Categories
Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Deeds Most Beloved to God: The Gates to Goodness

First of all, the Muslim must commit to perfecting all the mandatory acts of worship. Thereafter, each one may find certain acts of worship which He likes most and make them His way to getting closer to the pleasure of Allah.

The Companions were keen to draw closer to Allah so; they used to ask the Prophet about the means for accomplishing that goal.

Here are some of the Prophet’s answers: (Note: The answers will vary according to the person and the situation)

Dhikr

Narrated Mu`adh ibn Jabal, I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is more beloved to Allah, He said: “To die while your tongue is wet with the remembrance of Allah.” (Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani)

Praying on Time, Being Good to Parents, and Jihad

Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, ”I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds are most beloved to Allah? He said: ‘Praying on time” then I asked and which is next?

He said: ‘Kindness to parents’, then I asked, and which is next? He said: ‘Jihad in thecause of Allah’ and, if I asked him for more, he would have given me more.” (Al-Bukhari)

Devote all of your worship to Allah,

Be good to your Kin,

Ordain good and forbid bad

Itis reported from a man from Khath`am, who said, “I came to the Prophet and, he wasamongst his Companions and, I said, ‘you are the one who claims to be the messenger ofGod?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is morebeloved to Allah?’ He said: ‘Faith in Allah’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which isnext?’ He said: ‘Kindness to the kin’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which is next?’ Hesaid, ‘Ordaining good and forbidding bad’.” (Abu Ya`la)

Be good to your Muslim brother,

Help him with his needs,

Pay off his debt, and bringhappiness to his heart

Control Your Anger and Rage

Narrated Ibn `Umar that a man came to the Prophet and said: Oh Messenger of Allah,which of the people is more beloved to Allah and which of the deeds is so? The Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved of people to Allah are those who are mostbeneficial to the people, and the most beloved deeds to Allah, the most High, is to bring happiness to a Muslim, or ease his hardship, or to pay off his debt for him, or to end his hunger. And it is more beloved to me to walk with a brother of mine (in Islam), to run an errand for him than to make I`tikaf (seclusion) in this Masjid (in reference to the Masjid of Al-Madinah) for a month. And he who controls his anger, Allah will cover his shortcomings, and he who suppresses his rage despite being capable of taking it out(against his opponent), Allah will fill his heart with hope on the Day of Judgment, and he who walks with his brother to run an errand for him until it is done Allah will make his feet stable on the Day when feet will be paralyzed.“ (At-Tabarani)

Prayers, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, Mustahab Fasting and Charity, Night Prayers, Jihad,Control Your Tongue.

Narrated by Mu’adhibnJabal: “I was traveling with the Prophet and, I was close to himwhile we are walking then, I asked him, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me of a deed that willenter me Paradise and keep me away from the Hell?’ He said, ‘You have asked about agreat matter, but it is easy for those whom Allah will make it easy for; worship Allah anddo not associate partners with him, perfectly perform the prayers, give Zakat (obligatory donations), fast the month of Ramadan and make pilgrimage to the House (Al-Ka`bah).’

And then he said, ‘Should I tell you about the gates of goodness! Fasting is a protection(from Allah’s punishment), Charity puts off the sins, and a man’s Prayer in the middle of the night’ and, then He recited the saying of Allah the Most High:

“Their sides forsake their beds…” until he reached”…that which they do.”, and,then he said, ‘Should I tell you of the head of the matter (meaning the religion), its pillar,and its peak?’ I said, ‘Yes, oh Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘The head of the matter andits pillar is the prayers and, its peak is Jihad,’ and, then he said, ‘should I tell you of themalak(the string that holds all the beads together) of the matter?’ I said, ‘Yes, Oh Messenger of God.’ So, he held his tongue and said, ‘Control that.’ Then I said, ‘OhMessenger of Allah, shall we be accounted for what we say?’ He said, ‘May your mother lose you Mu`adh! (Note: the phrase is not interpreted literally), and would anything befall the people in the Hell but the earnings of their tongues.’” (Ahmad and others)

Control Your Tongue and Be Good to Your Neighbors

On the authority of Anas, the Prophet said: “The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right and, his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right and, the man whose neighbor does not feel safe from his harm, shall not enter Paradise.”(Ahmad)

Reciting the Book of Allah with Contemplation

Almighty Allah says,

And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We haverevealed it to you gradually, in stages.(Al-Furqan 25:32)

Know that it is only Allah who guides and misguides and-as He said- all peoples’ hearts are between two of his fingers so, ask Him with humbleness, and humility, and, with certainty that without his help and favor you will perish.

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us…(Aal `Imran 3:8)

_________________________

Source: The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj whichwas prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

[ica_orginalurl]

Categories
New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Worship in Islam: Its Meaning and Necessity

By Dr. Hatem Al-Haj

Quran_prayer mat

`Ibadah can also be defined as a comprehensive name for all the sayings, actions, and abstinences that Allah loves.

It is the greatest loss for any one of us humans to have lived our entire lives without knowing what we were created for, and that is the worship of God (Allah).

Here I will attempt to address the different issues pertaining to `ibadah (worship) and will rely on the revelation (Quran & Sunnah) for guidance.

The Meaning of `Ibadah in Islam

It is a comprehensive word that means a state of complete subservience, humility, submission, and subjugation, combined with absolute love, and adoration. Such a combination of feelings should only be directed to One Being (God); and would be contradictory with regards to anyone other than Him.

`Ibadah can also be defined as a comprehensive name for all the sayings, actions, and abstinences that Allah loves.

`Ibadah: The Purpose of Our Creation

Allah says:

And We have not created the Jinn and Mankind except to worship Me. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

He who does not fulfill the mission he was created for has wasted his life! It is quite sad to see people work hard for a future about which they have no assurance they will live to have, while neglecting to work for the certain future of all human beings, which starts from the day we depart from this world.

Types of `Ibadah

There are four types of `ibadah:

1- The sayings of the heart

2- The actions of the heart

3- The sayings of the body (tongue)

4- The actions of the body

Now, to have the baseline of faith below which you are not considered a believer, you have to have the baseline of each one of the aforementioned types and, the more you have the higher you transcend in the ranks of faith.

Here we will focus on the sayings and actions of the body including the tongue as a means for strengthening the attachment between the servant and his Lord.

First let us refute a blasphemous argument concerning the acts of worship.

Some deviant people claimed that the ritual acts of worship are not very important and, they can be dispensed with and, the purity of the heart, goodness of intention, and soundness of conduct are the basis of true faith.

This argument is incorrect in many ways:

• If what they say is true, then all these commands by Allah in the Qur’an are vain, and void of meaning, and, if they claim some were exempted, they need to point out to us where the exceptions are.

• The history of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions testifies to the opposite of this argument for, they are the best of all generations and, had it been true that someone is not in need for the ritual acts, they would have been the most deserving of such a “station” however, they were the most observant of all the acts of Islam.

• Rationally, that argument lets those who are the most deviant claim to be the most devout of all, and there will be no parameter with which people are judged. (Knowing that we only judge the exterior and, use it as an indication of the interior; and absolute knowledge only belongs to Allah.)

• What will filter through a pot is that which is inside; Hudhayfah (one of the Companions) said: “If his heart was humble and tranquil his limbs would have been.”

• Those prayers, fasting, and all other actions are the chief means for strengthening man’s attachment to Allah.

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that, you may attain piety. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

• The Prophet said:

“The difference between us and them (non-Muslims) is the prayer; he who abandons it had become a disbeliever” (Muslim)

And he didn’t make any exceptions of that rule.

• To say ‘I am pious enough and, I don’t need to do any of these ritual acts to get closer to Allah’ entails praising oneself and, Allah says:

Have you not seen those who claim sanctity for themselves? Nay, but, Allah sanctifies whom He wills; and they will not be treated with injustice even equal to a thread in the long slit of a date-stone. (An-Nisaa’ 4:49)

• The Christians who claim their religion is faith-based (and not action-based) have opened all gates of evil for the followers of the religion. You only need to believe that Jesus died for you, and you are granted salvation. Your past and future sins have been paid for by someone else.

With this open invitation to evil, it is not surprising to see their communities drowning in sin, such as illegal sexual behavior, drinking, family breakdown, and yes excessive use of violence within and without their communities. After all, no followers of any religion killed more people than the followers of Christianity.

_________________________

Source: drhatemalhaj.

Dr. Hatem Al-Haj is the Dean of College of Islamic Studies – Mishkah University .

[ica_orginalurl]

Categories
New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Believers and Best Types of Worship

pink flower

The absolute worshiper keeps on moving from one station of servitude to the next.

Types of Worshippers

The people of “Only You do we worship. And only You do we seek help from” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) are four types with regards to the best `ibadah (worship) and most worthy:

The first type, for them, the best `ibadah is the hardest.

The second type, for them, the best `ibadah is asceticism and having disregard for the enjoyments of this life.

The third type, for them, the best `ibadah is that most beneficial for others; they felt helping the poor and taking care of people’s needs and supporting them with money and status is better than the deeds of benefit only to the doer. They said, that is why the superiority of the scholar over the devout worshiper is like the superiority of the (light of) the moon over the other stars.

The fourth type, for them, the best `ibadah is working to attain the pleasure of the Lord at each time by that which is the requirement of that particular time, and its most suitable function.

So, the best `ibadah during the time of Jihad is jihad, even if it leads to foregoing some of one’s routine night prayers or fasting, even if it leads to shortening the mandatory prayers.

And the best `ibadah upon the arrival of a guest is to host them, and doing that even at the expense of some routine preferable works. And the best `ibadah during the latter part of the night is keeping occupied with prayers, reading of the Qur’an, supplication.

And the best `ibadah when approached by a student of knowledge who inquires about the sacred knowledge is to teach him, and the best `ibadah during the sickness of your Muslim brother is to visit him, and if he died to attend his funeral.

Devotion

And those are the true people of the worship that is absolute (in devotion), and the types before them are the people of restricted worship, whenever one of them gets out of his selected acts of worship he feels that he is incomplete. So they worship Allah in one way.

However, the people of absolute worship do not have any biased interest in a particular type of worship that they favor over others, but all they seek is the pleasure of Allah wherever it is.

So, they keep on moving from one station of servitude to the next, whenever a station is presented to them they walk to it, and stay busy with it until another function appears, and so on throughout their journey until they reach their destination.

So, if you search for the scholars you will find them with them; and if you look for the mujahedeen, they will be with them, and with those who remember Allah often; and with those who give charity; and those who devote themselves and hearts for Allah.

And that is the absolute worshiper who was not bound by people’s expectations of his status or restricted by any restraints. And their work was not for the pleasure or interest of their souls in certain worships where they find comfort; they are in the company of Allah without any regard for people, and when they are in the company of people they will have no regard for the self.

Whenever they are with Allah they eliminate the people from being between them and Him, and whenever they are with His creations they eliminate their ‘selves‘ from being in the middle and forsake them.

How great are they; and how strange amongst the people are they, and how isolated they feel with them, and how great is their comfort in the company of Allah, and rejoice in it.

And how great is their serenity and security with him. Allah is the one sought for help and upon him is the reliance.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

 

[ica_orginalurl]

Categories
New Muslims Pillars of Islam

For Valid Acts of Worship

By Dr. Hatem Al-Haj

duaa_worship

“The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

Each one of the religions prior to Islam was meant to address a certain people at a certain time. However, Islam came to address all people at all times since the commencement of the revelation and until the day of return to Allah.

Thus, Islam came very comprehensive to create harmony between the body and the soul, this life and the one to come, man’s obligations and rights, Islam is the practical ideal the individual and the society, etc.; in other words, . Here are some examples:

“Narrated Abu Dharr that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: It will be counted as a charity for you when you have sex with your wife. They said: ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! One of us would fulfill his desire and be rewarded?’ He said: ‘What do you think had he fulfilled it illegally, would he be punished? They said: ‘Yes’ and, he said: ‘Likewise, if he fulfills it in a wholesome way, he shall be rewarded.’” (Muslim)

Narrated Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet said: “If the hour comes and one of you has a sprout in his hand, let him plant it if he can.” (Ahmad)

Also it was narrated by Abu Hurairah that the prophet said: “He who works to provide for the widowed and the poor is like a mujahid (one who practices jihad) in the cause of Allah, and that who stands in prayers without boredom, and that who fasts indefinitely.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

For a Valid `Ibadah

There are two conditions for making the `ibadah (worship) valid:

1- Sincerity

For Allah is the most Self-sufficient and, He does not need your `ibadah; it is the sincerity of your heart that will please him, He said:

And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, with sincerity and straight-forwardness and perfectly perform the prayers and give alms, and that is the right religion. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

And here is a clarification from the Prophet:

“Narrated Abu Umamah that a man came to the Prophet and asked: ‘What do you think of a man who went to a battle seeking the reward (from Allah) and fame, what will he get?’ The Prophet then said: ‘Nothing; Allah does not accept an action save it be sincere, and only for the sake of His Face (meaning for His pleasure).” (An-Nasa’i)

2- Authenticity

Which means that the action has to be one that is prescribed by Allah and his Prophet. For, God has completed our deen (religion) prior to the departure of the Prophet who did not leave any good, but He enjoined us to it, or bad, but He warned us from it:

Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3))

That is why the Prophet, in an attempt to warn us from innovations, said:

It was narrated by `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “He who invents in that matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Moreover, Allah tells us that those who let others than Allah prescribe for them what to do and what not, which includes what to worship Allah with, and the nature of the acts of worship, number, location, time, or associations, those who would do that have ascribed to Allah partners. Whether these are their teachers or rulers or any one else. Allah said:

What! have they partners (in godhead), who have established for them some religion without the permission of Allah? Had it not been for the Decree of Judgment, the matter would have been decided between them (at once). But verily the wrong-doers will have a grievous penalty. (Ash-Shura 42:21)

You have to worship Allah with knowledge and clarity. Verify the source of information. If you were told something is good, make sure it is evidence based. No one can tell what Allah likes or dislikes but him, through the revelation, that is the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Better Your Worship

1- Hasten to Allah

There is no time to waste. So, beware of ‘I will’ and ‘I shall’.

Allah said:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. (Aal `Imran 3:133)

The Prophet said:

“Take advantage of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied, and your life before your death.” (Al-Hakim)

“Be in this life like a stranger or a traveler.” (Al-Bukhari)

2- Take what Allah has prescribed for you with strength

Allah said:

Take what We have given you with strength. (Al-Baqarah 2:63)

3- Be consistent

Narrated `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

4- Prioritize

For Allah made some deeds better than some. This also depends on the person, time, and the situation. For instance, if a Muslim asked you for help, helping him at that time may be better than all other mustahabb (preferable) deeds.

Narrated Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet said: “Walking with a Muslim brother to run an errand for him is more likeable to me than making i`tikaf (retreat) for a month in my Masjid”

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

Dr. Hatem Al-Haj is the Dean of College of Islamic Studies – Mishkah University.

[ica_orginalurl]