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The One from whom the Angels Express Hayaa (Modesty): (Part 2 of Retreat Lectures)

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

“The One from whom the Angels Express Hayah (Modesty)” By Shaykh Mohammad Farhan (I think)

This lecture is about Uthman ibn Affan (ra), a close companion of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. Uthman ibn Affan (ra) was six years younger than the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. He was born into the very wealthy and noble family of the Quraish tribe. His father was a wealthy businessman but he passed away young. Uthman’s (ra) life from the beginning was in keeping with the deen, he didn’t worship idols nor did he drink alcohol. It was said that Uthman (ra), at one point, was running Makkah because of his wealth.

When the Prophetﷺ first received the words of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎, Uthman (ra) was away on business, when he returned he heard that Abu Bakr (ra) was following a man named Mohammad صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم . Uthman (ra) asked Abu Bakr (ra) about the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and went to meet him, as soon as Uthman (ra) saw the Prophet’s face, he could tell that this man is not a liar, and as soon as the Prophet began to tell him about the basics of Islam, that there is one God, that we have to give charity, tell the truth etc. Uthman (ra) found these words so attractive that he immediately accepted Islam.

Uthman (ra) was an early convert and faced all the tribulations and hardships of the time, he went through all the migrations and fought in the wars. He is one of the ten ashra’mubashireen (the ten companions that were given the glad tidings of Jannah-heaven).

Uthman (ra) had great modesty and beautiful character, on one occasion the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم had a dream in which he was doing Umrah (six years after the migration to Medina). So he gathered the believers and prepared for Umrah. When the people of Mecca saw the Prophet approaching they thought he was there for war. Everyone decided to send Uthman (ra) to negotiate with the Meccans and allow them to preform Umrah. However, false rumors began to spread that Uthman (ra) had been murdered. The Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم response was truly beautiful, he put his hands together and said one of them was Uthman (ra). He gathered everyone and vowed to bring justice to Uthman’s (ra) killer. This was the Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم love for him.

When Uthman’s (ra) wife left him because he accepted Islam, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم married him to his own daughter, Ruqiayyah. However, Ruqaiyyah also passed away and soon the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم married Uthman to another daughter.

The reason this lecture was called “The one from whom the angels express hayah” is because on one occasion, Aisha (ra) noticed that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was sitting casually when Abu Bakr and Umar bin Khattab (ra) came in, and he did not really adjust his seating. But when Uthman (ra) came in, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم fixed his shirt and pulled his legs in. When Aisha (ra) asked the Prophet about this, he said “If the angels express hayaa in front of Uthman, then why shouldn’t I?”

My Thoughts: I don’t understand what kind of hayaa must have been in the heart of Hazrat Uthman (ra) that the angels felt modesty towards him, subhan’Allah. The Shaykh also included the famous quote about hayaa: “If you want to commit a sin, do it in a place where Allah and His angels aren’t watching,” because hayaa in front of your Lord means having the sense to stop yourself from sin because you know He’s always watching.


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Our Mother of Modesty (Part 1 of Retreat Lectures)

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently attended the Spring Youth Retreat in Hamza Masjid, New York. This retreat had about six lectures from different scholars on the issues of hayaa (modesty). This is such an important topic, and masha’Allah the scholars did a wonderful job covering it. These are the notes I took, I’ll put them up in parts. They’re not exactly comprehensive. You can listen to the lectures here.

“Our Mother of Modesty” By Shaykh Abdur Rahman Ahmad

This lecture covered the traits of the wife of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, Aisha (ra). She possessed a great deal of hayaa, a perfect role model.  She was the daughter of Abu Bakr (ra), the closest man to the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, she was born into a family of Muslims. When Aisha (ra) was six, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم had a dream in which Jibraeel (as) appeared three nights in a row and showed the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم Aisha (ra) and told him she was going to be his wife. After the Battle of Badr, she was of a suitable age to live with the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. Her waleema (wedding reception) was an event of simplicity and modesty. It was in her house that the wahi (revelation) used to come to the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم

Hayaa is actually something that prevents you from doing anything unlawful, anything evil whether in private or in public. There is a voice inside the heart that gives you a little hint, a little whisper that prevents you from doing the sin.

Aisha (ra) had so much knowledge that the sahabah (companions of the Prophet ﷺ) used to come and study from her. Her knowledge included:

  • Understanding of the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet)
  • Skilled language, she could memorize and recite poetry easily
  • Medical knowledge (When the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was nearing his death, many people used to prescribe him medicine and herbs and Aisha (ra) would learn a great deal from that)

Aisha (ra) was only 18 when the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم passed away yet she transferred many hadiths, and was considered the greatest scholar.

My Thoughts: Subhan’Allah if we could be an inch of what Aisha (ra) was, then we’re set! It’s so crazy how people think Islam doesn’t respect women, if they could only look at the status of women in the Prophet’s time then they would have no question. These women are great role models for women and men.

Three Levels of Sabr

May 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Listen Here: “Three Levels of Sabr”  by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

The goal of the believer is to attain mayi’ah with Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ (Mayi’ah is to be completely attached to Allah, to attain a closeness to Allah wherein you are completely conscious of Him). The believers who wish to attain mayi’ah direct their efforts, their time, their relationships all in accordance with the will of Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎.

One of the ways a person can attain a state of mayiah is through sabr (patience). Sabr is a very specific act, and can be defined in three ways:

  •  Although sabr has deeper levels, the basic principle of sabr is of sabr fil’musibah (having sabr in the face of difficulty). This is the type of sabr most people understand. This is when you show patience in the event of some difficulty. We all undergo difficulties, but the distinguishing factor is how we deal with them. Some people will get upset and continuously complain, but the believers will see difficulty as an opportunity to worship Allah swt, they will exhibit a calmness and say alhamdulilah (all praise is to Allah) for the chance to come closer to Him. They’ll say innallahi wa ina’ilahi rajioun (from Allah we came and unto Him is our return). Whatever we lost in the difficulty, it came from Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ anyway so it ultimately doesn’t matter because we all have to go back to Him.
  • Another level of sabr is sabr an’nil masiah (having the sabr to restrain from sin). When the believer is faced with the opportunity to do sin, he will immediately turn away from it. This will require a certain sabr, a certain restraint, because the chance to do sin is all around us. It’s easy to log onto the computer and engage in a variety of sin, it’s easy to sit with two people and talk about a third.
  • The third level of sabr is sabr a’la taha (sabr in the acts of worship). There are inevitably times when a person feels excited to do a certain act of worship. If you’re in the masjid and everyone is praying maghrib, it’s easy to be excited for the one short period of time, but you have to pray maghrib 365 days of the year. To develop a consistency in our routine, to patiently do our good deeds and worship without fail requires a deep sabr.

These are the three types of sabr the saalik (the seeker) must work to establish. Everyone is in different circumstances, some people don’t have the strength to pray abundantly, but they are able to be free from sin. Other people are able to face problems with great patience but don’t engage is extra worship. At the least, however, we should all abstain from committing sin. This is the least part of our sabr, and without sabr it will be very difficult to attain mayi’ah.

The ultimate concept of sabr is actually having sabr over this life for the next. The true sabr is foregoing the bounties of this life for the bounties of the next life. The story of this deen is not that we’ll never be able to fulfill our desires; it’s just a matter of where we’ll fulfill them, in this short life or in the eternal hereafter?

My thoughts: I don’t think I ever thought about sabr in the context of worship. Its definitely true though, in order to establish a routine of worship (for example: 30 minutes of Quran daily, the nafl of salaah, etc). one has to be incredibly patient, these habits don’t just develop overnight they take conscious dedication. And sometimes days come where you don’t follow your plan, get dismayed, and this is where the sabr comes in.

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Picking the Positive

May 12, 2011 2 comments

Listen Here: “Picking the Positive” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم  had a manner of treating people so that everyone around him felt like they were the most special person. Many companions thought they were as good as Hazrat Abu Bakr or Hazrat Umar (ra) because of the special treatment the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم gave them. In all of his actions, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم exuded a positivity that transformed those around him.

Shaykh Husain relates a story of his teacher, Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad. He tells us that he observed a student come to Shaykh Zulfiqar and say that he is a student of knowledge and then list twenty deficiencies within himself ( i.e. I don’t study, I don’t pray on time, I barely read Quran etc.). Shaykh Zulfiqar patiently listens and makes sure the student has said everything he wanted to say. He then says, “When the general gets sick the whole army gets very concerned, but when a soldier gets sick it’s not such a big deal.” This means, by becoming a student of the deen, you are training yourself to be a general. Since you will be a leader in the community, Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ will make your cure very rapid and make sure that you’re cured because other people are dependent on you. Shaykh Zulfiqar basically just took the one positive (being a student of knowledge) amidst all the negativity and focused in on it. The student went on to finish his studies and become a scholar.

The positive is what the deen emphasizes. On the Day of Judgment, Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ will find an iota of good in a person and then use it as an excuse to forgive him. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ has made it so that one prayer washes away the sins from the previous prayer, one month of Ramadan washes away sins from the whole year, and subhan’Allah Hajj wipes away everything. This is Allah picking the positive; He is taking our one miniscule good deed and highlighting it.

Just look at the famous hadith of the woman who took water out of a well and fed it to a dog. She was a prostitute, and just based on this one good deed Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ rewarded her and forgave her. Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ is basically using a scanner to scan through our lives and find one positive thing to use as an excuse to forgive us.

It is our deepest desire that Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ deal with us positively, we want, we need, Allah to overlook all the incomprehensible sins we commit. We don’t want Him to focus on our sins, we want to Him to pick out some positive deed, albeit minimal, albeit very limited, albeit very difficult to find, and use it as an excuse to enter us in to Jannah. Even if we spent our entire lives in prayer, it still wouldn’t be a fair exchange for an eternity in Jannah. And we want to enter Jannah with our minimal deeds! It is only through the mercy of Allah and Him just overlooking our negatives that we enter Jannah.

If you recognize the need for Allah to deal with you positively on that day, then you have to recognize that the mechanism in which you attract that positivity is to deal with others positively. If you can’t do that, then you’re gone. Look at the example of Abu Lahab, he must have had some good in him, he gave water to pilgrims, he gave charity, but when it came to be being positive with Prophetﷺ he was so negative, so negative, that it sealed his fate.

Anytime you deal with anyone, always pick the positive out of the situation. What is the secret to marriage? It is to accept the deficiency of a human being and to find something positive within him or her. When you put two imperfect people together, their imperfections get compounded; they are mirrors to each other. If you overlook mistakes, find the positive, and learn to expound and magnify it, then the rest will just dissipate. The same applies to every relationship, a little bit of positive reinforcement goes a very long way.

The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was a master of positivity because he was a reflection of the deen, and the deen is a master of this. Even though he underwent such difficulties, war, poverty, etc, they were still happy. If we want happiness in our lives, in our homes, in our community, we have to be positive. We are dependent on being positive because we want Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ to be positive with us and we want happiness in our lives and all that depends on our attitude.

My thoughts: I don’t know how many Muslims realize that being a positive person in general is the sunnah. Being encouraging, happy, making people feel special are all essences of the Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم character. Subhan’Allah when you think of the Prophet’s character, your heart just melts! How could one man do everything so beautifully?  Of course thinking about his character makes you reflect on the perfection of this deen and ultimately Allah سبحانه و تعالى. We definitely want Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى merciful treatment on that day. And what a beautiful scheme He created, that if we’re kind, He’ll be kind, if we’re merciful, He’ll be merciful, if we forgive, He’ll forgive.

P.S. If you type in “I don’t pray on time” in Microsoft Word, it wants to change pray into pay. As if prayer couldn’t have a specific time!  If only you knew, poor Word.

Turning Towards Allah

May 6, 2011 2 comments

Listen Here:  “Turning Towards Allah” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

People have various directions in which they turn; they may turn towards amassing wealth, getting a house, going on vacation, worrying about what people think etc. But for the Muslim, our direction is very clear, we turn ourselves towards the aakhirah, towards Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎. Humans are physically made so that they can only face one direction at a time (if they face the north they will be turning their backs to the south). The same applies for the human soul; you cannot face your heart towards two different directions. The goal of the Muslim has to be to focus on Allah and Allah alone.

It wasn’t that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم gave the sahabah the shariah, he actually gave them Allah, and the shariah was a derivative of that. A person who loves Allah will want to do the things Allah desires and he will want to avoid the things Allah dislikes. So whatever the Prophetﷺ told the companions to do, they did it because actually they were turned towards Allah. So when a verse came down that they can no longer consume alcohol- the streets were flowing with alcohol, a verse came down that there needs to be hijab- so there was hijab, verse comes down that riba is prohibited, they canceled all their contracts. They just did it because they were so in love with Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎.

The deen requires you to give one-hundred percent. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a life, what it actually means is that once you turn towards Allah, all of your life will fit under the umbrella of the deen. Things like earning an income, meeting with family and friends, getting a degree, will all become part of the same world. You’ll be practicing the same deen everywhere with the intention of pleasing Allah (it doesn’t work if you plan to be very pious in the masjid and do whatever you want in personal interactions, or you behave righteously with family but earn a haraam income).

Allah swt even says in the Quran, “Verily your efforts are too dispersed.” You should actually be focused on only one path. The person who focuses on Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ will certainly achieve their goal, every moment every breath has to be for Allah. The people of the deen set their happiness and sadness according to Allah. You have to make your intentions clear, you brush your teeth not because it’s a habit, you do it because it’s the sunnah, you go to work to earn a halal income, etc. The purpose of all your actions is Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎.

My thoughts:  Subhan’Allah I never actually thought about how we can physically only turn towards one way. If you imagine your spiritual self only turned towards the path to Allah the same way you would imagine your body turned towards one direction, then the whole thing becomes very clear in your mind. After hearing this lecture, I’ll always ascertain my spirituality by imagining myself turned one way, and then seeing if everything in my life is also turned that way. I think this is especially true for the things we want, are our wants turned towards Allah? Are they things that will help us become closer to Allah? We always have the intention of going to Jannah and being a solid Muslim, but how many of us are actively creating that mindset with every single thing we do? Subhan’Allah these are the types of questions Shaykh Husain’s lectures force us to consider.

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Standing in Shukr

May 1, 2011 1 comment

Listen Here: “Standing in Shukr” by Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar

What are the ways in which people’s feet get swollen? They stood in line for a product, they worked long hours etc. But subhan’Allah in the case of the Prophetﷺ , his feet would get swollen from standing in prayer. On one occasion, the sahabah saw the Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم constantly swollen feet and asked him, aren’t all your sins already forgiven? The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلمreplied that “If it’s that Allah is so merciful to me that were a mistake to arise it would be forgiven, then shouldn’t I be thankful?”

One of the signs that a person is progressing towards Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ is that he learns to be thankful for what he has instead of complaining about what he doesn’t. Shaytaan wants us to focus on the 2-3 things we don’t have and make them a big issue (And isn’t it always 2-3 things? It’s always house, car, relationship etc). Every single person is blessed with countless things, “Were you to count the blessings of Allah, you would not be able to do it.”

Even when we wash our hands in wudhu, it takes away our sins, how many of us have thanked Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎for this daily opportunity? How many of us have thanked Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎for getting to do Hajj? The husband and wife will argue all night and not once be able to say they stayed up all night to do shukr. The true slave of Allah  سبحانه و تعالى‎is in so much awe of the first blessing that they cannot move onto the other, we have one eye, then another eye?!

It is with this underlying understanding that a person can stand in shukr throughout the night.  Depth of worship is attained through shukr.  A Muslim is someone who actively perceives the blessings around him. The blessings all around us are only visible to the person who is able to perceive, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم withstood so many hardships throughout his life but not once did he complain about them.  May Allah سبحانه و تعالى give us the taufiq to truly stand in shukr.

My thoughts: Subhan’Allah this is such an important lesson, the basis of our being should be shukr, it should so permeate our thinking that not once would someone be able to catch us in a complaint. It gets easy to complain when the culture is built around it and everyone has something negative to say all the time, sometimes they don’t even mean but it and it’s just a force of habit. Alhamdulilah, seriously alhamdulilah that we live in modern society, most of our needs are easily taken care of. The ingredients for cooking can just be picked up from the store, we can preserve food in the refrigerator, the washing machine cleans our clothes, the car takes us so far in no time, our houses are heated, and the air conditioner, subhan’Allah, the air conditioner! It could take people most of the day to meet their basic needs (and still does in a lot of the world!) but today we barely have to think about them, we’re truly living in the lap of luxury. It’s just up to us to perceive these things.

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