Ramadan Mubarak

Allah says, concerning His Majestic Book:

The Month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance for mankind, [containing] clear proofs of guidance, and the criterion of distinguishing right from wrong. (Al-Qur’an 2:185)

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We encourage all of the believers to refrain from all of the ruinations of the tongue during Ramadan. In his seminal work, “Quickening the Religious Sciences,” Imam al-Ghazali (rah) mentions them as the following:

a) Speaking in matters that do not concern one.

b) Excessive speech.

c) Speaking about sinful matters.

d) Disputation and contestation.

e) Argumentation.

f) Excessively embellished speech.

g) Lewd, insulting, or crude speech.

h) Invoking the Curse of God on someone.

i) Singing indecent songs, or relating immoral poetry.

j) Excessive joking.

k) Sarcasm and ridicule.

l) Revealing secrets.

m) False promises.

n) Lying and false oaths.

o) Backbiting and slander.

p) Instigating tense relations between people.

q) Being two-faced.

r) Praising someone who is either undeserving, or unable to remain humble when praised.

s) Speaking about involved subjects and ideas one lacks the necessary knowledge or eloquence to adequately convey.

t) Ordinary folk speaking in subjects that are the domain of specialists.

May Allah spare us from these ruinations both during and after Ramadan.

The Prophet, Peace and Blessing of Almighty God be upon Him, said: “Whoever fails to leave off ruinous speech, and acting on it [during Ramadan], God does not need him to leave off eating and drinking.” Al-Bukahri

We encourage the believers to avoid all arguments, disputes, and unnecessary worldly entanglements during this blessed month. This is a time for deep devotion and dedication to Allah.

We encourage the believers to work to restore any severed relations or kinship ties they may be experiencing. This is a time when the gentle breezes of Divine Facilitation are blowing. Any good we endeavor during this blessed month will come to bear its proper fruits, Insha Allah.

We encourage all of the believers to eat simply during this month. One should try to make a vow to give up unnecessary, and generally unhealthy fare during this blessed month. Pizza, ice cream, fast food, pastries, and soda should all go. We should make our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in other lands real, and not something confined to speeches and pamphlets.

If one is in the habit of watching television, or listening to commercial music, one should also try to give these things up for Ramadan. They are things that divert us from the remembrance of God in any case. During this special month when every letter we recite from the Majestic Qur’an is tremendously rewarded, we should busy ourselves with recitation, and drop other pastimes.

Married believers should encourage their wives to engage in spiritual pursuits during this month, i.e. reciting the Qur’an, attending Tarawih, etc. They should especially avoid burdening their wives with long hours in the kitchen in order to host extravagant Iftars. While it is certainly virtuous to provide the wherewithal for the believers to break their fast, dates, water, and simple dishes suffice in that regard.

These are some of the things we wanted to convey to you. Hopefully, they will prove of benefit. Again, we wish you a very successful Ramadan and would like to thank all of you for past, present, and future support. May Allah bless us to serve you better in the future.

On behalf of the Zaytuna Staff,

Your Brother in Islam,

Imam Zaid Shakir

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Salawat’us-Sharifah

In the Holy Quran, Allah, glory unto Him, vows by the Prophet’s life. Mentioning his great name next to His Own, the Almighty has required belief in his prophethood, as a precondition of being a worthy servant. Allah took offense in others raising their voices in the presence of His Beloved , cautioning against calling out his name like any other. What’s more, the Almighty has stated that He and the angels send their numerous blessings, salawat’us-sharifah, to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), ordering his ummah amply do the same.

In accordance with the ayah:

“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O Believers! Send your blessings on him and salute him with all respect,” (al-Ahzab, 56) sending salawat’us-sharifah to that Great Being is a duty for all Believers, laid down by Allah, glory unto Him.

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Narrating the following is Ubayy ibn Kab (RadiAllahu Anhu):

“A third of the night had passed when the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) awoke from his sleep and said:

‘Remember Allah, people, remember Allah! Blown will be the first horn that will rattle the ground. Then will follow the second. Death will arrive with all its intensity; death will arrive with all its intensity…’

‘I send lots of salawat’us-sharifah, Messenger of Allah’,said I. ‘How often should I do it?’

‘As much as you wish’ he (Peace and blessings be upon him) replied.

‘Would it be right if I spared a quarter of my prayer for it?’ I again inquired.

‘Spare as much from it as you wish’, he advised. ‘But it will be better for you if you spared more.’

‘Then I will spare half ’, I proposed.

‘As you wish…But better if you spared more’, said he.

‘How about I spared two-thirds then?’

‘As you wish… But better if you spared more’.

‘How would it be then if I send salawat’us-sharifah in the entire time I spare for prayer?’ I then asked.

‘If you do’, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, ‘then Allah will rid you of all your troubles and forgive your sins.’” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamat, 23/2457)

Devotees of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), therefore, embrace the salawat’us-sharifah as a continuous chant, for they are means of increasing the love of the Prophet in a Believer’s heart. Appropriately following the Blessed Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and making the most of the quintessential example he has provided doubtless comes through a grasp of the reality of the Quran and Sunnah, which in turn is possible only by virtue of drawing closer to the exemplary morals of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and delving into the depths of his heart.

No mortal has succeeded in describing his (peace and blessings be upon him) essential attribute; his towering morals and disposition has eluded comprehension. The wise, those spiritual sultans, even the great Jibril (Alaihi Salaam), have all accepted being on his path as the greatest honor, begging by his door as the most indefinable bliss.

On another note, according to the manners of prayer advised by Islam, all prayers begin and end with thanking Allah, glory unto Him, and sending blessings to the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is an established conviction that Allah, glory unto Him, never turns down a salawat’us-sharifah, which, in essence, is a prayer and plea to the Almighty; the precise reason as to why prayers are adorned with it, both in the start and in the end. That is to say, squeezing in personal prayers amid two, whose acceptances are highly expected, is to ensure their acceptance as well.

“A prayer is left hanging between the earth and the skies,” states Omar  “and is not raised to Allah until blessings are sent to the Messenger of Allah .” (Tirmidhi, Witr, 21/486)

Therefore do not forget sending your blessings and peace to him (peace and blessings be upon him)…for you too stand in need of his intercession in the darkest of hours!

Peace & Blessings

Display of depth and sensitivity of the sincerity of Ali رضي الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ عنه

During a battle Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) had captured an enemy soldier and was about to kill him. The man suddenly spat on the blessed and radiant face of Ali (May Allah be pleased with him), in response to the nasty inclination that had arisen within him.

It would have been mere child’s play for that brave and gallant ‘lion of Allah’ to cut off the head of that enemy with one fell swoop. However, Ali stopped suddenly, anxious that at that moment his nafs had tainted his intention which was to fight for Allah and nothing else. He stopped and slowly put down his sword, which had been named Zulfikar and had been a gift to him from the Prophet, deciding not to kill his enemy.

The shocked man on the ground lay in a wretched state awaiting his death. He had thought that Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) would display an even more intense effort with greater anger and rage as a result of his spitting in his face. However, it was not as he expected. Suddenly he came face to face with a truth that he could never have imagined. The enemy, who could not make sense of this action of this hero of Islam and hero of the hearts of people, asked Ali in shock and with great curiosity:

“O Ali! Why did you stop when you were just about to kill me? What brought about this change of mind? What happened that made you go from a violent rage to a remarkable calmness… You were like a bolt of lightning about to strike before you suddenly calmed down…”

Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) replied:

“I use this sword of the Prophet in the path of Allah only. I never let my nafs interfere… When you spat on my face you wished to anger and insult me. If I had succumbed to my anger at that point I would have killed you for the base reason of giving in to my own whims, which is something that does not befit a believer. Whereas I fight for the sake of Allah, and not for the satisfaction of my pride”.

As a result the heart of that enemy found life again in response to the lofty, praiseworthy character of the person he had come to kill. He took heed from Ali’s faith, his sincerity and his opposition to his own desires. The man subsequently became Muslim.

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The Merits of Rajab

By the bounty of Allah we have entered the blessed month of Rajab. Rajab is one of the four sacred months. It stands alone, unlike the other three which come one after the other. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha`ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.”

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Rajab is the key to the months of goodness which follow it. For that reason Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: “In the month of Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.” He also said: “Rajab is like a wind, Sha`ban is like a cloud and Ramadan is like rain.”

Good Deeds in Rajab

The reward of our good actions is multiplied in the sacred months, so it is recommended to do as many good deeds as possible. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ recommended fasting at least some days in each of the sacred months. Some of the Companions, among them Sayyiduna `Umar and his son `Abdullah and al-Sayyidah `A’ishah, liked to make `Umrah in Rajab. (may Allah be pleased with them all)

At the same time bad deeds are also more serious in the sacred months so we must do our utmost to avoid any wrongdoings.

A sacred month is similar to a sacred place. It is recommended to bathe and purify oneself before entering the haram of Makkah and while in it one is more conscious of the weight of one’s actions. Likewise with a sacred month – we try to enter it in a state of purity and we try to maintain that purity throughout through doing good and avoiding evil.

O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadan. Peace and blessings upon the one who guided us to all good and warned us of all evil, our Master Muhammad and his blessed family and Companions and all those that follow his guidance until the end of time.

Rajab, the Month of Istighfar

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The best way of preparing the heart to receive divine gifts is purification and repentance. It has been narrated: “Seek much forgiveness from Allah in Rajab because in every hour (of the month) Allah frees people from the Fire.” For this reason the scholars say that Rajab is the month of seeking forgiveness, Sha`ban is the month of bestowing prayers upon the Prophet, and Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Thus it is recommended to seek much forgiveness in Rajab.

The following is a compilation of istighfar, known in Hadramawt as Istighfar Rajab, compiled by Habib Hasan, the son of Imam `Abdullah bin `Alawi al-Haddad. It is traditionally read every night in the month of Rajab.

Download Link: Istighfar Rajab


 

Getting the Most out of Rajab

Advice from Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).
There are a number of ways to get the most out of Rajab. Some of the most important are as follows:

1. Seeking forgiveness in abundance and making sincere repentance;
2. Making a sincere resolve to seek to approach Allah through performing acts of obedience and avoiding acts of disobedience;
3. Assessing your state, rectifying it and striving to follow the Prophet ﷺin all that you do
4. Improving your performance of the prayer by making sure that you implement the sunnahs pertaining to the prayer and pray with presence of heart. Also strive to pray in congregation in the first row without missing the opening takbir;
5. Improving your relationship with the Qur’an by increasing the amount you read and reflect upon daily and seeking to acting upon it;
6. Being consistent in reading your adhkar in the morning and evening, after the prayer and in your varying states (such as eating, entering the house and preparing for sleep);
7. Improving your interaction with your family, friends, relatives, neighbours and with Allah’s slaves in general and the elect of His slaves specifically;
8. Fasting whatever days you are able to, especially Monday and Thursday and the White Days (13th, 14th and 15th days of the month);
9. Giving a portion of charity and doing what you can to help those in need and treating them kindly;
10. Worshipping Allah in these nights, especially in the last portion of the night. Improve your state at this time so as to enter into those who Allah praises in the Qur’an: Those who spend their wealth (in charity) and seek forgiveness in the last portion of the night.

We ask Allah to give us a great portion of the gifts bestowed in this month and that He makes us among those who attain acceptance and felicity in this life and the next.

O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban, allow us to reach Ramadan and assist us in fasting and praying in the night.

Khalq and Khulq

Imam Ghazali (rah) explains in the following passage the spiritual impossibility of adequately overseeing our ‘self’ by oneself alone:

“The words khalq (creation) and khulq (morality) are derived from the same root. One is about the external world and the other is about the internal world.

Khalq is the form that can be known by the senses.

Khulq is hidden and cannot be known by looking at our external existence. The real identity of a person rests in his character, way of life, and his nature. Regardless of how much one hides himself in outer appearances, one day his inner identity will be disclosed.”

As we need a mirror to see our outer appearance, so too we need a mirror for our heart: the help of a friend of Allah who will diagnose and cure our inner world, our character, and our inclinations.

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If one wishes to know whether he is someone loved by Allah or not, he should closely evaluate his inner world: to the extent, he feels Allah in his heart and witnesses his power and kingdom with amazement he is close to Him.

For this reason, one should always be concerned with purifying his soul so that the manifestations of divine light, which will destroy the passions and the desires, can appear in the heart.

The Almighty Creator has said, “Truly, the one who purifies his soul succeeds” (Shams, 9).

Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad 􏰀(may peace and blessing be upon him) also said: “The believer is a mirror of the believer.” According to this hadith, the perfect humans serve as clear mirrors, with no stain on them, for our souls. In other words, seekers may observe the reality of their condition and their essence in the face of these individuals. This is not a material observation. The mirror of the heart goes well beyond the material dimension. In it one may explore the mysteries of the hidden inner worlds. This mirror is not a mirror of the outer world but rather a mirror of the inner world and there are no forms there save the reflections of Allah’s lights. Therefore, those who spiritually seek out and reap rewards from this mirror carry a different kind of beauty and joy in their hearts. They grow to sacrifice themselves. They wish farewell to their ego and consequently reach to the blessing of Allah aiming to become completely absorbed in Him. For this reason, it is necessary to be under the guidance of a perfect master and to internalize his morality. Yunus Emre has said:

“Shariah (religious law) and tariqah (mysticism) are paths for sincere seekers, Yet the Truth and divine knowledge are beyond them.”

One can only reach to the secret mentioned in this couplet by Yunus Emre under the guidance of a perfect master.

-An excerpt from the book, “From the mirror of the heart”

Tawakkul and Submission

Tawakkul means to rely upon another, to appoint a trustee and to put one’s trust in that trustee.

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One of the beautiful names of Allah is ‘Al-Wakeel’. This name has the meanings of ‘the one who takes care of matters which have been referred to Him, (in a most suitable way), and the One who takes care of affairs in the best way, the One who is relied upon, and the One who controls and who rules over everything’.

It is a must that the sole Source to be relied upon in all matters is the immortal, everlasting Absolute One of Power. It would be meaningless to trust somebody who is in fact the opposite.

􏰀Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

‘Put your trust in the Living who does not die and glorify Him with praise’ (Al-Furqan, 25:58)

Allah Most High desires that we, His servants, rely upon Him only. He says in the Qur’an:

‘So let the believers put their trust in Allah’. (Ibrahim, 14:11) ‘Whoever puts his trust in Allah – He will be enough for him’ (al-Talaq, 65:3)

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The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings) has said:

“If you were able to rely on Allah properly, you would be pro- vided for just like birds who leave their nests hungry and return full” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 33/2344; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 14).

When it comes to submission, this has the meaning of acquiescence and acceptance of whatever events befall one without objection and thus arriving at peace. Submission is an act of the heart, and it is to be free of any doubts that arise in matters that have come from Allah. It is to be free of carnal desires that are contrary to divine commands, desires that are not compatible with sincerity, and the curse of resisting divine decree and Islamic law. It is stated in a verse from the Qur’an:

‘No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no resistance within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely.’ (An-Nisa, 4:65)

The word ‘teslimiyet’ or submission has the same root as the word ‘islam’. This is why to truly live Islam and to be a true servant of Allah is only possible through submission. This is because Allah (exalted and glorified be He) is not pleased when His servant yields to any other than Him.

Submission is an act of obedience based on love. It was through the blessings of this obedience and submission that nothing – not his life, his property or his son- could hinder the Prophet Ibrahîm (Abraham) (upon whom be peace) from the path of his exalted Lord. Thus his act of worship, of which the pilgrimage is the best symbol for his reliance and submission to his Lord, will continue until the end of time. The tongue of Ibrahîm was an interpreter of what was in his heart and he would constantly pray:

‘I am a Muslim who has submitted to the Lord of all the worlds.’ (Al-Baqara, 2:131)

The aim of tasawwuf, which takes love as its foundation and which is the essence of Islam, is the establishment of feelings of submission and contentedness with Allah by allowing the servant to live under divine guidance and move closer to Allah with every breath. The effects and deceits of the soul that arise from the thousand and one worries, anxieties and pains that are rife in this fleeting world, will only begin to abate as a result of contentment and submission to Allah. How beautifully Ibrahim Hakki Erzurumi puts it:

Rely upon Allah
Submit and find peace
Be content with all His affairs
And let us see what Allah has in store; For whatever it is, it will be for the best


Scenes of Virtue

Once a Bedouin came to the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings) and asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah! Shall I tie my camel and then trust in Allah or should I trust in Allah without tying my camel?”

 

The Prophet  replied:

“Tie your camel first, and then trust in Allah”. (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 60/2517)

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According to reports by Ummu Seleme (May Allah be pleased with her), whenever the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace and blessings) would leave the house he would always make sure to turn his face to the heavens and say the following prayer:

“In the name of Allah! I put my trust in Allah. O Allah, I seek refuge in You that I should stray or be led astray, that I should slip, or be made to slip, that I should oppress or that I be oppressed, and that I should show ignorance or be subject to others ignorance” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 102-3/5094; Tirmidhi, Deavat 35).


 -An Excerpt from the book, “Civilizations of Virtues-II”