Friday, 25 October 2013

Universal Islamic Brotherhood

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from the transcript of a discourse delivered by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.

One of the reasons why Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was very successful was because he was able to instil in the minds of the people that they were all children of Adam (a.s.); and as a result they were all part of the one big human family.  This was confirmed by the Qur’anic verses in which Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

Mankind was one single nation ... (Surah al-Baqarah:213)

Before the coming of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the Children of Israel, who had the responsibility of establishing Allah’s (s.w.t.) religion on earth, were disunited.  They were in tribes, twelve in all; and they were all distinct and separate.  One tribe never really interacted with the other; so much so, that when they wanted water, and Allah (s.w.t.) Told Moses (a.s.) to strike the rock, twelve separate springs came out, one for each tribe.  Even in Arabia, where the Prophet (s.a.w.) was born, there were tribalism, and they used to fight one another regularly.  There was no concept of one big happy human family.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) demonstrated that all the people can live like one community, thereby avoiding bloodshed.  He gave a practical example when the Black Stone had to be put in its place after the Ka’bah was renovated.  He put the Stone on a sheet and let the tribal leaders hold on to the sheet and carried to the spot where it had to be placed and he took it and put it in; that action of his prevented quarrelling and anything that would have resulted from the open disagreement.  Islam wants that people live like one community, immaterial of their racial, religious or political affiliation.  The only way for this to be a reality is if the hearts are filled with love for each other.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

… for ye were enemies and He Joined your hearts in love so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He Saved you from it ... (Surah Ali ‘Imran:103)

Unlike the previous messengers, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) came to the whole of mankind.  Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us about this in the following verse:

Say: “O men!  I am Sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah ...” (Surah al-A’araf:158)

This call of his was so different from the call of the previous messengers; for example; Jesus (a.s.) told the people:

Matthew 15:24
24 And he answered, “My errand is only to the lost sheep that are of the house of Israel.”

Islam came to bind the whole of humanity into one community, all those who believe in Allah (s.w.t.) and the Last Day.  Each believer is like a single strand in a rope.  Joined together they make a strong rope.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

And hold fast, all together by the rope which Allah (Stretches Out for you), and be not divided among yourselves ... (Surah Ali ‘Imran:103)

In order to achieve this, Allah (s.w.t.) Gave them the guiding principle, called ma’ruf, permissible, and munkar, prohibited.  All believers are Guided by the Qur’anic Guidance and the Traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  In order to be able to like brothers and sisters in the faith, there are certain important principles that must be practiced by everyone.  The first of these is to love for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  A Muslim has to live a life of love.  He has to love Allah (s.w.t.) more than anything else in this world.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

… But those of faith are overflowing in their love for Allah ... (Surah al-Baqarah:165)

The next important thing is to love the Prophet (s.a.w.) more than anything else in this world.  Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “He is not a true believer who does not love me more than his parents, his children and mankind at large.”  After loving Allah (s.w.t.) and His Rasul (s.a.w.), the believer is supposed to love mankind sincerely for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  In this connection the Prophet (s.a.w.) said to his companions, “You will not enter Paradise until you have faith; and you will not have faith until you love each other.  Shall I direct you to something which if you fulfil you will love one another?  Spread peace among yourselves.”  This is recorded in Swahih Muslim.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to demonstrate so much compassion for the people, especially when they went the wrong way that Allah (s.w.t.) had to Console him in the following verse:

Thou wouldst only perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them, in grief, if they believe not in this Message. (Surah al-Kahf:6)

So the Prophet (s.a.w.) demonstrated genuine, sincere love for the people; even his enemies, the wife of Abu Lahab and Abu Lahab himself, and as a result they were attracted to him.  One of the important ways of demonstrating true love for the Islamic brotherhood, and as a matter of fact, for society at large, is to love for your brother what you would like for yourselves.  Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “Each of you cannot be a true believer until he loves for his brother what he would like for himself.”  Muslims are very considerate to their believing brothers and sisters, and some of them even go out of their way to help those who might be in difficulties.  About such people Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

… but give them preference over themselves even though poverty was their (own lot) ... (Surah al-Hashr:9)

So Islam brought the principles of love and consideration for others; this has nothing to do with race, religion or nationality.  And when there are differences and the believer becomes angered, he cannot hate the other person; as he is supposed to:  Hate the evil but not the evil doer.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “I would like to meet my brother with a clean heart.”  Muslim live by the principle of helping one another in times of difficulties; in this connection the Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “Whoever relieves a brother from a distress; Allah will Relieve him from a distress on the Day of Judgement; whoever brings ease to a believer who is in difficulty; Allah will Bring Ease to him in both this life and in the next; whoever conceals the short comings of a Muslim; Allah will Conceal his short comings in this world and in the next.  Allah will always Help a servant as long as that servant helps his brother.”  The Holy Qur’an establishes an important principle for strengthening the bond that keeps all the believers, the world over as one family; that principle is:

… Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour ... (Surah al-Ma’idah:2)

So anywhere in the world the Muslims may find themselves in difficulties, the other Muslims brothers and sisters will be available to assist them.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

The believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger ... (Surah at-Tawbah:71)

Because the believer is concerned about the welfare of his believing brother and sister, he will not try to hurt or harm any of them in any way at all.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says that they practice compassion among themselves.  As an extension of their kindness and trust to each other, they try their best not degrade or to ill-speak one another.  This is because they are guided by the Qur'anic injunctions in which Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
O ye who believe!  Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger ... (Surah al-Hujraat:1)

This means that a person should not put himself before Allah (s.w.t.) and His Messenger (s.a.w.).  The companions understood this very well.

O ye who believe!  Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. (Surah al-Hujraat:2)

All Muslims must show respect to the Prophet (s.a.w.).

O ye who believe!  If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done. (Surah al-Hujraat:6)

A Muslim has be aware that there can be hypocrites in the society bent on making mischief; so that when they should get any news they must firstly verify it before making comments about what they hear.

… but Allah has Endeared the faith to you, and has Made it beautiful in your hearts and He has Made hateful to you unbelief, wickedness and rebellion … (Surah al-Hujraat:7)

One is supposed to detest what is Prohibited.

If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them ... (Surah al-Hujraat:9)

We do not promote disunity.

The believers are but a single brotherhood ... (Surah al-Hujraat:10)

We must come together as friends.

O ye who believe!  Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. (Surah al-Hujraat:11)

We do not think ourselves as superior to others.  And we do not try to destroy others.

O ye who believe!  Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs.  Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?  Nay, ye would abhor it ... (Surah al-Hujraat:12)

We understand that we are a part of the human family.

O mankind!  We Created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and Made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).  Verily the most Honoured of you in the Sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.  And Allah has Full Knowledge and is Well Acquainted (with all things). (Surah al-Hujraat:13)

The Islamic institutions are designed to display complete equality and the feeling of brotherhood.  There are no preferences among the people, the most Honourable in the Sight of Allah (s.w.t.) is the most righteous.  Also in worship, all the Muslims stand together, removing the barriers of caste and class thereby promoting the feeling of brotherhood amongst the believers.  Not only is that feeling confined to any particular locality, but during the hajj, Muslims meet with brothers and sisters from all over the world, and many of them return to their homes with fond memories of their friends they made during the hajj with brothers and sisters they met for the first time from distant lands.  The laws and principles are applicable to all and justice and equity are the hallmarks of this faith.  In this way, Allah (s.w.t.) has Given man the system whereby he can feel that he is an important unit in the larger brotherhood of man; if he should practice what Islam gave to us all.  Allah (s.w.t.) Reminds us of this in the following verse:

And hold fast, all together by the rope which Allah (Stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's Favour on you; for ye were enemies and He Joined your hearts in love so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He Saved you from it.  Thus doth Allah Make His Signs Clear to you: that ye may be Guided.  Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity.  Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear signs; for them is a dreadful penalty. ― (Surah Ali ‘Imran:103-105)

Islam is a beautiful way, and the Muslim brotherhood is one brotherhood, enjoining righteousness and staying away from prohibited things.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Concept of Khilafah & the Reality of Political Power

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

At a time of political turmoil in the Muslim world, Habib ‘Umar ibn al-Hafizh (q.s.) expounded on some of the meanings of khilafah and clarified the reality of political power.  This is an extract from a rawhah in Imam Abu Thalib al-Makki’s (r.a.) book, Qut al-Qulub, with some additions for extra clarity.  The lesson took place in Dar al-Muswthafa on 21st Ramadhan 1434 / 30th July 2013.

There are two types of khilafah.  The first is the outward khilafah which relates to political power, which is not noble and honourable in itself.  Anyone may attain political power, whether they be pious or corrupt, whether they be a believer or a disbeliever, whether they be a prophet or a wretched person.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Had this dunya weighed even the wing of a gnat in Allah’s Estimation, He would not have given a disbeliever a glass of water from it to drink.”

The second type is the khilafah of prophethood, which is a noble and lofty thing.  It relates to understanding the Speech of Allah (s.w.t.), to our connection with Him, to attaining a pure heart and attaining His Pleasure.  It is the preserve of the prophets and their followers, the pious people in every time and place.  No disbeliever or corrupt person may come close to it, nor someone with arrogance or pride in their heart.  It began with two people on the face of the earth: Adam (a.s.) and Hawa’ and it continues to this day.  If there were only two of us on the earth and we obeyed Allah’s (s.w.t.) Commands in a state of truthfulness and sincerity, we would be the khulafa’ of Allah (s.w.t.) on the earth, without anyone calling us a president or a minister or a leader.  This is the khilafah we should seek.  Many Muslims have no desire to attain it, although it is the greatest form of khilafah.

‘Ali (k.w.) combined the inward and the outward khilafah, and after him, al-Hasan (r.a.), until he relinquished power.  At this point, the inward khilafah, which cannot be affected by evil, became separated from the outward khilafah, which is subject to oppression and misguidance.  Those who possess the inward khilafah will intercede for others on the Day of Judgement, whereas those who possessed the outward khilafah will await Judgement.  If they were just, they will be saved and if they were oppressive, they will be destroyed.  Shaykh ash-Sha’rawi (q.s.) said that one of the wisdoms behind the existence of oppressive rulers is that they cause people to hate oppression.  If we study history, we find that more often than not political power over the centuries has been in the hands of disbelievers and corrupt people.  Many of the messengers were Sent to their people while political power was in the hands of disbelievers.  Nuh (a.s.) spent 950 years amongst his people as the khalifah of Allah (s.w.t.) while political power was in the hands of disbelievers.

The inward khilafah was in the hands of Musa (a.s.) and the outward khilafah was in the hands of Fir’awn.  Musa (a.s.) told to his people to seek Allah’s (s.w.t.) Assistance and be patient, for the earth Belongs to Allah (s.w.t.), and He Bequeaths it to whomever He Wishes from among His slaves - whether they be believers of disbelievers.  However, the end is only for the people of taqwa.  So we must be of those who possess taqwa and do not concern ourselves with the outward khilafah.  The tyrants may threaten us and try to kill us, but the people of the inward khilafah seek Allah’s (s.w.t.) Assistance and rely on Him Alone.

We look at the life of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), the master of the people of khilafah, and the imam of all people.  For forty years before receiving Revelation, he was not in a position of leadership or power.  He was, however, presiding over the inward khilafah and was known as al-Amin, ‘the Trustworthy One.’  People trusted him and consulted him in their affairs.  After receiving Revelation, he spent thirteen years in Makkah, during which time, power was in the hands of people like Abu Jahl.  Outwardly he was under their rule but inwardly he was the greatest khalifah of Allah (s.w.t.) on the earth.  In al-Madinah, he was confronted by hostility from the Jews, the hypocrites and the polytheists.  It was only after eight years that he finally entered Makkah at the age of sixty-one.  He only ruled over Makkah for two years before his death.  This did not, however, detract from his khilafah.  He is the greatest khalifah and every other khalifah from the time of Adam (a.s.) to `Isa (a.s.) will be under his banner.

How can people venerate political power when this is the example of the Master of the Prophets (s.a.w.)?  We leave the rulers to their corruption and their oppression.  We do not condone their oppression or follow them in committing evil.  We advise them if they are ready to accept sincere advice.  Meanwhile, we are in a position of khilafah, the pure khilafah Mentioned by Allah (s.w.t.):

Allah has Promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will of a Surety, Grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He Granted it to those before them; that He will Establish in authority their religion ― the one which He has Chosen for them; and that He will Change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: “They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me.”  If any do reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. (Surah an-Nur:55)

We are allowed to make the call to prayer, to pray, to openly teach these lessons which are broadcast to the east and the west.  We do not deserve any of this.  It is only through the blessings of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his steadfastness.  Makkah was only Opened to him in the final years of his life, but he opened up the whole world.  We used to teach and study in a state of fear but Allah (s.w.t.) Promises as it the verse above, He will Replace their fear with security.  The years passed and the regime changed and now we find ourselves in a state of ease and safety.

They offer you political power and status but we have found something pure and lofty so why do they want us to enter into something filthy?  When Imam al-Husayn (q.s.), the son of Shaykh Abu Bakr ibn Salim (q.s.) was offered political power he said, “Had it had been fitting to give authority to animals we would not be content for it to be given to our horses.”  This is the perspective of the pious people on political power.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “You will greedily seek positions of leadership and it will be a cause of regret on the Day of Judgement.”  We fear that anyone who seeks power and then attains it will be left to it without Allah’s (s.w.t.) Assistance, and then be destroyed.  So if we have a position of responsibility, we must have taqwa of Allah (s.w.t.) and rule by the Sacred Law of Allah (s.w.t.) and fear Allah (s.w.t.) in the way we treat people.  If we heed this advice, we hope we will be saved.  If not, we have chosen our own fate.

‘Umar (r.a.) would say, “I wish to leave power with the bare minimum – with nothing for me or against me.”  He was not proud of his position.  He also said, “It is enough that one descendant of al-Khaththab be asked about his position.  Do not make ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar the Khalifah after me.”  This was his understanding of the outer khilafah and the responsibility it entails.

The hadits inform us that the inward and outward khilafah will not be combined until the end of time.  Prior to this, there will be a period in which people heart’s and states with Allah (s.w.t.) are rectified which prepares the way for the coming of al-Mahdi (a.s.).  The foundation of his rule will be pure hearts.  Without the presence of these hearts, he will not be able to achieve anything.  Someone once asked ‘Ali (k.w.) why problems had arisen during his rule, whereas there had been stability during the time of Abu Bakr (r.a.) and ‘Umar (r.a.).  He replied, “Abu Bakr (r.a.) and ‘Umar (r.a.) ruled over people like me, whereas I am ruling over people like you.”

It is possible for any individual to reach the highest of ranks whatever situation they are in and whatever government they are under.  Why miss out on these opportunities?  We say we want to rule, we want power.  Let our Lord Rule.  The hadits states, “If you seek it you will be left to it, but if you are sought to rule, you will be assisted in it.”  Even when the people attempt to put al-Mahdi (a.s.) in power, he will refuse until they force him to do so.  Even though he is worthy of assuming power, he does not desire it and does not attempt to gain people’s votes.  Rather he is sought out and placed in power and then he receives Allah’s (s.w.t.) Assistance.

Merely speaking about this issue has taken a long time, which tells us how much harm is done by entering into these struggles.  So much time is lost and so much blood is spilt.  So we do not get involved with struggles which lead to harm and bloodshed.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Unite the Muslims and Remove these tribulations.  May He not allow their enemies to take advantage of them by giving them weapons and then watching them kill each other.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Awaken the hearts of this ummah.  Let them not place their trust in anyone in the East or West.  Let their trust be in Him.  If this is the case, then everything in the East and the West will be made subservient to them.

Allah (s.w.t.) has Decreed that power be in the hands of disbelievers and corrupt people.  This is the way of Allah (s.w.t.) in the past and we will find no change in the Way of Allah (s.w.t.).  We, however, have the opportunity to establish the rule of Allah (s.w.t.) and the Law of Allah (s.w.t.) in our homes, in our dealings with our families and friends and our neighbours.  We shall shortly meet Allah (s.w.t.) and we shall return to Him.  Nothing on the face of the earth will benefit us other than that which we have performed truly for Allah (s.w.t.).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lessons from the Hajj

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from a transcript of discourse delivered by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.

As we enter the month of Dzu al-Hijjah, many people would be journeying to the sacred land in order to perform a fundamental principle of Islam that entails leaving everything and going to do what has been prescribed by Allah (s.w.t.).  As such we wish all those who would be making the blessed journey Allah’s (s.w.t.) Blessing, Guidance and Protection.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in His Holy Words:

Such (is the pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord… (Surah al-Hajj:30)

Allah (s.w.t.) has Prescribed the hajj as something sacred.  There is no doubt about this fact.  And Allah (s.w.t.) has Prescribed what is called the rituals of hajj or all that is obligatory to be done while on that sacred journey.  Those who look at these rituals on the basis of reason and logic will not be able to understand.  Even we ourselves cannot fully comprehend some of the rituals that are done on the basis of reason and logic.

However Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us that we are not all knowing; only He is All-Knowing as He Says:

… but over all endued with knowledge is One, the All-Knowing. (Surah Yusuf:76)

Thus, whether we understand the Islamic command or not; we do it because only Allah (s.w.t.) is All-Knowing and He Knows why He Prescribed it.  Allah (s.w.t.) has, for example, Ordered that anyone who enters Makkah from outside its boundaries must perform the ‘umrah.  And one of the rituals of the ‘umrah is to get into a state of ihram; and the ihram is something really different.  Imagine some people possess all the luxuries of life, all the power and status in the respective field and when they are going to Allah’s (s.w.t.) House; they are Commanded to tone down, put on two pieces of unstitched cloth and circumambulate the Ka’bah barefoot.  What is the rationale behind this?  It is a discipline that Allah (s.w.t.) Inculcated in the believers.  The hajj teaches us some very pertinent things.  A few of these are mentioned hereunder.

Firstly, hajj teaches us that we are not great.  Only Allah (s.w.t.) is Great; so we must not let our material belongings fool us as it fooled Pharaoh.  We must learn to understand that we have to return to our Lord one day and we have to leave all our acquisitions behind.  And it is Allah (s.w.t.) Who is Responsible for our existence.  Allah (s.w.t.) Alone is All Knowing.  Why do we run around the Ka’bah and run from Mount Swafa’ to Marwah?  We do not know.  Yes, we have a little understanding concerning the rituals but it is Allah (s.w.t.) Who Truly Knows.  He Knows why He Prescribed it.  And we understand that we have limited knowledge.  He Says in the ayat quoted above that if we honour the sacred things it is better for us.  Whatever that means; He Wants us to show to ourselves that we are really nothing.  One poet composed a poem in Persian about his life experiences and at the end of his journey he concluded by saying “I realise that I am nothing”.

And we will realise that when we perform hajj, we are really nothing, because if we are not careful at times we can get run over and trampled by those over exuberant.  Reason and logic cannot give us knowledge of everything, no matter how much we rationalise.  How can we rationalise standing up and worshipping Allah (s.w.t.) five times for the day?  How can we rationalise leaving all our luxury, comfort, family and business and go and run around the Ka’bah and say. “Here I come, O Allah.”

Pharaoh tried to rationalise everything Moses (a.s.) was doing, so when Moses (a.s.) threw down his staff and Allah (s.w.t.) Caused it to be transformed into a snake, Pharaoh said he was a magician.  We are demonstrating to ourselves that we are nothing, unlike Satan.  This is the attitude and spirit we develop because of the hajj.  We leave everything to go there so it is not a question of reason and logic but rather faith.  Allah (s.w.t.) Wants us to strengthen our faith and reliance in Him and the hajj directly impacts on this.

We do not entertain the thought that if we cannot understand the commandments of Allah (s.w.t.), we will refrain from performing it.  We do what is Prescribed and with the understanding that the Command came from the Lord of the Worlds.  And if He Commands us to do it we have no choice.  One of the greatest experiences of hajj is that it makes us feel and know that we are nothing.  We are insignificant.  We are just another person counted amongst the millions.  Our power and status has no weight.  We move in the same direction as everyone else.  Allah (s.w.t.) Brings us there to show something of His Greatness.  And if we are observant and dedicated, we will see the Workings of our Lord.

We cannot rationalise hajj.  Only Allah (s.w.t.) Knows why He Commanded us to do it.  But one thing we understand is that one day, willingly or not, we have to submit to our Lord; first through death and then the onward journey.  And hajj is a real rehearsal and eye-opener because we leave everything and go there in submission.  Hajj shows us that today we can be up materially and tomorrow, we can be down.  We must not place any importance on the material.  Yes, it is nice to have in order to live comfortable but all that is from Allah’s (s.w.t.) Blessings.  That is why most of the pilgrims return humbled.  We do not emphasise the material.  Our Lord is the goal and purpose of our life and we can experience some of it through the spiritual blessing here.  We understand that we must cultivate humility.  It is a sin to say, “I am better.”   This attitude destroys our spirituality more than we can imagine.  We must be careful especially when we are emotionally agitated as one of the most effective ways of expressing arrogance is through anger and malice to others.

One way of honouring the sacred rights is by refraining from the major sins, all for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  These include shirk, murder, disrespecting ones parents and giving false statements or witnesses as written in Swahih al-Bukhari.  One way of honouring Allah (s.w.t.) and upholding the sacredness of the duties of a believer is to avoid these major sins and giving less importance to the things that Allah (s.w.t.) has not prescribed.  And the rights of hajj inculcate this.  At the time of tawaf, at ‘Arafat or during sa’i; we are giving importance to that and nothing of the material.  If we honour Allah’s (s.w.t.) rights as He Ordains it, it will be spiritual beneficial above everything else.  It is truly a great blessing and possible this is one of the reasons why the narrations state that after a person performs hajj, it is as if they are newborn babies.  Their sins are Wiped Out.

And after all this we should build upon our spirituality.  Blessings can increase or decrease.  We must not let our blessings decrease.  We must build on it by doing good and staying away from the prohibited and, insha’Allah, Allah (s.w.t.) will Bless us all.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Make the hajj for those who are going easy and may He Accept their efforts and sacrifice.  May He also Accept the qurbani from those who will be performing it and may He Continue to Bless us, Guide us and Protect us, insha’Allah.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Holy Month of Hajj: Pilgrimage to the Lord of Power

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah, than these ten days.  One fast during these ten days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the Laylat al-Qadr.”  This hadits was recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.).  The following on the days of virtue and righteous deeds are taken from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani's (q.s.), Ghunya ath-Thalibin.  The practices are those of the Naqshbandi Haqqani as taught to us by Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim al-Haqqani (q.s.).

Praise be to Allah who has created time and made some times better than others.  Some months and days and nights are better than others, when rewards are Multiplied many times, as a Mercy towards His servants.  This encourages them to do more righteous deeds and makes them more eager to worship Him, so that the Muslim renews his efforts to gain a greater share of reward, and to prepare himself for death in readiness for the Day of Judgement.

This season of worship brings many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one’s faults and make up for any shortcomings or anything that one might have missed.  Every one of these special occasions involves some kind of worship through which the servants may draw closer to Allah (s.w.t.), and some kind of blessing through which Allah (s.w.t.) Bestows His Favour and Mercy upon whomsoever He Wills.  The happy person is the one who makes the most of these special months, days and hours.  He draws nearer to his Lord during these times through acts of worship.  He will most likely be touched by the Blessing of Allah (s.w.t.) and will feel the joy of knowing that he is safe from the flames of Hell.

Allah (s.w.t.) has Preferred these 10 days over all the other days of the year.  ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more Beloved to Allah than these ten days.”

The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?”

He replied, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.”

Allah (s.w.t.) Swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
By the Break of Day.  By the Nights twice five (Surah al-Fajr:1-2)

This refers to the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) commanded us to recite a lot of tasbih, tahmid and takbir during this time.  ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days greater in the Sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more Beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of tahlil, takbir and tahmid.”

These ten days include Yawm al-‘Arafah, 9th Dzu al-Hijjah, on which Allah (s.w.t.) Perfected His Religion.  Fasting on this day will remove the sins of two years.  These days also include Yawm an-Nahr, the Day of Sacrifice, 10th Dzu al-Hijjah, the greatest day of the entire year and the greatest day of Hajj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day.

Among the good deeds, which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah is fasting.  Fasting the first nine days, especially on the 9th of Dzu al-Hijjah, Yawm al-‘Arafah.  The mother of the believers, Hafswah (r.a.) reported that Rasulullah (s.a.w.) used to fast the first nine days of Dzu al-Hijjah.  For those not performing hajj, it is desirable to fast on this day according to their own lunar calendar dates of their own country.  According to a hadits, the fast of this day becomes a cause, hopefully so, of forgiveness for sins committed for two years, the year before, and the year after.  When the Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked regarding the fast on the day of ‘Arafah, he replied, “The fast on this day washes past years sins, as well as the remaining years.”

Another deed is dzikr.  It is sunnah to say takbir, “Allahu Akbar”; tahmid, “al-Hamdulillah”; tahlil, “Laa ilaha illa Allah”; and tasbih, “subhanallah” during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah, and to say it loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allah (s.w.t.) and mention His Name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the Greatness of Allah (s.w.t.).  Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.  Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said, “The best form of ‘ibadah is to recite the Qur'an.”

One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (s.w.t.).  The one whom Allah (s.w.t.) Helps to go on hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly is included in the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.): “An accepted hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

Doing more good deeds in general is recommended because good deeds are Beloved by Allah (s.w.t.) and will bring a great Reward from Him.  Whoever is not able to go to hajj should occupy himself at this blessed time by worshipping Allah (s.w.t.), swalah, reading Qur’an, remembering Allah (s.w.t.), making du’a, giving charity, honouring his parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.”

Those who have enough wealth to pay zakat must offer the sacrifice for Allah (s.w.t.).  It is wajib in the Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi madzahib.  It is a very strong sunnah in the Shafi’i madzhab.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever has the means to perform a sacrifice, but did not, let him not approach my mosque.”

For the qurban, one must choose a high-quality animal, fatten it and spend money on it for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  It is the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) and a strongly recommended sunnah.  A lamb, sheep, goat , cow, buffalo, or camel can be offered as the sacrifice.  There are seven shares in a cow, buffalo and camel.  The sacrifice should be accomplished by slaughtering the animal after Swalah al-‘Iyd.  The sacrifice, also called ‘udhiyah or qurbani lasts for four days from 10th Dzu al-Hijjah until the sunset of 13th Dzu al-Hijjah.  The meat should be divided into three shares: one for the family, the second for relatives and friend and the third share is for the poor and the needy.  Or all of the meat can be given to the needy, if that is needed in the area you are doing the sacrifice.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “On the 10th of Dzu al-Hijjah, there is no better act in the view of Allah than shedding the blood (of slaughtered animals).  And verily sacrifice earns the Approbation of Allah even before the drop of blood (of the slaughtered animal) falls on the ground.  Hence you should offer it in good spirit.  For every hair of the sacrificial animal, there is a blessing.”

What must the Muslim avoid during these ten days if he wants to offer a sacrifice?  The sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “When you see the new moon of Dzu al-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.”  Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails and so forth because it is harming him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with men or women washing their heads during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it.

The wisdom behind this prohibition of the one who wants to offer a sacrifice from cutting his hair and so forth, is so that he may resemble those in ihram in some aspect of the rituals performed, and so that he may draw closer to Allah (s.w.t.) by offering the sacrifice.  If a person has cut his hair or nails during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah because he was not planning to offer a sacrifice, then he decides later, during the ten days, to offer a sacrifice, then he must refrain from cutting his hair and nails from the moment the makes this decision.  This prohibition appears to apply only to the one who is offering the sacrifice, not to his wife and children, unless any of them is offering a sacrifice in his or her own right, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to sacrificed “on behalf of the family of Muhammad,” but there are no reports that say he forbade them to cut their hair or nails at that time.

One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (s.w.t.) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin.  Repentance means coming back to Allah (s.w.t.) and foregoing all the deeds, open and secret, that He Dislikes, out of regret for what has passed, giving it up immediately and being determined never to return to it, but to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing what Allah (s.w.t.) Loves. If a Muslim commits a sin, he must hasten to repent at once, without delay, firstly because he does not know when he will die, and secondly because one evil deed leads to another.  Repentance at special times is very important because in most cases people's thought turn towards worship at these times, and they are keen to do good, which leads to them recognising their sins and feeling regret for the past.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

But any that (in this life) had repented, believed, and worked righteousness, will have hopes to be among those who achieve salvation. (Surah al-Qaswasw:67)

The 9th day of Dzu al-Hijjah is called Yawm al-‘Arafah.  This is the date when the hujjaj, pilgrims, assemble on the plain of 'Arafat, six miles away from Makkah al-Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of hajj, namely, the wuquf, the vigil of ‘Arafat.

Beginning from fajr of the 9th Dzu al-Hijjah up to the ‘aswr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the takbir of tashriq after every fardh prayer in the following words: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaha illa Allahu, wa Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa li Allah al-hamd.”  Whether one is performing swalah with jama’ah or individually makes no difference, one should recite the takbir.  However, male Muslims should recite it in a loud voice, while females should recite it in a low voice.

As for the practices of the Day of ‘Arafah for those at ‘Arafat, for those going to hajj, they need not fast on that day as they have many obligations to fulfill.  They must not smoke.  They must not engage in frivolous talk, haggling, quarreling, arguing or wrangling.  They are to make fervent supplications, whilst pleading and weeping, seeking His Favours and Bounties.  If they do all these, they will emerge clean.  If not, they will emerge as dirty as they entered ‘Arafah.

Regarding the practices of the Day of ‘Arafah for those not Performing hajj, they are to fast.  Fasting means that our tongues, our eyes, and all our organs must fast too, especially our hearts.  Fasting on this day removes the sin of the previous year, and of the year to come.

The muridun of the Naqhsbandi and those inclined are to recite Surah al-Ikhlasw 1,000 times.  This begins after fajr and is to be completed before maghrib.  Shaykh ‘Abdullah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) used to recite this:

100 x Laa ilaha illaa Allahu Wahdahu laa shariika lahu.  Lahu al-Mulku wa lahu al-Hamd Yuhyii wa Yumiitu wa Huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadiir

100 x Subhaan Allah, wa al-Hamdu Lillah, wa laa Ilaha illa Allahu, wa Allahu Akbar, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billah al-‘Aliyyi al ‘Azhiim

He would then follow up with istighfar ten times, and swalawat a thousand times.

We are also to du’a for the ummah and for our beloved shuyukh.  Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) said, “Pray for me that I am not placed in a position to be in need of anyone, pray that I am not confined to my bed, pray that I am not humiliated amongst people, pray that the love of Islam is always in our hearts, and that we are under the banner of Islam, here and hereafter.”  We are also to perform swalah al-khuswama’, preferably, between zhuhr and ‘aswr.  The method of its performance is given in a separate post.

There is a supplication on the night of ‘Iyd al-AdhhaFor the night preceding ‘Iyd al-Adhha, 10th Dzu al-Hijjah, it was the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) not to sleep in the night preceding the day of ‘Iyd al-Adhha.  Allah (s.w.t.) Grants all supplications in this night.  Therefore, it is desirable to perform as much supplications and worship in this night.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two ‘Iydayn expecting Rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die.”  This is recorded by Imam ibn Majah (r.a.).