بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yes, that title might sound highly unusual.
It’s an English saying which means making the most out of an opportunity.
Imagine if you went to a park and found lots of little gold coins on the ground. What would you do?
Well, you know what you’d do. You’d try to pick up as many coins as possible.
Imagine if you went to a food exhibition and they were offering free fruits. [Ironically, this actually happened here once!] What would you do?
You’d try to get your hands on as many fruits as you possibly could, that’s would you’d do.
Okay, that’s what we do with gold coins and fruits. What do many people do with regards to Ramadan?
It’s Shaban 29th. Maghrib comes.
Nobody is sure if it’s Ramadan or not.
Most people just twiddle their thumbs and wait for the announcement, instead of realising that they should increase in their ibaadah (worship) as Ramadan might have already started. And if not, then at least this will help them prepare for it.
What happens once people know that it’s Ramadan? Well, for many people, nothing happens. They wait until the next day to start fasting because they think that this is when Ramadan begins.
Then they proceed to be very active in the first few days and do taraweeh every night.
After that? Well, many people tend to drop off the radar only to return in time for the 27th night.
Then on the 29th of Ramadan after Maghrib, everyone twiddles their thumbs yet again waiting for an Eid announcement, not realising that if it’s still Ramadan (i.e. it’s not Eid the next day), they need to make use of its final hours.
The minutes of Ramadan are more precious than those gold coins so why do we treat them like nothing???
We need to use our time wisely – right from the beginning of Ramadan until the end, when the moon of Shawwal is spotted.
We need to remember to use the mornings and the nights for good deeds.
We need to pace ourselves so that we steadily increase in worship throughout the month and peak in the last ten nights.
We need to make the best out of every situation whether it is at work, in the car, in the kitchen, in university, etc.
The amazing thing about our purpose of life (i.e worshipping Allah alone) is that we can do it anywhere, at any time, in any circumstance, and in any age. [This is one of the main purposes of Ramadan – to remind us of our purpose in life and to remind us to use our time in pursuing this goal.]
So, we should use every opportunity possible.
In the car? Listen to a nice Islamic lecture.
Stuck in a queue? Do istighfar (seek forgiveness).
Stuck in the kitchen? Do tasbeeh (say “subhan Allah”).
At work? Well, do your work properly and in a good way, knowing that we’ve been commanded to do all things well.
At university? Same as above.
Got stuck in a conversation with your elderly highly-talkative neighbour whom you find very annoying? Talk to them politely and remember that neighbours have rights and that we’ve been commanded to be good to the elderly. This conversation will then turn into an act of worship (I’m assuming that the neighbour is of the same gender as you) and will be a witness for you instead of being a witness against you.
In short: Milk every minute for what it’s worth. In this Ramadan and even beyond that.
Perhaps Ramadan has already begun for some of you (it hasn’t where I am).
Ramadan Mubarak to all of you.
May Allah grant us tawfeeq (guidance) in this great month.
PS. After much thought, I’ve decided to blog only for the first 7 days and then stop for the rest of Ramadan. That’s because I spent far too much time blogging the last two Ramadans and did not spend enough time with the Quran.So this year, I’m going to be rectifying that, insha-Allah.
I’ll be continuing with the Lords of the Worlds series as promised but just for the first 7 days, insha-Allah.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yep, Ramadan is 3-4 days away.
How do you feel?
Are you EXCITED?
Or are you stressed? Anxious? Nervous? Worried about getting ready? Dreading that Ramadan is so close?
Stop thinking so much. [Okay, I’m the last person who should be saying that…]
This is the best of months.
The most awesome time of the year.
The month where it’s easy to worship Allah.
The month where the doors of Paradise are opened.
The month where those annoying devils are chained up.
I could go on and on but I won’t.
All I have to say is:
Your condition should NOT be:
Rather it should be:
Too often, I’ve noticed that we don’t take enough pleasure in practicing Islam.
[This is something that I noticed in the survey answers and will discuss this in the Step by Step series when I resume it after Hajj season, insha-Allah. I did talk about this issue in this post and in this one though.]
Let’s change that this year.
Let’s feel excited that we’re going to be fasting.
Let’s feel excited that we’ll be doing taraweeh.
Let’s feel excited that we’ll get another chance at Laylatul Qadr.
In short: Instead of dreading the fact that Ramadan is so close, let’s get excited and feel happy that the Greatest Month is practically at our doorsteps!
Remember, we are:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Subhan Allah, there’s only 4-5 more days to go before Ramadan is here.
Only 4-5 days.
If we haven’t started working, we need to start NOW for two reasons:
1) We can’t guarantee that we’ll be alive that long.
Subhan Allah, Ramadan is so close…and yet it’s so far away. We won’t reach it until we actually DO reach it.
2) I’m sorry but we can’t wait for the moon to be sighted in order to start increasing in worship.
That’s too late because that means we’ll be using Ramadan to adjust to our new schedules, whereas we should already have adjusted by then!
We need to start improving our prayers NOW.
We need to start increasing in recitation of the Quran NOW.
We need to start increasing in giving charity NOW.
[We also need to ditch those sins (random examples: smoking, listening to music, backbiting, etc) NOW.]
What are you (and I) waiting for?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Important note: I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention this one more time. I do not like any men unnecessarily submitting comments. By “unnecessary” I mean anything other than offering required constructive criticism or a needed clarification on a post. As for advice or resources, then they should ask another brother. This should have been obvious but it seems that some people need to be told before they can understand.
From now on, I’ll delete all comments from those who are obviously brothers (sometimes their usernames don’t hint at the gender) unless, as mentioned above, it is required constructive criticism or a needed clarification on a post. This is to avoid any sort of fitnah (trial).]
Some examples of how knowledge benefits us during Ramadan
[Okay, so this part is where I finally link the “Ramadan” to the “Seek knowledge” part.]
So here are some different ways that knowledge can change a so-so Ramadan into a great Ramadan:
[Note: Once again, I’ll be summarising the issue and won’t be mentioning some of the proofs due to time constraints. I have linked to some fatwas though. If you need a particular proof, please do ask.]
1) A “normal” act can be changed to an act of worship by changing one’s intention.
– The intention can make or break a good act.
[Please note: I said “good” act. We can’t disobey Allah and say “But our intentions were good!” Disobedience is disobedience. Allah does not accept evil actions, rather he only accepts the good ones.
إن الله طيب لا يقبل إلا طيبا
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 2214]
So, I am only referring to halal (lawful) acts and not haram (unlawful acts) when I say “normal” act.]
إنما الأعمال بالنية ، وإنما لامرئ ما نوى ، فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، ومن كانت هجرته إلى دنيا يصيبها ، أو امرأة يتزوجها ، فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه
Narrated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 51]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Some of the problems with the way knowledge is sought today (contd.)
5) Not submitting oneself to Allah
It might seem strange that I’ve put this here so let me explain.
The whole purpose of life is to worship Allah, which means we need to submit to His orders. So, if we seek knowledge, that means we want to increase in worship and submission.
The people of the past differed AFTER the knowledge came to them. Before that, they were one big happy family following falsehood. After the truth came, they split up into two parties: one following the truth and one opposing it.
وَلَقَدْ بَوَّأْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدْقٍ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ فَمَا اخْتَلَفُوا حَتَّىٰ جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ
“And indeed We settled the Children of Israel in an honourable dwelling place , and provided them with good things, and they differed not until the knowledge came to them. Verily, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection in that in which they used to differ.” [Surah Yunus (10) : 93]
[You can read Imam As-Saadi’s tafsir (explanation) of this ayah (verse) here.]
So, this knowledge needs to make us submit to the truth, even if it opposes our “logic” and desires. [By the way, not a single aspect of Islam contradicts the SOUND intellect.]
Allah has warned us against those who follow their “logic” and desires:
فَإِن لَّمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يَتَّبِعُونَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
“But if they answer you not (i.e. do not believe in your doctrine of Islamic Monotheism, nor follow you), then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allah? Verily! Allah guides not the people who are dhaalimoon (wrong-doers, disobedient to Allah, and polytheists).” [Surah Al-Qasas (28) : 50]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Some of the problems with the way knowledge is sought today (contd.)
4) Seeking knowledge in the 21st century way and not the way of the salaf (predecessors)
Okay, I wasn’t sure how to phrase this.
First, let me explain how the earlier generations used to seek knowledge and then I’ll mention what we (21st century humans) do instead.
[Please note: I’m NOT referring to using the Internet and such stuff. What I’m referring to is the mentality that we have today towards seeking knowledge.]
a) They learnt the knowledge of Islam in ARABIC because the Quran, Sunnah and books of the scholars are in ARABIC.
What do many of us do today? We wait for the books to get translated so that we can study them!
Listen, I have to say this. It’s going to sound nasty and rough but it’s for your own good:
Please learn Arabic. If you don’t then it won’t matter if all the books of Islam were translated, because they are ALL dependent on the language.The Quran, for example, is a linguistic miracle. The language that carries this miracle is Arabic. How can you translate that??? Ever heard of the term “lost in translation”?
You don’t have to be able to speak or write but you should be able to read books and listen to lectures. It’s okay if the whole process takes two decades. Let it. How many years have you wasted just dreaming about learning Arabic and waiting for books to get translated?
And no, Arabic is not hard. Allah said it was easy so that’s that.
وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ
“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” [Surah Al-Qamar (54) :17]
If the Quran is easy to understand, then obviously the language of the Quran is also easy to understand. [By the way, Allah repeats this ayah (verse) FOUR times in this Surah. Ponder away.]
[I’ve already proven this silly notion (about Arabic being difficult) wrong in this post.]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Some of the problems with the way knowledge is sought today
[The difference between the previous section (in Part 3) and this one is that the former discussed those who were NOT seeking knowledge, whereas the latter will discuss those who are already seeking knowledge.]
1) Seeking knowledge as a “fashion”
[One of my friends asked me to mention this on my blog. I told her that I was already planning to!]
What do I mean by this? Well, it seems that these days it’s all the trend to be a “student of knowledge”.
People attend a one week crash course on Islam and after that, they appoint themselves muftis of their area…
[It seems that everyone is trying to win the “How many fatwas can I pass in an hour” award.]
Subhan Allah, is this what knowledge is sought for? So that we can show everyone how “knowledgeable” and “pious” we are? Sadly, it seems that for some people, this is indeed the case.
Brothers and sisters, Islamic knowledge is not sought to increase us in the coolness factor, but rather to increase in the khashya (fear of Allah) factor:
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّـهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ
“It is only those who have knowledge among his slaves that fear Allah.” [Surah Faatir (35) : 28]
So, as I mentioned in the last part, we need to keep our intentions in check. We shouldn’t be doing this to get entrance into celebrity shaikhdom.
2) Having bad thoughts about Allah
Many people today have very low ambitions with regards to seeking knowledge.
Instead of doing dua (supplication) to Allah, relying upon Him and having good thoughts about Him (i.e. that He would fulfill your duas and make it easy for you to get knowledge), many people just give up because they think they can’t do any better. They think seeking knowledge is very difficult.
What happens after this? Well, seeking knowledge does indeed become very difficult for them and they barely get to the low standard that they set for themselves.
They assume that they were right all along, when in reality, this difficulty arose as a punishment for them due to their bad thoughts about Allah.
يقول الله تعالى : أنا عند ظن عبدي بي ، وأنا معه إذا ذكرني ، فإن ذكرني في نفسه ذكرته في نفسي ، وإن ذكرني في ملأ ذكرته في ملأ خير منهم ، وإن تقرب إلي شبرا تقربت إليه ذراعا ، وإن تقرب إلي ذراعا تقربت إليه باعا ، وإن أتاني يمشي أتيته هرولة
مَا قَدَرُوا اللَّـهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
“They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” [Surah Al-Hajj (22) : 74]
This story (make sure to read until the end) will help you understand what I mean.
So, please Brothers and Sisters, have good thoughts about Allah and have high ambitions with regards to seeking knowledge.
3) Seeking knowledge from the wrong sources
This knowledge was sent down by Allah, the Most High, so we need to make sure we get it from the right sources.
What are the main sources? Well, the Quran and the Sunnah obviously. This is what Allah has ordered us to refer to.
[The Sunnah is the way of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahi alaihi wasallam). The Sunnah has been transmitted to us via the authentic ahadeeth (plural of hadeeth).]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Surah An-Nisaa (4) : 59]
[Note: “Those who are in authority” refers to the rulers and the scholars.]
Some people have been misled to believe that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) only came with the Quran. They don’t believe in following the Sunnah.
If we are not required to follow the Sunnah, then why does Allah say:
مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ
وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ
“Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.” [Surah An-Najm (53) : 2-4]
And why does He say:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّـهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّـهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّـهَ كَثِيرًا
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Surah Al-Ahzab (33) : 21]
Unfortunately, some of these individuals (they call themselves “Quraniyoon” although they are far from being the people of the Quran!) will still reject all the ahadeeth (which is very dangerous because rejecting the Sunnah in its totality is major disbelief that expels a person from the fold of Islam).
Subhan Allah, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallan) warned us about such people!
ألا إني أوتيت الكتاب ومثله معه ، ألا يوشك رجل شبعان على أريكته يقول : عليكم بهذا القرآن ، فما وجدتم فيه من حلال فأحلوه ، وما وجدتم فيه من حرام فحرموه ، ألا لا يحل لكم لحم الحمار الأهلي ، ولا كل ذي ناب من السبع ، ولا لقطة معاهد ، إلا أن يستغني عنها صاحبها ، ومن نزل بقوم فعليهم أن يقروه ، فإن لم يقروه فله أن يغصبهم بمثل قراه
It was narrated from Al-Miqdam ibn Madi Yakrib (radiallahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Verily, I have been given the Book and something like it with it, but soon a satiated man will be on his couch and he will say: ‘You should adhere to this Quran. Whatever you find permitted in it, take it as permissible, and whatever you find forbidden in it, take it as forbidden.’
But Lo! The domesticated donkey is not permissible for you (to eat), nor every predator that has fangs, not the lost property of a muahid (non-Muslim with whom there is a covenant) unless its owner has given it up.
Whoever stops among a people, they are obliged to entertain him, and if they do not entertain him, then he has the right to take from them an amount equivalent to that which they should have entertained him.” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4604. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4604.]
لا ألفين أحدكم متكئا على أريكته يأتيه الأمر من أمري مما أمرت به أو نهيت عنه فيقول : لا ندري ما وجدنا في كتاب الله اتبعناه
It was narrated from Ubaidullah ibn Abee Rafi from his father that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Let me not find one of you reclining on his couch, and when he hears of a command that I have enjoined or a prohibition that I have issued, he says: ‘We do not know; what we find in the Book of Allah, we follow.'” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4605. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4605.]
Of course, these people are unmoved by the above narrations because they don’t believe in them!
من أطاعني فقد أطاع الله ، ومن عصاني فقد عصى الله
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “He who obeys me, obeys Allah, and he who disobeys me, disobeys Allah.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 4, Hadeeth No. 204]
So, it makes no difference whether the order or prohibition is mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah, as they both have the same legal weight (i.e. nobody can use “It’s not in the Quran, it’s only in the Sunnah” as an excuse).
Note: The ahadeeth have been gathered in many books by the early scholars. Some of these books like Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim contain only authentic ahadeeth. However, the others contain both authentic and inauthentic (weak) ahadeeth, so one needs to check the scholars’ gradings of each hadeeth to determine its authenticity.
For example, if they say that it is “sahih” or “hasan” then that means that it is authentic. If they say “daeef” or “mawdoo” then this hadeeth is not accepted as it is not authentic. Of course, there are times when there is disagreement over the authenticity of a hadeeth.
To know more about this issue, one would need to study a subject called “Usool Al-Hadeeth”. I’ll discuss this in more detail in Part 6, insha-Allah.
Okay, so we’re all agreed that we need to follow the Quran and Sunnah. How do we interpret them though?
Do we use our own logic and desires? Or do we follow someone?
The answer is that we follow the the Quran and Sunnah according to the understanding of the Sahaabah (the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Why, you ask? Well, when Allah revealed the Quran and Sunnah (yes, this is also revelation), they were revealed with a particular understanding. Who better to ask than the generation that accompanied the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and lived the events that surrounded the revelation of the Quran?
We know that Allah is pleased with them so how can we put our own understanding over theirs, when we don’t even know our own status before Allah and whether or not He is pleased with us???
Also, Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) have praised the Sahaabah and asked us to follow them:
خير الناس قرني ، ثم الذين يلونهم ، ثم الذين يلونهم ، ثم يجيء من بعدهم قوم : تسبق شهادتهم أيمانهم ، وأيمانهم شهادتهم
Narrated by Abdullah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said, “The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation), and then after them, there will come people whose witness will precede their oaths, and whose oaths will precede their witness.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 437]
[Note: The first three generations are called the Sahaabah (the Companions), the Tabieen (the followers i.e. those that accompanied the Sahaabah) and the Atbaa At-Tabieen (the followers of the followers i.e. those that accompanied the Tabieen). These three generations are often referred to as the “Salaf” (i.e. the predecessors). So, we understand Islam according to the understanding of the Salaf due to the fact that they were singled out by the Prophet (sallallalahu alaihi wasallam).
When we say “Salaf”, we mean the whole group, not just one person. Hence, if they all agreed on a matter, we follow their opinion. End of discussion.]
[Note #2: It seems that today some people have become so brave that they think nothing of saying bad things about the Sahaabah. If we truly believe in Allah and the Last day, then we need to keep our mouths shut with regards to the Prophets (alaihissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). These are the people that are the most beloved to Allah so we should never even dream of saying anything negative about any of them.]
وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajiroon (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajiroon) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [Surah At-Tawbah (9) :100]
أتينا العرباض بن سارية ، وهو ممن نزل فيه ولا على الذين إذا ما أتوك لتحملهم قلت لا أجد ما أحملكم عليه فسلمنا ، وقلنا : أتيناك ؛ زائرين ، وعائدين ، ومقتبسين . فقال العرباض : صلى بنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات يوم ، ثم أقبل علينا ، فوعظنا موعظة بليغة ، ذرفت منها العيون ، ووجلت منها القلوب . فقال قائل : يا رسول الله ! كأن هذه موعظة مودع ، فماذا تعهد إلينا ؟ فقال : أوصيكم بتقوى الله والسمع والطاعة وإن عبدا حبشيا ، فإنه من يعش منكم بعدي فسيرى اختلافا كثيرا ، فعليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء المهديين الراشدين تمسكوا بها ، وعضوا عليها بالنواجذ ، وإياكم ومحدثات الأمور فإن كل محدثة بدعة ، وكل بدعة ضلالة
Abdur Rahman ibn Amr As-Sulami and Hujr ibn Hujr said: “We came to Al-Irbaad ibn Saariyah who was one of those concerning whom the ayah (verse)
وَلَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَا أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لَا أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ
“Nor (is there blame) on those who came to you to be provided with mounts, and when you said: ‘I can find no mounts for you,’…” [Surah At-Tawbah (9): 92]
was revealed. We greeted him and said: ‘We have come to you, to visit you, and benefit from you.’ Al-Irbaad said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) led us in prayer one day, then he turned to face us, and he exhorted us in an eloquent speech upon which our eyes filled with tears, and our hearts filled with fear. Someone said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is as if this is a farewell address. What do you enjoin upon us?’ He said: ‘I enjoin you to fear Allah, and to hear and obey, even if (the leader appointed over you) be an Ethiopian slave. Whoever among you lives after I am gone will see great disputes. You must adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the rightly guided khalifas. Hold on to it and cling fast to it. And beware of newly invented matters, for every newly invented matter is an innovation, and even innovation is a deviation.'” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4607. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4607.]
[The rightly guided khalifas are Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Al-Affan and Ali ibn Abee Taalib (radiallahu anhum), the four best Companions. Other scholars also added Al-Hasan ibn Alee ibn Abee Taalib (radiallahu anhu) as one of the rightly guided khalifas as some ahadeeth point to the rightly guided caliphate as totaling 30 years and the first four khalifas only total 29.5 years in their rule so they added the 6 months of Al-Hasan’s rule to that.]
This isn’t the only hadeeth where the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) foretold the fitnah (trials and tribulations). The following hadeeth is something that should really stun us into action:
ليأتين على أمتي ما أتى على بني إسرائيل حذو النعل بالنعل حتى إن كان منهم من أتى أمه علانية لكان في أمتي من يصنع ذلك . وإن بني إسرائيل تفرقت على ثنتين وسبعين ملة ، وتفترق أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين ملة كلهم في النار إلا ملة واحدة ، قال من هي يا رسول الله ؟ قال : ما أنا عليه وأصحابي
Abdullah ibn Amr (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “What befell Bani Israil will befall my Ummah (nation), step by step, such that if there was one who had intercourse with his mother in the open, there would be someone from my Ummah who would do that. Indeed, Bani Israil split into 72 sects and my Ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them in the Fire except one sect.” He (Abdullah ibn Amr) said: “And which is it, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “What I and my Companions are upon.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2641. Graded ‘hasan’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2641.]
والذي نفس محمد بيده لتفترقن أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة واحدة في الجنة وثنتان وسبعون في النار قيل يا رسول الله من هم قال الجماعة
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): “I swear by the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, my Ummah will split into 73 sects, one in Paradise and 72 in the Fire.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He said: “Al-Jamaah (the main body)”. [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 3992. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 3992.]
A few points about this hadeeth:
1) The saved sect is referred to as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (the people of the Sunnah) and the other sects are generally referred to as Ahlul Bidaa (the people of innovation). Of course, Ahlul Bidaa is composed of several sects like the Shia, the Sufis, etc. And of course, sects like the Shia and the Sufis are composed of even more sub-sects…
2) People should not assume that these 73 sects are all equal sized! It could be that some of them are large whilst others have a few followers.
Ahlus Sunnah, on the other hand, is quite large, because the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) called them “Al-Jamaah”.
3) “In the fire” does not necessarily mean that all these sects and those who follow them are out of the fold of Islam. Some of them are but many of them are not. As the scholars pointed out, some of these will remain in the fire forever (i.e. as they exited the fold of Islam) but many of them will be there for a time and not for eternity as they were still Muslims.
4) For those who are always confused about all the different groups and who to follow, the answer is provided in this hadeeth: Follow the Sahaabah.
When the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) or the scholars after them agreed over a particular issue, we are obliged to follow that opinion because Allah says:
وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” [Surah An-Nisaa (4) : 115]
So, we need to make sure that we follow the ijmaa (consensus) of the scholars.
What about if we have some questions? Who do we ask? After all, the Salaf aren’t around!
Well, we ask the people of knowledge:
فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“So ask of those who know the Scripture if you know not.” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 43]
Subhan Allah, we need to take advantage of the true scholars before they die, because this is how the knowledge is taken away – with their deaths:
سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : إن الله لا يقبض العلم انتزاعا ينتزعه من العباد ، ولكن يقبض العلم بقبض العلماء ، حتى إذا لم يبق عالما ، اتخذ الناس رؤوسا جهالا ، فسئلوا ، فأفتوا بغير علم ، فضلوا وأضلوا
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas (radiallahu anhuma): I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” [ٍSahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 100]
And we should make sure to ask TRUSTWORTHY scholars not just anybody:
عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِيرِينَ، قَالَ إِنَّ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ دِينٌ فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأْخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ
Muhammad ibn Sireen said, ““Knowledge is religion so be careful from whom you take your religion” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 26 of the Introduction]
This statement of Muhammad ibn Sireen is a rule that we should all live by. After all, who do we take our knowledge from? How did we judge whether they were upon the truth or not?
So, to all the readers, please apply this principle to every place where you get any sort of Islamic information – starting from this blog. [Yes, of course, you need to apply this principle to this blog as well. You thought I was going to exclude myself from the scrutiny?]
The scholars have a saying: The truth is not known by men. Men are known by the truth.
This means that you don’t take the person as being right and then follow him in everything. Rather you put the Quran and the Sunnah first, and then follow the person based on that.
After all, just because someone talks nicely and seems to be knowledgeable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right.
أنه قدم رجلان من المشرق فخطبا ، فعجب الناس لبيانهما ، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( إن من البيان لسحرا ، أو : إن بعض البيان لسحر )
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (radialalhu anhuma): Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches. On that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Some eloquent speech is as effective as magic.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 7, Hadeeth No. 662]
This hadeeth points to the dangers of those who are eloquent upon falsehood (it’s okay to be eloquent upon the truth), because these people will then mislead others due to their eloquence despite their lack of proofs from the Quran and the Sunnah. A very common occurrence these days!
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) warned us about these liars:
“ سَيَكُونُ فِي آخِرِ أُمَّتِي أُنَاسٌ يُحَدِّثُونَكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَسْمَعُوا أَنْتُمْ وَلاَ آبَاؤُكُمْ فَإِيَّاكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “There will be in the latter part of my Ummah a people that will relate to you ahadeeth of which you and your fathers never heard previously. So let you and them beware.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 15 of the Introduction]
“ يَكُونُ فِي آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ دَجَّالُونَ كَذَّابُونَ يَأْتُونَكُمْ مِنَ الأَحَادِيثِ بِمَا لَمْ تَسْمَعُوا أَنْتُمْ وَلاَ آبَاؤُكُمْ فَإِيَّاكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ لاَ يُضِلُّونَكُمْ وَلاَ يَفْتِنُونَكُمْ ”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “There will be in the last days liars and fabricators. They will come to you with ahadeeth of which you never heard, you or your fathers, so let you and them beware that they will not misguide you, and be a trial for you.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 16 of the Introduction]
So, we need to be cautious.
[Note: For those who would like to read more about this issue, a good place to start is the book where three of these ahadeeth are from: The Introduction to Sahih Muslim. This wasn’t been translated in the older versions of Sahih Muslim, but has been translated in the new Darussalam translation. However, you can read a separate translation of it here. You can read the ahadeeth in Arabic here.]
Now, someone might ask: How do we know which scholars to follow?
Insha-Allah, I’ll mention some tips (yes, tips not names) on how to do that in Part 6. However, the first way would be to do dua to Allah asking Him to guide you to the truth.
And Allah knows Better.
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[In case any of you are still wondering HOW seeking knowledge will improve your Ramadan, I’ll discuss that (with examples) in Part 6, insha-Allah.]
Some of the major obstacles to seeking knowledge
1. A kharban niyyah
Sorry, I meant to say “A messed up intention”.
This is the main reason for not getting anywhere with regards to seeking knowledge (or anything else for that matter).
من تعلم علما مما يبتغى به وجه الله عز وجل ، لا يتعلمه إلا ليصيب به عرضا من الدنيا لم يجد عرف الجنة يوم القيامة يعني – ريحها –
لا تعلموا العلم لتباهوا به العلماء ولا لتماروا به السفهاء ولا تخيروا به المجالس فمن فعل ذلك فالنار النار
It was narrated that Jaabir ibn Abdillah (radiallahu anhuma) that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Do not seek knowledge to compete with the scholars, nor to argue with the foolish people, nor to gain control of gatherings; for whoever does that – the Fire, the Fire!“ [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 254. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 254. This hadeeth does have some weakness in its chain though.]
So knowledge needs to be sought for the sake of Allah alone.
Now, many people imagine that there will come a day when their intention will be perfect and there will no longer be any “bumps” on the road.
I’m sorry to burst the bubble, but that day will only come in our dreams.
We need to battle our intentions until we die. That’s what the earlier scholars did. Some of them took as much as TWENTY years to fix their intentions.
Remember the problem is not in battling the intention and trying to fix it. The problem is when a person assumes that he is sincere and doesn’t bother to correct his intentions!
2. Not understanding the importance and virtues of knowledge
If people realised just how important and virtuous the knowledge of Islam is, they would drop everything and run after it.
[Unfortunately, they have no idea, which is why they run after everything else!]
– Allah has singled out the people of knowledge, not the people of worldly status, in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ تَفَسَّحُوا فِي الْمَجَالِسِ فَافْسَحُوا يَفْسَحِ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا قِيلَ انشُزُوا فَانشُزُوا يَرْفَعِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
“O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allah will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, Jihad (fighting in Allah’s Cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Surah Al-Mujaadilah (58) : 11]
– Many people imagine that because they have wealth, or children, or a great status, or a very nice degree, that Allah must be pleased with them.
Poor lost souls.
They have no idea that these sort of menial things are given to both believers and disbelievers.
When Allah wants good for a person, He gives them something very special.
سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : من يرد الله به خيرا يفقهه في الدين ، وإنما أنا قاسم والله يعطي ، ولن تزال هذه الأمة قائمة على أمر الله ، لا يضرهم من خالفهم ، حتى يأتي أمر الله
Narrated Muawiyah (radiallahu anhu) in a sermon: I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) saying, “If Allah wants to do good to a person, He gives him fiqh (understanding) of the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah. (And remember) that this nation (true Muslims) will keep on following Allah’s teachings strictly and they will not be harmed by any one going on a different path until Allah’s order (Day of Judgment) is established.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 71]
– In the Quran, there is only one thing that Allah has ordered the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to supplicate for an increase in – and that is knowledge.
وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
“And say: “My Lord! increase me in knowledge.” [Surah Ta-Ha (20) : 114]
– Want an easy path to Paradise? Seek knowledge.
من نفس عن مؤمن كربة من كرب الدنيا ، نفس الله عنه كربة من كرب يوم القيامة . ومن يسر على معسر ، يسر الله عليه في الدنيا والآخرة . ومن ستر مسلما ، ستره الله في الدنيا والآخرة . والله في عون العبد ما كان العبد في عون أخيه . ومن سلك طريقا يلتمس فيه علما ، سهل الله له به طريقا إلى الجنة . وما اجتمع قوم في بيت من بيوت الله ، يتلون كتاب الله ، ويتدارسونه بينهم ، إلا نزلت عليهم السكينة ، وغشيتهم الرحمة وحفتهم الملائكة ، وذكرهم الله فيمن عنده . ومن بطأ به عمله ، لم يسرع به نسبه . غير أن حديث أبي أسامة ليس فيه ذكر التيسير على المعسر .
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever helps a believer with a hardship from the hardships of this life, Allah will help him with a hardship from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. Whoever shows leniency towards someone in difficultly, Allah will show him leniency in this life and the hereafter. Whoever conceals (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal him in this life and the hereafter. And Allah will continue to aid the servant as long as the servant aids his brother. Whoever pursues a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make the path to Paradise easy for him. No group of people gather in one of the houses (masaajid) of Allah reciting the book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquility will descend upon them, mercy will cover them, the angels will surround them, and Allah will mention them to those with Him. And whoever is prevented by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” [Sahih Muslim , Hadeeth No. 6518]
These are just some of the virtues of knowledge. There are many many more.
3. Running after the worldly knowledge at the expense of the Islamic knowledge
Recently, I read a very unfortunate article that made it seem as though the proofs (in the Quran and Sunnah) about the virtues of knowledge were about secular (if that’s the word you want to use) knowledge!
Subhan Allah, the knowledge being referred to is ISLAMIC knowledge. This is something that all the scholars have pointed out.
Now, I’m not asking people to not seek the “other” knowledge. I myself seek that type of knowledge.
However, we need to get our priorities straight.
People keep saying that they need to get the secular knowledge for the sake of dawah (calling to Islam) and to cause the ummah (Muslim nation) to become victorious over their enemies.
Well, the first thing you need in dawah (calling to the religion of Allah) is the knowledge of the religion of Allah. Makes sense, right?
And the ummah will be victorious when we seek this type of knowledge and act upon it. That’s the way the Companions of the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) ended up ruling most of the world, after having been powerless before the advent of Islam!
وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Surah An-Nur (24) : 55]
How can people who don’t pray 5 times a day and don’t even know how to do wudhu (ablution) properly expect victory???? Who will give them victory? The Lord that they only remember in times of calamity? The Lord whose attributes they did not bother to learn about? The Lord whose religion they keep opposing???
Another problem with running after the worldly knowledge is that it is a collective obligation – whereas seeking Islamic knowledge is an individual obligation.
So, shouldn’t a person fulfill his individual obligation before he strives to fulfill his collective obligation?
And no, both types of knowledge are not mutually exclusive. People can seek both (assuming that the secular knowledge that is being sought is lawful), and if they are able to, they should seek both (as we need teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc in the ummah).
However, for the one who truly loves Allah and His Messenger, his focus will always be more on the Islamic knowledge, as was the case with the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
A reminder to the parents: It is incumbent upon you to encourage your children to seek Islamic knowledge. Don’t just force them to focus on school.
Also, you need to set a good example for them by seeking Islamic knowledge yourself.
[Put your hands up if you’ve heard this story: Mother/Father push child to memorise the Quran when they themselves can’t even recite Surah Al-Fatihah properly!]
4. Making excuses
We’re too busy to attend Islamic classes, aren’t we?
Question: Are we also too busy to do everything else? Or does this excuse come up with regards to Islam-related activities?
I would request that each and every one of us ponder over the question above.
5. Being too shy to seek knowledge or ask questions
Some people feel embarrassed about being ignorant of Islam so they feel too shy to attend classes.
As I mentioned in this post, all of us were born with zero knowledge. So, we shouldn’t feel ashamed that we don’t have knowledge.
What we should really be ashamed about is not trying to increase upon our current level of knowledge.
When I first started this journey of seeking knowledge, I knew….next to nothing. See, I was always embarrassed to ask, therefore I remained ignorant.
When I finally joined joined Islamic classes, I felt like the dumbest person in the class (no really).
In one class, they started to talk about “tajweed”. I had no clue what that was and just sat there waiting for somebody to translate the word!
[Tajweed is the science which explains how the Quran is recited.]
Another time, one of my friends was teaching kiddies (as young as eight years old) some duas (supplication). One of them was the one recited when a calamity strikes (this one). The kiddies already knew that.
However, that was the first time in my life that I had heard that dua! I felt so embarrassed that I, an adult, knew less than the kiddies.
I had lots of other “eye opening” moments. One of them was when I was going to Hajj.
I always thought that Hajj consisted on going around the Kaabah, going next door to a place called “Arafah” and supplicating and then going next door to “stone the Shaytaan”.
I was absolutely stunned to know that there was travelling and other acts involved.
At the end of the Hajj, I recall going to a bookstore with my uncle who used to live in Jeddah (which is an hour away from Makkah). One of the books was called “Book of Tawheed”.
“Book of….Taw….heed. What’s tawheed, uncle?”
His eyes popped out.
“Unity of worship.”
I didn’t quite understand that either but I thought it would be wise to keep silent.
[Actually, tawheed is singling out Allah in His Lordship, His Worship and His Names and Attributes.]
So, what am I trying to say?
Don’t be ashamed to go Islamic classes and ask questions. You’re not the only one who is going through this. We’ve all been there so don’t worry.
6. Not realising the vastness of knowledge
These days, people think that knowledge can be gained in 4 days.
Sorry, this knowledge is vast. Even if you spend your whole life seeking it, you won’t be able to.
And you don’t have to, because that is not the point.
However, one should not presume that one will turn into a scholar after attending a weekend seminar!
Insha-Allah, I’ll be addressing more issues regarding knowledge in the upcoming parts.
Note: If you have questions about knowledge that are not related to this part, then I would suggest that you wait until I have completed the entire series. Perhaps your answer will come in the next part.
To be continued…