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Tawfique Chowdhury at the GPU 2008: The World in a State of Peril & Solutions

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Following is the text of the speech that was prepared for the GPU Conference 2008 by Shaykh Tawfique Chowdhury. The videos all the way below are the presentation at GPU, however, the organizers  and other interruptions did not permit full time for the prepared text. For comments, please stick to the topic presented here.

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Brothers and sisters: The world is in a state of peril:

Peril, because:

  • Of its failure to answer the pressing challenges of our times – such as war and poverty
  • Of its failure to uphold basic civil rights and liberties in the face of the problems of terrorism.
  • Of its failure to implement justice in Guantanamo and Palestine.
  • Of its failure to recognise its spiritual demise in the face of atheism and irreligiousness.
  • Of its financial crisis that has crippled economies and tamed giants
  • Because of its failure to answer the real need of mankind – to answer the question of who we are and why we were created. What a shame, that the greatest of questions: Who we are and why are we here – is the same question that is the most unclear in mind of humanity today.

All of this, because the world has dismissed Islam. They have dismissed Islam from being the answer to their problems and the solution for their dilemmas.

Humans beings have forgotten their creator and so they have forgotten who they are and what their identity is!

ولا تكونوا كالذين نسوا الله فأنساهم أنفسهم أولئك هم الفاسقون
Do not be like those who forgot Allah so Allah caused them to forget themselves. They are the wrong doers.

In the face of challenges such as this, the onus is on the Muslims to rise up to the cause. Rise up of sons of Umar, sisters of Aishah and students of Ibn Abbas. Arise, the sons and daughters of Islam to answer the call that Allah has placed on you.

Arise my people and realise your destiny.
Reach out and grab it. It is yours!!

Brothers and sisters:

  • We were not created:
    • To be slaves and beggars
    • To be followers and fans and admirers of others
  • We were created:
    • To be leaders and lords
    • To be the pioneers and challengers
    • To be to be the ones who are admired and praised and followed
    • We were created to guide mankind and liberate them and free them from the shackles of this world.

“From the worship of slaves, to the worship of the Lord of Slaves, From the injustice of religions to the Justice of Islam, and from the contractedness of this world to the vastness of the hereafter!”

كنتم خير أمة أخرجت للناس
You are the best of people, made for the benefit of Mankind!

However, the question arises:

How can we call others to the truth when we don’t have a unified solution to present to them. Our religion is one and God is one and Prophet is one, our destiny is one – but our hearts are not one!

Our situation, reminds me of a period in history known as the period of the Three kingdoms. Have you heard of the history of the three kingdoms:

  • It is a part of Chinese history from 220 of the Christian era.
  • It is a part of the past history of China that followed the Han dynasty which used to be a period of stability and unification.
  • In the time of the three kingdoms which was a period of disunity – the great country of China was divided into three smaller kingdoms, each of which developed with own laws, values, customs and way of life.
  • But, for 300 years approximately, the three kingdoms fought each other, even though there were periods in that time when China was unified, this quickly fell apart.

It is interesting to note, that the tension between the three kingdoms created many good things:

  • Beautiful art
  • Strong local communities
  • Romantic heroes and great valour and battles from which developed stories of Chinese mythology.

The negatives however, is that:

  • This period embodied countless battles and loss of life
  • The citizens of each kingdom made the kingdom more important than overall China.
  • People lost sight of the bigger picture, of the greater vision, or the bigger identity.
  • They created a mythology around the heroes who did battle against their fellow Chinese and they rallied behind them against their fellow countrymen.
  • China lost its unity and power and failed to grow into its true potential. Now take a look – a unified China – the next world power and the power balance in the world changing from the west to the east! All of this because with unity, China is realising its full potential.

Muslims today we are living the legacy of the period of the three kingdoms:

  • Instead of kingdoms, we have our own sects and organisations – that are like pseudo-kingdoms that have become casino online more important to us than our unity, our religion and faith. The problem is not the presence of organisations themselves. The problem is that instead of using them as vehicles and means to the noble end of calling to Allah, our disunity shows that we are actually more focused on calling to the organisations themselves! We have forgotten what Allah says in the Quran: قل هذه سبيلي أدعو إلى الله
  • My friends, just like in the time of the three kingdoms, we too have set up kings and heroes for these sects and organisations – and have develop stories of their respective greatness.
  • We support this scholar over that, and rally behind this imam over that and we have forgotten our combined greatness and glory.
  • Yes, these disunited groups, sects and organisations have helped Islam – by adding to its projects, values, culture and achievements, but…. At what cost?
  • At the cost of:
    • the ummah failing to achieve its true potential!
    • At the cost of defeat at the hands of its enemies!
    • At a cost of the ummah losing its leadership and resigning itself to physical, intellectual and cultural slavery.

The antidote:
So what is the antidote to this poison that flows in our veins? To this devil that rides the waves of our passion?
It is to work on a methodology towards achieving a unity that will not waver and quiver.

There are two parts to this methodology.

THE FIRST PART

Is a remedy that is clearly mentioned to us in the Quran when the Angels asked Allah about the divine wisdom in sending down to the earth – human beings – a creation that would destroy it and become disunited and spill blood!

“أتجعل فيها من يفسد فيها ويسفق الدماء؟”
Will you send to this earth a creation that will ruin it and spill blood?

The angels were right that indeed human beings were endowed with those traits that only serve to harm itself. Allah says:

خلق الإنسان ضعيفاً Mankind was created weak
وكان الإنسان عجولا Mankind is hasty
وكان الإنسان قتوراً Mankind is miserly
وكان الإنسان أكثر شيء جدلاً Mankind is ever given unto arguing

So Allah explained to them His divine plan:

وعلّم آدم الأسماء كله
And He taught Adam the names of all things!

This was the divine plan! Through knowledge Allah would save humanity. This was the way that Allah would join our hearts together and save us from fighting each other.

Why? Because knowledge does that to a person. When you gain knowledge:

  • You gain wisdom and learn to appreciate the wisdom and goodness that others have – ensuring that you don’t divide over petty matters.
  • You remove ignorance from yourself which is the prime cause of arguments and problems
  • The more you gain knowledge, the more you realise your ignorance and this humbles you and removes pride – the same pride that causes you to see yourself above others and thus incapable of uniting with them.
  • The more knowledgeable you are, the more God fearing you are – the more you love others that are also God fearing and all of this leading on to further unity.

So the first step towards unity and the first part of the methodology:
Gain knowledge as much as you can!
Both: religious and non-religious knowledge.

THE SECOND PART OF THE METHODOLOGY
The second remedy – is to act upon that knowledge which you have gained.

  • To struggle and strive to implement that knowledge in yourself and in your family and friends.
  • To develop a strong sense of selfless social service
  • To become contributing citizens of your state
  • To cultivate that love and mercy for humanity
  • To feel responsible for the problems of the world and to strive with your wealth and time for its remedy

There are many things that show the importance of knowledge with action.

  • The first of these, is that the Arabs used the same three letters for knowledge and action. Knowledge is علم and action is عمل
  • Allah says tens of times in the Quran: إن الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات
  • AlHasan used to say: The concern of the scholars is action and the concern of the ignorant is narration
  • Some of the pious predecessors used to say: We used to safeguard our knowledge by acting upon it.
    One of the scholars of the past used to say: If a person goes out to seek knowledge itself, then he never benefits from it, however if a person goes out to seek action through that knowledge, then he benefits even from a little bit of it.

My friends, when you act on your knowledge:

  • You appreciate the value of it and appreciate all those who are acting upon it. You are filled with love and admiration for those who are struggling for Allah’s cause and thus your hearts come together and you become united.
  • When you act upon the knowledge, you fill that void that other people’s actions leave and thus you support the rest – and preserve unity in that way.
  • When you act upon that knowledge, then you bring on the blessings of Allah and He increases you in further knowledge – that only serves to strengthen your unity.

So the methodology for achieving unity and the methodology of our revival is very simple:

Knowledge and action
Be the most knowledgeable you can about the truth and be the most merciful that you can be to mankind!

OUR SMALL EFFORT AT UNIFYING THE UMMAH IS THROUGH THESE TWIN PEAKS OF FAITH: KNOWLEDGE AND ACTION

One of them for knowledge, the other for action:

Firstly: AlKauthar institute – is our attempt at pushing out knowledge to the world:

  • Intensive weekend seminars in 5 continents with a combined base of over 5000 regular students and with our courses spanning the world – Australia, South Africa, India, UK and Canada.
    For the past few years, we have been the largest provider of intensive Islamic weekend courses in the UK.
  • Find out more at: www.alkauthar.org

The second vehicle for action: Mercy Mission – a professional project based community development organisation:

  • An organization that uses the students of AlKauthar and other than AlKauthar – and involves them in projects that benefit their society. Mercy Mission is active in the UK and in Australia and is being launched in the other regions of South Africa, Canada and India early next year inshaAllah. Our vision is to: Achieve a world wherein every Muslim can live faithfully to their belief acting as true ambassadors of their faith and where by their virtuous example, humanity can appreciate the beauty of Islam.
  • Find out more at www.mercymission.org.uk

I invite you to:

Believe as I believe – that responsibility for rectifying the problems of the world rests with the Muslims. And in order for Muslims to live up to our responsibility, we need to be united. And To achieve unity, then we need to seek a robust methodology that is simple yet profound in its impact – that methodology being knowledge and action.

And our final call is that all praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

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Sh. Tawfique Chowdhury is the founder of AlKauthar Institute, the unrelated Australian twin of AlMaghrib. A graduate of Islamic University of Madinah, he has also excelled in secular fields: An IT Project Manager, and soon to be a doctor as well (he is completing his medicine degree). He is very active in working with many Islamic organizations around the world and is also an international media contributor appearing on numerous TV and radio stations. The most notable are his appearances on ABC Asia Pacific, AlMajd Channel and the Islam Channel in the UK, where his lectures are frequently shown.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    AsimG

    April 10, 2009 at 4:19 AM

    Alhamadillah good read

  2. Avatar

    Abdullah Brown

    April 10, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    Takbir.

  3. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    April 12, 2009 at 3:34 AM

    Excellent methodology suggested. I agree that Muslims should seek knowledge with the intention of acting upon it.
    May Allah grant us unity.

  4. Avatar

    Nahyan

    April 14, 2009 at 8:11 PM

    MashaAllah, that’s an excellent speech and reminder by Sh.Tawfique.

    jazakallahukhair for the post.

  5. Avatar

    john

    April 22, 2009 at 8:32 AM

    We were created:

    * To be leaders and lords
    * To be to be the ones who are admired and praised and followed
    LORDs..????? R U OK?? PRAISED and ADMIRED??? Are our actions for the sake of Allah, for his pleasure or to please the people??? May Allah forgive anyone who has this evil intention.

    All PRAISE and thanks is due to ALLAH, The LORD of al-Alamin

  6. Avatar

    muslim

    April 30, 2009 at 9:30 PM

    asalam alaikum br tawfique.
    The above comment picks on semantics (I trust) as I believe that you did not intend that we as Muslims are to be lords as we would call Allah Lord– That being said, I think that it raises the same problem as your previous article for readers. There are semantic choices that are problematic in the minds of the Muslim readers. And since the articles are read, I believe these need to be revised. I am also wondering when you will post the follow-up to your previous article. I am curious to see if such revision brings clarity in the minds of the Muslims. That article has caused such a division amongst the Muslims in our community, and I wish that you would write the article soon inshallah so we can stop speculating and gain understanding. Having listened to various lectures, spoken to you, attended your classes, I believe that you have been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented by comments I hear and see after your previous article. By pointing out aspects of being Muslim in the West doesn’t mean that you are forsaking the beliefs of jihad and wala and bara etc. Unfortunately people are making a straw-man argument it seems. However, one very big problem we have is that Muslims these days don’t know who to listen to, who to follow. When there is argument between learned people in the ummah, those with a lesser knowledge don’t know who to follow, what to believe. Inshallah can you address this issue either by article or comment. And please brother, can you write your folllow-up as I sincerely want the division to end, the slander to stop and the ummah to focus on bigger issues. I hear about people talking about boycotting Al kauthar classes because of the article. It is craziness–

    • Avatar

      Qas

      June 25, 2009 at 4:35 AM

      I think he can write all the follow-ups we would want, but those who hate him, will hate him regardless. Let them boycott Al-Kauthar I say. Their loss.

  7. Avatar

    Sam

    June 20, 2009 at 10:06 PM

    Br Tawfique to earn this lordship will come at a price, we both know what this price is as you are heading towards it.

  8. Avatar

    Talha

    June 25, 2009 at 2:53 AM

    “Muslim” makes a good point….

    Sheikh promised us a follow up on the previous article which cause so much disunity….

    Time has been taken to write a new article but the follow up ignored….

    Well.. what will sheikh Say in the follow up….

    Say you, ‘bring forward your proof if you are truthful?

    but what truth can you bring that will give you ground to stand on if you go against the word of Allah!

    May Allah guide us All to follow quraan and sunnah…. and not to deviate according to our intellect.. thinking we know better!

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Etiquettes of Praying For Your Brother And Sister | Imam Omar Suleiman

Level up your duas by including those who least expect to be in your most private moments and get angels to say Ameen

Imam Omar Suleiman

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It’s very common to find in the stories of the pious predecessors those who kept lists of people they prayed for on a nightly basis. This was a testimony to their sincerity, selflessness, and sacrifice. The basis of the act comes from a famous hadith:

وعنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يقول‏:‏ ‏ “‏دعوة المرء المسلم لأخيه بظهر الغيب مستجابة، عند رأسه ملك موكل كلما دعا لأخيه بخير قال الملك الموكل به‏:‏ آمين، ولك بمثل‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه مسلم‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

“The supplication of a believer for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says Ameen! May it be for you too’.” [Sahih Muslim].

Since the supplication of the fasting person is accepted, this is the best time to do it. But it’s also important to be intentional about how you pray for someone. Any prayer for your brother or sister is accepted if sincere, but it becomes even more blessed when made personal and customized. Under normal circumstances, It’s also best to keep your personal prayers to yourself and without the knowledge of the person you’re praying for. Sometimes it’s ok to tell someone you’re praying for them for the sake of solidarity. But the general rule is that it’s best to conceal it even from them for the sake of sincerity. Also, make sure to include in your prayers people who would never expect you to pray for them.

Then as you start to make dua for someone, think about how you can diversify the supplications and people you make dua for so that you are 1. Touching numerous lives 2. Covering different issues and ailments 3. Guaranteeing that the return on your prayers is also comprehensive.

So, in particular, think of a person in each of the following categories and make dua for them daily:

  1. A person who has good qualities but hasn’t been guided to good faith. Make dua for guidance for that person so that perhaps Allah grants you further guidance.
  2. A person who is involved in good work, that Allah accepts from them and keeps them sincere so that perhaps Allah uses you for His cause and keeps you sincere.
  3. A person who is committing a public sin. Make dua that Allah forgives that person. Imagine if the dua is accepted for a major public sin, then the angels will say Ameen for you also and perhaps Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will forgive you for both your public and private sins.
  4. A person who is ill, that Allah grants him or her full health so that perhaps Allah will either heal you if you are sick or preserve your health for you if you are healthy.
  5. A person who is struggling financially or suffering a worldly hardship, ask Allah to help that person so that perhaps Allah will help you in that same situation.
  6. A person who has a particular blessing that you wish for, that Allah maintains that blessing upon that person without making it a means of taking him or her away from goodness in the hereafter so that perhaps Allah will grant it for you or maintain your blessings upon you without making them a means of harm for you.

This is how you bring together the Prophetic tradition of praying for your brother/sister, and the other tradition about not truly believing until you love for your sister or brother what you love for yourself.

May Allah accept your Ramadan and Laylatul Qadr, as well as all of your good deeds. And may He forgive you for your sins, and distance you from all that distances you from Him. Ameen

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5 Duas For Ramadan Therapy | Sh Yahya Ibrahim

Use these precious days and night to ask Allah in the best of ways

Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim

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Dua 01 – #RamadanTherapy – The Magnificence of Ayat ul Kursi and its Power with Yahya Ibrahim

 

Allahu laaa ilaaha illaa huwal haiyul qai-yoom; laa taakhuzuhoo sinatunw wa laa nawm; lahoo maa fissamaawaati wa maa fil ard; man zallazee yashfa’u indahooo illaa be iznih; ya’lamu maa baina aideehim wa maa khalfahum; wa laa yuheetoona beshai ‘immin ‘ilmihee illa be maa shaaaa; wasi’a kursiyyuhus samaa waati wal arda wa la ya’ooduho hifzuhumaa; wa huwal aliyyul ‘azeem

“Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede In His presence except As he permitted? He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens And on earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding And preserving them, For He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory).”

Dua 02 A Treasure from Jannah – Last two verses of Al-Baqarah

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maulâ (Patron, Supporter, and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Dua 03 Salawat & Durood upon our Nabi ﷺ help us in all hardships & circumstances

Allahumma salli `ala Muhammadin, wa `ala aali Muhammadin, kama sallaita `ala aali Ibrahima, innaka Hamidum Majid. Allahumma barik `ala Muhammadin, wa `ala aali Muhammadin, kama barakta `ala aali Ibrahima, innaka Hamidum Majid
[O Allah, exalt the mention of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as you exalted the family of Ibrahim. You are Praised and Glorious. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed the family of Ibrahim. You are Praised and Glorious.]”’ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

“Believers! Send your Blessings on him” | Resource for Salawat on the Prophet

Dua 04 The Greatest #Dua of Seeking Forgiveness

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ 

“The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) used this particular expression – Sayyid al-Istighfar – literally, ‘the master of supplications’ to indicate that this is the best of supplications for those in need, and which will fulfil the need—sincere seeking of forgiveness”>Allahumma anta Rabbi la ilaha illa anta, Anta Khalaqtani wa ana abduka, wa ana ‘ala ahdika wa wa’dika mastata’tu, A’udhu bika min Sharri ma sana’tu, abu’u Laka bini’matika ‘alaiya, wa Abu Laka bidhanbi faghfirli innahu la yaghfiru adhdhunuba illa anta

O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.)

Shaddad ibn Aws raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that he (Sayyid al-Istighfar) most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is to say (the above du’a). That “If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari; 8,75,318, at-Tirmidhi; 3393, an-Nasa’i; 5522, Ahmad; 16662]

Dua 05 When the Prophet’s ﷺ daughter felt weak he taught her this Zikr

حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنِ الْحَكَمِ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي لَيْلَى، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، أَنَّ فَاطِمَةَ ـ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلاَمُ ـ شَكَتْ مَا تَلْقَى فِي يَدِهَا مِنَ الرَّحَى، فَأَتَتِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم تَسْأَلُهُ خَادِمًا، فَلَمْ تَجِدْهُ، فَذَكَرَتْ ذَلِكَ لِعَائِشَةَ، فَلَمَّا جَاءَ أَخْبَرَتْهُ‏.‏ قَالَ فَجَاءَنَا وَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا مَضَاجِعَنَا، فَذَهَبْتُ أَقُومُ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَكَانَكِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَجَلَسَ بَيْنَنَا حَتَّى وَجَدْتُ بَرْدَ قَدَمَيْهِ عَلَى صَدْرِي فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَلاَ أَدُلُّكُمَا عَلَى مَا هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمَا مِنْ خَادِمٍ، إِذَا أَوَيْتُمَا إِلَى فِرَاشِكُمَا، أَوْ أَخَذْتُمَا مَضَاجِعَكُمَا، فَكَبِّرَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ، وَسَبِّحَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ، وَاحْمَدَا ثَلاَثًا وَثَلاَثِينَ، فَهَذَا خَيْرٌ لَكُمَا مِنْ خَادِمٍ ‏”‏‏.‏ وَعَنْ شُعْبَةَ عَنْ خَالِدٍ عَنِ ابْنِ سِيرِينَ

Narrated `Ali:

Fatima complained about the blisters on her hand because of using a mill-stone. She went to ask the Prophet for servant, but she did not find him (at home) and had to inform `Aisha of her need. When he came, `Aisha informed him about it. `Ali added: The Prophet (ﷺ) came to us when we had gone to our beds. When I was going to get up, he said, “‘Stay in your places,” and sat between us, till I felt the coolness of the feet on my chest. The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “Shall I not tell you of a thing which is better for you than a servant? When you (both) go to your beds, say ‘Allahu Akbar’ thirty-four times, and ‘Subhan Allah’ thirty-three times, ‘Al hamdu ‘illah’ thirty-three times, for that is better for you than a servant.” Ibn Seereen said, “Subhan Allah’ (is to be said for) thirty-four times.”

http://sunnah.com/bukhari/80/15

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Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed

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A man passed by al-Miqdaad ibn al-Aswad raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), one of the most distinguished Companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The man said, “How lucky your two eyes that witnessed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)”. Ibn al-Aswad profoundly responded by saying,

Why should anyone wish to witness a scene that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) did not wish him to see? He does not know what it would have been like if he had witnessed it or which party he would have been among if he went back in time.

By Allah! Allah’s Prophet saw people who were thrown right into Hell, so you should thank Allah that you were spared such a trial and were honored by firm belief in Allah and his Prophet”.

As human beings, we all struggle with adversity especially in societies which are driven by competition and materialistic pleasure. This drive creates difficult expectations, labels, and stigmas that breed unhealthy communities which spur widespread stress and pain. As Muslims, many of us struggle to define our role and place in societies where Muslims are the minority. We are horrified and worried when atrocities seem to occur so often solely because of the faith we believe in, such as in Burma or Central African Republic. Across the world, many countries with Muslims as the majority population are crippled by war such as Syria and Yemen. Our faith is abused by twisted minds to create chaos. In addition, random terrorist attacks in Mali and New Zealand have us wondering whether we will be attacked at our local masjid, or even in public settings such as offices and schools.

Our Ummah has always faced adversity and we will continue to do so as we struggle to be on the path of Islam. However, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as a guide to this Ummah on how to deal with adversity and keep our optimism. His life is a means for us to be inspired and motivated to strive for excellence. Indeed, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was tested more than any other prophet that preceded him. The rapid spread of Islam and the change it brought to the world was built upon a prophet and his companions who endured an extraordinary amount of adversity, all in order to provide a means of salvation for the generations that would come after them.

Many Muslims know the basics of the Prophet’s life such as his birth in Makkah, the migration to Madina, some of the battles, and the conquest of Makkah. However, if one were to read the Seerah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in-depth, one would be astonished to the sheer amount of trauma, pain, and grief the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) experienced. He was subject to intense verbal/physical abuse, public humiliation, family deaths, and more. Depending on the physical and emotional toll, we know different people are more or less sensitive to adversity. For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the adversity of establishing the Deen was immensely troubling as he had the purest and softest of characters. In addition, the prophets who came before him were comforted in knowing that they had a successor. Some of them were their children in Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). But the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had no prophet to follow him, therefore his Message would be the last that mankind could benefit from.

The Quran says in Surah al-Ahzab:

مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَآ أَحَدٍ مِن رّ‌ِجَالِكُمْ وَلَكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيّـِينَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلّ‌ِ شَيْءٍ

عَلِيماً

Muhammad is not the father of (any) of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And God has full knowledge of all things. (Verse 33:40)

To proclaim the Divine Message to a resistant society has shown through the history of the Prophets to yield hardship and extreme difficulty. To be the final messenger was an increased burden. One example was when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was praying in front of the Kaaba and a member of the Quraysh named Uqbah ibn Abu Mu’ayt placed the intestines, dung, and feces on the back of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) while he was in sujood. The weight of the filth was so heavy that the Prophet could not get up until he received the assistance of his daughter Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), who was a pre-teenager at the time. How hurtful must that scene have been for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? How did he deal with the humiliation the leaders of his city displayed in front of his child? How disheartening must have it been for his resolve to establish the worship of Allah?

This type of treatment was a regular occurrence in the pre-Hijrah era of Islam. Eventually, the treatment spurred into a boycott against the Muslims and the Hashemites who were the Prophet’s clan. According to Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings:

A document was drawn up according to which it was undertaken that no one would marry a woman of Hashim or give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim; and no one was to sell anything to them, or buy anything from them. This was to continue until the clan of Hashim themselves outlawed Muhammad, or until he renounced his claim to prophethood.

In those three years of boycott, many of the followers of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) such as Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) lost their statuses in society. Public humiliation, poverty, malnourishment, torture, molestation, and even murder were perpetrated against the small community of Muslims around the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). There are narrations which talk about the fact that they would hear the cries of babies going to sleep at night. They buried so many children and babies at that time who died due to disease, malnourishment, and starvation. They could hear the mothers crying who had buried their babies the day before. It was a time of great suffering and sacrifice.

Shortly after the ban was annulled, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) increased the test of His beloved Messenger at a time called ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn (عام الحزن), the Year of Sadness. In 619 AD, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the wife of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for 25 years passed away. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in shock after the first revelation descended, it was Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) who comforted him and consoled him. She was one of the first believer, mother of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) children, and a caretaker to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) cousin Ali and adopted son Zayd (RA). She was his main confidante and his closest friend. Her death was considered to be the greatest personal tragedy to the Prophet (SAW). In fact, his later wife ʿĀʾishah bint Abī Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that she was never jealous of the co-wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) except for Khadijah who had passed before she had wed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who would usually stay quiet in disputes with Aisha, stated when ʿĀʾishah voiced her upsetness at the Prophet’s lingering love for Khadijah:

Make this clear Aisha, you are not better than Khadijah. She believed in me when no one did and she testified to my truth when people said I was a liar. She gave everything she had to give me support.

Shortly afterward, Abu Talib, the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) uncle and chief tribal protector in Makkah passed away. Abu Talib had been the caretaker of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) after the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mother and grandfather passed away. But the situation before the passing of both these allies to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was poor and it was now going to become unbearable. Abu Lahab, another one of the Prophet’s uncles and one of his bitter enemies, arose as chieftain of the Hashemites would not give the Muslims adequate protection.

When adversity brought the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to his knees, he put his trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and continued to push forward. It was in this moment of desperation that the Prophet was sent his ultimate test; the Day of Taif. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) described the Day of Taif more testing than the Battle of Uhud. In his desperation, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) traveled to the nearby city of Taif in order to seek the city’s protection. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) met with the three leaders of the city, they feverishly rejected him and decided to turn the public against him. The representatives of the community gathered the youth, slaves, and others and to stone the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). The people of Taif purposely targeted the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) feet, severely damaging them. His blessed body was profusely bleeding and the crowd pursued both the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah for an excruciating three to six miles until he settled in a private orchard. It was in this moment where all hope had vanished. Now pushed to his extreme limits of endurance, he raised his hands and called out to his Lord:

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس

ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين

أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي

إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم الى عدو ملكته امرى

إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي

أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض

وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره

أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك

لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.

Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak, and you are my Lord.

To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given power over me?

As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy.

I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger.

To You, I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support.

When we struggle with adversity, calling out to our Lord is one of the last things that comes to our mind. Even if it does, we struggle to motivate ourselves to learn how to make dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and we struggle to raise our hands. The amount of sincerity and power of this dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was so great that Jibril 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) came down to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and reported that the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) appeal shook the heavens. Here, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) seeks only the pleasure of his Lord and he will do whatever he can to fulfill his Lord’s pleasure. However, the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only comes with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) own support and we should be seeking it with every trial or tribulation that we face.

There are three lessons that we can take away the way the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) dealt with adversity. First, how can we sincerely put our trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give us guidance when we have little to no relationship with our Lord to begin with. Therefore, the struggling believer must consistently engage in self-reflection. He or she should be asking, “Am I praying my five daily prayers?”, “Am I consistent in my prayers?”, “How much attention and effort do I give my five prayers?”, “Do I engage in the remembrance of Allah in my daily actions?”, “How often do I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for help”, “Am I trying to learn what is halal and haram?”. “Am I trying to inculcate more good deeds in my life?”, “Am I trying to leave sinning?”, “If I am still struggling in my relationship with Allah (SWT), am I reaching out to someone more learned?”, etc. These are the first things we need to be fulfilling in our struggle to be optimistic. If we still need help, we should not have fear in asking a professional such as a counselor or mentor.

Second, we need to be active in making our society a better place. The prophets were not just scholars, but they were changer-makers. They sought to make society a better place. Not only is our duty as Muslims to others who are struggling, but it alleviates a lot of burden on us when we help others. We are reminded of the hadith,

“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter.”

Lastly, be comforted in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) everlasting control over all the affairs of humanity and beyond. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was there before us, when we die, and for eternity. Everything is in accordance with His Will. When we set our intentions right and make sacrifices in our lives to please Him, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will replenish the believer with something equal or better. After this painful period in the Seerah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gifted His devout Messenger with two things, the miraculous journey of the Isra wal M’iraj and the story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). The story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent down to show the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he was not the first prophet who experienced difficulty. In Surah Yusuf, the Quran reminds us that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is عَلِيۡمٌ and حَكِيۡمٌ, the All-Knowing and All-Wise. In the verses of the Surah, these words were mentioned before the adversities in Yusuf and Yaqub’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) life, during the adversity, and after Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had rewarded Yusuf and Yaqub for their resolve. There is light at the end of every tunnel of adversity and only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can give us the guidance to get there, we only have to turn to him.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us the ability to maintain our optimism in our adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us an understanding of Islam so that we may help others overcome their adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to relieve the adversity of the Ummah.

 

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, MI. Shaykh Abdullah commenced his studies at the age of 10 in Toronto, Canada where he went to memorize the Quran.  He completed the memorization of the Holy Quran by the tender age of 12 and then went on to study in the 7-year extensive Shariah program in Toronto, Canada. Shaykh Abdullah then continued his research and studies, which took him on global journeys, such as Pakistan, Kuwait, and England.

Shaykh Abdullah specialized in Tafseer of the Quran. Sheikh Abdullah spent years to study the details and beauty of our Holy book since understanding and mastering the language of Holy Quran was always the primary goal.

Shaykh Abdullah is serving as an Instructor at Miftaah institute and is also the Director of Islamic Affairs at Flint Islamic Center. Shaykh Abdullah travels across North America for khutbas, workshops, and seminars. He is known for his motivational and enthusiastic style of speaking which leaves the audience focused and learning.

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