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Your Intention Makes the Difference – Part 1

When you come across the aayaahs in the Qur’an that speak of the hell fire, you are left terrified, shaken, broken by the extreme nature with which Allah describes the destruction of it! Aayaahs of the Qur’an such as:

In fierce hot wind and boiling water
And a shade of black smoke,
Neither cool nor beneficial
[Surat Al-Waaqi’ah: Aayahs 42-44] 

There will be sent against you both, smokeless flames of fire and (molten) brass, and you will not be able to defend yourselves.
[Surat Ar-Rahmaan: Aayah 35]

For them there will be no food except from a poisonous, thorny plant, which neither nourishes nor avails against hunger.
[Surat Al-Ghashiyah: Aayahs 6-7]

Wherein he will neither die nor live.
[Surat Al-A’la: Aayah 13]

It is a fire about whose intense heat in comparison to that of the fire on earth has been described by the Prophet Sallalahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam when he said,

“The fire of the Children of Adam that you all kindle is one part of the seventy parts of the fire of Hell.”
They (the Companions) said, “O Messenger of Allah! Isn’t it sufficient’?’
He replied,” It is more than it by sixty-nine times.”

Al-Bukhari and Muslim

It is a fire whose severe isolation and loneliness has been described by the sahabah and many scholars of the past.
Ibn ‘Abbas RadhiAllahu Anhu said, “Its doors will be closed.” and “they will have chains on their necks, and the gates (of Hell) will be shut upon them.”
Ad-Dahhak said, ُ”It will be sealed over them and it will have no door.”
Qatadah said, ُ”It will be shut and there will be no light in it, no escape, and no way out of it forever.”
Thabit Al-Bunani said, “It will burn them all the way to their hearts while they are still alive.” Then he said, “Indeed the torment will reach them.” Then he cried.

Such horrifying reports of the fire that Allah has prepared make you wonder how evil the people who enter it must have been, so much so that they weren’t able to attain Mercy from the Most Generous of those Who grants Mercy and Forgiveness. As Allah says:

None shall enter it save the most wretched.
[Surat Al-Layl: Aayah 15]

These must have been some really reaaaaally bad people who did some reaaally bad deeds.

But do you know who are the very first amongst the people who will enter such a fire? Here are the first three:

  1. A man who studied religious knowledge and taught it and who used to recite the Qur’an.
  2. A man who spent his wealth in every way possible way that Allah likes.
  3. A man who died as a martyr in the path of Allah. 

You don’t believe it? It is what the Prophet Sallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam said himself:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say:
“The first of people against whom judgement will be pronounced on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who died a martyr.
He will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favors and he will recognize them.
[The Almighty] will say: ‘And what did you do about them?’
He will say: ‘I fought for You until I died a martyr.’
He will say: ‘You have lied – you did but fight that it might be said [of you]: ‘He is courageous.’
And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire.

[Another] will be a man who has studied [religious] knowledge and has taught it and who used to recite the Qur’an. He will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favors and he will recognize them.
[The Almighty] will say: ‘And what did you do about them?’
He will say: ‘I studied [religious] knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Qur’an for Your sake.’
He will say: ‘You have lied – you did but study [religious] knowledge that it might be said [of you]: ‘He is learned.’ And you recited the Qur’an that it might be said [of you]: ‘He is a reciter.’
And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into the Hell-fire.

[Another] will be a man whom Allah had made rich and to whom He had given all kinds of wealth. He will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favors and he will recognize them.
[The Almighty] will say: ‘And what did you do about them?’
He will say: ‘I left no path [un-trodden] in which You like money to be spent without spending in it for Your sake.’
He will say: ‘You have lied – you did but do so that it might be said [of you]: ‘He is open-handed.’
And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire.”

It was related by Muslim (also by at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasa’i)

While Abu Hurayrah RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu was narrating this hadeeth, he was so traumatized by it that he kept gasping until his head fell forward and he needed the support of another person beside him.

These three people, in spite of all their hard earned effort towards doing good deeds, where did they fail? The failed in their sincerity towards Allah. And only that caused them to enter the Hell fire. Their intention is what made the difference.

We learn from this that just doing a good deed is not enough. What plays an even more important role in deciding whether that deed will be accepted by Allah, is the intention behind it.

The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Allaah does not accept any deed except that which is done only for Him and to seek His pleasure.”

Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 3140; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, 52.

The question that should be asked to yourself before doing any good deed is:

Am I doing this to please Allah?

Riya

They fell into something called Riya (showing off).

In al-Musnad (27742), it is narrated that Mahmoud ibn Labeed said that the Messenger of Allaah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“The thing that I fear most for you is minor shirk.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is minor shirk?” He said: “Showing off, for Allah will say on the Day when people are recompensed for their actions: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off with your deeds in the world, and see what reward you find with them.’”

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, 951.

Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an with regards to shirk:

“Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship).”
[Surat An-Nisa: Aayah 48] 

And although riya is regarded as minor shirk, it must be avoided just as major shirk is avoided.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Do the words of Allah, “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship)” [an-Nisa’ 4:48] include minor shirk?

He replied: “The scholars differed concerning that. Some of them said that it includes all kinds of shirk, even minor shirk such as swearing by something other than Allah; Allah will not forgive him. But with regard to major sins, such as drinking alcohol and zina, they are subject to the will of Allah; if Allah wills He will forgive them and if He wills He will punish them. 
Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said different things. On one occasion he said: Allah does not forgive shirk even if it is minor. And on another occasion he said: That which Allah does not forgive is major shirk.  Whatever the case, we must beware of shirk altogether, because the general meaning may include minor shirk too, because He says “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him” meaning any partner, therefore it suggests any kind of shirk.
End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa as-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (2/203).[2]

We can notice how riya ties to shirk even in the following hadeeth where we see how we may incur the anger and wrath of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, who is the Most Merciful, if we do our deeds to show off to others than Allah:

The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam said:


“Allah – the Blessed and Sublime – says:  “I am in no need of partners. Whoever does a deed for the sake of others as well as me, I leave his deed for those others.'”

Sahîh Muslim

We see how it affects one of the most important principles of Tawheed (to single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else) which is:

Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah – to single out Allah within the actions of the servant.”

This includes all actions that draw them closer to Allah, Glorified and Exalted, like Du’aa (supplicaton).
All forms of worship must be strictly for Allah alone, and nothing can be done for other than Him. This is what is called tawheed al-‘ibaadah, or tawheed al-uloohiyyah, and it is the tawheed that is put into practice as the servant singles out Allah in everything He has requested, with an intention for Him alone, in all acts of obedience.
[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14).]

This is why it is so important to learn Tawheed and we made a special article just for you on that here: The Only Way You Will Succeed 

A remedy for Riya

The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“Shirk among you will be more subtle than the footsteps of an ant, but I will teach you something which, if you do it, both minor and major shirk will be kept away from you. Say:

اللهم إني أعوذ بك أن أشرك بك وأنا أعلم وأستغفرك لما لا أعلم

Allahumma inni a’oodhu bika an ushrika bika wa ana a’lam wa astaghfiruka lima la a’lam.
(O Allah, I seek refuge with You from associating anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for that of which I am unaware).”

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3731

It is tragic to know how many times we fall into this error. When we stand up for salah, do we stand up with the sole purpose of seeking Allah’s pleasure alone or do a thousand other thoughts run in our mind because of which prayer just becomes a ritual that we do to go with the flow that everyone else is going in? Do we stand up to pray just to be seen by others to save our reputation which is at stake when people start realizing we don’t come to the mosque so often? When I invite people over for dinner am I doing it so that I receive praises of how delicious and costly the food is and make them listen to the trouble you had to go through to arrange for it?  When once in a blue moon you call your parents to check on how they are doing, do you see the deed as just a chore that you need to get out of the way so that you don’t have to listen to your parents complaining about you not keeping in touch with them so often? Where is Allah in our minds when we do all these so called ‘good deeds’? The pleasure of Allah is the last thing in our minds let alone the only thing.

We can do all the good deeds that we want, be as righteous, humble, knowledgeable, devoted to worship in the eyes of people as much as we want, but if there is no connection that we make between our deeds and the pleasure of Allah, we are doing it all for nothing.

Even the Jews and Christians do good deeds

Even the Jews and Christians do a lot of good deeds, maybe sometimes even more so than a lot of the Muslims in today’s time. But Umar ibn Al Khattab RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu would look at the righteousness of these folks and start crying, for he understood that all that hard work was going to get them nowhere except into the Hell fire.
Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Burqani narrated from Abu `Imran Al-Jawni that he said,
“Umar bin Al-Khattab passed by the monastery of a monk and he said: `O monk!’
Then the monk came out, and `Umar looked at him and began to weep.
Then it was said to him: `O Commander of the faithful! Why are you weeping?’ He replied: `I remembered the statement of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, in His Book:

‘Working [hard] and exhausted (in doing their deeds).
They will enter in the hot blazing Fire,’
[Surat Al-Ghaashiyah: Aayahs 3-4]

So that is what has made me cry. ‘

Ibn Kathir writes for the explanation of the Aayah above, ‘they did many deeds and became weary in their performance, yet they will be cast into a blazing Fire on the Day of Judgement.’
Can we say the same for us and many of our deeds?

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala constantly reminds us throughout the Qur’an of the importance of accompanying ‘belief in Allah’ along with our righteous deeds. The same Aayah is repeated again and again:

Except for those who have believe and do righteous deeds..
[Surat Al-Asr: Aayah 3]

Ibn Kathir writes concerning this Ayah, “Allah makes an exception, among the species of man being in loss, for those who believe in their hearts and work righteous deeds with their limbs.”

The element of having belief i.e. being mindful of Allah, while we do good deeds cannot be taken lightly. We should be afraid of becoming from the people who used to do so much work and so many good deeds whom Allah will treat as follows:

And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.
[Surat Al-Furqan: Aayah 23]

Under the Ayah above, Ibn Kathir quotes this Ayah:

O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned.
[Surat Al-Baqarah: Aayah 264]

The Salaf-us-Saalih were afraid

The Salaf-us-Saalih (our righteous predecessors) were afraid of their insincerity towards Allah in their deeds, even though they were the best of mankind in their worship towards Allah. The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam has said about them:

‘The best people are my generation then those who will come after them and then those after them…’

Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6065, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2533

So the word ‘Salaf or more appropriately ‘Salaf-us-Saalih’ includes the first three generations from the time of the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam:
1st generation – The Sahabah
2nd generation – The Tabi’een (Those who followed the Sahabah)
3rd generation – The Atba-ut-Tabi’een (Those who followed the Tabi’een)

The concern that the Salaf-us-Saalih had towards ensuring sincerity in their actions for the pleasure of Allah alone and the fear they had of showing off can be seen by some of their actions and statements:

A great scholar and imam by the name of Ibn al-Qayyim rightly said,

“Deeds without sincerity (to please Allah alone) are like a traveler who carries in his water jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim

One of them would be reading Qur’an in the masjid when someone would walk in and he would hide it in his garment so that others don’t see that he is doing a good deed.

One of them would wait for their wife to go to sleep, and then he would sneak out of his bed to pray Qiyaam al-Layl (the night prayer). His wife would never know.

One of them continued to fast voluntary fasts for 20 years. His wife would give him breakfast in the morning and he would go give it as a sadaqah. He would come home during maghrib time to eat and break his fast and his wife would think it is his dinner.

Sa’eed ibn ‘Aamir may Allah have mercy upon him said: “Ayyoob As-Sikhtiyaani may Allah have mercy upon him used to pray all night long and would conceal this from people. When it was close to the time of the Fajr prayer, he would raise his voice as if he had just woken up.”

Abu Yoosuf, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
“Intend Allah through your (search for) knowledge, for indeed I never sat in a gathering of people in which I made it my intention to humble myself except that I didn’t leave from it until I had surpassed them. And I never sat in a gathering of people in which I made it my intention to surpass them, except that I didn’t leave from it until I was disgraced.
Knowledge is one of the many acts of worship and one of the many ways of gaining nearness to Allah. So if one purifies his intention while seeking it, his deed will be accepted and purified. And its blessing will become complete. However, if he intends other than the sake of Allah when seeking knowledge, his deed becomes nullified and wasted and his transaction is lost. Perhaps he may even miss out on these (worldly) objectives and never achieve any of them. So in this case, he will have failed in his objective and at the same time wasted his efforts.”[1]

Please see how the words above tie in to what the Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“He who does not acquire knowledge with the sole intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah but for worldly gain, will not smell the fragrance of Jannah on the Day of Resurrection.”

Reported by Abu Hurairah: Abu Dawud, Book 13, Hadith 1391

Al-Hasan al-Basrî said:
“I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul. No one feels safe from it (insincere intention) except for a hypocrite and no one fears it except for a believer.”

Yaqub il Maqfuf used to say:
“The sincere person is the one who hides his good deeds the same way he hides his bad deeds.”

Abu Uthmaan used to say:
“Sincerity is forgetting the sight of the creation, and continually being mindful of Allah.”

Ibraheem ibn Al Adham used to say:
“He has not been truthful to Allah, the one who seeks fame and recognition.”

The famous Sheikh Al Albaani used to say:
“Fame will break ones back.”
i.e. the more famous you become in the eyes of the people, the harder it is for you to guide your actions towards sincerity.

Sa’ad ibn ‘Abdullah used to say:
“There is nothing tougher upon the person then his niyyah.”

Sufain Ath-Thawri used to say:
“I have not struggled against anything more difficult than my niyyah (intention). Verily it keeps changing upon me.”

Abdullah ibn Mubarak used to say:
“Maybe a small deed will become big because of the niyyah (intention), and a big deed may become small because of the niyyah.”

The quote above is reflected in the hadeeth where a small task of giving half a date can save someone from the fire where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” –

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498

Compare this to the hadeeth of the three men who entered hell. The man who spent his wealth in every possible way that Allah likes entered hell. And in this hadeeth a man who is giving only half a date in charity is being saved from the hell fire.
The intention is what made the difference.

Please read part 2 of this article here: Your Intention Makes the Difference Part 2

The Intention Makes the Difference

Resources used:

[1] https://abdurrahman.org/2014/09/30/sincerity-in-seeking-knowledge-shaykh-muhammad-baazmool/

[2] https://islamqa.info/en/91763

[3] A lot of the quotes of the Salaf-us-Saalih were taken from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ajdFvbq5MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Reasons Why a Muslim Should Not Listen to Music

1. Allah has forbade it

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The interpretation of the Sahaabah and Taabi’in, that ‘idle talk’ refers to singing, is sufficient. This was reported with saheeh isnaads from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas’ood. Abu’l-Sahbaa’ said: I asked Ibn Mas’ood about the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

‘“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks.”

[Luqmaan 31:6]

He said: By Allaah, besides Whom there is no other god, this means singing – and he repeated it three times. It was also reported with a saheeh isnaad from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that this means singing. There is no contradiction between the interpretation of “idle talk” as meaning singing and the interpretation of it as meaning stories of the Persians and their kings, and the kings of the Romans, and so on, such as al-Nadr ibn al-Haarith used to tell to the people of Makkah to distract them from the Qur’aan. Both of them are idle talk. Hence Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Idle talk” is falsehood and singing. Some of the Sahaabah said one and some said the other, and some said both. Singing is worse and more harmful than stories of kings, because it leads to zinaa and makes hypocrisy grow (in the heart); it is the trap of the Shaytaan, and it clouds the mind. The way in which it blocks people from the Qur’aan is worse than the way in which other kinds of false talk block them, because people are naturally inclined towards it and tend to want to listen to it. The aayaat condemn replacing the Qur’aan with idle talk in order to mislead (men) from the path of Allaah without knowledge and taking it as a joke, because when an aayah of the Qur’aan is recited to such a person, he turns his back as if he heard them not, as if there were deafness in his ear. If he hears anything of it, he makes fun of it. All of this happens only in the case of the people who are most stubbornly kaafirs and if some of it happens to singers and those who listen to them, they both have a share of this blame. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/258-259)

2. The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has forbade it

The Prophet sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 5590
In-book reference : Book 74, Hadith 16
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 7, Book 69, Hadith 494

It was narrated that Naafi’ (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Ibn ‘Umar heard a woodwind instrument, and he put his fingers in his ears and kept away from that path. He said to me, O Naafi’, can you hear anything? I said, No. So he took his fingers away from his ears and said: I was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he heard something like this, and he did the same thing. (Saheeh Abi Dawood). Some insignificant person said that this hadeeth does not prove that musical instruments are haraam, because if that were so, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have instructed Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) to put his fingers in his ears as well, and Ibn ‘Umar would have instructed Naafi’ to do likewise! The response to this is: He was not listening to it, but he could hear it. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Concerning (music) which a person does not intend to listen to, there is no prohibition or blame, according to scholarly consensus. Hence blame or praise is connected to listening, not to hearing. The one who listens to the Qur’aan will be rewarded for it, whereas the one who hears it without intending or wanting to will not be rewarded for that, because actions are judged by intentions. The same applies to musical instruments which are forbidden: if a person hears them without intending to, that does not matter. (al-Majmoo’, 10/78).

Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: the listener is the one who intends to hear, which was not the case with Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both); what happened in his case was hearing. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) needed to know when the sound stopped because he had moved away from that path and blocked his ears. So he did not want to go back to that path or unblock his ears until the noise had stopped, so when he allowed Ibn ‘Umar to continue hearing it, this was because of necessity. (al-Mughni, 10/173)

Al-Qaasim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Singing is part of falsehood. Al-Hasan (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: if there is music involved in a dinner invitation (waleemah), do not accept the invitation (al-Jaami by al-Qayrawaani, p. 262-263).

3. The 4 Schools of thought have forbade it

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The view of the four Imaams is that all kinds of musical instruments are haraam. It was reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari and elsewhere that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that there would be among his ummah those who would allow zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments, and he said that they would be transformed into monkeys and pigs… None of the followers of the imaams mentioned any dispute concerning the matter of music. (al-Majmoo’, 11/576).

Al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The four madhhabs are agreed that all musical instruments are haraam.(al-Saheehah, 1/145).

Hanafi

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The madhhab of Abu Haneefah is the strictest in this regard, and his comments are among the harshest. His companions clearly stated that it is haraam to listen to all musical instruments such as the flute and the drum, even tapping a stick. They stated that it is a sin which implies that a person is a faasiq (rebellious evil doer) whose testimony should be rejectedThey went further than that and said that listening to music is fisq (rebellion, evildoing) and enjoying it is kufr (disbelief)This is their words. They narrated in support of that a hadeeth which could not be attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They said: he should try not to hear it if he passes by it or it is in his vicinity. Abu Yoosuf said, concerning a house from which could be heard the sound of musical instruments: Go in without their permission, because forbidding evil actions is obligatory, and if it were not allowed to enter without permission, people could not have fulfilled the obligatory duty (of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil). (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).

Maliki

Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about playing the drum or flute, if a person happens to hear the sound and enjoy it whilst he is walking or sitting. He said: He should get up if he finds that he enjoys it, unless he is sitting down for a need or is unable to get up. If he is on the road, he should either go back or move on. (al-Jaami’ by al-Qayrawaani, 262). He (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The only people who do things like that, in our view, are faasiqs.” (Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 14/55).

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: With regard to the view of Imaam Ahmad, his son ‘Abd-Allaah said: I asked my father about singing. He said: Singing makes hypocrisy grow in the heart; I do not like it. Then he mentioned the words of Maalik: the evildoers (faasiqs) among us do that. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan).

Shafi‘i

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, explaining the view of Imaam al-Shaafa’i: His companions who know his madhhab (point of view) stated that it is haraam and denounced those who said that he permitted it. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).

Hanbali 

Ibn Qudaamah, the researcher of the Hanbali madhhab – (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Musical instruments are of three types which are haraam. These are the strings and all kinds of flute, and the lute, drum and rabaab (stringed instrument) and so on. Whoever persists in listening to them, his testimony should be rejected. (al-Mughni, 10/173). And he said (may Allaah have mercy on him); If a person is invited to a gathering in which there is something objectionable, such as wine and musical instruments, and he is able to denounce it, then he should attend and speak out against it, because then he will be combining two obligatory duties. If he is not able to do that, then he should not attend. (al-Kaafi, 3/118)

4. The Sahabah, the Tabi’een and the Atba at Tabi’een have forbade it

Some people even have the nerve to suggest that the Sahaabah and Taabi’een listened to singing, and that they saw nothing wrong with it!

 Al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said: We demand them to show us saheeh isnaads going back to these Sahaabah and Taabi’een, proving what they attribute to them.  Then he said: Imaam Muslim mentioned in his introduction to his Saheeh that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Mubaarak said: The isnaad is part of religion. Were it not for the isnaad, whoever wanted to could say whatever he wanted to.

Some of them said that the ahaadeeth which forbid music are full of faults. No hadeeth was free of being criticized by some of the scholars. Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The ahaadeeth which were narrated concerning music being haraam are not full of faults as has been claimed. Some of them are in Saheeh al-Bukhaari which is the soundest of books after the Book of Allaah, and some of them are hasan and some are da’eef. But because they are so many, with different isnaads, they constitute definitive proof that singing and musical instruments are haraam.

All the imaams agreed on the soundness of the ahaadeeth which forbid singing and musical instruments, apart from Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, but al-Ghazzaali did not have knowledge of hadeeth; and Ibn Hazam, but al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) explained where Ibn Hazam went wrong, and Ibn Hazam himself said that if any of (these ahaadeeth) were saheeh, he would follow that. But now they have proof that these reports are saheeh because there are so many books by the scholars which state that these ahaadeeth are saheeh, but they turn their backs on that. They are far more extreme than Ibn Hazam and they are nothing like him, for they are not qualified and cannot be referred to.

5. There is a specific way at specific time using a specific instrument that is permissble

The women at Eid or Wedding using the daff

The exception to the above is the daff – without any rings (i.e., a hand-drum which looks like a tambourine, but without any rattles) – when used by women on Eids and at weddings. This is indicated by saheeh reports. Shaykh al-Islam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made allowances for certain types of musical instruments at weddings and the like, and he made allowances for women to play the daff at weddings and on other joyful occasions. But the men at his time did not play the daff or clap with their hands. It was narrated in al-Saheeh that he said: “Clapping is for women and tasbeeh (saying Subhaan Allaah) is for men.” And he cursed women who imitate men and men who imitate women. Because singing and playing the daff are things that women do, the Salaf used to call any man who did that a mukhannath (effeminate man), and they used to call male singers effeminate – and how many of them there are nowadays! It is well known that the Salaf said this.

Young girls singing

In a similar vein is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), when her father (may Allaah be pleased with him) entered upon her at the time of Eid, and there were two young girls with her who were singing the verses that the Ansaar had said on the day of Bu’aath – and any sensible person will know what people say about war. Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Musical instruments of the Shaytaan in the house of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)!” The Messenger of Allaah had turned away from them and was facing the wall – hence some scholars said that Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) would not tell anybody off in front of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but he thought that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not paying attention to what was happening. And Allaah knows best. He (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) said: “Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr, for every nation has its Eid, and this is our Eid, the people of Islam.” This hadeeth shows that it was not the habit of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions to gather to listen to singing, hence Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq called it “the musical instruments of the Shaytaan”. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of this appellation and did not deny it when he said, “Leave them alone, for every nation has its Eid and this is our Eid.” This indicates that the reason why this was permitted was because it was the time of Eid, and the prohibition remained in effect at times other than Eid, apart from the exceptions made for weddings in other ahaadeeth. Shaykh al-Albaani explained this in his valuable book Tahreem Aalaat al-Tarab (the Prohibition of Musical Instruments). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of young girls singing at Eid, as stated in the hadeeth: “So that the mushrikeen will know that in our religion there is room for relaxation.” There is no indication in the hadeeth about the two young girls that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was listening to them. The commands and prohibitions have to do with listening, not merely hearing, just as in the case of seeing, the rules have to do with intentionally looking and not what happens by accident. So it is clear that this is for women only. Imaam Abu ‘Ubayd (may Allaah have mercy on him) defined the daff as “that which is played by women.” (Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 3/64).

“No people go astray after having been guided except they developed arguments amongst themselves.” (Saheeh)

Abyssinians playing in the mosque of the Prophet

Some of them used the hadeeth about the Abyssinians playing in the mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as evidence that singing is allowed! Al-Bukhaari included this hadeeth in his Saheeh under the heading Baab al-Hiraab wa’l-Daraq Yawm al-‘Eid (Chapter on Spears and Shields on the Day of Eid). Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This indicates that it is permissible to play with weapons and the like in the mosque, and he applied that to other activities connected with jihaad. (Sharh Muslim). But as al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: whoever speaks about something which is not his profession will come up with weird ideas such as these.

Some of them use as evidence the hadeeth about the singing of the two young girls, which we have discussed above, but we will quote what Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, because it is valuable:

Ibn al-Qayyim  on the two girl singing “incident”

I am amazed that you quote as evidence for allowing listening to sophisticated songs the report which we mentioned about how two young girls who were below the age of puberty sang to a young woman on the day of Eid some verses of Arab poetry about bravery in war and other noble characteristics. How can you compare this to that? What is strange is that this hadeeth is one of the strongest proofs against them. The greatest speaker of the truth [Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq] called them musical instruments of the Shaytaan, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of that appellation, but he made an exception in the case of these two young girls who had not yet reached the age of responsibility and the words of whose songs could not corrupt anyone who listened to them. Can this be used as evidence to allow what you do and what you know of listening (to music) which includes (bad) things which are not hidden?! Subhaan Allaah! How people can be led astray! (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/493).

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was young at that time; nothing was transmitted from her after she reached the age of puberty except condemnation of singing. Her brother’s son, al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad, condemned singing and said that it was not allowed to listen to it, and he took his knowledge from her. (Talbees Iblees, 229). Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: A group of the Sufis used this hadeeth – the hadeeth about the two young girls – as evidence that singing is allowed and it is allowed to listen to it, whether it is accompanied by instruments or not. This view is sufficiently refuted by the clear statement of ‘Aa’ishah in the following hadeeth, where she says, “They were not singers.” She made it clear that they were not singers as such, although this may be understood from the wording of the report. So we should limit it to what was narrated in the text as regards the occasion and the manner, so as to reduce the risk of going against the principle, i.e., the hadeeth. And Allaah knows best. (Fath al-Baari, 2/442-443).

If you want further evidence as to when it is permissible to beat the daff, please read: https://islamqa.info/en/20406

6. It distances you from the Quran and the Sunnah

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: How strange! What type of faith, light, insight, guidance and knowledge can be gained from listening to tuneful verses and music in which most of what is said is haraam and deserves the wrath and punishment of Allaah and His Messenger? … How can anyone who has the least amount of insight and faith in his heart draw near to Allaah and increase his faith by enjoying something which is hated by Him, and He detests the one who says it and the one who accepts it? (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/485)

Shaykh al-Islam said, discussing the state of the person who has gotten used to listening to singing: Hence you find that those who have gotten used to it and for whom it is like food and drink will never have the desire to listen to the Qur’aan or feel joy when they hear it, and they never find in listening to its verses the same feeling that they find when listening to poetry. Indeed, if they hear the Qur’aan, they hear it with an inattentive heart and talk whilst it is being recited, but if they hear whistling and clapping of hands, they lower their voices and keep still, and pay attention. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/557 ff)

Some say that music and musical instruments have the effect of softening people’s hearts and creating gentle feelings. This is not true, because it provokes physical desires and whims. If it really did what they say, it would have softened the hearts of the musicians and made their attitude and behaviour better, but most of them, as we know, are astray and behave badly.

Some Q n A

How does music cause hypocrisy to grow in the heart, and not other sins?

This is one of the clearest indications of the Sahaabah’s understanding of the workings of the heart and their knowledge of diseases of the heart (i.e., spiritual diseases) and their remedies. It highlights the fact that they were indeed doctors of the heart, unlike those who deviate from their path.

It should be understood that singing has specific characteristics that affect the heart, instilling hypocrisy in the heart and causing it to grow, just as water causes plants to grow.

If a man of understanding reflects upon the condition of singers and the condition of people who remember Allah and read the Qur’an, the intelligence of the Sahaabah will become clear to him, and he will realise how much knowledge they had of spiritual diseases and their remedies. And Allah is the source of strength.

I don’t get it how it affects my heart, I don’t feel bad when I listen to music

Those who watch movies, if they had no music, would it be as interesting to watch? Every scene has a different tune playing in the background to suit the scene. If it is a horror, romantic or action scene, the music swiftly changes. This is because the music alters the mind, it puts a person into a different mood, it creates an effect on the heart and thus shaytaan uses this tool to entice us into haram.

It causes an eclipse to occur in the heart, which can’t be noticed that easily. The belief that Allah is watching us becomes overshadowed causing a person to enter into the state of ignorance, which paves the way to many more sins.

Conclusion

Perhaps – for fair-minded and objective readers – this summary will make it clear that the view that music is permissible has no firm basis. There are no two views on this matter. So we must advise in the best manner, and then take it step by step and denounce music, if we are able to do so. We should not be deceived by the fame of a man in our own times in which the people who are truly committed to Islam have become strangers. The one who says that singing and musical instruments are permitted is simply supporting the whims of people nowadays, as if the masses were issuing fatwas and he is simply signing them! If a matter arises, they will look at the views of fuqahaa’ on this matter, then they will take the easiest view, as they claim. Then they will look for evidence, or just specious arguments which are worth no more than a lump of dead meat. How often have these people approved things in the name of sharee’ah which in fact have nothing to do with Islam!

Strive to learn your Islam from the Book of your Lord and the Sunnah of your Prophet. Do not say, So-and-so said, for you cannot learn the truth only from men. Learn the truth and then measure people against it. This should be enough for the one who controls his whims and submits himself to his Lord. May what we have written above heal the hearts of the believers and dispel the whispers in the hearts of those who are stricken with insinuating whispers. May it expose everyone who is deviating from the path of Revelation and taking the easiest options, thinking that he has come up with something which  none of the earlier generations ever achieved, and speaking about Allaah without knowledge. They sought to avoid fisq (evildoing) and ended up committing bid’ah – may Allaah not bless them in it. It would have been better for them to follow the path of the believers.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There will appear people in my community, who will hold adultery, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be lawful.” (Bukhari)

Isn’t the warning from the hadith above enough for us.  It’s clear that fatwas on music are already here making it permissible, I don’t think we are too far away from the time when fatwas on alcohol and zina start coming in. Today it might be unimaginable for even  someone who thinks music is not haram or is makruh that how alcohol and zina would be halal too but Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has not lied and he said the truth. It’s coming!

May Allah guide our affairs and lead us to the straight path. Ameen.

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Resources used to compile this article:

Ruling on music singing and dancing: islamqa.info/en/5000
Harms that songs do: islamqa.info/en/122790
When is it permissible to beat the duff islamqa.info/en/20406

A Muslims Reflection on Hawking and the Likes…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

As a student of Astrophysics, I have always found myself plunging into studying the cosmos. Lately I have also started reading about particle physics. In short I can describe my experience as breath-taking! I am stunned by the creation of Almighty.

At the same time, I always wonder, why the likes of smart people, highly intelligent, like Hawking (Theorotical Physicist – highly known for his work on Black Holes and Hawking Radiation, who died today), Ed Witten (proposer of M-theory) etc. did/do not receive guidance to believe in a Superme Creator..

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(Hawking has produced some amazing research on Black Holes. Hawking Radiation describes the process on how a black hole slowly evaporates and loses its existence)

I found my answer in the Nobel Qur’an, where Allaah عز وجل says,

وَعَادًا وَثَمُودَ وَقَدْ تَبَيَّنَ لَكُمْ مِنْ مَسَاكِنِهِمْ ۖ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَكَانُوا مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ

“And ‘Ad and Thamud (people)! And indeed (their destruction) is clearly apparent to you from their (ruined) dwellings. Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and turned them away from the (Right) Path, though they were intelligent.”

-Sura Al-Ankabut, Ayah 38

For anyone who knows the history of the people of ‘Ad and Thamud, it becomes apparent that they were highly intelligent, strongly built, carved homes in sand hills – a feat which requires planned engineering (refer Tasfir ibn Kathir). This becomes explicit in the ayah,

أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً وَأَثَارُوا الْأَرْضَ وَعَمَرُوهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا عَمَرُوهَا وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ كَانُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

“Do they not travel in the land, and see what was the end of those before them? They were superior to them in strength, and they tilled the earth and populated it in greater numbers than these (pagans) have done, and there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs. Surely, Allah wronged them not, but they used to wrong themselves.”

-Sura Ar-Rum, Ayah 9

Going back the former ayah in Surah al-Ankabut, Allaah عز وجل uses the word مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ to describe the people of ‘Ad and Thamud – that means they were given baseerah – they were a people with deep insights. That’s why, Dr. Muhsin Khan and Taqi ud Deen al-Hilali (May Allaah have mercy upon both of them) interpreted the word مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ as ‘they (people of ‘Ad and Thamud) were intelligent’.

So it becomes explicit now, people with high intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be guided. Why aren’t they guided then?

Dr. Muhsin Khan and Taqi ud Deen al-Hilali mentioned the five reasons why people fall into major disbelief in the appendix of their interpretation of the Noble Qur’an,

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(To understand what a true Muslim believes and what are the six articles of faith, please download the concise thirteen page book here – Belief of a Muslim)

So basically, it is one of the reasons above, the well known scientists today persist in their disbelief and hence lack guidance towards the ultimate truth.

I’d like to conclude this article by including another ayah from the Noble Qur’an and سبحان الله , this from Surah al-Ankabut again,

Allaah عز وجل says,

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).”

-Sura Al-Ankabut, Ayah 69

May Allaah عز وجل guide all those who sincerely strive to seek the truth.

– Compiled by Sarfarāz ibn Shuja

 

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The Story of the Truthful

And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.

[Surat At-Tawbah: Ayahs 118-119]

Ka`b bin Malik RadhiAllahuAnhu had become blind. His son Abdullah used to guide him and attend to his needs. Ka`b bin Malik RadhiAllahuAnhu narrated a story to his son, looking back into the past during the time of great battles he had spent alongside the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam. This story is especially a particular battle called ‘the battle of Tabuk’ which he did not join. What happened when the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam found out that he had not joined the battle? Let us read the story of Ka’b bin Malik RadhiAllahuAnhu that is noted down in the famous explanation of the quran Tafseer Ibn Katheer:

Ka`b bin Malik narrates,

“I did not remain behind Allah’s Messenger in any battle that he fought except the battle of Tabuk. I failed to take part in the battle of Badr, but Allah did not admonish anyone who did not participate in it, for in fact, Allah’s Messenger had gone out in search of the caravan of Quraysh, until Allah made the Muslims and their enemies meet without any appointment. I witnessed the night of Al-`Aqabah pledge with Allah’s Messenger when we pledged for Islam, and I would not exchange it for the Badr Battle, even though the Badr Battle is more popular among the people than the `Aqabah pledge.
As for my news of this battle of Tabuk, I was never stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind Allah’s Messenger in that battle. By Allah, never had I two she-camels before, but I did at the time of that battle. Whenever Allah’s Messenger wanted to go to a battle, he used to hide his intention by referring to different battles, until it was the time of that battle (of Tabuk) which Allah’s Messenger fought in intense heat, facing a long journey, the desert, and the great number of enemy soldiers. So the Prophet clearly announced the destination to the Muslims, so that they could prepare for their battle, and he told them about his intent. Allah’s Messenger was accompanied by such a large number of Muslims that they could not be listed in a book by name, nor registered.”

Ka`b added, “Any man who intended not to attend the battle would think that the matter would remain hidden, unless Allah revealed it through divine revelation. Allah’s Messenger fought that battle at a time when the fruits had ripened and the shade was pleasant, and I found myself inclined towards that. Allah’s Messenger and his Companions prepared for the battle and I started to go out in order to get myself ready along with them, but I returned without doing anything. I would say to myself, `I can do that if I want.’ So I kept on delaying it every now and then until the people were prepared, and Allah’s Messenger , and the Muslims along with him, departed. But I had not prepared anything for my departure. I said, `I will prepare myself (for departure) one or two days after him, and then join them.’ In the morning following their departure, I went out to get myself ready but returned having done nothing. Then again, the next morning, I went out to get ready but returned without doing anything. Such was the case with me until they hurried away and I missed the battle. Even then I intended to depart to catch up to them. I wish I had done so! But such was not the case. So, after the departure of Allah’s Messenger , whenever I went out and walked among the people (who remained behind), it grieved me that I could see none around me, but one accused of hypocrisy or one of those weak men whom Allah had excused. Allah’s Messenger did not remember me until he reached Tabuk. So while he was sitting among the people in Tabuk, he said,

“What did Ka`b bin Malik do?”

A man from Banu Salimah said, “O Allah’s Messenger! He has been stopped by his two Burdah (garments) and looking at his own flanks with pride.”

Mu`adh bin Jabal said, “What a bad thing you have said! By Allah! O Allah’s Messenger! We know nothing about him but that which is good.”

Allah’s Messenger kept silent.”

Ka`b bin Malik added, “When I heard that Allah’s Messenger was on his way back to Al-Madinah, I was overcome by concern and began to think of false excuses. I said to myself, `How can I escape from his anger tomorrow’ I started looking for advice from wise members of my family in this matter. When it was said that Allah’s Messenger had approached (Al-Madinah) all evil and false excuses abandoned my mind and I knew well that I could never come out of this problem by forging a false statement. Then I decided firmly to speak the truth.

Let us pause for a moment here and reflect. Remember, the sahabah were also human beings who could make mistakes now and then. He, Ka’b bin Malik Radhi Allahu Anhu, could have chose to lie, but he didn’t. He decided not to resort to false excuses and lies in this pressurizing situation. He was determined to speak the truth. What happened next? Ka’b bin Malik continues to narrate:

“Allah’s Messenger arrived in the morning, and whenever he returned from a journey, he used to visit the Masjid first, and offer a two Rak`ah prayer, then sit for the people. So when he had done all that (this time), those who failed to join the battle came and started offering (false) excuses and taking oaths before him. They were over eighty men. Allah’s Messenger accepted the excuses they expressed outwardly, asked for Allah’s forgiveness for them and left the secrets of their hearts for Allah to judge. Then I came to him, and when I greeted him, he smiled a smile of an angry person and then said,

“Come.”

I came walking until I sat before him. He said to me,

“What stopped you from joining us? Had you not purchased an animal for carrying you?”

I answered,

“Yes, O Allah’s Messenger! By Allah, if I were sitting before any person from among the people of the world other than you, I would have escaped from his anger with an excuse. By Allah, I have been bestowed with the power of speaking fluently and eloquently, but by Allah, I knew well that if I tell you a lie today to seek your favor, Allah would surely make you angry with me in the near future. But if I tell you the truth, though you will get angry because of it, I hope for Allah’s forgiveness. By Allah, I had never been stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind you.”

SubhanAllah! The sahabah could have said anything at that moment to get away. But pay attention to what the Sahabah said. He said, “I knew well that if I tell you a lie today to seek your favor, Allah would surely make you angry with me in the near future. But if I tell you the truth, though you will get angry because of it, I hope for Allah’s forgiveness.” Look at how the sahabah is fearing Allah in this situation knowing that Allah is all aware of his actions, his speech and what is in his heart. The sahabah knows that although he may escape the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam in the short term with a forged lie, he will never be able to escape Allah in the long term. This is a lesson we need to learn. We should know that if we lie, we may escape a certain situation in that small moment of time, but what about the anger and punishment of Allah that may follow in the future because of this? What if we choose instead to speak the truth fearing Allah, knowing that Allah is seeing our actions and knows everything, then Allah is surely be with those who are truthful. So hearing the sahabah, what did the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam say?  Ka’b bin Malik continues:

Allah’s Messenger said,

“As regards to this man, he has surely told the truth. So get up until Allah decides your case.”

I got up, and many men of Banu Salimah followed me and said to me, `By Allah, we never witnessed you commit any sin before this! Surely, you failed to offer an excuse to Allah’s Messenger like the others who did not join him. The invocation of Allah’s Messenger to Allah to forgive you would have been sufficient for your sin.’ By Allah, they continued blaming me so much that I intended to return (to the Prophet ) and accuse myself of having told a lie, but I said to them, `Is there anybody else who has met the same end as I have’ They replied, `Yes, there are two men who have said the same thing as you have, and to both of them was given the same order as given to you.’ I said, `Who are they’ They replied, `Murarah bin Ar-Rabi` Al-`Amiri and Hilal bin Umayyah Al-Waqifi.’ They mentioned to me two pious men who had attended the battle of Badr and in whom there was an example for me. So I did not change my mind when they mentioned them to me.

A lesson to learn here is how the good deed of the two sahabah Murarah bin Ar-Rabi` Al-`Amiri and Hilal bin Umayyah Al-Waqifi RadhiAllahuAnhu inspired Ka’ab bin Malik to stand firm on the truth. We see how a good deed can inspire someone else to do a good deed too. What happened to the three sahabah who stood firm on truth? Ka’ab bin Malik RadhiAllahu Anhu explains:

Allah’s Messenger forbade all the Muslims from talking to us, the three aforesaid persons, out of all those who remained behind for that battle. So we kept away from the people and they changed their attitude towards us until the very land (where I lived) appeared strange to me as if I did not know it. We remained in that condition for fifty nights. As for my two companions, they remained in their houses and kept on weeping, but I was the youngest and the firmest of them. So I would go out and attend the prayer along with the Muslims and roam the markets, but none would talk to me. I would come to Allah’s Messenger and greet him while he was sitting in his gathering after the prayer, and I would wonder whether he even moved his lips in return of my greeting or not. Then I would offer my prayer near him and look at him carefully.

When I was busy with my prayer, he would turn his face towards me, but when I turned my face to him, he would turn his face away from me. When this harsh attitude and boycott of the people continued for a long time, I walked until I scaled the wall of the garden of Abu Qatadah who was my cousin and the dearest person to me. I offered my greeting to him. By Allah, he did not return my greetings. I said, `O Abu Qatadah! I beseech you by Allah! Do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger’ He kept quiet. I asked him again, beseeching him by Allah, but he remained silent. I asked him again in the Name of Allah and he said, `Allah and His Messenger know better.’ Thereupon my eyes flowed with tears and I returned and jumped over the wall.

While I was walking in the market of Al-Madinah, suddenly I saw that a Nabatean from Ash-Sham came to sell his grains in Al-Madinah, saying, `Who will lead me to Ka`b bin Malik’ The people began to point (me) out for him, until he came to me and handed me a letter from the king of Ghassan (who ruled Syria for Caesar), for I knew how to read and write. In that letter, the following was written: `To proceed, I have been informed that your friend (the Prophet) has treated you harshly. Anyhow, Allah does not make you live in a place where you feel inferior and your right is lost. So, join us, and we will console you.’ When I read it, I said to myself, `This is also a sort of test.’ I took the letter to the oven and made a fire burning it.

So we see how Allah tested these sahabah who chose to stand firm on the truth. The lesson we take here is that we may face tests from Allah. Allah may test us to see if we stand resilient and firm. Did the tests come to an end for the sahabah or were there more to come? Let’s see: 

When forty out of the fifty nights elapsed, behold! There came to me a messenger of Allah’s Messenger saying `Allah’s Messenger orders you to keep away from your wife.’ I said, `Should I divorce her; or else what should I do’ He said, `No, only keep aloof from her and do not mingle with her.’ The Prophet sent the same message to my two fellows. I said to my wife, `Go to your parents and remain with them until Allah gives His verdict in this matter.”’

Ka`b added, “The wife of Hilal bin Umayyah came to Allah’s Messenger and said,

“O Allah’s Messenger! Hilal bin Umayyah is a helpless old man who has no servant to attend on him. Do you dislike that I should serve him?”

He Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam said,

“No you can serve him, but he should not come near you sexually.”

She said, “By Allah! He has no desire for anything. By Allah, he has never ceased weeping since his case began until this day of his.”

On that, some of my family members said to me,  “Will you also ask Allah’s Messenger to permit your wife (to serve you) as he has permitted the wife of Hilal bin Umayyah to serve him.”

I said, “By Allah, I will not ask permission of Allah’s Messenger regarding her, for I do not know what Allah’s Messenger would say if I asked him to permit her to serve me while I am a young man.”

We remained in that state for ten more nights, until the period of fifty nights was completed, starting from the time when Allah’s Messenger prohibited the people from talking to us. When I had finished the Fajr prayer on the fiftieth morning on the roof of one of our houses, while sitting in the condition in which Allah described (in the Qur’an): my very soul seemed straitened to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness. There I heard the voice of a man who had ascended the mountain of Sal` calling with his loudest voice, `O Ka`b bin Malik! Be happy (by receiving good tidings).’ I fell down in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief has come with His forgiveness for us.

The sahabah immediately turned to Allah with praise and shukr (thanks). 

Allah’s Messenger announced the acceptance of our repentance by Allah after Fajr prayer. The people went out to congratulate us. Some bearers of good news went to my two companions, a horseman came to me in haste, while a man from Banu Aslam came running and ascended the mountain and his voice was swifter than the horse. When the man whose voice I had heard, came to me conveying the good news, I took off my garments and dressed him with them; and by Allah, I owned no other than them on that day. Then I borrowed two garments, wore them and went to Allah’s Messenger . The people started receiving me in batches, congratulating me on Allah’s acceptance of my repentance, saying, `We congratulate you on Allah’s acceptance of your repentance.”’ Ka`b further said, “When I entered the Masjid, I saw Allah’s Messenger sitting in the Masjid with the people around him. Talhah bin `Ubaydullah swiftly came to me, shook my hands and congratulated me. By Allah, none of the Muhajirun got up for me except Talhah; I will never forget Talhah for this.” Ka`b added, “When I greeted Allah’s Messenger , his face was bright with joy. He said,

“Be happy with the best day you have ever seen since your mother gave birth to you.”

I said to the Prophet, “Is this forgiveness from you or from Allah.”

He said, “No, it is from Allah.”

Whenever Allah’s Messenger became happy, his face would shine as if it was a piece of the moon, and we all knew that characteristic of him. When I sat before him, I said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Because of the acceptance of my repentance I will give up all my wealth as alms for the sake of Allah and His Messenger.”

Allah’s Messenger said, “Keep some of your wealth, as it will be better for you.”

I said, “So I will keep my share from Khaybar with me.” I added, “O Allah’s Messenger! Allah has saved me for telling the truth; so it is part of my repentance not to tell but the truth as long as I am alive.”

By Allah, I do not know of any Muslim, whom Allah has helped to tell the truth more than I. Ever since I have mentioned the truth to Allah’s Messenger , I have never intended to tell a lie, until today. I hope that Allah will also save me (from telling lies) the rest of my life. So Allah revealed the Ayah:

Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajirin and the Ansar who followed him in the time of distress, after the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated, but He accepted their repentance. Certainly, He is unto them full of kindness, Most Merciful. And the three who stayed behind, until for them the earth, vast as it is, was straitened and their souls were straitened to them, and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah, and no refuge but with Him. Then, He forgave them, that they might beg for His pardon. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds). [Surat At Tawbah: Ayahs 118-119]

Ka`b said, “By Allah! Allah has never bestowed upon me, apart from His guiding me to Islam, a greater blessing than the fact that I did not tell a lie to Allah’s Messenger which would have caused me to perish, just as those who had told a lie have perished. Allah described those who told lies with the worst descriptions He ever attributed to anyone. Allah said,

They will swear by Allah to you when you return to them that you would leave them alone. So leave them alone; indeed they are evil; and their refuge is Hell as recompense for what they had been earning. They (the hypocrites) swear to you (Muslims) that you may be pleased with them, but if you are pleased with them, certainly Allah is not pleased with the people who are Al-Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). [Surat At Tawbah: Ayahs 95-96]

Ka`b added, “We, the three persons, differed altogether from those whose excuses Allah’s Messenger accepted when they swore to him. He took their pledge and asked Allah to forgive them, but Allah’s Messenger left our case pending until Allah gave us His judgement about it. As for that Allah said, ‘And (He did forgive also) the three who stayed behind…’ What Allah said does not discuss our failure to take part in the battle, but to the deferment of making a decision by the Prophet about our case, in contrast to the case of those who had taken an oath before him, and he excused them by accepting their excuses.”

The story above is from an authentic Hadith collected in the Two Sahihs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) and as such, its authenticity is agreed upon. This Hadith contains the explanation of this honorable Ayah in the best, most comprehensive way. Similar explanation was given by several among the Salaf. For instance, Al-A`mash narrated from Abu Sufyan, from Jabir bin `Abdullah about Allah’s statement,
(And (He did forgive also) the three who stayed behind…) “They are Ka`b bin Malik, Hilal bin Umayyah and Murarah bin Ar-Rabi`, all of them from the Ansar.”

Ibn Kathirs (A scholar of Islam) comments on this story:

Allah sent His relief from the distress and grief that struck these three men, because Muslims ignored them for fifty days and nights, until they themselves, and the earth — vast as it is — were straitened for them. As vast as the earth is, its ways and paths were closed for them, and they did not know what action to take. They were patient for Allah’s sake and awaited humbly for His decree. They remained firm, until Allah sent His relief to them since they told the Messenger of Allah the truth about why they remained behind, declaring that they did not have an excuse for doing so. They were requited for this period, then Allah forgave them. Therefore, the consequence of being truthful was better for them, for they gained forgiveness. Hence Allah’s statement next,

O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah, and be with those who are true.

The Ayah says, adhere to and always say the truth so that you become among its people and be saved from destruction. Allah will make a way for you out of your concerns and a refuge.

Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Hold on to truth, for being truthful leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. Verily, a man will keep saying the truth and striving for truth, until he is written before Allah as very truthful (Siddiq).
Beware of lying, for lying leads to sin, and sin leads to the Fire. Verily, the man will keep lying and striving for falsehood until he is written before Allah as a great liar.”

This Hadith is recorded in the two Sahihs.

 

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Primary resource for this article:

First Ask Why

Professor Hefley sat on the empty table across John Doe and with a  cheerful smile on his face asked him, 
“So why did you come late to class John?”
John was caught completely by surprise and in a shy voice muttered the words,
“I missed the early bus”, 
hoping that the rest of the class wouldn’t hear. But of course, they did. Professor Hefley’s smile widened and then he asked John, 
“Why did you miss the bus?”
John quickly answered, 
“I couldn’t make it to the bus stop on time”.
“Why couldn’t you make it on time?”.
John took a moment to recall and then replied, 
“I was speaking to someone on the phone.”
Professor Hefley didn’t stop there, he asked, 
“Why were you speaking on the phone?” 
John was having fun at this point, and once again resorted to the mode of thinking. 
“There was this package that I was expecting from India that did not arrive on time. I needed to make an inquiry.”
The professor theatrically exclaimed, 
“Aha! That is the problem you see!”
The professor pointed out to John that the phone call wasn’t made on the right time and also that his package not arriving on schedule was a reason for John to come late to class.

This episode took place in a Project Management class where the subject of the day was Project Quality Management. Specifically, what do when there is a problem in quality. And this is how Clinical Professor Hefley would teach us, by giving us real-time, understandable examples of the subject matter he was presenting at hand, with a touch of humor. He would use the environment around him and spontaneously come up with remarkable examples to explain complex concepts. He once had to explain this concept of  object ‘encapsulation’ in software development during object oriented analysis in the problem domain, which was for information hiding that enforces protection of what goes on inside an object from the outside world  to ensure no one can change the way the software operates without permission and they just have to trust it works. To explain this jibberish, he grabbed a glass of water that just happened to be in front of him and took a big gulp. And then he asked the class while rubbing his tummy,
“Do you know whats going on inside?”
The class replied, “No!”
“But do you trust it?”, he asked with a grin.
And the class all nodded their head in approval of the point they had got.
And then there was this other instance where he had to explain the messaging that takes place between objects in an information system and that a return value is a reply that a message may invoke from the receiving object after an operation has been complete. To explain this, he just shouted “Marco!” and someone from the back of the class who knew the game shouted back “Polo!”. The concept was seared into the mind from that moment onwards.

This man was very talented as a teacher and I would always be at the edge of my seat in his class while he passionately delivered his genius on the subject until he would start to lose his breath. No wonder he has accomplished so much in his profession from being a Project Manager and System Developer in top class MNC’s; researcher and Ph.D holder in Computers, Organizations and Society; Professor, adviser and Program Director at Carnegie Mellon University and now a prestigious clinical professor at University of Texas at Dallas, the place where I happened to study under him.

Back to the John Doe incident in the Project Quality Management class. The professor was giving everyone a live example of a technique called the ‘5 Whys Technique’. This is a technique that is used when there’s a complaint for a quality problem in a project.This technique helps us to do two things:

  1. Trace complaints about quality problems back the responsible production operations, back to where the cause of problem might have erupted from.
  2. Take a corrective action to resolve the cause of the problem.

In simple words, the technique helps you to find the root cause of a problem and then solve it.

So John Doe’s case can be summarized as follows:

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
The Cause:
Made an inquiry call about package delivery at the wrong time
Corrective action:
Adjust time for making calls

Let’s say after further questioning we discover that the cause to John Does problem is not the call that he made. After asking him ‘Why’ he called at a time like that, he tells us that he had planned to make that call earlier but because he got into the washroom late, he ended up delaying the call. In this case, we notice that the cause of the problem has changed. And so subsequently the corrective action needs to change!:

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
The Cause:
Got into the bathroom late
Corrective action:
Adjust time for bathroom use

And another ‘Why?’ question reveals to us that he got into the bathroom late because his alarm clock didn’t go off, which would yet again change the corrective action to take against the cause:

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
The Cause:
Got up late because Alarm didn’t go off
Corrective action:
Check Alarm clock batteries

And with these discoveries we can draw what’s called a ‘Cause-and-Effect’ diagram, or a ‘Fishbone’ or ‘Ishikawa Diagram’. The problem or effect is placed at the ‘fish head’. The causes of the effect are then laid out along the ‘bones’. This diagram helps us easily present the entire case to simplify the analysis.

blank-diagram-page-1-2

This is a very basic example of the profound use this technique has to offer. We notice that the problem remains the same, but a proper approach to problem solving helps us discover so many corrective measures to take that would help us best solve the case, because here we have to understand one very important principle that Professor Hefley taught us:

We have to correct the Cause, not the Problem

We see that upon asking a simple ‘Why’ to the individual we learn more about the problem. We discover new pathways that could potentially help us to arrive at the root cause of the problem.
By spending some time analyzing the problem and by introducing the ‘Cause‘ variable to the scenario, we can take a more appropriate and closer to accurate stance of implementing the corrective action against the Cause, and not the Problem itself. Thereby making our problems practicably solvable for a long term because we plug the cause of the problem forever.  What if we hadn’t introduced the variable of the ‘Cause’ in our measures to solve the problem? We would probably have ended up with:

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
Corrective action:
Warn John to catch the bus on time

or

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
Corrective action:
Scold John

or

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
Corrective action:
Tell John that he is lazy

or

The Problem:
John Doe came late to class
Corrective action:
Punish John by commanding him to go clean the class room white board

We see that none of the corrective actions discussed above have any guarantee of solving the problem. We don’t even know whether they address the thing that lead to the Problem. It’s like throwing the dart in the air without knowing where the center of the dartboard is. Or like giving a patient a remedy without knowing what the source of the disease is! You will only score the maximum points if you know the correct way of throwing (corrective action) and hit the dartboard (the Problem) at the bullseye (‘the Cause’). And you will only have a chance of curing a cancer patient if you kill the source of the cancer cells, the Cause of the cancer cells.

Such blind problem solving skills often result in the wrong outcome such as:

  • Not being able to solve the problem at all
  • Making the problem worse because of taking the wrong corrective action
  • Offending the doer of the mistake by alleging a charge against him that he did not commit.

Taking the corrective action to ‘Warn John to catch the bus on time’ (above) is almost an indirect allegation that he deliberately missed the bus, let alone the wrong corrective action.

The ‘5 Whys Technique’ was introduced by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the 12 billion dollar ‘Toyota Industries’ and father of Kiichiro Toyoda who found the gigantic 30 Trillion dollar company called the ‘Toyota Motor Corporation’. The technique was used within the Toyota Motor Corporation during the evolution of its manufacturing methodologies. Since then it has been fine-tuned within the Toyota Motor Corporation as a critical component of its problem-solving training.

Taiichi Ohno, the architect of the Toyota Production System in the 1950s, says in his book ‘Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production’ that the ‘5 Whys Technique’ is “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach . . . by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”[1]

The technique is now used in Six Sigma DMAIC [2], Lean Manufacturing [3] and Kaizen [4] project management methodologies.

But the technique of asking ‘Why’ in solving quality problems is not something new to the world. It existed centuries ago.

In his book ‘The Prophet’s Method for Correcting People’s Mistakes’ [5], Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid cites instances of how the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam solved social problems that could have otherwise resulted in viscous feuds just by first asking ‘Why’. Study the following case:

An-Nisaa`i (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Abbaad ibn Sharhabeel RadhiAllahuAnhu (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
“I came with my (paternal) uncles to Madeenah, and we entered one of the gardens of the city. I rubbed some of the wheat, and the owner of the garden came and took my cloak and hit me. I came to the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam – peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asking for his help. He sent for that man and they brought him to him. He (the Messenger Sallalalahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said to him,
‘What made you do that ?’ or ‘Why did you do that?’
He said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, he went into my garden and took some of my wheat and rubbed it.’
The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, 
‘You did not teach him if it was the matter of him not knowing, and you did not feed him if it was the matter of him being hungry.Give him back his cloak.’
And the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam) ordered that I should be given a wasq or half a wasq (a measure of wheat).”
[Al-Nisaa`i, al-MuLtabaa, Kitaab Aadaab al-Qudaat, Baab al-Isti’daa’; Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa`i, no. 4999]

So here is the case from the garden owners point of view:

The Problem:
Abbaad rubbed the wheat of my garden
Corrective action:
Take his clock and hit him

What did that result in? Did it solve the problem? Following were the results of that corrective action:

  • Abbaad RadhiAllahu Anhu became upset.
  • He went and made a complaint to the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam which was enough to scare the daylights out of anyone.
  • Most importantly, the problem wasn’t solved.

And when the case was brought to The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam, what did he do? He taught the owner of the garden to properly inquire about the ‘Cause’ of the Problem first before deciding on the Corrective Action to take. So by saying:

‘You did not teach him if it was the matter of him not knowing, and you did not feed him if it was the matter of him being hungry.’

the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam taught the owner how to deal with problem by looking at the case differently after finding out about the ‘Cause’ variable:

The Problem:
Abbaad rubbed the wheat of my garden
The Cause:
Abbad says he is hungry
Corrective action:
Give him some wheat

How else do you think the Cause of the Problem could have ever been discovered except by the owner taking the step to first ask Why?
Here is another incident that Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid cites in the same book where the outcome was much better because the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam intervened with his wisdom to first ask Why:
Anas ibn Maalik RadhiAllahu Anhu reported:

“Whilst we were in the mosque with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a Bedouin came and stood urinating in the mosque. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
“Stop it! Stop it!”
But the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
“Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.” (In another report by Bukhari, he said to them: “You have been sent to make things easy for people, not to make things hard.”)
So they left him until he had finished urinating…..Saheeh Muslim, no. 285
The incident continues in the following report where the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam called the Bedouin to find out the Cause by asking him:
“What made you urinate in our mosque?” or “Why did you urinate in our mosque?”
He (the Bedouin) said,
“By the One Who sent you with the truth, I thought it was just like any other place so I urinated in it.” ….Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, no. 11552, vol. 11, p.220.
The Corrective action that the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam took is reported to have been to advice the Bedouin the following:
“In these mosques it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur`aan, or words to that effect. Then he commanded a man who was there to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the urine, and he did so.” …….Saheeh Muslim, no. 285

So here is the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam, teaching the sahabah (the companions of the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam) the importance of not jumping to correct the problem without proper evaluation. We can make the following analysis based on this case:

The Problem:
The Bedouin urinated in the mosque
The Cause:
The Bedouin thought the mosque is just like any other place where one may urinate
Corrective action:
Explain to the Bedouin what a mosque is used for

It is clear from this case that the Corrective action that the sahabah were about to use was to stop the Bedouin. But the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam had the foresightedness to solve the Problem for a long term using a different and more effective corrective action. So effective that when this incident was over, the character and wisdom of the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam had left such an impression on the Bedouin that he is reported to have said:

“He got up, may my mother and my father be sacrificed for him, he did not rebuke me or insult me. He just said, ‘We do not urinate in this mosque; it was only built for the remembrance of Allah and for prayer.’ Then he called for a bucket of water and poured it over the urine.” ….Sunan Ibn Maajah

Written by Jibran Asif Shareef

Capture

[1] https://open.buffer.com/5-whys-process/

[2] https://www.isixsigma.com/tools-templates/cause-effect/determine-root-cause-5-whys/

[3] https://hbr.org/2010/04/the-five-whys-for-startups

[4] http://www.toyota-global.com/company/toyota_traditions/quality/mar_apr_2006.html

[5] The Prophet’s Methods for Correcting People’s Mistakes

The Only Way You Will Succeed

There is one thing that distinguishes Islam from all the other religions out there. It is a belief that makes the motto with which one enters Islam. A motto that is recited and declared a minimum of five times a day in almost every city around the world in the call to prayer (adhan). A motto that is whispered into the ear of a baby born to a Muslim household as the very first few words it hears when it comes into this gigantic world full of words. But this motto is not just mere words, it is the foundation upon which everything we as Muslims say, do or understand is built. Just these few words and the way you decide to understand them, and to abide by them can change your life here and in the hereafter. What are those words? They are:

“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammadur Rasool-Allah”

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

This is the motto, the testimony of faith (what in Arabic is called ‘Shahada’) that all Muslims have to abide by to be Muslims, otherwise we are nothing but mere Muslim names.
This is the foundation upon which everything else is built, and if this foundation isn’t strong, if we fail to understand the importance of it and act upon it, not much can be said about all the other good deeds with which we may try to build over it, except that they will be in vain. All those efforts will produce no result.
This is not a ruling that somebody just came up with out of thin air, this is in fact what Allah Himself has emphasized by Mentioning it in His Glorious Quran by Saying to His Messenger Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam:

And indeed it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad), as it was to those (Allah’s Messengers) before you: “If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.”

Nay! But worship Allah (Alone and none else), and be among the grateful.

[Surah Az Zumar: Ayah 65-66]

So it is absolutely, fundamentally important that we as Muslims understand this foundation of Islam before we even bother to discuss all the other matters that our religion consists of because they are subsidiary in nature to this one, for Allah says:

Is it then he, who laid the foundation of his building on piety to Allah and His Good Pleasure, better, or he who laid the foundation of his building on an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble down….

[Surat At Tawbah: Ayah 109]

In order to understand this better, let us answer the question that – in Islam:

What comes first?

The call to believe in the Oneness of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la (Glory be to Him the Most High) came before any other call in Islam, it came before the call to establish the five time prayer or keeping fasts, it came before the call to fulfilling the rights of the orphan or the neighbours, or the call forbidding the abhorrent crime of burying female offspring alive into the Earth that was prevalent before the coming of the last Messenger, although all such matters hold a very high status in Islam.

After three years of quietly preaching Islam in secret, the time finally came for the Messenger of Allah Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam to start preaching it openly in the city of Makkah, it came by the revelation of the following Ayah:

And warn your tribe (O Muhammad SAW) of near kindred.

[Surat Ash-Shuara: Ayah 214]

Gathering a crowd of forty-five men from his city, he stood up and delivered the following speech:

I celebrate Allah’s praise, I seek His help, I believe in Him, I put my trust in Him, I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah with no associate. A guide can never lie to his people. I swear by Allah , there is no god Worthy of Worship but He, that I have been sent as a Messenger to you, in particular and to all the people, in general. I swear by Allah you will die just as you sleep, you will be resurrected just as you wake up. You will be called to account for your deeds. It is then either Hell forever or the Garden (Paradise) forever.” [Fiqh As-Seerah p.77,78]

If you were to think about the Ayahs of the Quran that were revealed in Makkah, you will find that they focus entirely on calling people towards worshipping none but Allah. The vast majority of the religious obligations like zakaah, fasting, Hajj, the affairs of halaal and haraam, business transactions, etc. were not revealed until after the Prophet Muhammad’s Migration to the city of Madeenah. Thus showing how truly important the subject is. Furthermore, the religious obligations were not revealed until the call to worship Allah without any partners was presented and established within the souls of the people. [Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.5-11)]

The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam rooted the five pillars of Islam for us, and what did he mention as the first among them?:

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah son of ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said:

“Al-Islam is raised on five (pillars), testifying that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakat, Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’ba) and the fast of Ramadan.”

Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 20

When the Messenger of Allah authorized his companions, people who had converted to Islam during his time, to go and spread the message, he would specify the aspect of the religion the should they call towards first. Such has been captured in the following incident.

It is reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that Mu’adh said:

“The Messenger of Allah sent me (as a governor of Yemen) and (at the time of departure) instructed me thus: You will soon find yourself in a community one among the people of the Book, so first call them to testify that there is no god but Allah, that I (Muhammad) am the messenger of Allah, and if they accept this, then tell them Allah has enjoined upon them five prayers during the day and the night and if they accept it, then tell them that Allah has made Zakat obligatory for them that it should be collected from the rich and distributed among the poor……”

Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 27

The Noble Messenger Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam brought up his followers upon the Oneness of Allah right from when they were children.

He Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said to the son of his uncle, his cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas RadhiAllahuAnhu:

“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.”

Narrated by Ibn Abbas :: Jami` at-Tirmidhi
English reference :  Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2516
Arabic reference :    Book 37, Hadith 2706

Our Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam also emphasised and prioritized mentioning the Oneness of Allah even in the form of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) when he said:

“The best Dhikr (remembering Allah) is La ilaha illallah (there is no god worthy of worship except Allah) and the best supplication is Al-Hamdu Lillah (All praise be to Allah).”

At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’la has emphasised in His Book the mission that He sent His Messengers with, the first to the last. What was that mission? He said:

And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and that they should avoid everything worshipped besides Allah.”

[Surat An Nahl: Ayah 36]

And Allah said:

And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.”

[Surat Al Anbya: Ayah 25]

The Prophets that Allah sent followed this command. Episodes that reflect the very first thing that they used to warn their people against before anything else is presented in various places of the Quran.

This was Nuh Alayhis Salams first message in the da’wah to his generation:

“O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him…”

[Surat Al A’raf: Ayah 59]

“I have come to you as a plain warner. That you worship none but Allah…..”

[Surat Hud: Ayahs 25–26]

This was Prophet Huds first message in the da’wah to his generation:

 “O my people, worship Allah ; you have no deity other than Him. Then will you not fear Him?”

[Surat Al Aaraf: Ayah 65]

 This was Prophet Ibrahim Alayhisalams first message in the da’wah to his generation:

“O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth (worshipping none but Allah Alone) and I am not from amongst those who ascribe partners with Him in worship.”

[Surah Al Anam: 78 -79]

When we examine the stories of all the Prophets, we find that all of them started upon the same universal way of firstly calling towards the Oneness of Allah. None of the Prophets commenced their call by referring to subsidiary subjects like fasting, zakah, cleanliness, halal and haram food etc. This has been the way and the method of the Prophets and Messengers, the best of mankind to walk the face of the Earth, the way that was prescribed to them by Allah. Is there any way better than the way of Allah? Is there any doubt in the end result being successful while following Allah’s path and method?

 And so it is evidently proven that the matter of worshipping Allah alone without any partners has been and will always be the most prominent aspect of the religion to call towards, as it relates to the very purpose of our existence stated by Allah Himself. A great purpose that Allah has defined for us in the Quran:

And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).

[Surat Adh Dhariyat: Ayah 56]

This is a purpose of honour and high nobility, a purpose that brings meaning to the state of us being alive and makes us more than just a random arrangement of carbon molecules run by systems of society.

So the answer to the question – ‘What comes first? is the matter of singling out Allah with all forms of worship, so that you make all of your worship for Allah alone. In a more general sense, this is the definition given to the word Tawheed in Islam.

The meaning of Tawheed is –

To single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

And this is what the most important motto of Islam, the Shahaada, the testimony of faith proclaims as –

‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’ 
(There is no god worthy of worship but Allah)

Now that we have understood that Tawheed comes first in Islam, the question is how can we achieve it? But before we deal with that question, someone may ask why bother making the effort to achieve it? After all –

What’s in it for me?

Allah, The Lord of everything that exists promises you:

“… Whoever disbelieves in false deities and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that will never break…”

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 256]

Tawheed is the solution to the turmoil Muslims are in today. Allah promises us honour and authority over the Earth if we attain Tawheed, when He said:

“Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). “

[Surat An-Noor: 55, 56]

Ibn Kathir, famously known amongst Islamic scholars for his Tafsir (Explanation) of the Quran commented on this Ayah by saying:

“This is a promise from Allah to His Messenger (Prophet Muhammed – blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) that He will cause his ummah to gain authority in the land, i.e., become leaders of people and rulers over them, and by means of them the people’s affairs will be put right and the people will submit to their rule, and after having being afraid of the people, they will enjoy security and will rule over them. And He, may He be glorified and exalted, did indeed do that, may He be praised. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did not die until Allah enabled him to conquer Makkah, Khaybar, Bahrain, the entire Arabian Peninsula and all of the land of Yemen; he took the jizyah from the Magians of Hajar and from some of the border regions of greater Syria. Heraclius, the ruler of Byzantium, exchanged gifts with him, as did the ruler of Egypt and Alexandria, al-Muqawqis, the kings of Oman, and the Negus, the ruler of Abyssinia, who came to the throne after Ashamah, may Allah have mercy on him and honour him. Then when the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died, and Allah chose for him that which is with Him of honour, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq became the ruler (caliph) of the Muslims.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer (6/77)]

A companion of our Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam named Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, what are the two deeds that make entering Paradise or Hell inevitable?”
He said: “Whoever dies not associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise, and whoever dies associating anything with Allah will enter Hell.”

Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh (135) 

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) explained the situation of the sinners in Hell, and he explained that no one will be brought out of Hell except those who died believing in Tawheed and uttered the Shahaadah (testimony of faith), and had in their hearts something of faith:

“There will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said, Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a grain of barley. Then there will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy of Worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a grain of wheat. Then there will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy of worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a small ant.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6861; Muslim, 285

Notice, with complete attention, that people are not being taken out of the Hell fire on the basis of any other deed such as being kind to parents or ceaseless charity. Rather, it is because of the faith and the complete belief that one had on the words ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’ that they are being taken out from the Hell fire, signifying and highlighting its importance.

Allah will forgive anything lesser than the crime of ascribing partners to Allah in any way or form if He Wishes,

“Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin”

[Surat an-Nisa: Ayah 48]

Abu Dharr RadhiAllahuAnhu said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: 
“Jibreel appeared to me at the side of the harrah and said: ‘Give your ummah the glad tidings that whoever dies not associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise.’ I said: ‘O Jibreel, even if he steals and even if commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Even if he steals and even if commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Even if he steals and even if he commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes, and even if he drinks alcohol.’”

Al-Bukhaari (6933) and Muslim (1659)

Bear in mind that this Hadith in no way encourages the commencement of such heinous crimes of fornification and drinking of alcohol, bear in mind that Allah is severe in punishment and He will punish whomsoever He Wills . The Hadith only goes to show the Mercy of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la towards those who had sown the seed of Tawheed (to single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else) in their hearts and that it will be enough to take them out of the Hell fire.

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“When the people of Paradise enter Paradise and the people of Hell enter Hell, Allah will say: ‘Whoever had a mustard-seed’s weight of faith in his heart, bring him out.’ So they will bring him out, and they will come out like burned skeletons, and they will turn into charcoal. They will be thrown into the River of Life, then they will grow like seeds growing in the silt left by a flood.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do you not see how they emerge yellow and curved?”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6192) and Muslim (184)

The vastness of the forgiveness of Allah to those who do not associate anything or anyone in worship with Him can be well expressed by the following Hadith:

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stated:
“He who comes with goodness, there are in store for him ten like those and even more than those: ‘And he who comes with vice, ‘ it is only for that that he is called to account. I even forgive him (as I like) and he who draws close to Me by the span of a palm I draw close to him by the cubit, and he who draws close to Me by the cubit I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two hands, and he who walks towards Me I rush towards him, and he who meets Me in the state that his sins fill the earth, but not associating anything with Me, I would meet Him with the same (vastness) of pardon (on My behalf).”

Sahih Muslim 
Book 48, Hadith 29
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 35, Hadith 6499

Narrated Anas RadhiAllahuAnhu : The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, 
“Allah will say to that person of the (Hell) Fire who will receive the least punishment, ‘If you had everything on the earth, would you give it as a ransom to free yourself (i.e. save yourself from this Fire)?’ He will say, ‘Yes.’ Then Allah will say, ‘While you were in the backbone of Adam, I asked you much less than this, i.e. not to worship others besides Me, but you insisted on worshipping others besides me.'”

Sahih al-Bukhari 3334
Book 60, Hadith 9
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 551

 Now the following is a narration that should sum it all up to show you how high and important the place for Tawheed is in Islam.

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“A man from my nation will be called before all of creation on the Day of Resurrection, and ninety-nine scrolls will be spread out for him, each one extending as far as the eye can see. Then Allah will say: “Do you deny anything of this?” He will say: “No, O Lord.” He will say: “Have My recording scribes been unfair to you?” Then He will say: “Apart from that, do you have any good deeds?” The man will be terrified and will say: “No.” (Allah) will say: “Indeed, you have good deeds with Us, and you will not be treated unjustly this Day.” Then a card will be brought out on which is written Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah wa anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluhu (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger). He will say: “O Lord, what is this card compared with these scrolls?” He will say: “You will not be treated unjustly.” Then the scrolls will be placed in one side of the Balance and the card in the other. The scrolls will go up (i.e., be light) and the card will go down (i.e., will weigh heavily).”

Grade : Sahih
Sunan Ibn Majah
English reference : Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4300
Arabic reference   : Book 37, Hadith 4442

So now do you see what’s in it for you and me? Do you see the power and weight that just a few words have over all other aspects of Islam? A few words when acted upon, that can substantially change our lives here for the hereafter? Because they are not just mere words, they are words that that are the ultimate truth and no other phrase uttered from anyone’s mouth can match their stature, they define our the outcome of the various things we do here and our end result in the hereafter because they are the foundation upon which everything else we do will be built, they are words that define the only way you will succeed –

“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammadur Rasool-Allah”

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

And so let us examine and make an individual assessment of ourselves to see whether we have understood these words correctly like the way they should be understood, and to make sure we are fit to enter everlasting Paradise that Allah has promised for the believers in these words. Let us ask ourselves the following question:

Have I achieved Tawheed?

We have already had a look at what Tawheed means.It is –

To single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

It becomes clear just by the definition of it that being on Tawheed is more than just uttering the words Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah. Knowing exactly what you mean by the words escaping your mouth and acting upon every word matters a lot more.

It was narrated that Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever says ‘I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone [with no partner or associate] and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and that ‘Eesa is the slave of Allaah, the son of His maidservant, a Word which He bestowed upon Maryam and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true and that Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few.”
(Junada, the sub-narrator said, ” ‘Ubada added, ‘Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.)

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3252) and Muslim (28)   

A great and revered Islamic scholar by the name of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him) commenting on the hadith above said:

“The words “Whoever says ‘I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone” mean, the one who speaks these words, knowing what they mean and acting upon them inwardly and outwardly, because with regard to the Shahaadatayn (the testimony of faith) it is essential that one know and be certain and act upon them as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So know (O Muhammad )that Laa ilaaha illAllaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah)” [Muhammad 47:19].”

So it can be said that it is not enough to just utter the Shahadah and forget about it, but more importantly knowing and acting upon is what counts considerably more. Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la says:

…except those who bear witness to the truth (i.e. believed in the Oneness of Allah, and obeyed His Orders), and they know (the facts about the Oneness of Allah).

[Surat Az Zukhruf: Ayah 86]

Directing any act of worship to other than Allah and associating any among the creation with Him in worship are acts of disbelief, even if one pronounced La iláha illalláh a thousand times with his tongue.

A renowned Islamic scholar, who belonged to what Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam described as the second best generation of Muslims after that of the Sahabah, named Al Hasan Al-Basri was once asked: “Some people say that those who proclaim La iláha illalláh shall enter Paradise.” Al Hasan Al-Basri replied, “Yes. For those who proclaim this word and fulfill its implications and requirements, then saying La iláha illalláh shall enter them into Paradise.” In addition, Wahb bin Munbih asked: “Is not La iláha illalláh the key to Paradise?” He said, “Yes. However, every key has teeth; if you use a key that has teeth it will open for you, otherwise it will not open.”

And so we have to ask ourselves, as it is without a shadow of a doubt the most important matter of our lives here and in the hereafter –

Do we know and act upon Tawheed?

Here is a chance to finally check for ourselves and find out.

To answer this question, we will have to analyze our relation with certain aspects of Tawheed. For ease of understanding, Islamic Scholars have categorized the characteristics of Tawheed into three categories. Three very simple, easy to understand categories derived straight from the book of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la that no intelligent person in the right senses cannot understand or grasp.

As we go along the three categories, let us question ourselves whether or not we comply with each because if we are not upon all of them, we are not upon Tawheed.

1.
Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah
(Oneness of Allah’s Lordship)

The first category is Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah, which means “to single out Allah in understanding His Actions“, like His creating, providing, bringing of life and death, and keeping order in all affairs. A person understands that Allah alone is the Creator, the Provider, the Ever-Living One in charge of all affairs.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

Whoever believes that there is any creator other than Allah or any sovereign controlling this universe and disposing of its affairs other than Allah has denied this aspect of Tawheed and disbelieved in Allah.

Who created the heavens and the Earth? None but Allah.
Who created us? None but Allah.
Who makes the Sun rise and set? None but Allah.
Who makes the day enter into the night and the night enter into the day? None but Allah.
Who makes the vegetation grow on this beautiful lively planet of ours and Who nourishes the animals on the earth, in the sky and within the depths of the oceans? None but Allah.
Who sustains me with food and monitors every single one of my affairs? None but Allah.
Who creates within the bellies of the mothers? None but Allah.
Who decides whether it is a boy or a girl? None but Allah.
Who protects me from harm and provides for all my needs? None but Allah.
Who will decide whether I enter Paradise or the Hellfire? None but Allah.

So who is the Creator, the Owner, Provider, Sustainer, Protector etc? None but Allah.

No one except Allah is the Owner of everything that exists and therefore everything is under His Control and Lordship. And if anyone was to attribute any of Allah’s Actions to anyone else, then he is not upon Tawheed.

But is it enough to be upon this aspect of Tawheed to be on Tawheed as a whole? No. In fact even the disbelievers during Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallams time used to believe in this aspect of Tawheed.

The evidence that they used to accept this is found in several verses of the Qur’aan such as the following:

“And if you were to ask them: ‘Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?’ they will surely reply: ‘Allah.’ How then are they deviating (as polytheists and disbelievers)?”

[Surat Al-‘Ankaboot: Ayah 61]

“And if you were to ask them: ‘Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death?’ they will surely reply: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah!’ Nay, most of them have no sense”

[Surat Al-‘Ankaboot:  Ayah 63]

“And if you ask them who created them, they will surely say: ‘Allah.’ How then are they turned away (from the worship of Allah Who created them)?”

[Surat Al-Zukhruf: Ayah 87]

So if the disbelievers had no problem in accepting Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Allahs Lorship), where did they make the mistake? It is in the second aspect of Tawheed.

Summary:

The meaning of Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah is –

To single out Allah in understanding His Actions.

2.
Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah
(Oneness in Allah’s Worship)

The second category is Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah, which means “to single out Allah within the actions of the servant.” This includes all actions that draw them closer to Allah, Glorified and Exalted, like Dua (Supplicaton).
All forms of worship must be strictly for Allah alone, and nothing can be done for other than Him. This is what is called tawheed al-‘ebaadah, or tawheed al-uloohiyyah, and it is the tawheed that is put into practice as the servant singles out Allah in everything He has requested, with an intention for Him alone, in all acts of obedience.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

If we associate partners to Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la in our acts of worship, which is basically worshiping others than Allah, then we are clearly not upon this aspect of Tawheed and Islam as a whole.

Allah says:

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him”

[Surat Al-Isra: Ayah 23]

“Worship Allaah and join none with Him (in worship)”

[Surat An-Nisa: Ayah 36]

 And He commands us to say something that we recite at least 17 times a day in every unit of prayer:

“You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).”

[Surat Al-Fatihah: Ayah 5]

 The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam taught us to proficiently polish our Intention (Niyyah) before performing every act of worship of doing it only and only for the sake of Allah when he said:

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”

Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 1 :: Hadith 1

Allah makes sure that we firmly believe that whatever we do here for the hereafter is only for Allah and nobody else, He the Most High tells us to:

Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.”

[Surat Al Anaam: Ayah 162]

Allah warned His Messenger and Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam and all of the believers, who believe and affirm that Allah is their Lord and the Only One Who is to be worshipped, about the dangers of setting partners in worship with Him or worshiping anyone else besides Him by Saying:

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that: “If you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.”

Rather, worship Allah alone and be among the grateful.

[Surat Az Zumar; Ayahs 65-66]

And this is where the disbelievers erred. They used to believe in the existence and the Lordship of Allah but also used to associate make-believe partners to Allah and worship them.

What were the disbelievers of the Prophet’s time like?

They didn’t like the powerful message that the Prophet SallahuAlayhi wa sallam was proclaiming of the futility and insensibility of idol worship. The disbelievers of the Prophet’s hometown (Makkah) burst into outrage and disapproval. The Prophets words of calling towards Tawheed created a thunderbolt that turned the Makkan time- honoured ideological life upside down. They could not bear to hear that the tradition of idol worship that they were so accustomed to was a strayed path. They had to do something about this situation.

And so they tried to push him and his followers down. They would clog their ears with their fingers whenever the Prophet would recite the Ayahs or they would play the dirty trick of talking loudly and insolently when it was being read, so that even the passer-by’s and those who wanted to listen may not be able to hear.
They tried to harm him by throwing stones at him, threw the entrails of goats on his back when he was praying and strangling him. Even his followers were not left alone. The uncle of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan used to wrap ‘Uthman in a mat of palm leaves, and set fire under him. Bilal, the slave of Omaiyah bin Khalaf, was severely beaten by his master when the latter came to know of his conversion to Islam. Sometimes a rope was put around his neck and street boys were made to drag him through the streets and even across the hillocks of Makkah. At times he was subjected to prolonged deprivation of food and drink; at others he was bound up, made to lie down on the burning sand and under the crushing burden of heavy stones. Khabbab bin Al-Aratt  was made to  lie on burning coal with a big rock on his chest to prevent him from escaping. Some Muslims of rank and position were wrapped in the raw skins of camels and thrown away, and others were put in armours and cast on burning sand in the scorching sun of Arabia.

One of their most devilish schemes of shunning the bright illuminating message of Islam and debarring the public from being attracted to the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallams message was by calling him a soothsayer, possessed, a poet, a magician and a liar. But no matter how hard they tried, the messenger’s followers kept increasing because of the sheer might of the message he had come with.

The very fact that they had to go through so much trouble of trying to stop people from being attracted to Islam shows how powerful and how true the message was, and the disbelievers knew this too. The following incident reflects on how entrancing and realistic this message was even to the disbelievers of Makkah:

One day some of the important men of Makkah gathered in the enclosure of Al-Ka‘bah, and ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, a chief among them, offered to approach the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam and contract a bargain with him whereby they give him whatever worldly wealth he asks for, on condition that he keep silent and no longer proclaim his new faith. The people of Quraish (the elite tribe in Makkah) endorsed his proposal and requested him to undertake that task. ‘Utbah came closer to Muhammad [pbuh] and addressed him in the following words:

“We have seen no other man of Arabia, who has brought so great a calamity to a nation, as you have done. You have outraged our gods and religion and taxed our forefathers and wise men with impiety and error and created strife amongst us. You have left no stone unturned to estrange the relations with us. If you are doing all this with a view to getting wealth, we will join together to give you greater riches than any Quraishite has possessed. If ambition moves you, we will make you our chief. If you desire kingship we will readily offer you that. If you are under the power of an evil spirit which seems to haunt and dominate you so that you cannot shake off its yoke, then we shall call in skilful physicians to cure you.”

“Have you said all?” asked Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam; and then hearing that all had been said, he spoke forth, and said:

Ha, Meem.

[This is] a revelation from the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful –

A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur’an for a people who know,

As a giver of good tidings and a warner; but most of them turn away, so they do not hear.

And they say, “Our hearts are within coverings from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a partition, so work; indeed, we are working.”

[Surat Fussilat: Ayah 1-5]

The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhu wa Sallam went on reciting the Chapter while ‘Utbah sitting and listening attentively with his hand behind his back to support him. When the Messenger reached the verse that required prostration, he immediately prostrated himself. After that, he turned to ‘Utbah saying: “Well Abu Al Waleed! You have heard my reply, you are now free to do whatever you please.” ‘Utbah then retired to his company to apprise them of the Prophet’s attitude. When his compatriots saw him, they swore that he looked different coming back from when he had gone. He immediately communicated to them the details of the talk he gave and the reply he received, and appended saying:

“I have never heard words similar to those ones he recited. They definitely relate neither to poetry nor to witchcraft nor do they derive from soothsaying. O people of Quraish! I request you to heed my advice and grant the man full freedom to pursue his goals, in which case you could safely detach yourselves from him. I swear that his words bear a supreme Message. Should the other Arabs rid you of him, they will then spare you the trouble, on the other hand if he accedes to power over the Arabs, then you will bask in his kingship and share him his might.” These words of course fell on deaf ears, and did not appeal to the infidels, who jeered at ‘Utbah and claimed that the Prophet [pbuh] had bewitched him.” [Ibn Hisham 1/293,294]

Such were the disbelievers. Why didn’t they want to submit to this mighty message? The answer to this is simple. They knew that denying worship to anyone but Allah and that belief in the Divine Message and the Hereafter would mean complete compliance and absolute commitment, and this in turn would leave no area at all for them to claim authority over themselves and over their wealth, let alone their subordinates. In short, their arrogated religiously-based supremacy and highhandedness would no longer be in effect; their pleasures would be subordinated to the pleasures of Allah and His Messenger and lastly they would have to abstain from incurring injustices on the weak, and carry out dreadful sins in their everyday life. They would have to give up a major part of their distorted lives. They had already been fully aware of these meanings, which is why their souls would not condescend to accept this ‘disgraceful’ position not out of motives based on dignity and honour but rather because of the reason that Allah Himself proclaimed in the Holy Quran:

 But man desires to continue in sin.

[Surat Al Qiyaama: Ayah 5]

They had been aware of all these consequences but they could afford to do nothing before an honest truthful man who was the highest example of good manners and human values. They had never known such an example in the history of their folks or grandfathers. What would they do? They were baffled.

And so they continued to worship others besides Allah and ask others besides Him and turned a deaf ear even when the following Ayah was revealed:

And those whom you invoke other than Him do not possess [as much as] the membrane of a date seed. If you invoke them, they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like the One Who knows all things.

[Surat Faatir: Ayahs 13 -14]

And how did they justify their action of invoking and calling on others besides Allah?

Allah revealed:

And those who take protectors besides Him [say], “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.

[Surat Zumar: Ayah 3]

And Allah revealed:

And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided?

[Surat Al Maaida: Ayah 104]

And again to present how insensible those are who call upon and ask for help from other than Him, Allah says:

And they worship other than Allah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, and they say, “These are our intercessors with Allah “ Say, “Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?” Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him!

[Surat Yunus: Ayah 18]

Now why did we dwell so deep into the times of the Prophet in the middle of understanding Tawheed you may ask? It is to understand the nature of those who denied Tawheed during the Prophets time and compare their profile with ours. As peculiar and paradoxical as the question may seem, do we as Muslims worship others besides Allah in today’s time? Are we falling into the same trap that the disbelievers of Makkah did of believing in Tawheed Ar Ruboobiyyah but failing to understand Tawheed Al Uloohiyyah? Just like we mentioned in the section of Tawheed Ar Ruboobiyyah, the desibelevers of Makkah had no problem in accepting that Allah is the Creator and the Sustainer but then when it came to worship (Tawheed Al Uloohiyyah) they abandoned Allah. Do we do the same? Do we believe in One Lord Who is responsible for creation and sustenance then invoke, ask, seek protection and therefore worship others besides the Only One Who can give? If we don’t then why do we stand beside graveyards and shrines asking the deceased saints for help and rely on pieces of rusty amulets for our protection, and then justify our actions just like the disbelievers justified theirs by saying, “These are only or intercessors with Allah, they only bring us closer to Allah and this is what our forefathers did so we will do the same”?  Sure it may not be idol worship like the disbelievers of Makkah used to do, but the only difference between then and now is that they worshipped vertical figures while we worship horizontal figures, in the grave. Are we truly following the teachings of the Messenger and his righteous followers who gave up their entire lives so that the Oneness of Allah in all matters could prevail or are we only becoming more insensible day by day because of wanting to follow our whims and desires just like the disbelievers did?

Have we forgotten the teachings that our Prophet gave to young Ibn Abbas one fine day by saying:

“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi
English reference: Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2516
Arabic reference: Book 37, Hadith 2706

Five days before the Prophet’s death, he Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that.

Muslim :: Book 4 : Hadith 1083

It has also been reported:

Narrated ‘Aisha:

Um Habiba and Um Salama mentioned about a church they had seen in Ethiopia in which there were pictures. They told the Prophet about it, on which he said, “If any religious man dies amongst those people they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it. They will be the worst creature in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection.”

Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 8 :: Hadith 419

The Muslim Ummah in today’s time is seen vibrantly engaging in all these pathetic activities that never took place during the Prophets time and that are evidently wrong. We have to remember that for any of our deeds to be accepted they should meet two conditions:

The first condition: The act of worship should be devoted to Allah Alone.

Evidences:

Allah says:

“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him).”

[Surat Al-Bayyinah 98: Ayah 5]

It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say:

“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or to marry a woman, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, Bad’ al-Wahy, 1).

It was narrated by Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, says: ‘I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.”

(Narrated by Muslim, al-Zuhd wa’l-Raqaiq, 5300)

The second condition: The act should be in accordance with the Law of Allah and His Messenger.

Evidences:

It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), will have it rejected.”

(Narrated by Muslim, al-Aqdiyyah, 3243)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined following his Sunnah (ways) and teachings. And he gave us a direction to follow. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“You have to follow my Sunnah (way) and the way of my rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-rashidoon); bite onto it with your eyeteeth (i.e., cling firmly to it).”

And he warned against things invented into the perfect religion of Allah as he said:

“Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is a going astray.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-‘Ilm, 2600; classed as saheeh/authentic by al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2157)

The time has come for us to check whether we are involved in any such newly invented practices and to stay far away from them. It is time to wake up and refrain from directing even the slightest of our acts of worship to other than Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la and knowing that He the Most High said:

O people, an example is presented, so listen to it. Indeed, those you invoke besides Allah will never create [as much as] a fly, even if they gathered together for that purpose. And if the fly should steal away from them a [tiny] thing, they could not recover it from him. Weak are the pursuer and pursued.

[Surat Al Hajj: Ayah 73]

And He said:

Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘How do you worship besides Allah something which has no power either to harm or benefit you? But it is Allah Who is the All-Hearer, All-Knower’?

[Surat Al Maaida: Ayah 76]

Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful.

[Surat Al-Araaf: Ayah 194]

And He said:

Among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 165]

Are you stronger in love for Allah? Then invoke, ask, expect from and direct all your acts of worship to Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la Who is the Only One Who can give you what you ask for, because Only He is the Owner of everything, because Only He is the one Who can Create and Destroy, because Only He is the One Whom we can rely upon and trust during times of joy and at times of turmoil, because Only He is the All Knower and the All Wise.

This religion of ours is unique in the sense that it establishes a direct connection between the created and the Creator, a connection that all the Prophets and Messengers from the beginning of time were sent to establish. It is the Mercy of Allah that He has kept the access to this connection easy and free of cost for all that we must do to establish it is mention His Name because He said:

Remember Me; I will remember you.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 152]

And He said to you:

Indeed I am near.
I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 186]

 And He said to you:

Call upon Me; I will respond to you.

[Surat Ghafir: Ayah 60]

Allah is offering you to connect with Him, isn’t He sufficient for you? Do you need to direct your dua’s or any other acts of worship for anyone other than Him?  He answers this by telling you:

Surely, Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knowing.

[Surat Al Baqarah; Ayah 115]

Are many different lords better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible?

[Surat Yoosuf: Ayah 39]

Stay well within this aspect of Tawheed by doing whatever you do here for the hereafter for His sake and Only for Him.

Summary:

The meaning of Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah is –

To single out Allah within the actions of the Servant.

3.
Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat 
(Oneness in Allah’s Divine Names and Attributes) 

The third and last category is Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat, which means “to believe in every Name and Attribute that Allah affirmed for Himself, or those that His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) affirmed for Him.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

So the third and last fundamental aspect of Tawheed is to believe that:

1) We must not name or attribute Allah except with what He or His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has named or attributed Him with.

2) None can be named or attributed with the Names or Attributes of Allah. (1)

3) We must believe in all the attributes of Allah which Allah stated in His Book (the Quran) or mentioned through His Messenger Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam without changing their meaning or ignoring them completely or twisting the meanings or likening them to any of the created things.

[Extract from the appendix of The Noble Qur’an interpreted in English language by Dr. Muhsin Khan and Dr. Hilali]

Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la says a statement in the Quran that is essential for us to sear into our minds, He said:

There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer

[Surat Ash Shura: Ayah 11]

Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah have Mercy on him) stated in Al Fiqh Al Akbar, “Allah is not like any of His creatures, nor is any creature like His. His attributes are different from their attributes. He knows but not as we know (meaning He knows Everything with complete perfection, we don’t); He acts, but not as we act; (meaning He is completely Perfect in His Actions, we aren’t); and He sees but not as we see (meaning He sees Everything with complete perfection, we don’t).”
[Taken from Al Fiqh Al Akbar with commentary by Mullah ‘Ali Al Qari page 24]

Summary:

The meaning of Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat is –

To single out Allah in the Names and Attributes that He has affirmed for Himself and those that His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam affirmed for him, without adding or taking away the meanings that were assigned to them.

Now lets summarize what you have learnt:

Summary of Tawheed and its categories:

 What is Tawheed?

Tawheed is to single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

What are the three categories of Tawheed?

  • Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Lordship)
  • Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Worship)
  • Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat (Oneness of Allah’s Divine Names and Attributes)

What do the three categories of Tawheed mean?

Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah is to single out Allah in understanding His Actions.

Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah is to single out Allah within the actions of the servant.

Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat is to single out Allah in the Names and Attributes that He has affirmed for Himself and those that His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam affirmed for him, without adding or taking away the meanings that were assigned to them.

Accept and implement Tawheed. This is the only way you will succeed.

this-is-the-only-way-you-will-succeed

This article was compiled using the following resources:

  1. ‘Lessons From the Noble Qur’aan’
    by Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah ibn Saalih Al Fawzaan
  2. ‘The Wahhabi Myth’
    by Haneef James Oliver
  3. ‘The Sealed Nectar’
    by Sheikh Safi ur Rahman
  4. ‘The Belief of a Muslim’
    by Muhsin Khan & Taqi-ud-Din Hilali

Some additional material you may like to go through:

Social Media – What has it made us?

Let’s start this poem with a simple question
On Facebook and Twitter, what was the last thing you mentioned?

Was it someone’s marriage or your best friend’s birthday?
Or enjoyment with family at a picnic some Sunday?

Whatever the case may be, did you ever try to contemplate?
That our lives were different before these new things were made

Our lives were peaceful and joyous before signing up at social media
Feeling contented with Yahoo Messenger, Google and Wikipedia

Internet was used more for work rather than leisure
Unlike today, wherein it is used by the youth for haraam pleasure

Feeling delight in interacting with opposite gender via chatting
We often forget the fact that Allah is always watching

Be it posting a status update or changing your profile picture
Or updates of sports news where some cricketer hits a sixer

Did you ever try to comprehend upon its philosophy?
“You like mine and I’ll like yours back”, this is usually the mentality

Believe it or not, it’s just a ‘like-comment’ game
At the end of the day, it’s all about gaining fame

The more people like, the more ‘Serotonin*’ is released
Yet the greediness of this son of Aadam is difficult to cease

If you don’t agree with me, do this small exercise
Recall the last time you opened your post to check the no. of likes

I know it’s sad but it’s true about these new inventions
I think this is enough to show the level of our obsession

Now, what’s the solution to this problem talked about?
First and foremost Allah’s aid should be sought

Following that, we need to set our priorities straight
Along with learning to manage time in this case

Remember that each and every second that we are enjoying
We will be questioned about it on the Day of Reckoning

Time once gone, can never be brought back
Even though some may wish for it but it would be too late to realize that

Tick-tock tick-tock, is how the clock runs every second
Yesterday we were born, today we are here & we don’t know whether we will live till the next moment

Till when will you sleep, O slave of your maker!
Open your eyes, wake up, before it’s time to meet your Creator

– Written by Safi Ahmed

*Serotonin: Serotonin is called the happiness hormone. Serotonin regulates the mood, prevents depression and makes us feel happy.

We are living in times wherein most of the people, especially the youth are so obsessed with the usage of social media that it has become almost impossible for us now, to imagine our lives without these applications. Be it Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter, they seem to have replaced many things in our lives today.

This poem is intended to bring awareness to this problem and help others in trying to limit its usage as much as possible.

Social media - What has it made us

Stressed Out?

There are times when you frequently forget about things, times of frequent mood swings, times of not being able to concentrate on anything.
Instead all you want to do is just lie down doing nothing because you just cannot bear another classroom lecture, cannot bear to listen to anything that requires the scratching of the brain.
You sleep restlessly, not physically present in the environment. You do not respond to situations and prompts, are mindless, lazy to do anything, show less interest, feel irritable, forget very obvious things, go extremely high on emotions in isolation.

Do you ever feel this way? Many people have been there. You were probably ‘just’ stressed out.

Though stress isn’t always a bad thing, it can give a burst of energy when competing or when speaking in public. (1)
But when stress becomes continuous, what happens? If you face it every day and every night, what will eventually happen?

Chronic stress actually begins to change your brain. It can affect the brains size, its structure and also how it functions.

When your brain detects a stressful situation, your HPA axis (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal axis – a series of interactions between endocrine glands in the brain and kidney) gets activated and releases a hormone called ‘cortisol’. (2)

High levels of cortisol can cause the part of your brain associated with learning, memory and physical stress to deteriorate and keep diminishing. That answers why you couldn’t concentrate on your academics or chores or tried hard enough but couldn’t get through, striving with extremely high levels of stress over and over again.

Extremely high levels of cortisol can literally shrink your brain in size. Too much of it results into loss of synaptic connections (nerve impulses travel via this in the brain) between neurons and affects the part of your brain that regulates concentration, decision making, judgement and interaction with the surrounding. (3) This clearly means that chronic stress can make it difficult for you to learn and remember things. This leads to some serious mental problems like depression and so on.

But in the midst of all this we forget one thing. The presence of our Creator.

Our Creator, Allah the Almighty allowed our brain to repair itself. SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah). From among the most prominent and common ways to control stress are exercising and even better – praying with khushoo (tranquility) to connect with our Rabb, Allah.

The treasures that we hold of our belief in the Oneness of Allah and His Teachings are priceless, treasures that we cannot possibly begin to imagine.

If things don’t work out for you, it’s okay, this is just a temporary world. Everything that begins also comes to an end at its final destination. In your case it is death.
Would you really bother at your death bed about what you are crying for now? What would matter at that time? Why doesn’t it matter to you now? That’s important to understand. Catch hold of it while you still can.

Allah Subhana wa Ta’la (Glory be to Him the Most High) has the power to give everything to whom He wills and to take away from whomever He wills. Both the scenarios are a test. Usually the 1st case consists of people who take things and blessings for granted. So what if you lost your job or a person you loved or what if you couldn’t get an exam cleared? I know it’s difficult to lose someone or something you love, but at the end, everyone and everything has to leave. It was always meant to be this way.

Getting excessively stressed, crying, throbbing your temples until your nerves start to burst? Really? Are you that weak?

You will lose your brain. Are you ready for the bargain? And all this comes from ‘just’ being stressed out!

Remember to leave your matters onto Allah Subhana wa Ta’la and start believing that He will take care. Quit crying, do your job which is to make the effort; the effort to purify what lies in your heart which is the only thing that will be examined in the end.

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children.
Except him who brings to Allah a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].

[Surah Ash-Shu’ra 26; Ayahs 88-89]

Written by Sidra Ali

Stressed Out

Footnotes:

(1) How stress affects your brain – http://ed.ted.com/on/xkIxB8xO
(2) The process of the release of cortisol, the hormone released during stress – http://www.youramazingbrain.org/brainchanges/stressbrain.htm
(3) Shrinking of the brain due to stress – http://share.upmc.com/2014/09/stress-affects-brain/

Please note:

We do not advocate any content that may be Islamically  inappropriate in the form of text, photo, audio, video etc. in the links above.
We provided the links to give you the resources we used that will also help you to get a better understanding of our article.

JazakAllahuKhairan and thank you for reading!

Six Important ways to spend a Pleasant but Productive Time in Ramadhan

All Perfect Praise be to Allah Subhanau wa Ta’la (Glory be to Him the Most High), The Lord of the Worlds. We testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam ( Please and Blessings of Allah be upon him ) is His slave and Messenger.

Time is a gift from Allah Subhhana hu wa Ta’la and we are running out of it. Every minute that passes by is the last we see of it, we will never ever see that one minute again even if we were to spend millions to try to get it back.

But there is one thing that we will see for sure with utmost certainty – it is what we spent that one minute doing.

The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

 “Make the most of five things before five others: LIFE before death, HEALTH before sickness, FREE TIME before becoming busy, YOUTH before old age, and WEALTH before poverty.”

See Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 1077.

We as Muslims believe that there will come this Grand Day when we will stand before Allah, on which Allah will show us what we used to spend our time in and we will see it with our very eyes as clearly as we see the screen we are reading this on today.

Let’s try to spend our time efficiently in things that reap reward after reward from Allah. And what kind of a reward are we talking about here? Let’s say you bought the latest gadget in the market that you were looking forward to this season for yourself. Now imagine having the capability buying hundreds of thousands of them and then selling them again to buy yourself a car that you cruise in to a party held in your honour at the most expensive restaurant that exists on the planet, dressed in an attire of the most exquisite clothing brand on Earth.  Let’s strain our imagination a little further and say that you had enough money to buy yourself that car company, that restaurant and that clothing brand too and to spend your entire lifetime lying on a beach under a shady tree with a bottle of chilled fruit juice by your side having nothing to do but to enjoy yourself all day.

All this is nothing compared to a single reward that Allah might have in store for you on the Day of Judgement. Why? Because all materialistic things in this world tend to come to an end by nature. But the reward of Allah will never die. It will be everlasting and far more superior to anything you have ever imagined because Allah says:

“And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.” 

( Surat As Sajda 32; Ayah 17 )

 And our beloved Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

 “There would be bounties which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and no human heart has ever perceived them.”

And then he recited the ayah mentioned above.

Book 40, Number 6783: Sahih Muslim

So while we still breathe, let us spend our time accumulating good deeds for that Great day. And when better to spend such time than the blessed month of Ramadhan itself?

Below are six of the best ways you could engage yourselves in. It doesn’t consist of obvious things like praying five times a day because if you aren’t doing that already then please don’t fast as well and quietly place yourself in a trash can somewhere.

______________________________________

 

1)  Help your parents

 

Read the following Hadith carefully and especially the letters in bold:

Al-Walid bin ‘Aizar RadhiAllahu ‘anhu (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

I heard Abi Amr ‘Ash-Shaibani saying, “The owner of this house”, he pointed to Abdullah’s house, “said: I asked the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam:“Which deed is loved most by Allah?” He replied, “To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.” Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “To be good and dutiful to one’s parents.” Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “To participate in Jihad for Allah’s Cause.” Abdullah added, “The Prophet narrated to me these three things, and if I had asked more, he would have told me more.”

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 1:

Sahih Bukhari

Our parents aren’t going to be around forever, and we have to make sure that they are pleased with us while they still stand by our side. Throughout the year we do worse than that which Allah has commanded us not to do, which is to say ‘UFF!!’ to our parents. The deed of being kind and dutiful towards is so great that it falls right after prayer according to the hadith above, and one cannot simply imagine the reward which would be just as great.

Go help your mom in the kitchen even if it’s just helping her to open and close the fridge. Or even if it’s just picking up something that fell off the ground while she tirelessly works to ensure that she could provide you with a happy meal. Go help her do the cleaning and buying for the house or maybe help her finish off some unfinished work that’s giving her a headache to complete. Do it without even here having to tell you to. There will come a day when standing beside her will only be a wish that will never come true. Make use of the time you have with her today and reap great reward from Allah because what has Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said about a mother?:

Mu’awiyah ibn Jahima (RadhiAllahu ‘anhu) reported:

Jahima RadhiAllahu ‘anhu came to the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam and he said: “O Messenger of Allah Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam, I intend to join the expedition and I seek your advice.” The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “Do you have a mother?” He said, “Yes.” The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said, “Stay with her, for verily Paradise is beneath her feet.”

Sunan An-Nasa’i, Book of Jihad, Number 3104

A man came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?” The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said: “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” The Prophet said: “Then your mother.” The man further asked, “Then who?” The Prophet said: “Then your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet said: “Then your father.”

Bukhari, Muslim

Dad deserves our attention too. Let’s be on our toes to fulfil any command that he has to give us, just like he is on his feet 10 hours a day to make sure you are well fed and educated, who taught you how to stand and talk in the first place. What has Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said about a father?:

Abu Darda’ RadhiAllahu ‘anhu said that he heard the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam saying: “A father is one of the strongest doors of Paradise, If you wish you may pull it down, or if you wish you may protect it.”

Al-Tirmidhi- Hadith 127

Parents are a blessing that not even a trillion continuous sujoods will be enough to thank Allah for their presence, lets love them as much as we can and strengthen our relationship with them while we still have them around unlike many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, still young and bubbly, who have lost them in the most brutal of ways.

 

2)  Understand the Quran, don’t just read it

 

Allah revealed the Quran in this month, as He says:

“The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)…”

( Surat Al-Baqarah 2; Ayah185 )

Now guys, lets be very clear and straightforward here. We are well educated people. We have enough intelligence by the grace of Allah to study our books pertaining to our profession alongside books and articles that we love to read in our pass time and understand them greatly. We go into great depths to understand this problem and that, we make sure we memorize things that seem important and interesting that we can talk about with our friends like a new computer programme you learnt (the nerdish kind) or the aero dynamics of a new car that you read about (the Vin Diesel’ish kind).

Why isn’t it the same with the mightiest Book that exists in the universe?! The Book which if were to be sent down upon a mountain, the mountain would be crushed into smithereens! [ Refer to Surah Al Hashr (59); verse 21 ]

Why do we just sit with the Quran and rush through it at 766 km per hour? Aren’t you aware that English translations and tafseer (explanation) of the Quran exist that are very easy to understand? (We recommend ‘Tafsir Ibn Kathir’.)

Spend your time pondering over the meanings and memorizing ayats that boggle and strike your mind for Allah’s sake.

Do two simple things:

a) Memorize an ayah a day with understanding from an easy surah of your choosing that you could use in your prayers besides the usual ‘Al nas and Al Falaq’. This would improve your concentration in prayer because now you would finally start to understand what Allah has to say and come closer to your Lord. The descriptions of Jannah (Paradise) and Jahannam (Hell) are so enriching that you will see the hair on your hands stand up in awe.

b) Recite the Quran following your usual routine, whether it’s a Juz (chapter) a day or a half. But do it with meaning in a language you understand and proper pronunciation (Tajweed) if possible.

Allah Subhanahu wa Tala says:

“..and recite the Quran (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.”

( Surat Al-Muzzammil 73:4 )

It was narrated from Aa’ishah that the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“The one who recites the Quran and learns it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven) and the one who exerts himself to learn the Quran by heart and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4653; Muslim, 798

Refer to the trillions of YouTube videos to learn the proper pronunciation (Tajweed) instead of learning about what Vin Diesel ate for lunch.

 

3)  Seek Knowledge

 

Includes both seeking knowledge of this world (other than studies of course) and knowledge of the religion (which is obligatory). Do we know the ar-kaan of salah (pillars of salah) or the ah-kaam of sajda sahw (rulings pertaining to the prostration of forgetfulness), or about how to enhance khushoo (tranquility and concentration) in Salah? Other than these matters of Fiqh, knowing the right Aqeedah (Creed/ Belief system) is very important due to the emergence of so many distorted beliefs and practices in our religion today. What was the Aqeedah and Manhaj (methodology of practising Islam) of the greatest generation to exist on this planet that is the Sahabah (the companions of the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi Sallam)? What did they understand of Islam and what were their practices of Islam like that we need to adopt? After all who were they taught all this under other than the greatest man to ever be Created by Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la?

There are basically two methods of seeking knowledge, through reading books or listening to the duroos (lectures) either live by going to the mosque or online. Youtube can either be a blessing or a cause of destruction depending on the way it is used. Watch an hour of a lecture after taraweeh or so to sooth your minds with knowledge and peace.

If you can attend in the mosque then Alhamdulillah but make sure that you are taking from the right sources, every bearded man giving a lecture in a masjid is not necesserily an ‘aalim (a scholar of Islam). You can listen to lectures online as well but the same thing should be applied that it is important to know where you take the knowledge from. You can contact us if you want and we will direct you to some beneficial websites which are authentic and online videos of speakers whom we trust and from whom proper knowledge can be leant from like the way it was taught by the Prophet Sallahu Alayi wa Sallam. Also please keep in contact with our HH network here:

HH on Facebook

 

4)  Make lots and LOTS of dua

 

This is something that so many of us forget. Dua for most of us is just sitting behind the imam for those three minutes after Salah listening to what he says something in a language we don’t understand and rushing off. Why cant we sit for at least a reasonable period of time to make some proper, sincere, heart felt dua personally? When the deed of fasting of a person is so noble in the Sight of Allah, how do you think Allah the Most Just is going to deal with the dua of the fasting person? Read the following:

Narrated by Ahmad (8030) from Abu Hurayrah RadhiAllahu ‘anhu,

The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“There are three whose dua will not be rejected: a just ruler, a fasting person until he breaks the fast, and the prayer of one who has been wronged.”

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin ‘As that the Messenger of Allah Salllahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“When the fasting person breaks his fast, his supplication is not turned back.”

Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1753

Just for a while, sit alone in the corner of a closed room somewhere when no ones’s looking or in sujood which is the position in which you are closest to Allah and ask Allah for all that you had ever wished to have in the deepest depths of your heart. Beg Allah for it with humility, knowing that you are incapable of getting any of the things you are asking for without His Power. Ask Allah for the health, wealth and prosperity of everyone. Ask Allah for His Jannah and His Protection from the Hell fire. Ask Allah that He makes you a millionaire who will be able to spend millions for the sake of Allah on the poor and the oppressed, for this is nothing for Allah to answer, the OWNER of all bounty Who tells you to:

“….ask Allâh of His Bounty…..

(Surah An Nisa; Ayah 32) 

 

5)  Qiyam Al Layl (Taraweeh)

 

After having slept for eleven months, isn’t it time we take out a few moments of our lives for such a noble deed? Don’t stand with the imam for just two rakah’s to rush off for the ice cream waiting for you in the fridge in record time. Bear in mind the following hadith:

Al-Tirmidhi (806) narrated that Abu Dharr RadhiAllahu ‘anhu said:

The Messenger of Allaah  Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

“Whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

It’s not about 8 rakah’s or 20 rakah’s. It’s not about how many you pray, but whether or not you stood praying before Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’la as long as the imam stood praying.

 

6) Recreation!

 

Now after doing all that work, you deserve to enjoy yourselves in a halaal manner, but that’s only AFTER you accomplish doing everything above, otherwise quietly place yourself in a trash can again.

Physical fitness is important so there should be some time for recreation or exercising. Start with a sincere intention of doing everything for the sake of Allah and take out some time to play games either indoor (with your younger siblings) or outdoor with friends so that love and friendship is instilled in our hearts for the people living around us along with the dual benefit of staying fit. (Extensive exercise and play may not be possible in Ramadhan though.)

Note: Playing Candy Crush is not on this list.

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We wish you a very pleasant but productive and reward reaping Ramadhan that you utilize every minute of. Days have gone by so fast and the days to come will go by even faster. It’s time we pull our socks up and do as much as we can this Ramadhan for it may be our last.

If you haven’t already, please also go through our article on:

Important Sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) for a Pleasant but Productive Ramadhan 

BarakAllahufeek (May Allah Bless you).

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