Ramadan Around the Globe Series:
SAUDI (MAKKAH) 2010
There is no better place for I’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan than the Haram in Makkah. I truly miss those days. What better place do you need more than the hometown of Islam where the Qur’an was first revealed? The emotions and ecstasy experienced there are indescribable. It is one of those beautiful feelings which you cannot describe with words, you have to live it in order to see it and feel it. Although, I have done many I’tikaafs, alhamdulillah, in many different masajid in different places in the world, including the masjid of my beloved Rasulullah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam in Madinah, but there were none like the experience of al-Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Masjid in Makkah, may Allah preserve it and protect it. The ambience there is just amazingly sensational.
As a student of the Islamic University of Madinah back in the early 1990’s, my colleagues and I were privileged to live in the city of Rasulullah salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam for a number of years. We were also privileged to only be four hours away from Makkah. Alhamdulillah, consequently we were able to visit Makkah for Umrah frequently and enjoy the sight of the Ka’bah every chance we could catch out of school days. I can never forget the sight of the beautiful sacred house, the Ka’bah and the enormous number of people of all colors and all walks of life going in circles around it. It was breathtaking.
One of the privileges we had back then was to take the last ten days of Ramadan off, and with an extra few days for the Eid we ended up with almost two weeks off. I remember how we used to start our planning ahead of time, because we knew that we would be leaving Madinah to go to Makkah. We used to spend most of the Ramadan hours, days and nights in the Masjid of Rasulullah salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Just thinking of who used to walk around in this same area 1400 years ago, and who used to spend his time in this place was electrifying.
When the last day of school was over, we rushed straight to Makkah for Umrah in order to make sure that we entered the Haram and our I’tikaaf before sunset. If you want your I’tikaaf of the last ten days of Ramadan to be counted for you, then you should be in the masjid right before the first night of the last ten nights start. That means just before sunset on the 20th day of Ramadan.
Regulations in the Haram in Makkah prohibit keeping any kind of luggage, suitcases, clothes or anything of the sort a traveler might need during his stay in the Masjid for I’tikaaf. You have to keep everything outside. This prohibition put limit on what we could really carry with us for the I’tikaaf. So we carried just two or three thoubs, the traditional Arab garb, shimagh or head cover which we also used as an eye cover so that we could get the feeling of dark night, one casual short sleeved thoub for the daily activities which also served as our pajamas, few number of underwear and t-shirts, general hygiene stuff and of course books to read. In the I’tikaaf in Makkah, you need to forget about the luxury of pillows and blankets, let alone a mattress or bed. You use the carpet as your bed and the ceiling as your cover. Well, we still used the stuff we had with us, we would pile them up to make a pillow, and then use the Ihram, the two white sheets, one for a mattress or a mat to be precise and one for a blanket.
With no lockers anywhere to keep your belongings safe and with millions of people, commuters and travelers from all over the world who come to visit for Umrah, keeping our stuff outside in the open was impossible for us, as there would be no way to keep all of your things for the duration of the I’tikaaf without losing them. So we had to smuggle them in, yes, smuggle them.
We first go back to the Haram right after we are done with our Umrah, as early as possible, to look around for a prime location. The Haram during the I’tikaaf season would be divided, unofficially of course, into small lots the size of a twin mattress each, just enough for you to lay down and get some sleep. A prime location meant a place in the corner far away from the traffic. Getting close to the balcony so you could overlook the beautiful sight of the Ka’bah and the Tawaf court, was nice in the beginning, but then as people start jumping all over you to enjoy watching the sight themselves, the location was no longer so prime.
If you couldn’t get a corner location, which was almost impossible, how many corners are there in a masjid, anyways, then you would look for the wall. Taking a wall site is good because it traps your items by the wall so they won’t go anywhere, and it also limits the traffic in that area. The third in the line of favorite locations was the side of one of the main and humongous pillars of the masjid. Although you would be surrounded by others all around you, but having one side of the cubic shaped pillars gives you the base of one side all for you. If you were unable to get any of these spots then you risk ending up in the middle of the crowd and that was never a good place to be during a long I’tikaaf.
It was like a ‘urf or common law among the dwellers of the Haram, that once you settle and unload your stuff in one location that it becomes yours until the end of the I’tikaaf or unless you abandon it and take your things out of that location. Everybody respected that. Well, almost because some visitors as they looked for a place to get their nap, acted like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” They just didn’t care and would go ahead and violate the rule. They would find themselves a comfy place that did not belong to them and go to sleep. It was not that big of a deal to us but overall, people still honored the rule and respected the privacy of others.
One more thing about prime locations at the Haram is that it’s better to stay on the first floor than the ground floor where most of the heavy traffic exists. You should also stay away from the escalators and the stairways which feed the area with more visitors. And last but not least, stay in a location where you can easily have an access to the bathrooms outside, believe me its one of the most important criteria of your search. It’s not easy to remember your location when the Haram looks all symmetrical and sometimes confusing, but after getting lost a few times, you’ll get there. GPS won’t work there either, therefore you have to rely on your photographic memory, if you have one of course.
Now, how did we get our stuff in? Well, we used to take turns in getting our things through the doors. One would be outside keeping all our stuff with him, another would stay at the location to make sure it is reserved and then the third would be making trips going back and forth to get his things carried in. We would stuff the small things in our pockets, clothes under the books and look for a diversion by going through the most crowded doors. And even if you get caught with your clothes hidden between the books, you could still look for another gate and get through. The funny part was carrying the thoubs in. Some of us used to put them on one on top of another and then take them off as we entered the Haram.
Of course, we do understand why the authorities didn’t allow clothes and luggage to be brought into the masjid because if this was allowed people would abuse the system. Nevertheless, during the last ten days of Ramadan there should be some tolerance because this is temporary and for I’tikaaf purposes only. These items are very important to help those who are in I’tikaaf to stay in good health and good shape. Before we left our spot, we would make sure to fold up our stuff and squeeze them towards the wall so that they would not get messed up while people were praying Taraweeh.
After we have taken care of our accommodations, we began searching around to locate two things. First, where the scholars would be giving their daily and evening classes, and second, where the food spreads were over which some scholars and students of knowledge, especially coming from other countries, would be breaking their fast. We later learned that most of these food spreads were located on the top level of the Haram facing the gutter of the Ka’bah known as “al-Mizaab.” Every time you go there, you will be blessed with one or two or even more scholars coming from different places around the world. On these food spreads, I had the opportunity to meet scholars from Egypt, ash-Sham, India, N. Africa and other areas as well.
On the sunset of the first night of the I’tikaaf, we would already be on the top level asking around to find out who was coming and where they would be breaking their fast. If we received the news about some scholars coming over, we would make sure the others got to know about it as well.
Iftar is usually made of the magnificent, lightly roasted Arabic coffee cooked with cardamom and some other flavors, served with fresh “rutab,” the moist and early stage of the dates. Dates come in different shapes and tastes and it would be a blessing if you were served some of the most expensive Qaseemi dates that grows in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, such as sukkari, maktoomi and khalas. With that comes yogurt and freshly baked bread. Now, Bismillah.
After Maghrib prayer, we go back to congregate around the shuyukh and scholars, to listen, learn, take notes and drink a fresh cup of tea made with ‘hasawi’ mint. That tea used to give the session a whole different flavor, literally.
Later on, we would start getting ready for Isha prayer and Taraweeh afterwards. The prayer in the Tawaf court would have been the best place to stand in salat. However, since we loved to attend the sessions of Sh. al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah after Taraweeh, we had to stay on the top floor and pray right next to his official seat. If you wanted to benefit from the Ilm of the sheikh, you would need to sit as close to him as possible. Thousands attended his sessions and coming after salat to look for a space meant that you would be sitting at least a hundred yards away from him. The place would be crowded with waves of people. I have seen some very dedicated students who would preserve their spot from Asr time, and I really admire them for their devotion to the knowledge.
In the early years, the sheikh used to start right after Taraweeh and finish when they start the Tahajjud at night, that was more than four hours. SubhanaAllah, I have no idea how he was able to keep his energy level during this time for the entire ten nights. In the later years, the sessions where cut short and lasted until one hour before the Tahajjud, and even then, it was still a very long session.
The sheikh used to start by commenting on some of the ayat recited in Salat at-Taraweeh that night for about 20-25 minutes and then the session would be opened to Q & A. SubhanaAllah, the amount of Ilm one was exposed to in such a short time was amazing. Even today, I still have some of the original notes that I’d taken over the years from these sessions.
When we finished the session, we would go out to get some food for our main Iftar meal. You know the custom there was to delay the main course until after Taraweeh, which I love and enjoy. The initial Iftar was nutritious, easy and not overwhelming so that you can survive during Salat at-Taraweeh, and once you’ve finished your salat, you get to eat your main meal.
Right after that, we used to start our own personal night activities which included reading and reviewing the Qur’an, praying more qiyam, reading books using this time for devotion and meditation and the best of all doing Tawaf, as many times as we were able, around the Ka’bah. There was no way you would get bored at the Haram because every second the scene changes and the experience is different.
We stayed up during the night waiting for Salat at-Tahajjud where eight more rak’as would be performed at a slower pace than the Taraweeh, until it was finished about an hour or so before Fajr time. After that, we would go to eat our modest suhoor which we had purchased earlier when we had our Iftaar and then we prepared ourselves for Fajr prayer.
Right after Fajr, Sheikh al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah used to have another session on the ground level for almost two hours. I sometimes felt extremely tired and very sleepy, but subhanaAllah, seeing the energy of the sheikh who was at my grandfather’s age doing what he doing would empower me again to stay until the end of the session.
Thereafter, we used to get back to our hiding places, our sleeping spots, and drop down like dead bodies. We stayed asleep for the rest of the morning until Dhuhr time when we awoke for Salat. We stayed up for a while and then went back to sleep taking a power nap so that we can stay up all night again. After all, there wouldn’t be much going on during that time, anyway. Even the halaqat and sessions of knowledge are scarce and they don’t start until after Asr. Sometimes we seized the opportunity to make a relatively easier Tawaf before we head to bed.
Once Asr time starts, our day officially starts with it. We joined the few halaqat scattered around and then it would be time to get ready for Maghrib. Sometimes, we did Tawaf before we went to the top level and other times, we just went into seclusion for reading and reviewing the Qur’an. As the time of Iftar approaches, our preparation for the night increased. Once the adhan for Maghrib is announced, a new evening begins.
The program continues the same for the rest of the month except for some occasional changes based on rising opportunities such as receiving guests or family and sometimes meeting new people and old friends. Subhana’Allah, even though the space in the Haram is so huge, and the number of people is so great, but it is still a small world. You always meet some old acquaintance, as if they fell from the sky. One year, I even met my own mother who decided at the last minute to come for Umrah with my father! We didn’t have cell phones back then and there was no way to send me a message about their arrival. It was a friend of mine who met my father and sent me to him.
Although, the entire season is special but two nights were the most special nights in the entire month of Ramadan, the night of the 27th and the 29th. At least that’s how people behaved on these two nights. The 27th is regarded as Laylatul Qadr, and the 29th is the night of Khatmul Qur’an, the completion of the recitation of the Qur’an. I remember when Sheikh as-Sudays used to pray the witr after finishing the Taraweeh and then he would pray the witr again after the Tahajjud, but then it was announced that the witr in the last ten nights would be performed only once after Tahajjud. And even this, was later changed to only after Taraweeh. Another year, the sheikh did not pray the Tahajjud and it was left for other shuyukh to lead but without praying witr at the end.
One of the most dramatic changes that I witnessed during those years of I’tikaaf was moving the Khatmul Qur’an to the night of the 27th. The Imam of al-Haram, announced using the loud speakers, which was unusual, that in order to receive the blessings of that night in particular they wanted to join the Khatmul Qur’an with what is regarded as Laylatul Qadr. Another reason for this change, was in order to help people, and the visitors in particular, to attend the completion of the Qur’an and then get a chance to travel back home and attend Eid day with their families.
This change created a very dangerous and hazardous situation in the Haram. After the change was announced, people came from all over the country and from the surrounding countries as well, just to witness that night. It was within driving distance for the most of them. The Haram, as huge as it appears, was overpopulated to the extent where people started praying on top of the walls on the top level exposing themselves to an extremely perilous situation. People filled every space you can think of and spaces you cannot even think of. The escalators crashed and the stairways were closed because people were trying to get to the upper levels as the gates to the lower levels were closed. The authorities tried to keep people out but visitors would push their way through. It was a very dangerous situation. In addition to this, once the Imam finished, people were trying to leave as early as possible and the situation almost caused stampedes all over the area of the Haram. The Imams of the Haram, realizing the danger, announced the following night that this combining of events would not happen again next year and that the Khatmul Qur’an would be restored back to the night of the 29th.
That year, when they moved the Khatmul Qur’an to the night of the 27th, the following two or three nights left of the month of Ramadan were the most peaceful nights of the month. Most of the visitors left and the Haram became almost empty. Overall, it was a one-of-a-kind experience that I was able to attend and witness.
I still remember one night when I had to leave quickly with a guest, a friend who was visiting with his mother for Umrah, and we had to go after Maghrib to get ourselves and his mother some food, it was impossible. People were like in a disaster zone, they were all trying to buy food. We didn’t know why it was so different that night but it appeared that they were getting ready for their journey after the Salat. We couldn’t get anything neither for his mother nor for ourselves, and when we tried to get back to the Haram the guards were already closing the doors to the upper levels and the escalators were all closed. I had to take him to some unknown paths, at least unknown to the common visitors, and then find our way up. To our surprise, there was no space at all. We had to wait until the Iqama was called and struggle to squeeze ourselves into the line even if we were standing somewhat sideways. It was an amazing and unforgettable night, which not too many people have had the good fortune to experience.
The blessings of the I’tikaaf are so many, and some of the lessons Imam Ibnul Qayyim, rahimahullah, suggested we learn from this experience are:
- It is a form of ‘Khalwa’ that is living in seclusion – to a certain extent – where you can focus on your nafs and personal Ibadah and worship.
- It is a chance to connect with the Divine subhanahu wa ta’ala because your focus is solely on pleasing Him and Him alone.
- It is a spiritual rehab and escape from the pressure of this life. You live a stress-free life for few days only for the sake of Allah.
- You learn to limit your interaction with people and increase your interaction with your own self. It is like a moment of ‘muhasaba‘ were you review your ‘amal -work- and check and balance your book of deeds.
- It is a chance to explore your potential and an opportunity to see how much you can really bear of the different acts of Ibadah you expose yourself to in such a very short time.
The last part of this experience for us was witnessing the Eid day. During the last night of Ramadan, everyone is in a high level of excitement in anticipation for the Eid announcement. If the next day was still Ramadan, then alhamdulillah, we would get to pray one more night of Taraweeh and Tahajjud and if Eid was the next day, then there would be an important thing to do before anything else. You had to run to your sleeping space and pick everything up with you, otherwise it would be swept out with everything on the floor. You see, during the last ten nights of Ramadan, other than the vacuum cleaners, the janitorial work would stop temporarily until the night of Eid. So right after Isha, in preparation for the Eid salat, the workers would start to take everything off the floor. Literally, everything. They sweep and wash and mop the floor of the entire Grand Masjid and then they place new carpet. Whatever is left down there will be piled up in one corner and you would be blessed if you can find anything of your own belongings.
SubhanaAllah, that night was one of the most depressing nights for us. After living for ten nights in the Haram, when it was full with people and full with duroos and activities, suddenly the hustle and bustle is gone and you are back to the reality of life. The place would be empty, absolutely empty. A temporary feeling of void would fill your heart and you would suddenly break into tears. At the end, you realize that you’re once again back on your own.
Once Salatul Eid is performed in a majestic ambience and atmosphere, in the Grand Masjid in Makkah, we headed straight to the bus station. We took a bus ride back to Madinah and returned with some unforgettable memories of I’tikaaf.
Ramadan 26, 1431 H.
September 5, 2010
5 Duas For Ramadan Therapy | Sh Yahya Ibrahim
Use these precious days and night to ask Allah in the best of ways
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]
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 relates that the Prophet 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
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.”
Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It
A man passed by al-Miqdaad ibn al-Aswad , one of the most distinguished Companions of the Prophet . The man said, “How lucky your two eyes that witnessed the Prophet ”. Ibn al-Aswad profoundly responded by saying,
Why should anyone wish to witness a scene that Allah 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 has given us the Prophet Muhammad 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 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 in-depth, one would be astonished to the sheer amount of trauma, pain, and grief the Prophet ( 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 , 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 to Ibrahim and Yahya to Zakariyya . But the Prophet 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
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 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 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 , who was a pre-teenager at the time. How hurtful must that scene have been for the Prophet ? 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 such as Abu Bakr 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 . 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 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 , the wife of the Prophet for 25 years passed away. When the Prophet was in shock after the first revelation descended, it was Khadijah who comforted him and consoled him. She was one of the first believer, mother of the Prophet’s children, and a caretaker to the Prophet’s 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 said that she was never jealous of the co-wives of the Prophet except for Khadijah who had passed before she had wed the Prophet . The Prophet , 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 uncle and chief tribal protector in Makkah passed away. Abu Talib had been the caretaker of the Prophet after the Prophet’s mother and grandfather passed away. But the situation before the passing of both these allies to the Prophet 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 to his knees, he put his trust in Allah 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 described the Day of Taif more testing than the Battle of Uhud. In his desperation, the Prophet traveled to the nearby city of Taif in order to seek the city’s protection. When the Prophet 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 and Zayd ibn Harithah . The people of Taif purposely targeted the Prophet’s feet, severely damaging them. His blessed body was profusely bleeding and the crowd pursued both the Prophet 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 and we struggle to raise our hands. The amount of sincerity and power of this dua to Allah was so great that Jibril came down to the Prophet and reported that the Prophet’s appeal shook the heavens. Here, the Prophet 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 only comes with Allah’s 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 dealt with adversity. First, how can we sincerely put our trust in Allah 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 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 everlasting control over all the affairs of humanity and beyond. Allah 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 will replenish the believer with something equal or better. After this painful period in the Seerah, Allah gifted His devout Messenger with two things, the miraculous journey of the Isra wal M’iraj and the story of Prophet Yusuf . The story of Prophet Yusuf was sent down to show the Prophet that he was not the first prophet who experienced difficulty. In Surah Yusuf, the Quran reminds us that Allah 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 life, during the adversity, and after Allah had rewarded Yusuf and Yaqub for their resolve. There is light at the end of every tunnel of adversity and only Allah can give us the guidance to get there, we only have to turn to him.
We ask Allah to grant us the ability to maintain our optimism in our adversities. We ask Allah to grant us an understanding of Islam so that we may help others overcome their adversities. We ask Allah 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.
Spiritually Processing What Happened In New Zealand A Few Days Later
It feels like we’re living in the times that were described by the Prophet ﷺ in a number of different narrations. The Prophet ﷺ said, “A time will come upon people when a person practicing his religion with patience will be like one holding on to a burning ember.”
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِمَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَىدِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْر
Just like holding on to a burning ember is very difficult, it causes physical pain, holding on to our religion will also be very difficult. It will lead to hardships and difficulties. It seems as if every other week we’re dealing with some type of tragedy, some type of crisis. And each one seems to be bigger and worse than the last. As Anas told those who were complaining about the trials and difficulties they were facing at the hands of Hajjāj ibn Yusuf, “There is no year, except that the one that is after it will be more evil than it, until you meet your Lord. I heard this from your Prophet ﷺ.”
“ مَا مِنْ عَامٍ إِلاَّالَّذِي بَعْدَهُ شَرٌّ مِنْهُ حَتَّى تَلْقَوْا رَبَّكُمْ ” . سَمِعْتُ هَذَا مِنْ نَبِيِّكُمْ صلى الله عليه وسلم .
Similarly, the Prophet ﷺ told us that we will face trial after trial, difficulty after difficulty. The Prophet ﷺ said that near the end of times the Ummah will be faced with trials and difficulties that it will dislike. Then he said, “There will be tremendous trials one after the other, each making the previous one dwindle into insignificance. When they would be afflicted with a trial, the believer would say: This is going to bring about my destruction. When at (the trial) is over, they would be afflicted with another trial, and the believer would say: This surely is going to be my end.”
· وَتَجِيءُ فِتْنَةٌ فَيُرَقِّقُ بَعْضُهَا بَعْضًا وَتَجِيءُالْفِتْنَةُ فَيَقُولُ الْمُؤْمِنُ هَذِهِ مُهْلِكَتِي . ثُمَّ تَنْكَشِفُوَتَجِيءُ الْفِتْنَةُ فَيَقُولُ الْمُؤْمِنُ هَذِهِ هَذِهِ .
This week, the Muslim ummah was faced with another devastating trial. Two separate mosques were attacked by a right-wing extremist in New Zealand during Friday prayer. According to the latest report approximately 49 god-conscious, mosque-going Muslims were massacred in cold bold. This is an absolute act of senseless violence. They were killed in the masjid simply because they believed in the kalima la ilaha illa Allah… There’s absolutely no mistake that this was a cowardly act of terrorism. May Allah ﷻgrant all the deceased the highest ranks in Jannah and may He give patience and strength to their families.
This is a result of years of unchecked and unfiltered hate speech, xenophobia, Islamophobia, prejudice, and racism that has been propagated through the mainstream media. All of us know that the mainstream media, whether its CNN, BCC, or Fox News, portrays Islam and Muslims in the most negative light possible. There’s a whole well-funded industry of Islamophobia and propaganda dedicated to tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims in the average person’s mind. They’ve created an environment where the word Islam has negative associations. To an extent that when someone hears the word Islam, they automatically think of violence, terror, bombings and the enemy.
Although the perpetrator himself carried out the massacre in cold blood, I can’t help but place blame on all those who demonize Islam and Muslims. Part of the blame rests with those politicians who use fear-mongering, hate and prejudice to paint Muslims as the “other” just to win votes. They say outlandish things like Muslims are colonizing and invading our countries. That they want to take over and impose Sharia Law. They introduce anti-Sharia bills to create more fear. Part of the blame goes to these obnoxious, loud-mouthed, bigoted pundits, like Bill Maher and his likes, who constantly spew inflammatory rhetoric from their influential platforms. Part of the blame goes to people like Lauren Southern, Tommy Robinson, Richard Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Frank Gaffney who are openly prejudiced towards Islam and try to create a sense of hate and fear in their viewer’s hearts. They openly speak of something they call “the Muslim problem”. Part of the blame goes to all these other bigots who use their influence to preach against Islam. There are so much bigotry and fear-mongering that at times it seems overwhelming. There’s so much bias, hate, and prejudice that sometimes we feel stuck. And it’s this rhetoric, this hate, this prejudice and bigotry that has created an environment that would allow for something like this to happen. Senseless acts of violence like this don’t happen in a vacuum. There are circumstances that are created that allow them to take place.
This tragic incident really hit home for a lot of us. Part of the reason is that Muslims living as minorities can actually relate to it. It feels real. It is real. The individuals killed in the masjid could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been any one of our family members and that’s a scary thought. Whenever we see Muslims in pain, struggling, dealing with death and loss we’re supposed to feel that pain as well. As the Prophet ﷺ said, “The believers are like a single body. If the eye hurts the entire body feels the pain. If the head hurts the entire body feels that pain.” All of us are feeling that pain. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain the parents and the families are feeling right now.
How do we channel this pain?
How do we deal with it? What are we supposed to do? One thing that we can definitely take solace in is the fact that the Prophet ﷺ, the last and final messenger, our role model also felt that pain. He experiences similar trials and hardships. There was a very powerful anti-Islam, anti-Muslim sentiment among the people of Makkah. The Prophet ﷺ himself was attacked both verbally and physically. He dealt with the pain of rejection, prejudice, bigotry, and hatred. He had to deal with the pain of seeing some of his closest companions tortured, beaten, persecuted, and even killed. Yasir, his wife Sumayyah and their son ‘Ammar faced painful persecution at the hands of Quraish. Yasir died as a result of his persecution and his wife was killed by Abu Jahl just because they were Muslim. They were made to feel this pain, to go through these trials, difficulties and struggle to make them stronger. To develop their faith, personality, and character. This pain didn’t cause them to give in to fear; it didn’t make them scared. Rather, it made them stronger.
In multiple places throughout the Quran Allah ﷻ teaches the Prophet ﷺ how to deal with this pain. How to derive strength from these trials and hardships. When the people of Quraish rejected him when they called him a liar, a magician, a sorcerer and a madman Allah ﷻ told him, “So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is Truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.” Allah ﷻ told him to seek strength through patience and prayer.
To focus on his relationship with Allah ﷻ. Allah ﷻ told him something similar in Surah Taha, “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and during periods of the night[exalt Him] and at the ends of the day, that you may be satisfied.”
These are the same words of advice that Allah ﷻ gives to us as believers, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” The true strength of believers has never been through financial or physical means. Their true power has always come through their spiritual strength. These incidents are meant to push us closer to Allah ﷻ, to unite us, to strengthen our faith, and make us more dedicated to our religion.
These are wake up calls. Allah ﷻ is literally shaking us and telling us to come back to him. It’s time to come back. That’s the only true way of changing our situation.
Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf
Why I Turned to Tech to Catch Laylatul Qadr
Heart Soothers: Shaykh Noreen Mohamed Sideeq
Lesson 10 From Surah Al-Kahf
How Do Muslims Plan for Disability
Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians
The Rise of the Scholarly Gig Economy and Fall of Community Development
#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives
How To Build People Up, Not Destroy Them While Teaching Faith
Ben Shapiro Gets Wrecked on the BBC for Racism Against Palestinians and American Jews
#Current Affairs4 weeks ago
Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians
#Society4 weeks ago
The Rise of the Scholarly Gig Economy and Fall of Community Development
#Current Affairs1 week ago
#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives
#Islam3 weeks ago
How To Build People Up, Not Destroy Them While Teaching Faith