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10 On-Demand Courses for Ramadan

We are blessed to reach another Ramadan. Let’s make the best use of our time. These On-Demand courses will help you to focus and get maximum benefits from this month of the Qur’an.

Each course contains a downloadable lesson set which you can listen to at your convenience.

1. Preparing for Ramadan: Lessons and Advice from Leading Scholars

This series of lessons by various scholars revolves around Sura al Baqara 2:183.

“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may have taqwa.”

Each scholar unfolds the meanings of this and related verses, the practical aspects, and the hidden spiritual depths and heights one is called to attain in the blessed month of Ramadan.
Central to it all is Allah’s call to love Him and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Scholars included in this course: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Imam Zaid Shakir, Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, Habib Umar ibn Hafiz, Shaykh Rami Nsour, Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali, Ustadh Abdullah Misra, Ustadh Ali Ataie, Habib Kadhim al Saqqaf, Shaykh Ahmed Saad al Azhari, Habib Muhammad al Saqqaf, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Shaykh Qutaiba Albluwi, Ustadha Umm Umar

2. Renewal by the Book: Daily Qur’an Tafsir Based on Imam Ghazali’s Ihya

In this series, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Qur’an. The series follows the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya so that we experience renewal by The Book.

3. Renewing Religion: Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya

This overview of Imam Ghazali’s great work, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences) will serve as a blueprint for how the believer can bring their religion to life. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the outer form of the religion properly, but to also to bring its spirit to life and practice it with excellence.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

4. 30 Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Our scholars in residence explore 30 simple deeds that could have a far-reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or sharing a meal with a neighbor, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎ gave us: the best of character. The scholars also remind us to make the intention to put each teaching, each sacred act, into practice.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Amin Muhammad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Ingrid Mattson

5. Giving Life to Surat al Kahf – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

In this seminar, Shaykh Walead Mosaad explains this key Sura of the Qur’an – a Sura the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, urged us to recite every Friday. In eight videos Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura Kahf; the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent – the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power.

6. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Hanafi) – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting, according to the Hanafi school.

This essential four-part course is designed to

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Hanafi school.

7. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Shafi‘i) – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting according to the Shafi‘i school.

This essential four-part course is designed to:

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all the key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Shafi‘i school.

8. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Maliki) – Shaykh Rami Nsour

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting according to the Maliki school.

This essential four-part course is designed to:

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all the key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Maliki school.

9. The Tafsir of Sura al-Hujurat with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Religion revolves around respect and reverence. Sura Hujurat summarizes the keys to true religion by outlining the right adab with Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and with Allah’s creation. In just 18 verses, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives believers a clear roadmap on how to walk the Straight Path with excellence in conduct and attitude.

10. Living the Quran: Ghazali’s Manners of Qur’an Recital with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this lesson set Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will guide students through Imam al Ghazali’s work on the adab of the Qur’an and aims to inspire the student to bring the book of Allah into their life fully.

 


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Making the Most of Ramadan: FREE Course by SeekersGuidance

Looking for a spiritually-uplifting way to prepare for Ramadan? One of our students provides an overview of our dynamic On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month of the year that every Muslim is longing for. Time for a good clean-up, new resolutions, and reconnection with Allah. How many times you have told yourself at the start of the blessed month that this one will be better but before you realise it, you are already in the last ten days, wishing you did more?

SeekersGuidance has introduced an amazing On-Demand course called Making the Most of Ramadan as a short, effective and transformative way to not let another Ramadan go to waste.

Course Details

This course is composed of 24 short lectures and reminders given by a broad range of scholars and teachers the likes of  Habib Umar ibn Hafiz, Habib Kadhim As-Saqqaf, Shaykh Ahmed Saad Al-Azhari, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and many more.

This course is part of the On-Demand Course platform, which means no registration needed, and no deadlines or assignments. Just enter your email and you will be given immediate access. 

In this series of courses you will learn the main aspects of fasting such as its virtues such as taqwa, sincerity, connection with the Quran, patience and nearness to Allah. You will learn about the ruling related to fasting that are often underestimated my many Muslims as well as contemporary issues looked at by our scholars.

You will learn about the the deep spiritual approach of Ramadan, and the effect of fasting on your soul. You’ll learn how to fall in love with Allah, what was the Prophet’s fast was like, the Abrahamic roots of fasting and so much more.

Our Purpose on Earth

As Muslims, we know that we will be asked about our choices. and that Allah created us for a purpose. That purpose is to worship Him as He says in His book:

{ وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ }

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Surah al-Dhariyat 51:56)

Therefore, when you reflect on the meaning of your presence on earth, you can quickly relate to how important worshipping Allah is and how much knowledge can help you in improving your relationship with Allah through improving how you are worshipping Him.

 Don’t let this opportunity run you by! Join the wave of the lovers and gain closeness to Allah.

Click here to access the courses.


 

 

An Overview of the Maqasid Podcast: Knowledge, Devotion and Service by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Nilufer Gadgieva provides an overview of the Knowledge, Devotion and Service podcast, a podcast series available on SeekersGuidance by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

 

The Maqasid podcast is a series of brief, half-hour lessons discussing the altruistic aspects of knowledge, devotion and service, many of which are critical to the well-being of the Muslim soul. With poise and dedication, Shaykh Yahya covers various aspects of chivalry and companionship which could better strengthen and grow the relationships between modern Muslims, as it once did in the past.

The first set of lessons cover a book by Imam Abdulwahhab ash-Sha’rani known as Adab As-Suhbah, or the Etiquettes of Companionship. Through the life stories of the pious, the Shaykh thoroughly explains the significance of some of the most important aspects of good companionship in the context of Islam and how we can implement and integrate them into our own lives. Among the most important of these are selflessness, humility and understanding, and the removal of hasad, or envy, in our hearts towards our companions. He provides targeted steps for Muslims to take to practically increase love and affection in our daily relationships with our fellow human beings, and it makes for a compelling series.

The next set of lessons which are currently ongoing cover Imam Al-Husayn Al-Sulaimi’s Kitab-Al Futuwwa, or the Book of Spiritual Chivalry. This series is expansive and rich in classical Islamic etiquette of moral conduct between Muslims, and Shaykh Yahya touches upon important experiences in human life that relate to the points he discusses. While similar to the traits of Adab As-Suhbah, these characteristics are highly specific and indicate the reality of chivalry that comes from genuine love for the sake of Allah. Both moving and relatable, this podcast will surely make us reconsider our social priorities as family members, friends and neighbors of one another.

Personally, this podcast had a positive impact on me, particularly when I was in a place of uncertainty with my companions. Questioning their intentions towards me, I realized that companionship for the sake of Allah is purely just that, and I can’t take anything my friends do, say or act towards me in a personal light. Those who genuinely love me will reciprocate my efforts for them, and if they do not, I must be the better friend, partner and relative and give them 100% regardless of their attitude towards me. Loving for Allah’s sake removes the burden of conflict, sensitivity and suspicion from among friends, near and far, as it enhances a rational manner of approaching companionship.

The example of the Prophet, his Companions and the pious is sufficient for us, and to emulate their strong, unbreakable bonds between one another is truly a goal to be achieved in one’s life. Islam is a social religion, not one of individualism and isolation, and to be able to live in harmony with one’s family and friends (and to maintain that harmony) essentially contributes to our purpose in life – to submit to Allah and envelop Islam in our lifestyle.


Click here to listen to listen to “Knowledge, Devotion and Service” by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Review: The Divine Opening Explained by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Nurulain Wolhuter shares her excellent review of The Divine Opening: Surah al-Fatiha Explained, a course offered on SeekersGuidance by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

 

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus takes the seeker on an insightful journey into the meanings of Sura al Fatiha. He commences by exploring its many names. It is called Fatih al- Kitab because it is the opening chapter of the holy Qur’an. It is also called Umm al – Quran because it is the source of the Qur’an; and it is al – Assaas, containing the Qur’an’s foundational meanings. Its names reflect its limitless meanings as well as its merits, most notably that it is regarded as the best of the Qur’an.

Against this backdrop, Shaykh Yahya engages in an extensive exegesis of Sura al Fatiha, starting with the istiaatha – the seeking of refuge in Allah from the accursed devil. He says we seek refuge because we know we’re in need, and the more we realise our need, the more Allah will grant us sufficiency. Thereafter, the sura commences with the basmala, invoking all its blessings and enabling us to encloak ourselves with them. These blessings flow because the divine name is the greatest word of all, deserving of all perfection, and it is coupled with the attributes of al – Rahman, the universally merciful to all creatures, and al – Raheem, the specifically compassionate to the believer. Both are emphatic words derived from rahmah, meaning softness of heart, and compassion that necessitates showing goodness and grace to someone.

Turning to the ayat of al – Hamd, Shaykh Yahya explains that we praise Allah with the intention of glorifying and exalting Him, because He is the Lord of the Worlds. Integral to this praise is deep gratitude to Allah for all His blessings.

The next ayat repeats Allah’s divine attributes of al-Rahmaani Raheem, emphasising His mercy.

We then move from praise to a focus on Allah’s sovereignty and possession in the next ayat: Maaliki Yawmid Deen. The word maalik comes from either of two verbal nouns. The first one, Mulk, refers to the kingly traits of dominion, rule or sovereignty. The second one, Milk, refers to possession. So Allah is al – Mulk, the king, or al-Maalik, the owner. We are His Mamluk, subjects or property, and we connect with Him by doing His will. Our hearts should be in a state of reverential awe and fear at the mention of Yawmid Deen. It is the day of resurrection, the day of reprisals, the day where wrongs will be righted. And our Lord is king or master of it.

Thereafter, the sura moves to us, the servants of Allah: Iyyaaka na’budu – we worship You alone. We’re commanded to worship with the utmost humility and a deep sense of exaltation. Allah has placed worship before Istiaana (seeking help) because it is the appropriate etiquette to follow this order, and also because supplicating after worship is more amenable to a response.

Next, we ask Allah to guide us to the straight path (Ihdinas Siraatal Mustaqeem). Shaykh Yahya explains that al – Siraat is a path, a traverse, a way – the bridge over hell that all people will cross on their way to Paradise. It is thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword, and its length is 3,000 years. It is a straight path (al – Mustaqeem), involving outward compliance with the shari’a and inward submission. The way we adhere to the straight path in this world is the way we will cross the traverse in the next. This path is the path of those whom Allah has blessed (Siraatal latheena an’amta ‘alaihim), namely the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. There was a multitude in the beginning and there are only a few in the end times, but we can be people who move upwards in rank, if we have guidance and uprightness.

Finally, we ask to be spared the way of those who anger Allah or who have gone astray: ghayril maghdoobi ‘alaihim wa lad daalleen. It is said maghdoobi ‘alaihim are the Jews, or the disbelievers, or those who know what is right but don’t do it because of a blameworthy trait in their hearts. al – Daalleen are variously said to be the Christians, or the hypocrites, or those who go astray because they don’t know the truth.

Shaykh Yahya’s journey through the Mother of the Book gives us the opportunity to attain a deeper understanding of its meanings, and, concomitantly, a closer relationship with our Lord. May Allah grant us openings as we listen.


Click here to register for: The Divine Opening: Surah al-Fatiha Explained

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus on Why YOU Should Support the Islamic Scholarship Fund

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus explains why the Islamic Scholarship Fund is relevant to our times, and urges us to  contribute to this amazing cause.

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I wanted to strongly urge you all to contribute to the SeekersGuidance Islamic Scholarship Fund, because supporting people of knowledge, qualified teachers, is one of the most important things that we can do. It is an obligation upon the community to free them up, so that they can spend their time disseminating Prophetic inheritance, which is really one of the most important things of all.

Many of the scholars that SeekersGuidance have been supporting, were it not to be for that support, they would not be able to teach their local community, nor would they be able to teach people from around the world.

So it is really important that you and I do our part and contribute to the SeekersGuidance Islamic Scholarship Fund, so we can free these great teachers, these qualified scholars, to teach students and to take part in this process of bringing hearts to life by dissemination of the Prophetic inheritance.

May Allah give us tawfeeq to do this, accept from us and open up the doors of His mercy for all of us.

 

Interview: Defining Knowledge – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Cori Mancuso interviews Shaykh Yahya Rhodus on the importance of seeking obligatory knowledge, balancing religious and worldly affairs, and engaging in traditional and western approaches to education.

 

CM: For Muslims who are seeking a foundational knowledge of Islam, or their fard ayn, what knowledge should be obligatory for them to learn? Why is it important to learn this knowledge?

SYR: Unfortunately, there is a lot of deep seeded ignorance around the community and the world regarding this topic. There are people who simply don’t know what they need to know, and then there’s something called compounded ignorance, when someone sees the basics as something that doesn’t really mean anything. The greatest scholars, who have reached the pinnacle of scholarship and piety, not only do they do the basics but they do them in the most excellent manner. There could be two people who are outwardly performing the prayer correctly, but they each have very different inward states in terms of concentration, meanings in the heart, and witnessing of the divine impact on creation. We learn the basics and reinforce them throughout our lives, and in the end, we hope to reach the highest degree of spiritual realization. One of the early imams, al-Junayd, was seen after his death in a dream and was asked “What did Allah do with you?” He said, “‘All the expressions have gone, and all of the subtle indications have vanished, and all that benefited me was small cycles of prayer that I prayed during the night.’”

What remains is for us to figure out what is obligatory knowledge? How can we acquire it and put it into practice? How can we reinforce it and increase it? Any knowledge that is not based on revelation, or meant to preserve revelation, is an inferior type of knowledge. These other types of rational sciences are very popular now, but we must remember that revelation is a higher source of knowledge. We are required to study knowledge throughout our lives. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told us that whoever treads a path to seek sacred knowledge, Allah will facilitate for him to enter paradise. We cannot fulfill the duty our time by rooting ourselves in our unchanging principles and wisely deal with the challenges of our time, without the foundational knowledge. When the winds of tribulation blow through, if one is not grounded, then they are going to get blown with the wind.

Scholars have long discussed the concept of fard ayn knowledge, which is obligatory for every male and female of age. In Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al Din, he describes this knowledge as knowledge of what is obligatory in the moment. Everything one does in their life, must be based on knowledge. Although everyone of age should learn the basics of purification and prayer, creed, and the attributes of Allah, one must also look at their own circumstances and learn accordingly. If someone is married, engages in financial transactions, or has a death in the family, they must know the law. It is shocking to see how many Muslims get involved in complicated matters while neglecting even the basics of prayer and purification. The obligatory knowledge is what we need to know for our beliefs to be correct, our practice to be right, and  our heart to become clear before Allah.

CM: In your opinion, how does one balance between seeking knowledge and seeking sustenance in worldly affairs?

SYR: The first thing is to not see the two as mutually exclusive. Imam Malik was once asked about seeking sacred knowledge. He said it is a great thing, but one should also look at their own circumstances and circle of responsibility. If someone is required to do something, whether it is to take care of a family member or a loved one, and they are not able to free themselves up for sacred knowledge, then they must give precedence to the responsibilities on their shoulders. We should not see this as all or nothing, everyone must do what they can. I want to see a rebirth and a revival around talib al-ilm, of seeking knowledge, for the young and old. For most people, it is mainly a matter of priorities. We must make knowledge a priority in our lives. As I was leaving Mauritania, and heading to Tarim, one of the scholars, Shaykh Muhammad Zayn, said, “Make knowledge an excuse for other things and do not make other things an excuse for knowledge.”

Every Muslim should be taking at least one class per week. Anything less than that is falling short of the mark. With a strong intention to learn, and dedication, one can still learn quite a bit by seeking knowledge part-time. This includes informal and formal ways of learning. Some small ways include putting a book in the car to read, playing something in the car during a commute, and reading a book with one’s spouse or children. Most people have time for these things, and this is considered seeking sacred knowledge. Any sacrifice one makes in their career, to free oneself up a little bit more to study and learn, will never be lost with Allah. Everyone should benefit from their local resources, utilizing weekend learning and vacation time. A good way to track activity is to keep a notebook, so that every time one attends a conference, retreat, or lecture, they can fill up this notebook with benefits. This enables us to teach this knowledge to others.

CM: As a student of knowledge in both the traditional Islamic sciences, and western academic institutions, what are the benefits and challenges to both approaches?

SYR: In a traditional setting, the focus is devotion. One is studying this knowledge to get closer to Allah and prepare for the hereafter. In a traditional setting, a student gets very close to their teachers and a profound love is developed through mentorship. The students try to emulate and follow the teacher. There is emphasis on the chain of narration back to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Those are some of the strengths of the traditional method. The purpose of studying sacred knowledge is to transcend the self and benefit others.

On the other hand, for the vast majority of people studying in western academic institutions, the goal is to get a degree. Some people are interested in the topic they study, but it is a different experience. A student will not develop the same type of relationship with the teacher. Knowledge is respected, but in a secular sense. The western academic institution has strengths in that it concentrates on the context of a text. In my field, I study the life of Imam al-Ghazali, who was he? How did the circumstances of his life affect his scholarship? What led outwardly to him writing Ihya Ulum al-Din? If one is grounded in traditional scholarship, they can more easily sift through the bad western scholarship and benefit from the good western scholarship that exists. This enhances one’s learning, without contradiction to the traditional understanding of the text. Although there is some benefit in studying Islamic Studies in a western academic setting, there is also a lot of ignorance surrounding the texts. They make a lot of mistakes and assumptions based on their limited understanding. Western scholarship is based on imitation, scholars will quote previous writers without confirming the validity of their sources. We must critique western scholarship. Most academics believe they are objective and that this is the only way of knowing this information.

Unfortunately, I have found the vast majority of Muslims involved in western academic institutions do not have the tools necessary to navigate these distinctions, and it becomes a little bit overwhelming. This is not to say that we should not be involved. We do not have the luxury of remaining completely isolated. We need scholars who have the proper training, who are able to find answers within the tradition, who know what to do in different circumstances, and are able to find real solutions to the problems people are facing in their lives. This is an enormous task. Everyone is affected by the society in which they live. There is a philosophy behind everything which we are exposed to. It necessary that we engage academia and have Muslim academics teaching Islamic Studies. Muslims should be contributing in all types of disciplines. We want to them to make principal contributions which reflect our values and character. This is one of our greatest challenges, to root Muslims in knowledge, devotion, and service, and train them to make principled contributions in society.

 


Cori Mancuso is a graduate in Religious Studies at Lycoming College. While seeking sacred knowledge, she develops content for SeekersHub and Sabeel Community.

The Two Eyes of Faith – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus reminds us that simple acts arising from complete submission to the will of Allah can do more than move mountains, they can bring people to the religion.

 

We always begin by praising our Lord, Exalted and Most High, and recognizing that al-hamd, that is all praise, is due to our Lord, Exalted and Most High. He is the One that is simultaneously deserving of all praise because of everything that He gifts, not only human beings but all of creation, and He is the One, Exalted and Most High, that is praised for every gift that we experience.

That we show our shukr (gratitude) and our hand (praise) to our Lord, Exalted and Most High, in the greatest blessing of all of the blessings: it is the blessing of “la ilaha illa Allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” The blessing of being affiliated to the best of creation, the Khatim al-Nabiyyin, the Seal of the Prophets, sayyidina Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him and his Family and Companions.

This is a blessing that is so great no matter how much that we come to know and appreciate that blessing here in this world, we will only truly come to appreciate it on day on the Day of Judgment. For anyone that is ignorant of whom Muhammad is in this world, everyone will come to know who Muhammad is in the next world. For him belongs the praiseworthy station (maqam mahmud). For him belongs the greatest of all intercessions (shifa‘a al-kubra).

And we know that our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will prostrate beneath the throne and then it will be said to him: “Ask and you will be given. Intercede and you will be granted intercession.” and then our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will intercede for people. But this Day of Judgment is a day that is not easy. It is a day that is subjectively experienced, meaning every single human being will experience the Day of Judgment based upon their degree of faith and upon their acts that they have done.

The very best of all possibilities is for it to be like to light rakats: a couple of minutes. but the very worst of possibilities is that it will be like fifty thousand days. It will be like fifty thousand years. It will be like fifty thousand years – from two light cycles of prayer to fifty thousand years. And there will be people that are somewhere in between.

The Greatest Gift Is Faith

This is why that the greatest gift that we’ve been given as believers is the gift of faith, which means that we can live a life of purpose. This is likewise one of the greatest gifts that we can give to the modern world in which we live. In a day and age where you find people moving further and further away from belief, and that the state that results is oftentimes a state of agitation and a state of panic, because Iman is related to Aman. Iman is related to security.

If you do not have Iman how can you ever ever feel a sense of security? It’s that security that you recognize that you have a Rabb. And our Rabb is Rabb al-‘alamin. He is the Lord and the very meaning of the Rabb is that He is the giver of tarbiya. In other words, that He takes something from its beginning and that He sustains that and He allows it to grow and to thrive until it reaches its fruition.

The ‘alamin is everything that Allah Most High created. Specifically, yes, that we refer to the angels and mankind and the jinn-kind. However, it relates to everything that Allah Most High has created. Everything that we know and everything that we do not know. There is a large percentage of Allah Most High’s creation that we will never ever come to know, because you can’t see it through a microscope or a telescope.

And successively that you find that in relation to the dimensions of creation, that they are larger and that they are larger, and they are more and more vast. And what does our Lord say about the Kursi – Our Lord’s footstool? His footstool encompasses everything that is in the heavens and in the earth.

If you just look at the terrestrial heaven and you look at all of the amazing things that we’ve discovered and the incredible intergalactic distances of the known world, that world that we can either see and observe or that we can determine by a mathematical calculation, it is immense. It it is vast.

But you imagine then what it would be like the other worlds that Allah Most High has created. The other dimensions, the seven heavens for instance, what type of distances are we speaking about here? We can only understand them as a concept. We can’t understand them in reality. If that applies for things even within the terrestrial heaven, what about the other things that our Lord has created, Exalted and Most High?

Seeing with Two Eyes

What is the meaning that we take from that, that relates to our Iman? That we that find a source of security in that, because the Rabb is the One who is going to take care of what He created and what He brought to fruition. This is why we always have to remind ourselves that history is in good hands, with no anthropomorphic meaning. Our Lord is the Lord of history and the Umma of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. There are many things of this Din that you cannot fully understand or comprehend until you take into consideration the next world, the afterlife.

There are certain things that you will never fully come to understand their wisdom in this world, until you see the way that it’s played out in the next. Much of the suffering that we see happening right now, as we speak to the Muslim world, to the Muslim community, and to individuals. We don’t even need to list names because there’s such a long list now that it would take too long to list in how many places that there is affliction and calamity and difficulty, that were you to think about just one incident, it’s hard to really wrap your head around.

Well, what gives you a source of solace is to know that we have a Lord who is Just, and that no one, not one human being ever that has ever lived, after the Day of Judgment happens, will ever feel like they have not been given their right. Everyone will be gifted their right. Every single human being who was wronged will be given retribution.

We should always remember that history is in good hands. We should always remember that the Umma of our Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, is an Umma marhuma. That Allah brings forth, in other words, the punishment of this Umma when we go astray in this world before the next.

One Foot in the Hereafter

We have to learn, to teach ourselves to see things from two perspectives. We have to see everything from the standpoint of it being the divine decrees unfolding right before our eyes. Snd also how it is that we that judge that particular incident outwardly from the standpoint of the Shari‘a. We have to look at everything simultaneously in two ways.

That applies to even a sickness that we get. If we all of a sudden find out that we’ve been diagnosed with cancer what is our first response? If we’re no different than any other people, our first response will be one of panic. But to degree that there is Iman will be to the degree that we see that illness or sickness or disease or terminal condition in light of our faith.

I actually know an individual, and this is someone that I met and saw him with my own eyes. This might sound a bit strange but this shows you what happens when you have strong Iman. You have an ability to interpret or, in other words, respond to the divine decree in a way that other people simply can’t do.

This person, when he was informed that he had cancer, the very first thing he did was smile. And they asked him, “Why on earth are you smiling?” He said, “I see this as: now this is the time that I’ve been waiting for. which this is the time for me to meet my Lord.” He interpreted that sickness in a very different way than someone else would.

And we don’t enjoin sickness upon anyone. We don’t want that for our own selves, but when it comes, outwardly you do all the treatments necessary to cure yourself of that disease or sickness. However, when the time comes for us to meet our Lord what is our state? What is going to be our state when we take our last breath, which for us is the ultimate moment of truth?

We Die the Way We Live

Generally speaking we die according to the way that we lived and we will be raised according to the way that we die. So we need to remind ourselves of the life that we’re living here in this world. This world is perishing in and of its nature. It’s been created to do so. Whether it’s going to collapse on itself or whether it’s going to expand so much that it freezes. We don’t really know what’s going to actually happen, and how our Lord, Exalted and Most High, is going to destroy the heavens in the earth. Hut we know it’s going to happen when He wills it to happen.

For us when we take our last breath, that is the Sa‘at al- Sughra. That is the “lesser of the two hours,” because we should always remember that sleep is the brother of death. Likewise our own death is, in that sense, the little brother of the greater Hour, because then we transition into the next world.

Our Prophet taught us, blessings and peace be upon him, that the grave is the first stage of the stages of the afterlife. We know that the grave will either be a garden from the gardens of paradise or a pit from the pits of hell. May Allah, Blessed and Most High, grant us refuge from any punishment in the grave, because if we’re unable to bear that punishment in the grave – and who can? – then how are we going to be able to bear the punishment of the Day of Judgment, let alone what happens after that?

We are all, in that sense, miskin (in dire need) before our Lord, Exalted and Most High, who has decreed that there are two final abodes. This is not about the human beings’ choice. Will the human being have everything that he desires? It is not about what you want, and it is not about what I want, or what anyone else wants. This is the decree of the One who has the traits of Irada, of Divine Will, and He does whatever He wants. If He wills for something to happen, He says “Be! And it is.” How do we respond to that? With complete and total submission.

This is one of the most beautiful things of all, if anyone has had that experience here in this blessed masjid – to have not been in a life of faith and then convert to this blessed religion, and to experience the beauty of submission. Because the reality is is that we’re not in control. If anyone thinks they’re in control it’s a delusion. Thinking that we’re in control is illusory. It’s a delusion.

We Have No Control

We are not in control. And when we learn to submit to the One who is truly in control… How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded to have tawakkul – to place our trust in Allah? How many times in the Qur’an are we reminded of these traits? “And I assign my affairs over to Allah.” None of this negates taking the means. We are required to take the means, but we’re also required to place our trust in our Lord, Exalted and Most High.

Living up to these principles is what’s going to enable us as a community to navigate any difficult time. And for us this is really what it’s all about. In the society outside this door, when you walk out through the streets, when you meet and greet people ,when you’re in the store, when you’re at work, when you’re at school, I just have a plea.

Please remember that whether you realize it or not there will be people looking at you. There will be people that take their understanding of Islam based upon how you interact with them. I just want you to remember that people like myself who didn’t know anything about Islam, if we would have met people who brought a bad name to Islam, how would we have entered into this Din?

This is an absolute responsibility upon the shoulders of every single person in this room. No one is exempt – man woman and even children, although they’re not taken to account until they become legally responsible. We are required to have principled engagement. What is principled engagement? It is that we immerse ourselves in the meanings of Iman, in the meanings of Islam, and in the meanings of Ihsan. Then we engage based upon these principles.

We make contributions in every situation or circumstance that we find ourselves in. It’s very simple there’s people think that there’s some type of overly sophisticated, complicated, philosophical way that we need to be in the societies in which we live. Yes, there is an element of strategy that needs a lot of thought. However, it’s very simple. As believers we very simply need to be.

Try to Just Be Muslim

If we would just be in all the meanings of being – bringing to life the Sunna of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, that would speak with mute eloquence, much more eloquently than anything else that we could say merely on the tongue. Our actions would speak much louder than our words, and what would happen then is that the light of the teachings of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – which is the secret of the penetration of Iman and it’s absorption in the heart of individual – would spread amongst the peoples’ hearts that are around.

Our Lord speaks about “the one who was dead and We brought him back to life,” and then what? That “We brought him back to life and We made him light spread amongst people.” If you look at the way that this is expressed, it is that light flows and it emanates in mankind (fi al-nas).” And for those for whom it has been preordained, they’re going to accept that guidance. It will come to their hearts.

The more that we live up to these teachings, that we live up to these principles, the more people will experience the beauty of “la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah.” By Allah! There is nothing more beautiful than this Din. There is nothing more beautiful than the way of our Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, his Sunna and all of his teachings.

What we’re required to do is to embrace that beauty so we become beautified through it. To embrace that light so we become enlightened through it. And then share it freely with people, inwardly and outwardly, and see ourselves as servants of all of humanity. If we did this we would see amazing things.


This article is a edited transcript of a Friday sermon given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus at London Muslim Mosque as part of the Age of Anger – Southern Ontario Tour, April 2017.


 

Advice of Leading Muslim Scholars on Seeking Islamic Knowledge

Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Salek bin Siddina and Habib Ali al-Jifri: the keys to succeeding on the path of knowledge, the adab of gaining Sacred Knowledge, and the blessing and high rank of this path.

 

Resources for Seekers

SeekersGuidance Toronto Retreat 2018: Planting Seeds of Faith

“Planting Seeds of Faith,” was the theme of the SeekersGuidance 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 SeekersGuidance 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

 

The Golden Rule: Content of Character 07 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus discusses the Islamic version of the Golden Rule. Its sources in the Muslim tradition and its meaning and place in our lives.

قال رسول الله سلى الله عليه و سلّم: أَحِبَّ للناس ما تُحبُّ لنفسك

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Love for Humanity, what you Love for yourself.” (Ibn Majah)

There are other versions of this hadith that come in various other collections. In the collection of Bukhari and Muslim it says: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”

In Muslim the narrator says: “A servant doesn’t truly believe until he loves for his neighbor or his brother that which he loves for his own self.”

The great scholar of Hadith Abu Dawud says there are four hadith that Islam revolves around:

    1. 1. The hadith of intention

 

    1. 2. The hadith of leaving that which doesn’t concern you

 

    1. 3. The hadith of the halal and the haram being evident

 

    4. And then finally this hadith: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”

The Golden Rule in Islam

This is an Islamic Golden Rule. And the idea of this is found in nearly every religion and ethical tradition, and it is encompassed in all cultures spanning in the world in which we live.

We find this in Christianity, in the Gospel of Matthew where it says: “Do to others that which you would have them do to you.” We find remnants of this in Judaism and Confucianism as well as the early Greek philosophers. This maxim appears in either a positive or a negative injunction.

In its positive form should be: “One should treat others like other should treat oneself.” In the negative form: “One should not treat others in a way that one would not like to be treated.” Or you could say in an empathetic form: “What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself.”

It is important to note that this is different from the maxim of reciprocity, which is this understanding of “I give so that you will give in return.” This is a higher degree of the Golden Rule and this is a commitment to that good reaching the other, striving for good to reach the other, and wanting good to reach the other, without the expectation of anything in return.

The Rule Is a Command

If we take it back to this hadith, our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, begins with a command: “Love for people…” It is important here to note the centrality of love in Islam and it raises the question: What do we love?

This hadith provides an opportunity for us to reflect on what it is we really do love. From a religious perspective, the sign that we draw nearer to our Lord is that we love that which our Prophet loves, Allah bless him and give him peace. Here he is commanding us to love for not just the believers but for all humanity, that which we love for our own self.

This is one of the things that we naturally love – our own self. We should also love for everyone else, wherever they might be in the face of this earth, what we also love for our own self.

Love, Care, Attention

One of the interesting things about the word for love in Arabic used in this hadith “ahibba” comes from the same root that we find the word “muhhabba,” from which you also derive “hub” or “hubba,” which is a word for seed. This indicates that it requires care, attention, and has to be nurtured in order for it to grow. It is a gradual process that actually requires a great deal of effort.

We know that there are many different types of love. We have the love that you have for your family. Then we have a slightly different love that you have for your friends. And we also have a special love for your spouse. But the highest love of all is the religious love. This is what our Prophet Allah bless him and give him peace is calling us to.

We should love solely for the sake of Allah and His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. This particular type of love that is in accordance to the Divine Will and the Will of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is to love for all of humanity that which we love for our own selves.

What Should We Love?

It is also interesting to note that the hadith does not elucidate what we should love. It is understood that what is meant here is anything from the realm of good: anything that is beneficial for us in this world and in the next world.

We love for all people to experience the bliss of paradise and to experience the highest degrees of paradise. But in this world also, we should want for everyone else the very same things we want for ourselves and for our children. We should want the basic necessities of life to be guaranteed for all human beings. And this is related to not only clothing, food, and shelter, but also safety and the ability to prosper and be successful in the world. This is a right that we should strive to guarantee for all people.

Our Prophet is teaching us here something about love. He is indicating one of the things that we should love and this is way that a believer is, the believer is expansive.

Be Expansive People

One of the contentions of our teacher, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, says: “The limited, they like to limit, where the open they want to open.” In other words, people who are very restricted in the way that they view the world, they will always be limiting their interactions with others, limiting the good that they often want to see come to others. Those who are open, they also want other people to be open.

This is a desire we should have. We should be expansive. This is after all a universal religion. Our prophet was a universal prophet Allah bless him and give him peace. This is why when we are taught here to love, it is for all of humanity, for all people, that which we love for our own self.

In the Qur’an we have a number of times that Allah addresses people: “O People.” In fact the very first command in the Qur’an – in Sura al Baqara after the classification of believers, disbelievers, and hypocrites – is that Allah, Praise be to Him, says in verse 21:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O People, worship your Lord who created you and created the ones who came before you, that you might attain Taqwa (God consciousness).

This is the first address.

The Best Community

Allah Praise be to Him addresses all of humanity in the Qur’an. And we are taught in our religion that we must be there for all of humanity and have a concern for all of humanity. As a result we have attained the rank of being the best of communities that have come to human kind.

What does Allah Praise be to Him say? “You are the very best of communities brought forth to people.” One of the statements of Imam Bukhari is we should be the best of people to all the people.

May Allah give us tawfiq to give us all this and may we love for all of humanity what we love for our own selves.


The Content of Character podcast is brought to you by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus of Al-Maqasid Institute, and powered by SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Listen to this episode in full on the SeekersHub website, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Android, or RSS.