitchen was messy did not bother them at all. The Prophet would cross the city to visit his Companions’ houses, who could only afford to serve him dates, or dried bread and vinegar.

May Allah help us simplify and unburden our lives, through the practice of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.


Resources for Seekers

Seeing the Bigger Picture: The Eternal Consequences of Faith–Eid Sermon by Sh. Faraz Rabbani

In this Eid reminder, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani advises us to look beyond the pain, suffering and hardship we encounter to see the true purpose and potential of our creation. Touching on key Quranic verses, he counsels us to look at the bigger picture.eid sermon

We see so much difficulty in our lives. We deal with our weaknesses, failings and challenges. One of the greatest blessings we have, is be becoming aware of others people’s suffering. This is not so we can be afraid, but so that we can do something about it. The point of hearing is not to listen, to point is to act.

The believer sees every situation as an opportunity to do good and get closer to Allah. Our approach should not be one of analysis and criticism, but one of action. After all, the purpose of every trial is to test whom will be the best in action.

What is the potential of the human being? To know one’s Lord, and to do good.

We are told in the Qur’an, “Is not Allah the Most Wise of the Wise?” This tells us that everything that Allah does is for a reason, and it is up to us to fulfil our potential as human beings.

Allah repeatedly reminds us to seek forgiveness. However, it is not a case where we ask, and He may forgive, or may not. He says, “Call upon Me, and I will surely grant you.” The forgiveness is waiting, and Paradise is waiting. Therefore, we ask Allah to help us fulfil our potential and make us from those who do good.

There is a Russian saying, “Yesterday was bad, today is awful, and tomorrow will be even worse.” However, that is not how a believer thinks. Allah has promised us Paradise, where all the pain and brokenness will be removed. We should let go of any negativity we have, and be grateful for these immense blessings.


Resources for Seekers

 

Ours Is Not A Caravan of Despair: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

True joy lies within the heart, and it is unshakeable. Every breath, heartbeat, and moment is a gift from Allah.not a caravan of despair

Knowing that happiness comes from Allah, we should keep in mind that suffering and hardship come from the same Lord.

An Alternative Perspective

But how can there be joy in hardship? This is where the believer sees things differently. We know that there is a Hereafter, and that we find mercy in the response. When we find oppression, difficulty and distress, we know that is it an opportunity to turn to Allah.

With any situation, our question should be; “How can I be a truly grateful servant? What is the response of gratitude?” Through prayer, charity, advocacy and gathering with others, we work to find a solution. Rather than be a social commentator, we should connect with those who are suffering, and work to improve their lot. Through action we can truly express our gratitude.

The question we need to ask is not, “Why are things the way they are?” Rather the question is, “What is the response required from me?”

See Allah in Everything

One of the poets said, “If you see God as the actor in everything, you behold all creation as beautiful. But if all you see are the traces of His creation, you turn something dazzlingly beautiful into something ugly.”

In the Qur’an, it has been revealed that, “For indeed, with hardship comes ease. Indeed, with hardship comes ease.” (94:4-5). Rather than being told that ease comes after hardship, we are told that it comes with hardship. Allah is not telling us that ease is coming; He is telling us that ease is here.

May Allah grant us to see the opportunity for mercy, good, gratitude, direction, and positivity in every situation. After all, ours is not a caravan of despair.


Resources for Seekers

Knowing Allah Through His Beautiful Names, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explained how to know Allah, increase in faith, and become better people through knowing, understanding, and living the meanings of Allah’s 99 Names. This interactive, engaging lesson was delivered in London, England, to young students at the SMS – Supplementary Muslim School (run by the An-Nisa Society), during a December 2016 SeekersHub Global trip.

Resources on the Names of Allah

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Take a Closer Look at The Prophet’s Heart

The Prophet’s Heart: The Beauty of His Relationship with Allah and Creation

shama'il prophetic heart Starting on March 14 in Toronto, and available globally from March 16, Study Circle students have the unique opportunity to learn key qualities of the Prophet’s heart. Attendees will learn from his relationship with Allah Most High, and from his relationship with Allah Most High’s creation—through stories from authentic—but less common—narrations from the works of Prophetic description (shama’il).
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will be sharing descriptions of the Prophet’s heart, through vivid stories. Insha’Allah this Study Circle will encourage us to acquire the virtues of the heart beloved to Allah—both in our turning to Him and in our relationship with His creation.

What is a Study Circle?

Study Circles are free online community-focused study groups. A course is taught simultaneously as a live class at a community center–like SeekersHub Toronto–and then broadcast to centers across the world.
The Prophet ﷺ described circles of knowledge and remembrance as gardens of Paradise.
Why not a start one in your community?

Ready to Start or Join a Study Circle