Judging Others

February 14, 2010

We live in a society that is based on judging others.  Often times, as Muslims, we tend to do the same thing in that we judge other people.  We think we know others’ intentions or we know where their heart stands.  We may look for a reason to pass judgment on a specific brother or sister or we may look for an excuse to consider them ‘off the manhaj’ as it is so often known as. 

However, in reality, ask yourself, “Who are we to judge others?”  As Muslims, we want and wish for the best for our brothers and sisters in faith.  They are a part of our family and thus we want nothing but the best for them.  What happened to making excuses and excuses for our brothers and sisters?  Who are we judge others?  No doubt, as Muslims, it is our duty to advise others and it is our duty to command the good and forbid the evil.  What would happen if we didn’t pass judgment on them, rather we just advised them instead?  Would something befall upon us?  Allah is the Judge and He will judge the people for indeed we do not know what is in the hearts of others, rather Allah knows what is in the breasts of mankind.

Imam Malik stated, “If I was given 99 reasons to declare a person deviant and one upholding their orthodoxy, I’d go with the latter!”  Imam al-Ghazali stated, “The hypocrite looks for faults, the believer looks for excuses.”  Al-Hafidh al-Dhahabi wrote, “I heard our Sheikh, Ibn Taymiyyah, d. 728 a.h, say towards the end of his life, ‘I will never declare anyone from the people of the Qiblah (Muslim direction of prayer) as an infidel.’”

Ask yourself, do you REALLY want the best for your brother or sister if you’re looking for an excuse to throw them outside the fold of Ahlus-Sunnah or worse yet, even Islam?  Oh Muslim, make excuses for one another.  Make dua for one another.  Love one another.  The Messenger (SAW) of God told us that we would not attain faith until we love one another.  He (SAW) also told us that one is not a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.  Therefore, O Muslim, attain faith, become a believer (Mumin)!  May Allah (SWT) allow us all to be believers.  Ameen.

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

Many of us, though we may have sincere and righteous intentions, have recently misplaced our ahklaq (i.e. we have lost our manners).  This message is not directed towards one specific incident, but rather I’ve noticed a culmination of different events where many of our brothers (and sisters!), inlcuding myself perhaps have forgotten the proper way to advise our fellow muslims (an act known as irshad or islah).  When we advise our brothers and sisters if they are doing something incorrectly, we must remember to do it for the sake of Allah (SWT) with the best of intentions.  The believer looks for excuses, not blame for his brother.  We want the best for our brothers and sisters and hence we advise them because we love them, not because we think we are better than them.  For if think we are better than them, then this is arrogance and pride and arrogance and pride was the sin that got the rejected and accursed devil kicked out of paradise and doomed for eternity.  We should not think we are better than others.  We need to humble ourselves and be thankful that we are in a position to advise others.  We shouldn’t advise people harshly, rather we need to be gentle, yet firm.  The Messenger of Allah was the best of examples sent to mankind and he would be gentle with others.  We have heard the hadith of the man who urinated in the masjid and the Prophet (SAW) handled the situation in the most eloquent of ways.  Nowadays, if a brother is praying without a kufi (head-covering) or his pants below his ankles in the masjid, we may berate him, but is this really the best way, will he continue coming to this masjid?  There may be a time for harshness, but many of us are not in the situation to handle it as we are the laymen.

With that being said, we need give advice in private.  None of us likes being called out in public and hence we should treat others the way we would want to be treated.  With that being said, when we receive advice, regardless of who it is from, we need to be thankful and considerate of it.  It takes courage to give advice and when one receives it, we should pray for that brother or sister that advised us becaus they love us, regardless of whether they are correct or not.

We need to be on our best behaviour at all times for our akhlaq may be what draws people to our beautiful and truthful religion and way of life.  Nowadays, the brothers with the big beards or the sisters with niqaab are the ones that seem to be the most intimidating, but this is incorrect.  We should set good examples.  Who said to be religious means to be stern and harsh?  Often times, harshness by our brothers and sisters may scare off those people that are young and new to the religion.  Wasn’t there one point in our lives not long ago where we may not have turned out the way we have if it wasn’t for someone who was gentle and kind to us in their teachings?

The salaf (our pious predecessors) used to study ahklaq (good manners) twice as long as they studied knowledge.  How much time have we personally devoted to purifying our souls and being steadfast in our manners and characteristics.  The Prophet (SAW) said, “I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners” (Abu Dawud) so why not aim for the highest part of paradise.  We need to be gentle, honest, and sincere in our character and manners.

I just felt the need to write this short piece up as a reminder to myself first and foremost and then to all of you for we know the reminder benefits the believer.  May Allah (SWT) allow us all to have the best of manners, to attain the highest part of Jannah, and to love one another for the sake of Allah (SWT).  Ameen.

Testing our Faith

May 31, 2009

Subhan’Allah, as American Muslims, we tend to test our iman/faith:

-by thinking we will give dawah to all the pretty girls on campus before knowing it we get emotionally attached to them when we are told to not even come close to zina

-by studying with someone of the opposite gender late into the night where Shaytan is the third amongst us

-by agreeing to shake hands with the opposite gender when we are severely warned against touching people of the opposite gender

-by subscribing to cable TV thinking we will only watch the halal shows, but we leave the door open to the possibilities

-by accepting riba from banks thinking we’ll use it for tax money when Allah and His Messenger have declared war against those who partake in riba

-by sitting at a table where alcohol is served when we are specifically prohibited from such an action

-by eating the food of those who own convenient stores selling alcohol when ten different types of people are cursed when it comes to alcohol

-by not donating any money as we fear poverty

-by having our hearts attached to the dunya instead of the ahkira when indeed the ahkira is better than the dunya

-by being awed by the non-Muslims in their dunya accomplishments when we should be pitying them instead

-by being materialistic when true wealth is being content in one’s heart

-by listening to music when it is clearly prohibited by all four madhabs

-by staying quiet when part of our deen is commanding the good and forbidding the evil

-by thinking tazkiyah is only for the sufis when in reality it is a true science of study in Islam as alluded to by the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah

-by seriously lacking in akhlaq and adab when some of the salaf studied them twice as long as they studied ilm/knowledge

-by joining up with a movement/cult/tariqa within Islam that separates from the jama when true success lies in following the jama in the Quran and Sunnah

-by asking a laymen for his or her Islamic opinion when we wouldn’t ask a laymen for medical advice

-by giving fatwa when we are clearly not a shaykh or shaykha

-by fatwa shopping

-by smoking sheesha when it’s clearly harmful to one’s health like cigarettes

-by not being thankful for all the immense blessings that have been bestowed upon us until it’s too late

-by complaining to others when we should only complain to Allah

-by procrastinating when we don’t know if we will be alive tomorrow

-by befriending the kuffar when it’s prohibited

-by thinking we are better than other people when they very well may be forgiven for their shortcomings and we may not be forgiven for ours

-by having pride not realizing it was the thing that destroyed the devil

Indeed, we test our faith and iman.  However, would be test our lives the same way?  Would we walk across the interstate/highway blindfolded?  Absolutely NOT!  Then, why do we test our iman when it is something much more valuable than our lives?

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.

got brotherhood?

February 21, 2009

Amongst one of my fondest memories in Egypt was one time when I was at a juice-stand on a street corner and I was drinking some juice (yes, I gave into this fad) with another brother from the USA.  Sitting right beside us were these two other brothers from Belgium.  Now one thing about being a foreigner in the Middle East is that you immediately recognize the other foreigners while you are there.  Anyways, the brothers from Belgium didn’t speak English (what language do they speak in Belgium anyways?) and they, like us, were relatively new to the Arabic language. We conversed for several minutes in broken Arabic before it was finally time to depart.  As we were leaving, one of the Belgium brothers said to us, “Convey our salaams to the Ahlus-Sunnah (People of the Sunnah) in America as the Ahlus-Sunnah in Europe give theirs salaams to the Ahlus-Sunnah in America.”

Subhan’Allah, the brother’s statement really got me thinking.  I started to think about the concept of brotherhood that exists in Islam and how fortunate we are to have such a unique blessing.  Indeed, this Muslim from Belgium with whom I share probably nothing in common with (not culture, language, race, ethnicity, etc) except Islam is my brother in faith.  Think about that for a moment.  He’s not my cousin or uncle or anything else, but my brother in Islam.  And this brother was able to group together millions of Muslims in Europe and tie them so closely with the millions of Muslims in the United States.  Instant love exists within our hearts for our fellow Muslim brothers and this phenomenal love cannot be explained, but only truly experienced.

Indeed, the Quran states, “the Believers are but a single Brotherhood” (translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran, 49:10).  The Messenger of God (SAW) stated, “None of you will have faith till he wishes for his brother what he likes for himself” (Bukhari).

Therefore, O Muslim, meet new brothers, spread the salaams, smile in the face of your brother and prefer your brother over yourself for indeed, we will see the fruits of such beauty in this life and the Hereafter, insh’Allah.

Related readings: Rights of Brotherhood in Islam and Islamic Brotherhood

Ibn al-Qayyim [rahimahullah] said,

When a person spends his entire day with no other concern but Allaah alone, 

  • Allaah [subhaa nahu wa ta’ala] will take care of all his needs and take care of all that is worrying him. 
  • He will empty his heart so that it will be filled only with love for Him, free his tongue so that it will speak only in remembrance of Him [dhikr], and cause all his faculties to work only in obedience to Him.

But when a person spends his entire day with no other concern but this world, 

  • Allaah will make him bear its distress, anxiety and pain. 
  • He will leave him to sort himself out, and cause his heart to be distracted from the love of Allaah towards the love of some created being.  
  • He will cause his tongue to speak only in remembering people instead of remembering Allaah.
  • He will cause him to use his talents and energy in obeying and serving the people.
  • This person will strive hard, laboring like some work-animal, to serve something other than Allaah.

Everyone who turns away from being a true slave of Allaah by obeying and loving Him, will be burdened with servitude to some created being. Allaah says in the Qur’an [interpretation of the meaning]:

And whosoever turns away [blinds himself] from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent, We appoint for him a shaytaan to be his Qareen [intimate companion]. (Sura al-Zukhruf, Ayah 36).

It was narrated that Anas [radi Allaahu anhu] said that the Prophet [sallal laahu alaihi wa sallam] said: 

Whoever is mainly concerned about the Hereafter, Allaah will make him feel independent of others and will make him focused and content, and his worldly affairs will fall into place.  But whoever is mainly concerned with this world, Allaah will make him feel in constant need of others and will make him distracted and unfocused, and he will get nothing of this world except what is decreed for him.  (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 2389 and classed as Saheeh by Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddin al-Albaani [rahimahullah])

(Source: al-Fawaa’ id, page 159)