Archive for June, 2008

Ramadan is coming! Are you preparing?

June 29, 2008

Ramadan Nights 1: “The Market for the people of Eman.” Imam Suhaib Webb

Asalamu alaykum,

Inshallah, we will try to post notes up from different khatirah given during Ramadan. You are free to use them in any way you like just don’t forget to make dua for us when break your fast.

Ramadan “The market for the people of faith”

Imam Suhaib Webb Muslim American Society Bay Area Chapter

We praise Allah and we seek His blessings and peace upon the Prophet, his family, companions and those who follow him.

We gather here tonight to remember Allah and increase our faith. What a blessing! Tonight is Saturday and I’m sure there are a lot of other places we could be. It is a sign that there is a lot of good in our young brothers and sisters that they fought their nuffs, prayed tarawih and are here to listen to this talk. A talk and gathering that is surrounded by the malaikah. I’m very proud of you all and pray that Allah will forgive you and shower you with His blessings and I want to welcome you.”Let’s give a few moments to work on our faith.” This was the statement of the Companions [may Allah be pleased with them]. Thus, following in their footsteps lets “Give a few moments for our faith.”

Faith is something very dynamic it goes up and down. For that reason you will find good days and bad days. When your faith is high you will find it easier to deal with the waves of life that seek to drown you. For example, you will find it easy to forgive your wife when she makes a mistake and you, our dear sisters, will find it easy, to forgive your husbands. In general, when faith is high things go easier and life seems to be much sweeter.

Faith is the gas that runs the believer. It is that feeling in our chests that causes us to pray two more rakat, give an extra dime towards charity, lower our gaze or to forgive someone who has wronged us. It is what links us with the bravery of Hamza, the foresight of Abu Bakr, the great character of ‘Aisha, the sabar of Um Salamah, the Heroics of Salahu Din, the abstinence of al-Ghazzali, the fortitude of Ibn Tammiyah and the bravery of Malcolm [may Allah be pleased with them all]. You see that feeling, that buzz, that warmth in your heart, is a shared feeling between the people of faith. It knows no time, place, tribe or clique but is a gift that Allah puts in the hearts of those who submit to Him and struggle their best to be good people. Allah [the most high] says, “Indeed, the believers are only brothers.” Thus, when a young Muslim decides to forgo the club or any forbidden action choosing what is with Allah he will understand the plight of Yusuf and his choosing the prison over what Allah had forbidden. Thus, faith is a special relation that exists between us.

Faith represents the wings by which we fly and the crutches with which we walk. It is what defines our relationship with Allah for that is what it is. I know that there are a number of famous words for faith: eman and aqidah. However, I want us to look at faith as a relationship between us and Allah. And since faith is always going up and down Allah [the exalted] has given us a large number of tools to protect and increase our faith. This is because faith is the most valuable thing we have. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him was asked] “What is the best action?” He replied, “Faith in God.” There are so many promises for the people of faith mentioned in the Quran and Sunna that would lead one to conclude that faith is something very valuable:

1. True success is for the people of faith

2. Peace of heart and mind

3. Ease in the grave

4. Ease in being reckoned

5. Quickly passing over the sirat

6. Paradise

7. Meeting the Prophet and drinking from his blessed hands

8. Seeing Allah in the Hereafter

One day in Egypt I decided to visit the Museum with my family. While we were there we decided to visit the famous mummy collection. Wow! You should have seen what it was like trying to get into that place. You have to pay another special fee; there is another metal detector, going in and out, and a large number of security guards as well. A few weeks ago a brother was showing me his new iPhone. I must admit that it was really impressive but the one thing I noticed was that it was in a case. The other day I left my house with my computer and my wife scolded me, “Put it in its case.” The obvious conclusion here is that it is not enough for us to own things of value. But when things are seen as truly valuable we protect them.

Now, since we’ve established that the most valuable thing is faith I would like to ask you a question: what has Allah chosen to protect faith? Let us think for a moment on this issue. For, indeed, the most valuable of commodities must be placed in the best case.

The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] informed us that the Hearts of the believers are the vessels of Allah [the most exalted]. Thus, the heart, dear brother and sister, that beats in your chest is the case, the safe and the vault by which your faith is protected. For that reason, it is important that we keep our hearts clean and protect them.

Allah [the exalted] out of his great mercy for us not only orders us to protect our faith but gave us certain tools to protect and strengthen it and the case with which it resides:

1. Prayer- a daily protection

2. Jum’ah- a weekly protection

3. Can any of you think of a yearly protection? Yes, mashallah, the month of Ramadan! Ramadan was seen as such an advantageous time for faith that the scholars used to refer to it as, “The market for the people of eman.”

This month is upon us and represents a great mercy. The Prophet informed us that, during this month, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. Ibn al-Khuzaimah’s narration adds, “That every night a caller states “O seeker of Good! Accept the good! Oh doer of evil refrain from evil!” Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradawi states that, “It is as though Allah is saying, “Oh negligent one! You have neglected My service for 11 months. Here, out of my mercy is one month. If you take advantage of it you will be forgiven and can start anew free of sins!”

Four things to do during this month:

The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessing be up him] stated that there are four things we should do during this month. Two that bring about Allah’s happiness and two that are for you, the servant of Allah.

1. To say lai laha illah allah in abundance

2. To make istighfar [saying Oh Allah I seek your forgiveness]

3. Asking Allah for paradise. I would suggest that you ask Allah to grant the entire Ummah Paradise as such a dua, in your brothers and sisters absence, will be a means for the malaikah to pray for you. Thus, if you make this dua for the 1.3 billion Muslims the world over, 1.3 billion malaikah will supplicate the same for you!

4. Ask Allah to save you from the fire of Hell.

We ask Allah to bless you, raise and illuminate you. We ask Allah to give our brothers and sisters the strength to overcome their souls. We ask Allah to bless the new Muslims, give them the correct understanding and make them good examples for the society. We ask Allah to unite husbands and wives, to bring children back to their parents and parents back to their children. Remember that this is the month of forgiveness dear brothers and sisters. So, if you would like Allah to bestow His mercy upon you, then bestow your mercy on others.

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah

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So That You Can Fly!

June 26, 2008


By Alia Adil and Umm Isam

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared- he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restriction cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (SWT) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.

If Allah (SWT) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that-we would never be able to fly.

Isbiri, fa inna sabran nooron min Allah

June 26, 2008

Within five minutes of class I began to feel angry. I had an exam to move onto the next level in Arabic within the hour and I had not spent enough time studying. I was angry at my lack of preparation, angry at the walk to the markaz, angry at ila akhirao [etc]… subhanAllah just internal self-anger.

My teacher caught on. “Are you feeling ok? Do you feel some pain?” She asked it just like the doctor asks Yusuf in Kitab al Assay if any of you have used that to study Arabic.

“Yeah…” I answered, hesitant to keep going, trying to get myself together, but needing someone to tell me: be patient, the road to knowledge is long and hard but worth it. I kept trying to tell myself that but it wasn’t working.

So I started telling her- I knew it was going to be hard, I was expecting difficulty, but man it’s hard, and man it’s difficult. I just need someone to tell me, I explained to her, that this is the way, that the tarikh is like this, that I can do it inshaAllah.

And so she told me, subhanAllah, and Alhamdullilah it was worth feeling all the anger and frustration to hear what she said to give me hope.

“Do you know who wrote THE book of nahw?” She asked me. No, I responded, no clue. I was thinking the Qur’an is THE Book, but that was too easy of an answer.

“Sibaway,” she said. And then she began to tell me about al alama, Sibaway rahimahullah. He was a non-Arab.  [From Faris to be exact, subhanAllah… to hear that! My parents are both originally from Iran, and Alhamdullilah both of them ahl sunnah…check out this website: www.shiaorsunni.com. To hear, in that moment, that someone who was non-Arab, from FARIS did something amazing like wrote THE BOOK on nahw…Allahu Akbar. Yeah, I actually have about 0 ethnic pride- it’s about Islam, not about your race or culture! *COUGH*-, but it was still encouraging.]

When Sibaway rahimahullah would speak, the people around him would make fun of him. Finally, he swore he would write THE book on nahw, and he even named it AL Kitab- THE Book. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave him tawfiq in this book. Until NOW, she told me, no one, no Arab, no one, has written like Sibaway, the master of this field.

But when he approached death, rahimahuallah, he began to feel great sadness. He lamented at the closeness of his death, and he thought about his companions. All of these people around him had memorized Qur’an, all of these people had memorized hadeeth. “Where is my Qur’an? Where is my hadeeth?” he cried. Instead, he lamented, that he was stuck between Zaid and Amr, the two famous characters in the nahw books.

He went to sleep distraught.

That night he had a dream, and he, rahimahullah, was visited by the GREATEST of the GREATEST men, Rasul Allah sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallama. The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallama gave him glad tidings
about his efforts!

SubhanAllah, he woke realizing that his work was indeed important, as it was a means to helping people know and understand the Qur’an. So much so that until now, no one has written a book like THE Book on Arabic grammar.

This is a non-Arab, she told me. This is the way of knowing the Qur’an. Do you think that if you stopped and asked a person on the street something in fusha, they could answer you in fusha? No, she told me, because it takes work. It’s hard, but it’s worth it, being on the path of wanting to know the Qur’an.

If Sibaway, a non-Arab, could write THE BOOK on Arabic grammar, what about all of you with all the skills and talents Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has created you with? Look at what you were given, and see how you can maximize that for your ummah and your society fisabilliah.

Let’s forget about the cultural baggage, let’s move past the differences WE create in our communities, and let’s do what the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallama did to help build the best generation which ever walked this earth: find the skills and talents within individuals- within YOURSELVES- and take them and use them for Allah’s sake to make great leaps of progress bi’idnillah. We need YOU in this ummah! You’re right, I have no idea who you are. But the fact that you’re taking time to read this blog tells me something. So what can you bring to the table? Masha’Allah, this ummah’s got game and crazy five star players… we just need to be playing on the same court and running towards the same goal!

And yes, it’s going to be a struggle. But, as a dear teacher, hafidhahullah, once reminded me:

Isbiri, fa inna sabran nooron min Allah

Be patient [this is an order- to a female [hence the “i” at the end]- in the Arabic language]! For indeed patience is light from Allah.

So yes, we may be tested in whatever way we’re trying to move forward, but let’s work on trying to be patient when the going gets rough and look ahead to, insha’Allah, what we hope is a great outcome for our ummah because of the inshaAllah massive contributions of people like YOU. AND, throughout all this, I have one serious piece of advice for us all: make duaa sincerely, seriously and constantly. Allah is the Answerer.

June 25, 2008

“Dissent or Discord is evil”: Br. Haq

During Hajj, both the noble Companions Abu Bakr and Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) used to pray Two Rakah in Mina. However Uthman (R), when he was the Caliph, said he will pray 4 Raka’ah. Ibn Mas’ud (R) disagreed and stated that two people better than Uthman prayed 2 (referring to Abu Bakr and Umar) . Yet, when the prayer was about to commence, Ibn Mas’ud (R) joined the rows and prayed…

Later people asked him whether he changed his opinion etc.. His reply was “Al Khilafu Sharr” meaning “Dissent or Discord is evil”.

Al-Zuhri (r) explained that Uthman (R) had prayed four rakaat Mina instead of two because in that particular year many bedouins had come in great numbers and he wished to teach them that the prayer consisted of four units.

This incident has been related by Abu Dawud.

Whats the point of mentioning this?

Firstly: The manner of two great Mujtahids differing in a respectable manner.

Secondly: The beautiful way in which Ibn Mas’ud applied Fiqhul Awlawiyyat and Maqaasid. Unity, one of the objectives of Shariah and indeed Hajj, was much more important to him then the specific ruling in which he differed, thus he gave this more priority.

Thirdly: The deep understanding of Uthman, and again his manner of prioritizing. He knew that 2 was to be prayed, yet the potential for that to be a cause for confusion amongst the bedouins was too great, thus he went against the norm and prayed four units.

What also seems to me is that we see two maxims being used here:

  • “Actions are by the end results” – Hence, he prayed four even though 2 was better, as that would lead to a possible greater harm.
  • “Averting Harm is better than gaining benefit” – Again, praying 2 was better yet he chose 4 to avoid confusion.

It also shows the bold and courage nature of Uthman. He chose to act, apparently, in contradiction to Abu Bakr and Umar, because he foresaw something that he felt were different (Fatwa changing with place and time possible working here!). On the same note, Mutawakkil Ala Allah, one of the Abbaside Caliphs, asked the people sitting next to him ” Do you know the first matter for which the Muslims blamed Uthman? (He was affected by the Shi’ah by the way) So one of them said “Yes, of Amir of the Believers. When the Prophet (P) passed away, Abu Bakr stood on the minbar one step below the step of the Prophet. Similarly when Umar became Caliph, he stood one step below the step of Abu Bakr. When Uthman became caliph he climbed right to the step of the Prophet (P) so the Muslims rebuked him for that and they wanted him to stand on the step below Umar”. So Ubadah (another person present) Said “Oh Commander of the Believers! No one has done a greater favour upon you than Uthman!” So Mutawkkil exclaimed “How is that? Curse unto you!” So Ubadah replied “Because he went to the top of the Mimbar (The place where the Prophet stood), for if every time a Caliph stood below the station of the caliph that preceeded him, you would have addressed us from below the well!

Fourthly: This is a good evidence against those who stipulate such and such conditions for the muqallid of one madhab to pray behind the muqallid of another madhab, as in this athar, ibn Mas’ud (R) followed Uthman Mutlaqan, for the “greater unity” even though he was a mujtahid, then what about Muqalideen whose madhab is that of their muftis?

June 21, 2008

Secrets of the Quran – Surat ul Qiyaamah: Abdul Sattar

Many times, we read the Quran and find ourselves in an ocean, unaware of where the current is taking us. One of the most important things to understand when one approaches it, is that it is not written according to the mandates of human logic or order – but rather it is according to the Divine Will of the Creator.

Maulana Maududi once wrote two paragraphs which I read when I was a teenager, about ten years ago, which have stuck with me almost every time I open the Book of Allah (swt):

The reader also encounters abrupt transitions between one subject matter and another. Audience and speaker constantly change as the message is directed now to one and now to another group of people. There is no trace of familiar division into chapters and sections. Likewise, the treatment of different subjects is unique. If a historical subject is raised, the narrative does not follow the pattern familiar in historical accounts. In discussions of philosophical or metaphysical questions, we miss the familiar expressions and terminology of formal logic and philosophy. Cultural and political matters, or questions pertaining to man’s social and economic life, are discussed in a way very different from that usual in works of social sciences. Juristic principles and legal injunctions are elucidated, but quite differently from the manner of conventional works. When we come across an ethical instruction, we find its form differs entirely from anything to be found elsewhere in the literature of ethics.

The reader may find all this so foreign that his notion of what a book should be that he may become so confused as to feel that the Qur’an is a piece of disorganized, incoherent and unsystematic writing, comprising nothing but a disjointed conglomeration of comments of varying lengths put together arbitrarily. Hostile critics use this as a basis for their criticism, while those more favorably inclined resort to far-fetched explanations, or else conclude that the Qur’an consists of unrelated pieces, thus making it amenable to all kinds of interpretations, even interpretations quite opposed to the intent of God Who revealed the Book.

He then spends the rest of this brilliant small book, answering and explaining the wonder of this question and showing that these characteristics described above a source of beauty and perfection of The Quran and demonstrate a coherence far beyond human capability: Introduction to the Study of the Quran

Anyone who has not read it, should make sure he/she does.

For our part today, we will explore one of these examples of the Quran swiftly changing subject, and witness the beauty that lies in its secrets. Let us look at Surah Qiyaamah:

I do call to witness the Day of Standing (Resurrection Day)

And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit

Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?

Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.

But man wishes to do wrong (even) in the time in front of him.

He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?”

At length, when the sight is dazed,

And the moon is buried in darkness.

And the sun and moon are joined together,-

That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?”

By no means! (There is) No place of safety!

With your Lord alone shall on that day be the place of rest.

That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.

Nay, man will be evidence against himself,

Though he puts forth his excuses.

Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur’an) to make haste therewith.

It is for Us to collect it and to recite it:

But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital

Nay more, it is for Us to explain its meaning (and make it clear):

Nay, (ye men!) but ye love the fleeting life,

And leave alone the Hereafter.

Some faces, that Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty);-

Looking towards their Lord;

And some faces, that Day, will be sad and dismal,

In the thought that some back-breaking calamity was about to be inflicted on them;

Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit),

And there will be a cry, “Who is a magician (to restore him)?”

And he will conclude that it was (the Time) of Parting;

And one leg will be joined with another:

That Day the Drive will be (all) to thy Lord!

So he gave nothing in charity, nor did he pray!-

But on the contrary, he rejected Truth and turned away!

Then did he stalk to his family in full conceit!

Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe!

Again, Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe!

Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)?

Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)?

Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did ((Allah)) make and fashion (him) in due proportion.

And of him He made two sexes, male and female.

Has not He, (the same), the power to give life to the dead?

Notice verses 16-19 which I have bolded. These verses are being addressed directly to the Prophet (saw). And when one looks at them, one finds that they have seemingly no relation whatsoever to the verses before or the verses after.

However, when we read the tafsir of the Surah, we realize that something amazing is happening here. Allah (swt) is describing to us the state of the Day of Judgment.

I do call to witness the Day of Standing. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit. Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers. (1-4)

Such Absolute Power. Such Quwwah! Allah is taking the Day as an object of Witness! Then, he establishes to the deniers of the Day that not only will he assemble the bones of human beings to resurrect them, he will reassemble the very tips of his fingers, the most unique outward part of the human body – so unique we use it in criminal and court cases. Allah has established to the universe His ability to gather that which is ungatherable, and assemble it, and cause it to stand (note the name of the Surah – Qiyaamah!) and be established.

As our Lord continues to tell us about this Day, He ceases in the middle and changes the subject:

Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur’an) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to recite it: But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital. Nay more, it is for Us to explain its meaning (and make it clear): (16-19)

We would ask, why these words to the Prophet here? Why during this image? For this, there is a fact about how the Prophet used to receive revelation. Why in the middle of an eloquent description of the despair of the rebel against God on the Day of Judgment, would He suddenly place a direct address to the Prophet concerning the revelation…and then..suddenly, switch back into talking about the Day of Judgement? This is an example of what Maulana Maududi wrote about when he said the Quran…SEEMS like it is not coherent.

In order to understand this, it is important to know a fact about how the Prophet would react to revelation. He would be so worried, so concerned, that he would forget a verse, a word, a vowel, that as the Angel Jibraaeel (Gabriel) would recite the latest revelation to him, he (saw) would repeat it immediately, word for word, trying to quickly memorize it. You know, when you are on the phone and the other person is giving you another phone number which you need to dial as soon as you hang up? You start to quickly recite it so that it stays in your memory long enough for you to dial. Such concern the Prophet (saw), that he would quickly, hastily begin his Hifdh of the verse as Jibraeel is giving him the revelation.

According to the tafsir, to comfort the Prophet (saw) about this – Allah (swt) is in effect telling him – Just as I can gather the billions of human beings, assemble them, and reconstruct the very tips of their fingers and order them to stand on the Day of Judgment – I shall take care of ensuring that this Quran is assembled, gathered, and made firm in your heart and that even its explanation is clear to you. So do not worry so much that you become stressed and repeat it like this. But listen to it as it is revealed unto you. I am powerful enough to gather all creation and humanity, and I can indeed gather the words of My book in your heart and establish it there for you. So do not be worried of afraid of losing it.

Then, the Surah continues on, picking up from where it left off, and finishing the picture of the Day of Qiyaamah. How beautiful the secrets of the Quran are. How Allah (swt) is calming, comforting, his beloved Messenger (saw) even in the midst of a picture that until the verse about faces of joy, is generally quite scary and should cause a believer to tremble out of fear and humility.

Imam Busiri said in his Burdah:

La haa ma’aanin ka mawj il bahri fi madadin

Wa fawqa jawharihi fil husni wa al qiyami

For it (the Quran) are meanings that are like the waves of the ocean, each one helping and supporting the next wave

Its meanings are far greater than the pearls of the ocean in their beauty and their greatness

And Allah knows best.

Abdul Sattar

Sources:

Tafhim ul Quran – Maulana Abul Ala Maududi

Ma’riful Quran – Mufti Muhammad Shafi

http://www.suhaibwebb.com