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The True Eid – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

“Be Joyful with Allah.” This is what Ustadh Amjad Tarsin heard while he was studying abroad. Here, he speaks about Eid in our religion, and encourages us to see the beauty encompassed in the tradition.

Pray for Acceptance

One of the best things we can do on Eid, is pray for the acceptance of the actions that we performed in Ramadan. Even great deeds are meaningless if they are not accepted by Allah. Imam Ali once said that no accepted action is insignificant. Scholars say that the sign of acceptance of your actions, is that Allah places in your heart a greater commitment to continue those fasts. They also say that a sign that your Ramadan is accepted, is that you are able to fast the six days of Shawwal, which carry the reward of fasting the rest of the year.

Before Ramadan ends, we should try to make intentions to carry on certain acts of worship. Of course, we cannot continue fasting every day, praying 20 rakats at night, and reading a whole juz a day. However, we can try to pray tajajjud, do some voluntary fasts and recite a page of Qur’an a day. Small, consistent actions enable you to stay engaged with Allah’s word.

Be Thankful

Why do we chant “Allahu Akbar” and other words of praise, on Eid day? The answer lies in a very special verse on the Qur’an.

“So that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, so that you may be grateful.” (2:185) 

Therefore, we celebrate the completion of Ramadan by praising Allah. Of course, our celebrating Eid is like an engagement party, with the real celebration is in the next life, when we meet our Lord. Eid is a celebration, and any day that we are able to fulfill our duty towards our Creator, is a cause of celebration.

Remembering the Greatest Eid

As we celebrate this Eid, let’s remember the Greatest Eid; the day we meet our Lord. For some people, their whole lives are like Ramadan, and their day of Eid is when they see Allah.

There was once a righteous man who told one of his students, “When you hear of my death, buy sweets and distribute it to those at the madrassa.” Because he was so eager to meet Allah, he considered his death a celebration, rather than a cause for fear.

Seven Muslim Scholars on How to Survive Ramadan and Make The Most of It

The blessed month is upon us but are you dreading the long days without food or drink and the sleep disruption? You’re not alone. This timely seminar has loads of tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan.

Talks by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf and Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Imam Zaid Shakir

Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin (Q&A)

 

Cover photo by yeowatzup.

Back to Our Roots as SeekersGuidance – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

A Renewed Commitment to be the First Truly Global Islamic Seminary: An announcement by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Assalam alaykum,

The year 2019 will bring some exciting changes to our services and programming. Moving forward, we are very pleased to announce our new name: we’re going back to our founding name, SeekersGuidance.

This is part of the growth of our online Islamic seminary. Neither our services nor your donations will be affected by this change. Your donations to “SeekersHub Global” will continue as they are to support our shared causes of spreading light and knowledge; we have always been legally registered as “SeekersGuidance.” Also, we are resuming our teaching on the ground in Toronto as “SeekersGuidance Canada.”

And do bookmark www.seekersguidance.org as our new URL.

Why the Name Change?

SeekersGuidance began in the summer of 2008, by Sidi Mumen al-Hamawi (now our Programs and Development Director) and me. We were striving to establish an online portal to open access to Islamic education, and a free question and answer service to anyone, anywhere.

As part of this concern, we soon adopted the #KnowledgeWithoutBarriers paradigm, and made all our online courses and educational offerings completely free.

As a result, we grew from 600 students in 2011 to about 90,000 student registrations in 2018 alone. Alhamdulillah!

Establishing a Global Islamic Seminary

Our teachers – some of the leading Islamic scholars, such as Habib Umar bin Hafiz , Shaykh Nuh Keller, Shaykh Akram Abd al-Wahhab, and Imam Zaid Shakir – have urged us to take “all possible means” to establish a truly global Islamic seminary, offering a full curriculum of top-quality Islamic education, for anyone, anywhere.

This is a major mandate that we have been working steadily towards. For this, we added “Global Islamic Seminary” to our name, “SeekersHub.” However, “SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary” was becoming quite a mouthful.

As such, we are returning to our roots, and our name is back to SeekersGuidance. Our moniker is “The Global Islamic Seminary.”

(There is also the matter of the parting of the ways with our previous home in Toronto, which is retaining the name “SeekersHub Toronto.” Though we own the rights to the name, “SeekersHub,” and retain the domain “SeekersHub.org,” part of our commitment to part with grace is that we are allowing our brothers and sisters at the Hub to keep the name – and we wish them all the best.)

What Are The Implications? Will Any Services be Affected?

None of our services be affected by this name change. Rather, we are renewing our commitment to excellence (ihsan) and to consistently improve and expand our educational services.

Thus, we are continuing to strive to make our Steps curriculum, online Courses, Answers, Podcasts, Blog, and other projects cater to the needs of our community in the best and most beneficial ways.

The “Double the Impact” Initiative

We reached 90,000 student registrations and nearly five million unique visitors to our website in 2018. But the need to spread the light of Prophetic knowledge and guidance is far, far wider. As such, our goal for 2019 is to “Double the Impact” of our online offerings.

We want to reach 200,000 student registrations and ten million visitors to our website in 2019.

This is not “just for the numbers,” but for the benefit, the need, and the urgent obligation and imperative to preserve and spread the light of Prophetic guidance to seekers everywhere.

We Love the Name SeekersGuidance

We love the name “SeekersGuidance,” because it highlights the two foundational pillars of our project:

  1. All believers should be seekers – we all seek Allah’s love and closeness, and knowledge is the only way to this;
  2. All believers seek guidance – the beneficial knowledge and inspiration that will show us the path of turning to Allah, upholding and spreading the good, and that inspires us to fulfill our true human potential.

What about My Donations?

If you were donating to “SeekersHub Global,” your donations are still reaching us. (We have, in fact, always been legally registered as “SeekersGuidance, Inc.”)

If you are not already a monthly supporter, you can help us Double the Impact of our online offerings by becoming a monthly supporter now by going to www.seekersguidance.org/donate.

We will continue to provide authentic, engaging, and relevant Islamic education. And most importantly, we will still offer all our services completely free of charge.

What about Toronto?

We have registered in Canada as “SeekersGuidance Canada,” and our classes and programs are continuing with Shaykh Muhammad Badhib, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Ustadha Umm Umar, and myself. These classes are being held weekly at Jame Masjid Mississauga (Coopers), and other locations.

We’re establishing a newer, bigger learning center and headquarters in Toronto – to serve the local community and as a base for our global Islamic seminary and its educational offerings. Click here to support our efforts.

Some New Projects Are Coming!

In addition to all our current services, we are working on some exciting new projects. These include:

  • Publishing our own ebooks and other digital content.
  • Newly revamped On-Demand courses offering many relevant topics.
  • New additions to our curriculum courses.
  • Exciting content released by the members of our Helpers program.
  • Forthcoming Podcasts by a number of scholars and counselors.
  • Reboots of our SeekersGuidance Arabiyya and SeekersGuidance Espanol partner pages, in order to reach seekers all over the world in other languages as well.

May Allah grant us and you facilitation and success.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani, Founder and Executive Director, SeekersGuidance,
And the SeekersGuidance team.


Calling to Allah (Da’wah): Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin recounts an encounter he had with a Jehovah’s Witness representative, who was an example to those calling to Allah.

Conveying the Message

Ustadh Amjad was at home before Jum’ah prayer and there was a knock on the door. He opened the door and saw two people who are older, maybe in their late fifties or early sixties. One of them was on crutches, and handed him a Jehovah’s Witness brochure, and they had a brief, pleasant conversation. Shortly thereafter, the man picked up his crutches and walked off to the next house.

“These people are working so hard for something that’s not true,” Ustadh Amjad observed, “and we don’t work that hard for something that is true.”

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Convey [my teachings] to the people even if it were a single verse.” (Bukhari, Tirmidhi) While going door-to-door may not be the best way to do this, the least we could do is try to push past our discomfort. By forming relationships with our neighbours, coworkers, and friends, we can be in a better place to share what we know about the Prophet and this beautiful religion. If we make an effort to establish a connection, Allah may choose to open the doors of guidance.

The Prophet is reported to have said to Ali ibn Abi Talib, “For Allah to guide one person through you, is better for you than the most precious of merchandise.”

A Dedicated Caller to Allah

One of Ustadh Amjad’s teachers, Syed Umar bin Hamid al-Haddad, would continuously think about people whenever he went, in hospitals, on the streets, in airports. He was once sitting at home, and fervently prayed, “O Allah, guide someone to Islam.” Someone then knocked on his door and accepted Islam.

He was once in an elevator with Ustadh Amjad and a group of businessmen in the United States. He told Ustadh Amjad, “Tell them where I’m from.” When he told them that Syed Umar was visiting from Saudi Arabia, he said, “From Medina, the holy city.” The men were impressed, and hoped he’d have a nice stay. Everywhere this man went, his heart was turned to Allah for guidance of others.


Sufism: Its Essence & the Traits of its People: Book by Habib Umar

What is Sufism? This new treatise by Habib Umar ibn Hafiz and translated into English by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, covers the principles of Sufism and the characteristics of those who follow it.

What is Sufism?

This book seeks to clarify the meaning behind this often-misunderstood term. Sufism, or tasawwuf as it is known in the original Arabic, is the science of purifying the heart for the purpose of reaching Allah. This is done by acting with ihsan, or excellence, in every situation, and following the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.

A true Sufi is someone who has reached the station of ayn al-yaqin, or the witnessing of certainty, which usually comes after many years of hard work. The people who try their best, but have not yet reached, are really quasi-Sufis, or mutasawif. As for the people who love them, but are not actively trying to progress spiritually, are attempting to resemble Sufis.

The Traits of Sufis

There are many people all over the world, who claim to be Sufis. Habib Umar outlines the ten traits that must be followed by anyone who claims to be a Sufi. These traits are universal to the various spiritual paths.

  1. Knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunna: This forms the very foundation of the Sufism, and any actions that contradict the basics of Islam, are not from Sufism. This also means that the Sufis strive to follow the  sunna with utmost excellence. In fact, the isnad (chains of transmission) of all the major works of Qur’an, hadith, tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis), fiqh (jurisprudence) were passed down through the people of Sufism. Therefore, everyone today who is qualified to teach any of these sciences, has Sufis in their chain of transmission.
  2. Concern with perfecting the heart for the sake of Allah: Since Allah looks towards our heart, not our outward forms, Sufis prioritise working on their hearts to attain ihsan. Sufism is not about singing, clapping, or wearing specific clothing. Rather, it’s about removing everything besides Allah from the heart.
  3. Sincerity. Sufis should be extremely meticulous in analysing their actions, making sure that they are solely for the sake of Allah, and shy away from praise and recognition.
  4. Trueness: This entails doing everything possible to do a deed for the sake of Allah alone, with no pride or ostentation. This also means being humble enough to accept advice from everyone, and not to mind if others turn away.
  5. Humility of the heart: There are countless verses, hadith and stories which emphasise the centrality of humility. A Sufi does not raise themselves above others, or believe that they are better than anyone else, preferring instead to carry themselves with humility.
  6. Recognising the people of honor, and eliminating envy: By showing honor to people who posses it, they strive to give everyone their rights, and not have envy towards anyone.
  7. Remembering Allah abundantly: Sufis strive to make dhikr and remember Allah, with presence of heart, as much as possible.
  8. Conveying with excellence and eliminating discourteous argumentation: They strive for excellence by avoiding arguments unless absolutely necessary. If an issue arises, they clarify it in the best manner.
  9. Responding to evil with goodness, and having concern: A Sufi has utmost concern for others, and does their best to strive for their wellbeing. They forgive those who wrong them and respond to any evil they face with goodness.
  10. Love of Allah, preferring Him over all else: In their daily life, they consider Allah more important than everything, and strive to attain his love.

Sufism: Its Essence & the Traits of its People, is published by Dar al-Turath Islami. If you would like to learn more, consider enrolling in our On-Demand course The Path of Spiritual Excellence.


Questions and Answers – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin answer some commonly asked questions about this topic.

 

Q: How do you find ways to forgive when it’s very difficult?

A: This is a good question, because we should be real in how we cultivate spiritual ideals. The first thing to do is look at the life of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and see the incredible honor that stemmed from his forgiveness. His forgiveness of the Quraysh after the Conquest of Mecca was more than about a few arguments. He and his followers had suffered 20 years of serious aggression, wars, torture, and physical and psychological harm. However, his heart was so attached to Allah, and he wanted what was best for his people. Therefore, when he was given the upper hand, he chose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the biggest steps to healing from pain, and resentment continues to burn us. Sometimes our nafs blocks this meaning from us. If someone is being harmed, then we have the right to prevent that. After that, we can try to look for excuses for them. If that’s difficult, you make duaa for them, that Allah guide them.

Q: How is it possible to have patience without being passive?

A: Scholars say that everything has a knowledge-based response, and then an action-based response. Before we try, we should keep in mind what patience means. Neither patience or gratitude are passive. Gratitude is more than seeing the good; it is using things for what it’s used. For example, being grateful to live in Canada does not mean ignoring the wrongs done by the Canadian government. Rather, we use our blessings to do what Allah has commanded us to do-work towards truth, justice, mercy and the prevention of harm.

Q: How does one explain gratitude to children?

A: Syed Naqib al-Attas, one of the most brilliant minds in education of the 20th century, broke down children’s education into three components. Firstly, there is tarbiya, or education, raising the child. Secondly, ta’deeb is the instilling of correct manners and etiquette to any situation.  Finally, ta’leem is teaching the child, which can be done in many ways.

Q: What about someone who isn’t feeling the essence of gratitude in his heart?

A: Ultimately, Allah does not squander an atom’s weight of good. The scholars define a good action as, “anything that has even a residual aspect of good.” The devil will try to suggest that you are not grateful enough, or not sincere enough, but flee from those thoughts.

About the Series

“If you are grateful, We shall surely grant you increase,” Allah promises in the Qur’an. “Should I not be a truly grateful servant?” said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In this seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore Radical Gratitude: How Thankfulness Transforms Our Life and Religion.


Grateful Servants of God – Radical Gratitude Series

What is true gratitude, and how can it make a difference in our lives? In this segment, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explains how having gratitude can positively affect our lives.

It’s important for us to understand gratitude and cultivate it into our hearts, so that we can draw closer to Allah. Imam al-Haddad said that one the main kinds of reflection that we should do, is to reflect on Allah’s blessings, and its fruit is love of Allah. Therefore, gratitude is a direct route to drawing closer to Allah.

With a lot of focus on mental health today, many psychologists are trying to see how gratitude can help us. A psychiatrist told Ustadh Amjad that most of mental illness today is a reaction to the toxicity in the world today, not a sickness.

As Muslims we have a responsibility, first to rectify our own states with Allah, and then to help others in need. Many people are searching for what we Muslims have already been taught by our Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Benefits of Gratitude

One of the many benefits of gratitude, is stronger relationships. One of the largest indicators of happiness is the quality of relationships; family, friends, etc. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever does not thank people, has not thanked Allah.”

Grateful people are also known to have better physical and mental health. Studies have shown that grateful people had fewer aches and pains, and felt happier, had less depression and aggression, and more empathy. In fact, the Applied Psychology reported in 2012 that writing in a gratitude journal improved the quality of sleep.

A Deep Connection

More than ever, what we really need is a deep connection to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. As people, we need someone to help us make sense of everything. The world is confusing and challenging, and we need someone to trust. Sometimes we give people more trust than they deserve, and get hurt when they break our trust. But if we connect to the Prophet, he will never disappoint us. He is above and beyond any life coach, mentor or adviser.  His advice will always be the best, as “His character was the Qur’an.” Connecting to him will give us the strength and meaning to continue.

Having gratitude can also lead to an increase and a protecting from deprivation.  Allah says, “If you are grateful for my blessings, I will grant you increase.” (Surah Ibrahim 14.7) The scholar Habib Abu Bakr bin Salim, who used to give away a thousand loaves of bread every day in charity, was once presented with a small gift of wheat. He profusely thanked the woman who had brought it, then said, “Those who are not grateful for small things, are deprived of big things.”


Frequently Asked Questions – Living Green Series

The Living Green Series takes us through our responsibilities towards green living and environmental stewardship. In this segment, the panel speakers answer some frequently asked questions.

At the end of the panel, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Leslie Adams, and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin answer some questions about environmentalism and living green.

Why isn’t environmentalism  a more prominent issue in the Muslim community?

Every community goes through developmental stages, especially when they are a minority group. In terms of the Muslim community, the  priority of the first generation immigrants were financial security, as well as building religious centres for their children’s sake. Similar to voting, these relatively new communities are  addressing them a generation later, after their more pressing needs have been fulfilled.

Is there a connection between sin and environmental damage?
Yes, because sin comes from heedlessness, which is lack of concern. A lot of environmental damage comes from lack of concern and carelessness. For example, so much water and food is wasted because of our carelessness because we don’t realise the impact of what we are using.

How can we find out whether our smartphones, and other  products, have been ethically produced?

Before buying anything, we should do our research as much as possible and find out whatever we can about that material. In addition, we should make an effort to seek change ourselves. For example, we could write to companies to express our concerns, and share our research within our social circles.

About the Series

What is the place of green and environmental stewardship in Islam? How does the Qur’an view concern for the environment?  What is your responsibility towards the environment? Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Ali Hani answer these are other critical questions by citing several prophetic traditions emphasising environmental consciousness and awareness.


Resources for Seekers

 

Resolutions for the New Year and Beyond – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin & Sh. Faraz Rabbani

In the first week of the Hijri New Year, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin offer reflections and advise us on how to benefit from this occasion.

Ustadh Amjad reflects on the hijra of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace and its applicability in our own lives. He mentiones how the Islamic New Year marks a turning point for Islam, when the Prophet made hijra, or migrated, from his native city of Mecca to the city of Medina. Although that time period is over, we are still called upon to  make a spiritual hijra, where we migrate and move ourselves away from heedlessness, and begin to move closer to Allah. Our guide on this Hijra is none other than our Prophet Muhammad.

He advises us to begin this year with a sincere intention to draw closer to the Prophet, and learn more about him. We should aim to learn about him in a way that perfects our relationships with our family and those around us, rather than just a dry list of facts. In fact, we should intent to try to emulate him in every one of our dailty tasks. When we do this, even our small actions can become acts of worship.

Finally, he advises to set spiritual goals for 1440 AH, by resolving to become a better person by the time 1441 comes around.

Next, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani encourages us not to be afraid of making resolutions, thinking that we are full of shortcomings. Rather, we should know that our faults are an opportunity for us to get closer to Allah by overcoming ourselves. We are not responsible for attaining success, rather we are responsible for making an effort.

He closes by speaking about the event of Karbala and the martyrdom of Hussein, and how his sacrifice teaches us about love and commitment to Allah.


Resources for Seekers

7 Sunnas of Stewardship – Living Green Series

The Living Green Series takes us through our responsibilities towards green living and environmental stewardship. In this segment, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin speaks about the sunnas connected to environmental stewardship.

Ustadh Amjad highlights some key practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, with regards to the environment. He explains some Islamic values with respect to environmental concern.

He begins by quoting a hadith, “People who show mercy to others will be shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, and the Lord of the Heavens will be merciful to you.” This teaches us that all of us as believers have a responsibility of mercy to the animals, the environment, other people, and even inanimate objects.

  1. Have concern. Be mindful of what you use, and be careful not to waste. Recognize that your usage affects others. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told us not to waste water, even if making wudu on the banks of the Euphrates River.
  2. Eat good food. Ensure the food you eat is blessed, is nourishing,and has not been oppressed or mistreated. Most of the meat we eat nowadays is grown on factories rather than farms. Similarly, many of the plants grown nowadays are sprayed with pesticides that we aren’t meant to ingest.
  3. Have reverence for all of Creation. Know that everything in Creation glorifies Allah, and that we have a special connection to it all. Allah has created the environment in a natural balance, but us humans are disrupting it.
  4. Reuse. Create a relationship with what you have, rather than throwing things away. The Prophet would give names to all of his household items.
  5. Reflect. Allah has praised “those of deep reflection,” in the Qur’an. The natural order of the world is meant for us to reflect on. Take some time out and reflect in nature.
  6. Balance. Every part of Islam is about harmony and balance. We are called to give everything its right. We need to use resources, but we can do this in a way that is not excessive.
  7. Concern. Learn more about the problems around us, and take steps to rectify it. Whether it be an endangered species, or a shortage of water in a place far away, we need to take responsibility for the actions of the human race.

About the Series

What is the place of green and environmental stewardship in Islam? How does the Qur’an view concern for the environment?  What is your responsibility towards the environment? Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Ali Hani answer these are other critical questions by citing several prophetic traditions emphasising environmental consciousness and awareness.


Resources for Seekers