By my brother, Muhammad Tim, 4th year student at Madinah University:

Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu,

All praise is due to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and his companions.

With regard to the matter of sincere intention, it seems that some people are confused with regard to certain aspects. Therefore, I wished to make the following points, and all success is from Allah:-

1. Firstly, the correct intention is one of two conditions for every act of worship to be accepted, along with the action being in accordance to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The proof for this is the statement of Allah, the Exalted, The proof for this principle can be found in Allah’s statement: “So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.” [Al-Kahf 18:110].

2. Secondly, the essence of the correct intention is for an action to be sincerely for the sake of Allah, and not to contain any form of shirk, or giving some of Allah’s rights to someone or something else. Fadl bin Ziyaad said, “I asked Abu Abdullah (i.e., Imaam Ahmad) about the intention in action, how should it be? He said, ‘One should treat his self when he intends to do an action, not desiring by it the people (i.e. showing off).’”

3. Thirdly, intention is something that needs to be constantly reviewed and worked upon. Sufyaan ath-Thawree said, “I have not battled with anything more difficult than my intention.”

4. Fourthly, the fact that another person is the cause for some of your good deeds, or that they call you to guidance, or that they encourage you to do something which you were not intending to do, does not affect your intention. This is part of the foundation of da’wah and calling people to guidance. The Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – used to encourage some of the companions to do actions that they were not intending to do, and he encouraged others to do the same. The Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said, “Whoever calls to guidance has the reward of it and the reward of everyone who acts upon it, until the Day of Resurrection, without their reward being decreased in any way.” So if a brother comes to you and says, ‘come to the masjid’, and you were not intending to come, but because of him calling you to guidance, you decide to come, and you make your worship for the sake of Allah alone, then your intention is correct, if Allah wills, and the fact that another brother called you to do something that you had not planned to do does not affect your intention.

Similarly, if your intention was not pure, and then you realise that you have been showing off in some of your deeds, then you correct them and seek Allah’s forgiveness, then your intention returns to being correct, and if you do so before you complete the action (such as before you finish praying), then you do not lose the reward of the entire prayer.

5. Fifthly, showing off is a form of minor shirk and is extremely serious, but it is equally serious to not perform good deeds out of fear of showing off. Al Fudayl bin ‘Iyaad considered it another form of riyaa’. Rather you should say, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you from making partners with you while I realise, and I ask your forgiveness for what I do not realise.’ Leaving that which Allah has ordered you out of fear of what people may say can even reach the level of major shirk, so do not allow the shaytaan to open a door to your destruction!

To answer the question, “if a person became Muslim because of worldly reasons but later changed their intention sincerely for the sake of Allah and repented, then that is okay?”

To answer this question, my point was that it may happen, and that a person may correct themselves. A person’s Islam is not accepted by Allah until it is sincere – this is one of the conditions of laa ilaaha ill Allah, but as Muslims we are commanded to treat them as normal Muslims, since the matter of intention is left to Allah. In general, we shouldn’t rush to encourage a person who is not sincere. This does not benefit Islam and the Muslims, and the person themselves may be harmed.

However, we may see someone who has some fault in their intention, and we believe that there is a good chance that the person will be corrected, based on their environment and their character. First of all we should try to correct their intention before they become Muslim. In the example of marriage, we try to make the marriage secondary to pleasing Allah. If we believe that they will change, then we may accept their Islam. However, if the person who they are marrying is not even practising Islam, then it is unlikely that they will see the beauty of Islam, when the person they are marrying does not even see it. So, I think that we should be very careful in some of these cases. More information here: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/26758

6. Sixthly, a person may enter Islam for the sake of the dunyaa, or with a fault in their intention and then correct his or her intention, as Imaan enters their hearts, and so become from the true Muslims. This was the case of some of the companions, especially those who became Muslim after the conquest of Makkah. Some of them became Muslim for worldly reasons, but the sun did not set before Allah and His Messenger were more beloved to them than the earth and whatever was in it. This does not mean that we should encourage people to become Muslim who do not want to, however, we have not been asked to rule based on the hearts of the people, and it is possible for people to change once they see the beauty of Islam.

7. Finally, do not succumb to the whispers of shaytaan, that when a person calls you to do something good you say, ‘my intention is not right’ – this is nothing but the whisperings of the shayaateen, may Allah protect me and you from them. Rather embrace this good deed and make it sincere for Allah without showing off. This way you will get the reward for your action, as will the person who called you to do good. At the very least be honest and say, ‘I am too lazy to do it’, rather than inventing a religious excuse that Allah has given you no authority for; perhaps Allah will open your heart to the truth because of your honesty.

Don’t forget that intention alone is not enough for your deeds to be accepted. They must also be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. ‘Aa’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated that the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said, “Whoever does an action that is not in accordance with my affair [i.e., my sunnah] then it is rejected.”

May Allah grant us all beneficial knowledge and the ability to act upon it, and save us from the whisperings of the shaytaan,

Wassalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu,
Muhammad Humble.

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Allah Knows

February 16, 2009

You know, often times, when we do something worthwhile, we want the world to know about it.  Whether it’s Acing our final exams in school or scoring the winning shot in a street-basketball game, we feel it’s our duty to let people know about the ‘big things’ we accomplish everyday.  Even if it’s something that isn’t related directly to us, we feel the urge to tell others via Muslim gossip (even the good non-backbiting type).  However, the fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t really care what other people think about us.    In fact, we shouldn’t even care if other people know what we’ve accomplished.  Because the fact of the matter is, we know Allah (SWT) knows what we accomplished and to Him (SWT) is our final return.  Check out the following enjoyable read:

In one  country, the Muslim army was fighting against the Byzantine army. The number of the Byzantines was more than ten times the number of the Muslims.  The Byzantine commander was Gregorius and his daughter was by his side.  Gregorius’ daughter asked, “My father, who are these, they are merely a handful, their number is small and no more than 15,000, who are they?” 

Gregorius responded, “‘These are the Arab horsemen.”

The daughter said, “My father, give them to me as spoils.”

And so, Gregorious had given his daughter [their property’s worth] as spoils before the battle even took place.   However, Allah (SWT) had decreed that Gregorius would lose the battle and his daughter would be one of the captives and so the Gregorius was killed and his daughter captured.

After their victory, the Muslim army reconvened and the commander of the Muslim army wanted to know who killed Gregorius, but nobody answered.  The Muslim commander asked, “‘Who killed Gregorius?”

Gregorius’ daughter, who had been captured, said to the commander of the Muslims: “I know who killed my father.”

And so when Abdullah bin az-Zubayr passed next to her she said, “O, commander of the Muslims, this is the man who killed my father.”

The commander of the Muslim army asked Abdullah bin az-Zubayr, “O, Abdullah bin az-Zubayr, why did you conceal this from us?”

What did Abdullah bin az-Zubayr say in response?  His words still echo in the ear of history.

He said, “Allah knows I killed him.”

Abdullah bin az-Zubayr walked the walk and he never talked.  This is how we should strive to be where we  do and not talk!

Simply put, Tawheed al-Asma wa al-Siffat is to affirm for Allah (SWT) all the Names and Attributes that are found in the Quran and authentic Sunnah, in a manner befitting to Allah (SWT), and to negate all attributes which are negated in the Quran and Sunnah.

 One must be careful not to commit ilhad (turn away from the truth, deviate) in Allah’s Names.  The Holy Quran states, “When it is said to them, ‘Adore ye ((Allah)) Most Gracious!’  They say, ‘And what is ((Allah)) Most Gracious?  Shall we adore that which you command us?’  And it increases their flight (from the truth)” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 25:60).  This verse criticizes the pagans for rejecting just one of Allah’s Names, despite their belief in Allah and the concept of mercy.

Hence, Allah (SWT) has warned us against ilhad in His Belief and Names as the Holy Quran states, “The most beautiful names belong to Allah.  So call on Him by them; but shun such men as use profanity [i.e. distort] in His Names: for what they do, they will soon be requited” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 7:180).  Ibn al-Qayyim has listed some of the types of ilhad to include:

  • To deny (tatil) or distort (tawil) their meanings, or claim that they have no meaning (tafwid)
  • To consider them as human attributes (anthropomorphism)
  • To derive names for Allah that are not befitting Him (e.g. ‘Father’)
  • To name idols or other beings with the names of Allah or their derivates (e.g. al-Uzza, al-Manat)

May Allah (SWT) guide us all.  Ameen.

Tawheed can be broken down into three categories: Rububiyyah (Affirmation of Lordship), Asma wa al-Siffat (Names and Attributes), and Uloohiyyah (Worship).  Some of my earlier posts focused on Tawheed focused on Rububiyyah and Uloohiyyah.  Now, insha’Allah, I will try to write several posts dealing with Tawheed Asma wa al-Siffat.  Before those posts, I thought it would be nice that we could understand why it is important to study such an important matter.  The blessings of Tawheed Asma wa al-Siffat include:

  • It is half of the basis of Tawheed
  • It is the most noble of all sciences and knowledge
  • It is one of the purposes that mankind was created
  • We are commanded to learn it as the Holy Quran states, “Proclaim (or Read in other translations)!  And thy Lord is Most Bountiful”  (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 96:3)
  • The knowledge of Allah’s Names and Attributes gives life to the heart
  • Every single Name and Attribute gives life to a certain type of consciousness and humility in man
  • A love of this field of Islam is based on the love of Allah (SWT) as Jarir bin Abdullah al-Bajali reported that some of the Sahabah were with Rasoolullah (SAW) when Rasoolullah (SAW) looked at the full moon and said, “You will see your Lord in the Hereafter as you see this moon having no difficulty in seeing it.  So try your best to perform your prayers before the rising of the sun and that before its setting” (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
  • It is the basis of all other sciences, as everything in the creation returns either to the command of Allah, or His Words as the Holy Quran states, “Lo! your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six days then mounted He the Throne.  He covereth the night with the day, which is in haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His Command.  His verily is all creation and commandment.  Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 7:54)
  • It is the fundamental building block of our iman as once Rasoolullah (SAW) appointed a man to lead the prayer for a group of the Sahaba when the group when traveling. The Sahabah complained to Rasoolullah (SAW) that the appointed man would always finish his recitations with Surat al-Ikhlas. Rasoolullah said, “Ask him why he does so.” The Sahaba asked the man and he responded, “I do so because it mentions the qualities of the Beneficent, and I love to recite it (in my prayer).” Rasoolullah (SAW) said to the Sahaba, “Tell him that Allah loves him” (this story can be found in Bukhari and Muslim).  Therefore, Allah (SWT) loved a person because this person loved reciting an surat that described Allah (SWT).
  • Knowledge of Allah’s Names and Attributes is the spiritual food of the soul as the Holy Quran states, “Who have believer and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah.  Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 13:28) which is why Allah (SWT) calls the one who does not worship Him as dead (spiritually).
  • Hadith of the 99 names as Abu Hurairah reported Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Verily to Allah belongs ninety-nine names, one-hundred less one.  Whoever encompasses (memorizes and understands) them will enter paradise” (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
  • Understanding deviancy as much of today’s deviancy occurs within Tawheed Asma wa al-Siffat. 

May Allah (SWT) guide us all.  Wa assalamu alaykum.

1/3 of the Quran

May 17, 2007

Chapter 112 a.k.a. Surat al-Ikhlas (Sincerity) is well-known to many of us. Some people would ask Rasoolullah (SAW) about Allah (SWT) and in response, Surat al-Ikhlas was revealed in Makkah. For many it is the surah we recite most-often in our prayers. However, do we recite it so often because of its length and conciseness or do we recite it for its virtue and reward? What is the translation of the meaning of Surah al-Ikhlas?

Verse 1: Say, He is Allah, the One
Verse 2: Allah, the eternally Besought of all
Verse 3: He begets not nor was begotten
Verse 4: And there is none comparable unto Him

What is the value of this surat? Rasoolullah (SAW) asked the Sahaba, “Would any of you be able to recite a third of the Quran in the course of a single night?”
The Sahaba responded, “Who would be able to do that, O Rasoolullah?”
After reciting Surat al-Ikhlas, Rasoolullah (SAW) continued that it is worth a third of the Quran (this story can be found in Bukhari).

Subhana’Allah, we can be granted the reward of reciting one-third of the Quran by reciting these four short ayat. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is the most merciful. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is Ar-Rahman!

Why is Surat al-Ikhlas worth one-third of the Quran? From reading the Quran, one can realize that it is divided into three parts: legal rulings, narrations, and tawheed. Surat al-Ikhlas comprises the Names and Attributes of Allah (SWT) as it covers tawheed and the oneness of God.

Let us attempt to explain some of this beautiful surat. We can do this by concentrating on two Names of Allah (SWT) mentioned here, Al-Ahad and As-Samad. According to Imam al-Qurtubi, Al-Ahad affirms the oneness of existence that cannot be shared by anyone thing or anyone else. Similarly, Imam al-Qurtubi explains As-Samad as “the One whose dignity and sovereignty reaches the extent where all things in existence depend on for all their needs.” Surely, this quality cannot be ascribed to anyone except Allah (SWT) as it is only He who is Perfect in all of His Names and Attributes.

Surat al-Ikhlas is the perfect answer to Muslims who ascribe a shape and body to their gods. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is free of any resemblance to creation. We cannot worship an idol made out of gold, as this is not god. Allah (SWT) has no partners and He has neither children nor parents. A scholar was once sent to medieval Europe to debate a Christian priest. The Christian king greeted the scholar and the scholar met the king and priest with smiles and asked the priest how his family was doing. Unfortunately, the priest practiced celibacy and had no family. The king’s face turned angry as he said to the Muslim scholar, “Do you not know that this man is a priest. He has freed himself of such needs and impurities.” The scholar responded, “Subhana’Allah, how can your priests be free of these qualities and needs and then you assign them to Allah (SWT).”

We all should strive to learn and love Surat al-Ikhlas. Rasoolullah (SAW) appointed a man to lead the prayer for a group of the Sahaba when the group was traveling. The Sahaba complained to Rasoolullah (SAW) that the appointed man would always finish his recitations with Surat al-Ikhlas. Rasoolullah said, “Ask him why he does so.” The Sahaba asked the man and he responded, “I do so because it mentions the qualities of the Beneficent, and I love to recite it (in my prayer).” Rasoolullah (SAW) said to the Sahaba, “Tell him that Allah loves him” (this story can be found in Bukhari and Muslim).

However, when reciting this surat, we must remember we cannot recite this in lieu of reciting an entire one-third of the Quran. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote that indeed one would receive reward to the same degree of reciting one-third of the Quran for reciting Surat al-Ikhlas. However, this would not be the same reward for reciting an actual one-third of the Quran.

Regardless, we all need to love and understand the great blessings of this beautiful surat. It teaches us pure and undefiled monotheism, the true way of Islam. This is what we need to teach others when we do dawah. When talking about Islam with non-Muslims, we should always bring everything back to tawheed. Surely, there is only one God, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent.

[Taken in part from Shaykh Salman al-Oadah]

Tawassul is defined as that which brings you closer to Allah (SWT). Islamically, it is used as a way to increase the chances of a dua being accepted.

“O you who believe! Do you duty to Allah and fear Him. Seek the means of approach to Him, and strive hard in His Cause as much as you can. So that you may be succesful” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 5:35)

What are the types of tawassul confirmed by the Quran and Sunnah? They include using the Names and Attribues of Allah (SWT), by mentioning one’s state, past and present (dua of Zakariyyah), by mentioning one’s good deeds (hadith of the men trapped in a cave), and through the dua of a living person. Other types of tawassul are not found in the Quran and Sunnah and are considered innovations and can sometimes lead to shirk!

What about tawassul through the Prophet (SAW)? It is obligatory by following his Sunnah, by loving him, and by defending his honor. However, it is an innovation by asking Allah through his status, body or honor. However a number of scholars (by far still a minority as the majority of scholars were/are still opposed to such acts) have allowed making tawassul through the rights of the Prophet (SAW). Nonetheless, it should be noted that no scholars in the first two hundred years of Islam allowed such as act as it was considered an innovation. Insha’Allah, we will try to answer the evidences that are used as support for tawassul through the status of the Prophet:

  1. The first evidence used is the verse in Surat al-Maida (5:35) that is mentioned above. However, it must be understood that this verse is very general and cannot be used specifically in this issue as a proof.
  2. The second evidence used is the hadith of the blind man: “O Allah! I ask you by your prophet, the prophet of mercy. O Muhammad, I turn to you to (go) my Lord, so grant me my request… O Allah! Accept his intercession for me, and my intercession for him” (Narrated by Ahmed). Before we delve too much into this hadith, let’s try to understand it first. It should be understood that the blind man asked Allah not by the rights of the Prophet, rather the dua of the Prophet. The Prophet’s dua (or interecession as mentioned above) for this man was that he could have sight as the blind man had asked the Prophet to make dua for him. The intercession (dua) for the Prophet that the blind man himself mentions is that the dua of the Prophet be accepted for him. Therefore, the beginning of this hadith where the blind man asks Allah by his prophet is that of asking by the Prophet’s dua, not by the rights of the Prophet as clearly established by the end of the hadith. Therefore, it needs to be understood that tawassul is for the dua of the Prophet (not the rights of the Prophet). This can be confirmed by the fact that none of the other companions made dua through the rights of the Prophet (SAW) afterwards.
  3. The third evidence is the incident of Umar (ra) with Abbaas (ra). During the reign of Umar (ra) rain was needed and Umar said that they used to allow the Prophet to intercede (make tawassul) on their behalf for them to be blessed with rain. But then (since the Prophet had passed away), they asked (made tawassul) through the Prophet’s Uncle, Abbaas who then made dua for the rain (Narrated in Bukhari). This hadith itself is proof that the Sahaba did not make tawassul through the rights of the Prophet (SAW). The Sahaba did not know of such an act (as it would have been considered an innovation). They only did tawassul through means that were lawful to them (such as tawassul through a living person). This is proof that Umar (ra) did not do tawassul through the rights of the Prophet.
  4. Other hadith used as proof for tawassul through the Prophet (SAW) are either extremely weak or fabricated as the authentic hadith used as proofs have been mentioned above.
  5. The fifth evidence used is the fact that people will ask the prophets to help them on the Day of Judgement. Therefore, why can we not ask them now? The answer is simple based on the fact that we are not even in the same state of life. If we were alive and the Prophet (SAW) were alive, we could him to make dua for us. However, we are not currently in the same stage of live as the Prophet (SAW). Furthermore, this proof has nothing to do specifically with asking through the status of Rasoolullah (SAW).

The final point worth mentioning is that even if someone were to make tawassul through the rights of the Prophet, how would that do the one making dua any good as it is not related to the one making dua in his own deeds or state. Therefore, even though the rank of the Prophet (SAW) is high, what right to we have invoke upon that? Instead, we should make tawassul by dua’s such as we love the Prophet (SAW) and thus such and such…

Black Magic-Defined

May 8, 2007

What is the difference between black magic and white magic?  There is no difference!  All magic is black magic (except for fake magic such as misdirections or optical illusions).  The reality of magic involves seeking help from the jinn, which involves pleasing the jinn (i.e. worshipping them).  Therefore, all magic involves shirk!  The nature of jinns is they crave attention and adoration considering they somewhat suffer from an inferiority complex to humans.

The proofs that man is better than jinn include:

  1. intelligence and knowledge
  2. Shaytan having to prostrate to Adam (as)
  3. jinn follow our civilizations and religions
  4. the only time intentional encounters between jinn and man take place are during black magic
  5. jinn cannot harm humans unless Allah wills it

Ibn Taymiyyah (rahmatullah) held the opinion that Shaytan is the father of all jinn (as Adam (as) is the father of all man).  Insha’Allah, in a future post, I will elaborate more on jinn as this post is intended more for magic.

What are the types of magic?  They involve summoning jinns to attach/kill other people or overtake their bodies, to break marriages or prevent/hinder intercourse, and to even blow on knots with incantations (Surat Falaq, 113).  Others try to use magic to fight magic by trying to lift spells while others use it as a form of fortune-telling to predict the future.

One must differentiate between astrology and astronomy.  Astronomy (a permissible field to study) is the science which maps the movement of the stars.  Astrology is the metaphysical craft that attempts to predict the future (zodiacal signs fall under this category).    What are the evils in visiting an astrologer or sorcerer?

  • If you believe in what the fortune teller says, you claim that this person has knowledge of the unseen (an attribute of Allah), hence this is a form of shirk.
    • Proof:  Abu Hurayrah narrated, “Whoever comes to a soothsayer and believes what he says, or has intercourse with a woman in her back passage, has nothing to do with that which has been revealed to Muhammad (SAW)”  [Abu Dawud]
  • If you do not believe in what the fortune-teller says, then your prayer is not accepted for forty days!
    • Proof: “Whoever went to a fortune-teller and asked about some matter (of the unseen) and believes him, his prayer will not be accepted for forty days” [Muslim] (I believe another narration exists that does not mention the “believes him” part, however, I was unable to locate this hadith, today.  Insha’Allah, I will update this.

Now, we understand the dangers of never going to a soothsayer or a fortune-teller.  Now consider, if we were to phone the fortune-teller?  There is agreement that this is still not acceptable, correct?  What if we were to email or snail mail the fortune-teller for advice?  Still, no good, right?  What if the fortune-teller was send us his opinions on a small piece of paper wrapped up in a cookie?  Do we understand now the fitnah of fortune cookies?  Therefore, insha’Allah, we must never read fortune-cookies or our zodiac signs, even if it is for fun.  It is still haram, even if we do not believe in the contents in which we are reading.  I personally eat my fortune cookies, I am just careful not to read its contents.

Well, one may ask, I’m just doing magic or astrology for the fun of it.  To them, we should respond that one’s heart can become attached to this practice, instead of to Allah.  One may therefore start believing others know of ilm al-ghayb (unseen future).  In case of magicians, one may believe that they have power to bring good/evil.  Allah (SWT) and His messenger (SAW) have clearly prohibited these actions.  It is haram to even read about black magic.

To conclude, I would like to end with two hadith.  One in which Rasoolullah (SAW) told us to avoid the seven deadly sins.  After shirk, magic was listed second in a hadith found in Bukhari.  The second hadith worth mentioning is that whoever has done magic has done shirk (found in Nisa’i).