Posts

Ibtihaj Muhammad: How A Champ Trains In Ramadan

*Originally posted on 2016/06/17

Muslim American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she spends up to seven hours training on an average day. Right now, during Ramadan, that means seven hours of intense physical exercise without any food or water between sunrise and sunset.

“My faith is first and foremost to me. It’s a priority,” Muhammad told The Huffington Post. “So it was never a question of whether I would fast and train. I’ve had to fast and train for as long as I’ve been competing at this level. The only difference for me this go around is that I’m in the middle of training for the Olympics.”
Read the rest on Huffington Post. Follow Ibtihaj on twitter. 

All knowledge is sacred knowledge – Shaykh Ramadan Bouti

Wise words from the late Shaykh Ramadan Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him. Translated by Ustadh Torab Torabi.

“It is of utmost importance, that ifyou want to direct yourself toward knowledge, whichever type of knowledge it maybe, to make your intention to draw nearer to Allah.
“All knowledge is sacred knowledge. And I have mentioned it before and written about it as well, the words of my father. The words that have never left me since I was 15 or 16 years old. When he took me by the hand and enrolled me in my first Islamic schooling.”
“He said to me: “Had I found out that arriving to Allah would be through picking up garbage off the streets, I would have made you a garbage man. But I have reflected and found that the path to reaching Allah is knowledge. And for this reason I have directed you down this path.  Now I ask from you to not study this Deen for a job, not for a degree, not for wealth, but rather to study it for Allah’s contentment and pleasure.””
“If a person intends Allah pleasure, even if he studies medicine it will draw him near to Allah. Even if he studies chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, astronomy, etc.. All forms of knowledge for that matter, because what does knowledge do? It (knowledge) unveils reality of Truth. And what is the only true Reality of creation? Allah! The Truth of all Truths. And there is no doubt about that.”

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:

 

The Importance of Female Scholarship in Islam, by Habib Ali Al-Jifri

Habib Ali al-Jifri answers a question about the importance of female scholarship in Islam at the SeekersHub in Toronto, Canada. He describes female scholarship as “fulfilling the divine balance”.

“We are in need of women who are active within the Islamic discourse, so they can counter the oppressive filth created in the name of the shariah.”

Translated by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Video: Seekers Monthly Training: Service with Excellence – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – January 2012

Video: Seekers Monthly Training: Service with Excellence – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – January 2012

[Saturday, January 28, 2012] In the monthly Seekers Training Session, for SeekersHub & SeekersGuidance team members, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani mentions some of the characteristics of strong believers, from the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, though there is good in both,” and then explained the characteristics of the strong believer: “Be avid for all that benefits; rely on Allah; and don’t deem yourself incapable…”

Shaykh Faraz explains what is means to be a “strong believer;” what it means to “be avid for all that benefits;” and the concern underlying seeking knowledge and our service & activism. The significance of societal obligations (fard kifaya) and how they are both more important and greater in reward than personal obligations (fard `ayn).