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…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
5. Allah is the one who teaches, gives understanding of the religion and guides whom He wills to the Straight Path.
You know that feeling you get when you first come into Islam? I don’t mean the first feeling (the joyful one), I mean the second one – where everyone tells you that they are upon the truth and that they are following the Quran and Sunnah.
Your head spins.
Everyone says contradictory things yet they all claim to be on the straight path.
Who can you trust? Who is really on the truth? How can you know?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Okay, this series sure took a long time. This is the last part, alhamdulillah.]
11) Don’t be stagnant. Take the next step.
I’ve met many sisters who have told me that they can understand a lot of Arabic. Unfortunately, they don’t take advantage of this fact and attend ARABIC lectures.
[I’ve learned one thing after 2 years of attending mostly Arabic lectures: there is a huge difference in level between English and Arabic lectures.
If the English speakers knew just how much the difference was, they would have wept.]
I recall an advice that I read when I first started studying Arabic. The brother suggested cutting off all ties with English.
I finally understand why. If you stick to English (or whatever your language is), you will continue to depend on it. However, if you start to attend Arabic classes and read Arabic books, you will become dependent on the Arabic language.
It might be difficult at first but it gets easier. Pretty soon, you’ll find it easier to attend Arabic classes than English ones.
12) It’s a life long journey.
Arabic is a deep language. We won’t become experts at it overnight.
13) Turn learning Arabic into an act of worship.
Yes, you could learn this language for worldly matters but then you won’t get much out of it.
However, if you do it intending to earn the pleasure of Allah, you’ll get a lot, insha-Allah.
14) Do dua (supplication).
Do it again and again and again.
Don’t just ask Allah to help you learn Arabic. BEG Him.
To those of you who haven’t learnt much Arabic between last Ramadan and now, I say: Don’t give up. Start now and keep going until you get there.
I hope that this series was beneficial, insha-Allah.
May Allah make it easy for all of us to learn the language in which His Book was revealed.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I thought that it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of the virtues of Ramadan from the Quran and the Sunnah.
[Yes, many of us might know these but we all need reminders now and then.]
The Month of Fasting
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 183]
“[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 184]
The Month of the Quran, Guidance, Gratitude and Generosity
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 185]
كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس ، وكان أجود ما يكون في رمضان حين يلقاه جبريل ، وكان يلقاه في كل ليلة من رمضان فيدارسه القرآن ، فلرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة
Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel* met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Quran. Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 5]
[*For those new to Islam, Jibreel = Gabriel (the angel).]
The Month of Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone) and Dua (supplication)
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 186]
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I was thinking about the areas that we mess up in the most during this great month. What are the things that we could (and should) do that would help us improve our Ramadan?
1) We can (and should) sleep less.
Yes, yes, I know. You might say: “Hey most of us sleep less during this month!”
I beg to differ. I think that people snooze more in this month (or at least that’s what the people in this part of the world do) than they do outside of it.
This is NOT the month of “catching up on our sleep”.
2) We can (and should) stop wasting our time with useless activities, and instead focus on our ibaadah (worship).
Want to surf the Internet? Well, do it after Ramadan.
Part of the reason that we waste our time is that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that fasting is only achieved by staying hungry and as we are staying hungry, we are in a state of worship.
Well, no, there’s much more to fasting than just starving.
3) We can (and should) eat healthy food.
Yes, we can. Really.
Just stand in front of the mirror and repeat it a hundred times. Mass repetition is known to help the brain accept an idea, no matter how impossible it sounds.
[Oh and we can (and should) eat less as well. That would really end many a woman’s kitchen nightmares….]
4) We can (and should) stop fighting with each other in the masjid.
Completely silly question: Is there any particular reason that we all single out Ramadan for masjid fights……..?
5) We can (and should) take it hour by hour and not think too far ahead.
One of the main reasons that many of us flunk in Ramadan is that we go all out in the first few days and then fizzle out early. Instead, we need to take things step by step.
Question to all of you (if you’re still around. Everyone seems to have disappeared?): What other things are there that we can (and should) do in order to have a great Ramadan?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
And yes, it’s my blog (it’s sort of obvious from the name, isn’t it?).
So, what’s this new blog all about? Well, it’s a little brother to this (Ramadan) blog.
The purpose of it is to encourage people to keep continuing with the habits that we’ve chosen to work on.
Yes, I could have written daily short tips on this blog as well but that would mean:
1) That there would be more than one post a day.
2) That I might have to focus solely on these habits and I don’t want to do that. I want to finish all the other pending series as well!
So, I thought that while we could choose the habits here, we could have the “motivation” part on another blog so that I could post twice a day if required. Only those interested in forming these habits would subscribe to that blog.
The blog is very simple (almost twitter-like) and quite bare at the moment (only four posts):
[To understand why I chose this theme, please read this.]
So, what are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions?
Also, a question for all of you:
a) Would you like this to be a private blog just for the sisters*?
[*This would mean that I am fairly certain that they are sisters. They should also sign up for a free wordpress account. Only 35 sisters can join in.]
b) Keep it the way it is (i.e. public)?
The first option would mean a more relaxed atmosphere, of course, as the readers would only be women.
What do you think? Let me know, insha-Allah.
PS. My apologies for not having replied to the comments over the past week. I’ll try to do so tomorrow, insha-Allah.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, how much did we all start with, you ask?
Well, we started with:
وَاللَّـهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 78]
So, that’s how all of us started life: without knowing anything.
That’s how all the laymen started life and that’s how all the scholars of Islam started life. Everyone got the same starting point.
A few words of advice:
1) We always have this assumption that people were born in a certain way, so we assume that we cannot become that way.
So, we’ll read the book of a certain shaikh and find him to be a man of great knowledge, yet it never occurs to us that this shaikh was also ignorant once upon a time and that he had to STRIVE to attain all that knowledge. He wasn’t born with it.
So, because we never realise that he did not get a head start, it never occurs to most of us that, with the help of Allah, we could also get to the same level as that shaikh, or perhaps even more.
On the contrary, we say things like “Oh but that person has so much knowledge” in order to excuse ourselves from doing more.
2) Many Muslims feel embarrassed about not knowing much about Islam.
Well, as you can see, we were all there at one point in time so that’s not an excuse not to do one’s best to learn more.
Don’t worry about the past, just focus on the future.
3) The ayah clearly states why we were granted sight, hearing and intellect.
Why? So that we would be grateful.
How is one grateful to Allah? By worshipping Him alone and by being obedient to Him.
Seeking (Islamic) knowledge is a great act of worship and it teaches one how to perform the other acts of worship.
So, what’s stopping us from seeking knowledge?
PS. This issue was one of the steps of Project “Recover Ramadan” but I want to reemphasize this point again due to its great importance.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
For all those who want to increase in knowledge, here’s a good place to start:
The site is run by Shaikh Muhammad Al-Maliki, a student of knowledge from Saudi Arabia. He has classes (in English) on Wiziq (http://www.wiziq.com/ilmforall-shaikh-mohammad-al-malki1075303) and Paltalk.
All his lessons are available on his website.
I haven’t had a chance to take any of his classes yet but I’ve heard good things about him.
For those of you who live in countries which don’t have much in the way of Islamic classes, it would be good to join his classes so that you get the opportunity to study under a shaikh, rather than self-study.
[It seems that the course “The Key to Knowledge” is going to be quite extensive according to this post. Allahu Alam.]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Okay so it’s a blog, not a full-fledged website but it’s really good nonetheless, maashaa-Allah.
The brother (may Allah reward him greatly) is translating various parts of Shaikh Nasiruddin Al-Albani’s (rahimahullah) works. Shaikh Al-Albani, for those of you who are unaware, was one of the greatest scholars of this century and a heavyweight in the field of hadeeth.
By the way, Al-Albani means “the Albanian” as he was of Albanian origin.
I’d especially recommend this blog for:
1) Those who are interested in knowing more about the Shaikh.
2) Those interested in the field of hadeeth.
3) Those who wish to get a closer look at the lives of the scholars.
4) Those who just love to read.
Oh and here’s an incredibly funny post: