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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sheikh Abdul-Karim Yahya

Manifestation Of The Divine Will


The only ease in travelling is knowing the journey; if you know the journey; you know what to expect because you know the destination. Those who do not know the journey; are in a state of unease until they reach the destination because they do not know where they are going.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf on TV, Truth, and Technomania
June issue of "The Message" Magazine

(Post 900!)

This interview of Imam Hamza Yusuf was conducted in Calgary, Alberta during Islamic Awareness Week organized by the Muslim Students' Association (MSA) of the University of Calgary. The interviewer was Sr. Randa Hammadieh. It was compiled by Sr. Randa and Br. Ibrahim Danial.

RANDA HAMMADIEH: In your travels in the Muslim world, what cultural practices did you notice that struck you as being different from those of the West?

HAMZA YUSUF: In the West, there is a strong separation between young and old. In Muslim tradition, on the other hand, youth continues until the age of 40. This is the idea of "shababiya." In the Western civilization, the idea of adolescence is purely a social construct. The generation gap in the States isn't necessarily universal to all cultures although the US is doing a good job of exporting their monoculture all over the world. This happens because people are being exposed to the television and movies of the dominant culture. So you will see US cultural phenomena now all over the world.

RH: What are your thoughts on Muslim youth and public education of today?

HY: I think modern school is a negative experience. I believe you can learn more out of school than in it. There is now a universal education system, whether you are in an Arab country, China or somewhere else. This universal education is only going to vary according to the political atmosphere of the given country. For example, in Iraq, the indoctrination is probably more obvious whereas in the US it is just more subtle. School is an artificial construct to socialize individuals into a group identity. The whole idea of a "school of fish" is that everyone swims together whereas traditional Islamic education was completely individualized. What it did was give people all those tools (in the West called "liberal arts") such as grammar, rhetoric, and logic, through which people could actually think and use their brains.

In public high schools, you are not given tools, you are given information and data. In fact, a metaphor that is used in education today is that you're basically a hard drive that needs to be written with a given software. You will then fulfill whatever are the social needs of the society. Schooling today is designed only to matriculate people into the logic of the system itself. Then people end up in meaningless jobs doing meaningless work, and never really think about what type of society they're contributing to.

RH: If there was one thing in your travels in the Muslim world that left a distinctive impression upon you, what would it be?

HY: What a horrific condition the Muslim countries are in! The Muslim world is now like a rape victim. Colonization was like the raping trauma, and the Muslim world has never been able to get up and go on with life of the Muslim world in its entirety by European powers, who for centuries were seen as backward and barbaric, has had really devastating effects.

Now in the Muslim world, Muslims seem to dress in pale imitation of Western people. Some look like caricatures of Western people. This is indicative of the state of some Muslims who aren't very inspiring anymore. The whole world once looked up to the Muslims as models.

RH: What do you say to Muslims who seem to glorify the past when they were at their peak?

HY: This is all pathetic nostalgia for returning to the glory of the past and its romanticism. The past has nothing to do with us. That was them. We are a whole other people. It's not our past, it was their present. Now it's over. That's why the Quran has this concept of letting go of your fathers, and not being proud of your fathers because they are not you! You have to create your own future. Don't be like an old war veteran. However, it is important to have some historical continuity because the Qur'an says "Look at the people who went before" as the way of learning lessons.

One thing that is wrong with some modern Muslim mentality is the idea of "If we do what they did, we will be glorious." Someone asked me, "How can we get an empire back?" There is this idea that Islam is all about glory. No! It's like you exercise to maintain your health, but the exercise is not your goal. It's just the means to achieve your goal. In the same way that if you seek the contentment of Allah, one of the side effects of that is that Allah elevates you and gives you "tamkeen," but that is not the goal. It's just a side effect.

Now you don't hear people talk about Allah very much, just about Islam. The Quran says, "To your Lord is your goal." The path of coming to know God results in victory because of your struggling for truth. One of the things about sincerely struggling for truth is that Allah gives you victory by the nature of the struggle. It follows that by the nature of the struggle itself, you gain worldly success. You see, worldly success has nothing to do with the intentions. Because if those are your intentions, then you will never gain worldly success. In fact, Allah will give the "kafiroon" success over you. If the people of truth are not seeking truth, but instead the benefits of truth (merely the side effects), then they will never achieve them.

RH: Then how should Muslims look at life?

HY: Life is mundane. Life is praying, getting up for Fajr and day-to-day chores. All this "glory" some aspire to is just an abstract in the mind. And the reality of it is even the kings of the past had to get up in the morning and go through daily routines. Life is by its nature perfunctory and Islam is just to harmonize it, put it into perspective, and make its goals dignified goals, instead of low, worldly goals.

RH: Now that you are residing in the US you must have had some exposure to the technological hegemony occurring. How do you view this in the light of Islam?

HY: Modern technology is just an example of when people's goals are totally distorted. Modern technology arose out of very strong corporate interests in creating the massification of society where everybody needs a TV or a stereo. This doesn't mean that Islam is against technology. Technology, by its nature, is everything that humans produce. And by our nature we do make things. Islamic technology would be very humane. To serve people as opposed to the opposite.

Muslims do not believe in progress. Progress is completely antithetical to the Islamic doctrine. Muslims believe that human society reached its pinnacle in Medina in the 7th century. This is the best society that has ever existed. The verse which says "Today We have completed your Religion..." made Umar (ra) weep because he realized that nothing is ever completed except that it begins to decrease.

If the goal of life is to establish Deen, then that is the highest progress that humans can achieve and therefore all this modern technological madness is an exteriorization of the human impulse to know. Because we have become such gross materialists, all of our intellectual and spiritual endeavors have been completely centered and focused on the outward, the "Dhahir" and the inside has been completely forgotten. Now there is even a massive interest in how we can preserve this life here, manifested by studies in cryonics, genetic engineering and cloning.

RH: So would you say human beings tend to serve modern technology rather than it serving us?

HY: Yes. Modern technology dehumanizes by its nature, because it is based on massification (a computer in every home). Everyone is reduced to sitting around looking at blinking cathode rays on a screen. There is no human exchange anymore; people just send e-mail. People get nervous if you start talking like this because most Muslims are really embarrassed by the simplicity of the Prophet's (pbuh) life. Many don't want to admit that he lived in a house devoid of furniture; that he sewed his own shoes and collected firewood. The Prophet (pbuh) wasn't interested in improving that aspect of his life.

Improving ones standard of living has become an idol whereas I think Islam lowers your standard of living. You become content with less. When the Prophet's (pbuh) wife put a cushion in his bed he got upset. He consciously lowered his standard of living.

The truth is the whole world can't support a bunch of consumers. Western technology is based on the exploitation of the other 90 percent of the world. All our wonderful technological achievements are based on the rest of the world living in abject poverty. Through enjoying the fruits of Western technology, we are in fact participating in the destruction of indigenous cultures all over the world and the impoverishment of those people.

RH: What are your thoughts on the teenage phenomenon and its significance today?

HY: It's an artificial construct intended to sell rap, $100 basketball shoes and $80 jeans. It's an invention of consumer society that doesn't exist in traditional Islamic or Western cultures. People should be done with school by the time they're 15. In traditional European societies, those who studied had their bachelors by the age of 14 and were teaching at 18 at Cambridge and Oxford. This is documented. Spending 12 years in school is an artificial construct designed to occupy time-space in which the society really doesn't have the ability to allow these people to enter the workforce because it is saturated.

Teenage phenomenon destroys human society. Historically, agrarian-based societies (which the majority of Muslim countries are) view community as absolutely essential for survival, whereas in industrial societies community is a luxury.

A sickness of some Muslims today is that they've gotten into the whole age issue. Much like racism and sexism, it's identifying people with quantitative measurements. We don't know how old many of the sahabi were. It wasn't an obsession. In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) tried to break the jahali concept by putting Osama ibn Zaid as the head of an army when he was only 17. Age in Islam is about having gray hair and not having gray hair.

If you don't have gray hair you're called a "shabaab" and you're supposed to respect people with gray hair. If you have gray hair you're called "sheikh" and you're supposed to have mercy and compassion on those who don't have gray hairs. That is a much healthier way of looking at it. In Islamic knowledge, we knew Ibn Malik was considered a sheikh which literally means "old man" when he was 17 years old. Islam doesn't box you into a category. Age is about where you are spiritually, not where you are numerically.

I think that 40 year olds should sit with 18 year olds, and in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, learn from each other. The sahaba had 15 year olds in their Prophet's majlis with 60 year olds. Muslim schools were never segregated by age. "Allah created everything and He guided it in its own specific way and manner."

We are an Ummah of labeling and labels are from Western society. In labels, everything has a name and nothing has a meaning.

RH: Given all your experiences, travels, and years, what do you know for sure about the world?

HY: Well, that there is a lot of truth to Sayidinna Ali saying that "Youth is a type of madness and old age is a type of wisdom." I think that a crisis of the Muslim world is that we have an incredibly young society and their are by and large ignorant, having lost their historical link, and so there hasn't been a lot of guidance from the older generation.

Many Muslim youth are confused, but as this generation of Muslims reach maturity, an interesting scenario is going to occur. As the young people in the Islamic movement in the U.S. and Canada move into their forties, there is going to be much growth and guidance for the younger people, inshallah.

We are in a really bad time, but we should see it as a temporal kind of condition. This is not the way it has always been, nor is it the way it will always be, inshallah. I know we just have to be careful as a community in the steps we take. We have to deliberate more than necessary than if we had strong guidance. We are now living in a very exciting time, a time for much potential growth, and I believe that Muslims in Canada and the US will certainly rise to the occasion, inshallah.

End of interview.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Tasawwuf/Sufism in Islam
Imam Hamza Yusuf
a talk sponsored by CAIR
Stanford University, May 4, 1997

Imam Hamza Yusuf, sometime khatib at the Muslim Community Association of Santa Clara, California, spoke on Sufism in Islam, directly following a lecture by Dr. Anne-Marie Schimmel, former Harvard professor of Oriental Studies. Imam Hamza began by noting that the architecture of Stanford is modeled after traditional Andalusian, Moroccan and North African universities. He said that Islamic architecture and civilization was once great as was its scholarship, but unfortunately the Muslim ummah has fallen behind in these spheres.

Imam Hamza continued:

"The fundamental and underlying message in the tradition of Islam I think personally is that it does not and refuses to create this dialectic in which a person's inward and their outward become split. [In non-Islamic systems] people are either forced to become esoterists or they are forced to become exoterists.

"In fact what Islam is trying to do and what most of the other spiritual religions and in fact from the Muslim perspective all of them have failed to do is to join these two elements in a harmonious and balanced way and this is why in the tradition of Islam Sufism has always been part of the traditional Islamic curriculum in every single Muslim university. I know of no period in the Islamic tradition in which Sufism was not taught in the universities and not seen as an important and fundamental aspect of the tradition of Islam.

"Sidi Ahmad Zarruq wrote a great book called the principles of Sufism in which he clarified traditional and orthodox Sufism says in his principle number 208, 'there are five reasons for repudiating the Sufis the first of these is with reference to the perfection of their path. For if the Sufis latch on to a special dispensation or if they misbehave or are negligent in a matter or if a fault manifests itself in them, people hasten to repudiate them.' Because they are people who have traditionally been the most strongest and fierce adherents to the sacred teaching of Islam and they have been the ones also that have never inclined toward easy ways out on terms of the shariah or the sacred law.

"They have been the strictest adherents to the sacred law, but they have a wonderful principle: that is be hard on yourself and be gentle with other people. Unfortunately, the disease of this age amongst many Muslims is be easy on yourself and be hard on everybody else. So I think this is where the real crises of rejecting Sufism as one third of Islam has had really devastating results in much of the modern Islamic phenomenon. {Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq] said 'this is because no servant is free of fault unless he is granted infallibility or protection by God.'

"The second reason [for people to repudiate Sufis] is the sensitivity of the observer. [The observer's] criticism of the Sufis and their knowledge and states occurs as much as the ego, nafs, hastens to deny knowledge it does not posses. Imam Sayyidina Ali was known for saying, 'Whoever is ignorant of a thing is its natural enemy.'

"The third reason [to reject the Sufis] is the existence of many who fall short of their claims and those who seek [worldly] gain through the guise of religiosity. This has been an affliction within the Muslim ummah. It is well known of the people claiming to be Sufis, putting on the garments of Sufis, and tricking simple followers and worshippers; getting them to give them their money, to slavishly serve them, and these type of things. This has happened historically in the Muslim world. The [pious] imams have always been the strictest at trying to prevent this deception, because there is nothing worse than deceiving somebody in religion. Give me a mafia gangster any day over a fraudulent religious observer--really! This is the reason for denying any claim that they might make even though there is proof of it. Because it is found doubtful.

"The fourth reason is fear for the generality that they might be lead astray by following esoteric doctrines without upholding the letter of the law as happens to many ignorant people. So ignorant people might hear some statement which is said by a Sufi and they completely misunderstand it. And Abu Yazid al-Bistami put in Imam Dhahabi's tabaqat is considered a faqih (jurisprudent). Imam Dhahabi is considered a student of Ibn Taymiyya and he considers Abu Yazid al-Bistami a reasonable and sound source of hadith. Yet Abu Yazid al-Bistami is the one who is noted for saying 'Subhanee' which means 'Glory to Me!' This is known in the technical vocabulary of the Sufis as a shatha, an ecstatic utterance. If a person says it in a state in which their self is absent they are not taken to account for it We have proof of it in Sahih Bukhari about a slave in the middle of a desert in which the Prophet (s) says that because he finds his lost beast he shouts out in joy 'Allah you are my slave and I am Your lord!' The Prophet explained that that slave made a mistake in his ecstatic state after finding his animal. This is someone who finds their animal, so how much greater for someone who has found his Lord?! What about his state of ecstasy?

"The fifth reason [to reject Sufism] is the covetousness some people have for the ranks of Sufism. In traditional Muslim society the Sufis were held up as literally the highest people in the society; they were the shaykhs. Imam Nawawi was a great Sufi, [Qadi] Iyad was a great Sufi, Ibn Hajar Asqalani was a great Sufi, Imam Ibn Jawzi was a great Sufi. All of these great imams were known to be Sufis of great stature. Abu Hamid al Ghazzali who is given the title Hujjat al-Islam is probably the greatest example. People wanted to be like them, and the Arabs are notorious in their understanding if you are not like noble people pretend to be like them because even that is a type of nobility.

"Finally [Sidi Ahmad Zarruq] said, 'Thus people are inclined to become inflamed with the Sufis, more so than with any other group.' People in official positions exert pressure on them more than anybody else. This was a traditional area in which the government would try to influence the Sufis because they knew that they had such a vast amount of power over the common people The Sufis were traditionally the most distant and furthest people from the governors or the government unless they were righteous rulers like Nizam al Mulk who Imam Ghazali actually helped to build the Nizamiyya system of teaching. And anyway [Sidi Ahmad Zarruq] says, 'Anyone who falls in any of these categories except for the last is either rewarded or excused and Allah knows best.'

"I was asked to make a du`a and I would like to make the du`a of the people of North Africa which I heard many, many times in North Africa and was always very impressed by it; it is called Salat Tunjiyya--the prayer that saves people:

"Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammadin salatan tunjina biha min jami al ahwali wal afat
wa taqdi lana biha jami`a al hajjat
wa tutahiruna biha min jami`a as-sayyiat
wa tarfauna biha `indaka ala darajat
wa tubalighuna biha aqsa al ghayat min jami`a al khayrat fil hayati wa bad al mamat
wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallim tasliman kathira"

O Allah pray on our Master Muhammad a prayer by means of which we will be saved from every awe-inspiring harmful thing,
and that will take care of all of our needs,
and purify us by means of it from all of our ugly qualities and characteristics
and raise us and purify us by means of it from all of our ugly qualities and characteristics
and raise us up by means of it in Your Presence to the highest of degrees,
and cause us to reach by means of it the extremes of all goodness in our life and after our death
and this prayer be upon his family and his companions
and may he be given safety and much salaam.

"I would like to thank on behalf of CAIR and the Muslims in this area everybody for attending this lecture. Thank you very much."

The following are some notes from the famous Sufism Internet Debate of 1993, which refer to the discussion of the concept of fana' which was mentioned by Shaykh Hamza above as the state in which some Sufi masters issued utterances (shatha) of outwardly anti-Islamic import.

In Book, Volume 2, pages 396-397 of Majmu'a Fatawa, Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya speaks about fana also known in Sufism as annihilation.

He said:
"This state of love is the state of many people that are from the people of Love to Allah `azza wa jall, they are the people of the love of Allah and the People of the Will (al-irada) of Allah, it is typical of many of the people that love God and seek Him. Because that person has vanished in his lover, in Allah `azza wa jall Դhrough the intensity of the love, because he vanished in Allah's love, not his own ego's love. And he will recall Allah, not recalling himself, remember Allah , not remembering himself, visualizing Allah [yastashhid], not visualizing himself, existing in Allah, not in the existence of himself. When he reaches that state 'Ana al-Haqq' (I am the Truth) or 'Subhanee' (Glory to Me!) and he will say 'maa fil jubba ill-Allah' (there is nothing in this cloak except Allah), because he is drunk in the love of God and this is a pleasure and happiness that he cannot control."
Further on Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya says:
"This [matter] has in it Haqq and there is in it Batil. But when someone will enter a state with his fervor intense love (`ishq) to Allah, he will enter a state of absentmindedness, and when he enters a state of absentmindedness, he will find himself as if he is accepting the [concept] of ittihad [union]. I do not consider this a sin. Because that person is excused and no one may punish him as he is not aware of what he is doing. Because the pen does not condemn the crazy except when he is restored to sanity. And when that person is in that state and he was wrong in what he did, he will be under Allah's address:
"Rabbana laa tu`akhidhna in-naseena aw akhta`na"
"Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make mistakes." (Baqara 2:286)
"And Allah says in other verse, "wa laa junaaha `alaykum fimaa akhtaatum bihi" - "there is no blame on you if you unintentionally do a mistake."
On page 339, in Volume 10, Ibn Taymiyya says:
"there is a story of two men who were so respectful and loved each other very much. One of them fell in the water [of the sea] and immediately the other threw himself behind him. Then the first one, who was sinking asked, "what made you throw yourself here?" He said, I vanished in you, and when I vanished in you I thought you were me and I was you."
And further on Ibn Taymiyya continues:
"As long as he is not through something that is prohibited, it is accepted, but if it were prohibited (the intention was bad then he is not excused."
And Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya continues (Volume 2, page 397):
"And because of that [situation]many of the saints like `Abdul Qadir Jilani, have an excuse because they are in a state of love `ishq)."
That subject is also mentioned in a whole chapter on detail from page 337-343, entitled: "al-Fana' alladhee yujad fi kalam as-sufiyya yuffassar bi-thalathat umur" (The Word Annihilation found in Sufism explained in Three Ways). This chapter describes the concept of fana' in detail.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Sharp Choice

The other day a button came off my shirt, nothing earth shattering there, so I picked it up and took it home to sew on later.

After arriving home I took the sewing box out and began looking for the closest colour to my shirt. I found a few colours but none of them matched except for one but even that was not close. Now all that I needed was a needle.

I searched and got to the bottom of the box. Then found a needle with some thread on it. It was the same colour as the thread as I needed.

Alhamdulillah, the needle and the thread was waiting for me!

Pondering for a moment I thought about all those choices that I had considered and in the end it came down to one thing. The choice was already made for me. All I had to do is find it.

Like all those choices we are about to make there is one that will definitely occur and that is the choice that has already been chosen.

One of my friends used to say the Arabic word Makutub when something disliked occurred. After hearing it we would relax. The work Makutub means written (it's also a good way to remember the Ism Maful) it indicates to us that the action has already occurred. It is the passive participle of writing/Kataba. So why worry about the Dunya? Make a sincere choice and it will, in sha Allah, be the best.

Sometimes we hate something but there is a great deal of good in it and sometimes love something although there is a great deal of harm in it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advice for the Seekers of Knowledge - all the posts

We were inspired to write this because of the bad behavior we witnessed that students showed to their teachers. One post turned into two as more advice was needed. We hope that we have covered all the important points that a student of knowledge should bear in mind. We did not intend to write so much but that is how it turned out. Sometimes we plan but are plans are overtaken by the greatest of planners. We hope that this will benefit the believers and we hope that Allah supports us by allowing us to acting upon this advice.

This post comprises all the previous posts on the 'Advice for the seekers of knowledge.' Please click on a link to read the post (s). This is as far as we have got and if we post any more then we will add them to this list in sha Allah.

Or you can go to scribd and download the whole document.

Chapter one -Your knowledge is pointless

Chapter two - Intention of the learner

Chapter three - How to ask a scholar a question

Chapter four - Sitting in lectures

Chapter five - Choice of teacher

Chapter six - The right that learnt knowledge has over you

Chapter seven - Waiting for the Scholar

Chapter eight - Studying

Chapter nine - Teacher's pet

Chapter ten - Students attaire

Chapter eleven - Errors of the Teachers

Chapter twelve - Sins of Students

Chapter thirteen - character with other students

Chapter fourteen - Instructions of the teacher

Chapter fifteen - knowledge

Chapter sixteen - signs of success

Chapter seventeen - advice for the teacher

Chapter eighteen - respecting the teacher

Chapter nineteen - instruments of learning

Chapter twenty - harm from others when learning

Chapter twenty one - respecting scholars

Chapter twenty two - respecting the sacred word

Chapter twenty three - cutting corners

Chapter twenty four - when imparting knowledge to others

Chapter twenty five -

Chapter twenty six

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sheikh Atabek Shukurov

You can protect your self from the evil eye if you read this verse.

سورة القلم
The Pen 68:49-51
“Had not Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore, in disgrace. Thus did his Lord choose him and make him of the Company of the Righteous. And the Unbelievers would almost trip thee up with their eyes when they hear the Message; and they say: "Surely he is possessed!"

{ لَّوْلاَ أَن تَدَارَكَهُ نِعْمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ لَنُبِذَ بِٱلْعَرَآءِ وَهُوَ مَذْمُومٌ }
{ فَٱجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَجَعَلَهُ مِنَ ٱلصَّالِحِينَ } *
{ وَإِن يَكَادُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَيُزْلِقُونَكَ بِأَبْصَارِهِمْ لَمَّا سَمِعُواْ ٱلذِّكْرَ وَيَقُولُونَ إِنَّهُ لَمَجْنُونٌ }

See link to the Arabic

Also saying Ma sha Allah protect blessings that have been given.
ما شاء الله

Monday, December 06, 2010

Document your studies

Chapter Twenty Six

Document your studies. With which scholar and what subject or text that you have studied. Make a note of the dates as well. Keep it with you and make sure you update it. Also look back and thank Allah for showing you mercy so you can study and giving you the ability to keep attending classes.

Most of keep all your ijazahs (permissions to teach a text or a general one) this is very important. Even if it's for a book that you consider minor, keep it and make a note of its chain of narrators.

There is a lot of good in performing the gratefulness prostration when you have completed a text.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Gaps in study

Chapter twenty five

You may experience gaps in your studies which can be unexpected and unwanted. As any student will inform you they want to keep their progress up and do not want to have many breaks, as this hinders learning.

It can also hinder finishing text because of the long gap. We are not talking about missing weeks but we are talking about missing months. If this occurs then try to go to deen intensives of other teachers. This may help keep the momentum of learning because a large gap could cause a difficulty when restarting the lessons.
The best use of the spare time you have is to study and re-check what you have learnt. Rather than occupy yourself with something else new. You could read a related text or even read something that is unrelated but that should only be done to refresh the mind. As you may have times when you get bogged down in a subject.
Most of all knowledge requires you to be consistent and persistent; if you are neither of these things then you many never reach your goal or you may take longer than others.
As Roy Castle used to say, “Dedication is what you need; if you want to be a record breaker!”We need to show more dedication in a time where you cannot study with your regular teacher.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A beautiful hadith, amongst all the beautiful ahadith

A most beautiful hadith, amongst all the beautiful ahadith
Khalid ibn Al Waleed (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated the following hadith:
A Bedouin came, one day, to the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and said to him, “0’ Messenger of Allah! I’ve come to ask you a few questions about the affairs of this Life and the Here After.”
Ask what you wish.
Q: I’d like to be the most learned of men.
A: Fear Allah, and you will be the most learned of men.
Q: I wish to be the richest man in the world.
A: Be contented, and you will be the richest man in the world.
Q: I’d like to be the most just man.
A: Desire for others what you desire for yourself, and you will be the most just of men.
Q: I want to be the best of men.
A: Do good to others and you will be the best of men.
Q: I wish to be the most favoured by Allah.
A: Engage much in Allah’s praise, and you will be most favoured by Him.
Q: I’d like to complete my faith.
A: If you have good manners you will complete your faith.
Q: I wish to be among those who do good.
A: Adore Allah as if you see Him. If you don ‘t see Him, He sees you. In this way you will be among those who do good.
Q: I wish to be obedient to Allah.
A: If you observe Allah’s commands you will be obedient.
Q: I’d like to be free from all sins.
A: Bathe yourself from impurities and you will be free from all sins.
Q: I’d like to be raised on the Day of Judgment in the light.
A: Don’t wrong yourself or any other creature, and you will be raised on the Day of Judgment in the light.
Q: I’d like Allah to bestow His mercy on me.
A: If you have mercy on yourself and others, Allah will grant you mercy on the Day of Judgment.
Q: I’d like my sins to be very few.
A: If you seek the forgiveness Allah as much as you can, your sins will be very few.
Q: I’d like to be the most honourable man.
A: If you do not complain to any fellow creature, you will be the most honourable of men.
Q: I’d like to be the strongest of men.
A: If you put your trust in Allah, you will be the strongest of men.
Q: I’d like to enlarge my provision.
A: If you keep yourself pure, Allah will enlarge your provision.
Q: I’d like to be loved by Allah and His messenger.
A: If you love what Allah and Him messenger love, you will be among their beloved ones.
Q: I wish to be safe from Allah’s wrath on the Day of Judgement.
A: If you do not loose your temper with any of your fellow creatures, you will be safe from the wrath of Allah on the Day of Judgement.
Q: I’d like my prayers to be responded.
A: If you avoid forbidden actions, your prayers will he responded.
Q: I’d like Allah not to disgrace me on the Day of Judgement.
A: If you guard your chastity, Allah will not disgrace you on the Day of Judgment.
Q: I’d like Allah to provide me with a protective covering on the Day of Judgment.
A: Do not uncover your fellow creatures faults, and Allah will provide you with a covering protection on the Day of Judgement.
Q: What will save me from sins?
A: Tears, humility and illness.
Q: What are the best deeds in the eyes of Allah?
A: Gentle manners, modesty and patience.
Q: What are the worst evils in the eyes of Allah?
A: Hot temper and miserliness.
Q: What assuages the wrath of Allah in this life and in the Hereafter?
A: Concealed charity and kindness to relatives.
Q: What extinguishes hell’s fires on the Day of Judgment?
A: Patience in adversity and misfortunes.
Related by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

The Wise and the Judge

This account is from about 1150 years ago when Hakam ruled Andalusia (Islamic Spain).

A nice site near the capital (of Andalusia) attracted the site of the ruler, and he thought of building a palace for himself there. The land belonged to an old woman who lived in a cottage upon it.

The ruler offered the woman a reasonable price for the land, but she declined to sell it. He then offered double the price of the land, but she was persistent in her refusal.

The ruler got angry, forcibly ousted her from the site and demolished the cottage. Within a short time a stately mansion and a beautiful garden was built on that spot. But the woman was not easily dismissed, she went to the Qazi and complained against the ruler.

Shortly afterwards the ruler invited the Qazi to see his new palace and gardens. The Qazi went to the Palace at the fixed time and took with him some empty sacks on his back and a donkey. The ruler felt curious and asked why the donkey was there in noble company. The Qazi replied, 'I pay to your Majesty to permit me to take some sacks of earth from this Royal garden'.

The ruler was amused at this strange request and granted the permission. The Qazi had the sacks filled with earth and then asked the ruler to help him in lifting the sack onto the back of the donkey. Further, amused at this particular request of the Qazi the ruler cheerfully went up and applied himself to the task. But with all his efforts he failed to lift a single sack.

The Qazi then turned to the king and said: 'Sir, if you cannot lift a single sack of earth today, how will you lift the entire garden when, on the day of judgement, Allah will command you to transfer it to the old woman whom you took it from unjustly?'

The ruler felt ashamed and at once sent for the woman. When she came, he said to her: 'Mother, I have grievously wronged you. Please forgive me. From today this Palace and it's Garden are yours'.

[Short stories from Islamic History, Dutt]

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Malcolm X

Malcolm X - (1925 - 1965)

"I am and always will be a Muslim. My religion is Islam." - Malcolm X

Early Life

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louis Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family's eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl's civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm's fourth birthday. Regardless of the Little's efforts to elude the Legion, in 1929 their Lansing, Michigan home was burned to the ground, and two years later Earl's mutilated body was found lying across the town's trolley tracks when Malcolm was only six. Louise had an emotional breakdown several years after the death of her husband and was committed to a mental institution. Her children were split up amongst various foster homes and orphanages.

Malcolm was a smart, focused student and graduated from junior high at the top of his class. However, when a favorite teacher told Malcolm his dream of becoming a lawyer was "no realistic goal for a nigger," Malcolm lost interest in school and eventually dropped out at the age of fifteen. Learning the ways of the streets, Malcolm became acquainted with hoodlums, thieves, dope peddlers, and pimps. Convicted of burglary at twenty, he remained in prison until the age of twenty-seven. During his prison stay he attempted to educate himself. In addition, during his period in prison he learned about and joined the Nation of Islam, studying the teachings of Elijah Muhammed fully. He was released, a changed man, in 1952.

The 'Nation of Islam'

Upon his release, Malcolm went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instruction by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm's personal commitment helped build the organization nation-wide, while making him an international figure. He was interviewed on major television programs and by magazines, and spoke across the country at various universities and other forums. His power was in his words, which so vividly described the plight of blacks and vehemently incriminated whites. When a white person referred to the fact that some Southern university had enrolled black freshmen without bayonets, Malcolm reacted with scorn:

When I "slipped," the program host would leap on the bait: "Ahhh! Indeed, Mr. Malcolm X -- you can't deny that's an advance for your race!"

I'd jerk the pole then. "I can't turn around without hearing about some 'civil rights advance'! White people seem to think the black man ought to be shouting 'hallelujah'! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man's back -- and now the white man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man's supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it's still going to leave a scar!

Although Malcolm's words often stung with the injustices against blacks in America, the equally racist views of the Nation of Islam kept him from accepting any whites as sincere or capable of helping the situation. For twelve years he preached that the white man was the devil and the "Honorable Elijah Muhammad" was God's messenger. Unfortunately, most images of Malcolm today focus on this period of his life, although the transformation he was about to undergo would give him a completely different, and more important, message for the American people.

The Change to True Islam

On March 12, 1964, impelled by internal jealousy within the Nation of Islam and revelations of Elijah Muhammad's sexual immorality, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam with the intention of starting his own organization:

I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else's control. I feel what I'm thinking and saying now is for myself. Before, it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.

Malcolm was thirty-eight years old when he left Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. Reflecting on reflects that occurred prior to leaving, he said:

At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying, or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering myself a Muslim -- and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called "true Islam," I would "understand it, and embrace it." Automatically, as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?

Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, "No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."

The Effect of the Pilgrimage

Malcolm further continues about the Hajj:

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is a religious obligation that every orthodox Muslim fulfills, if able, at least once in his or her lifetime.

The Holy Quran says it, "Pilgrimage to the House [of God built by the prophet Abraham] is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey." (3:97)

Allah said: "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine" (22:27).

Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out "Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!" (Here I come, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair -- all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other. . . .

That is when I first began to reappraise the "white man." It was when I first began to perceive that "white man," as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America, "white man" meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole outlook about "white" men.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white...America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white -- but the "white" attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespecitve of their color.

Malcolm's New Vision of America

Malcolm continues:

Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities -- he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth -- the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.
. . .

I believe that God now is giving the world's so-called 'Christian' white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world's non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those who he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

I will never forget the dinner at the Azzam home with Dr. Azzam. The more we talked, the more his vast reservoir of knowledge and its variety seemed unlimited. He spoke of the racial lineage of the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet, and he showed how they were both black and white. He also pointed out how color, and the problems of color which exist in the Muslim world, exist only where, and to the extent that, that area of the Muslim world has been influenced by the West. He said that if one encountered any differences based on attitude toward color, this directly reflected the degree of Western influence.

The Oneness of Man Under One God

It was during his pilgrimage that he began to write some letters to his loyal assistants at the newly formed Muslim Mosque in Harlem. He asked that his letter be duplicated and distributed to the press:

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the House of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. .

You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the "white" Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the "white" from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their "differences" in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called "Christian" white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, "The brotherhood! The people of all races, color, from all over the world coming together as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God. . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God.

Malcolm returned from the pilgrimage as El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz. He was afire with new spiritual insight. For him, the struggle had evolved from the civil rights struggle of a nationalist to the human rights struggle of an internationalist and humanitarian.

After the Pilgrimage

White reporters and others were eager to learn about El-Hajj Malik's newly-formed opinions concerning themselves. They hardly believed that the man who had preached against them for so many years could suddenly turn around and call them brothers. To these people El-Hajj Malik had this to say:

You're asking me "Didn't you say that now you accept white men as brothers?" Well, my answer is that in the Muslim world, I saw, I felt, and I wrote home how my thinking was broadened! Just as I wrote, I shared true, brotherly love with many white-complexioned Muslims who never gave a single thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.

My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land, I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, -- blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans -- in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshipping as one! No segregationists -- no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words.

In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again -- as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.

To the blacks who increasingly looked to him as a leader, El-Hajj Malik preached a new message, quite the opposite of what he had been preaching as a minister in the Nation of Islam:

True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.

Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists -- some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!

I said to my Harlem street audiences that only when mankind would submit to the One God who created all -- only then would mankind even approach the "peace" of which so much talk could be heard...but toward which so little action was seen.

Too Dangerous to Last

El-Hajj Malik's new universalistic message was the U.S. establishment's worst nightmare. Not only was he appealing to the black masses, but to intellectuals of all races and colors. Now he was consistently demonized by the press as "advocating violence" and being "militant," although in actuality he and Dr. Martin Luther King were moving closer together in outlook:

The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody's guess which of the "extremes" in approach to the black man's problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first -- "non-violent" Dr. King, or so-called "violent" me."

El-Hajj Malik knew full well that he was a target of many groups. In spite of this, he was never afraid to say what he had to say when he had to say it. As a sort of epitaph at the end of his autobiography, he says:

I know that societies often have killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America -- then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Although El-Hajj Malik knew that he was a target for assassination, he accepted this fact without requesting police protection. On February 21, 1965, while preparing to give a speech at a New York hotel, he was shot by three black men. He was three months short of forty, the age of maturity according to the Qur'an. While it is clear that the Nation of Islam had something to do with the assassination, many people believe there was more than one organization involved. The FBI, known for its anti-black movement tendency, has been suggested as an accomplice. We may never know for sure who was behind El-Hajj Malik's murder, or, for that matter, the murder of other national leaders in the early 1960s.

Malcolm X's life has affected Americans in many important ways. His conversion must have had an influence on Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace Muhammad, who, after his father's death, led the Nation of Islam's followers into orthodox Islam. African-Americans' interest in their Islamic roots has flourished since El-Hajj Malik's death. Alex Haley, who wrote Malcolm's autobiography, later wrote the epic Roots about an African Muslim family's experience with slavery. More and more African-Americans are becoming Muslim, adopting Muslim names, or exploring African culture. Interest in Malcolm X has seen a surge recently due to Spike Lee's movie, X. El-Hajj Malik is a source of pride for African-Americans, Muslims, and Americans in general. His message is simple and clear:

I am not a racist in any form whatever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim..


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Enter the Abode of Peace

Abu Ja'far heard Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Hassan recite this Quranic passage, “Allah beckons you to the abode of peace; and he guides whoever he wills to the straight path.” (Yunis 10:25)
Then he narrated from Jabir ibn Abdullah said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) came to us one day and said, “I saw a dream, it was if Jibreal (upon him peace) was near my head and Mikaeal was at my feet. One said to the other, “Give him a similitude.” He said, “Listen," He listened and heard with an understanding heart. "You and your nation are like a people who the king has given land to; then built a house upon it; then placed cattle upon it; then sent a messenger to call the people to food; some responded to the messenger and others did not. Allah is the King; the land is Islam; the house is paradise and you O’ Muhammad are the Messenger; whoever responds to you enters Islam; whoever enters Islam enters Paradise and whoever enters paradise partakes in it.”
Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadark 2:338-339 who said this chain is authentic. Imam Ad-Dhahabi said, “It is authentic.”
Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s Dalail An-Nabuwwah / Proofs of Prophethood
V1 P.370

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Intention / Niyyah

Intention/ Niyyah

A few months ago a friend of mine was talking about the importance of intention. He quoted Imam As-Shafi’i statement on intention and said that it enters into seventy chapters of jurisprudence. I said yes that is in the Shafi’i school and not in the Hanafi School because there are actions that can be done without intention that are valid.

He disagreed with my point and decided to convince me of his point. You see in the Hanafi School there are actions that can be done without intention that are valid because intention is not part of the action. But if one desires reward then intention is important and that is where the following quote fits in. In Al-Shaba wa Al-Nazahir of Ibn Nujaym (may Allah show him mercy) he says, "There is no reward without intention." (p. 17) Reward is about the intention of the action not whether it is valid or not.

A famous example is when a person jumps into a river and all the parts of his body are wet, his ablution is valid in the Hanafi school but not in the Shafi’i school. Also, if a man makes three pronouncements of the word Talaq/Divorce to his wife; the divorce occurs without intention. Alas, he did not accept my point but I wanted to write something about intention because it is a subject which many of us neglect! Note, it is my intention to write something useful about intention and not my intention to insult!


Many books start with the prophetic narration of intention. The narration is as follows:

Umar narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Actions are commensurate to their intentions.” (Bukhari 1/1 and Muslim 3/1907)

This is the first narration that Imam Bukhari begins his Authentic/Sahih collection with; the first narration that the Miskat Al-Masabih begins with, Imam Nawawi begins his forty Hadith collection with this narration, as he does the Garden of the Righteous/ Riyad Al-Saliheen. This is something that many scholars see as the starting place of an action, the intention. If we get the intention right then whatever comes after will be sound as well.

In terms of the narration it is singular/ahad and authentic/sahih but later it was mass transmitted by Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) in a sermon. The Hanafi School understand this narration as a sole/Ahad transmission. Because it started singular.

Going back to the hadith we see that the sources of actions are the intentions. And intentions are the beginning of the action.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Actions are commensurate by intentions, to every intender is his intention. Whoever's emigration is for Allah and his Messenger then his emigration is truly to Allah and his Messenger. And whoever's emigration is for any worldly gain or for a woman he is to wed, then his migration is just for what he migrated.” (Source as above)

There was a man who wished to marry Umm Qais who migrated so he could marry her as other companions migrated for the sake of Allah (the Exalted). The companions’ intentions were that they migrated for the sake of Allah and the other man’s intention was so he could marry a woman. He did become Muslim and he became known as Muhajir Umm Qais, the emigrate of the mother of Qais. This hadith clearly explains that the action depends on the intention. Or the actions are founded on the intention and this clarifies the reason that an action occurred.

The following hadith explains this further:

Abdullah ibn Umair (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Whoever makes an intention for the sake of the world; Allah, the exalted, brings poverty before him and leaves it desiring it. Whoever makes the afterlife his intention; Allah, the exalted, makes his heart rich and gathers him with what he lost then he leaves with more abstinence from it.” (Ibn Majah)

Definitions of Intention

In Jurisprudence/Fiqh

According to Jurisprudence intention can be defined as determination in the heart to do or not to do something. Or when someone asks you then you reply that you are about to do such and such.

In other actions

Mulla Ali Al-Qari (may Allah be pleased with him) states in his commentary of Miskat Al-Masabih on the prophetic narration of “Actions are commensurate to their intentions.” That intention is, “Islamically, it is directing the heart to action for the sake of Allah.” (Miqat Ul-Mafatiah Vol 1 P.94)

This is about the soundness of the intention. 

Imam Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Know that intention, wish and aim are various expression of one meaning; it is the condition and state of the heart; which include two issues; knowledge and action.” (Ihya Ulum Ud-Din Vol 4 p.485)

The last quote is something that we are going to explain. The Imam mentions knowledge which is something that is vital for sound action. If there is no knowledge then there is a chance that the action is not valid.

Dictionary definition

The definition according to the English dictionary by Geddes and Grosset is, “Determination to act in a certain way.” (p.269)

Quotes on Intention

“When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice.” Otto von Bismarck (1815 - 1898)

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” [1855 H. G. Bohn Hand-Book of Proverbs 514]

I do have an issue with the last quotation because this is not true. If you look at the Hadith then we have to change the saying to, “The road to paradise is paved with good intentions.” As even a good intention is rewarded even without a action. Please read on.

Good intentions are rewarded

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) narrates that Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, Said, “Allah records good and bad deeds." Then he explained, “Whoever is about to do a good deed and does not perform it then Allah records one complete good deed for him. If he is going to do and performs it; Allah records ten to seven hundred good deeds for him or even more. And whoever is about to perform an evil act and does not perform it; Allah records one good deed for him but if he is about to do it and performs it then Allah record one evil deed for him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is something that the Muslim nation is blessed with. It is blessed because with this narration which states that if we intend a good action, then it is recorded as if we have done it and if we intend to do a wrong action then it is recorded as a good action as long as we do not do it. How merciful Allah is to the Muslim nation that he has blessed us in such way. This also gives us the ability to understand this hadith.

Sohal Ibn Sa’ad narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “The intention of a believer is better than his action.” (Tabarani and Al-Daylami 3/286)

Sometimes someone's action is not as good as there intention. Partly, because their action fails but the intention remains. It can also mean the action was not done but the intention was present, thus his intention was better than his action.

I remember one speaker talking about this hadith and was encouraging the audience to make as many good intentions as they could, in hope for more reward. The following narration is also something that illustrates this point further.

Narrated from the Jewish folklore is a story of man who passed by a sand dune during a famine. He said to himself, “If only this sand was food I would’ve distributed it amongst the people.” Then Allah, the Exalted, sent revelation to their Prophet to say to him that Allah, the Exalted, has accepted his truthfulness, his good intention and has given him the reward as if it had been food that was distributed as charity. (Ihya Ulum Ud-Din Vol 4 p.483)

Abu Laith As-Samaqandi (may Allah be pleased with him) states in Tanbih Al-Ghafileen (informing the heedless p.276-7) “Many sleepers attain the reward of a person praying and how many a prayers awake is recorded as a sleeper. This is when a man has a habit of getting up in the night, making ablution and then praying until Fajr comes in. He sleeps with that intention and sleep overcomes him until dawn comes then awakes. He is saddened by this (not being able to pray during the night); he is recorded as person praying and attains the reward of a person awake because of his intention. As for the man who does not get up in the night to pray and thinks that dawn has come then gets up, make ablution and goes to the masjid; then he realises it is not dawn and waits for it saying to himself, “If I knew it was not dawn then I would not have left my bed.” And this is how someone is recorded as a sleeper though he is awake.”

Different types of intentions

These are different types of praiseworthy intention:
1. For Allah - this is the intention of the Prophets (upon him peace) - the best
2. For Allah and His Messenger (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him)
3. For paradise - this is permitted but very low

Blameworthy intentions
1. For the world
2. For evil actions
3. For Satan


Something that needs careful consideration is the following hadith.

Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Every servant will be resurrected upon their intentions.” (Muslim)

We do not want to be resurrected with bad intentions in our hearts nor do we want to be taken by the angel of death when we are doing something evil or about to do something evil, do we? O’Allah, please take our souls whilst we are performing actions of goodness. Ameen.

Final points

We are affirming that intention is important and a good intention can raise someone’s actions to a higher level. Therefore ensuring an increase in their reward. If intentions are good then the outcome almost does not matter. Bad intentions are only recorded as such if they are followed up with evil actions.

Your intention is something that is secret that only if you divulge it will people find out. Sometimes, we have seen people do bad things but the resulting action was something good. We must always know that Allah (Almighty and Majestic) wants good for us and correcting the intention is the first step to sincerity. We pray this has been useful in clarifying some points and that it has helped people and may Allah make our intentions solely for him.

So please note that there is a difference between a man who goes to work because he has to and a man who goes to work with the intention of earning halal wealth for his family. There is a difference between a woman who cooks for her family and a woman who makes the intention that she is cooking for the sake of Allah (the Exalted).

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi's grandmother used to read salawat upon the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) when cooking. Then it became known that her food was a cure because of the salawat.

So the difference, in all these cases, is the intention, if the intention is for the sake of Allah (Mighty and Exalted) an action can reach great heights. You might be sat next to a person doing the same job but because of your intention, your action is much greater but to an onlooker it would appear the same. Yet, one of them has, with Allah (Mighty and Exalted) a lofty reward.

May the praise of Allah (Mighty and Majestic) ring out from every corner of creation and may salutations and peace bestow endlessly onto our master Muhammad (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him).