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Confused about Christianity

Shaykh Jamir Meah clears up confusion about Christian articles of faith and the mistaken picture of Jesus found therein.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Recently I have been having waswasa or something about Christianity. I am a Muslim but I am confused about the following things:

1. Religious Christians describe finding Jesus as peaceful. They talk about how they find peace in hard times through him; how they have faith in difficult situations (like tawakkul but they direct it at Jesus) and so on. How can they feel such peace if they are misguided? And how can I know if the peace we get from the Islamic tawakkul is truly the truth when others feel the same thing without following Islamic tawhid and so on?

2. How can we understand the many near death experiences where people claim to have seen Jesus, hell, paradise, etc., and then wake up and become practicing Christians because what they saw convinced them to accept Jesus as their savior and to live a different life?

Please answer me, it doesn’t have to be published but still send me a reply as an email. I want to have yaqin in Islam but I am struggling with this.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Religions have many aspects to them and it is often quite easy to get stuck in one facet of the religion and forget about all the other parts of the ‘jigsaw’ which give a fuller, complete picture. This approach is akin to a person who only takes religious understanding from the Qur’an and ignores the sunna or life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, or vice versa. Both of these are forms of extremism.

I have extracted the various issues embedded in your questions and answered them below. Following this, I have included some further points  to consider in regards Christianity, the person of Jesus Christ, peace and blessings be upon him, the importance of looking at a religion in it’s entirety, and how it compares to Islam.

Q1: Religious Christians describe finding Jesus as peaceful and Christians talk about how they find peace in hard times through him. How can they feel such peace if they are misguided?

Finding solace in something in times of difficulties is not exclusive to Christians, nor Muslims. There are many people who are Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, and even humanists, materialists, Scientologists, etc., who also speak of finding peace in and deriving strength from their deity or particular belief system. Therefore, finding peace and solace in a matter, even if experienced very deeply, is not a criterion for the validity of that belief, rather other things must be considered.

To understand why many people of all faiths may find peace and reliance in their belief, we look at the common factor that is shared between all types of “believers” that claim they find “peace.”  That shared factor is the belief in a Higher Being, Force, Intelligence, Architect, etc. Whatever one wants to call this Power, they all return to a basic belief that something exists that is more powerful than ourselves, whether it be God, gods, nature, love etc.

We do not negate other people’s sense of inner peace, nor deny that we all share this common factor at the very basic level of faith from which strength and comfort can be derived. This is because this common factor belongs to the primordial state (fitra) that is a part every being.

However, acknowledging this does not conclude that the entire belief system of each faith is agreeable or sound. In fact, some may be complete misguidance and perversion, others partially true, and, because absolute truth can only be one, one faith is absolutely true. Additionally, God is Peace  and the Giver of peace, thus He gives peace to whomever He pleases among his creation, and this giving of peace to an individual could be for many reasons.

Furthermore, for Muslims, this world is one of toil and struggle. It is not a place for peace and relaxation. This life is the land that we toil on, and its harvest and reward is in the next life. This is why God says in the Qur’an, “Indeed, We have created humanity in [constant] struggle.” [90:4], and the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said, “The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever.” (Muslim)

Muslims toil on earth because it is a prison for them, for they are shackled by the burden of legal and moral responsibility. Tests come in waves in this life, and you may see Muslims struggle and sometimes even despair, and perhaps struggle with the practice of their faith, but this is the nature of humans, and not to be confused with the invalidity or validity of their faith.

Contrast this to person who is told that they are not bound by any binding law, no obligations, restrictions etc., and they are told that another person has suffered for their sins so they don’t have to. With such premises for belief and salvation, it is to be expected that this person would feel generally happier in life because they have freedom to do as they please, and worship God how and when they please. Though despite this, it would be a sweeping statement to say all Christians find peace in their “savior,” for the ills and struggles within Christian communities, including within the church, are no different to anyone else.

The strong believer realizes that difficult and dark times are part of the believer’s portion on this earth and part of an essential alchemical process of the soul, for these times are the smelting furnace from which a believer rises above the dregs of his mortal self to a being of pure eternality.

Thus, true peace and contentment is not seeing everything around you as successful and harmonious, but rather true peace is the contented state of one’s heart with God and His Decree, despite the chaos and darkness of life.

This would be agreed upon by people of almost all faiths, not just some Christians. Muslims who possess these states have been, and still are, are found in multitudes across the world. Their source of reliance and locus of peace and hope is Allah Most High and his Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him. May Allah make us among them.

Q2: How can we understand the many near death experiences where people claim to have seen Jesus, hell, paradise etc and then woken up and become practicing Christians because what they saw convinced them to accept Jesus as their savior and to live a different life?

Please refer to this previous answer that discusses this matter: Why We Shouldn’t Take Christian Miracles at Face Value.

Further Points to Consider

Jesus was a prophet of God, so is characterized by perfect attributes like all other prophets. Each prophet, just like every other person, has his own personality. We have five specific prophets known as the ‘Ul al-‘azm’, Those of high and firm resolve; Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all.

Noah and Moses are described as being more direct and hardy personalities, while Abraham and Jesus more gentle and compassionate in nature, each being perfect for the fulfillment of their mission. Sayyidna Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is the apex and perfect balance between all the Prophets.

This is why he, peace and blessings be upon him, said to his two companions, may Allah be pleased with them both, “God has rendered the hearts of some men soft for him, until they are softer than milk. He has made the hearts of others hard, until they become harder than stone. Your likeness, Abu Bakr, is to Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who said, ‘Whoever follows me is of me, as for whoever disobeys, you are most forgiving, merciful’. Your likeness, Abu Bakr, is to ‘Isa, who said, ‘If you punish them, they are your servants; if you forgive them, you are most powerful, wise’. Your likeness, ‘Umar, is to Nuh, who said, ‘Lord, do not leave on the earth an abode of the disbelievers’. Your likeness, ‘Umar, is to Musa, who said, ‘Harden their hearts, such that they do not believe until they see a painful punishment” (Ahmad)

In regards the merciful personality of Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him), the following must be remembered:

a. Jesus was sent as a reviver and reformer, not as an abrogator with a new message or religion. Part of his reformation was to do away with the legal and ritual encumbrances, excesses, and additions that had crept into the Judaic tradition, as well as to admonish the corruption and transgression of the Judaic ministry. Thus, his mission was to restore balance to Judaism, which necessitated that he shows his people a path of compassion, mercy, and emphasis the spirit of the law to equilibrate the liturgical and ritual aspects of the faith.

It is this spiritual and peaceful aspect of the mission of Christ which many exclusively focus upon. However, Jesus also harshly rebuked the Pharisees and those who perverted the law, while at the same time, affirming the importance of adhering to sacred law and legal and moral responsibility.

b. Jesus actually preached on earth for a very limited space of time; one to three years. His followers were very few, and unlike other Prophets, his time on earth did not see him become established as a leader of a whole nation or of a state, which necessarily requires setting up state funds, legal institutions, welfare system, markets for commerce, a military, relations with other faith groups within one’s land, international relations with foreign countries and opposing empires, alongside the spiritual education. Jesus’ short time on earth is why there still remains a certain level of enigma for Christians around the facts of his personality, life, and the full import of his teachings.

Compare this to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, whose life encompassed all of the above, as well as his personal relationships. His entire private and public life was scrupulously recorded and checked and confirmed in painstaking details.

c. Jesus was sent only to the Israelites and no other people, while Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them both, was sent to all of mankind.

d. While historians and scholars agree that Jesus existed historically, there is disagreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and how closely the character of Jesus Christ portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus. There is no such disagreement in the studies on the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

e. The Bible as we find it today is not the original revelation sent to man, but written over periods of time after Jesus by different people. Extensive critique has been done on the accuracy and reliability of the Gospels which cast much doubt on its content, which of course had a profound effect on how subsequent Christians understand the person of Jesus. Figures are often setup to fulfill a need of those who create them.

f. Bearing in mind that the Gospel’s authenticity is uncertain, we find many sayings of Jesus in it which seem to go against the typical image of Jesus put forward, such as, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36) Bible exegesis explains this paragraph as referring to eschatological events, but this interpretation is also open to critique, just as any other religious text is.

g. To base the legitimacy of one’s faith based on the personality of a person, without understanding the theological, legal, rational, and even historical aspects of a religion is not only naive, but extremely dangerous and subject to manipulation and exploitation. Yes, faith is in the heart, but authentic textual basis and the rational intellect, even at a basic level, play a crucial role in the validity of that conviction. Islam satisfies and appeals in all the areas of faith we have described.

h. The doctrine of the Trinity, the general concept of God incarnating in a created being, and the doctrine of the original sin, are all highly problematic from a theological and rational point of view, and contrary to textual evidence.

i. Believing that the man Jesus is the son of God, or one aspect of God, necessities for him everything that is connected to God. The Bible, even as it is today, is replete with references not only to the immense love and mercy of God, but also the terrifying wrath and vengeance of God. It also speaks of the bliss of paradise and the damnation of hell.

This would mean that divine reward and divine punishment, whether on earth or in the hereafter, is the will and action of God alone, His son alone, or both. Therefore, if Jesus is believed to be God, or the son of God, or both God and son, then one must logically accept that this person or duo is characterized by the attributes of not only peace and mercy, but also of a terrible wrath and retribution. According to this understanding then, it is wrong to only view the person of Christ as purely characterized by the attribute of love and mercy, as this would entail denying the other necessary attributes that must be connected to an absolute deity.

Lastly, I advise you to study Islamic creed and the sirah with a qualified traditional scholar. In person is best, but if not possible, consider taking one of our Islamic belief courses here on SeekersGuidance.

Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

The Unconditional Hope – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us of one of the sunnas of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which is that he never lost hope, had complete trust in Allah, and His plan.

 

One of the key sunnas of our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is that our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, was always positive. He was always full of hope in Allah Most High. It didn’t matter what was happening to him; what was happening around him; the Prophet’s hope and positive attitude was unconditional.

The reason for this is that the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is the hope that Allah Most High has commanded believers to have. It is not a home based on your hopefulness of whether things will work out according to your plans, according to your means, according to your facilitation.

Normally when we hope is when we think things are going right – that I’ve got things in order, so I’m hopeful. You prepared so you say, “I am hopeful that this will work out.” This is worldly hope. But the nature of dunya is that things are not in your control. Zubayr may want to marry Zubayda, but it’s not in his control. Uncle Jamil’s involved. And there’s a big problem of Zubayda herself.

As the poet said, “I went mad and madly in love with Layla, but she went madly in love with someone else.” And the most difficult of madness is her madness. And you feel you are going to lose hope, because why are things not working out according to my plans? They’re not working out according to my circumstances.

In our times when so many things around us are so distressful that we want our communities, not just in the West but also in the Muslim lands, to be communities of faith, communities of Mercy, communities of excellence, communities that embody the good that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, has come with of the religious good. But also spreading that mercy and beauty and excellence that is the embodiment of the prophetic way.

Though we see much that is not the way we want it – not the way that we would hope – and then distressful things happen. Syria is happening. Iraq is happening. The Rohingya situation in Burma. What’s going on in Congo. What’s going on in Sudan. Name a country and there’s problems. What is going on in India with Muslim rights being under threat. What is going on with the rise of Islamophobia in Canada.

We were hopeful for a while there: “Trudeau’s in power and this and that. Everything’s “fine.” So we had hope as things seem to be going well, but then all these things happen and “Oh, what’s going on?” People lose hope. This is all from shortsightedness of the Sunna of our beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him.

The True Nature of Hope

The reality of hope that Allah Most High has called us to have – the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – is not a hope that’s dependent on ourselves. It’s not a hope that is dependent on our circumstances. It’s not a hope dependent on whether things are going according to our plans and the way things appear to us. Our hope is in Allah Most High and the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.

We can’t even begin to imagine the states of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Ima al-Ghazali said that “No one knows a prophet in reality except a prophet.” What makes a prophet a prophet is the fact, the reality, that they receive revelation from the Lord of the universe. That’s what prophethood is. That this person is being directly granted revelation from beyond creation, from the Lord of the unseen.

How can any one who doesn’t experience that reality truly comprehend what is a prophet? We see some shadows of what the prophetic reality is in his teachings, in his guidance, in his example. But what is his reality? As one of the Sahaba said, “My eyes never had their fill of The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. We never gained everything that we could from him.”

The Prophet’s hope, blessings and peace be upon him, is in his Lord and his Lord is beyond limits – beyond limitation. Allah Most High has called us to place our hope in Him. He has called us to place our trust in Him. He has called us to seek from Him. But He has also made promises that He is the sufficiency; that He will fulfill the hope of all those who place their hope in Him. That he will take care of those who trust in Him. That he answers the call of those who call upon Him.

Three Basic Realities

These are three basic realities that we can never forget. That Allah has commanded us to have hope in Him and promised us. That He will fulfill the hope of those who place their hope in him. He will take care of all who trust in Him. That He answers the call of those who call upon Him. “Whoever places their trust in Allah, He is their complete sufficiency.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:3) And His promise is a reality. “Allah does not go against his promise.” (Sura Aal Imran 3:9)

We believe this, so our hope, that hope that we see manifest in our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is not a contingent hope. It is not a hope dependent on ourselves or on anything in creation. Our hope is in Allah Most High. Our trust is inAllah. We don’t trust based on our taking of means. The key for that is our dua.

Many people make grave mistakes when they make dua, that “Will Allah answer my dua?” This is not permissible to think. It’s not permissible to think because Allah Most High tells us, “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” (Sura al-Ghafir 40:60) Our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Call upon Allah with complete certainty (yaqin) in His response.”

It is actually a point of aqida. If you look at in the classical works of Islamic beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna, [this is] one of the principles they mention – so this is not just a matter of fiqh. It’s not just a sunna to make dua. It’s a point of aqida. Imam Ibrahim al-Laqqani in Jawharat al-Tawhid, says: “The truth is that dua benefits.” This is a point of belief.

Allah tells us: “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” Allah Most High also tells us: “If my servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:186)

We believe this. It is manifest truth. So we should uphold this. Are you feeling hopeful about your own faith? Are you feeling hopeful about your family, your children? Are you feeling hopeful about our community? Are you feeling hopeful about the Umma of the Beloved of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him? If your answer is not “Absolutely!” then your hope is misaligned with the hope that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, has taught us.

Because our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is not in others. Our hope is not in circumstances. Our home is in Rabb al-‘alamin, the Lord of all existence. And who is the Rabb? Even the meaning the word Rabb – we typically translate it as Lord. But Rabb has the meanings of mercy. He is the caring, the cherishing, the nurturing, the loving.

Rabb Is of the Names of Mercy

When we say, Allah, this called lafdh al-jalala: the Name of Majesty. It is the absoluteness of Allah. But Rabb is from the Names of Mercy. The ulama tell us that when we make dua from the dua of the Qur’an and the Sunna – when we say, “Allah,” the predominant meaning is of awe of Allah and of our neediness before Allah. But when we say, “Rabb” – “Rabbana atina fi al-dunya asana, wa fi al-akhira asana, wa qina min adhab al-nar,” for example – Lord, we say this with hope and with a sense of Allah’s mercy. That is why it is better to translate Rabb as “the merciful Lord, the cherishing Lord, the caring Lord, the loving Lord.”

This is where our hope lies. Our hope is in Allah. “Upon Allah, let trust those who place their trust,” as Allah Most High tells us. (Sura Ibrahim 14:12) Our master Umar, Allah be pleased with him, relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Were you to trust upon Allah as He deserves to be trusted,” with a sense of whom are you placing your trust in, because even in worldly life most people aren’t that trustworthy but there are some people that, if they give you their word, you know they’ll do it. So we trust them, but what about the One who’s sustaining all existence? If He makes you a promise and He has told you to trust in Him and everything tells you that this is true?

“Whoever places their trust in Allah then Allah is their sufficiency.” To the extent that you place your trust in Allah, to that extent He will be sufficient for you. So we should not feel at all afraid about the way things are. We should not lose hope [asking] “What will happen to my din? What will happen to my family? What will happen to my children? What will happen to my community? What will happen to the Umma?

Our responsibility is to have hope. That’s why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, though full of concern was always positive and cheerful. Even in Mecca when people were being oppressed, even his own Companions, he would be unerringly positive, blessings and peace be upon him. He would promise the Sahaba that a day will come and tell them of how things would be in the future. Why? Because he has absolute trust in Allah Most High, absolute hope in Allah. We should be wary of losing hope. Of fearing things around us.

Trust in Actions Is Misplaced

One of the great scholars of our din Ibn Ata’illah says, in one of the great works of Islamic spirituality, [al-Hikma], which is explaining the sunnas of the heart of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him: “From the signs that you are relying on actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” When disliked matters occur.

From the signs that you’re relying on actions, whether it’s your actions or the actions of others. – What will my children do? What will my family do? What will my community do? What will the Umma do? – Are you relying on them? If you do then here’s a basic principle: The dunya disappoints. You’ll be disappointed.

Rather we are commanded, we are obligated, to hope in Allah, to trust in Allah, and to seek from Allah. The test of that is when distressful things happen does it shake your hope, your reliance, your trust, and it shouldn’t, because the giver is not you. The giver is not people. The giver is Allah Most High.

The test of hope though is what Allah Most High tells us in Sura al-Kahf 18:110, “Whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let him work righteousness.” So you have that hope that I want to meet Allah in a good state. I want to meet Allah and he is pleased with me. I want to meet Allah. with him accepting me amongst his beloved servants. You have that hope.

Our responsibility is not to worry, is not to be concerned. Our responsibility is to act with excellence. Like they say in the service industry, “you don’t ask what is going on. Your responsibility is service with a smile.” Keep smiling and keep serving, and you get paid. It doesn’t matter if the company is making money. It’s not my business. You’re working for the Lord of the universe. There is no loss in the business of being a servant of Allah. This business is lasting until the Last Day, so don’t worry.

The other part of worrying is, who makes things happen? Some people get so distressed: “Oh my God, what happened in London?” Yes, we are saddened, angered, upset, at what happened. But insofar as this is wrong, and this is not what we should do, and this is something that we have to say has nothing to do with our religion, has nothing to do with our Prophet, has nothing to do with what we accept. But taking it beyond that to being worried about what’s going on in this world? Guess what? Allah is the Creator of everything.

What You Don’t Have to Worry About

Everything happens by Allah’s decree. There’s a wisdom in it. You don’t have to worry about that part. What you do have to worry about is: “Let them do works that are righteous, that are good,” so when distressful things happen it’s not your business. Why are they happening? Did you do it? No. If you did you have to repent and redress and so on. But that’s your action. If you didn’t do it why you feeling responsible for it?

Your responsibility is, what can I do about it? So what do we do? Renew your hope in Allah. Renew your trust in Allah. Ask Allah for the good. No amount of news will change things. If anything it will put you more down, make you more fearful, make you more hesitant and less trusting. Rather, renew your hope in Allah, renew your trust in Allah, and ask Allah for the good. If it’s a test you are facing, ask Allah for the good for yourself. If it’s a test happening elsewhere, ask Allah for the good in that situation.

Many people say, “Oh my God, what’s going on in…?” Name the country. Even if you answer that question does it make things better? No, so you ask Allah for the good. That is hope. It is seeking the good from Allah and then taking the means for that good yourself. So you say, “Okay, there are people who are misguided. Individuals in our communities with wrong understandings of religion. Whatever caused them to be instigated, to be alienated, there’s no justification for the wrong, because our religion then teaches us that we are people of principle. Our Messenger is a Messenger of principle. So even if someone else is doing wrong, even if others are doing wrong ,it does not allow us to do the wrong.

Read how the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, entered Mecca after two decades of being wronged, then abused and attacked and opposed and derided. That is what we take as our standard. We only respond with the good or that which is better.

So you asked for the good and then wonder, What can I do about it? Now you might not be able to do something about what happens in London. You may not be able to do something about what happens in Iraq. Say, Well there is something I can do? There are wrong understandings of religion being promoted. I want to promote good understandings of religion. These people who have bad impressions of Islam. I want to be involved in our own community to spread sound perceptions of Islam. How? Just uphold the Sunna. Feed people. Give gifts to people. Thank people.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was nursed for a brief period of time by sayyida Halima al-Sa‘diyya, and of course he was nourished when he was a child. Five decades later, more than fifty years later, in Madina, if anyone from her tribe would come to Madina, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would honor them. Why? He taught us that “Whoever does not express thanks to people does not thank Allah.”

We don’t do good in the community, in the society, for public relations. We do it because we are followers of the Beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. Thank people. We live in a society where so many things work well. Have we thanked the garbage collectors? Have we thanked the people who are putting salt on our roads so the cars do not slip? There are so many things that happen well in our community, in our society.

Thank people. Give respect where respect is due. Be part of good initiatives because – that’s the question for us – we don’t have to fear, we don’t have to be scared, we don’t have to lose hope. Rather, the believer, our hope is in Allah. We ask Allah for the good and then we take the means to it. And that’s it.

A Beautiful Reminder

We’ll close with a beautiful example of the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allahe be pleased with him, had prepared for the Hegira in advance. He knew that it that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was most likely going to migrate too. And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told him to hold back. So he was hopeful that he’ll be the one who traveled with the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He hadn’t asked explicitly, but he’d already purchased his mount and the mount for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, a month in advance.

This is action. Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, did not worry. “Who will I travel with? Who will the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, travel with? Oh, my goodness, what’s going on?” You place your trust in Allah, but you take the means with excellence. When they left on the Hijra – of course the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, paid for his own mount, even though much of his wealth had been misappropriated by the Meccans. He paid for it in full. It is one of the miracles of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Where did he pay from for things when you didn’t have money?

When they headed out sayyidina Abu Bakr was doing something really strange because he was concerned. Sometimes he’d walk ahead of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He’d be looking around. Sometimes he’d walk to the right of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes he’d walk behind the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes to his left and then back to the front.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, smiled and said, “O Abu Bakr, why are you walking in this way?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, when I think that they may attack I walk ahead of you. When I think that they may catch up to us from the back, I walk behind. What if they try to ambush us from left or right? I stand on that side.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was just smiling. Why? Because his trust in Allah. Review the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. We should all connect to it.

In the cave, sayyidina Abu Bakr, out of his overflowing love and concern for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, he was taking the means, but his heart was, at that time, a little overwhelmed. According to some narrations he ripped his own clothing, as much as he could, to plug the holes in the cave, and he stuck his toe, it is said, in some narrations, and he was getting bitten by the scorpion. And his face was changing but he made no noise, because he didn’t want to disturb the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, when he was resting.

When they saw that the enemy approaching, he said to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “They just have to look towards their feet and they will see us!” What the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said then is something that applies for eternity. It is an eternal eternal truth.

When he says to his Companion – sayyidina Abu Bakr is the Companion of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, by the word of the Lord of the Heavens – “Fear not. For Allah is with us.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:40) This is the message. Don’t be afraid of all these things. Allah is the Lord of the world. We place our hope in Allah. We place our trust in Allah. We asked Allah Most High and He said, “Call upon Me and I will answer you.”

So don’t worry about your faith, in this sense take, the means. Don’t worry about your children. Don’t worry about your family. Don’t worry about your community. Don’t worry about the Umma. Ask Allah for the good, but then take the means, with excellence, to fulfill it.

And always remember, “Fear not. For Allah is with us.”

 

 


This article was transcribed and edited from a Friday khutba delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in March 2017 at the Jame Masjid Oakville, Noor-ul-Haram.


 

I Struggle with Thoughts of Disbelief and Suicide

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked about despair and contemplating suicide from being a lone Muslim.

I struggle with thoughts of disbelief and suicide. I have non-Muslim family members and feel so guilty when I spend time with them during Christmas and so on. I feel ashamed about telling them I am Muslim, because of ISIS.

I have so much uncontrolled anger because I am overwhelmed by my problems. Sometimes I wish I was not brought into existence. I wish for new type of prayer because I’ve been humiliated badly in grade 7, and whenever I want to pray, my mind starts to flashback and then I start to feel shy, embarrassed and then I stop praying,

Can I meet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and ask him to reverse time? I have so many regrets. My grandfather died a Christian and I am so sad.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Suicidal Thoughts

Dear questioner, you sound like you are in a tremendous amount of pain.

Do you have a plan to end your life? If so, I urge you to please seek professional help. At a very minimum, please contact a suicide or mental health hotline in your locality. You need to speak to someone compassionate, to help you break the cycle of despair in your mind.

Thoughts of Disbelief

It may be useful for you to seek out culturally-sensitive counseling to help you manage and eventually overcome these thoughts which plague you.

Please continue a daily litany of repentance and other duas to help protect you from these thoughts: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

Please refer to these links to help start your journey towards healing:

Getting Therapy for Irreligious Thoughts
Having Seriously Evil Thoughts
Types of Thought, Blasphemy, and Sin

Uncontrolled Anger

Please read this resource about the Anger Iceberg. You are lugging around so much unresolved pain, which contributes to you feeling so triggered, so often. When you start to release that pain, then will slowly feel less angry.

I encourage you to try some calming meditations, specifically, Islamic Meditations by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes.

Prayer

I am so sorry that you were so shamed for praying in public while you were in Grade 7. May Allah help you heal from this, and increase you in reward for your struggles.

There is no way for prayer to be changed, but perhaps there are ways you can find a private, secure place to pray. Could you speak to your school counsellor about what happened, and ask him/her to facilitate a safe place for you to pray?

Past Trauma

I urge you to contact Sidi Zuhair Girash of Aafiyah Healing. He is a compassionate and wise Muslim holistic healer who can help you, insha Allah. He can help you loosen the grip of your past trauma, and help you live more easily in the present moment.

It sounds like beneath your anger lies deep feelings of shame, powerlessness and sadness. There are ways to overcome this, with the right help.

Reversal of Time

Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Sura al-Furqan, 25:70)

A wise high school teacher told me once that instead of a “rewind” button for life, Allah gave us something better – He gives us the gift of repentance. Please know that Allah can transform all of your bad deeds into good deeds.

No matter what happened in your past, know that Allah’s Mercy is greater than that. He loves you, even with all of your imperfections.

Non-Muslim Family Members in Hellfire

Only Allah knows where any of us end up in the Afterlife. Because you are already in a troubled mental state, I urge you not to dwell on the fate of your grandfather.

Trust in the Mercy of your Creator. It is not difficult for Allah to have created belief in your grandfather’s heart, before he passed away, for example.

Please seek comfort from this: How to Deal With a Non-Muslim Relative’s Death.

Christmas and Other Festivals

Please know that because you have non-Muslim family members, then it is very important for you to be part of their lives, and attend their festivals. Please attend the social aspects of these gatherings and avoid the religious components, as best as you can.

Please seek comfort from these answers Is Christmas Haram? Being Muslim in a Non-Muslim Family and Partaking in a Thanksgiving Dinner: Permitted or Not?

Meeting The Prophet, Peace and Blessings be upon Him

Narrated Anas, may Allah be pleased with him: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever has seen me in a dream, then no doubt, he has seen me, for Satan cannot imitate my shape.’ (Bukhari)

One interpretation of this is that one will see him in this life in one’s waking state. (Fath al-Bari)

I pray that you do see the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in a dream. Know that his heart is connected to yours, he feels your deepest acutely, and he is making dua for you. I encourage you to be open to the winds of mercy from God, even if they do not fit your current rigid concept. Rigidity comes from fear and pain – you have endured a huge amount of suffering. Flexibility and openness comes from surrender.

I pray that Allah eases your terrible burden of pain. Please know that you will will feel better, some day soon. It will not always hurt this much. Please choose to keep alive, so that one day, you will look back at your younger self with compassion and love.

You may not believe me right now, but because you have endured so much, you will be able to offer so much comfort to other broken-hearted souls.

Please write back if you need any more help.

Please also see A Reader on the Problem of Evil, Suffering, Destiny, and Allah’s Mercy and A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Photos of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat answers questions on images of the Prophet found online.

I am confused. The photos that are on Google and YouTube of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, are they real or are they just uploaded by others to misguide Muslims?

I pray you are well.

Depicting the Prophets and Companions

Is is not permissible to depict the Messenger of Allah – or any other prophet, Allah bless them all and give them peace, in picture or video format. This is a matter of consensus and the verdict issued by al-Azhar University in 1968, the Islamic Research Council in 1972, the Egyptian Fatwa Ministry in 1980, and others more recently.

There are many reasons for this. One of them is that it opens the doors of derision directed to the prophets, Allah bless them and give them peace; whereas Allah has honored them to the highest degree. We live in a time where anyone and everyone can comment on matters online. Sadly, there are those whose vile comments are leveled against the greatest of people – due to ignorance, animosity, or sheer malice.

Therefore, the aversion of this is given precedence over any and all other potential benefits. Looking at such images, therefore, would have the same rulings.

Any pictures you do find, if they are there to depict his beauty, they cannot do it justice. And if they are there for any other vile purpose – it is best not to sully your sight with them.

The ruling has also been extended to depicting the Companions. Many of the sources used to produce such material are not sound, therefore there is the element of falsely ascribing events and quotes to people in this. There are other matters which further support this ruling.

Seeing the Messenger, Blessings and Peace Be upon Him

I recommend that you study the beautiful life and qualities of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Those who throw themselves into this and those who send many blessings upon him, are often blessed with seeing him in their dreams.

In a narration found in Sahih al-Bukhari, he said, “Whoever sees me in a dream will see me in a waking state; Shaytan cannot take my form.” Some of the ulema, such as Imam al-Suyuti, have commented on this hadith saying that some of the righteous – such as Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili and others – see him in a waking state during their lives. For the generality of believers, this usually happens at the point of death, and through this great blessing they attain a good death. (Jassus, Qasim; Sharh Shamaʾil al-Tirmidhi)

May Allah honor us with the vision of His beloved, Allah bless him and give him peace, in this life before the next. Amin. 

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

The Prophet’s Funeral Prayer

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat answers a question about the number of people who attended the Prophet’s funeral prayer, blessings and peace be upon him.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Who is the only wife of Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, who attended his funeral prayer?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

I could not find any reference to only one of the wives of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, attending his funeral prayer. Rather, the earlier, later, and contemporary experts on the Sira, such as Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi, and Muhammad Ali al-Sallabi, all say that first the male companions went in groups and prayed over him individually without an imam. They were then followed by the female companions, then children, and then the slaves.

The outward purport of this is that all of the wives of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would have been there. There was no one to prevent them, and the prayer was not conducted in the mosque.

(Al-Sallabi, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya; al-Salihi, Subul al-Huda wa al-Rashad; Samira al Zayid, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya).

I hope that clarifies matters. May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Two Hadiths about ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt

Shaykh Jamir Meah clarifies two hadiths concerning the fate of ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt and his children, ‘Umarah and Yazid.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I just read the account of the battle of Badr in Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him. He records the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, telling ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt that Hell will take care of his children before his execution. Also, below is a hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud. Ibrahim said, “Al-Dahhak ibn Qays intended to appoint Masruq as governor. Thereupon Umarah ibn Uqbah said to him: Are you appointing a man from the remnants of the murderers of Uthman? Masruq said to him, ‘Ibn Mas‘ud narrated to us, and he was trustworthy in respect of traditions, that when the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, intended to kill your father, he said: Who will look after my children?’ He replied: ‘Fire. I also like for you what the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, liked for you.’”

What is the authenticity of these two reports? Why would the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, utter such harsh words? And how can we reconcile them with his character, blessings and peace be upon him, as a mercy to the worlds? Need help.

Your brother in faith.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Thank you for your question.

The event of Uqbah bin Mu’ayt’s execution is one of many incidents that those seeking to undermine Islam and skew the perfect character of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, choose to focus upon. When read objectively, these narrations do not present any issues, nor contradict the noble rank of the Prophet or his being a mercy to the worlds, blessings and peace be upon him.

Uqbah bin Mu’ayt

Uqbah bin Mu’ayt was one of the fiercest and vilest antagonists of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and the Muslims. Despite being a neighbor to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, his acts of hatred towards the Prophet include; insults, mockery, throwing the entrails, blood, and waste of a camel on the Prophet as he prayed at the Kaba. Stepping on the Prophet’s neck while he was in prostration, spitting in the Prophet’s face, attempted murder of the Prophet by strangulation, blessings and peace be upon him, rejoicing at the death of the Prophet’s son Abdullah, and much more.

As you rightly said, the death of Uqbah is mentioned in the books of Prophetic biography, such as Ibn Ishaq. After the Muslims won at Badr, the enemy soldiers were taken captive. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, ordered that two of these captives were to be executed; Uqbah being one of them. This is absolutely understandable given his vitriol towards the Muslims and the suffering he had caused.

When about to be put to death, ‘Uqbah said, “Who will look after my children?” to which the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, answered, “The Fire.” Then he was executed. (Sunan Abu Dawud. The hadith has a sound chain of transmission.)

The Fire

The scholars have commentated on what the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, had meant by his answer “The Fire,” and it suffices us to quote what they have said as an explanation:

There are two opinions to his answer ‘The Fire,’ blessings and peace be upon him. The first is that the Fire will be their [‘Uqbah’s children’s] destruction, meaning if the Fire is to apply to them then so will it be [i.e if they die as disbelievers, then that will also be their fate].

The second possibility is that he, blessings and peace be upon him, was using a specific style of speech [uslub al hakim – in Arabic rhetoric, when one addresses a person with words that are not anticipated by the addressee, and which goes against the outward understanding of the word, in order to make it known that the import of the words are directed specifically to the person addressed], so the meaning is, ‘For you is the Fire,’ i.e. ‘Concern yourself with yourself and what is destined for you in the Fire, and leave the affairs of your children alone, for Allah is their Provider … and this [second opinion] is the correct opinion.
(Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih)

Perhaps the Prophet’s words “The Fire,” blessings and peace be upon him, were meant as additional castigation and punishment [of ‘Uqbah], not that he, blessings and peace be upon him, was stating that his [‘Uqbah’s] children will be in the Fire, for Walid and Umarah became Muslims on the Conquest of Mecca, and Allah is pleased with all the Companions. (Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud li Ibn Raslan)

In regards this event, we should note the following:

    1. 1. The plea of ‘Uqbah, “What about my children?” was a desperate attempt to escape the deserving death penalty and to be taken instead as a slave.

2. At least one of his sons, Yazid was legally an adult and a disbeliever at the time, who assisted the Quraysh at the Battle of Badr. Both he and his brother Umarah later became Muslims.

3. ‘Uqbah had done everything in his power to hurt and destroy the Muslims, who up until Badr, had not fought with the Quraysh at all. ‘Uqbah was well aware of what the loss at Badr would mean for him. Additionally, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, had previously warned him that he would execute him one day for his oppression and aggression, but since ‘Uqbah was in a position of power, he mocked the warning.

Harshness

The response of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, to ‘Uqbah’s plea was deserved and just. If the response seems harsh to some, then it is important to know that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, never took personal revenge or acted out of spitefulness for the sake of his own person and grievances.

The person of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is an intrinsic part of the the religion, and abuse and attack on his person is abuse of Allah, the religion of Islam, and the Muslims in general. And it is for their relentless and vehement crimes against Allah, his religion, and the Muslims, that certain figures such as ‘Uqbah were put to death and given harsh treatment. This is the context in which the answer of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is correctly understood.

This is made clear by the fact that Allah revealed a verse mentioning the death of ‘Uqbah, “On the day when the wrong-doer gnaws his hands, he will say: ‘Ah, would that I had chosen a way together with the messenger!’” (Sura al-Furqan 25:27)

If critics take exception at the Prophet’s words, blessings and peace be upon him, and use it as a proof of a lack of his mercy and an example of a barbaric “medieval” nature (particularly compared to the false “meek-as-a-lamb” image put forward in regards the personality of Christ) they need only to look at the New Testament to find similar “harsh” expressions reportedly expressed by Christ, such as when he addresses the scribes and Pharisees and their evil designs against him and his followers: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Mathew 23:33) In other words, Hellfire has now become your fate.

Perspective

Given what we have mentioned above, it’s important to now put the death of ‘Uqbah in perspective. Out of seventy something captives taken at Badr, only two were executed: ‘Uqbah being one of them. And this was due to their unrelenting persecution of the Muslims.

As for the remaining prisoners of war, we will allow the words of William Muir, who we should note was a Christian evangelic orientalist, and held very biased and unfair criticisms of Islam, to describe for us the treatment of the remaining captives from the Battle of Badr, so we may draw our own conclusions as to the mercy and character of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him:

In pursuance of Mahomet’s commands, the citizens of Medina, and such of the refugees as possessed houses, received the prisoners, and treated them with much consideration. ‘Blessings be on the men of Medina!’ said one of these prisoners in later days; ‘they made us ride, while they themselves walked: they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates. (The Life of Mahomet)

Turning the Other Cheek

From the above, it is clear that these is not the cold-hearted acts of a callous leader, nor the principles of a barbaric religion, as some would have people believe to be the case.

For mercy to be attributed to a person, it does not mean that the person is obliged to always turn the other cheek or pardon, nor to refrain from exacting just punishment. This is a false notion. In the same way, God’s punishing those who deserve punishment does not inhibit His being attributed by Mercy or being deserving of the Names Al-Rahman and Al-Rahim: the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate.

Merciful Not Weak

In worldly affairs, particularly affairs of the state, every situation must be assessed on merit, and sometimes it is necessary to exact the law or bring people to justice. To not do so in situations which demand it can be considered a weakness and dangerous.

It is well known that in war, there are times when certain individuals must be put to death. For not only are they deserving of such a fate for their heinous crimes, but it also serves the purpose of putting a final end to the threat they pose (and thereby bringing justice and peace), sending a clear warning to enemies that such aggression will not be tolerated, as well as showing a sign of strength.

We see a similar incident concerning Salahuddin al-Ayyubi and Reginald (Reynald) of Chatillon when the former regained Jerusalem from the crusaders. Salahuddin had captured King Guy of Jerusalem and Reginald, and chose to spare the life of the King, yet did not extend the pardon to Reginald, who was a particularly lawless crusader who had robbed, killed, and enslaved Muslim civilians, as well attempting to dig up and kidnap the body of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him!

Reginald was executed shortly after being captured by Salahuddin. Yet despite this, Salahuddin remains a revered figure who was and still is acknowledged and praised a great deal in the West for his chivalry, generosity, and mercy. Salahuddin’s decision to execute Reginald is generally accepted as an expected and normal decision of a military leader in that situation.

Hadith of Masruq

You mentioned the hadith that, “Al-Dahhak ibn Qays intended to appoint Masruq as governor. Thereupon Umarah ibn Uqbah said to him, ‘Are you appointing a man from the remnants of the murderers of Uthman?’ Masruq said to him: ‘Ibn Mas‘ud narrated to us, and he was trustworthy in respect of traditions, that when the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, intended to kill your father, he said, “Who will look after my children?” He replied, “The Fire.” I also like for you what the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, liked for you.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

This hadith has a fair chain of transmission. What is apparent from the narration is that the words of Masruq: “I also like for you what the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, liked for you,” was a bitter retaliation to Umarah opposing his appointment as governor and connecting his name with assassination of Sayyidna Uthman. It is not to be understood as something the Prophet actually meant, as discussed above. And Allah knows best.

I hope this clarifies the matter.

Warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.