Monday, April 21, 2014

True Tawbah-Some Key Issues Related to Repentance

‘Tawbah’ refers to asking repentance from Allah for the sins that we commit. Making sincere repentance or Tawbah raises a Muslim’s stature with Allah.

One should renew repentance both when one remembers past sins and when one falls into them again:

(a) If one remembers a past sin it is recommended to renew one's remorse and seeking forgiveness, while being thankful to Allah for the success of leaving the sin; and

(b) If one falls into the same sin again it is obligatory to renew one's repentance, even if one keeps falling into the sin repeatedly.

The scholars caution, however, that one is not expected to try to bring to mind all one's past sins and repent from them. Rather, a general repentance from past sins is both valid and sufficient.

Some Key Issues Related to Repentance 

(1) One shouldn't leave repentance if one keeps falling into the sin. Rather, one should keep renewing one's repentance--while striving to fulfill its conditions of sincere remorse, leaving the sin, and resolving never to return. 

Often, sins are the manifestations of bad habits that have crept into our lives, and it takes repeated renewal of resolve to rid oneself of them. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) reminded us in many hadiths that, "Allah continues accepting the repentance of a servant until they take their very last breath." [Tirmidhi (3460) and Ahmad (5885), from Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him)]

(2) The key to successful repentance is not merely resolving to leave the sin, but to figure out what is leading to the sin, and to take the positive means to stay away from the causes of the sin. 

So, for example, if one finds oneself watching impermissible things when using the internet alone at night in one's basement, then successful repentance would entail changing one's internet use such that the matters leading one to sin are avoided, while also fulfilling the conditions of sincere repentance (namely, remorse, leaving the sin, and resolving never to return).

The early Muslims used to say, "Whoever considers consequences is safe."

Sincere Repentence:

Allah Most High says, "Turn towards Allah, O believers, every one of you, so that you may be successful." (24:31)

And He says, "Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him," (11:3) and He says, "O you who believe! Turn in sincere repentance to Allah." (66:8)

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The one who repents from sin is like the one who never sinned.” [Ibn Maja (3240)] 

He also said, “Remorse is repentance.” [Ibn Maja (4242) and Ahmad (3387)]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Allah will turn towards anyone who turns in repentance before the sun rises from the place it set." [Muslim]

Imam Barkawi, the great Ottoman Scholar, defined repentance (tawba) in his Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya as, 
“Going back from desire to sin, with the determination of not returning to it, in exaltation of Allah and out of fear of His punishment.” [al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa, 3.139]

The Conditions for Repentance 

The conditions for repentance are well known:

1.Leaving the sin;
2.Remorse over having committed the sin;
3.Resolve never to return to the sin;
(If it relates to the rights of another person, then to) Return the rights or property one wrongly took.
[al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa; Riyad al-Salihin]

If these conditions are truly met, then one can expect one's sins to be forgiven. However, one has to be very careful about how sincere one is in fulfilling one's conditions. It is recommended to seek forgiveness a lot, and to repent every time the sin comes to one's mind.

If one keeps repeating the sin, then one should find the root cause(s) of the sin and eliminate them. For example, if one falls into a certain sin because of the company one keeps, then it would be necessary to either stop keeping their company, or to change the nature of one's relationship with them.

So, what is true repentance?

Ibn Hajar mentioned that Qurtubi quoted 23 different definitions of true repentance (al-tawba al-nasuh) in his tafsir. Ibn Hajar mentioned the most important of these:

1. Umar’s words (Allah be pleased with him) that it is, “To sin and then never to return to it.” 

2. To hate the sin, and the seek forgiveness for it every time it occurs to one, as Hasan al-Basri (Allah have mercy on him) said. 

3. Qatada’s words (Allah have mercy on him), “To be genuine and truthful in one’s repentance,” which is what Imam Bukhari chose as the definition of true repentance in his chapter heading. 

4. To have sincerity in one’s repentance. 

5. To be concerned about one’s repentance not being accepted. 

6. To be such that it does not need another repentance after it. 

7. To be made out of fear and hope, and be accompanied by consistency in worship. 

8. Like the seventh, but with the added condition that one desert those who assisted one in sin. 

9. That one’s sin be between one’s eyes. [that is, one does not forget it.] 
[Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Causes, Types & Effects of Kibr (Pride & Arrogance) in one's life

What is Kibr?

Kibr is the name of a psychic state in which a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. Its signs are discernible in his actions and its symptoms are clearly noticed by others by which they know that he is proud.

Kibr is something different from ‘ujb, but is the offspring and fruit of the tree of ‘ujb. ‘Ujb consists of self-love and conceit, and the meaning of kibr is to consider oneself superior to others.

When someone perceives a merit in himself and is overcome by a sense of pleasure, exultation, and vanity, that state is called ‘ujb.

And when he considers others to be lacking in the imagined merit within himself, he perceives himself to be superior. This perception of superiority and supremacy over others causes in him a state of vanity, which is pride. Kibr, in this sense, is an inner state, and when its effects are reflected in his behavior and his speech, it is called takabbur.

 In short, the self-indulgent person becomes self-seeking, and his self seeking tendency grows into self-love, and when this self-love is filled to the brim it manifests itself as haughtiness and high-handed treatment of others.

The Causes and Types Of Kibr:

Arrogance of the possessor of some excellence:
There are various causes of kibr, but all of them derive from the delusion, which occurs when men imagine themselves to possess some kind of excellence. This illusion leads to ‘ujb (self-praise), which, blending with self-love, conceals others’ merits and virtues from their eyes. When that happens, the afflicted individual believes others to be inferior to himself and begins to cherish a feeling of self-esteem in his heart, as well as manifesting a similar demeanor.

There are some other causes of Kibr such as narrow-mindedness, lack of capacity, petty-mindedness, baseness, and lack of fortitude.

Arrogance of the Small and Petty:
Being a person with a narrow mentality, as soon as he beholds any merit in himself he imagines himself to enjoy a kind of superiority. He thinks he has acquired a high station, whereas, if he justly evaluates it and judges his accomplishments and merits, he would see that what he imagined to be perfection and is so proud of is not at all an accomplishment or merit, and even if it were a merit how insignificant it was when compared to others’ accomplishments.

Arrogance of the deprived one (due to jealousy):
Sometimes it happens that a person who lacks a certain merit is proud towards the possessor of that merit, such as when a poor person is proud towards a rich one or when an ignorant one is proud towards a learned person. It should be remembered that in the same way as ‘ujb is sometimes the source of pride, jealousy (hasad) may also be the source of pride. One may perceive himself as lacking in a certain merit, which is present in another; then he becomes jealous of him and this serves as the cause of pride towards the other person, whom he tries to insult in all possible ways.

Arrogance of the possessors of Dunya:
Yet the meanest among the arrogant is the person who is proud of outward (material) matters like wealth, position, family and descent. This poor fellow is far from all human excellences and moral sense; his hands are empty of all learning and knowledge; but since his clothes are made of sheep’s wool, or since his father is somebody, he is arrogant with the people. What a petty mind and a dark and narrow heart it is that leaves all accomplishments and perfections to be content with the niceties of a robe and hat! For his 'beautiful'  dress and shoes, he has given up all other beauties of character and soul.


Spiritual And Social Harms Of Pride

Whereas there are many vices inherent in pride itself, it generates many other vices as well. It prevents men from acquiring inward and outward merits and from enjoying the blessings of this world and the Hereafter. It's Spiritual harm is such that the scholars state that Kibr is the root cause of almost all the other known spiritual diseases.

In the social realm, it causes hatred and rancor in human hearts, disgraces man in the eyes of his fellow human beings, and brings about humiliation for him. It forces other people to retaliate against him and despise him and insult him.

The harms on one's life can be summarized as:

• Arrogance causes constant apprehension.

• Reasoning becomes flawed, leading to bad judgments and injustice in dealings.

• Arrogance gives one an impression of superiority over others and presumptuous claims making him ill-mannered.

• Self-deception.

• Tension and stress.
• Arguments and Fights amongst families and friends leading to Destruction of relationships, marital discord and Loss of good friends.
• Hard-heartedness and selfishness.

Love of Allah leads to perfect Ikhlas-Imam Rabbani R.A.

How to gain perfect Ikhlas (Sincerity)?

Problems in attaining purity of intention is a highly destructive disease of the heart and leads to the major sin of 'Showing off' or Riya. 

It's severity can be understood by the Hadith that states that even a small amount of Riya is shirk.

The Prophet Muhammed (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) out of his love and concern for the Ummah (nation), feared this calamity more than any other. "What I fear for you the most is the minor shirk, that is ar-riya. Allah will say on the Day of Judgement when He is rewarding the people for their actions: Go to those for whom you did riya for in the world then see if you find the reward with them."
[Related by Ahmad (5/428, 429) and al-Baghawi in Sharh as-Sunnah (4135) from the hadith of Mahmud bin Lubayd, radiallahu 'anhu, with an authentic chain upon the conditions of Muslim]
Abu Sa’eed  R.A. reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came to us while we were discussing about Dajjal and said:
“Should I inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of  Dajjal ? It is hidden Shirk...”  
(Sahih Sunan ibn Majah) 
              *                         *                          *
Given the immense importance of Ikhlas and avoidance of Riya, the scholars of Tazkiya have mentioned many methods to attain this. In the below passage, Imam Rabbani Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi R.A. who is one of the foremost experts of this field, mentions in his 'Maktubaat' the way to develop absolute and perfect Ikhlas so that even a remote chance of Riya is removed:

"He who is still in love with his Nafs (self), does whatever he does for his own sake whether he is aware of it or not. But when the love for the self disappears and is replaced by the love of God, then whatever he does, he does for the sake of God, whether he deliberately attends to his intention (niyyah) or not. 
You need to specify your intention when you have alternatives; but when you have no alternative you do not need to specify. 

‘This is a favour with which God blesses whom He likes, and God is the most gracious.’ (Quran)

The man whose sincerity is permanent is the 'mukhlas' (that is, the one who has been chosen by God and reserved for Himself), and the one whose sincerity is not permanent and who has to struggle  for it every time, he is 'mukhlis' (that is, the sincere). What a difference between the two!" 

May Allah grant us real Ikhlas and His perfect Love. Ameen,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Treatment for kibr (Pride & Arrogance)- Imam Thanwi

Kibr (Pride/Arrogance) is a highly destructive spiritual sickness and a very grave and Major sin.  It is strongly condemned in the Quran and Hadith.   Allah says, "Do not strut arrogantly on the earth."(17:37)   Abdullah ibn Mas’ud R.A reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.”  [Sahih Muslim]   "Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” (meaning, to consider oneself as superior to others)  [Sahih Muslim]  Abu Hurayra R.A. reported that Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Once a man was walking in his robe, proud of himself, his hair groomed, haughty in his gait, and Allah caused the earth to swallow him up. He will go on sinking into the earth until the Day of Rising." [Agreed upon]



Anti-kibr therapy:

Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) prescribed the following treatment for the disease of Kibr:
‘The therapy for the reality of arrogance is a special form of contemplation. It must be renewed and repeated at all the times when the thought of arrogance passes (in the mind).
This contemplation includes bringing the following thoughts in mind in response to one's feelings of Pride and Self-praise or feelings of Superiority to others:
1. "Although I have this achievement, it is not my own creation. It has been bestowed and gifted by Allah".
2. "This bestowal is without my being deserving of it. It is purely Allah’s mercy and benevolence that He gave me this gift".
3. "Even after attaining this gift, preserving it is beyond my control. Allah has the power to take it away anytime".
4. "Although the other individual does not possess this achievement as yet, it is possible that eventually he will achieve more than me and I will be looking up to him for assistance in this regard".
5. "Even if eventually he does not achieve this (as is sometimes evident by the apparent (lack of) means), it is possible that right now he has some other achievement that is hidden from me but evident to others or hidden from all. It is known to Allah alone. By the virtue of this, his overall achievements are better than mine".
[If none of his achievements come to mind then bring to mind the possibility that as per the knowledge of Allah he is accepted (maqbool) and I am not. And if I am accepted too then he is more accepted than me. Hence, how can I think of him to be inferior to me?]
6. "Even in case he is lower than me in all regards then he has a right on me. As the deficient individual has a right on the perfect one. Like the sick person has on a well individual, a weak on the strong, and a poor on the wealthy. Hence, I should be kind and have empathy for him. Moreover, I should try to assist him in achieving these qualities successfully. If I do not have any means or power or time, even then, I should help by atleast making supplication (dua) for his success".
Then start making efforts in this regard. This will create a bond of kindness with this individual. And it is a natural phenomenon that working for an individual’s development and success leads to loving him. After developing (feeling of) love there will be no thought of considering him inferior.
7. If this (#6) can not be done, then occasionally talk to him gently and politely. Inquire about his well being. This will create a mutual bond. And after this bond, the thought of considering him inferior will dissipate.’
Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 3, page 108-9
The treatment part of the article was adapted

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Reality of Shukr (Gratitude) and its Injunctions from the example of Dawud A.S.

The Reality of Shukr (Gratitude) from the example of Dawud A.S.
[Adapted From Maariful Quran of Mufti Shafi R.A.]
" Do good, O family of Dawud, in thankfulness. And few from My slaves are thankful." [Surah Saba, 34:13]
 Shukr (Arabic شكر ), an Arabic term denoting thankfulness, gratitude, or acknowledgment by humans, is a highly esteemed virtue in Islam.

The Qur'an provides narratives of the prophets of God as individuals of gratitude. Their thanksgiving is exemplified by their obedience and faithfulness to God.
According to Al-Qurtubi, the reality of shukr (gratitude) is that one admits that this blessing has been bestowed by such and such giver and then goes on to use it in accordance with the spirit of his pleasure and in obedience to him.
Therefore, using the blessing bestowed by someone counter to his pleasure is ungratefulness and a virtual denial of that blessing.
This tells us that the way gratefulness can be shown in words, it can also be expressed by acts. When expressed by acts, it would mean the use of that blessing in accordance with the pleasure of the giver and in obedience to him
Abu 'Abdur-Rahman As-Sulami has said that Salah is gratitude, fasting is gratitude, and every good deed is gratitude. And Muhammad Ibn Ka'b al-Qurazi says that gratitude is the name of piety and righteous conduct. (Ibn Kathir)
In the context of the above quoted verse, the Qur'an states that the granting of Sulayman (A.S) with supernatural gifts to accomplish the ends for which God appointed him, was so that he would be grateful.
This injunction was carried out so faithfully by Sayyiduna Dawud and Sulayman (A.S) and their families and children, both in word and deed, that no time passed in their homes when they did not have a member of the family standing exclusively devoted to worship. In fact, specific time was allotted to all family members for this purpose. As a result, the prayer mat of Sayyiduna Dawud (A.S) would not remain unoccupied at any time. (Ibn Kathir) 

  According to Hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet  (SAWS) said that the dearest prayer to Allah is that of Dawud (A.S). He would sleep half of the night, stand in worship for one third of it, and then, sleep during the last one sixth. And the dearest fasts to Allah are the fasts of Dawud (A.S), for he would fast on alternate days. (Ibn Kathir)
It has been reported from Fudayl Rahmatullahi 'Alayh: Allah have mercy upon him that following the revelation of this command of gratitude to Sayyidna Dawud (A.S), he submitted before Allah Ta'ala: 'O my Lord, how could I show my gratitude to You fully and sufficiently while my gratitude too, be it oral or practical, is nothing but a blessing bestowed by You? On this too, a separate gratitude becomes due.' Allah Ta'ala said, (Now, O Dawud, you did thank Me ). The reason was that he had realized his inability to thank Him as was His due, and had made a confession to that effect.
Tirmidhi and Abu Bakr al-Jassas report from Sayyidna 'Ata' Ibn Yasar (R.A) that when this verse: (Do good, O family of Dawud, in thankfulness) was revealed, the Holy Prophet (SAWS) came to the pulpit, recited this verse and then said, "There are three acts whoever accomplishes them would achieve the same excellence as was bestowed on the House of Dawud." The noble Sahabah asked: "Ya Rasulallah, what are those three acts?" He said, "Staying firm on justice in both the states of pleasure and displeasure; and taking the path of moderation in both the states of prosperity and adversity; and fearing Allah both in private and in public." (Tirmidhi, Qurtubi, Ahkam ul-Qur'an, al-Jassas)
In the last sentence of verse 13: , soon after having given the command for gratitude with special emphasis, the reality on ground was also pointed to by saying that 'And few from My slaves are thankful.' which is an admonition for a believer, and an encouragement to observe gratitude.