Allah (swt) says:

وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِير

“He is with you wherever you are – Allah sees what you do.” [al-Hadid (57):4]

This is such a powerful ayah; if we were to truly understand and internalise its meaning, it would completely transform our character and behaviour. It is human nature to act differently in the presence of some ‘higher authority’, whether that is one’s manager at work, the speed cameras on the road, the police car parked-up on the pavement etc. So, to know “He is with you wherever you are – Allah sees what you do” would necessitate a change in our behaviour. If it doesn’t, then we need to question whether we’ve really understood this ayah; we may have ‘understood’ it superficially but has it entered our hearts?

Allah then states further on in the surah:

وَهُوَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

“He knows what the heart contains.” [al-Hadid (57):6]

Allah knows you on the inside. He knows who you really are. People might have a good opinion of you, and they may have a bad opinion of you – none of that means anything to Allah. Your position in the sight of Allah has nothing to do with what the people think of you. Don’t be deluded by people’s praise for you, engendering a feeling of self-righteousness and thinking this is how you are with Allah – there’s no guarantee of that. Likewise, if people censure/condemn/criticise you, don’t cave in and abandon your duties. Don’t give up on Allah; He has left the door of Tawbah open.


– Victory –

10Aug13

Make no mistake about it, the victory that this ummah is in dire need of right now will only materialise when *we* communally revive the spirit of the Qur’ān in our lives and become walking manifestations of faith.

We need not look any further than the example of our own Prophet (saw) and his Companions to see how the Qur’ān elevates nations. Our mother ‘Ā’ishah (ra) when responding to the question regarding the character of the beloved said, “His character was the Qur’ān.” He (saw) completely embodied the perfect practice of Qur’ānic tenets and his Companions followed suit. Within a matter of just 23 years, a small handful of sincere men and women, truthful to their Lord, were able to spark-off a global awakening and transformation.

The words of Mustafa al-Siba’ie (rh) are especially apt:

“The Qur’ān’s affect on the souls of the believers is due to its meaning and not its melody, and it’s due to the recitation of those who act upon it and not the recitation of those who’ve perfected it merely for work (gain). And indeed, the believers shook the earth with the Qur’ān the day that its meanings shook their souls, and they opened (conquered) the world the day that its reality and truth opened their minds, and they became foremost in the globe the day that its principles became foremost in their character and wishes. And this is how history will return its first days.”

We often ask of victory. Let’s first ask ourselves where we stand with the Qur’ān.


The Life of Ibn al-Qayyim

Excerpt from the introduction of ‘The Invocation of God’, translated by Michale Abdurrahman Fitzgerald & Moulay Youssef Slitine

Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya was born in 691/1292 in al-Zurʿī, a small farming village fifty-five miles from Damascus. Little is known of his childhood except that he received a comprehensive Islamic education thanks to the fact that his father was principal of the Madrasa al-Jawziyya, one of the few centres devoted to the study of Hanbalite fiqh in Damascus; hence, the name by which he came to be known: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya – ‘son of the principal of the Jawziyya school’ – or simply, Ibn al-Qayyim.[1]

After completing his fundamental studies at the Jawziyya, Ibn al-Qayyim continued his learning in the circles of the shaykhs who filled the city’s mosque. It appears that for some period of time, he came under the influence of Muʿtazilite teachings and probably of certain mystics. In the epic-length Ode he wrote in later years,[2] he refers to this period as being one of confusion and misguidance: ‘All these [ways] did I try, and I fell into a net, fluttering like a bird that knows not where to fly.’

This period came to an end in the year 712/1312, when at twenty-one years of age he met the man who would shape his life’s orientation in Islam: Taqī al-Dīn ibn Taymiyya.[3] Ibn Taymiyya had just returned to Damascus from a seven-year stay in Egypt, the last year of which he had spent under house arrest. His reputation for being an uncompromising defender of the Sunna and of the Hanbalite theology was well known to the people of Syria. Perhaps it was his certitude and strength that appealed to young Ibn al-Qayyim, who ‘like a bird caught in a net did not know where to fly.’ In any event, a bond formed between the two men which lasted 16 years until Ibn Taymiyya’s death.

Between 712/1312 and 726/1326, Ibn al-Qayyim married and had three sons – Ibrāhīm, ʿAbd Allāh and Sharaf al-Dīn. He earned his living as a teacher and imām at the Jawziyya school. His lessons in Hanbalite fiqh and his sermons probably showed the strong influence of his teacher for, in 726/1326, when the authorities of Damascus ordered the arrest of Ibn Taymiyya and his followers, Ibn al-Qayyim was among them.

The imprisonment came after Ibn Taymiyya had been summoned before a council of religious scholars (ʿulamā’) for questioning on a point of fiqh: was it permissible for someone visiting the Prophet’s mosque in Medina to shorten prayers? Since the council knew in advance that Ibn Taymiyya strongly condemned the practice of visiting saints’ tombs for the purpose of receiving blessings (tabarruk), they could easily portray his chary answer as proof that he himself propagated a dangerous innovation (bidʿa) by discouraging Muslims from visiting the burial place of their beloved Prophet. This pretext was used to remove from the public eye a man whom they regarded a source of unrest. The council ruled that Ibn Taymiyya and all those in Damascus who propagated his teachings – including Ibn al-Qayyim – should be rounded up and imprisoned in the citadel of the town. Although a few days later the authorities released Ibn Taymiyya’s followers, Ibn al-Qayyim alone chose to stay at the side of his teacher in prison.

Unlike his house arrest in Egypt, during which he was permitted to write and to teach his followers, this time Ibn Taymiyya was not only locked up, but also denied both books and writing materials, a much harder condition for him to bear than prison itself. It has been recorded that during this final imprisonment he would find scraps of discarded paper and write with pieces of charcoal. In 728/1327, however, having been separate two years from all those things he had loved for, he passed away.[4] Then and only then did Ibn al-Qayyim come out of prison to join the multitudes who followed the body of Ibn Taymiyya to the burial.[5]

It appears that only after his teacher’s death did Ibn al-Qayyim begin his own prolific period as a writer.[6] This stage of his life was also marked by much travel, learning and teaching, as well as several pilgrimages to Mecca, where he even lived for some time.

Our picture of Ibn al-Qayyim in the last twenty-five or so years of his life is derived mainly from the recollections of his two most illustrious students, Ibn Rajab and Ibn Kathīr.[7] The latter wrote, ‘He recited [the Qur’ān] beautifully and was loved by a great many people. He neither envied nor harmed anyone, nor tried to find fault with them, nor harboured malice towards them. In short, there were people like him…He was dominated mostly by goodness and a virtous nature.’[8]

Ibn Rajab writes, ‘May God bless him, he was a person of worship and night prayers, someone who used to make the prayer last as long as possible; he was devoted to remembrance (dhikr), constant in his love of God, in turning back to God, in seeking forgiveness, in his dependence on God and in humility before Him. He reached a level of devotion which i have never witnessed in anyone else, nor have I seen anyone more vast in learning or more knowledgeable of the meanings of the Qur’ān, the Sunna, and the inner realities of faith. And while I know he was not infallible,[9] yet I have never seen anyone who was closer to the meaning of this word.’[10]

In addition to these isolated glimpses of the man, there is evidence that he loved books so much that after his death his sons had to sell off much of his library, keeping only what they themselves could make use of.[11]

Ibn al-Qayyim died in 751/1350, when he was scarcely 60 years old. It is recorded that the funeral prayer, attended by many people, was offered at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. He was buried at the cemetery of Bāb al-Ṣaghīr, near the grave of his father – raḥimahumā Allāh.

————————————————-


[1] Al-Madrasa al-Jawziyyah is named after Abu al-Faraj ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿUbayd Allāh ibn al-Jawzī (d. 656/1258), who established it as an endowment. After reconstruction, the building stands today at the entrance of Sūq al-Buzūriyya, but has been converted into shops, with a small upstairs mosque.

It should be noted that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is often confused with another Hanbalite scholar, Ibn al-Jawzī – the author of Talbīs al-Iblīs and other famous works. The latter died in 598/1201-2 and thus preceded Ibn al-Qayyim by more than a century.

[2] This 6000-line poem is usually referred to simply as al-Qaṣida al-Nūniyya.

[3] In his al-Qaṣida al-Nūniyya, he goes on to describe this meeting in near-mystical terms:

His hand took my hand and we journeyed without pause,

Till he showed me the place where the sun of faith rises

And I saw the banners of the city, and ‘round about it

The descent of Guidance and the forces of the Qur’an.

And I saw signs of wondrous import,

Yet veiled from a blind throng.

And I was given drink from a crystal glass,

Water that glistened like the jewels of a crown

And I saw cups as numerous as the starts

To quench the thirst of the thirsting.

And I saw ‘round the pure spring of Kawthar,

Who waters ever gush, two scales:

The scale of the Sunna and (the scale) of God’s Word,

Which eternity will not rush nor tarnish.

[4] He died at around 67 years of age.

[5] Those knowledgeable of records and history said, “A funeral of this magnitude was unheard of apart from that of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, may God be pleased with him.” ʿUmar al-Bazzār, al-Aʿlām al-ʿāliyah fi manāqib Ibn Taymiyya, ed. Zuhayr al-Shāwīsh, Beirut, al-Maktab al-Islami, 1396 AH, p. 86.

[6] None of his books is dated, but most of his references to his Shaykh are followed by formulae of respect for the dead – qaddas Allāhu rūḥahu (‘may God sanctify his soul’) and raḥimahu Allāhu (‘may God have mercy upon him’).

[7]  Ibn Rajab (d. 795/1392) authored several works in ḥadīth, most famous of which is Jāmiʿ al-ʿulūm wa l-ḥikam, a widely studied commentary on the forty ḥadīth of al-Nawawī. Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1372) is the author of one of the most widely studied Qur’ānic commentaries.

[8] From al-Bidaya wa l-nihāya, quoted in Bakr, Ibn Qayyim, p.24.

[9] The Arabic word maʿṣūm may also be rendered as ‘sinless’.

[10] From Dhayl ṭabaqāt al-Ḥanābila, quote in Bakr, Ibn Qayyim, p. 24.

[11] Bakr, Ibn Qayyim, p.38-9


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Actions of the Heart | Tawakkul (Reliance)

Reliance (al-Tawakkul) in Allāh is a lofty station having a tremendous effect. It is from the greatest obligations of faith (Īmān) and one of the most virtuous acts of worship that brings a person closer to his Lord. It is the highest station of Tawhīd. Indeed no matter is achieved except by having reliance in Allāh and seeking His aid and assistance (al-Istiʾānah).

Importance

Saʾīd b. Jubayr said,

“Reliance in Allāh is the vessel of faith.”[1]

Reliance in Allāh is linked to everything related to obligatory, recommended and permissible deeds. In fact, even the evildoer may depend upon Allāh in achieving his objective despite it being despised and blameworthy.

People’s needs are many and it is absolutely necessary to have reliance in Allāh in fulfilling them.

Ibn al-Qayyim said,

“If a slave depended upon Allāh with due reliance in moving a mountain from its place, and he was commended to do that, he would surely move it!”[2]

The Muslim does not see dependency upon Allāh in his affairs as something merely recommended; rather it is seen as a religious obligation.

Ibn al-Qayyim said,

“Reliance in Allāh comprises the stations of leaving one’s affairs to Him (al-Tafwī), seeking His aid and assistance (al-Istiʾānah) and contentment (al-Riḍā). It is inconceivable to have reliance without them.”[3]


[1] Musannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah (7/202)

[2] Madārij al-Sālikīn (1/81)

[3] Ibid (1/136)


The Etiquette of the Seeker of Knowledge

Excerpts from Tadhkirat al-Sāmiʿ wa al-Mutakallim fī Ādāb al- ʿĀlim wa al-Mutaʿallim

By Ibn Jamāʿah al-Kinānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him)

In the name of Allāh, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

5)  The seeker of knowledge should divide his time during the night and day, and cease the opportunity of what remains of his life, which is not much. The best time to memorise is before Fajr, for research in the early morning, for writing half-way through the day, and to revise in the evening.

Al-Khaṭīb – may Allāh have mercy on him – said,

“The best time for memorisation is before Fajr, then half-way through the day, then lunch-time.”

He also said,

“Memorising during the night is more beneficial than memorising during the day, and those times when you are hungry are more beneficial than those times when you are full.”

He said,

“The best places to memorise are rooms in which there are not many things, and every place that is free from distractions.”

He also said,

“It is not praiseworthy that a person memorises in the presence of plants, vegetation, rivers, pathways, and where there is a lot of noise, because often they prevent a person from emptying their hearts out.”


The Etiquette of the Seeker of Knowledge

Excerpts from Tadhkirat al-Sāmiʿ wa al-Mutakallim fī Ādāb al- ʿĀlim wa al-Mutaʿallim

By Ibn Jamāʿah al-Kinānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him)

In the name of Allāh, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

4) A seeker of knowledge should be content with the daily sustenance he has even if it is little, and likewise with the clothing which covers him even though it might be shabby. Indeed, through patience upon constrained and difficult living conditions, one attains the vastness of knowledge, and the heart can be focused on different aspirations. Thus, the springs of wisdom bursts forth.

Imām al-Shāfiʿī – may Allah have mercy on him – said,

“No one sought this knowledge with wealth, whilst in an affluent state and therefore succeeded, but those who succeed are the ones who exert themselves in constrained conditions and by serving the scholars.”

He also said,

“Seeking knowledge is not suitable except for the one who is poor.” It was said, “What about a rich person who is content with what he has?” to which he replied, “Not even a rich person who is content with what he has.”

Imām Mālik – may Allah have mercy on him – said,

“No one can attain this knowledge except those who have been struck by poverty and gives preference to this over anything else.”

Abū Ḥanīfah – may Allah have mercy on him – said,

“A person seeks help in seeking knowledge by gathering all their thoughts and concerns, omitting all impediments from his seeking, and by taking that which is easy.”

These are the statements of the scholars, those who are an example for us. They are not to be rejected for indeed this was their state – may Allāh be pleased with them all.

Al-Khaṭīb – may Allah have mercy on him – said,

“It is recommended for the seeker to remain a bachelor as much as he can such that he can cut-off those things which pre-occupy him, such as fulfilling the rights of his wife and seeking a livelihood, which all prevent a person from seeking knowledge.”

Sufyān al-Thawrī – may Allah have mercy on him – said,

“Whoever marries has ridden the seas, and if he has a child, it breaks him down.”

Generally, we say to leave marriage for those who are not really in need of it; it is better for especially for the student whose capital is seeking knowledge, and his heart should be focused on that.


The Etiquette of the Seeker of Knowledge

Excerpts from Tadhkirat al-Sāmiʿ wa al-Mutakallim fī Ādāb al- ʿĀlim wa al-Mutaʿallim

By Ibn Jamāʿah al-Kinānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him)

In the name of Allāh, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

3) A seeker should hasten to spends his youth and time in attaining [knowledge], and not be deceived by procrastination and wishful thinking, for indeed every hour that passes-by cannot be replaced. Therefore, he should cut-off all things which preoccupy him and all impediments from complete seeking. He should strive his earnest and be serious in attaining [knowledge], because these impediments are like highway robbers. This is why the pious predecessors deemed it recommended going far away from one’s family, and distancing oneself from their homeland. If a person’s thoughts are dispersed in difference places, he will not be able to think about the realities, subtleties and obscurities of knowledge.

Allāh – exalted is He – says,

“Allāh has not allotted to any man two hearts within his breast.”[al-Ahzāb (33):4]

Thus, it is said about knowledge, ‘It will not give a part of it to you, until you give all of yourself to it.’

Al-Baghdādī reported in al-Jāmiʿ that some scholars said,

“This knowledge will not be attained except for the one who shuts down his shop, allows his garden to become ruined, leaves and abandons his friends, and does not attend the funeral procession of one of his close relatives who dies.”

All of this, although there is a certain degree of exaggeration in it, means that one’s heart must be focused, and thoughts must be gathered.

It was said some scholars commanded one of their students,

“Dye your thobe, such that your mind is not preoccupied with washing it.”

It is reported al-Shāfiʿī said,

“If I was given the burden of buying one onion, I would not have understood an issue.”