THE SUBJECT MATTER OF SUFISM

The variety of definitions and explanations that have been provided of Sufism indicate the breadth of its subject matter. It might therefore be said that the subject matter of Sufism is as vast and deep as an ocean; for it covers everything related to the human soul and spirit. Essentially, it sees to the spiritual states passed by the wayfaring disciple during his spiritual journey, in the beings with whom he meantime gets in touch with, in the experiences he encounters and in the ways he finds, knows, and serves his Lord; though this would only be brief number of the otherwise great breadth of topics the subject matter of Sufism includes. Still, at the risk of being succinct, we may nonetheless proceed to expand on the primary subject matter of the Sufi path.

Above all, the Sufi path engages in the spiritual states and stations a disciple passes by in the process of perfecting his unripe spirit to ripeness, by means of purifying his heart and soul. In other words, Sufism deals with the exact ways of purifying the heart and soul and obtaining inner and outer enlightenment, to enable the actions of the Sufi to accord with Divine pleasure and thereby grant him eternal happiness. The gist of this consists in embodying an exceptional moral conduct and tapping in to the knowledge of spiritual realities. At its core, Sufism thus seeks to ensure one tastes the zest of ihsan, of internalizing faith, and enjoying its indescribable pleasure.

To put it in another way, the Sufi path is about the principles and ways to understand the Divine wisdoms, secrets and intentions concealed in names and attributes of Allah, glory unto Him, as well as their abounding manifestations throughout the universe. In this context, Sufism talks about notions related to the unseen, the spirit, the heart and the soul; as well as spiritual experiences like insight (kashf), inspiration (ilham), spiritual witnessing (mushahada), ecstasy (wajd), and love (‘ishq), and no less, the spiritual states attained as a result of undergoing these experiences.

In short, Sufism is concerned with imparting the spiritual ability to behold and witness of the names and attributes of the Lord and to acquire Divine knowledge (marifatullah), offering man a real insight into the uni- verse, the Quran, as well as himself, by taking him through a journey at the end of which awaits spiritual maturity.

  • Excerpt from the book, “SUFISM: A PATH TOWARDS THE INTERNALIZATION OF FAITH (IHSÂN)”

Why is Jumu`ah Prayer Held on Friday?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Do we know why Salah Jumu`a is on fridays? I mean, the jews believe that God created the universe in 6 days and rested on the seventh, so they also have to rest that day.

My religion-teacher (who don’t believe in any religion) told our class that the friday prayer is established on fridays because that was the day where people were gathered in the market anyway. Is this true?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

The Friday prayer (salat al-jumu`ah) is held on Fridays due to the explicit Qur’anic command to do so, ‘O ye who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation, haste unto remembrance of Allah and leave your trading. That is better for you if ye did but know’ [62:9]

The ‘day of congregation’, here, refers to Friday.

The Prohibition of Trading at the time of the Friday Prayer

Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas mentions, in his commentary of the Mukhtasar al-Tahawi, trade, specifically, is not intended here, rather, anything else which busies one from attending the Friday prayer would also take the same ruling.

Moreover, trading was specifically mentioned here because of the fact that Friday noon was a busy time for traders; so it is as if they are being told, hasten to the trade of the hereafter (akhirah), leave the trading of this world (dunya) and hurry unto the remembrance of God. [Nasafi, Madarik al-Tanzil wa Haqa’iq al-Ta’wil]

The Virtue of Fridays

It is related from the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace), that he said: “Verily the most virtuous, of your days, is Friday. Send abundant blessings upon me on Fridays because they are presented to me on that day.” [Abu Dawud]

In summary, Fridays are singled out, more emphatically, as days for sending blessings upon the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace) specifically because the blessings (salawat) are presented to him, accepted. [Abadi, `Awn al-Ma`bud Sharh Sunan Abi Dawud]

And Allah knows best.

Belief in the Hereafter (al-Akhirah)

Yawm al-akhira (The Last Day): According to one account, when the sur (trumpet) is blown by Israfil, all living things will fall and die. The time starting then and continuing through the resurrection of people, the entering into paradise of those bound for paradise, and the entering of hell for those bound for hell, is called “ The Last Day.”

According to another account, the hereafter (al-akhira) starts when people begin to be resurrected so they can be called to account for their deeds, and continues forever. There are other names for al-akhira, but “yawm al qiyamah ( The Day of Resurrection),” is the most famous.

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Hayat al-Qabr (Life in the Grave): The life in the grave begins with the death of a person and continues until his resurrection. After being placed in the grave, two angels come and ask, “Who is your Lord? And what is your religion? Who is your prophet? ” These are called the questions of the grave. These questions will be asked of everybody. People with bodies that have disintegrated or burned to ashes will also be asked.

The life in the grave means the start of the hereafter. People bound for heaven and people bound for hell will begin to taste the sweetness of the life in heaven or the punishment of hell respectively to a lesser or greater degree.

The life in the grave should not be compared with the life of this world.

However, in sleep (which is called the “little death”) we can taste with our souls joyous pleasure or miserable pain, thus seeing an example of al akhirah in this life.

Jannah (Paradise) is a place of reward. It has been made for the mu’mins (believers). In an ayah, it says “therein you shall have all that your souls desire, all that you call for” (Quran, 41:31, Arberry translation).

Jahannam (Hell) is the place of punishment for those who rebel and go against Allah. Those who die whose sins are great and those believers deemed unworthy of intercession, go there along with unbelievers and hypocrites. While believers who enter will be taken out after a punishment of a specified time; unbelievers, hypocrites, and polytheists will remain permanently.

Mahshar: With the blowing of Israfil’s trumpet, all people and creatures will fall and die. Except for Allah, no living existence will continue. For a time it will stay like this. Then Allah will resurrect Israfil. Israel will then blow his trumpet again and people will then be given life again in an instant. They will gather in Mahshar for their reckoning.

The Book of Deeds: In Mahshar, people will be given their books (the books the angels wrote and prepared in this world). The people bound for heaven will be given their books from the right, while the people bound for hell will be given their books from the left.

Hasab (Reckoning): Allah will take all people to account at the same time. But each person will think that only his own reckoning is being done. This reckoning will be as our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained:

Everyone will be asked:

1- How they spent their lives.
2- What they did with what they know.
3- Where they got their wealth from and where they spent it (halal or haram).
4- And which roads (roads that are either pleasing or unpleasing to Allah) they wore out their bodies on,

And an answer will surely be given.

al-Mizan (The Balance): This is the weighing of peoples’ good and bad deeds.

Nobody will be wronged in any way. Every good or bad thing done will surely be placed on the balance. Each good deed will count for ten and every bad deed will count as one.

as-Sirat (The Narrow Bridge): This is a way, a bridge, that everyone must take: those who will be placed in hell, those believers who will reach heaven, polytheists, unbelievers, and hypocrites who will fall to hell. The ease or difficulty of the passing will be according to the rank of servitude to Allah in this world.

We came here for worship; we will return for reckoning.
We are guests on this earth; we will die to be brought back to life.


 Story: The Story of the Bringing to Life of Four Birds

Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was telling everybody, “My Lord causes death and life,” and he sincerely believed this himself. Despite that, one day Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) supplicated to Allah, saying:

– O my Lord! Show me how you will bring the dead to life!

Allah Almighty said to him:

– Did you stop believing that I’m going to resurrect the dead, or what?

Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) said:

– I certainly believe, my Lord! But let me see with my eyes so my heart may rest soundly.

In reply to this, Allah said to Ibrahim:

– So, get four birds! Acquaint yourself with them well! When you call them by name they will fly to you. Then, slaughter them!

Chop the meat up and mix them together well! Separate this meat into four parts and put each part on the top of a mountain! Then call them in the way they are used to! You’ll see them hurry to you. After you see this, then believe well that Allah’s power is enough to do everything and he does nothing in vain, he does it knowingly.

Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was very happy that his wish was granted. Right away he took a pigeon, a peacock, a crow and a rooster and got them used to him. Wherever these animals were, immediately upon hearing Hazrat Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) voice, they flew straight to him.

One day, in the way he was commanded, he slaughtered them. After mixing the meat together well, he separated it into four parts. He put each part on the top of a mountain. Then he retired to an appropriate place. Then he called the birds and rooster in the same way they were used to. In an instant, the resurrected, living animals flew straight to him.

Seeing this, Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) fell directly into prostration and thanked his Lord. His belief in Him was strengthened even more.

The grand confidant of the secrets of the Prophetﷺ

Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) became a crystal mirror to reflect the Prophet’s heart. Thus, he was the prime example of unconditional surrender to the Prophet’s spirituality. Due to such great surrender, everything that belonged to the Prophetﷺ had deep significance for him, and so he became the first resource for Companions who sought to discern the true meaning of the words and acts of the Prophetﷺ. He truly understood the ultimate meaning of the messages of the Prophetﷺ.

The verse, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion…” (Ma’ida 5:3) was revealed during what proved to be the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Prophetﷺ. Everybody but Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) was happy. They all thought the verse was announcing the perfect state of the religion of Islam. Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) alone discerned that the verse meant that Allah would soon take the Prophetﷺ from them. (1)

During his last illness the Prophetﷺ could no longer lead the prayers, for he was too weak to stand. He therefore chose Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) to lead the prayers. One day he felt better and returned to the mosque. After giving advice to various Companions, he remarked, “Allah offered one of His servants a choice between this world and what He has with Himself, and that servant chose what Allah has with Himself.”

Upon hearing these words, Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) felt downcast, and wept bitterly. With his wise and tender heart, he realized that this was a farewell speech. Since he was the prime confidant of the secrets of the Prophetﷺ, he noticed what others were unable to understand. He began to cry out like a wailing reed, “O Prophet, you are dearer to me than my mother and father! We sacrifice our fathers, mothers, lives, properties, and children for you!” (2)

No one in the congregation was aware that the Prophetﷺ was in the mood to leave this world. No one understood why Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) was crying. They asked each other, “Why should this old man cry when the Prophetﷺ merely spoke of a person who preferred to go to Allah?”(3) They did not realize that the servant who preferred to go to Allah when given the chance of staying in the world was the Prophet himself. They were unable to sense what Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) sensed.

The Prophetﷺ kept talking, both to console Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) and to tell the Companions to appreciate Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎). “We have returned all favors done us at the same level or a higher one except for the favors Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) has done us!.. He has done so many favors for me that Allah Himself will return his favors on the Day of Judgment. Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎) is among those most dedicated to me in companionship and property. If I were to take an intimate friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه‎). But what binds us is the brotherhood of Islam.”

Then the Prophetﷺ talked about his forthcoming death: “Let no door leading to Prophet’s mosque remain open except for Abu Bakr’s, as I see a glorious sign over his door…” (4)

So, all doors were closed at that sorrowful time except for Abu Bakr’s. These words of the Prophetﷺ meant that the door of special closeness to the Messenger of Allah can be opened only by unconditional loyalty, dedication, commitment, devotion, friendship, and love.

References:

(1) Elmalılı, III, 1569.

(2) Ahmad, III, 91.

(3) Bukhari, Salah, 80.

(4) Bukhari, al-Ashab al-Nabi 3, al-Manaqib al-Ansar 45, Salah 80; Muslim, al- Fada’il al-ashab al-nabi 2; Tirmidhi, al-Manaqib 15; Ibn al-Sa`d: II 227.

Our religion is a religion of LOVE….

“Our religion is a religion of LOVE in the first place. Love of Allah Ta’ala, Love of Rasoolulllah, sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, love of doing good, love of people, love of parents, love of children, love of neighbors, etc..love, love, love. No love = No Deen, as simple as that. Being a good Muslim doesn’t depend on knowledge you amass -as much-, race, color, culture, “holy” clothing you wear, “holy” self-proclaimed titles, or political views. It depends on how YOU treat OTHER than you; The Creator and the creation. Also if you don’t love for other human beings (regardless of creed, political view and background) what you love for yourself, then there is an essential problem in your very Iman. The merchants of hate and violence, even when they portray themselves as the “official and exclusive” spokespeople of Islam or “Sunnah”, dish out poison, not Deen. Islam is not a Deen of hate but of Love, mercy and unconditional compassion. Rest assured; Allah Ta’ala is much more compassionate, forgiving & merciful than all the “experts” in or “scholars” of the Deen (religion) put together. Today we have clerics -instantly- and without any experience or track record, turned into politicians as well, and started issuing Fatwa’s of violence against their political enemies. Our religion was always about giving life, not death to others. It was never about “Fatwa”, but was and is always about “Taqwa”.

The Religion itself is much easier and simpler than the strict rituals of the “religious”. The “official” spokesmen of the Deen are plenty!! making you feel as if Malik (Hellfire gatekeeper) is their employee, and Ridwan (Jannah gatekeeper) is them in person. Those who call you to hate or violate, are callers of Satan and to him, not to Allah Ta’ala or Islam. The term “Ulama-u-Su’ ” or (Errant Scholars) is a term usually used to describe scholars keen to please powerful governments/regimes and give them what they’d like to hear on the account of principles of Haqq, but equally so includes scholars/ preachers keen to please the populous and masses, cater to them, mobilize and ride on the wave of their innocent Deeni emotions of he masses on account of principles of Haqq.

I call you to search for the truths and question truths offered to you, for no truth can contradict the Wahi (Qur’an and authentic Sunnah). I call you to Love; for love heals.

Treat yourself and others with knowledge, humility and love. But Love itself is also a form of Rizq (sustenance from heavens/provisions granted by Allah). Don’t you see the Prophet -Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam- saying about Sayyidatuna Khadija al-Kubra: “I was granted the Rizq of her love” . So seek love just like you seek other forms of Rizq. Learn how to, aspire to, dream of, and be with those who love. The enemy of Islam is: ignorance and the culture and cults of hate.

The Saved Sect (al-Firqah al-Najiyah) Hadith -which is less than Sahih in my view- does not in anyway give any one group/cult the exclusive keys to Jannah, The Qur’an & authentic Sunnah do. The Saved Sect (al-Firqah al-Najiyah) is not the one seeking to lock up all other sects in Hell fire, but the one struggling to save them and all others. Such claims of guaranteed exclusivity to the right of salvation is nothing new, see Surah Al-Ma’ida #18, and the answer to it is beautiful and simple in Surah Al-Nis’a #124.

A good Muslim is a good human being in the first place. In summary; The Beloved sent the beloved out of love to teach love with love for the sake of love. And love does not have limits, for true love collapses all limits, not establishes them. O’Allah; empty my heart from all distractions taking me away from You, forgive me and fill my heart with Your Love.”
-Sayyidi Shaykh Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya al-Husayni al-Ninowy الشيخ د. محمد النينوي (May 2014)

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CATEGORIZATION OF THE ACTS OF THE LEGALLY-RESPONSIBLE

 OUR RELIGIOUS RESPONSIBILITIES

Allah has given us many blessings. The most important of these blessings is intelligence. We distinguish right from wrong, and good from evil thanks to our intelligence. For this reason, intelligence and thinking are among the fundamental characteristics of human beings that distinguish us from other living beings. The blessing of intelligence brings along with it responsibility. That is because God, Who
gave us these blessings, did not leave us alone and irresponsible.

He commanded the things that are beneficial and good for us and forbade the things that are harmful and bad for us. He held us accountable for some duties that enable our worldly and next-worldly happiness and He commanded us to perform those duties. Thus, these duties and deeds that we are commanded to perform or avoid are called “Religious Liabilities.”

When does one enter puberty?
The time of puberty in children occurs depending on the children’s body structure and the climate. In general, puberty takes place around age 12 to 15 for boys and age 9 to 15 for girls. After age fifteen, a boy or girl is considered mature and becomes responsible for obeying our beautiful religion’s commands and prohibitions even if the child doesn’t show the signs of puberty.

What Does Legally-responsible Mean?
The individuals who have reached the age of puberty and who are of sound mind and therefore responsible to obey our religion’s commands and prohibitions are called “legally- responsible” (mukallaf). Insane people and children who have not reached the age of puberty are not legally-responsible.

Worship2

Obligatory/ Al-Fardh: These are the acts of worship that are definitely commanded to perform by our religion. For example, performing five daily ritual prayers, fasting, and paying poor-due (Zakat) are obligatory. Whoever performs the obligatory acts gain divine rewards (thawab). Whoever does not perform them, short of a valid excuse, would be committing sin. If someone does not believe in even one of the obligatory acts or does not acknowledge that it is obligatory would abandon the religion of Islam.

Fardhs are of two kinds:

a) Obligatory on Individuals (Fardh al-Ayn):
These are the obligatory acts that each legally-responsible Muslim is tasked with fulfilling personally. For example, praying five times
a day and fasting are obligatory on individuals (fardh al-ayn).

b) Obligatory on the Community (Fardhal-Kifayah):
These obligatory acts are fulfilled even if only some Muslims do them. In this case, the responsibility is lifted from other Muslims. If no one fulfills such obligatory acts, then all Muslims are responsible. For example, when a Muslim passes away, if a group of Muslims performs the funeral prayer, the responsibility is being lifted from the entire Muslim community in that region.


Al-Wajib: These are orders that are determined through evidence that is not as definitive as the evidence for the obligatory acts. For example, performing Festival prayers (Salah al- Eid), giving alms to the poor in the month of Ramadan (Fitr), and sacrificing an animal during Eid-ul-Adha are necessary (wajib). As in the case of obligatory acts (fardhs), whoever performs the wajib acts gains divine rewards (thawab) and whoever does not becomes a sinner. However, while a person who denies a fardh abandons the religion, if someone denies a wajib, he or she does not abandon the religion.


Sunnah: These are the acts that are not among the obligatory and necessary ones, but they were performed by our Prophet and are
advised for us. Traditions (al-Sunnah) are of two groups:

a) Emphasized Tradition (Sunnah Muakkadah):
Those are the traditions (sunnahs) that our Prophet ﷺ would always perform and hardly ever missed. For example, parts of Morning (Dawn) Prayer (Salat al-Fajr), and Noon Prayer (Salat al-Zuhr), Sunset Prayer (Salat al-Maghrib), and Tarawih Prayer (Salat-al-Tarawih) are all sunnah Muakkadah. (Ritual prayers are composed of parts that are obligatory and non-obligatory.)

b) Non-continuous tradition (Sunnah al-Ghayri muakkadah):
These are the acts or worship that our Prophet ﷺ occasionally performed and sometimes did not. For example, the sunnah parts of the Afternoon Prayer (Salah al-Asr) and Night Prayer (Salah al-Isha’) are non-emphasized traditions (sunnah Ghayr mu’akkadah). One who performs the sunnah gains divine rewards (thawab),and in the hereafter, he or she would be blessed by the Prophet’s (blessings and peace be upon him) intercession. The one who abandons the sunnah would miss the opportunity to gain divine rewards (thawab).


Al-Mustahabb: Mustahabb: These are the acts that are good and nice to perform according to our religion’s general guidelines. They are
also called “nafilah/ supererogatory” or “mandub/ praiseworthy.” For example, Performing the mid-morning ritual prayer (Salat al-Duha), fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, giving nonobligatory alms to the poor (Sadaqah), and giving gifts to each other are Mustahabb. One who does these liked and appreciated acts gains divine rewards (thawab), and one who does not engage in them does not commit a sin.


Al-Mubah: These are the acts that people are free to do or not to do. When we perform an ordinary act, we do not gain any divine reward (thawab) and, if we do not do it, it does not incur any sin. For example, sitting, walking, or sleeping are all mubah acts.


Al-Makruh: These are the acts and behaviors that are not welcome and are considered bad in our religion. There are two kinds of
makruh.

a) Makruh Tahriman (Disliked, but closer to Forbidden):
These are the acts that are forbidden even though not based on evidence that is not as strong as would warrant them to be haram (forbidden). One who performs this kind of Makruh becomes a sinner. For example smoking, not performing the Ritual Festival Prayers (Salatal- Eidain), and performing the Late Afternoon Prayer (Salat al-Asr) when it is almost sunset without an important excuse – rather than performing it on time – is all considered Makruh.

b) Makruh Tanzihan (Disliked, but closer to permissible):
Those are the acts and behaviors that are not considered nice in our religion. One who engages in this kind of Makruh would not be a sinner but nevertheless commits an act that is not nice. For example, cleaning one’s nose with his right hand is considered makruh tanzihan.


Haram: Those acts that are strictly prohibited by definite evidence by our religion. For example, killing a person without a just cause, stealing, drinking intoxicating drinks, adultery, gambling, eating pork, rebelling against one’s parents, and gossiping are all
haram. The one who performs haram is considered as having disobeyed God and commits a big sin. The ones who distance themselves from haram acts gain the love of God and divine rewards. The ones who deny that such acts are haram, or who consider them halal/permissible abandon Islam.


Mufsid: Those things that cancel or annul any worship (ibadah) that has already begun. For example, talking during prayer (salah) and taking any food-like substance or drinking while fasting. The worship that has been annulled should be redone.

 

An Excerpt from “My Beautiful Religion: According to the Hanafi School”