Archive for the ‘Muhammad’ Category

The role of intention

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I read this somewhere that we will be judged by God because of our INTENT (نیتنا). Do you believe that INTENT نية is more important than performance? (as reported by Ali and Ja`far As-Saadiq, may God have been pleased with them).

If you’d agree with me then should I keep going? I still haven’t made a decision. If I choose not to, it won’t be because of my situation (calamity). I swear to my dear Lord that it’s not about misfortunes of my life. Maybe everyone hates me, even my family, all people except kids.

I just wanna see the truth, wanna see God, wanna see my Dear Lord because I believe that it would be enough for me, I’ll endure those flames just for that sight of Him. Then I’ll rest even in hell.

That will be the INTENT behind my action, so tell me as a man of God, not personal answer, as someone who knows the truth (Allah) and have a task to share that, is this forbidden too to make such a decision?

I’ve nothing to contribute, because of your perfect site, but pray. May our Dear Lord bless your soul.

Thank you for you kind words about the blog and for your prayer for me. May God accept it and give you same.

How do you know that you will see God? There is no evidence that this will happen except for the people of Paradise. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, God will say to them, ‘Do you want more I can add for you?’. They will say, ‘Did You not admit us to Paradise and save us from the Fire?’. Then the veil will be uncovered. They would never be given anything more beloved to them than looking at their Lord.” Narrated by Suhayb ibn Sanaan and reported by Muslim who rated it authentic. In another narration of the same hadeeth, he subsequently recited, “For those who did good is the best reward and more.” (10:26)

Thus, you assumption that you may see God either way has no basis. If what you are talking about is committing suicide, God forbid, then you should know that it is the only terminal sin in Islam. All other can be remedied in time.

It is also unforgivable, regardless of the intention behind it. One day, in a battle, a man was quite the warrior. His fellows were praising his valor, but the Prophet (PBUH) surprised them by saying, “He is in the Hellfire!” Shortly thereafter, the man was so badly wounded and in so much pain that he killed himself. Now the Sahaba understood the Prophet’s prophesy about him. The Prophet (PBUH) also said that a man from the prior nations had a painful open wound, so he committed suicide. Then God said, “My servant preempted Me with himself; I have forbidden him Paradise.” (Narrated by Jandab ibn Abdillah and reported by Al-Bukhaari). If, God forbid, you should commit suicide, you would lose both this world and the Hereafter. I pray that you come to your senses and expel Satan who is whispering such delusions into your ears.

The reality of this world can certainly be hard. God made that clear to Adam, “So, We said, ‘O Adam, verily this (Satan) is an enemy to you and to your spouse, so do not let him evict you from the Garden lest you should suffer.'” (20:117)

But does that mean we should abandon living and renounce the world? If that were true, how come the Prophet (PBUH) and all his noble companions were fully engaged in the world, in spite of all its trials, tribulations and unpleasantness? The Prophet (PBUH) had uncles who cursed him and even plotted to kill him. And what did he do? He kept friendly relations with them to the end. As a matter of fact, he practiced forgiveness, largess and graciousness.

If renouncing the world was a teaching of Islam, don’t you think that God, or His messenger, would have told us so?

This world was meant to mix the good and the bad, the wholesome and the filthy, the right and the wrong, guidance and loss. How else would the free will that man took on be exercised or tested? Why do you think God keeps telling us in the holy Quran to endure, keep the faith and do good? It is precisely because human nature would lead man to despair, lose faith and detach from the world otherwise. Maybe even drink to forget. Satan is counting on it!

Life is a finite opportunity to gain God’s approval and earn His reward. This can only be done if we maintain the right faith, remain steadfast on the Straight Path, fulfill our obligations, accumulate good deeds, expiate sins and call upon God to accept what we do right and pardon what we do wrong.

Finally, the role of intention is to validate good deeds. A charity could be intended for show-off. It may still be beneficial but it ceases to be a good deed – the kind that gets recorded in one’s book of deeds. A sin remains a sin regardless of the intention that preceded it. Intention is what differentiates the sincere from the hypocrites. That is why God judges by it, and only He fully knows it.

Moral atheists?

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

As-Salaam-Alaikum,
I would like to know, what is the Islamic response to those people (atheist, agnostics, etc.) who say that you can be moral without religion?

They say this because since they don’t believe in God or any religion for that matter that that you can be a good moral person without God or religion. In a way I kind of understand where they are coming from but then I kind of feel like something is wrong with their statements.

What is the Islamic response to people who say things like this?

Thanks!

Morality cannot be forced on people but it can be enforced by law. That is, a society can arrange itself such that certain values it considers paramount are upheld and others it considers harmful are stopped by force of law. But that is a different question altogether from people committing themselves willingly to certain moral values. We see all parents raising their children to certain moral values they believe in, but the children may not observe them when they grow up. And we also see the flip side: parents neglecting moral teaching of their children, yet the children acquire moral attitudes when they grow up!

Islam teaches us that non-Muslims can be moral and furthermore can do good. The Quran says, “And verily, among the people of the Book are those whom if you entrust with a Qintaar (a heap of money), he would deliver it to you” (3:75). God also tells us in the Quran that “whatever good they (non-Muslims) do, they will not be denied it” (3:115).

That is why, when non-Muslims do good to us, we are required to reciprocate with good. Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr had migrated to Medina, but her mother, Qateela bint `Abdil-`Uzza, remained in Mecca and remained polytheist. Then one day, Qateela traveled to Medina to see her daughter and brought her a gift. Asmaa’, however, wary that she must sever her relationships with polytheists, refused to let her in the house and would not accept her gift! The Prophet (PBUH) heard of this and told Asmaa’, “Accept her gift and be good to your mother.” Narrated by Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (Asmaa’s son) and reported by Al-Haythami and has been rated well by Ibn Hubbaan.

So, if religion is not a pre-requisite to morality, then why is religion necessary? Religion’s purpose is not only to establish a moral code, but also to establish a bond between man and God, a bond man feels very strongly. A bond that atheists cannot explain away. That affinity is ingrained in all of us since before we were born. God says in the holy Quran, “And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their backbones – their offspring and had them testify of themselves, [saying to them], ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘But yes. We have testified.’ [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘We were of this unaware.'” (3:172)

Besides, moral values vary with people. What is immoral to some may not be to others. And what is moral to some may not be to others. God has given us in the Quran the true moral code to live by. And He had His Prophet (PBUH) teach it to us in the authentic Sunna.

The dark night of the soul

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

I now have insight into why I could not pray. InshaAllah (God willing), you will be able to give me Quran verses and hadeeth quotes to verify my insight.

I have been tested. I was blessed with a test that was life-changing. Trust me brother, I have broken down and called out to Allah swt. A common theme in these times of despondency is the alienation from the duyna (this world).

We are human beings. Part of the human condition is the social condition. In times of tests our world is narrowed. Shytan (Satan) promises us poverty. He can be very demonstrative. Accompanying poverty is social disgrace. He promises us a world of fear and want.

We are fragile. When the stressors of want explode into fear our bodies can break down. When fear reigns the soul, Shytan is pleased, the want is our physical existence. We need to protect it. We yield to base instinct for survival. We get sick.

In sickness our soul gets neglected. Our perception of the world and our state of want to survive are the overriding factors. Our physical pain is a mirror of the state of our spiritual state. The soul is in agony. Sabr (endurance) is a most difficult construct. Why am I going through this much pain. The what did I do to deserve this. When is this going to end. As the pain swells hope fades. The pain is both physical and emotional, thereby compounding the sense of hopelessness. This is the trick of Shytan.

The intellect alleviates the sense of hopelessness. This is simply turning the sense of loss into the hope. It is counting the blessings of Allah swt. It is taking the anguish of pain and transforming it into a moment of joy; of acknowledging the blessing of pain as being the expiation of sin. Furthermore, pain increases our dependence on Allah swt.

When the body can not cope the intellect has to make the decision. Enlightenment comes from the union of the body and intellect in acknowledging the Divine Presence. At that moment want turns into abundance. And the best moment of union is prayer.

I hope this makes sense.

May God keep being with you in your tribulations.

Very profound essay. I can hardly add to it.

Count yourself among those God may be pleased with. You keep bouncing back to God and thus escaping the traps of Satan. That bounce back is what entitled David, Solomon and Job to the label of Awwaab, which God praises them with in Chapter 38. The word means one who keeps coming back to God. A child instinctively runs to mom. A believer finds herself running to God.

It was profound only in the sense that the depth of the experience is difficult to capture in words. Hence, I used the word insight. I had to contemplate. There is that fine line in illness. Susan Sontag wrote a wonderful book she entitled, “Illness as Metaphor”. She did not develop the religious themes. Much of traditional psychoanalysis attempts to understand the relationship between illness and rebirth process. St. John of the Cross discusses the dark night of the soul. The Persian scholar, Sadr, had a metamorphosis.

I am blessed. But the letting go process is not easy. There seems to be a strong physical component to spiritual growth. It is a process of emptying oneself of a lifetime of false desires. And some are stuck like white on rice.

Many Eastern philosophies and religions have long postulated that there is a mutually exclusive relationship between the body and the spirit. That, in order for the soul to reach enlightenment, the body needs to be deprived. That the food for the soul is the lack of food for the body.

Islam does not agree. Islam does say that there is a relationship between the body and the spirit, the union of which is the self. If the body fasts, it has a chance to heal itself, and it also gives the “heart” a chance to cultivate the spirit. This is analogous to the Eastern philosophies but is fundamentally distinct from it. It’s not the hunger and thirst that is nourishing the spirit. Rather, it is the attention a believer can give to his spirit now that his attention is not busy with food and drink. Illness can work in a similar way. A patient may use the time he suddenly has to shift his focus to his spirituality, knowing that God is with him. It’s not the illness that is doing this; it’s the focus afforded by the illness.

Put another way, it is quite possible in Islam to nourish the body and the spirit at the same time without sacrificing either one. All the believer has to do is remain mindful of God and of what’s important and lasting. The Prophet (PBUH) once ate a rich delicious dinner he was invited to and still woke up for Tahajjud (vigil) in the middle of the night.

And by the reverse token, one can deprive both his body and his spirit at the same time, sacrificing both! That can happen when one stops eating and drinking and seeks enlightenment at all the wrong places.

And the physical movements of prayer are healing. I have read how the positions correspond to the chakras. Could we say Islam allows us to have the best of both worlds. Our body is the theater of revelation which is nourishing to the soul. Simply put without the body the soul could not receive the benefit of prayer. And, naturally vice versa.

Nicely put. However, any resemblance between the movements in a Muslim prayer and the chakras is a mere coincidence, unless it can be shown that chakras originated from God.

Importance of lineage to the Prophet (PBUH)

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

I watch YouTube a lot for talks and sermons by Sheiks (Muslim elders). I am learning that there is a group of scholars who trace their lineage back to the Prophet (swas). It seems to me that the link is the hand shake from sheik to his predecessor in knowledge up to the Prophet (swas). Am I correct that the link is almost an “apostolic succession” and not a blood link?

Be cautious with YouTube. It is free and anybody can put on clergy clothing and express his opinion and make it sound like it is the absolute truth. The merit of any talk is the evidence it cites and the logic it follows, not the man, his appearance, his credentials or his lineage.

I think when they say they trace their lineage back to the Prophet (PBUH), they are talking about being direct descendents of him, through one of his daughters. In Arabic, they are called Al-Ashraaf (the honored ones). In the Indopak I understand they are called Syeds (masters).

Being a descendant from the Prophet (PBUH) is indeed an honor, but it doesn’t make one particularly knowledgeable, pious or credible. Some Ashraaf are sinners or non-practicing and some are saint-like. Those who are saint-like are not that way because of their lineage, but because of their faith, piety, commitment, good deeds and constant learning.

I’m not sure you meant this, but if your observation of a handshake is a secret handshake :-), then they have a secret order not unlike the secret orders that have been created in other religions. Islam does not have a secret order. There are no special people in Islam entrusted with exclusive insights into the religion. There is no pope or guru whose uttering is infallible. There are scholars with various degrees of knowledge and insight. There may be ordinary folks whom you would not pay any attention to, who have more insight and faith than a Mufti, Imam or another dignitary. God grants knowledge and wisdom to people on the basis of their faith and good deeds, not on the basis of their rank in society or their lineage or connections.

Can we pray with hypocrites?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Let us suppose a person states they do not go to the masjid (mosque) because they do not want to pray with hypocrites. They would rather pray alone. I told the person that we do not go to pray with the hypocrites but go to pray to Allah. And I continued stating that our prayer may soften the heart of others.

What does one say to a person whose heart is hardened against fellow Muslims? These are serious questions. This person does not take well much hadeeth. This person does not trust scholars.

I honestly believe some of us are given the gift of joy in this life under all conditions. I feel this is one of my blessings. On the bleakest of moments I find something joyful in it. Even if it is the benefit of the experience in its darkest depths.

What a beautiful way you finished your question! A blessed person sees blessings in the bleakest moments, while a deprived person sees deprivation in the most opulent moments.

From the other things you wrote to me about this person, I’m getting the impression that they have grown cynical or depressed. I’m not surprised, given their illness, may God heal the sick as only He can and save us all from similar afflictions.

You are right in approaching this delicately. God teaches us in the holy Quran that the call to Him must always be done gently, even with an enemy. You recall how He instructed Moses and Aaron to call upon Pharaoh: “Then say to him a soft uttering perhaps he will remember or fear.” (20:44) Remember or fear, see? That is what you and I hope for your friend.

So, when you get a chance, remind your friend that they have an excuse to pray sitting down and explain how this is done if they don’t know how. Don’t press it. Let them sleep on it and keep praying for them. Also assure them that they can always make up for all missed prayers, and should, unlike what many fatwas have ruled.

Life is too short to waste on cynicism, apathy or despair. A true believer never despairs, “Verily, they do not despair of the grace of God but the disbelieving folk.” (12:87) Life can end at any time, and suddenly, and be replaced by the sobering reality of the Hereafter and Judgment. Cynicism would not be of any help then. Cynicism is an escape from unpleasant reality, but it achieves nothing but ill mood. Optimism and positive activity on the other hand, warm the heart and set the mind to find solutions to problems and fixes for what is wrong.

As for your other question, none know who is hypocrite and who is not. A fellow Muslim is not a hypocrite just because one doesn’t like what they say or do! God told the Prophet (PBUH) that there are hypocrites around him, that He will tell him the names of some of them but will withhold the names of others! (see 9:101). And the Prophet (PBUH) did likewise when Huzhayfa ibn Al-Yamaan (RA) asked him to tell him who were hypocrite. The Prophet (PBUH) made him promise not to tell anyone.

Why is that? Because being a hypocrite many not be the end of the story. A hypocrite may become a good, committed believer later. Affairs of the heart constantly change and God is the “turner of the hearts.”

Can faith go up and down?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Brother, I pray this finds you in high eman (faith) and good health.

Here is one of my serious questions. I did not know where to start the research.
I pray. I believe in prayer. I try not to miss my salat (prayer).

I got sick. I could not pray. I do not mean physically. There arose the problem. I could not make myself pray. I put it off. I blamed the physical lethargy. I could not understand nor rationalize the blockage.
The inability to pray ran down to my soul. I could not find an answer.

To try and sum it up in words: Why do we have periods of such low eman (faith) that prayer becomes difficult? It is not the total abandonment of prayer but a temporary inability to pray. Does this even make sense? I understand that the body hurts but the soul hurts more when prayer is ignored. It was as if I felt I was abandoned.

Point the passages in the Quran for me to ponder on this one. I know others who have the same blockage. It is not that you do not want to pray..but something prevents you from praying.

You’re asking why is this happening to you. The answer is simple: Satan got to you. Don’t panic; it happens to everybody. Satan never tires of trying to get to people so that they may follow him instead of following God. In the holy Quran, God quotes Satan challenging Him and saying, “I will come to them before them, behind them, at their right sides and at their left sides, and You will not find most of them thankful!” (7:17)

What do you do about it? You show Satan who’s boss! You fight him on it. You drag yourself to pray if necessary and cry to God in your prayer to help you win that fight. It is not an easy fight, it’s a jihaad (struggle). And if you just start it, God promises He will be on your side, “And those who struggle in Us, We shall surely guide them to Our ways.” (29:69)

Prayer is the second most emphasized notion in the Quran, after the oneness of God. Why? Because once you understand who God is, you certainly want to find out how to communicate with Him.

Prayer is an audience with God that He invites you to five times everyday. It is a privilege given to every believer, similar to the privilege God gave to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on his Mi`raaj (ascension journey to heaven). Unlike audiences with human dignitaries, you don’t make an appointment first, you don’t need intermediaries, you can stay as little or as long as you want, and you can ask for anything and be sure that an answer will be given right away and in the way that fits you best.

Prayer, therefore, is much more than a duty upon every believer toward His Maker, it is a fabulous opportunity; like a freebie you get five times a day and all you have to do is open the door to get it. No strings attached.

Prayer is a chance to thank God five times a day for the many more than five favors He has given you that day.

Belief does not go up and down, but faith does. Belief is binary :-), you either believe or you don’t. Faith, on the other hand, is the practice, cordially, mentally, verbally and manually, that proves the belief and affirms it. Since all of these can go up and down, that’s why faith can go up and down. God defined believers as follows, “Verily, believers are only those who, when God is mentioned and His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith, and upon their Lord they rely.” (8:2)

To make your faith go up, you increase the rate at which you affirm your belief. Cordially, you contemplate God’s love and grace often. Mentally, you reflect on God’s creation and bounties often. Verbally, you do Zhikr often, and manually, you perform the rituals, charity and good deeds often. The more you commit yourself to that, the easier it gets, because Satan will find you a tough nut to crack and will look for an easier prey, just like a car thief doesn’t bother with cars that have a powerful alarm.

The Prophet (PBUH) often said this supplication, “O turner of hearts, steady my heart on Your religion! O diverter of hearts, direct my heart to obeying You!”

And he always said this supplication after ending each prayer, “Allahumma a`inni `ala zhikrika wa shukrika wa husni `ibaadatika” (“O God, help me to remember You, thank You, and comply well with your ordinance.”)

What is Sunna and what is not

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

An article I read suggests that a congregational supplication after a prayer is discouraged, because neither the Prophet (PBUH) nor the Sahaba (his fellows) have done it.

They may not have done it, but the Prophet (PBUH) never said we couldn’t do it. There is a difference between “not practiced” and “forbidden.”

The problem with issues like that one is that the people who rule in such a way, do so out of concern that something which is not Sunna becomes a regular part of Islam in the minds of the masses. That would establish a Bid`a (novelty) in religion, which the Prophet (PBUH) warned us not to do. The solution to this problem, IMHO, is not to forbid what is not forbidden, but to ensure that it doesn’t become a novelty, by deliberately not doing it on a consistent basis.

Scholars have differed on what constitutes a Sunna (Practice of the Prophet). That’s because following the Sunna is a requirement of Islam. Therefore, knowing what is Sunna and what is not becomes of religious essence.

The Sunna is not simply everything that the Prophet (PBUH) said or did or approved or did not disapprove, but rather what he consistently said and did and encouraged us to follow him on. The scholars have attempted to differentiate between the two by classifying the latter as Sunna Mu’akkada (Emphasized practice). That’s fine. Then, what we are required to follow is the emphasized Sunna.

As usual you gave me the words to clarify the issue. Not practiced and forbidden. A world apart. It opens a new universe.

You may already know this hadeeth, but it illustrates the point very clearly. One day, Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed (RA) invited the Prophet (PBUH) and others to dinner. His aunt, Maymoona, had prepared for them a grilled porcupine! Everyone stretched their hands to grab a bite of it, except the Prophet. Khalid’s face paled like he saw a ghost. He said to the Prophet (PBUH), “Is it forbidden, O Messenger of God?” He answered, “No, but I find myself not agreeing with it!” Narrated by Khaalid and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

So, just because the Prophet didn’t do something is no reason for us not to do it. Only if he told us “don’t do it!”, then we will have to stay away from it. It seems obvious, but in these days of massive confusion and disinformation, the obvious needs to be stated!

That is why the world always needs teachers. They are know to excel in one thing: to repeat and repeat and repeat.

We have so much confusion. Our faith is ripe not with bida but cultural and nationalistic nonsense. Yet, the hadeeth of the simple woman who kept repeating her question to the embarrassment of the Prophet (swas) helps us. She wanted an answer, although it was intimate, she would not give up until she gained knowledge.

We need to simplify Islam. We have so much on the agenda. Let’s forget trying to save the universe and remember how to make salat.

On a personal note: Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward you immensely for your kindness to me. I have been given a trial which in turn seems to be a blessing. It has made me reach deep into my being. Kinda sorta letting go of a lot of pretenses in life, too. I heard a sheik relate a hadeeth about the Prophet (swas) telling some Sahaba (ra) sometimes our deen is like a hot coal in our hands. (I have always been the princess who felt the pea at the bottom of ten mattresses). Your kindness is akin to the cool of the fire for Prophet Ibrahim.

A blessed and happy Eid to you and your loved ones.

Thank you for your kind words.

How do you simplify something which both God and His Messenger have repeatedly said was already simple? By removing the fluff and pork that accumulated on it over the centuries. My blog is my humble way of doing that.

Brother,

All I can respond is to write “Blog on baby blog on!” It takes wisdom to understand simplicity. When endeavoring to resolve a complex problem the walls are everywhere. Once we have the solution it is so simple.

Likewise, our faith has been mingled with politics and men of various ambitions. The simple laity is lazy. We want the ends and care little about the means. For those of us who are foolish, we seek the means. It makes for a lonely road. (Cf. Zen/Sufism).

Your blog serves the purpose of giving the readers solutions without having to do all the homework. Blog on baby blog on.

(Trust me, I do take advantage of your wisdom…I am all over the universe in my thoughts and it helps to have some notion of being grounded).

There is no problem in taking a voyage in a hot-air balloon, as long as you can always land safely on earth 🙂

I guess I have a license, then, to keep blogging? LOL.

Does Islam prophesy an Anti-Christ?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

What do you know and what do you believe about this person whom some people claimed that Prophet Muhammad prophesied as Mahdi and this event called Dajjal Fitnah. I’m not sure but I think these are unfounded claims as far as the Qur’an is concerned. I don’t know but some people relate these things to what is happening in Syria.

There are several authentic hadeeths, reported in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim’s compilations and narrated by Al-Khudri, Ibn Umar and others, which mention Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal (the luring messiah). In these hadeeths, the Prophet (PBUH) forewarns Muslims of the coming of the Anti-Christ, a man who will possess great powers, even power to resurrect people from the dead, and succeed in luring most people away from true faith to follow him instead. He will claim to be God. The Prophet (PBUH) said that the Dajjaal Fitna (test of faith) is the greatest and that every prophet had forewarned his people against it.

While the Quran does not mention Ad-Dajjaal, there is no reason to doubt the story. It would be a different matter if the Quran has contradicted the story. One authentic hadeeth I know of is reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she relates that the Prophet (PBUH) used to say in his supplication during prayer, “O God, I seek refuge in You from the trying times of the Luring Messiah.”

Several authentic hadeeths also mention the coming of the Anti-Christ as one of several grand signs of the approach of the Hour (the Day of Judgment). Most of the signs mentioned in those hadeeths are also mentioned in the Quran, such as the second coming of Jesus Christ, the release of Gog and Magog, and the animal which will preach to people. Thus, there is no cause to deny the story about the Anti-Christ while the other, equally spectacular stories are confirmed by the Quran.

There is no evidence that the war in Syria has anything to do with the Anti-Christ.

As for Al-Mahdi (the guided one), the hadeeths about him are far less authentic. Neither Al-Bukhaari nor Muslim have reported any hadeeth about him, to the best of my knowledge. Whether he will exist has no bearing on your or my faith, since we already have all we need to be true believers: the holy Quran and the authentic Sunna.

Business and the work ethic in Islam

Monday, August 19th, 2013

I came across the following last week and thought to talk about it a bit today:

From unemployment to self employment:

A beggar from Medina came to the Prophet (PBUH) and asked him for money. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him, “Have you nothing in your house?” The man replied, “Only a cloth, part of which we wear and part we use for carpet. And a wooden bowl from which we drink water.” The Prophet (PBUH) told him to bring them to him. He did.

The Prophet (PBUH) held the items in his hand and started an auction, “Who will buy these?” One man bid a Dirham (a silver coin). Another bid two Dirhams and bought the two items.

The Prophet (PBUH) gave the two Dirhams to the beggar and told him, “With one Dirham, go buy food and clothes for your family. With the other Dirham, buy and axe, go out with it and chop wood and sell it in the market. I don’t want to see you again for fifteen days!”

Fifteen days later, the man came back to the Prophet (PBUH) and reported to him that he made ten Dirhams selling the firewood that he chopped!

This story is reported by Abu-Daawood from a narration by Anas ibn Maalik. He did not immediately rate it, but indicated later that its authenticity was sound. The tenor of the story is confirmed by a hadeeth, reported and authenticated by Muslim and narrated by Abu-Hurayra that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Carrying a bundle of firewood on your back and selling it is better for any of you than begging for money that he may or may not get.” Also reported by Al-Bukhaari from a narration by Az-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwaam (RA).

Islam encourages business, trade and self employment. Did you expect that Islam and capitalism have something in common? This is one aspect of pre-Islamic era that Islam has approved and encouraged.

When you escape a dire straight, don’t revisit it!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

I am in, as the cliche aptly states, dire straights. It is dark outside. This naturally intensifies the feeling of isolation. And the example of Hajar is an excellent source of strength. Her situation captures all our fears. Thus, we have to really rely on the inner source. When we use the expression digging deep it sums her dilemma.

Yet, it is during trials like this that we have to dig deep. It does not make one a welcome guest at a party. The need for reflection and contemplation overrides the need for social activity. Sometimes social activity takes too much energy that is better spent to dig deeper.

I am looking for balance. My path at the moment is very steep. I am looking for the moss between a rock and a hard place; to rest for a minute.

Please understand that there is no negativity in what I am writing. I am not a negative person. This is a learning curve.

Yes, the inner journey is difficult. It seems that Satan is very busy with one on that path. And our hearts betray us constantly. The journey is riddled with struggles. It often seems that the other path is so much easier.

One of the reasons why the Prophet (PBUH) experienced dire straights was to teach the rest of us what to do when we are in a similar situation. We follow the Prophet’s example. What did he do?

He had just lost his only remaining physical protector, his uncle Abu-Taalib and the one person in this world whom he loved the most, his wife Khadeeja, may God have been pleased with her. The polytheists of Mecca had cornered the believers in a ghetto for three years: No trading, no contact. Muslims had to eat leaves to survive. Those economic sanctions were probably what killed Khadeeja and Abu-Taalib.

During that tough period, God had not revealed any Quran to the Prophet (PBUH), so even the spiritual joy and reassurance was withheld, to the point that the polytheists of Mecca mocked the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “Muhammad’s Lord has abandoned him!”

Anyone would have given up at that point, consoling himself that he had done all he could but it didn’t work out. Not Muhammad ibn Abdullah! He figured that Mecca may be a lost cause, so let him try At-Taa’if. He traveled to it, on foot, and when he got there he called them to God. No one gave him the time of day. They even let loose their kids and slaves to make fun of him, throw stones at him and force him out of the city. Some of the stones hit him and he started bleeding from his feet.

Can things get worse for someone? As he was leaving that wretched town, he paused and made the most beautiful supplication to God that was ever made! (If you don’t know it, ask me and I’ll include it in my reply). God’s response was immediate and flooding. Quran revelation resumed, with the reassuring Chapter 93, God sent Gabriel down to let the Prophet (PBUH) retaliate against the people of At-Taa’if. As you know, he chose not to. God sent the Jinn to listen to the Quran for the first time, recited by the Prophet (as mentioned in Chapter 72) and when the Prophet (PBUH) arrived in Mecca, he experienced the grandest and most reassuring miracle of all: Israa’ and Mi`raaj.

No matter how dire your straights, how deep your path, or how dark it seems outside, you know, by the example of the Prophet (PBUH), what to do.

I’m glad you reassured me that you’re not a negative person. That said, may I advise you not to disengage socially? The Prophet and his fellows were sociable and active in their communities, each in his own way. Sometimes, your social effort will be appreciated and other times it won’t be. Don’t let that sway you. The reward of God, not of people, is what you’re after.

Wisdom does not come easy. In retrospect it is simple…but that journey is a mini-hajj.

I am looking forward to moving back home. I love the peace there. I have a little community that needs some life. I have made much dua. InshaAllah, I will be able to move there soon. The other day, I took the Quran and asked Allah subhana wa taala to give me a little hope. I randomly opened the Quran. And the ayats were Musa (ra) going to the Madyan people. InshaAllah, my move home is imminent.

I do not wish to complain. I am not unhappy. I am growing ten-fold in faith daily. The reliance on Allah subhana wa taala totally is a reality.

You know Sura 93 is one of my favorites. It is reassuring. I love the words of not being displeased. It is a strong sura.

I am familiar with the dua of the Prophet (swas) at Al-Taa’if. Those are words of courage.

I’m a fan of Muhammad Ali. I bring that up because even in the ring there is a respite. I need a break.

It is also a difficulty process for the ordinary human being to understand that Allah subhana wa taala loves you enough to test you. In the world of sports there is always a period of training for an event. In the world of spirituality the event provides the need for us to seek guidance. The seeking of the guidance is the discipline needed to overcome the obstacles of the individual tests.

I wish to be of those that Allah is well pleased; I have a long way to go but the intention is there.

If I may ask I am assuming you have undergone some trials that have given you the knowledge to provide such words of compassion. I ask this not to pry. Rather, to gain understanding that the seeker of knowledge undergoes ego transformations in the process. The no pain no gain cliche.

When a believer passes a test of faith, it means two things; (a) that God is pleased with him and (b) that his character needed a boost. Thus, passing a trial means it had served its purpose and a believer should not dwell on it. Revisiting it means revisiting the pain, emotional and spiritual, which God has already delivered him from.

Excellent response. I am serious. What I see in the therapeutic milieu here ( our culture) is the very fact that recovery is dependent upon revisiting the pain. In a sense you have to go back and destroy the wall brick by brick, that has impeded your growth. Whereas, in Islam we overcome the wall by guidance.
Islam also demands that we do not purge our emotions. So difficult. Simple example would be anger. Many modalities of treatment for psychological illnesses suggest the patients take the time to examine the emotions and relive them. You always hear the: you have the right to be angry slogan. A persons spiritual health is dictated by an emotional balance. In Islam it seems that we have to get beyond the emotional balance to a spiritual balance that holds the reigns to direct the emotions.

It seems to make sense that wise persons are naturally quiet. A believer’s vision changes after a trial. It seems that we humans really do not have a place for anger.

Fascinating angle. The therapy method you describe may very well work, but I venture to guess that it will leave a spiritual void in the person. One can treat an emotional scar or a spiritual wound in a number of ways, including pharmaceutical, but that may not heal it. The person may find himself or herself resentful, cynical, grieving, regretful, less self-confident, less joyful. Sure the wound is no longer on the surface; it went deeper – into dangerous territory.

Only the connection with God can heal. The Prophet (PBUH) always said this in his ruqyas, “O God, heal. You are the Healer. There is no healing but Yours; a healing that leaves behind no ailment.” (Narrated by `Aa’isha, RA, and reported by Muslim). That is healing!

About anger, God says in the holy Quran, in praise, “And those who suppress frustration and the pardoners of people. And God loves the benevolent.” (3:134). It is their benevolence that earned them God’s love and it is God’s love that gives them the tranquility they seek.