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Neediness & Thankfulness: Two Keys to Divine Assistance

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Allah’s blessings & peace be upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, his folk, and companions

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Two of the keys to Divine assistance are neediness (faqr) and thankfulness (shukr).

 

A practical way to this before one’s actions is to take a deep breath, bringing to mind one’s neediness to Allah as one breathes in, and one’s thankfulness to Allah as one breathes out. Try this out, especially before things that are important or stressful.

 

Neediness to Allah (faqr)

Allah Most High tells us: “O people, you are the ones in absolute need of Allah, and Allah is the one free of all need, worthy of all praise.” [Qur’an, 35.15]

 

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This neediness is intrinsic to the human being. It is the neediness of the one whose very existent is dependent on Allah’s creating and then sustaining them at every moment, for true understanding of God is to realize that He is the Independent (al-Samad) whom all turn to in complete dependence and the Sustaining (al-Qayyum) who needs none to sustain Him and who sustains everything at every moment. Ibn Ata’illah said, “Become realized in your neediness, and He will assist you through His richness.” [al-Hikam]

 

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Thankfulness to Allah (shukr)

 

True thankfulness is [1] to appreciate the extent of Allah’s blessings upon us–after all, even our very life and existence, from moment to moment, is a gift from Allah; [2] to rejoice in this blessing, insofar as it is gift from the Giver; and [3] to express one’s appreciation in the ways pleasing to the Giver. Thus, true thankfulness is through excellence in submission. It can also be said that true thankfulness to Allah is to follow the footsteps of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk), who said, “Should I not be a thankful servant?”

See:

SeekersGuidance IslamCasts related to Thankfulness

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

 

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A Traumatic Childhood: Turning to Allah in Difficult Times

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: I was a constant victim of child abuse from a servant in our house when i was young. My family was also very dysfunctional and not religious at all; my dad was an alcoholic, there was alot of fighting between my parents and so forth. In this situation, i married someone well older than me who used me emotionally, physically and financially. I couldnt handle all this and tried to commit suicide but realized it would not solve anything. Since then I have seriously repented and prayed for forgiveness and I had come across someone who wished to marry me. I told him about my past and he seemed fine with it but then backed down saying he felt discomfort around me due to my past. I feel like I am cursed. I would like a husband and a family but no one will accept me. Please guide me.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and their followers.

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

Thank you for your question. I pray you are doing better.

I cannot emphasize enough how innocent you are of what happened to you as a child. You were not to blame. The adult who did this will face justice from Allah Ta’ala in the next world and Allah’s justice in that world will be swift and eternal. Any good deeds this person had will go to you and any bad deeds you had will go to him.

Given the state of mind you were in, it’s not surprising you fell into a bad relationship. You were seeking the type of love, validation, and protection you may not have received from your parents.

Thank Allah that you have gotten out of this bad relationship and turned to Him in repentance. Your repentance is enough to wipe away your past. It is not right that anyone should hold your mistakes against you; you have been wounded enough.

Don’t marry someone who can’t accept you as you are. You need someone who can offer unconditional love and support.

Ask Allah to send you someone who will help you to heal. You can make this dua from the Qur’an: “Our Lord! Grant unto us spouses and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” Al-Furqan (The Criterion) [25:74]

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq
August 18, 2010/Ramadan 7, 1431

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is Masturbation Sinful? How Do I Stop?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Is masturbation permitted? How does one stop himself from falling into it?

Answer: Masturbation is prohibitively disliked and so it is sinful to engage in. It has many personal and societal ill-effects that are known and recognized in sane traditional societies and by balanced people. The early Muslims used to say, “The one who weds his hand is accursed.” [Ibn Humam, Fath al-Qadir]

A person needs to take all the means that scholars mention about controlling one’s desire, including:

– Guarding one’s gaze;
– Asking Allah continually to free him from this problem;
– Involving oneself with acts of worship, remebrance of Allah, etc, because the one who longs for the Infinite Beauty of the One turns to none else;
– Fasting;
– Removing the impermissible and doubtful from his life, especially in terms of food, money, and household “family sins”, such as television, free mixing, etc
– Whenever feeling overwhelmed with one’s physical temptation to fulfill a lawful lust (food, etc.) to calm down his nafs.

Whenever a bad thought occurs to you:

a. Seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy
b. Seek protection from the devil by saying “a`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan ar-rajeem.”
c. Remove the things that result in that bad though immediately. So, if you see an image on a computer that arouses a desire, turn it off.
d, Thank Allah, wholeheartedly, for giving you the ability to overcome your desires by saying “Alhamdulilah”, as this makes Shaytan despair, and strengthens one s resolve.

If you keep erring, keep repeating these quick and simple steps. Make supplications with your prayers that Allah protect you. If you keep turning to Allah sincerely, He will accept your entreating, and free you of these problems.

Wassalam
Faraz Rabbani

Guidance of the Prophet Muhammad on the Virtues of Patience (and Thankfulness) in Tribulation and Hardship

muhammed_arabicThese are a few hadiths of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) on the great honor that trials, hardships, and tribulations can represent for a true believer, and how these are opportunities to exhibit one’s patience, trust, reliance, contentment, and thankfulness to Allah Most High.

34. Anas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Allah the Mighty and Exalted says, ‘When I test My slave regarding the two things he loves and he shows fortitude, I repay him for them with the Garden.'” He meant his eyes. [al-Bukhari]

35. ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah said, “Ibn ‘Abbas said to me, ‘Shall I show you a woman who is one of the people of the Garden?’ I replied, ‘Please do.’ He said, ‘This black woman came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “I have fits during which I expose myself. Pray to Allah Almighty for me.” He said, “If you wish, you can show fortitude and you will receive the Garden, and if you wish, I will pray to Allah Almighty to heal you.” She said, “I will show fortitude.” She said, “I expose myself so pray to Allah that I do not expose myself.” So he prayed for her.'” [Agreed upon]

36. Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “It is as if I could still see the Messenger of Allah talking about one of the Prophets, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them, whose people beat him, making his blood flow. While he was wiping the blood from his face, he said, ‘O Allah, forgive my people. They do not know.'” [Agreed upon]

37. Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his mistakes by it.” [Agreed upon]

38. Ibn Mas’ud said, “I visited the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he had a fever. I said, “Messenger of Allah, you have a very high fever!’ He replied, ‘Yes. I have the fever of two of you.’ I asked, ‘Is that because you will have two rewards?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is like that. No Muslim is afflicted by harm, whether it is a thorn or something worse, without Allah expiating his evil deeds on that account and his sins fall away from him like leaves from a tree.'” [Agreed upon]

39. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When Allah desires good for someone, He afflicts him.” [Al-Bukhari]

Source: Chapter on Steadfastness (sabr) from Imam Nawawi’s Gardens of the Righteous (tr. Ayesha Bewley)

The Evil Eye: A Reality?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Is the evil eye real? How does one avoid it?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

The evil eye is a reality. It can be powerful. Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki and others explain that it is from Allah s Will that sometimes He creates harmful effects from the evil or jealous glances and looks of others.

However, one can ward off normal problems if one protects oneself with the medicines of the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

1. One should always recite the 3 Quls (Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad, Falaq, and Naas) every morning and every night, ideally 3 times. It is also ideal to say them once after every prayer. This should be done with presence of heart and mind.

2. One should do likewise with Ayat al-Kursi: recite it every morning and night, and ideally after every prayer. With that, one should reflect on the tremendous meanings of this verse.

3. Both of the above should be done before sleep, as well.

4. One should constantly supplicate (dua) to Allah to protect one from the evil eye. There have been prophetic supplications transmitted by Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and others, such as:

أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ التَّامَّةِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ وَهَامَّةٍ وَمِنْ كُلِّ عَيْنٍ لَامَّةٍ

a`udhu bi kalimaatillahi ttaammati min kulli shaytaanin wa haamma wa min kulli `aynin laamma

(I seek refuge in Allah most perfect words from every devil, harmful thing, and accusing eye. )

5. One should try to supplicate before all major acts, asking Allah to give one success (tawfiq), sincerity (ikhlas), and make the action a means of attaining unto the love and good pleasure (rida) of Allah Most High.

Sayyidi Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi said:

كُنْ مَعَ الله *** تَرَ اللهَ مَعَك

Be with Allah
You will find Allah with you.

Be with Allah by turning to Him in all your affairs, by obeying His commands out of love, thankfulness and true servanthood, You will find Allah with you, for He is “closer to you than your jugular vein,” and He does not let the efforts of those who seek Him go to waste.

Wassalam,
Faraz Rabbani

Pregnancy & Making Up Fasts: Does She Really Have To?

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: There was a recent post stating that women who are pregnant must make up their fast. This differs greatly from something that I’d read in another book. I am confused and would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Answer: assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

The position of the four schools, based on clear primary texts, is that a pregnant woman must make up the obligatory fasts that she has missed. However, one does not have to do so immediately but gradually when one is able to do so without burdening oneself excessively.

The Qur’an & Making-Up Missed Fasts

Allah Most High states, “Oh believers, prescribed for you is the Fast, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you — haply you will be godfearing — for days numbered, and if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then [fast] a number of other days.” [2: 184]  He Most High says elsewhere, “So let those of you, who are present at the month, fast it; and if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then a number of other days.” [2: 185]

These Qur’anic verses indicate that the basis for a morally responsible individual who witnesses the month of Ramadan is the obligation to fast.

However, due to the weak nature of human beings, Allah, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has allowed certain individuals to fast on alternative days due to certain excuses that would render fasting difficult. These excuses include (a) undertaking a legal journey and (b) sickness.

Thus, fasting these “alternative days” is obligatory. In addition to the Qur’anic verses, there is scholarly consensus that anyone who misses any obligatory fast is required to make it up, if they are capable of doing so. [Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah; Zayla`i, Tabiyin al-Haqa’iq; al-Haytami, Tuhfat al-Minhaj; ibn Qudama, al-Mughni]

Pregnancy, Sickness, & Missed Fasts

The obligation to make-up one’s missed fasts on alternative days also applies to the pregnant woman, a point upon which there is also scholarly consensus of the four schools based on the principle that any obligatory fast missed that one is capable of making up must be made up on an alternative day.

More specifically, the pregnant woman must make up her fast because the Qur’anic verse that commands fasting “a number of other days” for the “sick” person also applies to the “pregnant woman”. This is because the term “sickness” refers to any genuine hardship or harm that is feared from the act of fasting, which includes hardship from pregnancy.

Therefore, not fasting due to a genuine hardship while pregnant is akin to a “sickness”, and the ruling related to fasting during such a state is subsumed under the category of the ruling related to the fasting of the sick person. This includes being (a) allowed to break the fast when genuinely required and (b) making up such missed fasts at a later date. Thus, pregnancy is one of many subcategories of the general category of “sickness”. [Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an; Ibn `Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur’an; Illyish, Minah al-Khalil; Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa al-Ahwadhi]

Thus, Ibn Qudama, citing agreement on this point, states, “The upshot of this is that if the nursing and pregnant woman fear for themselves, they break the fast and make it up in accordance [with the amount they missed]. We do not know any difference of opinion relating to this between the people of knowledge, because they [s: the pregnant and nursing woman] are akin to the sick person who fears for himself.” [al-Mughni]

The Prophetic Narrative on the Issue

In addition to the explicit Qur’anic verse and scholarly consensus, there is also a Prophet narrative indicative of the pregnant woman’s obligation to make up missed fasts.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Indeed, Allah has unburdened the traveler from half of the prayer and fasting, and unburdened the pregnant and nursing woman from fasting.” [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]

Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas states, “Dont you see that removing the burden of fasting that He stipulated as a rule for the traveling person, He made it [s: this ruling] precisely the ruling for the pregnant and nursing woman as well… So, it is established from this that the ruling of removing the burden of fasting from the pregnant and nursing woman is akin to the ruling of removing it for the traveler, without any difference. What is known is that removing the burden of fasting from the traveler is from the perspective of being obligated to make it up due to [validly] breaking the fast, without paying compensation (fidya), and so it is necessary that this also be the ruling for the pregnant and nursing woman.” [Jassas; Ahkam al-Qur’an]

Therefore, in addition to the Qur’anic verses, this narration indicates that the pregnant woman must make-up such missed fasts as well.

The Position of the Four Schools

It has already been mentioned that there is consensus of the Sunni schools on the obligation to make-up missed obligatory fasts generally, for anyone who has missed them and is able to make them up, and that this consensus also includes the pregnant woman. This is what one will find when going through the relied-upon texts of the four schools, all of whom clearly stipulate that the pregnant woman who has missed obligatory fasts must make them up.

Among the Hanafis, this was clearly stated by Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his Ahkam al-Qur’an, Sarakhsi in his Mabsut, Quduri in his Mukhtasar, Ibn Nujaym in his Bahr al-Ra’iq, Shurunbulali in his Imdad al-Fattah, Haskafi in his Durr al-Mukhtar, Ibn `Abidin in his Hashiyah, and others. Some of these texts explicitly quote consensus on this point.

Among the Shafi`is, this was stated by Nawawi in his Minhaj, al-Khatib in his Iqna`, Ibn Hajar al-Hayatami in Tuhfat al-Minhaj, Ramli in Nihyat al-Muhtaj, and others.

Among the Hanbalis this was stated by Ibn Qudama in his al-Mughni, Ibn Muflih in al-Furu`, Mardawi in al-Insaf, and others.

Among the Malikis this was stated by Imam al-Abdari in Taj al-Iklil, Nafrawi in Fawakih al-Dawani, Shadhili’s Kifayat al-Talib, `Adawi’s Hashiya, and others.

Being Gradual & Appreciating the Blessings of Allah

If an individual has a number of missed fasts, then he or she should take gradual steps to make them up. In the Hanafi school, an individual who has not made up his fasts until next Ramadan enters is not required to pay an expiation or compensation. [ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

At the same time, one must appreciate the blessing of Allah in allowing one to make up these missed fasts, performing thereby an action of immense reward and merit.

In a narration, Allah Most High said, “Every good action is rewarded by ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for Me, and I reward it.” [Tirmidhi, Muwatta]

One of the explanations given for this narration is that that the amount of reward earned by the one fasting is known only to Allah, and likewise only Allah is aware of the fasting person and his righteous act. Fasting is an act of sincerity, lacking the aspect of showing off, since it is hidden without any discernibly clear outward form. It allows one to imitate an angelic trait of freeing oneself from the needs of food, water, sexual intercourse, and the like. All of this is why Allah singled it out and gave it a noble status in the religion. [ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

So one should realize this, even with make up fasts. An intention can take a meager “form” or ritual and transform it into something eternal. This, coupled with genuine thankfulness towards Allah for allowing us to recognize our obligations and fulfill them opens the doors of mercy and blessings for one. We should never look at these actions as “burdens” but as opportunities that Allah thrusts at the feet of his servants indicating to them His desire to grant them good in this life and the next.

Always keep in mind what Allah has given us, among them these blessed opportunities to worship Him and make things right, and then observe what we “give” Him in return. When one contemplates on this, there is nothing one can do but say “Alhamdulilah”.

What He brings you,
What you bring Him
What a difference there is between them! [Ibn `Ata’illah, Hikam]

Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Good Deeds & Salvation: Putting Our Works Into Perspective

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: What role do actions play in salvation?  There are, of course, Muslims out there who have adopted ideas similar to the Christians that belief is all that you need to be saved. What would you advise that I tell them.

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

All that one needs to be saved is Allah. Neither actions nor beliefs alone guarantee one’s salvation.

`A’isha (Allah be well pleased with her) narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Perform your deeds properly and in moderation, and know that one’s deeds will not cause anyone of you to enter Heaven, and that the most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones even if little in amount.” [Bukhari]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be well-pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “There is no one whose deeds will cause him to enter Heaven. It was said, ‘Not even you, Messenger of Allah?’ He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Not even me unless my Lord envelops me with His mercy.'” [Muslim]

In another narration the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “There is no one whose deeds will cause his salvation. It was said, ‘Not even you Messenger of Allah? He (Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘Not even me unless my Lord takes hold of me with mercy.'” [Muslim]

Understanding Allah’s Greatness:

In order to understand  the narrations properly, as well as the relation of one’s deeds to salvation, some key points of belief need to be outlined. The most essential is knowledge that Allah is not obligated to do anything.

Imam Nawawi, while explaining the above narrations, states, “Know that the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that reward, punishment, obligatoriness, impermissibility, and other than them two from the categories of moral responsibility, are not established by the rational intellect (`aql). All of this and other than it is not established except by recourse to divine revelation. The position of the Ahl al-Sunna is also that there is absolutely nothing obligatory on Allah Most High. Rather, the cosmos is His possession, and this world and the next are subject to His mastery; He does in them whatever He wills. So, if He punished every obedient and righteous slave and caused them to enter the Fire this would be considered equitable justice from Him, and if He honored them, blessed them, and entered them into Heaven then it is a gracious favor from Him. If He graciously favored the disbelievers and entered them into Heaven it would also be akin to this. However, He Most High has informed us – and His message is true – that He will not do so…” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Similarly, Imam Bajuri states, “So, the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that His rewarding us is due to pure gracious favor that is not admixed with compulsion or obligation [to do so].” [Tuhfat al-Murid]

Imam Haramayn al-Juwayni, the teacher of Imam Ghazali, states, “Similarly, with a person who is highly respected within his family, if he is generous with his son and provides all his needs, and the son honors him, respects him and seeks his approval and strives to earn it, therefore, that person is not owed in regard for his assistance anymore then he has already obtained from the beneficence that has accrued to his credit. If then this is the situation with a person who provides services to another like himself, a servant who tried to compare his own acts of service with God’s bounteous generosity to him in any single instance would find the beneficence of God completely acquitted and fulfilled in regard to any of his own good deeds.” [Kitab al-Irshad]

What Are Your Deeds? Allah’s Creation

The above becomes clearer when one realizes what one’s deeds really are: a creation of Allah. Unlike certain groups that believed that humans create their own choiceful acts, the Ahl al-Sunna unanimously agree that all of one’s actions are created by Allah. This is clear from the verse, “Allah created you and that which you do.” [37: 96] The commentators of the Qur’an agree that the vast majority constituted this as a proof of Allah’s being the creator of all actions. [Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir; Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil; Qurtubi, Jami` al-Ahkam al-Qur’an]

Similarly, the scholars defined “divinely given success” (tawfiq) as “Allah’s creating the ability to perform acts of obedience within the slave.” [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid; Sawi, Sharh `ala al-Jawhara]

As such, since our actions are a creaton of Allah and only came into being due to His will and omnipotent power, the servant has no right to claim that his deeds will cause his salvation, or that he deserves salvation due to them, since his deeds properly belong to Allah who created them, not the servant himself. Deeds not only include outward rituals, but also inward belief and convictions, all of which are blessings bestowed upon us by Allah. As the Qur’an states, “Whatever blessing you have, it is from Allah.” [16:53]

Imam Nawawi, while explaining the verse “enter heaven enveloped in what you did [of good acts]” [16: 32], states that “entering heaven is due to actions, yet divinely give success (tawfiq) to perform those acts, being guided in having sincerity in them, and their acceptance is due to Allah’s mercy and gracious favor.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim] Ibn Hajar `Asqalani stated that some scholars, such as Ibn Battal and Qadi `Iyyad, stated that one’s entry into heaven is purely out of Allah’s mercy whereas the degree where one will be in heaven is commensurate with one’s deeds. This was also mentioned by Ibn al-Jawzi, who added that since actions are only for a limited earthly time-span, the eternal reward of heaven is not, strictly speaking, due to them but due to Allah’s blessing upon the servant. [Fath al-Bari]

The Goal is Allah: Putting Deeds Into Perspective

At the same time, this does not mean that one can leave performing the deeds that one has been commanded to perform. It remains an obligation on every morally responsible individual to fulfill the command of Allah Most High and strive to do so with excellence. This is not only decisively conveyed in the Qur’an but the narratives in question also state this unequivocally, such as the statement “perform your deeds properly and in moderation”. When closely looked at, it becomes clear that the purpose of these narratives is not to completely deemphasize the place of works, but to put them into correct perspective. The lessons that the narratives convey include:

[1] Being moderate and not excessive in one’s worship: The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “This religion is ease and none makes it difficult except that it will overwhelm him. So, perform your deeds properly and in moderation…” [Bukhari] The wording of this narration is akin to the wording of the narratives related to our discussion here.

Imam Sakhawi quotes `A’isha (Allah be well-pleased with her) as stating that the ploy of the devil in relation to the servants duty to perform certain acts revolves around making him go to excess or making him lax in fulfilling these duties. [Maqasid al-Husna] The best way is to take the middle path and do a moderate amount of work with presence and purity of heart. Bakr al-Muzani said, “Abu Bakr did not surpass the Companions of the Prophet with [abundant] fasts and prayers but due to something in his heart.” [Saffarini, Ghida al-Albab; Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din]

[2] Being consistent in one’s deeds (mudawama): Some of the narrations, after mentioning that deeds are not a guarantee of one’s entry into heaven, clearly state that the most beloved of works to Allah is the good deed that is done consistently.

[3] Reflecting on the mercy and generosity of Allah (tafkir): Qadi `Iyyad says that the purpose of stating that none will enter heaven except he whom Allah shows mercy and generosity towards is not to demean the status of righteous acts. Rather, it is to allow the servant to contemplate on the fact that actions are only carried out and completed by the favor and generosity of Allah. Good deeds are in fact a sign to the slave of Allah’s mercy pouring down upon him. [Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

[4] Thanking Allah for all of the blessings He has given one (shukr): The Qur’an states, “If you are thankful, I shall certainly increase you.” [14: 8] The scholars have defined “thankfulness” as “the slaves directing all that which he has been blessed with towards that which it was created for.” [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid] This should be expressed with one’s heart, tongue, and all of one’s limbs. This should not only be for the continual bestowal of these blessings, which include acts of worship, but also out of realization that Allah is truly deserving of all thanks. Even the mere existence of a person is enough of a reason to thank Allah.

[5] Realizing one’s complete neediness towards Allah (faqr): This is the very definition of “God”, namely He whom all others are in utter need of and who Himself is in need of nothing. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid; Sawi, Sharh `ala al-Jawhara] Abu Bakr al-Shibli said, “Neediness is that a slave not be in need of anything other than Allah.” [Qushayri, Risala]

[6] Relying on Allah alone, not one’s works (tawakkul): The Qur’an repeatedly mentions reliance on Allah stating, “Place your reliance in the Living God, the Undying” [25: 58] and “Whoever places his reliance on Allah then He is his sufficiency.” [65: 3]

Reliance on Allah entails recognizing His oneness, which is a oneness in essence, attributes, as well as acts. When one realizes that the acts one performs are in reality not from oneself but from Allah then one ceases to rely solely on works. Rather, the servant then turns to the Creator of those works. Imam Ghazali states, “When this was unveiled to you, you did not cast a glance towards anything other than Him. Rather, your fear was now from Him, and your hope towards Him… If the doors of unveiling were opened to you this reality would be made patently clear to you with a clarity more complete than witnessing with actual sight.” [Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din]

Abu `Abdullah al-Qurshi was asked about reliance and he stated, “It is being attached to Allah in every moment.” Ibn Masruq stated, “It is submitting to the blows of fate and sacred rulings.” Abu Usman al-Hiri said, “It is sufficing with Allah while being dependent upon Him.” [Qushayri, Risala]

It was in this context that Ibn Ata’illah said, “One of the signs of relying on deeds is loss of hope when a misstep occurs.” [Hikam] Those who rely on Allah never lose hope, whereas those who rely on themselves eventually slip and plummet. The prophetic narratives regarding the insufficiency of deeds is a reminder of this point.

[7] Being sincere in servitude (ikhlas): All of the above indicates a higher reality, a reality seldom understood or consciously realized, which is that the reason why Allah is worshipped and should be worshiped is because He is Allah, the Master of everything. There is a difference, as scholars have stated, between an individual who carries out the command of a king because he wants to spend the night at his castle, or have some gift bestowed upon him, and between someone who does so because the king truly deserves such service, regardless of any benefits that may accrue from it.

Among the definitions of sincerity given are: “It is singularizing the Real in one’s obedience through resolve, and this is that one desires to seek closeness to Allah through his obedience and nothing else”; “It is forgetting that deeds exact reward in the next life”; “Lowering one’s gaze from catching sight of [one’s] actions”; “It is a secret between Allah and the slave”; “It is that its possessor not desire repayment for it in the two abodes [this world and the next]”; “That you not see in your acts other than Allah”. [Qushayri, Risala]

Conclusion: Opening the Doors to Allah’s Bounty

The conclusion to all of this is that neither faith alone nor deeds suffice in guaranteeing salvation for one. Rather, it is only though Allah’s mercy and favor that any individual will enter heaven. This is indicated by numerous prophetic narratives.

Yet, at the same time, this does not absolve anyone of the duty to believe and perform righteous deeds, as commanded by Allah. Doing so is a sign of Allah enveloping the slave in His mercy and blessing him with divine success. The narrations of the Prophet (Allah bless him) seek to make people understand the role and place of deeds in our Islamic tradition, and to turn hearts towards the one favoring one with those acts, towards the one who is sought through those acts.. When this is done and the heart attaches itself to Allah through purity, complete reliance, thankfulness, need, sincerity, and faithful following of the sunna, one will be blessed with righteous works and divine favors, both in this world and the next.

In essence, the prophetic words and teachings are a means for us to find increase in our worship, to optimize it, and to allow us to be submerged in the immense bounties of Allah Most High. It is a key to the door that leads to divine bestowals, if followed and understood correctly.

May Allah grant us success in this life and the next.

And Allah Knows Best
Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Spiritual Struggle: The Trial Of Dealing With People

Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja

Question: I often encounter rude behavior from sisters when I attend the mosque and other events. This burdens my spirit and I’ve concluded that Islam is the relationship between you and God and the ummah part is just extra if you can deal with it. In other words I don’t enjoy the company of many sisters and just rather be at home. Tonight from prayer I was walking towards my door and I thought “maybe I shouldn’t be Muslim anymore” and as soon as I thought it, I fell down a flight of steps, hurt my right hand and nearly broke the fingers on my left. If the shayateen are bounded during Ramadan where is all this from?

Answer: I pray that you are doing well inshaAllah and that Allah will ease the pain in your heart and safeguard and increase your faith.

The scholars of Ihsan (spiritual excellence) note that dealing with people is one of the greatest trials that a person can face. It tests one’s whole being — one’s physical, emotional and mental reactions. Dealing with the ill-treatment of a fellow Muslim and being forgiving is a great mujahada (spiritual struggle) whose reward is commensurate with the difficulty one finds in doing it.

You are right in that one should not have to expose oneself to verbal or emotional abuse. Try to put yourself in situations where you can avoid this. If you know certain people cause you harm, stay away from them. But seek out others who are kind and upright. Each community has members that are difficult to interact with, but each community also has members that uphold the excellence of Islamic character. Look for the good and you will find it.

When you see a person’s bad traits, make a sincere supplication for them, turn away from noticing their wrong actions, and remember that everyone has areas in which they need to improve. However wrong the actions of a Muslim may be, they still have an immense rank with Allah, because He has chosen for them faith (iman), which is the greatest of all deeds. The best way to not have rancour in one’s heart for a person is to replace every negative thought about them with a heartfelt prayer for the person.

The Prophet  (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told us that the weightiest deed on our scale on the Day of Judgement will be good character (husn al-khuluq). Try to embody this yourself and you will inshaAllah be a source of guidance and an example for others. During these special days and nights of Ramadan, make sincere supplication to Allah to help you find some good company.

In the meantime, do not completely discontinue your socialization and become isolated. There is blessing in the group, for the wolf comes after the lone sheep. I have seen Muslims who have distanced themselves because they were disillusioned by their community, and their connection with the religion became weaker and weaker. There is protection with being with the group, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “ِAllah’s hand is with the group.”

Lastly, Allah tells us, “If you are thankful, I will certainly increase you (Surah Ibrahim, 7).” Gratitude for something is the secret for being increased in it. Thank Allah that you have a masjid, a house of Allah, to attend and that you have other Muslims that you can see and spend time with and He will send you blessings and increase in your company and gatherings. This goes hand in hand with keeping a positive attitude. If one enters a gathering with a warm smile, looking for the good, they will find benefit inshaAllah.

May Allah grant you increase in all things good and grant you righteous company.

wassalam,
Sulma

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani