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Mercy, the Stamp of Creation

Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah examines the role of mercy and eternal salvation in the Islamic tradition, and its imprint on all affairs of the universe.

Although Islam is often proclaimed as the “religion of peace,” theologically, it is more accurate to refer to it as the “religion of mercy.” God has designated mercy as his primary relation to the universe and sent his greatest prophet, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, as its emissary.

Following this, Muslims are commanded to be vanguards of mercy to the world in fostering benefit and averting harm. Islam enjoins a healthy and spiritually alive heart and teaches a law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from the unmerciful.

The explicit link between the Arabic words Islam, literally “entering into peace,” and salam, “peace” or “perfect peace” has been frequently highlighted of late. It is mainly because of this etymological connection that many Muslims and others advance the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, just as Christianity is customarily called a religion of love. Certainly, in terms of their creed and the historical record, Muslims are no less justified in equating Islam with peace than Christians are in identifying their faith with love. From a theological perspective, however, it would be more precise to describe Islam as the religion of mercy.

Islamic revelation designates the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, as “the prophet of mercy,” and Islam’s scriptural sources stress that mercy — above other divine attributions — is God’s hallmark in creation and constitutes his primary relation to the world from its inception through eternity, in this world and the next. Islam enjoins its followers to be merciful to themselves, to others, and the whole of creation, teaching a karma-like law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from those who hold it back from others.

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “People who show mercy to others will be shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, and he who is in heaven will be merciful to you.” (Tirmidhi) Because these words epitomize Islam’s fundamental ethos, it was called “the Tradition of Primacy” and, for generations of Classical Muslim teachers, constituted the first text that many of them handed down to their students and required them to commit to memory with a full chain of transmitters going back to the Prophet Muhammad.

God: The All-Merciful

In Arabic, God is called by many names, but his primary and most beautiful name, embracing all others, is Allah (God, the true God). Allah is a derivative of the same Semitic root as the Biblical Elohim (God) and ha-Eloh (the true God) of Moses and the Hebrew prophets or the Aramaic Alaha (God, the true God) of Jesus and John the Baptist. The formula “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving” (bismi Allah al Rahman al Rahim), occurs one hundred and fourteen times in the Qur’an — Islam’s holy book — at the beginning of all but one chapter and twice in another. The phrase is central to Islamic ritual.

In Islam, the All-Merciful (al Rahman) and the Mercy-Giving (al Rahim) may be said to be the greatest names of God after Allah. Of all his names, they are most descriptive of his relation to the world and emphasize his will in salvation history and throughout eternity to benefit creation and ultimately bring about the triumph of supreme good over evil.The Qur’an states: “It is the All-Merciful who assumed the Throne,” (Sura Ta Ha 20:5) meaning that God designs the world and rules the universe in his aspect as the All-Merciful.

Consequently, mercy is the stamp of creation and the ontological thread that runs through everything. All that transpires — even temporal deprivation, harm, and evil – will, in due course, fall under the rubric of cosmic mercy. One Islamic luminary maintained: “If God had revealed instead that ‘the Overpowering (al Jabbar) [another of God’s ninety-nine principal names] had assumed the throne,’ creation would melt” Another verse reads: “God ordained mercy upon himself,” (Sura al An‘am 6:12) again emphasizing that mercy is a universal law (sunna), the dominant theme of the cosmos, and the fundamental purpose of the creative act.

Two prophetic Traditions reveal God as saying: “My mercy has vanquished my wrath,” and in the second: “My mercy takes precedence over my wrath.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Because we live in a universe bearing mercy’s imprint, harmony and beauty permeate all things: “Our Lord, you have embraced all things in mercy and knowledge.” (Sura al Ghafir 40:7) In the verse, mercy — technically an attribute of act— is given priority of reference over knowledge — an attribute of essence — again emphasizing mercy’s predominance in the universal plan.

The Prophet of Mercy

According to Islamic revelation, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, was the last and greatest of God’s messengers, fulfilling the legacy of the Biblical and extra-Biblical prophets and confirming the teachings of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As the All-Merciful’s chief emissary, he was fittingly called the “prophet of mercy” (nabi al rahma . The Qur’an says of him: “We did not send you but as a special mercy to all the worlds.” (Sura al Anbiya 21:107) The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stated: “In certainty, I was not sent to bring down curses; I was only sent as a special mercy.” (Muslim)

As in English, “mercy” in Arabic is tied to compassion and closely linked with the act of forgiveness and pardon. Theologically, Islamic tradition defines mercy as the intent to bring good to others and cause them benefit. As such, being merciful implies the desire to avert evil and harm. When associated with acts of pardon and forgiveness, mercy is retroactive and after the fact. But as it relates to the intent to bring about good or avert evil, mercy assumes an elemental and proactive dimension and is often before the fact, evincing a forward-looking quality that seeks to set things right, make a break with the past, and foster new beginnings where goodness and benefit can thrive.

The thread of proactive mercy ran throughout the fabric of the Prophet’s life and was the key to his phenomenal, hard-earned, and lasting success, Allah bless him and give him peace. The loyalty and love of his followers and the awe and respect he evoked among his enemies were the fruits of such magnanimity. He said: “The closest of you to me on the Day of Judgment will be the best of you in character.”

Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, jested with children, showed a kindly humor toward adults, and even gave his followers friendly nicknames. He visited the sick, inquired after the welfare of neighbors, friends, followers, and even those who disbelieved in him. He was a warm egalitarian and shared everything with those around him, including their poverty. He was always willing to forgive, rarely chastising those who disobeyed him.

He did not restrict his mercy to his followers. One day in Medina, he was sitting with his Companions, who later related: “A funeral procession passed us by, and the Prophet, may God bless and keep him, stood up so we all stood up because he had. Then we said: ‘O Messenger of God, it is only the funeral procession of a Jew.’ He replied: ‘Was he not a human being?’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Like Moses and other Biblical prophets, Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, took part in battle. He was victorious but not a “world-conqueror.” Although he engaged in war, he waged peace, and his inclination toward amnesty and diplomatic solutions is unmistakable. Above all it was the attitude of perpetual mercy that enabled him ultimately to forge for the first time in history a pax islamica in the Arabian Peninsula.

That same attitude combined with masterly statesmanship enabled him not only to rescue the city of Medina — which had invited him for that purpose — from generations of civil war between its feuding clans but to create an island of stability in a sea of chaos and then extend that island gradually until it claimed the sea.

Those who died in the Prophet’s battles were relatively few, Allah bless him and give him peace, and, according to some estimates, numbered around two hundred on both sides. He laid down rules of engagement and parameters of war that became a central part of Islamic law, forbidding the predation of civilian populations, the wanton destruction of lands and livestock, and the use of fire, flooding, and poisons that kill indiscriminately.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted people at their word and forgave them easily. He harbored no desire for vengeance and rejected the pagan custom of blood feuds and revenge. There was nothing mindless or fanatic about his piety. He was never intransigent or bent on war.

Men who had been numbered among his most relentless and unforgiving enemies — like Abu Sufyan ibn Ḥarb, ʿIkrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Safwan ibn Umayya — ultimately came not only to accept and follow the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, but, during the last years of their lives, devoted themselves heroically to his mission with a passion surpassing the enmity that had driven them before.

Even in the midst of bitter war, the Prophet inclined toward peaceful solutions. The Armistice of Hudaybiyya exemplified this spirit and his desire for the ultimate welfare of his enemies, in this case the pagans of Mecca. It was reached at a time when Muslim strength was reaching a high point and the power of the Prophet’s pagan opponents — now in irreversible decline—was vulnerable and could have been ruthlessly crushed.

Yet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted without hesitation conciliatory concessions which initially appeared so humiliating that they bewildered his followers. The Qur’anic revelation proclaimed the armistice a “manifest victory,” and within weeks it was clear that it had set the stage for winning the hearts of the Prophet’s harshest enemies, Allah bless him and give him peace, and opening doors of reconciliation, which for years had been stubbornly shut.

In due course, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “conquered” Mecca peacefully. As he approached the city with the largest army ever assembled on the Arabian Peninsula till that time, he noticed a wild dog on the roadside nursing her litter and posted one of his Companions, Juʿayl al Damari, to stand guard near her so that the entire contingent could pass without disturbing her or the pups.

After years of bitter conflict, some of the Prophet’s Companions — in keeping with the ancient Arabian code of revenge — were sure that the day they took Mecca would be the hour of vengeance. One of Medina’s tribal chieftains, Saʿd ibn ʿUbada, noticed Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, former leader of pagan Mecca, standing near the Prophet and told Abu Sufyan ominously: “This will be a day of slaughter.” Saʿd was proudly bearing his tribal banner. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, took it from him, handed it to Saʿd’s son, and declared: “What Saʿd has said is wrong. No, this will be the day that God glorifies his House (the temple of Abraham in Mecca) and decorates it with a new covering.”

By any measure, it was a day of mercy. In Mecca, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, gathered his former enemies at the House of Abraham and asked them: “What do you think I am about to do with you?” They replied: “You are a magnanimous brother, the son of a magnanimous brother.” He answered: “Go to your houses. You have been set free.” It was this merciful and forgiving nature that finally established the Prophet’s authority in Mecca after its peaceful conquest, fostered mutual understanding, and forged new bonds. In the end, it was above all this proactive mercy that spelled the death of idolatry and paganism in Mecca and throughout Arabia and prepared the way for Islam’s unparalleled triumph in the world beyond.

The Command to be Merciful

In imitation of the Prophet, Muslims are expected to be merciful, to bring good, and to seek the benefit of others — all others — not wish them harm or rejoice in the evil that befalls them. Indeed, the Tradition of Primacy promotes a doctrine of universal, all-embracing mercy. Commentators emphasize this point, clarifying that the mercy Muslims are commanded to show is not exclusively for themselves or the righteous among them.

It extends to all human beings: Jews, Christians, the believing and unbelieving, the upright and the immoral, and it goes beyond the human family to include both the animate and inanimate: birds and animals, even plants and trees. In English, “be merciful to those on earth” tends to imply human beings. Translated here as “those,” the Arabic word man is broad and inclusive. Its primary reference is to rational beings, but it includes, by secondary reference, non-rational ones also: animals, plants, and, by extension, what today would be termed the environment.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told an anecdote of a sinful man suffering from thirst one oppressively hot day who came across a well. He went down into it — (Middle Eastern wells are often open and with deep, winding staircases) — drew water, and drank. (Bukhari) When he came back up, he noticed a dog, panting from thirst and eating the clay around the well for moisture. The man said to himself: “This dog is suffering from thirst like I was.” He went down into the well a second time, filled his shoe with water, and let the dog drink. God loved the man’s humane act, showed him mercy, and forgave all his sins. When Muḥammad’s Companions heard the story, they asked: “O Messenger of God, will we be rewarded for being good to animals?” He answered: “Yes, there is reward in showing good to every living creature.” In another Tradition, the Prophet emphasized the atrociousness of merciless behavior in God’s eyes and told of a woman condemned to hell for intentionally starving a cat to death.

Mercy begins with the individual by taking care of the self physically, emotionally, and spiritually and includes exercise and diet, pursuing education, and keeping good company. It also means having a good opinion of oneself — without being arrogant or blind to one’s faults — living in constant anticipation of God’s help and mercy along with other Islamic corollaries of behavior like the categorical prohibition of suicide and despair. From the individual, concentric rings of mercy extend outward, taking in parents, spouse, children, family, neighbors, community, and the world. Part of being merciful toward others is having a good opinion of them, defending their good name, and doing whatever makes their lives better and averts harm.

The Qur’an looks upon marital life as a primary locus of mercy and, consequently, exalts the institution of marriage as one of creation’s marvels and chief proofs of God, next to the creation of the heavens and the earth and of humankind itself. Marriage is not just the basic mode of human generation, manifesting the biological continuity of divine creation, but forms the primary social nucleus of love: “Among God’s signs is his creating for you partners in marriage from yourselves so that you find happiness in them and his putting between you bonds of affection and mercy. Certainly in that there are signs for people who think.” (Sura al Rum 30:21)

The Arabic words for “affection” and “mercy” in the verse are mawadda and raḥma. Matrimonial “mercy” means that both husband and wife seek to make each other happy, desiring what is good, prosperous, and beneficial for each. It implies that each spouse treat the other honorably and that neither be content with evil or harm as the other’s lot.

Mawadda — translated above as “affection” but more frequently as “love” — precedes raḥma in the verse, implying that love is mercy’s spiritual bedrock. While Arabic has many words for love, mawadda represents a special type. One of the ninety-nine principal names of God in Arabic — Al Wadud, “the Loving” — is derived from the same linguistic root.

Mawadda does not refer to physical love but to an active, emotive love that is direct and personal, involving affectionate care and abiding attention to others’ needs. With regard to God, al Wadud (the Loving), mawadda refers to his providential care for creation and the personal bounty and protection that he grants those he loves. With regard to human interaction, both in a general and marital context — as in the above-quoted verse — mawadda refers to loving involvement in the life of another, not simply through care or concern for that person’s well-being but also by personal faithfulness, emotional support, good counsel, and a general regard for that person’s interests.

The Law of Universal Reciprocity

As discussed at the beginning of this essay and as the Traditions above concerning kindness to animals indicate, mercy — God’s signature in creation — is linked to a law of universal reciprocity: Mercy will be shown to the merciful, and it will be withdrawn from the merciless. The positive side of this universal law is reflected in the words of the Tradition of Primacy: “Be merciful to those on earth, and he who is in heaven will be merciful to you,” a lesson often repeated in the Islamic scriptures.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, taught: “Truly, God only shows mercy to those of his servants who are themselves merciful.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Here the complementary side of the law of mercy is clarified. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said elsewhere: “Whoever shows no mercy will be shown no mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim) In the same authoritative collections, we find: “God will show no mercy to those who show no mercy to humankind.”

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, warned his community: “Being merciful is only stripped away from the damned,” (Tirmidhi) implying that mercy is the natural condition of the human soul and is only stripped away and exchanged for mercilessness in people with callous, unnatural hearts that can no longer receive it. A heart that no longer has the capacity to feel mercy cannot be a receptacle of salvation either or a container of true faith; to become ruthless and void of compassion is to carry the mark of divine wrath and bear the brand of damnation and is the sure sign of an evil end.

Thus, the reciprocity inherent in the universal law of mercy embodies another dimension: the fact that mercy is linked with faith and opens the door of salvation, while mercilessness is linked with the rejection of God and invites damnation. Classical commentators explain that mercy springs from a healthy heart, one that is spiritually alive and suitable for sincere faith. Utter lack of mercy, on the other hand, reflects a heart that is spiritually dead. The implications are profound: Mercy and true belief do not cohabit hearts where hatred and the utter disregard for others reign.

Conclusion

The imperative to be merciful — to bring benefit to the world and avert harm — must underlie a Muslim’s understanding of reality and attitude toward society. Islam was not intended to create a chosen people, fostering exclusive claims for themselves, while looking down upon the rest of humanity like a sea of untouchables or regarding the animate and inanimate worlds around them as fields readied for wanton exploitation. Wherever Muslims find themselves, they are called upon to be actively and positively engaged as vanguards of mercy, welfare, and well-being.

Islam’s call to mercy should not render Muslims incapable of a wise and measured response to transgression, oppression, or injustice, which in some cases can only be checked by force. Islam is not a pacifist religion, although it commands its followers to incline toward merciful solutions and seek peace, while always remaining within dignified bounds and proper parameters consistent with Islam’s overarching doctrine of mercy. In a faith like Islam, which teaches that a person may be condemned to hell for starving a cat, it goes without saying that acts of ruthless barbarity must be rejected and never given the aura of religious sanctity.

The merciless heart abides in the spirit of the damned, while the healthy heart is instinctively humane and comprehends the pricelessness of mercy. It is to people who are not “damaged goods” but humanly intact and spiritually alive that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, directed his admonition: “Take an informed opinion (literally, fatwa) from your heart. What is good puts your self and your heart at rest. What is wrong is never fully acceptable to your self and wavers in your heart, even if people give you a different opinion (fatwa) and keep on giving it to you.” (Ahmad, Tabarani, and Darimi)


The above article was originally published by The Oasis Initiative. This edited version conforms to SHG Style and is printed with gratitude to the author and The Oasis Initiative.


Transcend This World – Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir expounds on the crises of despair in society, its impact on the Muslim community, and Islam as the cure for this disease.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجًا

Our praises due to Allah who has revealed the scripture unto his servant and has made no crookedness therein. (Sura al Kahf 18:1)

Allah Most High has blessed us to live in interesting times, as they say. One of the characteristics of our time, speaking specifically of this land that we reside in, is the despair that we see. That despair can be measured by what collectively are referred to as the diseases of despair: drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide, depression.

In terms of drug addiction, just discarding other forms of drugs, every day in this country, there are 170 fatal overdoses from opioids alone – heroin, morphine, percocet, oxycontin – the whole family of opioids. One hundred and seventy.

Were it not for Narcan which revives overdose victims, maybe it would be eight hundred a day, because for every one who fatally overdoses seven or eight are revived who would otherwise fatally overdose.

The Ravages of Despair

There are 241 alcohol consumption related deaths every day in this country. Just consumption. Excluding alcohol-related deaths, most fatal fatalities from auto accidents, the majority are alcohol-related. Most killings in domestic violence are alcohol-related. Maybe not most. A large percentage. But excluding all of that, 241 who die from overconsumption of alcohol every day.

There are 123 suicides every day. Almost 4,000 suicide attempts every day, which means that there are far more, because a lot of suicide attempts aren’t reported to the authorities. Increasingly large numbers of our children who should be the most hopeful find themselves dead as a result of suicide. Diseases of despair.

You see Muslims increasingly falling into many of these categories which indicates two things. One is a ignorance of our religion, because one who has knowledge of this religion understands that this is the antidote to despair: the anti-despair medicine.

The other is weakness of faith, which means there might be knowledge of the religion, but that knowledge hasn’t penetrated to the depths of the heart, so that it affects the hearts in ways that insulate the individual from the ravages of despair.

Understanding of Religion

We should understand. Understanding is very important. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, says: “The one Allah desires good for, He gives him or her a sound understanding of the religion.” We can mention a balance of the hadith because it has benefit in it.

It was related from Mu‘awiya, Allah be pleased with him, who said, “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, says: ‘The one Allah desires good for, He gives him or her a sound understanding of the religion. I dispense the Revelation, it is Allah who gives understanding.’”

So the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, gives it freely to everyone but Allah causes those seeds that he, Allah bless him and give him peace, spreads out to take root in some hearts. “And there will always remain from this community of believers a party, a group, who will establish their affair on the basis of the commandment of Allah.” (Bukhari)

What the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, is telling us is that understanding translates into action. The foundation of our action is establishing our affair on the commandment of Allah. People are rejecting their traditional religious teachings. As people increasingly turn to atheism and that’s part and parcel of the crisis of despair.

Atheism and Meaninglessness

There’s no coincidence that as atheism goes up suicide goes up, because atheism is telling a human being that you’re no different from this […] this minbar I’m standing on. You are no different than these walls. You’re no different than a fly. You’re no different then feces or urine. You’re just physical stuff.

If a human being comes to believe that he or she is just physical stuff, there’s no relationship to a higher power, there’s nothing to hope for beyond the demise of this physical body, why not commit suicide? Why not end it all? There’s nothing beyond this to hope for. That’s one of the reasons you see this upward trajectory.

The believers must hold on to the commandment of Allah. The believers must hold as lawful that which our Lord through his Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, has declared to be lawful. And the believer must maintain and hold on to what our Lord through his Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, directly from Revelation, which came through the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, or through his Sunna, have declared to be unlawful.

The lawful is unambiguously clear. The unlawful is unambiguously clear. Between those two are doubtful matters. Most people don’t know their rulings. There are people who want to make that which is unambiguously clear from the mutashabihat in terms of its lawfulness, and that which is unambiguously clear in terms of its unlawfulness, amongst the doubtful matters.

Adhere to The Book and The Sunna

Well, we need to reassess this. 1,400 years of Islam and scholarship from some of the most brilliant minds to ever walk this planet couldn’t figure out how Muslims are supposed to dress? 1,400 years of scholarship with clear unambiguous evidence, scriptural evidence, couldn’t figure out who Muslims should go to bed with?

We need to reassess? No, we need to adhere to the Book of Allah and the Sunna of his Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, and die upon that and pass it on to our descendants. If we do that, we’ve done our job. If we fail to do that, there’s going to be more suicides. There’s going to be more alcoholism. There’s going to be more drug overdoses, because people will be lost.

The prophets were sent to guide people. And this Umma, the scholars of this Umma are the heirs of the prophets. And their communities are the community of believers in this world. They will establish their affair on the commandment of Allah. They will not be harmed by those who oppose them until the command of Allah.

Some scholars say [the command] is the emergence of the dajjal. Some scholars say it is the wind that will blow at the end of time and take the souls of the believers. Most scholars say it is Doomsday. They won’t be harmed.

Hold on to Your Inheritance

Our task, brothers and sisters, if you want to be safe and you want to be sound, make sure you’re in that group. Ibn Hajar al Askalani says it could be one group in one place, but most likely it is many groups. There’s some here, there’s some there. Some in America. Some in Africa. There’s some in Asia. There’s some in Europe.

This is a source of mercy, not just for us but for the world. As we said, the world, this country and the world in general, is being besieged by despair and hopelessness. We are the people of hope. Not foolish optimism, but the people of Hope.

We are the people of prophetic guidance and prophetic guidance brings clarity. We are the people of mercy. One of the reasons a lot of Muslims are so downcast and gloom-struck in our day and times is because they believe the lives of people who profit from their being no source of hope for people.

There are people that profit from that and say, “Oh, you Muslims, you have no mercy and compassion in your heart.” And Muslims start believing that. You want to know no compassion? No compassion are people who would sell nine million narcotic pills in a small town in Appalachia.

The Invention of Falsehoods

Prescribe nine million knowing this is going to addicting entire population. Where is the mercy in that? Then the people are dropping like flies from overdoses. Where is the mercy in that? Where is the mercy in fabricating enemies for the sole purpose of feeding a war machine that’s financed by 700 billion dollars of our tax money to keep the factories making bombs?

Inventing enemies in this country to keep this a machine of Islamic hate going. They’re stealth jihad. They’re taking over. Taking over what? “The Muslim Brotherhood’s taking over Congress and the Senate and our institutions.” Well, they’re doing a terrible job. there are 535 congressmen and 100 senators; 435 representatives.

There are zero Muslim senators and one Muslim congressman. Zero out of 100 and one out of 435 and that’s stealth jihad. That’s a merciless scheme to demoralize the community, to villainize and demonize the community, for the sole purpose of making money. They’re financed by tens hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s an industry.

Where is the mercy? Right now, this hurricane, the winds died down, but the rain is coming. And they have open lagoons of pig manure and pig fetuses and pig blood from these hog farms next to African-American communities. Poor people who can’t go anywhere. They’re going to flood over. Even without flooding the spraying in the air coats their houses. They can’t breathe the air. People have respiratory problems. They have to breathe that garbage.

And the North Carolina legislature banned a bill that would even declare this a harmful practice. Where’s the mercy in that? You go up and down the ledger, there’s no mercy. There’s total exploitation of people.

Industrialized Despair

They won’t even give you a meal. You can fly on Ethiopian Airlines – one of the poorest countries in the world – you can fly from Addis Ababa to […]; they give you a hot meal, a hot towel to clean your hands with, for a two-hour flight. You fly from New York City to Los Angeles, five and a half hours, you’re lucky if you get a bag of pretzels.

When you got on the plane, the sky cab, the company is going to take their tips. Where is the mercy in all that? And they’ll tell you, “Muslim, you’re not merciful.” And then you believe it and get all demoralized. Stand up! Be proud to be a Muslim. Don’t hang your head. Don’t give those people the satisfaction of demoralizing you. Thieves and killers.

A lady, Beth Macy, wrote a book about this whole opioid epidemic recently [Dopesick] and the subtitle: “[…] the [drug] company that addicted America.” Purdue Pharma, responsible for tens of thousands of dead Americans and no one went to jail. Tens of thousands of dead people, millions of addicts, and to misdemeanor charges for false advertisement, because they said this stuff isn’t abusive.

Pure morphine repackaged is not abusive. So when the abuse rate was almost a hundred percent, “Oh, we’re guilty.” Misdemeanor on two of their executives. No one goes to jail. But all these little people, not selling heroin, selling marijuana on the street corner, are going to jail feeding this prison industrial complex. Where is the mercy in that?

Never Despair of Allah’s Mercy

And you, demoralized, believe your religion has no mercy. “Oh, my servants who are going to excess in terms of abusing the rights of their soul.” This is addressed of people who are idolaters. What does Allah say about the idolator? Allah doesn’t forgive that partners are joined with him, but he forgives any sin other than that to whomsoever he pleases. But if that idolator repents, then Allah says, even if you are an idolater, “do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah forgives all sins.” (Sura al Zamar 39:53)

Allah forgives the idolater. Allah forgave the man who killed 100 people. Allah forgives people. One man came, long story short, and mention his sin and he couldn’t do this, he couldn’t do that to atone. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, he started laughing and said, “Just scram. Get out of here.” Allah bless him and give him peace.

Your sin is one against you. You do a good deed and it’s immediately multiplied ten times. Seven thousand. Seventy thousand. Seven million. Allah is Rahim and Karim. How hard do you have to work to go to hell, if that’s how things are reckoned? One sin is one against you.

The Reason for Hope

Even if you conspire to sin and then you leave it, then it’s credited as a good deed. Leaving a bad deed is a good deed. You know, I’m gonna do this and that, masha Allah. I get home, get dressed, go call up someone. I’m gonna go visit and we’re gonna go out and … “astaghfir Allah, that’s totally haram.” That’s the good.

You left the bad deed, it’s a good deed. Don’t you say you’re a sinner. Leaving the bad deed is a good deed and so the cycle kicks in. How hard does one have to work to go to hell? This is the mercy of Allah Most High. Allah forgives all sins. What did you do? Just repent to Allah and Allah will forgive you.

Why do you have no hope? Why are you despairing of Allah’s mercy. If those are the odds and if this is the mercy of Allah, then it’s rightfully said, “It is only a disbelieving people that despair of Allah’s mercy.” (Sura Yusuf 12:87)

So believers, never despair of Allah’s mercy. Don’t walk around here in a state of doom and gloom. Lift up your head, smile in the face of your your fellow believer. Smile in the face of everybody: the ordinary people. Spread peace, spread greetings of peace to people. Feed people.

“Oh, Messenger of Allah, what is the best manifestation of Islam, the most virtuous manifestation of Islam?” “That you feed people and greet people, those you know and those you don’t know.” Our sister, in the Rainbow Rec Center, just feeding people for 20-something years. Every Saturday. It’s one of the best manifestations of Islam.

And greet people those you know and those you know not. You should be a greeting machine. Everyone you pass:

– Assalam alaykum, how you doing? Ahlan wa sahlan wa marhaban.
– What does that mean?
– That means, Hey, you’re welcome. You’re like my family.
– Really? No one ever said that to me.
– We Muslims. That’s how we roll.

Islam Is The Beautiful Religion

Pick your head up. This is a beautiful religion. Don’t despair. It’s not a believing characteristic. It’s a characteristic, as we said, of people who have no faith. Those are the people, unfortunately, falling into drugs, falling into despair, falling into suicide, falling into alcoholism. We’re the antidote. We should be going to people.

That’s why they want to demoralize the Muslims, so we don’t believe we have anything to offer anybody. “Who wants to listen to us? They all think we‘re a bunch of terrorists.” I’ll tell you who wants to listen to you, those hundreds of people every day who are taking their Shahada, all over this country. They don’t want to see that.

We have to organize ourselves to serve them. And to serve those people who aren’t Muslim. The sister feeding the people at the Rainbow Rec in East Oakland, most of those people aren’t Muslim, but they’re human beings and they have human needs.

We should be rising up and organizing ourselves to meet their needs and don’t let them politicize our religion. They’re willing to politicize it so they can frame the discussion and frame the way that they present Islam to people. No, we have to we have to spiritualize it. It’s not a political struggle.

This Is Not a Game

We. as Muslims, we do a disservice when we frame it like that, because we’re playing into their hands. It’s a spiritual struggle. It’s a struggle between truth and falsehood. It’s a struggle between people who want to victimize and exploit and destroy people, and people who want to give them life, and to give them hope, and to give them direction.

That’s the struggle and we have to keep it at that level, because that’s our strength. Everything else will take care of itself. The politics, the economics, will take care of themselves.

But if we become wrapped up into this political struggle the parameters of which have been defined by the enemies of Islam, we’ll never get to the spiritual and the people will never get the hope, because in their mind they’re looking at Islam through a frame that we as Muslims sometimes help to reinforce.

We have to frame the issue along the lines that play into our strengths. When you have one congressman and zero senators, politics is not our strength. I hope you understand that. You can hoop and holler all you want. But when those are the odds, I’m not saying there’s no politics in Islam, I’m saying that our struggle is a grassroots struggle.

Our struggle as a struggle to save people. Our struggle as a struggle to give people hope. Our struggle is a struggle to inspire people. Our struggle is a struggle to put people back in touch with their humanity. And when that happens to tens and hundreds of thousands of people, to millions of people, everything else will take care of itself. May Allah give us tawfiq.

We Are a Joyous People

Let me leave you with this verse, brothers and sisters. Allah Most High mentions in the Qur’an:

قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّـهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ

Say, [O Muhammad]: In the grace of Allah and in His mercy let them rejoice. It is better than anything they can gather [from this world.] (Sura Yunus 10:58)

We should be a joyous people. All this stuff has happened out there. Islamophobia and all this other stuff is happening. Depression, suicide, we went through the whole gamut and the first khutba. We still should be a joyous people, because we have faith in our heart, because we have belief in the Hereafter, because we know no matter how bad things get in this world, if we patiently persevere, if we struggle and we forge on, then we’re opening the gates for unimaginable bliss for the rest of eternity.

Eternal bliss. When we understand what eternity means, and we understand that everyone’s life in this world will end, young or old, rich or poor, black or white.

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (Sura Aal Imran 3:185)

Life Begins in The Hereafter

Everyone is going to die. Everybody’s going to die and so our life really begins when we die – in the big scheme of things, in the greater scheme of things – and once we die the gate is opened to eternity. This world is finite. Paradise and Hell are eternal.

خالدين فيها
dwelling therein forever

خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا
dwelling therein forever and ever

Either Hellfire. Not forever and ever for believers, but who wants to experience a second of that? Or Janna [The Garden]. That’s what it’s all about. And Allah Most High, in giving us faith, has blessed us and placed us on a path to Janna.

We have to nurture our faith, and cultivate our faith, and rejoice in our faith. “Let them rejoice in this. I is better than anything anyone could gather from the world.” What does it mean that someone gets all the cars? They have the whole collection. They have the 1965 Mustang all the way up to their 2018 Tesla. They have them and everything in between. They got the Rolls Royce, they got the Lamborghini, you name it. They even got the Bugatti.

They got the whole lineup. They have the whole residential lineup. They have the condo at Lake Merritt. They have their chateau in the Rocky Mountains, in Aspen. They have their home in the Hamptons that they never get to. They have the whole line up from the condo to the chateau to the the house in the Hamptons. Check everything on the list. They got it.

Wardrobe. They have it all. From the alligator shoes to whatever you’re supposed, if you have money. They got it. In the house in the Hamptons they have horses they never ride. Because they never get over there. But they got the horses, too. They got the house and they got the horse.

Faith Is Proof of Allah’s Love

What does it mean if they don’t have faith? What does it mean that as soon as they get the house with the horses and they’ve checked the final check the final box on the list, they die? People are deceived into thinking all this means something.

“If this world meant to Allah as much as a gnat’s wing,” do you know how small a gnat is? If it meant a gnat’s wing “He wouldn’t have given an arrogant rejecter a single drop of water to drink.” (Tirmidhi) Allah gives it freely to whomsoever He pleases.

He gives it to the Muslim. He gives it to the person who’s not a Muslim. He gives it to the rich. He gives it to the black. He gives it to the white. He gives it to those who come who inherit it and those who get it because they can throw a ball in a basket. He gives it freely to whomever He pleases.

But He only gives faith to those He loves. That’s why the believer rejoices. May Allah give us faith that leads us to rejoice no matter what is happening in the world, because we can look beyond the world. We can look at something that transcends the world. We can look at something more valuable than the world and everything in it.


Forgotten Sunnas: Greetings of Peace – Shaykh Jamir Meah

In this final article of the series, Shaykh Jamir Meah discusses one of the simplest yet most important everyday sunnas that is sometimes neglected; greeting each other with salam, the greeting of peace.

Many Muslims, both in the East and West, are not accustomed to saying salam to family and friends, and even more so to strangers. For others, salams are given multiple times throughout the day, however, it is often restricted to people we know, or only when returning greetings.

When we pass a fellow Muslim on the street, or sit next to each other on the train or bus, we are often hesitant to give salam. This could be for many reasons. However, it is important to try to overcome this barrier and be as free and generous with our greetings of peace with one another as possible, and ideally, stretch ourselves to even smile or look pleased to see another Muslim!

The salam is universal to all Muslims, so does not require translation. Everywhere you go it is understood. Spreading the salam among ourselves is not only affirmed in the Qur’an and Sunna, but as we’ll see from the prophetic traditions. It has a positive affect for both the people engaged, and potentially, the entire Muslim community.

The Effect of A Simple Greeting

Moreover, we all know what the effect of a simple smile can have on a person’s day, even from a stranger, smiling being a sunna in its own right. Sometimes, little unexpected gestures of kindness and sincerity are enough to lift the mood of a person’s otherwise negative or depressive moods. It is often the start to positive energy being released. When a person is genuinely greeted with a warm, smiley, and sincere salam, it can impart a real sense of reassurance and belonging.

This is ever more essential today as so many people feel insecure and detached in modern society. How many a group of Muslims youths have we walked by, religions far from their mind, but when a person says salam to them, they all immediately return the salam with unexpected fervor and pride?

How many an old person do we pass by, coming and going to and from the local mosque as if invisible, but when the greeting of salam is given to them, their eyes light up with all the intensity and vibrancy of youth? Likewise, many more people, whose private circumstances we can never know, can be touched and uplifted by an honest and simple greeting of peace from a stranger.

Peace

One of the Names of Allah is As Salam, the One Who gives Peace. God is the source of all peace. This is why we say after prayer (which itself concludes with the greetings of salam to those on ones right and to those on ones left):

Allahumma antas salam wa minkas salam tabarakta ya dhal Jalali wal ikram.

O Allah, You are peace, and peace comes from You. Blessed are You, O Possessor of Glory and Honor.

The universal greeting of peace is fundamentally a supplication to God for that person. If we truly mean God’s peace to be upon that person, and they return the same greeting, and we all do this throughout the day to different people, then we can expect Allah Most High to answer these prayers, showering His mercy, blessing and peace upon each person, and then the Umma at large.

The greeting of peace is not restricted to this world, for it will be the greeting not only from the angels to those who enter Paradise: “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.” (Sura al Ra‘d 13:24) But more importantly, from God Himself: “And ‘Peace!’ will be [their] greeting from the Merciful Lord.” (Sura Ya Sin 36:57)

Spreading the Salam in the Qur’an and Sunna

Allah Most High tells us in many places in the Qur’an about the importance of spreading greetings among ourselves, ‘And when you are greeted with a greeting, meet it with a greeting better than it, or equal to it. Allah takes account of all things.’ (Sura al Nisa 4:86)

Likewise, the are many traditions of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which stressed the passing the salam between us, too many to mention in this article. Among the most useful for our purposes are;

Abu Hurairah, Allah be pleased with him, narrated, “You cannot enter Paradise until you are a believer and your belief cannot be complete until you love each other. Should I not guide you to something, which, if you practice it, it will establish bonds of love among you all? Make salam a common practice among yourselves.” (Muslim) Through this simple act, love is implanted in the heart and the sense of unity and brotherhood is given life. Small acts can have tremendous impact on our states.

Abu Umamah, Allah be pleased with him, narrated, The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him,, commanded us to spread the salam.’ (Ibn Majah)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr bin al ‘As, Allah be pleased with them both, narrated, “A man asked the Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, ‘Which practice of Islam is the best?’ He, blessings and peace be upon him, replied, ‘Give food, and relate the salam to those whom you know and those who you do not know.’”

Methods and Etiquette of Giving Salam

The minimum salam necessary to fulfill the sunna, is to say “Assalamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you). The optimal is to say, “Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu” (Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings).

Note here that one says the plural attached pronoun “kum” at the end of “alaykum” even if the person being greeted is only one or two people.

The person returns the greeting by saying “Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu” (And upon you be peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah).

This full reply is sunna regardless of whether the person was greeted with a simple “Assalam alaykum,” or the optimal “Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” In the first case, one has fulfilled the words of Allah we mentioned, “meet it with a greeting better than it,” while in the second case one has fulfilled the words of Allah, “or equal to it.”

As mentioned, it is sunna to be genuine, friendly, and cheerful (bashasha) when giving salam and when returning it. One should look the person directly in the face when greeting them.

The salam and its return should be said loud enough so the person it is intended for can hear it. The return should be given straight away, and not delayed.

If a person enters his house, it is sunna to give salam, even if no one is home. The same applies to entering into another’s home, or entering a mosque.

Make It the First and Be the First

One should be eager to offer the greeting first, for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “The best of the two is the one who begins with the salam.” (Bukhari) Therefore, although it may sometime feel awkward, or we hesitate to say salam to strangers, we should strive to overcome any concerns and be eager to say it first, without fear that the person may not respond. Each person is responsible or rewarded for what is in his capacity.

Likewise, the greeting of peace should be the first thing said before any other talk. This applies to between two people or when addressing a group.

Rulings on Giving and Returning Salam

Giving salam: It is sunna to give the salam. The sunna to give the salam is a communal sunna (sunna kifayah), which means it is disliked not to perform without an excuse. It also means that if there is a group of people, it suffices that one of them offers the salam to fulfill the sunna, although optimal if all say salam.

Returning the salam: In regards returning the salam, it is obligatory. If the salam is said to one person, then it is personally obligatory (fard ‘ayn) for that person to return the salam, while if the salam is said to a group of people, the returning of the salam is communally obligatory. So, if one of them returns it, it suffices for the rest, while if none return the salam, they all incur a sin. The optimal again, is for all to return the salam.

There are times, however, when the salam or returning it is not sunna, but rather, disliked or prohibited. Among them it is disliked to give the salam to a person who is relieving themselves, making love, sleeping, very drowsy, in prayer, saying the adhan or iqama. Likewise, it is disliked to say it to a person who has food in his mouth.

As for returning the salam in these situations, it is disliked to return it whilst relieving oneself or making love, and sunna for the one with food in his mouth, or at least when he has swallowed the food. It is prohibited to return the salam verbally during prayer, but sunna to gesture the return with the hands.

For the mu‘adhdhin, it is permissible (not disliked) to return the salam verbally between the words of the adhan. The muqim, the person who says the iqama, should not return it, but rather gesture or return it afterwards, as the iqama is meant to be swift.

As for saying salam to a person reciting the Qur’an, the sounder opinion is that it is still recommended to give salam and mandatory to return it verbally.

Common Scenarios

One of the reasons why fiqh is so captivating (for some anyway!) is because it enters into the everyday, practical aspects of life. Every human act, from the most significant to the most trivial, falls under a legal ruling. Below are a few common, useful, or just interesting, fiqh rulings related to spreading the greetings of peace:

It is a sunna to send salam to people who are not present via a third person. Among the greatest honor of our Lady Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her and shower her with abundant mercy and favor, was that Allah himself sent His Salam upon her via our master Jibril, may Allah be pleased with him. It is narrated that “Jibril came to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is Khadija coming to you with a dish of soup (or some food or drink). When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord and on my behalf.’” (Bukhari)

If a person sends his salam to a person via a third person, such as the third person saying, “So and so sends his salam,” then it is obligatory for the receiver of the message to return the salam verbally. It is also sunna to return the salam to the third person, by saying, “Wa ‘alayka wa ‘alayhi assalam,” (And upon you and him be peace.”)

If one is greeting a deaf person, one should still say the words of the greeting verbally as well as gesture with the hands in a way that the person can understand and is able to return the salam. Likewise, if a deaf person says salam to a person, then one answers by mouth and gesture.

If a person greets a pre-pubescent child, it is not obligatory for the child to return the salam, but it is proper manners and highly recommended for them to do so. If a pre-pubescent child gives salam to an adult, it is obligatory for the adult to return the salam.

If two people greet each other with the salam, and then see each other again very soon after, it is still sunna to greet each other with the salam, and even a third, fifth, sixth time and so on.

It is disliked for a person to say salam to people during the Friday sermon. As for returning his salam, some scholars state that it should not be returned, while others held that it should be returned, but only one person should return it.

Related Issues when Greeting A Person

If a person gives salam to a person who holds religious honor, such as being known for the asceticism, uprightness, knowledge, noble lineage etc., then it is also sunna to kiss their hands, as was the practice of the Sahaba of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, who kissed his blessed hands and feet.

It is also recommended to kiss the hands or cheeks, or/and hug one’s loved ones, such as parents, siblings, or small children when greeting them, out of love, closeness, and mercy. This also applies to a friend who returns from travel.

As for other than these people or non-travelers, it is disliked to hug or kiss others when greeting them. Rather it is sunna to shake hands (same-gender only) when greeting each other and saying the salam. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “There are no two servants who love each other for the sake of Allah, who meet each other and shake hands … that they do not depart except that their future and past sins are forgiven.” (Kitab Ibn Sunni)

Practical Challenge

I hope the above information has encouraged us all to eagerly spread the greetings of peace to one another each day. The final practical challenge to this series then, is to try to initiate the greeting of peace with as many people as possible each day, with those whom we know and those whom we don’t know.

It would of course be befitting for me to end this article, and this series, with a very warm (and smiley) farewell greeting of peace to you all,

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.


What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf talks about some of the challenges of married life and how to overcome them in a manner that is pleasing to Allah.

In terms of what engenders and facilitates these relationships, one is really important: Islamic etiquette. It’s very important to remember that just like your brother, you’re supposed to greet them with a smile. These things you do with people outside, sometimes we forget that the people we’re living with have more right than other people to those same etiquettes.

Also, doing things for each other. Preferring the other to the self. This idea – the thing about it is that men have to be very careful, because there are many women where that is their nature. In other words, a man can get into a very exploitative relationship with his wife, because his wife by her nature – especially women that were born and raised in a more Eastern tradition, where there’s a lot of double standards with the male and the female children.

You can get into an exploitative relationship with the wife where you’re allowing her to do everything, and she says, “Oh, well, I love to do it.” That doesn’t mean that she should be doing everything because she loves to do it. She’s getting all the reward first of all. And second of all, no matter what she says, she’s going to appreciate it when you help her out and do things for her. She will appreciate it because that’s human nature.

Marriage and Spirituality

A wife should not allow domestic concerns [to overwhelm her] so that she forgets her own husband and then becomes like a domestic servant, too. That can happen. A woman can become so preoccupied she becomes more like a domestic servant. Not realizing that there’s a whole sakina – there should be a spiritual relationship, a spiritual growth between the two.

The thing about life, the challenge for everybody, is not to fall asleep. It’s really easy to just get into these patterns of perfunctory behavior and to forget what life is about. You can really forget that this is it. Your life is an aggregate of moments. When you’re with your wife or your husband, it can either be a horrible experience, it can be a wonderful experience, or it can be a missed experience.

John Lennon said, Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. There’s a lot of truth in that. You can get so caught up in these day-to-day concerns that life passes you by and you missed it. Family is like that. Your children are like that. It’s very easy to lose sight of them.

Remind Each Other of The Good

It’s good to remind each other [about things]. A husband should not get upset if a wife reminds him about Allah, about his duties, and things like that, and vice versa. It should be done in a nice way with nasiha and everything. It shouldn’t be anger. It’s very bad to do that.

It was probably much more common in the Muslim world, doing too much ibada and one forgets the rights of the family. That comes from Abd Allah ibn Amr ibn al As, who used to fast all the time. Our lady Aisha told the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, about the neglect of the wife. And he the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, met Abd Allah ibn Amr, he said to him, “Is that true.” And he said.“Yes.”

And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “If that’s the case don’t do it.” He said, “Sleep and pray, fast and eat, because that’s my Sunna.” Then he said,“Your body has a right. Your wife has a right. Your family has a right.” They are rights! There’s a huqquq. The right of your wife is that you spend time with her. That is a haqq.

The Principles of Forgiveness

Another important thing is adhering to the principles of forgiveness. Really forgiving and just letting it go. One of the things that people in relationships will do is they’ll hold on to these things. It’s really infantile behavior. You have to see it for what it is. You’re a pouting little child and you’re trying to make the other person miserable for doing something to you.

You need to snap out of it. Remind yourself and if the other person reminds you of it take the reminder. Don’t make your life miserable for yourself and for others, because that’s all it is. In the end of the day it doesn’t matter. If something happens that upsets you just let it go. It will happen. It’ll happen many, many times throughout your life. But just let it go. Don’t hold on to it.

The danger is not that it happens. That’s going to happen. It’s a given. The danger is that you never learn to overcome the desire to hold on to it. And some people derive perverse pleasure in that. So that happens. You start get pleasure in making somebody feel miserable.

Cheerfulness Is Contagious

They’ve done studies on cheerfulness and such. And cheerfulness and good nature is very contagious. If somebody is in a cheerful and a good nature they can actually affect other people much more powerfully than irritability. Although irritability is also contagious it doesn’t spread as easily as good nature.

Depression is difficult, very difficult to actually be transferred to somebody. It can happen. If you live with a depressed person you can become depressed. It’s actually difficult for that to happen. It’s quite unusual. But well-being: you can actually transform someone’s state quite easily, if you’re up and they’re down.

You can see this with children. If children pout and do these things you can, just with silly faces and things, get them to break a smile. And once you got them there they know. They can’t hold on to it. It’s interesting. Just breaking that infantile desire.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was an absolute master in everything he did. He was [also] a master of breaking that state that people got into. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t have difficult periods, but generally that was what he did.

Focus on The Good Traits

It’s important to keep in mind that marital life, due to the constant interaction and to psycho-emotional states that people go through – we go through different psycho-emotional states throughout the day or the week or the month – that there are situations where discontent or displeasure occur. These are normal occurrences.

Even for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He, blessings and peace be upon him, said to Aisha, “I know when you’re upset with me” She said, “How do you know that?” He said, “Because when when you’re pleased with me you say, “By the Lord of Muhammad (wa Rabbi Muhammad), but when you’re upset with me you say, “By the Lord of Ibrahim (wa Rabbi Ibrahim).” And Aisha laughed and said, “That’s true. By Allah, It’s true. I would never abandon anything but your name.”

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, also said, “A believer (mu’min) should never dislike a believer. If he likes if he dislikes one quality, he should focus on the qualities he likes.” So, every person is going to have things that bother you and things that you like about them. The thing about your spouse is that you should look at those qualities that are pleasing.

Shortcomings Can Be Overcome

One thing that you can do is you can talk about things that bother about the other person, and then the person tries to work on those things. Especially if they relate to things that are shortcomings Islamically – like anger, short temper, things like that. Those things you need to deal with, because there’s no reason why they should continue. Those are things that people can overcome.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “The most perfect of believers in faith are those with the most excellent character. And the best of you are the best of you to your women.” And there’s a beautiful poem by Jalal al Din al Rumi where he said:

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “That women totally dominate men of intellect and possessors of hearts. But ignorant men dominate women, for they are shackled by an animal ferocity. They have no kindness, gentleness, or love, since animality dominates their nature. Love and kindness are human attributes. Anger and sensuality belong to the animals.

That comes from a hadith in which the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was talking to some women and he said, “I’ve never seen a creature that has more possession over a man of intellect (lubdin) than you so.”

Rumi was taking that to another level of understanding. The reason that they have so much power is because these are people that have conquered their animal soul. So they’re not people that are going to dominate women. They’re not people that are going to oppress. They’re actually people that, because of the love and kindness, have overcome their souls.

They actually allow the women their shortcomings without demanding change. And that’s what Ibn Abbas, Allah be pleased with them, said about the verse in the Qur’an:

وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ

Allah said that, “Men have one degree over women.” (Sura al Baqara 2:228)

He said [that one degree] was relinquishing the right of a man for the woman (tanazul ‘an al haqq). Whereas he would not relinquish her rights. In other words he would fulfill all of her rights, but he would not demand of her all of his rights. That is the degree that men have over women, and that’s Ibn Abbas, Allah be pleased with him, who’s the translator of the Qur’an.

The Path of Least Resistance

One of the things also is just going the path of least resistance. Water puts out fire. Fire increases fire. If you look at the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, that was his strategy with people. Umar, Allah be pleased with him, said I once roared at my wife and she answered back. I rebuked her for bandying words with me. She then said, “Why should you rebuke me for answering you back? By Allah, the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, dispute with him and even ignore him for a night in a day.”

So, she was saying, “Who do you think you are?” Basically. The wives of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, do this to the Prophet and he is the best example. And Umar went and indeed found that from Hafsa. He went and asked Hafsa, who was his daughter, “Do you do that?” And he was shocked, but it changed his attitude.

When he was Khalifa, a man came to his house, knocked on the door, and then he heard Umar’s wife yelling at him. And he left. And Umar came out and said to him, “What happened?” The man said, “Nothing.” Umar said, “No, you came and knocked on my door. What you want?” He said, “I didn’t want anything.” Umar said, “By Allah, what do you want?” He said, “Well, I was going to come complain about my wife, but when I heard your wife I said there was no point in complaining to you.”

And Umar, Allah be pleased with him, said, “This is my wife. The mother of my children. She maintains my house. Cooks my food. Shouldn’t I have patience with her if she gets upset with me?” There’s the man who roared. That’s the change that occurred in him. That’s the point. People can change.

Ingratitude and Boasting

Another reminder, and this is to the women in particular, although it goes to both, is that the idea of ingratitude and boasting about things which haven’t been given. These are two problems that are more predominant in women than in men. The idea is the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “One of the worst qualities of women is that you can do a great deal for them for a lifetime and then one time you do something wrong and the woman will say, you’ve never done anything for me.”

And again this is important to note that when the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, speaks like this, it’s a generalization. It does not apply to everybody. It’s a reminder to women. The point of that is is that it’s important to keep in mind that even though people have shortcomings you have to look at the overall context. I think part of that is because women tend to move into the moment because of that emotional component that in many women is stronger than men.

When they move into that they’re in the moment completely. I think that’s what that is about. It’s part of the nature of many women and it was just a warning from the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, to be careful of becoming ungrateful to a husband.

The other thing is to claim to have been given things that she wasn’t given. This is in some superficial people but it’s a warning to women. It can be both in men and women. The idea of saying my husband did this for me or my husband did that for me to other women as a way of boasting. That should not be done.

The Right to Intimacy

Another mutual right is istimta‘ (intimacy). I mentioned this earlier with the women, the men’s right of haqq al istimta‘. But it’s a mutual right. The reason why it’s more emphasized in the man is 1) because the men are weaker in that area and 2) because it’s the haqq of a man if he calls his wife for that reason that she should respond.

For the woman generally that is not the case. But she is entitled to that how in the relationship, and it’s grounds for divorce if that haqq is not fulfilled. The ulama differ in that. In the Maliki madhhab, the haqq is that he sleep with her once every four nights. That is derived from the portion of legal entitlement. So if a man has other than one wife then that’s what happens. If there are four wives then it’s once every four nights.

Now just one thing about this. According to Sacred Law, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said in a hadith, “Why didn’t you marry a virgin, so you could play with her, and she with you?” That is part of the Maqasid al Shari‘a in marriage, which is mula‘aban muda‘aba – having that type of intimacy.

Obviously for a man who’s marrying for the first time it’s easier for that if he marries a virgin. When the man told the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, that the reason that he was marrying a non-virgin was because he had children, and he did not want to bring somebody that was inexperienced,” the Prophet praised him for that.

The Qur’an says:

وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا

Man is created weak.(Sura al Nisa 4:28)

Most of the commentators say it’s relation is sexual desire of women. If passion overcomes a man he becomes incapable of reasoning and often of controlling the animal urges. So the spouse is a husn and that’s why the Arabic word for married is muhsan, which literally means fortified. It’s through your spouse that you’re protected. It becomes a fortification for your private parts. It is guarding you from doing something which is haram.

Marriage Is A Fortress

It’s not simply the sexual discharge. That’s one aspect but it’s not simply that. One of the things about when people come together is that there is an effect in the other realms. Angels are pleased about a man and a wife in their relationship. One of the things about the Sakina that comes out of that: the Arabs call it nawma al a‘rus, which is the sleep that occurs after people have intimacy.

It is a sleep that results from that Sakina. In other words, it’s a deep type of sleep, and it’s a blessing from Allah, Exalted and Most High. That’s why Imam al Ghazali said that “sensual pleasure is really an indication of the delight of akhirah.” That’s what he said it was. That Allah was giving the human being a glimpse of the delights of the akhirah. That’s why in the Qur’an those delights are often described in those terms.

One of the scholars of Andalusia said that “some have considered marriage and animal appetite: shahwa haywaniyya.’ He said, “and they declare themselves beyond it.” In the Christian religion it’s seen as a low thing, and so the priest or the monk says, I’m above this. And he continues, “Yet they call it with the noblest of names: haywan because haya is an attribute of God.

Legal Intimacy Is Nobility

It’s the same in our language. You say “animus.” Animal comes from animus, which is the soul. “Anima” is life. “Animated person” is a lively person. That noble quality of life. And he says, “What is more noble than life? What they believe to be an ugliness in their eyes is actually the opposite with people who have knowledge of Allah.” That is why Imam Nawawi, Allah be pleased with him, said, “All of the appetites harden the heart when indulged in, except sexual intimacy in a legal relationship. It has the opposite effect. It softens the heart.”

You will see often, especially with men, that if somebody is not married they can actually become hard. And you’ll see a transformation when they get married. They actually become more gentle and more patient – less angry. That’s why the Muslim world is very problematic now, because there are so many young men under 25 that aren’t married. And it’s not a good thing.

Traditionally people got married early. So actually marriage does have an effect on your psychological state, and that’s important to know. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “That all of life is a pleasure and the highest pleasure in life is a righteous wife.” And for a woman is that it’s a righteous husband.

Intimacy and Praiseworthy Modesty

Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al Arabi, who’s a great Maliki scholar from Andalusia, said, “A woman’s demand for sexual intercourse from her husband in no way negates praiseworthy modesty.” So it’s not from haya if she is desirous of that. “Nor does it negate virtuous dignity, because it is an essential goal of marriage.” In other words, is one of the reasons why people get married. “Thus if he was being difficult than she is permitted to demand it on religious grounds, and this is completely dignified demand on her part. So going to a qadi to complain to him about that is not seen as a breach of her modesty, because it’s a haqq of hers.

And obviously it could lead to problems – psychological problems. I was with Shaykh Khatari and he did some marriage counseling and and there was somebody who had a lot of psychological trouble. When we finished, the woman wasn’t in the room, he said to the man, “Why aren’t you sleeping with your wife?” And the man was really shocked. He said, “How did you know that?

The shaykh said, “Because of her state: the state she was in. It’s very common. I’ve seen it in my own people a lot. If a woman’s not having intimacy with her husband she goes into a state that has those same symptoms.” It can lead to psychological problems. People should be aware of that.


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

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

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

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

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

The Challenge of the Qur’an

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

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

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

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

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

Al Waqi‘a and What Precedes It

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

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

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

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

Gratitude and Ingratitude

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

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

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

The Aims of Sura al Waqi‘a

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

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

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

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

Al Waqi‘a Among the Early Muslims

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

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

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

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

Categories of People on the Day of Judgment

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

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

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

Hereafter or Here and Now

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

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

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

The Stations of Success

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

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


Resources for Seekers

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

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

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

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

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

It Makes the Hair Gray

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

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

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

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

It Shields Against Poverty

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

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

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

The Narrations and Its Acceptance

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Resources for Seekers

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

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

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

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

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

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


Resources for Seekers

Free Zakat Guide, Calculator, and Scholarly Advice

Ramadan is the time where most people look to pay their Zakat. We get numerous questions on how and when to give Zakat, and more importantly to whom?

SeekersHub scholars have put together this free Zakat Guide that addresses the most common questions and provides spiritual guidelines on how to approach the question and act of paying Zakat.

SeekersGuidance Zakat Guide

The best of charity [and zakat] is that which fulfills the greatest need, or is a means to the greatest benefit. – Ibn Abidin

Zakat Explained: The Fiqh of Giving – Understanding Islamic Worship

This lesson by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is also a wonderful resource.

Shaykh Faraz explains the fiqh of zakat (obligatory charity) and how one gives in accordance with sound understanding of the Qur’an and Sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Zakat Calculator

On the same page you will also find a FAQ on Zakat, and if there are any questions you can’t find answers to in the FAQ you can submit them to our scholars.

May Allah reward you for all your efforts during His most Holy Month. Ramadan Karim.


 


Habib Ali al Jifri and the Man Who Killed His Teacher

Habib Ali al Jifri tells the story of the day he met the man who killed his teacher and unfolds it into a lesson on showing mercy to those who wrong us.

I was in Aden.

Someone who was one of the leaders of the regime which killed scholars in this blessed valley [of Hadramawt] was present in a gathering I was in. Fate had it that I should meet him.

This man was one of the key suspects in the abduction of my master, the Imam and Martyr, Habib Muhammad ibn Salim ibn Hafiz. On merely seeing him and being told who he was, I felt extremely uncomfortable. This is human nature.

It was difficult for me to talk to him even for the sake of dawah. I confess this is a mistake and a shortcoming. Regardless of how much I love my teachers, calling to Allah is a duty which dictates we speak to everyone whoever they are.

All of a sudden, he came up to me and said: “I want to repent. How do I go about this?”
I tried to contain myself so I could answer his questions. Tried to smile so I would not turn him away from the truth.

After I returned from the gathering, I still felt uncomfortable. So I phoned my master, Habib Umar, and told him about this person. He asked: “What does he want?”

I said: “He approached me saying he wants to repent to Allah. I knew you would tell me to call him to Allah, but I had great difficulty speaking to him and I disapproved of my state.”

He said: “Ali, fulfill Allah’s right upon you in guiding him to Allah. Bring forth mercy and concern for him from your heart. As for you disliking being in his company or looking at him, turn it into hatred for his actions and not for him as a person.”

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted Wahshi’s Islam even though he had killed his uncle Hamza but he found it difficult to look at him. So he said: ‘Let him not show his face to us.’”

These words are priceless.

These words are priceless, because the one who said them is talking about a man who did the greatest evil to him: he caused him to lose his father and caused the family to be split up.

Yet look at how he applied the Prophetic principle. He immediately brought to mind the statement of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Let him not show his face to us.”

This is what Habib Abu Bakr al Adani speaks of regarding the concept of trying to find a precedent from the life of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, for every event that occurs.

 


With gratitude to Muwasala.


The Blessings of Suhur – Shaykh Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah gives us all a simple reminder of the blessings of the pre-dawn meal or Suhur.

Opportunities to obtain benefit (worldly, spiritual, or both) present themselves with every passing breath of our lives. Even in the smallest moments of spare time, or in the seemingly easiest and mundane of acts, we find opportunities that carry tremendous blessings and moments of spiritual profit.

The pre-dawn meal (suhur) during Ramadan is one such easy, golden opportunity to effortlessly reap manifold blessings and rewards. Numerous Traditions have reached us in regards the blessings of the pre-dawn meal. Such as:

“Take the morning meal. Verily, there is blessing in the morning meal.” (Bukhari)

“You must take the morning meal. Verily, it is a blessed meal.” (Nisa’i)

“Indeed Allah and His angels send blessings upon those who have the pre-dawn meal.” (Al Tabarani)

While not obligatory, it was from the immense love and desire for good for his Umma that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, urged us to observe the sunna of suhur. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, himself would invite others to partake in the pre-dawn meal with him, saying “Come to the blessed breakfast!” (Abu Dawud)

Two Sunnas of Suhur

There are two sunnas: the sunna of the actual suhur and the sunna of delaying the suhur as much as possible.

The time for the pre-dawn meal enters in the middle of the night (not meaning midnight, rather, the night must be calculated in hours to find the middle). Anything eaten before the middle of the night is not considered suhur, while anything eaten after this time receives the reward of the sunna of suhur.

However, it is a separate and confirmed sunna to delay the pre-dawn meal as late as possible (opposite to breaking the fast), unless one becomes uncertain if Fajr has come in or not. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Eat and drink and let not the ascending white light stop you, so continue to eat and drink until redness appears on the horizon.”

The length of time between when the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stopped eating and stood for the Dawn prayer was said to be “time enough to recite 50 verses” ( Bukhari) which is only a few minutes or so.

A Mark of This Umma

This delaying of the pre-dawn meal is a specific characteristic of this Umma, setting it apart from previous nations. It is narrated that past nations would eat their meal before they slept, and some would forbid eating or drinking after sleep, or even after late evening, and these practices were still prevalent in the early days if Islam. (Hashiyat al Bajuri)

This is why the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “My nation will not cease to be upon goodness so long as they hasten to break their fasting and delay the morning meal.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Other scholars have stated that the pre-dawn meal inculcates piety, taqwa. (Bushra al Karim)

Many people find eating the pre-dawn meal difficult, and unfortunately miss out on the blessings that come with eating the meal at its time. As if speaking to those people directly, the beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, urged us to still partake of the suhur, by saying, “Do not abandon it, even if you take only a sip of water.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The Minimum Sunna

For those who really struggle with taking the suhur, one could simply put a glass of water next to one’s bed or anywhere near one, and take a few sips before Fajr, with the intention of it being suhur.

The order of recommended food is the same as when breaking the fast, namely, fresh dates, then dry dates, then water. If one is going to eat more than this, one should start with these first. Any amount of food or drink suffices to fulfill the sunna.

Imam Ibn Hajr stated that one should partake in the pre-dawn meal even if one is already full-up. (Tuhfa al Muhtaj, Bushra al Karim) And yes, even just that (essential) cup of tea or coffee will fulfill the minimum sunna!

Measure in All Things

One should eat well at suhur times, but not go to excess, which also applies to the iftar (the evening meal), for Allah says:

إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

Verily, He likes not those who commit excess. (Sura al A‘raf 7:31)

It is easy after a day of abstinence to instinctively want to indulge and make up for “missed” meals throughout the night! However, though the physical day’s fast is broken (and hopefully our ego and desires a little too), the spirit of Ramadan is still present in every moment of the blessed month.

It is for us to try to override the urges of our lower self as much as possible for the next four weeks, and instead, explore the opportunities and secrets that are there for those who seek them. Suhur is certainly one of these moments.

May Allah grant us all a blessed and accepted Ramadan.


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