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Thursday, July 29, 2010

English is the language of rubbish

We don’t really mean that but now we have your attention let’s explain what we are saying. Increasing we are seeing the use of the Arabic language on sweet wrappers and other types of packaging. This is, to a supposed student of knowledge, horrific. As when we are done with the item the packaging is normally thrown away; this is not something that we should be doing!

We are throwing away something that has Arabic words upon it which could mean that there is a letter or word from the Quran. This really scares me and we try to avoid to buying products with Arabic writing on them. If you cannot then at least remove it somehow; when you have finished.

Arabic is a divine language and not the language that should be used for packaging that can be thrown away! That’s why we have English. English is the language of rubbish not Arabic!

Just in case you think that we really think what the title reads then let me give you something to think about. We are presently enjoying a lengthy sojourn in the works of Shakespeare, how spiffing!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Taqwa/piety/God consciousness

Taqwa/piety/God consciousness

The word Taqwa comes from the word وقى to mean protect or guard oneself against something. Someone who has Taqwa guards themselves against all types of harm and this shall be explained, in sha Allah.

This word is extremely difficult to translate uniformly. As the context has to be considered before translating and that goes with anything. Several of the following words are common: piety, fear and God conscious. Some prefer not to use translations and use the word as it is. In the translations of the hadith in this article we have used fear or piety. But for all the other sections we will use the word Taqwa to clarify any confusion with the word useage.

Why is Taqwa important?

The following narrations will answer this question.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “The most common thing which leads people to Paradise is fear of Allah and good conduct; and the most common thing which leads people to Hell is the mouth and the private parts.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “The majority of those who enter paradise, fear Allah and possess good character.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Attaining this, one of the most praiseworthy of qualities, is a way to paradise and it is weighty on the scales. That is why it is important.

What else is attained?

“The most noble of you is the most pious.” The Private Apartments 49:13

“Allah loves the pious.” The Repentance 9:7

Allah (Almighty and Majestic) loves those who have Taqwa and then you become one of the noblest people. Do you really want anything else?!?!? If Allah (Almighty and Majestic) loves someone then what happens? Then he tells the Angel Jibreal (upon him peace) to announce this to the inhabitants of the Heavens!

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “When Allah loves a servant; he calls Jibreal (upon him peace) and says, “I love so and so; so love him!” Then Jibreal loves him and calls out to the residents of the heavens, “Allah loves so and so; so love him.” Then the residents of the heavens love him and his acceptance his placed on the Earth. If Allah dislikes a servant then he calls Jibreal saying, “I dislike so and so; so dislike him; then Jibreal dislikes him and call out to the residents of the heavens. “Allah dislikes so and so; so dislike him.” They do and then dislike for him is placed on the Earth.” (Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, Bukhari and Malik)

This is the benefit of Taqwa that the residents of paradise know who you are and they accept you. What an amazing blessing for such an action.

Benefits of Taqwa

Are there benefits or are you just trying to make my life difficult! These verse spell this out in great detail for us.

"Whoever fears Allah is given recourse."
Al-Talaq 65:2

He has ease

"Whoever fears Allah is given ease in his matter."
Al-Talaq 65:4

His sins are removed
"Whoever fears Allah has his sins removed and is given a great reward."
Al-Talaq 65:7

Are these not benefits for you? When things are difficult you are given a way out. You are given ease in your matters, your sins are forgiven and have a great reward! Is there any more you need?!

Definition of Taqwa

Now that we have outlined the reasons and benefits we need to define exactly what it is, in order to put in into practice.

Imam Ghazali gives the following definition for Taqwa, “Removing sin from the Heart and not repeating the like of it.” (Minhaj al-Abideen p.112 Dar al-Ishaat)
تنزيه القلب عن ذنب لم يسبق عنك مثله

Ibn Juzayy said in his dictionary of terms from the introduction to his tafsir:
"Taqwa's meaning is fear, clinging to obedience to Allah and abandoning disobedience to Him. It is the sum of all good."

A person in a state of Taqwa is someone who is always on guard for what could harm his religion. So he lowers his gaze from the prohibitions, he seeks halal food, he make sure that his job is permissible, he is guards his ears from hearing the prohibited, he guards his eyes from prohibitions and he is relentless in performing his acts of worship to the best of his ability.

Sheikh Murabat Al-Hajj once saw a mouse who heard the smallest sound then quickly went back into its hole. He said that is Taqwa. I did not understand this for many years but one day the meaning was given to me. The mouse was on guard against anything that could harm him. So even the smallest noise could mean that something may be on its way to attack it. That is Taqwa to be on guard all the time even against the smallest threat.

A person with Taqwa is like soldier on guard ready for attack but with a detailed action plan.

“If you are patient and fearful then this is a weighty matter.” The family of Imran 186

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) once said, "Taqwa is not by fasting the day and not by praying the night. And it's not by mixing between the two of them. But Taqwa is leaving what Allah (Mighty and Majestic) has made prohibited and by doing what Allah (Mighty and Majestic) has made obligatory. After one has done this, Allah (Mighty and Majestic) will provide good things for that person."

A man came to the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and asked, “O’ Prophet of Allah, give me counsel.” So he said, “Be fearful of Allah as it comprises of all goodness.” (Imam Ahmed 3, 82 and 266)

Taqwa is essentially an action of the heart and actions of the heart are by no means easy. They can be difficult and Taqwa is not something that you have one day and not the next. It has to be a permanent state that you have accustomed yourself to.

For all eyes not just some

One of our problems is that we deem it okay to be someone in a one place and someone totally different in another. In front of our parents we are pious, righteous and devout then as soon as we leave the house we are the exact opposite! This is something that we hear and see often. We are one person for our families and we are one person outside the house. This is all born from fear of our parents and not fear of Allah.

I remember being in the masjid with someone at a deen intensive a few years ago. The call for the prayer had gone and I was about to get up. I saw the other person and advised him to join us for the prayer. He said he did not want to pray with us. I was shocked then he said if his Pir (spiritual leader) was here then he would be in the first row. I retorted by saying, “Do you fear your Pir more than Allah?” He said it was good point but still did not pray.

Fear Allah because he knows what you are doing all the time and your family only know what you are doing at home!

Do not think just because my family cannot see me then I can do what I want. Why don’t you wake up and realise that you should be doing what Allah (the Exalted) wants and that is to be aware of all of what you do. Allah (the Exalted) knows what you heart is thinking right now and what you are about to do. So even though no physical person can see you the angels who record your deeds can see you. They are writing down all those disgusting things that we do when no one else can see us. Shouldn’t we have some shame?

The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “I advise you to fear Allah in your private and public matters.” (Imam Ahmed 21465)

This is one of pillars of the spiritual path of the Shadhali’s which is to have Taqwa of Allah in secret and in public. (Usul Al-Tariqah by Imam Ahmed Zarruq)

The Prophet (May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner.” (At-Tirmidhi 1987 and Ahmed 5/236)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I advise you to be shameful before Allah as you would be shameful before a pious man of your clan.” (Ibn Abu Dunya’s Makarim Al-Khalaq/ Noble Qualities p.81)


Taqwa is not an easy station to acquire it takes time to remove all those things from yourself that are prohibited and then you also have to remove any paths ways to the prohibited. Works of the heart are great because they are just between you and Allah (Mighty and Majestic) and they are not for show. This is not easy but the reward and the blessings of attaining this quality is beyond what we can fully comprehend in this world.

As with everything once you know something you have a responsibility to practice. We cannot allow ourselves to be victims of a world which will swallow us whole and spits us out. We have to be ready to defend anything that could cause a deficiency with our connection to the Creator.

Hatim al-Asamm said, “I have chosen four things to know, and have discarded all the knowledge in the world besides.” He was asked, “What are they?” “One,” he answered, “is this: I know my daily bread is apportioned to me, and will neither be increased nor diminished; consequently I have ceased to seek to argument it. Secondly, I know that I owe Allah a debt which no other person can pay instead of me; therefore I am occupied with paying it. Thirdly, I know that there is one pursing me (i.e. Death) from whom I cannot escape; accordingly I have prepared myself to meet him. Fourthly, I know that Allah is observing me; therefore I am ashamed to do what I ought not.” (Kashaf Al-Mahjub p.13)

We are not pretending to be someone who has Taqwa. If anything we need to try very hard to attain this lofty station even though we do not deserve it by our actions nor our state. We pray that Allah (Almighty and majestic) forgives all the Muslims and gives us this state.

See a door of a Taqwa

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Islam and the Canterbury tales of Geoffrey Chaucer

Islam and the Canterbury tales of Geoffrey Chaucer

We were surprised to learn that there are many Islamic references in this text.

It was written between 1339 and 1346 in time in which the aftermath of the Crusades were still ringing in the ears of the Europeans. But the reconquista of Spain was still in full swing as the Muslims last vestige of power in Granada was being threatened. Sometimes I think that the history may look at the war on terror in a similar way to the way the Crusades are seen by reasonable people now.

So it is in this caldron of emotions that this text was written and even though the messages stand the test of time there remains one question. Was the text influenced by a thousand and one nights? Let us go through the references of this text. We are using the Penguin popular classics edition.

“No Christen man so oft of this degree; In Gernade at the seege eek had he be; Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye.” Line 55-58, P.5.

This was in reference to the capture of the city of Grenada from the Muslims.

“Again another hethen in Turkye.” Line 66, p.5.

Again another reference to the Ottomans.

“... Razis, and Avicen, Averrois...” Line 433-434, p.20.
Razis referring to Imam Muhammad Ibn Zakariyya Al-Razi he was a pioneer in many sciences.

Avicen meaning Avicenna or Ibn Sina one of the leading philosophers of all time.
Averrois meaning Ibn Rushd another one of leading philosophers who championed Greek philosophy even though they were widely rejected in the Muslim world Europe to them on.

“Yemen on foot and communes many oon,”

Not sure about this reference.

“His Almageste and books greet and smile.”
p.107 The Miller’s tale

This refers to Ptolemy’s work on astronomy but this work has an interesting story because this Greek work came into Europe by the means of Arabic. A 9th century translation of the Greek text was sponsored by the Caliph Mamun and then this was eventually reached Spanish in the 12th century and Latin in the next. Also note that it is referred to in its Arabic name not in its Greek name. Isn’t it amazing that Europe failed to benefit from its Greek works until the Muslims came along?

Later in the text Ptolomee is used in the French language which indicates from where it was taken.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A door in Morocco

This may seem similar to any door that you would see in the old cities of Morocco but there is one difference. Look carefully and you will see two door knockers. Most doors have one and some don't have any so why two? Our guide said that one knocker was used by women and the other was used by men. This meant that even without looking the people or person at home knew the gender of the person knocking.

This is, to me, is a door of Taqwa/piety and it is proof of who we once were. We protected our eyes against something that could cause us harm and that is Tawqa.

There are many gems such as this in our Islamic history that have been lost. It's up to us to find them again and inform others.

Article on Taqwa

Sunday, July 18, 2010


This is something that can be heard wherever you go on this planet. You can hear on it on most media channels, especially movies and television. Many a time the people doing the swearing are the youth who seem to enjoy swearing as much as they enjoy eating! But have we considered the fact that it may be sinful to swear?

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The Muslim is he whom Muslims are safe from harm of his hand and tongue.” (Al-Bukhari 1/53, Muslim 1/65)

There are different narrations of this hadith which have people instead of Muslim and other has believers. This hadith means any harm that comes from the tongue this could be some of the following: Cursing, swearing, backbiting, slander and tale bearing. Swearing is a major sin it is not a minor sin because like other major sins it affects others as well as yourself.

Saying an offensive word affects the person who you said it, the one who heard it and the one who it was said to. It is not a major thing now that we hear so many people swearing all over the place.

Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) states that the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “A believer does not falsely claim lineage; does not curse; is not lewd or obscene.” (At-Tirmidhi 1987)

The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) was asked, "What is Islam?" He replied, "Gentle speech and feeding the poor." Imam Ahmed.

People also seem to think that it is okay to swear in another language and that somehow that does not count! It does count, swearing in any language counts and is counted. We do speak in dialects of the languages of our various peoples and they often contain rude, offensive and insulting language. This is extremely common sight that you may witness someone speaking in English then switching to his mother tongue to let rip on some people who do not understand him, then turn to them smiling! One of my English friends asked me what two people were saying and I told him that it was better off that he did not know. Why? Because they were swearing!

This is the main reason that we do not like the use of some dialects. They are littered with swearing and insulting language and if you want to join in the conversation then you have to join in on the sinning!

You see hearing is not something that you stop; even if you put your fingers in your ears you can still hear what someone says!

It is bad enough to swear at someone but swearing at a Muslim is even worse.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “To insult a Muslim is corruption and to wage war on him is disbelief.” (Bukhari 48, Muslim 64)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Importance of Action/'Amal

The importance of action in Islam

Faith is a key to paradise but how can one increase their rank in paradise? Its action that makes one rise. This is the important part and the importance of action for a believer. There was a misguided group called murijah who were people who wrongly thought that faith alone was needed for salvation. They were rightly refuted by the Asharis and Maturidis, in their books. Faith needs to be combined with action to achieve salvation. Faith alone may get one into paradise but the journey will be much harder than those who have the requisite action such as five daily prayers. Action without faith has no point because only a believer benefits from their actions in the afterlife. 

We have spoken about the superiority of the character of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was because, in part, of his practice of the commandments and prohibitions of the Quran. Allah (mighty and majestic) gives the greatest testimony to this when He said, “You possess the greatest character.” The Pen 67:4. One should remember that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) is great because Allah (the Exalted) made him great.

Imam Tabari said in Tafsir Al-Bayan, “The Exalted addresses his Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him), “O’ Muhammad you possess excellent etiquette. This is the etiquette that Allah gave him and it is Islam and the sacred law.”

In the Tafsir/commentary of Ibn Kathir report a hadith narrated from Imam Ahmed that Abu Hurayrah states that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow on him peace and blessings) said, “I was only sent to complete righteous character.”

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) states that this is the religion of Islam and Hassan Al-Basri states that this means the etiquette of the Quran (Ibn Al-Jawzi's commentary on this verse).

Hassan Al-Basri’s speech is very interesting because it is similar to what Aisha (may Allah be pleased her) said when asked about theItalic character of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessing upon him). “His character was the Quran.”

This is one of the major reasons why the character of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is so great because of his application. Is there a greater testification than from the Lord of the worlds? No, there can never be any greater testification than that of the Creator (Mighty and Exalted).

When we have knowledge we must try to put it into practice. If we try and fail this is the least we can do. Putting knowledge into action is one the greatest means of drawing closer to Allah (Mighty and Majestic) as we are drawing closer by doing something we are recommended to do.

The first book of Imam Ghazali’s revival of religious sciences/Ihya Ulum Al-Deen is the book of knowledge. Our first step is knowledge, sacred knowledge that will help us clarify our religion. It could be said that this is the book that outlines the reason for the religion, practice. Practice also helps preserve the manner and the ways of those who have left us.

The Quran emphasises on action, “Blessed is the reward of the doer.” The Family of Imran 4:136

The doer in the verse is the one who carries out the action. In the Quran there are two places where people are cursed for not doing what they say and there are other places where the doer of the actions are blessed.

“The likeness of those who were charged with the Torah but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of the donkey which carries books (but understands them not).” Al-Jum’ah 62:5

We do not want to be like those who carry knowledge and do not derive any benefit from it. I remember one person who was laughing when he transmitted some religious knowledge, saying that if that person acted upon the knowledge that he was given, he would be rewarded! I look back at this now and realise that this person was content with being a donkey! He passed on knowledge without performing the action himself!

Belief or Action?

Many of us, in this time, place over emphasis on belief. We make claims about who has the correct belief and which system should be followed. The correct belief systems are the recognised schools of Ashari's, Maturdi's and the Athari's. Once we have this clear in our minds we can now emphasis on action. We cannot be people who are deluded into thinking that because they have the right belief that they are safe and that there is no work to be done. We have met many who act like this! We have to be prepared to work hard in all our religious matters.

We cannot merely think that we have the correct belief  and so and so group do not; so I am safe. No, no way! We have to work; day in day out.

Consider these prophetic narrations:

Imam Ahmed narrates from Abdullah ibn Umair ibn Al-'Aas who heard the Messenger of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, "Allah (Mighty and Majestic) will infer a man from my nation from the heads of creation on the day of judgement. Ninety nine scrolls will be shown to him; each scroll will extent as far as the eyesight. He asks, "Do you reject anything? Has the record of my angels oppressed you?" He replies, "No, Oh Lord." He asks, "Do you have an excuse or good deed?" He went pale and said, "No, Oh Lord." He said, "You have with me one good action and there is no oppression for you today." A card was brought forward with 'I testify that there is no deity except Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah' (recorded on it). "Bring it forward." He says, "Oh Lord, this card against all these scrolls?" He states, "You will not be oppressed." The scrolls are placed onto one scale and the card on the other; the scrolls are outweighed by the heaviness of the card. He said, "Nothing can outweigh; what contains 'in the name of Allah; the most merciful; the most compassionate."

This explains to us that belief will save us but do not neglect good actions because you never know!!

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I swear by he whom there is no deity other than him, one of you will perform the actions of the inhabitants of paradise until there is a cubit between him and paradise then what is written manifests; and he perform the actions of the inhabitants of hell until he enters it. One of you will perform the actions of the inhabitants of hell until there is a cubit between will overcome him; then what is written manifests; and he performs the actions of the inhabitants of paradise until he enters it.” (Bukhari 3207, 3332, 6594, 8454; Muslim 2643; Abu Dawood 4808; At-Tirmidhi 2137; Ibn Majah 76; Ahmed 1/382, 430 and 414)

I have often pondered over this hadith and though about its meaning. I used to think that this was aimed at Muslims but this is also aimed at non-Muslims. How? Look at some of the non-Muslims in our time and you can find them doing amazing actions of charity. Some are even doing the actions of the people of paradise but because of their belief they will not enter paradise. I do wish that these people would become Muslim and enter paradise. The flip side of this coin is the person doing the actions of the inhabitants of paradise. You can find some Muslims who doing some wretched actions but because of their belief they will enter paradise.

Suhail ibn Sa'ad (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, "The servant will perform the actions of the residents of the fire but they are part of the residents of Paradise and (others) they will perform the actions of the residents of Paradise and they from the residents of the fire. Actions are only finished once completed." (Bukhari 11/499, Muslim 1/106 without, "Actions are only finished once completed.")

Remember belief places someone into paradise and action raises the person status in it. Also do not be fooled by non-believers doing the good actions because this will not avail them in the afterlife. Their reward is in the world and not in the hereafter. So don’t be distracted as there are many people who are doing the actions of the people of hell but will end up in paradise because of their belief and there are many people doing the actions of the people paradise but will end up in hell.

For myself?

One of my friends once said to me that being religious is something that is done just for oneself. Then you must be your own worst enemy if you are not prepared to do anything that you will benefit from eternally!!

Anyone who wants to please his Lord cannot please him with anything better than that was made obligatory upon one; the five pillars are everyone’s starting point.

When you pray it not only has effect on you but it effects your whole environment and the people who are around you, so praying is not for yourself. Note the highest level of obedience is for Allah (Mighty and Majestic) alone.


If someone, as we have stated, is a person who attends lessons and lectures then they should try to apply the knowledge learnt, as much as they can. So when you are in a situation and you remember something that your teachers have taught you then apply it. This can be difficult at times but you have to apply your knowledge. If you do not then you have missed the whole point of learning - application of knowledge.

It is only through the practice of this religion that a person can see a revival of themselves and then the society that they live in. The greatness of the early companions was because they practiced what they knew even if they knew little. Do you remember the story of the companion who saw the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) with his top button undone and then continued to wear his clothes in a similar fashion until he died?

We can only have sound practice with sound knowledge; so seek knowledge so that your practice can be sound and remember how much your Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) used to do.

Don’t rely on your actions

One of the final points that we would like to make about this post is that a person should not rely solely on their actions because this is also foolish. As the hadith explains: Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said I heard the Messenger of Allah (may bestow peace and blessings upon him), "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter paradise." They asked, “Not even you, O’ Messenger of Allah?” He replied, "Not even me, unless Allah bestows His favour and mercy on me." (Bukhari BK70, NO 577)

Our reliance must be on Allah, our hopes must be for Allah. Yes, do the good actions as much as you are able but do not be attached to them and think that you have done enough to enter paradise. We can never do enough for Allah, ever, all the blessings that we receive in any moment is unfathomable.

There is a story of how a man of the previous nations worshiped Allah on a desert island for five hundred years and when he died. Allah told him to enter paradise because of his mercy. The man protested and said, “By my actions.” Then Allah ordered his actions to be weighed and when the blessing of the eye was weighted it was equivalent to five hundred years of worship. Then the man cried out, “By your mercy, by your mercy!”

Bottom line is that we do as much good actions as we can but we rely, ultimately, on Allah's mercy to help us.

Al-Wasti states, "When it comes to act of worship, it is [almost] more fitting to seek forgiveness for them than it is to seek reward." (Subtle Blessings by Ibn Ata Allah trans Nancy Roberts p.198).

We do not claim to be someone who practices knowledge nor am I a person who has good character. We are someone who has much bad character and need to do lots of work to purify himself from many sins. So do not be fooled I need this more than you...

Please see post about Tawakkul/ True reliance on God