Friday, 30 September 2016

A Muslim man must cover from the navel to the knee


A Muslim man must cover from the navel to the knee. Does this mean that the knees have to be covered?


Scholars differ as to wheter the knee is part of a man’s `awrah (the part of a man’s body that must be concealed in public. 

Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughnî says: “The knees themselves do not have to be covered (they are not part of a man’s`awrah). This is the opinion of Ahmad, Mâlik and al-Shâfi`î” 

Abû Hanîfah, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the knees are part of a man’s `awrah

This disagreement stems from linguistic considerations concerning the interpretation of the preposition “to” in the hadîth that says a man must be covered “from the navel to the knee”. The question is whether the phrase “…to the knee” means “up to and including the knee” or merely “up to the start of the knee”. 

The stronger opinion is that held by the majority of scholars, which is that the knee is not part of a man’s `awrah

However, this means that a Muslim man must wear clothing that is of sufficient length to cover all of the thigh, whether he is standing, sitting, bowing, in jalsah, or in prostration. His entire thigh must remain covered at all times. 

Therefore, shorts that stop just above a man’s knee when he is in a standing position are not sufficient, because his lower thighs will be exposed whenever he sits down and whenever he bows and prostrates in prayer. 

And Allah knows best.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The mother’s rights over her daughter are great but the husband’s rights over his wife are greater


I have two situations that are related with which I ask two questions. I hope I can be helped. The situation is as follows and I do not know how to fix it. My mother is very demanding and fights with me all the time about my husband who has been very good to me and my children and her. She wants him to take her traveling and other things that involve spending a lot of time with her and he does not wish to do due to his demanding job as a doctor and because he feels that they will not get along. She visits our home at least 4-5 months every year and makes me take her out on a daily basis not even worrying that it makes me neglect my home and children. She is also very busy trying to make her own businesses so she fought with me about taking my brother or sister to live with me (they are 16 and 18) and tells me it is my right and I don’t need to even have my husband’s permission on the matter. She also refuses to pay a loan that her and my father (who passed away 2 years ago) made me take when I was in college attending a university I didn’t even want to attend when I was 16 years old, this loan has destroyed my name making it impossible for me to buy anything with my name. She has done this to many people she owes money. On top of this, before my father passed away, he had written all properties and money in her name to make it easier to disperse to each of us (we are four girls and one boy) rather than involving an outside party; after he died, she said it is all in her name, and that she paid for a lot of his businesses before they succeeded so she will keep all the money as her own until she dies. I even gave her about $100,000 (all the money I have ever saved and worked for) because she pretended that she was going to use it to pay off my dad’s debts and she used it for a summer house instead and denies I ever gave her a penny since I never told anyone else because I wanted it between me, my mom and Allah swt even though I know she has a lot of money of her own. My husband was tired of this (and many more bad situations) and so he confronted her about the least of these problems – the old school loan, that was taken over 6 years before we were even married and keeps on multiplying in debt and on my name. He then continued to confront her about the many wrong things that have happened and involved his family too. She got very angry and didn’t want to speak to either of us. Naturally, I wanted to fulfill my obligations to my mother so I managed to get on good speaking terms with her so I do not defy silaat al rahim. We speak fine most of the time but after a couple weeks of that she will go back to insulting my husband, telling me to defy him and disobey him in order for him to apologize to her, and insulting me and my husband with very hurtful and shameful words. This relationship is badly affecting my marriage and my time at home and with my children. I cannot think about anything else and my husband doesn’t want to apologize because he is right and feels my mom has not changed her bad ways and will not even pay off the old loan. And at the same time it is extremely difficult to communicate with her on a healthy level. We live in two different countries (me in America and her in Egypt) and she says if I love her and don’t want to upset Allah swt that I will bring my three kids and visit her, my husband does not want me to leave him and she knows this and insists that I am being a bad muslim and that Allah swt will punish me for disobeying my mother. I have tried to advise her to fear Allah swt and she gets mad and says I should obey her and be against my husband. My husband tells me to try to keep good ties with her as much as I can, and is a very good husband and father otherwise, Alhamdolilah we have a very happy marriage and three healthy children. And so my questions are: 1. What are my obligations to my mother in such an ugly situation, keeping in mind that she continues to insult my husband in our phone calls (we live in two different countries) and asks me to disobey and defy him and cause problems in order for him to apologize to her. This communication has left me emotionally drained, it is what I think about most of my days and it wastes so much of time that I can use with studying or caring for my home. What is the minimum in regards to visiting and speaking to her so that Allah swt will not be angry with me and at the same time I will fulfill my obligation to her and not have to worry about her saying that Allah swt is upset. 2. Who is responsible for this loan. Keeping in mind that I was forced to attend this university, told to take a loan by mother and father, was only 16-18 years old and my husband was not told about this loan before marriage. Also, my mother has more than enough money to pay it off. Your help is deeply appreciated and greatly needed as soon as possible.

Praise be to Allah.
The mother’s status in sharee’ah cannot be denied. Allah has enjoined that her children should honour her, and He has forbidden them to disobey her; He has ruled that the mother is the most entitled of people to one’s good company, as it says in the well-known hadeeth, when a man said: O Messenger of Allah, which of the people is most deserving of my good companionship? He said: “Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then the next closest and the next closest.” Narrated by Muslim (2548). 
This is the mother’s right, and that is her status. It is not permissible for her to consume her children’s wealth unlawfully, rather she must give each one his or her rights, and divide the estate in accordance with the laws of Allah. It is also not permissible for the mother to incite her daughter against her husband and spoil the good relationship between them. These actions of this mother are evil deeds which are not acceptable in Islam, and they bring the threat of sin and punishment. 
Perhaps the greatest way in which you can honour your mother is by deterring her from consuming haraam wealth and doing haraam things, and stopping her from wronging people unlawfully, and remind her of the sin involved in spoiling the relationship between husband and wife, and the sin of gheebah (backbiting), reviling and insulting others, and other haraam things that she is doing, such as tabarruj (wanton display) and travelling without a mahram, if these are true in her case. 
With regard to your siblings who want your mother to live with you and your husband, you are not obliged to do that according to sharee’ah, rather it is the duty of your mother, and in this case the right belongs to your husband: if he agrees to that, all well and good, otherwise you are not obliged to do this, rather we do not advise your husband to accept this situation, because they are not neglected or in need of such a thing, they are not poor and in need of someone to spend on them, and your mother is not unable to take care of their affairs. Taking this responsibility from her is helping her to do the things that she is doing that go against Islam, and to neglect her duties, and pass on this burden to your husband, and put pressure on you and your household with something that is not required of you in the first place, let alone the unacceptable things that may result from your sister living in the same house as a man who is not her mahram (your husband). We do not advise you to accept this situation under any circumstances. 
The status and rights of the mother do not supersede the rights of the husband, rather the husband’s rights are greater and take precedence over your mother’s rights. Your obedience to him takes precedence over your obedience to her, and the wise wife strives to please her husband by doing what he wants so long as it is not contrary to sharee’ah, and she strives to honour her mother in ways that do not go against her husband’s commands. If there is a conflict of interest, then she should put her husband’s commands and wishes first. 
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about a woman who got married, and was no longer under her parents’ care. Which is better – honouring her parents or obeying her husband? 
He replied: When a woman gets married, her husband has more authority over her than her parents, and obeying her husband is more obligatory for her. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity and their husband’s property)” [al-Nisa’ 4:34]. And in a hadeeth the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “This world is temporary conveniences and the best of its comforts is a believing wife, who when you look at her she pleases you and if you tell her to do something she obeys you, and if you are away from her she protects you with regard to  herself and your wealth.”. In Saheeh Abi Haatim it is narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a woman offers her five (daily prayers) and fasts her month and guards her chastity and obeys her husband, she will enter Paradise from whichever of its gates she wants.” In al-Tirmidhi it is narrated that Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Any woman who dies when her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.” This was narrated by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan hadeeth. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi who said it is a hasan hadeeth. It was also narrated by Abu Dawood with the wording: “I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands because of the rights that Allah has given them over them.” In al-Musnad it is narrated from Anas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It is not acceptable for any human to prostrate to another, but if it were acceptable for any human to prostrate to another, I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if there were sores from his feet to the top of his head flowing with pus, then she licked them, she would not have given him all his rights.” 
And he quoted ahaadeeth about the virtue of obeying the husband. 
There are many ahaadeeth on this topic from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Zayd ibn Thaabit said: The husband is a sayyid (lord or master) in the Book of Allah. Then he quoted the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “They both found her lord (i.e. her husband) at the door” [Yoosuf 12:25]. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: Marriage is slavery, so let one of you look to whom he is giving his beloved daughter to be a slave to. In al-Tirmidhi and elsewhere it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I urge you to treat women well, for they are like prisoners with you.”  
So the woman is like a slave of her husband, or like a prisoner; she should not go out of his house without his permission, whether she is told to do so by her father, her mother or anyone else, according to scholarly consensus. 
If a man wants to take her to another place, so long as he is doing what is required of him, and observing the sacred limits of Allah with regard to her, and her father tells her not to obey him in that, then she must obey her husband and not her father, because in that case the parents are wrongdoers, and they have no right to tell her not to obey someone like this husband, and she does not have the right to obey her mother if she tells her to leave him or to cause trouble to him so that he will divorce her, such as demanding more maintenance and more clothing, and demanding (the deferred portion of) her mahr so that he may divorce her.  It is not permissible for her to obey either of her parents by divorcing him if he fears Allah with regard to her.  
In the four Sunans and Saheeh Ibn Abi Haatim it is narrated that Thawbaan said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce when there is nothing wrong, the fragrance of Paradise will be forbidden to her.” According to another hadeeth: “The women who ask for khula’ and the women who make a wanton display of themselves are indeed hypocrites.” 
But if both or one of her parents tells her to do something that involves obedience to Allah, such as praying regularly, speaking the truth and fulfilling trusts, and tells her not to squander or waste her money, and other things that have been enjoined or forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, then she must obey them in that, even if the command comes from someone other than her parents, so how about if it comes from her parents? 
If her husband tells her not to do something that is enjoined by Allah, and he tells her to do something that Allah has forbidden, then she should not obey him in that. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator.” If a master orders his slave to do something that involves disobedience towards Allah, it is not permissible for him to obey him by disobeying Him, so how can a woman obey her husband or one of her parents by committing sin? All goodness is in obeying Allah and His Messenger, and all evil is in disobeying Allah and His Messenger. End quote. Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (32/261-264). 
This is a strong answer based on knowledge, and it is sufficient to explain what is meant, which is that it is not permissible for your mother to spoil the relationship between you and your husband, and it is not permissible for you to obey her in that, and your husband’s right to your obedience is greater than your mother’s. 
Just as you are not obliged to take care of any of your siblings because of your commitment of your husband and the requirement that he should first agree to that, the same applies to your visiting your mother with your children. This is not permissible except with the consent of your husband, and you have done well to refuse your mother’s request. We affirm that this refusal is Islamically acceptable, especially since you have no mahram to travel with you. 
With regard to limiting the number of your mother’s visits to you, this is something that is also up to your husband, and you can work it out with him. The husband has the right to prevent anyone who he thinks is a trouble-maker from entering his house, even if they are your family. As you are in agreement and you have a good relationship, then the matter is simple. All you have to do is agree on a specific number and time for her visits, and stipulate that to her. Your husband has every right to do this; indeed we think that if he stops her altogether he will be doing the right thing, but there is the hope that if her visits are restricted to only a few, and do not affect your family’s happiness, then there is no reason why they should be prevented, and there is nothing wrong with tolerating them. Determining the limit is up to you and you should consult one another and come to some agreement. 
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “And not allow into your houses anyone whom you dislike” means, they (wives) should not allow anyone to enter the house if you (the husband) do not want him or her to enter, even if it is her mother or her father. It is not permissible for her to let her mother, father, sister, brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, paternal aunt or maternal aunt into her husband’s house, if he objects to that. Attention is drawn to this because some women – Allah forbid – are bad even to their daughters. If they see that the daughters are settled and happy with their husbands, they become jealous – Allah forbid – even though they are mothers, and they try to spoil things between the daughter and her husband. So the husband has the right to stop such a mother from entering his house, and he has the right to say to his wife: She should not enter my house. He has the right to prevent her according to sharee’ah, and he has the right to prevent his wife from going to see her, because she is namaamah (one who spreads malicious gossip) and a troublemaker. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No spreader of malicious gossip will enter Paradise.” End quote. Sharh Riyaadh al-Saaliheen (2/91, hadeeth no. 276), 
It seems that the sin of the riba-based loan that is mentioned in your question is borne by you, because you were an adult and responsible for your dealings. So try to get back what is rightfully yours from your mother, and stop the mounting interest payments that result from your delay in repaying it. Try not to pay back anything but the original amount without the interest (riba). If you are not able to do that, then there is no blame on you, but it is essential to repent sincerely, because riba is a major sin. 
We ask Allah to guide your mother and to reconcile between you and your husband. 
And Allah knows best.

Status of the maternal aunt and her rights in Islam


What should be the relation between a nephew and his maternal aunt? Can he shake hand with his maternal aunt? What is the status of Maternal aunt in Islam? What are her rights? Can she expose her face in front of his nephew? Please explain in detail.
Praise be to Allah
The maternal aunt has a high status in Islam, which is similar to that of the mother, as Abu Dawood (2278) narrated from ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him, from the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), that he said: “The maternal aunt is of the same status as the mother.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood
And it was said that what is meant is that she is of the same status as the mother with regard to being entitled to custody, because the hadith was narrated concerning that. 
Fath al-Baari (7 /506) 
And it was said that her status is equivalent to that of the mother with regard to custody and other matters. 
Adh-Dhahabi said in al-Kabaa’ir: That is, with regard to showing kindness, honouring, and upholding ties of kinship with her. 
See also: Sharh Buloogh al-Maraam by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (5/203) 
The second meaning is supported by the report narrated by at-Tirmidhi (1904) from Ibn ‘Umar, according to which a man came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and said: O Messenger of Allah, I have committed a grave sin; can I repent? He said: “Do you have a mother?” He said: No. He said: “Do you have a maternal aunt?” He said: Yes. He said: “Then treat her kindly.” 
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Targheeb (2504)  
This indicates that honouring one’s maternal aunt and treating her kindly come under the heading of virtuous deeds and acts that expiate sins. 
Abu Dawood (4970) narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said: O Messenger of Allah, all my friends have a kunyah. He said: “Call yourself by the name of your son ‘Abdullah” – meaning the son of her sister. Musaddad said: ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr. He said: So she was known by the kunyah of Umm ‘Abdullah. He was ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, the son of her sister Asma’ (may Allah be pleased with them all). 
This hadith confirms what is mentioned above, that the maternal aunt is of the same status as the mother. 
So the Muslim should treat his maternal aunt in a kind manner, just as he treats his mother. 
A person’s maternal aunt – or his paternal aunt – is a maternal aunt to him and to all of his descendants, or a paternal aunt to him and all of his descendants. So your father’s paternal aunt is a paternal aunt to you, and your father’s maternal aunt is a maternal aunt to you; the same applies to your mother’s paternal aunt and maternal aunt. 
A man’s maternal aunt is one of his mahrams, so it is permissible for him to shake hands with her, be alone with her and travel with her, and it is permissible for her to uncover her face in front of him, as a mother does in front of her sons. 
It is permissible for a Muslim woman to uncover in front of her mahrams and women like her that which usually the case with people of religious commitment and good conduct, such as the face, head, neck, forearms and part of the shin. 
It is not permissible for her to wear short or see-through clothes in front of them, or tight clothes that show the shape of the ‘awrah. 
And Allah knows best.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Ways we can cope with our own illness - 11

Be confident that Allah knows what is best for you: You should place your trust in Allah and must remember that you do not know the wisdom behind this trial, perhaps it will make you stronger and lead you on a path to a better life. We should never limit Allah’s wisdom to our comprehension level, because we will never be able to comprehend it — it is above our capability to understand .We should, however, know for a certainty that Allah does not intend harm because it is harmful. Harm with Allah is not intended for itself but for other things that may bring good.
Ibn Uthaymeen, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Allah doesn’t particularly intend harm for a person when He causes him to become ill. Allah intends for the disease to take place and the disease is what may harm man. But He did not intend harm for man. He intends for him only the good from it. Sometimes, the Divine Wisdom may be apparent to the sick, and sometimes it may not. As Allah has said (what means): “And fear a trial which will not strike those who have wronged among you exclusively, and know that Allah is severe in penalty.” [Quran 8:25]
Remember Allah and ask Him for forgiveness much: Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “When Allah guides His servants to ask for forgiveness, He helps them to achieve what they request.” Allah has said (what means): “But Allah would not punish them while you are amongst them. And Allah would not punish them while they seek forgiveness.”[Quran 8:33]
Allah has told us that He would not punish someone who seeks forgiveness, because sincere forgiveness removes the sin that is the reason for the punishment. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “He who is constant in seeking forgiveness, Allah will make for him a way out of any distress, release from grief, and provide for him from where he does not expect it.”[Abu Daawood and Ibn Maajah] So whoever believes in Allah alone and seeks forgiveness from Him, He will provide for him an appointed term, and whoever does good after that, He will increase him from His Grace.
Supplicate with a humble heart and a crying eye asking Allah to cure you:Try to take advantage of the time when supplications are more likely to be answered, praising Allah and calling upon Him with His Beautiful Names. It is also recommended to give something in charity from the best of your possessions before making your supplications. Understand and realize that illness is not the end of your life. If Allah has taken something from you, think of all the things that He has given you and all of the things that you still have.
A believer always strives for the pleasure of his Lord and does not stop because of disease or a trial. The best example is the example the scholar of this nation; Ibn 'Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, when he lost his vision and said: “If Allah has taken from my eyes their light, itis in my tongue and heart that I will find the light. My heart is bright and my mind has no defects. And in my mouth there is a sharp, authentic sword.”
Guard the mandatory acts of worship (Faraa'id): do not neglect them to the best of your ability. If you have any questions, ask people of knowledge. Perform many good and righteous deeds as possible. If someone else can do them for you on your behalf, this is also acceptable. Beware of any practice that is not lawful, especially those against our faith, such as slaughtering animals to anything other than Allah, hanging charms, seeking refuge with jinn or going to sorcerers.

When you are physically able, try to occupy your time with beneficial things like reading. Find activities that you enjoy and that will distract you from your disease and worries.
Always remember that your faith can and does make miracles: Do not underestimate the effect of reliance upon Allah. There are many incidents that have been witnessed where the impossible becomes possible by the power of faith.
Although the cure for illness is out of our hands and is up to Allah alone, we can still do something to make a difference to those who are suffering. It is unfortunate that often times we belittle the impact we can have on others, especially to those who are ill. Just a smile or a funny story to make someone laugh and forget their worries for a moment is something that can be remembered for years — because it made an impact and it made a difference. How many times have we experienced the impact ourselves in our own lives when someone visited us or gave us a call - just at the time when we were at our lowest moment? Most of us will never forget that person who took the time to think about us, and we always remember them fondly because they — without realizing it — helped to shine some light on our dark days.

Ways we can cope with our own illness - 1

Always keep in mind that trials are inevitable and people deal with trials in a variety of ways. Allah Says (what means):  “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, 'Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.' Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” [Quran 2:155-157]
Commenting on this verse, Ash-Sharabaasi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him  said: “You all are going to be tried with some kind of these trials. But you will be different in your attitude and responsibility towards these trials.” Some people have patience and others have none. Some recover and others do not. Trials teach all of us, but only one group is deserving of the reward. “And give good tidings to the patient.” This suggests that since man must be subjected to trials, and since he is going to be afflicted by one form of a trial or another, it is then better for him not to become anxious. Man is going to be tried whether he accepts this fact or not. Since he is going to receive a reward for the trial if he is patient, it is then better for him to be considered from this good group “And give good tidings to the patient.”
Don’t become pessimistic: Don’t shut your eyes only seeing the darkness of grief and worry. It will lead you into depression and isolation waiting for death to arrive, and that is a bleak existence for anyone, especially for someone who is faced with illness. Try not to allow grief and sadness overcome your heart or over burden your mind. Don’t give an opportunity for the devil to whisper to you and try to cause you mental distress that will only add to your pain and suffering. Al-Sa’adee said: “Don’t you know that weakness of the heart and its delusions are truly the incurable illness?”
The strength of the heart and its reliance upon Allah are the examples of strong men. How many hospitals are filled with patients suffering from delusions and paranoia? These delusions and anxieties affect even healthy people and will sometimes cause madness and mental problems.
Therefore, the health of the heart is the basis for the health of the body, and the disease of the heart is the true disease. Man may go through psychological instability where he finds the world a narrow place of distress. But, if the sick allow these thoughts to control their mind, it will add to their distress and their wish for death — possibly to the extent of contemplating suicide.
One may wish to die because of pressure and pain, but we must realize that an early end results in punishment within the grave. So, by living they are afforded more time to repent and turn back towards Allah, and that is surely better. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “No one among you should wish to die because of distress. But if he must do so, then he should say, ‘OAllah give me life as long as life is better for me, and cause me to die as long as death is better for me’." [Al-Bukhari]
Look within yourself for the cause of your illness and treat it with lawful medical treatments. Don’t ignore your illness - seek medical attention right away. Doctors have only been able to make as many strides in medicine thus far because Allah has allowed them to do so. Every disease has a cure except death. Try to search out and find a righteous Muslim physician if possible.
You should question yourself and be fair, do not deceive yourself: If you are afflicted with a distress hardship, look first for the reasons and reprimand yourself.  Allah Says (what means):
  • “What comes to you of good is from Allah, what comes to you of evil (O Man) is from yourself… [Quran 4: 79]
  • “And whatever strikes you of disaster, it is what your hands have earned.”[Quran 42: 30]
When you are grieving and don’t know the reason behind it, then do no let grief find a way into your heart. Learn that Allah decrees everything and nothing that strikes you should have missed you; and nothing that has missed you, should have struck you. Beware of saying anything that may indicate irritation and dissatisfaction with Allah’s Decree, such as saying: "O Lord, why have you afflicted me with this?”

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Belief in the Angels

Every Muslim must believe in angels. We know from the Quran that Allah Says (what means): {…Whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray.} [Quran: 4:136] In the Hadeeth (sayings of Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )) of the angel Jibreel  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention when he  may  Allah  exalt  his  mentioncame to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )and asked him  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) about Islam, Eeman (belief), and Ihsan (sincere and true faith in Allah), the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said about Eeman: “Eeman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in the Divine decree, [both] the good and the bad thereof.” [Muslim]
The angels have been present throughout all the stages of our creation, performing some duty. When we were in our mothers' wombs, an angel was there, breathing a soul into us. They are always there to reporting about our deeds to Allah. Each and every second they are recording what we whisper and speak. When the time of our death comes, they are ready to take our souls. When the Day of Judgement commences, an angel will blow the Horn that will mark the commencement of the Day of Judgement.
Allah has created the angels from light. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “The angels were created from Noor (light), the jinn were created from fire and man was created from what has been described to you.
Angels are honourable slaves of Allah; they obey Him and execute His commands. Allah describes about them in the Quran (what means): {They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.} [Quran: 66:6]
Allah created them to worship Him, and only Allah Knows about their numbers and there life. Some of the important angels among them and their duties are here:
• Jibreel  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention who is charged with delivering Divine revelations to the Prophets and Messengers of Allah  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention.
• Meeka'eel  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention who is charged with the delivering of the rain and subsistence (provision, etc.).
• The angel of death, who is charged with extracting human souls,
• The bearers of the Throne of Allah.
• The guards of Paradise and Hell.
Besides these, there are angels who guard humans, others who record people's deeds and utterances and still others who are charged with various other duties and tasks.
They do not eat or drink; they are characterised by neither feminine nor masculine attributes, and they never tire. Some spend their entire existence in Rukoo’ (bowing) and others in Sujood (prostration). When Judgement will be called, they will raise their heads and say: 'Glory be to You, our Lord! We did not worship You in a way befitting Your Majesty.' They are a creation of Allah, a creation that took place before the creation of our father Adam  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention.
The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) told us about their characteristics and duties. Amongst these characteristics are the following:
Firstly: They are huge in size. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “I saw Jibreel in the fashion that he was originally created in. He had six-hundred (600) wings, with each wing filling the (entire) horizon (i.e., the east to the west – as far as the eye can see).” This event was mentioned in the Quran where Allah Says what means: {And he [i.e., Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )] has already seen him [i.e., Jibreel] in the clear horizon [to the east].} [Quran: 81-23]
Secondly: They have the ability to change their shape, as we know in the story of Maryam, may Allah exalt her mention, and in this Hadeeth of Jibreel  may  Allah  exalt  his  mention when all the Companions  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them saw him wearing an intensely white garment and having intensely black hair.
Thirdly: They live in the heavens, from there they descend to carry out their appointed duties. Allah the Exalted Says what means: {The heavens almost break up from above [by the Grandeur of Allah above them], and the angels exalt [Allah] with praise of their Lord…} [Quran: 42:5]

The gulf between words and deeds

Speaking true words is a facet of action referred to as the action of the tongue. It is the first tangible deed that someone performs when he announces his entry into Islam: “I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.” But what I mean here, more specifically, is the importance of action as a fundamental value in Islam, in terms of maintaining one's religion and developing the world around us. The indispensability of action, by itself, is a major principle that is supported by hundreds of texts from the Quran and Sunnah )traditions of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )).
The success or failure of an individual, the strength or weakness of a society, and the happiness of this world with salvation in the next life all depend on action. Good deeds are the recognised valuables upon which hinge propitious results in the short and long term.
These actions that are deeds of righteousness must fulfil two important conditions:
1. A proper intention (sincerity)
2. Compliance with the Sunnah and the Sharee'ah (Islamic legislation)-also referred to as correctness.
Both of these conditions are addressed in the verse (which means): "[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed..." [Quran 67:2]
So, goodness of action relies upon two issues: sincerity for Allah and abiding by the Sharee'ah. The commentary of Al-Fudhayl Ibn 'Iyaadh  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  himon this verse of chapter Al-Mulk (the Dominion) is well known. He said concerning “best in deed”: "The most sincere and the most correct."
If a deed is done sincerely but is not correct, it is not accepted. Similarly, if it is correct but not done sincerely, it is also not accepted. It is only accepted when it is done sincerely and correctly. I tried to enumerate the number of times that 'righteous deeds' was mentioned in the Quran. These two words were mentioned together about ninety times. The word action or deed when juxtaposed with another adjective other than righteous appears much more often (approximately three hundred times). It is a clear indication of the importance of actions in life. Even in dying, the deed of making an intention is required. This is why Allah Almighty Says (what means): "…So do not die except while you are Muslims." [Quran 2:132]
In western schools of thought generally, and in America more specifically, a new way of thinking, called 'Pragmatism', has sprung into existence that focuses mainly on work and production. This philosophy holds that real and palpable benefits are the yardstick of knowledge, meaning that real knowledge is that which can be practically applied and not merely theoretical knowledge that is cut off from everyday life.
The Divine praise for action implies disdain for two ways that are not on the path of truth: The first way is of the doer whose deed is not based upon true guidance and who has no knowledge of the divine laws. They are those whose deeds are described as being bad or evil. If the deed is a worldly one, it will not bear the desired fruit because it was not based on the proper vision or on true experience.
This meaning is from Allah, Almighty, when He Says (what means): "[Some] faces, that Day, will be humbled, Working [hard] and exhausted. They will [enter to] burn in an intensely hot Fire. They will be given drink from a boiling spring." [Quran 88:2-5]
And (what means): "Say [O Muhammad]: 'Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.'" [Quran 18:103-104]
Every group that is away from Allah's path falls under this category. Their worship of Allah Almighty is mixed with ignorance and falsehood.
Revolutionary schools of thought that do not form their ideas from Divine guidance also fall into this category. They base their efforts and actions on false premises. Their situation is as Allah Almighty describes it by Saying (what means): "Those before them had already plotted, but Allah came at [i.e., uprooted] their building from the foundations, so the roof fell upon them from above them, and the punishment came to them from where they did not perceive." [Quran 16:26]
The most illustrative example of this category in our times is Communism and its philosophical, political and societal roots. Most of its proponents never expected such disastrous results. All of their efforts resulted in harm and they were preoccupied in finding ways to support such a backward system.

The second way is of those who prefer inactivity and comfort. It is the philosophy that is blind to Allah's ways. In it, one wants all desires to come true without effort or toil. The nature of man in terms of being active and doing things makes the existence of such a group to seem dubious at best. But the fundamental qualities of this group become manifest in different ways, for example, those who persist in following their lusts and desires, or who think that it is sufficient for them to follow a particular slogan or be known by a particular name.
On this way are also those who have no goal or aim that they strive for. They are merely prisoners of their circumstances and their daily routines. Their behaviour is not steered by an ideology and their work is not linked to any important mission. They are drowned in work that has no meaning. One of them goes to work to pay off the mortgage on his house. He comes home to sleep, eat and drink only to be able to find the energy to perform his tasks at work! A machine without a spirit is what he has become. The one who is in these circumstances does not even realise the precarious situation that he is in.
Further down in the pit is the Philosophical School that gives no value to the intellect. To them, what is considered by man to be existing is in fact nonexistent. They disbelieve in values. Their aim is to destroy without offering an alternative way. Their goal is to destroy the social structure without having any intention of replacing it with another system.
Many are those who complain about the reality that they live in. They strive to destroy the structure of their society without caring for the fact that the supplanting system will be chaos.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Ihsan, The pursuit of Excellence

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle
Ihsan (Excellence in faith)…just thinking the word in my head has a special ring to it, brings a certain unique, inspiring feeling to my heart. This word, this topic moves me. I hope it has that effect on you as well. Our religion, our way of life is composed of three parts:
  1. Iman
  2. Islam
  3. Ihsan
 To discuss ihsan, we must briefly go through the first two, Iman and Islam.
Iman or faith must be mentioned as the first part of our deen because it serves as our roots. For many years of the Prophet-hood of Muhammad, Allah (God) revealed nothing except the concept of taqwa (God consciousness), ikhlas (sincerity) and Iman (faith). It was not until the hearts of the first Muslims became saturated and strong with true Iman did Allah (swt) begin introducing the next concept – Islam, to the Muslims. 
After our roots are firmly in place and take hold within the rich soil of Iman and that is watered and nourished continually, we can begin understanding and encouraging the practice of Islam or submission to the will of Allah. This Islam, or submission, is like the trunk of the tree, sturdy, reaching up to heights. Muslim children are not required to pray until they are 7. Why? Because these first seven years are to be used by parents to plant the seed of Iman and help this seed to grow strong roots by teaching their children about Allah (swt), about jannah, about the miracles and the angels and preparing them to have a strong, balanced character. The “rules” of Islam come more easily to those who have prepared their hearts with Iman.
Ihsan, which means excellence in belief is the neglected 1/3 of our deen. It is to believe in God Almighty without the slightest speck of doubt. It is similar in idea to the bodhisattva concept the Buddhists hold. And, when attained, it is like the “icing on the cake," for the believer and his or her faith. “Ihsan is the fruit that blossoms from our planted trees and shows up when the roots are strong and nourished, free from disease and harmful insects. If we fail to nourish our Iman by submitting to Allah, we will bear no fruit and our soul will die. But look into the Islamic legacy. It is rich with ihsan. All the achievements in art, science, architecture, literature, geography, politics, economics, social movement, philosophy, medicine and more came from the Muslims’ desire to attain ihsan. Ihsan is our lost treasure that we must unearth and revive.
Ihsan…what does it mean? Like so many other Arabic words that I have mentioned, it has a vast array of meanings. It cannot be summed up prettily in one English word or phrase. Ihsan is excellence. It is perfection. It is beauty. It is balance, harmony, discipline, good character, softness, gentleness, improvement, drive, will power. Ihsan is a human reflection, a human attempt to achieve a high level in the areas covered by the reveled 99 beautiful names of Allah (swt).
In Surat Ar-Rahman, (Quranic chapter "The Merciful"), Allah (swt) uses one of the most powerful and difficult to use literary devices – the rhetorical question. If you have studied literature to any extent, you will know that the rhetorical question can only be used in very special, particularized situations and it can only be used when the author has much confidence and much leverage in the answer and the motivation for asking the question. The rhetorical device is amazing because, as it gives the answer to the question away, it leaves the reader to contemplate deeply on the meaning of the question, and the profound reasons behind the obvious. Allah (swt), in Surat Ar-Rahman, conquers this literary device and uses it in truly miraculous ways.  
"When a man says I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself. He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise would have been accomplished.”
Muhammad Ali
In Surat Ar-Rahman, the most frequent rhetorical question asked is, “then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” and is asked 31 times out of a total of 78 verses in this chapter of the Quran. However, stuck in between 2 of these 31 rhetorical questions is another, more subtle, yet incredibly powerful ayah. It reads, “Is there any reward for ihsan except ihsan?”
This rhetorical question is amazing on a myriad of levels. I would like to share three levels of meaning for this rhetorical question:
(1) Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this level of excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with the sweetness of faith. They will be some of the few people who have walked the face of the earth and tasted this level of faith. God-consciousness will be continuous, and everything these few do will be geared for a higher purpose. They will have attained ihsan and in return, they will feel ihsan in their hearts.
(2) Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with success in this dunya (life of the world). This can be seen in our history, in our Golden Age. The Muslims of that time attained ihsan in their rituals and in their other activities. Allah rewarded this ihsan with ihsan – the excellence in this dunya that we read about – the amazing art, architecture, philosophy, medical advances, etc.
(3) Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with the ultimate success, the ultimate ihsan – that of jannah (heaven) in al-akhira ( hear-after).
So in summary, that one little rhetorical device in 55:60 is hidden, but it packs a huge punch. Those who realize the value of ihsan, who reach and strive and work for ihsan, who nourish their roots and groom their trunk in order to bear plentiful, amazing fruit will be rewarded with Allah’s form of ihsan – the sweetness of faith, success in the dunya, and the ultimate success in al-akhira.
So how does this relate to us right here, right now? Whether your in high school, college, or grad students. We’re young people in the workforce. We’re newly married, engaged, or waiting our turn. We’re brothers and sisters and aunts, uncles, cousins, and children. We’re youth group leaders or mentors or committee heads in MSA/MSU. What does ihsan mean in our lives?
It means that every day, when you’re in a boring class and get handed an assignment for a 15 page paper or you learn about a comprehensive final exam, or you get a huge project from your boss, or your mom asks you to make dinner or clean your room or your brother or sister asks for help with homework or to play with you outside – that you stop…that you stop the immediate negative reaction that we’ve been trained to play over and over again when it comes to these sorts of things and do the right thing, which is to remain positive.
We stop, and we realize that this is our opportunity for ihsan. That this is another opportunity for us to make our intentions for Allah (swt), to please Him. That this is a chance for us to add something to our Life’s Book that Allah (swt) will open on the Day of Judgment and look upon us with joy and be proud of us. For, as Professor Yusuf al-Qaradawi has mentioned,
Allah loves when one of you is given a task, that he or she does it in the most excellent manner.
Sheikh al-Qaradawi didn’t say that Allah “likes” when you do things with ihsan. He didn’t say that Allah thinks it’s “ok” or “cool” or “alright.” One of the greatest scholars of Islam says that Allah “LOVES” when we do things with ihsan. Allah LOVES. Think about that for just a second and let it sink in. Think about the last time someone you respected/admired told you that they loved something you did. How did that make you feel? You were beaming for days, most likely. You remembered what they said and how they reacted and you kept replaying it in your head again and again. Imagine then, how amazing it would feel to do something that Allah (swt) LOVES.
Imagine standing in front of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgment and having Him tell you all the things that you did that He LOVED. Imagine how you would feel.
So when you have a test or a paper or you have to mow the law or you are going to the gym or playing football or doing an MSA event, do it with ihsan! Don’t just “be,” don’t just get by, don’t just pass. Be EXCELLENT, strive for PERFECTION, be the BEST in your class, show the world how Islam inspires you to attain ihsan!
We are given just a few moments in this dunya. Each breath is a priceless jewel and when it passes it never returns…make this moment, this breath, this heart beat one that resounds with ihsan (Excellence)!
 The article was written by staff members