Archive for December, 2010

The Destroyer of Pleasures

December 24, 2010
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The Muslim Seeks to Obey

December 21, 2010

This is the ninth hadith (read here) of Imam an-Nawawi’s collection. There are many lessons and points of benefit from this hadith. From warning us of excessive questions, to giving us an insight into the flexibility of the shar’iah (Islamic law).

Background

The Prophet was giving a sermon in which he told the people that Hajj had been made obligatory upon them. A man then asked if it was obligatory every year to which the Prophet remained silent. The man repeated his question three times, then the Prophet rebuked him saying:

“If I had said ‘yes’ then it would have become obligatory upon you [i.e. every year], and you would not have been able to do so. [Muslim]

Lessons

1. “That which I have prohibited, avoid.” ­ Here the Prophet is focussing on the avoidance of haram before the command to do good deeds. One of the salaf said: Both the righteous and evil do good deeds, but only the righteous refrain from sins.

2. The command to avoid the haram is a general statement. The Muslim must stay away from all that the Prophet forbade, except in the case of necessity. For example we are permitted to eat haram food if we are starving.

3. “That which I have ordered you to do, do as much as you can.” – This is referring to the obligations in Islam. However, the command to do is bound by the clause, ‘as much as you can’. So we see that the Muslim carries our their obligations according to their abillity. For example hajj is only obligatory if you have the means to perform it, and although wudhu is a condition of salah, if you have no water, you can do tayyammum etc.

4.“Those before you were destroyed because of their excessive questioning.” – This is referring to Bani Isra’eel when they were commanded to sacrifice a cow. Instead of just following the command they kept on asking questions about what age, colour it should be and so it became difficult for them.

Action Points

  • Too many times we concentrate on doing the good rather than staying away from the bad. Remember than sins affect our ability to do good, therefore try to stay away from all haram and then do the good.
  • Avoid asking too many questions. Learn the etiquettes of seeking knowledge and try to implement that which you have learnt, before moving on.

Winter is the best season for the believer

December 20, 2010

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) said: “Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.” [Reported by al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’]

Action Points

  • Make the most of the short days by fasting as much as possible. Try to fast Mondays and Thursdays or the three ‘white days’ of every (Islamic) month, i.e. the 13th, 14th and 15th. (As per the sunnah)
  • Make a habit of Qiyam al-Layl (the night prayer). Fajr begins around 6:15am, so it is not hard to wake up 30 minutes early and prayer a few rak’ats of prayer!

More ways to benefit from the winter months: Winter: The Best Season

He Came to Teach You Your Religion

December 10, 2010

This is the second hadith of Imam an-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, commonly reffered to as the Hadith of Jibreel. It is of such importance that some of the scholars named it Umm as-Sunnah (Mother of the Sunnah) and have wrote volumes about it! The entire deen is taught in this one hadith!

Hype It Up!

This hadith shows a principle used by Allah that we know of as ‘marketing’ (or ‘hype’). When Jibreel came to the Prophet, everything about him made sure that the Sahabah would remember him (and hence remember the lessons that he came with) – from the way he dressed, walked and even the way that he spoke! So we learn that hype in Islam is allowed, as long as that hype is followed up with something of substance.

Islam

Islam does not mean peace, as we so commonly hear these days. In fact Islam means submission to Allah, and it is through submitting to Allah we can achieve peace.

When Islam is mentioned on it’s own, it is a comprehensive term that means Islam (the pillars of the religion), Iman (the branches of faith) and Ihsan (excellence) and all matters relating to the submission of Allah.

When we speak about Islam in relation to Iman and Ihsan, it refers to the pillars of the religion, i.e. testament of faith (shahada), the prayer (salah), the alms tax (zakah), fasting in the month of ramadhan and pilgrimage to the House of Allah (hajj).

Iman

Iman (faith) is not just a belief in the heart, it comprises of three aspects

  1. Affirmation of the heart
  2. Proclamation of the tongue
  3. Actions of the limbs.

 

Iman has six pillars:

  1. Belief in Allah
  2. Belief in His Angels
  3. Belief in His Books
  4. Belief in His Messengers
  5. Belief in the Last Day
  6. Belief in Qadr

Ihsan

It is that you worship Allah as though you can see Him, and even though you cannot see Him yet (you know) He sees you.”

Meaning that you have developed such an awareness of Allah that it is as though you see Him and so everything you do is with Ihsan (excellence).

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Signs of the Last Day

Allah has not informed us of when the Last Day shall be, but He did tell us about it’s signs so that we can prepare. The signs that we are told of in this hadith are:

  • The slave girls giving birth to her master – this could either refer to a change in the status quo (i.e those in power will lose it and those powerless will take charge) or it could refer to the parent – child relationship and a role reversal in that sense. (something that is very common in our time)
  • Destitute shepherds competing with each other in constructing grand buildings – i.e referring to the Bedouins. This is something that the Sahabah could not have imagined, yet they believed and with that belief they changed nations! Compare that to ourselves – this part of the hadith has been actualised in our lifetime, yet we take no warning.

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Action Points

  • Try to worship Allah at the level Ihsan – as though you see Him (subhana wa ta’ala). Everything that we do should be done with excellence.
  • Seek knowledge – learn about the pillars of Islam and Iman, but it’s not just a matter of increasing in knowledge but actualising it. Living Islam, so that like the Sahabah before us, we too can change nations!
  • Reflect on the signs of the Last Day.

Happy New Year!

December 7, 2010

 

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic year and is of the four sacred months. There are many virtues of this blessed month, with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) encouraging us to fast during this month, especially on the day of Ashura (the 10th of Muharram).

Virtues of the Fasting in the Month of Muharram

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Musa fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Musa than you.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast. [Bukhari]


Ibn ‘Abbas said: I never saw the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) so keen to make sure he fasted any day and preferring it over another except this day, the day of Ashura, and this month – meaning Ramadan. [Bukhari]


The Prophet said: “The best fasting after the month of Ramadan is fasting in the month of Muharram.” [Muslim]


The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) said: “Fasting the day of Arafah I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of Ashura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.[Muslim]

Fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram

Abdullah ibn Abbas said: When the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) fasted on the day of Ashura (10th Muharram) and told the people to fast, they said, “O Messenger of Allah, this is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) said, “Next year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth day.” But by the time the following year came, the Messenger of Allah had passed away. [Muslim]


Therefore it is recommended to fast both the ninth and the tenth, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth.

Action Points

  • Fast on the the 9th and 10th (the day of Ashura) of Muharram [15th – 16th December]
  • Increase in good deeds and remember Allah in this sacred month – recite more Qur’an, fast (not just Ashura but other days aswell), pray Qiyam etc.

The Power of Intentions

December 6, 2010

Over the next few weeks I will be posting short reflections on the Forty Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi, based on the AlMaghrib seminar Sacred Scrolls. I would advise that people read the actual hadith beforehand.

The first hadith, Actions are Judged by Intentions (which can be read here) is a well known hadith that many people have heard of. Imam ash-Shafi’i when commenting on this hadith said: “This hadith is one third of the knowledge of Islam”. If we reflect upon this hadith, we can truly appreciate why this is so.

The Power of Intentions

All actions, for them to be accepted (and so rewarded) are bound by two conditions:

  1. They are done sincerely for the sake of Allah
  2. They are done according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم)

If we do not master our intentions we are at risk of having our deeds rejected. As mentioned in the hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلّم), that the first people to enter the fire will be the martyr who died in battle, the alim who taught others and the rich man who gave in charity. However their actions were not sincere for the sake of Allah and so rejected. [Muslim]

Once we understand the power of intentions, we realise that we can earn reward in so many ways. The scholars would train their students to visualise their intentions so that they may be rewarded for even the most basic of actions. For example, if you sleep with the intention of regaining strength so that you may wake up and serve Allah, you have turned sleeping into an act of worship!

For you to have good intentions you need to have knowledge, therefore this hadith is indirectly telling us to seek knowledge.

Maintaining good intentions is one of the hardest aspects of worship. We see this if we compare our actions done in the public sphere to those done privately. Are our prayers done in private better than those done in public? If not then we need to re-check our intentions. The greatest of scholars struggled with regard to their intentions. For example Sufyan ath-Thawri said: “I spend my entire life trying to purify my intentions, but I failed.”

Action Points

  • Before you do any action, make sure that it is sincerely for the sake of Allah and in accordance with the Sunnah.
  • Make a good intention for everything! Eating, sleeping, walking (you get the point).
  • Try to make actions done privately better than those done publicly.