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MM Treasures- Ma’arifah: Being Acquainted with Allah

Hena Zuberi

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Assalam alaikum,
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Posted by Abu Aaliyah •  First Posted  June 1st, 2007 • 21 Comments

When we compare our lifespans wherein our endeavors unfold to the age of the earth, or to that of the universe which we are told is fifteen thousand million years old, they seem of less significance than a droplet of water in an endless ocean. For today’s materialist life holds little significance other than that of consumption and seeking instant gratification. To believers in God and His Divine Unity, however, life is seen as a rich tapestry of signs, and as an arena of tests, that afford us the opportunity of knowing Allah and worshiping Him: “I created men and jinn, avers Allah in the Qur’an, only that they may worship Me.” [1]

Early Qur’anic exegesists have cited Ibn ‘Abbås, and his illustrious student, Mujåhid, as saying that Allah’s words: ‘that they may worship Me’ – illå li ya‘budun, actually mean: “that they may know Me – illå li ya‘rifun.” [2] The reason for this is quite straightforward, which is that we cannot worship Allah without first knowing Him. This is why it has been said:

Awwalu wåjibin ‘ala’l-‘abidi
Ma‘rifatu’Llåhi bi’l-tawhidi

Meaning, “that the first duty upon a person is to know Allah vis-a-via His Oneness and Divinity.” [3]

“THAT YOU MAY KNOW”
In his essay on Divine love and intimacy, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote: “Allah created creation so that they may worship Him through love, fear and hope of Him. Allah, Exalted is He, strictured: “I created jinn and men only that they may worship Me.” However, Allah can only be worshiped by possessing knowledge (marifah) of Him; which is why He created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, as an indicator to His divinity and majesty. About this, Allah proclaims: Allah it is who has created seven heavens, and of the earth a similar number. His command descends through them, so that you may know Allah has power over all things, and that He encompasses all things in knowledge.”[4][5] Here we are told that creation was created li ta‘lamu – ‘that you may know’ Allah, and that His Command courses through the creation, and that His omnipotence and His omniscience envelop all things.

Commenting on the above verse, Imam al-Sa‘di writes of the creation that, “All of this was [created] in order for people to know and to discern that His knowledge and power circumscribe each and everything. As they come to know Him through His Beautiful Names and Sublime Attributes, they will then adore and worship Him, and also fulfill His rights. This is the greater purpose behind the creation and command: to know Allah and to then worship Him.” [6]

THE OCEAN OF MA‘RIFAH: SHALLOW & DEEP
In explaining the hadith: “Know Allah in times of prosperity and He will know you in times of adversity,” [7] Ibn Rajab writes about ma‘rifah , or knowing Allah:

“A servant’s ma‘rifah of his Lord is of two levels: Firstly, a general acquaintance which involves acknowledging, affirming and having faith in Him: this type of ma‘rifah is common to all believers. Secondly, a deeper type of ma‘rifah, or acquaintance, which leads to hearts being totally inclined to Allah: devoted to Him; intimate with Him; at peace when remembering Him; being shy of Him; and being held in awe of Him. This is the specific type of ma‘rifah around which the gnostics, or ‘årifun, revolve – as one of them remarked: “The poor people of this world have departed from it without xperiencing the most delightful thing in it.” He was asked: What is the most delightful of things? He said: “The ma‘rifah of Allah, Mighty and Majestic is He.” Ahmad ibn ‘Asim al-Antaqi said: “I desire not to die until I attain ma‘rifah of my Lord. I do not mean ma‘rifah in the sense of merely believing in Him; but a ma‘rifah so that, when I know Him, I feel shy of Him.” [8]

MA‘RIFAH: A METAPHOR
These levels of ma‘rifah can be likened to the example of a man and a neighbour who has just recently moved in across the road. [9] At first he becomes acquainted with his new neighbour in a general sense. He may learn of his name, his vocation, whether he is married with kids; he will also learn of his general appearance and be able to recognise him when meeting him on the street. He may well, by asking around, be able to glean other facts about his new neighbour. Yet whatever information he learns about him will be at an indirect, impersonal level; unlikely to stir the heart into having any deep senseof respect or admiration for the neighbour. Indeed, beyond acknowledging the neighbour’s existence and presence in the locality, his outlook towards him may possibly be one of polite indifference. This is akin to the first level of ma‘rifah spoken of by Ibn Rajab.

Let us now suppose that he decides to know his neighbour directly and introduces himself to him; visits him frequently; socialises with him; and, over time, forms a sincere and faithful friendship with him. He is now able to observe and experience at first hand his neighbour’s fine character: his kindness, generosity, knowledge and wisdom, compassion, and other virtues that can only be known through direct contact. This intimate knowledge of his neighbour evokes in the man a profound respect and admiration for his neighbour, and a deep and abiding love for him. What is more, it is probable – guaranteed even – that his neighbour will begin to disclose to him many of his most private thoughts, and share with him many of his most intimate feelings, which could never have been known even in a lifetime’s worth of indirect observation or investigation. Instead, such knowledge is only granted to him out of the neighbour’s desire to be more intimately known, and out of the man abiding by the rules of propriety (adab) in seeking to know and to draw closer to his neighbour. This reflects the second degree of ma’rifah discussed by Ibn Rajab. No wonder, then, that the ma‘rifah of Allah has been described as ‘the most delightful of things’ on this earth.

A TREASURE UNKNOWN
As for the hadith frequently cited in Sufi literature: “I was a treasure unknown but wanted to be known, so I created creation and made Myself known; they then knew Me,” hadith masters have declared this narration to be a chainless forgery. In his dictionary of fabricated hadiths, Mullå ‘Ali al-Qåri states: “Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘This is not a saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, nor is it known to have a chain of transmission; be it sound or weak.’ Al-Zirkashi and al-‘Asqalåni said the same. Its meaning, however, is sound, taking its cue from Allah’s words: “I created jinn and men only that they may worship Me,” meaning “that they may know Me” – as explained by Ibn ‘Abbås, may Allah be pleased with him.” [10]

NURTURING MA‘RIFAH
Ibn al-Qayyim has noted: “In the Qur’an, Allah, Exalted is He, invites people to acquire ma‘rifah; or knowledge and gnosis [of Him], via two ways: Firstly, by reflecting upon the divine handiwork [in creation]; and secondly, by contemplating over the Qur’an and pondering over its meanings. The former are His signs that are seen and witnessed, the latter are His signs which are heard and understood. “The first type is referred to in His saying: In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and day; in the sailing of ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the water that Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death; in the animals of all kinds that He has scattered therein; in the ordering of the winds and the clouds that are driven between heaven and earth, are signs for people who can think. [11] And His words: In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of the night and day, are signs for those of understanding. [12] Verses like these occur frequently in the Qur’an.The second is referred to in His saying: Will they not reflect on the Qur’an? [13] As well as: Do they not reflect about what is being said? [14] And: This is a Book that We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may reflect over its signs. [15] Such verses also occur frequently.” [16]

Another way by which ma‘rifah is nurtured in the heart is by engaging in divine remembrance, or dhikr. Ibn al-Qayyim said of dhikr: “It opens to a person the greatest door to ma‘rifah. Hence, as his remembrance [of Allah] increases so does his ma‘rifah.” [17] Amidst the dramas of this world, therefore, and amidst its songs of sorrow and joy, the Qur’an asks the human creature to know their Maker and to remember Him, and to live out their lives in conscious awareness of Him.

ALLAH’S MA‘RIFAH OF US
Having dwelt upon the need for, and nature of, seeking ma‘rifah of Allah, Ibn Rajab then says: “Allah’s ma‘rifah of His servants is also of two degrees: A general awareness, which refers to His knowledge of His servants and His awareness of all that they do: whether done openly or secretly. Allah said: We created man, and We know the promptings of his soul, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein. [18] And He informs: He knows you best since He created you from the earth, and when you were embryos your mothers’ wombs. [19]

Secondly, a particular type of ma‘rifah which leads to His love for His servant; His drawing closer to him; His responding to his prayer; and His delivering him from trials and hardships. This is expressed in the Prophet’s words, peace be upon him; who relates from his Lord: “My servant continues to draw closer to Me with superogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge in Me, I would surely grant it to him.” [20] In another wording: “ … Were he to call on Me, I would surely respond to him.” [21]

Thus those who worship Allah upon such ma‘rifah, and in accordance with the Sacred Law (shariah), are led by it to an even deeper gnosis or ma‘rifah. And so it is that Allah, in His overwhelming grace, raises those who are imperfect and ignorant, yet strive to subdue their lower selves; open their hearts to His light; and seek to know and draw closer to Him.
1 5 – 0 5 – 0 7

END NOTES
1. Qur’an 51:56.
2. Cf. al-Baghawi, Ma‘ålim al-Tanzil (Beirut: Dår Ibn Hazm, 2002), 1236. After citing these words, al-Baghawi remarks: “This is the best [of what has been said]; for had He not created them, they would never have known of His existence or divinity.” Also cf. al-Qurtubi, al-Jåmi‘ li Ahkåm al-Qur’ån (Beirut: Dår al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1996) 17:38; and Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Qur’ån al-‘AΩim (Beirut: Dår al-Ma‘rifah, 1987), 4:255.
3. Cf. al-Safårini, Lawåmi‘ al-Anwår al-Bahiyyah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islåmi, 1991), 1:112.
4. Qur’an 65:12
5. Istinshåq Nasim al-Uns, 60.
6. Al-Sa‘di, Taysir al-Karim al-Rahmån fi Tafsir Kalåm al- Mannån (Riyadh: Dår al-Mughni, 1999), 955.
7. Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 1:293; al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, no.2516. Shu‘ayb al-Arnåut declared its chain to be authentic (Sahih) in his verification to Ibn Rajab, Jåmi‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risålah, 1998), 1:459-60.
8 . Jåmi‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam, 1:473.
9. The metaphor is culled from Sayyid Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, Islam and Secularism (Lahore: Suhail Academy, 1998), 80-81. I am indebted to Shaykh Muhammad al-Afifi for pointing this book out to me.
10. Al-Asrår al-Marfu‘ah fi’l-Akhbår al-Mawdu‘ah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islåmi, 1986), no.353. Similar verdicts occur in al-Suyuti, al-Durar al-Muntathirah (Riyadh: Riyadh University, 1983), no.330; al-Sakhåwi, Maqåsid al-Hasanah (Beirut: Dår al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah), no.836.
11. Qur’an 2:164.
12. Qur’an 3:190.
13. Qur’an 4:84.
14. Qur’an 23:68.
15. Qur’an 38:29.
16. Al-Fawå’id (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Rushd, 2001), 42-3.
17. Al-Wåbil al-Íayyib min al-Kalim al-Tayyib (Cairo: Dår al-Rayyån, 1987), 62.
18. Qur’an 50:16.
19. Qur’an 53: 32.
20. Al-Bukhåri, Ía˙i˙, no.6502. This is the last portion of a famous hadith, which begins: “Allah, Mighty and Majestic is He, said: Whoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My servant does not draw closer to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have enjoined on him. My servant continues …”
21. Jåmi‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam, 1:473-4

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hassan

    April 10, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Ilm is not marifah, Allah asked humans/muslim to have ilm of Allah, not marifah. I think some scholar should write about ilm vs marifah (hint let Sh Waleed write it)

  2. Avatar

    Ramadan

    April 10, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    jazakallahu khayr

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#Islam

Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Quran says in Surah al-Ahzab:

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

عَلِيماً

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس

ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين

أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي

إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم الى عدو ملكته امرى

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

أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض

وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره

أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك

لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Spiritually Processing What Happened In New Zealand A Few Days Later

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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It feels like we’re living in the times that were described by the Prophet in a number of different narrations. The Prophet 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 raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) 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 .”

 “‏ مَا مِنْ عَامٍ إِلاَّالَّذِي بَعْدَهُ شَرٌّ مِنْهُ حَتَّى تَلْقَوْا رَبَّكُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ سَمِعْتُ هَذَا مِنْ نَبِيِّكُمْ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.

Similarly, the Prophet told us that we will face trial after trial, difficulty after difficulty. The Prophet 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 grant 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 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 , 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 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 raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) faced painful persecution at the hands of Quraish. Yasir raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) 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 teaches the Prophet 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 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 told him to seek strength through patience and prayer.

To focus on his relationship with Allah . Allah 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 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 , to unite us, to strengthen our faith, and make us more dedicated to our religion.

These are wake up calls. Allah 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.

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Are You Consumed, Contained, or Compassionate? Learn From Futuh al-Ghayb

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When encountering the glitter and magnetic force of the material world, whether while strolling in the malls or shopping online, or unintentionally while in spaces conducive to social comparison, even religious people display a wide variety of reactions. Our scholars of tazkiyah (spiritual purification) have long called us to capitalize on these reactions, by using them as gauges for identifying for ourselves the station we likely occupy in the sight of God.

Below is a beautifully nuanced reflection on this from Futūḥ al-Ghayb (#72) by Shaykh ‘AbdulQadir al-Jilāni (d. 561H, may Allah bestow mercy on him), which I pray has been translated effectively enough to serve you some introspective benefit.

Bismillah…

“People of religiosity and devotion who enter the markets on route to fulfilling what Allah (the Most High) has instructed – whether it be Friday or congregational prayers – or simply tending to their living needs, are of various types:

Ø Among them is the person whom, upon entering the market and seeing its attractions and temptations, becomes captivated by them and his heart clings to them. Consequently, this becomes the reason for his doom, the abandonment of his religiosity and devotion, and his regression into heeding his fancies and vain desires. Of course, this is unless Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) rescues him by His mercy, and grants him the protection and perseverance necessary to resist and survive them.

Ø Among them is the person whom, upon seeing all that, is nearly destroyed but quickly returns to his senses and religious commitment, and forces himself to be patient and endure the bitterness of refusing to indulge. This person is like the mujāhid (combatant); Allah (the Most High) grants him victory against himself, his lower-tendencies, and his vain desires – and writes for him a massive reward in the hereafter.

Just as some reports mention that the Prophet ﷺ said, “It is written for a believer, in exchange for resisting his lust when he could not perform it, or when he is capable of it, seventy good deeds,” or something to that effect.

  •  The person who reaches for it — indulges in it — and enjoys it as part of Allah’s bounty which He lawfully enjoys – such as abundant possessions and wealth – and he thanks Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) for this favor.
  • The person who neither sees it nor realizes its presence. He is blind to everything but Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) and does not see other than Him. He is deaf to everyone else and cannot listen to others. He is too busy to recognize or desire other than His beloved. He is totally isolated from what the rest of the world sees; when he enters the market and you ask him what saw in there, he will say I did not see anything. He saw everything, just with the eyesight of his head not the insight of his heart, and just inadvertently not cravingly, and just outwardly not with as something with intrinsic value. In other words, he externally perceives what exists in the market, while with his heart he perceives his Lord (the Mighty and Majestic) – a moment at His glory and a moment at His beauty.
  • The person whom, upon entering the market, his heart fills with Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) out of mercy for them (those entranced by materialism). His sympathy for them distracts him from admiring what they have and what sits in front of them. From the moment he enters until the moment he exits, he is busied with du‘ā’ (supplication) and istighfār (seeking forgiveness) and shafā‘ah (intercession) for its people and remains filled with concern and sympathy for them. This here is the true scholar, guide, ambassador (of the Prophet), and genius. May Allah be pleased with those who managed to reach the[se] highest stations.

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