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Archive for August, 2007

below is an excerpt about preparing for Ramadan from Shaykh Salih al-Munajjad.  The full text can be found here:

http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503547548

How can we prepare for Ramadan?

We can prepare for Ramadan by taking stock of ourselves and recognizing our shortcomings in living up to the Two Shahadahs (Testimonies of Faith, i.e., there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), or our shortcomings in fulfilling our duties, or in not keeping away from the desires and doubts that we may have fallen into.

We should set ourselves straight so that in Ramadan we will have a higher degree of faith. For faith increases and decreases. It increases through obedience to Allah and it decreases through disobedience and sin. The first act of obedience that a person should achieve is that of being a true slave of Allah and believing that there is none that is rightfully worshiped except Allah, so he directs all kinds of worship to Allah and does not associate anyone else in worship with Him. Each of us should realize that whatever has befallen him could not have missed him, and whatever missed him could not have befallen him, and that everything happens by the will and decree of Allah.

We should avoid everything that could undermine our commitment to the Two Shahadahs. This means keeping away from bid`ah (innovations) and things that have been introduced into the religion. We should also follow the principle of al-wala’ wal-bara’ (loyalty and friendship vs. disavowal and enmity), by taking the believers as our friends and by regarding the unbelievers and hypocrites as enemies, and we should rejoice when the Muslims gain a victory over their enemies. We should follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions and adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the way of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who came after him. We should love the Sunnah and love those who adhere to it and defend it, in whatever country they are and whatever color or nationality they are.

After that, we should take stock of ourselves and recognize our shortcomings in doing acts of worship such as praying in congregation; remembering Allah (dhikr); paying attention to the rights of neighbors, relatives, and the Muslims; spreading the greeting of salam; enjoining good and forbidding evil; urging one another to follow the truth and be patient and steadfast in doing so; being patient in avoiding evil actions and in doing good deeds; and accepting the decree of Allah with patience.

Then we should take stock of ourselves, our sins, and our following whims and desires. We should stop ourselves from persisting in that, whether the sin is great or small, whether it is a sin of the eye, by looking at that which Allah has forbidden; or by walking to things that Allah does not approve of; or by using one’s hands to strike in a manner that Allah is not pleased with; or by consuming things that Allah has forbidden such as riba (interest) and bribes, or any other means of consuming people’s wealth unlawfully.

We should never forget that Allah stretches forth His hand during the day to accept the repentance of those who sinned at night, and He stretches forth His hand at night to accept the repentance of those who sinned during the day. Almighty Allah says:

(And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil); those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good; and those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins — Who forgiveth sins save Allah only? — and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever, a bountiful reward for workers!) (Aal `Imran 3: 133-136)

(Say: My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.) (Az-Zumar 39: 53)

(Yet whoso doeth evil or wrongeth his own soul, then seeketh pardon of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.) (An-Nisa’ 4: 110)

By taking stock, repenting and seeking forgiveness—this is how we should welcome Ramadan. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The smart man is the one who takes stock of himself and strives to do that which will benefit him after death, and the helpless one is the one who follows his own whims and desires and engages in wishful thinking, (assuming that Allah will forgive him regardless of what he does and that he does not need to strive to good deeds).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

The month of Ramadan is the month of great gains and profits. The smart trader is the one who makes the most of special occasions to increase his profits. So make the most of this month by doing lots of acts of worship, praying a great deal, reading the Qur’an, forgiving people, being kind to others, and giving charity to the poor.

In the month of Ramadan the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut. The devils are put in chains and a caller cries out each night, “O seeker of good, proceed! O seeker of evil, desist!”

So, O slaves of Allah, be among the people of good, following the path of your righteous forebears who were guided by the Sunnah of your Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), so that we may end Ramadan with our sins forgiven and our righteous deeds accepted.

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Oh my self what will calm you? Can’t you remain patient for a day or two?

I try to contain you but your strength overpowers

But when we die life will seem like hours

So can’t you be patient for part of a day?

And remain steadfast upon the straight way?

The direction you’re taking leads to my worst fears

Of the day we stand for fifty thousand years

No one will joke nor talk nor smile

And the sun from our heads will be at a mile

Nowhere to hide and nowhere to flee

Standing for what seems an eternity

Then the judgment begins and the books will land

Either on your right or your left hand

Oh my self …

Do not become like those who left the right track

And put their left hands behind their back

Oh self how do you plan to cross the sirat suspended in the air?

Craftier than a fox, sharper than a sword and thinner than a hair?

How do you plan to cross? Or will you cross at all?

The blink of an eye? Run? Or would you rather crawl?

The bad deeds you command will drop you from it

And only good deeds put you back upon it

Oh self it’s a five hundred year-drop suspension

Over a terrible place I’d rather not mention

Oh self…

Do not be fooled by this world and its illusions

And keep in mind judgment, the grave and other conclusions

Oh self wake up! Don’t follow your desire

And ask for forgiveness to avoid the fire

Oh self keep the commands and avoid prohibitions

And pay close attention to these admonitions

Be amongst those who were the best of planners

Who prepared for the future with good deeds and good manners

Oh self it simply about your control

Being patient now so as to reach your goal

I don’t mean to put a burden, or put much stress

Just to warn of a day when the limbs confess

Sins add up as you live through the years

Then sadness won’t save you and nor will the tears

Every time you sin the Shaytan is winning

So remember the One against Whom you’re sinning

Oh my self…

Life is short and ends when you least expect it

And then what will you say when you’re resurrected?

The angel of death overlooked you and took the souls of your brothers

And one day he’ll come to you and overlook others

For great rewards plant the righteous seeds

Oh Allah, I seek refuge from the evil of my self and from the evil of my deeds.

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Original source: http://www.islamtoday.com/showme2.cfm?cat_id=36&sub_cat_id=1434

Sheikh Târiq b. Abd al-Rahmân al-Hawwâs

We cannot be heedless of the fact that trying to remedy a wrong with another wrong only makes the first wrong all the more stubborn and assertive. When we seek to right a wrong, or correct someone else’s bad behavior, we should ourselves exercise good behavior. We need to be as gentle and tactful as possible, and we should exhibit both reason and sensitivity. Severity and harshness will get us nowhere.

If we want to work for the betterment of others, we need to exercise patience and put ourselves forward as a good example of conduct. If we do not show people how to behave in a kind and dignified manner, how can we expect to help them learn to do so?

The following story of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his encounter with a course and ill-mannered desert dweller illustrates what we are saying. We should observe how the Prophet (peace be upon him) responded to that man’s harshness with clemency, kindness, and impeccable manners. In doing so, the Prophet (peace be upon him) protected the man from falling into unbelief.

A desert dweller came to the Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) imploring help about some matter – possibly the payment of blood money – and Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) gave him something, then asked: “Have I done well by you?”

The man replied: “No! Nor have you acted decently.”

Upon hearing this, some of the Muslims who were present became angry and wanted to take out their anger on the man. However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) signaled them to hold their peace. He then stood up and headed for his home. When he arrived at the doorway, he invited the desert dweller to join him in his home.

Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You came to us and asked help from us, and we gave to you. Then you said what you said.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave the man some more. He then asked: “Have I done well by you?”

The desert dweller replied: “Yes. And may Allah reward you in your family and kinsmen.”

Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You came to us and asked help from us, and we gave to you. Then you said back then what you said. Because of this, my Companions now have bad feelings about you. When you come around again, say in front of them what you have just said to me now, so that their bad feelings about you will leave their hearts.”

The desert dweller agreed. When he approached them, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Your fellow here came to us ad asked of us and we gave to him. Then he said what he said. Then we had invited him and again gave to him and he attested that he was pleased. Is this correct, O desert dweller?”

The desert dweller said: “Yes. And may Allah reward you in your family and kinsmen.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) later said to his Companions: “What took place now between me and this desert dweller is comparable to a man whose camel bolted off. Some people began pursuing it, but this just caused it to run further away. Then the camel’s owner said: ‘Leave me to my camel. I will show it more mercy,and I know it better..’ He then headed in its direction and caught up with it in some dusty ground. He called to it and it came to him. Then he secured its saddle on its back.

“Had I left you to do as you wished when that man said those words, he would have entered the Fire.”

[Narrated by al-Bazzâr (2476) and by Muhammad b.Nasr in Ta`zîm Qadr al-Salâh (992). Its chain of transmission has some weakness in it.]

We should think about how the Prophet (peace be upon him) handled the situation with the desert dweller. He did not get upset when, after being generous to the desert dweller and fulfilling his request, instead of being received with happiness and gratitude, the man used harsh words against him.

The Prophet’s heart was one of kindness and mercy. It was a heart full of compassion. This is why the man’s harshness towards him only increased his gentleness in return. And this helped to protect the desert dweller’s faith.

Indeed, the man’s words: “No! Nor have you acted decently.” was an open denial of the Prophet’s goodness and a description that can not be reconciled with the character of someone who is the Prophet of Allah. Such an outlook on the man’s part was already close to unbelief. It is quite possible that had the Prophet (peace be upon him) merely refused to give the desert dweller more money – let alone allow his Companions to deal with him – the man might have abandoned Islam and resented the religion. This would have put the man on the path to the Hellfire.

When we meet people today who are troubled and who respond with harshness and anger, we need to remember this lesson from the Prophet’s life and try to emulate it in our own behavior.

It is not enough for us to have our arguments and evidence in order, so that we can prove our points. We must covey our message with kindness. We must have genuine love and affection towards those whom we are addressing.

Gentleness, good manners, and a smiling countenance, coupled with positive words – these are the messengers that reach the heart. They are the means of dissipating the anger and incivility of others.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whenever kindness enters into something, it beautifies it, and whenever something is bereft of kindness, it will be ugly.” [Sahîh Muslim (2594)]

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Written by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah,
Madaarij as-Saalikeen, vol. 1, pp. 443-9
Saturday, 05 August 2006

original source:

http://www.bilalphilips.com/bilal_pages.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=279

Know that the heart is on a journey to Allaah, Most Great and Glorious, and to the world of the Hereafter, and [that it is able to] discover the path of truth as well as the faults of the soul and of deeds. Its path is traversed with its light, life, strength, health, determination (‘azm), the soundness of its hearingand sight, as well as the absence of distractions and impediments from it. These five (corrupters) extinguish its light, distort its vision, muffle its hearing, if they do not deafen it, dumfound it, and weaken its powers/strengths altogether. They weaken its health, slacken its drive, halt its decisions, and reverse it (sending it backwards). And if one does not sense it, his heart is dead – as wounding a corpse does not inflict pain. They are impediments that prevent it from achieving its perfection, and prevent it from arriving to what it was created for, and making its pleasure and happiness ibtihaah and its enjoyment in arriving to it.

For there is no pleasure, sweetness, ibtihaaj, or perfection except by knowing Allaah and loving Him, peace in remembrance of Him, happiness and ibtihaaj in being close to Him and desiring to meet Him.[1] This is (the heart’s) early paradise. As there will be no pleasure or success for it in the Hereafter, except by being its neighbour in the abode of pleasure in the early paradise. It has two paradises. It will not enter the second of the two if it did not enter the first.

I heard Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allaah have mercy on him – say: “Indeed there is a paradise in this world, whoever doesn’t enter it will not enter the paradise of the Hereafter.”

… Some of those known for their love of Allaah (al-muhibboon) [were reported to have] said: “The truly unfortunate people of this world are those who leave the world without tasting the sweetest thing it contains.” When they were asked what it was, they replied: “The love of Allaah, to feel comfortable in His company, to desire to meet Him, turning towards Him and turning away from everything besides Him.” Or some words similar to that.[2] Everyone who has a heart bears witness to this and knows it as a result of having tasted it. And these five matters cut [the person] off from this, block the heart from it, impede its journey, cause sicknesses and defects for which, if the sick person does not realize it, [destruction] is feared.

The First Corrupter: Frequent Socializing

The effect of frequent socializing is that it fills the heart with the smoke of anfaas of humans until it becomes black, [3] causing it to be scattered, torn apart, worried, upset, and weak. It causes it to carry what it is unable to from mu’nat evil companions and waste what is beneficial for it, by becoming too preoccupied with evil companions and their matters to attend to what is beneficial. (The heart instead is busy with) scattered thoughts in the valleys of their requests and wishes. So what remains of it for Allaah and the life to come?

How many adversities has mixing with people brought and how many blessings has it repelled? [How many] trials has it caused and opportunities disabled, raziyyah caused to fall in baliyyah. Is aafah the downfall of people caused by other than people? Did Aboo Taalib at the time of his death have anything more harmful to himself than evil companions? They remained with him until they blocked him from the one statement that would have guaranteed him eternal pleasure.

This socializing based on love in this world, the fulfillment of desires from others, will change into enmity when the realities become manifest, and some of those who socialized will bite their hands in regret as the Almighty said:

“On the Day when the sinner will bite his hands saying: If only I had taken a way to the Messenger. Woe to me, if only I hadn’t taken so-and-so as a close friend. He misguided me from the Remembrance after it came to me.’ And Satan is forever a deserter of humans in their time of need.” (Soorah al-Furqaan, 25: 27-9)

He also said:

“Close friends on that Day will be foes of each other except the God-fearing.” (Soorah az-Zukhruf, 43: 67)

And He said:

“Indeed what you have taken besides Allaah is only idols. Love between you is only in this world, but on the Day of Resurrection you will disown each other and curse each other and your abode will be the fire and you will have no helpers.” (Soorah al-‘Ankaboot, 29: 25)

That is the state of those who share goals, they love each other as long they help each other to achieve it. But if the goal is cut off, it is followed by regret, sadness and pain, and that love will change into hatred, cursing, blame of one another, and the goals change into unhappiness and punishment, as is witnessed in this life in the states of those who share in khizyah failure, if they are caught and punished. Each supporter of falsehood, friendly regarding it, their mutual love must eventually change into hatred and enmity.

The useful defining principle in the matter of socializing is that one should mix with people in [acts of] goodness like Jumu‘ah, the ‘Eeds, Hajj, learning knowledge, Jihaad, giving advice; and avoid them in [acts of] evil, as well as unnecessary permissible things. If necessity requires mixing with them in evil and avoiding them is not possible, then beware, beware of agreeing with them. And be patient with their harm, for they must harm him if he does not have power or a helper. However, it is harm followed by honor and love for him, respect and praise for him from them, the believers, and from the Lord of the worlds.

Thus, patience with their harm is a better ending and a more praiseworthy conclusion. If necessity requires mixing with them in unnecessary permissible things, he should strive to transform the gathering into one of obedience to Allaah if it is possible, he should encourage himself and strengthen his heart, and not pay attention to the satanic whisper of discouragement which will prevent him from that, that this is riyaa showing off, a love of displaying one’s knowledge and state, etc., he should fight it and seek help from Almighty Allaah and try to affect them as positively as he can. If destiny prevents him from that, he should remove his heart from among them the way a hair is removed from dough. Among them he should be present yet absent, close yet far and asleep yet awake. He should look at them and not see them, hear their words but not be conscious of them, because he has removed his heart from among them and ascended with it to the uppermost hosts (al-mala’il-a‘laa) glorifying [Allaah] around the throne along with the pure celestial spirits. How difficult this is and trying for the souls, [yet] it is easy for whoever Allaah makes it easy. Between a slave and [that state] is that he be truthful to Allaah – Blessed and High – continually seeking refuge in Him, and that he throw his soul on [Allaah’s] doorstep in humility and tareeh. Nothing will help him to do that besides sincere love, continual remembrance of Allaah with the heart and tongue, and avoidance of the remaining four corrupters to be mentioned. He will achieve this except with righteous preparation and strong material from Allaah – Most Great and Glorious – and a truthful conviction, and freedom from attachment to other than Allaah, Most High. And Allaah Almighty knows best.

The Second Corrupter: Riding the Sea of Wishes
It is a sea without shores. It is the sea ridden by the bankrupt of the world. It is said: Wishes are the capital of the bankrupt, and its travel provisions are the promises of Satan, and impossible imaginations and falsehood. The wealth of false wishes and false imaginations continue to play with one who rides them the way that dogs play with a jeefah corpse. They are the supplies of every maheenah disgraced, khaseesah humiliated, low soul, having no conviction to achieve external realities. So it i‘taadat turned away from them with mental wishes. And everyone has it according to his state: From a wisher for power and authority, or travel and international travel, or wealth and valuables, or women and mardaan, The wisher imagines an image of what he desires in his mind, and he succeeds in creating it and takes pleasure in capturing it. While he is in this state he suddenly awakes to find his hand and al-haseer. (p. 446)

The one who has lofty/high conviction himmah his hopes pivot around knowledge and faith and deeds which will bring him closer to his Lord, and yudeenuhu min jiwaarih. These wishes are faith, light and wisdom, while the wishes of those are deception and delusion.

The Prophet (r) praised the one who wishes for good, and made his reward in some things similar to that of the one who actually does it, like the one who says: If I had money I would do as so-and-so does who fears his Lord regarding his wealth, strengthening family ties with it, and extracts from it what is required. He said: “Regarding reward, they are equal.” [4] The Prophet (r) wished in the Farewell Pilgrimage that he was doing Hajj Tamattu‘ and khalla and that he did not take a sacrificial animal with him, [5] as he was doing Hajj Qiraan. So Allaah gave him the reward of Qiraan which he did and the reward of Tamattu‘ which he wished for and combined for him both rewards.

The Third Corrupter: Attachment to Other Than Allaah
This is the absolute worst of the corrupters. There is none more harmful than attachment to other than Allaah, nor more able to cut the heart off from Allaah, and block it from what is beneficial to it and what will bring it true happiness. If a heart becomes attached to other than Allaah, Allaah makes him dependent on what he is attached to and he will be betrayed by it and he will not achieve what he was seeking from Allaah as long as he is attached to other than Allaah and turning to others besides Him. Thus, he will not obtain what he sought from Allaah nor will what he was attached to besides Allaah bring it for him

“And they have taken gods besides Allaah that they might give them honor, power and glory. No. But they will deny their worship of them and become opponents to them.” (Soorah Maryam, 19: 81-2)

“And they have taken besides Allaah gods hoping that they might be helped. They cannot help them but they will be brought forward as a troop against them.” (Soorah Yaaseen, 36: 74-5)

The person most betrayed is the one who is attached to other than Allaah. For what he missed of benefits, happiness and success is far greater that what he obtained from those to whom he was attached, and it is exposed to disappearance and loss. The example of one attached to other than Allaah is like one seeking shade from the heat and cold in a spider’s web (home), the weakest wahn of homes.

In general, the basis of idolatry and the foundation on which it is built is: Attachment to other than Allaah, and for the one who does so there is condemnation and betrayal, as stated by the Almighty:

“Do not set up with Allaah any other god or you will sit down reproved and forsaken.” (Soorah al-Israa, 17: 22)

“Reproved” without anyone to praise you, “forsaken” without anyone to help you. As some people may be forced while being praised, like one is forced by falsehood, and he could be forsaken while being helped [by Allaah], like one forced and falsehood has gained the upper hand over him, and he could be praised and supported like one becomes established and gains dominion by way of the truth. The idolater attached to other than Allaah, his is the vilest category, neither praised nor supported.

The Fourth Corrupter: Food
The corrupter of the heart is of two types:
One of them is that which corrupts it by itself like the forbidden which are two types:

  • Forbidden relative to Allaah like carcasses, blood, pork, wild animals that kill with the canine tooth [6]and birds that kill with claws.
  • Forbidden relative to Allaah’s slaves, like stolen, maghsoob, kidnapped, and what is taken without the permission of the owner either by force or by shame and blame.

The second is what corrupts as a result of its quantity and its exceeding limits, like wasting permissible things, excessive filling of the stomach, for it makes acts of obedience burdensome and it preoccupies the heart with muzaawalat mu’nat al-batnah chasing after belly desires and trying for it until it captures it. If it captures zafara it he becomes preoccupied with muzaawalat following its tasarruf activities and protecting the self from its harm, and being hurt by its weight, and it strengthens the elements of desire. It paves paths for Satan and expands them, for he moves among humans in the veins. Fasting narrows its passages and closes his paths and filling the stomach paves paths and widens them. Whoever eats a lot, drinks a lot, sleeps a lot and loses a lot. In the famous hadeeth:

No human fills a container worse than his stomach. Two small portions of food to straighten his backbone are sufficient. If he must [eat more], then let it be a third for food, a third for drink and a third for breathing.” [7]

It is said that [on one occasion] Iblees – may Allaah curse him – met Yahyaa, son of Zakariyyaa – peace be upon them – and Yahyaa asked him: “Did you take anything from me.” He replied: “No, except one night when food was presented to you, I made it so desirable to you that you ate your fill and you went sleep without making your regular supplications.” Yahyaa said: “I swear by Allaah that I will never eat my fill again.” Iblees then said: “As for me, I swear by Allaah that I will never advise another human again.”

The Fifth Corrupter: Excessive Sleep
It deadens the heart, makes the body heavy, wastes time, and gives birth to a lot of negligence and laziness. Some [types] of sleep are extremely disliked, and some are harmful to the body. The best form of sleep is what takes place when there exists a strong need for it. Sleep at the beginning of the night is more praiseworthy and beneficial than at the end of the night, and sleep in the middle of the day is better than at its beginning and end tarafayhi. The closer sleep is to the beginning and ending of the day the less the benefit and the more the harm. [This is] especially the case for sleeping in the after noon (‘asr) and sleeping at the beginning of the day, except for one who stayed awake all night.

And among the disliked aspects, according to the scholars, is sleep between Salaatul-Fajr and sunrise, for it is a time of special reward.[8] For that time escape, among the saalikeen (travellers), is a great loss maziyyah. Even if they traveled all night they would not allow sitting down from the journey sayr at that time until sunrise, because it is the beginning of the day and its key. [It is] the time for provisions to be sent down [and distributed], the time for obtaining portions and the descent of blessings, and from it the day is established. The ruling regarding the whole day is [based on] the ruling regarding that portion. One should only sleep at that time if one is forced.

In general, the most balanced/moderate (a‘dal) and beneficial form of sleep, is sleep during the first portion of the night and the last sixth of the night. According to medical practitioners, the length of the most balanced form of sleep should be eight hours. In their view, more [sleep] than that or less than that will cause deviation in one’s natural disposition according to it bihasabihi.

Among the forms of sleep that are not beneficial also, is sleep in the first part of the night shortly after sunset until fahmatul-‘ishaa the darkness of ‘Ishaa goes. The Messenger of Allaah (r) used to dislike it.[9] So it is disliked according to the Sharee‘ah and naturally.

As excessive sleep causes these defects aafaat, putting aside sleep and abandoning it causes other major defects like bad temperament, yabsihi dry personality and a warped disposition, as well as drying up of the humors [10] which aid in understanding and work, and it leads to illnesses mutlifah which will prevent one afflicted from benefiting either with his heart or body.

Existence [of the world] was established on the basis of justice (‘adl), so whoever adheres to moderation has grabbed his portion of the confluence of good.

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 September 2006 )

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Source: http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/engblue/article.php?lang=E&id=92760

“Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.” [Quran 17:23]

In Islam, it is obligatory for us to show kindness, respect, and obedience to our parents. The position of parents, and the mutual obligations and responsibilities, have been addressed in Islam in great detail. In fact, kindness and obedience is so strongly emphasized that Allaah has linked showing gratitude to one’s parents with showing gratitude to Allaah. In the Noble Quran, Almighty Allaah Says (which means):

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) return.” [Quran 31:14]

Sadly, we are living in a time where children speaking disrespectfully to their parents and about their parents, is the norm rather than the exception. However, Islam places great emphasis on respectful and considerate behaviour to even our enemies, so to not uphold the obligations laid down by Allaah to our parents is actually one of the major sins.

In the Quran

Let’s see what the Quran says about parents. “This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allaah.” [Quran 2:02] 

Treat parents with honour and speak to them graciously and with humility

Allaah Says (which means):

“Your Lord hath decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say:  My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” [Quran 17:23]

Be grateful to parents but do not obey them if they strive to make you associate anything with Allaah

Allaah also Says (which means):

“…Be grateful to Me and to both your parents; to Me is the eventual coming. But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the end the return of you all is to Me, then will I inform you of what you did.” [Quran 31:15]

These verses make it clear that we must honour our parents, appreciate their sacrifices and efforts for us, and do our best for them. This is required regardless of whether they are Muslims or not.

Be good to parents and everyone whom you meet

The Quran states (which means):

“Worship Allaah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allaah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” [Quran 4:36]

If the Quran tells us to be good to a stranger, then how can we even think of disrespecting our parents?

Hadeeth

Let’s see what Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said about parents in the authentic Hadeeth (narrations). Almighty Allaah Says (which means): “Whatsoever the Prophet gives you, take it and whatsoever he forbids you, refrain from it.” [Quran 59:7]

Undutifulness to parents is a major sin

Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated from Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  about the major sins. He (the Prophet) observed: ‘Associating anyone (or anything) with Allaah, undutifulness to parents, killing a person and false utterance.’ [Muslim]

One of the dearest deeds to Allaah is being good and dutiful to parents

‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated: I asked the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  “Which deed is the dearest to Allaah?” He replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” I asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents” [Al-Bukhaari]

Being dutiful to parents is one of the keys to enter Paradise

Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reported Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  as saying: Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust. It was said: O Allaah’s Messenger, who is he? He said: He who accompanies either of his parents during their old age or one of them, but he does not enter Paradise (by being undutiful to them). [Muslim]

Acts of kindness we can do for our parents after their death

A man of the tribe of Salamah came to Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  and said: ‘O Apostle of Allaah! Is there any kindness left that I can do to my parents after their death?’ He replied: ‘Yes, you can invoke blessings on them, forgiveness for them, fulfill their promises and pledges (to do righteous deeds), maintain ties with kinfolk for the mere reason of being dutiful to them (i.e. parents), and honour their friends.’ [Abu Daawood] 

The High Status given to Mothers

A man came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  and asked him for permission to fight Jihaad. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  asked him if he had a mother, and when he replied affirmatively, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )  said, “Stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet (i.e. she is the way leading to it).” [Ahmad]

Summary

Sometimes we may take our parents for granted and overlook their importance. As Muslims, we should constantly be alert to guard ourselves from sins; however, are we guarding ourselves from one of the biggest major sins? Are we honouring and respecting our parents as per their right? Or are we neglecting one of the dearest deeds to Allaah?  

Right now the choice is ours!

We ask Allaah the Most High, the All-Powerful, to teach us that which will benefit us, and to benefit us by that which we learn.

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Bismillah, Alhamdulillah, Was-Salaatu Was-Sallaam ala’ Rasoolillah

Almost every Masjid in America, irrespective of ideological persuasion or nationality, has some semblance of an Islamic Studies program for their youth. Some Masajid are more developed in this regard, offering full-time schools and evening classes to accompany their normal weekend classes. Others are just getting started with their own Sunday or Saturday School programs and I pray that Allah Assists them in that effort.

Having grown up under the Sunday/Saturday School system, I have come to notice that the majority of these programs were originally designed for younger children between kindergarten and sixth grade. Thats why you have a lot of the community aunties and some uncles dedicating their time to teach the children the basics of their deen.

Now what generally has happened already or is starting to happen is that a lot of communities realize that the older children in middle school and high school need education just as badly as the youth. Many of the high school/college aged youth have fallen prey to popular culture and Haram actions like dating and drinking. InshaAllah, i wanted to talk a little bit about my experiences having taught this age group and hopefully get some feedback from others who have done so as well since I’ve found that there aren’t many good Islamic materials to teach middle school and high school aged kids with.

I have taught three different age groups as an Islamic Studies teacher which are 9th and 10th grade, 5th and 6th grade, and 11th and 12th grade, all of them were boys classes. What I have noticed is that the amount of Islamic knowledge that the children had at the beginning of the year didn’t necessarily correspond directly to their age, meaning that just because a student was old did not mean that they knew more than younger children. In fact, all of the classes I taught had students who didnt know how to make wudu, pray correctly (fatiha, tashahud, etc), or the five pillars. Such a reality makes it difficult to teach fun topics like seerah and lives of the prophets knowing that the students cant even pray right. The Islamic Studies class I taught ran for two hours so what I ended up doing was beginning the year by going through the basics of tahara and salah for the first hour of class and going through the hadith of Jibril during the second hour. For tahara, I used to use the book ‘Pillars of Islam and Imaan’ by Shaykh Jamaal Zeno but then came across an excellent set of powerpoint presentations designed to teach people tahara and salah put together by Shaykh Abdul Muneim Al-Ameen who teaches at Dar Al-Hijrah every Monday night in Falls Church, VA.  The slides are excellent and are done in plain English with good explanations.  I presented to the school last year to make them standard for the entire schools curriculum and they are still thinking about it for the coming year.  If anyone needs a copy of the presentations, I have them on my hard drive and will send them out upon request.

For the hadith of Jibril, I used the book ‘He Came to Teach You Your Religion’ by Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo which goes really in depth.  To use this book you have to make sure to take notes before class summarizing the main points and incorporating analogies/stories that the students can relate to.

For the rest of the school year, I found Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaki’s CD Sets to be amongst the best resources because you can prepare for teaching on the road during the week and take notes the night before you teach.   As I mentioned before, Lives of the Prophets and Seerah are two topics that, if taught properly, engage students at a much higher level than drier topics like Fiqh.

Most of the students who come to the weekend program come by force.  For that reason I try to avoid giving out homework assignments.  Instead, to help students digest the information better I used to prepare quizzes almost every week and make them really difficult.  The point of doing this was so the students could review every week whats been taught and what they’ve learned.    This also gives you a good indication of what you taught the students well and what topics they struggled with.  Unfortunately this approach will leave you with a lot of grading and I personally found grading to be more time consuming than putting the exams or quizzes together.  It’s very easy to procrastinate on grading and it’s a problem that I fell into many times.  After a while if you stop grading and returning the quizzes or exams, the students will stop taking them seriously so be sure to grade as much as possible.

One of the best resources on teaching techniques is the CD set by Shaykh Muhammad AlShareef called ’21 teaching methods’ which I found to be very helpful as well.

Allahu Alim, these are the main suggestions and ideas I had from my teaching days(and Insha’Allah they aren’t done!)  and I just thought that sharing them might be beneficial to others teaching in similar schools elsewhere.

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Alhamdulillah, Was Salaatu was Salaam ala’ Rasoolillah

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an evening lecture by Imam Siraj Wahhaj at my local masjid (the ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA) regarding MANA, a Muslim organization committed to providing social services and education to the less fortunate. The speech was truly incredible and left many speechless. It’s so amazing that after all these years Imam Siraj still has the ability to captivate audiences, young and old, with his style.

It got me thinking about the times when I wasn’t very practicing in High School. It was around 10th or 11th grade that I began contemplating my situation in life and how I needed to become more practicing. I can honestly say that one of the most important motivating factors was that of Imam Siraj’s tape lectures. I always considered him cool, especially since I had fallen prey to the hip hop culture, and liked the fervor with which he spoke. After I became more practicing, his tapes were always in my car and I used to listen to them all the time.

At this point in my life, though still young, I rarely listen to motivation lectures anymore. When I’m in my car I listen to Quran CD’s or CD sets and try to strive for deeper knowledge than what a single motivational lecture can provide. That said, one-time lectures can provide an immense emaan rush (almaghrib students know what I’m talking about) and last night was definitely an example of that for me.

Last night’s lecture also got me thinking about how blessed we are to have someone like Imam Siraj Wahhaj in this ummah. His hours spent in the way of Allah are countless and I pray that Allah Preserves him and Allows him to continually benefit people for years to come. Ameen.

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