Archive for May, 2009

The Best Thing to Do

Posted in Ibn al-Qayyim, Original & Misc. on May 27, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

One problem many of us face is that we want to do so much at once, and thus become overwhelmed in our thoughts trying to establish exactly what we should be doing and what our obligations are at a given point in time. This leads us to focus on what we can’t accomplish moreso than what we can accomplish. This can be well and good, and as Ibn al-Jawzi said, a person can be rewarded for his intentions more than for his actions. However, the point of intending is to be productive and extract something physical from that intention.

Part of being productive is to have a methodical approach as to when to focus on what. For example, if your worship and intentions for specific efforts are organized and you properly place your focus where and when it should be, you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more as a Muslim, no matter if you’re a scholar who teaches, a caller to Allah who motivates, or a general worshipper who simply wants to get closer to your Lord.

Without wanting to get into immense detail, I thought it sufficient to present a few words to to illustrate this that Ibn al-Qayyim had written in ‘Madarij as-Salikin’ (1/188):

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The Secret in Having Your Supplication Answered

Posted in Ibn al-Qayyim on May 22, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

“…And I often find that people supplicate with certain prayers and have their prayers answered, and they couple their supplication with their neediness and turning towards Allah, or a good deed they carried out that caused Allah to respond to this supplication out of gratitude for this good deed, or they happened to supplicate at a time in which it is more likely to be accepted, etc. So, his supplication was answered because of this.

One might think that the secret was in the specific wording of his supplication, and might therefore approach it simply from this angle while ignoring all of these other things that were coupled with it by the person supplicating. This is like someone who uses beneficial medicine at its proper time and in the proper manner and it benefits him as a result, and someone else thinks that simply using this medicine regardless of these other factors will bring about the same benefit. This person is wrong, and this is where many people fall into error.

An example of this is when a needy person supplicates near a grave. So, the ignorant one thinks that the secret of his supplication being answered lies in this grave, and he doesn’t know that the real secret is in his neediness and full dependence on Allah. So, if this happens in a House from the Houses of Allah, this would be better and more beloved to Allah.

And supplications and prayers of refuge are like weapons, and a weapon is only as effective as the one using it, not just based on how sharp it is. So, as perfect and flawless a weapon is, as strong as the arm is that is using it, as much as there is nothing to nullify its effectiveness – the more damaging it will be against the enemy. And whenever one of these three elements is absent, the effect will be held back.

So, if the supplication itself is not good, or the one supplicating does not have both his heart and tongue present when making it, or there is some element present to prevent it from being answered, it will have no effect…”

[‘ad-Da’ wad-Dawa”; p. 40-41]

Ibn ‘Umar: The Most Disciplined Youth

Posted in The Lives of the Salaf on May 18, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

One of the Companions I feel the most affinity for is ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar. Besides his position as the son of ‘Umar and one of the major jurists among the Companions, one cannot help when reading of him but to come away with the image of a man who is reserved, knowledgeable, serious, and avoided anything that would waste his time and not involve benefit to himself or others – and this was witnessed from his youth to his death. All in all, he is someone that we would all love to be.

Some narrations collected in adh-Dhahabi’s ‘Siyar A’lam an-Nubala(4/346-373) and Ibn al-Jawzi’s ‘Sifat as-Safwah’ (1/214-222) give a taste of Ibn ‘Umar’s character:

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How the Prophet Would Complain

Posted in The Words of the Salaf on May 18, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

It is related that when Abu Talib died, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) went out on foot to Ta’if to call its people to Islam. They rejected his call, and he walked away until he got to the shade of a tree. So, he prayed two rak’at and said:

اللهم إني أشكو إليك ضعف قوتي وهواني على الناس أنت أرحم الراحمين إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم إلى قريب ملكته أمري إن لم تكن غضبان علي فلا أبالي غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي أعوذ بوجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل بي سخطك لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولا قوة إلا بالله

“O Allah, I complain to You of my weakness and my insignificance in the eyes of the people. You are the most Merciful. No matter who You have put me at the mercy of – an enemy who will be stern with me, or a friend to look after my affairs – as long as You are not Angry with me, then I don’t care. However, the relief You bring would be more comfortable for me. I seek refuge with Your Face – for which the darkness has lit up, and the affairs of this world and the next are organized – from being afflicted with Your Wrath or deserving of Your Anger. You have the right to admonish as You please, and there is no might nor power except by Allah.”

This was related by al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’ (6/35), and he mentioned in it that at-Tabarani related it in ‘al-Mu’jam al-Kabir’ on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib, and that its chain of narration contains Ibn Ishaq, who is a trustworthy mudallis, with the rest of the narrators in its chain being trustworthy.

‘Alawi as-Saqqaf said in his checking of ‘Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an’ that it is hasan, and Ibrahim al-‘Ali included it in ‘Sahih as-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah’ (p. 136).

Look at how even in such moments of his life, all he cared about (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was whether or not Allah was Pleased with him.

The Muslim Knows the Way

Posted in 'Abdullah 'Azzam on May 14, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

“…We are living a blessing.

One of us is raised from childhood to know that, for example, the unrestrained glance is forbidden. So, for the rest of his life, the unrestrained glance is forbidden, seclusion with the opposite gender is forbidden, adultery and fornication are forbidden, interest and usury are forbidden, speaking badly about others behind their backs is forbidden, etc. That’s all it takes! So, a personality is developed that is mature and balanced, thanks to its Lord.

However, in America, one day, it’s OK to drink alcohol, the next day it isn’t. Sometimes, the government allows alcohol, and at other times prohibits it. Sometimes, it penalizes those who sell it, and it doesn’t at other times. No. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and we learn this from when we are two years old, and we learn that it is objectionable from that point onwards. Everything that is forbidden in Islam is inherently objectionable, and everything that is permitted is acceptable and there is no problem in doing it. Because of this, we have the hadith: “If you have no shame, do what you wish,” and this has two possible interpretations. The first is that if something you want to do doesn’t contradict the Shari’ah, do it. The second interpretation is that the person with no shame will do whatever he wants.

So, we’re truly relaxed. It’s enough that we know the way. The European, what is his path? Where is he going? For us, everything is solved mentally and spiritually. We know our path, its start, its purpose, and its end:

Where did we come from? Allah Created us.

Where are we going? He will cause us to die, and then gather us on the Day of Resurrection, in which there is no doubt.

Why did He Create us? Only to worship Him.

Who controls the Universe? The kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth belong to Allah.

The God we worship is Dominating, Colossal, Wise, Merciful, Generous to His slaves. In Europe, what do they have? Who do they deal with? Who do they turn to? Who do they rely on? What do they fortify themselves with? What do they seek refuge with? The concepts of Satan, the Jinn, God, the Hereafter, etc. – all of these things have been wiped from the dictionary of the West. The traveller’s check, the value of the mark, the value of the dinar, the value of the dollar – this is their life.

Because of this, a person who lives without a set of rules will oppress others when given the chance. He will cheat people out of their wealth when given the chance. He will fornicate when given the chance. He will steal when given the chance…”

[‘Fi Dhilal Surat at-Tawbah’; p. 505-506]

Fighting Your Nature

Posted in Original & Misc., The Words of the Salaf on May 11, 2009 by Tarek Mehanna

In ‘Hilyat al-Awliya” (10/287), it’s related that al-Junayd said:

الإنسان لا يعاب بما في طبعه إنما يعاب إذا فعل بما في طبعه

“A person is not to be blamed for his nature. Rather, he is to be blamed if he acts according to his nature.”

This is a very deep statement.

A person should not bring his status as an imperfect human being to serve as an excuse for manifesting blameworthy characteristics and actions. Yes, we were fashioned with varying degrees of negative attributes within us, such as envy, greed, lack of gratitude, arrogance, the desire to commit certain sins, etc.

However, we were also fashioned with the ability to repel, change, and strive against the inclinations to openly manifest them.

It is possible to abandon negative traits you find in yourself and change your character for the better. You just have to know what you want to become, and want it badly enough to put up a fight whenever the negative traits that get in the way begin to surface.