Monday, January 28, 2013

Some of its inhabitants of the hellfire

Asalamu alikum

Imran bin Husayn (radiAllahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "I looked into Paradise and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were the poor, and I looked into Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women."
[Sahih al-Bukhari]

Usamah (radiAllahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) stated: "I stood at the gate of Paradise and saw that the majority of the people who entered it were the poor, while those of means were held [for account], except the companions of the Fire, who were already ordered to [be taken to] the Fire. And I stood at the gate of the Fire and [saw that] the majority of those who entered it were women."
[Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Ibn Abbas (radiAllahu anhu) stated: "The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, 'I looked into the Hellfire, and the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.' It was asked, 'Did they disbelieve in (i.e. were ungrateful to ] Allah?' He replied, 'They were ungrateful to their husbands and were ungrateful for favors and the good deeds done for them. If you had always been good to one of them and then she saw something in you not to her liking, she would say, 'I have never seen any good from you at all."'"
[Sahih al-Bukhari]

"And We sent Musa with Our clear [signs] and an authority manifest unto Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they followed the command of Pharaoh. And the command of Pharaoh was no right guide. He will go before his people on the Day of Judgment and lead them into the Fire. And how evil will be the place to which they are led. And they are followed by a curse in this [life] and on the Day of Judgment. And evil is the gift which will be given [to them]."
[Hud, 11: 96-99]

"The Fire - they will be exposed to it morning and evening, and on the Day that judgment will be established [it will be said], 'Cast the people of Pharaoh into the severest punishment.'"
[Ghafir, 40: 46]

The Wives of Nuh and Lut:

"Allah has given an example of those who disbelieve: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them; so they [the two prophets] did not benefit them [the wives] before Allah at all, and they were told, 'Enter the Fire with those who enter.'"
[at-Tahreem, 66: 10]

Abu Lahab and His Wife:
"May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him nor that which he gained. He will enter a flaming fire and his wife [as well] - the carrier of firewood - around her neck a rope of palm fiber."
[Masad, 111: 1-5]

Amr bin Luhayy:
Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) reported that Allah's Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "I saw 'Amr bin Luhayy bin Qam'a bin Khindif, brother of Bani Ka'b, dragging his intestines in the Fire."

Amr bin Amir al-Khuya'i:
Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) stated that Allah's Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "I saw 'Amr bin 'Amir al-Khuya'i dragging his intestines in the Fire; he was the first who dedicated to animals to false deities."

Abu Talib:
Ibn Abbas (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "Of the inmates of the Fire, the one with the easiest punishment will be Abu Talib; he will be wearing a pair of shoes which will cause his brain to boil."
[Sahih al-Bukhari]

"He will say, 'Enter into the company of communities who passed away before you - of jinn and men - into the Fire.'"
[al-A'raf, 7: 38]

"If your Lord had so willed, He could have make mankind one people, but they will not cease to dispute except those on whom your Lord has bestowed His mercy. And the word of your Lord will be fulfilled: 'Certainly I will fill Hell with jinn and men all together.'"
[Hud, 11: 118-119]

"Then they will be thrown into it [the Hellfire] on their faces - they and those straying in evil and the soldiers of Iblees, all together."
[ash-Shu'ara, 26: 94-95]

Conversations in Paradise

Asaalmu alikum

They will say: "Praise be to Allah, Who has removed all sadness from us. Truly our Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful: He Who has lodged us, out of His favor, in the Abode of Permanence, where no weariness or fatigue affects us." (Surah Fatir, 34-35)

The Qur'an contains detailed accounts of conversations among believers, to whom Allah has given an exalted position in Paradise. These conversations are important, because they provide a good example for believers in this life. The verses: "They will hear no idle talk in it, nor any call to sin. All that is said is: 'Peace! Peace!''' (Surat al-Waqi'a, 25-26) show the importance of avoiding empty talk. Elsewhere, the same point is expressed as:

They will hear no idle talk nor any lying there, as a recompensation from your Lord, a commensurate gift. (Surat an-Naba', 35-36)

Now, let us look at every word of wisdom in the conversations taking place in Paradise.

After giving their account, believers are sent to Paradise in groups. The gates of Paradise are opened for them, and they are greeted by the gatekeeper, who says to them:

�"Peace be upon you! You have done well, so enter it timelessly, forever." (Surat az-Zumar, 73)

In another verse, it is said that angels who will come in to welcome them from every gate will say to them:

"Peace be upon you because of your steadfastness! How wonderful is the Ultimate Abode!" (Surat ar-Ra'd, 24)

Believers answer:

"Praise be to Allah, Who has fulfilled His promise to us and made us the inheritors of this land, letting us settle in the Garden wherever we want. How excellent is the wage of those who work!" (Surat az-Zumar, 74)

"Beforehand we used to live in fear among our families. But Allah was gracious to us and safeguarded us from the punishment of the searing wind. Beforehand we certainly used to call upon Him because He is the All-Good, the Most Merciful." (Surat at-Tur, 26-28)

"Praise be to Allah, Who has guided us to this! We would not have been guided had Allah not guided us. The Messengers of our Lord came with the Truth." (Surat al-A'raf, 43)

This verse continues:

It will be proclaimed to them: "This is your Garden, which you have inherited for what you did." (Surat al-A'raf, 43)

In another verse, the believers' thanksgiving in Paradise is described as:

Their call there is: "Glory be to You, O Allah!" Their greeting there is: "Peace!" The end of their call is: "Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds!" (Surah Yunus, 10)

Another verse says:

They will say: "Praise be to Allah, Who has removed all sadness from us. Truly our Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful: He Who has lodged us, out of His favor, in the Abode of Permanence, where no weariness or fatigue affects us." (Surah Fatir, 34-35)

The conversation between believers in Paradise is related as follows:

They will turn to one another, asking each other [about their past lives]. One of them will say: "I used to have a friend who would say to me: 'Are you one of those who say that it is true, that after we have died and are turned to dust and bones, we will face a Reckoning?'"

[And] he will add: "Would you like to look [and see him]?"

So he will look down and see him in the midst of the Blazing Fire and say: "By Allah, you almost ruined me! If it were not for the blessing of my Lord, I would surely be [now] among those who are given over [to suffering]. But then [Omy friends in Paradise,] is it [really] so that we are not to die [again,] beyond our previous death and we shall never [again] be made to suffer? Truly this is the Great Victory!" (Surat as-Saffat, 50-60)

As we see from these verses, believers are aware that they have arrived at this final happy end only by Allah's merciful will. Their consciences are keen, and they remember the past. Perhaps their whole lives are shown to them in detail, where they see the members of their intimate circle trying to make them deviate from the right path. And they understand that if Allah had not protected them with His endless grace, they could have followed the wrong path. Believers who come to this awareness give thanks to Allah in Paradise, just as they did in the world.

The verses below tell about the words spoken between the people of Paradise and those in Hell, and give expression to the latter group's sorrow:

In Gardens they will ask the evildoers: "What caused you to enter Saqar [Hell]?"

They will say: "We were not among the prayerful, and we did not feed the poor. We plunged with those who plunged, and denied the Day of Judgment until the Certainty came to us." The intercession of those who intercede will not help them. (Surat al-Muddaththir, 40-48)

So, the people in Hell confess the evil that they did during their earthly lives, and understand that there is no escape from their new abode. Another such conversation is related in these verses:

The Companions of Paradise will call out to the Companions of Hell: "We have found that what our Lord promised us is true. Have you found that what your Lord promised you is true?" They will say: "Yes, we have!" Between them a herald will proclaim: "May the curse of Allah be upon the wrongdoers, those who bar access to the Way of Allah, desiring to make it crooked, and reject the hereafter." (Surat al-A'raf, 44-45)

The Companions of Hell will call out to the Companions of Paradise: "Throw down some water to us, or some of what Allah has given you as provision." They will say: "Allah has forbidden them to the disbelievers." (Surat al-A'raf, 50)

So, the suffering of those in Hell increases several fold. In addition to the many pains they endure, they can see the blessings of Paradise and speak with the people there. However, they cannot attain the blessings that those people enjoy, and it is too late to be sorry. This spiritual suffering is described in another verse:

On the Day when those who were unbelievers are exposed to the Fire, [it will be said to them]: "You dissipated the good things you had in your worldly life, and enjoyed yourself in it. So today you are being repaid with the punishment of humiliation for being arrogant in the earth without any right, and for being deviators." (Surat al-Ahqaf, 20)

So, disbelievers are imprisoned forever in Hell as a "reward" for the evil that they committed during their earthly lives. But believers have found their perfect happiness and salvation.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Endless Delight

Asalamu alikum

Eat and drink with relish for what you did.(Surat al-Mursalat, 43)

The Qur'an announces that the people of Paradise are blessed with the finest food and various drinks. But since these people require no nourishment, we can understand that such food and drink have been created only to give pleasure.

This food resembles the food of this world. The people of Paradise will express this similarity in the following way:

Give the good news to those who believe and do right actions, that they will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them. When they are given fruit there as provision, they will say: "This is what we were given before." But they were only given a simulation of it. They will have there spouses of perfect purity, and will remain there timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Baqara, 25)
Many foods in this world address people's appetites and give pleasure by their appearance and taste. Of course Allah can easily create similar foods in Paradise to give pleasure to believers. But, unlike with earthly food, there will be no need to worry about gaining weight, cholesterol, overeating, and so on, for Allah tells them: "Eat and drink with relish for what you did" (Surat al-Mursalat, 43) Being able to eat and drink beyond any reckoning is a delightfully pleasant reward.

In order to attain Paradise, people are tested in this earthly life. Believers show great effort and zeal in order to please our Lord, for they turn to Him sincerely, thank Him continually, pray to Him, and repent of their sins. As a reward, Allah offers them the blessings of Paradise.

Leading all of the food mentioned in the Qur'an is meat. In Paradise, Allah gives believers "any kind of fruit and meat that they desire" (Surat at-Tur, 22), and will offer them "any bird-meat they desire" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 22). Moreover, their food will "never run out" (Surah Sad, 54), because believers will"enter Paradise, provided for in it without any reckoning" (Surah Ghafir, 40).

They will be able to eat as much as they want, for the amount and types of food available will never decrease, and no one will be forced to stop eating due to being full or feeling sick.

Fruit is perhaps the food most often mentioned in the Qur'an. In Paradise, believers receive whatever type of fruit they desire. The Qur'an describes this:

Its shading branches will droop down over them, its ripe fruit hanging ready to be picked. (Surat al-Insan, 14)

Thus, we understand that fruits of Paradise grow on trees in natural surroundings and that believers can easily pick and eat them. Surat al-Waqi'a 28-29 mentions ""fruit-laden lote-trees with thorns removed" and "[banana] trees layered [with fruit]," meaning that the fruit can be obtained easily due to Paradise's infinite blessings.

The fruit it so plentiful that the tree branches cannot bear its weight, and it is easy to reach because the branches bend down to the ground.

This fruit may be offered freely on golden and silver trays and tastefully designed plates to believers, who are sitting on thrones and conversing with one another. Certainly all seeds and traces of rot and bruising that annoy people in this world have been removed, as befits Paradise. All fruits are offered to believers freely, with their eye-catching beauty and without blemish.

Fruit also adds further color and aesthetic beauty to Paradise. The sight of trees laden with all sorts of colorful fruits lends even more beauty to the wonderful landscape. The predominant color is green, and within that green are yellows, oranges, and reds that form a beautiful view that strikes the human eye. As an indication of Allah's mighty artistry, this view is another cause for thanksgiving.

Certainly, many kinds of drinks are also desirable. For instance, Surat as-Saffat, 45 mentions "a cup from a flowing spring passing round among them." In Paradise, believers are given "the choicest sealed wine to drink, whose seal is musk" (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 25-27). As these verses state, whatever they drink is also sweet-smelling and, of course, this wine is unlike any earthly wine.

The people who drink it will not become intoxicated or have their awareness impaired. Allah says that these drinks will be offered in glasses. They will not cause headaches, a loss of control of themselves, or any alteration in their minds. Young men whom Allah appointed for this service freely offer these drinks

Saturday, January 19, 2013

This Life is not our Real Life

Asalamu alikum

Many people think that they can make a perfect life for themselves in this world. They think that if they can acquire enough material possessions, they will experience total personal satisfaction and happiness. According to the most widespread opinion, a person's life will be perfect after he or she has attained material wealth, gotten married with this intention in mind, and is respected by society because of his or her influential and well-established career.

The Qur'an does not support this view, for it states that this present life will never be perfect and without problems, as it is designed like that.

The root of dunya (world) has a very important meaning in this sense: It is a derivative of the adjective "daniy": low, unrefined, basic and worthless. "World" means a space characterized by these traits. So, the Qur'an often emphasizes this worldly life's worthlessness and unimportance. It refers to such things as wealth, family, status, and success, which are thought to make for a good life, as nothing more than transitory and deceptive. In one verse, Allah says:

Know that the life of the world is merely a game and a diversion and ostentation, and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children, like the plant-growth after rain, which delights the cultivators. But then it withers, you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the hereafter there is terrible punishment, but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of the world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion. (Surat al-Hadid, 20)

Another verse explains how people are blinded by illusion because of this earthly life:

Yet still you prefer the life of the world, when the hereafter is better and longer lasting. (Surat al-A'la, 16-17)

As this verse says, such people regard the life of this world as superior to the afterlife. Such a mistaken view causes them to turn away from faith in Allah and His Book. The Qur'an describes such people as "those who do not expect to meet Us and are content with the life of the world and at rest in it, and those who are heedless of Our Signs" (Surah Yunus, 7) and reveals that they will find themselves in Hell's eternal agony. Surely, this imperfection does not mean that this world contains no beautiful things. On the contrary, Allah filled the world with beautiful things to remind us of Paradise. But mixed in with these beautiful things are the imperfection and ugliness of Hell.

The qualities of Paradise and Hell are mixed together here, for this world is really a place of testing. Thus believers can get an idea of those two places and, instead of getting caught up in this world's short and transitory life, can direct themselves toward the real, perfect, and endless life of the hereafter. As a result, the Qur'an describes the afterlife as each person's true and eternal land.

But despite this truth, many people think they can make a perfect life in this world. They view this life's imperfections and deficiencies (e.g., getting sick, becoming tired, and suffering from pain and worry) as something totally natural. However, Allah has created all these imperfections with many hidden meanings, and people have to think seriously about these meanings and learn the appropriate lessons.

It could have been possible would never get sick or feel so tired that they would need to rest or sleep. They could have had so much stamina and energy that they would not feel fatigued. If Allah had willed, He could have created us without such flaws and deficiencies. But He created us with them so that we might understand that we are helpless and weak.

Each individual must come face to face with his or her helplessness and weakness at every moment of life. His body, upon which he lays so much value, constantly reminds him of his situation. When he wakes up every morning and starts his day, his face is swollen and distorted, his mouth has a bad taste, and there is an uncomfortable dirty feeling on his skin, hair, and body. If he does not clean himself carefully, he cannot leave this unpleasant state. This cleaning must be repeated several times during the day, because after a few hours have passed, the dirt returns. After not washing for a few days, his need to wash himself becomes all the more obvious, coming to a point where he makes those around him very uncomfortable.

The human body is not as strong or resilient as a stone or a piece of metal; rather, it is made of an extremely perishable material: flesh. The body is covered with a thin skin that could be torn at any moment by the slightest accident. Structurally speaking, flesh is very vulnerable. It can be wounded, bruised, and twisted by the slightest blow, and, with age, begins to lose its former youthfulness and becomes rough and wrinkled. After death, it starts to rot. A few weeks after burial, the body begins to disintegrate and be eaten by worms and bacteria, until finally it mixes with the soil and disappears.

As stated earlier, this shows us our frailty and reminds us that the imperfections in the world are specially created. Instead of flesh, human beings could have been created from much stronger and purer materials or could have been totally free of pain, illness, and vileness. However, all of these things were created to remind human beings of how poor and needy they are in relation to Allah, and to show them just how imperfect and deficient a place this world really is.

When we look at these imperfections, we can see our own frailty and understand the transitory nature of all people's earthly strength and values. Meanwhile, we also can understand that the people who we adore, try to please, or earn their respect and praise are as weak and imperfect as anybody else.

But as most people cannot understand this or see this world's great imperfection and flaws, they find satisfaction in this earthly life. Actually, this is the result of an extreme ignorance and lack of intelligence.

The morality of such people is described in the Qur'an as follows:

So turn away from him who turns away from Our remembrance and desires nothing but the life of the world. That is as far as their knowledge extends... (Surat an-Najm, 29-30)

Those who are unaware of this truth and bound by a passion for the life of this world are people without "knowledge," as the verse says.

But what is this "knowledge" that we must have in this matter? In truth, it is nothing less than the knowledge of Paradise, which Allah has promised to us. The most important steps toward this are to be well-versed in the Qur'an and to think seriously about what it says.

In the Qur'an, Allah described the believers' real homeland in these words:

The life of the world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the hereafter - that is truly Life, if they only knew. (Surah al-'Ankabut, 64)

One hadith records our Prophet (saas) as saying that Paradise is humanity's real abode, a place in which there will be no human imperfection:

A proclaimer will proclaim: "For you there is everlasting health, and you will never be sick. For you there is everlasting life, and you will never die. For you there is perpetual youth, and you will never get old. And for you there is everlasting bliss, and you will never be in want. (Muslim)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Steadfast Love of Allaah...part 2

Asaalmau alikum

The Real Life is that of the Lovers of Allaah The Almighty
It is true that there is no real life except that of those whose eyes are comfortable with their Beloved. Their souls find rest with Him, and their hearts are reassured with Him. They enjoy being close to Him and are delighted with His love. Indeed, there is a need in the heart that is not satisfied except by loving Allaah, craving for him, and returning to Him in repentance. Nothing else can make a person comfortable. If a person does not attain this, he will lead a life of worries, sadness, pain and sorrow. If he is a motivated person with high ambition, his soul will waste away in regret for this worldly life as his soul cannot be content with such an inferior status in life. However, if he is mean and base, he will foresake this treasure like the lowest of animals. Indeed, eyes find no comfort except in loving Allaah.
Examples of True Lovers
Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him was at the head of the Ummah (Muslim Nation) with his love of Allaah The Exalted: Bakr Al-Muzani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Abu Bakr did not excel among the Companions of Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) due to plentiful fasting or prayer; rather, he was superior to them due to something that had settled firmly in his heart.” Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him reported that he was informed that Ibn ‘Ulayyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on the Hadeeth mentioned above, saying, “What had settled in his [Abu Bakr’s] heart was the love of Allaah The Exalted and giving advice to His creation.”
Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him would ask for the love of Allaah: Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him would supplicate to Allaah The Almighty on the mountains of As-Safa and Al-Marwah and during other rituals of pilgrimage, saying, “O Allaah! Make me among those who love You, love Your angels, love Your messengers and love Your righteous slaves. O Allaah! love me and make Your angels, Your messengers and Your righteous slaves love me.”
Allaah’s Love was the motto of Hakeem ibn Hizaam  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: Hakeem ibn Hizaam  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him would circumambulate the Ka‘bah, saying, “No one is worthy of worship but Allaah, the Good Lord and the Good God. I love and fear Him.”
Signs of True Love
Loving Allaah is like a blessed tree whose roots are firmly fixed and its branches are high in the sky. It produces its fruits in the heart and on the tongue and organs. Allaah The Almighty describes those who love Him with several qualities; He Says (what means):
{O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion - Allaah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allaah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allaah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allaah is All-Encompassing and Knowing.} [Quran 5:54]
{Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allaah, then follow me, [so] Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.”} [Quran 3:31]
Thus, Allaah The Almighty describes such believers as having five characteristics:
1- Humbleness, leniency, modesty, and mercy and compassion towards believers.
2- Dominance against disbelievers and disassociation from them.
3- Making Jihaad in the cause of Allaah with their lives and wealth to support Islam and bring people back to it.
4- Endeavoring to please Allaah The Almighty and paying no attention to people's rebuke or criticism.
5- Following the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and obeying him.

Another characteristic that distinguishes such people is the desire to meet Allaah The Almighty in Paradise and to gaze at His Face.

Ibn Rajab  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The aspiration of the righteous, knowledgeable Muslims who love Allaah and yearn to see Allaah in the Hereafter is to gaze at His Face in Paradise and be closer to Him.”

We ask Allaah The Almighty to endow us with His love and that we may look at His Noble Face in Paradise.

Steadfast Love of Allaah...part 1

Asalamu alikum

Love of Allaah The Almighty is a degree for which people compete and which worshippers aspire to; forerunners hurried to realize it and lovers devote themselves to it, and worshippers are pleasantly relieved by its breeze. Love of Allaah nourishes hearts and souls, and delights the eyes. It is life, a light, a cure, and a delight! If a person is deprived of life, he will be counted as dead; if a person is deprived of light, he will move in severe darkness; if a person lacks a cure, his heart will suffer all diseases; and if a person does not attain delight, his life will be full of worries and pains. Moreover, it is the people who have steadfast love of Allaah that attain honor in this life and the Hereafter as they have the greatest share of the company of those whom they love.
On the day when Allaah The Almighty decreed the fate of creation with His will and sublime Wisdom, He decreed that a person will be with whom he loves. How bountiful the blessing on those lovers is!
The Tree of Love is Extremely Sheltering
When the tree of love is planted in the heart and watered with the sincerity and following of the beloved, it produces all kinds of fruits regularly, by the permission of Allaah The Almighty. Its roots are firmly fixed into the innermost of the heart and its branches are connected to the Sidrat Al-Muntaha (the furthest lote-tree). Indeed, a person remains elevated to His Beloved without being hindered by any barrier. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
{To Him ascends good speech, and righteous work raises it.} [Quran 35:10]
{Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allaah and His Messenger and Jihaad in His cause, then wait until Allaah executes His Command. And Allaah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”} [Quran 9:24]
{And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allaah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allaah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allaah.} [Quran 2:165]
{O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion - Allaah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allaah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allaah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allaah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.} [Quran 5:54]
It was narrated on the authority of Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “By the One in whose Hand my soul is, a person will not be [a true] believer until I become more beloved to him than his father, son and all [other] people.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, “O Messenger of Allaah, you are more beloved to me than everything except myself.” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “No ‘Umar, not until you love me more than yourself.” In response ‘Umar said, “By Allaah! You are more beloved to me than myself.” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Now, [you have attained it,] O ‘Umar.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
It is well known that loving the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) follows loving Allaah The Almighty. What does one then think of the influence of loving Allaah The Almighty on his faith!
Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, when the believing women come to you as emigrants, examine them. Allaah is Most Knowing as to their faith. And if you know them to be believers, then do not return them to the disbelievers.} [Quran 60:10] Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him commented on this verse saying, “Whenever a woman came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) to embrace Islam, he would make her swear by Allaah that she did not come because she detested her husband, but rather [only] because she loved Allaah and His Messenger.”
It was narrated on the authority of Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “There are three qualities that whoever has them, will taste the sweetness of faith: To love Allaah and His Messenger more than anything else; to love a person only for [the sake of] Allaah, and to abhor returning to disbelief after Allaah has saved him from it just as he would abhor being thrown into Hell.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
It was narrated on the authority of Mu‘aath  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him in the Hadeeth that mentions the dispute of the exalted assembly of angels, where the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said:
I saw my Lord The Exalted in the best form [in a vision]… Allaah The Almighty Said, “Ask [Me],” and I [the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )] said, “Allaahuma inni asa'luka fi‘l al-khayraat wa tark al-munkaraat wa hubb al-masaakeen wa an taghfira li wa tarhamani wa itha aradta biqawmin fitnatan fatawaffani ilayka ghayra maftoon, wa asaluka hubbak wahubba man yuhibbuk wahubba kulli ‘amalin yuqarribuni ila hubbik (O Allaah, I beg of You [to enable me] to do good deeds, and abandon evil deeds, and to love the poor, that You forgive me and have mercy upon me, and if You intend to put people to trial, then let me die without being afflicted by any trial. I beg of You, Your love and the love of the one who loves You, and the love of the deed which brings me near to Your love.)”
Then the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “It [this vision] is a truth, so study it [i.e., memorize its words] and learn it [i.e., its meanings].” [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi, At-Tirmithi - Hasan Saheeh]
Ways to Attain and Strengthen the Love of Allaah
1- Reciting the Quran with reflection. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Whoever desires to love Allaah and His Messenger, let him read the Mus’haf (Qur’aan).”
2- Seeking closeness to Allaah The Almighty through voluntary acts of worship having performed those that are obligatory. In a Qudsi (Sacred) Hadeeth, Allaah The Almighty Says: “My slave keeps on drawing closer to Me by performing voluntary acts until I love him.”
3- Mentioning and remembrance of Allaah The Almighty constantly with the tongue and the heart. Ibraaheem ibn Al-Junayd  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “It is said that remembering Allaah the Almighty constantly with the heart and the tongue is a sign of loving Him. A person who is fond of remembering Allaah The Almighty often obtains the love of Allaah The Almighty.”
4- Giving precedence to what Allaah The Almighty loves over what the self loves and desires.
5- Realizing and observing the Names and Attributes of Allaah The Almighty and living their meanings in the heart. ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said,
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) sent a battalion under the command of a man who would lead his companions in prayer. This man would finish his recitation with Soorat Al-Ikhlaas( chapter 112). When they returned, they mentioned this to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). He said [to them]: “Ask him why he does this.” They asked him and he said, “I do so because it contains the Attribute(s) of The Most Gracious and I love to recite it [in my prayer].” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said [to them]: “Tell him that Allaah loves him.”
6- Recognizing the Kindness, benevolence, and apparent and hidden blessings of Allaah The Almighty. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And whatever you have of favor - it is from Allaah.} [Quran 16:53]
7- Being secluded with Allaah The Almighty, when He descends to the lowest sky, to talk to Him, recite His Words, supplicate to Him and seek His forgiveness.
8- Sitting with the righteous and sincere lovers of Allaah.
9- Avoiding any means that stand as a barrier between the heart and Allaah The Almighty.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Belief In The Throne of Allah

Asalamu Alikum

The Definition of al-Arsh (i.e. Throne) in the Arabic language:

Ibn Faris (d. 395 H.) said: «“Arsh”: the `Ayn, Ra’, and Sheen (i.e. Arabic letters that the word “throne” consists of) is a root meaning height in something which is built, then it was borrowed for use (as a metaphor) in other things». (1)

The Throne in the Arabic language refers to many meanings, the following are some:

- The chair of a king:

Al-Khalil Al-Farahidi (d. 170 H) said: “The Throne is the chair of the king”. (2)
Abu Mansour Al-Azhari al-Shafi`i (d. 370 H) said: “The meaning of 'Arsh' in the Arabic language is: the chair of the king, what proves that is the chair of the queen of Saba', Allah –Azza wa Jal- called it a “arsh”; He said: {Indeed, I found [there] a woman ruling them, and she has been given of all things, and she has a great `Arsh (throne)} [27:23] (3).
And in the hadeeth on the beginning of revelation, the Prophet –Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- said: ”I was again called and I looked about but saw nothing. I was called again and raised my head, and there on the Throne in the open atmosphere he was sitting – meaning Jibril (Gabriel) alayhi assalam» [Saheeh Muslim], meaning he saw Jibril on a chair in the open atmosphere.

-The roof of the house:

Al-Khalil said: “The ‘arsh’ of a house is its roof”. (4)
Ibn Faris said: “The roof of a house is called ‘arsh’, Allah –Ta`ala- said: {Or (consider such an example) as the one who passed by a township which had fallen down upon its roofs (`urooshiha/plural).} [2:259], the meaning is that the roof falls and the walls fall upon it.” (5)

And other meanings.

The Throne of Allah –The Exalted-

The Throne (Arsh) of our Lord is mentioned in the Quran in many verses:
{He is the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Loving; the Possessor of the Throne, the All-Glorious.} [85:14-15]
{The Most Beneficent (Allâh) Rose over the Throne.} [20:5] and other verses. Scholars have explained that the meaning of "Arsh" in these verses is: a chair (befitting of His Majesty).

Ibn Qutaibah al-Daynuri (d. 276 H.) said, when replying to the ones who misinterpret the meaning of the Throne of Allah: «They asked for another meaning for the throne other than "chair", and the linguists do not know a meaning for it except the chair, the roofs, and what is parallel/similar to them.» (6)

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari (d. 310 H.) said in the explanation of Allah’s saying: { And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne} [39:75] : «Allah is saying: and you see O Muhammad, the Angels surrounding the Throne of the Most Beneficent. And what is meant by the Throne is: the chair”. (7) .
He also said in the explanation of the following verse: {The Owner of the Throne} [40:15] : «He (Allah) is saying: The Onwer of the chair that surrounds what is beneath it». (8)

Abu Ahmad Al-Karaji Al-Qassab (d. 360 H.) said: «And the Throne of Allah -The Almighty- also is His chair that He rose over (Istawa alayhi), and not (His) knowledge as some ignorant Jahmiyyah claim (it to mean).» (9)

Al-Bayhaqi (d. 458 H.) said, after mentioning Allah –Ta’la- saying {and eight (angels) will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them} [69:17] : «And the explanation of the scholars of Tafseer is that the throne is the chair, and it’s a tridimensional body, Allah –The Exalted- created it, ordered the angels to carry it, and made them circumambulating it as an act of worshiping Him; likewise he created a house (i.e. Ka`bah) on earth, and ordered the sons of Adam to circumambulate it, and to face towards it in prayer.” (10)

Abu al-Mudhaffar As-Sam`ani Ash-Shafi'i (d. 489 H.) said in the explanation of Allah’s –The Exalted- saying: {Say, "Who is Lord of the seven heavens and Lord of the Great Throne?"} [23:86]: “It means: the huge chair”. (11)

Al-Husain al-Baghawi ash-Shafi’i (d. 510 H.) said in the tafseer of Allah’s saying: {So exalted is Allah , the Sovereign, the Truth; there is none worthy of worship except Him, Lord of the Noble Throne} [23:116] : «It means: The fine chair». (12)
And he said in the explanation of ayah (85:15) : «Hamza and Al-Kasai' recited it: “AlMajeedi (glorious)’ with a kasra (below the last letter), describing the Throne, meaning: the great chair». (13)

Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi al-Maliki (d. 671 H.) said: «The Throne is a great, noble and honorable creation, there is no creation (existing) above it. Above its upper most part is nothingness (i.e. There is no existence above the Throne), and below its lowest part is Paradise; as it is its roof, according to the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah –Radiyallahu anhu- that the Prophet –Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam- said: ”If you ask Allah, then ask him the (Paradise of) Firdaws, for it is in the middle highest point of Paradise, and above it is the Throne of the Most Merciful, and from it burst the rivers of Paradise.“ It was reported by Al-Bukhari, Ibn Majah and others.» (14)

Ibn Katheer (d. 774 H.) said in the introduction of his book "al-Bedaya wa al-Nehaya": «And He (i.e. Allah) raised the heavens without any pillars, and decorated it with shining planets, and placed therein a lamp and a luminous moon. And He administered above them a high wide dome shaped circular chair, that is the great Throne. It has great pillars, and is carried by noble angels.” (15)

As for the interpretation of the meaning of the Throne by some of the innovated sects, that it is: (Allah’s) dominion, and that it is the heavens, the earth, and everything that Allah created, then, Imam Abu Sa’eed Uthman Ad-Darimi (d. 280 H.) replied to this in his book “Ar-Rad ala Al-Jahmiyyah”, in the chapter on the belief in the Throne, he said:

«And we did not think that we would have to prove to anyone who professes Islam, the affirmation of the Throne and the belief in it, until we were tested with a deviant group, who busied us with proving to them what none of the ummah disputed in before...», then he said:
“This group claimed that they believe in the Throne and affirm it because it is mentioned in the Quran, so I said to some of them: ‘Your belief in it is like the belief {of those who say, "We believe" with their mouths, but their hearts believe not} [5:41], and like those who {when they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe”, but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils - polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: "Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking."}[2:14]; do you affirm a Throne for Allah that is known and described to be above the seventh heavens, carried by the angels, and Allah is above (it) as He described Himself, separate from His creation?’, he didn’t affirm that, and hesitated in his answer, mixing things and did not declare it ... so a major leader from amongest them said to me: ‘No, but when Allah created creation, meaning the heavens and what is in it, he called all of that a throne of His, and then He Istawa on all of it.’
I said: ‘... Allah –The Exalted- has declared you liars in His book, and so did the Messenger –Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam-. Do you see your saying that His throne is His heavens, His earth, and all of His creation, so then what is the meaning of His saying: {Those (angels) who bear the Throne and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord} [40:7], are they the carriers of Allah’s throne or the carriers of His creation? And His saying: {And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them.}[69:17], do they carry the heavens , the earth, and what is in them, or the Throne of the Most Merciful? If you say what you have said, it would necessitate that you say that the Throne of Your lord is all of His creation, and you would negate the Throne that is the Throne … Allah –Tabaraka wa Ta`ala- said: {And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six Days and His Throne was on the water}[11:7], and the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) said: ”Allah was, and there was nothing before Him, and His Throne was on water.“ [Sahih al-Bukhari]. In Allah’s saying, and in the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah –Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam- an apparent proof, that the Throne was created above water, when there was no earth nor heaven, so why do you err people in what you deny?! But you affirm the Throne with your tongues to guard yourselves from the takfeer of the people of you, by the clear text (of the Book), and thus be executed (for apostasy), and in yourselves you are negators of it.»

Believing In The Throne:

Khushaish bin Asram (d. 253 H.) said in his book "Al-Istiqama": «Whoever disbelieves in an ayah in the Book of Allah (i.e. the Quran) then he has disbelieve in all of it (the whole Quran); so whoever denies the Throne, then he has disbelieved in all of it, and whoever denies the Throne then he has disbelieved in Allah, and there have come reports that Allah Has a throne, and that He is over His Throne.» (17)

Abu Ja'far at-Tahawi al-Hanafi (d. 321 H.) said in his famous creed “At-Tahawiyyah”: «The Arsh (Throne) and the Kursi are true».

Ibn Abi Zamanin al-Maliki (d. 399 H.) said in the “Chapter on the belief in the Throne” : «And from the saying of Ahl As-Sunnah is that Allah Azza wa Jal created teh Throne, and made it, especially, up high and above everything He created, then He istawa (i.e. rose) above it as He willed, as He informed about Himself in His saying: {The Most Beneficent over the Throne Istawa (i.e. Rose), To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and all that is between them, and all that is under the soil.}[20:5-6], and in His saying: {then (He) Istawa (rose over) the Throne. He knows what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the heaven and what ascends thereto.} [57:4], Glorified and Exalted be He who is far thus not seen; and is close with His Knowledge and Ability, thus hearing private conversations.» (18)

The Description of The Throne:

Following are some characteristics of the Throne of Allah:

1. Allah created his throne above water:

Allah -The Exalted- said: {And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six Days and His Throne was on the water}[11:7].
The Messenger of Allah -Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam- said: ”Allah was, and there was nothing before Him, and His Throne was on water.“ [Sahih al-Bukhari].

2. It is the roof/ceiling of Paradise:

The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: ”If you ask Allah, then ask him the (Paradise of) Firdaws, for it is in the middle highest point of Paradise, and above it is the Throne of the Most Merciful, and from it burst the rivers of Paradise.“ [Sahih al-Bukhari, Musnad Ahmad, and others]

3. It is above the heavens, above all of creation:

The Sahabi Abdullah Ibn Masud –May Allah be pleased with him- said:
«Between the lowest heaven and the one after it is the distance of five hundred years, and between every two heavens is the distance of five hundred years, and between the seventh heaven and the Kursi is the distance of five hundred years, and between the Kursi and the water is the distance of five hundred years, and the Throne (Arsh) is above the water, Allah the Almighty is above the Throne (fawqa Al-Arsh). And nothing is hidden from Allah of your deeds.» In another narration: «He knows what you are upon». Its grading is: hasan. (19)

4. The Throne has pillars

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ”The people will become unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain consciousness, and behold, I will Find Musa clinging to one of the pillars of the Throne. Then I will not know whether he regained consciousness before me or he has been exempted because of his unconsciousness at the mountain of Tur (at Sinai) which he received.“. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

5. It has bearers of angels who carry it:

Allah –The Exalted- said: {Those (angels) who bear the Throne and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord} [40:7]
He also said: {And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them.}

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Basis of Unity...part 3

Asalamu Alikum

So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam told us the disease, he told us the solution to that disease, and then he went a step further. He went a step further and told us the virus that causes that disease. He pointed out the reason why there will be this disease. He said, “And I caution you (I warn you) against newly invented matters." These were matters of the religion that were not known to the early generations; that were not found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Again, “I warn you against them, I caution you about them.” He went on: "Be careful because every single one of these innovations is qualified as a bid'a, and every bid'a is a misguidance, and every misguidance leads to the fire of Hell." This is the virus that causes the disease of ikhtilaaf.

Think about it my dear brothers and sisters. Think about it. The Sahaabaa were one, they were united. They did not differ amongst themselves in the slightest bit with regards to this religion of Islam, the names and attributes of Allah, the concept of destiny, and any of the aspects of aqeedah. They did not differ. Yet we find in our time so many different groups. What must have happened?

Historically speaking, the first group came along, the Khawaarij, and they invented something which the Sahaabaa did not agree on. So the next generation found two opinions – that of the Sahaabaa and that of the Khawaarij. And then another group came, the Rafidha, and they invented a third opinion. And then the Qadariyyah, and then the Jahmiyyah, and then the Muht'azila and then the Asha'ira, until in our times we are surrounded by a myriad of groups and we do not know where to turn to.

So the cause of this problem was that people kept on inventing, adding, and appending to the religion of Islam, to the understanding of the Sahaabaa, to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Bid'as (innovations), is how this disunity started and this is why it is still here. As the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"My Ummah will split into seventy-three groups. Every single one of them is destined for the fire of Hell except one."

In an authentic hadith of Tirmidhi, the companions asked, "Who are they, ya RasulAllah?"
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "The group that follows what I am upon today and my companions."

Once again, the emphasis here is put on “I and my companions.” This infers that it is essential to look at how the Prophet lived and how the Sahaabee understood and implemented Islam from him. This statement is of paramount importance. We should understand that if we do not heed it, we will be left as the majority of groups have been left; with no standards, criterion, and judge of what is right and what is wrong.

My dear brothers and sisters, in this legacy he left us, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam shined a light on one of the most difficult problems the Muslim Ummah faces – the problem of ikhtilaaf, of disunity. He warned us of the divisions to come within the Ummah, but also gave us a solution – turn back to the Qur’an and Sunnah.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the Hadith of 'Irbad ibn Sa'riya, the legacy that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam left us upon. He said, "I have left you upon the shining path, its night is like its day. No one will deviate from it except that he wishes to be destroyed."

“…Its night is like its day…” meaning anyone who wants to be guided will be guided; anyone who wants to search for the truth will find it. The path is clear. There is no darkness. Any Muslim who sincerely wishes to be guided, nay, any kafir, any non-Muslim who sincerely wants to be guided, it is not possible that he will be misguided. The path is too clear; it is a promise of Allah 'azza wa jal. The only one who will deviate from this is the one who follows his own desires, the one who does not want to be guided. This is the one who like the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said will go astray because he wishes to go astray, he wishes to destroy himself.

My dear brothers and sisters, the religion of Islam is a perfect religion. We all say this to the point that it has now become a cliché and we don’t even understand what it really means. Going back to the Qur’an, Allah says:
Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed my favors upon you and I have been pleased with Islam as your way of life.

What do we understand of Islam’s perfection from this verse? It means that the Islam of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, the Islam that was practiced by the companions, that is the perfect Islam; there cannot be an Islam better than that. Time or place is irrelevant; there is no such thing as reversions or evolutions of Islam. We do not make distinctions and say there is a Pakistani Islam, an Arab Islam, a Lebanese Islam, or a Philistini Islam. Nor is there such a thing as an 18th century Islam and a 20th century Islam. Islam does not evolve. Our beliefs don’t evolve. Our fiqh, the fundamentals of our fiqh do not change. We are not talking about the minor differences that the Shari'ah has allowed us to undertake from time to time and place to place. We are talking about the broad general laws of Islam; they do not change from time to time and place to place. Therefore, when we find this differing, the solution is to take it back to that perfection as it existed, in the time of the Sahaabaa when there was no ikhtilaaf.

My dear brothers and sisters, we find many aayaat and ahadeeth where the importance of unity is stressed. Some of these include:
…hold on fast all of you to the rope of Allah and do not be disunited.

The believers are brothers so reconcile between them (Do not let them fight with one another).
And the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“All of you together be brothers in worship of Allah."

We all know the importance of unity, yet we also know that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam predicted that the Muslim Ummah will be disunited. In fact, the Qur’an itself predicted it as Allah says:
Those that have split up the religions and become into parties and groups, you have nothing to do with them.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam also warned us against innovation. As he said in one hadith:
"Whoever innovates in it or supports an innovator, then the curse of Allah and the curse of the angels and the curse of all of mankind will be upon him (Allah will not except from him any good deed).”

In another hadith the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"On the Day of Judgment I will see a group of Muslims and I will recognize them by the signs of wudu. I will recognize them as Muslims and I will say come to me. But the angels will come in between and they will beat them away from me. So I will tell the angels, ‘These are my Ummah, these are the people of my Ummah,’ and the angel will respond, ‘You do not know what they have changed after you.’” In other words you do not know what they have innovated into the religion after you. So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam will say, "Go away (be away, go off). I have nothing to do with you if you change anything after me."

What is the basis of Muslim unity? We know we have to be unified and that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam has cursed innovations and rejected them. So what is the basis? How do we unify when within the Muslim Ummah, two extremes are present.

The first extreme is that a person considers any and every difference to be a big deal. If you differ with them about anything, then you become a'oodhubillah, a kafir. Even the smallest difference such as whether you say ameen out loud or silently, and immediately the conclusion is made that this person is a deviant, and a kafir. This is the one extreme. The other extreme is the exact opposite, which is to ignore every single difference of opinion. Such people just want the masses to come together. They prefer quantity over quality so they ignore every single ikhtilaaf. It does not matter what they say about Allah, the Sahaabaa, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, etc. As long as someone claims to be a Muslim, they are okay. This is the other extreme.

As usual, the true correct group of Islam and the Muslims is always in the middle, between the two extremes. Not every single ikhtilaaf should lead to ikhtilaaf of the hearts. Not every single difference of opinion should lead to boycotting, leaving, or considering someone to be a deviant or a non-Muslim.

What is the criterion then? How do we know which ikhtilaaf is important and which one can be ignored? In reality, this is something the scholars are qualified to do. They are the ones who in general know what is important and what is not. But there is a simple rule of thumb that most of us can apply. We should rely upon the scholars who follow the way of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the early companions. Turn to them. If they make a big deal about an issue, then make a big deal about it. And if they trivialize it and say no big deal, do not make a big deal about it. Let us always see if the companions disagreed about an issue or if they were unanimous in their opinion. The Sahaabaa did differ about many things but their differences never led to a problem of the heart. They may have had a difference regarding a certain opinion, but they were still brothers in Islam because these differences were trivial. If we find that the companions were unanimous about an issue, then we too should follow the unanimous opinion. For example, if the companions were unanimous against a certain act, yet someone claims it to be from the Shair’ah, then the general rule of thumb applies and we should rule with the unanimous opinion that the act is not correct.

Take it back to the early generations of Islam; this is a simple rule of thumb. Ask youself, “Is this understanding, this belief, this aqeedah, this practice, shared by the Sahaabaa? Is this methodology I’m being asked to follow, something that was implemented by the companions, by the Tabi'oon, by the Taba Tabi'oon?” They were the ones with the correct understanding so if they implemented it, then alhamdullilah. If not, then it must be a newly invented matter.

A point of caution is that we must realize that unity and brotherhood is based upon a person's eman. The stronger a person’s eman is, the stronger your brotherhood and love must be for him. And the weaker it is, then the weaker your brotherhood and love will be. So your brotherhood for a Muslim who does not pray five times a day, or who does not fast the month of Ramadan, or who is involved in a major sin, or who is involved in a major innovation is not like the brotherhood and unity you feel towards a Muslim who is pious, prays five times a day, fasts the month of Ramadan, and avoids the major sins.

But it is not black and white, and this is the mistake most Muslims make; there are shades of gray in between. You look at every single person and you see the good in him as well as the evil, and accordingly you love him for the good and you hate him for the evil. So the unity will be based upon his eman. Unity is not a slogan that we unite with every Muslim who says, “I am Muslim.” No. Unity is based on adherence to the Qur’an and Sunnah. The closer a person adheres to the Qur’an and Sunnah, the closer our unity is with him. And if someone disagrees with the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the understanding of the early generations, then he is the one causing disunity by refusing to go back to the Qur’an and Sunnah and by refusing to go back to the understanding of the early generations, not us. This is the person who is breaking away from us and we are not breaking away from him.
What is so important about the salaf and the scholars of the past and the Sahaabaa and the Tabi'oon that we have to follow them? I will quote a few proofs to illustrate the importance of taking this ikhtilaaf back to them. The first set of proofs is the Qur’anic proofs, the aayaat of the Qur’an which prove the high status of the Sahaabaa. And there are literally dozens of verses in the Qur’an discussing the status of the Sahaabaa.

Of them:
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah.

Allah has testified that he is pleased with the Sahaabaa. Therefore, should we not go back to them when we differ?
You are the best Ummah that has been sent to mankind.

The second set of evidences is the ahadith of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, some of which have been quoted earlier already:
"The best of nations is my nation, and then those that come after them, and then those that come after them."
The hadith of 'Irbad ibn Sa'riya: "I command you to follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifas after me."
The hadith of seventy-three groups, and when he was asked who the one safe group was he said, “That which follows what I am following and my companions."
The third set of evidences is the statements of the companions themselves. When innovations spread and the Khawaarij came and then the Shi'a and the Rafidha and so on and so forth, the companions advised those after them to stick with the Sahaabaa of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. Realize that in the time of the Sahaabaa, three deviant groups came and yet, not a single Sahaabee ever went to those groups. As Ibn Masoud said, "Follow us and don't innovate after us because it is sufficient for you what we are upon (What we are doing is sufficient for you, don't do more than that).”

The fourth set of proofs is the proofs from history, Islamic History. From Islamic History we see that the Sahaabaa were united in their beliefs and in their theology. These deviant groups that came after them, not a single companion was amongst them. The Khawaarij, they numbered in the thousands, and they fought the Sahaabaa in many wars. Never did any companion leave the ranks of the companions and join the Khawaarij. Ali radi Allahu anhu himself was alive when the Rafidha were there and he had some of them executed. Likewise, the Qadareeya, they too appeared when the Sahaabaa were alive. None of the companions joined them. And the same follows for the other three generations as well. The group of the Sunnah, Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jam’a, or the Sunni Muslims, they were distinct and clear. There was only one Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jam’a for over two hundred and fifty years. Any other group had other names. Be it the Jahmeeya, the Mu'atazila, the Asha'riya, the Qulabeeya, the Qadareeya, and others. But the Ahlul Sunnah were always one. So for the first two hundred and fifty years, it was clear who was following the Sunnah and who was a deviant.

The fifth set of proofs is a logical proof. Obviously, the best generation that we should go back to for a criterion, for a reference, is the Sahaabaa. So from a common sense point of view, we need to have a standard, and that standard is the Sahaabaa.

And the last set of proofs is a realistic proof. This proof becomes apparent if we examine many of the groups today. All of the groups today claim they follow the Qur’an and Sunnah. They claim to be Sunni groups, following the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and at the same time claim each other to be kafir. So realistically speaking there must be something more and we believe that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam must have told us about it. He could not have told us the problem without telling us the solution, and he did. Realistically speaking, the solution is not just the Qur’an and Sunnah, which of course is the fundamental, but the Qur’an and Sunnah based upon the understanding of the early generations.

There is a famous slogan that we hear amongst many Muslim groups. "Whatever we disagree about we will ignore, and whatever we agree about we will cooperate in." This slogan is not a precise slogan, rather it should be: "Whatever we agree about we will cooperate in, whatever we disagree about we will take it back to the Qu’ran and the Sunnah and the understanding of the early generations." With this slogan, we will be united.

My dear Muslims, unity does not come from quantity; it comes through quality. It comes through a person's eman, taqwa, and adherence to the Qur’an and Sunnah based upon the understanding of the early generations. If a person does not wish to be upon that understanding, then he is the one causing problems, he is the one breaking away, he is the one becoming disunited and fractionalized.

Therefore, in conclusion I advise you just as the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam advised the companions, to have the taqwa of Allah 'azza wa jal, and to listen and obey – to listen and obey even if your rulers are people whom you do not like because you will see, you have seen, and all of us have seen, a lot of ikhtilaaf. So when we see it, let us revisit the Sunnah of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifas after him. Hold onto this, stick with this; this is the way we will be united, this is the way that we will be saved. And I caution you, just as Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam I warn you against innovations, against bid'as. Because every single innovation into this religion is a bid'a, and every bid'a is a misguidance, and every misguidance leads to the fire of Hell.

I pray that Allah 'azza wa jal guides us to the correct understanding of Islam. That He makes us united as Muslims, submitting ourselves to Him. And that He resurrects us upon eman. Ameen

The Basis of Unity...part 2

Asalamu Alikum

Ikhtilaaf is such a severe disease that there is not a single issue except that we find Muslims differing about it. Forget the trivial matters of how to pray and fast. There are bigger issues such as the status of the Sahaabaa and the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, even the status of Allah ‘azza wa jall Himself and His names and attributes. There is not a single topic that you can think of except that you will find Muslim groups, sects, and deviants, all of them claiming to be Muslim, yet they have different ideas, methodologies, and opinions. It appears to be hopeless to bring any unification since there are so many groups. It is as the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said. Imagine. He was talking to the Sahaabaa so what of the situation now. How much ikhtilaaf is there? We have so much ikhtilaaf that there is not a community of Muslims on the face of the earth, except that they differ amongst themselves. Forget Muslim states, we're talking about even local masjids in a community. Two masjids across the street from each other may have different opinions, ideologies, methodologies, agendas, and understandings of the same book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. All of us have witnessed it. It is as if Muslims cannot become united. At least that is the way many Muslims feel.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam informed us of this disease and what will happen. Do you think that our Prophet, whom Allah ‘azza wa jall describes as the one who cares about you, the one who is merciful towards you, pitiful towards you, would tell us of the disease without telling us the cure? Do you think he would warn us of the impending problem without telling us the solution? No, wallahi it is not possible. He warned us of the problem and then immediately went on and he told us the solution. He said:
"So I command you (I put it upon you, the obligation is upon you) to turn back to my Sunnah."

This is the solution. When you differ, when you have ikhtilaaf, then the obligation is upon you, to take this ikhtilaaf, to take this differing, back to the Sunnah. And obviously taking it back to the Sunnah means automatically you must take it back to the Qur’an as well. The Qur’an and Sunnah go hand in hand. As Allah 'azza wa jal says:
If you differ about the smallest thing (if you differ about an issue) take it back to Allah and His Messenger, if you have eman in Allah and the Day of Judgment. Meaning, if you do not have eman in Allah and the Day of Judgment, then you will not take it back to Allah and His Messenger. Only if you have eman will you then take it back to Allah and His Messenger.

But the question arises, how is it possible that there is still ikhtilaaf when the majority of Muslims of our time, those that call themselves Sunni, acknowledge that they go back to the Qur’an and Sunnah? The vast majority of what we call the conglomerate Sunni groups, even though amongst the Sunni groups there are so many splinter groups, claim the same thing: Our basis is the Qur’an and Sunnah. And yet, we still find ikhtilaaf.

This is because the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam did not just stop there at “take it back to my Sunnah.” He continued, "…and also, the Sunnah (the practice) of the rightly guided Khalifas after me." Meaning, take it back to the Sunnah of the Sahaabaa, to the understanding of the first generation of Islam. And this is where the vast majority of Sunni groups fail; they take it back to the Qur’an and Sunnah, but they put a full stop there. Hardly any group, in fact there is only one group, says we must go back to the Qur’an and Sunnah based upon the understanding of the early generations.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam described that generation (specifically the four major Khalifahs) as Rashideen, meaning they have guided themselves, or Mahdi'een, they guide others. Take it back to their Sunnah.

The status of the Sahaabee is not a trivial status. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "The best of all generations is my generation (those of the Sahaabaa), and then those that come after them (Tabi'oon), and then those that come after them (the Taba Tabi'oon).” Three generations. Meaning that in the entire history of mankind, from the time of Adam until the Day of Judgment, never will there be an entire group, an entire generation, better than the Sahaabaa. Never. And that is why Allah refers to the companions as such in Surah 'Imran: You are the best ummah that has ever been sent to mankind. You command what is good, you forbid the evil, and you believe in Allah.

What does it mean “the best”? Most Muslims think it means they are the best in their eman and taqwa; that they reached the heights of eman and taqwa and no one can reach those heights. This is of course true, but had this been the only meaning, then how would we be able to benefit from the Sahaabaa; what would there be for us to gain? If their eman reached the stars and ours can only reach a small amount, how would we be able to benefit from them?

Know with certainty that the Sahaabaa were of course the best in eman and taqwa, but they were also the best in their knowledge and in their understanding and implementation of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Therefore, the fact that they are the best generation means that their understanding is the best understanding. Their opinions are the best opinions. Their implementation of the Qur’an and Sunnah is the best implementation. Without this, they would not be the best. They were the best in everything; the best in eman, in taqwa, in knowledge, and in actions. So when we differ about something, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam commanded us to take it back to his Sunnah and the Sunnah of the early Khalifaas after him. And then he said, "Hold on fast to it [the Sunnah], cling onto it, bite onto it with your molar teeth." Emphasis after emphasis, this is what will save you. As they say, a drowning man clutches at every straw. So too the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam is telling us, cling on, bite onto it (the Sunnah) with your molar teeth. This is what will save you from the fitna, from the ikhtilaaf, and from the disunity.

The Basis of Unity

Asalamu alikum

When we turn to ahadeeth of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, we find that a small hadith might contain so much benefit that volumes can be written about it. As he himself said, "Indeed I have been given comprehensive speech." In other words, a very small statement or a very small phrase will be able to carry a great meaning. This is the case with a particular hadith – the Hadith of ‘Irbad ibn Sa’riya, named after the companion who narrated it. This hadith is so well-known and comprehensive that when this companion’s name is mentioned, this hadith comes to mind. It is an authentic hadith reported in the sunan of Abu Dawud and the ja’mi of Tirmidhi as well as others.

'Irbad ibn Sa'riya narrates: "Verily the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam delivered a sermon, which caused our hearts to tremble and our ears and our eyes to cry." Notice the effect that the Prophet’s speech sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam had on the Sahaabaa. And the Qur’an describes the Believers as such:
…when they hear the verses recited to them they fall down in sajdah and they cry.

This is the way of the Believer; he benefits from and loves to hear advice. And this is in contrast to the hypocrite and the weak believer, the Fasiq. Allah 'azza wa jal describes them in the Qur’an:
Why is it that they turn away when they are reminded? / Why don't they listen? / It is only the believer that benefits from advice and loves it.

The Sahaabaa were affected because of their sincere faith and dedication to the deen. They were moved and more importantly they paid attention. And this is a sign of eman; when a person finds he loves to attend religious gatherings and when Qur’an and Sunnah are recited, he is affected. And the opposite is also true. When a person does not care about religious lectures, khutbahs, sermons, seeking knowledge, or if he does not pay attention when the Qur’an and Sunnah are recited to him, then this is an evil sign befitting of the hypocrites and the kuffar. And that is why the Sahaabaa were the best of our generations. Sitting there they were affected by Prophet Muhammad’s sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam talk. Their hearts trembled and their eyes cried.

'Irbad then goes on and says, “The Sahaabaa said, after the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam had finished the sermon, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we feel that you are about to leave us. The emotion in which you have delivered this talk was so intense that we feel that you are about to leave us. So give us some concise advice, give us a legacy. Give us, if you like, your last will and testament.’”

Ma sha Allah! Look at the eman of the Sahaabaa; after the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam finished his talk, they wanted more, in fact they demanded more. Unlike the people of today, they didn’t get tired or bored or look at their watches waiting for the Islamic knowledge to finish so they could go on with their lives. No, they wanted more because they realized that this was far more precious to them than anything the world contained. So they said, “Ya RasulAllah give us more; we want to hear more.” And this is why the Sahaabaa were the best of all generations. As the Quran says:
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah.

So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, due to his merciful nature, agreed to their request, and he gave another sermon, rather another small advice. And the reason that this lecture is so important is that the Sahaabaa had said, "Ya RasulAllah, give us a concise legacy." Basically they were asking the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam to summarize for them what they needed to know, what were the essentials, and his last will and testament to the Ummah. So because they requested such beautiful advice, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam fulfilled their request. This shows that this hadith is a very important hadith, a hadith of high status, a hadith that every one of us should study. Think about it – this is the legacy that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam gave to the Sahaabaa when they asked him.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started off saying, "My legacy to you is that I advise you to have the taqwa of Allah ‘azza wa jall. And I command you to listen and to obey," meaning the rulers, "even if an Abyssinian slave becomes your leader." To listen and to obey even if someone you do not like, someone you look down upon, becomes your leader. In the Shari’ah it is considered better to listen to the rulers even if they are not perfect, as long as they are not non-Muslims and committing open kufr. Listening to them is seen as a lesser sin than revolting and causing chaos, pandemonium, blood being shed, honor being dishonored, women being raped, and villages being pillaged. All of these things could be direct results of revolting against a ruler who is Muslim, even though you dislike some things about him. So the Shari'ah says that if there is a ruler and a leader who is a Muslim and is judging, in general, by the Shari'ah, then it is better, it is the correct thing to do, to leave him in power even if there are other problems with him; and you listen to and you obey him.

He went on and said, "He who lives long amongst you will see a lot of differing," meaning amongst the Muslims. When he said, “He who lives long amongst you,” he was talking to the Sahaabaa, the first generation of Islam. And he said that amongst themselves they will witness a phenomenon that did not exist before. They will see something new that was not there before. And that is, there will be ikhtilaaf, differences of opinion. There will be Muslims disunited. And this is something that never existed during the time of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. When Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa salla was amongst their midst this was unheard of because he was their Prophet, their leader, guiding them, advising them, and mediating between them. But he predicted this disease, ikhtilaaf, would appear shortly after his death, and would continue until the Day of Judgment. He predicted it because Allah ‘azza wa jall told him about it. And he did not tell the Sahaabaa that it would come after a thousand years or after a few hundred years. He said those who lived long amongst them, while Islam would still in its infancy, would be plagued by ikhtilaaf.

And it was exactly as he said. Shortly after Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s death, in the middle of the khilaafa of 'Uthman radi Allahu anhu, the neo-Khawaarij, the first splinter group, broke away from the Muslims. And then in the time of 'Ali, the Rafidha broke away. And so on and so forth, it continued, the Muslims kept on breaking away from the Ummah to the point that now we have so many groups, methodologies, and movements, so many ways of understanding Islam, that we cannot even count them. So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, because of his concern for us, because of his knowledge that Allah ‘azza wa jall gave him, warned us of a disease that would afflict all of us; the disease of ikhtilaaf, the disease of disunity.

Have You Prepared for the Hour?...part 2

Asalamu alikum On the other hand, the Prophet (saw) has also described to us those people who perform the deeds of Paradise until ...