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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Two Essentials

Bismillah walhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa-ashabihi wa-salaam tasliman kathira

Brothers and sisters in iman:

Allah - the Most Perfect, the Most High responded to the du'a (supplication) of His Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi salaam when he said:

"Our Lord! Send to them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them Your Signs, teaching them the Book and the Wisdom and purifying them. Indeed You are the Most Powerful, the Most Wise." -Surah al-Baqarah 2:129

So Allah - the Mighty and Majestic - said:

"It is Allah who has sent to the unlettered people a Messenger from amongst themselves, reciting to them His Signs, purifying them and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, whereas before that, they had been in clear misguidance." -Surah al-Jumu'ah 62:2

So here the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam has been characterized with two tasks: ta'leem (teaching) and tazkiyah (purification). In his request, Ibrahim 'alayhi salaam mentioned ta'leem before tazkiyah. However, Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - answered him, but by giving tazkiyah precedence to ta'leem.

And Allaah blessed the Believers by sending the Messenger who carried out these two tasks, so He - the Mighty and Majestic - said:

"As We sent to you a Messenger from amongst yourselves, reciting to you Our Signs, purifying you, and teaching you the Book and the Wisdom, that which you did not know." -Surah al-Baqarah 2:151

So in this ayah also, Allah - the Mighty and Majestic - mentions purification before teaching. Thus, as is known, purification is one of the fruits of acting upon knowledge; and that knowledge causes harm for its possessor if it is not accompanied by action. Indeed, whosoever increases in knowledge, but does not increase in taqwa (piety, fear and obedience to Allah), then let him be suspicious about his knowledge.

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751H) rahimahullah - said: "The Scholar who does not act upon his knowledge, will be punished before the worshippers of idols."

And our Salaf (Pious Predecessors) used to inherit purification from each other, as part of good and fine manners. This was due to their sitting with the Shaykh and accompanying him. So 'Abdullah ibn Maslamah al-Qa'nabi (d.221H) said: "We used to sit with Imam Malik and take from his manners and conduct, just as we would take from his knowledge." [2]

However, in the later generations, Shari'ah knowledge has almost become restricted to just colleges and universities and sitting in front of the doctors and teachers for short periods of time. So the students do not take any benefit from good manners and conduct - even if those teachers have a share of it. And we often see and hear about many shortcomings of both the students and the teachers! Thus, the religion has become weak, yaqeen (certainty of faith) has dwindled, sabr (patient perseverance) - with its wide Islamic understanding - has passed away, as has az-zuhd (praiseworthy abstinence from this world) except for those whom my Lord has mercy upon.

So knowledge alone, without good manners and conduct, will not produce any fruit in a way that the people can be benefited by its possessor - from what is seen and what is spoken. And through seeking knowledge alone, the Muslims will not be saved from hypocrisy. Rather, seeking knowledge must be accompanied by good manners and conduct, so that he remains safe, derives benefit and is saved from sin and its causes, and also from being burdened. This is attested to by what at-Tirmidi relates:

The Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salam said: "There are two qualities which do not come together in a munafiq (hypocrite): Good manners and conduct, and the understanding of the deen (religion)." [3]

So in this hadeeth, good manners and conduct are mentioned before understanding of the religion. Indeed, the greatest and most valuable fruits of purification are sabr (patience) and zuhd (praiseworthy abstinence from this world). Whilst the greatest and most precious fruits of 'ilm (knowledge) is yaqeen (certainty). So he who gains both patience and certainty, in this way, then he is one of the leaders of the religion, and this is testified to by the saying of Allaah - the Most High:

"We made from them leaders, giving guidance by Our Command, because they had sabr (patient perseverance) and had yaqeen (certainty) in Our Signs." -Surah Sajdah 32:24

So patience is the fruit of purification, whilst certainty is the fruit of knowledge and teaching.

And here also patience is mentioned before certainty. Sheikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) used to say: "Through sabr and yaqeen leadership in the religion is attained." [4]

Indeed! That is so because he who gains them both, then he has attained and actualised the two tasks of Allah's Messenger salallahu 'alayhi wa salam, and has thus become an inheritor of the Prophet - and the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam is the leader of all the leaders.

Finally, we must draw attention to the Fact that the Salafus-Saaliheen (Pious Predecessors) - may Allaah be pleased with them all - actualised these two tasks and therefore they acheived rectification of themselves and rectification of others. 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak (d.181H) used to say: "The latter part of this Ummah will not be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part: zuhd and yaqeen."

And zuhd cannot be attained except by means of sabr, which cannot be attained except through tazkiyah (purification). And yaqeen cannot be attained except through purified Sharee'ah knowledge.

So would that we had realized that our misfortune lies in the absence of these two matters from our lives, and that he who calls to them, persisting in this and refusing to be pre-occupied from them by anything else, then he is upon the correct manhaj (methodology) and upon The Straight Path.

1. This article was taken from Al-Asaalah magazine (no.10 / Shawaal 1414H).
2. The likes of this has been related by adh-Dhahabee in Siyaar A'laamun-Nubalaa (3/285).
3. Saheeh: Related by at-Tirmidhee (no.2837), from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu 'anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah.
4. Related by Ibn al-Qayyim in Madaarijus-Saalikeen (1/132).

Shaykh Mashur ibn Hasan
This article was taken from Al-Asaalah magazine (no.10 / Shawaal 1414H)
Source: Al-Istiqaamah Magazine , Issue No.2 - Safar 1417H / July 1996

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Counterfeit Salafiyya

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu, brothers and sisters in Islam. What is probably viewed by many of us as needless-to-mention given it's transparency is a topic, broad and controversial, that yet remains detrimental to the consciousness of the sincere and often young Muslim wherever he or she may reside. Particularly those who before practicing Islam were cliquish or directly influenced in either a tribal or gang mentality leaving them especially prone to dragging this sickness into their deen; this cursed trend of splintering into factions and falling into this Shatiani trap of sectarianism in Islam. Let's understand when Allah says what means:

"And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. the covenant and allegiance to 'la ilaha ill Allah Muhammad ar-Rasulullah' and al-Qur'an that ever-binds it and everything it entails together), and be not divided among yourselves..." -Surah Al-i-Imran ayah 10

Let us reflect when Allah ta'ala says that which means:

"As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least; their affair is with Allah: He will in the end Tell them the Truth of all that they did." -Surah al-Anaam ayah 159

Alhamdulillah, the bid'ah and deviancy emanating from many of those proclaimed adherents to al-Islam is as obvious as a diarrhea-afflicted African Elephant in the middle of your living room. However, there is a more clever, cunning and devilishly deceptive form that has taken root using such familiar terms as "Ahl us-Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah", "as-Salaf as-Salih", "Salafi", etc. masquerading as prestine Islam or as the saved sect. However, a closer look at their estranged stances on concepts such as "jihad", "takfeer", "madhabiyya" and my personal favorite... obeying those in command, ruling by non/anti-Islamic secular laws and involved in the oppression, extermination, expulsion and exploitation of Muslims in their own lands one would clearly see how repugnant and anomalous their views truly are in the light of al-Qur'an was-Sunnah.

Behind this "Salafi mask" we face an ideology so foreign and so off track from the understanding and methodology of the Sahabah radiallahu 'anhum and the true Salaf as-Salih rahimullah. We find how loose at the tongue they are at engaging in slander and gheebah (backbiting) in its many forms when it comes to our fellow Muslims and yet failing to detect any flaws with kufr and the spiritual, psychological and physical harm it brings about upon our Ummah. So just as the terms "tasawwuf" and "sufism" have been tainted by what it's become to be known as and associated with today (i.e. pantheism, grave-worship, supplicating the dead, innovated rituals of 'ibadah, etc.) and is no longer recognized as az-zuhd (wordly abstinence) observed by the likes of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim, Imam Nawawi, al-Fudayl ibn Iyy'ad and others whom we ask Allah bestow His Mercy upon. So too can the terms "salafi" and "ahl us-Sunnah" be perverted and associated with the ideas upheld by the proclaimed "salafiyoon" that shall be discussed, in'sha'Allahu ta'ala, in the proceeding article by Dr. Tariq Abdelhaleem if not careful.

In a nutshell the so-called "salafiyoon movement" and the "salafi daw'ah" and its various sub-groups derives from those in power (namely the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia) , hence their ideology and manhaj is mainly adapted to suit their interests. The apparency of their corruption is manifested through their aggressive positions against particular fundamentals (of Islam) that are perceived threats to those in power.

This is a direly needed advisory and naseehah I pray reaches the ears, minds and hearts of all our beloved Muslim youth so that they be aware and avoid or denounce this devious trap of Shaitan. May Allah guide and protect us all from the various forms of misguidance and keep us firm upon His Obedience and Way. Allahumma ameen ya Rabbil'alameen!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Superior Days

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Inna alhamdulillah! Indeed Allah is praised whether we praise Him or not. Yet humbly we praise Him. We seek His aid; we seek His forgiveness and we seek refuge with Him from the evil within ourselves and from the consequences of our deeds. Whomever Allah guides, none can misguide; and whomever Allah misguides, none can guide. I bare witness before all that there is no god, no diety, no object, no personality, no entity worthy of worship except Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And I bare witness before all that the slave and final Messenger of Allah; the best of men, the most pious of men; the best example, influence, model, methodology and pattern for humanity to follow; the one whom Allah sent as a Mercy to the whole of creation (rahmatul lil 'alameen) is none other than Muhammad ibn Abdullah salallahu 'alayhi wa alihi wa salaam. Amma ba'd.

Brothers and sisters in Islam, as Believers, we are most privilaged and honored by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to have upon us the first 10 days of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah. As we should know, not all days are created equal. Allah has preferred some days over others and He, azza wa jall, has decreed some days be superior over other days. And it is these 10 days that Allah ultimately preferred and declared for them superiority over all other days. Therefore, the good deeds, amilu salih, are of a worth and value far greater in the Sight of Allah than when the same deeds are performed on any other day of the year.

And so it is strongly preferred that we increase in our good deeds during these 10 days; observing the naf'l (voluntary acts), maintaining an ahklaq, -a behavior and conduct, a control over ourselves, our tounges and our anger- that is complimentary, representative or in accordance to the Sunnah of ar-Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam so that we might be purified, forgiven and compensated in a way Allah, ar-Rahman, never so does during any other day outside these first 10.

Ibn Abbas radiallahu 'anhu narrated that our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said of these 10 days: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." It was asked: "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam replied: "No, not even Jihad fisabillah, except for the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause -and returned with nothing."

Allah azza wa jall magnified the hasanat for the acts of simply pronouncing tasbih (subhan'Allah), takbir (Allahu Akbar), tahleel (la ilaha ill Allah) and tahmeed (alhamdulillah). Abdullah ibn Umar radiallahu 'anhu reported that Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "There are no days greater in the Sight of Allah and in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during them recite much of tahleel, takbir and tahmeed."

Additionally, I doubt there is a more suitable time than on these blessed 10 days to observe az-zuhd and/or al-wara'. What could make us to understand these terms? Zuhd can be considered abstinence from worldly pleasures which distract one from Allah and their Akhirah. Wara' is to avoid certain parts of the halal which you fear may lead you to engage in something haram. Nothing to me describes and clarifies so concisely these terms than the explanation given by Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimullah who said: "Az-Zuhd entails abandoning what does not bring about benefit in the Hereafter. Al-Wara', abandoning a part of the permissible for fear of falling into the impermissible, entails abandoning what you fear of its consequences in the Hereafter." So let us, in'sha'Allahu ta'ala, practice az-zuhd on these passing superior days so we might have the dunya removed from our hearts and placed into our hands where it belongs.

Glory to these days Allah has exalted. Let us honor our Lord and ourselves by honoring these days through the prescribed acts in hopes of attaining honor and Mercy from our Rabb. Let's take special care on the 9th day, the anniversary of which Allah completed His revelation, al-Qur'an, on His Messenger salallahu 'alayhi wa alihi wa salaam. Allah sent down what means:

"This day have I perfected for you your deen (i.e. system or way of life, religion, etc.), completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your deen." -Surah al-Ma'idah ayah 5

After which no wahy of the Qur'an proceeded. The 9th day, Yawm-ul-Arafah, if fasted upon will expiate for the sins of two years. Allahu Akbar!

Glad tidings to those who are embarking Hajj and intend to sacrafice bismillah. May Allah accept from you all, bless you all and your families and increase you always in the good and grant you Jannah al-Firdows. Ameen.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
La ilaha ill Allah, wallahu Akbar wa lillahi hamd!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anatomy of Ikhlas

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa-ashabihi wa salaam tasleman katheera

Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah:

"Say, 'Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrafice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded and I am the first among you of the Muslims.'" -Surah al-An'aam ayat 162-163

"And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, sincere to Him in religion, inclining towards truth and to establish the prayer and to give zakah. That is the correct Deen." -Surah Bayyinah ayah 5

Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjaani rahimullah defined ikhlas as "not seeking any audience for your deeds other than Allah."

We're warned throughout the Qur'an and Sunnah to have sincerity in tawheed of Allah, sincerity in our intentions, sincerity in our tawakkul (placing of trust and reliance) in Allah, sincerity in our worship (i.e. salah, sujood, du'a, siyaam/fasting, Hajj, zakah, sadaqah, tawba, Jihad, recitation of al-Qur'an, etc.) and sincerity in all our actions and words.

Al-Fudayl ibn 'Iyaad rahimullah addressed his students on one occasion about Surah al-Mulk ayah 2 that's interpreted to mean: "He who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in deed." Noting that "It is those deeds which are most correct and most sincere. If a deed is done sincerely, yet is not done correctly, it will not be accepted. And if a deed is done correctly, but not sincerely for Allah, it will not be accepted. It must be done sincerely (for Allah alone) and correctly (in accordance to the Sunnah).


  • Riyaa
  • Sum'ah
  • 'Ujb.

Riyaa is to perform an act of worship to show off to people; seeking their praise or some other vanity.

Sum'ah is to speak good for the sake of people's compliments or praise.

'Ujb is a sitatuation where one becomes impressed with his/her self for the good deeds they've done.

Ibn al-Mubarak rahimullah said: "Perhaps a great deed is belittled by an intention. And perhaps a small deed, by a sincere intention, is made great."

May Allah, Mighty and Exalted is He above having any partner, equal or opponent, make us all among His mukhliseen (sincere slaves) and keep us aware and resistant of those diseases that corrupt our righteous actions and convert them to arguments against us on the Day of Accounting. Ameen.

Ya'qub al-Makfuf (may Allah have Mercy on him) would say: "The sincere one is he who hides his good deeds in the same way that he would hide his bad."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"The Major" Dilemma

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen.

Brothers and sisters in Islam, as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullah. As the smoke circulating the incident at Fort Hood remains in course of clearing, a multitude of concerns and reactions plague the circumstance. Amidst our Ummah, the Ummah of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, the majority we're haste in speaking out and even releasing statements condemning the act carried out by Malik Nidal Hassan. Confessedly, I too, basing the motives of our brother on the initial reports from officers who knew him, presumed he targeted people senselessly over some frustrated, petty personal reasons. But the more that unfolds about our brother, the more I'm convinced his gunfire was for the sake of Allah and in honor and defense of our fellow believers and worshipers of Him overseas.

The corporate journalists, columnists, networks and U.S. officials may manufacture whichever conclusions they please. As for us, those whose fear, hope and love is for Allah azza wa jall, we have the obligation to withhold conviction until analysis has been exhausted and ilm-ul-yaqeen, clear and certain knowledge, has been attained. Our dear brother and esteemed shiekh Anwar al-Awlaki, with unmatched bravery and commitment to al-Haqq, insisted publicly that Hassan did the right thing. On the other hand, I say if Hassan's intentions were as brother Awlaki speculates, and I pray they were, then only in such a case has he indeed done the right thing. Until we can confirm his true motives, and Allah Knows best what they were, I can neither praise nor rebuke the actions of our brother.

In Awlaki's claim that Hassan could no longer bear the contradiction of being Muslim and serving in the same forces assigned to fight his brothers and sisters abroad, I was brought to wonder about the rest of the Muslims serving in the U.S. Military as well. With over 10,000 soldiers who declare there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad 'alayhi wa-salaatu wa-salaam is His final Messenger to be followed until the Last Day, this blatant contradiction and nifaq (hypocrisy) hasn't so much as twinkled in their mind? How do they, over 10,000 professed Muslims, justify their position?

O Muslims, seriously we must contemplate and remind ourselves where our loyalty is set and where our disavowal is applied. We must contemplate and honestly assess ourselves as to where our hearts stand in relationship to al-Wala 'wal-Bara. Is our loyalty and allegiance to Allah and His Messenger, or is it instead pledged to those who plot, spend and fight to disrupt, degrade and extinguish the light of Allah and the guidance of ar-Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam? Na'udu billah!

May Allah purify us of such nifaq and guide this Ummah and its mujahideen. May He give us victory over His enemies and ours. Ameen. May He azza wa jall amplify our resistance against forces of every form that oppose our entitlement to His Pleasure and an eternal abode in Jannah. Allahumma ameen!

Let us contemplate and remember the words of Umar ibn al-Khattab radiallahu 'anhu when he advised the mujahideen during the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah: "We do NOT overpower them with our strength!" Their numbers are greater and their weapons are superior, the only way we're victorious is due to our mindfulness and responsiveness to our duties to Allah. It is when we neglect our duties as Muslims and sin as our enemies sin that Allah, our Lord, humiliates us. Umar radiallahu 'an also warned: "Do not say our enemies our worse than us, so they will not overpower us. Perhaps some people who are worse than the others may overpower the others as the polytheists overpowered the Bani Israel as they involved themselves in disobedience to Allah."

And so we may question why in the first place does Allah allow His disbelievers and enemies a position of wealth and arms to invest in fighting against His Cause? Allah Promises everything they spend will wind a source of grief and utter regret for them and Islam will supersede all other ideological and political systems anyway. But in the meantime we may concern ourselves with "why?" Well, this was framed in fine perspective by the classic mufasir Ibn Kathir rahimullah who said about Surah al-Anfal ayah 36 coupled with its succeeding ayah in summary says to us what means: "We tried you with combatant disbelievers whom we made able to spend from their wealth in fighting you to distinguish between those believers who obey Allah and fight His disbelieving enemies and those (among our Ummah) who disobey Him." As Allah said in Surah al-Anfal ayah 179 what means:

"Allah will not leave the believers in the state they are presently in until He seperates the evil from the good (among them). Nor will Allah disclose to you al-ghayb (the unseen)."

And in ayah 142 of the same Surah our Mighty Rabb says what means:

"Do you think that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet made evident those of you who fight in His Cause and make evident those who are steadfast?"

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala make us among the mu'mineen whose prayer, fighting, spending, sacrifice, living and dieing is for Him alone and who fully and unhesitatingly support, defend and join via spiritual or physical means the fight in His Cause, sincerely for His sake, that we may share in the barakah and glad tidings of the truly righteous and faithful. Ameen thumma ameen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

at-Tafakkur (Contemplation)

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa salaam tasleman katheera.

Dear family in faith, as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Among the galaxy of themes and lessons we discover in al-Kalaamul Rabbil'alameen -the perfect speech of the Lord of the worlds- the Great Qur'an, is the importance of tafakkur; the signs and blessings of those who do it and the signs and detestable consequences of those who don't.

And so what would bring us to understand this word "tafakkur", the root (F-K-R) of which is used no less than 18 times in the Qur'an? It's defined as investing serious thought, careful consideration or analysis of a thing to obtain a clear or better knowledge of it. To employ one's mind and faculty of reason upon something. Let's take for instance the meaning of what Allah says in Surah Ali-'Imran ayat 190-191:

"Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding- Who remember Allah while standing, sitting or lying on their sides and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth, saying: 'Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly or for any idle purpose; Exalted are You above such a thing; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.'"

Also, in Surah ar-Rum ayah 8, Allah ta'ala describes those who are heedless of these clear signs and who care little or none at all contemplate upon them when He says what means:

"Do they not contemplate upon themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for an appointed term. And indeed, many of the people, in the matter of the meeting with their Lord (resurrection and day of judgment), are disbelievers."

Later, He uncovers their destination if they persist and die in such a state in ayah 16:

"...as for those who disbelieved and denied Our ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.) and the meeting of the Hereafter, those will be brought into the punishment to remain."

It is my sincere intention and hope, in'sha'Allah, from here to explain the benefits of tafakkur. How it suits the believer and draws them closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Contemplation and reflection is required in order that both our hearts and minds be present in our salah. As we sin and disobey our Lord, having no shyness before Him nor contemplation over the consequences of our deeds. We may stand in our salah noticing something feels amiss, and this is likely because without tafakkur, without contemplation over our deeds, we cannot truly attain humbleness and humility in front of Allah and consequently repent. Without tafakkur our hearts abandon us in our salah; and it is observed with very weak kushoo (concentration).

Without consistent contemplation we're paying no mind nor are we investing any real care or concern over our deeds, the good and the bad of them. Our late, classic scholar and second generation 'Tabi, al-Hasan al-Basri rahimahullah, said regarding this matter: "Tafakkur is a mirror that shows you your good and bad deeds." And in conversation with Sufyan ibn 'Uyaynah, Imam al-Hasan also stated: "Tafakkur is the key to Mercy. Don't you see how a person contemplates and consequently repents?"

Tafakkur (contemplation) and tawba (repentance) are of the main habits that distinguish the mu'min (true believer) from the fasiq (the one who sins without shame or guilt) and the munafiq (hypocrite). It is through these functions and good deeds besides them that the believer increases in iman, taqwa, ihsan and all the qualities Allah Loves and protects us from the Nar. In a beautiful and very profound hadith our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam explained the inherent qualities of the mu'min in saying:

"There is no believing slave of Allah except that he has a sin that he continually commits, it never leaves him until he leaves this world. Indeed, the believer is created muftannan, tawwaban, nassaa'an -when he is reminded, he remembers."

It is obvious from this statement that no believer among us is pure from disobeying their Lord. But as Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam proceeded to explain, the believer is created muftannan, one who is tried and tested, nassaa'an, forgetful and finally the distinguished qualities of the believer is they are tawwaban -repentent- and when they are reminded, meaning of their purpose, their Akhirah and place with Allah azza wa jall, they remember and refresh their hearts and iman through tawba and devotion. As ar-Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "the one who repents from a sin is like the one who never committed the sin in the first place."

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is why tafakkur is so crucial. If not for contemplation, how then would we recognize, let alone care for our faults, shortcomings and misdeeds? How then could we come to conduct a sincere tawba; begging and crying to Allah for His Mercy and Forgiveness? How then could we have humiliation and humbleness before Him, our Lord, in our salah?

One reminder that should help us to intensify our tafakkur even more, in'sha'Allah, and contemplate heavier and more deeply over our sins comes from Anas ibn Malik radiallahu 'anhu in his comment to one of the Tabi'een :

"I see you committing sins that you consider less weighty than the hair on your head, if we had done the same sins at the time of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam we would have thought we were destroyed."

Ya Muslimeen! If this was the perception of the sahahbi Anas ibn Malik radallahu 'anhu in the case of the Tabi'een whom Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said would be the best generation of Muslims after his own, imagine then what his perception would be in our case? Let us always be among those who contemplate our purpose and place in this world and in the Sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala . Let us always be among those who reflect upon our deeds, repenting when sinful and always being grateful to Allah for everything, known and unknown, and looking forward to our Akhirah. Allahumma ameen!

Our late scholar and Tabi, al-Fudhayl bin 'Iyaad rahimahullah said:

"The speech of the believer is wisdom; his silence is contemplation and his vision is a lesson. If you are like that, then you will never cease being in a state of worship." He followed up in reading the ayah: "wama khalaqtu al-jinna waal-insa illa liya'budun." (I have not created the jinn or mankind except to worship Me.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Full Hijab

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

Verily, Allah is praised whether we praise Him or not, yet humbly we praise Him and could never do justice in doing so to the extent at which He is worthy. We seek His Help, His Forgiveness and we seek refuge with Him from the evil of our ownselves and the consequences of our deeds. Whomever Allah guides, none can misguide and whomever Allah misguides (allows to leave astray because they refuse His guidance and have it all figured it out on their own), none can guide. I bare witness there is no diety, object, personality or entity worthy of worship, veneration, invocation, repentance, surrender and submission except Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And I bare witness that the last and final Messenger of Allah and perfect example to all of humanity until the Last Day is Muhammad ibn Abdullah. May the peace and blessings of Allah eternally be upon him, his family, his companions and all those who follow them in righteousness and piety until the Last Day. Amma ba'ad:

Brothers and sisters in iman, as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullah. When our Lord subhanahu wa ta'ala described the truly faithful, successful believers in Surah an-Nur, He said they are those who say, when a command of Allah reaches them: "sami'na wa ata'na" meaning "we hear and we obey". Not that we hear and we delay. One of the traps of Shaitan to which many of us fall victim is what I touched on and labeled in my Food For Faith blog as the "in'sha'Allah syndrome". It's those time when we know full well we're wrong and our response to our fellow Muslim's naseehah (i.e. reminder, advice, etc.) is "in'sha'Allah, I'll change", "in'sha'Allah, I'll stop this and start that", "in'sha'Allah... in'sha'Allah... in'sha'Allah". This sheisty trap of Shaitan, if we're not careful or protective of our deen enough, will have us saying "in'sha'Allah" until we visit our graves (which could be at ANY moment, brothers and sisters!).

To digress a moment:

The sin we commit in addition to not obeying Allah in some matter, is by saying in'sha'Allah we will start obeying Him as if we know EXACTLY how much time we have before we die to make tawba and do better. This is 'ilm ul ghayb, knowledge of the unseen, for Allah alone knows the measure of our existence. When we say "in'sha'Allah I'll start doing this or that", we're in turn claiming certainty we'll be around to do it when in fact we have no clue. The time to obey Allah in a matter we know He commanded is right away. Not an undetermined amount of days, months or years from now, but right now.

As I come back:

The subject is the "Full Hijab", however, this issue of immediate and consistent compliance applies to all of us, brother and sister, when it concerns the commands of Allah. When He azzawa jall or Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam orders something it is waajib, fard, non-negotiable, obligatory and mandatory. Such as praying, such as growing the beard, such as fasting Ramadan, such as covering the awrah and so on. They are not suggestions from Allah. They are not recommendations or mere allowances from Allah. They are obligations, meaning, Allah is telling us we have NO CHOICE. And so our response, as believers who fear our Lord, should be: "sami'na wa ata'na". When we hear we obey as instant as physically possible; not that we hear and we obey when we feel like it.

Now that I've picked on all of us, so as not to have the sisters feel singled out, what follows is a filmed lecture discoursing the importance, the beauty, the benefits and fruits of observing hijab. It is delivered by our respected brother and shiekh, Salem al-Amry. Brothers I encourage to watch as well as there is indeed benefit in it for us as much as there is for our sisters. Also, brother al-Amry's female impersonations are timeless! LOL. Enjoy, absorb and apply, in'sha'Allah:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farewell, Old Friend

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

All praise is unquestionably for Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, beyond having any partner, equal or opponent. The One solely worthy of worship and to whom all existing things beside Him are subject and to Whom all of humanity and jinn are penitent. May the peace and blessings of Allah eternally be upon Adam, Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Muhammad and all the prophets and messengers of Allah and those who follow them in righteousness until the Last Day.

As remarkably refreshing and reviving as Ramadan is, it isn't terribly easy bidding our old friend a fond farewell. And so a couple days ago, a couple hours after Fajr, Muslims on every corner of the earth gathered facing the same general direction towards the world's most sacred structure, repeating the takbeerat after our imam to offer Salat-ul-'Eid. Before which the faithful among us chanted: "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilaha ill Allah wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahi hamd!" Ya ikhwatun, brothers and sisers in Islam, I congradulate you all in saying: "Eid mubarak taqabal Allahu mina wa minkum!"

Though I, and in'sha'Allah ta'ala all of us had a beautiful, in fact, the most memorable 'Eid yet. Making sure everyone got their fill and making sure everyone, especially the children, experienced nothing short of exceptional happiness. We reflect and hope earnestly our efforts and strife, our sincere remembrance, servitude, siyam, qiyaam, sadaqah and du'as were accepted that we may be purified and elevated in taqwa. Still it concerned me that the days ahead would be similar minus the spirit of Ramadan and added the persuasion of the Shayateen. I ask that Allah preserve and increase for us the taqwa we attained throughout Ramadan and empower our resistance against our very own nafs and the insidious ways of Shaitan who now after 30 days has been unleashed. May we remain the Muslims we were during Ramadan, ever-improving from this point and neither regressing or deviating. Ameen thumma ameen.

I encourage and remind us all that we proceed continuously prusuing the pleasure of Allah jalla jalalahu; seeking and advancing in 'ilm to counter jahiliyah and shubahat (doubts) and raising in taqwa to counter shawawat (desires). Wallahi, we would be nearly as great as the 'ajr and nasr Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala would bestow upon us.

"Surely, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves." -Surah ar-Rad ayah 11

Thanks, Ramadan for the humbleness, gratitude, tears, the soar legs from standing at night in taraweeh and qiyaam listening to the best of speech, al-Qur'an; thanks for the tender heart, the sabr (patience), the naseehah and overall... THANKS FOR THE TAQWA! May Allah azza wa jall accept from us. Ameen. I invite as well do I encourage all serious Muslims to join me, if you haven't already, in fasting these next 6 days of Shawwal. As our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa 'ala alihi wa salaam told us of the one who does so will be considered as though they fasted the whole year to Allah ta'ala, hence will they be rewarded accordingly. It's not quite as easy as fasting in Ramadan (believe our avowed enemy has something to do with that), but it's worth it to make as a witness in Akhirah.

Farewell, ya Ramadan! Ya Muslimeen, ya Mu'mineen, ya Muttaqeen, ya Mukhliseen, ya Muhsineen... KEEP UP THE GOOD WORKS! And please, please and please keep me in your du'as as you all shall remain in mine, in'sha'Allahu ta'ala.

Fi aman'Allah wa-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Welcoming A Friend

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

Indeed all praise and gratitude is for Allah azza wa jall and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger, Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. Brothers and sisters in Islam, underway is what our beloved Messenger salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam addressed as an "old friend". This dear, special friend is indeed the month of Ramadan. A month very beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. A month which Allah explains in Surah al-Baqarah that He first revealed al-Qur'anul 'Adeem (the Great Qur'an). A month which comes with it immense blessings and leaves with it purity and salvation for our Lord to grant the sincere companion of this beautiful month.

Ramadan is a mirror. A month at which we can truly examine and become acquainted with our true "colors". The unadulterated essence of a human being is exposed during this blessed month. Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "When the month of Ramadan begins, the gates of Jennah are opened, the gates of al-Jahim (the Fire) are closed and the Shayateen (rebellious devils) are chained." So when the Malaekah (angels) heed Allah's command to restrain the devils and restrict them from interfering with us humans, no whispering or influence from them whatsoever, what excuse do we have to engage in haraam or the slightest disobedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala during these holy days? Backbiting, lieing, impoliteness, impatience, aggression, etc. Every deed and every thought will strictly be from our own selves. In preparation of this blessed month, a month that offers salvation like no other, wise would the beleiver be to purify and perfect their manners and behavior to reflect that of the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said:

"Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah azza wa jall has no need that they should abandon food and drink. It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from their fast."

All the qualities we beg from Allah: strong iman, strong taqwa, strong sabr, better ihsan and so forth are practically handouts on these days. As good hosts of this beloved visitor, fasting purely for the pleasure of Allah, we excel our taqwa and entitle ourselves to the immense rewards of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Most notably, salvation. Allah says what means:

"O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed to you as it has been prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa." -Surah al-Baqarah ayah 183

Additionally, Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven."

The challenge is that once our friend, our special guest, Ramadan, departs that we hold tight to the refined qualities we attained (i.e. taqwa, iman, sabr, ikhlas, etc.) even as the devils are set loose and these qualities become like hot coals.

It is no wonder why the Sahabah radiallahu anhum would embrace this friend upon arrival and cry upon its departure. Spending 6 months preparing their homes, manners and habits for this dear friend and when this friend finally came they would welcome it with the utmost sincerity and warmth. During it's stay they'd treat it with the utmost respect, acknowledging and servicing all its rights upon them. To them, whether winter or summer, the visit of Ramadan was always short. So when it left, they would weep. They would literally cry and concern themselves over whether they did enough for this friend. When we reflect upon this and compare our situations, we should humble ourselves. It should make us feel ashamed.

In'sha'Allah, in the spirit and example of Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam and his sahabah radiallahu anhum, let us prepare ourselves for this blessed month. Allah has not legislated or commanded us to do anything for the sake of its being easy or difficult, rather He azza wa jall has done so for the sake of their being for our good. Our Lord hasn't prescribed us anything and His Messenger salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam has not ordered or advised us anything except that it is best and most beneficial to us. With this in mind, let us strive during this blessed month, observing all those things Allah Loves and rewards and removing ourselves from those things Allah Hates, bi'idnillah.

Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "Ramadan is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from the Fire." So let us prepare our intentions, our thoughts, our habits... our entire life and everything in it of which we have control for this very special friend who is well around the corner.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hold Tight

"Hold tight to the Rope of Allah (His covenant that is our allegiance to "la ilaha ill Allah Muhammad ar-Rasulullah"), all together and be not disunited among yourselves..." -Surah Ali-Imran ayah 103

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen

Inna walhamdulillah! Indeed all praise rightfully and naturally goes to Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; the Creator, Cherisher, Sustainer and Evolver of the heavens and the earth and all they contain. Our Lord who created us on these testing grounds to determine who among us is best in piety and conduct. For even the most presumably righteous in conduct means nothing if not done for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala; for the love of Him, in fear of His punishment and in hope of His Mercy and Reward.

If otherwise enacted only for the sake of attention, reputation or to earn the pleasure of the people is insignificant in the all-encompassing Sight of Allah who is Al-Kabeer. Even if that good is done simply on the basis that it's something good is a wasted deed. Of no value is any good act if not performed in knowing this is something Allah ta'ala tells us is good and knowing it is something He, azza wa jall, is indeed pleased with. The reward from Allah is not by righteous deeds alone, the formula throughout the Qur'an is always 'those who believe and do righteous deeds'. Allah ta'ala says what means:

"And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer -those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged even as much as a speck on a date seed. And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth?" -Surah an-Nisa' ayat 124-125

Allah, our Rabb, Glorified and Exalted is He, Al-Qayyum (the Self-Sufficient), Who is above having a son, partner, comparison, equal or opponent, from His Mercy tries us all according to the strength of our religion. As such there hasn't been any nor will there ever be any who is tested to the degree of the anbiya (Prophets). Taqwa is our key to responding correctly to the trials of this life and gaining success here and salvation in Akhirah. Taqwa, literally a shield protecting one against the displeasure and wrath of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, is aquired not merely through having iman (faith), but in constantly struggling to increase it. It's acquired not merely through seeking and gaining 'ilm, but in striving to properly implement it. And there is no better way... better yet, there is NO OTHER WAY to attain, nuture and guard these qualities than by sticking to the Sunnah of our beloved and noble Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. It's just as he, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, has commanded us:

"Hold tight and cling on to my Sunnah with your molar teeth and keep far away from newly invented matters in the deen..."

With true taqwa one easily abandons and abstains from sins and works diligent to even avoid suspicious matters and matters, like the footsteps of Shaitan, that are most likely to lead the individual to sin or altogether astray. Iman and 'ilm are dependent upon one another, but each must constantly be elevated. Thus faith withers away if the knowledge Allah ta'ala granted you is not implemented. The true religion, ad-Deen ul-Haqq, Deen ul-Islam, is not a hobby, rather it is a full time commitment. Just as the Sahabah were strong in ibadat, strong in seeking knowledge, strong against the enemies of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, strong in their religion, this deen of Islam... we too, as Muslims, must be strong and commited sincerely and wholeheartedly with every limb of our jasad (body) and every portion of our ruh (soul) while Allah grants us, the mature and sane, with such an opportunity. It is impossible and foolish to think we will die in a state of al-Islam if without a full time commitment to al-Islam. How can we assure a death in a state of "la ilaha ill Allah" if we don't even live in a state of "la ilaha ill Allah"? The correct belief is cursed if the actions are not correct. And the correct actions are meaningless if the belief is incorrect. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"Ya ayyuha al-ladhina amaanu attaqu Allaha haqqa taqatihi wa la tamootuna illa wa 'antum Muslimoon." (O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam) -Surah Ali-Imran ayah 102

Our aqeedah, our methodology; our iman, our ways; our belief and practice must be in accordance to the same understanding and example of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, the Sahabah radiallahu 'anhum and as-Salaf us-Salih (the pious predecessors) rahimutuallah. This is the methodology or path of those whom Allah says He favors and is pleased with in Surah al-Fatihah that the mukhallaf (morally responsible) recites, at minimum, 17 times a day. This righteous and victorious path is that of Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah, the path of which we call to Allah that He keep us firmly upon when we say: "sirataal ladhina anamta 'alayhim!"

To learn, stick close and be persistent upon such a path truly is a struggle, but it's a struggle fisabillah (for the Cause of Allah). When living in the core, the belly and epicenter of a dunya-oriented society and the symptoms manifested and overflowing from such a corrupt and deluded orientation, without a solid foundation to support our iman, it can quickly be swept away. Our goal is to return to our Rabb happily. Among the many names Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has given the Last Day is Yawm ul-Hasra, the Day of Regret. So let us be among those who regret having not doing more and not of those who regret having never doing anything at all. O Allah remind us to remember You at times of weakness and vulnerability. May we as Believers love each other and advise each other in righteousness and stand firmly against all forces and matters oppossing our unity, our allegiance to "la ilaha ill Allah" and our path to Jennah al-Firdous. Ameen.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Worth of Time

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulillah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen. Alhamdulillahi-ladhee wa ja'alana minal Muslimeen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam; those of us Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala blessed to have embraced and to strive upon the same guidance sent down to all His prophets and messengers ending with Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. I first say unto you all, as-salaamu 'alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu. Second, I challenge us all that we dare ponder just how it is we treat this more-crucial-than-we-know blessing and opportunity Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has granted us. Do we pay any mind to the nature of our intentions and the consequences they accrue? Before diving into any impulse do we think to ourselves: "Will this please Allah? Is this worth the time He's granted me? What am I gaining? What am I sacrificing?" Do we worry whether Alalh is or will be pleased with us for our actions before they are initiated? Are we truthfully and sincerely remembering Allah, our Lord, and are we truthfully and sincerely remembering al-Akhirah with every step Allah ta'ala permits us to take?

Or is it that we are playing games with our time Allah ta'ala has permitted? Playing games with our life Allah ta'ala has decreed? Do we spend more of our time engaged in idle talk, unbeneficial, frivolous activities, nodding our heads and swaying our bodies to music and other tools of the clever, thoroughly-experienced and accursed Shaytan, our avowed enemy, uses to distract man from Allah and Last Day? Ya ikhwatun, brothers and sisters in iman, this is the time to soften our hearts, no harden them. This is the time to strengthen our Deen, not compromise it. Do we spend more time wasting time than we do striving in making the maximum benefit out of every passing minute?

When our beloved Rasulillah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "every heart has a passing cloud", he (salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam) was referring to the ever-fluctuating state of iman Allah tries those who say: "we believe." One day the heart of the believer may gleam with iman like the full moon in a clear night's sky and the next day the same heart have its light of iman dulled like the moon veiled behind a passing cloud. The reason our iman reduces; the reason its light is dimmed is due to our own shortcomings, our sins... our turning away from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. The only thing to restore and intensify this poor state of iman is obedience to our Rabb; righteous deeds and dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah). This time Allah has permitted us is not to be wasted. Are our hearts trained to find rest and cure in listening to the mellifluous recitation of the Qur'an and praising Allah or are they trained to find satisfaction and relief in hearing music, singing voices, playing video games or some fruitless other that neither pleases or draws us closer to our Lord? If the latter is true, brothers and sisters, we have work to do.

In Surah al-'Asr, the very Surah it is mustahaab (highly recommended) we recite to one another before departing, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala swears by the time (as only He can rightfully use anything in His creation to be His witness; believers may swear only by Him alone) that every single one of us, all of mankind, believer or not, is at LOSS! And when He azza wa jall says "illa" (except), He azza wa jall mentioned four qualities: "iman, righteous deeds, exhorting one another to truth and exhorting one another to patience." Iman is not sufficient. We must nourish and excel our iman (by seeking out knowledge; ilm 'ul Islam) implement, share it and be patient in the face of not only adversity, but ease. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, Rabbil'alameen, make us among those who strive to perfect these qualities in hopes for His rewards. Ameen.

Let us look again at what Allah chose of al-'alameen to swear by that we're at loss except by the conditions He specifies. Of everything He created He chose to swear by the time. Because with time do we endure fulfillment and hardship. With time do we endure health and illness. With time do we enjoy strength and confidence just before we suffer in weakness and uncertainty. With time do we raise in faith and do we shrink in faith. And what is time besides our life itself? All this life, this transition in dunya, all it is, is merely time Allah has given us to prove our piety and conduct deserving of the eternal bliss He is eager to give us. This life, this time, like all the obligatory acts of the mu'min, the believer (i.e. salah, swam, zakat, etc.), is NOT the goal, it is THE MEANS. May all our brothers and sisters who've been deluded to have made this dunya their goal, those whom Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala calls worse than animals in the Qur'an, awaken and detach themselves from this pathetic state and strive for the pleasure of their Rabb. Life is ephemeral. A blindingly quick transition. For those who make this world their goal, in most cases, time is money. For the Believer, time is life. we waste one, we waste the other. May Allah azza wa jall grant us the tawfeeq to use our time wisely and productively in hope of His Pleasure and fear of His Displeasure. May we not be counted among those who used their time, this life, recklessly. Mindless and heedless of Him. Ameen.

O Muslim, we are the Ummah of Iqarah! None has pondered, dissected, anatomized and expounded upon every science known to man the way our forefathers have. No nation has exhibited the level of passion and ambition for discovering, analyzing and learning matched to that of our Islamic forefathers. Civilizations all around the world flocked and gathered at our circles, institutions and universities to satiate their yearn for knowledge. Where has this spirit gone? Subhan'Allah, it has withered to death among our Ummah and desperately needs to be revived. The scholarly endeavors and achievements of our forefathers, from the Tabi'een to the 8th century and onward, we're manifold and usual. Surely, they recognized the value of time and did not waste it. They were focused heavily on paving the way for their children and the succeeding generation of the Ummah. This should as well be our aim. Not this living for the moment, living for the deceptive, temporal pleasures of this dunya, kuffar lifestyle most of us have adopted. we are still on the clock, brothers and sisters, come... we have serious work at hand. Serious.

"Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the Truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient." -Surah al-Hadeed ayah 16

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who Is Allah?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

All praise naturally and rightfully belongs to the One who Created whose most beautiful name is Allah; the Lord, Cherisher, Sustainer and Evolvler of all worlds and existing things. As such we praise Him and attribute every occurrence or condition as coming from Him or allowed by His Leave. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad, Jesus Christ the Son of Mary, Moses, Abraham and all the prophets and messengers and the followers of what was revealed to them until the Last Day.

During the second week of February was held the annual Islamic Awareness Week in London. Brother Jalal ibn Sa'eed presented an incredible talk, ma'sha'Allah ta'ala, expounding the topic "Who Is Allah?" For the Muslim, it's a back to basics moment, an always refreshing and iman-boosting experience. For the non-Muslim, it's utterly enlightening.

Some of what is explained in Jalal's talk is how the name "Allah" itself is alone a miracle; one which could not have possibly been conceived by man (and he explains why), the evidence of Allah through His creations, the importance of understanding His Names and Attributes and late in the talk he discourses in very simple and easy-to-grasp terms the science of al-qadr wal qadar (predestination) and al-Lauh al-Mahfuz (the preserved tablet) and the proper means of understanding these articles. Enjoy and benefit, in'sha'Allah:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Can't Lose

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaam 'ala Rasulillah
wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen

Alhamdulillahi-ladhee ja'alana minal Muslimeen!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam... as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

Can it be I'm drawing a daft impression in thinking many of us, as Muslims, often forget or lose touch with the substantive fact Islam is a complete system of life designed to make us succeed at the uttermost in every aspect and circumstance with which we're confronted in life wherever in the world we may be? Commitment to this system from Allah, Rabbee wa Rabbukum (my Lord and your Lord), entitles us to His Love and promises us success.

*As we know a promise from Allahu ta'ala is a guarantee*

A life of complete worship and servitude to Allah -remembering Him before initiating any act (i.e. eating, sleeping, studying, leaving home, sitting, etc.) and praising and expressing gratitude to Allah upon completing every act and task. Islam is our shield and fortress against worry, grief, depression, stress and anxiety. We lose touch or haven't attained any real yaqeen (absolute certainty) of this in the first place and become easily agitated; consequently our hearts curdle and iman declines. La samaha'Allah any of us should be paralyzed in this state. Ya Muslim! Know and be persistent in acting upon it that such a life (of complete worship and servitude to our Rabb) ensures us success in this life and salvation in the Hereafter.

Islam grants us the perpetual consciousness that, in dunya, the only thing in our hands are our choices, NOT the results. Our response to each result determines whether we earn Allah's Love and Mercy or His Hate and Wrath. Time eventually heals all, but Islam stimulates our fitrah and extends to us the wisdom to be patient and mindful at the very instant calamity strikes. A unique but eminent condition of those with true iman and yaqeen in Allah and the Last Day; those with ikhlas (sincerity) and walaa (loyalty) to His Decree (i.e. Qur'an, Shari'ah, Sunnah). Our prophet and Allah's final messenger to the world, Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said:

"How remarkable is the case of the believer! There is good for them in EVERYTHING, but this is NOT the case for anyone except for the believer! When the believer receives any good, they are thankful to Allah and earn a reward; when some adversity befalls them, they endure it patiently, for which they are also rewarded."

We are tested and met with fitnah in dunya that we might be purified in dunya, as opposed to being so in Jahanam. Na'udu billah! Just as we are tested for any promotion in this life (i.e. career, adulthood, parenthood, etc.), we are tested for promotions or our status to be elevated in Jennah (and both are directly linked). As Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told us:
"dunya is a prison for the believer." If we are not imprisoned in dunya, meaning restrict ourselves from evil, it's proponents and gateways, we will instead be imprisoned in Akhirah. Again, na'udu billah! Allah is Al Wadud, The Loving, who rather us (as we should rather ourselves) to be purified in this transitory life that we might enjoy an unfathomably blissful eternity.

So whether met with prosperity or calamity in this world, it's
always a win-win situation for those with true iman, yaqeen and walaa in Allah and His Decree (i.e. Word, Shari'ah, Sunnah).

Through proper observance of the law of Love as it concerns the principle of al 'Wala wal 'Bara, we understand that what Allah Loves takes precedence over our personal attachments, lures, likes and desires. Just as we would foolishly do anything for someone we love (or trying to impress) unmindful of what others may think or say, we should unhesitantly do for the sake and love of Allah azza wa jall without care or regard of what others may perceive of us.

What most commonly cost many of us success in this life and salvation in Akhirah is being weak and relaxed in what is obligated upon every Muslim after seeking knowledge... jihad an-nafs or the struggle against one's own ego and selfish desires that would have one transgress against oneself and obedience to Allahu ta'ala. By failing or being inconsistent in this endevour we distance our hearts further from Allah all while Shaitan convinces us the same desires and acts have no such effect. Hence, if we are weak in jihad an-nafs (disciplining our souls), we are weak in jihad ash-Shaitan; subsequently opening the door for much transgression, negligence, hypocrisy and/or vulnerability to misguidance and bid'ah. It is paramount for our success and salvation that we strive for the sake of Allah even and especially when it is against our own nafs.

I'm compelled to as well note that as integral as jihad an-nafs wa jihad ash-Shaitan are with regards to the individual. The highest mode of jihad obligated upon the community and excused of others only after a sufficient number have committed to its cause (and those physically unable) is the pre-emptive and defensive jihad against the enemies of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala who seek and act to oppress and slaughter Muslims, deny the right of self-determination and/or expel them from their lands. Doing so because they'd like nothing more than to see ad-Deen ul-Allah extinguished that their brand of religion/politics may prevail. Allahu ta'ala said what means:

"They desire to extinguish Allah's Light with their mouths, and Allah will not consent except to perfect His Light, though the disbelievers (kuffar) are adverse. He it is Who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of Truth that He may cause it to prevail over all religions and ways of life, though the mushrikeen (those who worship, serve, obey or fear other than Allah) are adverse." -Surah al-Tawba ayat 32-33

The Deen, Promise and Plan of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala cannot be defeated, frustrated or avoided. Add this to the long list of reasons why those with true iman, yaqeen and walaa to Allah and the Last Day can't lose.

Disturbingly enough there is a popular tradition cited by many Muslim apologists active in interfaith circles and by those associated or involved in Sufism about the "lesser jihad" being war against hostile forces among the kaffir'un and the "greater jihad" being purification of the soul (jihad an-nafs). Sadly either they are unaware or dismissive of the fact this hadith is maudu' or fabricated, void of any isnad (unbroken chain of narrators leading from the very lips of the Prophet 'alayhi wa-salaatu wa-salaam). It's used, like the myriad of other contrived and anomalous views, to present Islam as a fashionably kumbaya, naively passive or otherwise wishy-washy and dare I say pansy religion. A degraded, warped version of Islam best favored and promoted by our "pals" at the RAND Coporation and the Muslims who align themselves with them and/or their goals. Just a reminder that in sticking to al-Qur'an was-Sunnah we can't be lead astray and... we can't lose.

The most noble of sciences is ilm-ul-Islam (knowledge of Islam) and the most noble of acts is the application of the knowledge of al-Islam. For every bit of knowledge of Allah's beautiful Deen gone unapplied and unimplemented is but cursed knowledge; -knowledge that will serve as witness against us on yawm'ul Qiyamah. The believer has no option except to win by wala to Allah and the totality of His Deen and bara (disavowal) to all opposing and contradictive elements of Allah and His Decree.

By constantly being engaged in dhikr through learning and reciting the appropriate dua's before and after every action and condition. By turning to the naf'l or voluntary acts as much as possible. By crying out and seeking His Mercy and direction when in distress:

Bismillah al-ladhi la ilaha ghayrahu al-Rahman al-Raheem
Allahumma adhhab 'anni al-hamm wal huzn
(In the Name of Allah whom there is no god beside Him, The Merciful, The Compassionate. O Allah! Remove all worries and anxiety!)

By admitting our mistakes and sins and seeking His Forgiveness for the things we know and those we've forgotten before calling it a night. Wallahi we can't lose no matter what good comes to us and no matter what adversity or challenge should befall us.

Allahumma musarriful qulub sarrif qulubana 'ala Ta'atik
(O Allah! Controller of hearts, direct our hearts to be firm and steadfast to Your Obedience.)

I ask Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala continually increase us all in taqwa that we will be guided to His Mercy and gaurded from His Wrath. Ameen ya Rabb. Any truth I've produced is good and is from Allah, may we take and benefit from it. Any mistakes are my own, may Allah protect us from them and there potential misguidance. Ameen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's About Time

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Shall we allow ourselves to pause a second (for what that very second is worth) and ponder our witnessing of the astonishing yet worrisome rate at which time elapses these days?

As the axiom goes, time flies when you're having fun and especially establishes lift off and soars when you're busy. As a recovering procastinator, what's become of vital importance in my life are prioritization and sacrafice. Marshalling priorities and putting off activities (or desires), even the useful and benefitting ones, to either tend or manage something of greater importance (the tafsir on Surah at-Takathur comes to mind) is for me much simpler stated than executed. I'm working on it whilst beseeching the guidance of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. It's a principle that sort of ties admist Balance and Control somewhere.

Still, what absolutely stupifies me is how in this technological age of literal overnight conventional inventions and developments designed to assist or perform tasks in less time; our computers, microwave ovens, printers, automated factories and cellular phones complete with calenders, organizers, calculators, instant text messaging, Web-access, etc., we lack the time to accomplish even a tenth of what we should or atleast aspire to have done before the day dissovles.

Centuries before any of these nifty tools, vehicles and automated assistants were at the disposal of man, they traveled far and wide and managed to get more done in the same 24-hour frame we've available today. And because the means at which to accomplish tasks- building homes, travel, hunting, commerce, etc. were so manual and raw, there was no need for gyms, aerobics, jogging in the mornings, tredmills, etc. Such a concept would be laughable in those times. And though they had fuller plates, much more irons in the fire and a whole lot more fish to fry compared to today, they got it done. So what is it about us and our era that we feel like there isn't enough time?

It reminded me of one of the sign relayed to us by our Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salaam, as reported by Anas radiallahu anhu:

"The Day of Judgement will not come until time shrinks; the year will be like a month, the month like a week, a week like a day and day will be like burning a leaf." (Tirmidhi)

One of the most fantastic explanations of this hadith I heard was from Imam Anwar al-Awlaki from his "The Hereafter" series wherein he gave the example of Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimallah) who authored an entire book of Aqeedah (over 200 pages) between Dhuhr time and just before the start of 'Asr (anywhere from 3 up to 3 1/2 hours) and this very book is now taught over a full semester at the Univesity of Medina where students complain that it just isn't enough time to cover this text. Subhan'Allah!

As time hastens, may our blessed Ummah, the Ummah of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, be more productive in gaining the good in this dunya as well as the Akhirah. May our Rabb, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala be our destination and the Sunnah of our Rasul, Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, be our roadmap. Ameen thumma ameen! We should acknowledge that there isn't nor has there ever been a single nation or individual except that it will, on different levels, experience the delight of success as well as suffer the shame of decline (Allah ta'ala promises this). May we be patient and obedient in both trials. Ameen.

"(I Swear) By Time,
Indeed, man is in loss,
Except those who believe and do righteous deeds
and advise each other to Truth
and advise each other in patience."
-Surah al-'Asr

Shari'ah: Panacea or Barbarism?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A factor that needs to be noted in all such issues, including questions about the prescribed punishments under Islamic law is that there are very few matters (if any) in our lives that are entirely beneficial and without some harm, or that have complete harm without some benefit.

Everything contains harms and benefits to a greater or lesser degree. Take khamr, or intoxicating substances for example. Even though the Prophet (saws) referred to it as the mother of evils, the Qur’an still recognises that it contains some benefit, but the harm is much greater than the benefit and this is sufficient cause for us to have to leave it completely alone. The fact that something has a small benefit does not justify it, because the harm that results is greater. Similarly something may have some harm, but the benefit is much greater, it cannot be prohibited because of that small degree of harm. If we always followed the rule avoiding that which has greater harm and procuring that which has more benefit, human life and societies would gravitate towards goodness. If we ignore this principle then harm will inevitably dominate our condition and destroy our societies.

It is the goal of the Islamic law (Sharia) that benefit dominates over harm. Of course there is always a possibility of dispute over what actually constitutes harm and benefit. Is it purely material, or does it include psychological and spiritual matters also. In fact we need to take all this into account.

This inevitably brings us back to an essential matter. Who and what determines that which actually constitutes harm and benefit? Human nature is so complex and the interaction and interplay of factors so vast that it is often beyond the capabilities of the limited human mind to factor all this in. This is why we believe we need Allah’s guidance from His perfect and complete knowledge. It is only Allah that has the knowledge and vision to comprehend the complexities of our individual and collective lives and thus to provide us with answers and instruction in how to best order it.

We only need to look at Western society to see examples of how miserably humans have failed to find answers to even relatively simple and essential matters, and how it has so completely left the mark!

One example that comes to mind is the daily function of how one goes about going to the toilet. Muslims are well aware that our religion instructed us 1400 years ago about how to clean ourselves with water after answering the call of nature; the ritual ablutions before the five daily prayers, and that cleanliness is half of faith. This was long before science had discovered about germs. This is why Muslim societies in the middle ages did not suffer from many of the diseases and plagues that decimated the West. In fact despite the understanding that modern science has brought, people in the West have failed by and large to translate this knowledge into daily manners and habits! There is still not water to wash ones privates in public lavatories (although some private houses have bidets). As for the men’s urinal where ones is supposed to urinate against a wall, causing urine to splash back over ones clothes and body, enough said about taking a shower in our own urine! Many people still do not wash their hands afterwards!

If the secular societies have failed to get such simple matters right, can it be expected that they will succeed in the matter of more complex ones that govern society?

We often hear complaints about the brutal punishments in Islam, like the removing of the hand for the thief. No doubt, to those of us living in the west such a punishment does seem harsh, but what is the alternative that so called “humane” and secular societies offer?

A man is caught stealing and is sent to prison. Let’s leave aside exactly how horrific prison itself is, and much it costs the hard working, honest citizen to pay for these prisons that do what exactly? There the thief meets other thieves, also kidnappers, murders, rapists…and they meet and talk about what? I’ve been so bad and won’t do it again? No, they share information. They teach each other how to be better thieves, murders, rapists and paedophiles and when the time comes for their release they are now equipped with knowledge they never had before. They are thinking that they will steal again, do it better next time and not get caught.

Is the criminal prevented from committing more crime? It seems not. 80% re-offend.

Is society protected from these criminals? It seems not. Crime increases.

One may criticize Islam, but what does the alternative offer?

Allah has laid out for us a society the very paradigms of which are radically different to those of the secular “consumer” societies. Whilst these advocate and propagate through constant advertisement that success and happiness is through procuring worldly goods Islam guides us to the path of spiritual happiness and contentment. Of course, it is not that Western society is blind to the need for morals and ethics, nor is an Islamic society blind to the need for material well being and prosperity, but where is the emphasis and what is the goal? Does it make a difference? Of course, it makes a vast difference. In societies where material possessions are seen as the means to happiness people will do what ever they can to acquire those material possessions, even if it requires stealing or killing. Perhaps that is why we feel so uncomfortable with harsh punishments because most of us ourselves in such societies empathise with this “need to acquire”. An Islamic society does not in general empathise with the thief at all. Excellence is in leading a simple life of contentment and obedience to God, so that in this context the crime is almost inexcusable, unless driven by starvation or some desperate need, which in any case can be reasons for the crime to be excuse and the punishment lifted.

These combined are perhaps the reasons why societies that follow the Islamic ethic and implement the Islamic law tend to be largely free and safe from such crimes. There are numerous witnesses, for example, of jewellery shops in Muslim countries being left open and unattended whilst the shop keepers go for prayers and come back to find all still in place.

Islamic law prevents the thief from stealing and protects society from the thief.

All of this, it must be noted, is in the context of the ethic under which the whole society operates and law is just, fair and effective.

The case of adultery.

All this applies also to the matter of stoning the adulterer and adulteress to death.

Islam has placed great emphasis on protecting and safeguarding the family. It is in fact the structure on which the well being of society rests.

There is also great emphasis laid on a public display of morality. It is a normal tendency in human societies to justify our actions in the context of how others behave and consider those actions. Islam goes some way to remove this tendency by insisting that deeds should be done to please God, not others. Still, when evil and sins begin to be practiced openly then people imagine that this act is not really that bad and detrimental, because after all, others are doing it. As a result the crime becomes more widespread and a vicious and rapid vortex of moral decline occurs with the ultimate disintegration of society. Islam forbids spying and seeking out of faults, but when sins are committed openly it contains three wrongs: a crime against the self (for that is what sins are, matters that harm the person who commits them) and affront to the law and thus the Law-Maker, and an affront to the good ordering of society. Such crimes thus need suitable and effective punishments that act as a sever warning to others. A public crime deserves a public punishment.

Adultery is punishable by death, and a slow and painful death by stoning. It is indicative of just how harmful this crime is to society. This is more so because in order for the crime to be proven the adulterers need seen performing the act by four reliable witnesses!

Let us also bear in mind that Muslims societies take every precaution to avoid the means that can lead to adultery. Public nudity is forbidden. In fact a strict dress code is observed. This is part of the wisdom behind the hijab. It is an act of social responsibility that helps towards a harmonious society. Also free mixing between sexes is avoided, men and women should not have physical contact and men and women should not even be alone together (unless they are husband and wife, or from close relatives who are permanently forbidden in marriage). Again in this context adultery is inexcusable, and justly punished with severity.

There is another direction from which the wisdom of such a punishment can be understood, and that is the death of two criminals can prevent the death and agony of many innocents. There is no doubt that adultery has caused many a jilted partner to kill not only the partner but in some instances the children as well. This is the harm that we can measure and see. It is more than likely that the psychological effects on the jilted partner, the children and their families is extensive, and can lead to behavioural problems that ultimately effect the well being of the whole society! The “harm” of the punishment for adultery is offset by the need of the “benefit” and protects the wider society. All of this also goes some way to help understand way acts of homosexuality are simlarily treated so harshly.

Ultimately one should not accept or reject Islam in general or in fact any specific part of it because it happens to agree or disagree with the norms of ones cultural heritage. Ethics and law and punishments are ultimately not things that we can easily take objective measurements of. A punishment that may seem overly harsh in one culture will look unnecessarily tame in another. It makes no sense therefore to make this the criterion for critique. Perhaps the closest we can come in this regard is to see: "Does it work or not?" Islam as a system of governance has an excellent track record in that regard. Not only has it a 1400 years track record, but it has and still is being successfully used by a multitude of peoples and cultures across the globe. Something I think few systems of governance can come close to matching.