Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ghill is a malady of the heart that is closely related to rancour, extreme anger, and malice. It comes from the same Arabic root from which the word aghlal originates, which is used in the Quran to mean yokes around the neck (Quran 36:8), as if to say that rancour dwells in a heart bound to rancour and treachery. Rancour is pungent emotion that is rooted in being extremely angry at a person to the point that one wishes harm to come to him. But the ultimate victim of rancour is its carrier.

Imam Mawlud says that if a person feels rancour toward a particular person, he should show that person goodwill. By nature, people are naturally inclined to love those who do good to them. And if one shows a person good, feelings of rancour will fall to the wayside.

If a person has rancour toward another believer, God shall not forgive that person until he forgives his brother, for rancour is a serious affliction that festers in one's heart and blocks good things from coming to one.

Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp.122, 123

Praying Quietly

Once, the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, were travelling, and loudly engaging in dhikr (remembrance of Allah). The Prophet Said:

"O people! Be gentle on yourselves, for you are not calling someone who is deaf or absent. Rather, you are calling the One Who hears everything, Ever-close."

Ibn Taymiyyah delved into the wisdom of making dua silently, and mentioned a number of benefits to this:

Firstly, it is a sign of strong iman, as the person demonstrates that he firmly believes that Allah can hear even the quietest of prayers and thoughts.

Secondly, it is a sign of respect and manners in front of Allah. For, just as it is considered improper for the servant to raise his voice in front of his master, or the peasant in front of the king, even so it is improper that a slave raise his voice loudly in front of the Creator.

Thirdly, it is a means of achieving humility and humbleness, which is the essence of worship. The one who is humble does not ask except meekly, whereas the one who is arrogant asks loudly.

Fourthly, it is a means of achieving sincerity, since others will not notice him.

The companions of the Prophet understood the importance of saying a dua silently. Ibn Abbas stated: "A silent dua is seventy times better than a loud one!" And al-Hassan al-Basri said, "We used to be amongst a group of people (i.e., the Companions) who would never do any act in public if they could do so in private. And those Muslims would strive in making their dua, and not a sound would be heard from them! For they used to whisper to their Lord."

Compiled From:
"Dua: The Weapon of the Believer"- Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi, pp. 86-89

Advocates of Divine Message

Advocates of Divine Message
Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) Sura 21: Verses 87-88

"And remember Dhul-Nun, when he went away in anger, thinking that We would not force him into a tight situation! But then he cried out in the deep darkness: 'There is no deity other than You! Limitless are You in Your glory! I have done wrong indeed!' So We responded to him and delivered him from his distress. Thus do We deliver those who have faith."

Prophet Jonah, peace be upon him, is here called Dhul-Nun, which means 'man of the whale' because he was swallowed by the whale and then thrown out. He was sent to a particular city, and he called on its people to believe in God, but they rejected both him and his message.

Angry and frustrated he walked away, and found himself sometime later by the sea, where he saw a laden boat. He boarded it. When the boat was in the middle of the sea, it was apparent that its load was too heavy. The shipmaster said that one passenger must be thrown overboard in order to give the rest a chance to survive. They all drew lots and the draw fell to Jonah. The other passengers threw him into the sea, or he might have jumped overboard. It was then that the whale swallowed him and he found himself in a most tight situation. At this moment he cried out to God for help. God answered his prayer and saved him from the distress he was suffering.

There are in Jonah's story some significant points we need to reflect upon:

The advocates of a message must be ready to bear the burden involved in such advocacy, remain patient in the face of rejection and vicious opposition. They must continue to present their message to people and call on them to believe in it, time after time.

Such advocates cannot give in to despair. They cannot give up on people, believing that they will never respond to the truth, no matter how much opposition they face, and how often they are rejected and accused of falsehood.

The way a message must follow in order to touch people's hearts is neither easy nor comfortable. Positive responses may not be forthcoming. A touch on every sensitive receptor must be made to try to find the effective nerve.

It is easy for an advocate of the divine message to be angry when people turn away from him. To give up and quit is always easy. It may enable us to cool down. But of what service is that to the message itself? It is the message that is most important, not its advocate.

We must discharge our duty however hard the opposition we may face. We then leave the matter to God, and He gives guidance to whomever He pleases.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 65-58

General Supplication

What one wants for oneself, one must also desire for others. Islam induces man to share the good things of life with his fellowmen as his brothers. Islam teaches us that the more general a supplication is, the more likelihood there is of its acceptance. There are many sayings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that corroborate this.

When a Muslim supplicates for others and wishes for them what he wishes for himself, and continues to do so over a long period, he benefits personally. It brings him nearer to Allah as well to his fellowmen. And he gradually attains to a state where his likes and dislikes merge and become one with the pleasure and displeasure of Allah. In addition, he is saved from moral diseases, like malice, envy, spite, and hatred of others. Good and healthy feelings eventually become the hall-mark of his social behaviour, so he is eager to help others and overlook their faults and is ready to forgive them.

Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, pp. 200, 201

Do not Torture Yourself

One day, while the Prophet, peace be upon him, was sitting down, there came to him Umm Qays bint Muhsin with her newborn in order that the Prophet would chew some date and rub therewith the soft palate of the child for blessings (Tahnik), and pray for him.

The Prophet took him and placed him on his lap. It was not long before the baby urinated in the lap of the Prophet and made his garment wet. All the Prophet did then was to call for some water and spray over the affected area of his garment, and that was the end of the matter. (al-Bukhari)

He did not become angry or frown. So why should we torture ourselves by making a mountain out of a molehill? Not everything that happens to us must be to our liking 100%.

Some people cannot control their nerves and magnify the situation, including some parents and teachers.

Do not gather dust upon yourself when the dust is settled. But when the dusts have risen, then cover your nose with your sleeve and continue to enjoy your life.

Compiled From:
"Enjoy Your Life"- Muhammad 'Abd Al-Rahaman Al-"Arifi, pp. 291-293

The Day of Mutual Loss

"The Day He shall gather up all of you for the Day of Gathering (taghabun) ..."

Ghabn, the root of the word taghabun, literally signifies fraudulently acquiring a thing at less than its market value. In other words, it denotes "cheating," "deceiving," or "defrauding" in buying or selling. In extended use, it may indicate "overreaching," or "overcoming" someone or something in an engagement. When buyers and sellers engage each other in the act of ghabn, it is called taghabun, thus becoming "mutual" cheating or defrauding.

The Quran uses this in its extended sense as one of the names of the Day of Judgment because the believers will, on that Day, "overcome" the disbelievers in attaining Paradise. Therefore, in the great engagement between the faithful and the faithless, the disbelievers will become the ultimate losers. The believers' delight assured perpetually, nonetheless, they themselves also will wish that they had striven harder in life with sacrifice and good deeds, to have earned even higher stations in the Garden.

Al-Khazin in his commentary explains this verse: "The utter loss of the disbelievers will become evident on the Day of Judgment when they are deprived of eternal delight because of their abandonment of faith. Moreover, believers will realize a certain 'loss,' as well, because they will then realize their missed opportunities in life for increased righteous works. It is also said that many of the haughty, the mighty, the rich and the famous - who are deficient in goodness - will come to stunning disillusionment when they find themselves surpassed by the truly righteous and virtuous who were deemed humble in life."

Compiled From:
"The Gracious Quran" - Ahmad Zaki Hammad, pp. 271, 272

Friday, November 6, 2009


The root source of ostentation (riya) is desire, wanting something from a source other than God. The cure for ostentation is actively and sincerely seeking out purification of the heart by removing four things:

  1. love of praise;
  2. fear of blame;
  3. desire for worldly benefit from people; and
  4. fear of harm from people.

This is accomplished by nurturing the certainty (yaqin) that only God can benefit or harm one. This is at the essence of the Islamic creed.

Helen Keller once said that there is no slave in this world that didn't have a king somewhere in his ancestry; and there is no king that didn't have a slave somewhere in his ancestry. This world has peaks and valleys. Nothing in creation is permanent. To spend time and energy seeking permanence in the fleeting things of the world - like praise - and then neglect what lasts forever with our Maker is the summit of human folly.

So recognizing that there is no harm or benefit except with God purifies the heart of vain pursuits and ostentation.

Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 57-59

Getting Up for Worship

Al-Sajdah (The Prostration) Sura 32: Verse 15-17

"Only they believe in Our revelations who, whenever they are reminded of them, fall down prostrating themselves in adoration, and extol their Lord's limitless glory and praise; and who are never arrogant; who drag themselves out of their beds at night to pray to their Lord in fear and hope; and who are charitable with what We provide for them. No one can imagine what blissful delights have been kept in store for them as a reward for what they used to do."

This is a pleasant image of believing souls which are so gentle and sensitive. They are sincere in the devotion they address to God alone. No arrogance or pride creeps into their hearts. They receive God's revelation with interest and acceptance, eager to understand and act on them. When these believers are reminded of God's revelations, they "fall down prostrating themselves in adoration." They are keenly influenced by what they are told, glorify God and feel His majesty. Hence, their first reaction is to fall down prostrating themselves. This is the best expression of their feelings, putting their foreheads on the ground in adoration. With this physical gesture, they "extol their Lord's limitless glory and praise." They are never arrogant. Their response is genuine, expressing their true feelings in God's glory.

The surah then describes their physical attitude and inner feelings in a vivid expression that brings the movement and the feeling before our eyes. They stand up for night prayer, which is the obligatory Isha prayer and the Witr prayer that follows it, and they add voluntary night prayer and supplication. This is described here, however, as dragging themselves out of beds. Thus we see the beds and their attraction, inviting people to take rest and sleep. Yet those believers do not respond, and make every effort to resist such attraction, because they have something else that preoccupies them. They want to stand before their Lord, in adoration, with feelings of fear and hope present in their minds. They dread disobeying God and long for His help. They fear God's anger and punishment and hope for His mercy and acceptance. With such sensitivity and devoted, earnest prayer, they do their duty towards their community, in obedience to God: "And who are charitable with what We provide for them."

This splendid, glorious image is accompanied by another one showing the marvellous and special reward which reflects the special care, honour and generosity God bestows on them. God Himself welcomes these people, and He takes it upon Himself to prepare the reward He has in store for them. Furthermore, it is He who will give them a warm reception and and honourable position which will delight them. All this though is known to God alone, no one else has any idea of it. It remains with Him until it is shown to those who will be given it when they meet Him. What a splendid meeting with the Lord of the universe!

Compiled From:
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 467, 468

Five Degrees of Prayer

With respect to prayer, there are five levels of people. [The lowest] is he 'who wrongs his own soul'; who is remiss; who curtails his ablution and the times, limits and essential elements of prayer.

At the second level is he who keeps the times, rules and elements of prayer; who keeps its ablution but is taken away by distractions, which he lacks the inner strength to resist.

At the third level is he who keeps the limits and essential elements of the prayer, and struggles against distractions. This person is preoccupied with striving against his Foe, 'lest he rob him of his prayer'. In prayer, he is in sacred combat [jihad].

At the fourth level is he who, standing in prayer, completes its requirements, its essential elements and its limits. His heart is absorbed in safeguarding the rules and requirements of the prayer 'lest he miss any of them'. In fact, his entire concern becomes performing the prayer as it should be, completely and perfectly. In this way, his concern for the prayer and for worshipping his Lord absorbs his heart.

At the fifth level is he who, standing in prayer, performs it in the manner of the fourth, but in addition places his heart before his Lord. With this he beholds God - ever vigilant before Him, filled with His love and glory - as if, seeing Him, he were physically present before Him. Therefore, the distractions vanish, as the veil between him and his Lord is lifted. The difference between this person in his prayer and everyone else is as vast as the distance between heaven and earth, for he is occupied [only] with his Lord Almighty in prayer, in which he finds his source of gladness.

[Of these five persons], the first will be punished, the second admonished, the third redeemed, the fourth rewarded and the fifth brought near to his Lord - for his source of gladness has been placed in prayer. And whoever is gladdened by the prayer in this world will be gladdened by nearness to his Lord in this world and the next. He who finds gladness in God, gladdens others [in turn]. But whoever does not, leaves this world a loser.

Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, pp. 29, 30


Entertainment is indeed an important dimension of life, but it should constitute "a pause" between two more important things: its function is primarily to give rest to the mind, heart, and being, to divert them in Pascal's usage, so as to enable people to return to more important things, to their responsibilities regarding life, society, work, justice, and death. This is exactly the meaning the Prophet of Islam had given it when he had been questioned by his Companion Handhalah who, on the contrary, saw in entertainment evidence of his hypocritical disposition before God (since it led him to forget). The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered him: "By He who holds my soul in His hands, if you were able to remain in the [spiritual] state in which you are in my company and in permanent remembrance of God, angels would shake hands with you in your beds and along paths. But it is not so, Handhalah, there is a time for this [devotion, remembrance] and a time for that [rest, distraction, entertainment]." [Bukhari, Muslim]

Compiled From:
"Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 196

Intentions and Motives

Muhammad, Sura 47: Verse 12 (Partial)

"Those who disbelieve, take their comfort in this life and eat even as the cattle eat, and the Fire is their habitation."

Muslim jurists and scholars have proclaimed that good intention changes acts of habit (adah) into acts of worship (ibadah). Good intention creates a world of difference in human life. It is owing to an absence of purity of intention that there are people who eat and drink and satisfy their animal desires and while doing so simply live on the same plane as animals do. The reason for this is that their actions are actuated by no other motive than the gratification of their animal desires.

Conversely there are others, apparently similar to those mentioned above, in so far as they also satisfy their desires and enjoy the pleasures of life. Nevertheless, thanks to the noble intention which motivates their actions, even their physical self-fulfilment becomes an act of worship for which they merit reward. The reason is that the motive behind all their actions is to live in compliance with the will of God. Their sublimity of motive is manifest in their day-to-day conduct and reflects the fact that they distinguish between good and evil.

What a world of difference it makes when we decide to orientate our lives towards God and purify our intentions. For it is this, and only this, which can transform our pursuit of pleasure and enjoyment into acts of worship, earning the eternal rewards of the hereafter and the satisfying pleasure of God.

This, then, is the Islamic philosophy of worship. Without saying 'no' to any of a person's legitimate physical needs and desires, Islam seeks to elevate humanity to a place which befits its dignity and status.

Compiled From:
Islam: The Way of Revival, "The Islamic Concept of Worship" - Mustafa Ahmad al-Zarqa, pp. 160, 161

Monday, November 2, 2009