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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.


 

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.

Finding Allah Through Fasting – Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

In this video, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah reminds us of the ultimate purpose of fasting Ramadan: to find Allah Most High. He highlights the many means to attaining consciousness of God in the month of Ramadan, including leaving sin, vice, and everything that busies away from Allah. Amongst these, he puts particular emphasis on fulfilling the obligations due upon us, the most important of which are the five daily prayer.

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service – Ustadha Umm Umar

Ustadha Umm Umar reminds us of incorporating the aspect of service in Ramadan as a means of drawing near to Allah Most High. She advises to not make Ramadan just revolve around one’s self, rather to also be concerned with others and their needs. Ustadha Umm Umar gives key advice and practical methods on how to engage in service through Ramadan.

I wanted to talk about another aspect of Ramadan that sometimes we forget. Often people think of Ramdana as my month. It‘s between me and Allah. Then they sort of annihilate the idea of doing goodness to others. It’s about me and my time with Allah. About how much time I can put in with the Qur’an. And then when we talk about service some people get a little bit bitter.

Especially the sisters. They’re like, well, why do I have to be the one to do this? why do I have to be the one to cook the iftar? I’d like to spend all day reading Qur’an. It’s sort of losing sight of what Ramadan is really about. And what the the scholars today talked and emphasized a lot is the love of Allah Most High. And rectifying the self. Turning to Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

But these two concepts do not contradict each other. Rather they run in parallel. Because it’s when we turn help each other, help fellow believers, and it’s all done out of love for Allah, that we manifest that love. That we love to have His creation turned to Him. And if there is anything we can do to help other people turn towards Allah we should run to that opportunity. Whether that be to people in our own family, whether it be our children, whether it be members of our community. We should be avid to do what we can to help other people.

Balance Service and Self

That being said, it needs to be balanced of course, because you can’t just spend all of your Ramadan running around serving other people with neglect to oneself. One needs that personal time where you’re turning to Allah. Reading the Qur’an with reflection and understanding. Spending time reading other beneficial material or listening to beneficial lectures. Benefiting the self.

But there are a lot of things, there is a lot of extra time in the day, in which one can do things for other people. And as our teachers say, it’s almost as if there’s a sale during Ramadan, because now actions that you do are multiplied. Good actions that you do, even reading the Qur’an – all the good things that you can think of doing are multiplied. So it is best to take advantage of this time .

And doing what you can to help other people is also part of making the most of one’s time. It is not that one spends a little time in intensive worship and then closes the book and goes to relax, and just sort of vegetate for part of the day. Or one decides to go to sleep for another part of the day. One strives to make the most of every moment. As we should on every other day of the year.

We should make the most of all parts of our day on a daily basis. Even when we get up from this gathering we should be striving to make the most of our lives as believers. To make all of our moments count for us and not against us.

Primary Benefits of Service

There are three primary benefits of service. One is that it erases your past sins. When you do things for other people these things get erased. So there is nothing better you can ask for. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and would do anything to not face Allah with those on our record. And by His mercy He can forgive a lot of those things when you’re serving other people with that intention.

Another benefit of doing service at this time is that you get the dua of fasting people. When you’re doing things to benefit them you’re earning their dua. And Allah knows whose dua is accepted. When you’re doing it for a number of people, that includes even small children, know that when we do things for other people they make a dua for you.

The Hidden Secret of Service

And perhaps that single dua from one single person, child or adult, known or stranger, is the reason for your success. It might not be all of these customs that you’ve done in the past or all of these other things. It might be the dua of one elder in the community that you helped in a real time of need. Allah has this knowledge. It is with Allah Most High.

It’s a hidden secret in our service to other people that we don’t know where where our ultimate success will lie. And with what action and with what person. That leaves us continuously striving to do our best at every moment.

And finally the third aspect of service is that the deeds are multiplied during Ramadan. So one might be doing things for other people at other times of the year but in Ramadan these deeds are actually multiplied. They weigh heavier on your record. So strive in this regard and in sha Allah the reward for your service will be multiplied.

 

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service

 

Ramadan Seminar Q&A Session – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally posted on May 8, 2018

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers questions on the fiqh of fasting, including the nullifiers of fasts, expiation for broken fasts, and the spiritual retreat.

Among the many questions and points Shakyh Faraz addresses, he mentions that if one breaks fast deliberately or by accident, the time of fasting is not over, and one is able to fast, then one refrains from everything a fasting person refrains from until fasting ends. This is a sign of contrition and remorse.

Hasten to Break Fast

The Shaykh also mentions that one should not delay breaking fast excessively out of a mistaken sense of piety or fervor. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَحَبُّ عِبَادِي إِلَيَّ أَعْجَلُهُمْ فِطْرًا

Allah Mighty and Majestic said: “The most beloved among my servants are those who hasten to break their fast.” (Tirmidhi)

Be Tactful and Considerate with Others

But one must also remember that when in a group of people who believe they are in the right to delay, one must be discreet about the matter and not make disagreement a point of contention or rancor. If you consider breaking it in such a situation do it tactfully.

These and many others points and rulings are covered in this session. And you should listen to it even if you know all the answers as there is no harm and abundant good in reviewing what one knows and strengthening one’s knowledge.

May Allah grant us eternal success in the blessed month of Ramadan and in all the months He has decreed for each and every one of us until we are brought before Him. Amin.


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

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Fasting The White Days of Sha‘ban – Muwasala

We are now approaching the “White Days” of the month of Sha‘ban. The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically.

We should attempt to fast all three days if we are able, since Sayyidah ‘A’ishah said of the Prophet ﷺ: “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha‘ban.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If we are unable to do so, we should attempt to fast the fifteenth, since the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that when this night comes we should spend it in prayer and fast the following day.

Please check the moon sighting in your locality.


With gratitude to our Content Partner: Muwasala.org.


 

Daily Checklist for the Spiritual Traveler to the Divine – Compiled by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Sha‘ār

Any individual wishing to turn to Allah on a daily basis should try their upmost to implement the following checklist and advice.This daily checklist was compiled by Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Sha’ar, son of Sidi Abu Munir, the longtime personal attendant of the great Damascene scholar of Islamic spiritually, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri.

صلاة ركعتين في السحر
1. Performing 2 units (rak‘a) of prayer in the last part of the night

أداء الصلوات الخمس جماعة وخصوصاً الفجر مع الخشوع والحضور في الصلاة
2. Performing the five obligatory prayers in congregation, especially Fajr, with presence and humility before God ﷻ

المحافظة على الوضوء
3. Consistency upon ablution (wudū’)

المحافظة على السنن الرواتب وأربع ركعات الضحى
4. Consistency upon the supererogatory prayers (sunan) associated with the obligatory prayers and four units of the morning prayer (duhā)

قراءة جزء من القرآن مع قراءة (الواقعة, الملك, أواخر البقرة والحشر) كل ليلة
5. Reciting a juz’ of Qur’ān every day, as well as al-Wāqi‘a, al-Mulk, and the endings of al-Baqara and al-Hashr every night

وقراءة (100) استغفار – (100) صلاة على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم –       (100)  لا إله إلا الله – (100) سبحان الله وبحمده صباحا ومساء
6. Reciting 100x istighfār, 100x prayer on the Prophet ﷺ (salawāt), 100x lā ilāha illā Allāh, and 100x subhān Allāhi wa bi hamdihi every morning and evening

صلاة ركعتي التوبة كل يوم قبل النوم مع البكاء من خشية الله
7. Performing 2 units of the prayer of repentance (tawba) every night before sleeping, crying out of humility before God ﷻ

التصدق ولو بشيء يسير كل يوم
8. Giving in charity, even very little, every day

صيام الاثنين والخميس على قدر الاستطاعة
9. Fasting Mondays and Thursdays as much as one is able

الجدية التامة وقلة الخلطة وعدم الانشغال بسفاسف الأمور
10. Maintaining complete solemnity, spending little time intermingling with people, and not wasting time in trivial matters

حسن الخلق والتزام الآداب الشرعية
11. Having good character and maintaining the etiquette (adab) of the sacred law

الاضطرار والحرقة للوصول إلى الله تعالى وإشغال الفكر بالتقدم في السلوك وترقية الحال
12. Having a deep, burning need to arrive at God ﷻ and busying one’s thoughts with spiritual advancement and the elevation of one’s state

إحكام الصمت الشرعي واغتنام الوقت
13. Staying silent in accordance with the law and taking advantage of one’s time

النصيحة لكل مسلم
14. Advising every Muslim

محاسبة النفس كل يوم
15. Taking oneself to account every day

مسامحة الخلق أجمعين
16. Forgiving all people

التواضع والشعور بأنك أقل الناس قدراً
17. Being humble, feeling that one is the least worthy of people

الحرص على تتبع السنة في كل الأمور
18. Covetousness in following the Sunnah in all matters

التفاني وبذل النفس للدين
19. Spending and exhausting the self in service of the religion

ملازمة مجالس العلم
20. Constantly attending gatherings of sacred knowledge

قراءة أصول الطريق كل أسبوع مرة على الأقل
21. Reading the foundations of the spiritual path at least once a week

الابتعاد عن الأمور التالية
Avoiding the following matters:
– Love of being seen and of leadership | حب الظهور والرياسة
– Anger | الغضب
– Tale-telling | النميمة
– Backbiting | الغيبة
– Lying | الكذب
– Deceit | الغش
– Ostentation | الرياء
– Letting others hear of one’s religious works | السمعة
– Conceit | الغرور
– Mentioning immoral acts | الخوض في الباطل
– Arguing | الجدال
– Reliance on oneself | الاعتداد بالنفس
– Being intimate and delighted with the people of heedlessness | الانبساط والاستئناس مع أهل الغفلة
– Satisfying one’s hunger beyond filling one-third of the stomach | الشبع بمجاوزة ثلث المعدة
– Looking down upon other people | التعالي على الخلق
– Coveting this world | الحرص على الدنيا
– Sloth in acts of worship | الكسل في الطاعات

The Scholar Who Worked as a Waiter – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

One of our teachers was Habib Muhammad bin Alawi al-Attas, a scholar and a true worshipper. He was known as ‘al-Zabidi’ because he spent some years studying with the scholars of Zabid (once a great centre of knowledge in Yemen). During his time there he chose to work as a waiter in a restaurant, not because he needed the money, but in order to refine his lower self (nafs): running round taking people’s orders, bring this, do this..

We visited him in his home in Huraydah at the end of his life with a group of scholars: among them Habib Mashhur bin Hafiz, Habib Umar bin Alawi al-Kaf, Habib Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Shihab and Habib Salim al-Shatiri.

He said:

“Last night someone saw the Prophet ﷺ in this very room.”

May Allah have mercy upon him – a scholar who knew the importance of refining the nafs.

– Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) during his commentary on the Ihya Ulum al-Din, Dar al-Mustafa, 28th Dhu’l-Qa’dah 1440.