The Lawful and Unlawful are Clear

The Lawful and Unlawful are Clear

By Imam Nawawi

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

 

On the authority of Abu Abdullah al-Nu’mān ibn Basheer (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: 

“I heard the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say, ‘That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like a shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allāh’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart’.”  

(Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

The Narrator

Abu Abdullah Al-Nu’mān Ibn Basjeer Al-Ansaari Al-Khazraji (radiyallāhu’anhu) was one of the first Muslims born to the Ansar of Madinah. He was around 10 years of age when the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) passed away. Although the scholars of hadith agree that hadith cannot be taken from a child, if someone memorised the hadith when they were a child and narrated it when they were an adult, then it is acceptable, as is the case with this hadith. Al-Nu’mān narrated more than 120 hadith, 6 of which are in Sahih al-Bukhari.

Lessons 

1. “That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear…”

In the first part of the hadith the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), has set a criterion by which Muslims must decide whether something is permissible or not. The hadith lays down an extreme importance principle that can be applied in all aspects of one’s life. It also shows the way to truth and righteousness.

This hadith indicates that one should only perform an act or deed which is permissible and proper if he is positive or certain of it. Performing this act will lead to some kind of tranquility or happiness in this life and in the Hereafter – this is one of the benefits of applying the hadith.

There are innumerable acts which are clearly permissible and sanctioned in the Shari’ah. In some cases these are explicitly mentioned as being permissible, whilst in other cases, it is clear that they fall under the general guidelines laid out in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allāh says in the Qur’an:

“This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them.”  

(Surah Al-Māidah,5:5)

In other cases expressions like “there is no sin upon you…” appear in the Qur’an, making it clear to us that something is permissible.  In the same way, acts that are forbidden are very clearly stated.

Allāh says in the Qur’an:

“Forbidden for you are only carrion and blood and swine-flesh and that which has been slaughtered in the name of other than Allāh and that which has been killed by strangling, or by violent blow or by a headlong fall or by the goring of horns and that which has been [partly] eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it [before its death] and that which is sacrificed on altars. [Forbidden] also is to use arrows for seeking luck. All that is disobedience to Allāh and sin.”

(Surah Al-Māidah,5:3)

Also included in this category of clearly unlawful acts, is every act for which Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have prescribed a punishment, including adultery, fornication and murder. It is from the grace and mercy of Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) that He sent this religion and message in a way that is clear and easy to understand. There can be no doubt about matters which are either lawful or unlawful.

2. Avoid Doubtful Matters 

 “between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters…”

After stating that lawful and unlawful matters in Islam are clear, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned in this hadith, that there are also ‘doubtful matters’. It is only a minority of acts that fall into this category, and there are different factors that may lead people to be uncertain about a particular act and whether or not it is permissible.

Firstly, we may find that there are differences of opinion amongst the scholars about different topics. Often, the reasons for differences can be explained very simply. For instance, one scholar may have made a decision based on his own personal reasoning, whilst another may have made a ruling whilst being unaware of another hadith on the subject. This aspect has been a common cause for differences amongst the scholars in different madzabs or schools of thought.

There are also occasions when the evidence related to an act appears to be contradictory. For example, one hadith from the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) states that one should not drink whilst standing up, and another hadith states that he (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) drank whilst standing. Both of these hadith are authentic, and the scholars have come to different conclusions about how to reconcile them.

Further, there are acts that may technically be permissible, but they may become doubtful because they may lead someone towards that which is forbidden. An example given here is ‘enjoying one’s wife’ without intercourse whilst she is menstruating. It’s permissible, but if he does not have strong self-control, it may lead him towards that which is forbidden.

There are also matters that may become impermissible due to the circumstances surrounding them, or acts which are disapproved (disliked) of (makroohaat) but not forbidden, which some scholars have classed as falling into this ‘doubtful’ category.

The example of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and how he conducted his affairs, shows us that he would avoid doubtful matters. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would also advise those that came to him with problems towards conduct that left nothing to doubt or uncertainty.

Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Verily, the permissible things are clear and the forbidden things are clear. And between them are some matter which are doubtful. Therefore, leave that which makes you doubt for what does not make you doubt.” 

(Recorded in An-Nasā’ie)

3.The Sound Heart 

“In the body is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.”

We now come to the last part of this hadith concerning doubtful matters. At the end of this hadith the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) reminded us about the importance of the state of our hearts. Our heart is so important that if it contains a disease, it will affect our whole being. We should realise that it is not cardiovascular fitness that is being referred to here, rather it is the spiritual state of the heart.

In many ways, our heart is the commander of our limbs. If our heart is inclined towards doing good then the limbs will do good also. But if our heart is inclined towards doubtful or forbidden things,  then it will become hardened, less inclined to remember Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and more likely to commit evil deeds. The state of our heart is therefore our defining characteristic, and Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) distinguishes the human being from the rest of creation due to the heart and the intellect.

Allāh says in the Qur’an:

“Have they not travelled in the land, and have they hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.”

(Surah Al-Hajj,22:46)

Subhanallāh! How many of us are blind in the heart? How many hearts are so shrouded in darkness they are unable to see the light? Know that the heart cannot be pure and sound until it remembers Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala), glorifies Him, loves Him, fears Him, has hope in Him and trusts Him. This is the true realisation of ‘There is no God except Allāh’.

The only heart that will aid a person in Allāh’s sight is the sound, wholesome, submitting heart.

Allāh says:

“The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man) save him who brings unto Allāh a sound heart.”

 (Surah Al-Shu’arā, 22:88-89)

 

3.1.What Are The Signs Of A Sound Heart?

They have been outlined by Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) as follows:

  1. A person considers themselves to be belonging to the next world and not this one. They feel a stranger in this world and cannot wait to reach the Hereafter.
  2. A person continues to be upset with themselves anytime they commit a sin until they repent to Allāh.
  3. If a person misses their daily recitation of Qur’an or dzikir, they are more upset than if they lost their wealth.
  4. The person finds more pleasure in worshipping Allāh than in eating or drinking.
  5. When they begin their prayer, their worries and concerns about the world leave them.
  6. Their only concern and worry is about Allāh and acting for His sake.
  7. They are careful to use all their spare time in worshipping Allāh.
  8. The person is more concerned with the correctness of the deed than with the performance of the deed itself.

May Allāh purify our hearts and intentions. Ameen.

4.Allāh’s Sanctuary 

“But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allāh’s sanctuary is His prohibitions”

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has furthered illustrated why we should avoid doubtful matters in this hadith. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated that if we fall into doing things that are doubtful, or unclear as to their permissibility, this may lead us towards that which is unlawful or forbidden.

To illustrate this point the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used the parable of the shepherd. It was a custom among the Arabs that the most noble amongst them would have land that only his own animals were allowed to graze on. If a shepherd were to come close to the boundary of this land, it would easy for his sheep to stray into the man’s pasture. In the same way, if we are in the grey area of performing acts of uncertain permissibility, we are more likely to stray towards the dark area of what Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has forbidden. The safest place to be is far away from the boundary of what is forbidden.

Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Qur’an:

“Those are the limits of Allāh and do not come near to them.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah,2:187)

This part of the hadith also reminds us of one of the important principles in Islam which is sadd al-dharaai or ‘blocking the means’. This is the concept of forbidding something because it may lead to something else. An example of this would be forbidding a man and a woman to be alone together. Although there may not be any harm in the act in itself, the act is prohibited because it may lead to something forbidden.

We can see then that the only way to be sure of avoiding what Allāh has prohibited, is to avoid going near anything that is doubtful. Staying away from these things is the best way to protect our religion and our honour.

And Allāh Almighty knows best.

[ Excerpted from : A commentary on Hadith 6: “The Lawful and  Unlawful are Clear”, 40 Hadiths Of Imam Nawawi, Via Honeyfortheheart; January 19, 2011]

Purification Of The Heart

 

Purification Of The Heart

By Imam Nawawi

 In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

 All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger

On the authority of Abu ‘Abdullah al-Nu’man bin Bashir (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say:

“Truly, what is lawful (halāl) is evident, and what is unlawful (harām) is evident, and in between the two are matters which are doubtful (mushtabihat) which many people do not know. He who abstains from these doubtful things has in fact safeguarded his Deen and his honour, and he who indulges in doubtful things(mushtabihat)  indulges in fact in unlawful (harām) things. Similar to the shepherd who grazes his flock around the sanctuary of a king. It is highly possible that he will very soon fall into that sanctuary. Beware, every king has a preserve, and the things Allāh has declared unlawful ( harām) are His preserves. Beware, every king has a sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Allah is all those things which He has made harām. in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound,  the entire body will be sound. But if it is unsound, the entire body will be unsound. Behold, it is the heart.”

[Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Commentary: This hadith is very comprehensive. It covers so many areas of the Syarī’ah, the Islamic law. Imam al-Nawawi (rahimallāh) and many scholars consider this Hadith as one of four ahadith around which the entire religion of Islam is understood. This Hadith indicates that all matters are one of three types: halāl, harām and mushtabihat.

Background

Imām Al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) recorded this hadith in the beginning of the Book of Trading (Kitab al-Buyu’). Some scholars say that Imām Al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) was not only a muhadith who memorized, collected, recorded and compiled the hadith, but he was also a faqih (jurist) and his fiqh (jurisprudence) can be noted in so many ways. One is the tabwib, or the way that he gave the title for each chapter of his book. He would choose a certain statement which he would then use for the title of the chapter. The way the hadith is recorded, and  placed under a certain chapter, and sometimes it may be repeated in many chapters – all these reflect the fiqh of Imām Al-Bukhari (rahimallāh).

There are reasons that Imām Al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) begin his “Kitab al-Buyu” with this hadith.

One of them is that these doubtful matters (mushtabihat) are related to the things that we buy and sell, that we trade in. It is also said that his father once mentioned to him that for forty years he never brought anything doubtful into their home.

Imām Al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) was influenced by his father’s attitude in two ways:

Firstly, Imām al-Bukhari’s  father would brought only halāl things no doubtful matters into the house. This is the environment that that governed Imam al-Bukhari when he was raised up. It was narrated that whenever his father made du’ā to Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala, his du’ā was answered due to the fact that he never dealt with anything which was doubtful. This is reflected in the behaviour and attitude of Imām al-Bukhari(rahimallāh). Hence, this hadith  he chose to record it at the beginning of the chapter Kitab al-Buyu’.

Secondly, Imām al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) is also known as a great Muhaddith. One of the approach that a Muhaddith is involved in is “Al-Jarh wat-ta’dil” where the status of narrators of hadith can be taken as Sadiq, the one who is truthful and trustworthy, or as those who lie and cannot be taken as true narrators of hadith. The Muhaddithun uses specific terms to indicate the status of a narrator. When it comes to the status of the liars, or those who cannot be relied on, Al-Bukhari would used a very astonishing style of Al-Jarh wat-ta’dil: without using a direct terms but an indirect ones. This reflects his strong piety and righteousness. Imām al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) would not simply label a narrator a liar, instead he would say: “He has been labeled a liar”.

Another aspect of the approaches is whenever there were controversial issues or the clashing of views, Imām al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) would follow the cautious approach.

Lessons

The Scholars are of the view that the vast majority of actions fall into one of the first two categories: either it is evidently lawful (halāl ) or unlawful (harām) . Only a minority number of acts fall into the third category, that which is doubtful (mushtabihat).

The Halāl is clear.

Whatever Allāh has established to be permissible in a text, it is the ‘clear’ Halāl.

“This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denied the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. [Al-Mā’idah 5:5]

The Halāl is what we seek when dealing with our relationship with Allāh Almighty, when we are dealing with understanding Islām and when we are dealing with how to build and improve our community. The halāl is clear. It is what is clearly allowed and permissable, and that there is no doubt about it.

The Harām is clear.

The ‘clear’ harām is whatever is clearly established in the Islāmic sources, such as the statement of Allāh Almighty:

“Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters…” [An-Nisā’, 4:23]

The clear harām is what is clearly prohibited and everybody knows that it is prohibited; there is no difference in opinion. Drugs, alcohol, riba, oppression, corruption, falsehood, backbiting, slandering, murder, wasting and stealing are harām. Harām also includes the fawāhish (evil lusts and desires), that which is apparent and that which is hidden. Every matter that Allāh Almighty associated with a punishment or a threat is also included amongst the ‘clear’ harām.

It can be noted here that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is using a metaphor, or analogy, twice in this hadith. As mentioned before, using metaphors or analogies in communicating ideas is very effective and powerful. From the metaphor and the way it is worded : “Just as a shepherd who pastures his flock round a preserve will soon pasture them in it”, we can say that the doubtful things are closer to the unlawful things.

The Doubtful Matters

Most people do not understand what doubtful matters (mushtabihat) are and what their ruling is. There are two things scholars have said about doubtful matters. The first opinion is that doubtful matters are those that scholars disagree about their permissibility: music, for example. The second opinion is that doubtful matters (mushtabihat) are those that mix between halal and harām. The general rule regarding doubtful matters are whoever stays away from them has purified their Deen and honor.

The scholars differ on whether doubtful matters are halāl or harām:

1. One opinion is that all doubtful matters (mushtabihat) are harām, due the saying of the Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in this hadith “[he] clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor.”

2. Another opinion is that all doubtful matters are halāl, due the statement of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) “like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary.” This indicates that these actions are permissible, but leaving them is from piety.

3. And a third opinion is that we make no ruling regarding the doubtful matters (mushtabihat), and do not say that they are halāl or harām, as the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) placed them between the clear halāl and the clear harām. Hence we should refrain from passing judgment, and this, too, is from piety.

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) follows the statement, “between the two of them are doubtful matters” by saying, “most people do not know them.” This means that some people do. It is the job of scholars to put forth their best effort in looking at all of the evidence and reaching their opinion. If they are correct, they receive two rewards and if they are wrong they are still rewarded. For those of us who are following opinions of the scholars, that is all that is required from us. But we should keep in mind that staying away from doubtful matters (mushtabihat) purifies our Deen and honor.

Blocking of the Means (Sad al-Dzara’ie)

This hadith is actually a corroborating evidence for a concept in Usul Al-Fiqh called “Sadd al-Dzara’ie” (Blocking of the Means). This means that you have to block any action which might lead to harām. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) gives the example of a person who has a flock, and the flock is going towards some land that is off-limits. That person keeps getting closer and closer to that land, eventually the sheep are going to stray into the prohibited property. A King has a sanctuary which the shepherds must keep their sheep away from, so too has Allāh Almighty specified certain things as forbidden for his slaves. We should avoid the disliked, and sometimes even refrain from the permissible in order to avoid falling into the prohibited.

The Morsel of Flesh

As the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, we all have a morsel of flesh in our bodies. If it is good, our whole is good and if it is not, then our whole body is spoiled. This hadith outlines a whole process of strengthening and purifying our hearts on the path to Allāh: being alert to the halāl and harām and avoiding the doubtful. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) says in another hadith:

“A person’s imān will not be upright until their heart is upright and strong. The heart will not be upright and strong until the tongue is upright and strong.”

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is laying out the path to purifying and strengthening the heart, which leads to the completion of one’s faith.

This hadith emphasizes the importance of rememberence Allāh Almighty. If we want to glorify Allāh, we have to glorify His injunctions, commandments; whether they are obligations to perform them, or whether they are prohibitions not to perform them. A Salaf once narrated: “Do not look at how minor the sin is that you committed, but look at the glory of the One you disobeyed, i.e. Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala.”. A sin, even if it is a minor one, means disobedience to Allāh, hence defying the rememberance Allāh. And the rememberance Allāh is actually one of the Principles of Tawhid.

The great actions or the principles of Tawhid are done by the heart  which is mentioned at the end of this hadith. Looking at the hadith at first glance, we might have asked what the heart has to do with the rest of the hadith. It is in the heart that we remember and glorify Allāh. It is the action of heart when we refrain from the unlawful (harām). If the heart is strong, sound, has no weaknesses, and is full of iman (faith), then this would lead us to refrain ourselves from muharramat and makruhah (undesirable acts). Therfore only those with a strong and sound heart, i.e. the heart that is full of Taqwa and submission to Allāh Almighty, will refrain from the doubtful matters.

If those whose hearts are diseased and whose iman is weak, may go around the doubtful matters (mushtabihat). Little by little they will indulge in the makruhah, delaying things and eventually getting into the muharram or delaying or even negating the wajib. It has to do with the status of the heart which the scholars talk about the life of the heart. We see Muslims praying in the masjid (mosque), and hundreds of people praying together. What distinguishes them is the status of their hearts, whether it is devoted to Allāh or not. How strong and pure is the heart? How sound is the heart? That is where people differ. This is what we should concern ourselves with, and compete – taking care of our hearts, purifying them, taking away any diseases from our hearts, to activate iman in the heart in order to make it alive.

The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), mentioned about Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (radiyallahu’anhu) where he said that If you put the imān of all the Muslim ummah on one scale and the imān of Abu Bakar as-Siddiq on the other scale, the iman of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq would outweigh the iman of the whole ummah. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), also said that there is something in the heart of Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (radiyallahu’anhu) that distinguished it from others, and as it is known he was called As-Siddiq. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), once said about Abu Bakar (radiyallahu’anhu): “When I call someone to Islam, he will have some hesitation except Abu Bakar as-Siddiq. The minute I talked to him about Islam, straight away he believed in me, he believed in Allāh and that I am the Messenger of Allāh.” So, it has to do with the heart that distinguished Abu Bakar as-Siddiq to be al-Khalifatul-Awal, and to be the first Sahabi (Companion). From this, it can be said that every Muslim should care about his or her heart, purify it and activate imān in the heart, and practise the great principles of Tawhid, such as to love Allāh, to fear Him, to rely on Him, to have hope in Him, to seek help fro Him and to seek refuge in Him so that the heart is alive, activated and full of imān. And at the same time we have to make sure that there should be no diseases or anything bad within our hearts, e.g. greediness, envy, arrogance, etc. Only then will the heart be sound.

In another related hadith the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), mentioned that: “The heart will be exposed to fitan (trials) again and again. The heart which is influenced by fitnah will have a black spot placed on it. And if the heart avoids the fitnah, there will be a white spot on it.” The heart then is either a pure one, or a heart that has been sealed after being affected by fitan or prohibited or doubtful matters again and again. Even though the heart pumps out blood and the person is alive, the heart in reality is not alive, because the iman is weak, making the heart unsound. Hence avoiding and getting away from the fitan (trials) is important in order to have a pure heart, especially in these contemporary times where it is full of evil that attracts the heart.

The evil doers promote evil and impose it on others. So, if a Muslim is not careful, his or her heart might be stolen. As mentioned by the great contemporary scholar, Sheikh Abdur Rahman ad-Dusari, there are many thieves today who steal the hearts, sometimes without the owner even being aware of it.

It is found in any hadith of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) it talks about a subject matter, whether it is something good that we should do, or something bad that we should avoid it. There are hadiths that will mention principles, which is the main point of the hadith, is the last words or sentence. The hadith above mentions about the lawful and unlawful being evident, and then there is the doubtful matter. And then there is the last sentence of the hadith. It is the bottom-line or main issue of the hadith. If we want to get away from the muharramat (unlawful), and also from the doubtful matters, we have to care about our heart. We have to purify our heart and make sure it is sound and alive, and it is not lost from us.

One wisdom learnt from the hadith is the way the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), tells us about something: he will discuss a concept and then give us the principle. The principle tells us not only with the concept mentioned in the hadith, but it actually tells us, if we use it in the right way with the right understanding in other similar matters and situations. If we manage our heart, not only will we be able to avoid the doubtful matters, we can always apply the same principle to other similar concepts or issues, e.g. in avoiding bad manners for there are also doubtful matters in the concept of akhlaq (values).

As mentioned earlier  Imām al-Bukhari (rahimallāh) recorded this hadith in Kitab ul-Buyu’ (Trading). In trading there are many matters that are doubtful matters which existed then and even now, e.g. where cheating is done professionally. Therfore we have to be careful if the matter related to trading is clear and evident, permissible or not permissible, or if it is doubtful, in which case we have to avoid it.

In relation to the above issue is the issue of al-ma’kulat (food) where there are many doubtful matters about what we eat. If we check the ingredients that are used in many manufactured food today, e.g. biscuits, canned food and preserved food, there are ingredients that might raise the question of doubtfulness of what we eat. For example, lecithin is used in the manufacture of foodstuff especially in the west and Muslim countries import a lot of food from the west. If it is not specified otherwise then there is a high probability that the lecithin is derived from khinzir (pig) because it is cheaper to produce. Otherwise, it should be mentioned whether it is derived from soya or plants or from halal production.

Another ingredient is emulsifier. Emulsifiers are labelled as the letter ‘E’ followed by a series of numbers. Some emulsifers contain things that are not permissible. There are efforts done by some Muslim scientists where they try to identify such ingredients. This can then be used as a checklist to check against when we buy food for our family. We should be very careful when we read the ingredients of foodstuff if we want to ensure that what we eat is halal. It is mentioned in a hadith that if what we eat is harām, even our du’ā or  supplication is not accepted by Allāh.

We should take care of our health as a lot of what we eat today or what is in the market is not fresh. There are so many preservatives, colouring and chemicals which, if used excessively, might affect our health. We have to be careful in the sense that although it is in general permissible, if it is used excessively it will affect our health – then we are not doing good for our health as a Muslim.

Some of the interpreters of the collection of the Forty Hadiths try to identify or pinpoint some matters that are doubtful in general. Sometimes they mention matters or controversial issues where the related evidences from the Qur’ān and Sunnah are conflicting and there is no apparent way to resolve the conflict. They mention general matters where views of scholars may also be conflicting. Some permissible matters might lead a person to do what is forbidden or lead him to fail to do what is obligatory. For example, the issue of staying up late. Some scholars views that it is makrūh to stay up late, chatting or doing invalid  things  or  wasting time. Even though in general it is permissible, this might lead to other consequences where it might cause the delaying or failing to do the wajib or it might lead us into doing muharram. The scholars also say that there are matters which were inferred or concluded based on certain hadiths where the authenticity of the hadith is questionable. They say this can also be treated as doubtful matters.

The main key to the issue that the Prophet  (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) tell us is the heart. If we care about our heart, we will be more sensible. If the heart is sound, strong, full of iman (faith), we will be more responsible, and we will care more about what we do and what we do not do. This becomes the measure to those matters which are doubtful.

Even though some interpreters gave some principles by which we can distinguish those doubtful matters, it can still be debated or questioned. But if the heart is good, strong and full of imān, the person will be able to distinguish between the doubtful matters and other clear evident matters, where he would also be able to refrain from the doubtful matters. Sometimes people may know something is harām and not just doubtful, but yet they still get involved in it because of the weak status of their hearts.

So, we must emphasize the main key to dealing with the problem of doubtful matters is the heart. If we all care about the heart, make sure it is in a good status, then in sha-Allāh we will be able to be saved by the help of Allāh. We will be guided by Allāh, because the heart will be full of light. When we say the heart is full of light or guided by light, there are important aspects that we must do that help us to identify and avoid doubtful matters:

1.Al-Muhasabah – self accountability .

2.Al-Muraqabah – self reckoning .

3.Dzikrullāh – the remembrance of Allāh Almighty.

Imūm Nawawi (rahimullāh) himself compiled another book, the Book of Adzkar, where he recorded the hadith about adzkar. It is mentioned by the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), that remembering Allāh will purify the heart. However, we have to do it regularly and on a continuous basis. We should do the adzkar after solāt.

3. Another is as-Solātu ‘ala an-Nabi or Salawāt (the sending of prayers and blessings to the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

This is also an important matter. Many do not train themselves to practice this Solātu ‘ala an-Nabi, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). They just write “SAW” or an alphabet after mentioning the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). They even abbreviate the phrase “Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala”. These are mistakes because du’ā cannot be abbreviated. It is done merely  to save  or to save ink. We have to practice saying or writing “Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam” in full as we are encouraged to do so due to its merit. Each time we say “Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam” we will be rewarded ten times.

In a hadith the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), said that if we practice as-Solātu ‘ala an-Nabi, Allāh will send His “prayers and blessings upon us (yusalli ‘alaih)”. What does this mean? The scholars explain this by saying that Allāh will guide the person who practices “as-Solātu ‘ala an-Nabi” and gives him the light by which to distinguish between the good and the bad. It is a light that will be in the heart. This is termed as “as-solātu minallāh ‘ala al-‘abd”. Hence we should strive to not lose out on obtaining all these good things. We should love the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), more than ourselves, our families, our parents or our children.

Abu Talhah Al-Ansārī (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated ,who said: The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu’alayhi wa sallam) arose one morning in a very pleasant mood with signs of good tidings apparent on his face. They said, “O Messenger of Allāh, we see that you look happy.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The angel came to me and told me, ‘O Muhammad, would it not please you if your Lord, may He be glorified, said: ‘No member of your Ummah sends Solāh upon you but I send Solāh upon him tenfold, and no member of your Ummah sends greetings of Salām upon you but I send greetings of Salām upon him tenfold’.’” I said, “Of course.’” [This was also recorded by Imām Ahmad, An-Nasā’ie Ibn Abi Shaybah, ‘Abd bin Hamīd and at-Tirmidzi]

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There are three under the shade of Allāh on a day when there is no shade except His; the one who relieved a distress from someone from my nation; the one who invigorate my Sunnah and the one who invoked blessings on me (Salawāt) the most”. [This is recorded in the Mustadrak and the Musnad of al-Firdaus; Al-Hāfiz As-Suyūtī also recorded it in his Burūj Al-Hilāl.]

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The closest people to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who invoked the most blessings (Salawāt) upon me.” [This is recorded by Ahmad, At-Tirmidzi and Ibn Hibbān said hasan]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) likened those who do not salawāt upon him when his name is mentioned as a miser: “The miser  (wretched; niggardly, mistaken) is the one who hears my name mentioned and does not seek blessings (Salawāt) for me.” [Reported by At-Tirmidzi] The one whom my name is mentioned in front of him or her, and he does not say “Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam”.

Imām Muslim recorded that ‘Abdullāh bin Zaid, narrated it on the authority of Abu Mas’ud Al-Ansari (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: “We came to the Messenger of Allāh and we were with Sa’ad bin ‘Ubadah. Bashir bin Sa’ad said to him, “Allāh has commanded us to send Solāh upon you, O Messenger of Allāh. How can we send Solāh upon you” The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) remained quiet for so long that we wished that he had not asked him, then the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said [For blessing me]:

“Say: “Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammadiñ wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā sallayta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm; Wa bārik ‘ala Muhammadiñ Wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kama bārakta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm Fil-‘ālameen; Innaka Hamīdun Majīd”

(O Allāh! Send Prayers upon Muhammad and the members of his household as You Sent Prayers upon the members of Ibrāhim’s household; And Send Blessings to Muhammad and the members of his household as You  granted Blessings upon the members of the household of Ibrāhim, among all the nations’ Verily You are Most Praiseworthy, Full of Glory)”,

“And the Salutation [i.e ‘As-salāmu ‘alayka ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh] as you about knows it.”

[This was also recorded by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’ie, At-Tirmidzi and Ibn Jarir. At-Tirmidzi said, “It is Hasan Sahih.” This narration uses the phrase: ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm, fil-‘ālameen; Innaka Hamīdun Majīd”]); this narration is Linguistically sound; more comprehensive]

Conclusion

There are many doubtful matters that a Muslim might face in his or her everyday dealings and activities. This hadith helps the Muslim in dealing with such matters. There is an early ongoing preparation which is needed in such a case – to purify one’s heart. There are some actions that can help us achieve this task, like: hayya’ (modesty), murakabah (self reckoning), muhasabah (self accountability), dzikr (remembrance of Allāh), and as-Solātu ‘ala an-Nabi, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). These are things that, in sha Allāh, can help us and enlighten and purify our heart, and also help us to identify and avoid the doubtful matters – this is the main point, the key, the principle of the hadith.

“Beware; in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.”

Mu’adz bin Jabal (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated that the Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) once held him by the hand and said: “O Mu’adz! I swear by Allāh that I love you. I advise you not to miss supplicating after every Solāh saying:  ‘Allāhumma a ‘inni ‘alā dzikrika, wa syukrika, wa husni ‘ibādatik. (O Allāh! Assist me in mentioning You, expressing gratitude to You, and worshiping You in the finest manner).” [Recorded by Abu Dawud; An-Nasā’ie]

Commentary: The hadith stresses the fact that one should seek the Help of Allāh for His remembrance, gratitude and worship, because one cannot do anything without His Help and Support. The Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advises us to never forget to recite this invocation after every solāh.

Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The uttering of the [four] words: “Subhānallāh (Allāh is free from imperfection), Al-hamdu lillāh (All praise is due to Allāh), Lā ilāha illallāh (There is no true god except Allāh) and Allāhu Akbar (Allāh is the Greatest)’is dearer to me than anything over which the sun rises.”[Recorded by Muslim]

Commentary: Imām At-Tirmidzi in his takhrij said that after saying the four words to add the ‘Tamjid’ saying: ‘‘Lā hawla wa lā quwwata illa billāh [il ‘ally yil ‘adzeem] (There is neither change of any condition nor power except by the will of Allāh [the the Greatest, the Most Magnificent])

Abu Mūsa Al-Ash’ari (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to me, “Shall I not guide you to a treasure from the treasures of Jannah?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allāh!” Thereupon he (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: (Recite) ‘Lā hawla wa lā quwwata illa billāhil [‘aly-yul ‘Azeem] (There is neither change of any condition nor power except by Allāh [the Most High, the Most Magnificent]).” [This is recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Allāh Almighty says: “Verily, the Abrar (pious and righteous) will be in Delight (Jannah).And verily; the Fujjar (the wicked, disbelievers, sinners and evildoers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell).” [Al-Infitar, 82:13, 14]

Commentary: The believers must constantly seek Allāh’s Guidance to the straight path, righteousness in our deeds and to hold in steadfast in Ad-Deen.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: “We counted Allah Messenger’s saying a hundred times during one single sitting: ‘Rabb ighfir li wa tubb ‘alayya innaka antat-tawwābul ghafūrur -raheem’ (O Allāh, forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Accepter of Repentance, Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful).” [Recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidzi].

Muslim Ibn Al-Harith reported that his father said, “The Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to me: ‘When you performed Solāh Fajar, before you talk to anyone say, ‘Allāhumma ajirni minannar (O Allāh, I seek your protection from the Hell-fire)” seven times. If you should die on that day, Allāh will record for you protection from the Hell-fire. When you performed the Solāh Maghrib, say before you speak to anyone, “Allāhumma inni as ‘aluka al-jannah, Allāhumma ajirni minannar (O Allāh, I ask Paradise of You. O Allāh, I seek Your protection from the Hell-fire)” seven times. If you die during that night, Allāh will record for you protection from the Hell-fire.” [Recorded by Ahmad and Abu Dawud]

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: One of the supplications of the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was: “Allāhumma inni as ‘aluka mujibati rahmateek, wa ‘aza ‘ima maghfirateek, was-salamata min kulli ithmin, wal-ghanimata min kulli birr, wal-fawza bil-jannati, wannajata minan-nar (O Allāh! I beg You for that which incites Your Mercy and the means of Your forgiveness, safety from every sin, the benefit from every good deed, success in attaining Jannah and deliverance from Fire).”[Al-Hakim].

Thawban Ibn Bajdad (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: Whenever Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) completed his Solāh, Rasūlullāh would ask forgiveness three times and then he would say: “Allāhumma antas-Salām wa minkas-Salām, (wa ilay kaya ‘ūdus-Salām, Fahaiyina Rabbana-bis-Salām Wa ad-khilnal-Jannata Dārus-Salām,) Tabārakta (Rabbana wa ta’a layt), Ya Dzal-Jalali wal-Ikram” (O Allāh, You are the Grantor of Peace and Security, and Security comes from You,[from You come well-being, to You shall returns the well-being; Bless  us with Peace and Jannah, the Abode of Peace], Shower us  Your  Blessing,[Our Lord, the Most High); O The Possessor of Majesty and Honour!]” [This is recorded by “the group: Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidzi, An-Nasā’ie, Ibn Mājah except for Al-Bukhāri] Muslim has the addition, “Waleed said, ‘I asked Al-Awza’ie, ‘How did he seek Allāh’s forgiveness?’ He said, ‘By saying, ‘Astaghfirullāh (I beseech Forgiveness O Allāh!)’, ‘Astaghfirullā(I beseech Forgiveness O Allāh!)’, and ‘Astaghfirullāh (I beseech Forgiveness O Allāh!)’ [Recorded by Muslim]

Commentary: As-Salam means Allāh Almighty is the source, the provider of security, peace, well-being, tranquility, the One free from all defects. It is Him who blesses us with Peace and Jannah, the permanent Abode of Peace in the Hereafter. Allāh is the Possessor of majesty and honour. We thus seek Him to shower us the blessing.

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say: “Allāhumma inni as ‘alukal-huda wat-tuqa wal-‘afafa wal-ghina (O Allāh! I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity and self-sufficiency)”. [Recorded by Muslim]

Commentary: Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allāh is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the du’ā of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.

The “Ashab-i-Kahf” (the Companions of the Cave) who took refuge in the Cave due to prosecution made this du’a to Allah: “Rabbana ātina mil ladunka Rahmatañ wahaiyi’ lana amrīna rasyada (Our Lord! Bestow on us Mercy from Yourself, and Facilitate for us our affair in the Right Way!)” [Al-Kahfi, 18:10]

Commentary: This the du’a by the “Ashab-i-Kahf” (the Companions of the Cave), the young men who fled for refuge from the persecution of  disbelieving folk to the Cave. The Du’ā seeks Allah’s mercy and facilitation to their affair in the right way.

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: “The supplication most often recited by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam): Rabbana-ātina-fid-dunya hasānah, Wa fil-ākhirati-hasānah, Wa-qina-‘ādzabānnār-nār (O Lord! Bestow upon us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).’” (Al-Baqārah 2:201) [This is recorded by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and Tarmidzi].

Commentary: At-Tarmidzi (rahimullāh) said: “Hasānah is very comprehensive and includes in all kinds of good and benefits of this world and of the Hereafter. Good health, wealth and satisfaction of the world and good status in Jannah, forgiveness from sins and Allāh’s bounties and favours in both worlds are included in this du’ā’” [Recorded in Jāmi’ At-Tarmidzi]

Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir recorded that Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu’anha), said that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to supplicate: ‘Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenik (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then recited: Rabbana la tuzia’qulubana ba’ daiz hadaitana wahab Lana min laduñ karahmah; Iñnaka an tal wahhāb. (Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after Thou have guided us, and grant us mercy from Thou. Truly, Thou are the Bestower.) (Ali-`Imran, 3:8)” [This is recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidzi]

In a narration of Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu), who reported that the Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: If a believer had full knowledge of the chastisement of Allāhnone (but) would covet His Jannah; and were an infidel to know the Mercy Allāh hasnone would despair of His Jannah”. [Muslim]

Commentary: The phrase “full knowledge of the chastisement, none would covet His Jannah”  means  if a believer has complete understanding of the level of Allah’s unhappiness towards their wrong-doing, they could not bring themselves to even hope or desire to be allowed into Jannah. The phrase “and were an infidel to know the Mercy Allah has, none would despair of His Jannah” means if an unbeliever has any idea of the deepness of Allah’s generosity for forgiveness and or compassion, they will never lose hope of being able to enter Jannah. The Hadith  indicates the torment from Divine wrath is very severe if one had the knowledge of it. These are described to enable a sinner to save himself from it and only desire the Jannah. It is only those who are obedient; piety, Muttaqun and submitting to Him, faithfully and accordingly to Allah will receive His Grace and Mercy, while the disobedient will suffer the consequences of His Wrath. The Allāh’s Mercy is immeasurable.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Excerpted from Hadith No. 6: “Purification of the Heart”, Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith via IC Truth]

The Rights of the Kin in Islam

The Rights of the Kin in Islam

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger

1. It is Obligatory to Uphold Ties of Kinship. 

It is an obligation upon every Muslim to uphold and keeping the bond of kinship which it is not as easy as it sounds. Families and friends give warmth and meaning to our lives. It keep us strong and fulfilled, make us feel loved and wanted, help us grow. At times we struggle to stay the course of an unpredictable and of unkind life. In Islam, Allah requires us to always maintain ar-rahim or good relationships with them. Allah the Almighty imposes on us to save not only ourselves and our family from the Punishment in which means that a good family can help us evade the Hell Fire of a miserable eternity.

Allah Says: “O Ye who Believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones?”   [Surah At-Tahrim, 66:6]

Severing the ties of kinship is a major sin, because Allah says: “Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship? Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight”   [Muhammad, 47:22]

Upholding the ties of kinship is obligatory to the extent that one is able to do it, beginning with the closest and then the next close kinship. There is a great deal of goodness in it and it serves many interests.

Muslim recorded in his Sahih that when a man asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), “O Messenger of Allah, whom should I honour?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then whom?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then whom?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then whom?” The fourth time he said: “Your father, then the next closest and the next closest.” [Muslim].

There are many ahadith on this issue. What you have to do is to uphold the ties of kinship to the extent that you are able to, by visiting them if possible, or by writing or phoning. It is also prescribed for you to uphold kinship ties financially too, if the relative is poor.

Allah says: “So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can” [Al-Taghabun, 64:16]; “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” [Al-Baqarah, 2:286]

And the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “When I command you to do something, do as much of it as you can.”

But the intimacy, closeness, frequent interaction and mutual dependence of family and friends can lead to the opposite of the beautiful things. Warmth of love in a family can turn into situation of envious or even spilling of blood. The search for fulfilment can become thirst for humiliating others, and support in tough times can turn into hatred and rivalry even in good times. It happens when some members of a family do not possess the right values and attitude. Satan, that enemy of mankind, loves none of his snares more than sowing hatred within believing families and friends.

The excessive individualism of modern times as well as timeless ignorance and selfishness can replace the love of families and bonds of friendship with hatred and bad blood.

Unfortunately, some people quickly denounce and desert family members only because they forgot to invite them to the last get together. We can find family members who actually live door-to-door and refuse to even share the greeting amongst them when they met face to face. Each one claims that the other should initiate the first visit and “why should I be the one to go knock on their door? Plus, I got ill the other day and they did not even bother to stop by and see how I was doing!” Oh, does it hurt to hear these arguments.’ It makes us understand the words of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) that Satan runs through the blood stream of the son of Adam. The saddest thing is that their children were told to never speak to their relatives or even approach their door. It rips the hearts inside to even think about it.

2. Relatives are of two types: mahrams and non-mahrams.

Relatives are of two types: mahrams and non-mahrams. The guideline on mahram relatives is each two persons who, if one were male and the other female, it would not be permissible for them to get married, such as fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, grandfathers and grandmothers no matter how far the line of ascent reaches, children and grandchildren no matter how far the line of descent reaches, paternal uncles and aunts, and maternal uncles and aunts.

With regard to the children of paternal uncles and aunts and maternal uncles and aunts, they are not mahram relatives, because it is permissible to marry them. The Non-mahram relatives are all other relatives, such as the son of your paternal aunt, the daughter of your paternal aunt, the son of your maternal aunt, the daughter of your maternal aunt, and so on.

There is a difference of opinion among the fuqaha’ concerning upholding ties of kinship. 

First opinion: Some fuqaha’ are of the view that the relatives with whom ties of kinship must be upheld are the mahram relatives only. As for non-mahram relatives, it is mustahabb to uphold ties with them but it is not obligatory.

This is the view of the Hanafis and is the lesser-known view of the Malikis; it is also the view of Abul-Khattab among the Hanbalis. Their evidence is that if it is obligatory to uphold ties of kinship with all relatives, it would be obligatory to uphold ties of kinship with all of the children of Adam, and that is impossible, so it is essential to set guidelines on the relationship which makes it obligatory to uphold and honour ties of kinship and makes it forbidden to cut those ties, and that is the mahram relatives.They also quoted as evidence the words of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam):

“One should not be married to a woman and her paternal aunt, or a woman and her maternal aunt, at the same time.” 

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim (1408)]

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani (rahimahullah) said: Al-Tabarāni added to the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu’anhu) : “If you do that, you have severed your ties of kinship.” This was classified as sahih by Ibn Hibbān. Abu Dawud narrated in “Al-Marasil” a report from ‘Eesa Ibn Talhah that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) forbade being married to a woman and any of her relatives at the same time, for fear of severing ties of kinship. [Al-Dirāyah fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidayah (2/56)]

The way in which they understood this hadīth to prove their point was explained by some of the Maliki scholars (rahimahullah).

Al-Qurafi (rahimahullah)said: The eighth issue regarding the obligation of upholding ties of kinship: Shaikh al-Tartushi (rahimahullah) said: one of the scholars said: rather upholding ties of kinship is obligatory if the relatives are mahrams, which refers to each two persons who, if one were male and the other female, it would not be permissible for them to get married, such as fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, grandfathers and grandmothers no matter how far the line of ascent reaches, children and grandchildren no matter how far the line of descent reaches, paternal uncles and aunts, and maternal uncles and aunts. As for the children of these relatives, upholding ties of kinship between them is not obligatory, because it is permissible for them to get married.

The soundness of this view is indicated by the fact that it is haram to be married to two sisters, or to a woman and her paternal aunt or to a woman and her maternal aunt at the same time, because that leads to severing the ties of kinship, and avoiding something haram is obligatory, and honouring them and not harming them is obligatory. But is it permissible to be married to two female paternal cousins or two female maternal cousins at the same time, even if they are jealous of one another and sever ties with one another, and that is because upholding ties of kinship between them is not obligatory. [Al-Farouq (1/147)] 

The second opinion concerning this issue is that it is obligatory to uphold ties of kinship with all of them, with no distinction between mahrams and non-mahrams.

This is one view of the Hanafis and is the well known view of the Malikis. It was also stated by Imam Ahmad, (rahimahullah), and it is what may be understood from the general terms in which the Shafi’es discussed this issue, because none of them singled out the mahram relatives in this regard. [Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah (3/83)]

[See also: Ghadha’ al-Albab by al-Safāreeni (1/354) and Bareeqah Mahmūdiyyah (4/153)]

There are other opinions concerning this matter. It says in Subul al-Salām (2/628): It should be noted that the scholars differed concerning the definition of the relatives with whom it is obligatory to uphold ties of kinship. It was said that it is relatives with whom marriage is harām, such that if one of them were male marriage to the other would be forbidden. Based on that, it does not include the children of paternal or maternal uncles and aunts. Those who hold this view quote as evidence the fact that it is haram to be married to a woman and her paternal aunt or maternal aunt at the same time, because that leads to severing of ties of kinship.

And it was said that it is those who are connected by inheritance which is indicated by the words of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), “then the next closest and the next closest.” [Narrated by Muslim]

And it was said that it refers to those who are related to one another regardless of whether they are connected by inheritance or not.

Moreover, upholding of ties of kinship, as Al-Qādi ‘Iyād (rahimahullah) said, is of varying degrees, some of which are higher than others. At the very least, it is not forsaking one another, and upholding ties by speaking, even if it only saying salām. That varies according to possibility and need. It may be obligatory or mustahabb. If a person upholds ties to some extent, even if it is not to the fullest extent, he cannot be called a breaker of ties of kinship, and if he fails to do what he is able to do and should do, then he cannot be called an upholder of ties of kinship.

Al-Qurtubi (rahimahullah) said: “The degrees of relationship which must be upheld are general and specific. The general relationship is that which is based on religion, which must be upheld by means of mutual love, sincerity, fairness and fulfilment of rights both obligatory and mustahabb. In addition to that, the specific relationship also involves spending on relatives, checking on them and overlooking their mistakes.”

This is a summary of what the scholars have said about this issue, but what has been narrated about the great reward for upholding ties of kinship and the severe punishment for severing them will be no secret to you. This means that you should be keen to uphold ties of kinship and beware of severing them, and be on the safe side with regard to your religious commitment, and avoid an area concerning which the scholars differed.

So hasten to uphold ties of kinship with the son of your paternal aunt, and treat him kindly as much as you can, for the reward of that will not be lost with Allah.

Allah’s Messenger, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said:”The most virtuous behavior is to engage those who sever relations, to give to those who withhold from you, and to forgive those who wrong you” [At-Tabarāni].

The kindred (arham) are the blood relatives on mother’s and father’s sides. They are the ones meant in the verses in al-Qur’ān in which Allāh says: “But kindred by blood are nearer to one another (regarding inheritance) in the decree ordained by Allah” [Al-Anfal 8:57; Al-Ahzab 33:6]

3. The value of Ar-Rahim.

Severing relation has become a threatening epidemic that has found its way into many Muslim families. We have forgotten the tremendous value of Ar-Rahim. We become completely unmindful and oblivious of its significance, our selfishness and self-centeredness has gotten the best of us.

Before we go further, let us define the word rahim. The word in Arabic is extracted from rahim which literally refers to go the womb; the latter has been the abode of every human being before they came out to this world except for Adam (‘alayhissalam) and Hawa (Eve).

Islamic scholar Ar-Raghib Al-Asfahani (rahimahullah) said, “Ar-Rahim is the womb of the mother, and it stands for family ties knowing that it was the first source from which they were produced” In Islamic terminology, Ar-Rahim means family bonds and relations that we refer to in English as kinship relationships.

The Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) enlightens us on the noble position of rahim through a powerful allegory in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu).

The Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “Allah created all the creation, and when He finished, ar-rahim (the womb) got up and pleaded to Allah, where-upon Allah said to it, “What is the matter?” It said: “At this place, I seek your refuge from those who sever me (cut off ties of kinship).” Allah said, “Yes, will you not be satisfied if I bestow My favours on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favours from him who severs your ties;” Upon this, it said, “Yes, O my Lord!” Allah said, “Then that is for you”. [Al-Bukhari]

This hadith lays out the very foundation of kinship, emphasizing its importance as well as the ramifications of’ severing kinship ties.

Ar-Rahim is a noun that encompasses all the relatives from the father’s and the mother’s sides. Islamic scholar Al-Qurtubi (rahimahullah) said: Generally speaking, ar-rahim has a broad and a particular meaning. The broad one includes all the believers and that is ar-rahim of religion, then there is the one pertaining to all relatives of any person from the father’s and the mother’s sides which is the one concerning us in this issue. Know that each one of them has a number of due rights over you. Allah revealed this verse regarding ar-rahim, which many Muslims throughout the world recognize, since they hear it every Friday from their Imams as part of the introduction of the khutbah: “And fear Allah through Whom you ask one another; and the wombs.” [Surah An-Nisa, 4: 1]

Silah, which literally means connecting, is used often in conjunction with rahim, and so silatur-rahim means to join the ties of kinship by treating one’s relatives fairly and compassionately.

On top of the list of these relations come our parents, who have sacrificed much of their lives to make us strong and worthy human beings. Then come our brothers and sisters with whom we shared the same womb, and then our grandparents along with all the other family members including our uncles, aunts and cousins from both the paternal and maternal sides.

4. Our Kin’s Rights over Us

Every member of our family has rights over us. These rights differ from one person to another. For instance, the mother stands higher than the aunt and the grandfather is most definitely above the brother in law.

Some of the rights our next of kin has on us are: To maintain a good relationship with them by showing respect, love and sympathy. Be there for them when they need you. Go visit them at times of sickness and be a good support at times of tribulations. Share with them glorious moments. Let them in on all your good news. Buy them gifts and congratulate them on ‘Eid days. Help them financially during harsh times.

When Allah revealed the verse: “You will not attain piety until you spend from that which is beloved to you” [Surah Ali-‘Imran, 3: 93], Abu Talhah (radiyallāhu`anhu) said: “The most beloved to me of my wealth is Bayrahā’ (a garden), and I am giving it as a charity for Allah, I yearn for its reward from Allah. O Messenger of Allah spends it as you see fit according to what Allah has shown you.” The Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “Bakhin! (An expression of amazement) That indeed is a profitable trade. I have heard what you said, and I recommend that you spend it on your kin.” Abu Talhah (radiyallāhu`anhu) responded, “O Messenger of Allah, I will do so.” And Abu Talhah (radiyallāhu`anhu) indeed gave it away to his relatives.

Spending on kinship has become a neglected responsibility, to the point that you can easily find people who will invite a friend to a classy restaurant and never spend a dime on their cousin. They offer valuable gifts and even money to their peers and co-workers while their parents are in dire situations. This brings to mind the event of Musteh who was Abu Bakar’s cousin and also among those who fell into the error of slandering his (Abu Bakar’s) daughter, the mother of the believers, ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) in the famous incident of ‘ifk (lie). This made Abu Bakar (radiyallāhu`anhu) so furious that he took an oath he would never again give charity to Musteh.

Following this incident Allah the Almighty sent down a number of verses attesting to the innocence of the mother of the believers, but among them was also this magnificent verse:

“And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give (any sort of help) to their kinsmen, and the poor, and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah An-Nur, 24:22]

Upon hearing this beautiful verse, the noble companion Abu Bakar (radiyallāhu`anhu) said, “Yes we love!”(Meaning yes O Allah, we love that you forgive us) Then he resumed his spending on Musteh.

Let us all pause and look deep into this verse and reflect upon its limitless wisdom, and see how Allah the Lord of the worlds guided to Abu Bakar (radiyallāhu`anhu) charity to his kin, even when this person had falsely slandered his daughter!

5. When Your Kinfolk Are Non-Muslim

We should know that kindness to parents is a personal duty imposed by Allah on every son and daughter. To be a dutiful child is to ensure that one is closer to Allah the Almighty. It makes it easier to win Allah’s pleasure and be eventually admitted into Paradise. Parents must be obeyed unless they order us to commit a sin. This is based on the Prophet’s (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) statement that: “No creature may be obeyed in what constitutes disobedience to the Creator.” All this assumes that the parents are Muslims. It may happen, however, that a Muslim child has non-Muslim parents. What should his attitude be toward them?

First and foremost, even if one’s kinsfolk are hostile to Islam, one should under no circumstance give up on them; continue to invite them to Islam with kindness, compassion and wisdom. We should pray to Allah constantly to guide them and open their hearts and lead them to the straight path.

Asma’ binti Abu Bakar (radiyallahu’anha) was the Prophet’s sister-in-law. She was the daughter of his closest companion and the sister of his wife ‘Aishah. Her mother, however, did not become a Muslim for quite a long time. Asma’ said: “My mother came to me during the time of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) hoping to get something from me. I asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) ‘whether I should be kind to her'”. He answered: “Yes,” [Al-Bukhari].

The way this hadith is phrased suggests that her mother had not yet become a Muslim when she came to her. Another version states clearly that the mother was hostile to Islam. Had she shown any inclination to become a Muslim, Asma’ (radiyallahu’anha) would not have needed to ask the Prophet’s (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) permission to be kind to her. Many a Muslim at that time was extra kind to their parents and relatives who were not Muslims, hoping to win them over to Islam. The significance of this particular hadith is that even when a parent is determined not to become a Muslim, we still should treat him or her kindly.

Try all beautiful and wise ways to bring them into the fold of Islam. Bear in mind that this indeed is one of the most difficult tasks and one of the most honourable ones as well. Show them concern and be patient when dealing with them. Overlook the harsh words and pardon the ridicule.

Remember that never did the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) quit calling his uncle Abu Talib bin Abdul Mutallib to embrace Islam, even when his uncle was in his death bed. One of the most touching scenes in Quran is the dialogue that took place between Prophet Nuh (`alayhissalam) and his disbelieving son. Here is a Prophet of Allah trying eagerly to call his son to the path of light and safety. Despite the fact that his son was an adamant disbeliever, Nuh (‘alaihissalam) chose the kindest of words and used the most compassionate expressions to persuade his son.

Allah the Almighty says: “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” [Surah al-Mumtahana, 60:8]

So long as they do not stand as a barrier between us and our religion, we are obligated to fulfil all the rights they have on us. We must not become someone’s excuse for not wanting to become Muslim.

6. Between Islam and the family: Which should I Choose?

This is a question everyone with non-Muslim relatives wishes to never encounter. It represents one of those times we call the moment of truth and the most difficult of tests.

Kindness to non-Muslim parents does not depend on what religion they follow. We are supposed to be kind to them. It is true that such kindness may help win them over to Islam. This is, however, not the only reason. The parent-child relationship transcends matters of personal inclinations, desires, habits, creeds and faith. It is well known that a parent tries hard to overcome his prejudice against something if he feels that his son or daughter likes it. Islam does not like to stir trouble in every family where the parents are not Muslims. It recognizes that the parent-child tie need not be broken on account of faith. It, therefore, instructs its followers to be kind to their non-Muslim parents.

Only when such parents try to persuade their Muslim child to turn away from Islam does Allah command us not to listen to them or obey them.

Allah SAYS:“We have enjoined upon man goodness toward his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his weaning is within two years. Be grateful toward Me and toward your parents, with Me all journeys end. Yet should they (your parents) endeavour to make you ascribe divinity, side by side with Me to something of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. But even then bear them company with kindness in the life of this world and follow the path of those who turn toward me.”[Surah Luqman, 31:14-15]

It is reported that these verses were revealed when the mother of Sa’ad Ibn Abu Waqqas (radiyallahu’anhu) who was a companion of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) was so upset when she learned that he had embraced Islam. She tried to persuade him to recant. Realizing that he was determined to follow the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) she tried to increase the pressure on him. She knew that he was a most dutiful child and he loved her dearly. She thought that if she brought hardship on herself, he would feel sorry for her and might listen to her. She swore that she would not taste any food or drink until he had left the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam).

The judgment in his case was given by Allah in the above quoted verses. Sa’ad Ibn Abu Waqqas (radiyallāhu`anhu) did not listen to his mother and continued to be one of the best companions of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam)  He was later given the happy news by the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam)that he was certain to be admitted into Paradise.

It is clear from his story and the verses revealed by Allah concerning it that when it comes to matters of faith, a non-Muslim parent may not be obeyed. That, however, does not mean to be unkind to such a parent as we mentioned before. We are still required to be kind to him or her, hoping always that they may recognize the truth of Islam.

There is absolutely no graver sin than shirik, (i.e. to associate partners with Allah) yet Allah the Almighty advised us to keep them company in this life and show them benevolence. This is the only time when we can say no to parents—but not walk out on them. Instead, we should be with them, support them in all kinds of ways when they need us, so long as they do not ask you to go against the teaching of Allah and his Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam)  This also goes for the rest of our non-Muslim kinfolk.

Remember what Yusuf (‘alayhissalam) said as Allah informs us in the verse: “Verily, he who fears Allah with obedience to him, and is patient, then surely, Allah makes not the reward of the Muhsinun (righteous) to be lost.” [Surah Yusuf, 12:90]

We do good if we pray Allah to enlighten our non-Muslim parents and guide them to accept Islam. We cannot, however, pray Allah to forgive them. Allah forgives all sins with the exception of associating partners with him. All non-believers associate partners with Allah in one form or another. It is, therefore, futile to pray Him to forgive what he has told us He would not forgive. Moreover, it is an affront to Allah.

It may be hard for a Muslim person to be unable to pray for the forgiveness of his non-Muslim parents. Let us remember that the Prophet’s (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) own parents were non-Muslims. He asked Allah’s permission to pray Him to forgive his mother. His request was declined. We know that Allah granted every prayer the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) made either for himself or his companions or, indeed, Muslims generally. The fact that Allah did not permit the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) to pray for the forgiveness of his own mother suggests that this is not a trifling matter at all. It is indeed much more beneficial to one’s non-Muslim parents who are alive that he prays Allah to guide them to Islam.

7. The Merits and Benefits of Keeping Good Family Relations.

7.1. The Way to Paradise

The Messenger(Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him be generous to his guest, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bond of kinship, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say that which is good or observe silence.” [Al-Bukhari]

Abu Ayub Al-Ansari (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated: “A man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, inform me of a certain deed that if I do it, I shall enter Paradise.’ He (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Worship Allah and do not associate anything with him, establish Solah, Zakah and maintain bonds of kinship'”.

7.2. Abundance and Longevity

It is narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (radiyallāhu`anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever desires for Allah to multiply his provision and increase his age, he should maintain good relations with his kin”.

7.3. Beautiful Pleasures of life

Take advantage of every opportunity which presents itself to help them, visit them and be there for them, for the sake of Allah.

Think about that great moment when your little nephew or niece opened the door and shouted out, “It is my auntie….! It is my uncle ..,” then threw themselves, innocently, in your arms. What a great blessing!

8. The Curse of Allah upon Those Who Sever Blood Relations

Allah has severely warned those who cut off their blood relations and family ties. The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) also condemned such people.  Allah the Almighty Says:”Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship? Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.” [Surah Muhammad, 47:22-23]

All Muslims should read these two verses over and over again, and let them sink in, because the verse right after that says: “Do they not then think deeply in the Quran? Or are their hearts locked up?”[Surah Muhammad, 47:24]

We seek refuge in Allah, the Lord of the worlds, from the concealing of our hearts and the subjugation of our weak selves.

Even the company of those who mistreat their families and are cut off from them is accursed. ‘Abdullah Ibn Abu ‘Awf (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated that, “One time we were sitting with the Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) who said: `No one who cuts off his ties should sit with us.’ So a young man stood up from the crowd and went to visit his aunt, with whom he had some frictions, she then asked forgiveness for him, and he did the same for her, soon afterwards, he came back to our gathering circle, upon which the Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said:“The Mercy will not descend on people among whom there is a person who severs kin ties.”

Severing one’s blood ties is far from a trivial choice: it is an evil that may hinder you from entering Paradise. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said:”No one who severs his family ties will enter Paradise.” [At-Tirmidzi]

Part of the danger resulting from cutting off one’s relations can be sensed from the following hadith.

Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu) related that a man came to the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, my relatives are such that I cooperate with them, but they cut me off; I am kind to them but they ill-treat me; I forbear but they are rude to me.“The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) replied: “If you are as you say, you are then feeding them with hot ashes; and so long as you remain the way you are, Allah will always help you and he will protect you against their mischief.” [Muslim]

Imam An-Nawawi (rahimahullah) said: “The hot ashes are a metaphor for the amount of pain and agony experienced by the one who eats them.” The hadith pertains also to the people who behave differently. They will maintain good times as long as their kindred do the same, but otherwise they sever them. Real cherishing of the blood relation is not observed in anticipation of reciprocation on the part of one’s kin; but the ties should be maintained for Allah’s sake only, even if this is done from one side only neglecting the behaviour of the other side in return.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “A person who reciprocates in doing good is not the one who joins his blood relations generously; but he is one who joins with his blood relations when they sever the kinship ties.” [Al-Bukhari]

This wonderful hadith puts all things in perspective for those who are so skilled at pointing fingers, trying to justify the haughtiness of their own selves by always blaming other people, thus justifying their cutting of ties. The Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) penly states that regardless of their behaviour you should visit them; regardless of their detachment, you should maintain your ties; regardless of their offensiveness, reward them with forbearance, and most importantly, never cease to include in your supplications that Allah grant them a change of heart; for all the hearts are between His fingers, He flips them as He wills.

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) set for all humanity the greatest example of forgiveness and mercy after he conquered Makkah. The Makkans had tortured, killed, and humiliated Muslims for so long, and killed some of the dearest relatives of the blessed Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) himself. But the Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) answered them by saying “I would say to you what Yusuf said to his brothers: No reproach on you this day; May Allah forgives you; He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy. Go free; you are all pardoned!” This incident never fails to bring tears to a Muslim’s eye. In fact, any human being would be moved by such nobility and mercy to tears. No wonder ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) when asked about the character of the Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said that his character was the Quran. Better yet Allah bears witness that his Messenger stands on the highest plane of character.

Allah Says: “And verily, you have an exalted standard of character.” [Surah Al-Qalam, 68:4]

9. Ways to Enhance Your Relations

Here are ways for us to fortify our ties and strengthen our bonds with our kinsmen:

7.1. Arrange frequent visits with those who live close by, on a weekly basis if they are in the same town or on a yearly basis at least if they reside overseas, depending on a person’s abilities. But always remember, the least you can do nowadays is to pick up a paper and a pen and write to them how much your heart yearns for them and that they are not at all forgotten. If not, pick up the phone and tell them how much you love them and cannot wait to visit with them. Little things can make a big difference.

7.2. In a family gathering, do not let the opportunity to clear up all misunderstandings, pass you by and show all of your relatives your love and concern.

7.3. When conversing with them, take interest in what they have to say, even if it is not your cup of tea. Listen to their concerns, and help them if you can, and at least give them hope and your prayers—for sincere prayers, reassurance and love are worth much more than anything else.

7.4. Have respect for all elderly people in your family, be all-ears when they are telling their stories and try to learn from their past experiences.

7.5. Bring joy to family gatherings by creating an atmosphere of fun, sharing jokes or even getting a bit playful at times—but always within the limits of decency and without hurting anyone’s feelings.

7.6. Be there for them, and offer to help in every way you can.

Many good deeds bear fruit that will not be seen until the Hereafter. But keeping good family relations is something that will benefit you immediately, by making this life a lot happier, lighter, pleasant and more rewarding. Most importantly, Allah will reward us generously for every smile, every hug, and every act of generosity, every phone call or letter, every word of encouragement, every suppression of anger, and every instance of forgiveness towards your family members. Who can afford to be deprived of such an immense reward? Do not allow yourself to be of those who sever what Allah has ordered to be joined.

He the Almighty Says: “Those who break Allah’s covenant after ratifying it, and sever what Allah has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth, it is they who are the losers.”  [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:27]

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Via Islam Web]

Please See Also:

1.The Meaning of Silatul Rahim; 2.Guidelines on Ties of the Kinship;

3.The Obligation of Upholding the Ties of Kinship;

4.The Rights and Duties of Women in Islam.; 5. All Occurs By The Will And Decree Of Allāh;

6.Allah Obligates Kindness to Parents; 7.Acknowledging the Parents;

8.The Kindred of Kinship;

9. Not Permissible To Forsake A Muslim;

10. Ruling On Disputes and the Virtue of Reconciling;

11.Dealing With Relatives Who Backbite;12. Dealing with Hurtful Relatives;

13.Giving Zakah to Deserving Relatives;14.Is the Father’s Wife among the Relatives (Rahm);

15.Husband’s Duties towards His Wife’s Family ; 16.The Rights of the Husband and the Wife;

17.Upholding the Ties of Kinship for Females;18.A Woman’s Mahram;

19.The Seven under the Shade of Allāh

Strengthening the Levels of Worship

Strengthening the Levels of Worship

By Dr. Jasser Auda

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.

In his well-known book entitled “Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom)”, Sheikh Ahmad Ibn ‘Ataa’illah As-Sakandari (rahimahullah) says:

“Allah diversified the acts of worship for you because He knows how quickly you get slacken. And He did not permit you certain acts of worship at certain times, so you do not go to extremes. The objective is to perfect your Solāt not to merely perform them. Not every performer of Solāt perfects them.”

The Quality of Worship

The word of wisdom under discussion is related to a very important topic in our journey to Allah is the quality of worship.

A believer who is in continuous worship may feel slacken at some point. Allah Almighty, out of His mercy, knows that we, humans, could naturally feel loosen, even from worship. Therefore, He diversified the acts of worship so we can worship Him in a variety of ways.

As an example, Solāt is a fixed act of worship that should be performed five times a day. But Allah recommended other forms of supererogatory Solāt such as late-night prayer, prayer of thankfulness, and Solāt at times of need, etc. If the believer feels slacken of the optional Solāt, he may perform the obligatory Solāt only, but at the same time he might be interested in other forms of worship such as:charity, performing ‘umrah, seeking knowledge, being kind to neighbours and relatives, helping people, etc. All these are forms of worship that draw one closer to Allah.

People are different, and diversity is a universal law of Allah. Diversity is not limited to natural capabilities only, but there is diversity in one’s ability to keep up with certain actions and enjoy them. Ibn ‘Ataa’illah As-Sakandari (rahimahullah) also refers it to Allah’s knowledge about our desire to continue our worship without a pause. Therefore, He, in His infinite knowledge, prohibited some acts of worship at certain times. As mentioned before, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Surely this religion is firm. So apply it with tenderness. The traveler who is too harsh on his riding animal, he will not reach his destination and the riding animal will die”.

This is the reason the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) recommended that we do not pray right after the sunrise, right before noon time, or in the late afternoon after the Solāt Asar.  The wisdom behind not praying any optional Solāt in these times is to make us eager to perform them when we are allowed. The same applies to fasting. We are not permitted to fast at certain times, for example, immediately before the beginning of Ramadhān and on the first day of `Eid.

When Allah opens for you the door of reading the Qur’an, you may wish to read it all the time. But it is not allowed to read the Qur’an while we are kneeling down or sujud in Solāt, in the toilet, or while we are in a state of ritual non-cleanliness. Because Allah knows our nature, He diversified the acts of worship and made some of them prohibited at certain times.

In that case, when Allah guides you to perform an act of worship, you have to perfect it and ascend in the levels of quality of worship.

Ibn ‘Ataa’illah As-Sakandari (rahimahullah) gives the example of Solāt as he says: “The objective is to perfect your Solāt an not to merely perform them. Not every performer of Solāt perfects them”. When Allah talks about Solāt in the Qur’an, he asked us to “establish the Solāt”. [Al-Baqarah 2: 43] Establishing the Solāt is different from merely performing it. Establishing a Solāt is about concentration and humbleness during the Solāt. Allah says: “Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers those who humble themselves in their Solāt”. [Al-Mu’minun 23: 1-2]

Humbleness in Solāt is achieved by the levels Al-Khushu (Attentiveness).

Humbleness is not achieved when one feels bored or goes to extremes and perform solah non-stop. Humbleness is achieved by the levels al-khushu (attentiveness).

According to scholars, humbleness in Solāt (al-khushu`) is a branch of knowledge. This is supported by the prophetic tradition in which the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) revealed about the signs of the Day of Judgment, as reported by Abu Ad-Darda’ (radiyallāhu’anhu), who said: We were with the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) looked at the sky and said: “This is a time when knowledge is abandoned by people, so that they cannot do anything. Then the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: If you want, I can tell you about the first branch of knowledge that will be abandoned by people; it is humbleness in Solāt. You may enter a big masjid but you do not see one man in a state of humbleness.” [At-Tirmidzi]

Scholars categorized humbleness in the Solāt into several levels of al-khushu: humiliation before Allah, feeling awe of Allah, and happiness, because of being in the presence of Allah as well as iman and ihsan:

1 – The presence of feeling in need of Allah.

This is reflected in the movements of the Solāt. We kneel down and prostrate only to Allah. These movements are manifestations of humiliation which should be shown only to Allah. Humiliation requires that you feel that you are weak and that Allah is the Powerful, the Rich, and the Almighty. Humiliation is the result of neediness as Ibn `Ataa’illah As-Sakandari explained before when he said: “The tree of humiliation stems from a seed of neediness”. When you feel you are in need of Allah, a state of humbleness is produced.

2 – The feeling awe of Allah.

The higher level is to elevate you from the stage of humiliation to the stage of feeling awe of Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala and His Might. Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala says: “Whenever the messages of the Most Gracious were conveyed unto them [the prophets], they would fall down before Him, prostrating themselves and weeping”. (Maryam 19: 58) This is the level of feeling awe of Allah which might lead to crying. And Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala says: “Allah bestows from on high the best of all teachings in the shape of a divine writ fully consistent within itself, repeating each statement [of the truth] in manifold forms [a divine writ] whereat shiver the skins of all who of their Sustainer stand in awe: [but] in the end their skins and their hearts do soften at the remembrance of [the grace of] Allah. Such is Allah’s guidance: He guides therewith him that wills [to be guided] whereas he whom Allah lets go astray can never find any guide”. [Az-Zummar 39: 23]

One of the Companions (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported that he watched the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as he was praying. He said that he heard a whistling sound from the chest of the Prophet resembling the sound of a boiling kettle as he was weeping. [Abu Dawud]

3 – The presence of happiness  of being in the presence of Allah.

The best state of humbleness in Solāt is to find you happy and pleased because of being in the presence of Allah. So you actually feel happy and elated when you recite the Qur’an, mention Allah or praise Him. This is the highest level of humbleness in prayers. Angels descend from heavens to listen to you and a state of tranquility prevails in the place. Bear in mind, however, that when Allah takes you to a level of happiness in your solah, this will be out of His Grace not because of your deeds.

It is reported that while Usayd ibn Hudayr (radiyallāhu’anhu) was reciting Surat Al-Baqarah (the second chapter of the Qur’an) at night, and his horse was tied beside him; the horse was suddenly startled and troubled. When he stopped reciting, the horse became quiet, and when he started again, the horse was startled again. Then he stopped reciting and the horse became quiet too. He started reciting again and the horse was startled and troubled once again. Then he stopped reciting and his son, Yahya was beside the horse. He was afraid that the horse might trample on him. When he took the boy away and looked towards the sky, he could not see it. All he saw was a low cloud full of lamps! The next morning he informed the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) who said, “Recite, O Ibn Hudayr! Recite, O Ibn Hudayr!” Ibn Hudair replied, “O Allah’s Messenger! My son, Yahya was near the horse and I was afraid that it might trample on him, so I looked towards the sky, and went to him. When I looked at the sky, I saw something like a cloud containing what looked like lamps, so I went out in order not to see it”. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Do you know what that was?” Ibn Hudayr replied, “No”. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Those were Angels who came near to you for your voice and if you had kept on reciting till dawn, it would have remained there till morning when people would have seen it as it would not have disappeared”. [Al-Bukhari]

Al-Bara’ (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported that a person was reciting Surat Al-Kahf and there was a horse tied with two ropes at his side, a cloud overshadowed him, and as it began to come nearer and nearer his horse began to take fright from it. He went and mentioned that to the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in the morning, and the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “That was Tranquility. It came down at the recitation of the Qur’an”. [Muslim]

Bear in mind, however, that when Allah takes you to a level of happiness in your solah, this will be out of His Grace not because of your deeds. As the Arab poem goes: In the twinkling of an eye, Allah may change everything; from one state to another.

However, there are means that one could follow in order to ascend to that level, by Allah’s Grace. Among these means is to reflect upon the meaning of the Qur’an, and feeling humble by calling to mind how great Allah is.

The three levels mentioned above may be expressed in various forms of worship, not only in Solāt. The level of submission (Islam) to Allah is the outward work. In Solāt, it is performing the actions of the Solāt by standing, kneeling down and prostration. In charity, it is giving out money. In fasting, it is the abstaining from eating and drinking. In pilgrimage, it is circumbulating around the Ka`bah, going between the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa, and offering the sacrifice.

4 – The Level Of Iman.

Humbleness is achieved by the level of iman. However, the level of iman is the work of the heart. The basic task of the heart is to believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, the Day of Judgment, and that Allah created all things to come, good or bad. All this leads to a wider meaning of the rituals. So, Solāt is not only about kneeling down and prostration, but it is about humbleness, feeling awe of Allah, and happiness as well. Charity is not merely an act of giving money; it is about having mercy upon the poor and indifference about the world. Fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink; it is also about patience, mentioning Allah, thankfulness, and meditation. Pilgrimage is not only by tawaf around the Ka`bah, going between the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa and offering the sacrifice, it is also about remembering the Hereafter, uniting with fellow believers, and following the steps of the prophets and messengers.

5 – The Level of ‘Ihsan.

Humbleness is achieved by the Level of ‘Ihsan, the next level after iman. Solāh is a sanctified moment that you are facing Allah in His Presence. The Level of ‘Ihsan is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you. . In relation to remembrance of Allah, Ibn ‘Ataa’illah As-Sakandari explained that the level of attentiveness (khusu’) would entails the level of submission (Islam) to Allah, i.e., you have to be attentive to when you read the Qur’an or when you indulge in the act remembrance of Allah (dzikirullah). The level of being present with Allah entails the level of belief (iman), i.e., you reflect on the meaning so you feel awe; the greatness of Allah.

The whole purpose of Solāh is to remember Allah and to feel in His presence. In a famous hadith, the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “The Ihsan (right and beautiful action) is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you…”   [Al-Bukhari]

The level of ‘ihsan is reached when you absolve that everything else around you is absent; you are not paying attention to what  goes around you, but you are presented, communicating fully to Allāh Almighty in the manner you are seeing Him and He is observing you. The solāt must be observed and perfected according the Sunnah of The Prophet Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam). One ought to perform every part of the Solāh with care and in a tranquil manner including its recitation and all the adhkar in the Solāh.

Conclusion

The strengthening the quality of ‘ibadah is determined by the al-khushu (attentiveness) which is in itself indicates the level of the imān or the degree of submission to Allah in term of the humbleness before Allah Almighty, His Greatness, and the happiness being in the presence of Allah. All these will enhance the achievement of the ‘ihsan which is worshipping Allah as though you are seeing Him and He is observing you. You absolve that everything else around is absent and you are not paying attention to what goes around you, but you are presenting fully to Allāh Almighty.

Al-‘Ihsan about the love of Allah, fearing Allāh most, glorifying Him, to seek the help of Allāh, to have hope in Allāh that He will give us mercy and guide us, to trust Allāh wholly. This will lead us to striving sincerely for our best in performing our ‘ibadahAl-‘Ihsan is also about the best actions of the heart.

Mu‘adz Ibn Jabal (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) once held him by the hand and said: “O Mu’adz! I swear by Allāh that I love you. I advise you not to miss supplicating after every solāh saying: ‘Allāhumma a ‘inni ‘alā dzikrika, Wa shukrika, wa husni ‘ibâdatik. (O Allāh! Assist me in mentioning You, expressing gratitude to You, and worshiping You in the finest manner).”[Abu Dawud; An-Nasā‘ie]

‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) said: The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) used to say when Ruku’ and Sujud: “Subhānakallāhumma Rabbana wabihamdika Allāhummaghirli (Glory is to You O Allāh! Our Lord, And all the Praise be to You, O Allāh! Forgive me.)”; implementing (the order of) the Qur`an [:”Fasabbih bihamdi rabbika wastaghfirhu innahu kana tawwaba (Then glorify with the Praises of your Lord, and seek His Forgiveness, for He is Oft-Returning).” (Nasr, 110:3)]. [Narrated by al-Bukhari (794) and Muslim (484)]

In an authentic hadith, it is recorded that the Allāh`s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: ‘The closest one of you comes to his Lord is while he is Sajdah, (therefore) make many supplications therein’.  And he also said, `I have prohibited you from reciting while Ruku’ or Sajdah. During the Ruku’, glorify the Lord. During the sajdah, strive your hardest in making supplications. Most likely, you will be listened to.” This was recorded by Ahmad and Muslim.

Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu’anhu) narrated: The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) used to say “Between the Two Sujud”:“Allahumm-aghfir li (O Allah! Forgive me), warhamni (And Have Mercy on me), wahdini (and Guide me), wa‘afini (and Guard me against harm), warzuqni (And Grants me sustenance), Three times” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidzi]. Another narration: The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) used to say: “Allāhumma [or: Rabbi] ghfirli, warhamni, [wajburni], [warfa’ni], wahdini [wa’afini], warzuqni, [wa’fu’anni] (O Allāh! (in one version: O my Lord!) Forgive me; have mercy on me; [strengthen me;] [raise my rank;] guide me; [and bestow good health;] sustain me, [and Pardon me]), Three times. [Abu Dawud, Tirmidzi, Ibn Majah and Hākim, who declared it sahih and Dhahabi agreed].

It was narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to a man (one of the Sahabah): “What do you say when you pray (Du’a after the Tashahhud)?” He said: “I recite the Tashahhud, then I say:  “Allāhumma inni as alukal-Jannah wa a‘udzu bika Minan-nār” (O Allāh, I ask You for Paradise and seek refuge in You from the Fire).I cannot murmur like you and like Mu‘adz.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “It is about them that we were murmuring.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, 792: sahih]

‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate: “Allāhumma inni as ‘alukal-Huda, Wat-Tuqa, Wal-‘Afafa, Wal-Ghina (O Allāh! I beseech You for Guidance, Piety, Chastity and Contentment).” [Muslim]. This du’a contains four words, the meanings and implications of which constitute its essence. These words are guidance, piety (fear of Allah), chastity and sufficiency. Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allah is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the prayer of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.

Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir recorded that Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu`anha), said that the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate: ‘Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi `ala deenika (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).”Rasulullah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) then recited: Rabbana la tuzia’qulubana ba’ daiz hadaitana wahab Lana min laduñ karahmah; Iñnaka an tal wahhāb. (Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after Thou have guided us, and grant us mercy from Thou. Truly, Thou are the Bestower.) (Al-’Imran, 3:8) [This is recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidzi]

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: “The supplication most often recited by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam): Rabbana-ātina-fid-dunya hasanah, Wa fil-ākhirati-hasanah, Wa-qina-‘ādzabānnār (O Lord! Bestow upon us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).’” (Al-Baqārah 2:201) [This is recorded by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and Tarmidzi]. Tarmidzi (rahimullāh) said: “Hasanah is very comprehensive and includes in all kinds of good and benefits of this world and of the Hereafter. Good health, wealth and satisfaction of the world and good status in Jannah, forgiveness from sins and Allāh’s bounties and favours in both worlds are included in this duā’” [ Jāmi’ At-Tarmidzi]

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Excerpted from “Ibn `Attaa’ Words of Wisdom (18), Ascending in the Levels of Worship”, a commentary By Dr.Jasser Auda, Via on Islam, 15 December 2011 11:14]

Please see related topics.

1. The Concept of Taqwa;

2. Taqwa: Between Love and Fear of Allah;

3. The Hope and Fear of Allah; 4. The Reality of Humbleness;

5. The Excellence of Humility and Humbleness;

6. Strengthening the Levels of Worship;  7. Taqwa: Between Love and Fear;

8. Arrogance Negates Imān and Jannah;

9. The Concept of Istiqamah; 10. The Concept of Al-Haya’ (Modesty); 11. The Concept of Al-Zuhud

The Obligation of Loving All Muslims

The Obligation of Loving All Muslims

By Imam An Nawawi

Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik, (radiyallahu ‘anhu), who served the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), reported that the Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), said: “None of you truly believes (in Allah and in His religion) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”   [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] 

Background

The Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), said:“The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for others what he loves for himself.” [Musnad of Imam Ahmad] 

In Sahih Muslim from Abdullah Ibn Amr Al-‘Ass, the Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), said:“…..Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah and the Last Day and should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them…”[Sahih Muslim; Book 020, Number 4546]

Lessons

These three hadiths carry similar meanings that are to love for other Muslims what one loves for oneself. They lay down a very significant principle of behaviour of Muslims with each other. A true Islamic community is when it is built upon love and compassion for its members. Every member should care for and help one another. They should treat others in ways they want to be treated.

It is a community with no barriers among the races, colour, mazhab or group or ranks in implementing this Islamic concept of brotherhood and love. All these barriers must be removed for this concept to be realized. Other barriers to be removed include jealousy, selfishness and envy.

Loving goodness for others is part of loving them. We love good things for them as much as we love those things for ourselves. We treat them the way we want them to treat us.

Part of good treatment of others are excusing them and giving them fair chances. For example, if a person commits a mistake, then we should find excuses for them and not jump to conclusions. There are many possibilities or ways for us to excuse others who have committed mistakes, and hence enabling us to live peacefully and avoid confrontations.

When we deal with other Muslims in the community, we should deal in the best manner. We should choose the best words in our conversation. Allah says:“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak always the right word”[Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:  70]

“And tell My servants that they should always say those words that are the best. Satan verily sows a state of conflict and disagreements among them.” [Surah Al-Isra’ (17): ayat 53]

Good words can minimize quarreling and confrontations among the members of the society.

Mercy and compassion should exist in our treatment of others. This is related to a very important concept in Islam, which is Al-Wala’. The relationship among the Muslim community members is based on this concept of Al-Wala’. It does not only mean protection, but it also encompasses love, care and help. These are the four aspects of Al-Wala’ normally mentioned by the scholars. These aspects are interdependent with each other. For example, to care for others comes after the loving of others. Therefore, in relation to the hadith, Muslims must also love and care about other Muslims.

Another important issue is not to be arrogant. This comes in many forms (as mentioned by the scholars) such as belittling others, looking down on others, looking at oneself as being more superior or better than others, etc.

The Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), said:“He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.” A person (amongst his hearers) said: “Verily, a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine.” He (the Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) remarked: “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride disdains the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.” [Sahih Muslim: Book 001, Number 0164]

“Arrogance” is the opposite of humbleness and it is “a serious flaw” in the sight of Allah Almighty.

Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala states: “…Indeed, He does not like the arrogant.” [An-Nahl, 16:23]

In another verse Allāh Subhānahu wata‘ala states: “And turn not your cheek away from people in false pride, and walk not haughtily on earth: for, behold, Allah does not love anyone who, out of self- conceit, acts in a boastful manner.” [Al-Qasas 28: 83];

Allah states those who humbles will be blissful on the Day of Judgements: “As for that happy life in the hereafter, We grant it only to those who do not seek to exalt themselves on earth, nor yet to spread corruption.” [Luqman, 31:18]

Allah Almighty ordered ordered the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) to: “spread the wings of your tenderness over the believers.” [Al-Hijr 15: 88]

The “spreading the wings of tenderness” is the same expression that Allah used for the attitude of a believer with his or her parents: “And serve Allāh. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [An-Nisā’, 4: 36] In another verse: “And spread over them humbly the wings of tenderness.” [Al-Isrā’ 17: 24] This is the highest rank of humbleness.

Therefore we need to be humble and show mercy to others. Part of loving goodness for others is to practice mutual consultation, enjoining goodness and forbidding evil. The advice is to be done in a good way, based on loving them and not for seeking personal interest. The Prophet, (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), also used to show his love of others when giving advice to them. It may also be good to explicitly tell the listeners that the reason we are advising them is because we love them and we care for them. If an advice is specific for a person, then it should be done in private to avoid offending the person.

Fudhayl ibn Iyad (rahimahullāh) went one step higher in putting this hadith into practice. He mentioned that we should not only wish others to be like us but also to wish them to be better than us. However, he said that this is not obligatory (wajib).

Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) said that we should wish other Muslims to be better than us in worshipping (ibadah) and manners (akhlaq), but at the same time we should wish for ourselves to be better than what we are now. It is not good enough to just wish for something good for other Muslims but at the same time we are deficient and not striving to be better Muslims ourselves. It is from the goodness that we have attained that we also love for other Muslims to have. It is not fair to them that we wish for them to attain the same deficiency that we have in ourselves. Therefore, it is a matter of continuous competition among us to attain the goodness.

A related contemporary issue is about the brotherhood in Islam. What criterion should be used in deciding who are the brothers in Islam that they deserve our support? There are many Muslims in the world today, but many of them are weak in iman and violating some principles of Islam. In the past, these people were dissociated by the scholars because they were the minority. However, today it is less appropriate to apply this same principle of disassociation and therefore people with the minimum level of Islam should be considered brothers in Islam. Hence we should care for them and love for them what we love for ourselves. For example, if they commit a sin then we love for them that they leave the sinful act. We should advise them out of our love for them.

Conclusion

This hadith can be practiced at any level, any time and with any Muslim. It can be practiced in different manners, in the form of advising, giving charity, enjoining goodness and forbidding evil.

In practicing the hadith, the various aspects of the hadith and the inter-related concepts must be observed. A concept cannot be observed in isolation as it may cause misunderstanding and incorrect application of the concept itself.

[Excerpted from “Hadith No: 13 – The Obligation of Loving All Muslims, 40 Hadiths of Imam Nawawi”   Via IC Truth]

The Nine Conditions of Shahādah

The Nine Conditions of Shahādah

By Jamaluddin Zarabozo

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

What Every Muslim Needs to Know.

There is something very important for both the new Muslims and those who grew up in Islām, without which a person may not really be a “Muslim.” It is called the “Shahādah.” The complete statement of the creed of the Muslim is: “Ash haduan Lā ilāha illallāh; Wa ashhaduanna Muhammadar Rasūlullāh. (I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger).”

Every Muslim has been taught that the key to “Jannah” (Paradise) is the statement in Arabic: “Lā ilāha illallāh.”  (There is none worthy of worship except Allāh). Yet too many Muslims simply rely upon this statement and believe that as long as they have made this statement, nothing will harm them.  They think they will be granted Paradise because of this mere verbal statement of the Shahādah.

There is no question that the mere saying of the Shahādah: “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger” is not sufficient for salvation. In fact, the munafiqeen (hypocrites) used to make this statement quite often yet Allāh describes them as liars and says that they shall abide in the lowest abyss of the Hell-fire.

True scholars of Islām tell us that this testimony of faith is our “Muftah ul Jannah” (Key to Paradise). The famous follower Wahab ibn Munabbih was once asked; “Isn’t the statement of “Lā ilāha illallāh” the key to Paradise?” He answered;”Yes! But every key has ridges. If you come with the key that has the right ridges, the door will open for you. Yet if you do not have the right ridges the door will not open for you.”

Think about it. If you try to drive your car with the key to your house will it work? Of course, not. So, we see that the statement like a key, must meet certain conditions in order to work. In fact these conditions are what will determine who will benefit from the statement and who will not benefit from saying it, no matter how many times per day they say it. We must work hard to learn, understand and practice these conditions before we run out time and then it would be too late for our Shahādah to help us at all. This article has value only if we use it to look at ourselves and make sure we are really meeting these conditions.

Then by Allāh’s Mercy, the doors to Jannah will open for us with our KEY (muftah) of Lā ilāha illallāh”.

“Nine Conditions of the Shahādah”:

 The “Qur’an” and the “Hadīth” (saying narrated from or about the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding his words, actions, or attributes.) are the ultimate sources for knowledge in Islām. We find contained in them the reality of the conditions necessary for the “Shahādah” to work as a “muftah” to the “Jannah” for us. The number might be understood as seven, eight or even nine depending on how you would categorize them or combine them together. Regardless of how we would list them or divide them up, it still remains that we must understand and most important, apply these conditions of our Shahādah if we are to enter the Jannah. We listed them here as “nine” in order to give more attention and detail to each and every aspect. However, the scholars who have listed them as seven or eight have not left anything out. They have merely combined several for easier comprehension and memorization.

The nine conditions of the Shahādah are known as: 1. Knowledge; 2. Certainty; 3. Acceptance; 4. Submission; 5. Truth; 6. Sincerity; 7. Love; 8. Denial of false worship; and 9. Adherence

1. Knowledge (‘Ilm)

That is, one must have the basic and general knowledge of what is meant by the Shahādah. One must understand what the Shahādah is affirming and what the Shahādah is denying. Allāh says in the Qur’an, “So know that there is no God but Allāh, and ask forgiveness for your sin.” (Muhammad, 47: 19).

Similarly, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allāh shall enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

In fact, the Shahādah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying concerns. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable.

Allāh says in the Qur’an, “Except him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly.” (Al-Zukhruf, 43: 86).

Now this condition probably sounds obvious; if someone said to you, “There is no God except Allāh,” and then said that what he meant by Allāh was Jesus, you would immediately tell him that this Shahādah is nonsense. Yet can you imagine that there is a Muslim country in the world that until recently used to have a yearly weeklong celebration to “the Gods of the Sea”! All along they call themselves Muslims and they make the Shahādah numerous times a day.

This clearly shows that they have no idea what the meaning of their Shahādah is. Do you think that this kind of Shahādah will open the doors to Paradise for them? Today, there are many Muslims who wonder why we should not accept secularism. They think that there is nothing wrong with secularism! Many of these Muslims pray five times a day and utter the Shahādah repeatedly. Yet they see nothing wrong with accepting a Lawgiver other than Allāh? What kind of Shahādah are these people making?

All of us do our best to learn at least the basics of Islāmic beliefs, the basics of what Shahādah means. In this way, Allāh willing, we will be making the correct Shahādah. We will be witnessing to the truth as we are supposed to be witnesses to it.

2 – Certainty (Yāqin)

This is the opposite of doubt and uncertainty. In Islām, in fact, any kind of doubt is equivalent to Kufr or disbelief. We must, in our hearts, be absolutely certain of the truth of the Shahādah. Our hearts must not be wavering in any way when we testify to the truth of, “There is none worthy of worship except Allāh.” Allāh describes the believers in the Qur’an as those who have belief in Allāh and then their hearts waver not. Allāh says, “The (true) believers are those only who believe in Allāh and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allāh. Such are the sincere.” (Al-Hujjarat, 49: 15)

Similarly, the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “No one meets Allāh with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allāh and I am the Messenger of Allāh, and he has no doubt about that statement, except that he will enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

I ndeed, Allāh describes the hypocrites as those people whose hearts are wavering. For example, Allāh says, “They alone seek leave of thee (not to participate in jihad) who believe not in Allāh and the Last Day and whose hearts feel doubt, so in their doubt they waver.” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 45)

Many scholars have stated that the diseases of the heart, or the doubt and suspicions that one allows into one’s heart, are more dangerous for a person’s faith than lusts and desires. This is because lusts and desires may be satisfied at some time yet the person still knows them to be wrong and he may control himself and repent and give up that evil deed. On the other hand, the doubts and suspicions may linger in the heart, with no cure, until the person finally leaves Islām entirely or continues to practice Islām while, in fact, in his heart he does not have the true faith. The greatest cure for these doubts is seeking knowledge. It is through sound knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that most of these doubts will be removed.

3 – Acceptance (Qabūl)

If a person has knowledge of and certainty in the Shahādah, this must be followed by acceptance, with the tongue and heart, of whatever that Shahādah implies. Whoever refuses to accept the Shahādah and its implications, even if he knows that it is true and certain about its truth, and then he is a disbeliever? This refusal to accept is sometimes due to pride, envy or other reasons.

In any case, the Shahādah is not a true Shahādah without its unconditional acceptance. The scholars all talk about this condition as a general condition in the way that I have just stated. However, there is also a more detailed aspect that we must all be aware of. The believer accepts whatever the implications of the Shahādah are. This also means that he believes in whatever is stated in the Qur’an or stated by the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject.

Allāh says in the Qur’an, “Do you believe in part of the book and reject part of it? And what is the reward of those who do so, except humiliation in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent to the most dreadful doom.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 85).

This is one aspect that the Muslims must be aware of. Although it is not the same as the complete refusal to accept the truth, by rejecting part of the truth that has come from Allāh, one also negates his testimony of faith. Unfortunately, many Muslims are doing this nowadays in various ways. Although not all of these forms may necessarily be considered apostasy, they are still very dangerous. For example, if they do not like what is stated in a verse in the Qur’an, they simply reinterpret the verse according to their liking. If they do not like what is stated in a hadīth, they simply state that the hadīth must not be authentic although they are not scholars in that area. This kind of behavior is the antithesis of the behavior of the true Muslims. Whatever comes from Allāh and His Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the true Muslim believes in as the truth. This goes hand in hand with their testimony of faith.

4 – Submission and Compliance (Inqiyād)

This implies the actual physical enactment with our deeds of our Shahādah. In fact, this is one of the main meanings of the word Islām itself, “the submission to the will and commands of Allāh.” This is what Allāh commands in the Qur’an, “Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him” (al-Zumar, 39: 54).

Allāh has praised those who submit to His command by their actions. Allāh says, “Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allāh while doing good” (al-Nisā’, 4: 125).

Actually, Allāh has clearly made it a condition of faith that one submits to the command of Allāh and His messenger. Allāh says, “But nay, by your Lord, they will not truly believe until they make you [the Messenger of Allāh] judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of which you decide, and submit with full submission” (al-Nisā’, 4: 65)

Unfortunately, there are many that claim that there is no relationship between faith and deeds. You can even hear one Muslim saying about another, “That is the best Muslim I have ever met,” yet the other person performs scarcely any of the deeds of Islām whatsoever. This incorrect understanding of faith has spread throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, our Shahādah or testimony of faith must be implemented or realized in our hearts, tongues and actions. In our hearts, we must have love for Allāh, fear Allāh and hope in Him. With our tongues we must testify to the Shahādah. And with our actions, we must implement what the testimony of faith requires from us.

Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet does no deeds either does not understand Islām whatsoever or is bearing testimony against himself that his testimony of faith is not a true and correct testimony of faith. This does not mean that the true believer never commits a sin. Indeed, true believers do commit sins, but as long as they recognize that what they did is not correct and it is inconsistent with their obligation of submitting to Allāh, then they have not violated the soundness of their testimony or Shahādah. But do not forget they are still sinners. And what is the minimum of submission that is required from a person beyond whom there can be no claim to faith? For those scholars who say that the abandonment of prayers is infidelity, it is the five daily prayers. Whoever does not perform, at least, the five daily prayers have gone beyond the limit that is acceptable for lack of deeds. Allāh knows best.

5 -Truthfulness (As-Siddiq), As Opposed To Hypocrisy and Dishonesty

This means that when we say the Shahādah, we are saying it honestly. We actually mean it. We are not lying when it comes to our testimony of faith. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “No one bears testimony to there being no one worth of worship save Allāh, sincerely from his heart, except that Allāh makes the Hell-fire forbidden for him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We are all familiar with those who say the testimony of faith yet they are not saying it honestly. They do not believe in it but they are simply saying it in order to protect them or to get some gain from doing so; these are the hypocrites.

Allāh has described them in the opening of the Qur’an with the following words: “And of mankind are some who say, ‘We believe in Allāh and the Last Day,’ when they believe not. They think to beguile Allāh and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves, but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease and Allāh increases their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie” (Al-Baqarah: 8-10).

Obviously, the Shahādah of those who become Muslims simply to benefit from being Muslim and not because they believe in Islām will be rejected by Allāh in the Hereafter. They will face a painful punishment due to their lying.

6 – Sincerity (Al-Ikhlās)

That is, when we make the Shahādah, we must do so solely for the sake of Allāh. We must not do it for any other reason. And we must not do it for anyone else’s sake. In this manner, the meaning of sincerity is opposite of Shirk or ascribing partners with Allāh. We became and remain Muslims solely for Allāh’s sake.

Allāh says in the Qur’an, “Worship Allāh, and making religion pure for him” (al-Zumar, 39: 2).

And Allāh also says, “And they are ordained not else than to serve Allāh, keeping religion pure for Him, as men by nature upright and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion” (al-Baiyinah, 98: 5)

And the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) added, “Allāh has forbidden for the Hell-fire anyone who says, ‘There is no one worthy of worship except Allāh,’ and say so desiring the face [and pleasure] of Allāh.” (Muslim)

This is something that we should all think about, especially those of us who grew up in Muslim families and were born Muslim. We should make it very clear to ourselves that we are Muslims only for the sake of Allāh. We are not Muslims for the sake of our parents, friends, family or community. It must be clear in our minds that we are Muslims for the sake of Allāh first, last and only. One of the signs that we are Muslims for the sake of Allāh is that we do whatever Allāh asks of us, regardless of what anybody else desires or wants from us. That is, in the same way that we are Muslims solely for the sake of Allāh, all of our actions are done for the sake of Allāh.

However, sometimes one begins to wonder whether some people meet this condition. Some people from the Muslim world practice Islām to the extent that it is pleasing to their families. If there is anything in Islām that their families do not like- although their families are Muslim and therefore they actually should like all of Islām- then they do not practice that aspect of Islām. One common example of that nature is mixing between men and women. Sometimes a brother, will not mix with women and his wife will remain separate from the men. Yet, when they return to their homes, because this is not pleasing to their families who want to mix between men and women, they easily, simply and happily compromise their religion for the sake of their parents. These people must sincerely ask themselves why they are Muslims. Are they Muslims for the sake of their parents and therefore whatever their parents like they will do and whatever their parents do not like they won’t do? Or are they Muslims for the sake of Allāh and therefore whatever Allāh dislikes they will not do and whatever Allāh is pleased with they do?

7 – Love (Mahabbah)

That is, the believer loves this Shahādah, he loves in accordance with the Shahādah, he loves the implications and requirements of the Shahādah and he loves those who act and strive for the sake of this Shahādah. This is a necessary condition of the Shahādah. If a person makes the Shahādah but does not love the Shahādah and what it stands for, then, in fact, his faith is not complete. It is not the faith of a true believer. And if he loves something more that this Shahādah or if he loves something more than Allāh, then he has negated his Shahādah. The true believer, the one meeting the conditions of the Shahādah puts no one whatsoever as an equal to Allāh in his love.

Allāh says in the Qur’an, “Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship which they set as) rivals to Allāh, loving them with a love like (that which is due to) Allāh only. However, those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allāh” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 165).

And elsewhere Allāh says: “Say: If your fathers, or your sons, or your brethren, or your wives, or your tribe, or the wealth you have acquired, or merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, or dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allāh and His Messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allāh brings His command to pass. Allāh guides not wrongdoing folk” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 24)

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. [The first of these] is that he loves Allāh and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is one of the most important aspects of Islām yet, for some reason, it is missing from the lives of many Muslims. They act in Islām as if Islām were a chore instead of doing things out of the love of Allāh. When Allāh orders us to do something, like bear witness to the faith, we should realize that that thing is pleasing to Allāh and, therefore, out of our love for Allāh, we should be very pleased to do the acts that are pleasing to Allāh. But, as I said, this feeling is missing from many, many Muslims today.

8 – Denial of False Worship

Although that is clear in the words of the Testimony of Faith, it does not seem clear to everyone who makes that testimony. Therefore, I am mentioning it explicitly here. In Surah al-Baqarah, Allāh clearly reminds us of this important aspect of the Shahādah, the Shahādah is not merely an affirmation but it is both an affirmation and a negation.

Allāh states, “And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allāh has grasped a firm handhold which will never break” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 256).

Perhaps the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) made this point even clearer when he said: “Whoever says there is no one worthy of worship except Allāh and denies whatever is worshipped besides Allāh, then his wealth and blood are protected and his accounting will be with Allāh.” (Muslim)

Although this condition should be obvious to everyone who says the words of Shahādah, you can still find Muslims who say the Shahādah and then make acts of worship for beings or things other than Allāh. You will find them going to the graveyards and worshipping those in the graves. They will perform acts of worship, not for the sake of Allāh, but for the sake of the dead “saints” in the grave. What kind of Shahādah have these people made? Do you really think that their Shahādah will mean anything on the Day of Judgment as long as they believe that acts of worship may be done for other than Allāh?

9 – Adherence (Astaqīm) Until Death

This is must if the Shahādah is to mean anything for you in the Hereafter. You cannot rest on your laurels of what you may have done in the past. No, indeed, the Shahādah must be your banner until your death.

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “A man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of Paradise and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire. And a man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of Paradise.” (Muslim)

In another hadīth, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “By the One beside whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a hand span between him and Paradise and then the book [preordainment] overtake him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

And Allāh says: “O believers, observe your duty to Allāh with right observance, and die not except as Muslims [in complete state of surrender, submission, obedience to Allāh]” [in complete state of surrender, submission, obedience to Allāh]” (Al-Imran, 3: 102).

These are the conditions or aspects of the Shahādah that each and every one of us should look deep down into our own hearts and ask ourselves:

  • “Is my Shahādah meeting those requirements?”
  • “Am I saying it sincerely, honestly and out of love for Allāh?”
  • “Am I saying it based on what it really means?”
  • “Am I denying all other false objects of worship?”
  • “Is there any part of my Shahādah that is weak or missing?”

It is not enough to simply memorize these conditions and the answers to the questions as though we were on our way to class to take a “pop quiz.” We might meet Muslims or even the teachers themselves, who have totally memorized these conditions and their meanings so much so that they can recite every detail. But if we look to the way they act and the way they treat others, we know that the conditions are not having the right effect on them. This is proof that no matter how much a person knows, it only matters how much they live up to it. In the Next Life their knowledge of these conditions of Shahādah will not benefit them in the least if they have not put them into practice. Actually, their knowledge will be proof against them because they clearly knew the conditions, yet they were not willing to live up to them in this life.

As Muslims we need to ask ourselves right now, before we die and go in front of Allāh for His Judgment. We need to consider our answers carefully to these questions. If we are weak in certain areas of these important questions, then we should work hard to remove that weakness. So that in the Next Life our Shahādah will be our “Key to Paradise” and the gates of the Paradise will open wide for us and we will be able to live forever in Allāh’s Jannah with Him being please with us.

“O Allāh, make us of those who learn, understand and apply the true meanings of the Shahādah, amīn. Forgive us were we fall short or make mistakes, ameen. Bring us closer to You by Your Mercy and enter us into Your Jannah, amīn.” Wal Hamdulillahi Rabbil Alamīn

Allah the Exalted Alone Know most.

[Excerpted from the article entitled “The Conditions of “Lā ilāha illallāh” By Jamaluddin Zarabozo, published in Al-Basheer Magazine]

Gratefulness to Allah Almighty

Gratefulness to Allah Almighty

Ibn Saleh

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

 1 – Gratitude Is the Core of Man’s Relationship with Allah.

 The Gratitude to Allah is expressed by the heart or tongue, or through deeds, words, and gestures. As to the gratitude flowing from the heart, it is the proper response for innumerable divine favors. Allāh says: “Labor, O David’s people, in gratitude towards Me”. (Sabā’ 34: 13)

A grateful person is always mindful of being indebted for Allah’s bounties, big and small, and articulates his or her feelings at every step to express gratitude. This feeling of constant gratitude has a very significant bearing on everyone’s deeds. This is because a grateful servant finds great happiness in doing the deeds that are pleasing to his or her Benefactor, Almighty Allah.

Almighty Allah Says:

“Therefore, remember Me (by praying, glorifying). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:152);

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7) ;

“And say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah’.” (Al-Isrā’, 17:111);

“So eat from what Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for the blessing of Allah if it is Him you worship”. (Surah an-Nahl, 16: 114).

“And the close of their request will be: `Al-hamdu lillahi Rabbil-‘ālamin (All the praise is due to Allah, the Rabb of ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)]’.” (Yunus, 10:10)

Almighty Allah is able to do all things. He grants honor to whomever He wills and degrades whomever He wills. So, if we enjoy a privileged, respectable position in life, we should be grateful to Him for His grace and mercy. We should constantly praise Him and remember His favors. Conversely, if an affliction befalls us or a favor is taken away from us, we have to show patience and submit to Allah’s will.

Conversely, he or she is averse to anything that amounts to ingratitude toward a divine bounty. One who truly appreciates Allah’s bounties and favors can never reconcile oneself to abusing them by acting against Allah’s will. If someone gives us a weapon that can help us to defend ourselves, only a wicked person would abuse that weapon to hurt the one who gave it to him. One who truly appreciates divine bounties is never ready to abuse them in the cause of Satan.

1. 1 – Gratitude is an Act of Worship

The showing of gratitude to the Allah Almighty is part and parcel of having faith in Him. It means that a person who is ungrateful to Allah has no true faith in his or her heart. On the other hand, a servant who thanks Allah for His blessings will receive even more of them. This is related in the Qur’an as follows:  “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

Furthermore, that Satan vowed to lead most of humankind to be ungrateful to their Lord clearly indicates how important gratitude to Allah is. He, the accursed, measures his success in achieving his malicious goal by making us thankless to our Lord. What he said is related in the Qur’an thus:  “Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and You will not find most of them thankful.” (Al-A’raf, 7:17)

Having realized this, we should exert our best efforts to be among the grateful servants of Allah with whom He is well pleased.

2 – How to Attain It?

 We cannot repay Allah for His countless favors. Mercifully, Allah allows us to enjoy His blessings, though He can deprive us of all favors whenever He wills.

2.1 – Constantly Acknowledge and Appreciate Allah’s Favors.

 It is the onus upon us to sincerely  develop a constant feeling of gratitude and a sound consciousness of Allah’s boundless favors, the first and foremost task is to constantly acknowledge and appreciate those favors He ceaselessly bestows upon us. It is a general human weakness that if someone is afflicted with a misfortune, he or she keeps complaining about it to others. However, a person refrains from speaking about the numerous bounties that he or she enjoys. He or she closes his eyes to these blessings as if they do not exist. Such people are not likely to appreciate the favors granted to them by their Benefactor.

“In the Name of Allāh, the Compassionate, the Merciful: Praise be to Allāh; Lord of all Worlds.” (Al-Fātihah, 1:1 – 2).

To overcome this weakness, we should devote a little time every day to reflect on the bounties we enjoy and to study divine signs scattered around us. We should also reflect on the fact that we would be in an extremely deplorable state, if our Lord did not bestow upon us the countless favors we are currently enjoying. If we had not been endowed with eyes, ears, limbs, and brain, we would not have been able to accomplish anything. We would have led a truly miserable life.

Another equally important point to remember is that Almighty Allah has granted us innumerable favors even though we do not deserve them. By definition, Allah is not obliged to bestow these favors, and we can never repay Him in any measure for His bounties. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah tells us:  “And if you would count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (An-Nahl 16:18)

Indeed, we cannot repay Him for His countless favors. Mercifully, Allah allows us to enjoy His blessings, though He can deprive us of all favors whenever He wills. There is no one to stop Him from doing so. Therefore, we should be thankful for the granting of a blessing and for being able to enjoy it for a long time, without losing it. A king may be reduced to a pauper, so he should not dismiss a lowly person. A strong and healthy person may lose his or her strength in a moment; so, he or she should not misuse his or her strength in oppressing others. Likewise, a wealthy person who leads a luxurious life may, by Allah’s will, be a destitute person who is helped by and dependent on others.

Almighty Allah is able to do all things. He grants honor to whomever He wills and degrades whomever He wills. So, if we enjoy a privileged, respectable position in life, we should be grateful to Him for His grace and mercy. We should constantly praise Him and remember His favors. Conversely, if an affliction befalls us or a favor is taken away from us, we have to show patience and submit to Allah’s will.

Thankfulness is not only limited to saying Al-Hamdullilāh (Praise To Allāh). However, thankfulness can be offered through actions. Allāh says: “Labor, O David’s people, in gratitude towards Me”. (Sabā’ 34: 13) Thankfulness through actions requires that everyone should ask himself the following: What am I going to do with this blessing? Am I going to use it in a good way? Am I going to contribute with it to good causes? Or am I going to waste it, which is a form of denying the blessing?

Therefore, if you do not thank Allāh for His blessings with sayings and actions, you will risk losing them. But if you thank Allāh, you are tying His blessings to you firmly.

2.2 – Gratitude Draws Men Nearer To Allah

The giving due thanks to Allah earns for a person Allah’s love and good pleasure, drawing one nearer to Him. It is because a person does not attribute his ability to worldly causes, he knows deep inside that he owes everything to Allah alone and thus avoids ascribing any associates to Him. This way, he attains spiritual benefits which are far better than any material gain, and praises Allah for every blessing.

Maybe it is just a practice among most Muslims to thank Allāh for His blessings and bounties, but it is a good habit expected from a true Muslim, a believer who never complains about what he suffers in front of others. He makes it a habit to thank Allāh whether he is wealthy or not, whether he has a good position in life or not, whether he is rich or poor, healthy or ill. He makes sure that he is thankful to Allāh, Who will certainly grant provision and increase it more and more.

Allāh promised:  “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

2.3 – Saying: “Al-hamdulillah”

 Allāh urges believers to remember Him and thank Him for His bounties: “So remember Me, I will remember you; and be thankful to Me, and be not ungrateful towards Me.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 152); “And say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah’.”’ (Al-Isrā’, 17:111); “Their way of request therein will be Subhānaka Allāhumma (Glory to You, O Allah!) And Salam (Peace, safe from each and every evil) will be their greetings therein (Paradise)! And the close of their request will be: Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘ālamin [All the praises and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of ‘ālamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)].”  (Yunus, 10:10)

Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: On the Night of Al-Isra’ (the Night of Ascension) the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) was presented with two drinking vessels: one full of wine and the other one full of milk. He looked at them. Then he took the vessel which was full of milk. Thereupon Jibril (Gabriel) said: “Al-hamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah) Who has guided you to that, which is in accord with Fitrah (i.e., Islamic Monotheism; pure nature of Islam). Had you selected wine, your people would have gone astray.”’ (Recorded by Muslim)

This Hadith highlights Islam is a religion which matches with the pure nature. Every sensible person accepts it instinctively. One who is endowed with the capacity and aptitude to do good should praise Allah.

It is always whenever you ask a Muslim: how are you? The person automatically replies with: “Al- hamdulillāh” meaning “Praise be to Allāh”.  As Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Any matter of importance which is not begun with “Al-hamdu lillah” (praise be to Allah) remains defective.” (Recorded by Abu Dawud)

Another Hadith to the effect that every important work which is not started with the invocation “Bismillah”’ is devoid of Allah’s Grace.

2.4 – Prophet Hud (‘alaihissalam) Constantly Advised His People To Thank Allāh For His Blessings

 The Qur’an sheds light on the story of Prophet Hud (‘alaihissalam) who constantly advised his people to thank Allāh for His blessings:

“Do you build on every height a monument for vain delight? And you make fine buildings as if you will last forever! And when you strike, you strike mercilessly! Rather fear Allāh and obey me. Fear Him Who has provided you with what you know. He provided you with livestock and children. And gardens and springs. Truly I fear for you the retribution of a Great Day.” (Al-Shu‘ara, 26: 128-35)

“Is it too astonishing that Allāh guides you through a man from your people who came to warn you of the bad end that will befall you as a result of your infidelity? Don’t you remember that Allāh made you the inheritors of the earth after the people of Noah who were destroyed by their bad deeds, and that He granted you strength in your bodies and in your power? These blessings should make you believe in Allāh and thank Him, not to make you infidels.” (Al-A’raf, 7: 69)

2.5 – Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) Observe Tahajjud at Night

 Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) used to observe long prayers at night, as Aishah (radiyallāhu`nha) reported: “The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) used to offer prayer at night (for such a long time) that his feet used to crack. I said, “O Allāh’s Apostle! Why do you do it since Allāh has forgiven you your faults of the past and those to follow?” He said: “Shouldn’t I love to be a thankful slave (of Allāh)?” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari)

2.6 – Appreciate Others by Thanking Them

 The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) draws our attention to an important issue. He advised us to appreciate others by thanking them. Rasūlullah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Anyone who doesn’t thank people has not grateful to Allāh.” (Recorded by Abu-Dawud and Tirmidzi)

2.7 – Sujud Al-Syukur (Prostration of Thankfulness)

 The Prostration of Thankfulness is another way to thank Allāh for His bounties. When a Muslim receives a bounty, hears good news or is rescued from a trial, he gets down on his knees, puts his forehead on the ground thanking Allāh for His favor.

“Sujud Al-Syukur (Prostration of Thankfulness) is done in response to a calamity that is averted or a blessing which come to a person. It is like Sujud al-Tilāwah outside solah.  Some of the scholars said that Wudhu’ and Takbīr is required, and some said that only the First Takbīr is required. Then he should fall down in prostration, and make du’a after saying, ‘Subhāna Rabbiy al-A’lā’ (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High)” (Fatāwa Islamiyyah, 1/205)

Ibn Qudamah (rahimahullah) said: “The description, rulings and conditions of Sujud Al-Syukur are the same as those for Sujud Al-Tilāwah (prostration required when reciting certain verses of Qur’an)”. (Al-Mughni, 2/372)  “He should say in this prostration what he says in the prostration during prayer”   (l-Mughni, 2/362)

3 – All Favors by Allah Are To Put Man To The Test.

All the favors that Allah granted to us in this world are indeed a means by which Allah puts man to the test. In the Qur’an, Allah reveals this important fact in the words of Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam):

“He who possessed knowledge of the Book said, ‘I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you.’ And when he saw it standing firmly in his presence, he said, ‘This is part of my Lord’s favor to test me to see if I will give thanks or show ingratitude. Whoever gives thanks only does so to his own gain. Whoever is ungrateful, my Lord is Rich Beyond Need, Generous’.” (Surah an-Naml, 27: 40)

Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam) thanked Allah for favor granted by Him, for one cannot thank Allah unless He wills; and gratitude is inspired by Him. The prayer related to gratitude of Prophet Solomon (‘alaihissalam):

“ He [Solomon] smiled, laughing at its words, and said, ‘My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You, and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your servants who are righteous.” (Surah an-Naml, 27: 19)

Through tests, Allāh is elevating you and purifying your heart. When you are afflicted with tests, you will draw closer to Allāh and He will forgive your sins. Allāh says: “And, indeed, We tested them [the hypocrites] through suffering, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble themselves”. (Al-Mu’minun 23: 67) When Allāh puts you to tests, you have to humble yourself, and pray to Allāh. Allāh also says about the hypocrites: “Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves [of Allāh]”. (At-Tawbah 9: 126)

Allāh does not want to punish you by testing you. But He wants to draw you closer to Him and to make you count His blessings which He bestowed on you. He wants you to thank Him by your tongue and actions.

When Allāh puts you to a test by losing some blessings, He is testing you by a ‘touch of chastisement’, as the other verse says. Every one of us has billions of uncountable blessings. When Allāh puts one of us to a test by losing one, two or even five blessings, he feels that he is faced with a severe crisis. While in reality he has billions of blessings which Allāh is bestowing on him every moment.

In every cell in your body, there are countless blessings. In every second you live, there are countless blessings. In every breath you breathe, there are countless blessings. In every glance you make, there are countless blessings. Allāh is the One who is worthy of thankfulness. When Allāh tests you by losing one or two blessings, He is ‘pulling you towards Him’. By losing a blessing, Allāh wants you to return and repent to Him. He also wants you to remember His blessings and reflect on them.

And if you sincerely repent to Allāh, the test is over. Allāh says: “And, behold, with every hardship comes ease: verily, with every hardship comes ease!” (Ash-Sharh 94: 5-6) We notice that Allāh repeated the verse twice. In another verse we read: “Allāh will grant, after hardship, ease”. (At-Talaq 65: 7) Sometimes matters get worse, but Allāh makes a way-out and with difficulty comes ease. When you are faced with a problem or afflicted with a calamity, Allāh brings ease in the middle of the crisis and also after the crisis. And in any case, if this state of hardship draws you closer to Allāh, this is in itself a blessing from Allāh.

If one would like to avoid trials at all, one should always advance towards Allāh and never fall into any mistake. In reality, though, this will never happen because we are humans! We cannot maintain thanking Allāh all the time and a clear record. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Every son of Adam makes mistakes, but the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent”. (At-Tirmidzi) Therefore, Allāh is helping us in our journey by putting us to tests in order to give us a chance to repent.

 4 – All the Blessings Would Not be Attained Unless by Allah Wills

 A person of conscience recognizes that all the blessings by which he is surrounded would not exist and that he could never attain them unless Allah willed. His body, intelligence, wisdom, feeling, health, strength—in fact, all the favors he thinks he possesses on his own are actually blessings granted by Him.

Giving thanks to Allah is not merely saying, “Al-hamdulillah” at certain times, as when one has completed a task, eats a fine supper, or survives an ordeal unhurt. Gratitude is a state one experiences deep in his heart because he can never account for all the favors he enjoys, even the obvious ones: “If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah an-Nahl, 16: 18)

5 – The Excellence of Gratitude and Patience

 In order to attain gratitude, we should not look at those who have been blessed more than us, but those who have been blessed less, and they are so many. Those who fail to do this are always complaining about their difficulties and problems, and are never blessed with satisfaction or contentment. Even when their lot improves, they do not experience true contentment. This is because it is impossible for one to be in a state that is in all respects better than that of everyone else.

If we always remember that we are the servants of Almighty Allah, some of His servants are not granted as much as we have and others are favored with more than us, we will be grateful and content. These noble attributes — gratitude and patience — are dealt with in a hadith narrated by Suhaib (radiyallāhu`anhu) that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said: “How amazing is the affair of the believer. Everything is good for him and that is for no one but the believer: If good times come his way, he is thankful and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he is patient and that is good for him.” (Recorded by Muslim) Thus, it is evident that a believer should possess these two traits.

Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari  (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah  (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “When a slave’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, `Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?”  They reply in the affirmative. Allah then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon Allah asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: `He has praised You and said: ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rāji`un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned)’. Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah and name it as Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise)’.”[At-Tirmidzi]

This Hadith points out the eminence of patience and the merit of praising Allah in the event of a calamity, especially on the death of one’s own child. Rather than weeping and wailing, one should submit himself to the Will of Allah and show perseverance. Such attitude of patience and resignation is highly meritorious and has great reward.

Anas bin Malik (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah is pleased with His slave who says: ‘Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah)’ when he takes a morsel of food and drinks a draught of water.” [Recorded by Muslim]

What the Hadith means is that to praise Allah on eating and drinking every time is a source of Allah’s Pleasure, no matter whether the quantity one consumes is small or large.

In the following verse Almighty Allah mentions both of the criteria:  “Most surely there are signs in this for every patient, grateful one.”  (Ibrahim 14:5)

Moreover, the wisdom in that approach is well illustrated by an anecdote related by Sheikh Sa’adi. He said that while he was traveling he reached Damascus in a miserable condition; he did not have any money to buy new shoes to replace his old ones. It pained him that he was unable to buy a new pair of shoes. With these thoughts he entered the mosque where he observed a lame person, without feet. On seeing this, he immediately fell into prostration, thanking Allah profusely for having provided him with feet, if not with new shoes. This incident identifies the perspective in which we should look at things. Those with a feeling of gratitude observe numerous manifestations of Allah’s favors, which then fill them with greater gratitude. However, there are others who are always complaining of what they do not have and are, therefore, unable to thank Allah for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them.

6 – Ingratitude Is A Trap Devised By Satan.

Heedless ingratitude is a serious trap devised by Satan. Indeed, it is a main ambition of his to hinder man from giving thanks. Allah relates the plot of Satan:

“He said, ‘By Your misguidance of me, I will lie in ambush for them on your straight path. Then I will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful’.” (Surah al-A’raf, 7:16-17)

Satan promised, in a dialogue with Allāh, to do his best to prevent people from being thankful to Allāh.

As the Qur’an makes clear, the efforts of Satan concentrate around this goal: keeping man from giving thanks to Allah. And his plan has indeed proven successful on many:

“… Allah shows favor to mankind but most of them are not thankful”. (Surah Yunus, 10: 60)

That Satan expresses his explicit will to approach man from this angle reveals the importance of gratitude to Allah as an aspect of worship. No doubt, abandoning it is sinful in the Sight of Allah:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 7)

To conclude, one of the most interesting attributes of Allāh is Ash-Shakur meaning that Allāh is the most appreciative. So we should be grateful to the one who endows us with health, family, wealth, peace and security, a nurturing environment etc. By recognizing Allāh’s bounties by the heart or tongue, or through deeds, words, and gestures, our hearts will find contentment and peace.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

(This article is based adapted from the book ‘Self-Development in the Context of Man’s Relationship with Allah ‘by Amin Ahsan Islahi published by the Islamic Foundation Via On Islam Sunday, 23 August 2009; and an article entitled “Expressing Gratitude: The Muslim Norm” by Fouziah Hakkou, Via On Islam 26 December 2010.)