Ask in the Presence of Allah – Dr Shadee Elmasry

Dr Shadee Elmasry recounts the narration on the reduction of prayers from fifty to five and lists nine things we can learn from this.

In the Isra and Miraj, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, tells us:

Then the prayers were enjoined on me: they were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses, who asked: “What have you been ordered to do?” I replied: “I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.” Moses said: “Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah I have tested people before you, and I have tried my best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers’ burden.” So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah, and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same. I went back to Allah, and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day. He told me to go for a further reduction, but I was ashamed to ask for more.

Why did Allah go through all of this when he knew what the final number would be? Why not just ordain five from the start? What is this supposed to teach us?

Nine Points of Learning

1. It is supposed to teach us the approachability of Allah. That he is approachable with our dua. That we should never stop returning to Him asking for ease and mercy even if over and over again.

2. It also demonstrates the importance of the prayer, for we were asked for fifty a day, a very large number.

3. It also puts on display the importance of asking those who have experience. In this case, the prophet who is about to lead a nation, asking the prophet who already led a nation.

4. It also shows the compassion the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, had for his umma, for he went back and forth quite a number of times, all for his concern with our well being.

5. It also shows the generosity of Allah with the umma of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, for even though we are doing only five, we are getting the reward of fifty, since one good deed is rewarded ten times over.

6. It shows that things unfold slowly, for the decrease did not go from 50 to 5 right away, but rather through steps and stages, for which we need diligence and patience.

7. So that the believers can feel the blessing of the reduction. If a mu’min feels the burden of five prayers a day, he feels relief knowing that it was originally fifty.

8. It is a gift to Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, that he was given the opportunity to show his concern for us and decrease the burden from off of Allah’s most beloved umma. Every individual Muslim is now indebted to him for this great ease which we experience daily. Our payment of that debt is recognizing his favor and increasing in our love for him.

9. It shows that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, could enter the Divine presence at will.

And Allah knows best.

Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey. He began studying at the age of eighteen, traveling to a number of countries including Egypt, KSA, Yemen and Morocco.

In addition to traditional learning, Dr Elmasry has received has an MA from The George Washington University and a PhD from the University of London SOAS.

Dr Elmasry went on to teach at several universities including Yale University, University of London SOAS, Trinity College, Hartford Seminary, and Manhattanville College.

Currently, he serves as Scholar in Residence at the New Brunswick Islamic Center in New Jersey. He is also the founder and head of Safina Society — an institution dedicated to the cause of traditional Islamic education in the West.

Day 14: Listen Attentively – 30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 14: Listen Attentively

We live in a world of online relationships, where face-to-face interactions are harder than they used to be. It’s also harder to get love and attention when you need it. We know that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, made an effort to listen to each and every person around him. He did this so well, that everyone thought that they were his favourite person.listen attentively

This Ramadan, make an effort to listen attentively to someone speaking to you. Go beyond simply hearing and really listen; read between the lines, and make them feel special.

Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course.

Is Tarawih 8 or 20 Rakats? – Shaykh Rami Nsour

In this video, Shaykh Rami Nsour explains about the Sunnah behind the Tarawih prayers, and advises us how to best pray them.

Unity of the community is important, but so is fulfilling the Sunna. In Ramadan, we are sometimes torn between how to pray the Tarawih prayers. Some say that the prayer is 20 rakats, others say it is 8 rakats.

Shaykh Rami Nsour explains that, the first thing we should do, is not to cause disunity in the community, and go about our actions with the best possible etiquette.

He then goes on to explain about the different Sunnas relating to the Tarawih prayers, and how the Prophet Muhammad began by praying them in the mosque. However, he later prayed them alone in his home so that people would not think they were obligatory. After his death, the Caliph Umar moved the prayer back to the mosque, because people no longer felt that it was mandatory.

This case teaches us that we can do Tarawih both at home and in the masjid. In terms of length, some jurists say that even 2 rakats qualify as Tarawih prayer.

Shaykh Rami encourages us to choose whichever routine suits us best. It is good to pray at the masjid if it encourages you, but if you can maintain the routine, you can do it at home. In addition, we can pray up to 20 rakats, or less if we can’t do 20. The important thing is to do as much as you can keep up, and do it sincerely for Allah.

With gratitude to Tayba Foundation.

Resource for Seekers

The Science of the Heart – Safina Society Podcast

The Safina Society team is joined by Mufti Niaz Hannan and Yusuf Hussain to discuss Tasawwuf, what it is, why it is needed, and how to recognize it.

With these two final episodes, the Safina Society team close out their season on a wonderful, warm, engaging, and lively discussion of Tasawwuf.

What it is. What it isn’t. Its sources, roots, methods, proofs, and fruits. Why we need this knowledge. How to understand this “science of the heart.”

They also give concrete and heart-awakening examples of common people in our communities who, knowingly or not, “truly [are] what we would call, the people of Tasawwuf.”


With gratitude to Safina Society.

Shaykh Nurayn Muhammad Siddiq Reads Sura al Hashr 15-24

Shaykh Nurayn Muhammad Siddiq reads beautifully from Sura al Hashr, verses 15-24, on the riwaya of Al Duri from Abu ‘Amr.

كَمَثَلِ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ قَرِيبًا ۖ ذَاقُوا وَبَالَ أَمْرِهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

كَمَثَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِذْ قَالَ لِلْإِنسَانِ اكْفُرْ فَلَمَّا كَفَرَ قَالَ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّنكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّـهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ

فَكَانَ عَاقِبَتَهُمَا أَنَّهُمَا فِي النَّارِ خَالِدَيْنِ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّـهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

لَا يَسْتَوِي أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَىٰ جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

هُوَ اللَّـهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۖ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ

هُوَ اللَّـهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

هُوَ اللَّـهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

15: Like those who a short time before them tasted the mischief of their action; there awaits them a painful chastisement.

16: Like Satan, when he said to man, “Disbelieve;” then, when he disbelieved, he said, “Surely I am quit of you. Surely I fear Allah, the Lord of all Being.”

17: Their end is, both are in the Fire, there dwelling forever; that is the recompense of the evildoers.

18: O believers, fear Allah. Let every soul consider what it has forwarded for the morrow. And fear Allah; Allah is aware of the things you do.

19: Be not as those who forgot Allah, and so He caused them to forget their souls; those – they are the ungodly.

20: Not equal are the inhabitants of the Fire and the inhabitants of Paradise. The inhabitants of Paradise – they are the triumphant.

21: If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, thou wouldst have seen it humbled, split asunder out of the fear of Allah. And those similitudes – We strike them for men; haply they will reflect.

22: He is Allah; there is no god but He. He is the knower of the Unseen and the Visible; He is the All-merciful, the All-compassionate.

23: He is Allah; there is no god but He. He is the King, the All-holy, the All-peaceable, the All-faithful, the All-preserver, the All-mighty, the All-compeller, the All-sublime. Glory be to Allah, above that they associate!

24: He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-mighty, the All-wise.

(Sura al Hashr 15-24)

Learn more about how the religion has come to us; how the Qur’an and Sunna were preserved and transmitted; and how they are soundly interpreted applied—in matters of belief, practice, and spirituality, by enrolling in our STEP 1 Course: Essentials of the Islamic Tradition.

Support SeekersHub Global as it reaches over 10,000 students each term through its completely free online courses. Make a donation, today. Every contribution counts, even if small:

O Seeker! – Habib Ali al Jifri

Habib Ali al Jifri speaks on overcoming the seven obstacles in spiritual wayfaring to Allah Most High, and the fruits thereof.

This is the third and perhaps final series of “O Seeker!” by His Eminence al Habib Ali al Jifri, may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him.

The first series filmed in 2008 in the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, may Allah grant its people relief, was about the concept of spiritual wayfaring to Allah, the Exalted, and awakening a desire for it.

The second series held in the Heart of Chechnya Mosque in Grozny in 2016 detailed how to overcome each of the seven obstacles during spiritual wayfaring to Allah.

The current series of thirty episodes is about the fruits of overcoming these obstacles, which are spiritual stations and spiritual states. If Allah wills, a new episode will be added to this playlist everyday this Ramadhan (2018).

The program also airs on TV on the following channels (GMT +3 Makka time):

Al Irth al Nabawi (Nilesat 11334H) – 7:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
CBC (Nilesat 11488H) – 10 p.m., 12 p.m.
CBC +2 – 12 a.m., 2 p.m.
Extra CBC – 3.10 a.m., 3:45 p.m.
Palestine (Nilesat 11823H) – 2:30 a.m.
Libya (Nilesat 10872H) – 1:10 a.m., 5 a.m.

Among the works referred to are Al Risala al Qushayriyya of Imam Abd al Karim al Qushayri (465 AH / 1072) of Nishapur, Iran, and Manazil al Sai‘rin of Shaykh al Islam Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (481 AH / 1088) of Herat, Afghanistan. May Allah be pleased them!

The program airs with English subtitles.

With gratitude to and

Sura al Kahf: The Opening Verse – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad gives an overview of Surah Kahf, its virtues, significance and the background context for the reasons it was revealed.

Abu Darda’ reported that Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “If anyone learns the first ten verses of the Sura al Kahf by heart, they will be protected from the Dajjal.” (Muslim)

Abu Sa’id al Khudri reports that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever recites Surat al Kahf on Jumu‘a a ray of light will shine for them from one Jumu‘a to the next.” (Nasa’i, Bayhaqi, Hakim)

Sura al Kahf is the eighteenth of 114 suras in the Qur’an. But as many of you are aware, generally, the order of the chapters is by length. Sura al Baqara, for instance, is the longest. It’s not the first but the second after al Fatiha. Most of the long chapters of the Qur’an are Medinan in terms of their Revelation. So there’s two broad types of Qur’an at least from the aspect of when and where it was revealed. The Qur’an revealed in Mecca and the Qur’an that was revealed in Medina.

The longer chapters – there are exceptions — generally are revealed in Medina, because you have a much more sort of elucidation of mu‘amalat, of relationships and how to deal with one another, especially with the People of the Book. Whereas in Mecca the chapters are much shorter. Virtually all of the chapters in the last few juz are Meccan in origin.

Sura al Kahf comes exactly in the middle. There are fifteen juz before and about fifteen juz after it. Imam Tahir ibn Ashur he says that the actual middle word or middle letter of the whole Qur’an is found in Sura al Kahf. He said one opinion is that it’s in the verse:

وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ وَلَا يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًا

And let him behave with care and courtesy, and let him not inform any one about you. (Sura al Kahf 18:19)

The Middle Point of the Qur’an

The first ta’ in talattaf is the middle letter of the whole Qur’an, such that all the words or letters before it are equal to all the words and letters after it.

Much like the beginning of the Qur’an which begins with the words in Sura al Fatiha 1:1:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

the second half of the Qur’an begins with the words in Sura al Kahf 18:1:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ

So both halves begin with al hamd. That I think is the quintessential type of dhikr. It
encompasses all of the other types of dhikr because when you say Alhamdulillah, I think inherent in the meaning is Allahu akbar, and subhan Allah, and la hawla wa la quwatta illa bi Allah. Because when you say all praise – all that is good in life and in the next life, all that we have that makes us who we are – is due to Allah Most High, that has the meaning of tanzih.

It has the meaning of ultimate transcendence, because we’re saying the praise is for no one but Allah. When we when we are making a transcendent statement about Allah Most High we mean that there is nothing comparable unto Him. Nothing could be like Allah Most High. Essential in understanding praise is that we shouldn’t praise anything except that we know its ultimate source is Allah.

Sabab al Nuzul

The mufassirun say that for many of the verses there are certain hadith that give us an idea, an inkling, about this thing called sabab al nuzul, which means the reason for revelation. What we mean by reason for revelation isn’t that the verse came as an answer to a particular question at the time, or that it was only valid for that particular question. All of the mufassirun, all of the commentators, agree that the meaning or the lesson is in the overall meaning of the verse, not the specific particularity of how and when and why it was revealed.

We know that much of the Qur’an, not all of it, but much of it was revealed in response to something that was going on at the time. Sometimes the response in the verses will not be so explicit but rather implicit. One of those implicit instances is here and in the beginning of Sura al Kahf, when it says

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجًا

Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave, and hath not placed therein any crookedness.

Perhaps you might recall from hadith that our Lady Hawa, or Eve, was created from the crooked rib of the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. Crooked doesn’t mean vile or wicked. It means bent when speaking of physical things. So if you have a stick that’s crooked it means there is some kind of curvature to it. That it is bent in shape. When we talk about things that are not physical however then it can mean something that is off, something that is not on the right path, something that would be the opposite of mustaqim.

No Crookedness in It

Why did Allah Most High say in this particular verse: “and hath not placed therein any crookedness”? That seems like a given. Why would even that have to be emphasized? Why would Allah have say that specifically? This gives us an inkling into the sabab al nuzul, the reason or circumstances behind the revelation of this verse.

It is said there were two from among Quraysh at Mecca at the time – one of them being Al Nadhr ibn al Harith, another one being Uqba ibn al Mu‘it – who were from the kuffar, from the disbelievers, and among the staunchest opponents of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. They learned that there were People of the Book, specifically the Jewish tribes, in Medina, and they had an inkling that what the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said and what was being revealed to him seemed to coincide with some of what the Jews knew.

So they went to Medina – this is before the Hijra – to get advice about to deal with him, Allah bless him and give him peace. The Jews instructed them to ask the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, about three things. “Ask him about the Ruh (the spirit). Ask him about the People of the Cave. And ask him about Dhul Qarnayn. See what he says about these things.”

Only if ALlah Wills

They go back to Mecca and sit with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and they ask him these three things. Imam Ibn Ashur says the one specifically about the Ruh is directly addressed in Sura al Afasy 17:85:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little.

Which means that no one has a definitive answer as to what it is. It is one of the secrets of creation. But the other two are in Sura al Kahf. It said that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “I will tell you tomorrow,” anticipating revelation in that regard. However he, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not say insha Allah. Hence, in the later verses of Sura al Kahf (18:23-24) we read:

وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَٰلِكَ غَدًا
إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ

And say not of anything: Lo! I shall do that tomorrow,
Except if Allah will.

So there was a period of fifteen days where there was no revelation about it. The Quraysh thought they finally got something over on the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. For fifteen days he was silent about the things that he was asked about, Allah bless him and give him peace. Only then was Sura al Kahf revealed beginning with this verse:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجًا

Saying that this was revealed and that there’s no crookedness in it.

So contrary to what the Quraysh were thinking, or what they wanted to promote about the Qur’an, and about the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, there’s nothing in it that’s crooked. And this sura, then, is going to show how exactly that is so.


This lesson by Shaykh Walead Mosaad is part of the On Demand Course: Giving Life to Sura Al Kahf, in which Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura al Kahf: the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent. Namely the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power. Download the entire lesson-set here.

View other SeekersHub On Demand Courses here.

Kin and Neighbors: Content of Character 06 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus speaks on two groups pf people who deprive themselves of Allah’s glance on the Day of Judgment, namely, those who sever kinship ties and obnoxious neighbors.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: اثنان لا ينظر الله إليهما يوم القيامة: قاطع الرحم و جار السوء

The Messenger of God, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Among those not graced by God’s glance on the Day of Judgment are a severer of bonds of kin and an obnoxious neighbor.” (Al Daylami)

We are going to talk about meanings of the Divine Gaze as well as severing family kinship ties and being a bad neighbor. When we refer to this idea of Allah not gazing upon someone. We have another hadith in Bukhari and Muslim that states: “Allah will not Gaze upon someone who drags their garment out of arrogance.”

Allah not gazing upon someone refers to Him not showing his Mercy and Benevolence towards that person. In other words, this person might receive the wrath of Allah. Other scholars say that this might mean that they are prevented from gazing upon the noble countenance of Allah. In any case, we want to receive the Divine Gaze, the Mercy and the Benevolence of Allah.

What this is teaching us is that there is certain things that we do that can cut us off from the Mercy of Allah, may Allah protect us.

Severing Ties of Kin

As for severing family ties and bonds of kinship, there are so many things in our religon that teach us the severity of this. We have a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim that states: “The one who servers (family ties) will not enter into Paradise.” Imam Bukhari also mentions in Al Adab al Mufrad: “The children of Bani Adam, their actions are shown every eve of Jum‘a and the actions or deeds of the severer of kinship ties are not accepted.” In another Hadith also narrated by Imam al Bukhari, he says: “Mercy will not descend upon the people among whom there is a severer of kinship ties.”

All of this is to teach us the severity of severing our kinship ties. We have to remember as a basic standpoint that the presence of blood relatives is a mercy. It is a bounty. There is a wealth of evidence to support this from the religious perspective, but also in relation to physical health, cognitive functioning, life expectancy.

It has been proven that happiness is linked to the quality of relationships as opposed to wealth and things of this nature. There is a beautiful article for those who want to read further titled “The Fall of the Family” by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad which is highly recommended. It is of utmost importance that we understand the nature of the family and the time in which we live and the challenges we face to preserve the traditional family structure that is encouraged by the Qur’an and the Sunna.

Family Is the Basic Unit of Society

The family is the basic unit of society and if it breaks down every subsequent level of society will also break down. We must always take into consideration the importance of preserving family ties and not severing them.

People often think about certain individuals when reading or hearing about this topic. The way that we must deal with these situations is that we need to understand the foundation, which is that family is essential to the individual and to society, and under no circumstance should we break those family ties unless there is something so severe such that it would be permissible for us to do so according to the sacred law, and that is a rare occurrence.

What does it mean to sever the family ties? It means to forsake them, to avoid them, to not speak to them or to harm them – that is, you don’t show excellence towards them. When someone does this, they are severing that basic family unit that is so important to the stability of society. We need to understand the gravity of severing ties and we should strive our best to avoid it.

We have to understand how to balance that out with our interaction with our family. It doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to be extremely close to everyone. However you must respect your family members, give them their rights, find a balanced way to uphold this foundation, and at the same time deal with some of the issues that might arise in a family.

It is important that we see this as being part of the religion. Our success in this realm is a sign of our success in religion.

Obnoxious Neighbors

We also have in this Hadith the idea of being a bad neighbor. And yet again we have Qur’anic references as well. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا

Worship Allah and do not associate partners with Him and to show excellence to your parents and to your relatives and to orphans and to the needy and then also to the neighbor who is close and to the neighbor who is further away. (Sura al Nisa 4:36)

We have an understanding in the Qur’an that Allah encourgaes us to show excellence to the neighbor who is close and also to the neighbor who is further away. You will also find in the Tafsir literature that some say that your neighbors are up to around forty houses around you. So a forty house radius in all directions. Other scholars say the number is seven.

Nevertheless, the neighbors have rights over you and we know that to harm your neighbor is something very serious. We should, as believers, be aware of the rights of neighbors which come to us in a hadith narrated by Imam al Bayhaqi:

The rights of the neighbors are as follows: if he seeks your help, you help him. If he asks to borrow money, you lend it to him. If he is in strained circumstances, you help him. If he is sick, you visit him. When good happens to him, you congratulate him. When tribulation befalls him, you console him. When he dies, you attend his funeral.

And then follows the specifics of not building the walls of your home so high as to block the wind from his home except with his permission; not to offend him with the smell of the food you’re cooking unless you give him some. When you buy fruit, gift him some and if you do not intend to do so, then bring it into your home secretly, and do not let your children eat it in the street, so his children feel left out.

The Reality of the Sunna

Look at the beauty of our religion. This is the reality of the teachings of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was sent as a mercy to all of the worlds. Who encouraged us to interact with our neighbors in this way and to think about the benefits of having a healthy society where neighbors treat each other like this.

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, went on to say:

“Do you know what the right of the neighbor is? By the One in whose hand is my soul, no one will fully give the neighbor their rights except those upon whom Allah has shown Mercy.”

We should strive our best to be good to our neighbors whether they be part of our faith or of a different faith or if they have no faith. They have a right upon us and we should be good to them.

Examples to Put into Practice

We conclude with a number to a number of other etiquettes in addition to what was mentioned. When we move into a place we should introduce ourselves. We should get to know our neighbors, perhaps maybe get some a welcoming gift.

We should consider the way that they live. what their schedule is. Whether they have children. We want to make sure that we don’t harm them or open up our garage door at a time they might be sleeping for instance.

We need to develop lines of communication with them, so that if there is something that might affect them, that we let them know in advance. If we share a fence with them; we park properly; do not slam doors at night; make sure when driving in late at night that our lights are off; inviting them into our home, keep our landscape tidy.

We should all be clean. Our cars, yard, home should be clean. Things like taking out the garbage on the right day matter greatly.

We should stand up for them, protect them and their property, making sure they are not harmed in anyway, even mow their lawns for them.

These are just examples and we could develop more if we do all of these different things, even if there might be difficult situations in relation to our neighbors. Often it wont be the case. They will be beautiful from the beginning. But even if there was a bit of resistance showing ihsan will lead to a beautiful relationship between neighbors.

May Allah give us Tawfiq and may we all receive the Divine Gaze. May we fulfill the rights of our families and our neighbors and live in a way that is pleasing to Him and His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

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

Taqwa: Content of Character 05 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus unfolds the essential etiquette we should have with our Lord, with ourselves, and with other people as is found in the concept of taqwa.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: اتّق الله حيثما كنتَ و أتبع السيئة الحسنة تمحها و خالق الناس حسن

The Messenger of God said, “Keep God in mind wherever you are; follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; and treat people courteously.” (Tirmidhi)

In this hadith our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is telling us about the three dimensions of etiquette (adab) that we need to have. First and foremost with our lord, secondly with ourselves, and thirdly with people.

This hadith is from the comprehensive words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and you will find that it is a very short hadith. But because it is from his comprehensive words, it is packed with meaning.

Centrality of Taqwa

If we look at the benefits, the first is in the primary etiquette that we should have with our Lord. This is reflected in the words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “Have taqwa of Allah wherever you are,” and taqwa is a difficult word to translate.

Some translate it as mindfulness. Others translate as God consciousness. Yet others will translate it as fear of Allah. However, taqwa is a very important word and I think it is best that we use the word taqwa, and define what it means, until it actually becomes a word in the English language.

Taqwa is of the utmost importance. The reality of taqwa pertains to our relationship with our Lord, praise be to Him, and the decisions that we make. It begins at the basic level with protecting ourselves from anything that would take us outside of the fold of Islam. And it ends in the highest degree where we try to be constantly present with our Lord, praise be to Him.

Inclination and Aversion

What our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us in this hadith is a very subtle etiquette, and we should have taqwa wherever we might be. Think about our own selves and all the different places and times we might be in – by ourselves or with other people. We could be at work or at home, with friends, acquaintances or elders. We can be in times of ease or in times of difficulty. In all of this our nafs inclines or has an aversion towards something.

In all these different states, times and places, what has to be consistent is that we have to be people of taqwa. Taqwa is a very sophisticated reality and it pertains to the way that we ultimately exercise our freedom of choice and choosing what is right or, as we move up in the degrees of closeness to Allah, what is best.

We need to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles which is so common in the world which we live. We think it is fine for us to focus on one aspect of our lives only. We can be different at home as opposed to the way that we are in the mosque, or as opposed to the way that we are at work.

A Comprehensive Religion

Islam is a comprehensive religion that deals with every aspect of the human being. We want to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles. Rather, we want to have taqwa at work, at home, at the masjid, in our financial dealings and interactions with people. Even when we are going through difficult times and times of ease, whether we like or dislike something.

Taqwa remains in all of these different states and our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us that this is what we need to be aware of at all times, because we know that as human beings we are weak and we fall short in this. Educating us and teaching us, The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is exemplifying how we should be before our Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings about His pleasure.

Never Lose Hope in Your Lord

The benefits of taqwa are so vast we can go on about them. Allah mentions taqwa more than ninety times in His Book and if we trace the verses that pertain to taqwa, you will end up with a long list of great things that Allah gives to the people of taqwa.

The first benefit of this hadith is teaching us how to be with our Lord. The Primary aspect of that is taqwa. Secondly, it teaches us how we should be with our own selves. These are the words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “follow a wrong with a right that offsets it.”

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us how to deal with our selves, particularly when we slip up. We know, as children of Adam, we are prone to slip ups. We are prone to mistakes and we know that we have faults that we are working on. But we fall short at times.

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that: Every time you fall short, immediately dust yourself off and keep moving forward. This is extremely important. This is essential and this will protect us from so many things that other people fall into, whereby they become depressed, lose hope in life and they start to spiral downwards from that.

How many people do we not come across who, because of their past and the things they have done, lose hope for the future? But in reality we’ve only lost if when cease to dust ourselves off, get up and keep moving on. Every time you fall short, dust yourself off, and keep on.

The Blessing of Good Deeds

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that we should immediately follow a bad deed up with a good deed, so the latter will erase the former. It will erase it from our scrolls and it will also erase the traces of that mistake or that sin from our hearts.

In other words it will be erased from our psychological profiles so even if it was us, we didn’t do it because it no longer will cease to be us. It will no longer will be us because it was erased from our hearts and our scrolls.

Allah says in Sura Hud 11:114:

إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

Indeed, good deeds do away with bad deeds.

Kaffara – Atonement

On the occasion of revelation of this verse, a man that had embraced a woman came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him and this verse was revealed. The man asked, “Is this in reference to me?” And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “This is not just for you. It is for all of my Umma.” And this man was sincere.

He realized he did something with a woman he shouldn’t do and so he came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. And Allah revealed this verse for him in on this occasion, but also for all people. To inform them that every time you make a mistake and fall short you should strive to immediately do something good.

The Prophet told us in a hadith that the five daily prayers, jumu‘a to jumu‘a, Ramadan to Ramadan, are an atonement for sins accumulated in between them, if the major wrong actions are avoided. So from the blessing of performing what it is that we are supposed to be performing is that it will be an atonement in and of itself.

This atonement will again be a means of forgiveness for the sin and erasing of the blemish of sin that is in our hearts. In other words our hearts will be polished and we will be able to move forward on our path to Allah.

Engage with Courteousness

The third etiquette relates to other people this is the primary principal that we should interact with all people with and that is good character. Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “Interact with people with good character, treat people courteously.”

Notice that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “khaliqin naas.” Treat people courteously, not just Muslims courteously. We should treat all people courteously. We should have manners and respect for all the people we interact with.

This principle of good character should guide us in everything we do. Again, when we are with people – if they are Muslim or non-Muslim, old or young, close or distant, and all of the other social distinctions that we have – does not matter. We maintain good character with everyone.

This is a constant. This is a standard. And the ethical standards of the Qur’an are very. very high. Read the book of Allah. It is filled with great passages and great verses that pertain to good character.

Every time we read those verses we should apply them to ourselves instead of trying to bring the Qur’an down to our own lowly selves, which you can never do and is a grave mistake. We should raise ourselves up to the ethical standards of the Qur’an.

Alhamdulillah, we have been gifted our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who gave us the great words of advice. Words that are from his comprehensive words, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaching us that the essential etiquette with our lord is to have taqwa. The essential etiquette with ourselves is to follow up a bad deed with a good deed. And the essential etiquette in our dealings with other people is to have good character.


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


Qari Mouhamed Hady Toure Reads from Al Zumar and Yusuf

Qari and Hafiz Mouhamed Hady Toure’s beautiful readings of Sura al Zumar 39:75 and Sura Yusuf 12:23.

Sura al Zumar 39:75

وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِي

And you shall see the angels encircling the Throne proclaiming the praise of their Lord; and justly the issue shall be decided between them; and it shall be said, “Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being.”

Sura Yusuf 12:23

وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ ۚ قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ رَبِّي أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَايَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Now the woman in whose house he was solicited him, and closed the doors on them. “Come,” she said, “take me!” “God be my refuge,” he said. “Surely my lord has given me a goodly lodging. Surely the evildoers do not prosper.”

A Note on Variant Readings

Regarding Sura Yusuf 12:23, Abu Dawud reports:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مَعْمَرٍ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ أَبِي الْحَجَّاجِ الْمِنْقَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَارِثِ، حَدَّثَنَا شَيْبَانُ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ، أَنَّهُ قَرَأَ ‏{‏ هَيْتَ لَكَ ‏}‏ فَقَالَ شَقِيقٌ إِنَّا نَقْرَؤُهَا ‏{‏ هِئْتُ لَكَ ‏}‏ يَعْنِي فَقَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ أَقْرَؤُهَا كَمَا عُلِّمْتُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىَّ ‏.

From Abu Mu‘mar Abd Allah ibn Amr ibn Abi al Hajjaj al Munqari, from Abd al Warith, from Shayban, from Al A‘mash, from Shaqiq, from [Abd Allah] ibn Mas‘ud that he read “Come now, you!” (hayta laka). Shaqiq said: We read it “I am ready for you” (hi’tu laka). Ibn Mas‘ud said: We read it as we have been taught it. It is dearer to us. (Kitab al Huruf wa al Qira‘at)

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