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Knowledge Without Barriers: A Heartbreaking Story About A Student in Need

I just wanted to share a quick story that reflects the importance and blessings of SeekersGuidance and the Knowledge Without Barriers initiative.

This is a short story about one of the sharpest students in our class, who always looked exhausted. Every half an hour or so, he would stand so that he wouldn’t doze off in class.

Every chance he got, he would ask me about the ‘ulema in Pakistan and Canada. He would lament about the state of his people but was hopeful that one day they would reclaim the legacy of the likes of Imam Bukhari, Baha’udin Naqshaband and Imam Tirmidhi.

One morning, I saw him sitting on a bench outside the masjid waiting for Fajr to come in. As I greeted him and saw the exhaustion on his face, I wondered how many nights he had spent on a park bench, and if that was the reason he was always so tired… That was also the last day I saw him in class, he stopped attending.

I ran into him today, and asked him where he’s been… He smiled and said he’s been attending a reading of Sahih al Bukhari. I asked him when he’ll be returning to class… Sadly, he informed me that he wouldn’t be able to, and that he plans to start at another mahad(institution). Why? I asked, ‘this mahad is known to have a much better program and teachers’… He looked down and said ‘I know, but its too much money.’ I asked, how much? ‘200 lira per month ($35 USD), but the other one I can study for free.’ I told him not to worry, let’s figure something out’, he just smiled and said ‘it’s difficult.’

Often times I hear people referring to programs that cost thousands of dollars. It’s not a lot of money! If people really valued knowledge they’d make it a priority!

This brother left his country to seek knowledge, he likely often sleeps on a park bench, doesn’t own a cell phone.. $35/month is his barrier to entry… $35/month. We may lose a future ‘Alim, one who shows deep concern for the umma, loves the ‘ulema and the tradition, and is more than capable, for just $35/month.

Knowledge Without Barriers is critical.

SeekersHub Impact Report Highlights

SeekersHub Global Impact Report: Growing, Global Impact Made Possible With Your Support.

Are you curious about exactly how far SeekersHub reaches? How many people we serve? What are the different programs we run, and partnerships we are involved in? How many female and male scholars teach with us? Is there a difference between the online and on-ground curriculum?

Watch the above presentation of the Global Impact Report, given at the Impact Luncheon at SeekersHub Toronto on 11 August 2018. Highlights include messages from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, our Executive Director, Operations Director, and student Sr. Sandra Noe.

Access an overview of the report here, or read the full report below (click image to scroll).

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Building Our Trust in Religious Leadership, by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

At Clothworkers’ Hall in the City of London, the Woolf Institute hosted a panel event with the Archbishop of Canterbury Jason Welby, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and the Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, Tim Winter (Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad).

Resources for seekers on scholars and religious leadership

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Building Our Trust in Religious Leadership, by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

"He Came With a Blanket that Smelt Like Baby Urine"

Why did Habib Umar bin Hafiz give his students a blanket that smelt like baby urine? Habib Mundhir al-Musawa gives the answer and talks about his relationship with Habib Umar in an interview given shortly before his death. With genuine humility, he describes his early days seeking knowledge and then his first steps in calling to Allah.

He talks about the key to his success, his immense attachment to his Shaykh, Habib Umar bin Hafiz. The film is interspersed with footage of Majelis Rasulullah, the intense gathering which he established in Jakarta, Indonesia.
This short film titled ‘The Shaykh and the Murid’ gives a unique insight into the life of one of the heroes of our times, Habib Mundhir al-Musawa, may Allah have mercy upon him. In his short life, Habib Mundhir had a huge impact on thousands, if not millions of people and was a cause of many people returning to Allah.  Our thanks to Muwasala for this video.

Resources for Seekers

blanketsCover Photo by Daniel Orth

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"They Are Not Our Teachers" – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

“They are not our teachers”  said Omar Mukhtar, the leader of Libyan Mujahideen, when asked why he would not avenge the way Muslims had been treated by the Italian Colonists. His declaration demonstrated a deep understanding of the way of the Prophet ﷺ.

In this video, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin uses this example and others from the life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to show how the way of the Prophetic way can heal us and the world around us.

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Resources for seekers:

Cover photo by Wallace Parreiras.

My Journey To Light, by Ibrahim J Long

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When Ibrahim J. Long first converted to Islam there were few opportunities to learn Islam directly from scholars. Mostly, he gathered what information he could from reading articles from various Islamic websites, watching YouTube videos and downloading lectures.

IbrahimJLongI read as much as I could. Though, looking back now I realize just how much I was in need of direction in what I should be reading, learning, and focusing my attention on.
Thankfully, I did have a few people around me who were able to provide me with some direction. However, their recommendations and answers to questions sometimes conflicted with one another; leaving me confused and with more questions than answers. Often when I reflect back on this time in my life, I think about the conversations I had with others about whether wiping over cotton socks is permitted and under what circumstances. This topic often came up while making wudu in my university’s bathroom and often generated more frustration than certainty for me. Those who presented to me their positions were rather adamant that their position was clearly correct; though they often contradicted others who felt just as adamant about their contradicting position.
Interestingly enough, it is for the sake of my socks that I decided to adopt a madhhab. Only a few of my Muslim friends at the time followed a madhhab. Most of my friends followed what they read online from sources they trusted, but I did not find these same sources satisfactory. After learning about the Traditional madhhabs (i.e., Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) through lectures by various scholars and preachers, I became convinced that the only way I would feel confident in my wudu was to ensure that I was acting in accordance with one of these madhhabs that have been followed by scholars and laymen alike for centuries.
This, of course, was a difficult task as there was very little available at that time on Traditional Islam and the madhhabs in particular. Moreover, the books that were available in English were primarily written for children; which made it a struggle for my learning and my nafs.
Though I continued to take classes that were available in my community, I continued to look elsewhere for more traditional learning. The road to more advanced learning seemed blocked. It appeared as if the only place to pursue a deeper understanding of Islam was overseas, but I was not financially capable of traveling nor did I even know how to go about it.
It was difficult to find scholars trained in a traditional madhhab, and of those who I knew of, I did not know how to reach out to. Eventually I came across an online institute (at that time called SunniPath) that provided courses in Hanafi fiqh. I did not know that much about the institute except that a few students at my university had taken some of their online classes and spoke highly of Sh. Faraz Rabbani. To be honest, despite my interest I had become torn by this point over whether or not I should attend any of his classes. By this time, I had developed some strong friendships with fellow Muslims at my university and there was a general culture amongst them and within our MSA that devalued Traditional approaches to Islam in favor of other approaches. I was also still new to Islam and struggled with the thought of going down what felt like a different path of Islamic learning than my new Muslim friends. I had just experienced the loss of old friends after my conversion, and I was concerned that I might be ostracized by my new Muslim friends for not adopting the approach they follow. Nevertheless, a desire for a deeper understanding of Islam remained. So, I decided to write Sh. Faraz.
I forget if there was anything in particular that finally prompted me to write. Perhaps I was just reaching out to anyone who could provide me with some sound guidance. I don’t know. However, I was impressed with Sh. Faraz’s thoughtful responses and piety and decided to attend his introductory course on Hanafi fiqh.
Over the years I continued to follow Sh. Faraz, paying attention to his Hanafi Fiqh email list at the time, as well as reading his answers to various questions online. After Sh. Faraz established what we now call the SeekersHub, I continued my learning with him; though I consider myself one of his poorest students.
Sh. Faraz has always treated me with a care that stirs a love for deen and knowledge in my heart, and though I have more often been a student of his from a distance, he has always felt within reach. When I was invited back in 2011 to join in the initial formation of the SeekersCircles, I jumped at the opportunity. Volunteering for the Hub was an amazing honor and brought with it amazing blessings. I was able to spend more time with Sh. Faraz and I was invited to serve as a teaching assistant, and it is also through volunteering that I meet my wife (who was also volunteering at the time).
Sh. Faraz, his fellow teachers and SeekersHub’s volunteers have been a shining beacon of light in my life. For me, SeekersHub has been a manifestation of the prophetic concern for others to know their Lord. Not only do they aspire to provide seekers of knowledge with the treasures which they seek; they also nourish the hearts of others to become seekers as well. Like the story of the unknown man in Surah Ya-Sin who came to his people running and said, “O my people, follow the messengers” (Q36:20), SeekersHub is sprinting across the globe to call others to follow the inheritors of the Beloved of God ﷺ.   
I am proud to call Sh. Faraz my teacher. I am inspired by his efforts, and the efforts of those who work together with him in providing a link for me and thousands of others to the teachings and prophetic character that demonstrate the beauty of our deen.
May Allah, the Exalted, preserve and raise in rank our teachers. And, may He bless us through them. Ameen.

How To Attain Focus, Patience And Stillness In A Chaotic World

“The scholars sacrifice immediate benefit for long-term benefit,” Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Today, the modern world lives in convenience, expecting to be served, rather than to serve. Although some may argue that convenience and technology save time and reduce physical labor, we continue to complain that we do not have time or energy, reducing ourselves to potatoes sitting on the living room’s couch.

Focus: a salient virtue within Islamic mysticism

Traditionally, focus — a salient virtue within Islamic mysticism — was regarded as a core characteristic of the aspirant, especially among the Sufis. As such, the saints were focused individuals who, despite the calamities they faced, were depicted in the Qur’an as, “Those who are neither fearful nor sad.” In simple words, the saints enjoy the present moment, leaving their past to the will of God and their future to His decree. Hence, the seeker of knowledge is, essentially, a seeker of God, striving, with discipline, practice, and patience to maximize his benefit in every moment while taking the most excellent of ways to do so.

Impatience: Your place is where God has positioned you

Patience is a trait that the seeker should inculcate to facilitate depth in knowledge. In his lexicon on Sufi terminology, Ibn Ajiba defines patience as, “An imprisonment of the heart in submission to God’s command.” Impatience, if understood by the contrary (mafhum al-mukhalafa), would be to release the ego in contradiction to God’s command.
To understand this better, my math teacher, Dr. Yousseif Ismail, once told me that impatience was the desire to cross the current moment that God had willed for you to be in, for a moment that you believed to be better for yourself. In practice, patience is significantly important to the student for a number of reasons.
Firstly, our teachers say, “Your place is where God has positioned you,” suggesting that one should be content with one’s condition, wherever God has decreed him to be. The student of knowledge should recognize that he is a student and must act according to the etiquette of one.

Unstable premises lead to faulty conclusions

As for the second, in order to have depth in knowledge, the student of knowledge should not speak without internalized and externalized foundations that inform his speech, unless a need arises to do so or he is given permission by his teacher(s). The reason given for this is closely related to the he first: a student should not speak in the place of a scholar, fooling the community and inciting his own ego — a celebrity preacher. Unstable premises lead to faulty conclusions; hence, the true aspirant takes the time to ground himself in knowledge, submitting to his current instant, and follows the lead of his teachers throughout.

Prioritise your objectives

To maximize my own time and focus, Shaykh Faraz advised me to have a clear objective of my studies, so I applied the categories of need to my own studies. The scholars divide need into three categories:

  • necessities (dharuriyat)
  • needs (hajiyat)
  • perfections (takmilat)

For example, when considering a new home, you ensure that its foundations are strong, since the house will collapse without solid ground. Then after, you may inspect the ceiling and walls for cracks, because a house is incomplete without these secondary things. After ensuring the house is livable and safe, you might begin to think of ways to beautify your living space with artwork, curtains, rugs, although such adornments are not essential to a house — you can live without them. Similarly, like any profession, one needs to take the proper means to acquire his goals; otherwise, means become ends.
Lastly, in taking steps towards focus, the individual must seek the counsel of God, a metaphysical correspondence to his subjective reality, and the advice of masters, an earthly exchange from experts for an objective assurance (istikhara wa istishara). Thus, remember that you are the present; the future passed a moment ago, but take from those who have passed and know that God is ahead — you are in between the two.
Yousaf Seyal

 Photo by Frida Eyjolfs

Knowledge is the lost property of the believer. Deepen your understanding by taking a short course with SeekersHub.

 

Resources for seekers:

 

Good News For a Change

How about some good news for a change?

At SeekersHub Global, we want to take a moment to celebrate some of the good news Allah blessed us with in 2015. Watch the one-minute video below.

  • 400 million Spanish speakers can now learn about Islam in their language. SeekersHub Espanol went live in 2015. There are already hundreds of articles and answers about Islam in the Spanish language live on the site — with much more on the way.
  • Thousands of questions about Islam answered by qualified scholars. You wouldn’t believe how many questions we get on a daily basis. Alhamdulillah, we have an entire team of scholars dedicated to providing practical answers for people struggling with everything from Shafi’i fiqh to guiding their wayward parents.
  • Over $350,000 in Zakat funds distributed to scholars and students. The political instability in the Middle East has displaced a number of scholars. Your zakat contributions have helped them continue to spread sound, reliable Islamic knowledge and Prophetic guidance.
  • 1,000+ hours of instructional videos produced on every topic you can think of. Take a stroll through our YouTube channel and you’ll find an overwhelming volume of engaging multimedia content on virtually every topic.
  • 120 online classes delivered to 30,000+ students globally. Our Online Academy is powered by a team of 40 teachers, teaching assistants and staff members who work extremely hard to make sound knowledge from reliable scholars available anywhere, free of charge.

Let’s make some more good news in 2016…together.

We are very blessed to have people like yourself who support us at every step of the way in making this all possible.

We look forward to sharing more blessings with you in 2016 Insha’Allah.

 

Become a monthly donor, for as little as $15/month.
Give your zakat to deserving scholars and students of knowledge.
Share this with friends and family on social media and spread the benefit.

Who Should We Learn Religion From?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers the question: who do we take knowledge from? He details the advice of al-Khatib al-Shirbini, which revolves around three main points:
(1) consulting the scholars experts in the discipline,
(2) following those who act on what Islam entails, and
(3) following those who learned with scholars and not through only reading books.

Be Part Of Something Meaningful

This talk is part of the weekly gathering at SeekersHub Toronto, Circle of Light: A Night of Remembrance, Praise & Inspiration. Join us for free, in-person and online.
Consider taking a course with reliable scholars at the SeekersHub Online Academy. It’s free and there are over 30 topics on offer.

Resources for seekers:

Death is not the only way we lose our scholars – Launch of SeekersZakat Fund

Our teachers often remind us that upon the passing of a scholar, they take with them to their grave, the treasure chests of knowledge and wisdom they’d accumulated throughout their life of; hard work, years of dedication and sacrifice and as such, their passing is a loss on multiple levels.

Now we know death is inevitable but death is not the only way we’re losing our scholars.

Ustadh Amjad explains in this video:

Due to the chaos and ugliness that is spread by ISIS and others in Muslim lands, countless scholars have had to flee Muslim countries, live in refugee camps or work 2-3 odd jobs just to get by, thus making teaching secondary.

Teaching also ends up on the back-burner for several scholars right here within our communities because the need to earn a living and provide for oneself and one’s family takes precedence.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…

The SeekersZakat Fund has been formed as one solution to dispelling darkness and spreading the light that is sacred knowledge. With this fund, we can enable our scholars to teach, research, write and produce content for generations to come.

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SeekersZakat Fund will collect zakat donations and distribute to the following individuals who are zakat-eligible, deserving and have been approved as such by our qualified scholars:

Muslim scholars, enabling them to teach this religion instead of just trying to get by.
Your zakat enables qualified scholars to continue transmitting sound, reliable Islamic knowledge through teaching, writing, and research.

Students of Sacred Knowledge, to preserve this religion for the next generation.
Your zakat enables numerous students of Sacred Knowledge to pursue their studies full-time under mentorship of qualified scholars, facilitating the preservation and spread of the light of Prophetic guidance.

Others in dire need of urgent assistance.
Your zakat helps address the immediate needs of those who have been overwhelmed by difficult circumstances. Such cases are individually considered and assessed for zakat eligibility.

This is a critical and urgent need in our times. We owe it to these scholars, whom the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself referred to as his inheritors. We owe it to our future generations and we owe it to ourselves.

So give your zakat to the SeekersZakat Fund, even if in advance.

This is the best zakat you could give. Ibn Abidin said, ‘The best zakat is to those most worthy, and through which there will be the greatest resultant benefit’.


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If you already gave your zakat please support us with your charity by becoming a monthly donor here.
For other amounts or one-time donations, click here.

Note:
Donations are Tax Deductible in the US.
We ensure that the zakat you give us is distributed in accordance with Islamic principles