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Muslim seeking the pleasure and mercy of Allah, Most High... Sunnah style!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وآله as the Warrior

Bismillah wa inna alhamdulillahi wahadu wa salallahu wa salaamu 'ala Rasulullah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa 'ala man'itiba huda. Amma ba'd...

With sincere compassion do I advise an attentive ear and heart be lent to this profound and emotionally climactic lecture discoursing one of the most noble roles and characteristics of our beloved Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, as a warrior. Learn how from the moment of his conception in the womb he was being prepared for his role as a warrior by the Lord of all worlds. Learn how and why the Salaf as-Salih rahmatullah 'alayhim studied the battles of the Prophet 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam as they would the Qur'an itself. Witness the bravery and determination our Prophet 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam externalized in his battles; maintaining justice and equity throughout his life against his enemies!

Only in the most intense, crucial and trying of moments do the colors of one's character truly take center stage. It is for this reason we marvel at the illustrious character of our beloved Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam at the time of battle and hardship. As al-Fudayl ibn Iyaad rahimahullah said: "As long as people are doing fine, their true nature is concealed, but once calamity strikes, their true natures are revealed. So the believer resorts to his faith and the hypocrite resorts to his hypocrisy."

Compellingly, a non-Muslim and French poet, writer and politician attested to this unparalleled aspect of our Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam quite nobly in his "Historie de al Turquie'":

"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, WHO COULD DARE COMPARE ANY GREAT MAN IN HISTORY WITH MUHAMMAD?

The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in 1/3rd of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.

Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs... The founder of 20 terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?"

Finally, the lecture which follows expounding on this tremendous quality of our beloved and illustrious Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa 'ala alihi wa salaam is our dear brother Jalal ibn Sa'eed. May Allah perserve him, reward, increase him in good and grant him and all the du'at Jannat al-Firdows al-'ala. Ameen. Enjoy and benefit...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dunya: A Rotting Carcass

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa salaam tasleeman katheerah. Amma ba'd...

What would make us to understand and make severe the issue of allowing the preoccupation of this world, where the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah is not involved, to distract us from our purpose? Is it not clear that it is mainly the love and attachment of this world that has weakened this Ummah and subjugated us to calamities, oppression and all sorts of evil? Ya Muslimeen, this world belongs not in our hearts, but in our hands.

Our beloved and illustrious Prophet 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam told us:

"The whole of this world is cursed and cursed is all it contains except the remembrance of Allah and what is connected to it."

Fulfilling our purpose, observing the rights Allah has upon us and securing ourselves an excellent Akhirah are the only items of any worth and blessing in this world. But how loosely and how soon do the sincerely intended righteous acts creep their way to the bottom of our list of priorities? This path bares a simple formula: lose your deen, lose yourself, lose your Akhirah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala guide us and grant us istiqamah that we may remain distant from the path of the losers. Ameen.

Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told us if this world were worth a single wing of a mosquito, Allah would not allow even a sip of water to the disbeliever. In so many ways and words, not to mention the countless supportive adillah from Qur'an and Sunnah, could the appropriate manner for the believer to view and handle this world be illustrated. But it is the statement of one of our classical scholars, Sheikh ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah that frames it in one of the finest perspectives. He, Ibn Taymiyyah, said: "Treat this world as you would a lavatory, you only enter to clear your body and you leave it."

Likewise, we find in at-Tirmidhi the famous story related about the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam walking through a marketplace and stumbling upon the carcass of a sheep. Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam asked his Companions: "Who of you would take this for one coin (dinar)?" One of them pointed out that the ears of the carcass were cut off and so it was said: "Even if you offered us this carcass for free we would refuse it." Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa 'ala alihi wa salaam said: "This world is MORE worthless to Allah than this rotting carcass is to you." May Allah increase our taqwa and consciousness to take our Akhirah more serious than our hayyat ad-dunya (life in this world). May this world be removed from our hearts and placed in our hands where it belongs. Allahumma ameen!

And what is there to emphasize the point that it is the love and attachment to this world that thrust us into this poor and humiliating state besides what Muhammad 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam told us about wahn (weakness)? He, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, warned the Ummah through saying to his Companions:

"The nations will one day invite one another and come upon you just like the eating invite others to their dish." He, 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam, was asked: "Ya Rasulullah, will it be because we are little in numbers?" He, 'alayhi salaatu wa salaam, said: "No, the Muslims will be numerous, but they will be like the froth on the sea overtaken by the current. And so Allah will remove from the hearts of your enemies, fear, and place into the hearts of our Ummah, wahn." They asked: "Ya Rasulullah, what is wahn?" And he, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, said: "It is love for this world and the hatred of death."

Verily, the destroyer of pleasures is ever afoot, so may we and please make dua that I too make use of this world only to prepare and secure for ourselves an easy and blissful Akhirah. Ameen ya Rabb ul 'alameen!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"By the Criticizing Self"

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaam 'ala Rasulullah

Among the qualities of the believer is a helpless compulsion to criticize themself. The sincerity in their efforts to gain closeness to their Lord through amilu salih (righteous deeds) has them to find little satisfaction in their performance. An unintended tactic to persistently pursue the path of improvement. A sort of consequent motivational drive to achieve and/or sustain the great level of ihsan (i.e. perfection and beauty in doing virtuous deeds).

In any form of ibadah (i.e. worship; actions beloved to Allah commited for His sake), be it prayer, supplicating Allah in the opening and completion of every occassion, benefiting our families, fasting, showing kindness, baring times of ease and trials with patience, etc... more often than not the believer convinces themself that they could have done it better in some regard. Not that they think the intention and effort missed the pleasure of Allah, rather they remind themselves the potential to have pleased Allah even greater. This is because the true believer refuses to be content with what they have in terms of knowledge and deeds; they strive always for more knowledge and in not only doing more deeds, but perfecting them with better manners. Not merely out of the obligation binding upon them as believers, but because of the geniune love they have for Allah tabarakata wa ta'ala and the Sunnah of His beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam.

A classical scholar of the Tabi'een, al-Hasan al-Basri rahimahullah, sharply expressed this point in his commentary on the second ayah of Surah al-Qiyaamah where Allah swears by this quality in saying what means:

"Say, I do swear by the criticizing self..." -Surah al-Qiyamah ayah 2

al-Basri said of this: "A believer will always be critical of himself in his food, his drink and in his speech. A sinner will NOT criticize himself. A believer is a guardian over himself; he accounts himself for Allah. Those who take account of themselves in this world will be audited lightly in the Hereafter. Those who take this issue lightly will find their auditing (in the Hereafter) extremely difficult."

May Allah azza wa jall make us among those who commit with sincerity and special care the deeds He Loves. May He make us among those who especially during this most holy and blessed month of Ramadan strive to perfect the actions we do for His sake, His Mercy, His Pleasure and reward. Ameen thumma ameen!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Companions of Sin Chase Me

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

You may say:

“I would like to repent and change my ways but my former evil companions pursue me wherever I go. No sooner do they know of a change in me than they launch an attack on me. I feel myself weak against them. What should I do?”

The answer is, bear it with patience for this is the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is how He tries His slaves in order for everyone to know who are true in their claims from those who are false, and in order that He may expose the pervert from the righteous. Allah says what means:

“Do they think they will be left alone on saying: “we believe” and that they will not be tested. Surely, We will test them as we have tested those before them, and Allah will make clear those who are true from those who are false.” –Surah al-‘Ankabut ayat 2-3

Once you have taken the path to goodness, persevere in it. These evil people who are Shayateen (among jinn and men) will conspire with each in order to turn you back from the path of reformation, therefore, listen to them not. They will say about you as you begin on this new line, that this is an infatuation that will not last, that it is a passing crisis and soon you will be out of it. In fact, once it was heard that a man said about his former companion who had begun to change his life, “what an evil he has fallen into!”

It is for such situations that Allah has revealed what means:

“Say, I take refuge with the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind. From the evil of the secret whisperings… of the one who whispers in the breast of mankind… among the jinn and mankind.” –Surah an-Nas ayat 1-6

You should then ask yourself: “Is your Lord then more worthy of obedience or these evil companions?”

You should also know that they will chase you in every place and will employ every means to win you back to their ways. One of the means these evil companions of sin will employ to entice you would be to remind you of the pleasures of sins of the past, through insinuations, contacts, notes, pictures, letters and so on. But do not pay any attention to them, and be reminded of the story of Ka’b bin Malik radiallahu anhu who had stayed back from the Tabuk battle. When, by way of punishment, the Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam ordered that he be boycotted by everyone until Allah cleared the way for him, the Ghassanid King wrote to him a letter in which he said: “I am to learn that your man (meaning Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam) has abandoned you. But you are not the kind of man to be placed in the situation in which you can be belittled and wasted. Join us. We will treat you much better.” And so what was the reaction of this Sahabi? Well, Ka’b bin Malik radiallah anhu said: “When I read the letter, I said to myself, this is yet another trial from my Lord. Then I threw it into the oven and burned it.”

This is how, my dear young brother or sister, you should treat those things sent to you to win you back. Burn them to ashes and remember Allah says:

“Be patient. For Allah’s Promise is true. And let not those who do not believe weaken you.” –Surah ar-Rum ayah 60

Friday, June 4, 2010

Types of Hearts

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Sa`id, radiallahu 'anhumma, reporting that the Messenger of Allah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said:

"The hearts are of four types: Polished and shiny as a radiating lamp. A sealed heart with a knot tied around it. A heart that is turned upside down and a wrapped heart.

As for the polished heart, it is the heart of the believer and its lamp is the light of faith.
The sealed heart is the heart of the disbeliever.

The heart that is turned upside down is the heart of the pure hypocrite, because he contained knowledge but denied it.

As for the wrapped heart, it is a heart that contains belief and hypocrisy. The example of faith in this heart is the example of the herb that is sustained by pure water. The example of hypocrisy in it is the example of an ulcer that thrives on puss and blood. Whichever of the two substances is most dominant, will have dominance over that heart."

(This hadith has a jayid hasan isnad - classified good chain of narration)

O Allah give and maintain for us polished hearts whose light radiates from our intentions, attitudes and deeds. Grant us the determination and patience, ya Rabb, to gain success and satifaction in this world and al-Akhirah, keeping us safe from the disease of nifaq (hypocrisy) always. Allahumma ameen.

Ya Muqallibal qulubli thabbit qulbi 'ala dinika (O Turner of Hearts, turn my heart that it is firm and steadfast in Your Way)!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Truly Destined

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullah, dear brothers and sisters in iman. Indeed Allah is praised with or without our praising Him. Still humbly, but never to the extent at which He alone is worthy, we praise Him. Seeking His help and forgiveness and seeking refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and the consequences of our deeds. Whomever Allah guides none can misguide and whomever Allah misguides none can guide. I bare witness and testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and I bare witness and testify that Muhammad ibn Abdullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam is the Messenger of Allah. Amma b'ad.

The future, as it is well known to this Ummah, belongs to Islam. Islam, by the Might and Grace of Allah, will be given victory over its opposition and ultimately over the Earth entirely. This is a promise from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and just as His promise of Rome's defeat of the Persian Empire came to pass; and just as He promised their rule would persist nine years in following the event came to pass*; His promise of Islam's victory will also undoubtedly be fulfilled. But we will not gain such an honor by reclining, doing nothing for the cause of this deen, expecting it to happen just like that. Such an honor will not be gained by reinterpreting or redefining this perfect and truly divine Deen. Na'udu billah. Such an honor will not be experienced by simply waiting for al-Mahdi to lead us there or awaiting the Messiah Issa bin Maryam alayhi salaam to return and establish it. To truly take part and entitle ourselves a share in the ajr of this honor and promise of Allah, the qualities and conditions that Allah ta'ala Himself has explained in the Qur'an must be met. The intentions and efforts are ours to make, and the status of the goal is only for Allah to determine and permit based upon them.

Allah azza wa jall promises that victory for this Deen and this Ummah will be an honor bestowed only upon those who keep to His commands, follow what He has prescribed, avoid His prohibitions, protect the honor of His Messengers and their followers, uphold His Deen and fight against His enemies. And by this, Allah makes His word uppermost and the word of His objectors debased. Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, above having a son or gender, free of defects and deficiencies, says what means:

"Indeed, Allah will help those who help His Cause. Indeed, Allah is all Powerful, Exalted in Might." -Surah al-Hajj ayah 40

Allah, Possessor of all Might and Majesty, says what means:

"Those who, if We establish them on earth, they establish the Salah, give zakaah, enjoin the good and forbid the evil; and with Allah rest the end of affairs." -Surah al-Hajj ayah 41

Allah azza wa jall, says that which means:

"O you who believe. If you help the Cause of Allah, Allah will Help you and establish your feet firmly. But those who disbelieve, for them is destruction and Allah will make vain their deeds." -Surah Muhammad ayat 7-8

"Allah has Promised those amongst you who have iman (certainty of belief) and do righteous deeds, that He will grant you the khilafah (succession, rulership, etc.) over the land." -Surah an-Nur ayah 55

"Allah has Decreed: It is I and My Messenger who will prevail." -Surah al-Mujaadalah ayah 21

"It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the deen of Truth, to cause to it supersede over all other deens (i.e. legislation, rule, religions, systems of life, etc.), though the mushrikeen may detest it." -Surah at-Tawba ayah 33

In this lecture, Sheikh Kamal el-Mekki, explains the role of this Ummah, as individuals, in order that we mold ourselves deserving of this prevailing 'izzah. Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, I tell you, the wrong path is always the path of least resistance. May Allah make us firm and steadfast. May He, azza wa jall, unite us upon tawheed, upon the Sunnah of Sayyidina Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa alihi wa salaam and upon His Deen and obedience. Allahumma ameen! Enjoy and benefit, in'sha'Allah:

*events foretold in Surah ar-Rum ayat 2-4

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sabr: A Brightness

Bismillah, walhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa-ashabihi wa-salaam tasleeman katheera

All praise is for Allah. As such we praise Him and could never achieve justice in doing so to the extent at which He alone is worthy. May the peace and blessings of Allah eternally be upon His Messenger, his family, his companions and those who follow his guidance, purely as it was revealed, in truth and in righteousness until the Day of Judgement.

After Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala reminds us, in Surah ali-Imran ayah 146, of the number of nabbiyia (prophets) and rabbiyun (knowledgeable, righteous leaders of Islam) throughout time who've suffered massive loss and were tested with multiple afflictions on the battlefield while fighting for His Cause, yet never once losing hope or weakening in neither heart nor faith, pushing forward without surrender against the rebels of Allah; He, azza wa jall, makes it known: "And Allah loves al-Sabbireen (the patient)."

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala also commands His Messenger, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, in the Qur'an:

"Say: O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world there is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account." -Surah az-Zumar ayah 10

And so it is clear, ar-Rahman, our Ever-Merciful Lord, loves and rewards limitlessly al-sabbireen. And what would bring us to understand the meaning of sabr? Our beloved Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told us: "Sabr is a dhiya'." Often is this hadith interpreted to mean: "Patience is a light." However, the Arabic word for light is an-nur and the term that passed from our Messenger's blessed lips is ad-dhiya', salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, whose linguistic meaning is "radiance" or "brightness" and there is a distinction. Ad-dhiya' is more powerful than an-nur, because while nur is but a shinning light, dhiya' is a source that not only shines, but generates heat. It explains why in the Qur'an, Allah, uses the term "dhiya'" to describe sunlight and reserves the term "nur" to describe moonlight.

From this we understand the stronger, more appropriate meaning of this hadith as:

"Patience is a brightness."

So why would our Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam describe sabr as a source emitting both light and heat as opposed to just light? It is because the process of attaining, developing then ultimately practicing patience is extremely difficult and at times painful. It requires effort and involves an inner-struggle (jihad an-nafs). So sabr can be attained, but not without experiencing some degree of strain and discomfort. As-sabr literally implies "to withhold" or to place something under one's control. Patience, self-mastery, self-discipline and self-control altogether project for us the real meaning of "sabr". To control one's nafs and withhold it from a state of panic, recklessness, fury and/or impatience. Also it entails withholding the tongue from complaining, vain argument, passing on or uttering negative things (i.e. insults, backbiting, gossip, etc.).

We observe in society and in our interactions with people that for the most minor and firvolous of reasons do people lose control and become impatient. Clearly, sabr is not implemented so simply. And it is based on this Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said:

"Whoever pretends to be patient, desiring to be patient, Allah will make them patient."

So instead of stubbornly asserting "I can't be patient, that's just how I am." Or as my daughter (whom I love and am so grateful to Allah) would jokingly quote: "Patience is a virtue I've yet to master", expressing no interest in making even the slightest effort at being patient, our Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said pretend to be patient. As if to say patience is a value that is not applied naturally, so force yourself to be patient, no matter how strenuous or painful, and your Lord will make you so.

The highest level of sabr is achieved when the call of Deen overcomes the call of passion. When obedience to Allah overcomes obedience to the nafs. Whether tried in a circumstance of hardship or ease, this is the most rewarding, most fulfilling manifestation of sabr. For the believer must apply sabr in both situations, difficulty and ease, with the latter being the most difficult. In fact, patience in times of ease is not only the most challenging, but it's the only one that none but the believer can perform. When we are met with something we desire that is allowed to us, something we love or excites us, we are to have sabr and gratitude (to Allah) thereby preventing it from distracting us from our purpose and goal (i.e. the worship and obedience to our Lord). Allah warned the believers:

"O you who believe, let not your families and your wealth deter you from the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah; and whosoever does that is indeed a loser." -Surah al-Munafiqun ayah 9

One testimony to the extent of difficulty in showing sabr in times of ease is a statement by the great Sahabi, Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf radiallahu 'anhu, who reminisced: "We were tried by hard times and we showed sabr, but when we were tried in ease and excess, we failed."

So the attainment of sabr necessitates consistent training; we must exert, strive and even force ourselves to show sabr in all situations. Classic scholar of Islam, Imam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali divided as-sabr in three categories:

  • as-Sabru 'ala da'ati allahi: patience in performing acts of worship (ibadat) of Allah.
  • as-Sabru 'an ma'asi allahi: patience in avoiding sins or disobedience of Allah.
  • as-Sabru 'ala aqdari allahi: patience with the Qadr of Allah or the decree of Allah that is planned and pre-determined by Him and occurs to us in our lives.
The one act of worship that envelopes all three at once is siyaam (fasting), for in it the believer obeys and performs an act of worship for Allah, avoids sins by abstaining from the actions and speech that invalidates one's fasts and believes and accepts that it is by the Qadr of Allah.

What is especially important to note and keep in mind when discussing sabr is that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala does not test any individual beyond their capacity. Allah ta'ala says what means:

"Allah does not burden any soul beyond its capacity." -Surah al-Baqarah ayah 286

And when Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas radallahu 'anhu asked our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam: "Ya Rasulullah, who amongst the people are tried the most?" He, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, replied and addressed through him all of us:

"an-Anbiyyah (the prophets of Allah), after them the Saliheen (righteous) and then in accordance to your level of deen (i.e. taqwa, iman, etc.)."

So on these testing grounds, known as dunya, every believer is tested according to their individual level in the deen. No one will be tested to the extent and extreme at which the Prophets 'alayhimus salaatu wa salaam were tested and no one will ever experience a point in this life in which they're not tested at all. And the best time to show sabr, when it is best recognized and compensated, is at the very instant calamity or a desired thing reaches us. As exemplified in the hadith where Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam encountered a woman in cemetery grieving excessively over the burial of her loved one and advised her to show sabr, in her anguish she told the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam: "Leave me alone! You were not afflicted with my affliction!" As Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam moved along to leave her alone, a few of the Sahabah informed her who it was she shouted at and she rushed to him to apologize and Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told her:

"Sabr is to be shown at the beginning of a trial."

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala make us among al-Sabbireen, striving always to show sabr for His sake in all situations and conditions in hope for His Mercy and everlasting rewards. Allahumma ameen!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Is Ihsan?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

What is Ihsan?

That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don't see Him then truly He sees you.

What is Ihsan?" Allah's Apostle salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam replied, "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must remember that He is seeing you."

The lexical meaning of 'Ihsan' is help, aid, support etc. But, to understand the Qur'an and Hadith, we have to see what the Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam has used to define the same.

In the case of ihsan our beloved Rasulullah salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam has said, "It is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state then you must remember that He is seeing you".

So, we can say that Ihsan consists of two parts:

1. To worship Allah as if we see Him
2. To worship with the thought and yaqeen (certainty) that He is seeing us

Ihsan is the pinnacle and highest state of Islam. It implies the deep attachment, profound love, genuine faithfulness and sacrifice which make a Muslim identify himself completely with Islam.

It is impossible to find a word in the English language which can express, to any fair degree, the real meaning and import of ihsan. It means to do a thing well, in the best possible manner, to achieve excellence, to aim at beauty and perfection and most importantly, to do it as an inner compulsion and urge and not as a consequence of external prodding and urging. In brief, ihsan is a labor of love, not merely a duty. This can result only from an inner sense of presence before Allah and love for Him.

The essence of Taqwa is fear of Allah which may enable a person to escape Allah's Anger. The essence of Ihsan is love of Allah, which motivates man to try to win Allah’s Pleasure.

The difference between the two may be illustrated by the following example:

Among the employees of a government may be some who scrupulously discharge the functions entrusted to them, doing nothing to which one can take exception, but who are not otherwise committed. Others, however, may be loyal, devoted and totally committed to the government. They do not just carry out the duties that have been assigned to them but are always zealously concerned to promote the interests of the government. They exert themselves beyond the call of duty, being prepared to sacrifice their lives, property and children in defense of their country. Any violation of the law hurts them personally, any sign of rebellion is enough to arouse them. Far from deliberately harming the government they will spare no effort to support it. More than anything, they want to see their own Government paramount in the world and their flag high in all corners of the earth.

The first kind of people are Muttaqeen (possesors of taqwa) of the government and the other its Muhsineen (possesors of ihsan).

Though the Muttaqeen are regarded as good servants, exceptional honor and reward are reserved for Muhsineen. Though Muttaqeen are valued and trustworthy people, Muhsineen make up the real strength of Islam. The task that Islam has to accomplish can only be carried out by this group.

It is therefore impossible to count these people as Muhsineen who stand passively by and see the religion of Allah dominated by the forces of Kufr, the sanctions of Allah (hudud) completely ignored and the Divine laws being at best neglected and at worst overturned; the reign of tyranny and oppression unleashed on Allah’s earth by Allah's rebels. Or who see that the ascendancy of disbelief is not only promoting moral and social ills in human society, but is also causing the Ummah itself to turn from the path of righteousness, and do nothing.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us understand in our hearts the essence of ihsan that we may achieve and taste the highest state of Islam. May He, azza wa jall, guide and keep us firm upon His Deen and Obedience and relentless against all forces, external and internal, that aim to hinder us from His Way and His Cause. Allahumma ameen!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Makings of A Mu'min

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

All praise is for Allah. As such we praise Him, seek His Help and Forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from the consequences of our deeds. I bare witness that nothing is worthy of our worship, our repentance, our supplications and complete submission except Allah and I bare witness that the last and final Messenger of Allah sent to receive and relay the method in which to properly acknowledge and submit to Allah is Muhammad ibn Abdullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. We ask that the peace and blessings of Allah eternally be upon Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad and all the prophets of Allah and those who follow them in righteousness until the Last Day. Wa ba'ad (as to what follows)..

And so my big brother (of the same mother) was curious after reading my previous post, "Types of Kufr", what then, and I quote: "does a believer look like in these lands?" I doubt he's aware as to how good the question was, especially in following the aforementioned post, when he raised it. For all I know it may have been rhetorical, none-the-less a very appropriate, relevant and deep question deserving of review. So with the aim to satisfy this question for the benefit of myself and all sincere seekers of knowledge and truth, we'll discuss the fundamental characteristics and distinctions of the mu'min (believer), in'sha'Allah.

Generally speaking the believer has no special appearance with which they differ from others. There is no specific dress the believer is required to wear. The requirement is not so much what is worn, but what is covered. So long as what the believing man wears covers what is required of him to cover and so long as what the mu'minah (believing woman) wears covers what is required of her to cover (refer to Full Hijab). Clothing must as well be loose and not form-fitting (this includes skinny jeans, brothers) or contain any insignia or wording that denotes shirk, kufr or anything that is an affront to the Deen of Allah.

No different than any other human being, it is beyond the realm of the believer to be ma'sum (sinless or protected from error) -after reaching the age of maturity. It is understood that some or most knowledge of the Shari'ah will be unknown to most believers, just as it is possible for the believer to be confused on some issues or aspects in Islam. Shortcomings and mistakes are one of the manifestations of Allah's name, al-Ghaffur (The All Forgiving); they are unavoidable and do not expel one from the fold of Islam. As Allah says what means:

"There is no burden upon you for that in which you were mistaken, rather that which you have done with the full determination of the heart." -Surah al-Ahzab ayah 5

And our beloved Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "“If a mujtahid (judge) exerts himself to give a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct (i.e. complies with the verdict of Allah and His Messenger) he will receive two rewards (for the effort and the sound conclusion), and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong (i.e. against the verdict of Allah and His Messenger), then he will get but one reward .”

Due to the fact all believers are capable of mistakes, it is neither obligatory or expected to believe in everything any one of them says, for that is only the right upon us to the words of al-Anbiya and ar-Rusul (the prophets and messengers of Allah). With Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam being the last of the Messengers, it is obligatory upon the believer to accept and follow everything he, 'alayhi wa-salaatu wa-salaam, has commanded and advised until the Last Day.

Until then it is binding upon the believer to measure all that is taught to them concerning the Deen to the criterion which the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam has brought. So long as it is in agreement therewith the believer must accept, but they must reject anything that falls in disagreement. In the case that the believer is unsure as to whether it's in accordance to the Prophet's message, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, or at variance than they must refrain from believing or applying it until knowledge reaches them. Bottom line is the believers are obligated to hold tight to the criterion, the Qur'an and the Sunnah (methodology, way or example of the Prophet salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam).

The believer is one who has entered Islam completely and accepts everything Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam was sent with. Those who believe in only part of what he salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam sent, those who believe and practice Islam selectively or accept a part of Islam and reject another are in reality disbelievers (kafir'un). No matter how devoted, ascetic or knowledgable they appear. Allah says about them:

"Those who disbelieve in Allah and His Prophets and seek to differentiate between Allah and His prophets, and they say: 'We believe in some and we reject some' Such are true disbelievers, and We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment. As for those who believe in Allah and His prophets, and sought not to differentiate between any of them. We shall give them their rewards. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful." -Surah an-Nisa ayat 150-52

So after knowing generally what not to look for in identifying the believer (i.e. type of clothing, outward appearance or flawlessness). We should understand that the elements of the believer are ultimately what is contained in the heart and manifested in their character and actions. One of the goals of the believer is to perfect good manners. As Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "I have not been sent except to perfect good manners."

Allah said of His Messenger what means: "And indeed, you are upon a noble conduct, an exemplary manner." -Surah al-Qalam ayah 4 and He subhanahu wa ta'ala obligated every believer to follow his example (Sunnah):

"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey His Messenger and make not vain your deeds." -Surah Muhammad ayah 33. And He azza wa jall spoke of the Prophet's akhlaq (manners) in this way:

"You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day, and who engages much in the remembrance (praise) of Allah." -Surah al-Ahzab ayah 21

When Allah describes ibaadul ar-Rahman (servants of the Most Merciful), the mumin'un (believers), he says they are those who walk with humility and humbleness. They are not arrogant. Allah in hundreds of ayat reveals His hatred for arrogance and kibr (pride) in all its forms and His curse that is upon these characteristics. One of the ways Allah summarizes the expected and proper akhlaq of the believer is:

"Worship Allah and associate no partners with Him; be good to your parents, and to your relatives, to the orphans and to the poor. Neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the traveler you meet and what your right possess. For Allah loves not the proud and arrogant!" -Surah an-Nisa ayah 36

Worship of Allah alone is foremost when it applies to good manners. To acknowledge, serve and obey the One who created you and everything into being and comparing nothing unto Him is the best of good manners. This principle is summed up in one word in Arabic, "tawheed". Tawheed is good manners. And it is with tawheed that all the good manners less than that become consequential.

One of the great scholars of al-Islam, a Tabi (Muslim of the generation that succeeded Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam and his companions) by the name al-Hasan al-Barsi rahimullah, construed one of my favorite quotes with regards to iman (faith) in saying: "Iman is not by wishful thinking or outward trappings, rather it is a conviction in the heart verified by conduct." And Allah says what means:

"O mankind! We have created you from a single pair, a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another (not despise one another). Indeed, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah are those who are best in taqwa (piety and conduct)." -Surah al-Hujraat ayah 13

And when Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam was asked: "Which people are the best?" He salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam replied: "Those best in taqwa."

So the first condition of the believer is that they possess taqwa. Taqwa, sometimes interpreted as "piety" or "God-consciousness", can be described as a shield which guards against Allah's anger and punishment. And that shield is obedience to what Allah has commanded and abstinence from what Allah has forbidden. As another Tabi, Talq ibn Habeed, explained of taqwa: "Taqwa is that you act in obedience to Allah, and hope in His Mercy, upon a light from Him; and taqwa is leaving acts of disobedience to Allah out of fear of Him, upon a light from Him."

Moreoever, the believer is commanded by Allah to posses taqwa:

"O you who believe! Have taqwa of Allah as you should have of Him and do not die except in a state of Islam (as Muslims)." -Surah Ali-Imran ayah 102

And it is here, in'sha'Allah, we've aggregated the contents or makings of a true mu'min (believer). And nothing to me explains the levels of the different believers and their blessings than Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa alihi wa salaam in a Hadith Qudsi (meaning it is from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, but in the wording of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam) found in Sahih Bukhari. Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told us, as reported by Abu Huraira radiallahu anhu:

"Allah, the Exalted said: "Whoever takes a Wali (loyal slave, servant, ally, friend, etc.) of Mine as an enemy, I will wage war on him; and My slave will not perform any act with which he draws closer to Me, more beloved to Me then when he fulfills what I have commanded of him; and My salve will keep drawing closer to Me by performing the nawafil (voluntary acts of worship) until I love him, and when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him; and if he seeks refuge with Me, I will grant him refuge."

What is to be highlighted here are the different levels of the mu'min. The different levels of taqwa and ahklaq they possess. The least level are those (most of us, myself included) who fulfill what is obligatory upon them as believers; the bare minimum. They do what is ordered of them by Allah and abstain from what is forbidden of them by Allah and do not demand themselves the doing of the nawafil or commendable acts. They avoid also most of the makrooh or unrecommended or disliked but allowed actions. As for the forerunners, those with higher taqwa, the level upon which most of us are striving towards. They are those who seek to come even closer to Allah with extra efforts after the fard (obligatory). They fulfill the obligatory and the commendable; and avoid the forbidden (haram) and unrecommended (makrooh). They seek to come closer to Allah azza wa jall with everything within their ability. And this is the completion of iman (faith). As Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam told us:

"The most dependable handhold on iman is love for the sake of Allah and hatred for the sake of Allah." And in another hadith our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "Whoever loves for Allah, hates for Allah, gives for Allah and withholds for Allah has sought the completion of his faith."

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala count and keep us among al-Mumin'oon, true believers. May He accept our efforts in pleasing Him and remind us to remember Him in our times of vulnerability and weakness. Ameen. May He grant us the sabr (patience) to resist our nafs (lowly desires) at the expense of His Pleasure and to always turn to Him and follow up our bad deeds with a good one when we don't. As His beloved Messenger and most perfect worshipper told us: "Fear Allah wherever you are and follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner." May Allah guide and accept from us and in His everlasting Mercy, pardon us, so that we may be successful in this life and be granted salvation in the Hereafter. Allahumma ameen!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Types of Kufr (Disbelief)

Types of Kufr (Disbelief)

Imam ibn Kathir (rahimullah – b. 701 AH – d. 774 AH)
Adapted from "Tafsir ibn Kathir"

The Qur’an uses the word "kufr" to denote people who cover up or hide realities. The Qur’an uses this word to identify those who denied Allah’s favors by not accepting His Dominion and Authority. Kufr thus is an antonym for iman or disbelief in Allah and a kafir is a non-believer. This type of kufr is called Kufr al-Akbar (Major Kufr). There are many types of Kufr al-Akbar:

1. Kufr-ul-‘Inad: Disbelief out of stubbornness. This applies to someone who knows the truth and admits to knowing the truth and admits to knowing it with his tongue, but refuses to accept it and refrains from making a declaration. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:

"Throw into Hell every stubborn disbeliever" -Surah al-Qaf ayah 24

2. Kufr-ul-Inkar: Disbelief out of denial. This applies to someone who denies with both heart and tongue. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:

"They recognize the favors of Allah, yet they deny them. Most of them are disbelievers." -Surah an-Nahl ayah 83

3. Kufr-ul-Kibr: Disbelief out of arrogance and pride. The disbelief by Shaytan (Iblis) is an example of this type of Kufr. *For it was out of kibr (arrogance and pride) that Iblis refused to fulfill the command of Allah to prostrate to our father Adam alayhi salaam.

4. Kufr-ul-Juhood: Disbelief out of rejection.This applies to someone who acknowledges the truth in his heart, but rejects it with his tongue. This types of kufr is applicable to those who call themselves Muslims but reject any necessary and accepted norms of Islam such as Salat, Zakat, etc. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:

"They denied them (Our Signs) even though their hearts believed in them, out of spite and arrogance." -Surah an-Naml ayah 14

5. Kufr-ul-Nifaq: Disbelief out of hypocrisy.This applies to someone who pretends to be a believer but conceals their disbelief. Such a person is called a Munafiq or hypocrite. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:

"Verily the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of Hell. You will find no one to help them." -Surah an-Nisa ayah 145

6. Kufr-ul-Istihlal: Disbelief out of making Haram into Halal and vice versa. This applies to someone who accepts as lawful (Halal) that which Allah has made unlawful (Haram) like alcohol, adultery, etc. Only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has the prerogative to make things Halal and Haram and those who seek to interfere with His right are like rivals to Him and therefore fall outside the boundaries of iman.

7. Kufr-ul-Kurh: Disbelief out of detesting any of Allah’s commands. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:

"Perdition (destruction) has been consigned to those who disbelieve and He will render their actions void. This is because they are averse to that which Allah has revealed so He has made their actions fruitless." -Surah Muhammed ayat 8-9

8. Kufr-ul-Istihzaha: Disbelief due to mockery and derision. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:

"Say: Was it at Allah, His signs and His apostles that you were mocking? Make no excuses. You have disbelieved after you have believed." -Surah at-Tawba ayah 65-66

9. Kufr-ul-I’radh: Disbelief due to avoidance. This applies to those who turn away and avoid the truth. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:

"And who is more unjust than he who is reminded of his Lord’s signs but then turns away from them. Then he forgets what he has sent forward (for the Day of Judgment) -Surah al-Kahf ayah 57

10. Kufr-ul-Istibdal: Disbelief because of substituting Allah’s Laws and ruling by other than He azza wa jall has revealed. This could take the form of:

  • Rejection of Allah’s law (Shari‘ah) without denying it
  • Denial of Allah’s Law and therefore rejecting it, or
  • Substituting Allah’s Laws with man-made laws. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:
"Or have they partners with Allah who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed?" -Surah ash-Shura ayah 8

Allah says that which means:

"Say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely that this is lawful and this is forbidden so as to invent a lie against Allah. Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never prosper." -Surah an-Nahl ayah 116

*And it is this last case of kufr-ul-istibdal, substituting or ruling by other than what Allah has revealed, I'm flabbergasted to find a segment of Muslims classifying and propagating this to be but a minor act of kufr and that we cannot oppose such rulership or defend Allah's Cause, our rights and lives against them in any case without an amir. This is not the understanding the true 'ulema of Ahl us-Sunnah have inherited from the Salafus Saliheen. The following article, by Aboo Hafs ash-Shaamee, explains (in summary) the characteristics and distorted ideologies of such groups and individuals, how, why and where they went wrong. Let's inform ourselves and may Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala protect our youth from such groups and the "diseases" they spread that misguide and cripple our Ummah in iman and thought, unity and honor. Ameen.

A Summary of the Deviations of the Madaakhilah

*indicates places where I've inserted details pertaining to the subject but do not appear in "Tafsir ibn Kathir".

Saturday, January 2, 2010

ad-Dajjal (The Antichrist)

Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullah, brothers and sisters in Islam. What proceeds is a lecture given by brother Jalal ibn Sa'eed, a condensed overview of the sahih ahadith concerning ad-Dajjal, his charateristics, the signs of his arrival and the abundant, severe fitnan (trials) surrounding him.

There has not been a single Messenger except that he has warned of ad-Dajjal; as for the final Messenger Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, Khatim an-Nabiy'in, the Seal of the Prophets, it was left to him to recieve and relate wahy (revelation) identifying the specifics of ad-Dajjal being that he was the last Prophet and so the advent of the dajjal is closer and preparation of those during and after his time is far dire. Many believers, even the most knowledgeable among us will succumb to his deception and affirm their faith in him. May we arm ourselves with the taqwa and sabr that we may resist his ways if it shall fall upon us. Ameen.

It is the very reason our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam advised that when we complete tashahhud in our salah that we should seek refuge from four things before offering tasleem:

Allahumma inni a'udu biki min adhabi jahanam
wa min adhabil qabr
wa min sharri fitnatil mahya wa'l mammat
wa min sharri fitnatil masih ad-dajjal

(O Allah! Indeed I seek refuge with You from the punishment of Hellfire
and from the punishment of the grave
and from the trials of living and of dieing
and from the trials of the false Messiah, the Antichrist)

Dajjal Part 1 Jalal ibn Saeed flagoftawheed.com from flagoftawheed on Vimeo.

Dajjal Part 2 Jalal ibn Saeed flagoftawheed.com from Abu Muwahhid on Vimeo.