Archive for August, 2010

Anger

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

As Allah swt says in the Quran Sharif in Sura Ar-Ra’d:

013.028 الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ
الْقُلُوبُ

Allatheena amanoo watatma-innu quloobuhum bithikri Allahi ala bithikri Allahi tatma-innu alquloobu

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.

Anger

And in a hadith reported by Muslim sahih hadith and narrated by Uqbar ibn Amir:

We were entrusted with the task of tending the camels. During my turn, when I came back in the evening after grazing them in the pastures, I found Allah’s Apostle peace be upon him standing and addressing the people. I heard these words of his: “If any Muslim performs ablution well, then stands and prays two rak’ahs thinking about them with his heart as well as his face, Paradise will be guaranteed for him.”

And in an other hadith Abdullah Ibn Abbas reports that

“He saw saw Allah swt with his heart”

The heart the core of our personality is the storage place for knowledge and wisdom, and it can guide us along the path towards God’s pleasure.

The heart however can be afflicted by disease that causes it to be preoccupied by the love of life and lust rather than the love of Allah. Each and every one of us needs to inspect his heart carefully to diagnose any affliction, and search for cures.

016.023 لا جَرَمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا يُسِرُّونَ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ إِنَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ
الْمُسْتَكْبِرِينَ

La jarama anna Allaha y’’alamu ma yusirroona wama yu’Alinoona innahu la yuhibbu almustakbireena

Undoubtedly Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal: truly He loves not the arrogant.

And arrogance is but only one of these diseases that afflict the heart.

To clear our hearts of any afflictions we need two things:

l. Ask for God’s guidance – Everytime we pray we repeat the ayat In Surah Al Fatiha, “Ihdi nas sir’at al-mustaqeem,” “show us the straight path”. If we have sincerity in our heart and really request it this is the key to God’s acceptance of our request and, insha’allah granting it. Remember the hadith I spoke of just now said that we should be performing the rakahs not with our bodies but “thinking about them with your heart” this is an important message for us to heed it is a great blessing from Allah swt

2.Exert the effort to identify the ailments the diagnosis and the effort to avoid the deeds and sins that fill the heart with impurities the curse.

For it is narrated by An Numan bin Bashir that Rasul Allah SAW said:

Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled the whole body gets spoiled, and that is the heart.

Amongst these ailments that spoil the heart are: Anger rage, Envy, Stinginess, Ostentation, Love of position and power, Arrogance. We have to look at our intention in every act and struggle with our nafs to be clear of these ailments of the heart when we set out to do anything. When we set out for the day.

To understand the meanings of a deed we have to understand the intention that it was performed under:

Rasul Allah SAW said that “actions are known by their intentions” and those “intentions determine the nature and the reward or punishment that comes from a person’s deeds”

Intentions reside in the heart and are the sole determinant of the worth of one’s deeds – the same act can be judged as a sin or a good deed depending on intention.

If a person attempts murder and shoots at someone with the idea of killing them but misses it is as though he had killed that person, because he set out with that intention. However his crime would be judged by the secular authorities, in the end Allah SWT knew what intention was in his heart and would judge according to that intention. We cannot know what is in another person’s heart but Allah SWT knows all and sees all, even what we attempt to hide. So we must be aware of our intentions at every moment.

If a person were to decide to commit adultery but he or she repents before this happens and then refrains then the intention of the repentance is greater then the original because the person was able to turn back from that course. And it is reported in Bukhari and Muslim that Rasul Allah SAW said “He who is inclined towards an evil deed but does not carry it out is rewarded by Allah for one full measure of good deed.”

But in the same case if same person, just about to commit adultery, is interrupted from doing so. – and does not actually commit the sin, because he was prevented from doing so by an external factor, not out of any fear of Allah SWT. Therefore he has still earned himself a sin, as if he had actually completed his sinful deed, because the intention was never repented, just the act was never completed and Allah SWT knows best what is in our hearts.

Part 2

In Ramadhan, insha’allah, we should think about our intentions and our emotions and how we deal with them in our lives.

Anger/Rage – A minimum level of anger should exist to protect oneself and belongings, this anger should however be tempered. And our intention should always be moderate it.

A modest level of anger is acceptable in matters related to religion.

To succeed in moderating anger one should always be reminded of two points:

Train ourselves not to get too attached to worldly possessions and keep our necessities to a minimum.

Remember that Allah SWT is the boss. i.e. his will dominates. E.g. if you wanted a certain job, but was not successful, remember that this is God’s will and there must be a good reason for that, though it might not be obvious to you at the time, in any time frame, we only see a small part of a bigger picture.

If we do get anger we can moderate this anger physically by following the Rasul Allah’s advice SAW as narrated in Al Tirmithi & Al Bukhari:

If one feels anger becoming him he/she should:

If standing – sit down

If sitting – lie down

If lying – make abolution or have a shower

When anger afflicts a person, he/she tend to move forward – by supressing this motion you curb the anger.

We must remember to have Taqwa for Allah (SWT) at all times, to remember and to do justly to others.

003.133 وَسَارِعُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ
وَالأرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

Wasari’Aoo ila maghfiratin min rabbikum wajannatin ‘Aarduha alssamawatu waal-ardu o’Aiddat lilmuttaqeena

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that of the whole of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for those who are conscious of Allah (SWT),-

003.134 الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ
وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Allatheena yunfiqoona fee alssarra-i waalddarra-i waalka{th}imeena alghay{th}a waal’Aafeena ‘Aani alnnasi waAllahu yuhibbu almuhsineena

Those who spend freely, whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon all men, for Allah loves those who do good;-

Sayeed Ali Ibn Abu Talib asked a slave for warm water to wash his hands. The slave, who was young and inexperienced, poured boiling water onto his hands which burnt them. He got very angry and was about to strike the slave when he was reminded him of that ayat and said:

…Those who restrain anger… – “I have restrained my anger”

…And pardon men… – “I have pardoned you”

…For God loves them who do good… – “go – I have granted you your freedom.”

The Rasul Allah (SAW) said: “One who, in spite of having the ability to avenge, controls his anger, will be singled out, and called by Allah (SWT), over and above the multitude on the Day of Judgment …” Al-Boukhari

In another hadith a Bedouin came to Rasul Allah (SAW) from the desert and asked Rasul Allah (SAW) for advice on what it means to be a good Muslim. He was known for his hastiness and his anger and Rasul Allah (SAW) said “Do not be overpowered by anger”, the man repeated that three times and the prophet’s answer was the same each of the three times. Al Boukhari

Lastly we have a hadith which narrates the story of Abu Baker who was being insulted by a man – he kept quiet until he could no longer take it and finally answered back in anger.

At that moment Rasul Allah (SAW) left and when he was asked why he left he said: “When you were silent the angels answered on your behalf, but when you started answering the angels left and Satan came and I could not sit in the same place as Satan.”

Islam does not advocate turning the other cheek, but it strongly advocates the control of tempers and the cleansing the heart of anger.

So my fellow muslims I remind myself and you with the following advice:

Always look into your heart and inspect your real intention before performing an act.

May God help us restrain our anger and pardon people.

May God help us do good and be charitable.

May God help us forgive and overlook

Ameen


 


Giving Thanks

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Dear brothers and sisters. For many of us, Ramadan comes in to our lives each year as a long lost friend. It is a time for us to reflect, to increase our worship in all ways and to find our more about ourselves, our intentions and our responsibilities. And as it leaves we are sad to see the friend go, because we have gained so much during the visit. We look forward, insha’allah to being allowed to come to that time again. And also thanksgiving reflects our hearts’ knowledge of the source of what we have. That Allah (SWT) is surely the one we thank ultimately for our lives. For he is “Malik an-Nas” the sovereign of humanity. And “Ilahin nas” Allah, God of humanity.

During Ramadan we fast and in that we learn to discipline ourselves but we also learn to sympathize and empathize with those around us who are not as well off as we are. We not only feel their hunger but we are moved to help them, through acts of charity and generosity. Alhamdul’illah, thanks to Allah (SWT) for bringing us to this month and for guiding us through it so that we might get the full benefit for us in this life and the next. During Thanksgiving we are acutely aware of the abundance that is bestowed upon us and we should remember its source and our responsibilities with that abundance.

During Ramadan we also refrain from anger, speaking harshly to others, from enmity, greed, and excess in all things. We are thankful for this practice as well. It provides us a clear window into our hearts. It is said that during the month of Ramadan the gates of hell are chained shut and all the devils are prevented from walking the earth. So during this time, all we see within ourselves comes from our own self. Our own nafs. What a golden opportunity to look inside, to take responsibility for our faults and to make a vow to do better. Alhamdul’illah we offer our thanks to Allah (SWT) for this opportunity as well. It is important for us to remember where the thanks go. And our Suhur and Iftar give us the opportunity to be with family and friends and to strengthen the bonds with others so that we might know to treat them with compassion and friendship, always remembering that all these gifts come only from Allah (SWT).

There is the story of the traveler who came to a town and asked where he could stay for the night. The people told him of the rich man at the end of the street who welcomed in all travelers with the best of food and lodging. But they warned him that the man is also known to beat the guest upon their leaving. Well, the promise of good food and a warm comfortable place to stay was appealing to the traveler because he had been on the road a long time with no where to stay except the side of the path and little to eat. So he knocked on the door and introduced himself and the man welcomed him into his home. That evening he prepared a great feast for him with exotic fruits and vegetables of all sorts and savory meats. With the finest tea and sweet desserts. More food than the traveler could possibly finish. Then he provided him with the best room in the house to stay in, and the bed was soft and warm and comfortable and scented with lavender and other herbs. The house was quiet and the traveler slept better than he could ever remember. But when he woke up he remembered the warnings of the townspeople and he shot up out of bed, thinking that if he hurried maybe he could leave before his host got up and thereby he could avoid his beating. But to his dismay when he left the room, there was his host, already with a sumptuous breakfast prepared and sacks of more food for him to take on his journey.

When he had eaten his fill it was time to go. He figured that he would just have to put up with the beating as part of the payment for all this generous hospitality. And so they went out the front door and the traveler went to leave, said Salaam alaykum and started down the path to the road. He anticipated the beginning of the beating but to his surprise it never came and behind him he heard the door of his host’s house close. He turned around and sure enough the host had gone inside. Perplexed, he went back and knocked on the door. When the rich man opened it he was surprised and asked the traveler what it was he wanted? Well the traveler asked him, “All the townspeople said to ask you for lodging and food for the night, as your generosity is well known, but they also warned me that you always beat your guests when they leave, but you didn’t beat me and I am wondering why?” Well, the rich man said, “All my guests I treat with the same generosity and politeness that I showed you last night. They always get the best food and plenty of it, they always get the best room and the best bed just as you did. But the difference was that all my other guests, when I show them this generosity they always say, Thank you, thank you to me. But you always said Alhamdul’illah – thanking Allah for what was given to you. That is why I did not beat you, because you know who is really our source of life and who gives us all we have.”

When we receive honor and blessings, when we are shown generosity it is also a trial, we are tried just as hard through prosperity as we are through adversity, Allah (SWT) says in the Quran Sharif


fa-‘ammaa al-‘insaan ‘idhaa maa ibtalaa-hu rabb-hi fa-akrama-hu wa-na3ama-hu fa-yaqol rabb-e akrama-ni

As for man, when his Lord tries him through giving him honor and blessings, he says: “My Lord is bountiful to me.”

He puffs himself up as if he thinks he is receiving this bounty as anything other than a true trial of his remembrance of Allah. He thinks he has gained because somehow it is due to him. But then,

wa-‘ammaa ‘idhaa maa ibtalaa-hu fa-qadara 3alay-hi rizq-hu fa-yaqol rabb-e ahaana-ni

But when He tries him through restricting his subsistence, he says: “My Lord has humiliated me.”

Then humans then view the loss of worldly possessions or affluence not again as a trial but as evidence of some kind of divine injustice they deny Allah (SWT) in this and instead of using this time for introspection they turn to blame. They complain if what is provided for them is not as they see it living up to their expectations.

But in reality the explanation lies in our own reactions to these trials Allah then says-


kallaa bal laa tukrimon al-yatem

wa-laa tah.aad.d.on 3alaa t.a3aam al-misken

wa-ta’kulon at-turaath ‘akl(an) lamm(an)

wa-tuh.ibbon al-maal h.ubb(an) jamm(an)

But you did not show kindness to the orphan, nor did you encourage each other in feeding the poor. Greedily you lay your hands on the inheritance of the weak, and you love wealth with all your hearts.

When we have more than we need we think it is our right to have it and when we have less we blame and complain. It is alike a bumper sticker I used to see – “Allah gives and forgives, Man gets and forgets”

Part 2

Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan reminds us that in India children are taught these lessons through leaning the simple uplifting poems of Sa’adi. In his poem “Karima” the first lesson Sa’adi gives is to learn how to be grateful, how to express gratitude, how to appreciate; and so he teaches the lesson of gratefulness and appreciation for all in the world, for the kindness and love of mother and father, and of friend and companion, by teaching first gratefulness to God for all the blessings and benefits man receives. Sa’adi begins in “Karima” by saying: “Oh Lord, most merciful, I ask Thy forgiveness, for I am limited and in this life of limitation I am always apt to err.” He teaches in the first lesson, that people should recognize their limited condition, and that this limitedness makes them subject to error, and at the same time he suggests the innermost desire of every soul to rise above limitations and keep from error, to seek divine love and ask pardon, and to appreciate all the blessings recieved in life, in order to rise towards that ideal stage of the humane person.

So what is the answer? The answer is that in our trials of prosperity we remember the source of our prosperity and we give of it willingly and generously. And in our trials of adversity we remember the source and we remain patient and steadfast.

And Pir-o-Murshid goes on to say Respect, consideration, reverence, kindness, compassion and sympathy, forgiveness and gratefulness, all these virtues can be best adorned by subtlety of expression. One need not dance in thanksgiving; one word of thanks is quite sufficient. One need not cry out loudly, ‘I sympathize with you, my dear friend!’ One need not play drums and say, ‘I have forgiven somebody!’ Such things are fine, subtle; they are to be felt; no noise can express them. Noise only spoils their beauty and takes from their value. In spiritual ideas and thoughts subtlety is more needed that in anything else. If a spiritual person were to bring his realizations into the market-place, and dispute with everyone that came along about his beliefs and disbeliefs, where would he end?

Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan also tells us that In prayer the repetition of thanksgiving brings to our soul our own voice, and that voice echoes before the God who is within.

So we learn that also in our thanks we can reflect the manner in which we looked within to find what was in our heart in the first place. Our character, our personality change not only through understanding ourselves and others better but also in the way we change how we act and how we use what we find out. Subtlety in action echoes through our being, it lets us hear our own real voice and allows us to know our source.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone says in the morning, ‘O God! Whatever favor has come to me, it comes from Thee alone…To Thee praise and thanksgiving are due,’ he will have expressed full thanksgiving for the day. And if anyone says the same in the evening, he will have expressed full thanksgiving for the night.”

My dear brothers and sisters. I encourage you as I encourage myself, to go with a new dedication to be thankful to Allah (SWT) in everything in our lives, so we remember to be thankful, to be generous when we have abundance and to persevere through adversity. And to watch and care for our hearts. Ameen.


 


Ramadhan Mubarak!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Ramadhan Mubarak!

The first day of fasting at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY is Wednesday, August 11. May Allah (swt) accept your fast. May you find the fast easy and may you gain deep insight into your connection with the divine.


 

Review – “Untold” by Tamam Kahn

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

"Untold" book cover

Untold: A History of the Wives of the Prophet Muhammad
by Tamam Kahn

I opened Tamam Kahn’s new book, Untold, with much anticipation. As I have been studying and practicing Islam for many years now I have read some accounts of the wives of the prophet Muhammad (saw). But these have always concentrated on Khadija (ra) and Aisha (ra), and usually as part of various biographies of  Rasul Allah (saw), not standing on their own. So I eagerly awaited a copy of this book to learn and gain insight into the women who were closest to him (saw), indeed the only people who were most aware of the intimate details of his life. Who were they? What did they think? What influence might they have had on the day-to-day life which we follow so rigorously from the Hadith? What were they and he (saw) like as people?

What I found did not disappoint me. Kahn has created a rich story of these women. This is not to say that all my questions were answered, but that the book brings you into the lives of each of these women in a way that connects with them in the heart. As I read I realized that Kahn has, in this book, created a space where the women can speak for themselves. I felt more and more that I was looking into their lives through Kahn’s own heart felt connection with them.

Tamam Kahn

The vehicle for this kind of connection is the mix of prose and poetry that is used in the book. Where biographical accounts are given, they are given in prose. This adds to the authenticity and scholarship.

Where Kahn is speculating on the emotive presence of the wives she turns to poetry in order to delve deeply into the heart. This method gives life to the intuitive creativity that carries so much of what is truly unique and worthy

in these accounts. Kahn has joined with them in their own questioning and wondering about their lives. This is a beautiful account not only of the wives of the prophet (saw) but, in my opinion, of Kahn’s own journey into discovering them and, thereby, discovering something of herself.

I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in the stories of the wives of prophet Muhammad (saw) presented in a very personal, heart felt way.


 

Islamic Feminists Hold Pray-Ins at U.S. Mosques to Protest Gender-Segregated Worship and Other Discrimination Against Muslim Women. – WSJ.com

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Islamic Feminists Hold Pray-Ins at U.S. Mosques to Protest Gender-Segregated Worship and Other Discrimination Against Muslim Women. – WSJ.com.

There is nothing in Qur’an or Hadith that supports the practice of segregating the genders during prayers by having separate rooms. And, as is pointed out in the article, there is plenty of ahadith that describe men and women praying in the same room. The separate rooms situation is bidah and bidah is the road to hell, as is often reported. I was totally amazed when I went on my first trip to Morocco that the women were separated into a room where they could not even see the rest of the congregation. I had prayed in masajid in the US and always men and women were in the same room. Men in the front rows and women in the back rows. This is what is supported by hadith, and that is what I support.

At the same time as there is much to be gained by freeing us from the false cultural practices that are put upon us as Islamic, there is also much to be gained by being authentic in our deen. But I feel that caution must be taken, there are also good practical and inner meanings to the way Rasul Allah (swt) guided us and acted as our exemplar. There are lines that should not be crossed. This requires real understanding of the hadith and the Qur’an, not a knee jerk reaction because of what we see others doing.