Archive for Quotes and Wisdom

Two Reasons for the Basmala

There are 2 main reasons why we can choose to start something in the Name of God, the Benificent, the Mericful.

Because Allah started the Quran with the basmala Every important matter that does not begin with the basmala will fall short of blessing; it will be naqis (deficient)

In the name of Allah, either we seek the blessing or we start with the name of the Allah for assistance; seeking his Help

The “ba” ( ب) in (باسم) is seeking the blessing or assistance of God.

So we should start with the basmala to seek blessing and assistance

In Ibn kathir’s tafsir (interpretation of the Quran) it is mentioned that the basmala has 19 letters.

Ibn Kathir said the hellfire has 19 angels called zabaniya.

Each one of those letters is a protection from each of them to protect us from the hellfire

SubhanAllah!

Utter bismillah with your tongue when you start something to make your deeds complete inshaAllah!

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Envy

I was listening to the Poor Man’s Book of Assistance set by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf(May God preserve him for us). He was talking about envy, a disease of the heart. He mentioned a book called Billy Bud by Herman Melville who is an American author. There is one quote in this book that Shaykh Hamza says makes the whole book worth it because it is a Hikma. It is as follows:

People will admit to felonious crimes before they admit to envy.

If you think about this quote and ponder it, you find  that it is very true. How often do people admit to Hasad? Not very often.

Something to ponder.

Great Maya Angelou Quote

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” – Maya Angelou

Amin!!

Let’s all strive to be women whose hearts are hidden in God inshaAllah!

Concentrating in Prayer- the 5 Minute Rule

There was something described to me a couple of weeks ago called the 5 minute rule.  It means that if you were thinking of something other than Allah(swt) for about 5 minutes before the prayer, then it is pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be thinking about that thing during the prayer.

So basically if you watch a movie and try to jump up and pray you’ll definitely think about that movie. If you are listening to akon or jay-z before prayer it will disturb it.

There’s a hadith of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace.) that Aisha narrated about the Prophet at home. I don’t know the hadith by heart or exactly what it is but the basic gist of it is that the Prophet was extremely playful and kind at home but when the time for prayer came “it was as if he didn’t know us. Do we ever think about what this means in relation to our own prayer? What does this mean?

The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) was getting into the zone before he spoke to his Lord.

And we llike dance around to hip-hop or Arabic music and pause it and say “Allahu akbar” one second later and expect to be in the zone? We expect to be to completely focused in our prayer?

Did you ever see someone right before they interview for a really big job or for university or med school or grad school?

They are really nervous, if not really nervous, they are studying for their interview with index cards.

They are dressed nicely, they probably have showered and smell good, and they are definitely not dancing or watching a movie 10 minutes before their interview. (I hope not haha) That is because they are getting ready to talk to an important person and they need to be ready.

(These examples are really arbitrary by the way.)

You know what I’m getting at here.

When we pray, we are getting ready to talk to the Lord of the Worlds and we don’t prepare that much at all. We try to keep our wudu all day so we don’t have to repeat it even though wudu id good. If we do have to do wudu, we huff and puff through it or we do it in 10 seconds barely wetting ourselves. We might not be in our best clothes… and you know the rest.

Now let’s quickly go through some parts of the Prayer. We need to interact with our prayer more.

There is a parallel that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf made with the prayer. I have no clue if it’s true or whatnot but I do think it’s beneficial so I’ll say it.

He said that the qiyam (the part of prayer when you are standing and you recite fatiha and whatnot) represents Islam. It represents the prayer.

The ruku (hands on your knees) represents iman, you are praising your Lord during that time.

The sujood (prostration with the head on the ground) represents Ihsan. This is the time when you are closest to your heart.

Also during the qiyaam, your mind is above your heart. In ruku, they are perfectly level and in sujood your heart is above your mind.

On Allahu Akbar:

Translation: God is the Greatest or God is Greater?

Both are true. However the latter is the better translation.

Think about it in terms of the prayer. Maybe you’re not completely concentrated. But you have to say “God is greater.”

God s greater than everything that is happening in your life at the moment.

If you’ve just gone through a crisis and you find it hard to concentrate in prayer, think about the fact that God is greater than all that.

After the ruku

Think about sujood. You are putting your face to the ground. This is worship. Islam really puts an emphasis on how your face really represents your dignity. Muslims are not allowed to strike the face of the opponent in war. No Muslim is allowed to ever strike face of another. Ever. Without exceptions.

So sujood really signifies how much we are humbling ourselves before our creator. We are nothing in comparison. We put our faces to the ground and we say “Glory be to God the highest of the high.”

The tashahud: It’s really nice to know the context of the tashahud.

During Israa and Miraj, we believe that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) ascended to the heavens. He was walking through wondering how to adress Allah. We address each other as aslamu alaikom but Allah is al Salam. That is one of his names. So he said “Attahiyatu lilah Azzakiyatu lilah Attayibatus salawatu lilah”

Greetings to God, Righteous offerings to God. Best of Prayers to God.

Then Allah ta3ala responded back to the Prophet:

Assalamu alaika Ayyuha annabi. Peace be upon you O Prophet.

Then the Prophet(May Allah bless him and give him peace) said:assalamu alaina wa ala ilah asaliheen

Peace be upon us and upon God’s righteous slaves.

Of course our beloved (May Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t forget his umma and included us.

The angels were watching this and then after seeing it said the shahada: “Asshadu inna la ilhaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu waashaddu anna muhamaddan abu wa rasoolu”

I testify that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.

Some tips to apply the Rule and help to concentrate in prayer:

  • Wudu-Use wudhu time to reflect on Allah swt. Don’t have conversations during wudu. The act of wudu has to do with cleanliness but that’s not all we use it for. It’s supposed to cleanse you to put you in a state of mind for the act of prayer. We all know that if there is no water available we can use earth so there is definitely more to wudu than cleanliness.
  • Know what you’re reciting! If you don’t know Arabic, quickly read through a translation of fatiha before you pray. This is the part of the quran where Allah teaches us how to make dua to him so know what you’re saying!
  • For people that do and don’t know Arabic- listen to a really good tafsir of surah fatiha or read a good tafsir. Knowing the translation is not really enough. Read the commentary if your translation of the Qu’ran has one. Even if you’ve already read one or taken a class on one, read it regularly to keep yourself refreshed. Sunnipath had a really good special with Shaykh Sohail Hanif on Surah Fatiha It is available on their website. I’ll post my notes from it shortly

Finally, I know that all of us might not have the time to prep for our prayer. In university, we have to rush to pray between classes etc. But you can remember Allah while running to the campus musalla. We should just try our best to get in the zone before we pray, so that our prayer benefits us.

This post is wayy longer than I intended it to be, so back to work.

John Esposito-Let God be God

I went to a talk by John Esposito during Ramadan. I wrote a draft of this post during Ramadan but I didn’t want to waste time writing the post so I’m finishing it up now with all of my commentary. Unfortunately it’s not as fresh in my mind. It was a very short talk. He is working on a book called The Future of Islam.

I was very surprised, It was an at an Iftar do mostly Muslim attended and I think most of us were blown away. The talk was very Dr. Jacksonesque and Muner Fareedesque too. I guess it’s an academic thing. But I was just surprised to hear it from a non-Muslim.

But he mentioned the book by Maududi: “Let us be Muslims.” He said the theme of his talk was going to be “let God be God.” He makes the judgments calls. We are not the judges, He is. And Dr. Esposito mentions that this is a problem that Christians also have.

He started with the tendency of Islam and Christianity to go back to tradition rather than scripture. This was really interesting and true in many ways.

Now first things first, I want to deal with some criticisms that many people put forth about John. Oh he’s an apologist oh he’s not a real Islamic scholar. Now he might not have as much scholarly presence as Dr. John Voll or Dr. Sherman Jackson and he might not have the breadth of knowledge of the likes of Mufti Ali Gomaa etc., but I will put forth the argument that he is CREDIBLE at least even if you don’t agree with his conclusions. This is because he clearly has spent A LOT of time with and around Muslims. Regular youth and people such as Al-Qaradawi and Mufti Ali Gomaa. And if you truly believe that he doesn’t know Islam very well, he definitely knows Muslims extremely well. He knows how Muslims interpret and behave towards Islam. As a Muslim I can tell, when he says things, it’s usually on the bull’s eye. I HATE when non-Muslims and act like orientalists and want to enter into my psyche. I can’t stand it. I always feel like non-Muslims just don’t understand the way we think at all and they are usually WAY OFF in their conclusions about us Muslims. But John Esposito is the opposite and when he was talking I was slightly uncomfortable in the way he was on point with the way he Muslims think. Like it took me awhile to get used to Dr. Jackson( he does it the most) and Imam Zaid and Shaykh Hamza getting into our psyche and challenging the way we think! Imagine this tall Italian Catholic doing it! You feel quite embarrassed. After I was feeling uncomfortable, I was quite impressed. He knows our thought process. It’s quite impressive. He makes conclusions about the community similar to the way we would. And it’s very valuable because he then tells us the way that the Catholic community does the same thing. So people can say a lot of negative about him, but he’s still credible on issues that have to do with Muslims. He proves that time and time again. He knows a lot about our culture and history and about our state in America. More than you can say about the likes of Ayan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji.

Another funny anecdote is about a hate e-mail he received in the morning. He receives many of these.

Here is what the hate e-mail he received said:

E-mail: There are people that live in the 13th century that behead people that’s bad enough but you try to sympathize with them and understand them so you’re worse. Someone needs to drag you and bitchslap(I usually don’t curse but he said this so forgive me) you until you are all bloody and skin you like a tomato and even that’s not enough for you.

Isn’t that just outrageous? Many non-Muslims see him as a sellout. I see him as very intelligent and someone that knows Muslims really well.

Muslims in the past used to always refer everything back to God.- hmm Now that I’m coming back to edit this post I can’t remeber exactly in which context he said this.

Muslims fighting: we can’t afford it. America is different after 9/11.Our freedoms are more limited. This is not something new. I’ve heard many Muslim scholars remind us of this. Like many people say, before we are thrown into Guantanamo we are not asked if we are Sufi, Salafi, Shia, Arab, South Asian whatever.

Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror by David Cole

He also told us that when we want to judge other people we should think to ourselves and he put this in the lingo of: “Brooklyn Italian”: Who the hell do you think you are?

He mentioned some Muslim youth that were asking him for religious advice. (Strange right?) He gave them good advice. They were mentioning how they see salafi Islam as “no-no” Islam that is defined as what you can and cannot do. They asked him how they could be more spiritual. He said he told them to pray. I think that’s pretty good advice. And it shows that even he notices that there is a spiritual vacuum among American Muslim youth. Movements that don’t put in spirituality in religious teachings as well as law are bound to create youth that feel spiritually empty. Islam is supposed to be a balance between spirituality and law. If you lack either one, you have a problem.

He also mentioned speaking to Shaykh Ali Gomaa of Egypt about how there’s a need for an American/European fiqh. But he asked us who knows fiqh well enough and who knows the West well enough to be able to do this?

Now many Muslims were pretty upset with his talk. I don’t know exactly why. I think we need to get over ourselves. He meant well and he wasn’t saying anything new. He wasn’t saying anything a Muslim scholar hasn’t said sometime in the past. It’s always good to be reminded right? Even if it’s by a “Catholic”.

Make the Most of these Last Few Days of Ramadan

This is a great post and a much needed reminder from Sunni Sister.

Ameen to all of the duas she makes.

With that, I turn off my computer.

Imam Malik (ra) and Adab with Hadith

“It is told of Malik ibn Anas (d.795) the founder of the Malikite school of jurisprudence and one of the great hadith transmitters, that “when he intended to sit down to recite hadith, he performed the ablution, donned new garments, put on a new turban, took his place on the platform in awe, reverence, and great seriousness. As long as the lecture continued, incense was contantly burned. His reverence to hadith was so great that it happened in one session that a scorpion stung him sixteen times, and he did not show any sign of disturbance.”

(Annemarie Schimmel, And Muhhamad is His Messenger)

Reading Seerah at least once a year

I was listening to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s Seerah CD set and he was saying that we should read a seerah (biography of the Prophet May Allah bless him and give him peace) at least once a year. In this case, he was talking about Martin Ling’s Muhammad but he really meant any seerah.

He was saying that partly because you get really confused with all of the names within a seerah. As in the names of all the tribes, the numerous, numerous characters, etc. Reading a seerah regularly will help us get comfortable with all the names inshaAllah.

This also reminds me of an anecdote of Dr. Sherman Abdul Hakim Jackson. He went to Egypt, (Azhar I think) and he told the main guy(sheikh/mufti) that he wanted to understand the Qur’an. That was his goal. He wanted to study and know the Qur’an. The guy got up and dropped seerah volumes in his hands. He said that understanding the seerah is the key to fully understanding the Qur’an.

It also increases our love for the Prophet May Allah bless him and give him peace.

In another lecture, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf says that love (mahabba) is increased by 3 things:

1. By someone’s physical appearance: We have that of the Prophet Muhammad May Allah bless him and give him peace, in the Shama’il of Imam Tirmidhi

2. By their inner appearance, i.e by their character. We also have descriptions of the character of the Beloved May Allah bless him and give him peace.

3. By their sacrifice for you: Shaykh Hamza says, “If you knew what the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) did for you-what he did for all of humanity, you would fall in love with him.”

He mentioned that some people make it a point to read a seerah every Rabi ul Awwal but it doesn’t matter. We should make it a point to do this. Also, there are great seerahs available in every language MashaAllah. It’s part of Allah azz wa jall’s promise to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) : Wa Raf3ana Laka Dhikrak.

094.004 And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)

Now what’s everyone’s favorite seerah? Any language.

Hadith Can Misguide Those Devoid of Fiqh

Taken from an article by GF Haddaad:

Ibn Abî Zayd al-Mâlikî reports Sufyân ibn `Uyayna as
saying: “Hadith is a pitfall except for the fuqahâ’,”

Mâlik’s companion `Abd Allâh ibn Wahb said: “Hadith is a
pitfall except for the Ulema. Every memorizer of hadith that does
not have an Imâm in fiqh is misguided , and if Allâh had not
rescued us with Mâlik and al-Layth [ibn Sa3d], we would have been
misguided.”

Ibn Abî Zayd comments: He [Sufyân] means that other than the
jurists might take something in its external meaning when, in fact,
it is interpreted in the light of another hadith or some evidence
which remains hidden to him; or it may in fact consist in discarded
evidence due to some other [abrogating] evidence. None can meet the
responsibility of knowing this except those who deepened their
learning and obtained fiqh.”

Ibn Wahb is also reported to say: “I met three hundred and sixty
learned people of knowledge but, without Mâlik and al-Layth, I would
have strayed.”

Another versions states: “Were it not for Mâlik ibn Anas and al-
Layth ibn Sa`d I would have perished; I used to think everything
that is [authentically] related from the Prophet – Allâh bless and
greet him – must be put into practice.”

Another version has: “I gathered a lot of h.adîths and they drove me
to confusion. I would consult Mâlik and al-Layth and they would say
to me, ‘take this and leave this.'”

Ibn Wahb had compiled 120,000 narrations according to Ahmad ibn Sâlih.

Hence, Ibn `Uqda replied to a man who had asked him about a certain
narration: Keep such hadiths to a minimum for, truly, they are
unsuitable except for those who know their interpretation.

Yahya ibn Sulayman narrated from Ibn Wahb that he heard Mâlik say: ‘Many
of these hadiths are [a cause for] misguidance; some hadiths were
narrated by me and I wish that for each of them I had been flogged
with a stick twice. I certainly no longer narrate them!'”


By his phrase, “Many of these hadîths are misguidance,” Mâlik means
their adducing them in the wrong place and meaning, because the
Sunna is wisdom and wisdom is to place each thing in its right
context.

Another good read on the topic Shaykh Nuh’s commentary on the Reading of Sahih Bukhari on one’s own.

Calling Oneself a Sufi

I know that times have changed and dynamics have changed so that now it’s acceptable for people to attribute the name Sufi to themselves. But I choose not do it, because a Sufi is someone who has mastered tazkiyatun nafs, which I haven’t.

I found an interesting excerpt that I wanted to share:

“As for the derivation of the words tasawwuf and Sufism they come from the word sufi, and here it must be first said that no one can ever call himself a sufi, except from pure ignorance, for it proves thereby that he is not truly so, this quality necessarily being a secret(sirr) between the true sufi and Allah; one can only call oneself a mutasawwuf, a term applied to anyone who has entered upon the initiatic “way”, whatever the “degree” he may have reached; but the sufi , in the true sense of the term, is only the one who has reached the supreme degree.”

So I guess we can conclude that in these days the word sufi is not used in the true sense of the term, which is unfortunate.

from Haqiqa and Sharia in Islam

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