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Sura al Kahf: Gratitude – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad tells the story of the man of two gardens who was ungrateful for the blessing he was given and what we can learn from this.

Sahib al jannatayn or the man of the two gardens is the next parable. In reality it was one big garden. It was surrounded by date palm trees. A river ran though it and it had crops in its center.

The mufassirun mentioned that this garden was self irrigated. The man didn’t have to do anything. It was an amazing garden. Allah Most High Says:

وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلًا رَّجُلَيْنِ جَعَلْنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيْنِ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَحَفَفْنَاهُمَا بِنَخْلٍ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمَا زَرْعً

Strike for them a similitude: Two men, unto one of whom We had assigned two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms and had put between them tillage. (Sura al Kahf 18:32)

So there two men, one of the men had this garden of grapes and it’s surrounded by big trees and it has a river running through it and also has crops for tillage. In other words it’s self-sustaining – a perfect garden.

The First Mistake Made

Some of the narrations say they were brothers, or first cousins, or from the same tribe. Some say that the other man had something similar to it, or that he had wealth similar to it, but he spent it all in the way of Allah Most High and was left with nothing for himself.

كِلْتَا الْجَنَّتَيْنِ آتَتْ أُكُلَهَا وَلَمْ تَظْلِم مِّنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ وَفَجَّرْنَا خِلَالَهُمَا نَهَرًا

Each of the gardens gave its fruit and withheld naught thereof. And We caused a river to gush forth therein. (Sura al Kahf 18:33)

He didn’t have to do much to maintain it. It was there and the rivers were flowing and everything was going great. It was a marvel of agriculture.

وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرً

And he had fruit. And he said to his comrade, when he spoke with him: I am more than you in wealth, and stronger in respect of men. (Sura al Kahf 18:34)

Here’s where the problems begin. This verse is now kufr ni‘ama, a denial of blessing from Allah. What is important is that a denial of blessing from Allah can lead to outright kufr which is denial of Allah altogether.

The first mistake he makes is that he attributes his wealth to himself and does not see it as a blessing from Allah. He says the word ana (I). Anytime you see the word ana in the Qur’an it’s bad news. The first one to say ana is Shaytan: ana khayrun minhu … “I am better than him. I am made from fire. He is made from clay and dirt. Hence I am better.”

Isn’t the man saying a similar thing? “I have more money. I have more wealth. And hence I will be more respectful, have a better reputation, be more powerful in the eyes of men and those that I think count.”

Being Self-Important

So it began with this ujub: being impressed with oneself. The reason that no one should be self-impressed is because there’s no you here in the whole thing. Especially something like this. Look at the verse before it. Look at how Allah describes it. It goes back to Allah who is the One who made the river spring forth in the middle of it. Who is the One that made the fruits bear what they bear.

When you talk about crop farming, especially if it’s your livelihood, there’s nothing really that can teach you as much tawakkul as that. The farmer works and his harvest is once a year, maybe twice a year depending on his crop. The rest of the year he’s digging, he’s tilling, he’s seeding, he’s maintaining, he’s irrigating, and he’s not getting a dime back.

Nothing is coming back in income and the whole hope is that the crop will be so successful that at harvest time all of his needs and income for the year will come from that single crop. That’s a lot of tawakkul.

So what this man did completely contravenes that. Perhaps because it was so effortless for him. Perhaps this made him think: “I did all of this and it was so easy.” He didn’t have to struggle, to irrigate – the river burst forth and ran through it. He didn’t have to make tributaries and have it run and all these type of things. It ran on its own and he became deluded by this fact. And then he looked at his friend or his brother. “You gave your whole thing away. You’re stupid. Look at me.” It begins with self-attribution.

The Sins of Pharoah and Qarun

The same thing happened to Qarun who was from the Umma of Musa, peace be upon him. What was the worst thing that he said? The people said about him: “Look how great he is, and he has all of this. We wish we had like the same as Qarun.” And Qarun says: “I have been given this because of my knowledge. I have been given this because I did things right.” He’s attributing it to himself. And Allah destroyed him. The earth enveloped him and swallowed him.

The same thing happened to Pharaoh. He said ana in the worst way: ana rabbukum. Not even Satan could say that. Pharoah said: “I am your lord.” Again, the ana gets involved.

Taking all of these things into consideration you come to no other conclusion than that the worst thing that can happen to someone is they have this ana, this jabarut, this tyrannical overtaking of themselves by themselves. Because of what they attribute to what they think they’ve done, what they think they deserve, what they think they’re entitled to.

But then it gets worse.

وَدَخَلَ جَنَّتَهُ وَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ قَالَ مَا أَظُنُّ أَن تَبِيدَ هَـٰذِهِ أَبَدًا

And he went into his garden, while he is wronging himself. He said: I don’t think that all of this will ever perish. (Sura al Kahf 18:35)

He is only wronging himself, at the end of the day, for when you say something wrong or do something wrong the one who’s going to pay the highest price is yourself. One of the things that happens when people start attributing things to themselves as they become deluded and they think: “I’m always going to be like this.” These are things people take for granted.

And then finally the culmination:

وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّدِدتُّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّي لَأَجِدَنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهَا مُنقَلَبًا

I don’t think not that the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord I surely shall find better than this as a resort. (Sura al Kahf 18:36)

Denying Allah’s Blessing

The denial of the blessing from Allah Most High leads to the denial of Allah. Because when you deny the Day of Judgment you deny Allah. This is serious kufr. You don’t think Allah has better than what you think you have here? And you don’t think the Hour is coming?

But notice the tasalsul – the chain. See how one step leads to another. First he says: “I’m better than you because I have more than you.” Then he says: “I don’t think it will ever go away.” And finally: “I don’t even think even the Hour will come. I think this is it and I have everything.”

Then his Sahib, his friend, comes back to him.

قَالَ لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَكَفَرْتَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ سَوَّاكَ رَجُلًا

His comrade, when he spoke with him, said: Do you not believe in Him Who created you of dust, then of a drop [of seed], and then fashioned you a man? (Sura al Kahf 18:37)

The Duty of Care

Here is an important point. Allah says: His friend or companion said when he spoke with him (yuhawiruhu). The word yuhawiruhu means he is having a discourse with him. He didn’t say: “O my God! are you like a kafir? What the heck? Are we not brothers? How could you say this?” No, he actually has a concerned discourse.

Moses was called upon by Allah Most High to speak in soft tones to Pharaoh. So what about this person and his brother? He’s no worse than Pharaoh. Even in those things that may come out that are shocking, whether we hear from a Muslim or non-Muslim, sometimes people just say things to shock and sometimes they don’t know what they’re saying.

Rather than condemn them to hell as may be the initial impulse, let’s try to save them from hell first. This is what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to make him think, to reconsider what he just said. He’s not just bringing him back to his own creation. He’s bringing him back to the creation of Adam, peace be upon him, because the gardener wasn’t created from dust or dirt, our father Adam was.

Back to the Beginning

This is kind of an overture to how we all actually began. That we came from dirt, from our father Adam, peace be upon him. And then after that we became the pollinated seed from the mother and the father. Then he made you into a man. So when you’re developing inside and you’re an embryo, then become a fetus, and then you go through these three stages of development, did you do that yourself? Is that all about you?

Should you be someone who is haughty and arrogant because you did that and it was perfect? What is difference between you and the fetus and the perfection therein and all of the resources that the fetus the baby needs are perfectly provided much in the same way that your garden is working?

The companion is appealing to the gardener’s intellect. He’s appealing to his sense of recognizing inherent truth when you’re presented with it. He implores him to reconsider his words and gives him a parable. And then he is emphatic:

لَّـٰكِنَّا هُوَ اللَّـهُ رَبِّي وَلَا أُشْرِكُ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا

But He is Allah, my Lord, and I ascribe unto my Lord no partner. (Sura al Kahf 18:38)

Gratitude Is the Way

What is the conclusion? Well, if Allah created you from dust, and then from a single seed, and then made you into a man – and only a God can do that and no one else – then why scribes partners with that or why ascribe that to yourself? Hence your assertion is false. It can’t be right.

And then he tells the gardener what he should have said.

وَلَوْلَا إِذْ دَخَلْتَ جَنَّتَكَ قُلْتَ مَا شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّـهِ ۚ إِن تَرَنِ أَنَا أَقَلَّ مِنكَ مَالًا وَوَلَدًا

If only, when you entered your garden, you had said: That which Allah wills (will come to pass)! There is no strength save in Allah! Though you see me as less than you in wealth and children… (Sura al Kahf 18:39)

Here he says: Contrast what you said before with what I would have said as a believer. If you had entered your garden and said: ma sha Allah, la quwwata illa biLlah – this is by Allah’s mercy, this is by Allah’s will, there is no power and there is no strength except through Allah, then you recognize this blessing.

He is teaching the gardener how to capture the blessing. This ayah is like a madrassa – it’s a school in the sense of all the meanings that come out of it. And you can see its manifestations. When you say: ma sha Allah, la quwwata illa biLlah, this is called tying up your blessing. Make sure it doesn’t go away.

How do you tie up your blessing? By recognizing it. How do you increase your blessing? By thanking Allah.

لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ

And if you are thankful then I will only increase you. (Sura Ibrahim 14:17)


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.


Positive Spiritual Thinking, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

An explanation of the power of taqwa and trust in Allah in decision-making. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains how, “Whoever has mindfulness of Allah, Allah grants a way out and provides for them in ways they could never imagine.” [Qur’an, 65.2-3]

This is not only through spiritual assistance but also through the practical facilitation of making right choices–as taqwa is committing to leave all that is displeasing to Allah and choosing what is pleasing to Allah. This is the practical way to good in all choices.

But people have their worldly and spiritual fears and misgivings, so Allah Most High promises, “And whoever places their trust in Allah, Allah is their sufficiency..” [Qur’an, 65.3]

How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment? [Follow-Up Questions]

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamu alaykum,
I have follow-up questions regarding this answer: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?
1) Can you further distinguish between expiation of sins vs raising of ranks?
2) Specifically, how is calmness distinct from mere patience?
3) How is contentment distinct from merely avoiding complaining?
4) What is obedience of heart? (versus mere obedience of body)?
5) If we find ourselves in the first category or second (i.e. that of sins or expiation of sins), can we “raise” the purpose/goal of the trial through intentionally altering the “symptoms” i.e. complaining less, so that it becomes an expiation of sin rather than a punishment?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Expiation of sins is for them to be covered over, which is distinct from being raised in degrees.
(2) Patience is remaining firm upon that which will be pleasing to Allah. Calmness is serenity after uneasiness and worry. [see: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah]
(3) Contentment is the heart’s joy at the unfolding of destiny. [see: Contentment: the Property of the Believers – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus – Video and: Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life] Complaint is objecting to Allah. [see: Things Inconsistent With Accepting Fate – Imam Ghazali]
(4) Obedience of the heart can include actions which pertain to the heart such as sincerity, trueness, and good opinion, as opposed to obedience of the body, such as prayer and fasting.
(5) Yes, and this realization is a gift from Allah.
See also: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is Allah Punishing me for my Past Sins through the Trials in my Life?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Salam  Alaykum
I have just become infertile and I want to know if I caused it by sinning in my past or if it was always destined to happen? I am afraid of losing everything else. I always thought everything that occurs was pre ordained now I’m afraid it was my fault.
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, trials aren’t necessarily the result of sins. [see: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?]
Have a good opinion of Allah, remove the unlawful from your life, repent from all sin, get up before Fajr and pray, asking Allah to give you contentment (rida) and make the trial easy to bear, and work on your state with Allah, striving for an increase in gratitude and patience.
Please also see: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a and: Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life and: Can Supplication Change Destiny? and: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My family and I are currently going through a lot of difficulties. My question is, how does one differentiate between a test from Allah and a punishment? What should we do in either case?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May Allah grant you and your family ease and relief from your trials, amin.

Some Criteria and General Advice

One’s own behavior during the trial is a strong clue as to why the trial was sent.

It is related that Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani (Allah have mercy on him) said that trials occur for one of three reasons, each of which has a sign:

(1) Due to sins, the sign of which is the person’s lack of patience and much restlessness and complaining during the trial; or

(2) As expiation for sins, the sign of which is patience and not complaining or being restless, along with obedience being easy on the body; or

(3) As a way to raise one’s rank to the highest of degrees, the sign of which is contentment and calmness, along with obedience being easy on both the body and the heart.

[Nahlawi, Al-Durar al-Mubaha fil Hazr wal Ibaha]

In any case, one should strive to remove the unlawful from one’s life; seek much forgiveness and make much repentance; and focus on being patient and content with Allah’s decree, all the while continuing to make dua that Allah bring ease and relief from the trial.

Related Answers

How Do I Cope With the Constant Hardships and Challenges in My Life?

A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

Family Problems: Maintaining Conviction in Allah During Difficulty & Tribulation

Advice to a Young Cancer Patient

Prophetic Supplications to Cure Illnesses

Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

 

And Allah knows best.

wassalam
Faraz

Checked and Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Tackling Homosexual Feelings: Supplication, Repentance, and Going Cold Turkey

Answered bu Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: One of my friend has requested me to approach you and get some advice on his behalf. He is a young male adult currently studying with me. Recently he told me that he gets attracted to both sexes. Although he knows homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, he keeps getting into this kind of stuff again and again. He has also started watching gay porn. He seems to be depressed because of this as he knows it is not the right thing to do. Now it has come to a stage where he is complelty frustrated and doesnt know what to do. He is misrable and sometimes thinks of ending his life. He feels if something is not done with it soon he might get too much into homosextuality and it may make his whole life hell. Please advise.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

May Allah give your friend strength in this trial and a way out.

I think the first step is that we acknowledge his feelings and homosexual tendency as a reality that has to be dealt with. Often times such tendencies are denied altogether, which only accentuates the problem. These feelings are real and are an affliction whose remedy must be sought.

Having said that, the following can serve as an outline of a few steps that might prove beneficial, inshaAllah:

Recognizing the Problem and Desiring to Stop

The first step in this situation is to recognize the problem and have a sincere desire to quit. MashaAllah, your friend has already taken this first step, and this is not to be underestimated. It is a very praiseworthy thing for a person with a problem or addiction to at least admit he has a problem and genuinely want to rid himself of it. Your friend should have hope in Allah that with each step he takes towards Allah, Allah will take ten towards him.

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) conveyed the following from his Lord, “When My servant draws near to Me a handspan, I draw near to Him a forearm’s length. And when he draws near to Me a forearm’s length, I draw near to him the span of two outstretched arms. And when comes to me walking, I come to Him running” [Bukhari].

The Power of Supplication [dua]

The next step is to make sincere supplication to Allah to help him get rid of the problem. He should beg Allah from the bottom of his heart to give him the strength, will and determination to forever close this door. He should make sure he fulfills the conditions of having his supplication answered, the most important of which are to eat only lawful food [halal], and to have conviction that Allah will answer his prayers. Allah never lets His servants down, and as hard as something might be for us, nothing is difficult for Him, Exalted and Glorious.

He should try to make dua at blessed times, especially in the last part of the night before fajr, as well as between the adhan and iqama of the prayer.

He should also rejoice in his very supplication, for our master Ibn Ata’illah states, “If He [Most High] causes your tongue to ask [for something], then know that He wants to give it to you.” The greatest indication that your friend will overcome this problem, inshaAllah, is the fact that he consistently asks Allah to rid him of it.

Going Cold Turkey: The Only Solution

Now it’s time for your friend to really roll up his sleeves and be strong for the sake of Allah. Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, yet there is good in both. Be avid for that which benefits you, seek Allah’s help, and don’t be weak” [Muslim].

The only solution for this problem is to completely shut the door, 100%. He has to go cold turkey. It cannot be gradual, but sudden and final. He has to just stop. Now, this will no doubt be extremely difficult, especially at the beginning. But if he can simply get through the initial stage when it’s the hardest, it will only get easier.

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, “No servant leaves something for the sake of Allah except that Allah replaces it with that which is better for his religion and his worldly affairs” [Hilyat al-Awliya’]. Your friend is guaranteed, if he can just get through this test, that Allah will replace the pleasure he found in the unlawful with a much greater pleasure in the lawful, inshaAllah. Something better is in store for your friend if he can just show Allah that he can be strong for His sake.

This promise is further explained by our master Ibn Ata’illah, who said, “Our Lord is far too magnificent to delay recompense if the servant pays up front.” That is, reward for good deeds – the very best of which is to leave the unlawful – does not come only in the next life. Allah is kinder and greater than that; rather, His recompense is immediate and in this life too, yet comes in various forms. He sends a certain kind of contentment, tranquility, and joy in the heart of the believer who avoids the unlawful and cleans up his life. As the Qur’an itself states, “Whoever acts righteously, whether male or female, while believing [in Allah],  We will certainly give him a renewed goodly life [of contentment and joy], and [furthermore] We will certainly recompense them with a reward based on the very best of what they used to do” [Nahl:97].

Some Practical Aids to Going Cold Turkey

Tell your friend to fast at least once a week. Fasting has an incredible effect on subduing the evil qualities and tendencies of the ego, and it is a prophetic cure. Fasting also gives one a window into the renewed goodly life promised by Allah, as the fasting person finds a new sort of contentment that does not come with eating all the time.

Your friend has to find good company. A common idiom in English is “Birds of a feather flock together,” and this is especially true when it comes to spiritual matters. Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) said, “A person is on the religion of his close friend, so let him carefully examine who he befriends” [Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]. He should spend quality time with believers that are strong-willed and of good character, people who remind him of Allah Most High. Our Prophet [peace and blessings upon him] described such people when he said, “Indeed some people are keys to the remembrance of Allah; when they are seen, Allah is remembered” [Tabarani, Kabir]. Part of this entails that he goes the masjid regularly and prays with the believers.

Your friend has to develop a relationship with the Qur’an, and make much remembrance of Allah, especially sending blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). He should spend at least half an hour every morning and every night doing this. Our Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) conveyed that Allah says, “Whoever is too preoccupied with reciting Qur’an to mention Me and ask Me for something, I shall give him something better than what I give to those who ask” [Bayhaqi, Shu’ab].

Lastly, your friend must adopt a new rule and make no exceptions whatsoever: He can never go on the internet alone. He must force himself to use the internet only in public places where the screen can be seen by others. This is not impossible, and is crucial to his success in this endeavor, inshaAllah.

The Power of Repentance (tawba)

Finally and most importantly, all of this is part of repentance or tawba. This is the most powerful tool we have as humans, because our very nature is one of incapacity, inability and utter need, as Allah says, “The human being was surely created weak” [Nisa:28]. Yet the beauty of our weakness is that Allah loves when we go back to Him broken and in pain. He loves to see us beg Him for help. He loves to see us put our heads on the ground and just ask Him, as our Beloved said, “Ask Allah out of His bounty, for verily Allah Mighty and Majestic loves to be asked” [Sunan Tirmidhi].

No sin is too great for Allah’s mercy. It’s never too late. As long as one has breath in his body, there is always hope. This is Allah’s promise, and cannot be stressed enough. And once we turn back to Him, the past darkness transforms into pure light, as He Most High states in His magnificent book, “…Except he who repents, believes, and works righteous deeds; verily, for those people, Allah transforms their evil deeds into good deeds. And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, All-Merciful” [Furqan:70].

All of the indecent and evil images your friend looked at can at once be transformed into beautiful righteous deeds that will shine with light on the Day of Judgment. This is the Divine Promise…if he can just have the strength to stop the sin, feel remorse, and have the resolve never to return again. This is tawba, and this is Allah’s gift to humanity.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life

Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I was interested in a brother for a while but it never worked out. Now this brother is getting married. I know this is ultimately for the best but it’s been very difficult for my heart to accept. I feel envious of the sister he is marrying and keep wishing it were me that was chosen. Is there some dua/adhkar that can help with this? I feel very depressed about my inner state and my reaction to this situation, knowing that Allah is the best of planners. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

May Allah reward you for your patience throughout this trial and raise your rank in both this world and the next. I understand the pain you must be going through; this is by no means an easy situation. Having said that, such situations are in reality immense spiritual opportunities by which we can display our true sincerity and trust in Allah Most High.

The Divine Decree

One of the central tenets of our faith is belief in the Divine Decree, as established in many Qur’anic verses and prophetic hadiths. Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would often stress the importance of conviction in the Divine Decree, both its good and its evil, and according to some narrations, both its sweet and its bitter [Sahih Ibn Hibban].

The nature of this life is tribulation, which can be sweet when testing our gratitude or bitter when testing our patience. Life is not meant to be Paradise, and our outlook therefore is always meant to be directed ahead. “Our abode is in front of us, and our life comes after our death,” said Ibrahim ibn Adham. Even the Messenger himself (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say, “O Allah, there is no life except the life of the hereafter” [Bukhari]. Why is there no life except that of the hereafter? Because true life is one without stress and without the bitter blows of fate, which exists only in Paradise. This life, then, must for sure be bitter at times.

Furthermore, the tests of this life are absolute and fixed, as they were decreed preeternally by Allah Most High. As Imam Tahawi states in his treatise on Islamic creed:

We affirm the existence of the Preserved Tablet, the Pen, and all that has been inscribed in it. If all of creation were to unite in order to eliminate something whose existence had been inscribed in the Tablet based on Allāh’s decree, they would not be able to prevent its existence. Likewise if they were to unite altogether in order to bring into existence that which was inscribed in the Tablet to not exist, they would prove incapable. The [ink of the] Pen has dried with regard to the existence of all that shall exist until the Day of Arising.

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) highlighted this tenet when he said, “Know that what does not afflict you could never have afflicted you; and what afflicts you would never have missed you.” He then followed the statement with the remedy for afflictions, “And realize that victory is with patience, relief is with stress, and indeed with difficulty comes ease.” [Nawawi’s 40 Hadith]

Contentment

Once the believer realizes that he/she has no control or power over the blows of fate, his/her only recourse is to submit to the Divine Decree and strive to actualize a state of total contentment. This is the very essence of our religion, itself named Islam or “submission.” From the Prophetic supplications in this regard is the statement, “I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet” (peace and blessings be upon him). Our Prophet guaranteed that whoever says this is promised Paradise [Abu Dawud].

رَضِيْتُ بِاللهِ رَبّاً وَبِالإِسْلامِ دِيْناً وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رَسُوْلاً

One of the most potent means by which one can realize true contentment is sincere supplication (du`a). It is narrated that Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “O Allah, make me content with what you have provided me, send blessings for me therein, and replace for me every absent thing with something good/better” [Bukhari/Adab al-Mufrad].

اللّهُمَّ قَنِّعْنِيْ بِمَا رَزَقْتَنِيْ ، وَبَارِكْ لِيْ فِيْهِ ، وَاخْلُفْ عَلَى كُلِّ غَائِبَةٍ بِخَيْرٍ

If one holds fast to sincere supplication for something, one should rejoice since the supplication itself is one of the strongest indicators that Allah Most High wants to give that person that thing. One’s asking for contentment is a sign that Allah wants to bestow contentment on that person.

Also, even from a purely worldly perspective, contentment is the greatest remedy for stress, as it is entails an enormous relief. For this reason, our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Hold fast to contentment, for indeed it is wealth that never ends” [Tabarani/Awsat]. People under stress will pay enormous amounts of money to alleviate their pain, whether through pharmaceutical drugs, psychiatric therapy or the like, yet a believer that is content with Allah’s decree finds a greater relief without spending anything – a treasure indeed.

Contentment, then, is the source of true enrichment and honor; it is the way of relaxation and relief in a world designed to disappoint us, so that our true repose is only with the Creator of that world. Contentment is a trait of those who are truly intelligent and chivalrous; it transforms the bitter blows of fate into breezes of Paradise. It is indeed, as one early Imam put it, “a king that resides not except in the heart of a believer.” [Risala Qushayriyya]

From an otherworldly perspective, the fruits of contentment are of course much greater. We cannot fathom the reward that awaits a person of contentment in the next life; it is sufficient for us to know that if we are pleased with Allah, then Allah will be pleased with us.

Divine Wisdom and Good Opinion

Also, one should always remember that nothing exists except that it reflects Allah’s infinite wisdom, for He has called Himself “The All-Wise” (Al-Hakim). There is always the big picture, a larger context that we are unable to perceive with our short-sightedness. Allah Most High is fully aware of how things unfold in the long run, and we must place our trust in Him, fully realizing that there is wisdom in His decisions.

In this regard, our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to maintain a good opinion of our Lord, for He Most High states, “I am in the opinion of My servant” [Bukhari]. If we are convinced that Allah is looking out for our best interests when He decrees painful situations, and that He will replace what is lost with something much better for us in both this life and the next, then that is exactly how we will find Him, without a doubt.

A Reflection on the Year of Sadness

On a closing note, one can reflect on the Year of Sadness (`Aam al-Huzn) in the life of our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and find many lessons therein to help one in one’s own trials. I would just like to mention one aspect that will insha’Allah be a comfort for us in our times of difficulty.

This year was the most difficult year in the Prophet’s life (peace and blessings be upon him); in it, he lost his beloved wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) and his beloved uncle Abu Talib, and he was rejected by the people of Ta’if and violently driven out of their town, all the while being stoned by their children. Yet despite these severe trials, he turned to his Lord and sought only His good pleasure. The very next major event in his life was the blessed Night Journey and Heavenly Ascent (al-isra’ wal-mi`raj), arguably the greatest spiritual experience he had in his blessed life (peace and blessings be upon him). One can appreciate, then, that if we patiently endure our difficulties with contentment in the Divine and seeking His good pleasure, then He will replace those difficulties with our own spiritual “ascents.” This is the secret of tribulation – in it lies the greatest of opportunities for proximity to the Divine, insha’Allah.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Dealing with Death: Inward & Outward Manners

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: My grandmother is about to die, it seems. How does one deal with death? What can I do for her?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

Inwardly:

1. Patience,

2. Submission to the Divine Will,

3. Reflection on the fleetingness of live,

4. Taking admonition for one’s own situation.

Shaddad ibn Aws reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The intelligent is one who controls his lower self and works for that which comes after death. The stupid is one who follows his caprice and vainly hopes that his desires will be fulfilled by Allah.” [al-Tirmidhi, Sunan]

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Race to good deeds! What do you await but delayed poverty, overbearing wealth, debilitating illness, senility, unexpected death or the Dajjal? Or are you waiting for unseen evil, or the Final Hour? And the Final Hour will be bitter indeed and terrible.” [ibid]

Outwardly:

1. Making sure the dead person’s estate is correctly divided according to the Shariah AFTER all debts have been cleared.

2. If the person is expected to have missed fard fasts or prayers, their family (or friends) should make expiatory payments (fidya) to compensate for this, according to the rules of fiqh. [Can be explained upon request.]

3. Reciting a lot of Qur’an oneself (and family and friends) and donating the reward to the deceased. One may not pay Qur’an reciters for this; it would be sinful and without reward.

4. Making a lot of dua for them.

There is agreement among the 4 Sunni schools that one may donate the reward of some or all one’s actions to some or all believers, living or dead. [Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir]

Malik ibn Rabi’a al-Sa`idi said, “Once as we sat with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), a man from the Bani Salama came and asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, is there any goodness I can show my parents after they die?’ He said, ‘Yes . Praying for them, seeking forgiveness for them, fulfilling the pledges they made, keeping ties with their relatives, and honouring their friends.” [Abu Dawud, Sunan]

Finally, we should learn the manners and ways of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) and live them:

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessing & peace) said, “My entire community will enter Janna except those who refuse.”

He was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who are those who refuse?

He said, “Those who obey me will enter the Garden and those who disobey me refuse.” [al-Bukhari, Sahih]

Wassalam
Faraz Rabbani

Saving for Retirement & Trust in Allah

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: In many countries, people save up money for retirement. I know there is nothing wrong with this but isn’t this sort of against the concept of tawakkul that one fears for his future and saves up money each year so he may have a “secure” life? I know that one has to take the means but to save up lots of money to have a steady salary after retirement doesn’t seem to me the best option. Please advise.

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Saving up for retirement and other future contingencies is from the taking of means–and is not contrary to trust in Allah (tawakkul). Trust in Allah is for one’s heart to be at rest and confident with the Divine Promise. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) himself would store food for his wives, as protection against future shortcomings.

And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz Rabbani

Dealing With Infertility

Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja

Question: I haven’t been able to have children, and so I was wondering: 1. What are the best duas to make in this situation? 2. How to deal with the various emotions and keep oneself inspired in the light of Quran and Sunnah? 3. Everything is absolutely in Allah’s hands, but how to deal with the guilt that a woman remained unable to give her husband children? 4. How to deal with various social pressures such as people belittling you, suggesting this is some kind of punishment, or suggesting that a husband should remarry again? 5. How to respond to the constant irritating questions from people about children?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

1. Some supplications to make to bear children are the following:

(a) The prayer of Sayyidna Zakariyya in the Qur’an,

رَبِّ لَا تَذَرۡنِى فَرۡدً۬ا وَأَنتَ خَيۡرُ ٱلۡوَٲرِثِينَ

“O Lord! Do not leave me single (childless, without an inheritor), and You are the best of inheritors” [Surat al-Anbiya, 89]

(b) Some scholars suggest the verse

وَٱلَّتِىٓ أَحۡصَنَتۡ فَرۡجَهَا فَنَفَخۡنَا فِيهَا مِن رُّوحِنَا وَجَعَلۡنَـٰهَا وَٱبۡنَهَآ ءَايَةً۬ لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ إِنَّ هَـٰذِهِۦۤ أُمَّتُكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ وَأَنَا۟

رَبُّڪُمۡ فَٱعۡبُدُونِ

“And (remember) her [Maryam] who guarded her chastity. We breathed into her of Our spirit her and her son a sign for mankind and jinn. Truly, this is your religion, the one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.” [Surat al-Anbiya, 91-92]

Follow this by the following prayers on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace):

اللهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ طِبِّ القُلُوبِ وَدَوائِها وعَافِيَةِ الأَبْدانِ وَشِفَائِها ونُورِ الأَبْصارِ وضِيائِها وعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَسَلِّمْ

“O Allah, send blessings upon our master Muhammad, the medicine of hearts and their cure, the health of bodies and their healing, and the light of eyes and their illumination, and upon his family and companions, and send peace.”

(c) Also see this previous answer: Invocations to Bear Children.

2. Many of the most beloved people to Allah, such as Prophets and the wives of Prophets, were given the trial of not having children. As with any trial, one can draw closer to Allah through it by having patience and contentment, or one can be driven further away from Allah by becoming bitter and discontent. Many Prophets (may Allah be please with them) faced the trial of not having children and their correct response to the trial is what continued to increase them in degrees with Allah.

The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings be upon him), when asked about who suffers the greatest tribulations, answered, “The prophets, then those who come next to them, then those who come next to them. A man is afflicted in accordance to his religion. If his religion is firm, his trial is severe; if there is weakness in his religion, then it [the trial] is in accordance. Trials will continue for a servant until he walks on the earth having no sin.” [Tirmidhi]

He also said, “Trials will continue for the believing man and the believing woman, in person, property and children, until they meet Allah free from sin.” [Tirmidhi]

Remember Allah’s word in the Qur’an, “O you who have believed! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for certainly Allah is with those who patiently persevere. [Surat al-Baqara, 153]

Remember that each person has their own trial. Allah is the One who Gives, as He is the One who Withholds. If He withholds children from you, know that He has given you other innumerable blessings that require your gratitude. Likewise, though He has given others children, He has also withheld from them other blessings.

3. A wife should not feel guilty about not being able to give her husband children because the matter is ultimately in the hands of Allah. Just as every person’s rizq (provision) in money is determined, one’s rizq in other things in life has also been divinely apportioned. How many children one has is part of Allah’s decree.

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female (offspring) for whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) for whom He wills. Or He joins them (bestows both), males and females. And He makes barren whom He will: for certainly, He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful.” [Surat al-Shura, 49-50]

4 & 5. The questions and hints you will receive from others about your personal struggle with infertility is out of your control. However, there are some things you can do to mitigate these awkward situations. You can answer that Allah grants children at the time He wills. You should answer confidently and in a manner that shows that you are pleased with what He has decreed. You can also curtly reply that Allah is the best of planners. If you don’t give further information, the other person should realize that it is not their concern and leave the matter. If you feel comfortable enough with the person, you may also simply ask them to make du`a for you for a healthy, righteous child.

May Allah grant you ease and increase you in closeness to Him.

wassalam,
Sulma

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani