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.

Advertisements

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.

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?

To Our Dear Sisters

October 30, 2008

Paradise is for believing men and women

We often hear speakers in Friday prayer or in admonitions talking about Paradise and all of us find our hearts, minds and thoughts tuned on to that ‘frequency’. However, majority of the speakers talk about Paradise as if it were a house for men only. Reality is not like that. Paradise is for the believing men and women. The only price for it is sound belief in Allah, love of Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him), and obedience to Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him).

In what follows are the glad tidings given by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), to some of the women among his companions.

Narrated ‘Ayshah (May Allah be pleased with her): I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadijah (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it. [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), said: ‘The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of `Imran, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadijah daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.’ [Bukhari and Muslim]

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Jibril (Gabriel) came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! This is Khadijah coming to you with a dish having meat soup (or some food or drink). When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord (i.e. Allah) and on my behalf, and give her the glad tidings of having a Qasab (palace in Paradise) wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue (trouble).’ [Bukhari]

Narrated ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah: Ibn ‘Abbas said to me, ‘Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This black woman came to the Prophet and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet said (to her), ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ So he invoked Allah for her.’ [Bukhari]

The aforementioned hadith clearly state the stature of some of the women given the glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise). What can the women of today do in order to achieve that pinnacle of success, Paradise?

To do so one MUST learn how these women lived, how they behaved, how they spoke, how they dressed, how they walked, etc. In this issue of al-Mu’minah we will try to learn from the black woman mentioned in the last Hadith, insha’Allah. The black woman is not even known by her name, or her exact whereabouts, rather she is known by her deeds, her faith, her modesty, her chastity, and for her being an inmate of Paradise. And, in the end, that is what matters most. When Abdullah Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said ‘this black woman’, he did not mean to point at her race or to belittle her in any way. Indeed, he but meant to teach the people around him a great principle of Islam which is mentioned in the verse, [in the meaning of] : ‘O people! We have created you from a man and a woman and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know each other, verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious.’

The same principle is mentioned in the Hadith: ‘Allah does not look at your pictures (shapes) and bodies but He looks at your hearts (and your deeds).’ [Muslim]

She (the black woman) was physically sick, yet she sought cure in the Du’a of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). She knew that the one who cures, ash-Shafi, is Allah, and Allah would answer the Du’a of His Messenger (Peace be upon him). We conclude from that that Du’a heals all diseases be they of the body or of the heart. When commenting on this Hadith, al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: ‘It is inferred from this Hadith that the cure of diseases through Du’a and supplication to Allah (wa al-iltija’ ila Allah) is the most successful way of healing, but this cannot be fulfilled unless two conditions are satisfied: pure intention and sincere trust in the effectiveness of the Du’a, and righteousness and reliance on Allah.

The fact that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise’ is a proof for the virtue and reward of patience during sickness. In another Hadith, he (Peace be upon him), says: ‘Whenever a hardship affects the Muslim, he will be forgiven for it even when he is picked by a spike.’ [Muslim]

And in another Hadith, also narrated by Muslim, Ummu as-Sa’ib cursed fever, to which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) told her: ‘Do not curse fever, for it takes away the sins like the blaze [fire] takes away the impurities of iron.’ The black women preferred the suffering of this world to getting the eternal reward of Paradise! She suffered from sickness, yet her pain and discomfort did not force her to forego pleasing Allah! And no matter who one is, if one is in the path of Allah, one will encounter difficulties, because Paradise is rounded by hardships. If things are easy and life is rosy, then one must check oneself; are we following the true Islam? Especially in this western environment it may be difficult for a young woman to wear the dress of modesty, the Hijab (even though it is mandatory), not to talk to men and keep away from them (which is also mandatory), except if necessary.

All these may be difficult to achieve for some in the beginning, but when one overcomes herself for the sake of Allah, then all the other obstacles become baseless. So, how to overcome oneself? By knowing Allah by His names and attributes; by loving and obeying Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him); and then the help of Allah will come, insha’Allah. She (the black woman) preferred being patient, but could not tolerate that her honor, her modesty and her chastity be damaged or even touched, nor that any part of her body be uncovered, though she had no control over it. Indeed she was a real slave and servant of Allah; she was a faithful, a believer, a Muslimah, a righteous and pious woman, a truthful woman, and she was loyal to Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him). Not only having these awe-inspiring qualities, she was also a wise and a great woman, as her memorable words rang …: ‘… but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’

If words are to be written in Gold, these words should be written in gold … Remember this simple equation:

Iman + Suffering + Patience = Paradise

It can also be inferred that the righteous Muslim woman inherently loves to be covered, loves modesty and chastity and hates revealing her body and her beauty. The black woman, could sustain being so sick but could not bear to be uncovered in front of people.

The issue, one must understand, is not of black or white or Arab or non-Arab, rich or poor, noble[with lineage] or not, it is rather of a creed so deeply rooted in the hearts of Muslims like blood flows in the arteries and veins of people. They are those who are totally committed to Islam. Fourteen Hundred years of history showed that Muslim women could sustain hunger, poverty, sickness but could never sustain disobeying Allah. The wife would tell her husband when leaving for work: ‘Fear Allah in us, for we can sustain hunger and thirst but we cannot sustain Hell fire [i.e. do not acquire unlawful earning].’

Dear sisters, ask yourself what made Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) be greeted by Allah and by Jibril. Ask yourself what made Khadijah be rewarded a Palace in Jannah as no one can imagine. Reading the biography of Khadijah and others like her in greatness, one would wish to be at their service; to carry their shoes, wash their clothes, to serve them in any possible way and get Du’a from them. It is sad that we just don’t know the great personalities of this Ummah. If only we strive to study the lives of the righteous that preceded us, we would find in them immense guidance for our existence, and if we know them and follow them we could be in the forefront of mankind …

It is said, ‘Iman (faith) is not by hope, it is rather what occurs in the heart and is proved by the deeds [maa waqa`a fil qalbi wa saddaqahul-`amal].’ We leave you to think about this and pray to Allah to make us all among the dwellers of Paradise and to bestow upon us the faith and the patience that lead us to Paradise. And to bless the present Muslim Ummah with many women like the black woman (may Allah be pleased with her), who help us focus on the straight path …

Source: www.islamswomen.com