Do You Smile?

January 4, 2010

I used to visit a specific masjid and for a bit of time I did not look forward to attending that masjid.  I didn’t know anyone there and very few people there made an effort to reach out.  I would see brothers that I would see every day and they wouldn’t smile at me and so I didn’t feel as welcome as I should have.  Maybe it was because they were stingy with their smiles or maybe I wasn’t a member of their click (maybe I wasn’t tablighi enough for the Pakistanis or salafi enough for the Saudis or Arab enough for the Palestinians or convert enough for the blacks (bad generalizations on purpose) etc etc).  In reality, if I wasn’t stubborn enough, there is a good chance I would have stopped going to that masjid because of the uncomfortable environment. 

Muslims are supposed to be welcoming, cheerful people, especially around other Muslims.  We know from the hadith that smiling for your brother is a charity, yet many of us decide we don’t have enough smiles to give out or we decide we only want to smile to those we know.  For those that cannot smile for their fellow Muslim brother, this is a completely moronic and idiotic train of thought that comes from nationalism, miserliness or ignorance.

If you look at the kuffar and the environment they’ve produced around us here in the West, you will notice that these people will make an effort.  They will make eye contact with you.  They will smile in your face and ask you how your day is going.  They will make small talk.  What is wrong with us (the Muslims) when we cannot do this amongst ourselves?

For those that want the scientific benefits of smiling (though the Sunnah should be enough for us), Dr. Mark Stibich (via about.com) notes ten reasons to smile:

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive:
We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away — but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood:
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling Is Contagious:
When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress:
Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System:
Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure:
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin:
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger:
The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful:
Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive:
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Therefore, O Muslim, smile, it’s the sunnah!  So I ask you, do you smile?
Related: Do You Miswak? and Do You Adhan?

The Fiqh of Priorities

September 1, 2009

It is a sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW) to shorten the dhuhr and asr prayers to two rakat instead of four during the time of Hajj. However, Uthman (the caliph at the time) thought the sunnah was to pray the full four rakat. Ibn Masood , who had personally seen the Prophet (SAW) shorten his prayers during Hajj, approached Uthman to tell him of the correct opinion. However, Uthman held firm to what he believed was correct and led the prayer in full. Ibn Masood prayed behind Uthman the full prayer.

Afterwards, a group of Muslims came to Ibn Masood and asked him why he prayed the full four rakat behind Uthman when he could have waited for the prayer to be over and then prayed the shortened prayer by himself. After all, Ibn Masood had personally seen the Prophet (SAW) shorten the prayer himself and knew it to be the correct opinion. Ibn Masood responded that to shorten the prayers during Hajj is a sunnah, however, to follow the imam is an obligation.

Here we are given a glimpse into the Fiqh of Priorities. We are to give precedence to that which is more important. So next time you want to become a fitnah in your community and raise a ruckus about whether the Taraweeh prayers should be eight or twenty rakat, ask yourself, “Is this what the companions of the Prophet (SAW) would do?” After all, the true sunnah here is to pray what the imam has prayed as Abu Dharr said the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer” (Tirmidhi).

For a lecture on the Fiqh of Priorities, check out Yasir Fazaqa’s lecture available on AudioIslam here (it’s the 22nd lecture listed).

How to Prepare for Ramadan

August 16, 2009

A lot of us yearn to prepare for Ramadan, but we have no idea how to start. Below are a few tips to insha’Allah help prepare our minds and hearts for this upcoming Month of Mercy.

1. Making the Intention

Simple to do and has a powerful impact. Maybe you want to prepare for Ramadan, but between school, work, family, and any other activities, you just have no idea how to fit in ‘Preparing for Ramadan’ time. Instead of making ‘preparing for Ramadan’ something separate from your daily activities, MAKE your daily activities a means of preparation for Ramadan.

For example, perhaps your mom asked you to pick up your brother from school on the day you finally had time to read a few extra pages of Qur’an. Instead of feeling upset and feeling like you have lost a great preparation for Ramadan opportunity, make the intention that you are picking up your brother to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and prepare for Ramadan by obeying your mother, helping your family members, building ties of kinship… and the list continues.

The point is that preparing for Ramadan does not have to be some magnificent, enormous, extra-special thing that needs to be done at a certain time of the day. Many of your daily actions can be turned into Ramadan preparation actions with a sincere intention, insha’Allah.

2. Do these easy-to-reap-reward actions:

Asking Allah to forgive your brothers and sisters. “Whoever seeks forgiveness for believing men and believing woman, Allah will write for him a good deed for each believing man and believing woman.” [at-Tabarani, classed as hasan by al-Albani]

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (r.a) said “The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Whoever says subhanAllah wa bi hamdih (praise and glory be to Allah) 100 times, morning and evening, his sins will be erased even if they are like the foam on the sea.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 6042; Muslim 2691

If a person says “SubhanAllah” (glory be to Allah) 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away. Narrated by Muslim 2073

Remember Allah when you go shopping : “Whoever enters a market and says: “Laa ilaha illallah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu yuhyi wa yumeetu wa huwa hayyun laa yamoot, bi yadihil khair, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadeer’[there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, alone without partner, to Him belongs dominion and praise, He causes life and death and He is the Living and does not die. In His Hand is all the good, and He is over all things competent]Allah will write for him/her a million good deeds and erase a million bad deeds and raise him a million levels.” [at-Tirmidhi, classed as hasan by al-Albani]

3. Up your worship

To help condition your heart for this blessed month, intensify your worship before Ramadan begins. Just a small, consistent amount is enough. The Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam told us:
“The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”

For example, if I always pray 2 rakats of sunnah after ishaa, from this day until Ramadan begins- and even through Ramadan, let me make the intention that I will now pray 2 extra rakats of sunnah after ishaa. And every time I pray these extra 2 rakats, which are more than what I normally pray, let me remember that I am doing these with the intention of asking Allah to help me be prepared to strive and exert my utmost effort during Ramadan.

4. Make a duaa list today

This is THE MONTH to ask for EVERYTHING, both related to this life and the Next. Let us not wait until the last 10 nights to make special duaas, and then once Eid passes realize that we had completely forgotten about fifty other things we needed to make duaa for. Let us start making our lists now, and add to it as more things come our way. Insha’Allah this should help us remember to make constant duaa in this month where duaa is accepted, and help our hearts pour out to the One Who can make those duaas happen, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

5. Write out your objectives for Ramadan

Praying all of your fard prayers? Praying all of your sunnahs? Reading the entire Qur’an? Giving $1 charity a day? Making itikaaf in the masjid? Leaving one serious sin that you’ve been trying to get away from for some time now? Sincerely turning completely back to Allah?
Write out a list, put them somewhere you will see them, and make duaa for your success in fulfilling these objectives.

6. Make a plan!

Look at your objectives, and try to make a plan on how to actualize those objectives in this month.

For example, perhaps you are really struggling to pray your sunnah prayers. In this month, realize the enormity of the ajr of praying the sunnah prayers… think that perhaps these sunnahs will be the deeds that will be so heavy on your scale of good deeds when you are intense need of them- on yowm al qiyamah. Therefore, fight to keep doing them all throughout Ramadan. If you can’t pray your 2 rakats after dhur right away, make sure to do them as soon as you get a chance.

Thus, your plan might look something like this:
Objective: Pray all of my fard prayers.
Method: Envision myself on the day of judgment seeing the insha’Allah weight of praying my sunnah consistently during this month. Make sure to pray sunnah salah immediately after salah. If I cannot, do it as soon as the opportunity arises… don’t let myself put it off!

Another example is that of finishing the Qur’an:
Objective: Finishing the entire Qur’an in this month.
Method: Read 4 pages of the Qur’an after every salah. 5 prayers X 4 pages = 20 pages. 20 pages= about 1 juz. 1 juz X 30= the entire Qur’an.
——-
So many Muslims have passed away since last month. So many people have not made it to Ramadan this year. Last year was their very last Ramadan. Will you make it to this Ramadan? Will this be your last Ramadan?

Aim to strive in this Ramadan. With a very small amount of effort, such as just making a small intention, or adding a few extra acts of worship, we pray that Allah will help our hearts soften and honor us with making it easy to turn to Him and open up to Him.

May Allah make us of the successful in Ramadan, and make it easy for us to turn to Him completely and perpetually. Ameen

(Written by Sr. Maryam from www.suhaibwebb.com)

Do You Miswak?

May 2, 2009

I used to get a couple of cavities a year in my visits to the local dentist.  Then, however, I discovered miswak, the Sunnah toothbrush.  Subhan’Allah, for the last couple of years, I’ve been cavity-free.  I don’t use the miswak too often, maybe a couple seconds here or there after making wudhu or before the prayer.  However, the fact of the matter is that the Sunnah toothbruth is an effective tool for not only keeping your teeth fresh and clean, but also gaining the pleasure of our Lord, insh’Allah.  The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said, “Siwaak cleanses the mouth and pleases the Lord” (Bukhari).

The Prophet (SAW) highly recommended the use of the siwak as he said, “Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak at every time of prayer” (Bukhari).

The miswak is a confirmed Sunnah and it is something we all should try to implement into our daily lives, not just for the sake of the cleanliness of our teeth, but also for the sake of implementing a beautiful Sunnah. 

So I ask you, do you miswak?

A Good Night’s Sleep

April 13, 2009

By Shaykh Salman al-Oadah

It might seem funny to devote an article to sleeping. But think about it. The average person spends around eight hours of a 24-hour day asleep. That is a third of a person’s lifetime.

Allah describes sleep as a blessing from Him. He says in the Qur’an:

“And We made your sleep a rest for you.” [Surah al-Naba’: 9]

“And remember when He made slumber fall upon you as a reassurance from Him.” [Surah al-Anfal: 11]

“It is Allah who has made the night for you, that you may rest therein, and the days as that which helps you to see. Verily Allah is full of grace and bounty to humanity, yet most people give no thanks.” [Surah Ghafir: 61]

Sleep is not only described as a blessing bestowed upon the people, but also as a testament to Allah’s creative ability. Consider where Allah says:

“He it is who gathers up your souls at night and knows all that you do by day. Then He raises you up again, so that the term appointed for you (on Earth) may be accomplished. And afterward unto Him is your return. Then He will proclaim to you what you used to do.” [Surah al-An`am: 60]

“Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, as well as (the souls of) those who die not, during their sleep. Then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and sends the others back until an appointed term. Most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.” [Surah al-Zumar: 42]

Yes, sleep is His creation, and it has its marvels. A sleeping person drifts away from his consciousness and reason, only to be fully restored to his rational faculties upon waking, refreshed and revitalized.

A sleeping person can see the strangest and most amazing things, things that a waking person could never possibly see. Our ability to dream is another of Allah’s blessings, and another sign of His greatness.

We can appreciate the importance of sleep if we consider that Allah guided His Messenger (peace be upon him) regarding the etiquettes of sleeping, like being in a state of purity and lying on his right side. (As for facing the qiblah, this is actually not established by the Sunnah.)

Likewise, a number of remembrances and supplications are prescribed for sleeping. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed `Ali b. Abi Talib and Fatimah to say “Subhan Allah” 33 times, “al-Hamdu Lillah” 33 times, and “Allah Akbar” 33 times. He informed them that doing so will remove their fatigue and revitalize them, and said: “It is better than having a servant.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Our generation is sometimes accused of being “the sleeping generation”. Most of us certainly do not need to sleep more than we already do. Nevertheless, we must respect our need to sleep by observing the etiquettes and approaches to sleep that will maximise the benefit that we get from it. This, in turn, helps us manage stress and makes our waking hours more productive.

It is a mistake to dismiss the importance of sleep. We all need it, and we all get our daily quota of sleep. Therefore, it is wrong that we make light of the subject of sleep and disdain reading or speaking about it, as if it were something superfluous.

In order to sleep better, we should first relax a bit. We need to unwind from the pressures, worries, and distresses of the day. We need to end the day on a note of forgiveness and with a few moments of tenderness with our families. We need to recite our remembrances of Allah and rid our hearts of all our animosities. We should not lay our heads down on our pillows with resentfulness in our hearts and angry thoughts in our minds. We should make our last thoughts of the day positive ones.

Source:  www.islamtoday.com

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)

Residual Ajr

January 24, 2009

Subhan’Allah, how people chase after money in this world and attempt to set-up residual incomes for themselves and their families.  However, how many of us attempt to set-up residual hassanah (reward) for our hereafter?  Just reflect on the follow hadith:

Jarir bin ‘Abdullah al-Bajali narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever introduces some good practice in Islam will have the reward of it, as well as the reward of those who act on it after him, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And whoever introduces some evil practice in Islam will bear the burden of it as well as the burden of those who act on it after him, without theirs being diminished in any respect.” (Bukhari)

How can we take advantage of such ‘residual ajr’?  Subhan’Allah, there are multiple ways as Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “When a human dies, his good deeds stop, except three: a sadaqa jariyya (continuous charity), a beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child that prays for him” (Muslim).

One way is through our wealth by giving in a cause that will work for us continuously, insh’Allah.  These projects could include the building of a masjid or a school.  We can also donate to a dawah project or buy books and  donate them to a library amongst many different things.

Another way is through knowledge.  We can teach at a weekend school little children how to read the Quran.  We can give dawah (to Muslims and non-Muslims).  We can teach a new Muslim how to pray.  We can establish a weekly-halaqa in our community.  We can set-up a dawah project at our MSAs that will continue to run even after we’ve graduated.

And another way is through righteous children.  We can raise on children upon the truth.  We can help them in memorizing the Book of Allah.  We can give them a proper Islamc education and upbringing and insh’Allah everytime they do good b/c our actions, we will see the fruit of it in the Hereafter.  May Allah (SWT) bless us all with beautiful, pious children.  Ameen.

A common debate topic amongst Muslims today is the issue of non-zabihah meat and whether or not it is permissible to eat.  Can we, as Muslims, eat a Big Mac at McDonalds?  Can we eat Kosher meat?  I recently attended a “debate” in which two shaykhs argued their sides in a discussion manner that was very respectful and dignified.  One scholar, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, representing the Hanbali opinion, argued the meat of the Christians here in the United States is not-permissible while another scholar, Shaykh Yaser Birjas, representing the Shafi opinion, argued the chicken that is available wide-spread in America is permissible.  Here’s the breakdown of the opinions:

Taking into account the Quranic Ayaat found in Surat Maidah, the main difference of opinion between the different schools of thought comes down to the fact of whether or not saying the Bismillah is wajib (obligatory) or mustahhab (desirable) before the actual slaughter takes place.  Apparently the Hanafis, Malikis, and Hanbalis all consider saying the Bismillah as wajib before the slaughter takes place.  The modern Shafis consider the saying of Bismillah as recommended, but not required.  Shaykh Bin Baaz also followed the opinion that saying Bismillah is also required. 

It should be noted both scholars agreed that Kosher meat is permissible since the Jews do mention the name of Allah (SWT) before their slaughter.  However, both scholars also agreed that red meat in America should be avoided on the premise that much of the red meat available here comes from animals that have died from stunning (Fatwa here).  The audio of the dialogue is available here.

Before we delve too much, we must consider the USA or our respective country to be a place where the majority of the people are Ahl-Kitaab or else this discussion is useless.  Now, is the USA a Christian country?  Allahu Alim.  Let’s consider it one for this discussion, but do keep this Fatwa in the back of your mind. 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the issue.  The Jews do follow the Torah and they slaughter in the name of Allah for their Kosher meat.  Therefore, Kosher meat is permissible for Muslims today.  Christians are also required to follow the Old Testament and hence, they are to slaughter in the name of God.  However, this aspect of Christian Law is completely neglected today and they do not mention anything when they slaughter their meat.  If a Christian were to say, “In the Name of the Lord,” then this meat would be permissible.  However, as we know, this does not take place amongst today’s Christians.

With that being said, what’s happened here in America today is that many of the ‘modern-day salafis’ have misinterpreted a fatwa from Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin.  Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin lived his life in Saudi Arabia and never lived in the West (though he did travel to the USA for medical purposes).  Living in Saudi Arabia, he did not interact with Christians on a regular basis.  It appears he was not aware that ALL Christians have abandoned this practice of stating the name of Allah.  If one reads his fatwa, he states that if one is unsure whether or not a Christian has mentioned Allah or not, then this meat is, by default, permissible.  However, the fact of the matter is, we know FOR SURE that the name of Allah has not been mentioned by these Christians when they slaughter their meat.  Shaykh Yasir Qadhi was once in a gathering with Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin when a student asked, “Is their meat permissible when I know 100% for sure that they are slaughtering without saying Bismillah?”  Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin responded by saying then, this meat is haraam (just) for you.  It appears that the Shaykh thought that this student of knowledge that asked this question was one of very few people who knew for sure that modern-day Christians do not say Bismillah.  However, the reality of the fact is that we ALL know that the name of Allah is not mentioned before the slaughter amongst Christians.  Furthermore, if a Christian were to mention someone, it would probably be Jesus, in which case, the meat is haraam for it has been slaughtered in the name of other than Allah!

In closing, I leave you with the follow hadith to consider:
Adi b. Hatim reported: Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said to me:  When you let off your dog, recite the name of Allah, and if it catches (game for you) and you find it alive, then slaughter it; if you find it killed and that (your dog) has eaten nothing out of that, (even then) you may eat it; but if you find along with your dog another dog, and (the game an) dead, then don’t eat, for you do not know which of the two has killed it” (Muslim).

By Sheikh `Abd al-Majîd b. Sâlih al-Mansûr
 
Anas b. Mâlik relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Women and fragrance have been made dear to my affections, but prayer was made the sweetness of my eyes.”

This hadîth is related in Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Nasâ’î al-Kubrâ, among other sources. It is an authentic hadîth. It has been authenticated by al-Hâkim in al-Mustadrak and by Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî in Fath al-Bârî.

In some narrations it reads, “From your worldly life, women and fragrance have been made dear to my affections…”

However, the variant narration that begins: “Three things from your worldly life have been made dear to me…” is not authentic. It is not established in any of the primary hadîth source works. Moreover, it is a strange narration since its meaning is contradictory, as prayer is not a matter of our worldly lives, but rather off our spiritual lives.

This hadîth is rich in its benefits. It informs us of the relationship a believer should have with prayer as well as with the world. It shows how Islam balances our spiritual lives and our worldly aspirations.

For the devotees of Allah, prayer is the most beloved of all experiences. It is where they find peace and contentment. Without it, they cannot find harmony, balance, and satisfaction in their lives. They need the experience of reverence and awe before Allah that prayer affords them.

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqlânî explains: “The ‘sweetness of one’s eyes’ is the beloved that one hopes never to depart from to the bliss that this beloved brings and the happiness that it enriches one’s life with. This is experience with prayer only by those who are reverently patient.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had attained an unparalleled level of devotion, where worshipping Allah became something much more than beloved to him. Ibn al-Qayyim writes:
No pleasure in this world compares to the bliss of the denizens of Paradise except for this. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Women and fragrance have been made dear to my affections, but prayer was made the sweetness of my eyes.”

Here the Prophet (peace be upon him) tells us that two things of the world have been made dear to him – women and fragrance. Then he informs us that it is prayer which is the sweetness of his eyes. This is something far more than love. The “sweetness of the eyes” is the most beloved of all – that which is loved for its own sake. The object of this love is none other than Allah. Everything else that is loved is beloved for His sake and does not in any way contend with the love for Him…

Prayer is the sweetness of the eyes of Allah’s devotees in this world, since it is the communion between the worshipper and his Lord, and this is the only way that the heart finds contentment and the soul finds peace.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his caller to prayer: “O Bilal, give us our rest in prayer.” From this we know that prayer is what brought the Prophet relaxation and respite, just as it was the sweetness of his eyes.

We should, therefore, think twice before we say something like: “I offered so much prayer and then I took a rest from praying.” For a true devotee, it is within prayer that rest and contentment are to be found. Such a person will love to prolong the prayer so as not to depart from that which is beloved.

By contrast, the person whose heart is heedless of Allah will find prayer to be a burden. Standing for each prayer will be like standing on a hot coal, and the person will fidget until that prayer is over and done with – the shorter the prayer, the better.

What factors will make prayer the sweetness of your eyes?

1. Sincerity: Your reason for offering the prayer is the love of Allah and your desire to draw near to Him and seek His pleasure.

2. Devotion: Your heart is focused entirely on Allah. Your inner being is as fully involved in the prayer as your body which is going through the outward motions. Your mind is not distracted.

3. Proper performance: Your prayer must be carried out in accordance with the Prophet’s example. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed us, saying: “Pray as you have seen me praying.” Care should be taken to observe the prayer in all of its details as it was learned from the Prophet by his Companions. It also means that no additional rites or practices should be added to the prayer.

4. Perceptiveness: The Prophet said: “Worship Allah as if you see him, and though you do not see him, you know that He indeed sees you.” This is how the Prophet (peace be upon him) defined the perfection of faith.

5. Gratefulness: You should recognize that it is only by Allah’s grace that you are praying to Him. It is the greatest of privileges that He has blessed you to be offering this prayer. This is a key factor in prayer becoming the sweetness of your eyes. The more acutely privileged you feel to be offering your prayer, the more beloved that prayer will be to you.

6. Humility: We should never feel haughty and self-satisfied with our piety. Rather, we need to feel that the prayers we are offering are not enough. Though we may strive to do the best we can, our worship must always fall far short of the mark. Allah’s greatness far surpasses our ability to glorify Him. His kindness and mercy far outweigh our gratitude.
Our Worldly Desires

This hadith refutes the idea that piety means the renunciation of worldly pleasures or devotion to Allah requires monasticism. This is one of the benefits we derive from the Prophet (peace be upon him) telling us: “Women and fragrance have been made dear to my affections.” We are not called upon to forsake what Allah has made lawful and good. There is no piety in renouncing wholesome pleasures.

Some people think of asceticism in outward terms. They mistake a “pious image” that other people can see for true piety and Godliness. This is because they are ignorance of the Prophet’s guidance in this matter. He was the most God-fearing of all people, but he would fast on some days and eat on others. He would spend part of the night in prayer, but he would also sleep. He got married. After elaborating this to his followers, he said: “And whoever desires something other than my way is not of me.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

He never behaved like those conspicuously “pious” people who look emaciated and dress in rags. The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that piety is an inward quality. It is the relationship that we have with our Lord. The Propet (peace be upon him) took great care of his appearance. He was a clean person. He wore presentable clothes. He wore fragrance. This did not contradict with his asceticism in any way.

Ibn Rajab, while commenting on this hadîth, explains: Asceticism means to turn your heart away from being preoccupied with the world and to focus on seeking knowledge of Allah and nearness to Him. It means to long for Allah and to desire to ultimately return to Him.

These things are not of the world in the first place. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From your worldly life, women and fragrance have been made dear to my affections, but prayer was made the sweetness of my eyes.” He did not count prayer among the worldly matters that were made beloved to him.

I conclude by beseeching Allah to make our words and deed righteous, and that He may bless us to be sincere to Him.

(Source: www.muslimlinkpaper.com)

I remember a professor once described to our class the four categories of people.  Even though the topic was related to science, I feel it also applies to Islam and the knowledge we possess.  Read the following categories of people and think about which category best suits you.  Without further ado:

1.       Unconsciously Incompetent – This person would be the individual that does not know anything, yet he does not realize he doesn’t know anything.  People in this category tend to jump to make conclusions about Islam and they convey their thoughts and fatwas to others.  Unfortunately, this category probably entails the largest amount of people as everyone thinks of themselves as knowledgeable in Islam.  The masses consider their Islamic knowledge to be sufficient.  However, the reality is, many of us have little to no formal Islamic education.  How can we think we are knowledgeable about Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh or any other Islamic-related matter when we are probably at a fifth-grade level in our Islamic comprehension? 

2.       Consciously Incompetent – This group of people would include the category of people who do not anything and they know they do not know anything.  Many times, this is the category for the beginner student of knowledge who will quickly realize this is the category that best suits him or her.  We need to learn how much knowledge there is out there for us to learn in terms of Islam.  People with little to no formal Islamic education often times realize their place at the bottom of the food-chain in terms of knowledge.  The masses will often ask these people their Islamic questions, but the people in this category will often refuse to answer or answer with a simple, “Allahu Alim.”   As the saying goes, the more you learn, the more you learn how little you know.

3.       Consciously Competent – This group of people are those that are knowledgeable and they know it.  I would argue that this is the category our ulema (scholars) fall into.  They have formal Islamic education and they have been trained in various Islamic sciences.  These people impart knowledge onto others since they know they have been blessed with such a beautiful thing.

4.       Unconsciously Competent – This is a very small group of people.  It includes those people that know and they know it subconsciously.  Knowledge is natural to them.  I would classify the biggest scholars of Islam into this category.  For the muhaddith of the faqih, knowledge is second-nature to them even though they are quite humbled by the enormous blessing that has been bestowed upon them by the Mercy of Allah (SWT).

Now ask yourself, which category are YOU in?

Sajdah As-Shukr

October 25, 2008

Subhana’Allah, there are so many sunnahs out there now that are neglected.  One of these sunnahs is the sajdah as-shukr (the prostration of thankfulness).  The fact of the matter is we should go directly into sajdah whenever we hear any good news from a good grade on a test to recognizing any beautiful bounty Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us.  Sajdah as-Shukr is easy and takes seconds (if we want it to).  The place of sajdah is when we are closest to Allah (SWT) and it is the ideal position in which for us to make dua to Allah (SWT).  Let’s make this one sunnah that we revive, insh’Allah.  Below is Sayyid Sabiq’s collection of hadith with some commentary on Sajdah as-Shukr as found in his work, Fiqh-us-Sunnah:

The majority of the scholars say that it is preferred to make prostrations of thankfulness (shukr) when one receives a bounty or is rescued from some trial. Abu Bakr reports that, when the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam received something which pleased him or some glad tidings, he would make the sajdah in thanks to Allah. This is related by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmizhi who says it is hasan.

And al-Baihaqi records, with a chain that meets al-Bukhari’s conditions, that when ‘Ali wrote to the Messenger of Allah, informing him that Hamazhan had embraced Islam, the Prophet prostrated, and when he raised his head, he said: “Peace be upon Hamazhan, peace be upon Hamazhan.”

‘Abdurrahman ibn ‘Auf relates that the Messenger of Allah went out once and he followed him until he entered a grove of palm trees and prostrated. His prostration was so long that ‘Abdurrahman feared that Allah had taken his soul. ‘Abdurrahman came to look at him and he raised his head and said: “What is wrong, Abdurrahman’?” Abdurrahman mentioned what had happened, and he said: “Gabriel alehi as-salam came to me and said: ‘Shall I not give you glad tidings’? Allah says to you, Whoever prays upon you, I pray upon him. Whoever salutes you, I salute him.’ Therefore, I prostrated to Allah in thanks.” This is related by Ahmad and by AlHakim who says: “It is sahih according to the criterion of al-Bukhari and Muslim. And I do not know anything more authentic than that.”

Al-Bukhari records that Ka’b ibn Malik made a sajdah when he received the news that Allah had accepted his repentance. Ahmad records that ‘Ali performed the sajdah when he heard the news that Zhul-Thudayyah of the Khawarij was killed. Also, as mentioned before, Sa’id ibn Mansur recorded that Abu Bakr made sajdah in thankfulness when Musailimah was killed.

The prostration of thankfulness is bound by the same requirements as the prostration in prayer, while some disagree as it is not a prayer. The author of Fath al-‘Alam remarks: “This latter opinion is closer to being correct.” Ash-Shaukani said: “There is nothing in the hadith to prove that ablution and purity of the clothes and place are required for sajdat-us-shukr. And that is the opinion of Imam Yahya and Abu Talib. And these hadith are silent about any takbir being made with the prostration. In alBahr it is stated that there is a takbir. Imam Yahya says: ‘One is not to make the prostration of thankfulness during a prayer as it is not part of the prayer.'”

Reference for Fiqh-us-Sunnah found at www.islamalways.com