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.

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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?

One of the most popular things for people to do nowadays in the Muslim community is to gossip.  Subhan’Allah, many of the immature girls in our community do it constantly, not realizing they are ruining their account with Allah (SWT) and backbiting their fellow Muslimah.  I’ve done a previous post on backbiting and gheebah, but in this post I wanted to emphasis the seriousness of one aspect of it by relating the following hadith:

The Prophet (SAW) stated, “Avoid the seven noxious things: associating anything with Allah, magic, killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just case, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, turning back when the army advances, and slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet” (Bukhari and Muslim).

The Prophet (SAW) warned us of seven of the worst crimes and amongst them are shirk, magic, and murder.  However, if you continue reading the list, notice te final sin the Prophet (SAW) mentioned, “slandering chaste women who are believers.”  Wronging your fellow Muslim sister with words is on the same list as shirk, magic and murder!  Subhan’Allah, can you imagine standing in front of your Lord on the Day of Reckoning claiming to be a believer but having committed one of the most noxious sins on a daily basis, it’s unfathomable!  Your deeds would be distributed to those whom you wronged, whether you murdered them or slandered them.  O Muslim, please don’t gossip about one another, rather love and pray for another for we all know to whom we shall have to answer one day, to our Lord, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.

Imagine going shopping and buying the most expensive Versace suit (for brothers) or the most expensive Louis Vuitton purse (for sisters).  Then imagine not ever taking it out in public and showing it off.  Rather, no one knowing that you owned that Louis Vuitton purse, Versace suit, Rolex watch, or Mercedes-Benz car.

Such was the case of one of the pious predecessors of this Ummah.  He bought amongst the most expensive clothes and these clothes were amongst the most beautiful and precious in his time, yet he never wore them in public.  You may ask, “what did he do with them then?”  Rather, this man wore these beautiful clothes when he stood in front of His Lord to pray in the night prayer when no one would see him except for His Lord, for indeed Allah (SWT) tells us in the Quran, “O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 7:31). 

Indeed, we should beautify ourselves when we stand in front of our Lord.  Now ask yourself, “what did I look like when I prayed fajr this morning?”  And compare that attire with what you looked like when you last went to a dinner party you were invited to.

Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah] has categorized heart of a human into three types.
 
Think about which category yours may fall into:

  • That which is void of Eeman and all types of good, thus being a dark heart.  Shaytaan no longer needs to confront this heart with whispers because he now dwells in it. He decrees what he wishes in it and has taken complete control of it 
  • That which has been illuminated with the light of Eemaan. Faith has kindled its lanterns within it, but at the same time there is still some darkness of desires and winds of disobedience present in it.  Shaytaan approaches and retreats from this category of heart, and at times he takes advantage of opportunities. The WAR [in this heart] is sometimes severe and at other times calm. The affair of the individuals who fall into this category of hearts varies between many and few. Some possessors of this category are usually victorious over their enemy, while others regularly allow their enemy to get the upper hand. Yet another class are of those who have equal moments of defeat and victory.
  • That which is filled with Eemaan. This heart is illuminated with the light of Eeman and the veil of desires and darkness has been lifted from it. The light of Eeman is glowing within the chest and that glow contains flames. If desires challenge to approach this heart they are burned by the flames [of Eeman]. This protection is similar to the protection of the sky by the stars. If Shaytaan attempts to advance towards the sky to steal information he is pelted from every side with a Shihaabun Thaaqib [flaming fire of piercing brightness].

Then Imam ibn Qayyim goes on to brilliantly explain these three categorization of human hearts further with examples in this episode:

  • Void of Eeman and all types of good
  • Illuminated with the light of Eemaan
  • Filled with Eemaan

He [rahimahullah] related the hearts with 3 different types of homes.

  1. The home of a king; in it are his treasures and precious jewels and belongings. 
  2.  The home of a slave; in it is his wealth and precious jewels and belongings, but indeed his belongings are much less [in value and quantity] than that of the king’s.
  3. The empty home; in it there is nothing to steal.

A thief approaches with the intention of stealing from one of the homes. Which one would you think he would burglarize?
If you say that he would steal from the empty home, this is something impossible because the empty home possess nothing for him to steal.

Based on this reality, it was mentioned to Ibn Abbas – May Allah be pleased with him – Verily, the Jews claim that they do not experience whispers [distractions] in prayer. Ibn Abbas – May Allah be pleased with him – thereupon commented:  What would the Shaytaan do to a heart that is already destroyed  [This is the example of a person whose heart is void of Eemaan]

If you say that he would steal from the home of a king. This would also be impossible due to the strong presence of security for making a thief impossible to penetrate.[This is the example of a person whose heart is filled with Eemaan]

Consequently, there is nothing left for the thief except to approach the third home. [This is the example of a person whose heart is illuminated with Eemaan] 

Such is the case with Shaytaan that he approaches the home of a slave, and he snatches any and every opportunity that he gets. Thus, it becomes essential for such an individual to sincerely reflect upon the given examples and guard his home [i.e. heart] from the attacks of Shaytaan.

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!

The Disease of the Idiots

February 8, 2009

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

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

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