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When You Can’t See the Vision, Trust the Visionary

Imam Siraj Wahhaj share his thoughts on the importance of supporting SeekersHub and the SeekersHub Islamic Scholars Fund.

Assalaam alaykum, brothers and sisters.

I have become a lover of the SeekersHub. I mean I fell in love with Shaykh Faraz. I’ve always loved the Shaykh, Alhamdulillah. You know what you remind me of? I think of you and I think of something that the Prophet, upon him be blessings and peace, did with his wife Aisha. He said one day, “Ya Aisha… Oh Aisha, here is Jibril, and he’s given you the salams. He’s saying to you: ‘Assalam alaykum.’” She said, “Peace and blessings be upon him and the mercy of Allah. You see, what I don’t see.”

“You see what I don’t see.” And sometimes when you can’t see the vision then trust the visionary. The insight and the wisdom of what has been done with you and others is astounding. It is so great I’m embarrassed that more people don’t know about it and I’m embarrassed that more people don’t help it.

So I’m going to spend a couple of minutes in trying to show our support for this fine institution. I want to tell you something. You know Allah blessed me and every time I say this, Shaykh, I get this big response. I’m going to tell you how many children I have.
Allah blessed me with nine children. I told you.

Instilling Sadaqa

And the one thing I will tell you that I’ve always done. I’ve always given my children allowance. How many of you give your children allowance? Raise your hand. How many don’t? Mashallah, mashallah. But I always believed in giving my children allowance. I gave them allowance every week but I would always tell them that whatever allowance I give you you should give some to sadaqa.

And you know when you have children whenever you give them a commandment, you should look at their faces, shaykh. So one of my children, Muhammed, may Allah bless him, he looked like he had an attitude when I said give some money. The allowance, give it to sadaqa. And I said, “Muhammed, what’s the matter?” He said nothing. I knew better. I know my son. I said, “Muhammed what’s the matter?” “Nothing.” I said, “Come on man, I know you. What’s the matter?”

He said, “Dad, how come I got to give some money to Sadaka?” Sadaka is a name of his older sister. True story. And he thought he had to give money to Sadaka. You know you will learn today, none of you ever knew my kunya. You know what my kunya is? Abu Sadaka. Sadaka is my first child. So I am Abu Sadaka. So today I want you to give to Sadaka, she lives in New York. No.

Food for Thought

I just want you to think about this, right? I’m going to ask you for your financial support and the beautiful thing about this; what we’re asking you for tonight ain’t much. When you study the Qur’an you will see that often in the Qur’an Allah is speaking to the Prophet, peace be upon him. It is almost as if we’re like on the outside listening to this conversation that Allah is having with the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him.

Example, you said the word “qalat.” He said “qalat” (she said). But if he said the word “qul” what does that mean? “Say…” It’s a command. But the Arabic language is very precise. So when you say “qul” you’re not talking about two people. You’re not talking about a bunch of people. You’re not talking about women. You’re talking about one person and that’s Muhammed, peace be upon him. I counted over 360 something times in the Qur’an where Allah says to Muhammed, peace be upon him, “qul,” say this.

I’m going to show you another, part of another verse where Allah is speaking to the Prophet, peace be upon him. Listen to how Allah says it. “They ask you, oh Muhammed, ‘How much should we spend?’” Allah is telling the Prophet that the people asking you, “What should we spend?” “Qul.” “Say, what is extra.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:219) Why is that important?

In my community, in other communities, we have people literally who work two and three jobs just to make ends meet. They work two and three jobs just to have a place to live in. They work two and three jobs to put food on the plates of their family. Others Allah blessed with more. They have what is called disposable income meaning that after they pay all of their expenses, they pay for their rent, they pay for everything, and yet they still got money left.

Compete in Charity

Let me tell you something about the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them. They, you know, they’re so pure. In this hadith some of the poor of the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him came to him, and I don”t want to use the word complain, so I put it in quotation marks. They complained to the Prophet, peace be upon him. The rich ones, the wealthy are among us. They take away the reward. They pray like we pray. They fast like we fast. But they spend out of the excess of their wealth. We can’t be like them. We can’t compete with them. We want more. We want to compete.

I don’t want more money so I can build a better house. I don’t want money so I can get some jewellery. I want more money so that I can give in sadaqa. So today I’m not asking you to spend your rent money. I’m not asking you to spend your food money. I’m asking you to look if you have anything excessive and to spend that.

I want to give you one person and then I’m going to ask for your money. There’s a woman, I think her name is Laurene. I’ll think of her name in a moment. But this is the 25th wealthiest woman in America. 25th wealthiest woman in America. And she’s the 25th wealthiest person, not woman, person in America and the 45th wealthiest person in the world. And you know how much money she’s worth? 19 billion, 500 million dollars. And to put that in perspective she has more wealth than 80 nations you know gross domestic product. That’s how wealthy she is.

What Is Truly Yours

Lot of money, okay. I didn’t tell you her, that was her maiden name. I just wish I could remember her last name, her maiden name. Laurene, yeah. Where did she get her money from? Where she get that 19 billion dollars from? Where she get it from? I’ll give you a hint. I’ll give you her last name, her married name, Jobs. Where’d she get it from? Steve Jobs. How she get it. That money belonged to him. He died, she inherited it. That’s the way it is.

The reality is everything that you have you don’t use it’ll be inherited. This is why the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said the people said, “My wealth, my wealth.” Really, for real? He said, what is really yours is what you eat and consume, what you wear and wear out and what you send ahead in sadaqa, that’s yours.

How do you know? Steve Jobs, his wealth, 19.5 billion dollars belonged to him until he died and it no longer belonged to him. Think about this. The car that you drive one day won’t be your car. All your beautiful clothing, your shoes. Shaykh, am I allowed to ask the sisters a question? Laurene Powell, mercy, I knew the Shaykh would get it. Shaykh, can I ask the sisters a question? Brothers, can I ask the sisters a question? Your permission, Shaykh, can I ask the sisters? [Shaykh Faraz:] “By all means.”

How Many Pairs of Shoes…

By all means. Now sisters you got to be honest with you, right. How many of you own more than two pairs of shoes? Raise your hand. Mashallah, Allahu Akbar. You should see what I see. How many of you have more than five pairs of shoes? Raise your hand. Allahu Akbar, all right.

I’m almost finished. How many of you own more than 10 pairs of shoes? Come on, Mashallah, Allahu Akbar. How many of you have more than 20 pairs of shoes? Come on, Allahu Akbar. The average American woman, okay good, okay.

Oh, ask the brothers. I should ask the brothers. [Women:] “Yes.” I don’t want to ask the brothers. They ain’t got no shoes. They got one or two pairs of shoes (laughter) Let me tell you though, right. The average American woman has 20 pairs of shoes. Average American woman, average, has 20 pairs of shoes.

What’s my point? The point is that there’s going to come a time. Every soul is going to taste of death. What about what we have left? This excess wealth that we have, what are we going to do with it? Why not spend some of it and get some ajar (reward) for SeekersHub?


Share and Support SeekersHub Global

Share Imam Siraj Wahhaj’s passion for SeekersHub Global and help us build a support system for Muslim scholars to attend to their most important duty. Hear what Imam Siraj says about the vision, insight, and wisdom of what has been done by SeekersHub and the SeekersHub Islamic Scholars Fund, which is at the of its mission.

Share with us our concern for Muslim scholars and allowing them to carry on their mission to spread the prophetic light of guidance and knowledge; despite all the economic burdens that they shoulder.

Give now! Whether it is your zakat or sadaqa, it’s not too late to give your end-of-year charitable donations to a worthy cause, one that pleases Allah and supports the heirs of His prophets in our time.


Frequently Asked Questions – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. In this segment, he answers some frequently asked questions about the topic.

Q: Should we partner with groups with whom we have some differences of opinion?

A: The Qur’an tells us to co-operate in good and God-fearingness. Is it not wrong to ally with someone on a just cause, however you should take care. Many times, these issues are political in nature, with a sense of “we do something for you, you do something for us.” If you do go into an alliance with such a group, you should go in with eyes open and be clear on which points you agree and don’t.

Q: How should we act as a Muslim minority?

A: For most of Islamic history, Muslims have been the minority, in places like Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and more. Places that do have a Muslim majority, such as Somalia, Indonesia, Kenya and Mozambique, became such without a single Muslim army entering them. Being a minority group is nothing new in Islamic history.

Q: How should we navigate unjust laws? 

A: We need to make a distinction between the laws that we can accept, and the laws that we absolutely cannot accept. For example, if a government makes a low forbidding people from praying five times a day, then we need to do something about it. However, if the law relates to things that are not required by Islam, we should follow it, but can oppose it or work towards it.

Q: How should we view the idea of civil disobedience?

A: On one hand, if we agree to live in a society, we should abide by the law. However, there may be situations that arise when we might need to take action, such as when Rosa Parks protested racial segregation. Civil disobedience does not always mean breaking the law, but we should be careful not to harm the people we seek to convince. For example, having a protest that shuts down an airport, will do the most harm to people who need to fly for medical reasons, or to meet important deadlines. We have to consider what we will be doing, and whether it will actually help the outcome.

Q: What should we do if we are called to jury duty?

A: There is nothing impermissible about being a member of the jury, and it is generally a civic duty. However, you could do what many scholars did, which was to avoid being judges. Once, Imam Abu Hanifa and two other scholars were called to be interviewed for the position of Qadi, or judge. The first pretended to be insane, and Abu Hanifa declared that he was unfit for the post, which caused the ruler to dismiss them both. The third was confused as to what to say, and became the Qadi by default.

Q: What advice would you give to parents of children who feel marginalised?

A: We cannot shield our children from the world, and we should teach them that these things are going to happen. We need to give them a good sense of identity. From a young age, we should instil in them a sense of self-worth, and that the dunya will necessarily include tribulations.

Q: Why is speaking about social justice important, while most Muslims lack even basic tawheed (creed)?

A: Questioning peoples tawheed is questioning their Islam, so that is not a fair assessment to make. If a person believes in Allah and His Messenger, part of their tawheed would necessarily be upholding social justice, as well as the rest of the Prophetic teachings.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?


Making Up Missed Prayers in Order?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani clarifies whether strict order is necessary when one makes up a great number of missed prayers.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

If one has years of missed prayers, do they need to be made up in order? Or can one first make up all of the missed Fajr salats, then all of the the Dhuhrs, and so on?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful.

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

Order doesn’t have to be observed when making up past prayers, if more than six in total. You can make them up in any order. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Falah)

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash


What Is The Fate of a Non-Muslim in The Afterlife?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani clarifies what is generally accepted to be the fate of non-Muslims in the Afterlife according to sound Sunni theology.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

What is the fate of non-Muslims in the afterlife? Is a pious non-Muslim better than a vile Muslim?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It is a condition for moral accountability (in matters of belief and action) that the message of Islam has reached one. Before this, they are not accountable to believe in God, according to the Ash‘ari school of Sunni beliefs.

Sheikh Nuh Keller dealt with this in his article refuting the idea of the “universal validity of all religions,” saying:

5. The Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife

The reason that contemporary writers affected by the writings of Gunon and Schuon, such as Chittick and Gai Eaton (or such as Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt etc.), seem to want the universal validity of all religions at any price, even to the extent of attributing it to masters like Muhyiddin ibn al Arabi (“in principle”) or Emir Abd al Qadir (“he protected the Christians against massacre by taking them into his own home because he understood” [as if other scholars considered massacring them halal]) would seem to be the emotive impalatability of followers of other religions going to hell. Where is the mercy? Would Allah put someone in the hellfire merely for worshipping in another religion besides Islam? This question is answered by traditional Islam according to two possibilities:

(1) There are some peoples who have not been reached by the message of the Prophet of Islam, Allah bless him and give him peace, that we must worship the One God alone, associating nothing else with Him. Such people are innocent, and will not be punished no matter what they do. Allah says in Sura al Isra,

“We do not punish until We send a Messenger.” (Sura al Isra 17:15).

These include, for example, Christians and others who lived in the period after the spread of the myth of Jesus godhood, until the time of the prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), who renewed the call to pure monotheism.

The great Muslim scholar, Imam Ghazali, includes in this category those who have only been reached with a distorted picture of the Messenger of Islam, Allah bless him and give him peace, presumably including many people in the West today who know nothing about Allah’s religion but newspaper stories about Ayatollahs and mad Muslim bombers. Is it within such people’s capacity to believe? In Ghazali’s view, such people are excused until after they have had an opportunity to learn the undistorted truth about Islam (Ghazali: “Faysal al tafriqa,” Majmu‘a rasa’il al Imam al Ghazali, 3.96). This of course does not alter our own obligation as Muslims to reach them with the da‘wa.

(2) A second group of people consists of those who turn away from God’s divine message of Islam, rejecting the command to make their worship God’s alone; whether because of blindly imitating the religion of their ancestors, or for some other reason. These are people to whom God has sent a prophetic messenger and reached with His message, and to whom He has given hearing and an intellect with which to grasp it but after all this, persist in associating others with Allah, either by actually worshipping another, or by rejecting the laws brought by His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, which associates their own customs with His prerogative to be worshipped as He directs. Such people have violated God’s rights, and have accepted to go to hell, which is precisely what His messengers have warned them of, so they have no excuse:

“Truly, Allah does not forgive that any be associated with Him; but He forgives what is less than that to whomever He wills.” (Sura al Nisa 4:48).

In either case, Allah’s mercy exists, though for non-Muslims unreached by the message, it is a question of divine amnesty for their ignorance, not a confirmation of their religions validity. It is worth knowing the difference between these two things, for one’s eternal fate depends on it.

A sinful believer is liable for temporary (even if often long and painful) punishment in Hell for his sin, unless he repents. Ultimately, though, they are of the people of Heaven. A kafir, though, is liable to enter Hell eternally: if the message of Islam reached them in a sound and well-presented way, this is their fate. Otherwise, Allah knows best.

Thus, in general, those who the message of Islam has not reached in a sound and well-presented way will not be punished by Hell. As to the specifics of their fate, we leave it to Allah; it is not our duty. Our duty is to convey the truth, so people may be guided to that which is best for them in this life and the next.

As for a pious person who is non-Muslim compared to a “vile” Muslim: there is no sin more serious than associating partners with Allah, as Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, have informed us.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani Announces Launch of SeekersGuidance Arabiyya

Alhamdulillah, through your support and the diligent work of our entire SeekersGuidance Global team, we are launching our online portal in the Arabic language.

SeekersHub Arabiyya

While we refer to it internally as “SeekersHub Arabiyya,” its formal name is Al Ma‘had Nur al Huda al ‘Alami li’l Ulum al Shar‘iyya.

SeekersHub Arabiyya: Online Courses, On-Demand Courses, Podcasts, Guidance Blog, and more!

SeekersGuidance Arabiyya

The full services of SeekersHub will also be offered in the Arabic language, including:

    1. (a) full online courses (launching with 13, in a range of subjects—Arabic grammar, Islamic beliefs, logic, Islamic law, and more);

 

    1. (b) on-demand courses (launching with ten);

 

    1. (c) podcasts with a range of scholars;

 

    (d) daily blog of knowledge and guidance from some of the top living Islamic scholars.

Featuring Some of the Top Living Islamic Scholars

Arabiyya05 scholars

Alhamdulillah, some of the top Islamic scholars from around the Muslim world are participating in SeekersHub Arabiyya, including:

    1. (1) Habib Umar bin Hafiz (Tarim, Yemen)

 

    1. (2) Shaykh Abd al Karim Tattan (Syria/UAE)

 

    1. (3) Shaykh Akram Abd al Wahhab (Mosul, Iraq)

 

    1. (4) Shaykh Hassan al Hindi (Damascus, Syria)

 

    1. (5) Shaykh Ali Hani (Amman, Jordan)

 

    1. (6) Dr Essam Eido (Syria; USA)

 

    1. (7) Shaykh Muhammad Abu Bakr Ba-Dhib (Shibam, Yemen; Toronto, Canada)

 

    1. (8) Habib Hussein al Saqqaf (UAE)

 

    1. (9) Shaykh Muhammad Awwama (Syria; Turkey)

 

    (10) Habib Muhammad al Saqqaf (Saudi)

… and many more, Insha Allah.

Arabiyya04 Scholars

Making This Knowledge and Guidance Available in English

It is our plan to offer much of this incredible content in English, as well, as part of growing SeekersHub Global into a truly “Global Islamic Seminary.”

Please pray for the success of the SeekersHub Arabiyya project, launching very soon Insha Allah.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

PS: Check out the SeekersHub Global Impact Report.


Sura al Waqi‘a Explained, Part 2 – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the coherence, the themes, the aims of Sura al Waqi‘a, and its relationship to other suras of the Qur’an.

To understand the key themes of Sura al Waqi‘a we have to appreciate where it is in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not just our Holy Book, as in every religion has its Holy Book and this is ours. We have a very particular truth claim about the Qur’an.

We affirm with certitude that the Qur’an is revelation from God. All of it is revelation from God. There is nothing in it but revelation from God. And it is preserved to our day as revealed. So there’s two parts to the truth claim about the Qur’an.

The first is that the Qur’an is revelation from Allah. The second is that it is fully preserved in word and meaning to our times. It being revelation from Allah. Some of the proofs for that are mentioned in Sura al Waqi‘a.

The Challenge of the Qur’an

What is the main proof for the preservation of the Qur’an and for the Qur’an being revelation from Allah? That it’s inimitable. What is called the i‘jaz of the Qur’an. The Qur’an comes with a challenge, which is “produce the like of it.” You won’t be able to produce even some suras the like of it. Or even a little of the like of it.

The in the central proof of the Qur’an being revelation is its inimitability in its message, in its language, in its style, and rhetorical power, and in many other aspects. It cannot be matched. Allah has said, “you won’t be able to and you shall not be able to.”

The inimitability of the Qur’an has many, many aspects. Among them is the complete coherence of the Qur’an in its structure, at the level of words, verses, and suras. There is this inimitable order. You cannot take a word out of the Qur’an anywhere and replace it with another word that does the same job, let alone, one that is more suitable.

If you like reading, there are some authors who like using particular words. And you wish, if could only take that one out and replace with something, it might be more suitable here. There is no not one word you can take out from the Qur’an and replace it with another.

Likewise, coherence of the Qur’an between suras: the thematic coherence. Much has been written, even in English, on the subject of the coherence of the Qur’an. This thematic coherence is something to reflect on. When you read or recite the Qur’an and you finish one sura, ask yourself: What is the relationship between this sura and the one that comes before or after it?

Al Waqi‘a and What Precedes It

The sura that comes before Sura al Waqi‘a is Sura al Rahman; another of those most beloved suras of the Qur’an. Imam Fakhr al Din al Razi – one of the great Giants of Islamic scholarship – was a great theologian and brilliant jurist. He also gave me a terrible stomach ache because I once decided to cover Sura al Fatiha and the short suras.

I had prepared for Sura al Kawthar. I’d prepare from the mid-sized suras first, and then dip into some of the larger suras to see what were the points of benefit. I was pretty much ready for the class. I was running late. I was having lunch at about five p.m. But I needed to finish my preparation and I got a double whammy.

There’s a linguistic tafsir of Sura al Kawthar by a scholar called Al Samina al Halabi. He had twenty-two points of rhetoric (balagha) that bring out meanings of Sura al Kawthar. That started my stomach groaning. Twenty-two points! The sura is three verses!

Then I opened the tafsir of Razi and he brought forth forty meanings that are understood from “inna ataynaka al Kawthar.” (Sura al Kawthar 108:1) He goes through them and they’re all very pertinent. They’re all right there from the verse, and his tafsir is one of the greatest foundational tafsirs of Islamic scholarship.

Gratitude and Ingratitude

Imam Razi asked, what is the relationship between Sura al Rahman and Sura al Waqi‘a? Sura al Rahman, he says, mentions Allah’s blessings and is a call to gratitude. Then don’t be ungrateful. Therefore, be grateful. “So which of the blessings of your Lord would you deny?” (Sura al Rahman 55:77) Meaning, be grateful for those blessings. Surat al Waqi‘a talks about the consequences of gratitude and ingratitude. So,

Sura al Rahman highlights Allah blessings and calls to gratitude. Sura al Waqi‘a talks about the consequences for the people of gratitude, and the consequences for the ungrateful. Ingratitude is related, in our religious understanding, to disbelief, because ingratitude is a rejection of blessings, or a refusal to accept and acknowledge blessings. That is what disbelief is. Disbelief itself is a rejection, a refusal.

The second is that Sura al Rahman reminds us of blessings and of consequences. The third is that the Sura al Rahman manifests and highlights Divine Mercy, whereas Sura al Waqi‘a manifests Divine Majesty and awe. Of course, both have mercy and majesty , but there is a sense of awe and urgency in this Sura al Waqi‘a.

The Aims of Sura al Waqi‘a

What are the aims of Sura al Waqi‘a? One of the other great imams of tafsir is Imam Burhan al Din al Biqa‘i, whose tafsir, Nadhm al Durar (The Perfect Arrangement of Pearls) argues that the central aim of Sura al Waqi‘a is to remind us of the manifest power and the tremendousness of Allah Exalted and Most High, and that it is Allah who possesses all perfection, all beauty, and all majesty.

How does it do this? It begins by telling us what will happen to this world: this whole universe. This great event will befall it, which is an event external to it. This thing that seems so real will completely end. How? By the pure power of Allah exalted and Most High.

It highlights what happens in the Hereafter, and how Allah has complete dominion over the fates of His creation. Then it tells us about the reality of death and the closeness of Allah. The Sura then ends with the words: “So glorify the Name of your Lord, Most Tremendous.” (Sura al Waqi‘a 56:96) So the central theme of it is the the absolute Power and Glory of Allah, Exalted and Most High.

This is one of the reasons why many of the scholars found great benefit in helping their students develop a relationship with the Qur’an by having them recite daily and reflect on Sura al Waqi‘a.

Al Waqi‘a Among the Early Muslims

This is one of the neglected practices from many of the early Muslims, including the Sahaba. They used to focus on some verses of the Qur’an or on a particular sura until they made it a routine and a habit to reflect upon it. To really bring out the meanings of it and strive to live those meanings before moving to other verses. The ones from the earliest generations found particularly benefit in this, as we see from the example of our master And Allah ibn Mas‘ud.

Our master Uthman, the Emir of the Believers, came and says:

“What about your stipend?”
“I don’t need it. I’m dying.”
“What about your daughters?”
“They don’t need it either.”
“Why?”
“Because I told them to recite Sura al Waqi‘a.”

It’s not just a spiritual thing: that there’s a spiritual benefit in it. If you realize the meanings in the sura you will know how to direct yourself in life.

Categories of People on the Day of Judgment

One of the great Imams of tafsir in the history of Islamic scholarship was a great twentieth century Muslim scholar from modern-day Tunisia, Imam Tahir ibn Ashur. He died, I think, in the early 1970s. His thirty volume work, Al Tahrir wa al Tanwir, is one of the greatest works of tafsir ever written.

He says of the central themes of Sura al Waqi‘a, firstly, is a reminder of the reality of resurrection. You will be resurrected. That day is a day of judgment where you will be taken to account. And you are in one of three categories. There are levels of people and they have promised reward and punishment. So be aware of that be aware of that.

There there are only three sets of people. You could be in some grade amongst those three categories, but there are three spectrums in which people are. You are somewhere there and where you end up will be according to the choices that you make in this life. The underlying theme of the sura is the power of Allah the power, might, and majesty of Allah in all things.

Hereafter or Here and Now

One of the remarkable 20th century scholars, Shaykh Sa‘id Hawa, a Syrian scholar who was then exiled in Jordan, wrote a wonderful tafsir – Al Asas fi al Tafsir (The Foundation of Tafsir) – and he also talked a lot about the coherence of the Qur’an.

Many of the early Muslims said, and this is also related from Abd Allah ibn Abbas, that all of the meanings of the Qur’an are summarized in Sura al Baqara; and all of the meanings of Sura al Baqara are to be found in Sura al Fatiha. So he does this sort of mapping of the key themes of the Qur’an.

He makes a beautiful point in his tafsir. He says that the central aim of Sura al Waqi‘a is not about they Hereafter. It is about the here and now. Because you can’t do anything about the Hereafter itself. No, what you can do is act in this life in a manner that will get you to the right eternal destination.

The Stations of Success

For every call, every mention of the Hereafter in the Qur’an, the underlying message of it is to live in this life in a manner that will get you to those stations of the people of success, and that will keep you from the stations of the people of loss.

The central theme of Sura al Waqi‘a, then, is a call to worship of Allah Exalted and Most High. A call to be mindful of Allah. A call to righteous action: to feel a deep sense of urgency with respect to the need to turn to Allah, to worship Allah, to be mindful of Allah, and to embrace righteous deeds that will get you to the Hereafter.


Resources for Seekers

Sura al Waqi‘a Explained, Part 1 – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this first part of Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s explanation, we learn about the effect of Sura al Waqi‘a on the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and his Companions.

Sura al Waqi‘a is one of the most beloved suras of the Qur’an. It has a comprehensive summary of key themes. It is also one of the most dramatic suras in its message that conveys a great sense of urgency from beginning till end.

This is why the scholars and the righteous from the earliest times till our times have placed great emphasis and found tremendous benefit in this sura. So much so that some of the scholars of the spiritual path would tell students to recite it daily, sometimes even twice a day, because of what it it contains of meanings that remind us of the urgency of this life.

Some of those who are reductionist in their religious outlook say nothing has been related about the virtues of Sura al Waqi‘a. That is a type of religious blindness, because much has been related about Sura al Waqi‘a, both from the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, as well as from the Companions and the early generations.

It Makes the Hair Gray

One of the great early Muslims, Imam Masruq, said that whoever seeks to have all knowledge possessed by all peoples of the first communities and the last, and the knowledge of this life and the next, should recite Sura al Waqi‘a, because it contains all the knowledge that truly matters.

This is not a light saying. If we look at the Sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, we see that the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, did not develop gray hair till very late in his life. But then suddenly his hair started going gray.

The Companions noticed that some of his hair started growing gray so they asked him about it. The Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, explained that it was there was a number of suras that made his hair grow gray. He said, blessings and peace upon him, that his hair was made gray by Sura Hud 11, al Waqi‘a, al Mursalat, al Naba’a, and al Takwir.

These are from the mid-sized suras whose central theme is the reality and urgency of the hereafter. Of course it is not the sura that made the hair go gray, but its message. This message was so profound that it it had a physical effect on the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him.

It Shields Against Poverty

It is related from Uthman ibn Affan that he entered upon Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud in his final illness. Uthman asked, “What ails you?” He said, “My sins.” Uthman asked, “What do you long for?” He said, “The mercy of my Lord.” Uthman asked, “Should we not call the doctor?” He said, “The doctor made me sick.”

Uthman asked, “So should we arrange your stipend?” He said, “I don’t need it.” Uthman asked, “Should we not apportion it for your daughters?” He said, “My daughters have no need for the state stipend.” Uthman was surprised because everyone is concerned about their children.

Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, noting his wonderment, then said, “My daughter’s don’t have any need for that stipend. I have ordered them to recite Sura al Waqi‘a for I have heard the Messenger of Allah, Blessings and peace be upon him, say, “Whoever recites Sura al Waqi‘a every day will not be affected by poverty or neediness.”

The Narrations and Its Acceptance

The hadith as ascribed to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, has weakness in it. But this hadith has been related from many of the Companions, with many different narrations. Some of them ascribing it to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Some of them from their own words.

Many of the Imams both early and late generally held that there is a sunna basis to affirming

    1. 1) a special virtue for Sura al Waqi‘a and

 

    2) that Sura al Waqi‘a is a protection from neediness.

From that is what is related by Imam al Bayhaqi and also from Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “Whoever recites Sura al Waqi‘a every night will not be affected by neediness, ever.” It is similarly related from Ibn Abbas and others.

Anas relates that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “Sura al Waqi‘a is the enriching [the one that frees of need] so recite it, and teach it to your children.”

This too has some weakness in it: in its ascription to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. But you see that it is widespread amongst the early Muslims, particularly the Companions and the Followers (Tabi‘in).

If you look in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba and other such compendiums which have a lot of the narrations from the early Muslims, you see many, many narrations on the virtue and importance of Sura al Waqi‘a and it being a freeing of need.

The wisdom of these virtues that were narrated and accepted goes back to the themes of Sura al Waqi‘a.


Resources for Seekers

Change Happens: Qur’anic Principles for Social Change–Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What is change? How does change happen? What is the purpose of change? What are the spiritual and worldly keys to change—for the individual, for groups, for communities, and for believers?

In the first part of the series, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speaks about the definition of change, reform, and rights.

What is Change?

There is not, in fact, any intrinsic benefit mentioned in the Qur’an about change. Rather, we are called upon to change from an undesired state to a desired one, in accordance to what Allah has deemed to be good and true. Not only are we responsible to change our own states, but we also have  a social responsibility to have concern for the greater societal good.

Furthermore, we are taught about reform (islah). Something is considered to be reformed when it is free of harm. Therefore, a righteous person is called a salih, or someone who had made a personal change and fixed themselves.

We also have a definition for good. We have a moral criteria, we do not believe that good is relative. For example, just because someone is very rich, does not mean that we can steal from them. Allah has upheld justice, and His justice is not punitive. Rather, it is restorative. Justice entails that we are required to give everyone their rights, and deal with them in the best possible way.

Some obligations comes through choice, while others are circumstantial. For example, after choosing to get married, it is our duty to do well by our spouse. However, if we see someone bleeding on the sidewalk, it is our responsibility to help them, even if we haven’t been the cause of their injury.

In conclusion, we see social change as a responsibility, not as a whim-based function. We should be having a sense of responsibility to work to improve the lives of the poor or oppressed, rather than waiting until a picture goes viral.


Resources for Seekers

 

The Highest Aim of Fasting – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz explains that highest aim of fasting is realizing the closeness of Allah Most High, as it is the highest aim of religious works and religion itself.

The aim of Ramadan is often limited when considered. When you ask someone, why do we fast? People say, we fast in order to inculcate taqwa. And that is true, but not quite. Allah Most High does tell us:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

(Sura al Baqara 2:183)

Fasting has been ordained for you as it has been ordained – literally written and prescribed – for those before you in order that you may attain taqwa; that you may attain mindfulness.

So the common answer we mentioned in the beginning is the sound understanding, but it is an insufficient understanding of the aims of fasting. Why? Because the verses on fasting continue and highlight for us three other central aims of fasting, which are that we have gratitude to Allah Most High, and to magnify Allah Most High. Allah says:

لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

…and magnify God that He has guided you, and haply you will be thankful. (Sura al Baqara 2:185)

So the aims of fasting are

    1. 1. to inculcate taqwa

 

    1. 2. to nurture gratitude within us

 

    3. to magnify Allah Most High.

And that last point related to the gratitude. Some ulama say the magnifying and the gratitude are one aim, but they’re distinct. So these are three aims of fasting that we can see in the verses on fasting.

But even that is not quite the whole story. In the verse immediately after the verses on fasting Allah says:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants ask you regarding Me – I am indeed near. I answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them answer Me, and let them believe in Me; so that they may be rightly guided. (Sura al Baqara 2:186)

So that is a fourth aim of fasting, which is realizing the closeness of Allah Most High. What is the relationship between these these higher aims of fasting? Different scholars have explained it differently, but if you look at it as Ibn Ajiba and others would explain: the highest aim of fasting is realizing the closeness of Allah Most High.

Why? Because that is the highest aim of religion. And that is the highest aim of religious works. We know from the hadith of the electhood – the hadith of wilayah. In Sahih Bukhari Allah Most High describes the great status of those who are his elect servants or you can say the Friends of Allah: “Whoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine I declare war upon.”

Friends of Allah

How does one become of the elect servants of Allah? “My servant draws close to Me by nothing more beloved to Me then what I have made obligatory upon him. And my servant continues to draw close to Me through supererogatory works (nawafil) until I love him.”

What is love? Love is the attainment of closeness to the one you love. You can love someone from a distance, but realized love is to be in a state of closeness to the one that one loves. This is the highest aim of the fast. This is a opportunity that is missed in our in our fasting.

When we fast we have an opportunity to realize this meaning of the closeness of Allah. Imam al Ghazali explains that this is because fasting reminds us of the divine quality, the divine attribute, of samadiyya: of Allah’s being Al Samad. The most comprehensive definition of Al Samad is: the One whom all turn to in need, and Who Himself has absolutely no need.

As a background to this, the Arabs knew that someone having sumud was an elusive ideal for the Arabs. The Arabs are very independent people. They’re people of the desert. The Arab had no King. If you look at Meccan, there’s no ruler of Mecca. They didn’t have just one leader over them – they couldn’t agree. They are very independent minded.

True Independence

This sense of Independence was a very high ideal for them, but it’s elusive because no one’s really independent. And they had a sense of honor, the sense of generosity, of karam, and good Arabs still kind of generally do. But these qualities are very elusive, because even if you know you you build up your herd of sheep or goats or camels, and you can take care of some needy you couldn’t do it completely.

So it was a very elusive concept. Rarely would people be referred to by that even though it’s something they admired. Much is said in pre-Islamic poetry and the like regarding this quality.

Allah Most High, when He affirmed that Allah alone is Samad, is the One Who is really independent; whom all are completely dependent upon – this is reallywhat distinguishes our sense our understanding of tawhid, of divine oneness, is this distinguishing definition of God as being the absolutely independent who all are absolutely dependent upon. (Sura al Ikhlas)

It is called surat al Ikhlas because it presents the purest, clearest, highest possible understanding of Divine Oneness. And presents it with radical simplicity, as this concept was never presented with this much clarity before.

Fasting and Oneness

Fasting is so special because it connects us directly, experientially to the recognition of our neediness. That is why it iss very natural to feel more spiritual in the month of Ramadan, because that hunger, that thirst, that resultant weakness is even physically a tawhidic state. It’s a blessed state even if we don’t actually realize its full potential. If we don’t completely embrace it. Or if we don’t reflect upon it and nurture it and fulfill its true meaning.

In fasting we realizeur aspects of our neediness to Allah. And the extent to which we become conscious of our neediness to Allah, is the extent to which we open the door of consciousness of Allah Most High as He is.

This is the quality that needs to be nurtured. When we feel our hunger, when we feel our thirst, when we feel our weakness, when we feel our neediness, we have to deepen that sense. We have to
deepen that sense because this is the bridge to nurturing consciousness of Allah Most High.

Ibn Ata Illah said: “The coming of times of distress are the festival seasons for the seekers [of Allah Most High].”

This recognition of Allah and of our neediness to Allah is what makes fasting so special. This is the highest aim of the fast.


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How To Make Your Fast Last – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the fundamentals of fasting and recommends that we make a habit of reviewing them before Ramadan.

The central verses on fasting in the Qur’an are four. They are found in Sura al Baqara 2:183-185 and 187:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّـهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّـهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

O believers, prescribed for you is the Fast, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you – haply you will be godfearing –

for days numbered; and if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then a number of other days; and for those who are able to fast, a redemption by feeding a poor man. Yet better it is for him who volunteers good, and that you should fast is better for you, if you but know;

the month of Ramadan, wherein the Koran was sent down to be a guidance to the people, and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Salvation. So let those of you, who are present at the month, fast it; and if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then a number of other days; God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you; and that you fulfil the number, and magnify God that He has guided you, and haply you will be thankful.

Permitted to you, upon the night of the Fast, is to go in to your wives; – they are a vestment for you, and you are a vestment for them. God knows that you have been betraying yourselves, and has turned to you and pardoned you. So now lie with them, and seek what God has prescribed for you. And eat and drink, until the white thread shows clearly to you from the black thread at the dawn; then complete the Fast unto the night, and do not lie with them while you cleave to the mosques. Those are God’s bounds; keep well within them. So God makes clear His signs to men; haply they will be godfearing. (Arberry)

The spiritual aims of fasting, or the key lessons of Ramadan, can be gleaned from these verses and they are three:

    1. 1. Mindfulness [of Allah] (taqwa)

 

    1. 2. Thankfulness [toward Allah] (shukr)

 

    3. Magnification [of Allah] (takbir)

The Salient Point

It is important to note that in the midst of all these verses concerning the fast, Allah says in Sura al Baqara verse 186:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants question thee concerning Me – I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me; haply so they will go aright.

Here, Allah emphasizes the fact that the aims and acts of fasting as described in the surrounding verses culminate in the realization of faith.

It means that the three aims mentioned above spring from this realization of the servant in answering the call of their Lord and Creator. This act of realization on the part of the servant is what brings them near to Allah.

There is no movement on the part of Allah, only a movement toward Allah on the part of the servant. Allah is close to the servant. It is the servant who is distant from Allah.

Fasting Is the Unveiling of the Real

As Ibn Ata’illah says: “The Most Real is not veiled from you. It is you who are veiled from Him.”

We are veiled from Allah by our heedlessness, our lack of concern, our lack of turning to Him. Nothing veils Allah Most High, because if anything veiled Him it would limit Him – would have sway of Him. And He is the One who has sway over all things.

We wrong ourselves when we are distant from Allah Most High. This “unveiling” on our part is what fasting is meant to nurture – even by the very reality of the hunger we experience. It makes clear to us our neediness.

Our ultimate need in every single moment of existence is for Allah.


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersHub in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

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