Purification of the self

It is said in the Qur’an:

He indeed shall be successful who purifies himself, and magnifies the name of his Lord and prays. (A`la, 87/14-15).

By the self and Him who balanced it, then inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it: he will indeed succeed who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it. (Shams, 91/7-10).

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Inspired with the wisdom of these verses, Hadrat Maulana (Alaihi Rahma) said:

• “O traveler on the spiritual path! If you wish to know the reality, neither Moses nor Pharaoh died. Today they live within you; they are hidden in your existence. They do their fighting within you! So you had better look for those two, who are at enmity with one another, within you.”

• “The human being is like a forest. Just as a forest accommodates thousands of pigs, wolves, and other animals with good and bad natures, so within us live both virtues and vices.”

• “Do not seek to feed your body overmuch, for it will perish one day. It is better to nurture your soul, for that is what will reach the heavens and honor.”

• “Nourish your soul with mature thinking and discernment that will give it strength for its journey.”

• “When you get rid of your lower self, when you fully commit yourself to Allah, you will travel safely in the sea of divine mysteries.”

“No mirror has ever turned into iron again. No bread has ever turned into wheat again. No grape juice has ever turned into grapes again. No ripe fruit has ever become unripe again. So become mature, and prevent yourself from ever being immature again!”

• “Set fire to your lower self, dark as night, if you want to shine like the day.”

Allah Almighty endowed us with life for one time only. We will not be given it again. We should, therefore, use this chance carefully to come close to Allah by reaching spiritual maturity. It is only people who develop mature personalities who do not lose much in this life. Those who yield to raw ego are bound to lose much both in this world and in the hereafter. A self which is not restrained through spiritual training and purification is like a wild horse. A wild horse leads its rider over cliffs and, therefore, to extinction, instead of taking him to his destination. Yet if a horse is trained well, it will carry its rider to her destination no matter how dangerous the journey.

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Reality of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

It is the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, master of all the prophets, who was the unique figure, for it was he who turned time and space into a garden. Over 23 years of mission, he offered humanity a rose garden that does not fade. During his time of prophethood, the right and the wrong, in their entirety, became crystal-clear. Human perceptions about the creator, the universe, and the nature of the self were all clarified by him. At that time, humans grasped that this world is a testing ground. An ignorant society turned into a society based on knowledge. Believers began to understand that the human body emerges from a drop of water, that birds emerge from eggs, and that trees and vegetables emerge from seeds. The faithful began to contemplate the logic and meaning of creation, and their souls set out toward infinite horizons of wisdom.

It was the Prophet’s ﷺ training which permitted the community he led to develop the highest degree of compassion, devotion, sacrifice, and sensitivity toward justice. The Messenger ﷺ became the center of a fellowship whose life was founded upon winning the pleasure of Allah. All hearts were then filled with the excitement of the quest. Everyone asked, “What does Allah wants from us? In what condition would the Prophet  ﷺ wish to see us?” In this way, night turned into day, and winter turned into spring. Thus that age of human history became a true Golden Age.

So gracious was the Messenger of Allah ﷺ that through his presence, many dark wells were filled with glorious light. 

Every living being survives in the environment appropriate to its nature. This natural law holds for humans as well. Bees require blooming flowers, and cannot live without them. Rats inhabit filthy places, and do not flourish in rose gardens. In just this way, sub- lime souls are nurtured by the glory emanating from the Reality of Muhammad ﷺ. Evil souls thrive in malice.

Hadrat Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, used to look at the face of the Prophet  ﷺ and say in amazement, “O my Lord! What a beautiful face!” What Abu Bakr was witnessing was own his inner world reflected in the Prophet’s ﷺ face. Thus when the Prophet ﷺ said: “I have not made use of anyone else’s property as I have used the property of Abu Bakr,” Abu Bakr replied in tears, “O Messenger of Allah! Do not I and my property belong you?” (Ibn Maja, Muqaddimah 11). These words are clear evidence that Abu Bakr committed himself so fully to the Prophet ﷺ that he united himself with him. He made his inner world a mirror for the Prophet ﷺ. On the other hand, Abu Jahl, the chief enemy of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, used to have an aversion for the face of the Prophet. Looking at him, he would not receive a positive reflection, but was confronted by his own faithlessness and violence. Each saw his own real personality, his inner world, in the Prophet’s face.

Prophets are like shining mirrors. In them, everyone sees his or her image, his or her inner world. No mirror lies to the person who gazes at it. Mirrors reflect the true image of the one who looks.

 

 

-Excerpt from the book, “Such a mercy he was”

Divided each from each, Lives every Mussalman.

Manfa’at Aik Hai Is Qaum Ki, Nuqsan Bhi Aik
Ek Hi Sab Ka Nabi ﷺ, Din Bhi, Iman Bhi Aik

Your nation’s weal, your nation’s woe, In common you all share,
Your Prophet ﷺ and your creed the same, the same Truth you declare;

Harm-e-Paak Bhi, Allah Bhi, Quran Bhi Aik,
Kuch Bari Baat Thi Hote Jo Musalmaan Bhi Aik!

And one your Kaʹba, One your God, and one your great Quran;
Yet, still, divided each from each, Lives every Mussalman.

Firqa Bandi Hai Kahin, Aur Kahin Zaatain Hain
Kya Zamane Mein Panapne Ki Yehi Baatain Hain?

You split yourselves in countless sects, In classes high and low;
Think you the world its gifts will still on such as you bestow?

 

-Excerpt from Hazrat Allama Iqbal’s, “Jawab-e-Shikwa (جواب شکوہ) The Answer To The Complaint”

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PROPHET MUHAMMAD ﷺ, THE FOCAL POINT OF UNIVERSE AND OUR LIVES!

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ہو نہ يہ پھول تو بلبل کا ترنم بھی نہ ہو
چمن دہر ميں کليوں کا تبسم بھی نہ ہو
يہ نہ ساقی ہو تو پھرمے بھی نہ ہو، خم بھی نہ ہو
بزم توحيد بھی دنيا ميں نہ ہو، تم بھی نہ ہو

Ho Na Ye Phool To Bulbul Ka Tarannum Bhi Na Ho
Chaman-e-Dehr Mein Kaliyon Ka Tabassum Bhi Na Ho
Ye Na Saqi Ho To Phir Mai Bhi Na Ho, Khum Bhi Na Ho
Bazm-e-Touheed Bhi Dunya Mein Na Ho, Tum Bhi Na Ho

If this fair flower (Muhammad) blossom not, the nightingale will not sing,
Nor rose‐buds make the garden of era smile welcoming in the spring,
If he is not the quencher, then nor jar nor wine will be,
Nor in this world will Tawheed (Oneness of God) shine, Nor your heart beat in you!

(salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

– Allama Iqbal rahimahullah –

Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadan From Now

With Ramadan just around the corner, many of us are looking for ways to make sure that this will be the year we change, writes Nour Merza. With this in mind, here are ten ways to prepare yourself for Ramadan.
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1. Make the right intention
Beginning right now, make an intention that this Ramadan will be a time of great spiritual effort and sincerity. To help turn that intention into reality, make checklists of both daily goals for Ramadan (read a section of Quran or a beneficial lecture every day, etc.) and goals for the overall month (visit a home for the elderly, invite two non-Muslim friends for a chance to experience iftar, etc.).
2. Prepare your body
Make sure you are up to par physically by adjusting the amount and quality of your food intake. Start by eliminating snacks and have smaller meals in the weeks leading up to Ramadan. Also reduce your caffeine intake so that the lack of your morning coffee or afternoon tea doesn’t debilitate you in the first few days of the holy month. Of course, if you’re fasting during the month of Sha’baan, you’re halfway there.
3. Review all medical situations before Ramadan
Make sure to get your medical business in order before Ramadan arrives. If you suffer from a particular illness, check with a doctor, preferably one who understands the importance of fasting, on whether fasting is a reasonable option for you. If you are taking medication, ask your doctor if you can take your doses during non-fasting hours instead of during the day. Also, check if there are options to take your medication via injection instead of orally, as in the Hanafi school injections do not break your fast.
4. Observe voluntary fasts
Voluntary (nafl) fasts are a great way to help prepare the mind, body and soul for Ramadan. If you can do it, follow the Prophetic sunna and fast the month of Shaaban, which comes just before Ramadan. If that proves too difficult, try to implement some of these other sunnas: fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, or fasting on the ‘white days’ of each Islamic month: the 13th, 14th and 15th.
5. Increase Quran recitation
Many people aim to do a complete reading of the Quran at least once during Ramadan. If you don’t have a habit of reading the Quran daily, take this as an opportunity to incorporate that habit into your life. This will enable you to read longer sections of the book during Ramadan. Even if doing a complete reading of the Quran during Ramadan is too difficult, making a habit of reading one page or even a few verses a day will bring many blessings during the holy month and afterwards, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones, even if in little amount.”
6. Perform extra prayers
If you have no missed obligatory prayers to make up, start to pray voluntary sunna prayers to prepare yourself for the extra prayers that take place in Ramadan. If you do have missed obligatory prayers, use the time you would give to the sunna prayers to make some of them up. Don’t feel that you are missing out on the opportunity to do voluntary sunnas, because God says in the famous Hadith Hazrat Jibreel (AS), “My servant draws near to Me by nothing more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory on him.”
7. Give charity
Use the weeks leading up to Ramadan to increase your acts of charity, be that in the form of giving money to needy people or worthy causes.Giving charity is a way to purify your wealth, and you can enter the month of Ramadan in a greater state of purity. It also opens doors for great good in your life, for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has told us, “Allah says, ‘Spend, O son of Adam, you will also be spent on.’”
8. Engage in service (khidma)
Spend some time before Ramadan to find a local charity or community service opportunity to work with, whether it be in an Islamic environment or in the wider community. If you begin well before Ramadan starts, you will adjust to the environment before you begin fasting, so that you can explain to co-workers why you can’t join them for a coffee break or a meal.
9. Focus on your character
Imam al-Ghazali (rah) discusses the inner dimensions of the fast in his Revival of the Religious Sciences , which you can observe before Ramadan arrives. He mentioned that one must learn to fast with all the limbs, from all that harms the heart. You can, for example, avoid certain television shows to keep the eyes from seeing nudity, leave particular conversations to keep the ears from hearing foul language, and control the ego to keep the tongue from argument or backbiting. The inner fast is among the most important aspects of fasting Ramadan and is often more difficult than the physical fast from food, water and sexual relations, so the earlier you begin to practice this, the better.
10. Organize your life to minimize waste, over consumption and the ills that come with this
One of the major concerns about how Muslims practice Ramadan today is the high level of over consumption and waste that takes place during the holy month – a reality which is completely antithetical to the Prophetic tradition. Imam Zaid Shakir and others have spoken about ‘greening’ Ramadan as practiced today in the Muslim community, while Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad has suggested that Muslims use Ramadan to support ethical, fairtrade companies.
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Article taken from seekershub.org

Being a Sufi

Ibrahim Effendi, the renowned Sheikh of the Sufi Lodge of Aksaray, eloquently voices the assorted definitions of the Sufi path in the following lines:

 

Being a Sufi, at the onset, is freedom from material existence, At the end, it is to rise to throne of the heart

Being a Sufi, at the onset, is to strip away the flesh, At the end, it is to enter the Lord’s palace of secrets.

Being a Sufi, is to remove the fading garment of the body, In return for a pure existence, and the light of the Lord…

Being a Sufi, is to kindle the candle of the heart with a flame Divine, And hence throwing it in the fire of love, to burn forever more…

Being a Sufi is save oneself from the grip of the ego, And hence to follow the Law and attain to true faith.

Being a Sufi is acquaintance with the ways of the Lord;
And hence to reach out a helping hand and cure to the needy.

Being a Sufi is to unlock the flesh with the key of the Lord’s Name, And to usher it in through the gates of nothingness.

Being a Sufi is to turn the Sufi words to action, Where each word uttered becomes a portion of life.

Being a Sufi is to learn to interpret the dreams and the word, To become a secret, in one’s own right, in the seat of life.

Being a Sufi is to become joyous and bewildered in Divine presence, To be in amazement before the secrets of the Divine.

Being a Sufi is to cleanse the heart of everything other than the Lord, To turn the heart into His Throne through faith

Being a Sufi is to reach East and West in the blink of an eye; To hence care for all people and offer them shelter.

Being a Sufi is to witness the Lord’s presence in every particle, To hence be a sun shining upon all creation.

Being a Sufi is to understand the languages of all creation; To assume to role of Solomon in the realm of intellect.

Being a Sufi is to seize the firmest handle, to burden the greatest duty; To hence reflect on the Quran and convey the news of Divine Mercy.

Being a Sufi is to treat all beings through the secret name of the Lord; The ability to absorb the commands of the Quran.

Being a Sufi is to seek the Lord in every gaze thrown,
To hence turn difficulty into ease for the fellow human being.

Being a Sufi is to turn the heart into a depository of Divine knowledge To lead a drop, the human being is, into the vast ocean.

Being a Sufi is to burn entire existence in the fire of negation; And then to revive through the light of affirmation”.

Being a Sufi is to call to the path, to say “sufficient is the Lord” (ar-Rad, 43), To nurture delight for the inevitable “return”. (al-Ghashiyah, 28)

Being a Sufi is to return to life after dying a thousand times each day, To act as a reviver for corpses from all creation.

Being a Sufi is to annihilate existence into the existence Divine,
To conceal oneself in the intimacy of being “even nearer”. (an-Najm, 9)

Being a Sufi is to surrender the soul to the beloved and become free; To remain with the beloved forever more.

Being a Sufi, Ibrahim, is to become a real servant of the Lord; To embrace and remain loyal to the Law of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him).

Physical Descriptions of the Four Great Imams of Fiqh

By Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Dhahabi (rah)

 

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1. Imam Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man bin Thabit (rah):

Abu Yusuf said: “Abu Hanifah was well-formed, was from the best of people in appearance, the most eloquent of them in speech, the sweetest in tone, and the clearest of them in expressing what he felt.”

Hamad bin Abi Hanifah said: “My father was very handsome, dark, had good posture, would wear a lot of perfume, was tall, would not speak except in reply to what someone else had said, and he – may Allah have Mercy upon him – would not involve himself in what did not concern him.”

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2. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i (rah):

Ibrahim bin Buranah said: “ash-Shafi’i was serious, tall, and noble.”

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az-Za’farani said: “ash-Shafi’i visited us in Baghdad in the year 95. He stayed with us for a few months, then left. He would dye his hair with henna, and he had thin cheeks.”

Ahmad bin Sinan said: “I saw him with a red beard and hair – i.e. he used to dye them.”

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3. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Hambal (rah):

Ibn Dharih al-’Ukbari said: “I requested to see Ahmad bin Hambal. So, I greeted him, and he was an old man who dyed his hair. He was tall and extremely dark.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abbas an-Nahwi said: “I saw Ahmad bin Hambal with a handsome face, well-formed, and dyeing his hair with henna that was not too dark. He had black hairs in his beard, and I saw his clothes extremely white. When I saw him, he was wearing a turban and an izar.”

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‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymuni said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.”

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One man said: “In Khurasan, they did not think that Ahmad resembled a human being. They thought that he resembled the Angels.”

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al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the winter, and he was wearing two shirts with a colored vest between them, and maybe he was wearing a shirt with a heavy sweater. And I saw him with a turban over a hood and heavy outer garment. So, I heard Aba ‘Imran al-Warkani saying to him: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! All of these clothes?” So, he laughed and said: “I cannot stand the cold,” and he would also wear the hood without a turban.”

al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the summer wearing a shirt, trousers, and robe.”

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4. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Malik bin Anas (rah):

‘Isa bin ‘Umar said: “I never saw anything white or red that was more beautiful than the face of Malik, or any clothes whiter than Malik’s.”

And a number of people relate that he was tall, firm, serious, blond, had a white beard and hair, had a large beard, was balding, and would not shave his moustache, as he considered this to be a form of mutilation.

It is said that he had blue eyes, and some of this was narrated by Ibn Sa’d from Mutarraf bin ‘Abdillah.

Muhammad bin ad-Dahhak al-Hizami said: “Malik’s clothes were clean and soft, and he would constantly wear different clothes.”

al-Walid bin Muslim said: “Malik would wear white clothes, and I saw he and al-Awza’i wearing black and green caps.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it hanging between his shoulders.”

Khalid bin Khidash said: “I saw Malik wearing a cap, and I saw him wearing woven clothes.”

Ashhab said: “If Malik would wear kohl for a necessity, he would remain in his house.”

Mus’ab said: “Malik would wear ‘Adani clothes, and he would wear perfume.”

Abu ‘Asim said: “I never saw a Muhaddith with a more handsome face than Malik’s.”

It is said: “He was so light colored that he was blond. He had wide eyes, a raised, pointed nose, and he would let his moustache grow long based on ‘Umar’s curling of his moustache.”

Ibn Wahb said: “I saw Malik dying his hair with henna once.”

Abu Mus’ab said: “Malik had the most handsome face of the people, the widest of eyes, the whitest skin, and was the greatest of them in height – all in the strongest body.”

al-Waqidi said: “He was well-formed, would not dye his hair, and would not enter the public baths.”

Bishr bin al-Harith said: “I entered upon Malik and saw him wearing a cap that was worth about 500 dirhams.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it behind his back, and he would scent himself with musk and other scents.”

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Collected from Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā