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Preserving the Light of Ramadan – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

How do we preserve the light of Ramadan once the month has ended?

 

One of the keys to preserving what we have attained is in the intentions we make before the month ends. We should make firm intentions to do good in Shawwal and beyond. We also need to beg Allah to preserve and increase the gifts He has given us. We need to be consistent in our attendance of gatherings and classes, consistent in our recitation of the Quran while reflecting upon its meanings and consistent in our recitation of the adhkar with presence of heart. We must also choose the best company and sit in the presence of people who have been given light.

Ten Ways to Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship? Nour Merza gives women ten practical ways to spiritually benefit from this blessed month.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. When their menstrual period begins many women find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in. This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities, and challenges that Allaj has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying Allah, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near Allah. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

1. Increase the Remembrance of Allah

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such as subhan Allah, alhamdulliLlah and Allahu akbar. If you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking Allah’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, insha Allah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase Supplication 

Supplication (dua) is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of supplication is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful supplications of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, or reaching out to Allah with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Duas That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed Others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members, or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the peace and blessings  (salawat) on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. 

4. Gain Islamic Knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersGuidance podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your Charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through SeekersGuidance. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make Your Responsibilities a Form of Worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please Allah, which makes them a type of worship. Ask Allah to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

Although the Hanafi school holds that women cannot touch the mushaf or recite the Qur’an while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such a heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to Allah. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask Allah to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that Allah is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to Help Mothers Worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray tarawih. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman.

10. Spread Love and Light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers, and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

 

The Three Degrees of Fasting – Imam al Ghazali

This is a translation of the passage on the three degrees of fasting from the Ihya of Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al Ghazali. Translation by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

It should be known that there are three degrees of fasting: ordinary, extraordinary, and perfect.

Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual satisfaction.

Extraordinary Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.

Perfect Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world.

Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true saints, and the intimates of Allah. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists of utmost dedication to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than Allah, Exalted is He.

It is bound up with the significance of His words:

قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ

Say: “Allah,” then leave them to their vain play. (Qur’an 6:91)

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment.

See Not What Displeases Allah

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be Allah’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of Allah will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.”

Jabir relates from Anas that Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.”

Speak Not What Displeases Allah

Guarding one’s tongue against idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing, and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and with the recitation of Qur’an. This is the fasting of the tongue.

Said Sufyan: “Backbiting annuls the Fast.” Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: “Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.”

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: ‘I am Fasting, I am Fasting!’”

According to Tradition: “Two women were Fasting during the time of Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing.

They, therefore, sent a message to Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.”

One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”

Hear Not What Displeases Allah

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible, for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer. In His words, Exalted is He:

سَمَّاعُونَ لِلْكَذِبِ أَكَّالُونَ لِلسُّحْتِ

Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain. (Qur’an 5:42)

Allah, Great and Glorious is He, also said:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit? (Qur’an 5:63)

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said:

إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِّثْلُهُمْ

You are then just like them. (Qur’an 4:140)

That is why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “The backbiter and his listener are partners in sin.”

Guarding the Limbs

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful.

A man who fasts like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food is injurious in quantity not in quality. Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison.

The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation.

Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!” This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

Avoid Overeating

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food.

Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering Allah’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods?

It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety.

If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The Secret Nature of Fasting

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting.

No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven.

Layla al-Qadr

The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

We surely revealed it on the Night of Power. (Qur’an 97:1)

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He.

That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

Look To God With Fear And Hope

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of Al-Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Basri, that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: “Allah, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By Allah, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.”

Rather it is the one whose fast is accepted who should be too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while one who has suffered rejection laughter should be precluded by remorse.

Of Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: “You are an aged elder. Fasting would enfeeble you.” But he replied: “By this I am making ready for a long journey. Obedience to Allah, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.”


Which Resources Will Help Me Reach Ihsan?

Question: Assalamu ‘alaykum. How does someone who has reached her early 30’s in an abysmal state of iman and self-discipline reach a level of ihsan or get their nafs to nafs al-muṭmaʾinnah?  Are there books in English with a good quality translation or live online classes? There are no local options. I read that books like Ihya Ulum Al-Din are not well translated. I want a step-by-step guidebook.

Answer:

Wa ‘alaykum assaalm wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

There are many resources on our site to help you along the way. You could start with our many live and on-demand courses. “First Principles of Islamic Spirituality” is a good on-demand course to start with. If you want a live course, then start with ‘The Path of Muhammad.’

There are score options on our site – each giving a structured approach. Some are directly on spirituality, such as ‘The Beginning of Guidance,’ and others are essential elements needed for the journey, such as the courses on Belief, Fiqh, the Qur’an, the Hadith and life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)

If you want books then there are many sections of the Ihya that have been capably translated. Look for translations of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter). All of Imam Haddad’s works are beneficial, and very well translated by Dr. Mostafa Badawi.

Please see:

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/islamic-belief/how-do-i-grow-closer-to-allah/

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/first-principles-of-islamic-spirituality-ibn-ashirs-introduction-to-sufism-explained/

https://www.meccabooks.com/509-the-beginning-of-guidance-bidayat-al-hidaya-9781933764061.html

https://www.meccabooks.com/search?controller=search&orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=Haddad&submit_search=

Find some good, like-minded company – even if it is virtual for now. It will help you along your journey. May Allah facilitate the entire matter for you. Amin.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Can I Achieve High Spiritual Aspirations If I Work In a Worldly Sector?

Question: Can I achieve higher degrees of spiritual purification if I work in a worldly sector, such as engineering? Must I abandon my secular studies and embrace religious studies to reach my spiritual aspirations?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate,


Purification

Purification or Tazkiya is a process of spiritual refinement. It is a process of self-knowledge and rectification. It entails essentially two factors.

The first is the removal of spiritual ailments also known as the blameworthy characteristics of the heart. The second is the adoption of the heart’s praiseworthy characteristics.

 

Social Self-Rectification

Being that many of the heart’s praiseworthy and blameworthy characteristics are manifest in our social dealings and cannot be detected without them, your working in a worldly sector should not be seen as an impediment but rather as an opportunity.

In such a sector, you will be able to diagnose things like arrogance, hatred, self-conceit, etc., and you will have an avenue to practice adopting qualities such as patience, generosity, humility, etc.

 

Times Of Seclusion

No matter how you earn your livelihood or the circumstances that you are in, it is essential and greatly facilitative to have moments of seclusion. One does not need large quantities of time rather quality time. In such times of seclusion one should aim to do any of the following worships:

(1) Reflection: ponder over the greatness of Allah, His blessings upon you, your deficiencies in showing gratitude for those blessings, the shortness of this life, etc…

(2) Remembrance: with tongue and heart, say the various remembrances, such as ‘subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, la ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar, prayers on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and seeking forgiveness – as an example

(3) Supplication: from the bottom of your heart, with desperation and brokenness, express to Allah Most High your needs, your aspirations, your troubles and problems, your obstacles, your shortcoming, etc., and seek help from Allah Most High while trusting in His ability to come to your aid.

Having these times will recharge you to re-engage the worldly with purpose and a present heart.

 

Religious Study

You do not have to abandon your secular studies entirely to pursue religious knowledge. However, you should designate sufficient time throughout the week to increase your understanding of religion.

If you are not versed in your personally obligatory knowledge, then it is obligatory that you take the means to seek that knowledge. However, if you do have a rudimentary foundation of Islamic knowledge you should continue to deepen and widen your understanding.

If you do possess the means and there is no undue difficulty on you or those you are responsible for, there is great merit and virtue in seeking Islamic knowledge full-time. This is something you should consult your local Imam, your parents, and the elders of your community about. Likewise, you should perform the prayer of seeking guidance before resolving on such a thing.

See the following resources for more advice and insights:

Courses:
The Path of Spiritual Excellence
What Muslims Believe and Why
Essentials of Islam

I hope this helps,
Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences

Overwhelmed by Guilt?

“How blunt are all the arrows of thy quiver in comparison with those of guilt”. -Robert Blair

The following article was published on Mental Health 4 Muslims.

Guilt is one of the most powerful of human emotions. It can motivate one to seek redemption or it can leave one feeling hopeless; it can set one on a path of true renewal and change or on a dangerous and dark path of depression and moral decline.

Feelings of guilt can surface for a number of different reasons. One may feel guilt after disappointing or hurting a loved one. A teenager who disobeys his/her parent or a spouse who betrays their partner may struggle with serious feelings of guilt both during and after their indiscretions. Guilt can also emerge from having negative feelings or thoughts about others, which are undeserved, such as being jealous of someone else’s success.  Perhaps the most demoralizing form is extreme guilt that can afflict someone after committing a sin or a serious moral offense.  The one suffering from this type of guilt is not just feeling deep regret for his/her wrongs but they are in fact overwhelmed with despair, hopelessness, and self-loathing.

There is a clear difference between guilt that leads to remorse which inspires one to sincerely seek God’s forgiveness and a much more destructive and sinister feeling that perpetuates guilt so strong that it distances one from God.  Some people hold on to the hope that God will accept their despair as penance so they allow thoughts of extreme guilt to consume them. Others are perpetuated by the misguided belief that their actions are beyond redemption; easily becoming depressed and withdrawn, they drown in a sea of their own guilt. In both cases they are literally unable to disconnect or move beyond the past because they see every subsequent negative event in their life whether it is a loss, disappointment or tragic event as a direct consequence of their past deeds. They are unable to forgive themselves and so they convince themselves that God is punishing them.

Muslims believe that such grim and ominous thoughts are inspired by mankind’s greatest enemy, Satan. He will stop at nothing to demoralize, diminish, and spiritually destroy us. Through despair, he pushes us to the brink emotionally and psychologically in order to lead us to moral and spiritual apathy or the sense that we’ve crossed the point of no return and have no way for redemption. Once we’re convinced of this then our actions will follow suit, our heedlessness will increase and we will ultimately perish.

So how can one distinguish healthy feelings of guilt & remorse from these destructive feelings of despair and hopelessness? You must first know the answer to the following questions:

1)   Identify the cause of your guilt. What is the offense you think you’ve made?

2)   Whom have you offended?

3)   Is there a way to redress it?

The first point is very important because oftentimes we aren’t very clear on what God actually deems blameworthy. As Muslims, we are very fortunate in that we have a faith that covers in great detail both personal and social etiquette as well as legal rights and responsibilities. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is our role model and his standard of conduct in every area of life is how we should measure our own behavior. If our actions/deeds are offensive by his standard then they are certainly offensive to God.

In the second point you must determine the degree of the offense. In other words, is it something that you will actually be taken into account for or is that just what you’ve been led to believe? Is the action truly offensive to God? We have to keep in mind that many of our cultures impose certain things on us that have nothing to do with Islam. This can obviously cause serious confusion for the average Muslim, most of whom haven’t formally studied the religion. For example, there are some cultures that look down upon a woman who remarries after a divorce; they erroneously believe that she is somehow dishonoring herself and her family. This clearly has nothing to do with Islam but nevertheless, some women who come out of divorce feel conflicted about remarrying and even believe that it’s shameful to talk about it.  The fact that many of the female Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were divorced and remarried during his lifetime is enough of a proof to contradict this ridiculous claim.

And finally, the third point focuses on the possibility of redemption by redressing the wrong itself. One of the many treasures of Islam is that it gives nearly everyone and anyone [who sincerely seeks it] hope for redemption. This point couldn’t be more perfectly articulated than in the following hadith:

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May God be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him also completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. The scholar replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of God, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.’ So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him, and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, ‘This man has come with a repenting heart to God,’ and the angels of punishment argued, ‘He never did a virtuous deed in his life.’ Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.’ They measured and found him closer to the land from where he left.  So God commanded (the land which he wanted to leave) to move away and commanded the other land (his destination) to draw nearer and then He said: ‘Now measure the distance between them.’ It was found that he was nearer to his goal by a hand’s span and was thus forgiven”. It is also narrated that he drew closer by a slight movement of his chest. (Bukhari & Muslim)

There are many lessons we can derive from this hadith but undeniably it teaches us that God’s mercy has no bounds and no one can limit Him in anything. His judgment is His alone so to assume that He will not forgive something is not only incorrect but it’s also blasphemous.  Simply put, we do not have the right to make any assumptions about God or His judgment.

So no matter how guilty we may feel about something we should be certain that God’s forgiveness is available to us so long as we sincerely repent.  And repentance is more than just wallowing in guilt or articulating sorrow and regret on your tongue; the process of sincere repentance necessitates action and includes:

1)   Recognizing the offense itself and its admission before God

2)   Promising to never return to it again

3)   Repenting sincerely to God for your transgression

As long as one commits to all 3 points then their repentance is sincere and they should resist any negative thoughts that make them feel unworthy of God’s mercy and/or dissuade them from drawing nearer to Him. About this the Prophet (peace be upon him) related that God said:

“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.” (al-Bukhari)

There are many other similarly beautiful hadiths where God, the Exalted, illustrates His immeasurable mercy and compassion.  The onus is ours to learn about His attributes and come to a better understanding of our own creation. We must remember that He created us with the ability to choose between right and wrong and, when we err, to experience guilt, so that we seek His forgiveness not so that we fall into despair, drowning in our misery. This is the abode of Satan, the one who is truly without hope.

For those who repent sincerely, guilt is a powerful means to direct our hearts back to God, to find the hope to persevere and to experience the ultimate gift of Divine grace.


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When Hearts Go Hard – Hadiths to Revive the Heart

Hadiths to Revive the Heart

Part  One: The Reality of This World by Shaykh Abdullah Misra

 

Our world can be viewed from the lens of a trial; in both good times and bad, the potential to develop cynicism and callousness exists. It is our duty as Muslims to always remain vigilant such that we do not forget Allah Most High’s blessings and mercy. For this purpose SeekersGuidance scholar Shaykh Abdullah Misra chose the documented work of Imam Khatib al-Tabrizi; Mishkat al-Masabih (The Niche Of Lamps) to deeply explore the topic of a soft heart. Imam al-Tabrizi gathered sayings and practices of the Prophet (hadiths) found in the six canonical books such as Bukhari, Muslim and others on a multitude of topics.

A soft heart is one that has not fallen into despair and whose intimate relationship with Allah Most High and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is safeguarded. Throughout this nineteen article series, Shaykh Abdullah explains each hadith focused on softening the heart. 

This is the first article based on a series of online podcasts by SeekersGuidance scholar – Shaykh Abdullah Misra – called When Hearts Grow Hard.

Hardness of the Heart is an affliction that happens to everyone at some point in their life, but what exactly is this hardness? We may feel a sense of despair when experiencing different life events such as illness, loss of wealth, and even uncertainty in a pandemic. We become selfish and lack a sense of empathy as our only concern is this worldly life, when instead, we should be striving for the Hereafter.

The heart is cured by the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in numerous hadiths. These are the heart softeners which open our souls to the Divine Wisdom of our Creator, Allah Most High. Our means of reaching Allah is through the heart, and it must be purified before His guidance can penetrate it. 

 

Five Hadiths on the Reality of this World

  1. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “There are two blessings that most people are cheated from good health and free time.” (Bukhari)

In our youth, we are unencumbered with responsibilities, and as a result, we have more free time. Instead of wasting it on social media, partying, or idle talk, we are encouraged to seek beneficial knowledge that will lead us to Paradise. Free time is a resource that is limited, and it parallels good health. A person in retirement has more free time but lacks the good health of one’s youth. One may want to spend more time in the remembrance of Allah but is not always physically able due to illness in old age. We must not cheat ourselves of the limited blessings of free time and good health.

  1. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) narrated, “ I swear by Allah this world compared to the Hereafter is like if one of you dipped his finger into the sea; let him see how much water he comes back with.” (Muslim)

This world, dunya in Arabic, is the lowest form of life because it is temporary, compared to the Hereafter which is everlasting. The scholars have mentioned that life in this world is a fleeting moment, like an hour of time. We must strive to make it an hour of obedience and worship to Allah. 

  1. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) passed by a dead lamb that had no ears, and asked, “Which one of you would like to have this for a silver coin?” Those present said, “We wouldn’t want that for anything!”. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, “ Then I swear by Allah, this world is more insignificant to Allah than this carcass is to you all.” (Muslim)

All the affairs in this world are meaningless to Allah  Most High –  yet man obsesses over the pursuit of wealth, love, or fame. Allah in His infinite wisdom taught us the Hereafter will never end, and we must aim for Paradise with our good deeds.

  1. “This world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever,” said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).  (Muslim)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was blessed with the brevity of speech, containing meanings that have a lasting impression. As Muslims, we do not indulge our base desires as this can lead to immoral behavior and consequently punishment in the Hellfire. Disbelievers view a Muslim’s life as restricted,  akin to a prison. A disbeliever is ungrateful for Allah’s blessings and pursues the forbidden pleasures of this world, which give him a false sense of happiness like a paradise. Our goal, as Muslims, is to please Allah Most High, even if we must sacrifice our inner desires.

  1. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “ Allah does not deal unjustly with a believer for even one small good deed; for it, he is given good in this world and rewarded for it in the Hereafter also. As for the ungrateful disbeliever, he is given things in this world as a reward  for the good works they did for Allah’s sake, until they reach the Hereafter without a single good deed to be rewarded for.” (Muslim)

A Muslim is rewarded in this life and in the Hereafter for any single good deed that he has performed, whereas a disbeliever is only rewarded in this life for any good he has done. The ingratitude of the disbeliever for Allah’s bounties will lead him to doom on the Day of Judgment.

In conclusion, we must not take our good health and free time for granted and understand that Allah Most High created us to obey and worship Him. This world is insignificant compared to the permanent abode of the Hereafter. By heeding the advice of our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), may Allah guide us to soften our hearts, so we can accept His Divine guidance.

 

Biography of Shaykh Abdullah Misra

Shaykh Abdullah Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, into a Hindu family of North Indian heritage. He became Muslim at the age of 18, graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Business Administration, and worked briefly in marketing. He then went abroad with his wife to seek religious knowledge full-time, first in Tarim, then in the West Indies, and finally in Amman, Jordan, where he focused his traditional studies on the sciences of Sacred Law (fiqh), hadith, Islamic belief, tajwid, and sira.

 

Watch the full video here: 

 

 

Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah: A Quest for Truth

 

Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah Wymann-Landgraf, author of Malik and Medina, beautifully weaves a story in the podcast Diffused Congruence, spanning several decades and countless nations including Spain, Morocco, Pakistan, Canada and Saudi Arabia, inspiring both laughter and spiritual aspiration. Along the way he builds an essential reading list for any seeker of truth and knowledge.  The interview is part an intellectual biography, part social commentary on the later 20th century and part lessons learned over a life spent in seeking knowledge and service to others. We cannot recall a finer personal, oral narrative and warn you that you may not be able to listen only once.

The Seeker:

Dr. Umar begins with his early childhood upbringing in Columbus, Nebraska, near the Platte River. By all means a quintessential all American boy, growing up on a farm, and tending to the needs of country living, he describes how much of the values and character traits he learned during this formative period informs much of the person he is today. Dr. Umar also describes in much detail his early religious upbringing, being christened a Protestant in the Congregationalist, Presbyterian and Lutheran traditions.

As a very young teenager and in the most unexpected of circumstances, Dr. Umar’s belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, is shaken.

The Learner:

Dr. Umar goes on to describe his quest for truth and meaning, particularly during his time at university while at Cornell. His exposer to African-American literature by the likes of W. E. B. DuBois, Jean Toomer, ultimately led him to the autobiography of  Malcolm X who Dr. Umar credits with bringing him to Islam. It was in this period that Dr. Umar gained an emphasis, integrity, beauty, and an assertion of the humanity of Black people during the Civil Rights era. We also learn of how Dr. Umar dabbled with left wing revolutionary politics during the Vietnam War by being a conscientious objector.

The Teacher; perpetual student:

Dr. Umar, “our tradition is a beautiful tradition, one of the richest in the history of human kind, that has all the treasures and wealth in it that is necessary to make sense of the modern/ post-modern world”

Dr. Umar ends by sharing his love for reading and teaching, for in teaching he sees in himself the perpetual student, one that is always learning from his students. Dr. Umar describes that his current work is centred on theology, with respect to studying, researching and understanding modernism, post-modernism, the truth and fallacies of scientism, and in finding the solid ground of first principles, so that it can be properly incorporated into Islamic theology, towards bringing tradition back to life once again – “theology is the foundation of our world view”.

Dr. Umar’s works, especially those published through the Nawawi foundation, are a must read for academics, activists, students of history and seekers of Sacred Knowledge alike. His scholarship focuses on indigenizing Islam and contemporary muslims into the fabric of American history and culture, towards muslims making a first effective settlement.

Above all, in this interview, Dr. Umar is an example of a life lived through conviction, a love for the Scholars (some older, but many younger than him), a love for ordinary Muslims, and a love for the Truth in all its glory.

Based on Diffused Congruence Podcast

Spiritual Activism and the Tradition of Salawat in West Africa – Imam Dawud Walid

In this reminder, Imam Dawud Walid discusses the benefits of sending benediction and praise on the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), relating it to Sacred Activism and Centering Black Narrative.

Imam Dawud tells the story a great 19th-century West African scholar, saint, and activist, Sidi Touba, Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba, whose mother, a scholar herself, was descended from the Prophet.

Shaykh Bamba wrote a great number of works in many Islamic sciences, but when exiled by the French, he devoted all of his time to writing poetry and praise on the Prophet as a means for his liberation and that of his people. Shaykh Bamba was a believer in “virtue ethics”—that the way you take means is more important is the end. Imam Dawud highlights a commonly recurring benediction in these poems, called the salat al-fatih.

Imam Dawud concludes that while at looking the issues is important, so, too, is the means we take. In addition, to keep ourselves centred and spiritually grounded, sending benedictions on the Prophet is extremely important, whether through traditional formulas, the salat al-fatih, or reading a chapter of Jazauli’s Dala’il al-Khayrat.

 

Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 3)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadan

 

Part 3: The Expression of Love by Ustadha Zainab Ansari

 

In this section,  Ustadha Zainab focuses on the relationship between us and Allah through the lens of love.

You will learn that fasting is actually a way to be expressing your love to Allah by following the commitment inscribed in the book of God and the Sunnah. Fasting is essentially an invisible act or worship, with no one knowing that you’re fasting except yourself and your Lord. This creates an aspect of strong intimacy between yourself and Allah.ramadan

Through the physical difficulty of hunger, you are proving your love to Allah. By you being gifted obey Him and fasting for His sake only, you may start to realise that you received this blessing and ability out of His immense love for you. Indeed, it is Allah who creates in you a physical desire to please Him, and you choose respond to him just to please Him. This is what love is all about.

When you fast, you overcome the primal instinct to attain a higher spiritual level. Resisting your hunger helps to raise your spiritual strength and improves your control over the body and soul. Food can be a mean to discipline yourself, or it can be a test and a mean to spiritual disaster.

Ustadha Zainab talks about the implementation of a strong relationship with the Qur’an, the Divine Word of Allah, and the night prayers. There is a spiritual secret to be discovered by the seeker if he searches thoroughly.

Ramadan might be the moment of an epiphany for you. That moment you turn your life around and travel the blessed path which you always wanted to sail onto. People get spiritual openings through Ramadan all the time. Seize that Ramadan to be one of them!

For more information or to register, click here.