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Lessons in Staying Behind – Part 4: Unconditional Obedience

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When a beloved friend turns away, it is heartbreaking. But when he is so beloved that you are willing to sacrifice for him your mother, father and yourself, it is a stab in the heart.  

Ka’b bin Malik describes the agony he felt saying,

…and I would come to Allah’s Messenger and greet him while he was sitting in his gathering after the prayer, and I would wonder whether the Prophet did move his lips in return to my greetings or not. Then I would offer my prayer near to him and look at him stealthily. When I was busy with my prayer, he would turn his face towards me, but when I turned my face to him, he would turn his face away from me.

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In desperation, Ka’b examined the noble face of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). His only wish at the time was a response of acknowledgement, even if it be mere lip movement. This pain was the result of an act of disobedience to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Today, he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)is no longer among us to reprimand us if we turn away. But his commands, his sunnah, have been safely preserved for the purpose of our compliance.

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “All of my ummah will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” They said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who would refuse?” He said: “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me has refused.” (Al-Bukhari)

To love our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is great and required, but greater is that he would love us had he been among us.

One of our pious predecessors, Al-Rabee’ bin Khaythama was a man of  noble character, tender speech, and good companionship. Abdullah bin Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) as a Companion, knew the likes and dislikes of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and told Al-Rabee’, “Ya Aba Yazeed, if the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saw you, he would love you!”

How is our level of obedience and observance of his sunnah? Would it please him and earn us his love?

Although the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was of great moral character, he avoided returning the salaam to Ka’b and turned his face away in conformity with what Allah had commanded to him regarding the three men.

From this action it is derived that the Imam, scholar or leader who is obeyed may resort to boycotting a sinner in an effort to make him amend his ways and give up his sin. The use of this treatment method is conditioned on actually serving the purpose and having a positive effect, otherwise, it should not be used.

With a heavy heart, Ka’b raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) moved on.

When this harsh attitude of the people lasted long, I walked till I scaled the wall of the garden of Abu Qatada who was my cousin and dearest person to me, and I offered my greetings to him. By Allah, he did not return my greetings. I said, ‘O Abu Qatada! I implore you by Allah! Don’t you know that I love Allah and His Apostle?‘ He kept quiet. I asked him again, beseeching him by Allah, but he remained silent. Then I asked him again in the Name of Allah. He said, “Allah and His Messenger know better.’

They loved one another, but their love for Allah and His Messenger surpassed any other ties of love or kinship.

Abu Qatadah could have found excuses away from the eyes of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to speak to his dear cousin. But the believers of this city were raised between the hands of none other than a Prophet, who ingrained in the hearts a spirit of unconditional obedience to their Creator. Finding excuses to get around the commands of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not their practice and custom.

The level of muraqabah (watchfulness) that they held is evident in this incident. Obeying Allah was not confined to the company of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the rest of the Companions alone. They carried it in their hearts everywhere, avoiding what they were prohibited from in the most secluded of situations, knowing that Allah Knows and Sees all.

Abu Qatadah knew that Ka’b loved Allah and His Messenger, yet his only words after being asked in the Name of Allah were, ‘Allah and His Apostle know it better.’  This was not responding to Ka’b and was not considered conversing with him.

Thereupon my eyes flowed with tears and I returned and jumped over the wall.

The young strong man that he was, could no longer bear the pain of being cut off. The test was a huge one, and its intensity increased.

Ka’b added, “While I was walking in the market of Madinah, suddenly I saw a Nabati (i.e. a Christian farmer) from the Nabatis of Shaam who came to sell his grains in Medina, saying, ‘Who will lead me to Kab bin Malik?’ The people began to point (me) out for him till he came to me and handed me a letter from the king of Ghassan in which the following was written:

“To proceed, I have been informed that your friend (i.e. the Prophet ) has treated you harshly. Anyhow, Allah does not let you live at a place where you feel inferior and your right is lost. So join us, and we will console you.”

Ka’b bin Malik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) had just received an invitation from one of the Kings of Al-Shaam, an unbeliever, of a ‘guarantee’ of protection from the ‘inferiority’ he was assumed to be facing in Madinah.

So, what was his response?

When I read it, I said to myself, ‘This too is a test.’

What an amazing man! He could have concluded that the anticipated relief from Allah had arrived, and at 33 years of age, could have proceeded in search of a new life in another land. But, because of his sincerity, Allah guided him to realize that it was part of the test and protected him from stumbling.

Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) says,

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ فَإِذَا أُوذِيَ فِي اللَّهِ جَعَلَ فِتْنَةَ النَّاسِ كَعَذَابِ اللَّهِ

And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah,” but when one [of them] is harmed for [the cause of] Allah, they consider the trial of the people as [if it were] the punishment of Allah. (al-‘Ankabut 29:10).

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Meaning that their trial is leaving Islam if they are made to suffer for Allah.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir).

Here, we are taught steadfastness in the face of difficulty in the way of Allah. When taking the right path involves treading bumpy patches, will we then abandon it? Or will we follow the example of this noble Companion; remain patient whilst waiting for relief from Allah?

This big test revealed blessings in disguise. Through the reaction of Ka’b to this invitation, Allah showed the Muslims that his faith was not weakened in the face of the boycott.  It was proof that regardless of the strength of the trial he was facing, not for a moment did he contemplate leaving his religion. He was not one of weak faith, who sought status, kingdom and the life of this world. Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) says,

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars.” (Al-‘Ankabut 29:2,3).

Through a test, the faith residing in the hearts becomes evident. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: The state of a people in the time of well-being (‘aafiya) is hidden. If they are afflicted with trials, each is revealed in their true state: the believer to his true belief and the hypocrite to his hypocrisy.

Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made it clear through this test that Ka’b was absolutely innocent from any strains of hypocrisy and remained sincere to Allah and His Prophet. This was mercy from Allah and source of coolness to the burning pain in his heart.

When weeds invade your garden, learn to look for the beautiful flowers hidden in their midst. Pick them out, so that their colors stand out and their fragrance sweetens your trial. Allah’s tests us with His Divine Wisdom; just like this test carried abundant lessons for Ka’b, it is upon us to reflect and derive the good that comes with every test we face. It is through such reflection that the pain of the trial decreases and gratefulness to Allah increases.

On the path seeking to extinguish the fiery pain of his own trial, Ka’b lit a fire; but it was one of unconditional obedience, even in the tightest of circumstances.

Then I took the letter to the oven and made a fire therein by burning it.

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Mariam is of Middle Eastern origin, raised in North America, not quite settling in one specific place. After living up in the North of North America, she has shifted continents and currently residing in a rapidly flourishing, historical city located in the desert of Arabia. She is a recent graduate of the American Open University, with a Bachelors in Islamic Studies. She believes that regardless of where a person is, writing is a tool to reach out and express that which inspires, touches and affects them. So she writes; perhaps that which inspires her will be a source of good for at least one other person.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sayf

    June 10, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    Mash’Allah, keep up the excellent work!
    May Allah reward you immensely, ameen.

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:49 AM

      Asalamu Alikum

      Jazakum Allah khayr for your encouragement.

  2. Amad

    Amad

    June 10, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    I don’t know why but I have goose-pimples every time I read your articles… mashallah, you really extract deep lessons and inspiration.

    This story of Ka’ab rd is one that always touches me… because of his sincerity and pain, and his joy of being forgiven… what amazing human emotions.

    I would like to add that

    From this action it is derived that the Imam, scholar or leader who is obeyed may resort to boycotting a sinner in an effort to make him amend his ways and give up his sin. The use of this treatment method is conditioned on actually serving the purpose and having a positive effect, otherwise, it should not be used.

    is something that has to be very, very carefully used, if ever. There is a tendency to abuse this. I have seen this boycott phenomenon used because of an imam or shaykh’s personal issues with other person(s). Only if there is a real, significant issue and a nearly unanimous agreement among community members already that (a) someone needs to be boycotted, and (b) that there will be actual tangible benefit of that boycott (i.e. the person is sincere Muslim who will take lesson from the boycott, not become vengeful).

    wallahualam

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:47 AM

      Asalamu Alikum

      Jazakum Allah khayr.
      The same condition of actually reaching a positive outcome through boycotting was mentioned in most of the sources I referred to.
      In fact, it is emphasized in the story itself, as it had such a strong impact on Ka’b bin Malik that he even felt the land around him was strange. And this is while he is a Companion and a man of strong faith. But the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) took this action based on Divine revelation.

      So it is obvious it cannot be used with anyone, particularly with someone who is very weak in faith. The hypocrites were not boycotted, as their hearts were dead and would not feel it’s effect anyway.

  3. Avatar

    ummfatima

    June 10, 2010 at 5:33 AM

    assalamualykum dear sister,

    Jazakillahu khairaan kaseera .Subahanallah.It`s really heart softner.we often disobey and yet no remorse.May Allahtaala guide us .

    salaam.

  4. Avatar

    Amatullah

    June 10, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    SubhanAllah, beautiful piece Mariam. Baarak Allahu feeki.

    How many more parts until the end of this series? It’s really wonderful mashaAllah, jazaaki Allahu khayran.

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:56 AM

      Asalamu Alikum

      wa baraka Allahu feeki. To be honest, I am not quite sure how many parts are left, but as we approach the end of the story……..relief for Ka’b (radhiAllahu anhu) is near. We’ll see inshaAllah.

  5. Avatar

    Me

    June 10, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Jazaki Allahu khairan! :)

  6. Avatar

    mystrugglewithin

    June 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    I read between the lines, and I could relate everything surrounding me to nothing but a tribulation by Allah swt .. for sure, your message is delivered! :>

    -jazakallah khayrun

  7. Avatar

    Cub

    June 10, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    Jazakallahu Khayr! This is so inspiring, SubhanAllah! Especially the encounter with Abu Qatada.

    Oh and the daisy pic is pretty! =)

  8. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    June 10, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    JazakumAllah khayr!

    Sister Mariam, I would suggest that once you are done with all parts of this story, that you compile them all together as a pdf booklet so that it can be spread to others.

  9. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    June 10, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    I love the story of Kab especially that part with Abu Qatadah, it’s so powerful and so heartbreaking.

  10. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    June 11, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    Really touching and heart-rendingly inspiring. Barak Allahu feeki ya Mariam! :)

  11. Avatar

    elham

    June 11, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    SubhanAllah,beautiful story!

    May Allah bless you for these reminders and help the believers in their trials

  12. Avatar

    Amatul Wadood

    June 13, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Salam warat wabart!

    @ sis Mariam: JazakAllah Khair! may Allah SWT accept ur deeds and may He help you to continue ur efforts in His Name ,in His Cause!

    Stories of repentance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSfy5zP1E78

  13. Pingback: Lessons in Staying Behind – Part 5: In Temptation, a Steady Heart | MuslimMatters.org

  14. Avatar

    ummmanar

    July 11, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    jazakallah khair sis.I really love your articles.I thimk I read them each twice,but I can’t stil relay it to my friendsand family. There is so much to learn from this lesson love, patience,tolerance,friendship. barakallahu fiki keep up the good job.I am so proud to be your sis im islam.May allah(swt) reward you with jenetal firdus .

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      July 12, 2010 at 4:22 AM

      Asalamu alikum

      jazaki Allah khayr for your kind words. I ask Allah to accept from us and make them of benefit.

  15. Pingback: Lessons in Staying Behind – Part 6: ‘With Difficulty Comes Ease’ | allah.eu

  16. Pingback: পিছনে পড়ে যাওয়া থেকে প্রাপ্ত শিক্ষা- ৪র্থ কিস্তিঃ নিঃশর্ত আনুগত্য (অনুবাদ) | আমার স্পন্দন

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Podcast: Prayer is a Work in Progress | Shaykh Abdullah Ayaaz Mullanee

Zeba Khan

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Many of us have been Muslim for our entire lives, and despite praying regularly for years, can still never feel like we’re never doing it right. Why is it so hard to focus in salah? And what should someone do if they feel like they are AWFUL at it?

Join Zeba Khan as she asks Shaykh Abdullah Ayaz Mullanee, who not only struggles with his prayers too, but is also the dean of Mishkah Institute, and author of the books “A Ramadan With the Prophet ” and “The Poetic Words of Sayyiduna Ali رضي الله عنه.” To take a free short course on the meaning of Salah, visit this link.

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Undisputed And Undefeated: 13 Ways Khabib Nurmagomedov Inspired Us To Win With Faith

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Many fans anxiously watched UFC 254 with bated breath as Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov went head-to-head with Justin “The human highlight reel” Gaethje. The latter had just come off a spectacular TKO win against a formidable and feared fighter in the form of Tony Ferguson, beating him over 5 nerve-wracking rounds by outstriking him with a combination damaging head shots and crippling low kicks.

We all knew what both would do – Khabib would go for the takedown, and Gaethje would try to keep the fight on the feet and opt for stand-up striking – which fighter’s strategy would prevail? Alhamdulillah, it was Khabib, in a mere 2 rounds.  We weren’t in the fight, but we are all nervous and supplicating, making du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give him another victory.

And so it was that after the win, he collapsed in the middle of the ring to cry, as this was his first fight after the loss of his father due to complications with Covid-19. He cried, and many a man cried with him, feeling his pain. Gaethje revived from his triangle choked slumber and consoled his former foe, telling Khabib his father was proud of him.

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We were all sure when “The Eagle” got on the mic, he would say he wanted to fight GSP, George St Pierre, and then retire 30-0, as he had said in previous press conferences leading up to the fight.  Instead, he surprised us all by announcing his retirement at 29-0, and I couldn’t help but marvel that not only was he turning away from a lucrative final fight, but the way in which he announced his retirement reminded us of our faith, our deen, our religion, Islam.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”

Throughout his MMA career, Khabib has proudly worn his faith on his sleeve. As he has risen to become the current pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world and arguably the GOAT, the greatest of all time, his unwavering example as a practicing Muslim transformed him into a global phenomenon and role model for many of us by reminding us to be better worshippers, to be closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Let’s look at a few of the ways he did this:

1. Beginning with Alhamdulillah

The announcer at UFC 254 began by congratulating Khabib on a job well-done yet again by praising him, stating, “The world is in awe of your greatness once again…your thoughts on an epic championship performance, congratulations.” Khabib didn’t immediately begin talking about himself. Instead, he said:

“Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, God give me everything…”

After stating this, he went on to announce his retirement, his reasons for retiring, and thanked everyone who supported his professional MMA journey.

The Reminder

Alhamdulillah is literally translated into “All Praise Belongs to God”. Khabib begins by thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), pointing out that his talents and abilities are a gift, a blessing from the Most High. When we have any blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we must remember that whatever our own effort, our abilities, our support, and our achieved outcomes ultimately tie back to support from our Rabb, our Lord, who controls all.

Khabib pointing to Allah

It’s not from me, it’s from Him

If you’ve ever seen Khabib point at himself, shake his finger back and forth as if to say, “No” and then point up to the sky, this is a nonverbal way of him saying, don’t think all these great things you see are from me – they’re from Allah above.

2. The Prostration of Thankfulness – Sajdat al-Shukr

You may have noticed at the end of Khabib’s victory, when the announcer states that he’s the winner of the bout, he falls into a prostration known as Sajdat al-Shukr – the Prostration of Thankfulness (to Allah).

Khabib and his sons prostrating

The Reminder

Performing this is recommended when someone receives something beneficial (eg good news, wealth, etc) or if they avoided something potentially harmful (e.g. job loss, healing from a disease, etc). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would do this when he received good news. The believer should remember to be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as much as they can.

See also:

3. Establishing the 5 Daily Prayers

Khabib and me, don’t be jelly

Years ago (early 2018), Khabib visited my local masjid in Santa Clara, California (not far from where he was training in San Jose at the AKA gym). Many at the masjid didn’t know who he was, but we heard he was the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight championship belt, at that time held by Tony Ferguson.

He did a Q & A with the community, and someone asked him a general question about what he would recommend for the youth.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing:

Take care of your prayers, if you come to Day of Judgment not take care of your prayers, on that day you will be smashed.

The Reminder

The second pillar of Islam that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has commanded us to follow is to pray to Him 5 times daily. Khabib was no doubt referencing the following statement of the Prophet (saw):

“The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost…”

 

 

Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda notes that when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) first began his mission of da’wah and faced devastating rejection from family and community, Allah told the Prophet to stand and pray. The reason for this is because when we are weak and suffering, the place to turn to for strength is back to Allah in prayer. There is no doubt Khabib’s strength came from his connection to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) which in turn came from his 5 daily prayers.

Praying multiple times daily, consistently, can be challenging; when it was legislated by Allah to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) kept telling him to go back and ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a reduction, saying, “Your people will not be able to handle it.”

Khabib is a great reminder that no matter how high you climb in life and career, no matter how busy you think you are, worshipping Allah is the most important deed one can do, and this discipline is the most important habit to build.

4. Strong Wrestling Game

Some say Khabib is already 30-0 for wrestling a bear

In a sport that sees far more striking and kicking than it does wrestling, Khabib came to dominate the lightweight division of the UFC with a strong grappling style that is a combination of sambo (a Soviet martial art), judo, and wrestling. Famously, he outwrestled a bear when he was much younger.

During his fights, he doesn’t close out his bouts by pummeling his opponents and causing them damage as most strikers would. Most of his hits open up his opponents to being forced to tap out via submission. Even his last opponent, Justin Gaethje, noted that he was much happier to be choked out in a submission, as all he would get is a pleasant nap, as opposed to striking, which could have long-term health consequences.

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not only able to wrestle, he took down the strongest wrestler in Makkah. Rukanah, the famed Makkan wrestler, challenged RasulAllah because of his hatred for the da’wah. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) accepted his challenge and took him down multiple times, body slamming him again and again. It was said that after the conquest of Makkah, Rukanah accepted Islam.

5. Fighting / Training through Sickness and Injury

During the post-fight press conference with UFC President Dana White, it was revealed that Khabib had broken one of his toes 3 weeks before the fight. Prior to that, he had taken two weeks off upon arriving at Fight Island having contracted mumps, according to AKA trainer and coach Javier Mendez. Khabib is quoted as having told Mendez, “My toe may be broken, but my mind is not.” In addition to this, his father had just passed away months earlier, and this would be his first fight without his father present.

Mumps, broken toes, and the emotional turmoil of family tragedy

The Reminder

In addition, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has told us, “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…” This strength includes strength of body, mind, and spirit; not just when conditions are perfect, but when trials surround you from every conceivable direction.

6. Relationship With His Father

After defeating Justin Gaethje, Khabib went to the center of the ring and cried, and everyone cried with him. We all knew his father’s death weighed heavily on his mind and his heart, and this was his first fight without him. His father was his mentor and trainer, whom everyone could obviously see he both loved and greatly respected.

In the post-fight question and answer with Dustin Poirier, Khabib was asked, “What’s your message for your young fans out there who look up to you so much?” he responded:

“Respect your parents, be close with your parents, this is very important. Parents everything, you know, your mother, your father, and that’s it, and everything in your life is going to be good, if you’re going to listen to your parents, mother, father, be very close with them, and other things come because your parents gonna teach what to do.”

The Reminder

There isn’t enough space in this article to go over how much emphasis our faith places on respecting our parents. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully. [17:23]

7. Relationship With His Mother

Our parents ultimately want us to succeed, but also want us to maintain our well-being. Without his father’s presence, it was clear that Khabib’s mother didn’t want him continuing in the Octagon (the UFC ring). After 3 days of discussion, Khabib gave his word to her that this would be his final fight. After beating Justin Gaethje in UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring because he promised his mother that he would retire and that he’s a man of his word.

The Reminder

This hearkens back to a statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about how much respect mothers deserve. A man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” He (saw) said “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet again said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet finally said, “Your father.”

Khabib easily had millions more to make on a journey to hit 30-0 in his professional fighting career and decided to hang it all up to make his mother happy. This is true respect and obedience, and for that matter, the love of a mother for her son and his well-being over monetary gains.

8. Respect for Muhammad Ali

When asked about the comparisons between himself and Muhammad Ali, Khabib stated that it was an inappropriate comparison. He noted that Muhammad Ali didn’t just face challenges in the ring, but challenges outside of it due to racism, and that he was an agent of change with respect to bringing about greater civil rights for African Americans.

The Reminder

In his final sermon, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

From the 7th century until today, our faith recognizes that people are not judged by their race, but by their actions and the intentions behind those actions. In the video above, Khabib recognized both the wrongness of racism, and the challenge it posed along the way of Muhammad Ali’s own journey, and that his contributions to social justice transcended his involvement in sport.

9. His Conduct with Other Fighters

With the exception of the fight with Conor McGregor, Khabib always dealt with his opponents with respect. He hugs them, shakes their hand, and says good things about their accomplishments and strengths both before and after fights. In a sport known for heavy trash talking and showboating to build hype, Khabib kept his cool and his manners.

Champion vs Champion, the respect is mutual

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners.”

Maintaining good character and conduct during press-conferences was Khabib’s calling card; even when trash talkers like Tony Ferguson tried to go after him, he would still recount Ferguson’s formidable stature as a fighter.

When reporters tried throwing him a softball opening to insult Ferguson’s mental health, Khabib responded that he didn’t want to talk about Tony Ferguson’s problems if he they were real; if Ferguson truly has a problem, then we should help him, as we all have problems.

10. Fighting Those Who Dishonor Faith and Family

As mentioned above, Khabib is known for being very respectful of his opponents during press conferences. He speaks well of their strengths, shakes their hands, hugs them; he even runs up to his opponent after a fight and hugs them, consoling them and wishing them well. After his win against Poirier, he traded shirts with him and donated $100k to Poirier’s charity.

Khabib vs Dana’s boy, the chicken

The exception was the infamous UFC 229 which Muslim fans watched holding years, maybe decades of pent up anger at the type of crass secular arrogance represented by Conor. We desperately wanted Khabib to maul the mouthy McGregor. The latter had gone after his family, his faith, his nationality, anything and everything to hype up the fight and try to get under the champ’s skin. Some people lose their calm, and others, well, they eat you alive.

Khabib made it clear he wasn’t having any of that. He took the fight to Conor and choked him out with a neck crank. We then learned why he was called “The Eagle” as he hopped the cage and jumped into the audience to go after other members of Conor’s team who had spoken ill of him, giving birth to “Air Khabib”.

The Reminder

When our faith and family is spoken of in an ill fashion, it’s not appropriate that we sit there and take it. Khabib never cared when it was criticism against him, but once it went to others around him, he took flight. We as Muslims should never give anybody who tries to attack and dehumanize us a chance to rest on their laurels. We should strive ourselves to take the fight back to them by whatever legal means necessary, as Khabib did, whether it is cartoons of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or political pundits and satirists who monetize hatred against Muslims.

11. Shaking Hands and Training with Women

In numerous public instances, Khabib reminded us that our faith demands we don’t shake with the opposite gender. As one of my teachers taught us, the Qur’an instructs us to “lower our gaze” when dealing with women. If we shouldn’t even look at them out of respect for Allah’s command, how can we take it to the next level and touch them?

Extended to this is even more serious physical contact like training at the gym. Cynthia Calvillo, one of Khabib’s teammates at AKA gym, said the following about Khabib and his unit:

“It’s a little bit weird because of their religion and stuff…They don’t talk to women you know. I mean we say ‘hi’ to each other but we can’t train with them. They won’t train with women…I don’t think any other woman does.

The Reminder

Our faith places stricter physical and social interaction boundaries between men and women. Keeping matters professional and respectful with the opposite gender need not include physical contact. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was said to have never touched non-mahram women. It was narrated that he said,

“It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is impermissible to you.”

For this reason, the majority of scholars prohibited physical contact between men and women with some exceptions (e.g. old age). Watching Khabib maintain this practice, even in public where it could potentially embarrass him and cause undue negative attention, gives us all inspiration to deal with this issue in the workplace better. He encourages us to strive for better tolerance and awareness of our faith rather than forcing us to conform.

12. Not Making a Display of The “Trophy” Wife

If you follow Khabib’s Instagram, you won’t find lewd pics of him and a significant other. In fact, you won’t find any pictures at all of him and his wife. Who she is is a mystery to all. In an age and a sport where many post photos with their romantic partners, Khabib again is a standout with his gheerah, his honorable protectiveness for his significant other.

Khabib and his wife

The Reminder

We are again reminded that a part of manhood is to have protective ghayrah, jealousy over one’s spouse. Ibn al-Qayyim also said, bringing in the concept of chivalry,

“The dayyuth / cuckold is the vilest of Allah’s creation, and Paradise is forbidden for him [because of his lack of ghayrah]. A man should be ‘jealous’ with regards to his wife’s honor and standing. He should defend her whenever she is slandered or spoken ill of behind her back. Actually, this is a right of every Muslim in general, but a right of the spouse specifically. He should also be jealous in not allowing other men to look at his wife or speak with her in a manner which is not appropriate.”

13. Owning His Mistakes, Looking to Be Forgiven

Finally, it should be noted there is no real scholarly disagreement on prohibiting striking the face. Recognizing this, Khabib stated when asked if “he thinks the AlMighty will be satisfied with him for taking part in haram fights for money,” he replied, “I don’t think so.”

In an interview with the LA Times, he said:

“You go to mosque because nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes, and we have to ask Allah to forgive us. This is very important mentally, to be clear with Allah. This is not about the UFC. There is nothing else more important to me than being clear with Allah. And being clear with Allah is the No. 1 most hard thing in life.”

The Reminder

We as human beings aren’t perfect – perfection is only for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We all make mistakes, sometimes small, sometimes large, but in the end, He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is ready to forgive us if we’re willing to recognize our failings and ask to be forgiven.  Allah says in the Qur’an in 2:222:

“Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves.”

There are no sins so great that redemption is beyond any of us. Whatever Khabib’s flaws, his value as a positive change maker and faith-based role model globally outweighs his negatives.

Part of seeking forgiveness is the process, and the first part of that process is acknowledging the mistake. This means not being in denial about it or not justifying it, just owning it. As Khabib has owned his mistake publicly, there is no need for us to try and justify it either.

We can own that there are problems with MMA and the industry, in participating as well as watching and supporting. At the same time, we can do as Dr Hatem al-Hajj said about Muhammad Ali:

Concluding Thoughts

While UFC pundits will forever debate over the greatest of all time, there is in doubt that Khabib Nurmogomedov, the first Muslim UFC champion, will always be our GOAT.

I ask that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepts the good from what Khabib has done, rewards him tremendously for the inspiration he’s given us all to better focused on the akhirah, the next life, and continues to make him a powerful sports icon who uses his platform as Muhammad Ali did to teach Islam and exemplify it in the best way for all of us to benefit and follow.

Ameen.

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#Islam

Does A Muslim Have To Wish Well For An Oppressor Who Is Struck With Disease?

Imam Imran Salha

Published

First, we should differentiate between those who want to curse at the oppressor because it’s a fad, and those who do so because they either experienced oppression directly from said oppressor, or they genuinely empathize with those who have been directly oppressed.

To those who are doing it as a fad, I say what my teachers always said to me:

“Islam is not for blowing off steam.”

You cannot use Islam as an outlet for immaturity. Imam Shafi’i said if you are stuck between two options, choose the one that goes against your desires for there is a higher likelihood that the truth lies in that option.

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Second, we also have to be careful not to restrict the Islamic position on something just because it sounds like the moral high road. This may be personal preference for some to hold back from cursing the oppressor, but that doesn’t mean Islam specifically asks this of us.

What is the standard?

The Qur’an – “Tell my servants to say the best word.”

“I was not sent as one who always curses.” -Hadith

“The Muslim is not one who always curses.” -Hadith

Scholars noticed that the Prophet ﷺ used the word اللعّان (la’aan) instead of لاعن (laa’in). The former is صيغة المبالغة which means that one is always cursing, where the latter is a description for one who curses once. If the Prophet ﷺ meant to say that the Muslim NEVER curses he would have said “A Muslim is not one who curses even once.”

Instead, what He ﷺ actually said is it is not part of the character of a Muslim that they frequently curse, which is why he used the word لعّان.

Also, the Prophet ﷺ could not have meant that he never cursed, because he himself cursed at an entire tribe. In an authentic hadith in Saheeh Muslim, Khifaaf ibn Imaa’ al-Ghifaari narrates that the Prophet ﷺ made the following dua during salah:

اللَّهُمَّ العَنْ بَنِي لِحْيَانَ، وَالْعَنْ رِعْلًا، وَذَكْوَانَ، ثُمَّ وَقَعَ سَاجِدًا.

“Oh Allah, send your curse upon Bani Lihyaan, and curse Ri’l, and Thakwaan – and then the Prophet ﷺ fell in prostration.”

There is no way that the Prophet ﷺ would command us never to curse and then in certain instances invoke the curse of Allah on others. This proves that cursing is in fact necessary sometimes.

Abu Bakr [ramhu] told Urwah bin Masood to lick the genitalia of Al-laat, which was an idol that was worshipped at the time. This was after Urwah disrespected the Prophet ﷺ. This is a hadith in Bukhari and the Prophet ﷺ did not scold AbuBakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) for his reaction and all the narrations that say the Prophet ﷺ scolded him are weakened if not fabricated. We know the rulings on the Prophet ﷺ’s silence. His silence is legislation. If there was something wrong with Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)‘ s words the Prophet ﷺ would have HAD to say something about it. His ﷺ silence means he agreed with what Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) did.

Even if you do not want to curse, why should you wish well on any oppressor when Allah cursed all oppressors in the Qur’an? You can be clever. Look at the following example.

When Jamal Abdel-Nasser died, Imam Mohammed al-Ghazzali (ra) said: “Oh Allah have mercy on him in the same way he had mercy on your Ummah.”

لما مات جمال عبد الناصر قال الشيخ الغزالي: اللهم ارحمه بقدر ما رحم الامة

So I can say, (and again this is in the case of wanting to avoid cursing): Oh Allah! Have mercy on Trump to the same degree that Trump had mercy on the immigrant mothers who had to be separated from their children as a result of his ruthless policies.

For Tarbiyah purposes, it is beneficial to teach your children and students of knowledge never to curse. This was the methodology of Imam AbdelQadir Jilani (ra) who would force his students never to curse even against oppressors. However, this is in the context of Tarbiyah and preparing students for scholarship and leadership, not the context of Fiqh. This is so that the students lean more towards the Prophetic reality and is also more in line with the hadith we mentioned in the beginning! A student of knowledge and future leader should not be in the habit of constantly cursing.

Many spiritual paths force their students into a certain “extreme” to discipline them and make their default setting leaning towards what is more spiritually beneficial, so that only when it is absolutely necessary will they use these “licenses” that allow them to express their anger. When it comes to the general masses though, we should not make it seem like this is absolutely not allowed, or that it is even spiritually superior to wish well on an oppressor.

We should not be in the business of telling people that Islam forces you to wish well on forces of evil.

The Prophet ﷺ passed by a janazah and said: “Relieved and one who others are relieved from.” Upon being asked, the Prophet ﷺ explained: “The Believer is relieved at the moment of their death from the toil of life. As for the wicked, the people, land, trees and animals are relieved from their presence as soon as they die.”

May the eyes of the oppressors never find rest. Ameen.

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