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Practical Tips for Purification of the Heart

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“A day in which neither wealth nor children shall be of any benefit, except one who comes to God with a sound heart” (Sūrat’l-Shu‘arā’: 88-89).

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is reported to have said, “In the body there is a morsel of flesh, if it is sound, the whole body is sound. If it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Indeed, it is the heart.” Spiritual purification of the self is thus the essence of Islamic teachings. Knowledge of this science was traditionally learned by keeping company with good teachers and righteous companions. However, this option is unavailable to many of us. What follows is advice that I have been gathering from various scholars regarding spiritual purification. I have compiled the following as a reminder for myself and for those searching for similar advice.

Begin with Repentance

Sins are barriers which restrict the opportunity to do good works; so we must begin with sincere repentance. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When a servant commits a sin, a spot is inscribed on his heart. Should he then refrain and ask for forgiveness, it is removed. When he repeats it a larger one appears, until his heart is enveloped by it”. In a hadith qudsi, God says,”O My servants! You sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you”.

While we will continue to struggle with wrong actions, they must not be a reason for us to despair and give up on drawing closer to God. Do good works and the attachment to sins will wane with time. A specific repentance with the intention of starting on a spiritual quest will act as a starting line and will put us in the right frame of mind.

Why ask for forgiveness if we know we will commit sins again?

Ibn Atallāh summarizes a few reasons: Allah loves those who constantly repent (Qur’ān  Sūrat’l-Baqarah: 222); our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the best of creation, would seek repentance over 70 times a day; repentance from a sin reduces its sweetness – it discourages you from doing it again.

Establish Daily Routines (Awrad)

Just like our physical muscles, our spiritual muscles need to undergo regular training in order to be strengthened. Imām Al-Ghazāli exhorts on the importance of routines, “Your time should not be without structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity. By the ordering of this time, the blessing will show in itself.”

Following is a brief list of actions one must perform regularly, without excuse or neglect.

a)     The Obligatory Prayers

This one is so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated. However, the reality is, most of us struggle to keep up with our five prayers on time. Those already doing this should work on offering the voluntary prayers (sunnan rawatib) and supererogatory prayers (dhuda, ishrāq, alāt’l-wuū’ etc).

Sound actions emanate from sound states. If you are struggling to keep up with the prayers, look at the spiritual causes that might be hindering your access to this blessing. Are you constantly engaged in wrong actions from which you haven’t repented? What type of company do you keep; do they have concern for faith and prayer ? Is your heart regularly exposed to environments where major ills are committed (e.g. consumption of intoxicants)? Worship is a gift that can be taken away, so be careful. A scholar reported his experience stating that, “I once said something about someone I should not have said, and I was deprived of the night prayer for forty days”.

‘Actions are by their intentions’, so check yours. Sincerity in intention is to seek God’s pleasure alone. How do you know if you are sincere? Imām Qushayri quotes in his Risala, “The major flaw of the sincere one is that he is aware of his sincerity. When God Most High wants to render his sincerity pure, he removes from his sincerity his awareness of being sincere.”

b)    Have a daily reading of Qur’ān

Whether it is a hizb (i.e. 1/60  of Quran), a few pages or a few lines, pick an amount that you can commit to reading from the Qur’ān everyday. Make it a routine to read that amount after one of the obligatory prayers—after Fajr is usually the best time to do so.

c)     Daily Supplications (Dhikr) for Morning and Evenings

Having a regular wird (a designated amount) of dhikr is also necessary in one’s daily routine. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) recommended supplications for mornings and evenings. These have been complied in numerous books and litanies. Set aside a time, usually after Fajr and Maghrib, to recite them.  Imām al-Haddad’s Wird-al-Latif and Ratib-al-Shahir are from one of the most comprehensive and easy to recite (takes just 10-15 mins), based completely on Qur’ān and Sunnah. You can pick one which you like or vary between them. Other places these supplications can be found are in books like Hisn al Muslim, Adhkar Imām Nawawi and other collections.

d)    Salutations (Salawat) upon the Prophet

Sending prayers on the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) helps us engender love for him and is key for cleansing the heart. In our daily supplications, we must include a routine of salutations (Arabic: salawat, Urdu: durood) on him. We should aim to do this throughout our day, but including it in our daily routine inculcates the practice. One way to do this is to establish the habit of saying allallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam whenever he is mentioned. Pick a salwat you like and make it a habit of repeating it. The most famous book of salutations upon the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is Imām Jazuli’s Dalā’il al Khairāt. The book has set aside a chapter of salutations for each day of the week; it can be recited on a weekly or daily basis.

In general make an effort to, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allāh.”

Control you diet

Imām Al-Ghazāli  considered the stomach and genitals to be the dominators of our desires; if they are in control; all other limbs are kept in check. Controlling our diet is especially needed, given that we live in a society where obesity is a serious problem and we don’t think twice about eating to satiety.

Imām Al-Haddād succinctly summarize the moderation we need to bring to our diets: Do not make good and pleasurable food your prime concern…Beware of eating excessively and frequently eating to satiety, for even if it be from halal foods it will still be the beginning of many evils. It results in hardening of the heart, loss of perspicacity, confused thinking, laziness in worship, and other things. The way to be moderate is to stop eating while still desiring to eat, and not to start eating until you really want food. The sign that yours is a real desire is that you desire any kind of food.

Reading List

Following is a list of manuals that outline in greater detail the steps one needs to take to attain purification of the heart. While many books have been written on the subject; these books are known for the ‘hands-on’ approach taken by the authors.

1)    Agenda To Change our Condition by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir. A short book written for Western readers in mind. It sets our practical steps one should take to achieve Taqwa (God-consciousness).

2)    The Book of Assistance by Imām Al-Haddād: A must read for anyone seeking spiritual purification. The book is known for succinctness and practicality.

3)    The Beginning of Guidance by Imām Al-Ghazāli: Hujjat al-Islam’s goal in this book is to outline beneficial knowledge; he also lays out a timetable to which one should aspire to follow. Written in the post-Ihya period, it’s a must read for students of knowledge and the layperson alike.

4)    Purification of the Hearts by Imām Mawlud: Presented in English with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s commentary, the book outlines spiritual diseases and their remedies.

The last piece of advice is to make du‘ā’. Practical measures outlined above need to be coupled with constant prayer asking God to grant us a pure heart and help us abstain from sins. Guidance and steadfastness is a gift from God, so it must be asked for. The following is a beneficial prayer to be recited regularly:

يَا مُقَلِّب الْقُلُوب ثَبِّتْ قَلْبـِي عَلَى دِينك

“O Over-Turner of Hearts! Make firm my heart upon your religion”

Imam Nawawi’s Spiritual Bucket List

All of the above has been summarized succinctly in a paragraph by Imam Nawwawi in his Maqasid. While it appears challenging, we must have high aspirations and should work towards achieving this spiritual bucket list. (Taken from Shaykh Hamza’s translation of Sidi Ahmed Zarruq’s Foundations of the Spiritual Pathanother beneficial read):

One reaches Allah Most High by repenting from all things, unlawful or offensive; seeking sacred knowledge in accordance with one’s needs; maintaining ritual purity; performing the obligatory prayers in the first of their time and in congregation, including the Sunna prayers that correspond to each of the obligatory prayers; adhering to the eight raka’ats of the midmorning prayer (Duha) and the six raka’ats after the sunset prayer and before the night prayer; performing the night prayers (tahajjud) after awaking from one’s sleep; fulfilling the witr prayer; fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and on the three days of the full moon – i.e. the 13th,14th, and 15th of the lunar month – and also the days of the year in which fasting is recommended; reciting the Quran with the heart’s presence coupled with reflection upon its meanings; frequently asking forgiveness of Allah (istighfar); maintaining prayers and blessings upon the Prophet, peace be upon him; and, finally, adhering to the meritorious invocations of the morning and the evening that have come to us from the Sunna (adhkaar as-sabaah wa al-masa)

 [Last Updated: January 2018]

Waleed Ahmed writes on current affairs and politics for MuslimMatters. He focuses on Muslim minorities, human rights and the Middle-Eastern conflict. Based out of Montreal, he's currently pursuing a Ph.D. at McGill University. Waleed spends his spare time playing basketball, snowboarding and praying for Jon Stewart to run in the next presidential election.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umara Tanwer

    July 31, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Assalaamu Alaikum. JazakAllah khair for this very beneficial post!

  2. Avatar

    amel

    July 31, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    its a really good post, giving pointers on what should be done daily, jazakAllah

  3. Avatar

    Traveller

    July 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    May Allah reward you in abundance brother, the links are amazing thank you.

  4. Avatar

    Hili Cliffe

    August 1, 2013 at 5:21 AM

    How sure are we that our sin is forgiven? Doesn’t it depend on Allah’s decision?

    • Avatar

      Zaheer

      August 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Salaam,

      Not sure brother Waleed stated this anywhere in the article, or if you’re just asking out of interest’s sake – the answer, of course, is that Allah’s decision encompasses everything, so naturally it is His (s.w.t.) decision whether he forgives the sins of an individual, or not.

      However, this is precisely why we should make istighfaar, and then make istighfaar, and again, and again. We are never certain that Allah has forgiven us, so we constantly seek His (s.w.t.) forgiveness until He (s.w.t.) returns us to Him (s.w.t.).

      On a relevant side-note: many people get discouraged from seeking forgiveness, and from making du’a in general, because there are no “signs” that Allah has forgiven them or has answered their du’a. This is the first mistake to make because it demonstrates lack of faith – Waleed’s excellent example of the Nabi Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) making constant istighfar, even though he never committed sin and any sin he may have committed would have been instantly forgiven, is a sign for us. We have numerous sins, and no automatic protection from Allah for them, unless He (s.w.t.) wills. So, by rights, we should be making much more istighfar than our beloved Nabi (s.a.w.s)

      • Avatar

        Hili Cliffe

        August 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

        Hello?

        May I thank for your effort to reply to my question. However, I am shocked that being a Muslim I cannot be sure that my sins are forgiven. It means that I cannot rest assured of the kingdom of Allah (s.w.t). It is thus just guess work. How will you therefore tell somebody to repent of his sin if you yourself are not sure if that person will be forgiven. It implies that if thus believing in Isa bin Marriam can bring forgiveness as christian’s Bible claim, then He is worth following.

        • Avatar

          Zaheer

          August 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM

          Hello Hilli,

          I think you may have misunderstood. Or, rather, my explanation was inadequate:-)

          What I meant was, everything is in Allah’s decree – we cannot say, “Okay, I asked for forgiveness, now Allah has forgiven me”. This doesn’t mean we should despair in Allah’s mercy, never ask for forgiveness, and na’uthibllah, start worshipping Isa (a.s) and asking him for forgiveness.

          What it does mean, is that we should never feel secure that our sins are forgiven, and that we can “rest” and not increase our good deeds, spiritual levels, and du’a.

          So, while no one can guarantee that their, or anyone else’s sin has been forgiven, the Qur’an and Sunnah has taught us that Allah’s mercy is vast, and that so long as we make sincere repentance, there is the possibility of Allah forgiving it. And all sins, besides ascribing partners to Him (s.w.t.), can be forgiven even after we die, if He (s.w.t.) so wills.

          The important thing is that we don’t despair when committing sin, but feel regret, make repentance, and move on (i.e. don’t dwell on the sin and whether Allah has forgiven it or not). Assume the best of your Lord, as our Nabi (s.a.w.s.) has said, but fear His (s.w.t.) punishment as well. In this way, the balance between hope in His (s.w.t.) mercy and fear of His (s.w.t.) punishment can be achieved. The vehicle? Du’a:-)

          Hope this explains what I meant.

    • Avatar

      abdirahman

      December 25, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      The real diseases are sins and one must repent from them all the time. We can never be sure if Allah accepted our repentence. However a sign that shows your prayers has been accepted is that you stop commiting those sins.

    • Avatar

      nb

      March 13, 2016 at 1:50 AM

      Part of repentance is having faith in Allah’s promise that he WILL forgive you. Yes we don’t know until day of Judgment if its accepted but we BELIEVE it is, Allah is what you think of Him so have the BEST opinion of Him. You will always commit sin that’s why we always turn back to Allah not because we are hung up on the past. Also, taubah means turning back, not seeking forgiveness,Our Nabi S.A.W would “turn back” to Allah i.e remember Him after being occupied with worldly work, which is normal and we all need to keep remembering Allah. Allahu Alim

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      May 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

      Well it surely depends upon the decision of ALLAH but if you are repenting with true heart and pure intention you’ll have a satisfaction. This is the indication that ALLAH has forgiven you. I hope it answered your question.

    • Avatar

      Fatima Irene

      August 4, 2016 at 7:52 AM

      assalamu alaikum. When you cannot do that sin again, it only means that Allah s.w.t. has already forgiven you. Of course don’t forget to ask for His forgiveness first. There is always forgiveness from Allah s.w.t. whenever you ask for it, because that is who Allah s.w.t. is! The Most Forgiving. :)

  5. Avatar

    Guest

    August 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    thank you! much needed now that ramadan is ending

  6. Pingback: The TMI Hijabi |

  7. Avatar

    Kimberly Kate

    October 9, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Assalaamu’alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuhu. JazakAllahu Khayran.

  8. Avatar

    Ahmed Siddiqui

    March 5, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Alham-du-Lillah. There is nothing wrong with this article. In my opinion the remedy for the purification of heart is very basic . Every individual that comes to the Masjid follow these rituals regularly without any doubt. This topic is a real heavy duty topic and it requires tremendous research and explanation. There is a difference in over the counter medications and prescribed medications, both of them have healing power and effectiveness except that later one is superior to the earlier one. May Allah guide us all. My comments are not intended to hurt any body’s felling’s except that I am still thirsty.

  9. Avatar

    addina

    March 22, 2015 at 1:34 PM

    Thank you for sharing this article. May Allah keep firm our hearts in this religion.

  10. Avatar

    Kutub

    August 13, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Jaza kallah for the post .indeed good advice for spiritual enhancement.

  11. Avatar

    khalidoon

    July 1, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    Jazakkallahu khair. MashaaAllah this is really a great help to those who are in need of such advices like me. But may i ask, how may i be sincere then if being aware that i am sincere means i am not sincere? I hope you help me be enlighten in this matter sukran

    • Avatar

      Waleed Ahmed

      July 1, 2016 at 5:17 PM

      waiiyak. we can’t know if we’re sincere and whether an act we did was in fact accepted by God. we have to constantly check our intentions and keep renewing it while we do our acts..its a constant struggle

  12. Avatar

    Sana

    July 2, 2016 at 4:29 PM

    Very beneficial article,very helpful and enriching,may Allah bless u and all of us aameen

  13. Avatar

    Adam

    July 28, 2016 at 1:03 PM

    Allah says that he forgives sins times in the Qur’an. All u have to do is worship none but Him. Follow the way of Muhammad peace be upon him. And the messenger said to follow up an evil deed with a good deed and the latter will wipe out the former. Meaning if u fall into a sin then do something of good ie charity, be dutiful to parents, help someone in need, help an orphan etc. Lots good we can do if we think. Read the Qur’an if u are unsure about things. It was sent as a book of guidance after all. Allah protect this deen and Bestow ur mercy on the believers. Ameen.

  14. Avatar

    A sinner

    November 8, 2016 at 8:27 AM

    Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni
    (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” :'( :'(

    brothers and sisters plz keep me in your prayer.

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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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