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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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.

Excerpts taken from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah’s book Ighaathah al-Luhfaan min Masayid al-Shaytaan.
 
Signs of an impure, diseased, and a dead heart: 

  • The person does not feel any hurt or pain when he commits evil deeds and sins.
  • The person finds both pleasure in committing acts of disobedience to Allah and a take it easy attitude after performing them.
  • The person looks after the less important matters and does not care about the more important ones.
  • The person dislikes the Truth and has difficulty accepting or submitting to it.
  • The person does not find comfort in being among the righteous people but finds a great deal of peace while among the evil and sinful.
  • The person is susceptible to be affected by misconceptions and doubts. He is attracted to discussions, debates and arguments that surround such misconceptions rather than trying to understand the Qur’an, follow the Sunnah and other such beneficial acts. [This aspect can truly be seen nowadays among Muslims, especially over the Internet. Today, a Muslim may spend hours discussing, for example whether or not Hijaab is part of Islam or if Riba [Usury, Interest] is forbidden and so forth. Many times, such discussions begin by quoting non-Muslim authors, hours are wasted and no one learns any aspect of the Deen].
  • The person may not be affected by any kind of admonition whatsoever. [Some people, for example, have the capacity of listening to many Khutbahs [Islamic lectures], but still it does not bring any change in them. Or when someone is given repeated advices and warnings from those who are knowledgeable in Deen, it doesn’t affect them. They arrogantly insist upon sticking with the falsehood].

Imam Hasan al-Basree [rahimahullah] once said to a man, “Cure your heart for Allah desires that His slaves should purify their hearts.  You should know that you never truly love Allah until you love obeying Him.” (Jaami’ al-‘Uloom v.1 by Ibn Rajab)
 
The heart cannot become purified until a person knows Allah, loves Him, fears Him, has hope in Him and trusts Him. This is the true realization of the statement Laa ilaaha ill-Allah.  The heart will never be pure until it loves, deifies [worships, exalts], fears, and submits to no one except Allah, eventually ending up of the limbs by following and making the actions pure.

Sufyaan ath-Thawree [rahimahullah] said:

  • Improve your secret and private life, and Allah will improve your public and social life. 
  • Make matters well between you and Allah, and Allah will make matters well between you and people. 
  • Work for the Hereafter, and Allah will be enough for you in your worldly concerns.
  • Purchase the Hereafter, and use this worldly life as a method of payment for your purchase, and as a result you will gain profit both in this world and in the hereafter. But do not purchase this world at the cost of the Hereafter, for if you do so you will lose out on both the worlds.

By Shaykh Muhammad Fat-hi

Is there still a chance? Can my sins be forgiven? I have committed all kinds of sins, can I get them wiped out? Would Allah really accept me after years of deviation and defiance? These are some of questions that haunt many people when they think of repentance (tawbah) and decide to do away with their shameful past.

The answer to these painful questions was provided by our beloved teacher, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He related to us the story of a man who murdered not one, two, or even a dozen of people. He slew 100 people but was still eager to repent and turn over a new leaf.

How did Allah receive such a person? Did Allah accept him or kick him out of His mercy? Let’s start our journey with this man and try to take lessons from each juncture in his story:

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed 99 people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted.”

Ninety-nine persons were murdered by this man, but his heart was still alive. His conscience pricked him and he felt the innate disposition towards good. He was ashamed of his black record and wanted to rectify it. He actually made the decision to repent and followed this decision with the first practical steps. This is an important point, in fact, for procrastination is one of the evilest satanic traps. Sometimes, you feel enthusiastic and eager to correct your path, but if you do not turn these wishes into deeds, the wishes quickly abate. They are merely daydreams, castles in the air.

There is still another lesson to be considered: When looking for a counselor, this murderer asked about the most learned person on earth. This teaches us to be careful when seeking a fatwa or advice. When you get sick or have something wrong with you, you go to the best doctor. When you intend to build a house, you go to the best architect. We should bear in mind that the matter of religion is far more serious.

Now, did the person to whom our remorseful murderer was referred rise up to the expectations? Let’s see:

“He replied in the negative and the man killed him also, completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man on the earth. He was directed to a scholar.”

Alas, the monk was not qualified to give advice on such matters. He was a monk dedicating his life to worship and devotion. But this is not sufficient to give counsel and fatwas to people. To do so, one needs to be a knowledgeable scholar who is well-acquainted with the principles and teachings of Islam. This setback, however, did not prevent the man from pursuing, once again, the path of Allah. This is an important point because many people give in after the first failure, and only one obstacle is enough to make them retrace their steps.

Now, the murderer is referred to a reliable scholar.

“He [the murderer] told him that he had killed 100 people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. The scholar replied in the affirmative and asked, ‘Who stands between you and repentance?’”

This is the right answer. Allah’s mercy is wide open and He Almighty is ready to receive the sincere repentant. But, is it enough to just say “I repent”? Is repentance a matter of lip service and ritual formalities? Let’s see what the advice of the knowledgeable scholar was:

“‘Go to such-and-such land; there (you will find) people devoted to worship of Allah. Join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.’”

So, break your repentance down into practical steps. Abandon anything that attracts you to your sinful past; avoid bad friends who tempt you to sin; ready yourself for the new life by preparing a helpful environment.

“So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, ‘This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah,’ and the angels of punishment argued, ‘He never did a virtuous deed in his life.’ Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.’ They measured and found him closer to the land (of piety) where he intended to go, and so the angels of mercy collected his soul.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the happy end. True, this person did not do one single good act and his record was as black as coal. But, no problem; since he embarked upon the journey to Allah, Allah would not reject him. So here is a man who killed 100 people, but his repentance was accepted and he was welcomed.

Do you still believe that your sins are too much to be forgiven? Are you still hesitant to start your own journey?

Source: www.islamonline.net