Thursday, July 31, 2014

The First step in purification of the self (Tazkiya): Imam Muhasibi

The First step in purification of the self (Tazkiya)

Excerpt From Imam Muhasibi's works

First thing-know yourself!

The first thing is that you should know that you are a servant under authority, for whom there is no salvation except through fearing your Master and Lord, and no destruction for you if you do so. 

Remembering and reflecting on one's purpose of creation:

Therefore remember and reflect upon that for which you were created and the reason for which you were placed in this transient world, and know that you were not created for idle pleasure (‘abath) and you were not abandoned to blindness (i.e., not left without guidance), but you were created and placed in this world only by way of trial and experience, either to obey God or to disobey Him, and you will pass from this world into everlasting torment or eternal bliss. 

If you know that you are a servant under authority, you will understand why you were created and to what you are exposed and to what you are inevitably taking your way. That is the very beginning of the purification of your self, for it cannot be purified unless it knows itself to be under authority and a creature, and then you will know that there can be no salvation for one who is but a creature and in state of servantship, except through obedience to his Lord and Master.

The Foundations of Obedience:

The guide to that obedience is knowledge of His commands and prohibitions,
for obedience is the road to salvation, and knowledge is the guide to the road, and the foundation of obedience is abstinence (wara‘), and the foundation of abstinence is piety (taqwa), and the foundation of that is self-examination (muhasaba), and self-examination is based on fear (khawf) and hope (raja’), and that which guides to self-examination is the knowledge which enables God’s creatures to serve Him with their hearts and limbs.

Smith, Margaret: An early mystic of Baghdad: a study of the life and teaching of Harith B. Asad al-Muhasibi, A.D. 781-A.D. 857. London: Sheldon, 1935 (rept. 1973).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quotes on 'Purification of the Heart': IbnTaymiya

* Excellence of Actions depends on one's Heart:

"Actions are distinguished, one from the other, with respect to their excellence in the Sight of Allah in accordance with the condition of the heart, not by their number or form, but rather due to the strength of the caller, his or her truthfulness, his or her sincerity and the extent to which he or she prefers Allah over himself or herself." -Ibn Qayyim

The heart is the leader of the body:

"The heart has been singled out for this because it is the leader of the body, and through the purification of the leader the subjects become purified, and with his corruption they become corrupted. So if you, O servant of Allah, wish to cure your heart then it is upon you to be truthful with regards to seeking refuge with Allah and putting your trust in Him, to pray a great deal of supererogatory prayers, to perform the actions of obedience to Allah frequently, to pray the night prayer while the people are sleeping, and to treat your heart by making it continuously stick to the remembrances and by befriending only the righteous ... and to frequently recite the Qur'an. May Allah allow all of this to be preserved by him." -Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani

* "The hearts are three types:

  1. The correct heart that is secure from all desires that oppose the command of Allah and His prohibitions, and it is secure form all doubts that contradict what He informs. Just as it is secure from worshiping anything else besides Allah and from seeking judgment from any person other than His Messenger.
  2. The dead heart, this being the opposite of the correct heart containing no life, neither knowing its Lord nor worshiping Him.
  3. The heart that has some life but also has a defect. So it contains love of Allah, faith in Him, sincerity and trust towards Him from those things that are essential to it remaining alive. It also contains the love of vain desires and preference for them, despicable morals and manners from those things that cause it to die, and it is continuously wavering between these two conditions." -Ibn Taymiya

*  The Life Of The Heart:

In a dua the Prophet (SAWS) supplicated,
"Make the Quran the nurturer (rabi) of our hearts and the light of our chest." [Ahmad]
Rabi means the rain that descends from the sky and nourishes the plants. The Arabs call the season in which the rain first descends al-Rabi due to the fall of rain which causes growth (of produce). The non-Arabs call the season that follow winter al-Rabi because in this season the plants from which fruit is produced blossom and the leaves on the trees appear.
* "The life of the heart and its illumination is the cause of all good to be found in it and its death and darkness is the cause of all evil to be found in it."

* "The heart can never be alive and correct except through cognizance of the truth, loving it and preferring it to everything else. There can never be any happiness, joy or correction for it, unless it makes its sole object of worship and desire Allah alone.
This can never be perfected except through purification of heart, repentance, and its relinquishing itself from all types of false love and despicable manners. This can never be attained except through striving hard against one's soul that incites towards evil, and bringing it to account and combating the satans from among the jinn by holding fast to Allah; knowing their plots and objectives, and safeguarding oneself from them through remembrance of Allah, the Exalted, and seeking refuge with Him from them." -Ibn Taymiya
* Between Sickness And Death of the Heart:
""All of the diseases of the heart are founded upon desires and doubts. 
Sickness is of a lesser level then death, so the heart dies due to total ignorance but becomes ill due to having fragments of ignorance, and in this case there can be either death, sickness or healing for the heart. Its life, death, sickness and the cure is greater and more vital then the life, death, sickness and cure of the body. This is why the heart becomes sick when presented with doubts and desires, or the sickness becomes more acute. If wisdom and goodly exhortation occur then theses are routes to its correction and cure." -Ibn Taymiya

* "Allah has made the natural disposition of His servants to love Him and worship Him Alone, so if the natural disposition was to be left as it is without corrupting it, then it would be cognizant of Allah, loving Him Alone; but the natural disposition does become corrupted due to the sickness of the heart..."   -Ibn Taymiya

* Tazkiya or Zakah of the Heart:

"Zakah (purification) in the language means: growth and increase in correction, it is said, 'something has zakah', when it has grown in correction. The heart is in need of being nurtured so that it may mature and increase until it becomes complete and correct just as the body is in need of nourishment that is good for it, but along with this there is a need to prevent anything from harming it. So the body will not grow until it gains that which will benefit it and is prevented from that which will harm it, likewise the heart will not become pure such that it may grow and become complete with respect to its correction, until it attains that which benefits it and represses that which harms it - just as the flower will not grow without these two factors."
"So the zakah of the heart means its growing and becoming complete."
"Tazkiya (purification), even if its basic meaning is growth, blessing and increase in goodness, is only attained by removing the evil, and this is why purification has come to combine both these matters (i.e., performing good and avoiding evil)." -Ibn Taymiya

* The Quran Is A Cure For The Hearts:

"The Quran is a cure for that which is within the heart, and for the one who has the sickness of doubt and desire in his heart, for it contains clear proofs that distinguish the truth from falsehood, and remove the sickness of false doubts to leave certain knowledge, correct perception and understanding such that the heart sees things in accordance to their reality. It contains wisdom, goodly exhortations both encouraging good and deterring from evil, and stories which contain lessons that necessarily lead to the correction of the heart by making the heart desire what is good for it and detest what is harmful to it. Hence the heart is left desiring that which will guide it hating that which will deviate it after it used to desire that which would deviate it and hate that which would guide it.
The Quran removes all the sicknesses that invoke false desires until the heart becomes pure and therefore its desires become pure and it returns to the natural state (fitrah) that it was created in, just as the body returns to the natural state upon being treated. The heart will be nurtured with faith and the Quran such that it will become strong - for indeed the purification of the heart is like the growing of the body." -Ibn Taymiya

* Leaving Indecent Actions Are A Cure For The Heart:

"Similarly abstaining from indecent actions and sins leads to purification of the heart, for these are of the same level as leprosy of the body or thorns on a flower. So when the body is freed of this leprosy by releasing the additional blood for example, the natural strength of the body emerges and it can find relief and thereby grow. Likewise when one seeks repentance from sin, the heart is released from contamination - whereby it mixed the righteous actions with evils actions, so when one repents from sins the strength of the heart emerges as does its desire to perform righteous actions and it finds relief from these false and corrupt matters that it was submerged in."

* The Effect Of Sins Upon The Purity Of The Heart:

"Adl (fairness and justice) is Itidal (balance), and in balance lies the correction of the heart, just as in zulm (imbalance/ oppression) lies its corruption. This is why for every sin that the person has committed he has oppressed his self (zaliman Ii nafsihi). The opposite of zulm is Adl, so this sinful person has not been just to his self rather he has oppressed it. The correction of the heart lies in Adl and its corruption lies in zulm. Therefore, when the servant oppresses himself he is the oppressor and oppressed at the same time, likewise when he is just then he is the one who is just and the one upon whom the justice is carried out.
The person does an action and he will receive the fruit of this action, be it bitter or sweet.
Aml (actions) have an effect upon the heart, either of benefit, harm, or correction, before they effect the external body. The good and pure actions constitute justice for the soul whereas bad actions oppress the soul.
Allah the Most High, said,
Whoever does righteous deeds it is for the (benefit of) himself, and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. [Surah Fussilat (41) : 46]
If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil, you do it against yourselves. [Surah al-Isra (17) : 7]
Some of the Salaf said, 'Indeed good actions are a light in the heart, a strengthening for the body, a glow on the face, a cause for extensive provisions and love in the hearts of the creation. Indeed bad actions are a darkness in the heart, a blackness on the face, a weakness for the body, a cause for decrease in provisions and hatred in the hearts of the creation."

* Some Cures For The Heart:

From those things that nourish the heart are supplication at the end of the night, the times of Adhan and lqamah, in his prostration, at the ends of the prayers - add to this repentance. For indeed the one who repents to Allah and then in turn Allah forgives him, He will then give him enjoyment for an appointed time. That he takes to reciting the reported adhkar for the day and at the time he sleeps. That he bears with patience what he is enticed with that would divert him from all of this, for Allah will immediately aid him with a spirit from Him and write faith in his heart. That he be eager to complete the obligatory duties such as the five prayers inwardly and outwardly for they are the pillars of the religion. That his words of recourse be: 
'la hawla wala quwwata illa billah'
for by them heavy burdens can be borne, horrors can be over come, and the servant be gifted with the best of conditions to live in. That he should not give up the supplication and seeking help from Allah, for the servant will be answered as long as he is not hasty, saying:
'I have supplicated and supplicated but I have not been answered.' [Muslim]
That he should know that help comes with patience, that relief comes after anxiety and distress, that after every period of difficulty there follows a period a period of ease. [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]
That he knows that no prophet or one less than him was rewarded with a good end except as a result of his being patient."

Quotes Extracted from - 'Diseases of The Heart and Their Cures' based on Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyah 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tafsir of Surah Qadr: Ibn kathir on Laylatul Qadr

And how will you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is?
The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months,
In it the angels and the Spirit come down by their Lord's leave, with all His decrees.
Peace it is, until the rising of the dawn."

[Surah Al-Qadr, the 97th Chapter of the Qur'an]

The Virtues of the Night of Al-Qadr:

1. The night of the Revelation of the Quran:

Allah informs us that He sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Al-Qadr, and it is a blessed night about which Allah says:
"We sent it down in a blessed night ... "[Al-Qur'an 44:3]

This is the Night of Al-Qadr and it occurs during the month of Ramadhan. This is as Allah says:
"The month of Ramadhan in which the Qur'an was revealed ... " [Al-Qur'an 2:185]

Ibn Abbas and others have said:
"Allah sent the Qur'an down all at one time from the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh al-Mahfuz) to the House of Might (Baytul-Izzah), which is in the heaven of this world. Then it came down in parts to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, based upon the incidents that occurred over a period of twenty-three years."

2. A night better than a thousand months:

Then Allah magnified the status of the Night of Al-Qadr, which He chose for the revelation of the Mighty Qur'an, by His saying:
"And how will you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is?
"The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months ... "

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said:
"When Ramadhan would come, the Messenger of Allah would say, 'Verily the month of Ramadhan has come to you all. It is a blessed month, which Allah has obligated you all to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled. In it there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived.' "

3. A night of Forgiveness of all Sins:

Aside from the fact that worship during the Night of Al-Qadr is equivalent to worship performed for a period of one thousand months, it is also confirmed in the two sahih collections, from Abu Hurayrah, that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
"Whoever stands (in prayer) during the Night of Al-Qadr with faith and expecting reward (from Allah), he will be forgiven for his previous sins."

4. The Descent of the Angels during the Night of Al-Qadr:

Allah says:
"In it the angels and the Spirit come down by their Lord's leave, with all His decrees."
Meaning the angels descend in abundance during the Night of Al-Qadr due to its abundant blessings. The angels descend with the descending of blessings and mercy, just as they descend when the Qur'an is recited, they surround the circles of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and they lower their wings with true respect for the student of knowledge.

In reference to the Spirit, it is said that here it means the angel Jibril. Therefore, the wording of the ayah is a method of adding the name of the distinct object separate from the general group (in this case the angels).

5. The night of Decree:

Concerning Allah's statement:
" ... with all His decrees."

Mujahid said:
"It is security in which the Devil cannot do any evil or any harm."
Qatadah and others have said:
"The matters are determined during it, and the times of death and provisions are measured out (i.e., decided) during it."

Allah says:
"In that night every affair is wisely decided." [Al-Qur'an 44:4]

6. The night of Peace:

Then Allah says:
"Peace it is, until the rising of the dawn."
Ash-Sha'bi said concerning this:
"The angels giving the greetings of peace during the Night of Al-Qadr to the people in the masjid until the coming of fajr (dawn)."
Qatadah and Ibn Zayd both said:
"This means all of it is good and there is no evil in it until the coming of fajr (dawn)."


Specifying the Night of Qadr and its Signs

[Summary of this section: The Night of Al-Qadr occurs during an odd night in the last ten nights of Ramadan.-AHD]

This is supported by what Imam Ahmad recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
"The Night of Al-Qadr occurs during the last ten (nights). Whoever stands for them (in prayer) seeking their reward, then indeed Allah will forgive his previous sins and his latter sins. It is an odd night: the ninth or the seventh, or the fifth, or the third or the last night (of Ramadhan)."

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, also said:
"Verily, the sign of the Night of Al-Qadr is that it is pure and glowing as if there were a bright, tranquil, calm moon during it. It is not cold, nor is it hot, and no shooting star is permitted until morning. Its sign is that the sun appears on the morning following it smooth having no rays on it, just like the moon on a full moon night. Shaytan is not allowed to come out with it (the sun) on that day." [This chain of narration is good. In its text there is some oddities and in some of its wordings there are things that are objectionable]

Abu Dawud mentioned a section in his Sunan that he titled, "Chapter: Clarification that the Night of Al-Qadr occurs during every Ramadhan." Then he recorded that when question about the Night of Al-Qadr, the Messenger of Allah said:
"It occurs during every Ramadhan." [The men of this chain of narration are all reliable, but Abu Dawud said that Shu'bah and Sufyan both narrated from Ishaq and they both considered it to be a statement of the Companion Ibn 'Umar, and thus not the statement of the Prophet]

It has been reported that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said:
"The Messenger of Allah performed i'tikafduring the first ten nights of Ramadhan and we performed i'tikaf with him. Then Jibril came to him and said, 'That which you are seeking is front of you,' so the Prophet performed i'tikaf during the middle ten days of Ramadhan and we also performed i'tikafwith him. Then Jibril came to him and said; 'That which you are seeking is ahead of you,' so the Prophet stood up and gave a sermon on the morning of the twentieth of Ramadhan and he said:
'Whoever performed i'tikaf with me, let him come back (for i'tikaf again), for verily I saw the Night of Al-Qadr, and I was caused to forget it, and indeed it is during the last ten (nights). It is during an odd night and I saw myself as if I were prostrating in mud and water.'
"The roof of the masjid was made of dried palm-tree leaves and we did not see anything (i.e. clouds) in the sky but then a patch of wind-driven clouds came and it rained. So the Prophet lead us in prayer until we saw the traces of mud and water on the forehead of the Messenger of Allah, which confirmed his dream."

In one narration it adds that this occurred on the morning of the twenty-first night (meaning the next morning). They both (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) recorded it in the their collections. 
Ash-Shafi'i said:
"This tradition is the most authentic of what has been reported."
It has also been said that it is on the twenty-third night due to a tradition narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Unays in Sahih Muslim.

It has also been reported that it is on the twenty-fifth night due to what Al-Bukhari recorded from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said:

"Seek it in the last ten (nights) of Ramadhan. In the ninth it still remains in the seventh it still remains, in the fifth it still remains."

Many have explained this statement to refer to the odd nights, and this is the apparent and most popular explanation. It has also been said that it occurs on the twenty-seventh night because of what Muslim recorded in his Sahih from Ubayy ibn Ka'ab that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, mentioned that it was on the twenty-seventh night.

Imam Ahmad recorded from Zirr that he asked Ubayy ibn Ka'ab:
"O Abu'l-Mundhir! Verily, your brother Ibn Masud says whoever stands for prayer (at night) the entire year, will catch the Night ofAl-Qadr." He (Ubayy) said: "May Allah have mercy upon him. Indeed he knows that it is the twenty-seventh night." Then he swore by Allah. Zirr then said, "How do you know that?" Ubayy replied, "By a sign or an indication that he (the Prophet) informed us of. It rises that next day having no rays on it - meaning the sun."

It has been said that it is the night of the twenty-ninth. The Messenger of Allah was questioned about the Night of Al-Qadr and he replied:
"Seek it in Ramadhan in the last ten nights. For verily, it is during the odd nights, the twenty-first, or the twenty-third, or the twenty-fifth, or the twenty-seventh, or the twenty-ninth, or during the last night."

The Messenger of Allah also said about the Night of Al-Qadr:
"Verily, it is during the twenty-seventh or the twenty-ninth night. And verily, the angels who are on the earth during that night are more numerous than the number of pebbles."
Abu Qilabah that he said:
"The Night of Al-Qadr moves around (i.e., from year to year) throughout the last ten nights."

And Allah knows best.


Supplication During the Night of Decree

It is recommended to supplicate often during all times, especially during the month of Ramadhan, in the last ten nights, and during the odd nights of it even more so. 

It is recommended that one say the following supplication a lot:
"O Allah! Verily, you are the Oft-Pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me."
This is due to what Imam Ahmad recorded from 'A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said:
"O Messenger of Allah! If I find the Night of Al-Qadr what should I say?"
He replied:
"Say: O Allah! Verily You are the Oft-Pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me."

This is the end of this brief explanation of Surah Al-Qadr, and all praise and blessing are due to Allah.

Source (with added sub-headings by AHD)- SUNNAHONLINE 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Laylatul Qadr for very very busy or lazy people:

Laylatul Qadr for very very busy or lazy people:

Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night which falls on one of the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan. According to the Quran, it is better than a 1000 months.

Considering the huge rewards on offer, we all should try to spend these nights in sincere worship, repentance and dua.
However, some Muslims may be genuinely very busy or tired and cannot find much time for it. While others may be just too lazy to do special ibadah on these nights.
The below tips are the very least one can do to get at least some of the blessings of this blessed night.

1. Pray Isha and Fajr salah with Jamaah (congregation):

Suggested by Mufti Shafi in Tafsir Mariful Quran-
"If anyone performs the 'Isha' and Fajr salahs in congregation, he will receive the blessings and reward of the Night of Qadr. The more one performs acts of worship in this night, the more he shall receive its blessings. 
It is recorded in Sahih of Muslim that Sayyidna 'Uthman   narrates that the Messenger of Allah  said: "If a person performs his 'Isha' salah in congregation, he will attain the blessings of spending half the night in devotion; and if he performs Fajr salah in congregation, he will attain the blessings of spending the entire night in devotion.""

2. Read the whole of the Tarawih prayer with jamah:

It is confirmed in the two sahih collections, from Abu Hurayrah (R.A.), that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
"Whoever stands (in prayer) during the Night of Al-Qadr with faith and expecting reward (from Allah), he will be forgiven for his previous sins."
To get this reward, if one cannot pray the whole night, he should at least pray full taraweeh behind the Imam. 
The prophet (SAWS) said:
 “Whoever prays (Tarawih) with the imam until he finishes, Allah will record for him as if he spent the whole night in prayer”  -narrated by al-Tirmidhi (806) and classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

3. Sleep in the state of wudhu:

Hafidh Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has mentioned a reliable narration that states: “The soul of one who sleeps with wudhu makes sajdah (prostrates) at the ‘Arsh of Allah” (Fathul Baari)
Imagine our souls making sajdah at the throne of our Creator on a night like Laylatul Qadr!

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Purify these bodies of yours and Allah will purify you. There is no slave who spends the night in a state of purity but that an angel remains close to him. He does not pass an hour of the night without saying, ‘O Allah, forgive your slave. He spent the night in a state of purity.’” [At-Tabarani related in Al-Awsat and al-Mundhiri said it's isnad (chain) is good.]

Trying to stay in a state of purity is a reason to have an additional angel be especially appointed to work for you. That angel is ordered to stay at your side and continually ask for your forgiveness. So immense is the good that comes out of Islam! So simple and beneficial are the ways in which to increase our reward!

4. Recite Surah Ikhlas (Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad) 3 times to get the reward of reading full Quran:

Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih that Abu Said Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) told the companions: "Are you not able to read a third of the Qur'an in one night? They found this very difficult and replied that nobody amongst us can do so. Then the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Allah, The One, the Self sufficient "Surah Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad equals a third of the Qur'an."
Muslim also reported that Abu Al Darda narrated: "Say, He is Allah, The One, (Surah 112) equals a third of the Qur'an."
5. Tawba for Gaining forgiveness on laylatul Qadr:

 We should sincerely repent for past and present sins with the intention of not repeating them again and ask of Allah Ta’aala to help us prevent ourselves from doing them again and ask Allah to perfect our characters and to help us improve ourselves in everyway possible.

The main Dua for Laylatul Qadr is the following: (Read it a few times after maghrib and Isha Fardh salahs and just before going to bed)Aisha (Ra) said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: 'O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?' He said: 'Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.'

"Allahumma innaka 'afuwwun tuhibbul 'afwa fa'fu 'annee" (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi).

6. Earn Billions of Good deeds in seconds:

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for believing men and believing woman, Allah will write for him a good deed for each believing man and believing woman.”  [Tabarani]

So each time we pray for every believer from the first until the last we will gain a reward for each believer, which is billions of rewards in just a few seconds! So let us make this a habit in EVERY DUA!

 7. A Very short dhikr with enormous rewards:Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith (Ra) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came out from my apartment in the morning as I was busy in performing the dawn prayer. He came back in the forenoon and found me sitting there and said, “Are you still in the same position as I left you.” I replied in the affirmative.
Thereupon the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “I recited four phrases three times after I had left you. If these are to be weighed against all you have recited since morning, these will be heavier. These are:

Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, ‘adada khalqihi, wa rida-a nafsihi, wa zinatah ‘arshihi, wa midada kalimatihi

[Meaning: Allah is free from imperfection and I begin with His praise, as many times as the number of His creatures, in accordance with His Good Pleasure, equal to the ink that may be used in recording the words (for His Praise)].”
[Sahih Muslim]

If one cannot pray the Tarawih, at least one should do the rest of these easy things which take very less time and effort.
However, those who can do more, should try to do maximum worship and duas in these nights.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Significance of Charity in Ramadan

Charity & Generosity in Ramadan:

Generosity is one of the highest virtues of Islam and one of the manifest qualities of the Prophet Muhammad who was known as the most generous of people. It is better to go beyond the minimum of what the Sacred Law demands when giving charity. This generosity is an expression of gratitude to God, who is the Provider of all wealth and provision. 

The significance and rewards of charity have a close relationship with Ramadan. The fasting days and prayer-filled nights soften hearts and create ripples of compassion and generosity. The hunger and thirst felt during fasting reminds the believers that the world is filled with people who are unable to find enough food or drink for their needs and allows even the well-off Muslims to experience first hand the suffering of the poor, thus encouraging them to help the needy.

Virtues of Charity in Ramadan:

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The best charity is the one which is given in Ramadan.” [Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) was the most generous person among all the men, particularly during the month of Ramadan. He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to be extra ordinarily benevolent and generous when he met Gabriel. During the month, the Angel Gabriel (‘Alayhissalaam) used to visit him every night and recite the Noble Qur’an to him. During this period, the generosity of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to be very much increased, faster than the rain-bearing wind. [Bukhari and Muslim]

This Hadith induces us to do two good things frequently and with full preparation in the month of Ramadan. First, benevolence and generosity so that people get maximum time for worship and reduce their mundane affairs during this month. Second, recitation of the Qur’an and reading and hearing the Qur’an from one another, as is done by two Huffaz in this manner.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "It (Ramadan) is the month of sympathy with one's fellowmen." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever offers a meal for breaking the fast of another person, earns the same merit as the one who was observing the fast without diminishing in any way the recompense of the fasting person.” [Ahmed, Nasai and authenticated by al-Albani]
 The Sahaba asked,"O messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can feed a fasting person to break his fast." Rasulullah (SAWS) replied, "Allah grants the same reward to the one who gives a fasting person to break the fast a mere date, or a drink of water, or a sip of milk." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

"Whoever gave a person who fasted water to drink, Allah shall grant him to drink from My fountain such a drink where after that he shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

Sadaqat ul-Fitr/Zakat ul-Fitr:

Zakat ul-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqat ul-Fitr. The word Fitr means the same as Iftar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futur which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakat ul-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadhan.

Sadaqat ul-Fitr is a duty which is Wajib on every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he / she has the means to do so. The proof that this form of charity is compulsory can be found in the Sunnah whereby Ibn 'Umar (RA) reported that the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam made Zakat ul-Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Sa' of dried dates or one Sa' of barely [Bukhari]

The main purpose of Zakat ul-Fitr is to provide those who fasted with the means of making up for their errors during the month of fasting. Zakat ul-Fitr also provides the poor with a means with which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast ('Eid ul-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.

Ibn Abbas (RA) reported, "The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam made Zakat ul-Fitr compulsory so that those who fasted may be purified of their idle deeds and shameful talk (committed during Ramadhan) and so that the poor may be fed." [Abu Dawood with a sahih chain]

Hence, the goal of Sadaqat ul-Fitr is the spiritual development of the Believers. By making them give up some of their wealth, the believers are taught the higher moral characteristics of generosity, compassion (sympathy for the unfortunate), gratitude to God and the righteousness. But, since Islam does not neglect man's material need, part of the goal of Zakat ul-Fitr is the economic well-being of the poorer members of society.

Paying Zakat in Ramadan:

Zakat is the obligatory charity and is another pillar of Islam which most Muslims give in Ramadan. The rewards of zakat given in Ramadan increases 70 fold since, according to the hadith, the rewards of every fardh is multiplied by 70 times in Ramadan.

Imam al-Ghazali says in 'Ihya ul Uloom':
"One should endeavor to choose one of the most opportune times to pay Zakat, resulting in more closeness to Allah and compounding the value of the Zakat.
One such favorable time would be month of Muharram, since it is the first month of the Islamic year and one of the sacred months. Another is Ramadan."

Ramadan with the Salaf...

Ramadan with the Salaf

A collection of reports about how Muslims of the earlier generations treated Ramadan, as reported by the Muhaddith Ibn Abi Dunya in a variety of his books.

1. Anas b. Malik reports that when the month of Rajab entered upon them, the Prophet (SAWS) would supplicate in words, “O Allah, bless us (with plentifulness) in Rajab and Sha`ban, and allow us to live until Ramadan.”
2. Mu‘alla b. Asad said, “I heard Mu‘tamar say, ‘My father would wake up everyone in the house upon the entry of Ramadan and would say, ‘Rise! Who knows you may not meet with another Ramadan after this.’’”
3. Ibrahim reported: “Aswad used to recite whole of the Qur’an every two days of Ramadan, and would sleep between Maghrib and `Isha (alone).”
4. Mujahid reports that ‘Ali al-Azdi would finish reciting the whole of the Qur’an every night of Ramadan and slept between Maghrib and ‘Isha (alone).
5.Abu Sa‘d the vegetable dealer said, “Myself and ‘Abd al-Rahman used to go about visiting several mosques in search of the best reciter of the Qur’an.”
6. Layth reported that Bilal al-‘Abasi used to lead them in Prayers in the nights of Ramadan reciting a quarter of the Qur’an every night and then leave them. The people would say, “This night you made it easy for us.”
7. Yunus reported, that Abdul Rahman b. Abi Bakr (the Prophet’s Companion), Sa‘eed b. Abi al-Hasan and Marwan al-‘Abdi used to lead them in (Taraaweeh) Prayers doing twenty Rak‘ah; and they would not do the Qunoot except in the second half of Ramadan, and, they would finish the Qur’an twice.
(Not doing the Qunoot meant that during the second half of Ramadan they would do the Witr with the congregation: Ed.).
8. Ibrahim said, “Those who stood up in Tahajjud prayed at one end of the mosque, all by themselves, not following the Imam.” (i.e., the common people did their Taraaweeh and Witr with the Imam, but these people offered longer prayers, praying more than twenty Rak‘ah, and therefore, their Witr much later, and hence, did not pray behind the Imam: Ed.).
9. It is reported of Tameem al-Dari (a Companion of the Prophet) that in the night of Ramadan in which Laylatu al-Qadr was likely to occur, he would put on a cloak that he had specially bought for four thousand.”
10. Salt b. Bistam said, “Hammad b. Sulayman offered breakfast to fifty people in the month of Ramadan and when it was the previous night of `Eid, he would give them each a piece of cloth and a hundred (Dinar or Dirham) each.”

Source:Young Muslim Digest.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Virtues & Spiritual benefits of Itikaf

I‘tikaf is a spiritual retreat in a mosque (masjid), usually performed during the last ten days of Ramadan. It is one of the important Sunnahs of the prophet (SAWS) and a special ibadah in Ramadhan. 
Some Hadiths on virtues of I‘tikaf:

It is related that Abu Hurayra (RA) said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to do i'tikaf for ten days every Ramadan. The year in which he died he did i'tikaf for twenty days." (Sahih Bukhari)
Aishah (RA) reported that the Prophet (Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam): "Used to perform i'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty & Majestic, took him." (Bukhari & Muslim)
Ali Ibn Hussain (RA) narrates from his father that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “He who observes the ten days I’tikaf during Ramadhan will obtain the reward of two Hajj & two Umrah.” (Bayhaqi)
Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) reported that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wasallam) said: “Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day's i’tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” (Tabarani)

Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, (about him who engages in i’tikaf), “that he is safe from sin & he also gets that reward which everyone (outside i’tikaf) gets for pious deeds.” (Ibn Majah)

The Purpose and Benefits of i`tikaf:

The idea behind i`tikaf is helping Muslims devote themselves exclusively to worship at least for a few days a year and be away from the affairs of this world, which can distract one's heart from the worship.

It is an amazing opportunity to gain immense & abundant rewards as well as closeness to Allah. We can also take this opportunity to strengthen & boost our imaan (faith) for the rest of the year.
It says in the Fatawa Hindiyya regarding the benefits of i`tikaf,
“The one who makes such a spiritual retreat:
- Has submitted his entire person to the worship of Allah Most High;
- seeks closeness (to Allah);
- distances himself from the worldly distractions that prevent one from proximity;
- drowning his entire time in actual or effective worship, for the basis of its legislation is to wait from one prayer time to the next prayer in congregation;
- it also makes the one in retreat resemble the angels who do not disobey the command of Allah and do what they are commanded, while glorifying Allah by night and day without tiring…” [1.212] (Source:
The purpose and spirit of I‘tikaf is... "the reclusion of the heart to Allah, dissociating from creation and being preoccupied in Him alone, so his affinity with Allah substitutes his affinity with creation, and thus he becomes prepared thereby with his proximity to Him on the day of (his) loneliness in the grave." (Mukhtasar Zad al-Ma‘ad)
Imam Shah Waliullah remarks, “Since I’tikaf in the masjid is a means to the attainment of peace of the mind and purification of the heart, and it affords an excellent opportunity for forging an identity with the angels and having a share in the blissfulness of the 'Night of Power' (Shab-e-Qadr) and for devoting oneself to prayer and meditation, Allah has set apart the last ten days of the month of Ramadhân for it and made it a Sunnah for His pious and virtuous slaves.”

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the soul :

Sometimes due to a person's physical condition he is admitted into the intensive care unit allowing his body time to recover.

Likewise the soul also needs to recover from the hustle and bustle of the world, the spiritual pollution caused by evil elements of society, the rat race of wanting, desiring and acquiring more of this world and the distractions that has diverted our mind, heart and soul from the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala and His Beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the soul is the Masjid and I'tikaf is the facitilty within this ICU to allow the soul to not only recover but be spiritually rejuvenated! I'tikaf is indeed a Spiritual Retreat!

The spring of Spiritual life:

I'tikaf is referred to as "The spring of life in a world struck with the drought of negligence of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him)."

It is the negligence of ourselves and our Creator which is given a thorough treatment during I'tikaf. In addition, we can once again find ourselves and our Lord and spiritually return back to Him before we are forced to return back to him by the separation of the soul from the body in a state of complete negligence of Him.
The mu’takif (person performing I'tikaf) is the guest of Almighty Allah in His house.
The Adamant Beggar at the door of Allah:
The example of the one that resides in the masjid in I'tikaf is like the person who, having gone to a rich and powerful person to appeal for his needs, remains there until his request granted. He thus says to Allah: "O Allah! I have placed my humble request before You and have faith in Your generosity; and I shall not move from here until my request is granted by You." When someone comes begging at the door and then refuses to leave until his request is granted, it is certain that even the most selfish person will eventually accede to one's request; and how much more Merciful is Allah.
It's a communal sunnah:
It is a strongly emphasized communal sunna for at least some people in each community to make i`tikaf for the entire last 10 days of Ramadan, as this was from the communal guidance and practice of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is blameworthy upon the community as a whole not to arrange and implement this.
The great Tabai'e, Imam Zuhri [50 AH- 124 AH]  said: “How strange the Muslims are! They have given up I’tikaf, despite the fact that the Prophet, (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), never abandoned this practice from the time he came to Madinah until his death.”