Friday, January 18, 2013

Gossip and Backbiting...

As-Salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you),

How To Stop Gossip

If any of us hear gossip about one of our sisters, we are enjoined to oppose it, and correct the speaker- gently, politely, and with wisdom. This is in accordance with the various ways of changing a bad deed which were described by the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him):

"Whoever of you sees an evil deed should change it with her hand [by acting], or if she cannot do that, then with her tongue [by speaking out], or if she cannot do that, then with her heart - and that is the weakest of faith."

We should try to do to the best of our ability. The least of these is opposing the wrong deed in our hearts, which in this case should make us leave the gathering where the gossip is taking place.

Let us think about the words of Allah:

"When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our Signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, do not sit in the company of those who do wrong." [Noble Quran 6:68]

Let those who relish gossip beware! The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) ordered those who hear gossip to reject it, but they are accepting it with pleasure! Woe to you! Are you not thinking about where you will end up? It is as if you think you were created only for fooling about and committing sins! For your Lord's sake tell me: are you Muslims?!

The Varying Forms of Wrongful Backbiting

Some sisters will backbite in accordance to her gathering and her companions and her associates. Whilst her knowing that the one being backbitten is free of what it is they say - or of some of what they say. However; she sees that if she were to forbid them then the sitting will cease and the people of the sitting would become sullen with her just as they would become estranged from her. So she sees compliance with them through good social relations as well as good companionship; so when they become angered then she likewise becomes angry due to their being angered - so she takes it up with them.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into many forms. So at times it would be in the form of religion and rectification, so she will say: "I am not in the habit of mentioning anyone except in good; and I neither like backbiting nor lies. However I shall inform you of her affairs." So she will say: "By Allah - she is Miskeen (weak/pitied) - or she is a good woman; however she has in her such and such." Or she may say: "let us leave off her; may Allah forgive her and us." Whilst her intent is to belittle her as well as causing a wrong to her flank. Thus taking the backbiting out from the form of rectification and religion. They seek to deceive Allah with that just as they deceive the creation. For we have seen this and its like from them in many varying colors.

Then there are those that will elevate other than herself out of showing off - so as to promote themselves. So, for instance, she will say: "If I had supplicated for so and so last night in my prayer; then there would have reached me from her such and such." So as to raise herself whilst putting down the other person. Or she may say: "so and so is dull in intelligence and has little understanding." So her intent is to praise herself and demonstrate that she is better than the other person.

Likewise from them are those that are carried by envy upon backbiting; and so will gather between two ugly affairs: backbiting as well as envy. So when an individual is praised, she will try to remove that from them through revealing their deficiencies by making corrections in their religion - or in the form of envy and immorality and dispraise - in order to remove the praise from them.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into the form of mockery and play; in order to bring laughter to other than herself through her joking and her mimicry and her belittling of the one she is joking about.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into the form of amazement; so she will say: "I am amazed at so and so at how she does not do such and such?! And from so and so as to how she fell into such and such; and how she did such and such." Thus pronouncing her name during the course of her amazement.

There are those from them that show sorrow; so she will say: "so and so is weak/pitied, it has caused me sorrow for what has happened to her and what the outcome was for her." So someone who hears her thinks that she has sorrow for the individual and that she is regretful and that her heart is covered in the attainment of recovery for them. She may also mention them in front of their enemies so that they may profit from it. So this; and other than it is from amongst the greatest of the sicknesses of the heart as well as deceitfulness to Allah and His creation.

From them are those that make apparent backbiting through the form of anger and disapproving something abominable. So there becomes manifest in this aspect certain things from the adornment of speech which contains fallacies. Whilst her intent was other than what she made apparent. And Allah's aid is sought.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whoever Memorizes and Acts Upon the 99 Names of Allah Will Enter Paradise

Abu Huraira relates that Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
‏ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ
Allah has ninety-nine names. Whoever comprehends them will enter Paradise.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 35, Number 6476]
In some narrations of this Hadith, these names are enumerated as follows, “He is Allah besides whom there is no God: the Beneficent, the Merciful, the Sovereign, the Holy…” until ninety-nine names are listed.
This additional text is found in Sunan al-Tirmidhi and Sunan Ibn Majah with different chains of transmission. However, scholars of Hadith are agreed that this addition is not from the words of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
There are a number of important things this Hadith tells us about our belief in Allah’s names..

Allah Has Many Names

Allah says in the Quran:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
Say: If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, the ocean would be used up before the words of my Lord would be exhausted, even if we added another ocean like it to help us.
[Surah al-Kahf 18:109]

Allah also says:
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
If all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it (as ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise.
[Surah Luqman 31:27]

The various modes of Allah’s praise, all the numerous aspects of His glory, perfection, greatness, might, and power, are beyond human comprehension. Our minds can never conceive a limit to His nature. Therefore, we should not understand this Hadith to be limiting Allah’s names to ninety-nine.
Indeed, it is authentically related from Ibn Mas’ud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, while supplicating his Lord:
أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ أَوْ أَنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ أَوْ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ
I ask You by every name You have, by which You have named Yourself, or have revealed in Your Book, or taught any of Your creatures, or preserved in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You…
[Musnad Ahmad, Number 3704]

Also, in a Hadith describing the Prophet’s intercession on the Day of Judgment, the Prophet, peace be upon him, foretells that he will prostrate beneath the Throne, and then Allah will reveal to him words of praise that had never before been taught to anyone. [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Our Lord has names that He has attributed to Himself. Some of these he has revealed in His Books, like those that are mentioned the Quran. Up to eighty-one names for Allah have been identified in the Quran. Allah has revealed some of His names to a select few of His creatures, like the prophets and the angels.

There are, however, names the knowledge of which Allah has withheld for Himself, names He has taught to no one. This is because Allah cannot be fathomed by His creatures. There are an infinite number of glorious meanings which we as His creatures simply cannot comprehend. His truth is absolute, and His majesty is boundless. His beauty, power, and perfection are without limit. As a consequence, only He can comprehend all of the meanings and names that apply to Him.
As for the ninety-nine names mentioned in the Hadith, these are merely a fraction of His names which have a special significance attached to them. Among what is special about them is that “whoever comprehends them all will enter Paradise.”

Allah’s Names Are Known Only By Revelation

We cannot make up names for Allah. People may certainly extol the praise and glory of their Lord in various ways. There is tremendous creative scope for doing so, as we can see in the speech of scholars, literary masters, and poets. Indeed, sometimes even those who are illiterate, or uneducated, or new believers come up with the most exquisite and eloquent ways to praise and glorify their Lord, inspired as they are by their deep heartfelt love. This is perfectly alright, since it is part of what it means to communicate about Allah, whose deeds are most worthy of being extolled.
It is a different matter when we are talking about Allah’s names. It is impermissible for us to turn what we say about Allah into new names for Him – by which we then call out to Him and invoke Him in our prayers. We can only attribute to Him the names that He has revealed to us in scripture.
This applies even to meanings about Allah that we can ascertain from the Quran. For example, the Quran informs us that Allah speaks and that He declares things. However, it does not give Him names like, “The Speaker,” and “The Declarer.”
What we have as Allah’s names are limited to what is cited in the Qur’an and Sunnah in the form of names, like: The Creator, The Former, The Fashioner, The King, The Holy, The Peace, The Mighty, The Wise, The Sublime, The Great…
I recall reading in Sheikh Hasan al-Banna’s Islamic Creed that he rejected the idea of naming Allah, “The Engineer of the Universe.” It is good that he criticized this tendency.

The Meaning of the Word “Comprehend” is Multi-Faceted

In the statement, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one, whoever comprehends them all will enter Paradise” the word encompasses a number of concepts:
First, it conveys the meaning of simply knowing these names and committing them to memory. A number of scholars have made efforts to deduce these names from the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah and to enumerate them. These scholars including al-Zajjaj, Ibn Mandah, Ibn Hazm, al-Ghazali, Ibn al-Arabi, al-Qurtubi, and among contemporary scholars al-Uthaymin and Umar al-Ashqar.
Knowing these names is certainly part of what it means to “comprehend” them. It is certainly a virtue for a Muslim to know these names, invoke them, and call upon Allah with them. It is a good idea, therefore, for a Muslim to write these names down somewhere conspicuous for easy reference, like in the care or in a room as a reminder and to facilitate their memorization.
Secondly, part of “comprehending” Allah’s names is to have knowledge of their meanings. These names are not mere symbols or abstract signifiers of Allah. Neither are they obscure and difficult to comprehend. They are clear Arabic words which are intended to be readily understood. Therefore, it is essential for a Muslim to at least read a short book that explains the meanings of Allah’s names.

When we invoke Allah by His names, the different words we utter should have meaning for us. We should not be simply uttering by rote a string of syllables that we do not understand. Understanding Allah’s names is in itself a great blessing which elevates our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.
Thirdly, we should invoke Allah by these names when we beseech Him in supplication. Allah says:
وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ
Allah’s are the most beautiful names, so call on him by them; and leave the company of those who His names in profanity.
[Surah al-A’raf 7:180]

Fourthly, we should recall the meanings of Allah’s names to mind. The worst thing that we are afflicted with in life is heedlessness of Allah and becoming totally immersed in our material concerns. The best medicine for our hearts is to remain aware of Allah’s greatness.
We should strive to bring ourselves to ever higher levels of awareness and faith, until we attain the level the Prophet describes as, “to worship Allah as though you see him.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nine Great Benefits of Reading and Reflecting Over the Qur’aan

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, may His Salaah and Salaam be upon His last Messenger Muhammad, to proceed:
Indeed the Book of Allaah is not a book like any other, it is the timeless Speech of Allaah, not a created thing, a study guide for life and death and what comes after. Therefore it deserves a more careful study than anyone else’s speech. It necessitates that its reader return to the early narrations of those who witnessed its revelation and heard its explanation by the one deputed by Allaah to rehearse and explain His Words to humanity (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). For if one would try to ponder over the meanings of the verses without having done this study, then surely the filth of the time that he lives in and his ignorance of the correct application and understanding that the early Muslims had would cause him to understand some things not intended by Allaah Most High, and therefore he would go astray, thinking to be worshipping Allaah.
So every sincere Muslim who hopes to earn Allaah’s Love by reciting and reflecting over Allaah’s Book, then let him hold tight to the meanings explained by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), and those taught by the Companions and their immediate followers, and the early scholars of Islaam.
Know that reciting and pondering over the Book of Allaah, devoting your time regularly to its study and implementation has tremendous benefits in this life and the Next, so let us now look to just a few of them to attach ourselves more firmly to Allaah’s Majestic Words. Each benefit stands as enough of an encouragement on its own for us to shun any laziness we have and dedicate ourselves to the Qur’aan properly.
1 – Reading and reflecting over the Qur’aan fulfills an Islaamic duty
Indeed the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) summarized this Religion with his statement:
“The Religion is naseehah (sincerity)!”
So then Tameem ibn Aws (may Allaah be pleased with him) then said, “We asked, ‘To whom?’” He (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) replied:
“To Allaah, HIS BOOK, His Messenger, the leaders of the people, and their common folk.” [2]
The sincerity that is due to the Book of Allaah, as Ibn Rajab Al-Hambalee said, includes having a strong love for it, honoring it and extolling its great status, affirming that it is the Speech of Allaah, seeking to understand its meanings, acting by it, following the orders found in it, spreading its correct understanding, continually studying it, and taking on the good manners that are encouraged in it. [3]
So by reading and reflecting over the Qur’aan, one fulfills an obligation and is rewarded for that. Upon fulfilling this obligation, the Qur’aan then becomes a proof for him on the Day of Judgement! And that is our second benefit we will take by embracing this Noble Book…
2 – The Qur’aan will be a proof for us on the Day of Judgement
This is due to the statement of the Messenger:
“…and the Qur’aan is a proof for you or against you…” [4]
So one of two things will occur with this proof, the Book of Allaah. It will either be in your favor, a proof for you on the Day when you will need every single good deed, or it will be something standing against you, the very Speech of your Creator, a proof against you! Who could be saved from the terrors of that Day if Allaah’s own Speech is against him?!?!
Think carefully, dear Muslim brother or sister, about your position with the Qur’aan! Are you neglecting it, contradicting it, being heedless of its orders and prohibitions, are you thinking deeply over it?! Will it be on your side on the Day of Judgement?!
O Allaah! We ask you, by Your Glorious Speech and the rest of Your beautiful Names and Attributes, to make the Qur’aan a proof for us! O Allaah! Don’t make the Qur’aan a proof against us on that Day, and save us from the hellfire!
For if Allaah makes the Qur’aan a proof in our favor on that Day, then it would also be an intercessor for us, when NO intercession will take place except by His Permission.
3 – The Qur’aan will intercede for us on the Day of Judgement
The proof: Aboo Umaamah relates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Read the Qur’aan, for verily it will come on the Day of Standing as an intercessor for its companions.” [5]
4 - Your status in this life will be raised
In Saheeh Muslim, we find a lovely story, about how a man from the promised people of Jannah, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, and his deputy over Makkah understood this.
On the authority of ‘Aamir ibn Waathilah, he said that Naafi’ ibn ‘Abdil-Haarith met up with ‘Umar (ibn Al-Khattaab) at (a place called) ‘Usfaan. ‘Umar used to put him (Naafi’) to work (to govern) over Makkah.
So he (‘Umar) said, “Who have you put to work (to govern) over the people of the Valley (Makkah)?”
He (Naafi’) said, “Ibn Abzaa.”
He (‘Umar) said, “Who is Ibn Abzaa?”
He (Naafi’) said, “One of our freed slaves.”
He (‘Umar) said, “So you have put a freed slave in charge of them?”
He (Naafi’) said, “Verily he is a recitor of the Book of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and verily he is knowledgeable of the laws of inheritance.”
‘Umar said, “Verily your Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) had said:
“Verily Allaah raises some people by way of this Book and lowers others by it.” [6]
5 – You will be from the best of the people
‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him), the third khaleefah and fourth most virtuous person on earth after the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), Aboo Bakr, and ‘Umar, said that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:
“The best of you are the ones who learn the Qur’aan and teach it to others” [7]
 6 – There are ten rewards for each letter you recite from the Qur’aan
As an authentic hadeeth in Sunan At-Tirmithee proves:
“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allaah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter, and “meem” is a letter.” [8]
So increase your recitation of the Qur’aan to gain these merits, and to gain the following merit as well…
7 – The recitors of the Qur’aan will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels
‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), the Prophet’s beloved wife who held his head in her lap as he took his last blessed breaths, relates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Verily the one who recites the Qur’aan beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [9]
So do not let the Shaytaan give you false excuses, such as “I am not an ‘Arab,” or “Its not my language.” This hadeeth is a firm proof against these whisperings. Dedicate yourself to the Book of Allaah, whether you are an ‘Arab or not! The excuses have been eliminated and the pathway has been cleared for you to embrace the Book of Allaah without holding back or offering excuses!
And surely you will not hesitate to seek a teacher or a study circle for the Qur’aan once you hear the last and perhaps greatest benefits of reading and contemplating over the Qur’aan…
8 – The Qur’aan will lead you to Paradise
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:
“The Qur’aan is an intercessor, something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; Whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.” [10]
9 – Your position in Paradise is determined by the amount of Qur’aan you memorize in this life
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-’Aas heard the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) saying:
“It will be said to the companion of the Qur’aan: Read and elevate (up through the levels of the Paradise) and beautify your voice as you used to do when you were in the dunyaa! For verily, your position in the Paradise will be at the last verse you recite!” [11]
Know that these nine benefits, from the many benefits available, can only be attained by a sincere commitment to the Book of Allaah, not by a person’s mere statement, “I love the Qur’aan, it’s beautiful.” Rather the heart must be sincerely attached to Allaah’s Book and the limbs and tongue will follow in this attachment.
You must know that only a few of the numerous benefits of reading and reflecting over the Qur’aan have been mentioned here. There are many benefits that await your reading in the Qur’aan and books of hadeeth, like the chapter of the Qur’aan that will argue on your behalf in the grave, and that it is a physical healing, a source of rest and relaxation for your heart, among many other things.
And Allaah knows best.