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Faith: Does It Increase and Decrease?

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Those who declare Islam without observing the good deeds and refraining from misdeeds are with weak iman.

Iman (faith) has been linguistically defined as believing and confidence. Termly, it is defined as the expression of the tongue, the conviction of the heart and the work of the organs, and it increases and decreases. The expression of the tongue refers to the Shahadah (Declaration of Faith; no one is worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger).

The conviction of the heart is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Prophets, the Last Day and the Divine Decree. The work of the organs means the observance of good deeds and the abstention from misdeeds. This is the position of Ahl As-Sunnah Wal-Jama`ah (the followers of Sunnah and Muslim community) regarding the concept of iman.

Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned in his book Al-Fatwa that Imam Ash-Shafi`i said, “There has been an ijma` (unanimous agreement) among the companions of the Prophet, their followers and our scholars that iman is a declaration, work and conviction and that none of the three suffices for the others.”(Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu` Al-Fatawa)

Ahl As-Sunnah view that iman can be increased or decreased. It increases by doing good deeds, acts of worship and contemplating on the Qur’an, rulings of Islam, hadiths and the creation of Allah, and decreases by misdeeds, following evil desires and Satan and negligence of reciting the Qur’an.

Narrated Abu Hurairah: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Iman consists of more than sixty branches, and modesty is a branch of faith.” (Al-Bukhari)

This meaningful and highly expressive hadith is one of the greatest hadiths of Islam. It deals with the concept of iman and highlights one of its parts, namely modesty.

The Prophet shows us that the term of iman is not restricted to beliefs but it includes actions as well. He informs us that iman consists of more than sixty parts and it includes sayings and deeds, as mentioned in other narrations of the hadith.

Yet, someone may say, “The Prophet was asked ‘what is iman?’ in the well-known hadith of Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) and he restricted the meaning of iman to belief.” Sheikh Ibn `Uthaimin clarifies this by saying, “Iman in the sense of belief is based on six principles, which are mentioned in the hadith of Jibril (peace be upon him), when he questioned the Prophet, who said: “iman means to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree, both good and bad.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Yet, the broad meaning of iman includes good deeds of various kinds and it has seventy-odd branches. In this context, Allah called prayer iman in His saying:

And never would Allah have caused you to lose your iman. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

The scholars of Tafsir (Qur’an Exegesis) said: “iman” here means prayer, because the companions used to pray towards Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa before they were commanded to face the Ka`bah in their prayers.” (3)

The hadith at hand proves the stance of Ahl Al-Sunnah, that is iman is not only restricted to beliefs but it includes deeds. In the hadith, the Prophet mentions that modesty, which is the work of organs, is a branch or part of faith.

Also, there is another narration of the hadith that the Prophet said, “Iman has sixty odd or seventy odd branches. The uppermost of all these is the Testimony of Faith “La ilaha illallah” (there is no true god except Allah) while the least of them is the removal of the harmful objects from the road. And modesty is a branch of Iman.” (Muslim)

Thus, it considered the Declaration of Faith and the work of organs, represented in the removal of harmful objects from the road and modesty, as branches and parts of iman.

Actually, this is an extremely important principle that should be understood and taken into consideration. There are those who claim that pronouncing the Testimony of Faith is enough to be a believer deserving the Mercy of Allah and His Paradise. This hadith refutes these false claims, because a Muslim has to work hard to get closer to Allah by means of acts of worship.

A Muslim with perfect faith is the one who declares Islam by the tongue, believes in Allah, His Messenger and what they told and commanded, and performs the good deeds and refrains from misdeeds. Those who declare Islam without observing the good deeds and refraining from misdeeds are with weak iman and are treading the ways of Satan and hell-fire.

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New Muslims Society

What Does Hijab Mean to Yasmin Mogahed?

Yasmin Mogahed is an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development.

Mogahed wore the hijab when she was between thirteen and fourteen years old.

What did motivate Mogahed to wear the hijab at that age? What change did hijab bring to her life? How did it impact her view of the world, her Islamic identity, and her identity as a Muslim “woman”? How did it impact other acts of worship?

What does hijab mean to her? How has the meaning of hijab evolved for her over time? How did she find her path to God through the hijab?

What challenges has she faced with hijab? What is her advice for women regarding the hijab?

Watch the interview her with Yasmin Mogahed by AlMaghrib Institute

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On World Hijab Day: Stand for Her Right to Cover

World Hijab Day (WHD) is an annual event in its fifth year. On February 1st of every year, WHD asks global citizens of all faiths to observe Hijab (head-covering) for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.

Hijab Day

The overall mission of WHD is to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other.

Hijab Day…the Mission

The overall mission of WHD is to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other. Particularly, WHD focuses on fighting bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice against Muslim women. This is most crucial in these times where Hijab is being banned in some countries while in other countries, Muslim women are being targeted and harassed verbally and physically.

Below are some of the shocking but true headlines:

Muslim Women Have Been Attacked at Multiple Colleges Since Trump Won (Vice)
Queens Muslim Woman 19: Pair Yelled Remove Hijab (NY Daily News)
Muslim High School Teacher Told Hang Yourself With Hijab (NY Daily News)
Muslim Girl’s Hijab Ripped Off in Front of Students (Times of India)
UW Bothwell Investigating Possible Hate Crime Against Muslim Women (Seattle Times)
California Woman Robbed Called Hijab-Wearing B* (NY Daily News)

New York State assemblyman David Weprin issued an endorsement of World Hijab Day stating: “With hate crimes against Muslim-Americans tripling in 2016, it is important we take this moment to stand together with our fellow Americans on World Hijab Day. Rooted in the American principles of religious freedom and liberty, the World Hijab Day movement seeks to end the discrimination and judgment that comes with wearing a hijab.”

Nazma Khan

Nazma Khan, a New York native, initiated this global movement with the intent of bringing awareness on a subject that’s very dear to her and millions of Muslim women across the globe. While growing up in NYC, she was harassed both physically and emotionally on numerous occasions.

The presence of such discrimination heightened around 9/11 because of her human right to wear the hijab. Her purpose was to introduce her pain to others in hopes that no one will ever have to go through the emotional trauma simply because of the love they have for their faith. Consequently, on February 1st, 2013, she asked her fellow sisters of all faiths across the globe to don the hijab for one day.

Within eight days, she got responses from women residing in 67 different countries that represented a conglomerate of religious backgrounds, to include Christians, Jewish, Pagans, Wiccans, Rastafarians, Buddhists, Atheists etc. WHD gave an opportunity to citizens worldwide who were not familiar with the Islamic faith to open up dialogues with their Muslim neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

Additionally, WHD presented an opportunity for teachers to understand why their Muslim students wear the hijab. It also provided non-Muslim mothers a chance to better understand their daughter’s faith and the decision to wear hijab.

Conquer the Fear

The negative perception on hijab allowed people to act upon their fears and hurt innocent women without a real and existing threat. WHD simply presented an opportunity for everyone to learn about hijab and its importance in the Islamic faith without perpetuating the negative generalizations in today’s society.

WHD has thousands of volunteers worldwide and 70+ WHD Ambassadors from over 45 countries. WHD Ambassadors come from all walks of life from a high school student to a Congresswoman in the Philippines. Last year alone, 150 countries partook in WHD.

In addition to that, WHD has been endorsed by many world renowned individuals including scholars, politicians, and celebrities worldwide. WHD was covered in mainstream news media including New York Times, BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Huffington Post, etc to name a few. Recently, Time Magazine listed World Hijab Day in their world calendar, The Year Ahead 2017. It is estimated 190 countries will take part in WHD’17.

I participated in World Hijab Day and it was a good experience that I will repeat. I live in a very small, very Christian town.  There were some strange looks and people were staring at me – and then looking away quickly when they realized I saw them looking. A few people seemed surprised that I spoke English. The fact that I was wearing hijab gave me the opportunity to talk to my step children about respect, difference, and peace.” (Talya Leodari -Jewish, USA)

Stand for Her…How?

We must STAND for Muslim women’s right to cover. There are many ways to show your solidarity.
*Attend the WHD event on Facebook and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/357711751248489
*Observe Hijab on Feb. 1st, 2017
*Use the hashtags: #IStand4Hijab and #WorldHijabDay
*Organize a WHD event in your community.
*Send emails or letters to local Mosques/religious congregations showing your support.
*Write letters to local officials about protecting Muslim women’s right to cover.

For more information or to support our campaign, go to http://worldhijabday.com

In the following video Nazma Khan tells us about the persecution she faced due to her hijab and why she started World Hijab Day..

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Source: worldhijabday.com and Rad Talks youtube channel

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Faith of a Muslim: Attaching the Heart to Allah

Indeed the heart of a believer experiences joy in this world and the hereafter, however this heart-felt happiness and complete delight is not realized except through love and knowledge of Allah the Exalted; coming closer to Him through the actions that He loves and are pleasing to Him and refraining from everything that angers Him and invokes His wrath.

The Heart of a Believer between Fear, Hope and Love

Indeed the heart is in need of becoming attached to its Creator, in order or to guarantee its progression on the path that is designed for it. What is more important in propelling a slave and advancing his course towards Allah, and urging him towards obedience and commitment is the actions of the heart.

The greatest of these actions is to love Allah, to have hope in Him and to fear Him.

Thus, the believing slave does not have in his heart but love of Allah and His Messenger, love for what Allah and His Messenger love- and it is love for acts of obedience and worship- and love for the monotheistic slaves of Allah, as we find in a Prophetic tradition that states:

“Three things whoever has them will find the sweetness of belief: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else, that he loves a person solely for the sake of Allah, and that he hates to revert to disbelief, as he hates being thrown in to hellfire.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The believer should possess fear of Allah the Exalted in his heart; that fear which makes the heart tremble from falling into the anger of Allah, His vengeance, and His severe punishment when it commits what Allah has prohibited or neglects what He has obligated. Thus, the heart can be a preventative force for the believer from following his desires, drifting behind his whims, and instead urges him to be someone who is committed to obeying Him and His commands.

The heart of the believing slave also has hope of obtaining the mercy, satisfaction, love, reward and bounties of Allah in this world and the Hereafter.

Hope encourages the believer to persevere in obedience to Allah and to race towards good deeds because his heart is attached to the bounties that Allah has promised the fearful, obedient ones of His slaves. Allah the Exalted has said:

Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allah’s religion) and have striven hard In the Way of Allah, All These hope for Allah’s Mercy. and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:218)

Maintain a Balance

The heart of a Muslim in their journey to Allah should always maintain a balance between these three things. If one of them should overpower another then the believer will be diverted in his worship and lose course from the Straight Path.

Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy upon him) stated: “The heart in its journey to Allah is similar to a bird. Love is its head and hope and fear are its wings”.

Therefore, imagine dear reader if this bird was to lose one of its wings or its head there is no doubt that it would become easy bait for every predator or scavenger.

The Muslim who performs what Allah has commanded of acts of obedience ought to accept their performance with love and a desire to draw closer to his Lord, hoping that He accepts them, and desiring His reward, bounty, and paradise. They must aspire to perform what Allah has commanded just as He commanded, fearful that He may reject them and not accept them, and fearful of His punishment and anger upon neglecting it.

Know, may Allah have mercy on you, that balancing between these three stations is the way of the Prophets (peace be upon them) as Allah has informed us in the Qur’an:

Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before us. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:90)

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

 

 

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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Belief in Allah and His Messenger: The First Pillar of Islam

Islam is a large structure that combines many different aspects of human life and such a structure requires a foundation and pillars that it rests upon. These were made clear to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he said:

“Islam has been built upon five things. Testifying that there is no deity but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger; on performing five-daily prayers; on giving the poor due; on pilgrimage to the House; and on fasting during Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

First Pillar

The first pillar is to bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger.

This testimony is the foundation of Islam and everyone who wants to enter Islam must profess it verbally. It is made up of two main pillars.

First: There Is No Deity but Allah

This means that there is nothing in existence worthy of worship, except Allah (Exalted be He). This negates the worship of anything but Allah, including angels, prophets, pious people, trees, the sun, the moon, stones and statues and graves because all these things are the creation of Allah the Lord of the Worlds, so how can a created person worship a created thing similar to them and abandon worship of the creator.

Therefore, this proves that worship is only for Allah the Lord of the Worlds to Whom the whole world and whatever it contains have submitted. Allah has said:

Allah bears witness that La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the Right to be worshiped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining his creation In justice. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the Right to be worshiped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (Aal `Imran 3:18)

From this we understand that the statement ‘There is no deity but Allah’ is the epitome and slogan of Islam and the key to entering it because it means that the person acknowledges his obedience and compliance with the worship of Allah and disowns and rids himself of the worship of anyone or anything else.

Second: Muhammad Is the Messenger of Allah

This testimony includes three very important principles which are:

1- Acknowledging that Allah sent the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) with the truth as a giver of glad tidings and warner to all people, Arab and non-Arab, white and black, to call them to the worship of Allah alone and reject polytheism and disbelief. Allah has said:

And we have not sent you (O Mohammed) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind. (Saba’ 34:28)

2- It is obligatory to believe everything the Prophet (peace be upon him) has informed us about since it is a revelation from Allah, as Allah has said:

Nor does He speak of (his own) desire. It is Only an Inspiration that is inspired. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

3- It is obligatory to obey the Prophet (peace be upon him) in everything that he has commanded us and avoid everything that he has forbidden and rejected because he is someone who brings information from Allah, and Allah has commanded that we obey him, as Allah said:

And whatsoever the Messenger (Mohammed) gives you, take it, and whatsoever He forbids you, abstain from it. (Al-Hashr 59:7)

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

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Names and Attributes of God: What Does It Mean to Believe in Them?

It is necessary for a Muslim to adhere to the true methodology and the correct path in belief with regards to the names and attributes of Allah; and that belief does not materialize except through the following matters:

1- The affirmation of what Allah affirmed for Himself or what His messenger (peace be upon him) affirmed for Him from among the names and attributes and denial of what Allah denied about Himself or what His messenger denied about Him because there is no one more knowledgeable about Allah than Allah the Exalted.

Say: Are you more knowledgeable or Allah? (Al-Baqarah 2:140)

Just as there is no one more knowledgeable about Allah after Allah than His messenger  about whom Allah said:

And he does not speak out of desire. Indeed it is but a revelation inspired. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

2- The consideration that Allah the Exalted is far above being likened to His creation, as He the Exalted said:

There is nothing like Him at all; and He All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11]

So Allah the Exalted is not similar to anything, and He has no equal in His creation, rather He, glorified is He, is the one characterized with the sublime and perfect attributes which are not suitable for anyone except Him, glorified and the Exalted.

3- The absence of aspiring to perceive the nature of the attributes of Allah because they are from the knowledge of the Unseen which Allah alone possesses knowledge of; and the intellect is incapable of perceiving that which is Unseen, as Allah the Exalted said:

And they cannot encompass him in knowledge. (Ta-Ha 20:110)

And He, the Glorified, said:

Do you know of any equal for Him? (Maryam 19:65)

Glorification of Allah through His Names & Attributes

Truly from among the greatest indications of the glorification of the slave for Allah the Exalted and (greatest indication of) a link in his heart with Him is that the effect of belief in the names and attributes of Allah appears in his life and in his character.

The truehearted believer is he who worships Allah through His names and attributes, and among the ways of doing that are:

1- Calling upon Allah by His Names and Attributes

Indeed from the exaltation and glorification of Allah (the Exalted) is for the Muslim to turn toward Him through supplication with his heart and limbs, in obedience to His command, as He, lofty is His praise, said:

And for Allah are Good names, so call Him by them and abandon those who disbelieve in His names. (Al-A`raf 7:180)

Calling upon Allah the Exalted by His names and attributes is of two types:

First is the supplication of worship. What it means is that mankind is a worshipper of Allah the Exalted by any categorical act of worship, whether heart based, as in having fear, hope, love, and trust; bodily (worship) as in prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, recitation of the Qur’an, glorification and remembrance; or wealth-based (worship) as in obligatory charity, voluntary charity and sacrifice.

From the supplication of worship is: remembering Allah (the Exalted), praising Him, thanking Him, and glorifying Him through His names and whatever is appropriate of the attributes which He taught us.

So the Muslim says: ‘Glory be to Allah’, ‘All praise is due to Allah’, ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah’, and ‘Allah is great’; each of these is glorification and praise of Allah, and are calls to Allah through His names and attributes as a way of worshipping Him, glorified is He.

So the supplication of worship does not contain any request, rather its only

purpose is to worship Allah through praising Him and being pleased with mentioning His names and attributes.

Second is the supplication dealing with an issue. It is when the slave seeks from his Lord what benefits him and he asks Him to divert what harms him from a matter of the life of this world or the Afterlife; like asking Allah the Exalted for forgiveness of sins, or mercy, or guidance and success, or the achievement of paradise and rescue from the Hell-Fire.

These two types of supplication – of the act of worship and dealing with an issue – are linked. For every questioner who asks Allah the Exalted and asks Him with sincerity, fear, hope and love, then this is an act of worship; and the one who remembers Allah the Exalted by definition is seeking and asking Allah the Exalted for an elevation in status, an increase in good deeds, and pardon from sins, and this is the supplication of dealing with issues.

2- Calling Allah the Exalted by His greatest name

From the great favour of Allah upon His monotheist slaves is that He distinguished from among His good names, glorified and the exalted a name that a monotheist slave would not call Him by it except that Allah responds to his call and grants his request.

And there is no doubt that the persistence of the Muslim in calling Allah by this name is among the most important ways the heart of the believer is connected to his Lord. On authority of `Abdullah ibn Buraidah, on authority of his father, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) heard a man saying:

‘Oh Allah, truly I ask You that I bear witness that You are Allah who there is none worthy of worship except You, the One, the Eternal, who does not beget and is not begotten, and for whom there can be no equal’.

So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘By He in whose Hand is the soul of Mohammed, indeed he asked Allah by His greatest Name which when asked by it, He grants, and when called by it, He responds’. (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

On authority of Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him): He was with the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sitting and a man prayed and then supplicated:

‘Oh Allah, truly I ask You in that for You is all praise, there is none worthy of worship except You, the Giver of All Good, Maker of the heavens and the earth; Oh Possessor of Sublimity and Honour, Oh Ever-Living, Oh Eternal…’ So the Prophet said:

‘Indeed he has called Allah by His great Name which when called by it, He responds, and when asked by it, He grants’. (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

So contemplate, oh Muslim, and call Allah by these great supplications. If you praise Allah the Exalted remember Him, glorify Him, and call Him by His good names and supreme attributes, rather by His great name, you have a hope of response to your supplication and materialization of your issue, and you have been promised a response based on it.

So there is no greater way to connect your heart with your Lord, to moisten your tongue with His remembrance, praise Him, and ask Him than through what is earned by a person from (utilizing) the names and attributes.

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

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Du`aa’: the Essence of Worship

 

Du`aa’ is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Du`aa’ is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Du`aa’ is an Arabic word written here in English letters. Three small letters that make up a word and a subject that is large and breathtaking. This word du`aa’ could be roughly translated to mean supplication or invocation, although neither word adequately define du`aa’. Supplication, which means communicating with a deity, comes closer than invocation which is known to sometimes imply summoning spirits or devils.

In Islamic terminology du`aa’ is the act of supplication. It is calling out to God; it is a conversation with God, our Creator, our Lord, the All Knowing, and the All Powerful. In fact the word is derived from the Arabic root meaning to call out or to summon.

Du`aa’ is uplifting, empowering, liberating and transforming and it is one of the most powerful and effective act of worship a human being can engage in. Du`aa’ has been called the weapon of the believer. It affirms a person’s belief in One God and it shuns all forms of idolatry or polytheism. Du`aa’ therefore is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A slave becomes nearest to his Lord when he is in prostration. So increase supplications in prostrations.’’ (Muslim)

“The supplication of every one of you will be granted if he does not get impatient and say: `I supplicated my Lord but my prayer has not been granted’.’’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

At this point in understanding exactly what du`aa’ is, it would be easy for someone from a Christian background to think that du`aa’ is prayer. Du`aa’ certainly holds certain similarities to the prayer of Christians; however it should not be confused with what Muslims call prayer. Prayer, or in Arabic salah, is one of the pillars of Islam, and in performing the five daily prayers a Muslim actually engages in a physical form of du`aa’ asking God to grant them Heaven through their actions. Throughout the prayer one also supplicates to God directly.

For Muslims prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day. God says in Qur’an:

Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours. (An-Nisaa’4:103)

Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Prayer is an act of worship, in which a Muslim reaffirms his belief in One God and demonstrates his gratefulness. It is a direct connection between God and the believer and it is an obligation.

Du`aa’ on the other hand is a Muslims way of feeling that connection to God at anytime, in any place. Muslims call on God frequently throughout the day and night.  They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help, mercy, and forgiveness. Du`aa’ incorporates praise, thanksgiving, hope, and calling on God to assist the one in need and grant his or her requests.

Du`aa’ can be made for the individual, their family, friends, strangers, those in dire circumstances, for the believers, and even for the whole of humanity. When making the du`aa’ it is acceptable to ask for good in this worldly life and in the hereafter. A person making du`aa’ should not hold back, but ask God to grant both the largest and smallest requests.

Prophet Muhammad encouraged the believers to make du`aa’. He said:

“The du`aa’ of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial du`aa’ for his brother the appointed angel says: Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same’”. (Muslim)

Although making du`aa’ is not an obligation, there are many benefits to making du`aa’ to God frequently and with full submission. Feeling the closeness to God that comes with sincere du`aa’, it increases faith, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation.

Throughout the Qur’an, God encourages the believer to call on Him, He asks us to lay our dreams, hopes, fears and uncertainties before Him and to be sure that He hears every word.

You alone do we worship and You alone do we ask for help. (Al-Fatihah 1:5)

And your Lord says, Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer). But those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely find themselves in Hell, in humiliation. (Ghafir 40:60)

Say, O My slaves who have transgressed against their souls; despair not of the Mercy of Allah: For Allah forgives all sins; for He is oft Forgiving, most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:5)

Say, Call upon Allah, or call upon Ar-Rahman (The Most Beneficient): By whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well): For to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (Al-Israa’ 17:110)

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the supplications of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Prophet Muhammad called du`aa’ the essence of worship. (At-Tirmidhi)  He also  suggested that the believer  be humble, yet firm when making du`aa’ and said: “When one of you supplicates, he should not say: ‘O God, forgive me if You will’, but be firm in asking and make the desire great, for what God gives is nothing great for Him.” (Muslim)

When we make du`aa’, when we call upon God in our hour of need, or express our gratefulness, or for any other reason including simply to feel the comfort of being close to God, we must remember to examine our sincerity and to check our intention. Du`aa’ must be addressed to God Alone, who has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries. Our intention when making the du`aa’ must be to please God, obey Him and trust Him completely.

When a person makes du`aa’ God may give him what he asked for or He may divert a harm that is greater than the thing he asked for, or He  may store up what he has asked for, for the Hereafter. God has commanded us to call upon Him and He has promised to respond to our call.

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Source: islamreligion.com

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The Friends of Allah: Who and How?

clouds_nature

That is what worship is all about: your purification and elevation in iman (faith) and taqwa (piety).

Good Deeds Will Get You Closer to Allah

Allah says:

But had they done what they were exhorted to (do), it would have been better for them; and would have strengthened/stabilized their (faith). (An-Nisaa’ 4:66)

Narrated Abu Hurairah that Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah said: ‘Whoever harms a wali (a friend or a supporter) of mine I will declare war against him. And my servant has not drawn closer to me with anything more beloved to me than what I made obligatory on him (faridah). And he continues to draw closer to me with nawafil (the preferable non-obligatory deeds) until I love him; And when I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks, and if he asks Me, I will give him, and, if he seeks refuge in me, I will protect him and, I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer for, he hates death and, I hate to sadden him’” (Al-Bukhari)

Why We Worship God?

In fact that is what worship is all about: your purification and elevation in iman (faith) and taqwa (piety), for Allah will not benefit from your worship. In a hadith qudsi (divine hadith) Allah said:

“O my servants! I have made unlawful oppression upon myself and I have made it unlawful between you. So do not oppress each other. O my servants! All of you are astray except the ones whom I have guided, so seek my guidance and I will guide you. O my servants! All of you are naked except those of you whom I have clothed, so seek clothing from me and I will clothe you. O my servants! All of you are hungry except those of you whom I have fed, seek food from me and I will feed you. O my servants! You make errors in the night and in the day and I forgive all sins. Seek forgiveness from me and I will forgive you. O my servants!

You will never be able to harm Me and you will never be able to benefit Me. O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you and the jinn from among you and the men from among you, were to fear Allah as the best among you, that would not increase in My Majesty/Mastership any. O my servants!

If the first of you and the last of you and the jinn among you and the men among you, were to perform the worst forms of crimes, that will not decrease from My Majesty/Mastership any. O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you, the jinn of you and the men of you, were to stand on one side and ask Me, I will give each one of you what you ask and still this will not decrease from My Majesty/Mastership; as if you dip a needle into the ocean.” (Muslim)

So when fasting was prescribed for you, it was to bring you closer (i.e., closer to Allah), Allah said:

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)

And when you make Hajj and slaughter the sacrifice it is that you may get closer to Allah. Allah said: It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah but, it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus, have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings to the good doers. (Al-Hajj 22:37)

And when you give charity it is to get closer, Allah said:

Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of tranquility for them; and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

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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.

 

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Thanksgiving: The Essence of Belief

How does thanksgiving contribute to one’s belief? Is it just a faith requirement or just moral development? How can we reach the state of thankfulness?

The hadith of Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) is considered by most Muslim scholars to be one of the fundamental texts of our religion. It presents, in a comprehensive way, the foundations of Islam.

the essence of Islam

The spiritual path is not a philosophical picnic. It requires action; the action of the heart, the tongue and the limbs.

This is made clear by the fact that the Prophet (blessings and peace upon him) mentions to `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) at the conclusion of the hadith: “’O `Umar! Do you know who the questioner was?’ Umar replied: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best’. The Prophet replied: ‘Verily, it was the Angel Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion’”. (Muslim)

This narration focuses on four things that are essential to our religion: Islam (Muslim practice), Iman (Muslim dogma), ihsan (states of inner excellence) and the Sa`ah (Doomsday).

To rephrase the focal points of this hadith, we can say that Islam is a religion that demands of its adherents that they do something, that they believe something, that they embody something and that they prepare for something. What we do involves the devotional acts that are enjoined by the religion. This is the essence of Islam, in this particular context.

What we believe involves the dogma that we affirm as agreed upon by the scholars who have mastered the prophetic message and distilled from it the essential beliefs whose affirmation is necessary if a person is to be considered a Muslim. This is the essence of iman, again, in the context of the hadith.

The states of being that a believer embodies are illustrated, in the immediate context of the hadith of Gabriel, by the saying of the Prophet: “…that you worship Allah as if you see Him. If you fail to see Him, be mindful that He observes you”. This is the essence of ihsan.

Finally, by living a life, which encompasses in a real way all of the aforementioned elements, we are preparing for the end of things in the world, or Doomsday.

To expound further on the idea of a Muslim embodying something, we can add that this is an aspect of our religion that many Muslims fail to adequately consider. Specifically, the idea that we are to embody the prophetic virtues is lost by many. Those virtues, which the Prophet embodied, are an articulation of the ontological stations he attained to.

In other words, his very being, for example, embodied the station of patience. This ontological reality then manifested itself in his character as he displayed unmatched patience in his dealings with others. This is what ihsan is about.

Imam al-Qushayri, in his Risala, mentions some of the states a believer should strive to embody: repentance or penitence (tawbah); sincere exertion in worship (mujahada); spiritual insularity (khalwah or `uzlah); God-consciousness (taqwa); religious scrupulousness (wara`); worldly detachment (zuhd); silence (samt); fear of God (khawf); hope for God’s Mercy (raja’); sobriety of heart (huzn); suppression of the appetite for food and drink (Ju`); humility (tawadu`); opposing the whims of one’s ego (mukhalafa an-nafs); avoiding envy (hasad); avoiding backbiting (ghaybah); contentment (qana`ah); trusting in Allah (tawakkul); thankfulness (shukr); being certain of divine truths (yaqeen); patience (sabr); being mindful of Allah’s observation of one (muraqabah); being pleased with Allah’s decree (rida); willing servitude to Allah (`ubudiyyah); strong conviction for truth and religion (iradah); consistency (istiqamah); sincerity in all of the relevant realms (ikhlas); honesty (sidq); shyness (haya’); freedom from the weight of worldly engagements (hurriyyah); constant remembrance of Allah (dhikr); concern for others (al-Futuwwa); viewing things in the light of truth (firasa); good character (khuluq); generosity (jud) and many others. (Abi Al-Qasim Al-Qushayri, Al-Risala)

Thanksgiving: How?

One of the loftiest of stations mentioned by Imam Al-Qushayri, and others, is that of thankfulness (shukr). To fully strive for the actualization of this station in our lives we must know its meaning. The linguistic meaning of shukr is from sha-ka-ra, which means an animal attaining to pasture and then fattening on it.

Thus, the Arabs say, sha-ka-tat al-ibilu, meaning the camels attained to pasture and became fat. The expression hisan shakur means a horse that is fattened up by very little fodder. In general, an animal that is shakur eats little but grows much.

This definition gives us insight into the nature of a thankful person. It does not take much to please them. We find that a person that is truly thankful is appreciative of very little. When we give them the smallest gift they are deeply grateful and seek to express their gratitude in the warmest terms and kindest actions. As for the ingrate, no matter how much they receive they desire more and fail to express any gratitude for what they have received.

Thus, the effect of a blessing, be it pasture or fodder, is seen on the animal who receives that blessing, in its increased size. Likewise, the effect of a blessing given by Allah to His servant manifests itself on the tongue, heart and limbs of a thankful person. Hence, in the technical usage of the religious scholars, as expressed by Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, thankfulness means ‘to manifest one’s appreciation for the blessings bestowed by Allah on the tongue, through praise and acknowledgment; in the heart by witnessing the giver of the blessing and loving Him; and on the limbs by willingly accepting His guidance and obeying Him’.

This definition helps us to understand that the spiritual path is not a philosophical picnic. It requires action; the action of the heart, the tongue and the limbs. Knowledge though, does play its part, in fact, as emphasized by Imam Al-Ghazali in the Ihya’, it is the foundation of the subsequent acts of thankfulness. He says:

‘You should know that thankfulness is among the stations of those journeying to Allah. It is also (like other stations) organized around the categories of knowledge (`ilm), state (hal) and action (`Amal). Knowledge is the foundation and it bequeaths the state, while the state (in turn) bequeaths action. As for knowledge it is the knowledge that the blessing is from the giver of blessings (Allah: Al-Mun`im).The ensuing state is the happiness resulting from His bestowing the blessing. The action is undertaking what is intended and loved by the giver of the blessing’. (Al Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum Ad-Deen)

Imam Al-Ghazali outlines a process whereby thankfulness can become actualized in our lives. The foundation of this process is the knowledge that every blessing we have ultimately comes from Allah. In our increasingly ’material’ world people are losing touch with this great reality. Many view their hard work, intellect or creativity as the source of the good they enjoy. They cannot conceive of the role played by the divine in their good fortune.

Hence, we witness the growing disinclination on the part of the wealthy to share their wealth with the less fortunate members of our society. In the face of appeals for greater charity we increasingly hear retorts such as, ’Poor people should work hard as I did…’ ‘Those people should pick themselves up by their bootstraps like we did…’ People uttering such statements may recognize the blessings they enjoy, but they fail to see the giver of those blessings, and because they do not see or acknowledge the giver of the blessing, they neither see nor acknowledge the rights He has established in their wealth.

The various sayings of the scholars we have considered let us know that to really be people of thankfulness we must be people who praise and worship our Lord. When the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah upon him, was asked why he was standing in prayer at night until his feet were swollen, he replied, as the tears flowed down his cheeks, ”Should I not then be a thankful servant?” (Al-Bukhari) His thankfulness was expressed in his worship. This should be our case.

A final way we can express our thankfulness in indicated by the name of Allah, Ash-Shakur. One of the meanings of this name is one who rewards a small amount of human effort with a great amount of grace. A vile criminal can enter into Islam one moment and then die the next. Having done only one righteous deed, uttering the Testimony of Faith, he is rewarded with eternal bliss in Paradise. How small was his action compared to the magnitude of Allah’s grace?

This should remind us that in all of our relations and dealings in the world we should try to give far more than we take. This is especially important when the dominant ethos is becoming ‘take as much as you can and give as little as possible’.

Let us take time to reflect on what it truly means to be thankful, and let us work to the extent of our capabilities to extend the blessings we enjoy to others, not just on one day, but every day.

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Source: newislamicdirections.com.

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