Working Through Obstacles

October 15, 2009

My last post, Companionship, discussed the importance of who are our friends and how we are very much similar to those people whom we love and spend time with.  After all, Rasoolullah (SAW) said “Shall I tell you who is the best of you?”  “Yes,” replied the Sahaba.  He (SAW) said, “Those who remind you of Allah when you see them.”  He (SAW) went on to say, “Shall I tell you who is the worst of you?”  “Yes,” they replied.  He said, “Those who go about slandering, causing mischief between friends in order to separate them, and desiring to lead the innocent into wrong action” (Bukhari).  However, does this mean we isolate and polarize ourselves from society?  No, in general, we should strive and struggle to benefit ourselves and others around us.  Consider the benefical words of Ibn al-Qayyim:

Know that the greatest of losses for YOU is to be pre-occupied with ONE who will bring you nothing but a loss in your time with Allah – the Mighty, the Majestic – and being cut-off from Him.  Wasting your time with such a person.  Weakening of your energy, and the dispersing [disbanding, separating] of your resolve [steadfastness, determination].  When you are tested with this – and you must be tested with this – deal with this person according to how Allah would wish, and be patient with him as much as possible.  Get closer to Allah and His Pleasure by way of this person.  Make your getting together with him something to benefit from, NOT  something to incur a loss from.

Be with him as if you are a man who is on a road who was stopped by another man, who then asks you to take him on your journey.  Make sure that you are the one who gives him a ride, and that he is not the one giving you the ride.  If he refuses, and there is nothing to gain from travelling with him, DO NOT stop for him.  Bid him farewell, and do not even turn back to look at him, as he is a highway robber, regardless of who he really is.  Save your heart, be wary [cautious, guarded] of how you spend your days and nights.

DO NOT let the Sun set [death approach] before you arrive at your DESTINATION.

Excerpts taken from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim’s book Al-Waabil as-Sayyib

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In today’s world, homosexuality is something very common and accepted.  Considering the environment we live in, it is quite possible that some aspiring Muslims may also have homosexual urges even though they may not want to.  However, in Islam, acting upon these urges is strictly prohibited.  For a parallel example, as a man, I may want to have relations with numerous different women, but as we know, even though I may have that urge or desire the act does not become permissible (as we are only permitted to have relations with those that are halal to us (i.e our spouse)).  Similiar, a person who has homosexual desires must also refrain from their urges and impulses and insh’Allah they will be rewarded for their patience and virtue.  For a more complete look into this subject, please check out Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s post on MuslimMatters.

By Ibn al-Qayyim al Jawziyyah (adopted by Ammar ibn Abdullah al-Hindi)

“Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

The Meaning of “Strangeness”

Many times in many situations the people that follow the religion of Allah feel a sense of not belonging, of being out of place, of not fitting in, and, in other words, of being strange. This feeling could occur in a gathering of non-Muslims, but, unfortunately, this feeling sometimes also occurs when one is with his fellow Muslims.

A person sees his brothers and sisters doing acts that are contrary to Islam, or taking part in innovations that sometimes even border on kufr (apostasy), yet he feels that he does not have enough power or courage to stop them in these acts. Some brothers and sisters, especially if they do not have enough taqwa or Islamic knowledge, sometimes buckle under the pressure of their peers and join in these acts, knowing that this is not what Allah wants them to do. However, feeling helpless, since it seems that they are alone in their ideas and without any support to help them do what is right, they succumb to such pressures.

These brothers and sisters, may Allah have mercy on them, should take consolation in the verses of the Qur’an and the many statements of the Prophet (saws) describing this very situation of strangeness that they feel.

Why Have They Been Called “Strangers”?

Allah says in the Qur’an,

“If only there had been, in the generations preceding you, people having wisdom, prohibiting others from evil in the earth; except a few of those whom we have saved from among them.” (Qur’an Hud 116).

This verse speaks of the few people on earth, the “strangers”, who prohibit mankind from evil. These are the same people the Prophet (saws) spoke about when he said, “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings [ar. Tooba. This is a tree in Paradise. So the Prophet (saws) is giving the good news of Paradise to these strangers.] to the strangers.” It was asked, “Who are those strangers, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Those that correct the people when they become corrupt.” [Reported by Abu Amr al-Dani, from the hadith of ibn Masoud. It is authentic according to al-Albani. Another narration says, “Those that correct my Sunnah which has been corrupted by the people after me.”] In another narration he said in response to the same question, “They are a small group of people among a large evil population. Those who oppose them are more than those who follow them.” [Reported by ibn Asaakir. It is authentic according to al-Albani.]

These praiseworthy people are called strangers since they are a small minority among mankind. Thus, Muslims are strangers among mankind; the true believers are strangers among Muslims; and the scholars are strangers among the true believers. And the followers of the Sunnah, those that clear themselves from all peoples of innovation, are likewise strangers.

In reality, however, their strangeness is only because they are the minority and it is not because their actions and beliefs are strange. This is what Allah says in surah al-Anaam,

“And if you obey most of the people on Earth, they will lead you astray” (Qur’an al-Anaam 116).

Allah also says,

“And most of mankind will not believe, even if you (O Muhammad) desire it eagerly” (Qur’an Yusuf 103);

“And truly, most of mankind are rebellious and disobedient (to Allah).” (Qur’an al-Maidah 49)

“But nay, most of mankind are ungrateful” (Qur’an Yusuf 38).

Therefore, Allah, the All-Knowing Creator, knows the most of mankind will not follow the truth. Instead, only a small group of people will be set apart that truly and correctly believe in Him, the strangers from among mankind.

The strangers in belief, however, and the strangers in character and actions are in reality the majority of mankind, for they are strange to Islam and to the laws that Allah has revealed. Thus we see that there are various types of strangeness, of which some are praiseworthy, some are blameworthy and some are either praiseworthy or blameworthy. We will discuss these various categories separately below.

The Various Types of Strangeness

You should know, may Allah have mercy upon you, that strangeness is of three types:

The first type of strangeness is the strangeness of the “People of Allah and the People of His Messenger” (saws), which we mentioned previously. This strangeness is a praiseworthy strangeness, as it has been praised by Allah and His Messenger (saws). Therefore, this kind of strangeness should be sought and its people must be supported. This strangeness occurs in different times, in different places, and among different peoples. These strangers, then, are the true “People of Allah” for they do not worship ought save Him, and they do not take support from any path except the path of the Prophet (saws), and they do not call to anything except that which has been brought by the Prophet (saws). These are the people who left mankind when they (the strangers) were in need of them the most. For, on the Day of Judgment, when all other groups will go with that which they used to worship, they will stay in their places. It will be said to them, “Will you not go as the other people have gone?” They will answer, “We had abandoned the people (in this life), and we were more in need of them then we are today, and we will wait for our Lord whom we used to worship.” [Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim] Thus it is apparent that this strangeness does not cause its bearer any discontent. Rather it is a comforting strangeness, a solace to the believers. This is because he knows that his helpers are Allah, His Messenger and those who believe [This is a reference to verse 55 of surah al-Maidah], even if all of mankind left and abandoned him.

These strangers are again described in a hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik, in which the Prophet (saws) said, “It is possible that a disheveled, dusty person, with not many belongings [Literally, “with two headdresses”], who is not noticed among the people, if he asks of Allah, Allah will fulfill his prayer.” [Reported by at-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim. Al-Albani said it is authentic.] Al-Hasan al-Basri [a very famous Follower – tabi‘ – known for his piety, asceticism and knowledge] said, “A believer is a stranger in this world, he is never afraid of its humiliation, and he never competes for its glory. The people are in one situation and he is in a different situation. The people are content with him, yet he is in turmoil [Literally, “tired”] with himself.” From the characteristics of these strangers that the Prophet (saws) described is the holding on to the Sunnah of the Messenger (saws), even if the people abandon it. They, the strangers, leave all the innovations that their people invent, even if such practices should be common among them. They also stick to tawheed, even if the people corrupt it with shirk. They do not ascribe themselves to anything besides Allah and His Prophet (saws); they do not, that is, ascribe themselves to a shaikh, tariqah, particular madhhab or a group of people. They are dedicated only to Allah, with their sincere worship of Him and Him alone, and to His Prophet (saws), by following the path that he followed. These are the people who grasp the glowing hot embers [A reference to the hadith that is to follow], even though most of mankind – nay, all of them – blame them for this. This is the meaning of the statements of the Prophet (saws) alluding to the fact that they stick to his Sunnah, even if the people corrupt it.

Allah, all praise be to Him, sent His Prophet (saws) when mankind followed different religions, for there were those who worshipped rivers and trees, and there were those who worshipped idols, and there were Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. Islam, when it first appeared among these people, was strange to them. If a person from among them accepted Islam and followed the call of Allah and His Prophet (saws), he would be shunned by his family and his tribe. He would live the life of a stranger among his people. Eventually, however, Islam spread far and wide. The Muslims became stronger and stronger, so much so that the strangers were those that did not accept the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saws).

But, alas, Satan deceived mankind again. People took to the ways that their forefathers, who had accepted Islam, had abandoned until, finally, Islam became strange again, just like it had started and just like the Prophet (saws) had foretold. Nay, indeed, rather the true Islam – that which the Prophet (saws) and his Companions were following [this is a reference to the reply that the Prophet (saws) gave when asked what the characteristics of the “Saved Group” were] has become even stranger to the people then when it initially appeared, even though its outward signs and external relics are well known and widespread. [This is what ibn al-Qayyim, wrote in the 8th Century of the Hijrah, wrote. Imagine our situations six centuries after him. May Allah protect us.]

How can it not be so, when these strangers are only one group among seventy-two others [the Prophet (saws) said in an authentic hadith that this Ummah would divide into seventy-three groups, all of which would go to Hell except the one Saved Group.], each of which follows its own desires and takes its passions as gods?

Those are the groups that base their teachings on doubts and innovations and whose sole purpose is the gratification of their own desires. Thus, the group whose goal is to achieve the pleasure of Allah by following the path of His Messenger (saws) will be the strange one among all of the other groups. This is why the true Muslims – those that adamantly cling to the Sunnah – will have the reward of fifty Companions. When the Prophet (saws) was asked about the verse,

“O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow right guidance, no harm can come to you from those who err” (Qur’an al-Maidah 105)

he said, “Nay indeed, order good and forbid evil until you see stinginess being obeyed, and desires being followed, and this world preferred [over the next], and each person being deluded by his own opinions. Then take care of yourself and leave the common people. For indeed, after you there will be days of patience, where patience will be like holding on to glowing embers. Whoever is able to do this will have the reward of fifty people that do like him.” They asked, “O Messenger of Allah, the reward of fifty of them?” He replied, “The reward of fifty of you” [Recorded by al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud with a weak chain but it has supporting evidence. Al-Albani calls it sahih. See al-Sahiha, #957]. This reward is due to his strangeness among the people.

So, if the believer whom Allah has blessed with wisdom and knowledge wants to tread upon this path, the path of Allah, then let him be prepared to resign himself to the life of a stranger among his people, just like his predecessors who accepted Islam were treated by the people. For indeed, he will be a stranger in his beliefs, because his people have corrupted their beliefs. He will be a stranger in his religion, due to what the people have done to it. He will be a stranger in his manner of praying, because the people are ignorant of the prayer of the Prophet (saws). He will be a stranger in his ordering of good and prohibiting evil, for the people have taken what is evil as good and they have abandoned what is good as evil. In short, then, he will be a stranger in all his matters of this world and the Hereafter, calling to the path of Allah and withstanding the harm of all those that go against him.

As for the second type of strangeness, then know, O reader, that this strangeness is the blameworthy strangeness, for its people are the evil sinners, the ignorant and the arrogant of mankind. Their strangeness is due to their refusal to follow the correct and straight path of Allah. This strangeness is the strangeness of not conforming to the religion of Islam and, as such, it will remain strange even if its followers are numerous, its power is strong and its existence is widespread. These are the strangers to Allah. May Allah keep us from becoming one of them.

The third category of strangeness is, in essence, neither praiseworthy or blameworthy. It is the strangeness that a traveller experiences when he travels to a different country, like a person who lives in a place for a short period of time, knowing that he has to move on. One aspect of this strangeness is that all of us, whether we realize it or not, are strangers in this world, for we will all go one day to our permanent abode in the Hereafter. This is the meaning of the hadith of the Prophet (saws) when he told Abdullah ibn Umar, “Live in this world as though you are a stranger or a wayfarer.” Thus, this category of strangeness has the potential to become a praiseworthy strangeness if we realize the meaning of this statement of Allah’s Messenger (saws).

We pray that Allah bless us to be Muslims, knowledgeable and pious, and that He forgive us our sins and bless us with His Mercy. Glorified be your Lord, the Lord of Honour and Power! (He is free) from what they attribute to Him And Peace be on the Messengers. And all Praise and thanks be to the Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Source: www.missionislam.com

The Disease of the Idiots

February 8, 2009

Living many years in Florida, I have to admit, I’ve become quite a bit desensitized to the fitnah that comes into my view.  This is extremely unfortunately because, well, let’s face it, to look at the haraam is still haraam.  Lowering one’s gaze is one of the hardest things to do while living in the West.  I remember when I was living in Egypt, coming in contact with the opposite gender was something that was scarce.  I would come in contact with the opposite gender at like restaurants when ordering food or something similar.  However, in the West, avoiding contact with the opposite gender is nearly impossible .  To help us get past this obstacle I thought I’d share the following quote by a South Asian scholar of the past:

To cast lustful glances is the disease of idiots. You neither give, nor receive. All you do is put your own heart in turmoil. You can stare at a girl forever, but you will never get her. You will only get the person that Allah has decreed for you as halal. Since this is a matter which has already been decided by Allah, that is why this is the disease of idiots

Therefore, let us remember next time we look at a grl (or at a boy if it is a sister looking) that we are indulging in the disease of the idiot.

Ibn Qayyim on the Present

February 1, 2009

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah] said:

Your life in the present moment is in between the past and the future. So what has preceded [gone before] can be rectified by

  • Tawbah [repentance], Nadam [regret], and Istighfar [seeking Allaah’s forgiveness]
  • This is something that will neither tire you nor will cause you to toil as you would with strenuous [exhausting] labor. 
  • It is [just] an action of the heart.

Then as regards the future [then it can be corrected] by withholding yourself from sins; by merely leaving of something and to be at ease from them.

  •  This also is not an action of the limbs that requires you to strive and toil.
  • It is a firm resolve and intention of the heart – which will give rest to your body, heart, and thoughts.

Neither of the two mentioned above involves any hardship or exertion of the limbs.

But then your attention must be directed to your life in the present – i.e. the time between the two times.

  • If you waste it, then you have wasted the opportunity to be of the fortunate and saved ones.
  • If you look after it, having rectified the two times – what is before and after it, you will be successful and achieve rest, delight and ever-lasting bliss.
  • Looking after it is harder than that which comes before and after it.
  • Guarding it involves keeping to that which is most befitting and beneficial for your soul, and that which will bring it success and well-being.

(Source: www.islaam.com)

The title is a statement of Umar ibn al-Khattab.  The situation in Gaza is devastating, not just for Gazaians or Palestinians or Arabs, but for Muslims.  We need to feel the pain of our oppressed brothers and sisters.  The Prophet (SAW) stated that, “The believers are like one person; if his head aches, the whole body aches, because of fever and sleeplessness” (Muslim).  We need to feel the suffering and agony felt by our brethern and sisteren.  Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second khalifah, wrote the follow letter to the commander of the Muslim army.  Give it some deep thought:

“…Then after, I order you and all troops that are along with you to be obedient to Allah, in all circumstances, as this is better than the weapons against the enemy and a strong stratagem in the war. I order you and the soldiers who are with you to be more cautious and afraid of your own crimes and sins than your enemy, as the crimes and sins of the soldiers are more dangerous to them than the enemy.

The Muslims are victorious only because their enemies are disobedient to Allah and had it not been so, we have no power over them, because neither our number is equal to their number, nor are our weapons like theirs. If we commit crimes and sins as they do, then they (our enemies) will have superiority over us in power and we will not gain victory over them. WE DO NOT OVERPOWER THEM WITH OUR STRENGTH.

And you should also know that in this marching of yours, there are guards upon you from Allah and they all know what you do. So be shy from them and do not commit Allah’s disobedience while you are going in Allah’s Cause and do not say: ‘ Our enemy is worse than us, so they will not overpower us.’ Perhaps some people who are worse than the others may overpower the others as the (disbelievers) Magians overpowered the Children of Israel when they (the latter) involved themselves with disobedience to Allah. So they (disbelievers) entered the very innermost parts of their homes and it was a promise fulfilled.

And ask Allah the assistance over your own selves, just as you ask Allah for the victory over your enemies. I ask Allah for that, both for you and for us.”

Keep our brothers and sisters (not just those in Gaza, but world-wide) in your duas, insh’Allah.  To find out what we can do to help in Gaza, check out: Action-Gaza

One of my favorite quotes on my own blog is that of, “The Levels of Prayer by Ibn Qayyim”  (https://mustaqeem.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/the-levels-of-prayer-by-ibn-qayyim).  I was fortunate enough to come across a similar quote by Ibn Qayyim in terms of the levels of personal, self-jihad:

Jihad [striving] against the soul has four stages. They are:

  • Firstly, to strive in learning guidance and the religion of truth, without which there will be no success.  Indeed, there can be no true happiness, nor any delight in this world and in the Hereafter, except through it.
  • Secondly, striving to act upon what has been learnt, since knowledge without action will not benefit, rather it will cause harm.
  • Thirdly, striving to invite others towards it and to teach those who do not know, otherwise he may be considered from those who hide what Allah has revealed of guidance and clear explanation.  Such knowledge will neither benefit, nor save a person from the punishment of Allah.
  • Fourthly, striving to be patient and persevering against those who oppose this da’wah to Allah and those who seek to cause harm; patiently bearing all these hardships for the sake of Allah.

When all these four stages are completed, then such a person is considered to be amongst the Rabbaaniyyoon.  Our pious predecessors agreed that a scholar does not deserve the title of Rabbaanee until he recognizes and knows the truth, acts upon it, and teaches it to others. So whosoever has knowledge, acts upon it, and teaches this knowledge to others, is considered from the Rabbaaniyyoon.

(Source: Miscellaneous Points of Benefits by Ibnul Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah], taken from Zaad ul-Ma’aad fi Hadee Khayril-‘Ibaad, pages 9 – 11)