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Constant Sins & Repentance: Pearls from the Sunnah (#1)

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Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said,

“There is no believing slave [of Allah] except that he has a sin that he continually commits, from time to time, or a sin that he constantly does – it never leaves him until he leaves this world. Verily, the believer is created muftannan, tawwaban, nassaa`an – when he is reminded, he remembers.”

The Takhreej of the Hadeeth
The hadeeth is reported in the al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer of Abul Qasim Sulayman b. Ahmad b. Ayyub al-Tabarani (d. 360 A.H.).
Al-Tabarani was one of the last of the great huffadh (memorizers of hadeeth). He lived an extremely long life, dying a centenarian. Hence, in his later years, he could narrate ahadeeth from scholars who died a generation earlier than most of the other scholars of his time could narrate from. He wrote three famous works, all of them entitled al-Mu`jam (meaning: a book of hadeeth where the hadeeth are arranged according to the names of the Companions who narrated the hadeeth, or the teachers whom the author narrated the ahadeeth from). The largest of these three was called al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer, the middle one al-Mu`jam al-Awsat, and the smallest (not surprisingly) al-Mu`jam al-Sagheer. The most famous of these is the largest one – in its sole printed edition (edited by the great scholar Hamdi Abd al-Majeed al-Salafi), the number of ahadeeth is 21547. This edition utilized a manuscript that had three entire volumes missing (volumes 13 to 16), hence the printed work is incomplete, and no known complete manuscripts exist.
This makes al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer one of the largest collections of hadeeth in print. Al-Tabarani tried to narrate as many ahadeeth from each Companion that he could find, and in many cases he also narrated biographical information about them. Hence this work is an important treasure trove for information about the Companions of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

An Explanation of the Hadeeth
This hadeeth is a ray of light and a source of optimism for the believer. For there is no single believer amongst us who is perfect – how can he be, when perfection is for Allah alone? And there is no believer amongst us who is sinless, for it is only the angels who are sinless. In this hadeeth, the beloved Rasul salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam is reminding us that there will be sins that a believer does – notice that he called such a person a mu`min, a true believer, despite these sins. Furthermore, he pointed out that it is possible that a servant is tested with a particular sin that he has become addicted to, a sin that he continuously does until he dies.

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The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam then described such a believer with three characteristics, and stated that the believer has been created with them. Hence, to have these three characteristics is a sign of a true believer.

The first of them is that he is muftan, meaning he will be tried and tested. The implication from this description is that the believer has been created in order to be tried and tested, and of the ways he is tried and tested is through sins.
Trials and tribulations are of many types, some of them are worldly, others spiritual; some of them deal with physical pain, others cause mental anguish; some of them are losses of this material world, to see how patient we are, others are gains and blessings given to us, to see how we use them. In all cases, such fitan – such trials and tribulations – should draw us closer to Allah. Even if a sin has occurred, the true believer uses this sin to come closer to Allah.
But how can a sin be used to draw nearer to the very One whom he has disobeyed?
Through the act of repentance, tawbah. Hence, the next description given is that the believer is tawwab, meaning that he repents continuously, repeatedly, relentlessly. The believer does not become discouraged due to the quantity of sins that he commits, because he realizes that Allah’s mercy is infinite and limitless. The true mu`min is not demoralized by his past habits, but rather inspirited and uplifted by hopes of a grander future. The believer always remembers the encouraging words from his beloved Rasul salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam who said, “The one who repents from a sin is like one who has not committed it in the first place” (Reported by Ibn Majah in his Sunan). Thus, this second description given to the believer shows that the believer will always repent from his sins, regardless of how many times he has done other sins, or even this very sin, before the repentance.
The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam then gave the third and final description of the believer, that he is nassaa`a, meaning that he continually forgets and relapses. Thus, the believer becomes heedless of the commandments of Allah, oblivious to the realities of the afterlife, and, when tempted by what he perceives to be a pleasing and sweet deed, falls prey to the seductions of Shaytan, and swallows that poisonous sweet. But as soon as the deed has been committed, and the outer layer of sweetness dissolves, it is followed up by the bitter aftertaste of the poison and pollutant that he has just ingested.

But not all hope is lost, for all such deeds can be undone, once again through repentance – that greatest gift of Allah to the sinners! The believer feels this guilt, and all that is needed is a prodding, perhaps he hears a verse being recited, or attends a lecture that stirs him, or listens to a khutbah that reminds him of his spiritual bankruptcy. So, ‘…when he is reminded, he remembers’, because he has an inner core of good, a repository of taqwa that need only be exposed and brought out in order to cause this change in him.

And so the believer is ever in a cycle – an perpetual, never-ending cycle – of committing sins, and then repenting, and then falling headless and committing sins again, only to be reminded of his purpose in life, after which he will repent, and fall into thoughtlessness once again, only to be prodded into action and good behavior…

So the cycle of life continues, and it is this life that characterizes the life of the believer, for the believer repents and strives to attain perfection, whereas the fasiq or hypocrite commits the same sins or worse, and cares little to better his situation.

What separates the mu`min from the fasiq is not the sin – both Adam and Iblees disobeyed Allah – but the reaction to the sin. Adam repented, and became beloved once again to Allah; Iblees obstinately persisted, and become the most accursed creation of Allah.

The battle of the believer is a never-ending one. He will perpetually fall into sins, but as long as he perpetually repents, and is reminded by the Speech of Allah and His Messenger, he is still a believer, and will continue to remain a believer, until he dies.

Always remember those uplifting words of the Basheer whom Allah sent to us, “Whoever is pleased with his good deeds, and saddened by his evil deeds, is indeed a mu`min” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi in his al-Jami).

May Allah grant us all Iman and taqwa, and bless us to be amongst those who, when tested, are patient, and when blessed, are thankful, and when sinful, are repentant. Ameen!

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    April 4, 2007 at 12:37 AM

    jazakAllahu khayr that was a very nice read. according to the definition of mu’jam then is musnad imam ahmed also considered a mu’jam work (or ever referred to as such by the scholars of hadith)?

  2. Amad

    Amad

    April 4, 2007 at 9:01 AM

    JazakAllah khair Sh. Yasir… I am amazed at the specificity in the hadith. Correct me if I am wrong, but the hadith seems to be referring particular sins that particular people are more prone to. So, on the spectrum of sins, some of us may be inclined towards music, others may be inclined towards alcohol, yet others may be inclined towards women. And what I mean by inclination in this context is the obsessive inclination, a strong fitna within the heart that yearns for this particular sin.

    As the Prophet (S) defined women as the biggest fitnah (trial) for men, this hadith gives hope– that you may falter, but you are not doomed. On the flip side, dare I say that perhaps there are people who are inclined towards the grave sin of homosexuality, and it is in this fitna that Allah continually tests them. So, if there are men who have feelings for other men (or women for women), as unnatural we may feel this is, then their fitan is in how they protect and prevent themselves from engaging in these forbidden desires.

    May Allah keep us among the tawabban (those who repent)…

  3. Avatar

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    April 4, 2007 at 11:46 AM

    What a beautiful reminder.

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr Shaykh Yasir.

  4. Avatar

    Moiez

    April 4, 2007 at 12:54 PM

    Subhanallah, this makes me feel very happy. Jazakallah Khair. But I have a question though, isnt it true that if a person persistently does a bad deed and even though he repents he goes and does it again. I heard that, that wont be forgiven. Is this a contradiction? I hope I made some sense if not Ill try to explain differently.

  5. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    April 4, 2007 at 1:06 PM

    Ameeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnn!!!!!!!

    JazakAllahu khair for this wonderful soothing balm upon the soul… it is something that we may take comfort in and draw hope from (and boy, do we need it!), al-Hamdulillaah!

  6. Avatar

    Medinah

    April 4, 2007 at 4:30 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    Mashallah, very beneficial, may we all benefit inshallah. Jazakallahu Khairan!

  7. Avatar

    Al Musaafir

    April 4, 2007 at 6:32 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum Sh. Yasir,

    That was truly very beneficial, a true pearl of many from the Sunnah. Jazakallah Khayr!

  8. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    April 4, 2007 at 10:15 PM

    Amad – yes that is the primary reference in the hadeeth, that each person, without exception, has a specific weakness that he/she finds it difficult to totally abandon. So they end up battling that problem as long as they live, and this battle is a demonstration of Iman in itself.

    Moiez – if a person sincerely repents, his sin will be forgiven. Sincere repentance includes the intention never to return to that sin; however only Allah knows the future, and it is possible that a person will intend not to return to that sin but will eventually fall into it. So he will repent again, and again, and again….
    Some scholars say that any habitual minor sin becomes a major sin; what is meant by this is a minor sin that a person commits without the intention of repenting. Thus there is a feeling of carelessnes about the sin, and this feeling in itself is a sign of a lack of Iman.

  9. Avatar

    Moiez

    April 4, 2007 at 11:20 PM

    Jazakallah Khair

  10. Avatar

    BintMuhammed

    April 5, 2007 at 12:02 AM

    Ameeeeeen! JazakaAllah khair for the enormous reminder. Continous repentance helps us remember our Rabb, and in remembering Him do our hearts find ease.

  11. Avatar

    bint Bashir

    April 5, 2007 at 3:24 AM

    May Allah SWT make us all amongst those who continuously repent, for we are in ever need of the mercy of Allah.

    JazakAllah Khair Sheikh for a wonderful reminder, May Allah SWT grant you and all of us the blessings of being a mu`min, Ameen.

  12. Avatar

    Kamal

    April 5, 2007 at 5:46 PM

    Salam 3alaykum,

    It is these beautiful Hadiths that touch the heart and silence the shaytan. I wish I’d heard more of them when I was growing up as opposed to the harsh threatening approach of other scholars that have done nothing but to repel me from religion.

    Thanks once more, may Allah give you the appropriate Jazaa.

  13. Avatar

    Chihab

    April 7, 2007 at 12:15 PM

    Can someone clarify the hadith a bit further: It is comforting to know that God forgives sin but does the hadith also say that such propensity is built-in to us? Whether it be directly or as an indirect product of free will that God must have known would come about as a consequence?

    I am confused. Does God help us through sins that he programmed us to do? He is more powerful than the devil and our autonomous free will but allows these two to take course with us. Sounds like the original sin concept of Christianity. Is this a philosophy that both our religions share- in slightly different forms?

    Please help with an explanation.

  14. Avatar

    Chihab B

    April 7, 2007 at 7:22 PM

    Another point if I may: Is there anything wrong with believing in a God who is omnipotent, omniscient but not omnibenevolent?

    In other words we believe in a just God but justice necessitates being kind to some and cruel to others who deserve it. So I assume it is not blasphemous to say that since God is just it entails he is not omnibenevolent as not all creation is worthy of such benevolence.

    The reason why I bring this up is because I was bemused by an article on the existence of evil (not the type that comes about from free will but the type that comes with nature).

    The philosopher is happy to conclude that evil can not exist in the province of a totally benevolent God. I see his point but I think benevolence is a term we loosely associate with the God we worship.

    I may need to explain myself further if my point did not come across but I don’t want to be too lengthy.

  15. Amad

    Amad

    April 11, 2007 at 9:09 PM

    Br. Chihab, let me take a stab at answering some of your questions…

    First of all, there is a huge difference between the concept of original sin and the propensity to sin. Original sin implies that the new born baby comes out of the womb of his mother already sinful. A Muslim on the other hand is 100% pure and sinless when born, or when he reverts to Islam.

    As for propensity of sin, this goes to the fact that man is built with desires for certain things like food, intimacy, etc. And every desire that man has, Allah has provided a halal/permissible route to fulfill it. So, there is halal food to eat, there are wives and husbands to enjoy intimacy with, etc. It is only when, out of your own free-will, you choose to divert these desires into the haraam/forbidden. If these desires did not exist, then there would be no test for mankind, and there would be no discrimination between the righteous and the sinful.

    As for Allah’s Benevolence, we know that Allah is the Most Merciful and the Most Beneficent. These are His greatest attributes. At the same time, we know that Allah does get angry with the disbelievers and with the sinners. So, that too is His attribute. However, His Mercy supersedes His Wrath:

    The Prophet said, “When Allah created the creatures, He wrote in the Book, which is with Him over His Throne: “Verily, My Mercy prevailed over My Wrath.”
    (Al-Bukhari)

    He also said, “Allah has divided mercy into 100 parts, and He retained with Him 99 parts, and sent down to earth 1 part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it.” (Al-Bukhari).

    This article on islamonline.net has more ahadith and Quranic verses on the Mercy of Allah. Hope this clarifies inshallah.

  16. Avatar

    ADENIYI ADEGBENRO

    April 15, 2007 at 9:45 AM

    Kindly teach me how I can be getting regular supply of your handouts. This is the first issue that I have ever seen and its very educative.
    Jarzakallahu khaeran.

  17. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    April 15, 2007 at 12:15 PM

    you can get regular updates by subscribing via email here:

    http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=770199

    every time a new post is made on the site inshallah you will get notification.
    jazakAllahu khayr

  18. Avatar

    Moin Shaikh

    April 16, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    Alhamdulillah!!!

    May Allah Taala guide all momins and give us the a firm hold on the Rope of Allah..Ameen

  19. Avatar

    Abdelrahman Issa

    April 20, 2007 at 10:56 PM

    wow that’s cool.

    So a man who is addicted to a minor sin, gets counted as a major sinner?

  20. Avatar

    Faiez

    June 4, 2007 at 4:10 PM

    Good stuff, jazakAllahu khair Shaykh Yasir.

  21. Avatar

    tayyibah

    August 9, 2007 at 12:25 PM

    Salamalaykum warahmatullah,

    may Allaah reward you very very much and grant you Jannat al-Firdaws.

  22. Avatar

    Ali

    November 30, 2007 at 6:18 AM

    Ameen

  23. Avatar

    Muslimah

    May 30, 2008 at 8:23 PM

    Ma sha Allah, Amazing article – one of MM’s best.
    Jazakum Allahu khayran.

  24. Pingback: Pornography Addiction Among Muslims (Stories & Tips) | MuslimMatters.org

  25. Avatar

    Umm Abdullah

    June 19, 2008 at 1:31 PM

    Salam shaikh yasir,

    After reading this article and many others on tawbah, it almost feels like that there is a strong pull towards committing sin (not major but minor) so I can be able to repent. Not to say that I am completely sinless but let’s say that alhamdullilah not into any major sins (at least not knowingly and intentionally) and Allah knows best.

    So which slave is better, the one who fights temptations and resists sins, or the one who gives in (feeling guilty while committing sin) but returns immediately to repent to Allah?

    An answer will be highly appreciated.

  26. Avatar

    zaman

    July 4, 2008 at 9:22 AM

    is the hadith saheeh?

    plz give some reference mentioning from early scholars who graded it sahih or hasan?

    if it possible plz give some explanation from early scholars?

  27. Avatar

    Maheen

    August 17, 2008 at 10:29 AM

    Jazakallahu khairen for this article. Understanding such ahadith simply overwhelm the heart–how merciful is Allah!

  28. Avatar

    Mariam

    September 25, 2008 at 4:59 AM

    Does this Hadith apply to all major sins

  29. Avatar

    Mariam

    September 25, 2008 at 5:45 AM

    Does this apply to a major sin if committed

  30. Pingback: Quran Weekly » Al-Anaam 6:12

  31. Avatar

    Renfeer

    September 15, 2009 at 3:19 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    This came at the right time when i needed it the most…one proof for me that God responses and does not forsakes His slaves…..fa lillaahil hamd

    The first time i read this hadees was from a book written by Shaykh Halabi [40 hadees on Islamic Personality] and it did console me for some while but the traps of Shaytaan were so cunning that the accursed one made this very hadees the pretext to sink me deeper into disobedience.

    However, this morning i would have almost slipped had it not been for this hadees which just blinked into my conscience. Tired & exhausted at the end of this spiritual warfare i just wanted an explanation for this hadees. And i remember the starting words of this hadees to its precision: “THERE IS NO BELIEVING SLAVE EXCEPT THAT HE HAS A SIN…..” and the moment i typed these words into Yahoo search, Lo! this page was the first result………

    Nothing more can be added to those words of truth which came from the True one and our brother has done well in explaining it especially with regards to the sequence of words that came in the hadees.

    It would be highly appreciated if anyone can come forward with the ARABIC SCRIPT so that those words of our Beloved resonates within our hearts…..I presume it must be starting something like this “Maa min abdin mu’minin illa wa lahu zanbun…..”

    Hoping for an immediate response……respond to the creation & The Creator responds to you – follow the Golden Rule :-)

    Was-Salaam

  32. Avatar

    Wayfarer

    October 18, 2009 at 1:56 AM

    Allaaah.. That was beautiful and very hope-inspiring. JazakumAllahu khair.

  33. Avatar

    Nadeem

    July 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Thanks brother Yasir.
    May Allah guide all of us to the right path,ameen

  34. Avatar

    Perdana Karim

    May 16, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    these beautiful words have uplift my sorrowness
    and bring optimism for a better tomorrow

  35. Avatar

    Salman

    May 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Although, i am not an authority on the beautiful Ahadith-e-Rasool (SAW) but I can think of a simple scenario where this hadith can easily lead people somewhat astray:
    e.g. It would give a perfect reason to a bribe-giver in Pakistan to continue giving bribes and also to a bribe-taker to keep on taking it, as long as they go back home every day and with a sincere heart apologize to God for their wrong act. And then they proceed with their routine evil the next day. They can very well justify taking or giving bribes e.g. b/c their salary is not sufficient to feed their children etc.
    However, this is in contradiction to other more authentic hadith of the Prophet (SAW), e.g.:
    Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe.
    (Hadith No. 1337, Chapters on Judgements, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3).
    Moreover, Ghalib had also addressed the phenomenon supported by the above hadith in the following couplet:
    “Raat bhar pi, subah toba kar li,
    Rind ke rind rahey, Jannat bhi na gayi”
    Hence, I am forced to question the authenticity of above hadith in the light of the Islam’s true teachings, and I feel that such views might ultimately result in the decay of a society.
    Under the light of above hadith, wrong-doers would begin to go unchecked and unpunished because they would claim to have repented to Allah and of being a true believer, while they continue to commit sins. The system of morals, ethics, and justice would ultimately perish.
    Allah is no doubt most forgiving and most merciful and forgives him/her who repents from heart (Taubatan Nasuha) and do not commit or insist on sin again and again, because Allah is first and foremost an Aadil, Just.

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#Islam

The Estranged Middle Way

The following excerpt is part of the introduction of a longer article that I am writing. I felt it merited being a separate article as well in the hopes that it benefits readers in points of collective reflection and elevating our discourse in matters of disagreement. The mark of civilization is not that they reach uniformity but how people deal with disagreement.

Shaykh Hasib Noor

Published

“Our entire system of life is truly as God Almighty defined, a middle among all people, never being confined to the different variations of thoughts of man, and encompassing and transcending all of them. God’s words cannot be limited by man.”

Islām is rooted as being a faith that has a holistic way of life because it is an all-encompassing framework of guidance. Its framework divides into three integral, interlinked, and inseparable components: actions, beliefs and spirituality.

Actions and practices encompass guidance of every facet of the private, public, and societal. Such a detailed framework in actions serves to ingrain the purpose and objectives of Islām through a practical faith that not only gives over-arching principles but carefully considers even the most minute of subtleties for individual context and scenario.

Beliefs discuss essential faith and foundational theology. Belief, or īmān, are not to be confused with theology, or ‘āqīdah. Often times they may be used interchangeably while there are key elements of differentiating between what īmān is and what ‘is aqīdah. Belief or īmān is referred to primarily in two different contexts.

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The first is the breakdown of what comprises faith.

Belief (īmān) is comprised of actions (‘amal) and statements (qawl):
1. Actions of the Heart, which are the root and catalyst of actions of the limbs: like reliance on God, sincerity, hope, fear, awe, seeking the pleasure of God, etc.
2. Actions of the Limbs.
3. Statements of the Heart: is theology, the study of the nature of God and all religious belief. It encompasses the tenets of faith a person believes in and has certainty.
4. Statements of the Tongue.

The second context of īmān or belief refers to the state of spirituality which increases with righteousness and decreases with sin.

When we refer to beliefs, we are referring to  of these contexts, holistically. As you can see belief encompasses theology but does not solely define it. Among the functions of theology is building foundational understanding of the nature of God, the nature and function of man in light of the temporal world and the Hereafter, the reality of the Afterlife, the meaning of life, etc.

Theology,  here, subsequently contemporizes and responds to any contentions from philosophies or ideologies opposing to the universal belief Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sent to humanity. Beliefs also elucidate what is considered acceptable differences within orthodoxy and what is considered heterodoxy. The study of valid  (saigh) and invalid (ghair saigh) interpretation in theology include tolerance of differences within orthodoxy (murā’at al khilāf), highlighting what types of theological deviance are forgivable and what kinds are grounds for falling outside of acceptable faith, and what are unequivocal (qat’i) and equivocal (dhannī) aspects of theological belief.

The last component of spirituality (tazkiyah/tasawwuf), is the ultimate guide in balancing mechanics and belief. But it also contains within it pitfalls for those that focus on it in absence of and balanced with practice and beliefs. Spirituality is at the heart of faith. It is led by actions, guided by the sea of belief to wonder in reflection and amazement at the grandeur of the Almighty in the macro and micro.

Many have been drowned in and lost the objectives (maqāsid) of the holistic framework of Islām with dogmatic overt-focus of one aspect over another. They neglect one of the other of these components, in spite of the inseparable connection of the three. We witness a faulty approach on the practice and mechanics without considering spirituality. We see in certain groups a lack of focus on ethics, character, and delivery being as vital, if not more so, as the emphasis on correct action.

The example of faulty approach to theology is also visible. Neglecting spirituality is as much of a problem as the other extreme of esoteric philosophies and mysticism which delved into symbolism to such an extent that it contradicted foundational principles in how the faith is interpreted and understood according to the practice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and his teachings relayed to his companions as well as heterodoxical beliefs or innovative practices all in the name of “the spirit of Islam.” In some of these groups, the sum of proving theology was more important than the tone of delivery and capturing hearts. After all, even the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was disciplined by the Lord with nothing more in the Quran than how he delivered the message. An empirical tasawwuf as well is central to the faith of Islām. A spirituality which ingrained in prophetic teachings, the best of worshipers of course knows the best path to connect the Creator. Esoteric tasawwuf was sought after in neglect of such empirical spirituality.

In other cases, the practice of Islām becomes not only secondary but deemed irrelevant while ‘the bigger and most important matter is the heart in faith.’ A slogan which is outwardly true but misguided in application. While seeking the spirit of Islām, the integral component of spirituality is rooted and inseparable with practice and beliefs. The protective cloak of Islam, the shariah, is stripped, its logical framework and shield, the beliefs, usurped.

In summary, two extremes mutate and fight at odds with each other while both exemplify inconsistency and a false practice of Islam: the claim to see the spirit of Islām was lost without practice, and the dogmatic indignation to correct beliefs lost audience with abhorrent manners and vile speech, while the claim to follow correct practice is deluded with no objectives.

Actions are studied in fiqh, beliefs, in specifically theology in the study of ‘aqīdah, but beliefs (īmān) are ingrained in the studies of all Islamic sciences such as hadith and knowing the meanings of the teachings of the Prophet, his life, manners, and etiquette in sīrah, the meanings of the words of Allah in tafsīr, in understanding the intricacies of the eloquence in the arabic language etc. as well as the direct discussion of spirituality in the study of tasawwuf or tazkīyah.

Having a teacher is vital as well to model all of this. And we have dedicated and entire article to the importance of such guidance in teachers and avoiding religious complexes in Muslim discourse.

It is vital to enumerate the aforementioned issues in this introduction because often times the holistic approach of understanding faith is neglected in discussions regarding the sub components of Islām . There is an absence of awareness of such framework. The more compartmentalized discussions of theology, fiqh, or spirituality become the more distant they are from the essential interconnected relationship that our Islāmic paradigm functions in, the constructs in which we see the world through, and the principles on which we derive all matters from.

With this in mind, I also have a disclaimer that I will share in the form of a story. While shopping in a bookstore in Madinah, I ran into a good friend who works there and we caught up. We studied together very closely under a teacher; even though we have differences in the madhab we study, as well as the Sunnī theological school we ascribe to. But our hearts are one in faith, and love is uniform in its essence. We studied spirituality with a teacher who imparted this and it was visibly applied in everything that he taught. He had students not only from all four madhabs of fiqh but also theological sunnī schools (Ash’arī, Māturīdī, and Atharī), alongside the different nationalities that we all came from (in hindsight, this is what Madinah has always represented: known as Ma’riz Al Īmān — the refuge of faith, where all come together and unified in their bond of Islam).

After exchanging pleasantries, catching up as we were happy to see one another, my friend and I discussed a problem. We were both seeing those who ascribe themselves as scholars and students of Islam in their dogmatic discussions across theology, fiqh, and spirituality lack not only basic ethics, manners, genuineness, and sincerity but also lack a sense of just and amicable difference (insāf). He said something profound in our discussion:

“You know, those in the middle will always be attacked the most. Look at what’s happening now, an Ash’arī attacks an Atharī, an Atharī attacks an Ash’arī … and the people in the middle are attacked by both! The people in the middle work twice as hard!”

I chuckled in agreement and said,

“Yes twice as hard to relay to both sides how much they agree on and regarding the minority of views they contend, how to disagree amicably with love and care for what bonds them while maintaining balance in approach!”

He throws his arms in the air and says,

“This is why it would be great if people stuck to ‘aqīdat al ‘ajaiz!”

This phrase, “the belief of old women,” is a term used to refer to the essential and foundational faith of very devout, loving, and practicing older women who engaged in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, recitation of the Quran, du’ā (prayer) for all Muslims, and had no rancor or hatred in their heart for anyone because they were more engrossed in the love of God and His Prophet in yearning to be in companionship in the Everlasting Garden from engaging in highly-charged polemical theology. They were content with imān (faith) that’s the ultra-unifying variable for any dissent in Islām, and not in divisive kalām (theological discourse) which often times proved so theoretical that it lost tenability. Old ladies are blissfully ignorant of kind of theology.

The disclaimer is: the middle group will always be attacked more. I recognize that.

I ask the reader not to employ their rational abilities to find holes to criticize but to reflect on the message in light of this holistic aspect. If you have valid criticism and disagreement weigh it in light of the following: is your view valid? Is my view valid (saigh)? Are you criticizing my views in regard to invalidity or are you criticizing it based on what’s ideal? If you view what I’m saying as invalid provide evidence. If you feel what I’m saying isn’t ideal then don’t lose sight of the bond of fellowship our faith teaches us in kindness and disagreeing amicably. Reflect over the unifying unequivocal principles of our faith (muḥkamāt). You may disagree with an aspect, but do you disagree with the objective? If you disagree with the objective and approach, why? What are some critical reasons for why you differ? Do you perceive some harm, is it truly harmful, and to what level is this harm? Do you feel an aspect that you agree with generally but disagree on its application? State it. Do you believe it needs more specific elucidation? Can you clearly and succinctly state what you agree with prior to your disagreement by highlighting points of agreement before departures? Does this disagreement occur in something that is unequivocal (qat’ī) or equivocal (dhannī) and open to interpretation?

If we only exercised noble disagreement in points of contention, we would realize what kind of disagreements are fundamental and which ones superficial and unnecessary.

As a beloved teacher once said, when we look at who implements what we’ve mentioned above one will notice that everyone will claim that they follow the middle path. Everyone will agree with all that’s been mentioned in regard to temperament, amicable disagreement, and moderation, yet when it comes to the application, we all falter.

How do we recognize this middle and moderate way?

Shaykh Hatim Al-‘Awni says, “the middle and moderate path is the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم that Allah described as a marker of this faith,

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“And so We have made you ˹believers˺ a wasat )middle, upright, just) community so that you may be witnesses over humanity and that the Messenger may be a witness over you…” Quran 2:143.”

Wasat — middle is the marker of this nation. It’s a mark of its divinity. A revealed divine system of life from the Almighty can never be encompassed by human mechanism, understanding, thought, or ideology. Our beliefs in morality are neither completely moral universalism nor relativism. Our economics is neither capitalism nor socialism. Our politics isn’t based on absolute majority-rule neither is it autocracy with repression of voices, rights, and stifling opinion, criticism, and freedoms. Our entire system of life is truly as God Almighty defined, a middle among all people, never being confined to the different variations of thoughts of man, and encompassing and transcending all of them. God’s words cannot be limited by man.

A Muslim should always seek such middle path of understanding in the exemplar of it and whose life is the application of it, the Beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). His life is the rubric of what is middle and what is right and wrong. Following that exemplar in the principles he set out is our objective while aiming to never estrange the middle path.

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An Ashura Message: Proclaim Good And Refrain From Evil, Always And At All Costs!

Shakeel Syed

Published

Light coming through the stone lattice window


“If you do not march forth, Allah will chastise you grievously and will replace you by another people, while you will in no way be able to harm Him. Allah has power over everything”. (The Holy Quran – 9:39)

No people can live successfully, fruitfully and triumphantly without a strong memory of their past. Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, is one such milestone.

Muslims attempt to recall the tragic event that took place around the 60th year after Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) migrated from Makkah to Madinah. This time it was his family led by his noble grandson Imam Hussayn ibn Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

Reciting Divine words, reflecting Prophetic advises and studying history enables us to crystallize our insights. However, when we attempt to draw the imagery of Karbala, no heart could be so hard as not to be pierced with sadness while replaying the Day of Ashura. Words cannot do justice to the sacrifices made that day.

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They kept their heads high, faces flowing with blood and tears, looking one upon another. Others stood in dolorous pain, looking up to the highest heavens, fixing their eyes upon it, crying out, asking help from the Only Helper; while others made lamentations in the manner of dirge.

Today we try to recall their pain, suffering and sacrifices, as they happened, to inspire ourselves and to understand the concept of sacrifice for a noble cause.

Regrettably, sacrifice as it is generally understood today, is to give up something that should not have been touched in the first place. Selfless and unasked giving is a rarity and unheard of. Giving one’s entire self and offspring for His pleasure is unimaginable. Muslims must spiritually survive from the unparallel yesterdays of the Prophet’s progeny.

We have been largely overwhelmed by a culture that has emptied our memories, made us apologetic for who we are, and stripped us along the way of the sheerest hope of self-definition. We alone are presumed past less and are left to repair our self-esteem. Imperative it is for us today, to define ourselves by our ongoing tribulations and those who mete them out to us. Otherwise, we cannot be collectively successful if we have no idea or, worse that we have the wrong idea of who we were and who we are.

The intent of this writing is to stimulate, not to sate — to pose the question and to invite reflection — to cause ourselves to act for an almost forgotten legacy of the sacrifices made by our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)and his progeny.

O Allah! Bestow upon us the courage to enjoin, proclaim and enforce the good and the patience and perseverance to forbid and stop the evil for and by all.

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 21: The Strong Believer

Marwa Aly, Guest Contributor

Published

Now that we have learnt about how we come to success, let’s now talk about the strong believer.

Question: Who can tell me who was a strong believer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?

Yes! There are so many of them, like Umar, Hamza, Khalid ibn Walid, az-Zubayr ibn Awwaam, Nusaibah, and Ali [may Allah be pleased with them all].

Before Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) became Muslim, the Muslims would not pray publicly in front of the Ka’bah. They would be beaten and hurt if they attempted to do so. But, when Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) became Muslim, he went directly in front of the Ka’bah to pray. When the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded the Muslims to perform the hijrah (migration from Mecca to Medina), many Muslims did so at night so as not to be seen by the Qurayshi tribes that wanted to keep them in Mecca. Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) on the other hand, declared his migration and threatened anyone that attempted to stop him. Abdallah ibn Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: 

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“Umar’s submission to Islam was a conquest, his migration was a victory, his khalifa (period of rule) was a blessing. I have seen when we were unable to pray at the Ka’bah until Umar submitted. When he submitted to Islam, he fought them (the pagans) until they left us alone and we prayed.”

There is a phrase in the Qur’an where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Prophet Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to take the book with determination; فَخُذْهَا بِقُوَّةٍ  (fa khuth-ha bi quwwa) [take it with power] . 

Question: What do you think it means to take the book with determination, or with power?

While the Qur’an is definitely a book that is soothing for our souls, it is also supposed to empower us and strengthen us, so that we can then go forth and empower others by it as well. 

When we practice what is in the Qur’an, it allows us to remain upright, and builds our spiritual muscles as well. Just like you have to train to grow your physical muscles, you have to keep training for spiritual muscles too. 

Question: What are some ways we can train our spiritual muscles?

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