Category Archives: Points of Benefit

For the Love of Books!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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Muslims have generally become apathetic to reading books. We simply don’t read enough – and when we do, it is done from a distance that prevents its understanding and impact from being felt. In making use of books and handling them in a more meaningful way, Abu Zayd al-Nahawi (d.215H) said, as was reported by Al-Khateeb in his, ‘Al-Jaami li Akhlaq al-Rawi’, 1/277:

لا يضيء الكتاب حتى يظلم

“The book will not illuminate until it is darkened.”

The intent here is that the brightness of the book and its illumination [from the knowledge it contains] won’t be fully utilised and benefited from, except when it is exhausted, accompanied by footnotes, comments, traces (of notetaking and ink) etc. until the book becomes darkened. This indicates two important things:

i. Taking care in reading and showing great interest in the content.

ii. To intentionally make notes therein and not to insist the book remains pristine and without blemish, thus preventing its content from shining through, such that it obscures the character of the book and prevents its beneficial use.

Regarding the love for books and studying them, Dr. Ali Al-Omran wrote in his beautiful work, ‘Nathar al-Seerah wa thamar al-Suhbah’ (the sprinkled biography and fruit of companionship) regarding Al-Allamah Bakr ibn Abdullah Abu Zayd (Allah have mercy upon him); a story that expresses his love for the world of books. Quoting Dr. Fahd ibn Saad Al-Juhani:

“Shaykh al-Qadi Muhammad al-Rifa’i al-Juhani (the owner of a huge library in Makkah, located in his home in al-Hidafah neighbourhood) told him that Shaykh Bakr ibn Abdullah Abu Zayd (Allah have mercy on him) was an acquaintance of his and one day asked him about a book, which he was searching for but unable find. Al-Rifa’i immediately said, ‘I have the book!” Shaykh Bakr made a request for it (knowing that Rifa’i does not lend books and is known for his dislike of lending), but he dared to hope for the book’s timeless knowledge and the mercy of the science connected to it!

After a while, Rifa’i agreed under the pressure of friendship and the mercy of knowledge, but stipulated that it must be returned the following morning. Shaykh Bakr accepted the condition without hesitation, and he then hurried home to race against the ticking clock and spent his entire night on the treasure he had, which was a temporary guest for what seemed to be, the fastest of nights.

Al-Rifa’i spent his night in fear since the unique book was taken out of his library, fearing it would not be returned safely to its shelf, for what seemed to him, the slowest of nights. This charged atmosphere of anxiety lit a glimmer of hope. Al-Rifa’i remembered that he had another copy of the book, not an original like the one shaykh Bakr took. He got up from his bed and went down to the library in the middle of the night, wandering through the library and searching for this copy. Time was in vain, where would he find such a small folder among thousands of books?

The feeling of desperation to find it took over his mind, and the dawn of hope was also returning (with the break of fajr) that he would be reunited with the borrowed book. He finally managed to find the second copy. He later met shaykh Bakr and took his book back, but noticed the effects of stress on his face and redness in his eyes. He asked about this, and shaykh Bakr said, ‘I spent my night reading and copying what I needed and did not cloud my eyes with sleep!’ He also noticed Rifa’i’s face too and asked, ‘You too seem stressed and your eyes do not differ from what you asked me about.’ Al-Rifa’i replied, ‘I spent my night searching for the other copy of the book in my entire library…’

Each of them was surprised by the other, and no wonder the lovers of something are always one. Al-Rifa’i asked shaykh Bakr to, “take the second copy as a gift, and you will see signs of satisfaction with what you have done.” And he grabbed the hands of shaykh Bakr and walked towards his home. Both tired and having won the same ambition and the pleasure of their soul.”


Glimpse into Merit of ‘Ilm

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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It is recorded by Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr, in his ‘Jaami’ Bayan al-‘Ilm’ [1],  that Mu’ad Ibn Jabal رضي الله عنه said:

تعلموا العلم ، فإن تعلمه لله خشية ، وطلبه عبادة ، ومذاكرته تسبيح ، والبحث عنه جهاد ، وتعليمه لمن لا يعلمه صدقة ، وبذله لأهله قربة ، لأنه معالم الحلال والحرام ، ومنار سبيل أهل الجنة ، وهو الأنيس في الوحشة ، والصاحب في الغربة ، والمحدث في الخلوة ، والدليل على السراء والضراء ، والسلاح على الأعداء ، والزين عند الأخلاء ، يرفع الله به أقواماً فيجعلهم في الخير قادة وأئمة ، تقتص آثارهم ، ويقتدى بأفعالهم ، وينتهى إلى رأيهم ، ترغب الملائكة في خلتهم ، وبأجنحتها تمسحهم ، يستغفر لهم كل رطب ويابس ، وحيتان البجر وهوامه ، وسباع البر وأنعامه ، لأن العلم حياة القلوب من الجهل ، ومصابيح الأبصار من الظلم . يبلغ العبد بالعلم منازل الأخيار ، والدرجات العلى في الدنيا والآخرة . التفكر فيه بعدل الصيام ، ومدارسته تعدل القيام ، به توصل الأرحام ، وب يعرف الحلال من الحرام ، هو إمام العمل ، والعمل تابعه ، يلهمه السعداء ويحرمه الإشقياء

❝ Aquire knowledge, for indeed seeking it for Allah (develops) fear. Seeking it is worship; studying it is glorification; researching is striving; teaching it to the one who does not know is a charity. Humbling towards its people is a drawing nearness, and it is an illuminated path to Paradise. It is a comfort in times of loneliness; a companion in times of strangeness; and it provides comfort in times of solitude. It is a guide in times of prosperity and adversity, a weapon against the enemy; an adornment among (close) friends. With it Allah raises up a group of people placing them among the best of leaders and imams, whose stories (of achievement) are followed and actions emulated. Their opinions are always sought; the Angels are eager to touch them with their wings; and every moist and dry patch (on earth) seeks forgiveness for them.

The fish and creatures in the sea; animals on land all seek blessings for him. Because knowledge gives life to the hearts from ignorance; brightens eyes in the darkness [and strengthens the body from weakness]. Through it, the slave (of Allah) reaches ranks of the righteous and pious, and a high status in this world and the Hereafter. Reflecting (upon knowledge) is as (voluntary) fasting and studying it equates to standing (in prayer). Through it the ties of kinship are kept, the lawful and unlawful are known. It is the leader of actions; and the one who acts is inspired by the successful and ignored by the wretched. ❞

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[1] #268; (with a weak mawqoof sanad)


Prioritising the Heart 💛

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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Qur’an Reforms Hearts

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Scholars identify a hardened heart as “root” of all punishments, and its basis in found in Al-Baqarah 74:

ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً

“Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder…”

Qaswat al-qalb (hardening of the heart) is a topic many scholars have addressed throughout history because of its pivitol status and the profound impact it has on one’s life in determining success or failure. It is directly linked to receiving guidance and self-reformation.

And in the moving words of Malik ibn Dinar (d.127H) who said, “What is there that strikes the slave (of Allah) greater than hardening of the heart, for the wrath of Allah is upon a nation from whose hearts mercy and compassion is removed.”

Al-‘Allamah Muhammad ibn Salih al-‘Uthaymeen رحمه الله said, in response to a question regarding causes of apathy and feeling weakness in one’s Deen. And how preservation of the heart and moving away from incessant disputation is key:

‏ترى العامي خيرا في عقيدته وإخلاصه من كثير من طلاب العلم الذين ليس لهم هم إلا الأخذ والرد والقيل والقال هذاالذي يضيع العبد ويسلب قلبه عن الله

“…and (thus) you will see that the layperson is better in his ‘aqeedah and ikhlas than many of the students of knowledge, whose only concern is to criticise and refute and (indulge in) qeela wa qaal – causing the slave to become lost and his heart taken away from Allah.” [1]

Thus, taking special care of the heart ensures it remains soft and absorbant; readily accepting admonishment and guidance. Al-Allamah al-Sa’di رحمه الله said:

صلاح القلب بكمال الإنابة إلى الله وقوة التوكل عليه، وتمام الإخلاص له، ومحبة الخير لكافة الخلق، وفساده ونقصه بضدِّ ذلك

“Rectifying the heart fully (and perfectly) confers itself to Allah, and wholly renders sincerity to Him. (Such a heart) loves goodness for all of the creation, and opposes corruption and deficiency.” [2]

Ibn Uthaymeen also said:

إن قسوة القلب لها دواء وهو الإكثار من قراءة القرآن، دليل ذلك قول الله عز وجل: ﴿لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعاً مُتَصَدِّعاً مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ﴾ [الحشر:21] والجبل كما نعلم حجارة صماء لو نزل القرآن عليها لخشع وتصدع، كذلك القلب إذا ورد عليه القرآن وقرأ الإنسان بتفكر وتمعن فلا بد أن يؤثر في قلبه

“The hardening of the heart has a cure, and it is the recitation of the Qur’an. The evidence for this is in the Words of Allah Almighty, ‘If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah…’ [Al Hashr, 21] And the mountain as we know is (made of) deaf stones, yet if the Qur’an was revealed upon them would render them humbled and asunder apart. Similar to that is how the the heart should respond when the person reads the Qur’an with contemplation and ponderance, it must affect the heart.” [3]

Ibn Uthaymeen also warned those to take note said regarding this remedy:

‏إذا رأيت قلبك لا يتأثر بالقرآن فاتهم نفسك لأن الله أخبر أن هذا القرآن لو نزل على جبل لتصدع، وقلبك يتلى عليه القرآن ولا يتأثر

“If you see your heart is not affected by the Qur’an then indict yourself, for Allah informed us that if this Qur’an descended on a mountain, it would cleave it (asunder). And yet your heart recites the Qur’an and is not affected.” [4]

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May Allah grant us hearts that are quick to return back to Him in repentence, and reform upon reminders and admonishments. Ameen.

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References:

[1] Al-Bab al-Maftooh, 232 (Audio @ http://bit.ly/2l4kqeM)
[2] Majmu’ al-Fawa’id wa Iqtinas al-Awabid
[3] See: http://binothaimeen.net/content/1661
[4] Majmu’ Fatawa wa Rasa’il, 8/278


Beyond Mere Citation 📖

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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Mothers of our Imams and scholars of the Ummah were instrumental in nurturing and pushing them to seek knowledge. And the mother of Sufyan Ath-Thawri was no different; she would encourage him to seek knowledge and met his expenses for this noble cause through utilising her skill in spindling thread. She once parted the following profound advice to him:

يا بَنِي، إِذَا كتبت عشرة أحاديث، فانظر هل ترى فِي نفسك زيادة فِي مشيتك، وحلمك ووقارك، فَإِن لَمْ تر ذَلِكَ، فاعلم أَنَّهُ ل يضرك، ولا ينفعك

O my son, if you write down (and study) ten ahadeeth, then look to see in yourself if there has been increase in (positive) change, and in forbearance and poise. For if you don’t see (any of) that, then know (such endeavour) will cause you harm, and be of no benefit to you. ❞  [Al-Sahmi, ‘Tareekh Jarjan’, 471]

In an age of information overload where ‘ilm and information is incorrectly conflated, it’s not often enough that we take stock of what we’ve learnt and measure its impact within our selves and even upon those around us.

Indeed the virtue of ‘ilm lies in acting upon it and internalising it. Otherwise it can become a wasteful exercise and a source of grief in this world and the Hereafter.


Fit Your Time Around The Qur’an 📖

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The relationship of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ with the Qur’an was impenetrable no matter where they were, whether traveling or stationary; in peace or at war. It is impossible to find them detached from the Book of Allah, the Most High.

One of the traps of shaytan is that, while Muslims are aware of their religious priorities, they are sometimes practically demobilised and rendered languid to do anything about it. In the case of the Qur’an, it was narrated that Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki (d.543H) said:

إن إبليس حين لم يستطع أن يشغل الناس عن القرآن شغلهم به عنه
أي: أنه جعلهم يشتغلون بشيء فيه لا ينفعهم في معادهم يشغلهم عما ينفعهم في دينهم وآخرتهم

“Indeed when Iblees can’t hold people back from (busying themselves with) the Qur’an, he (strives to) busy them with other than it… Meaning: He makes them engage with something that does not bring them benefit; repeatedly distracting them from what will benefit them in their Deen and the Hereafter.”  [Tahzeeb al-Qur’an, 42]

The Sahabah used to advocate ease and flexibility in enacting mandhubat [those deeds that come highly recommended]. This was to ensure they were done moderately but consistently ,no matter how small. As a reality check advice, Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه used to ask:

!ما يمنعُ أحدَكم إذا رجع من سوقه أو من حاجته، فاتكأ على فراشه، أن يقرأ ثلاث آيات من القرآن

❝ What prevents one of you, when coming back from the market or after fulfilling any need you have; that you recline on your couch and read (even) three ayat from the Qur’an. ❞  [Sunan Al-Darimi, 3336]

He did not say “three pages” or even a single page, but only three ayat [verses] that can be read around daily tasks with ease, and pondered upon and even memorised. Surely this is not beyond the reach of most of us; if our hearts were pure and strong, they would never get enough of the Qur’an. So let’s work towards that purity and strength by commencing to fit our time around the Book of Allah ﷻ with a deliberate and concerted effort.

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And Allah ﷻ alone grants tawfeeq.

 


Follow Up With Goodness 💫

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

اتَّقِ اللَّهِ حَيْثُمَا كُنْتَ وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا وَخَالِقِ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ

❝Fear Allah wherever you are. And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out. And behave towards the people with good character.❞ [1]

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Following up a bad deed with a good deed illustrates an important point: that even those with taqwah are not free from faults or immune from slipping. No one is perfect, but those who are from the people of taqwah, do not persist in sin and take immediate remedial recourse in proactively blotting out sin, and building a contiguous stack of hasanat (i.e. good deeds).

Ibn Rajab said in his valued work, ‘Lata’if al-Ma’arif’ about indicators of acceptance and rejection of deeds:

من عمل طاعة من الطاعات وفرغ منها فعلامة قبولها أن يصلها بطاعة أخرى، وعلامة ردها أن يعقب تلك الطاعة بمعصية

“Whoever does an act (of ibadah) from obedience (to Allah) and earnestly completes it, the sign of its acceptance is that he follows it up with another (act of obedience). And the sign of a rejected act (of ibadah) is that its obedience is followed up with sin.” [2]

Our understanding of sin should be mobilising and not debilitating. Too often, we respond to a sin by putting ourselves in a corner and overwhelming ourselves with guilt and regret only – this needs to be a catalyst to move forward in good deeds and no become dejected. Sins can’t be used as an excuse to lag behind, and absolutely must not stop us from swiftly partaking in all other types of qualitative goodness.

Ibn al-Qayyim said about the ease in which deeds can become corrupted and the need to ensure their integrity:

ومحبطات الأعمال ومفسداتها أكثر من أن تحصر وليس الشأن في العمل إنما الشأن في حفظ العمل مما يفسده ويحبطه

“And things that cancel out good deeds and spoils them are too many to enumerate. It is not the importance of deeds (that count), rather it is the importance of protecting one’s good deeds from whatever may corrupt them or cancel them out.” [3]

Our response to a sin should not be languid, but rather a race to enact something good in hope of erasing sin. Our attitude should be one of caution and of eternal hope that Allah will have Mercy on us as long as we keep struggling and pushing forward. As He ﷻ Said in Al-Zumar (53).

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References:

[1] Al-Tirmidhi, 1987
[2] Lata’if al-Ma’arif, (1/224)
[3] Al-Wâbil al-Sayyib, p.18

 


Be Like the Ear of Corn 🌾

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

مَثَلُ المؤمنِ مثلُ السُّنبُلةِ، تستقيمُ مرَّةً، و تخِرُّ مرةً، ومَثَلُ الكافرِ مَثَلُ الأَرْزَةِ، لا تزال مُستقيمةً حتى تخِرَّ، و لا تشعرُ

The example of the believer is like that of an ear of corn that remains upright time after time (upon being shredded). And the example of the disbeliever is like that of a cedar tree that remains standing straight until it falls suddenly without feeling it.

[Musnad Ahmad, 15154 (see ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5844)]

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Such beautiful comparisons and similitude are found aplenty within the body of Hadeeth literature, and are profound because of the depth of guidance and analysis they provide in signposting praiseworthy characteristics believers should inherit.

Some notable lessons we learn from this Prophetic narration is as follows :

1. An ear is the grain-bearing part of the stem of a crop, such as corn, wheat and maize etc. It is blessed in both, its seeds and grain, providing nourishment for people and supporting life. Faith likewise is the nourishment of the heart that feeds the soul – and when hearts lose nourishment, they die causing the death of the entire body.

2. Despite the weakness of the individual crop itself, it extracts its strength collectively from neighbouring crops and environment. Unlike the cedar tree which is solitary and doesn’t support others despite its strength and large size.

3. The state of the believers in their empathy, mercy and compassion towards each other is like one body; for when a limb complains, the entire body feels pain.

4. Allah ﷻ‎ set an example for the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions with plants because of what He Mentioned:

ذَ‌ٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِ

“…That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks…” [Surat Al Fath, 29]

5. Even upon experiencing severe weather and being subjected to harvesting, the ear of corn (eventually) returns to being in upright position.

This is the type of resilience a believer must develop and assume, having the capacity to recover quickly from any type of difficulty. Attributes opposite to this are unbecoming of a believer for he is not despondent, weak, defeated and lacking in resolve or courage.

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And Allah is the source of all assistance and success.