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

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

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

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

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

Testing our Faith

May 31, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-by not donating any money as we fear poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-by fatwa shopping

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

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

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

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

-by befriending the kuffar when it’s prohibited

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

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

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

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.

Ibn al-Qayyim [rahimahullah] said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: al-Fawaa’ id, page 159)

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