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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Foundations of Good Moral Character: The Prophet’s Excellent Example

Mere teachings and commands of Do’s and Don’ts do not form the foundations of good moral character in a society, because these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society.

Perfect Trainer

The teachings of fruitful good conduct requires long training and constant watchfulness.

The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.

The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feel the urge to follow his footsteps.

For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.

The Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate the call he was giving to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.

`Abdullah ibn `Amr says:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas says: “I served the Prophet for ten years. He never said ‘Uf’ (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that.” (Muslim)

It is also reported by him: “My mother used to hold the Prophet’s hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person’s hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Lady `A’ishah says: “If there were two alternatives, the Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from anybody. Yes, if Allah’s command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah’s Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands. neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: ‘0 Muhammad! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.’ The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

`A’ishah has reported that Allah’s Messenger has said:

“Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for anything.” (Muslim)

In another tradition it is stated: “Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly.”

Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said:

“The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favorite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue.”(At-Tabarani )

`Abdullah ibn Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (At-Tirmidhi)

`A’isha was asked what did Prophet do at home?

She replied:” He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu `Umayr. He had a sick sparrow, who was called ‘Nagheer’. Allah’s Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : ‘0 Abu `Umayr! what has happened to your Nagheer” (Al-Bukhari)

Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was just, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.

The same Qur’an, Same Criterion, Same Yasin, Same Taha

Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.

Surely there is in the person of Allah’s .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Qazi A ‘yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night

the people of Medina were terribly frightened. Some people proceeded towards the sound ( which was probably the

cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was

the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he

was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.

Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.

Jabir ibn `Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.

Lady Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation:

“You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth.”

_________________________

The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah: Do’s and Don’ts

By the Editorial Staff

Among the great seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah has favored over other days. There are numerous hadiths indicating that these ten days are better than all other days of the year, with no exception. The Muslim should hasten to utilize this opportunity by offering sincere repentance to Allah, and multiplying the good deeds in these blessed days.

First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

These ten days are better than all other days of the year.

Regarding the superiority of these days of Dhul-Hijjah, Sheikh Ibn `Uthaymin said, “Indeed it is a great favor and blessing from Allah that He has made for His righteous servants periods of time within which they can increase in good deeds to attain great rewards. One of these opportunistic periods is the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

The excellence of these ten days has been mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

By the dawn and by the ten nights… (Al-Fajr 89:1-2)

Ibn Kathir said that “the ten nights” referred to here are the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, and this opinion was also held by Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Az-Zubair, Mujahid and others.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “There are no deeds as excellent as those done in these ten days.” They (the companions) said, “Not even Jihad?” He said, “No, not even Jihad except a man who goes forth endangering his life and wealth and does not return with anything.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also, Allah says:

…and remember the name of Allah in the appointed days. (Al-Baqarah 2:203)

Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Kathir said: this means in the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

The Messenger of Allah said: “There are no other days that are as great as these in the sight of Allah, the Most Sublime. Nor are there any deeds more beloved to Allah then those that are done in these ten days. So increase in tahlil (to say la ilaha ill Allah “No one worthy of worship but Allah), takbir (to say allahu akbar “Allah is the Greatest”) and tahmid (to say alhumdulillah “praise be to Allah”).” (At-Tabarani)

It is reported that the noble companion Sa`id ibn Jubayr, when the days of Dhul-Hijjah began he would strive to increase in good actions with great intensity to the extent that no one can do like that. (Ad-Darimi)

Ibn Hajar says in Fat-h Al-Bari: “The most apparent reason for the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah being distinguished in excellence is due to the assembly of the greatest acts of worship in this period, i.e. salawat (prayers), siyam (fasting), sadaqah (charity) and the hajj (pilgrimage). In no other periods do these great deeds combine.”

What Are the Recommended Acts in These Days

Prayer

It is highly recommended to perform the obligatory acts at their prescribed times and to increase oneself in the supererogatory (nawafil) acts, for indeed, this is what brings a person closer to their Lord.

The Messenger of Allah said: “Upon you is to increase in your prostration to Allah, for verily you do not prostrate to Allah with even one prostration, except that He raises you in degrees and decreases your sins because of it.” (Muslim)

Fasting

This has been mentioned as one of the acts of righteousness where Handabah ibn Khalid reports on the authority of his wife who reports that some of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The Prophet would fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day of `Ashura and three days in every month.” (Abu Dawud)

Imam An-Nawawi said that fasting in these ten days is extremely recommended.

Takbir, Tahlil and Tahmid

In the aforementioned narration of Ibn ‘Umar, the Prophet said: “So increase yourselves in saying la ilaha illa Allah, Allahu akbar and alhamdulillah.”

Imam Al-Bukhari (may confer mercy on him) said: “Ibn `Umar and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to go out to the markets in the ten days saying the takbir causing the people to follow them in this action.”

He also said: “`Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to say the takbir in his minaret in Mina, whereupon the people of the mosque hearing `Umar, would start to say the takbir as would the people in the markets until the whole of Mina was locked in glorifying Allah.”

Ibn `Umar used to say the takbir in Mina during these ten days and after prayers, whilst on his bed, in his tent, in his gathering and whilst walking. What is recommended is to say the takbir aloud due to the fact that `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, his son and Abu Hurayrah used to do likewise, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Muslims has to strive with in reviving this sunnah that has become lost in these times and it was almost forgotten, even amongst the people of righteousness and goodness all of which is unfortunately in opposition to what the best of generations were upon (preserving and maintaining the supererogatory acts).

Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah

Fasting has been affirmed on the day of `Arafah, where it has been authentically reported from the Prophet that he said regarding fasting on the day of `Arafah: “I hope that Allah will expiate for you your sins for the year before (the day of `Arafah) and the year after (the day of `Arafah).” (Muslim)

However, whoever is at `Arafah as a pilgrim then fasting is not expected of him, as it is reported that the Prophet stopped at `Arafah to eat.

What Should Be Avoided during Them?

Sheikh `Abudl-`Aziz ibn Baz (may Allah confer mercy on him) said: “If anyone wants to offer an Ud-hiyah, and the month of Dhul-Hijjah has begun, then it is haram for him to remove anything of his hair or nails or skin until he has slaughtered the Ud-hiyah, because of the hadith of Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet said: “When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah – according to another version, When the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) begin – and any one of you wants to offer an Ud-hiyah, let him refrain (from cutting) his hair and nails.” (Muslim) According to another version, “Let him not remove anything from his hair and nails until he offers the Ud-hiyah.”

The reason for this prohibition is that when the person who wants to offer the Ud-hiyah joins the pilgrims in some of the rituals of Hajj – namely drawing closer to Allah by slaughtering the Ud-hiyah – he also joins him in some of the features of ihram, namely refraining from cutting his hair etc.

This ruling applies only to the one who is going to slaughter the Ud-hiyah. It does not apply to the one on whose behalf an Ud-hiyah is offered. Based on this, it is permissible for the family of the person who is going to offer the Ud-hiyah to remove things from their hair, nails and skin during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

If one has to remove them because of necessity, there is no blame on him, such as if a nail breaks and it annoys him, so he cuts it, or if a hair gets in his eye and he removes it, or he needs to cut his hair in order to treat a wound and the like.” (Fatawa Islamiyyah)

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A Brief Guide to Hajj (Poster)

Through this poster, we briefly introduce you to the types of Hajj, and- both in words and pictures, the rites of Hajj.

 

 A Brief Guide to Hajj-

A Brief Guide to Hajj-

A Brief Guide to Hajj (eBook) 

Book Author: E-Da`wah Committee (EDC)

Number of Pages: 1

Book Description: A Brief Guide to Hajj in English

_________________________

Read more about Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam…

–      All about Hajj (1435/2014)

–      Hajj Rites Made Easy…

–      The Fifth Pillar of Islam: Hajj

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

New Muslims & Ramadan’s Last Precious Ten Days

By Amal Stapley

The last ten days of Ramadan are here. How do you find yourself, your heart and worship so far? How’s Ramadan going for you?”

It’s the perennial question on everybody’s lips at this time of Ramadan, and how are you answering it?

Insha’Allah you’re able to say that it’s going well for you and you’re achieving your targets and gaining the benefit from this blessed month. But don’t worry if you can’t say that fully yet, as the best has been saved for last!

We’re now on the final run down to `Eid, having passed through the ten days of asking for mercy and the ten days of asking for forgiveness, and now we’re into the ten days of asking for protection from the Fire. These last ten days are the most precious days of the most precious month.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) “would strive (to do acts of worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time”. (Muslim)

So this is the time to follow his beautiful example and really start to focus on your `ibadah (worship). So how can you, as a new Muslim, do that?

Be Generous in Thoughts…

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the time to be generous in both your thoughts and your deeds.

It’s very easy as a new Muslim to be critical of other people, especially about other Muslim’s practice of Islam. Sometimes we get so carried away with our own striving to please Allah that we forget that Islam for others isn’t something new and exciting. It’s something they have been living with all their lives; they may not have sought knowledge as enthusiastically as you have been doing or they may be experiencing an iman dip.

So instead of criticizing other Muslims, who find it difficult to practice Islam as well as you’d like them to, try to understand them and then try to gently encourage them. The same goes for non-Muslims. Remember back to your pre-Islamic days and how you justified your behavior? Be generous in your thoughts of others and instead of criticizing, find an excuse and also ask Allah to guide them.

“…and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allah, and because of this He sent the bringers of good news and the warners…” (Al-Bukhari)

… and Deeds

Also strive to be generous in your deeds. Look out for any opportunities to do a good turn for your family, neighbors and friends. Use your initiative and show them the best face of Islam that you can. You could even invite them to join you in iftar (breaking fast) or just take some food round to them.

This is also a great time for giving extra in charity, as its reward is increased. Many people choose this time to give their zakat al-mal (obligatory charity on wealth) away to cleanse their wealth and to get the extra benefit. If you don’t personally know someone from the eight categories who is deserving of zakah, look out for charities that support people in your local area or country, and if there is no-one locally in need, seek out those in other countries in need. Many charities have special Ramadan drives to take advantage of this generous time, so choose the most reliable trustworthy ones, as far as you can.

The last ten days of Ramadan is a great time to clear out your cupboards. I make it an annual habit to go through mine and give away all my unwanted and unused items or send them to be recycled. If you have items in the back of your cupboards that you have no use for and that others might benefit from, give them away or find a local charity or charity shop to give them to. If you have clothes that you haven’t worn for a year, especially your old pre-Islamic ones, do you really need to keep them? And don’t just give away the tatty ones; give the good stuff away too:

Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. (Aal `Imran 3:92)

I`tikaf or Qiyam

One of the best ways of really focusing on your worship is to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque; cutting out all worldly cares and just concentrating on getting closer to Allah. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the religion from good practicing Muslims and many mosques hold extra talks and classes at this time. If you’ve been able to plan for this and make arrangements to do this, do make the most of it, and do lots of du`aa’ that the rest of us will be able to do it next year with you!

If you can’t spend all the last ten days in the mosque, try to spend some time at least, even if it’s only over the weekend or maybe at night between Maghrib and Fajr. As long as you make your intention for i`tikaf (retreat in the mosque), your reward will be in accordance with the amount of time you spend there. The same applies to sisters too. If your local mosque has provision for sisters, follow in the steps of the Prophet’s wives and spend some time in i`tikaf too.

If you really can’t get to a mosque, make sure that you increase your efforts to worship at night either at home or with other new (or not-so-new) Muslims in your area. You could maybe organize Qiyam (Night Worship) gatherings, so those who live with their non-Muslim families can come and worship in a relaxed Islamic atmosphere.

Wherever you spend your time, find a quiet place where you can bury yourself in worship of your Creator, away from the internet, TV and family worries. If you have slipped in any of your targets of reading the Qur’an in your language or in Arabic, or memorizing Qur’an or new du’a`, this is the perfect time to catch up. You can get out your du’a` list and use this time to supplicate for everything you want Allah to help you or others with; especially for Him to guide your family to Islam. And you can read inspiring books and articles and make pledges about the changes you’re going to make in your life. And just take time out to contemplate on Allah’s blessings and mercy.

Last Precious Ten Days & Laylat Al-Qadr

“Look for Laylat-Al-Qadr (The Night of Power) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)

This is the most precious night of the precious days of the precious month. Whatever you do, make plans to spend the odd nights of the last ten (i.e. the night before the odd day, as Islamic days start from Maghrib) in deep worship, either in the mosque, with friends or at home. Set aside all other plans so you can get the reward of this night, which is worth that of a thousand months. Imagine one night’s worship being equivalent to worshipping consistently for 83 years and 4 months! How can you afford to miss it?

This is a great night to ask Allah to keep you on the path He has guided you to, to ask Him to strengthen your faith and your wisdom, and to ask Him to help you find the path by which you can best serve Him and His Ummah. And while you’re there, add this du`aa’ as well:

`A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Laylat-Al-Qadr was, what should I say in it?”

He said

“Say: Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee (O Allah! You are the One who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me).”

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Source: onislam.net.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Self-development between Purity of Heart & Worldly Conduct

road_nature

Even though spiritual purification is important seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Islam is a way of life that teaches Muslims to focus on bettering themselves by following the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and the teachings of the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Prophet Muhammad once said, “Truly I was sent as a Prophet for the purpose of perfecting human character.” (Ahmad) This prophetic tradition defines a very important aspect of Islam: self-improvement through spiritual and physical purity.

An old Arab proverb aptly states: “The one who lacks something cannot give it to others.” This saying establishes the fact that in order for one to spread “good” in terms of his or her character, manners, words or actions, he or she must first strive to possess it. One should not neglect to improve one’s own faults even as they attempt to assist others.

Of course, this does not mean that one has to be perfect in order to be of benefit to others; for instance, some people think that they cannot spread knowledge because they are not scholars. Instead, this adage goes hand in hand with the English saying, “Practice before you preach.” As Prophet Muhammad said, “Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.”

In Islam, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to seek self-improvement in regards to every aspect of their lives. As a result, one’s good character will impact others and therefore improve society as a whole. This dynamic change all begins at the individual level. In this regard, God says:

Truly God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Ar-Ra`d 13:11)

Pure Intentions

Before an individual consciously embarks on this journey, he or she must define and cleanse their intention. A pivotal teaching of Islam is derived from the prophetic statement, “All actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”

Hence, a desire to genuinely improve oneself, please God, and provide benefit is paramount. On the other hand, having impure intentions such as seeking the admiration of other people or showing off is counterproductive. For these reasons, purifying one’s intentions is critical to the success of one’s pursuit of self-development.

Cleansing of the heart is also a large component of self-improvement because it directly impacts one’s actions. God says in the Qur’an:

God did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of God, sanctifying them, and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. (Aal `Imran 3:164)

This verse demonstrates the role of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the importance of self-improvement in Islam. Prophet Muhammad taught the pagan Arabs of Makkah to believe in the One God and to live righteously; he implored them to renounce idolatry and their impulsive lifestyles. Over the course of 23 years, his message uplifted the status of women, brought God-consciousness among people, and safeguarded the poor and needy.

In doing so, not only did he help individuals to attain self-improvement, he rehabilitated an entire society: racial discrimination was practically eliminated, tribal warfare was replaced with united ties of brotherhood, usury and alcohol were completely forbidden.

Righteous Actions

Self-development begins at the individual level and requires a vast amount of discipline. Along with striving to become more physically pure by maintaining a healthy and clean body, it is equally important for an individual to maintain his or her spiritual health through righteous actions. Purification of the soul allow an individual to become closer to God and exhibit more positive behavior which will translate into his or her deeds.

In order to purify and enhance oneself, Islam outlines several pragmatic steps:

Core worship, such as prayer, fasting, supplication, etc. Performing these allows Muslims to draw closer to God by increasing the individual’s awareness of God throughout the day.

This will, in turn, decrease his or her likelihood to commit acts that would displease God, enabling people to raise their moral and ethical standards.

Smiling, being kind, and staying positive when interacting with others. This leads to mercifulness and forgiveness, which are attributes which God loves in human beings.

Prophetic traditions mention that smiling is an act of charity and removing obstacles from the road is a sign of faith; others encourage people to spread good news and exchange gifts as a way of increasing love between people.

Having self-discipline and managing one’s time so that the person is more productive throughout the day:

By (the token of) time (through the ages), verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)

Lending a helping hand to those in need. Once Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What actions are most excellent?” He answered: “To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”

Striving to increase one’s knowledge whether it be religious or academic. Working towards becoming an informed and proactive citizen.

According to Prophet Muhammad, “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

Maintaining good company and friends that will influence the individual in a positive manner.

Prophet Muhammad has stated, “It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.”

Performing sincere repentance for one’s sins and seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God. Feeling guilty for transgressions that one has made, and then making an active effort to learn from one’s mistakes and never repeat them again:

Your Lord has inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-An`am 6:54)

As you may have noticed, many of these steps involve interacting with others. Even though spiritual purification is important, it is critical to note that seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Prolonged seclusion for the purpose of spiritual purification is in fact inconsistent with Islamic teachings. A large component of self enhancement involves treating others with compassion and respect, and helping the less fortunate. This is not possible if one leads the life of a recluse.

One of the prophetic traditions encourages people to look at those less privileged when making worldly comparisons with others: “When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those who have been given less.”

This advice is very important because it enables us to be grateful for the blessings we have and be less greedy or miserly. Such an attitude allows one to remain focused on the quest of attaining self-improvement and eternal success in the hereafter rather than the transient materials of this temporary life.

The Virtues of Selfishness!

Self-improvement plays a significant role in the lives of Muslims also due to another key Islamic concept: that every individual will be held accountable for only him/her self in the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, God will question each soul on its actions, and how it spent time on earth. On that day, each person will solely be concerned about the magnitude of his or her deeds.

The importance of self-development cannot be overemphasized in Islam although it may seem like a selfish endeavor on the surface. However, such “selfishness” may actually be considered a virtue rather than a vice. When one is constantly struggling for self-improvement, he or she becomes more willing to help others and disperse the good that he or she has gained to society at large.

As a result, one person’s efforts contribute towards collective development. Such commitment is not possible in the individual who is self-absorbed for the sake of self-gratification. Therefore, “selfishness” for the purpose of self-improvement and the greater good is the first step to selflessness.

Indeed, the essence of all good deeds stems from a pure and tranquil soul.

_________________________

Source: whyislam.org.

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The Social System in Islam: Foundations and Practices

By Abul A`La Mawdudi

The foundations of the social system of Islam rest on the belief that all human beings are equal and constitute one single fraternity.

The Social System in Islam

In Islam, if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Equality of Mankind

God created a human couple to herald the beginning of the life of mankind on earth, and everybody living in the world today originates from this couple. The progeny of this couple were initially a single group with one religion and the same language.

But as their numbers gradually increased, they spread all over the earth and, as a natural result of their diversification and growth, were divided into various tribes and nationalities. They came to speak different languages; their modes of dress varied; and their ways of living also differed widely. Climates and environments affected their color and physical features.

All these differences exist in the world of reality and Islam does not seek to ignore them. But it disapproves of the prejudices which have arisen among mankind because of these differences in race, color, language and nationality.

Islam makes clear to all men that they have come from the same parents and are therefore brothers and equal as human beings.

Islam says that if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, country or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Two children of the same mother, though they may be equal from the point of view of a common ancestry, will have to go their different ways in life if their beliefs and moral conduct differ.

On the contrary, two people, one in the East and the other in the West, even though geographically and outwardly separated by vast distances, will tread the same path in life if they share the same code of moral behaviour.

On the basis of this fundamental tenet, Islam seeks to build a principled and ideological society very different from the racial, nationalistic and parochial societies existing in the world today.

The basis of co-operative effort among men in such a society is not the place of one’s birth but a creed and a moral principle. Anyone, if he believes in God as his Master and Lord and accepts the guidance of the Prophets as the law of his life, can join this community, whether he is a resident of America or Africa, whether he belongs to the Semitic race or the Aryan, whether he is black or fair-skinned, whether he speaks a European language or Arabic.

All those who join this community will have the same rights and social status. They will not be subjects to any racial, national or class distinctions. No one will be regarded as high or low. There will be no untouchability. There will be no special restrictions upon them in making marriages, eating and drinking and social contacts. No one will be looked down upon because of his birth of work. No one will claim any distinctive rights by virtue of his caste, community or ancestry.

Islamic Criterion

Man’s merit will not depend on his family connections or riches, but only on whether he is better than others in moral conduct or excels others in piety and righteousness.

Such social order, transcending as it does geographical boundaries and the barriers of race, color and language, is appropriate for all parts of the world; on its foundations can be raised the universal brotherhood of man.

In societies based on race or nationality only those people can join who belong to a particular race or nation, but in Islam anyone who accepts its creed and moral standards can become a member, possessing equal rights with everyone else.

Those who do not accept this creed, while obviously not being received into the community, are treated with tolerance and humanity and guaranteed all the basic human rights.

It is clear that if two children of the same mother differ in their ideas, their ways of life will be different; but this does not mean that they cease to be brothers.

In the same way, if two nations or two groups of people living in the same country differ in their fundamental beliefs, principles and ideology, their societies will also certainly differ; yet they will continue to share the common ties of humanity.

Hence, the Islamic society offers to non-Muslim societies and group the maximum social and cultural rights that can possibly be accorded.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “The Islamic Way of Life”.

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Islam: Guidance to the Straight Path

Description of the Straight Path

Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us.

Muslims plead to be guided to the straight path at least seventeen times a day while reciting Surat Al-Fatihah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) in the five daily prayers. How many of us have reflected on the nature of this guidance and the path that we are supposed to be upon?

“Guide us” (Ihdina)

In Arabic the word hidayah does not simply mean guidance, but it means to guide gently. The word “gift” (hadiyyah) in Arabic also comes from the same root letters as the word for guidance (hidayah). Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is also something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us in an act of infinite mercy and grace of Allah (Exalted is He).

Notice how it is in the plural- not ‘guide me’ but “guide us”. This instills in us a sense of brotherhood by making this request on behalf of fellow Muslims, especially as we stand in prayer as a group.

Types of Hidayah Mentioned in the Qur’an

There are four types of hidayah mentioned in the Qur’an, according to (Ibn Al-Qayyim).

1- General hidayah that is given to all creation. This type of guidance and knowledge is given by Allah to all created things. By this guidance, animals, plants and even inanimate objects fulfill the purpose for which they were created. This also includes the general intellect, wits and inherent intuitive knowledge given to all responsible beings regardless of their faith. This is referred to in the following verse:

He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”. (Ta-Ha 20:50)

2- Hidayah that is in the form of explanation and education by way of defining the two paths of good and evil. It is when someone guides you by explaining that which is good and warns you from that which is evil according to Islam. This is the type of hidayah referred to in this verse::

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

3- Hidayah that is tawfiq (a specific type of divine guidance) and inspiration (ilham) from Allah to be guided to the truth of iman (faith), Islam (submission), etc. The following verses refer to this type.

…Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. (Al-Muddaththir 74:31)

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun 64:11)

4- Hidayah that is in the next life, by which one shall be guided to Paradise.

And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, (while) flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this”. (Al-A`raf 7:43)

Each one of the above types of hidayah has a sequential connection and relationship. Without the first level of guidance you will not have the capacity to attain the second and without the second you cannot attain the third and fourth levels.

We have absolutely no power to guide anyone using any of the above types of guidance except for the second type of hidayah that is explanation and education.  This type of guidance is what is referred to in the following verses.

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Ar-Ra`d 13:7)

The remaining types of guidance, particularly the third type which is tawfiq from Allah to have iman, are what are referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an, again addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the (rightly) guided. (Al-Qasas 28:56)

In other words even the Prophets cannot guide whom they choose to become believers in the sense of actually putting faith in a person’s heart.  They can only guide in terms of explanation, exhortation, clarification and instruction regarding the truth.

The first lesson here is that we should seek guidance in every matter with Allah first and foremost before turning to others. Secondly, it should humble those of us who are inviting or ‘guiding’ others to Islam to acknowledge and internalize the fact that we have no real power over this matter, and that true guidance is the sole dominion of Allah, the ‘turner of the hearts’.

However, that should not make us despair of the work we do, for which our reward is with Allah. But rather it should increase our confidence in inviting others knowing that the result is not dependent on ‘my da`wah’ or speech, which is full of weakness and defects, but is in the hands of Allah Who can instantly change the hearts of the most wicked and tyrannical into the most pure and righteous.

The Ten Levels of Guidance

A Muslim may question why he or she has to ask for guidance at least seventeen times a day whilst they have already been guided to Islam. Scholars have explained that it is because firstly we ask for constancy (thabat) on guidance and secondly because there are so many levels and aspects of guidance that we are in need of in every detail of our daily life.

The following will help to clarify. For example, there are a further ten levels of guidance that need to be attained for one to be truly guided. (Ibn Al-Qayyim)

Therefore one should bear in mind when asking for guidance that one is asking Allah to:

1- Be granted guidance of knowledge and clarity, in order for one to know and reach the truth.

2- For the capacity to be guided

3- Make one desirous of guidance

4- Make one act upon the guidance

5- Make one remain steadfast on guidance

6- Remove all barriers and obstructions that impede guidance

7- Be granted a distinctive and detailed level of guidance on the path itself and its stations

8- Be granted sight of one’s ultimate goal along the path, to be alerted to it so that one can perceive it on the journey, catching sight of it without being blocked from seeing it.

9- Make one aware of one’s own destitution and desperate need for guidance (from Allah) over and above all other necessities.

10- Make one see the two misguided paths that veer off from the path of guidance; firstly the path of the people of wrath- those who intentionally, out of rebellion, turned away from following the truth; secondly the path of the people of misguidance- those who turned away out of ignorance and misguidance. One then sees the straight path upon which are all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) along with their followers from the truthful (siddiqeen), the martyrs and the righteous.

We are instructed by Allah to ask for guidance to the straight path (as-sirat al-mustaqim). What then is the nature of this path?

Description of the Straight Path

In the language of the Arabs a path (sirat) needs to possess five qualities for it to be called a sirat. The path needs to be:

1- Straight

2- Easy to travel upon

3- A familiar well-trodden path

4- Wide and spacious

5- Leading one to the desired destination

Since the path that we are asking guidance to is Islam itself, notice and reflect on how these qualities apply to Islam. Islam is straight in that it is a correct and firmly established way, pure and protected from any crookedness or deviation from the truth.  Allah describes those who want to block people on the path of Allah:

…Who averted (people) from the way of Allah and sought to make it (seem) deviant while they were, concerning the Hereafter, disbelievers. (Al-A`raf 7:45)

Islam is also easy as Allah has said:

Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you, (Al-Baqarah 2:185))

and as the Prophet said, “The deen (Islam/religion) is easy…” (Al-Bukhari).

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. There will be challenges, temptations and difficulties in living as a Muslim but they are things that we ultimately have the capacity to bear. Everything in Shari`ah (Islamic law) benefits us or wards off harm for us in this world and/or the next.

Islam, which is submission to the commands of Allah, is also a familiar and well-trodden path, the path of all the Prophets and their followers. As Allah says:

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (An-Nisaa’ 4:69)

The final, universal revelation of Islam is wide and spacious and accommodates all, regardless of color, race or social status. It is us with our parochial attitudes that restrict the vastness of this path to our favorite ‘saved’ group, way of thinking, sheikh or a specific allegiance that excludes others that Islam hasn’t excluded.

Ibn Majah records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have left you on a (wide, spacious) clear (white) path, its night is like its day, whoever deviates from this after me will be destroyed….”

Indeed, the path of Islam leads to the desired destination, which is Allah’s Pleasure gained by obeying Him. Allah says:

So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. (An-Nisaa’ 4:175)

You will also notice that the word as-sirat (path) in the surah (chapter) has the definite article “Al”. The definite article is close to the meaning of ‘the’ which renders it ‘the straight path’ in English and has several possible meanings in Arabic. Here it is said that it denotes something definite which is in the mind as well as in reality.

For example, when students waiting for their teacher to arrive say ‘the teacher is late.’ The teacher they are referring to is known amongst them and in their minds they know exactly who they are referring to. In that sense, grammatically, ‘the teacher’ is a definite noun phrase and not an indefinite one. They would not say a teacher is late in this case.

Similarly, in this case, it is a specific and definite known path that we are seeking guidance to. It is the path that Allah has ordained for the people that He has favored, the path that leads to His Pleasure and His Paradise, which is in fact His deen (religion) – besides which nothing is acceptable to Him.

It is said that it is also the path that we intuitively know in the deepest core of our hearts that must exist because as human beings we were affirmed, when we were created, that Allah is our Rabb (Lord).

All praise is to Allah Who has gently guided us to the straight path, described to us with crystal clarity its features and guided us to pray for it every day of our lives.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com

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Major Sins New Muslims

Polytheism: Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism or ascribing partners to Allah (the Exalted) nullifies faith in the Oneness of Allah and since the most important and greatest obligation in Islam is to have faith in the Oneness of Allah and to single Him out for worship alone, then clearly the worst sin possible is to ascribe partners to Him.

Polytheism.. Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience.

It is the only sin that Allah, the Most Merciful, never forgives, as stated in the Qur’an:

Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom He pleases sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

Worst Sin

And when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked which sin is the worst in the sight of Allah, he replied:

“To ascribe partners to Allah while He created you.”

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience, thus an act of obedience is not accepted and the slave is not rewarded when accompanied by the occurrence of polytheism, as Allah has stated in the Qur’an:

If they had joined In Worship others with Allah, All that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. (Al-An`am 6:88)

Polytheism requires that its perpetrator be doomed to Hell forever if he dies as a polytheist, as Allah the Most High has stated in the Qur’an:

Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

Categories of Polytheism

Polytheism is divided into two categories:

First: Major Polytheism which is in opposition to the very foundation of faith in the Oneness of Allah and expels a person from the religion of Islam.

Second: Minor Polytheism which is in opposition to having complete faith in the Oneness of Allah, however it does not expel a person from the religion of Islam.

First Category: Major Polytheism

It is to divert any form of worship to anyone beside Allah such as calling upon someone other than Allah- for something that only Allah is able to do- entrusting one’s affairs to someone other than Him, or prostrating to anything as a form of worship. Allah has said in the Qur’an:

And invoke not besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the wrong-doers. (Yunus 10:106)

“Wrong-doers” here means ‘polytheists’. And Allah said:

And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed. (Al-Ma’idah 5:23)

And Allah said:

So fall you down in prostration to Allah, and Worship Him (Alone). (An-Najm 53:62)

Since calling upon, entrusting one’s affairs, and prostrating are acts of worship that Allah has commanded, whoever diverts them to Allah is someone who has faith in the Oneness of Allah, and whoever diverts them to anything besides Allah is a polytheist.

Moreover assigning partners to Allah by obeying them in what they make permissible and prohibited falls under this category of polytheism, as Allah informs us in the Qur’an:

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah and (They also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but one God (none has the Right to be worshiped but He) Praise and Glory be to him, (Far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (At-Tawbah 9:31)

This verse was revealed in regards to the Jews and Christians who obey their rabbis and priests regarding their making permissible what Allah forbids and their prohibiting what Allah permits. On the authority of `Adi ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him):

I came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) wearing a golden cross around my neck. He said:

“`Adi! Throw away this idol,” and I heard him recite the verse:

“They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah” (At-Tawbah 9:31)

He said: “Verily they were not worshiping them, however when their monks and rabbis made something lawful for them, they deemed it permissible; and when their monks and rabbis made something unlawful, they deemed it as forbidden.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Second Category: Minor Polytheism

It is anything that leads to the major polytheism and it is divided into two parts:

1- Apparent Polytheism

Apparent Polytheism can be committed with words or actions. It is committed with words by doing things like swearing oaths by other than Allah, such as swearing by the Prophet Mohammed or Jesus (peace be upon them), and by saying ‘Things will happen according to whatever Allah and you will’. For indeed the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

“Whoever swears by other than Allah then he has fallen into disbelief or polytheism.” (At-Tirmidhi)

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to the one who said: “Whatever Allah wills and you will”:

“Have you made me equal to Allah? Rather say, what Allah wills alone.” (Ahmad)

Apparent polytheism is committed through actions such as wearing amulets and threads used as charms to ward off misfortune, and believing that they are a reason nfor that happening.

2- Hidden Polytheism

It is the polytheism that is related to intentions and wishes such as doing something to show off and for the sake of reputation, such that the act is not done for the sake of Allah the Exalted, rather it is done seeking praise or compliments from people. For example, a person might pray or fast so that people will say how upright or excellent his religious commitment is. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“The thing that I fear most for you is Minor Polytheism.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is Minor Polytheism?” He said: “Showing off. Allah will say to them on the Day of Judgment when people are being rewarded for their deeds: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off in the worldly life, and see if you find a reward with them.” (Ahmad)

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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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