Friday, June 29, 2012

Profitable Trade with Allah! By Badee uz zaman Saeed Nursi

"Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and their property that Paradise might be theirs". (Qur’an, 9:111)

If you wish to understand how profitable a trade it is, and how honour-able a rank, to sell one’s person and property to God, to be His slave and His soldier, then listen to the following comparison.

Once a king entrusted each of two of his subjects with an estate, including all necessary workshops, machinery, horses, weapons and so forth. But since it was a tempestuous and war-ridden age, nothing enjoyed stability; it was destined either to disappear or to change. The king in his infinite mercy sent a most noble lieutenant to the two men and by means of a compassionate decree conveyed the following to them:

“Sell me the property you now hold in trust, so that I may keep it for you. Let it not be destroyed for no purpose. After the wars are over, I will return it to you in a better condition than before. I will regard the trust as your property and pay you a high price for it. As for the machinery and the tools in the workshop, they will be used in my name and at my workbench. But the price and the fee for their use shall be increased a thousandfold. You will receive all the profit that accrues. You are indigent and resourceless, and unable to provide the cost of these great tasks. So let me assume the provision of all expenses and equipment, and give you all the income and the profit. You shall keep it until the time of demobilization. So see the five ways in which you shall profit! Now if you do not sell me the property, you can see that no one is able to preserve what he possesses, and you too will lose what you now hold. It will go for nothing, and you will lose the high price I offer. The delicate and precious tools and scales, the precious metals waiting to be used, will also lose all value. You will have the trouble and concern of administering and preserving, but at the same time be punished for betraying your trust. So see the five ways in which you may lose! Moreover, if you sell the property to me, you become my soldier and act in my name. Instead of a common prisoner or irregular soldier, you will be the free lieutenant of an exalted monarch.”

After they had listened to this gracious decree, the more intelligent of the two men said:

“By all means, I am proud and happy to sell. I offer thanks a thousandfold.”

But the other was arrogant, selfish and dissipated; his soul had become as proud as the Pharaoh. As if he was to stay eternally on that estate, he ignored the earthquakes and tumults of this world. He said:

“No! Who is the king? I won’t sell my property, nor spoil my enjoyment.”

After a short time, the first man reached so high a rank that everyone envied his state. He received the favour of the king, and lived happily in the king’s own palace. The other by contrast fell into such a state that everyone pitied him, but also said he deserved it. For as a result of his error, his happiness and property departed, and he suffered punishment and torment.

O soul full of caprices! Look at the face of truth through the telescope of this parable. As for the king, he is the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, your Sustainer and Creator. The estates, machinery, tools and scales are your possessions while in life’s fold; your body, spirit and heart within those possessions, and your outward and inward senses such as the eye and the tongue, intelligence and imagination. As for the most noble lieutenant, it is the Noble Messenger of God; and the most wise decree is the Wise Qur’an, which describes the trade we are discussing in this verse:

Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and property that Paradise might be theirs.

The surging field of battle is the tempestuous surface of the world, which ceaselessly changes, dissolves and reforms and causes every man to think:

“Since everything will leave our hands, will perish and be lost, is there no way in which we can transform it into something eternal and preserve it?”

While engaged in these thoughts, he suddenly hears the heavenly voice of the Qur’an saying:

“Indeed there is, a beautiful and easy way which contains five profits within itself.”

What is that way?

To sell the trust received back to its true owner. Such a sale yields profit fivefold.

The First Profit: Transient property becomes everlasting. For this waning life, when given to the Eternal and Self-Subsistent Lord of Glory and spent for His sake, will be transmuted into eternity. It will yield eternal fruits. The moments of one’s life will apparently vanish and rot like kernels and seeds. But then the flowers of blessedness and auspiciousness will open and bloom in the realm of eternity, and each will also present a luminous and reassuring aspect in the Intermediate Realm.

The Second Profit: The high price of Paradise is given in exchange.

The Third Profit: The value of each limb and each sense is increased a thousandfold. The intelligence is, for example, like a tool. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it for the sake of the soul, it will become an ill-omened, noxious and debilitating tool that will burden your weak person with all the sad sorrows of the past and the terrifying fears of the future; it will descend to the rank of an inauspicious and destructive tool. It is for this reason that a sinful man will frequently resort to drunkenness or frivolous pleasure in order to escape the vexations and injuries of his intelligence. But if you sell your intelligence to its True Owner and employ it on His behalf, then the intelligence will become like the key to a talisman, unlocking the infinite treasures of compassion and the vaults of wisdom that creation contains.

To take another example, the eye is one of the senses, a window through which the spirit looks out on this world. If you do not sell it to God Almighty, but rather employ it on behalf of the soul, by gazing upon a handful of transient, impermanent beauties and scenes, it will sink to the level of being a pander to lust and the concupiscent soul. But if you sell the eye to your All-Seeing Maker, and employ it on His behalf and within limits traced out by Him, then your eye will rise to the rank of a reader of the great book of being, a witness to the miracles of dominical art, a blessed bee sucking on the blossoms of mercy in the garden of this globe.

Yet another example is that of the tongue and the sense of taste. If you do not sell it to your Wise Creator, but employ it instead on behalf of the soul and for the sake of the stomach, it sinks and declines to the level of a gatekeeper at the stable of the stomach, a watchman at its factory. But if you sell it to the Generous Provider, the the sense of taste contained in the tongue will rise to the rank of a skilled overseer of the treasuries of Divine compassion, a grateful inspector in the kitchens of God’s eternal power.

So look well, O intelligence! See the difference between a tool of destruction and the key to all being! And look carefully, O eye! See the difference between an abominable pander and the learned overseer of the Divine library! And taste well, O tongue! See the difference between a stable doorkeeper or a factory watchman and the superintendent of the treasury of God’s mercy!

Compare all other tools and limbs to these, and then you will understand that in truth the believer acquires a nature worthy of Paradise and the unbeliever a nature conforming to Hell. The reason for each of them attaining his respective value is that the believer, by virtue of his faith, uses the trust of his Creator on His behalf and within the limits traced out by Him, whereas the unbeliever betrays the trust and employs it for the sake of the instinctual soul.

The Fourth Profit: Man is helpless and exposed to numerous misfortunes. He is indigent, and his needs are numerous. He is weak, and the burden of life is most heavy. If he does not rely on the Omnipotent One of Glory, place his trust in Him and confidently submit to Him, his conscience will always be troubled. Fruitless torments, pains and regrets will suffocate him and intoxicate him, or turn him into a beast.

The Fifth Profit: Those who have experienced illumination and had unveiled to them the true nature of things, the elect who have witnessed the truth, are all agreed that the exalted reward for all the worship and glorification of God performed by your members and instruments will be given to you at the time of greatest need, in the form of the fruits of Paradise.

If you spurn this trade with its fivefold profit, in addition to being deprived of its profit, you will suffer fivefold loss.

The First Loss: The property and offspring to which you are so attached, the soul and its caprice that you worship, the youth and life with which you are infatuated, all will vanish and be lost; your hands will be empty. But they will leave behind them sin and pain, fastened on your neck like a yoke.

The Second Loss: You will suffer the penalty for betrayal of trust. For you will have wronged your own self by using the most precious tools on the most worthless objects.

The Third Loss: By casting down all the precious faculties of man to a level much inferior to the animals, you will have insulted and transgressed against God’s wisdom.

The Fourth Loss: In your weakness and poverty, you will have placed the heavy burden of life on your weak shoulders, and will constantly groan and lament beneath the blows of transience and separation.

The Fifth Loss: You will have clothed in an ugly form, fit to open the gates of Hell in front of you, the fair gifts of the Compassionate One such as the intelligence, the heart, the eye and the tongue, given to you to make preparation for the foundations of everlasting life and eternal happiness in the hereafter.

Now is it so difficult to sell the trust? Is it so burdensome that many people shun the transaction? By no means! It is not in the least burdensome. For the limits of the permissible are broad, and are quite adequate for man’s desire; there is no need to trespass on the forbidden. The duties imposed by God are light and few in number. To be the slave and soldier of God is an indescribably pleasurable honour. One’s duty is simply to act and embark on all things in God’s name, like a soldier; to take and to give on God’s behalf; to move and be still in accordance with His permission and law. If one falls short, then one should seek His forgiveness, say:

O Lord! Forgive our faults, and accept us as Your slaves. Make us sure holders of Your trust until the time comes when it is taken from us. Amen!”, and make petition unto Him.

  By Shaykh Badiuzzaman saeed Nursi (Risala-i Nur Collection, The sixth word)

Friday, June 22, 2012

How to achieve Barakah (Blessings of Allah) in your life?


20 sources of Barakah!

If we were to look for an Islamic definition of Productivity, it can probably be summarised in the word “barakah” ('barkat' in urdu) or Blessing. Being able to achieve more with few resources, doing much in little time, and generating a lot with little effort is surely a blessing from Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Yet Barakah has somehow become a lost treasure these days; everyone’s looking for it, but no one seems to find it! You always hear people complaining that there’s no barakah in their time, no barakah in their sleep, no barakah in their money and the rest of it.
In this article, we’ll solve this mystery inshaAllah: we’ll find out what Barakah is and where you can find it!

What is Barakah?
A Well-known daee explains it as follows:
والبركة: هي ثبوت الخير الإلهي في الشيء؛ فإنها إذا حلت في قليل كثرته، وإذا حلت في كثير نفع، ومن أعظم ثمار البركة في الأمور كلها إستعمالها في طاعة الله عز وجل.
“Barakah is the attachment of Divine goodness to a thing, so if it occurs in something little, it increases it. And if it occurs in something much it benefits. And the greatest fruits of Barakah in all things is to use that barakah in the obedience of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala)”
Sources of Barakah
I’m a firm believer that Barakah is not a lost treasure, rather, it’s right in front of our eyes! This treasure is only available and ready to be handed over to the one who works for it. Below, I list some of the sources of Barakah. It’s not an exhaustive list, therefore, I do hope you can contribute to it with your comments inshaAllah so we can all share and extend our understanding of this great treasure at ProductiveMuslim.com!

1. Good Intentions

If you want something to have barakah attached to it, have good intentions for it. More specifically, make sure that deed is intended for the sake of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Looking again at the definition of Barakah, you may guess that without us intending what we have or do for the Sake of Allah, the “Divine goodness” won’t be found in our deeds.

2. Taqwa (Piety) and Belief in Allah

Allah says in the Quran: “If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (All kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth…”(Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 96). And He says in the Quran: “And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine” (Surah Al-Talaq, Verses 2-3). Disobeying Allah and committing sins bring Allah's anger upon the sinner and remove any goodness and Barakah from one's life.

3. Putting your trust in Allah

Allah says in the Quran: “And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Surah Al-Talaq, verses 3)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs. (Ahmad, An-Nasa’I, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi)

4. Reading Quran

This is the fountain of Barakah! But subhanaAllah, we rarely drink from it! Allah says in the Quran: “And this is a Book which We have sent down, bringing blessings, and confirming (the revelations) which came before it…” (Surah Al-An’am, Verse 92). So read the Quran, and observe the blessings and barakah of Allah enter your life. The further we are from this Book of Guidance, the less barakah we will have in our lives.

5. Saying Bismillah

When you say “Bismillah” before anything you do, you’re invoking the Name of Allah on that activity; not only will that activity be blessed but shaytaan cannot take part in it! So always say “Bismillah” before anything you do! SubhanaAllah, it’s easy for us to forget to say “Bismillah”. Sometimes we’re so used to saying it that we cannot remember whether we said it or not! Try to be conscious of saying “Bismillah” and understand what you’re saying before your action is performed.

6. Abundant remembrance of Allah (Dhikrullah)

Dhikrullah helps to draw Allah's attention and, along with it, his blessings towards oneself. 
 Abu Hurayra (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Allah Almighty says, 'I am in My slave's opinion of Me and I am with Him when He remembers Me. When he remembers Me in himself, I mention him in Myself. If he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in a better assembly than them.' If he comes near Me by a handspan, I come near him a cubit. If he comes near Me by a cubit, I come near a fathom. When he comes to walking, I come to him running."   (Muslim and al-Bukhari)


7. Honesty in Trade

This is for all of the business people out there (include ebayers!). We shouldn’t assume lying and deceiving people will make our trade profitable. On the contrary, it will remove the blessing from your trade. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“The buyer and the seller have the option of canceling or confirming the bargain unless they separate, and if they spoke the truth and made clear the defects of the goods, then they would be blessed in their bargain, and if they told lies and hid some facts, their bargain would be deprived of Allah’s blessings”.( Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 293)
Yes, it’s difficult to be honest when you’re trying to sell something, but trust me it’s worth it.

8. Dua

Ask Allah for barakah! If you take note of some of the Duas of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) you’ll notice that the Prophet used to make dua for barakah. We always say: “May Allah bless you!” Well, guess what? That’s a source of barakah! Also, when you’re invited to someone’s house, Prophet Muhammad advised us to make the following dua for the host: “O Allah, bless for them, that which You have provided them, forgive them and have mercy upon them.”

9. Halal Income/money

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “O people, Allah is good and He therefore, accepts only that which is good” (Scholars say this refers to Halal income and the importance of it).
A scholar also said of the one who eats Haram, that his limbs will disobey Allah whether he likes it or not, and that the one who eats Halal and seeks Halal income, his limbs will also do good and will be given the permission to seek goodness.
This concept of your limbs being ‘blessed’ and enabled to do good is truly a blessing and a barakah we should all seek. It reminds me of a story of an old man who jumped a large distance that the young men were unable to jump. When the young men asked the old man how he did it, he replied: “These are our limbs: we protected them from committing sins when we were young, so Allah preserved them for us when we got old”.

10. Following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad in everything

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most Productive Man in the history of humanity is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore, by simply following his lifestyle and the acts of Sunnah we so often hear about, we obtain a great source of Barakah!
Some of these Sunnahs include: eating Suhoor, eating with the right hand from the side of the plate, going out for Eid Salah, licking your fingers after finishing your meal, sleeping on your right hand side, using the siwaak, and many more. Look out for these Sunnahs and follow them, for imitating the life of the most blessed man on earth is surely a source of blessing!

11. Praying Istikhara

Praying istikhara in all matters and then leaving the outcome to Allah as well as accepting His Decree is a great source of barakah. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us this beautiful dua which helps us make decisions and not regret the choices we make in the following hadeeth:
On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (peace be upon him) would say: ‘If any of you intends to undertake a matter then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah optional nafil) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:
‘O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.”
One who seeks guidance from his Creator and consults his fellow believers and then remains firm in his resolve does not regret for Allah has said:
‘…and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah…” [Quran 3: 159]

12. Giving thanks to Allah in abundance

Allah says in the Quran: “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you”. A scholar once told me that if one looks into this verse, the Arabic word that is used to confirm that Allah Wills favours unto the person who thanks Him is actually in the form of an Oath – “La azidannakum”. So Allah is promising the person who thanks Him an increase in goodness and blessings, and Allah never breaks His promises.

13. Charity

In a Hadeeth Qudsi, Allah says: “O son of Adam, spend (in charity), and I’ll spend on you!” Whenever you are broke, or you feel barakah is zapped out of your life and urgently need it to return, the quickest of way of gaining barakah in your life can be through giving charity. For example, let’s say barakah was removed from your life due to a sin you committed; charity cleanses your sins, adds good deeds and is a source of barakah.
I cannot describe the instantaneous gratification of giving charity and the barakah that follows it. Try it NOW!

14. Tying and maintaining your ties of kinship (Family relations)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah created His creation, and when He had finished it, the womb, got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, “What is the matter?’ On that, it said, “I seek refuge with you from those who sever the ties of Kith and kin.” On that Allah said, “Will you be satisfied if I bestow My favours on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favours from him who severs your ties?” On that it said, “Yes, O my Lord!” Then Allah said, “That is for you.” Abu Huraira added: “If you wish, you can recite: ‘Would you then if you were given the authority do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship?” (Bukhari, Volume 6. Book 60. Number 354)

15. Waking up early

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.”(Ahmed)
Such gems of productivity are the sources of blessings which we should seek to make our life productive. Waking up early is such an important step to being blessed and feeling good throughout your day.
Try to wake up for Tahajjud, and then work during the hours before Fajr Salah. If you cannot, then at least wake up for Fajr and stay up till sunrise before you return to sleep. Those hours are filled with Barakah. If you’re able to go to work in those hours, do so, you’ll get much more work done than the whole day put together!

16. Marriage

Allah says in the Quran: “Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and He Knoweth all things.” (Quran 24:32)
Speaking of marriage, I highly recommend the following training course to anyone seriously thinking of getting married: www.Practimate.com.

17. Salah

Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness”. To illustrate the point of Salah further, just imagine your life without this great act of ibadah. Where would Barakah come from? For those of you who are still wavering in your Salah, please get back on track; this is your lifeline for the final destination in the hereafter, and the daily food for your soul.

18. Asking Allah for forgiveness 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone continually asks forgiveness from Allah, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.”

19. Attending the gatherings of dhikr (Remembrance of Allah)

The gatherings of Dhikr attract the Angels who encircle these gatherings and also cause Allah's blessings to descend upon them.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Allah Almighty has angels who travel the highways and by-ways seeking out the people of dhikr. When they find people remembering Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, they call out to one another, 'Come to what you hunger for!' and they enfold them with their wings stretching up to the lowest heaven. Their Lord - who knows them better - asks them, 'What are My slaves saying?' They say, 'They are glorifying You, proclaiming Your greatness, praising You and magnifying You.' He says, 'Have they seen Me?' They say, 'No, by Allah, they have not seen You.' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see Me?' [extra 'He said's deleted] They say, 'If they were to see You, they would worship You even more intensely and magnify You even more intensely and glorify You even more intensely.' He says, 'What are they asking Me for?'They say, 'They are asking You for the Garden.' He says, 'Have they seen it?' They say, 'No, by Allah, they have not seen it.'" He says, 'How would it be if they were to see it?' They say, 'If they were to see it, they would yearn for it even more strongly and seek it even more assiduously and would have an even greater desire for it.' He says, 'What are they seeking refuge from?' 'They are seeking refuge from the Fire.' He says, 'Have they seen it?' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see it?' They say, 'If they were to see it, they would flee from it even harder and have an even greater fear of it.' He says, 'I testify to you that I have forgiven them.' One of angels says, 'Among them is so-and-so who is not one of them. He came to get something he needed.' He says, 'They are sitting and the one sitting with them will not be wretched.'" (al-Bukhari) 

20. Eating with People (sharing what Allah has given)

Anyone who has had the experience of inviting guests to his/her house will know this one. No matter how little you think the food you’re presenting to your guest is, it’s always more than enough! (Note: this is not an excuse to be miserly when you invite guests over; in fact we should follow the Sunnah of our Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) whom when visited by the angels prepared a large meal for them). What I’m referring to here is the blessing that occurs when eating together, confirmed in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said: “Eat together, for blessing is in Jamma’a (congregation or being together)…” and in another hadeeth:“Whoever has food enough for two persons, should take a third one, and whoever has food enough for four persons, should take a fifth or a sixth (or said something similar).” (Bukhari, Volume 4. Book 56. Number 781)

I hope this covers most of the sources of Barakah, but as I said before, this is not an exhaustive list. Please add your sources and recommend more tips for us to share!
-Most of the points have been taken from http://www.productivemuslim.com/18-sources-of-barakah/

Friday, June 15, 2012

Five great ways to break evil habits

Five great ways to break evil habits

     
Four great ways to break evil habits

Bad habits are among the worst enemies of living a successful and purposeful life. Why? Because habit is something we do over and over again. While we do other kinds of mistakes occasionally, bad habit is something we do consistently over time. If even one mistake can drag your life down, you can imagine what kind of damage bad habits can do.
To make matters worse, often we don’t realize that we have bad habits. We think that we just live our life as usual while we are actually making mistakes again and again. It’s like having leaks in our ship without realizing it.

So breaking bad habits should be among your top priorities to get the most out of your life. If you do it right, and you are on your way to make significant improvements in your life.

The first step to breaking the bad habits is to identify them.

Only after identifying them can you decide to do something about them. Here are two tips for identifying the bad habits you might have:

Compare your life with your value system
Do you live according to your value system (Quran, Sunnah and Shariah)? Or do you deviate from it here and there? Your value system acts like a compass that guides your life. When you do things that are not according to your life compass, you know that you have a problem. So look for things you consistently do that deviate from your value system. Those are your bad habits. As Muslims, our value system is the Shariah. Any action/s which are contrary to that of the Shariah is evil and Haraam. One should protect oneself from doing acts which go against the dictates of the Shariah and Islam.
Compare your life with a role model
Sometimes it’s easier to compare your life with someone else’s life than to compare it with an abstract value system. So find people whose life you want to emulate and find the details of how they live their life. Is there anything they don’t do that you consistently do? For instance, perhaps they are never late. You, on the other hand, are perpetually late. That’s a bad habit you should stop.

Here are five tips to stop bad habits:

1. Quit feeding the bad habit:

There are two “wolves” inside us that fight each other. One wolf represents good habits while the other represents bad habits. Which wolf will win the fight? The answer is the one you feed. So breaking bad habit is actually simple: just stop feeding it. Leave the bad habit starve and you are on your way to get it away from your life. (see for details http://tazkiyatips.blogspot.com/2012/04/which-wolf-will-win.html)

2. Replace it with a good habit:

Quit feeding the bad habit is essential but it’s not enough. You must also replace it with a good habit. Otherwise there is an empty space in your life where the bad habit could go back to anytime.

So develop a good habit to replace the bad habit. For instance, if you have the habit of thinking negative thoughts, you should replace it with the habit of thinking positive thoughts. Whenever negative thoughts come, use it as a trigger to start thinking positive thoughts. Or if you have the habit of eating unhealthy food, you can start developing the habit of eating healthy food. Just don’t leave the space empty.

3. Press past the initial pain and discomfort:

When breaking a bad habit, the beginning of the process is the most difficult. Just like getting a space shuttle lifted off the Earth takes enormous amount of power, it also takes enormous amount of willpower to break a bad habit. And just like moving a space shuttle that has escaped the Earth’s gravitational pull takes little energy, it also takes only little amount of willpower to continue doing your new habit.

The initial phase is the most difficult, but it will become easier and easier over time. So whenever you think that it’s too difficult to stay on course, just remember that it won’t be so for long. You just have to keep moving forward.

4. Make “no exceptions” policy:

Once you decide to break a bad habit, stick with your decision. Make no exceptions to come back to it for whatever reason. I know it’s not easy (at least for me), but this step is essential if you want the process to get easier over time. Making exceptions is like taking a space shuttle back to Earth; you need another enormous amount of power to lift it off again. So be careful not to make exceptions when you are dealing with bad habits. Never become despondent and lose hope, with determination and courage, we can all reach great heights.

5. Most important of all -lots of dua'a (supplication):
Do Dua at the begining, all along and till the end - asking Allah Almighty for help and courage to quit all the bad habits and for isteqamah (constancy) to prevent a relapse. There are many sunnah Duas for protection against many general and specific bad habits and evil traits of behaviour. Memorising them and reciting them every day really helps. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Intention (Niyyah)- A detailed commentary by Imam Nawawi

Hadith on Intention:


From the Amir al-Muminin Abu Hafs 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiya'llahu 'anhu, that he said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saying, 'Actions are only by intentions, and every man has only that which he intended. Whoever's emigration is for Allah and His Messenger then his emigration is for Allah and His Messenger. Whoever's emigration is for some worldly gain which he can acquire or a woman he will marry then his emigration is for that for which he emigrated'." The two Imams of the hadith scholars (Imams Bukhari and Muslim) narrated it.


Commentary by Imam Nawawi (RA):

The hadith indicates that intention is the measure for rendering actions true, so that where intention is sound action is sound, and where it is corrupt then action is corrupt.

Wherever there is action accompanied by intention, then there are three states:

  • First, that one does it out of fear of Allah ta'ala, and this is the worship of slaves.

  • Second, that one does it seeking the Garden and reward, and this is the worship of traders.

  • Third, that one does it out of modesty and shame before Allah ta'ala, discharging the right of service and discharging [the duty of] gratitude, seeing oneself along with that falling short, and along with that one's heart is fearful because one does not know whether one's action is accepted or not. This is the worship of free people, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated it when 'A'ishah, radiya'llahu 'anha, said to him, when he stood at night until his two feet swoll, "Messenger of Allah, why do you impose this upon yourself whilst Allah has forgiven you your earlier errors and any later ones? " He said, "Shall I not be a grateful slave?"
To worship with Hope or Fear?

If it is said, "Is it better to worship with fear or with hope?" It must be said, "Al-Ghazali said, may Allah show mercy to him, 'Worship with hope is better because hope causes love and fear causes despair'."

There are three divisions with respect to those who are sincere:

You must know that sincerity is exposed to the defect of conceit and whoever is conceited about his action then his action is invalid, as it is invalid if he is arrogantly proud. The second state is that one does that seeking both the world and the next life. One of the people of knowledge took the position that [in that case] his action is rejected and he sought a proof of that from his words, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the Lordly hadith (hadith qudsi), "Allah exalted is He says, 'I am the most independent of partners, so whoever does an action in which he makes other than Me a partner, then I am free of it'." This was the position that al-Harith al-Muhasibi took in the book ar-Ri'ayah. He said, "Sincerity is that you intend Him by obedience to Him and that you do not intend any other than Him."

Showing off is of two types:

one of the two is that one does not intend by obedience to Him anything but people. The second is that one intends people and the Lord of people, and both of these invalidate action. The Hafidh Abu Nu'aim transmitted this statement from some of the first communities in al-Hilyah.

One of them took a proof of that from His words ta'ala, "The Compeller, the Supremely Great. Glory be to Allah above all they associate with Him." For just as He is too great to have a wife and child and a partner, He is too great to accept an action in which other than Him is made a partner. He, exalted is He, is Greater and Great and Supremely Great.

As-Samarqandi said, may Allah show mercy to him, "Whatever is done for the sake of Allah is accepted, and whatever is done for the sake of people is rejected." An example of that is whoever prays Dhuhr, for example, and intends by it to discharge the duty of what Allah has made obligatory upon him, but he lengthens its parts and its recitation and makes its organisation beautiful for the sake of people; the basic part of the prayer is acceptable, but its length and its beautification for the sake of people are unacceptable because he intends people by them.

Shaykh 'Izzu'd-Din ibn 'Abd as-Salam was asked about one who prays and lengthens his prayer because of people, and he said, "I hope that his action will not be invalid." All of this is in the case where the association of partners occurs in attributes of the action. However, if it happens in the source of the action so that one prays the obligatory prayer for the sake of Allah, exalted is He, and for the sake of people, then one's prayer is not acceptable because of the association of partners in the very source of the action.

Riya in the abandonment of an action:

Just as showing off can be in an action, it can be in the abandonment of an action. Al-Fudail ibn 'Iyad said, "Leaving an action because of people is showing off, and doing an action because of people is asssociating a partner with Allah, and sincerity is that Allah should protect one from both of them." The meaning of what he said, may Allah show mercy to him, is that whoever resolves on an act of worship and leaves it for fear that people may see it, then it is a form of showing off since he gave up an action because of people. However, if he gave it up in order to pray it in solitude this is recommended and desirable unless it is an obligatory prayer or an obligatory Zakat, or he is a man of knowledge upon whom people model themselves, for being open about an act of worship in these cases is better.

Publicising one's good deeds:

Just as showing off invalidates action, so does seeking a good report, which is that one does an act for Allah in solitude and then later tells people what one did. He said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Whoever makes others hear [of his actions] Allah will make others hear of him, and whoever makes a show [of his actions] Allah will make a show of him." The people of knowledge say that if he is a man of knowledge upon whom people model themselves and he mentions it in order to encourage the listeners to action so that they might act in accordance with it, then there is no harm in it. Al-Mirzabani said, may Allah show mercy to him, "The one who prays needs four qualities so that his prayer will be raised up [to Allah]: presence of the heart, witnessing of the intellect,Ýstillness in the basic elements and submission of the limbs. Whoever prays without the presence of heart then he is distracted, whoever prays without the witnessing of the intellect is forgetful, whoever prays without humility of the limbs is mistaken, whoever prays without stillness in the basic elements is uncouth, and whoever prays with all these elements has fulfilled the prayer."

Explanation of "Actions are only by intentions":

By his saying, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Actions are only by intentions" he meant acts of obedience aside from acts which are permissible. Al-Harith al-Muhasibi said, "Sincerity is not relevant for permitted actions because they are not acts of drawing near [to Allah] nor do they lead to drawing near, for example raising up buildings for no [higher] purpose, rather for the purpose of frivolity. However, if it is for a purpose such as mosques, aqueducts and ribats then they are desirable and recommended [acts and not merely permissible]." He said, "There is no sincerity in an act which is forbidden nor in something frowned upon, such as someone who looks at that which is not permitted for him to look at, claiming that he looks at it in order to reflect upon the workmanship of Allah ta'ala, for example, one who looks at a beardless youth. There is no sincerity in this, indeed there is no act of drawing near [to Allah] in it at all." He said, "Truthfulness in the attribute of the slave is in the matching of the secret and the public, the outward and the inward. Truthfulness is realised by realising all of the stations and states, so much so that sincerity needs truthfulness, and truthfulness does not need anything, since the reality of sincerity is intending Allah by the act of worship. One may intend Allah by the prayer but be neglectful of the presence of the heart in it. Truthfulness is intending Allah, exalted is He, by the act of worship along with the presence of the heart with Him. Every true one is sincere, but not every sincere one is true. That is the meaning of 'union and separation', since he has separated from other than Allah and united with the presence by Allah. It is the meaning of isolation from what is other than Allah and adornment with the presence before Allah glorious is He and exalted."

His saying, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Actions are only by intentions" carries the possibilities of "the soundness of actions are only " or "the rendering of actions sound" or "the acceptance of actions" or "the perfection of actions". This was what Imam Abu Hanifah took, may Allah be merciful to him. One excludes from actions those of the category of removal, such as removing dirt, returning property obtained through extortion and loans, conveying a present, etc., for the soundness of these actions does not depend upon the intention having been made authentic, rather the reward for them depends upon having intended them as acts of drawing near. For example, one who feeds his animal, if he does so in obedience to the command of Allah ta'ala, he will be rewarded, but if he intends by it preservation of his wealth then there is no reward for that, as al-Qarafi said. The exception to that case is the horse of a man fighting jihad, for when he ties it up in the way of Allah, if it drinks and he did not intend to give it water he will be rewarded for that, as is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari, and similarly for one's wife. Also locking the door and extinguishing the lamp upon going to sleep, if one intends by them obedience to the command of Allah one is rewarded, and if one intends some other thing, then one will not.

You must know that 'intention' is a word for 'purpose'. It is said, "May Allah intend good for you," i.e. "May He purpose it for you." Intention in the shari'ah is to purpose a thing coupled with the doing of it. If one purposes it and then does it later it is 'resolve'.

Intention is made a part of the shari'ah in order to distinguish customary actions from acts of worship, or to distinguish one act of worship from another. An example of the former is sitting in the mosque, which is customarily intended for rest but it could also be meant as worship if the intention is for 'itikaf. That which distinguishes custom from worship is intention. Similarly one customarily intends by a complete washing of the body to clean the body, but also the intention can be as an act of worship (i.e. ghusl). That which distinguishes between these two cases is the intention, which the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated when he was asked about the man who fought in order to show off, the man who fought defensively and the man who fought courageously, as to which of them is fighting in the way of Allah ta'ala? He said, "Whoever fights so that the word of Allah should be the uppermost then he is in the way of Allah ta'ala."

An example of the latter, which is distinguishing between the different degrees of worship, is one who prays four raka'at by which he could intend the midday prayer or sunnah prayers, and that which distinguishes these two is the intention. Similarly, freeing a slave can be intended as an expiation for a wrong action and for other purposes such as [expiation of] vows [which have been broken] etc., and here that which distinguishes them is the intention.

Respecting his words, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "There is only for each man that which he intends", there is an indication that it is not permitted to deputise for someone else in acts of worship nor appoint someone as an agent from the same intention. The exceptions in this case are distribution of Zakat and sacrifice of an 'Eid animal, for appointing someone as an agent is permissible in both these cases in the intention, and to slaughter [an animal for 'Eid] and to distribute [the Zakat] along with the capability to make the intention. In the Hajj it is not permitted [to appoint one to go in one's place] along with having the capability [of doing it oneself].

Paying a debt; as for when it is for one purpose it does not need an intention. But if it is for two purposes such as someone who owes two thousands, one of which is for something he has pawned, and he pays a thousand and says "I have paid it for the pawned item," then he is right. If he did not intend anything at the time he paid he may form and declare the intention after that and make it for whatever he wishes (i.e. to pay for the pawned item or just as a payment for his debt. It assumes that both debts are to the same person.) There is no other intention which we can delay until after the action and yet it remains sound except here.

Taken with thanks from "The Complete Forty Hadith"  translated from Imam an-Nawawi's al-Arba'un an-Nawawiyyah wa sharhuha by Abdassamad Clarke

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ten things which awaken TAQWA


There are ten things which awaken Taqwa (Fear of Allah):

1.    Fear of punishment in the next life;

2.    Fear [of punishment] in this life;

3.    Hope of worldly reward;

4.    Hope of the reward of the next world;

5.    Fear of the reckoning;

6.    Shyness and bashfulness before the gaze of Allah, and this is the station of fearful watchfulness [muraqabah];

7.    Showing gratitude for His blessings by obeying Him;

8.    Knowledge, because of His words, “They only fear Allah, of His slaves, the ones who have knowledge”;

9.    Exalting and honouring His majesty, and it is the station of awe;
      10. Sincerity in love for Allah.

Source: Al-Kalbi, Ibn Juzayy. Kitabu-t Tashil li ‘Ulumu-t Tanzil. Trans. Abdassamad Clarke. Unpublished.