Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Maximum for Dunya and Minimum for Aakhirah?

Our Attitude towards Dunya vs Aakhirah:

 When it comes to the Dunya; we want everything to be the best and the most. And when it comes to Deen and Aakhirah – the so called educated Muslims of today reveal their true Jahalah and ignorance – when it comes to the Aakhirah the 'modern-educated Muslim' says: I want the least. Show me the least I have to do. Show me the bare minimum I have to do; tell me is it really fardh or not? Or is it just Sunnah! Is a certain act Haram or just Makruh? Am I really going to be asked about this? Is it a Kabeera (major) sin or a Sagheerah (minor) sin?!!

Because we are so involved in the extras of this world, we don’t have time for the extra (Nafil) acts or even the necessities of the deen. 

The one who indulges in unnecessary pursuits, sooner or later, will fall in to haram acts. It’s guaranteed. 
Abstinence from over indulgence in Dunya is the key to protect oneself from all Haram things.

Understanding The Primacy of Inward Jihad (against one's ego):

7946732984_22b2f75cbf_zMuslim scholars have long identified two types of jihad (lit. “striving” in God’s cause): an outer form of jihad and an inner one. 
The outward jihad refers to state-sanctioned military force (i.e. armed combat), which is waged defensively to protect both religion and realm; or offensively to combat tyranny, or protect the innocent and defenseless against unjustified aggression. 
As for the inner jihad (jihad al-nafs), it is the struggle to oppose the ego (nafs) and its impulses, until it is in submission to God. 
That this inner jihad is known as the “greater” jihad, as per mainstream Sunni scholarship, has raised some objections in our time. 
What follows is an explanation of why there needn’t be a concern about such a designation, and why objections to it are simply misplaced. 
The following nine points, I hope, get to the crux of the matter:

1. In regards to the overall schema of jihad, al-Raghib al-Asbahani, a notable scholar of the fifth Islamic century, wrote: Jihad is of three types: striving against the apparent enemy; against the devil; and against the ego (nafs). All three types are included in the words of God, exalted is He: And strive hard in God’s cause with all the striving that is due to Him. [22:78]‘1 
A few centuries on, and a similar abstract is offered by Ibn al-Qayyim: ‘Jihad is of four types: jihad against the ego, against the devil, against the disbelievers, and against the hypocrites.’2
2. Jihad against the apparent enemy; which is to say, jihad against hostile, belligerent disbelievers, finds its equivalence in another Qur’anic term: qital (“fighting” or “armed combat”). It is in this sense that the Qur’an charges: Fight for the sake of God those who fight against you, but do not transgress. God does not love the aggressors.[2:190] The rules of jihad as military warfare are stipulated in the manuals of Islamic law (fiqh) as well as the fatwas of recognised and qualified bodies of contemporary jurists.
3. Many verses in the Qur’an extol the virtues of seeking to purify the soul. One group of verses states: By the soul and Him that formed it, then inspired it with its depravity and  piety. He is indeed successful who purifies it, and he is indeed ruined who corrupts it. [91:7-10] Another offers these tidings: But those who feared the standing before their Lord and curbed their soul’s passions, the Garden is their abode. [79:40-41] 
Also in this context are these words of the Prophet, peace be upon him: ‘The fighter in God’s path is one who strives against his lower soul/ego in obedience to God (al-mujahid man jahada nafsahu fi ta‘ati’lLah).’3 
Thus this inward jihad refers to the personal struggle against one’s ego so as to overcome temptations, false desires and spiritual vices, as well as internalise acts of worship like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, dhikr and almsgiving. This inner jihad, or spiritual striving, is referred to as mujahadah.
4. Now for the tricky part. One lionised hadith states that the Prophet, peace be upon him, having returned from a military campaign with his companions, said: ‘You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.’ When asked what the greater jihad was, he replied: ‘A person’s jihad against his desires.4 
However, according to classical hadith masters and specialists, this hadith is weak (da‘if). Which is to say, such words cannot authentically or reliably be ascribed to the Prophet, peace be upon him. Or to put it another way, the likelihood of the Prophet not having said these words is far far greater than the likelihood of him having uttered them.
[Al-Bayhaqi says after citing it: ‘This is a chain containing weakness.’5 Al-‘Iraqi repeats the same ruling on it in his hadith verification of the Ihya.6 While Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani states: ‘It is related via ‘Isa b. Ibrahim; from Yahya b. Ya‘la; from Layth b. Abi Sulaym: all three are weak. Al-Nasa’i recorded it in al-Kuna as the statement of Ibrahim b. Abi ‘Abla, a famous successor (tabi‘i) of Syria.’7 Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali declares the hadith to be weak, but relates it as the saying of the above Ibrahim b. Abi ‘Abla.8 In more recent times, al-Albani made a thorough analysis of the hadith’s various chains, declaring the hadith to be unreliable (munkar).9 As for ‘Ali al-Qari and al-Suyuti, they both recorded the hadith in their respective dictionaries of weak and fabricated hadiths.10]
5. The above analysis concerns the chain (isnad) of the hadith. As for its meaning, then many scholars point out how the meaning is sound in terms of the inner jihad, jihad al-nafs, having primacy over the outer jihad. 
The hadith may also be read in a way that gives it a completely false meaning, which is the one I’ll tackle first. Thus, if one takes the hadith to mean that the outward “lesser” jihad is inconsequential or of little worth; or that the inner “greater” jihad replaces it, or is an alternative to it, then this is utterly false and at odds with the very Qur’an itself. From such a perspective, Ibn Taymiyyah said about the hadith: ‘It has no basis, and none of those who are an authority (ahl al-ma‘rifah) in the words and deeds of the Prophet, peace be upon him, have reported it. Jihad against the disbelievers is one of the greatest of deeds; in fact, it is the best of the optional deeds a person could perform. God, exalted is He, says: Not equal are those of the believers who sit [at home], other than those who have a disabling hurt, with those who strive in the cause of God with their wealth and their lives. God has conferred on those who strive with their wealth and their lives a rank above the ones who sit [at home]. To both has God promised goodness, but God has preferred those who strive over those who do not with an immense reward.[4:95]‘11 There is also the hadith: A man asked: O Messenger of God, guide me to a deed equivalent to jihad. He replied: ‘You do not have the ability.’ He went on to say: ‘Do you have the ability, from the time the person leaves for jihad [until he returns], to go into the mosque and pray without stopping and fast without a break?’ The man said: Who has the ability to do this?12
6. The hadith undoubtedly has a sound meaning, in that the inner and outer jihad are both great and of tremendous merit, but the inner jihad has primacy over the outer; and so is “greater”. A number of scholarly statements testify to this fact, including Ibn al-Qayyim who, avoiding the terms “lesser” and “greater”, observed about the verse: As for those who strive in Us, We shall guide them to our paths. [29:69]: ‘The most obligatory jihad (afrad al-jihad) is jihad against one’s ego (nafs), desires (hawa), the devil (shaytan), and worldliness (dunya). One who wages jihad against these four in obedience to God, will be guided by God to the paths of His good pleasure which, [in turn], shall lead to His Paradise. One who neglects jihad shall be veiled from guidance to the degree he forsakes it.’13
7. Explaining why jihad al-nafs has such a rank and distinction, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah stated: ‘Jihad against the ego and desires is the basis for jihad against the disbelievers and hypocrites. Indeed, one cannot do jihad against them unless he first wages jihad against his ego and desires; then he goes out and fights them.’14 Tragically, this simple truism seems to have been lost on many of those who have spent the best past of their years waging war against the preeminence of jihad al-nafs!
8. Al-Munawi adds another dimension as to why the inward jihad is greater, or more obligatory, than the outward one. He says: ‘It is the greatest form of jihad; for fighting the disbelievers is a collective duty (fard kifayah), while jihad of the ego is an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn), at all times, on all who are legally responsible: Truly the devil is an enemy to you, therefore treat him as an enemy. [35:6] So fight in the path of God. You are not responsible except for your own soul. [4:84]15
9. Those who have dealt with the issue of the greater and lesser jihad have usually been of two camps. There are those who have sought to sweep the tradition and prophetic history of military jihad under the carpet, in favour of a purely spiritualised reading of “striving” in God’s cause. Such apologetics are usually proffered by those who feel the need to gratify modernist (or now liberal) notions of religion and non-violence; those, both Muslim and non-Muslim, with either colonised minds, staggering ignorance, or lacking all academic honesty and integrity. In contrast, there are those, again Muslim and non-Muslim, who insist upon surface readings of the Quranic verses relating to jihad, devoid of the juristic nuances found in fiqh manuals and contemporary Muslim juristic thought. Unlike the watered-down readings of the first group, this group seeks to make Islam synonymous with violence, war and terror, and perpetuate animosity between peoples so as to serve their political agendas. Both these misreadings, liberal and extremist, must be categorically rejected and repudiated.

Conclusion: The above verses, hadiths and scholarly quotes should have helped lay to rest the anathema some seem to have about the primacy of jihad al-nafs. Yet this need not be the case. For although the commonly cited hadith about it isn’t authentic, other evidences testify to its centrality in a believer’s overall worship of God. Thus the affair is as Ibn al-Jawzi decisively proclaimed: ‘I reflected over jihad against the ego (jihad al-nafs) and realised it to be the greater jihad.’16


1. Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur’an (Beirut & Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2002), 208; under the entry, j-h-d.
2. Zad al-Ma‘ad (Berut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 3:9.
3. Al-Tirmidhi, no.1671, where he graded the hadith hasan sahih. However, he narrates it without the final phrase, ‘in obedience to God.’ This additional phrase is found in Ibn Hibban, no.4707, and it is sahih. Cf. al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1985), 2:81; no.549.
4. Al-Bayhaqi, Kitab al-Zuhd al-Kabir (Beirut: Dar al-Janan and Mu’assasah al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyyah, 1987), no.373; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad (Egypt: Matba‘ah al-Sa‘adah, 1929), 13:494, with the wording: ‘Jihad of the heart.’
5. Kitab al-Zuhd al-Kabir, p.165; no.373.
6. Al-Mughni ‘an Haml al-Asfar (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Tabariyyah, 1995), 2:709; no.2584.
7. Al-‘Asqalani, Takhrij al-Kashshaf (Beirut: Dar al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1997), 4:114; no.33.
8. Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 1:489.
9. Al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah wa’l-Mawdu‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1996), 5:478-81, no.2460.
10. Al-Qari, al-Asrar al-Marfu‘ah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1986), no.211; al-Suyuti,al-Durar al-Muntathirah (Riyadh: University of Riyadh, 1983), no.245.
11. Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 11:197-8. Stating that the hadith ‘has no basis (la asl lahu)’ usually means that the hadith is chainless which, in this case, is incorrect. For the hadith does indeed have a chain, albeit flawed. Declaring that no hadith authorities have recorded it is also an error; for al-Bayhaqi and al-Khatib both relate it in their respective works.
12. Al-Bukhari, no.2785. Something similar is related by Muslim, no.1876.
13. Al-Fawa’id (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Rushd, 2001), 177.
14. Cited by Ibn al-Qayyim, Rawdat al-Muhibbin (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, 1996), 475-6, where he begins by insisting: ‘Even if jihad against one’s desires was not greater than jihad against the disbelievers, it is certainly not lesser than it. A man once asked al-Hasan al-Basri, may God have mercy upon him: O Abu Sa‘id! What is the best jihad? He said: “Your jihad against your desires.” I once heard our Shaykh remark …’ He then goes on to cite the words of Ibn Taymiyyah above.
15. Fayd al-Qadir (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), 4:511.
16. Sayd al-Khatir (Egypt: Dar al-Yaqin, 1998), 122.
(Taken from http://thehumblei.com/2013/10/17/the-greater-jihad/)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Donot undervalue three types of people: Abdullâh bin Mubârak R.A.

It is reported that ‘Abdullâh b. Al-Mubârak – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

It is right that an intelligent person does not undervalue three [types of people]: the scholars, the rulers, and [his Muslim] brothers.

Whoever undervalues (does not respect him, does not value his knowledge, his authority, does not seek knowledge from him, etc) the scholars will lose his afterlife, whoever undervalues  the rulers will lose his worldly life, and whoever undervalues his brothers loses his good character and conduct. [Al-Dhahabî, Siyar A’lâm Al-Nubalâ`17:251]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Self-Actualisation" and Islamic Spirituality:

In 1934, a psychologist named Kurt Goldstein, in his breakthrough work, The Organism,  discovered a human condition that he called “self-actualization.” Mr. Goldstein’s discovery was later expounded on by Abraham Maslow.

Maslow explained that these unique people (1% of the world’s population according to him) who were able to self-actualize held certain traits.

From these traits were the following:

Seeing reality as it is, having an inclination towards solitude, experiencing peak spiritual moments of ecstasy, possessing a renewed appreciation and awe for nature, feeling a deep connection and genuine concern for all humans despite labels and affiliations, being mission-driven in life in order to solve problems greater and beyond themselves, and having acceptance of the flaws and contradictions of others.
Are these not the characteristics of the prophets and righteous men? Compare those qualities with the traits of the Messenger of Allah , peace be upon him, with Hadhrat Abu Bakr, with Hadhrat Umar radi Allahu `anhum , with many other Sahaba, with Imam Hasan al Basri, with Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi, with Shaykh Abdul Qadir jeelani, with Salahadin, (may God be pleased with them), with countless number of Imams and Mashaykh of the Ummah and with those hidden pious shuyookh (spiritual leaders) who still exist today far away from the spotlight. They are all one and the same.

(Based on an article by Shaykh Suhaib Webb, with some modifications)

Love of Allah-The Purpose of all things of Deen and Dunya:

"There is nothing for the slave that is better, sweeter, or more relaxing or delightful to his heart and livelihood than loving his Creator, constantly remembering Him, and striving to Please Him.

This is the completeness that the slave cannot achieve otherwise, and this is why the Creation was Created, the Revelation was revealed, the Messengers were sent, the heavens and Earth were established, Paradise and Hell were put forth, laws were legislated, the Sacred House was built and made a place of pilgrimage and this is why Jihād was commanded, and an abode of eternal punishment and torture was prepared for the disbelievers.

This great matter is why the Creed was established, the Qiblah was ordained, and it is what all the affairs of the Creation revolve around."

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Spiritually Perfect Haj- Check for yourself!

A seeker studying under Hadhrat Shibli R.A. appeared at a gathering after being absent for some time. Hadhrat Shibli asked where he had been and so this young man answered that he had just returned from Hajj. The following is the conversation that ensued (which gives an idea of the condition of the heart and the spiritual states to be adopted during each step of Haj).

Hadhrat Shibli : “When you took off your clothes in order to don the ihram, did you also make intention of stripping the clothes of sin from your body?”
Student : “No I did not make such an intention.”
Hadhrat Shibli : “Did you make intention to present your whole body and soul in front of Allah when you said Labbaik?”
Student : “No I did not make such an intention.”
Hadrat Shibli : “During tawaf did you realize that you were touching the Right Hand of Allah when you greeted Hajr-e-Aswad with your salams?”
Student : “No I did not realize any such thing.”
Hadrat Shibli : “Did you feel that you were hugging the Messenger of Allah when you hugged the draperies of the Kaaba?”
Student : “No I did not feel that.”
Hadrat Shibli : “When you passed by the door of the Kaaba did you beseech your Lord like a beggar beseeches a king?
Student : “No I did not beseech Him like that.”
Hadrat Shibli : “Did you make intention for total and sincere repentance from all your sins no matter how small when you were at Arafat?”
Student : “No I did not make such a strong intention.”
Hadrat Shibli : “Did you make firm intention to make Satan your mortal enemy when you stoned the devils?”
Student : “No I did not make an intention like that.”
Hadrat Shibli : “Did you make intention to sacrifice your nafs and desires for the sake of Allah when you performed the animal sacrifice?”
Student : “No I did not make an intention like that. I only sacrificed the animal.”

Closing this discussion Hadrat Shibli said to the young man, “My dear child, you have not performed Hajj. You should don the ihram anew next year as if you are going for the first time and perform Hajj exactly as I have taught you.”

These are just some examples of the vast difference between the Hajj of the common man and that of the spiritually awakened  'Friends of Allah' . We should all learn lessons from the lives of these magnanimous people and try to implement these ways in our lives.

-Taken from 'Sermons' of Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed D.B.

Four types of Gatherings & their effects on Spirituality

The Ulema and Mashaikh say there are four types of Gatherings regarding the effects on ones spirituality:


1. Some are like Medicine; without these, one can not survive.
For example, a gathering for seeking earning through a halal job to provide for one’s family. (So these should be limited to the extent that is necessary, because overdose of even a life-saving medicine is harmful.)

2. Some are like an illness; diseased.
These are the gatherings of duniya, of frivolous activities, where ghaflah (heedlessness) takes place. These could be gatherings of people, and sometimes, even useless browsing on the internet. So once you have made true Tauba, in order to safeguard it, you should avoid the majaalis of ghaflah.
3. Gatherings that serve as ‘Poison’. 
This is poisonous suhbat (company) – it can be in the form of haraam suhbat or ‘Incompatible suhbat’.
As far as the haraam majlis goes, even if you claim you will not commit anything haram (unlawful) there, why do you wish to be seen at such a place anyway, where Allah's gaze of wrath and anger pours down?
Second is the  suhbat of those whose values and aims are Incompatible with pious people (Na-jins). This means to keep the company of people who are not trying to earn the pleasure of Allah swt. Why? Because you do not know who is influencing who; So one should avoid the company of those who are not dyed in Sibghatullah (The Color of Allah).
4. Some gatherings are like ‘Food’-food for the soul
Like food, these majaalis provide spiritual nourishment to one’s Ruh. These are the gatherings of Ulema, Tulaaba (students), Mashaikh. One must attend such gatherings so that the Ruh is nourished”
-Notes from Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed’s Talk on ‘Leaving the Laghw’
(Courtesy: http://islamicspiritualityk.wordpress.com)