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The Glorious Virtues of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa

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When speaking about Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa the third holiest sight in Islam, many Muslims are familiar with the hadith of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as reported by Bukhari and Muslim

وَعَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ اَلْخُدْرِيِّ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-: { لَا تُشَدُّ اَلرِّحَالُ إِلَّا إِلَى ثَلَاثَةِ مَسَاجِدَ: اَلْمَسْجِدِ اَلْحَرَامِ, وَمَسْجِدِي هَذَا, وَالْمَسْجِدِ اَلْأَقْصَى } مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيْهِ 1‏

“One should not undertake journeys except to three mosques: al-Masque al-Haram (in Makkah), this Masjid of mine (in Medinah) and Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem)

And so this hadith restricts the undertaking of religious pilgrimages or religious journeys to any masjid other than these three. In the past two weeks you’ve heard about Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, what then about Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa makes it special?

A few qualities about Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa:

Firstly, it is in Al-Shaam.

And this is unique and something that is not shared by Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi in that although those places in and of themselves are incredibly blessed, Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa is not just blessed in and of itself, but it is in a region that is blessed, that region being al-Shaam.

Al-Sham (Greater Syria) is bordered by the Euphrates River on the northeast and by Egypt on the southwest. Al-Shaam is the region that includes the modern day countries of Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and there are many verses and hadith that mention that it is a blessed land. Its major cities are Damascus, Jerusalem, Nabulus, Homs, Hemah, Halab, Amman, Beirut, Askalan, Gaza, Saida; Sur, Tripoli, Ba’labek, Manbij and Al-Ma’rah. Al-Sham is a vast land with an abundance of blessings. It is full of gardens, farms and fields. Fruits are abundant and cheap, and there is generous rain and snow. Al-Sham is a blessed and sacred land that Allah destined to be the place of revelations, the birthplace of prophets and a refuge for godly men.

Allah says,

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (Al-Isra v. 1)

And so here Allah mentions that not only is the Masjid Al-Aqsa blessed but it’s surroundings have been blessed and this is unique to this land of Al-Shaam.

It being blessed is mentioned in a number of other verses, of them are;

وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى الأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَالَمِينَ [الأنبياء:71]

And We delivered him and Lot to the land which We had blessed for the worlds.

Ibn Taymiyyah said “it is known that Allah delivered Ibrahim and Lot to Al-Shaam from the lands of the peninsula and Iraq.”

And as for Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) Allah says,

وَأَوْرَثْنَا الْقَوْمَ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَارِقَ الأَرْضِ وَمَغَارِبَهَا الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا

And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. (Al-A’raaf v. 137)

Al-Hassan and Qatadah both said, “It is Al-Shaam”

يَا قَوْمِ ادْخُلُوا الأَرْضَ الْمُقَدَّسَةَ الَّتِي كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلا تَرْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنْقَلِبُوا خَاسِرِينَ [المائدة:21]

O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.

And the Kingdom of Sulayman was in Al-Shaam

وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَالِمِينَ [الأنبياء:81]

And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing.

وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ وَبَيْنَ الْقُرَى الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا قُرًى ظَاهِرَةً وَقَدَّرْنَا فِيهَا السَّيْرَ سِيرُوا فِيهَا لَيَالِيَ وَأَيَّامًا آمِنِينَ [سبأ:18]

And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed [many] visible cities. And We determined between them the [distances of] journey, [saying], “Travel between them by night or day in safety

Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Mujahid all mentioned that the land mentioned in this verse is Al-Shaam.

Some manifestations of the blessings of Al-Shaam

As we read the hadith that speak about the virtues of Al-Shaam it is important to note that this all falls under the realm of prophecy. The prophet (ﷺ) was not speaking about a land that had fallen under his authority during his lifetime, in fact the Muslim armies did not begin to conquer Al-Shaam until the time of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, yet the amount of praise and blessings accorded to this land indicates that Al-Shaam would not only become Muslim but a pillar of Islam until the day of Judgment.

Firstly, the angels extending their wings over Al-Shaam

عَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ، قَالَ كُنَّا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم نُؤَلِّفُ الْقُرْآنَ مِنَ الرِّقَاعِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ طُوبَى لِلشَّأْمِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقُلْنَا لأَىٍّ ذَلِكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏”‏ لأَنَّ مَلاَئِكَةَ الرَّحْمَنِ بَاسِطَةٌ أَجْنِحَتَهَا عَلَيْهَا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ إِنَّمَا نَعْرِفُهُ مِنْ حَدِيثِ يَحْيَى بْنِ أَيُّوبَ

Zaid ibn Thabit Narrates, “We were with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) collecting the Qur’an on pieces of cloth, then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Tuba is for Ash-Sham.’ So we said: ‘Why is that O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Because the angels of Ar-Rahman spread their wings over it.'” (Tirmithi)

And Toobaa is a prayer for glad tidings. Al-’Izz ibn Abdisalaam said, “The prophet (ﷺ) indicated that Allah had designated angels to protect and preserve Al-Shaam.”

Secondly, It is the chosen land of God

 

عَنِ ابْنِ حَوَالَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ سَيَصِيرُ الأَمْرُ إِلَى أَنْ تَكُونُوا جُنُودًا مُجَنَّدَةً جُنْدٌ بِالشَّامِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْيَمَنِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْعِرَاقِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ حَوَالَةَ خِرْ لِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنْ أَدْرَكْتُ ذَلِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ عَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ فَإِنَّهَا خِيَرَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَرْضِهِ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهَا خِيَرَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَأَمَّا إِنْ أَبَيْتُمْ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِيَمَنِكُمْ وَاسْقُوا مِنْ غُدُرِكُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَكَّلَ لِي بِالشَّامِ وَأَهْلِهِ

 

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: It will turn out that you will be armed troops, one in Al-Shaam, one in the Yemen and one in Iraq. Ibn Hawalah said: Choose for me, Messenger of Allah, if I reach that time. He replied: Go to Al-Shaam, for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which his best servants will be gathered, but if you are unwilling, go to your Yemen, and draw water from your tanks, for Allah has on my account taken special charge of Al-Shaam and its people. (Abu Dawood, Authenticated by Al-Abaani)

Thirdly, The Pillar of the Book (ie Faith) was placed in Al-Shaam

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ حَوَالَةَ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ” رَأَيْتُ لَيْلَةَ أُسْرِيَ بِي عَمُودًا أَبْيَضَ كَأَنَّهُ لُؤْلُؤَةٌ تَحْمِلُهُ الْمَلائِكَةُ ، فَقُلْتُ : مَا تَحْمِلُونَ ؟ فَقَالُوا : عَمُودُ الإِسْلامِ ، أُمِرْنَا أَنْ نَضَعَهُ بِالشَّامِ ، وَبَيْنَا أَنَا نَائِمٌ رَأَيْتُ عَمُودَ الْكِتَابِ اخْتُلِسَ مِنْ تَحْتِ رَأْسِي ، فَظَنَنْتُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى قَدْ تَخَلَّى مِنْ أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ ، فَأَتْبَعْتُهُ بَصَرِي وَإِذَا هُوَ نُورٌ سَاطِعٌ بَيْنَ يَدِي حَتَّى وُضِعَ بِالشَّامِ ” ، فَقَالَ ابْنُ حَوَالَةَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، خِرْ لِي . فَقَالَ : ” عَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ

I saw the night of my Isra a white pillar as if it were of pearl being carried by the angels, I said, “What are you carrying?” They said, “The pillar of Islam, and we were commanded to place it in Al-Shaam. And while I was sleep I saw the pillar of the book taken from underneath my head, and so I thought that Allah had takhala from the people of the world, and so I followed it with my sight and it was a bright light in front of me until it was placed in Al-Shaam. Ibn Hawala then said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, choose for me! He said, “Upon you is Al-Shaam.” Reported by Ibn Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq and authenticated by Ibn Hajr in Fath Al-Bari.

In another version reported by Al-Tabari in his tafsir the prophet (ﷺ) said,

رَأَيْتُ فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنَّهُمْ أَخَذُوا عَمُودَ الْكِتَابِ فَعَمَدُوا بِهِ إِلَى الشَّامِ، فَإِذَا وَقَعَتِ الْفِتْنَةُ فَالْأَمْنُ بِالشَّامِ

While I was alseep I saw that they had taken the pillar of the book and carried it to Al-Shaam, so when fitan (trials) touch down, faith will be in Al-Shaam.

Al-Haakim said, “This is a authentic hadith upon the conditions of the two shaykhs (Bukhari and Muslim) and Al-Dhahabi agreed. Al-Izz ibn Abdissalaam defined “The Pillar of the Book” to be “Iman” or faith. 

Fourthly, the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed for it to be blessed

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ ذَكَرَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي شَأْمِنَا، اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي يَمَنِنَا ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا وَفِي نَجْدِنَا‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي شَأْمِنَا، اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي يَمَنِنَا ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَفِي نَجْدِنَا فَأَظُنُّهُ قَالَ فِي الثَّالِثَةَ ‏”‏ هُنَاكَ الزَّلاَزِلُ وَالْفِتَنُ، وَبِهَا يَطْلُعُ قَرْنُ الشَّيْطَانِ

Ibn ‘Umar reports that

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.” The People said, “And also on our Najd.” He said, “O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham (north)! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.” The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! And also on our Najd.” I think the third time the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “There (in Najd) is the place of earthquakes and afflictions and from there comes out the side of the head of Satan.” (Bukhari)

Fifthly, Al-Shaam is a yardstick for the righteousness of the ummah

عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ قُرَّةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ إِذَا فَسَدَ أَهْلُ الشَّامِ فَلاَ خَيْرَ فِيكُمْ

Ma’awiyyah ibn Qurrah reports from His father that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,

“When the inhabitants of Ash-Sham become corrupt, then there is no good in you.”

(Recorded by Al-Tirmithi who graded it a Hassan Sahih hadith).

Sixthly, Al-Shaam will host a group of people unwavering upon the truth

قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عُمَيْرُ بْنُ هَانِئٍ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ مُعَاوِيَةَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ لاَ يَزَالُ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ بِأَمْرِ اللَّهِ، لاَ يَضُرُّهُمْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ وَلاَ مَنْ خَالَفَهُمْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَهُمْ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَهُمْ عَلَى ذَلِكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ عُمَيْرٌ فَقَالَ مَالِكُ بْنُ يُخَامِرَ قَالَ مُعَاذٌ وَهُمْ بِالشَّأْمِ‏.‏ فَقَالَ مُعَاوِيَةُ هَذَا مَالِكٌ يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ مُعَاذًا يَقُولُ وَهُمْ بِالشَّامِ

‘Umayr ibn Hani stated that he heard Mu’awiyyah says,

“I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “A group of people amongst my followers will remain obedient to Allah’s orders and they will not be harmed by anyone who will not help them or who will oppose them, till Allah’s Order (the Last Day) comes upon them while they are still on the right path.”

‘Umayr said, Malik ibn Yukhamir said, “Mu’adh said, ‘they are in Al-Shaam”

Seventhly: It is a land of many martyrs

أتاني جبريل بالحمى والطاعون فأمسكت الحمى بالمدينة وأرسلت الطاعون إلى الشام، فالطاعون شهادة لأمتي ورحمة لهم ورجس على الكافرين‏

“Jibreel came to me with (carrying) fever and plague. Fever was kept in Medina and Plague was sent to Al-Shaam. Plague is martyrdom for my ummah and mercy and wrath upon the disbelievers. (Ahmad, authenticated by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Targhib wal Tarhib)

And so plague has touched the region of Al-Shaam many times over from the dawn of Islam as early as the army of Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah in 638-639 AD in two waves and it is accounted that 25,000 soldiers died of that plague, of them Mu’adh ibn Jabal, his son Abdulrahman and Abu Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah himself. The Middle East Black Death epidemic in which it is reported that around 10,000 people died in Gaza between April 10 and May 10 1348. Plagues that affected the crusaders and cholera outbreaks over the past two centuries among others.

 The Virtues of Al- Masjid Al-Aqsa

It is the second masjid ever built

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ‏.‏ أَىُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ أَوَّلُ قَالَ ‏”‏ الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَىٌّ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ الْمَسْجِدُ الأَقْصَى ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ كَمْ كَانَ بَيْنَهُمَا قَالَ ‏”‏ أَرْبَعُونَ ‏”‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏”‏ حَيْثُمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلاَةُ فَصَلِّ، وَالأَرْضُ لَكَ مَسْجِدٌ

Narrated Abu Dhaar:

I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Which mosque was built first?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Haram.” I asked, “Which (was built) next?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a (i.e. Jerusalem).” I asked, “What was the period in between them?” He replied, “Forty (years).” He then added, “Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the earth is a place of worshipping for you.”

Although it’s commonly considered that Ibrahim and Sulayman are the ones who built those masjids respectively, this hadith becomes difficult to resolve when there was more than a thousand years between them! Ibn Hajar mentions a number of positions on who built Al-Ka’abah and Bayt Al-Maqdis he says,

Adam built Al-Ka’abah and then his children built Al-Aqsa

Ibrahim built Al-Ka’abah and then he built Al-Aqsa so he built both

Ibrahim built the Ka’abah and Ya’qoob his grandson built Al-Aqsa and Sulayman rebuilt the Aqsa

It is where the prophets intended and migrated to:

It is where Abraham and Lot migrated to, it is where Moses intended to take Bani Israel

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ أُرْسِلَ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ إِلَى مُوسَى ـ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلاَمُ ـ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُ صَكَّهُ، فَرَجَعَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ، فَقَالَ أَرْسَلْتَنِي إِلَى عَبْدٍ لاَ يُرِيدُ الْمَوْتَ‏.‏ قَالَ ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِ، فَقُلْ لَهُ يَضَعُ يَدَهُ عَلَى مَتْنِ ثَوْرٍ، فَلَهُ بِمَا غَطَّتْ يَدُهُ بِكُلِّ شَعَرَةٍ سَنَةٌ‏.‏ قَالَ أَىْ رَبِّ، ثُمَّ مَاذَا قَالَ ثُمَّ الْمَوْتُ‏.‏ قَالَ فَالآنَ‏.‏ قَالَ فَسَأَلَ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُدْنِيَهُ مِنَ الأَرْضِ الْمُقَدَّسَةِ رَمْيَةً بِحَجَرٍ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ لَوْ كُنْتُ ثَمَّ لأَرَيْتُكُمْ قَبْرَهُ إِلَى جَانِبِ الطَّرِيقِ تَحْتَ الْكَثِيبِ الأَحْمَرِ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ وَأَخْبَرَنَا مَعْمَرٌ عَنْ هَمَّامٍ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَحْوَهُ‏

The Angel of Death was sent to Moses when he came to Moses, Moses slapped him on the eye. The angel returned to his Lord and said, “You have sent me to a Slave who does not want to die.” Allah said, “Return to him and tell him to put his hand on the back of an ox and for every hair that will come under it, he will be granted one year of life.” Moses said, “O Lord! What will happen after that?” Allah replied, “Then death.” Moses said, “Let it come now.” Moses then requested Allah to let him die close to the Sacred Land so much so that he would be at a distance of a stone’s throw from it.” Abu Huraira added, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘If I were there, I would show you his grave below the red sand hill on the side of the road.” (Bukhari)

The Sun stood still for the Conquest of Jerusalem

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ غَزَا نَبِيٌّ مِنَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ فَقَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ لاَ يَتْبَعْنِي رَجُلٌ مَلَكَ بُضْعَ امْرَأَةٍ وَهْوَ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَبْنِيَ بِهَا وَلَمَّا يَبْنِ بِهَا، وَلاَ أَحَدٌ بَنَى بُيُوتًا وَلَمْ يَرْفَعْ سُقُوفَهَا، وَلاَ أَحَدٌ اشْتَرَى غَنَمًا أَوْ خَلِفَاتٍ وَهْوَ يَنْتَظِرُ وِلاَدَهَا‏.‏ فَغَزَا فَدَنَا مِنَ الْقَرْيَةِ صَلاَةَ الْعَصْرِ أَوْ قَرِيبًا مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ لِلشَّمْسِ إِنَّكِ مَأْمُورَةٌ وَأَنَا مَأْمُورٌ، اللَّهُمَّ احْبِسْهَا عَلَيْنَا‏.‏ فَحُبِسَتْ، حَتَّى فَتَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition, so he said to his followers, ‘Anyone who has married a woman and wants to consummate the marriage, and has not done so yet, should not accompany me; nor should a man who has built a house but has not completed its roof; nor a man who has sheep or shecamels and is waiting for the birth of their young ones.’ So, the prophet carried out the expedition and when he reached that town at the time or nearly at the time of the `Asr prayer, he said to the sun, ‘O sun! You are under Allah’s Order and I am under Allah’s Order O Allah! Stop it (i.e. the sun) from setting.’ (Bukhari)

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ” مَا حُبِسَتِ الشَّمْسُ عَلَى بَشَرٍ قَطُّ إِلا عَلَى يُوشَعَ بْنِ نُونَ لَيَالِي سَارَ إِلَى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ

The sun has never stopped for any man besides Yusha bin Noon when he when he was campaigning to conquer Bayt al-Maqdis.” (Ahmed)

Bayt Al-Maqdis is the abode of the prophets.

It is the abode of Ya’qoob and the prayer place of Dawood, and the prayer place of Mary, and the abode of Sulayman and Zakariyyah, John the Baptist and Jesus.

The Prayer of Sulayman

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏”‏ لَمَّا فَرَغَ سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ دَاوُدَ مِنْ بِنَاءِ بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ سَأَلَ اللَّهَ ثَلاَثًا حُكْمًا يُصَادِفُ حُكْمَهُ وَمُلْكًا لاَ يَنْبَغِي لأَحَدٍ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَلاَّ يَأْتِيَ هَذَا الْمَسْجِدَ أَحَدٌ لاَ يُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الصَّلاَةَ فِيهِ إِلاَّ خَرَجَ مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِ كَيَوْمَ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏”‏ أَمَّا اثْنَتَانِ فَقَدْ أُعْطِيَهُمَا وَأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ قَدْ أُعْطِيَ الثَّالِثَةَ

 

Abdullah Ibn Amr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reports that the prophet (ﷺ) said,

“When Sulaiman bin Dawud finished building Baitil-Maqdis, he asked Allah for three things: judgment that was in harmony with His judgment, a dominion that no one after him would have, and that no one should come to this mosque, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as the day his mother bore him.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Two prayers were granted, and I hope that the third was also granted.” (Ibn Majah, Authentic)

It is the first Qiblah

The prophet (ﷺ) for the entire time that he was in Mecca and the first 16 months that he was in Medinah would pray towards Jerusalem. And so while he was in Medinah he would pray with his back towards Mecca. This was until Allah revealed the verses in Surat Al- Baqarah.

Originally that Qiblah was the dome of the rock itself, and when Jerusalem surrendered in the year 15 H to the forces of Umar ibn Al-Khattab and Umar himself arrived he saw the Masjid and at that time it was ruin. He said, “Allahu Akbar, by the One in whose Hand is my soul, this is the masjid of David that the prophet (S) told us he was taken on a nights journey to.” He then told Ka’b Al-Ahbar do you know where the place of the rock is? He informed him and said dig there and you will find it, at the time it was a dump. When it was excavated or found Ka’b suggested to Umar that the masjid be placed behind the wall so that the two Qiblahs would merge and ‘Umar rebuked him for that and built the masjid in front of the rock.

The Prophet (ﷺ) was taken on a Night’s journey there.

The scholars mentioned that of the wisdoms on why the prophet (S) was taken to Bayt Al-Maqdis was to establish proof against the polytheists and those who doubted him. Meaning that if the prophet (ﷺ) had simply ascended to the heavens from Mecca there would have been no way for them to test his truthfulness. However when he claimed that he had traveled to Jerusalem, they asked him to describe to them Bayt Al-Maqdis, a place that they were familiar with due to their trade and travels. They also knew that the Messenger (ﷺ) had never been there and so when he was able to describe in detail Bayt Al-Maqdis it established the truthfulness of his claim, and if they were to believe him in that they would also believe in him traveling to the heavens.

Also, Bayt Al-Maqdis is the migratory point of the prophets and the first of the two Qiblahs and the second of the two masjids built and Allah took the prophet (ﷺ) there to honor him by having him pray in both places.

Prayers are Multiplied

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ ، قَالَ : تَذَاكَرْنَا وَنَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، أَيُّهُمَا أَفْضَلُ : أَمَسْجِدُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَمْ بَيْتُ الْمَقْدِسِ ؟ ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ” صَلاةٌ فِي مَسْجِدِي أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَرْبَعِ صَلَوَاتٍ فِيهِ وَلَنِعْمَ الْمُصَلَّى هُوَ , وَلَيُوشِكَنَّ لأَنْ يَكُونَ لِلرَّجُلِ مِثْلُ شَطَنِ فَرَسِهِ مِنَ الأَرْضِ حَيْثُ يَرَى مِنْهُ بَيْتَ الْمَقْدِسِ خَيْرًا لَهُ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا جَمِيعًا ” ، قَالَ : أَوْ قَالَ : ” خَيْرٌ لَهُ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا

Abu Dhar mentions we were discussing in the presence of the prophet (S) which Masjid was better, the Masjid of the prophet (S) or Bayt Al-Maqdis. He, (S), said, “A prayer in my masjid is better than four prayers there, and what an excellent prayer place it is, and there may come a time when a person having the size of a rope of land from which they can see Bayt Al-Maqdis is more beloved to them then the entire world.” Or he said, “the world and everything in it.” Reported by Al-Hakim which an authentic chain.

But this also alludes to something which we will close with and that is there will come a time when if a person had just a little bit of space in Al-Quds with a view of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. It would be so beloved to them. These are some of the virtues of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, there is more to be said about the Masjid and Al-Shaam in general especially when it comes to the End of Days as much of what was described of battles near the end of days, the return of Jesus Christ and the killing of the AntiChrist, as well as Gog and Magog who meet their demise in Al-Shaam.

What we ask for is to be allowed to pray in this Masjid, and be able to visit it and be a part of those who work towards freeing it and it’s people.

FAQ’s

What is Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa; it is not just the dome of the rock and it’s not just just the masjid itself it’s the entire prayer complex. That is all Al-masjid Al-Aqsa as mentioned by the scholars in the past and present.

Is it a Haram? No it is not a Haram, and it is not correct to call it the third Haram. A Haram is a place in which hunting and plucking of fruits is haram, and there is nothing to that effect in Al-Aqsa.

Is there anything special that is done there? It is like Masjid Al-Nabawi in that sense, there is nothing that is done there other than what is normally done in a Masjid.

Is there anything virtuous to be done at the Dome of the Rock? Ibn Taymiyyah writes about the ‘Dome’ that it was not prayed at by Umar or the companions, nor did any of the rightly guided khulafa build a dome over it. It was uncovered before, during the time of Umar, Uthman, Ali, Ma’awiyyah, Yazeed and Murwan, but when Abd Al-Malik took over Al-Shaam and he had his fitnah between him and Ibn Al-Zubayr people would go to perform the hajj and would meet with Ibn Al-Zubayr. AbdulMalik wanted to divert people away from Ibn Al-Zubayr, so he built the dome over the rock. As for the people of knowledge from the sahaah and tabi’een they did not exhalt the dome of the rock, it is a abrogated qiblah, just like Saturday was a holiday in the law of Mose and now Friday is the holiday in the law of Muhammad and so it is not persmissible for Muslims to specifiy Saturday or Sunday with any acts of worship as the Jews or Christians do.

A call to action:

A hadith that is controversial in its authenticity

 

عَنْ مَيْمُونَةَ، مَوْلاَةِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفْتِنَا فِي بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ ائْتُوهُ فَصَلُّوا فِيهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ – وَكَانَتِ الْبِلاَدُ إِذْ ذَاكَ حَرْبًا – فَإِنْ لَمْ تَأْتُوهُ وَتُصَلُّوا فِيهِ فَابْعَثُوا بِزَيْتٍ يُسْرَجُ فِي قَنَادِيلِهِ

Narrated Maymunah ibn Sa’d:

I said: Messenger of Allah, tell us the legal injunction about (visiting) Bayt al-Muqaddas (the dome of the Rock at Jerusalem). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: go and pray there. All the cities at that time were effected by war. If you cannot visit it and pray there, then send some oil to be used in the lamps.

Weak, Abu Dawood

(This hadith was authenticated by Al-Hafidh Al-Iraqi, Al-Tahawi and Al-Nawawi and declared weak by Al-Albani).

Though this hadith may not be authentic the meaning that it carries is one that we should internalize and that is that if a person is never able to make it to Bayt-Al-Maqdis that they act to serve it still in whatever capacity they can. And there are many ways that a person can serve Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa; communicating what is happening there to others, visiting the Masjid, supporting the people of Al-Aqsa especially those who are protecting the Masjid and praying there, as well as praying for them regularly in your own supplications,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ammar Al Shukry is the author of the Poetry Collection: "What the Pen Wrote." Ammar AlShukry is Content Director of FaithEssentials, a complete learning hub for the everyday Muslim. FaithEssentials can be found at www.faithessentials.online

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    September 19, 2017 at 3:26 AM

    Amazing. SubhanAllah. I dint know there were so many ahadith regarding Ash-Shaam. May Allah have mercy on the people of Ash-Shaam.
    jazakhAllah khayr brother.

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#Life

Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

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“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity
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I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Islam

He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

Tawakkul- a leaf falling
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While discussing an emotionally-heavy issue, my therapist brought up the point that in life we can reach a point of acceptance in regards to our difficult issues: “It sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to say it: it is what it is.”

Okay, I thought, as I listened. Acceptance. Yes, I can do this eventually. She went on to add: “It is what it is, and I know that everything will be okay.””

Tears had already been flowing, but by this point, full-blown sobs started. “I…can’t….seem…to ever…believe that.” There. I had said it. I had faked being confident and accepting, even to myself. I had faked the whole, “I have these health problems, but I am so together” type of vibe that I had been putting out for years.

Maybe it was the hormones of a third pregnancy, confronting the realities of life with multiple chronic diseases, family problems, or perhaps a midlife crisis: but at that moment, I did not feel deep in my heart with true conviction that everything would be okay.

That conversation led me to reflect on the concept of tawakkul in the following weeks and months. What did it mean to have true trust in Allah? And why was it that for years I smiled and said, “Alhamdulillah, I’m coping just fine!” when in reality, the harsh truth was that I felt like I had not an ounce of tawakkul?

I had led myself to believe that denying my grief and slapping a smile on was tawakkul. I was being outwardly cheerful — I even made jokes about my life with Multiple Sclerosis — and I liked to think I was functioning all right. Until I wasn’t.

You see, the body doesn’t lie. You can tell all the lies you want to with your tongue, but after some time, the body will let you know that it’s holding oceans of grief, unshed tears, and unhealed traumas. And that period of my life is a tale for another time.

The short story is that things came to a head and I suddenly felt utterly overwhelmed and terrified daily about my future with a potentially disabling disease, while being diagnosed with a second major chronic illness, all while caring for a newborn along with my other children. Panic attacks and severe anxiety ensued. When I realized that I didn’t have true tawakkul, I had to reflect and find my way again.

I thought about Yaqub (Jacob). I thought long and hard about his grief: “Yaa asafaa ‘alaa Yusuf!” “Oh, how great is my grief for Joseph!”

He wept until he was blind. And yet, he constantly asserted, “Wallahul-Musta’aan”: “Allah is the one whose help is sought.” And he believed.

Oh, how did he believe. His sons laughed and called him an old fool for grieving over a son lost for decades. He then lost another dear son, Binyamin. And yet he said, “Perhaps it will be that my Lord will bring them to me altogether.”

There is no sin in grief Click To Tweet

So my first realization was that there was no sin in the grief. I could indeed trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while feeling a sorrow so profound that it ripped me apart at times. “The heart grieves and the eyes weep, but the tongue does not say that except which pleases its Lord. Oh, Ibrahim, we are gravely saddened by your passing.” These are the words of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for a lost infant son, said with tears pouring down his blessed face, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

I thought of the Year of Grief, Aamul-Huzn, when he, Allah’s peace be upon him, lost the woman who was the love of his life and the mother of his children; as well as an uncle who was like a father. The year was named after his grief! And here I was denying myself this human emotion because it somehow felt like a betrayal of true sabr?

Tawakkul, tawakkul, where are you? I searched for how I could feel it, truly feel it.Click To Tweet

Through years of introspection and then therapy, I realized that I had a personality that centered around control. I expressed this in various ways from trying to manage my siblings (curse of the firstborn), to trying to manage my childbirth and health. If I only did the “right” things, then I could have the perfect, “natural” birth and the perfect picture of health.

When I was diagnosed with a chronic disease, these illusions started to crack. And yet even then, I thought that if I did the right things, took the right supplements and alternative remedies and medications, that I wouldn’t have trouble with my MS.

See, when you think you control things and you attempt to micromanage everything, you’ve already lost tawakkul. You’ve taken the role of controlling the outcome upon yourself when in reality, your Lord is in control. It took a difficult time when I felt I was spiraling out of control for me to truly realize that I was not the master of my outcomes. Certainly, I would “tie my camel” and take my precautions, but then it was a matter of letting go.

At some point, I envisioned my experience of tawakkul as a free-fall. You know those trust exercises that you do at summer camps or company retreats? You fall back into the arms of someone and relinquish any control over your muscles. You are supposed to be limp and fully trust your partner to catch you.

I did this once with a youth group. After they fell–some gracefully and trusting, some not — I told them: “This is the example of tawakkul. Some of you didn’t trust and you tried to break your fall but some of you completely let go and let your partner catch you. Life will throw you down, it will hit you over and over, and you will fall–but He, subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), will be there to break your fall.”

I am falling. There is a degree of terror and sadness in the fall. But that point when through the pain and tears I can say, “It is what it is, and no matter what, everything will be okay”, that right there is the tranquility that comes from tawakkul.

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