Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gratefulness/Shukr

If only we could count the blessings that we have been given, we could then truly see the extent of the blessings that we are showered in without being aware of them.

We are so oblivious to the blessings that we are in. Allah has given us so much and keeps on giving without us realising the extent of the blessings that are in; then another blessing is added, then another, then another, then another, it’s an endless chain! The weak links occur when we do not give thanks. One of the definitions of Kufr is not that it is disbelief but rather it is ungratefulness because that in itself is almost as bad but not quite. The common mistake that translators make on the Quranic passage is that it is disbelief; no its ingratitude that’s the problem here.

Even if we are do not pray we are blessed with good health and even if we are sick it’s not as bad as it could. Even if it is as bad as it could be you are Muslim and in that case it is nothing but a cure for previous sins or increasing your rank!


How good is that? In the litany of the sea/Hizb Al-Bahr one of the lines reads, “Blessed Lord; is my Lord/Na’imu Rabu Rabi.”


Try to innumerate the blessings of a working immune system; it’s almost impossible! It works for you at a level that you cannot understand or comprehend! When a foreign body enters your body the immune system, the white blood cells, work on antibodies then other white blood cells devour the foreign body. How can you give thanks for something that you do not even realise what is happening!


Food

Food is one of the easiet things that we can be grateful for is how many people have a choice in what we have, in terms of food. We have a large selection of foods and all we do is fill our bellies without realising the blessings that we have been given. Most of the world eats for a full day on less than a dollar. We spend that much and more just on drinks!

Anas (may Allah be pleased with narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Allah is pleased when a servant eats food and praises him for it; and he drinks and praises him for it.” (Muslim 24/140).


Realisation

Dawood (upon him peace) said, “My Lord, how can I thank you for all the blessings from you?” Allah revealed to him, “Now, you have thanked me.” (Risala Qusharariyyah by Abu Qasim p.212).

Musa (upon him peace) said to his Lord, “O’ Lord, how is Adam (son of Adam) able to give gratitude for what you have done for him; you created him; you blew a spirit into him; gave him Paradise to dwell in; ordered the angels to prostrate to him?” He said, “O’ Musa, Adams knowledge that it is from me and he praised me for it; this is gratefulness for what we did for him.” (Abu Laith As-Samarqandi Informing the Heedless p.253).

Imam Junaid Al-Baghdadi said, “Gratefulness is to see yourself unworthy of the blessing.” (Risala Qushariyyah p.211).


General and specific

“It was stated the gratitude has two aspects: General gratitude and specific gratitude. The general gratitude is the praise of the tongue upon the realisation of the blessings of Allah (the Exalted) upon you. The specific gratitude is praise on the tongue, knowledge in the heart, service of the pillars, restraining the tongue and the rest of the limbs from that which is not permitted. “(Abu Laith As-Samarqandi Informing the Heedless p.256)


Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said to a man from the tribe of Hamazan, “Allah’s generosity is connected to gratitude; gratitude is linked to increase in his generosity. The generosity of Allah will not stop increasing unless the gratitude of his servant ceases.” (Purification of the Heart p. 101 Various).


Being Grateful for what you have

A person can be grateful for whatever they receive this is Shakir in Arabic but the Shukr is the person who is grateful for what he did not get not just for what he got.

“How few of my servants are grateful!” (Quran: Saba 34:13). We can now see the example of someone who is grateful, see the following. Sheikh Saad used to say that the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings is the teacher of gratitude and the following clarifies:

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) used to see the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) pray in the night until his feet cracked and then she asked, “O’ Messenger of Allah, why do you cry? When Allah has forgiven your previous and forthcoming errors?” “Should I not be a grateful slave?” (Bukhari, Muslim At-Tirmidhi, Nisa’i, Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmed).

Do what you should be doing – religious person

One of the other definitions that I remember hearing my teachers say was that a person is showing gratitude to Allah by performing the actions that are necessary for him to perform at that time. That is gratefulness. For example a religious person should not spend their time wasting it watch television they should it constructively learning; in any form.

Ibn Ajiba (may Allah be pleased with him) describes three stations of gratitude, “Gratitude of the tongue; it is the realisation of the blessing through its tranquil description, gratitude of the body; is description of servitude and gratitude of the heart, is witness the giver of blessing when the blessings arrives.” (p.12 Marij At-Taswif).

The above quote explains what gratitude entails and the three areas that gratitude can manifest.


Thank people

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “Whoever does not thank people does not thank Allah.” (Imam Ahmed).

Meaning that the good that you receive from people is from Allah so thanking that is showing gratitude. How many of us go into shops and do not say thank you? Some of us just grunt but is this the way of the Sunna?


Increase

"If you are grateful, surely I will increase you." (Quran: Ibrahim 14:7).

You can try this out by being grateful to Allah when you receive a blessing and know that it will be increased. Tie your gifts with the ropes of gratitude as one of the spiritual masters once said.


Conclusion

So be among the few who show gratitude with their tongues, limbs and hearts. You do not have anything to lose in fact you are promised more if you do. So what are you waiting for? When you feel overwhelmed with blessings the best thing that you can do is perform the grateful prostration which is two prostrations. Stay in the prostration position for as long as you like! The longer the better!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Truthfulness/Siddiq



Being truthful is something that is almost lost in this time. We have experienced so many people who have left truthfulness. It is almost as if it does not matter in this world anymore. Yet, this is something that is so intrinsic to Islam. One of the Prophet’s (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) names before Islam was 'the truthful.'

So why do we ignore this? The fourth chapter of Imam Nawawi’s great work Gardens of the righteous/Riyad As-Saliheen is truthfulness. There is also a section in Bustan Al-Arifeen/ Garden of the gnositics. As well as many other works that have been written about this subject.

One of point of Islamic belief is that all the Prophets are truthful because if there we not then how could we believe what they claim? Being truthful is part of prophecy.

Why am I typing about something that nobody is concerned with? Isn’t that part of my job to make you think and ponder. Not only you but to make myself think and realise that there are some actions that I cannot keep doing. We are living in times where is easier to lie than tell the truth and easier to make things up then admit the embarrassing truth because it makes us look small. We are not asking people to humiliate themselves we are talking about people speaking truthfully.

Is it not strange that people who have told the truth sometimes end up dead?


Where are we headed if we are not telling the truth?

Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Truth leads to goodness; goodness guides to Paradise; a man is truthful until he is recorded, with Allah, as truthful. Falsehood leads to immorality; immorality leads to hell; a man tells lies until he is recorded, with Allah, as a lair.” (Bukhari 10/423 and Muslim 2607).

Look at this great virtue that is almost lost these days. I have met so many people in the last few months that I have seen through and the attribute that made them clear is the truth. So many people think that they are truthful but how few are. So many people think there are on the side of truth but really they are on the side of lies. They lie to you they lie to me and they lie to themselves but they cannot lie to Allah because he knows it all. So who are you trying to cheat? Because you can lie to me but you cannot hide the lies. So why are you cheating yourself?

We also understand that there are books that people are recorded in, if they are persistant on a course of action or virtue. How wonderful it would be to be considered a person of truth.


Ease

Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Truth is tranquillity.” (At-Tirmidhi 2520).

Even though truth can be bitter it also sets you free because it frees the burden placed on the soul when it is asked. It also removes the internal dialogue that comes with lies because lies can eat you up like termites eat parchment!
There is popular English saying, 'Speak the truth and shame the devil.'

Hirqal asked Abu Sufyan, “What were you ordered to do?” He said, “To worship Allah alone without associating anything to him; leave what your fathers say; he ordered us to pray, to truth, gentleness and maintaining family ties.” (Bukhari 1/30 and Muslim 1773).


Known

The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) was known for being truthful and that is what he commanded his followers with truthfulness. The truthful one came with the truth and ordered truthfulness. It is funny to note that a speaker once asked me about the topic that he should speak about and I said truthfulness. He nodded then went away and when the talk occurred he proceeded to bash an unnamed group that’s another one of those who speak without realising what will benefit others! He wasn’t truthful to what he asked, so why ask?

There are situations that a Muslim can lie these are in war because war is deception, a man to his wife and to bring two parties together.


English dictionary definition

One of the interesting definitions in the dictionary is that being truthful is being close to the true value of something. (http://www.dicts.info/define.php?word=truth) How true that is!


Six meanings

Imam Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) states the following about truthfulness, “Know that the word truthfulness is used in six ways (meanings), truthfulness in speech, truthfulness in intention and desire, truthfulness in determination, truthfulness in loyalty with determination, truthfulness in action, truthfulness in the realisation of all the stations of the religion.” (Ihya Ul-Ulum Ad-Deen Vol 4. P.515).

The above explains all the spheres, in your life, that need truthfulness


Faith

Being truthful is intrinsic to faith because faith is described as affirmation on the tongue with sincerity in the heart. Without truthfulness a person faith is just empty words. Its truthfulness that brings those words to life.


Station

One of the other person who was known for his truthfulness is Abu Bakr the Truthful. He is the best this nation for what? Prayers, fasts or actions? No. He is the best because of his truthfulness and is the closet station to the Prophets. What a great station and this is open for us all.


Search for

As students we look for truth and we have to accept it when we find even though it can be difficult to accept truth from people we do not like, it is still there. Courts, lawyers, governments are in need of truth but sometimes hypocrisy can be seen for miles and we can see something is wrong when the truth is not upheld.

We expect truth to prevail and it will maybe not in this world but in the next and that is what the day of judgement is all about. All those things that we were truthful about will manifest and all falsehood will vanish. The other day I saw a man wearing an end is nigh type board he was smiling so I smiled back. We don’t know when it is coming but we know that it’s true.

The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “A truthful merchant is with the Prophets, the truthful and the martyrs.” (At-Tirmidhi).

It’s not easy to tell the truth but then again if was easy the great rank would not given for its utterance.