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Archive for March, 2011

Correcting the two strengths of knowledge and action

Shaykh ul –Islaam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Taken from ‘Miftah dar as-Sa’ada’(key to the land of happiness)

Translated by Abbas Abu Yahya

 

The saying of Allaah Ta’ala :   ((By Al-‘Asr (the time). Verily! Man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience.))

Ash-Shafiee – may Allaah be pleased with him – said: ‘If all the people reflected over this Soorah it would be sufficient for them.’

The explanation of this is that this Soorah has four levels, and by completing these, a person can achieve the highest goal in being complete.

The first is: Knowing the truth.

The second: his acting upon the truth.

The third: Him teaching the one who is deficient in the truth.

The fourth: Being patient in learning the truth, and acting upon it, and teaching it.

Allaah Ta’ala mentioned these four levels in this Soorah, and Allaah Subhanahu testified in this Soorah by al-Asr (the time) that everyone is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous, good deeds and they are those who knew the truth, and they testified to the truth. So the above is a level.

They did righteous, good deeds and they are those who performed worship with what they knew about the truth.

So this is a level. They advise with the truth; they advise one another, teaching and guiding each other.

So this is the third level. They advise with patience; they were patient with the truth, and they advised each other with patience upon the truth, and to be steadfast.

And this is the fourth level. This is the end of completeness; indeed completeness is that a person is complete in himself, and completes others.

His completeness is by correcting his two strengths, the strength of knowledge and the strength of actions.  Correction of the strength of knowledge is with Emaan, and correction of the strength of actions is by doing righteous deeds, and by completing people other than himself, and by learning this knowledge, and being patient upon it, and his recommending with patience upon knowledge and action.

So this Soorah, even though it is brief, is one of the most collective soorahs of the Qur’aan for goodness from all its different angles. Praise be to Allaah Who has made the Qur’aan sufficient for everything, a cure from every disease, a guidance to all that is good.

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1 – Bishr al-Haafi said: “That I seek the world with a wind instrument is more beloved to me than that I seek it with my Deen.”
2 – Ibraaheem an-Nakha’i said: “When Shaytaan comes to you while you are in prayer and says: ‘You are showing off,’ make it longer.”

3 – One of the Salaf said: “Direct me to an action by which I will never cease to be performing for Allaah the Exalted.” It was said to him: “Always intend good, because you will never cease to be performing even if you do not perform any actions. The intention is made even in the absence of any actions. Whoever intended to pray at night and then slept, the reward for what he intended will be written for him.”

4 – One of them said: “I love that I have an intention for every single thing; even my eat, drink and sleep.”

5 – It was said to Sahl: “What is the hardest thing for the soul (to achieve)?” He said: “Sincerity, when there is no other desire in it.”

6 – Ya’qoob al-Makfoof said: “The sincere person is the one who hides his good deeds just like he hides his evil deeds.”

7 – One of them wrote to his brother: “Make your intention sincere in all of your actions, and little action will suffice you.”

8 – Ayyoob as-Sakhtiyaani said: “Purifying the intention is harder than all other actions for those who act.”

9 – Yahyaa bin Mu’aadh said: “Sincerity separates good actions from faults like the separation of milk from dung and blood.”

10 – as-Soosi said: “What Allaah desires from the actions of His creation is sincerity and nothing else.”

11 – al-Junayd said: “To Allaah belong servants who understand, and when they understand they act, and when they act they make their actions sincere. Their recalling of sincerity at the time of doing righteousness is what accumulates the greatest good for them.”

12 – Hawshab used to cry and say: “My name has reached the large Mosque (meaning, the people will know who I am)!”

13 – as-Soosi said: “Sincerity is to lose the vision of sincerity in oneself.”

14 – One of them said: “Whoever sees sincerity in his sincerity, his sincerity is itself in need of sincerity. The destruction of every sincere person lies in his sincerity to the extent that he sees sincerity in himself. When he abandons seeing sincerity in himself he will be sincere and purified.”

15 – Abu ‘Uthmaan said: “Sincerity is to forget about the creation by constantly looking at the Creator (in terms of gaining admiration for your deeds).”

16 – Ibraaheem bin Adham said: “The one who loves fame is not truthful to Allaah.”

17 – Sufyaan ath-Thawri said: “They (the Salaf) used to hate fame and reputation due to wearing nice garments because eyes would stretch towards them.”

18 – Na’eem bin Hammaad said: “‘Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak frequently used to sit in his house for long periods of time, so it was said to him: ‘Don’t you feel lonely and isolated?’ He said: ‘How can I feel isolated while I am with the Prophet (saw)?’.”

19 – Ja’far bin Hayyaan said: “The foundations of these actions are the intentions. Indeed a man reaches with his intentions a position he does not reach with his actions.”

20 – One of the people of wisdom used to say: “When a man is speaking in a gathering and his speech amazes him, let be silent. When he keeps silent and his silence amazes, him let him speak.”

21 – Mutraf bin ‘Abdullaah ash-Shakheer said: “That I spend the night sleeping and wake up remorseful is more loved to me than that I spend the night standing in prayer and wake up in admiration.”

22 – an-Nu’maan bin Qays said: “I never saw ‘Abeedah performing any voluntary prayers in the mosque of al-Hayy.”

23 – ‘Ali said: “The one who shows off has three charactersistics: he is lazy when by himself, he is lively and energetic when with others and he increases in his actions when he is praised and decreases in them when he is criticised.”

24 – al-Hasan said: “The one who shows off desires to overcome what Allaah has decreed for him. He is an evil person who desires to inform the people that he is righteous in order to hear what they would say. He has obtained a position of vileness and wickedness from his Lord. It is therefore essential for the hearts of the believers to recognise him.”

25 – Sahl bin ‘Abdullaah said: “There is nothing which is tougher upon the soul than acheiving sincerity. How many times have I tried to remove the inclination to show off from my heart except that it sprouted in a different colour?”

26 – Ibn Mas’ood said: “Do not learn knowledge for three reasons: to amaze and confound the foolish, to argue with the learned and to make people’s faces turn towards you. Rather, seek what is with Allaah with your hearts and actions, since only that will remain and whatever is besides it will go.”

27 – Abu Sulaymaan ad-Daarini said: “Glad tidings for the one who took a single step desiring nothing but the face of Allaah by it.”

28 – Some of the Salaf said: “Whoever had a single instance in his lifetime which was purely and sincerely for the sake of Allaah – the Exalted – will be saved, and this is due to the greatness of sincerity.”

29 – Abu Sulaymaan ad-Daarini said: “When the servant is sincere, the inclination to show off and the many whisperings (of the Devils) are cut off from him.”

30 – It has also been said: “Sincerity is that the servants inward and outward actions are equal. Riyaa’ is when the outward appearance is better than the inner self and truthfulness in one’s sincerity is when the inner self is better cultivated and more flourishing than the outward appearance.”

31 – Some of the Salaf have said: “Sincerity is that you do not seek a witness over your action besides Allaah or one who gives reward besides Him.”

32 – Makhool said: “Never does a servant maintain sincerity for forty days in succession except that the streams of wisdom from his heart appear on his tongue.”

33 – ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim said: “The people destined for the Fire will be ordered towards Paradise until they come close to it and smell its fragrance, see its palaces and what Allaah has prepared in it for its people. Then an announcement will be made that they be turned away from it. There will be no portion for them in it. They will return in loss and ruin just like the ones before them. Then they will say: ‘O our Lord! If you had entered us into the Fire before You showed us what You have shown us from Your reward and what You have prepared for your friends and allies, it would have been easier upon us.’ Then the Exalted will say: ‘This is what I intended with you. When you used to be alone you would combat me (or show boldness to Me) with grave sins and when you used to meet people you would meet them with humility. You would show to the people other than that which you used to give Me from your hearts. You feared people but you did not fear Me. You honored the people but you did not honor Me, you abandoned actions for the people but you did not abandon them for Me. This day, will I make you taste a tormenting punishment as well as prevent you from receiving that reward.”

34 – It has been said: “The damage caused to every servant lies in his being pleased with himself. Whoever looks at his soul and sees something in it which he deems to be good has caused its destruction. And whoever does not suspect his soul at every single moment is one who is deceived.”

35 – Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Sincerity is the unification of one’s wish and intent.”

[Collected by Shaykh Husayn al-‘Awaa’ishah from ‘Ihyaa’ ‘Uloom ud-Deen’ of al-Ghazaali, ‘Mukhtasar Minhaaj ul-Qaasideen’ of Ibn Qudaamah and ‘az-Zuhd’ of ‘Abdullaah Ibn al-Mubaarak]

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Dead Hearts

by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

While thousands of Muslims are killed all over the world, and while tens of thousands are imprisoned and tortured for calling to the path of Allah and for enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, most Muslims remain remarkably silent and have no worry except for the material things of life. Their hearts have been filled with the love of this life and the forgetfulness of the Hereafter.

Allah says in the Qur’an: “You will indeed find them, of all people, most greedy of life, even more than those who do not believe in Resurrection. Each one of them wishes he could be given a life of a thousand years. But the grant of such life will not save him even a little from due punishment. For Allah sees well all that they do” (Al Baqarah, 2:96).

Many Muslims today have become so much attached to their life that their desire is to dwell among their family, house, money and commerce. They have forgotten that matters of the Hereafter should come before matters of this life and that we must strive to follow the orders of Allah, not just those we find easy and convenient to follow. Some Muslims today claim that it is better to perform extra prayers and extra fasting rather than enjoin the good and forbid the evil or defend the lives of weak Muslims. Such people would even blame the Muslims who strive to perform these obligations.

This is what Ibn al-Qayyim had to say about such people: ”The Shaitan has misled most people by beautifying for them the performance of certain voluntary acts of worship such as voluntary prayers and voluntary fasting while neglecting other obligatory acts of worship such as enjoining the good and eradicating the evil, to the extent that they do not even make the intention of performing them whenever they are able to. Such people are considered by the scholars to be on the bottom of the scale of religion: For the essence of our religion is to perform what Allah ordered us to do. The one who does not perform his obligations is actually worse than the one who performs sins. Anyone having some knowledge about the revelation of Allah, the guidance of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and the life of the companions would conclude that those who are pointed at today as the most pious people are in fact the least pious. Indeed, what kind of piety is there in a person who witnesses Allah’s sanctities being violated, his religion abandoned, the Sunnah of His Messenger shunned, and yet remains still with a cold heart and a shut mouth’ Such a person is like a dumb Shaitan! In the same way the one who talks falsehood is a speaking Shaitan. Isn’t the misfortune of Islam due only to those who whenever their life and food are secure, would not care about what happens to the religion? The best among them would offer a sorry face. But if they were challenged in one of the things their heart is attached to like their money, they would spare no efforts to get it back. These people, besides deserving the anger of Allah, are afflicted with the greatest calamity without even knowing it: They have a dead heart. Indeed the more alive a person’s heart is, the stronger its anger for the sake of Allah and the more complete his support to Islam and Muslims.”

(A’alaam al-Muwaqqi’een, volume 2, page 176).

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Tafseer Aayatul-Kursi

Author: The Eminent Qur’anic Sciences Scholar: Imaam Abdur Rahman As Sa’dee (rahimahuAllah)

Source: Tayseer Al-Kareem

Ar-Rahmaan and his commentary on Al-Aqeedah Al-Waasitiyyah

Compiled and Translated: Zaid Lites

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah send peace and blessings upon him) informed us that the following verse- Aayatul-Kursi- is the greatest verse of the Qur’an, due to the splendid meanings it comprises of:  The many attributes of Allah, The Exalted Inventor  of all things  (Al Baaree Ta’aala). Tawheed: completely singling out Allah, alone, without any partners, in all acts of worship.  Allah says: 


Allah-there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, “Al-Hayy”:  The Ever-Living, “Al-Qayyoom”:  The Sustainer of all existence.  Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him.  To Him belongs whatever is in the  heavens and whatever is on earth.  Who is it that can intercede with Him, except by His permission?!  He knows what lies ahead of them  and what is behind them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge, except for that which He wills.  His kursi extends over the heavens and earth, and their preservation does not tire Him.  And He is The Most High, The Most Great.  [al-Baqarah, 2:255]

In this verse, Allah informs us that He is  “Allah”:  Meaning, The One to whom belongs worship, in all its senses.  None deserves divinity nor to be worshiped except Him.  Therefore, deifying and worshipping other than Allah is futile and absurd. He is “Al-Hayy” :  The Ever-Living :  To whom belongs all of the qualities of perfect life; including perfection in hearing, vision, ability, will, might, knowledge, wisdom, mercy, and other  proper attributes relating to His essence. He is  “Al-Qayyoom”:  The Sustainer, Who is independent and free of any need of His creation.  He sustains all of existence.  He originated everything into existence, maintained and provided everything with sustenance, and all the necessities for existence and survival.  Allah’s name:   “Al-Hayy” indicates all of Allah’s attributes relating to His essence, while, “Al-Qayyoom” entails all of His attributes describing His actions. Thus, all of His lofty attributes refer back to these two beautiful names. Hence, it is narrated that “Al-Hayy, Al-Qayyoom” is the greatest name, which if Allah is invoked by, He answers, and if requested by, He grants.   Due to His perfect qualities of life and sustainment, “Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him.” Drowsiness and sleep only occur in the creation, which experiences weakness, exhaustion, and inability, and does not apply to the One of magnificence, greatness, and splendor!   He informs us that He is The Owner of everything that is within the heavens and earth.  So everything is a possessed slave of Allah.  None can depart from this state.

“There is none in the heavens and earth, except that it comes to the Most Merciful as a slave.”  [Maryam, 19:93]So He is The Owner of all sovereignties.  And He is The One, to whom belongs the attributes of dominion, authority, reign, majesty, and management of universal affairs.  Through His supreme rule and authority; none can intercede with Him, except by His permission.  All of the notable and distinguished interceders are slaves belonging to Him. None can proceed with intercession, until He permits them:

“Say:  To Allah belongs all intercession.  To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth…” [Az-Zumar, 39:44] Allah does not allow anyone to intercede, except intercession for one He is pleased with.  And Allah is not pleased, except with the implementation of: o Tawheed:  completely singling out Allah, alone, without any partners, in all acts of worship.  o Following all of His Messengers. Therefore, whomsoever this does not apply to is not entitled any share of intercession.  Allah has negated intercession for those who worship others besides Him.  They seek intercession from others besides Allah, and without His permission. Their intercession is futile. Then Allah informs us of His unlimited, all-encompassing knowledge.  He knows what awaits the creation of infinite future events, as well as “what is   behind them”, of unlimited past affairs.  No concealed thing is hidden from Him:

“He knows that which deceives the eyes and what the breast conceal.”   [Ghaafir, 40:19] None of the creation can encompass anything of Allah’s knowledge and information, “except for what He wills”, i.e., what He has disclosed to them, by different means, including prescribed and legislative affairs.  Yet, this in its entirety, still amounts to nothing, with respect to the knowledge and information of The Inventor (Allah).  This is affirmed by the most knowledgeable of Allah, amongst His creation; the messengers and angels.  They said (as Allah has informed us):

“Exalted are You!  We have no knowledge, except what You have taught us.” [al-Baqarah, 2:32] Allah then informs us of His greatness and magnificence, and that “His kursi extends over the heavens and earth”, and that He maintains the heavens and earth, and all of its inhabitants, by means of causation and universal orders, which He has placed in the creation.  This describes Allah’s grace upon His creation:  He has created the heavens and earth for them, and everything within it, as well as maintained it and preserved it from destruction.  He has governed it by an amazing system of universal laws, having countless benefits.  All of this, while; “its preservation does not tire or burden Him”, due to the perfection of His greatness, ability, and His abundant wisdom in His ordinances.

“And He is The Most High” He is the absolute Most High, in all senses:  The Most High in His essence; above all of His creation, having risen over the Throne.  The Most High by the exaltedness and greatness of His attributes and status:  To Him belongs every perfect attribute of excellence.  The Most High by His subjugation of the creation:   All of existence submits to Him.  Even the stubborn and obstinate are subdued to His subjugation. And He is “The Most Great”: He is the possessor of all the qualities of greatness, magnificence, nobility, and splendor:  The One whom the hearts love, and the souls glorify.  The hearts of His prophets, angels, and allies are in complete glorification of His Majesty.  There is none greater than Him!  Those of knowledge and acquaintance recognize that the greatness of anything and everything, even if it surpassed eminence and was considered indescribable, is still nothing compared to the greatness of The Most High, Most Great! Clearly, this verse, which is comprised of such extraordinary meanings, entitles it to be the greatest verse of the Qur’an.  The heart of one who reads it in contemplation and reflection- while comprehending its meanings- deserves to be filled with certainty, acknowledgement, and Eemaan (Faith).  Furthermore, by that, he/she will be safeguarded from the evil of Satan.

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I complained to Wakee`about my poor memory.
So he advised me to abandon disobedience.
and he said, ‘know that knowledge is light.
And the light of Allaah is not bestowed upon a disobedient’.

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Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was asked: “Tell us about a person who does some good deed and people praise him, will this be considered as showing off?” He replied, “This is the glad tidings which a believer receives (in this life).”
[Muslim].

Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that if a person does a virtuous act to please Allah (i.e., not with the intention to show off) and people praise him for it, then there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, such praise is the glad tidings which he receives in this world. Expression of such good opinion about him by the public is akin to a declaration that Allah is pleased with him. Sincere admiration and praise of someone by the public is not a disqualification. It is, in fact, an evidence of his virtuous conduct and its recognition by Allah.

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Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The martyrs are of five kinds: One who dies of plague; one who dies of disease of his belly; the drowned; one who dies under the debris (of construction, etc.), and one who dies while fighting in the way of Allah.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: The Hadith mentioned four categories of people, besides those who were slain on the battlefield, whom Allah will, by His Special Grace, give on the Day of Judgement an award similar to martyrs on condition that they are true believers and practising Muslims. In some other Ahadith, certain other persons have also been mentioned who will be given the status of martyrs by Allah. There is no contradiction in these Ahadith for the reason that first of all the Prophet (PBUH) was told about five categories of martyrs which were disclosed by him. Subsequently Almighty Allah added some more people to them which were also mentioned by him. The real Shaheed is one who voluntarily gives his life for the sake of Allah provided that he wholeheartedly fights on the battlefield.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Whom do you reckon to be martyr amongst you?” The Companions replied: “The one who is killed in Allah’s way.” He said, “In that case, the martyrs among my people would be few.” The Companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Then who are the martyrs?” He replied, “He who is killed in the way of Allah is a martyr; he who dies naturally in the Cause of Allah is a martyr; he who dies of plague is a martyr; and he who dies of a belly disease is a martyr; and he who is drowned is a martyr.”
[Muslim].

This Hadith shows the care Allah has for this Ummah, which is the best Ummah of mankind. (Editor’s Note)

Commentary: “He who dies naturally in the Cause of Allah”, here signifies such a person who does not die because of his being killed in the war by sword, lance, bullet, etc., but meets the death on account of some other causes while going for Jihad such as falling from the horse, or who dies while defending his family or property, or defending other Muslims against attackers or robbers, etc. Such a person will also be a martyr.

`Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “He who is killed while defending his property is a martyr.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: The Hadith highlights the fact that whoever gets killed in an effort to protect his property is a martyr.

Sa`id bin Zaid bin `Amr bin Nufail (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, one of the ten Companions who were given the glad tidings of entering Jannah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: “He who dies while defending his property is a martyr; he who dies in defence of his own life is a martyr; and he who dies on defense of his faith is a martyr, he who dies in defence of his family is a martyr.”
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary: Those ten Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) whom he gave the glad tidings of entering Jannah are known as “Al-Asharatul-Mubashsharuna bil-Jannah”. They are Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, `Umar bin Al-Khattab, `Uthman bin `Affan, `Ali bin Abu Talib, Talhah bin Ubaidullah, Zubair bin Al-`Awwam, `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf, Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas, Abu `Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah and the narrator of this Hadith, i.e., Sa`id bin Zaid, may Allah be pleased with all of them. The Prophet (PBUH) also foretold that some other people will enter Jannah, but these ten people are called Al-Asharatul-Mubashsharuna bil-Jannah for the reason that the prophecy about these ten people was made at one time, in a single Hadith. This Hadith includes the names of some other people also who will be given the reward of martyrdom.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and asked, “O Messenger of Allah! What shall I do if someone comes to me with the intention of taking away my property?” He replied, “Do not hand over it to him.” The man asked, “What shall I do if he fights me?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Then fight him.” “What will be my position in the Hereafter if he has killed me?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, “In that case you are a martyr.” The man asked: “What if I killed him?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, “He will be in the Hell-fire.”
[Muslim].

Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that in the course of struggling to protect one’s life and property, it is quite fair to kill a dacoit, robber or plunderer. Such a killing is not deemed a sin. In case he is a Muslim, he will go to Jannah after suffering the punishment of his attacking a Muslim. But if he regards the act of attacking Muslims and encroaching upon their property lawful, he will be in Hell forever. It should be borne in mind that if a person dies while struggling to protect his life and property, he will be granted the status of a martyr, with the difference that a martyr of this kind will be given bath and funeral prayer because he is a martyr by Divine order not by his own will and desire. He who is martyred in Jihad at the battlefield is exempted from bath and the funeral prayer.

Source

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The sign of scrupulous piety (al-wara`) is considering ten things mandatory upon oneself:

1. Guarding the tongue from backbiting due to the saying of the Most High: “Do not backbite one another.” [49:12]

2. Shunning suspicion due to the saying of the Most High: “Avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.” [49:12] And also due to the saying of the Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, “Avoid suspicion, for airing suspicion is the most lying form of speech.” [Musnad Ahmad]

3. Shunning mockery due to the saying of the Most High: “Let not a people ridicule another people; perhaps they may be better than them.” [49:11]

4. Lowering gaze from forbidden things due to the saying of the Most High: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze.” [24:30]

5. Truthfulness of the tongue due to the saying of the Most High: “And when you speak, be just.” [6:152]

6. Recognizing the blessings of Allah the Most High upon oneself in order to avoid conceitedness due to the saying of the Most High: “Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you should be truthful.” [49:17]

7. Spending one’s wealth on good rather than bad things, due to the saying of the most High: “And those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly.” [25:67] Meaning, they do not spend on sinfulness and do not prevent obedience, “but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate.” [25:67]

8. Not seeking haughtiness and pride for oneself, due to the saying of the Most High: “That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption.” [28:83]

9. Maintaining with care the five prayers on time, with proper bowing and prostration, due to the saying of the Most High: “Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle [`asr] prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.” [2:238]

10. Steadfastness upon the way of Sunnah and Jama`ah, due to the saying of the Most High: “And, this is My Path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.” [6:153]

 

(Taken from Islaam.com)

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In the Name of Allah, I invoke peace and blessings on His Messenger.

Ibn ‘Abbas related that the Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting the 10th day of Muharram. When he inquired about this, they replied: “This is a good day. It is the day that Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted it.” The Prophet replied: “I have more of a right to Moses than you.” and he ordered us to fast it.

Several thousand years ago today, Allah saved one of His Prophets and his believing followers from the oppressive policies of the greatest tyrant on Earth. Prophet Moses and the Children of Israel he had come to protect were the target of a campaign of persecution so brutal, so continuous that there seemed to be no end to it in sight. When that end finally did come with Pharaoh’s watery demise, it was such a relief and mercy that it was legislated in our religion to mark that day by fasting, as a means of both gratitude to Allah and solidarity with fellow muslims who preserved their faith under tyranny.

As we continue to fast the 10th of Muharram several millennia later, I thought it appropriate to extract some significance and relevance from the experiences of the Children of Israel at the hands of Pharaoh in order to appreciate exactly what it was they were rescued from. By touching upon a few examples of Pharaoh’s methods of persecution, perhaps we will be able to draw some parallels between the reality faced by the Children of Israel thousands of years ago and the reality faced by this Ummah today, leading us to recognize why it is we fast this day and what place it should have in our hearts.

 So let us look through the Qur’an and list some of these Pharonic methods.

1.) Demonization

 In Surat Ghafir, v. 26, Pharaoh said: {“Leave me to kill Moses, and let him call upon his Lord! I fear that he will change your way of life or bring about ruin and evil on Earth.”}

 Here, we see Pharaoh accusing Prophet Moses with two accusations: i) he wants to change their way of life, and ii) he is out to spread evil and destruction on Earth. Sound familiar? Moses was sent by Allah to Pharaoh, in fact, for two reasons: to end Pharaoh’s oppression of the Children of Israel, and to call Pharaoh to worship the Creator. So, he was on a mission to do the exact opposite of what Pharaoh accused him of, while it was in fact Pharaoh who was carrying out what he accused Moses of! This a classic case of what is known as psychological projection (look it up).

 Then, Pharaoh ironically sets himself up as the valiant  defender of his ‘good’ in the face of the ‘evil’ of Moses, in v. 29: {“I show you only what I see to be correct, and I only guide you to the right way!”} Just as Allah indicated in Surat al-Baqarah, v. 11: {“And if it is said to them: ‘Stop spreading evil on Earth!’ they say: We are only peacemakers!”}

 So, the practice of demonization and accusing the victim of violence, corruption, etc. is an ancient one. It’s just that nowadays, the fashionable terms to use are ‘extremism’, ‘radicalism’, and ‘terrorism.’ Had Pharaoh known of these words, he probably would’ve used them against Moses, too.

2.) Belittlement

 In Surat az-Zukhraf, v. 51-52, Pharaoh said: {“My people! Isn’t the kingdom of Egypt and all of these rivers flowing underneath me all mine? Don’t you see? Am I not better than this one who is despicable and can barely express himself?”}

 Moses went to Pharaoh for two reasons: to end his oppression of others and to call him to worship his Creator. Pharaoh had no moral or logical grounds for debate for either of the two of these challenges posed to him by Moses, and he knew it. So, his resort was to belittle Moses in order to draw the public’s attention away from this fact and distract them from the simple logic of what Moses was saying. Rather than directly address these challenges responsibly and honestly, he points to himself as the strong, civilized established authority facing the speech-imped, weak, helpless outcast who offers no prestige or status to anyone who would be unfortunate enough to choose to join him, all in an effort to counter the legitimacy and appeal of his words.

The same tactic is used today. We often hear parts of the Shariah being characterized as backwards, barbaric, uncivilized, inhumane, etc. We hear of how Muslims in certain parts of the world are in need of learning how to live under ‘freedom’ and so on. We are subtly taught that we need others to solve our problems for us, and how we are weak and dependent on the powerful, and how we can’t, we can’t, we can’t/ We are made to feel insignificant and defensive and apologetic, and act so.

 None of this is haphazard. It is a tactic borrowed from Pharaoh, and its purpose is twofold: to create an inferiority complex in the Muslim mind, as well as to create a smokescreen to block the non-Muslim mind from being attracted to the truth. The message of Moses was very clear and logical: Stop oppressing others and worship the Creator. Pharaoh’s belittlement was simply an act of desperation and a tactic of manipulation to make up for this, and as stated in v. 54: {“Thus, he fooled his people and they followed along …”}

 3.) Imprisonment

 In Surat ash-Shu’ara’, v. 29, Pharaoh said: {“If you choose a god besides me, I will make you a prisoner!”}

This threat came in the midst of a public confrontation with Prophet Moses, as he was making one eloquent presentation of Tawhid after another. People were beginning to hear this strange new message, and Pharaoh wasn’t liking it one bit. This was a radical message, as Webster’s dictionary defines radical as “Going to the  root or source,” and this is exactly what the call to Tawhid presented by Moses and all the Prophets does. It is an irresistible straight-to-the-point call to those who seek humility, but it was also a clear and present danger to this claimant to godhood, Pharaoh. The only way to silence Moses and lock away his message was to lock him up. The threat of incarceration has always been used to do away with undesired and unpopular speech and beliefs and those who manifest them, and the Muslim Ummah in particular is not bereft of examples throughout its history and present. So prison here was being used as a tool of suppression.

 However, prison has also been used as a means of coercing the commission of certain deeds, usually those shameful in nature. In Surat Yusuf, v. 32, Prophet Joseph was threatened with it if he refused to sleep with the King’s wife: {“… I did seek to seduce him , but he refused. Now, if he refuses to comply with what I demand, he will certainly be thrown into prison!”} Joseph’s response was simply to say: {“O Lord! Prison is more preferable to me than what they want me to do.”} And as it was, he was imprisoned when he refused to comply with that shameful, treacherous demand: {“The it occurred to them, after seeing proofs of his innocence, to imprison him for a time.”}

 May Allah free the imprisoned Muslims around the globe, amin.

 4.) Instilling Societal Fear

 In Surat yunus, v. 83: {“But none believed in Moses except some descendent of his people because of the fear of Pharaoh and their chiefs that they would persecute them …”}

 Fear is the most cost-effective method of countering an undesired presence simply because it is a preventative measure meant to keep an individual, group, or society in check. Rather than wait until the spread of a message or a movement that challenges the status quo, it is much easier to simply scare everyone into conforming. Rather than allow Moses the freedom to teach his message and lose the large number of subject enslaved to him, Pharaoh instead implemented a campaign of fear to dissuade anyone from being affected by this radicalism, lending an ear to Moses’ words, or even displaying sympathy to him or his followers. This way, not only would Moses not be able to spread his message, but there could be no hint of support for any of its tenets expressed openly throughout Pharaoh’s kingdom. Why? Because this message was a direct challenge to both Pharaoh’s arrogance and his oppression of others, and it had to be contained to preserve his authority. Any challenge or dissent from this authority had to be found, contained, weakened, outcast and eliminated. In essence, Pharaoh had mastered the ancient art of terrorism, which is defined in Webster’s dictionary as: “the political use of terror or intimidation.

 The words of Sayyid Qutb apply well to Moses in this situation: “A society has a governing logic and a common mode, its pressure is strong and its weight heavy on anyone who is not protected by some powerful member of society or who challenges it without a strong power… The person who takes a stand against the direction of the society -its governing logic, its common mindset, its standards, its concepts, its error and deviations – will find himself a stranger and helpless unless his authority comes from a source which is more powerful than the people, more permanent than the Earth, and nobler that life …” This is exactly how Moses was, peace be upon him , in the midst of Pharaoh’s campaign against his message, his beliefs, his words, and his way of life – despite facing demonization, belittlement, threats of imprisonment and torture, and having the entire society too frightened to even be associated with him. As Emily Dickinson wrote:

Much madness is divinest sense –

To a discerning eye –

Much sense – the starkest madness –

‘Tis the majority

In this, as all, prevail –

Assent, and you are sane –

Demur – you’re straight away dangerous –

And handled with a chain.

 However, despite the intimidation by Pharaoh, there were a few individuals who cast aside their fears and boldly spike in defense of Moses, in fact accepting his message; as we learn in Surat Ghafir, v. 28: {“And a man who believed from Pharaoh’s household and had his his faith said: “would you kill a man because he says ‘My Lord is Allah’ and has come to you with clear signs from your Lord?””} So, this man who was from Pharaoh’s very bloodline came out in defense of the truth even though society at large was either too scared or too heedless to. In the same spirit, anyone who pays attention to current events involving Muslim affairs will note the many non-Muslims who appear even bolder in standing up for Muslims than the Muslims themselves. We have even witnessed a few of them, much like this man from Pharaoh’s household, choosing to actually become Muslims as occurred with a number of former guards who served at Guantánamo Bay, for example.

 These are just a few examples of many, but the statement of the Prophet to the Jews of Madinah: “I have more of a right to Moses than you” when he had the Muslims fast on this day should carry a greater significance with us as we observe the unmistakable similarities between what Moses and the Children of Israel were saved from  and what we are facing thousands of years later today. Likewise, we await the same aid and victory given to them by Allah, and we ask Allah to grant us the same faith, taqwa, and adherence to His Religion manifested by Moses as he watched the Red Sea part before his eyes.

 O  Allah, as You saved Moses from distress, save us from the distress of this life and the next …

______

Continue to make dua for our respected brother Dr Tarek Mehanna. May Allaah hasten his release, aameen.

www.freetarek.com

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