Every action is dependent upon intention. When marrying, both partners should therefore make a firm intention to accomplish the following objectives:
Following the Sunnah of our beloved Nabī Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.
Safeguarding oneself from sins.
Parenting pious children.
When marrying, each becomes the other’s lifetime companion. Each should understand and appreciate that Allāh ta'ālā has brought them both together and that their destiny in life has now become one. Whatever the circumstances: happiness or sorrow; health or sickness; wealth or poverty; comfort or hardship; trial or ease; all events are to be confronted together as a team with mutual affection and respect. No matter how wealthy, affluent, materially prosperous and “better-off” another couple may appear, one’s circumstances are to be happily accepted with qanā'at (contentment upon the Choice of Allāh ta'ālā). The wife should happily accept her husband, his home and income as her lot and should always feel that her husband is her true beloved and best friend and well-wisher in all family decisions. The husband too should accept his wife as his partner-for-life and not cast a glance towards another.
Nowadays, the husband reads about, and is well-informed of his rights and demands them. Similarly, the wife reads of her rights and expects them. However, both should concentrate on being aware of each other’s rights and then strive to fulfil them. This is the prescription for a prosperous marriage and everlasting love.
During the first year of marriage, the couple must try and spend as much time as possible together. This is especially true for the first two months as it provides an opportunity to understand each other’s temperaments and establishes a firm foundation which contributes towards securing a prosperous marriage.
The couple (especially the husband) must make a point to arrive home early after ‘Ishā Salāh and scrupulously avoid the habit of socialising with friends late into the evening. Wherever possible, business, employment and other activities should be concluded beforehand or curtailed in order to set aside time for spending together.
Mutual respect between husband and wife should not be lost. They should each be very particular about following the Dīn right from the initial stages of married life. This will also ensure a religious environment for the children to be nurtured in, contributing greatly towards their successful upbringing.
True and everlasting prosperity is only possible for Muslims when they follow the Sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in all affairs. The couple too, should adhere to the teachings of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in all their matters and abstain from anything which contradicts them. Careful attention should be given to this in their intimate relationship too. Inshā’allāh this will be an assured approach to acquiring the blessing of pious offspring.
In the initial stages of marriage, the love between the couple is a physical bond, wherein emotional changes take place all the time. Despite great passion and physical love for each other, affection between the couple is not yet well established or on a rational basis. Such rational love comes after many years together. It is therefore extremely important for the husband not to succumb to emotional weaknesses at the onset and let the marriage waver towards an irreligious direction. Both the husband and wife should make a pledge to each other to steadfastly follow the Dīn, especially in the performance of salāh and in avoiding all sins.
Marriage is like the weather, forever changing. Sometimes it is cloudy and rainy, life appears gloomy, then the sun appears and rays of happiness break through bringing joy. At times, one experiences rain, wind and sunshine all in one day. Such is life, and like the seasons, we go through different experiences. The secret is to remain devoted and steadfast to one’s Dīn and spouse.
The husband should be sympathetic to the fact that his wife has left her parents, brothers and sisters to start a new life with him. Her sacrifice and her feelings should be respected and joy should be felt by both partners at the expansion of their families. Just as the wife should treat her husband’s parents as her own, he should also extend affection, courtesy and respect to his new in-laws.
As soon as one experiences a problem, no matter how trivial, which remains unresolved for more than three days, consult a person who is both knowledgeable and your sincere well-wisher.
We give a lot of importance to our physical appearance, the way we look and how others see us. It is no surprise then that we spend so long deciding on what to wear and so much time in front of the mirror! We strive to leave an impression on others, and to feel good about ourselves. When choosing clothes to buy we look for the right label, colour, and style. We reserve different clothing for different occasions, and spend lots of time and money shopping for such occasions.
Apart from clothing, the body is also given utmost attention. The more we are concerned with physical appearance, the more we feel the need to keep in shape. We carefully select the food we eat, looking at the fat and calorie content, and we study the various food types for the benefits and harms they bring. Trying out the many skin care and cosmetic products is also a must, as are regular visits to the gym. Many of us invest in an annual gym membership to allow for regular training to keep the body in perfect shape.
Fitness and Adornment are Part of Dīn
Good nutrition, exercise, hygiene, and maintaining a pleasant presentable appearance, within moderation, are all aspects of Islām. The body is an amānah (trust) from Allāh ta'ālā, and we must take care of it. In a hadīth in which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam was once discouraging the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum from pride, one of those present enquired if adorning oneself with good clothing was also pride. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied, "Allāh is beautiful and loves beauty." (Muslim) The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam also encouraged us to keep fit and strong, so that we may better fulfil the requirements of Dīn: "A strong believer is better than a weak believer." (Muslim) Regarding moderation in eating habits, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, "No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for a person are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath." (At-Tirmidhī)
More than Meets the Eye
However, there is an area of adornment and health which is often neglected. It is an area that requires great attention, as it relates to our eternal life.
Allāh ta'ālā refers to it, along with physical adornment, in the Glorious Qur'ān,
"O children of Ādam, We have sent down to you the dress that covers your shame and provides adornment. As for the dress of taqwā (piety), that is the best…" (7:26)
'The Dress of Taqwā' alludes to adornment of the inner self and spiritual health. Clothing of the outer self, as important as it is, is only a question of ensuring the body is covered properly. The quality of clothes and how fashionable they are only have relevance in this temporal world. Whether the body is toned, the skin in good condition or beauty is present are only the concerns of a few days. With the expiry of life, so will expire all such external factors. The body will be lowered into the grave, wrapped in the plainest of cloth, and its physical beauty will disappear. All that will remain will be the inner qualities - the inner beauty one had attained and developed whilst in this world.
In the Hereafter, beauty will not be measured by how a person looked in this world or the impression people had of him. Fame and reputation last only till the grave. Success or failure in the Hereafter will be determined solely on the inner beauty one possessed. The fadā'il, the praiseworthy spiritual qualities, are what will dress the eternal body of the Hereafter.
Allāh ta'ālā says:
"Verily he who purified the heart is successful." (91:9)
"Whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the (evil) desire, Paradise will be the abode." (79:40-41)
What will have weight in the Hereafter is the good a person did and the evil he refrained from, a reflection of his spiritual condition. Allāh ta'ālā mentions how those who took care of their spiritual health will be addressed at the time of death:
"O content soul, come back to your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing. So enter among my [special] servants, and enter my paradise." (89:27-30)
Those servants of Allāh ta'ālā who possess a healthy soul through regular spiritual training under the guidance of a spiritual expert, combined with commitment, dedication and hard work, build their stamina and learn their sense of direction which keeps them on the straight path towards Jannah. They never give up, and so when they finally complete their circuit training in the world, having vaulted the hurdles placed by Shaytān, they come out victorious. Such is their victory that Allāh ta'ālā sends angels to escort them to the Hereafter, who say:
"Do not fear, and do not grieve; and be happy with the good news of the Jannah that you had been promised. We have been your friends in the worldly life, and [will remain as such] in the Hereafter. And for you here is whatever your soul desires, and for you here is whatever you call for." (41:30-31)
Such souls will be so fit and healthy that they will be able to cross the bridge of Sirāt at the speed of lightning. The life for them in Jannah will contain every beauty, adornment and luxury.
So given the importance of the inner self, we need to do some honest soul searching and see where the balance is in our lives: do we give more care and consideration to the finite external self or the eternal and infinite inner self? The way we have a membership at our local gym or club, and take great care in what we eat, have we considered a membership with the Mashāyikh and 'Ulamā who can assist us to attain fitness for our souls through ta'līm and tazkiyah? Are we even aware of the necessary elements of a good, balanced spiritual diet, like regular remembrance of Allāh ta'ālā and doing good deeds and refraining from sin, which will help us maintain our spiritual health? We need to connect more closely to our inner selves. We need to study, understand, and develop our inner condition under the guidance of an authentic, reliable and qualified shaykh (spiritual mentor). Only then will we realise what we really are inside and that beauty really is only skin deep. The heart is where real beauty, real adornment and our real self are to be found.
The clouds covered the horizon, as Mr Smith looked out of the window. Grey, everything was grey. The sky, the playground outside, even the classroom he taught in. Mr Smith looked at the clock ticking away on the wall above the white board, 'Five minutes to go before the lesson starts,' he thought. 'Five minutes before history with year eleven!' He had set them a novel assignment; to make their own dream team of eleven of the world's greatest people. Now Mr Smith waited to see their response.
The bell rang and 'Abdullāh was the first to come in. Dressed in his long white robe and black beard, 'Abdullāh was a rarity in a school dominated by the latest designer trends. It always amazed Mr Smith how kids from some of the most deprived backgrounds could afford clothes from the most expensive boutiques in town. 'Abdullāh had intrigued Mr Smith since the first time he had met him. 'Abdullāh's father, Dr Saleem was a consultant at the local hospital, yet he adopted the same dress code as 'Abdullāh. Mrs Saleem was the headmistress of the local Islamic school. What was the long clothing and veil she wore called again...? Ah yes, the hijāb. Mr Smith clearly remembered the last parent's meeting he had with Dr Saleem, when he had said, 'Abdullāh is the most intelligent pupil in the school, I'm sure he's Oxbridge material.' Dr Saleem's answer had shocked Mr Smith at first and still puzzled him to this day. 'I appreciate your judgement Mr Smith, but I think 'Abdullāh wants to study Islām. Whether Oxbridge is his first choice, I don't know.'
The sudden rush and noise interrupted Mr Smith's thoughts as the rest of the class came in, five minutes late! 'Abū Bakr, John, 'Umar, Zubayr, 'Abdur Rahmān, Sā'd, Sa'īd, 'Alī, 'Uthmān, Talhah, Abū 'Ubaydah…' Mr Smith, quickly went through the names of the class as they took their seats. It had taken him six months to learn all their names. Having grown up and trained in a rural area, Mr Smith had not heard, never mind pronounced, the names of some of his class. John, was the only name Mr Smith had picked up straight away.
'Right lads, how many of you have completed the homework from last week?' A flurry of activity took place, as the students took out their books from their bags. 'What I'm going to ask you to do is give the rest of the class a brief summary of your dream team and name the person who you think is the best from your selected group of people. Think of it as selecting a captain, perhaps. Who wants to go first?'
'Umar put his hand up. 'I will sir,' he said. Mr Smith looked at 'Umar as he stood up and came to the front of the class. 'Umar was a large lad for his age. A champion kick boxer and sportsman, 'Umar commanded respect from all. As 'Umar began to speak the rest of the class shuffled a little to listen to what he had to say. Mr Smith sat down at his desk.
'I chose boxing as my criteria for my top eleven. The reason for this is that I think professional boxers have considerable skill which should be admired. They are also adored by a lot of people and in their own way, they are also quite beautiful.'
Sniggers bounded around the classroom at this last comment but 'Umar went on unperturbed. 'My number one boxer is Muhammad 'Ali because... well, to put it simply, he is the best.' Cheers and cries of ''Ali, 'Ali,' erupted in the classroom. Mr Smith stood up from his chair, 'Alright, alright, quieten down! Well done, 'Umar, you made a very good effort. Now...' Mr Smith was cut off midway through his sentence by a noise at the back of the class.
The gold chain was noticeable before the neck that wore it could be seen. Mr Smith was quite used to the sequence now. The class would have started and he would be disturbed midway through the lesson by a shadowy figure entering the class, not through the door but via one of the windows at the back. Mr Smith stood up a little straighter. 'Nice of you to join us, Muhammad. Have you done your homework?'
'Yes, I have,' was the reply. The gold toothed smile that followed the answer was mischievous. 'Would you like to share it with the rest of us then?' Mr Smith braced himself for the reply. 'You know what sir, I made a team but because it was a dream team, I made it in my sleep. I've forgotten the team now.' The class burst into laughter, only 'Abdullāh, who sat next to Muhammad, looked sadly at the floor. 'Alright, alright very funny,' said Mr Smith. Who would like to volunteer next?'
Over the next half an hour, Mr Smith's classroom was graced by some of the world's greatest figures; Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Pelé, Bill Gates, Sigmund Freud, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X... Mr Smith was genuinely pleased with the class' efforts. 'Abdullāh was the last to come to the front. Knowing the intelligence of his star student, Mr Smith keenly waited to hear about the team 'Abdullāh had compiled.
'Before I begin to talk about the team that I put together, I would just like to tell you why I chose the team I did. Is that OK Mr Smith?' Mr Smith nodded, prompting 'Abdullāh to continue. 'Whenever we see someone as great, we generally base our judgement on one of three factors. These three factors are beauty, achievement and the benefit such individuals have provided to society. I am sure all of us considered one or more of these factors when choosing our teams.' The class nodded in response, even Muhammad looked interested.
'So I began thinking about my team, based on these things but I very quickly encountered a problem. As I thought over each of these three things in detail, I began to find that it was hard to think of people who were the best in each one of these categories. For example, someone can be so physically beautiful that we can be lead to loose our senses and some of our lists reflected this...' The class burst into laughter again, as they recalled in their mind's eye, 'Alī's enthusiastic presentation about famous actresses a few minutes earlier. Even Mr Smith could not stifle a smile. 'But beauty in reality, consists of both the external appearance combined with the internal beauty of manners and good character. Likewise, I found problems with achievement and benefit to others; either someone had only achieved something in one specific field or had achieved something that was only applicable or recognised in a specific period. As I continued to think about how to solve this problem, I thought, 'Why don't I think of the people I know and think about what I like about them so much? Maybe that might help me.' And the first person I thought of was you Mr Smith.'
'Abdullāh suddenly turned around to face Mr Smith. Mr Smith stood up from his desk, slightly embarrassed. 'I hope you don't mind me saying this sir, but your first name is David isn't it?' Mr Smith nodded in reply. 'Abdullāh turned back to face the class, who were clearly intrigued to know what 'Abdullāh would say next.
'As most of us probably know, David in Arabic is Dāwūd, and this is the name of one of the greatest and wisest Prophets of God, or as Muslims we say, Allāh. That's probably why Mr Smith is so clever, because he shares a name with such a wise Prophet.' Abdullāh looked at Mr Smith and smiled. The rest of the class laughed and cheered loudly. Mr Smith turned a brighter shade of pink.
'So thinking about names and how they affect and shape our lives made me think of the rest of my class, and I began to think of you guys. I thought of how John's name in Arabic is Yahyā, the name of another great Prophet of Allāh. Then as I went through the names of the rest of the class, I thought, wow, my class is named after a unique set of people. A set of people so unique that their legacy continues to this day, a set of people so famous that the libraries of the world are filled with books describing their achievements, and a set of people so great that people have been named after them for over 1400 years.'
The class was completely silent, their gazes fixed intently on 'Abdullāh. At the back of the class Muhammad sat straight in his chair. 'Who could 'Abdullāh be talking about?' thought Mr Smith.
'Can I carry on Mr Smith?' asked 'Abdullāh. 'Yes, 'Abdullāh, by all means, please carry on,' replied Mr Smith. 'The group of people I am talking about are called the Companions. The Companions were the first generation of Muslims and I am sure many of you have heard of them. Every single one of them was unique and special in their own way and amongst them we find role models for all of us, whether male or female, young or old.' 'Abdullāh continued, 'But among this special group of people, were a group of people who were so special, so unique that they earned the greatest prize of all, a prize so great, so unique that it is even beyond our wildest dreams. Does anybody know who this group of people are?'
No one uttered a word, even Mr Smith was speechless. 'Go on Abdullāh, tell us...,' the serious and interested voice belonged to Muhammad. Mr Smith was amazed, he had never heard Muhammad sound so interested in his history class before. 'Can I write on the board please Mr Smith? Is that okay?' asked 'Abdullāh. 'The pens are on the side 'Abdullāh, go ahead,' replied Mr Smith. 'Abdullāh picked up the black marker and began to write on the white board, talking as he wrote.
'The group of ten superstars I am talking about are called the 'Asharah Mubash-sharah', or the ten Companions who achieved the promise of the greatest prize attainable; they attained the promise of entry into Paradise, or as it is called in Arabic, Jannah, in this very world.' A gasp went around the class as 'Abdullāh turned back to face the class. Mr Smith looked closely at the board and noticed that 'Abdullāh had written ten names on the board. Ten names of ten students in Mr Smith's class!!
'The first of these great people was the Companion Abū Bakr, the first leader of the Muslims, the best friend of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the bearer of the title: the most truthful. Next on my list is the second leader of Islām, the great warrior, commander and defender of Islām, 'Umar Ibn Khattāb.' Mr Smith stole a glance at the 'Umar that was sitting in his class. 'Umar's chest was filled with pride and his face was a beaming smile.
'Then we have the third leader of Islām, the great businessman 'Uthmān Ibn 'Affān.' 'No wonder Uthmān's so good at business studies,' thought Mr Smith. 'Fourth is the great scholar and courageous Companion, the cousin of the Prophet, peace be upon him, 'Alī Ibn Abī Tālib. 'Wow!' shouted out 'Alī, 'I didn't know I was named after the Prophet's cousin. Nuff respec to dat.'
'And then we have the great companions Talhah Ibn 'Ubaydullāh, Zubayr, 'Abdur Rahmān Ibn 'Awf, Sā'd Ibn Abī Waqqās, Sa'īd Ibn Zayd, and Abū 'Ubaydah Ibn Jarrāh.' 'Abdullāh looked at the rest of the boys in the class as he mentioned their names and told them a little about the great achievements of the people whose names the boys shared. Mr Smith had never seen his students so intrigued or so interested. Even little Sā'd, usually sleepy and rather quiet, was a bundle of activity.
'Is it OK for me to carry on, Mr Smith? I'm nearly finished,' asked 'Abdullāh. 'Yes carry on 'Abdullāh; we've still got a few minutes left.'
'Abdullāh turned away from Mr Smith and once again faced the class. 'Now that I've told you about my team, I want to tell you about my captain. As you guys probably found out when selecting your teams, selecting a captain is really hard. I spent a lot of time selecting my captain, because I wanted him to be the best there ever was. And while I was doing my research I came across the following piece of writing by the French writer Lamartine. I'll read it to you and you guys tell me if you can guess who it is. Can I read it out Mr Smith?' Mr Smith nodded enthusiastically and told 'Abdullāh to carry on.
'Lamartine writes: The most famous men, and women for that matter too, created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, people and dynasties, but millions of men in one third of the then inhabited world. And more than that he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls. As regards all standards by which human greatness can be measured, we may well ask, “Is there any man greater than he?”'
'Abdullāh stopped reading and slowly looked up at the class. 'Any idea who my captain is?' he casually asked. No answer. The class willed 'Abdullāh on with their eyes. 'Go on 'Abdullāh, tell us!' thought Mr Smith.
'My captain is the one who is known as the praised one, the one who is renowned throughout the world as a symbol of mercy and the one who is the greatest man ever to have walked this earth. My captain is...' 'Abdullāh suddenly paused and looked directly at the back of the class, directly at Muhammad. The class followed 'Abdullāh's gaze. Muhammad surprisingly looked at the floor, avoiding the attention that he usually basked in. 'Has Muhammad got tears in his eyes?' thought Mr Smith. 'Amazing!' 'Abdullāh continued his unflinching gaze at Muhammad. 'And the name of my captain? The name of my captain is Muhammad, peace be upon him, the last and greatest Prophet of Allāh.'
The sudden ringing of the bell disrupted the spell 'Abdullāh's speech had cast on the class. Chairs were scraped and books hurriedly shoved into bags, as the usual commotion ensued. As he gave the class instructions for next week's homework, Mr Smith noticed that most of the boys had formed a huddle around 'Abdullāh. 'Umar's voice could be heard loud and clear, 'Tell me more about Ibn Khattāb later, don't forget!' In a few minutes the class was empty.
'Abdullāh thanked Mr Smith as he left the class. 'Thanks for giving me so much time sir.' 'No Problem,' replied Mr Smith as he asked 'Abdullāh to bring him some more information about the Companions. Last to leave though was Muhammad and surprisingly he left through the door and not the window. As he walked past Mr Smith he suddenly looked up and said, 'Sir, can I speak to you for a second?' 'Wow', thought Mr Smith, 'Muhammad's never called me sir before, never mind asking to speak to me. 'I'm sorry for giving you so much hassle this year Mr Smith. Things will hopefully be different from now on.'
As Muhammad walked out of the door, Mr Smith sat down at his desk. 'Five minutes before history. This time with year seven. I understand why 'Abdullāh wants to study Islām now. With such a great history of heroes, who wouldn't,' he thought. 'I'll read about these people, these Companions when I get home.' The sun streamed down through the windows lighting up the dull classroom as Mr Smith contemplated about his star student. Once again Mr Smith was disturbed as the bell rang.
When struck by an illness, difficulty or calamity, it is natural for us to try our best to relieve ourselves of it. Allāh ta'ālā, being our Creator, is well aware of this, and consequently He has not only permitted, but also encouraged us to adopt means that help us to remove the difficulty we find ourselves in. However, due to our limited understanding and knowledge we do not adopt the correct means, or if we do, then we do not adopt them suitably.
There are two types of means that we can utilise to help us at a time of difficulty: spiritual and worldly. From these, we should always adopt spiritual resources first. Adopting spiritual resources means turning to Allāh ta'ālā. This in itself further comprises two parts: the first is to assess our lives and see where we are faltering in our obedience to Allāh ta'ālā; having realised this, we should strive towards rectification through tawbah and istighfār. The second part is to make du'ā to Allāh ta'ālā and ask Him to fulfil our needs and remove the difficulty.
After this, we should adopt suitable and permissible worldly resources. Those who are ill should take advice from an experienced and qualified doctor and follow his advice. Those involved in a court case should seek help from an experienced lawyer. However, we must ensure that in adopting worldly resources we do not do anything contrary to the Pleasure of the Creator.
After understanding the correct procedure to follow when trying to remove difficulties, let us now look at some common mistakes made in this regard.
Those Muslims who do not follow the Sharī'ah do not adopt spiritual resources at all. Their attention is entirely on worldly resources. We must remember that these means will only prove beneficial if Allāh ta'ālā wills. Therefore, without turning to Allāh ta'ālā there is no guarantee of success.
Those who, to some degree, do follow the injunctions of the Sharī'ah, adopt spiritual resources, but do so according to their own limited understanding. A common mistake is giving too much importance to wazā'if. (Wazā'if refers to the recitation of certain verse(s), name(s) of Allāh ta'ālā etc. a certain number of times to fulfil a particular need.)
Too much attention on wazā'if can lead people to overlook the importance given to du'ā by our Sharī'ah, and as a result, it is not valued as it should be. Du'ā is considered to be something 'common', 'ordinary' and 'simple'. And because wazā'if have special quantities, prerequisites etc. attached, they appear as something special. As a result, people are more inclined towards wazā'if than they are to du'ā, whereas in reality, du'ā is the key to solving our problems.
Even though wazā'if can be of benefit, there is a very big difference between them and du'ā. Du'ā will be counted as an 'ibādah, even if it be for a worldly item, such as a job, good health or passing a driving test. However, as far as wazā'if are concerned, their recitation will not be rewarded as they are not classed as ibādah.
Another distinction is that while making du'ā we rely solely on Allāh ta'ālā, aware that it is only Allāh ta'ālā who in reality can help us, solve our problems and remove our difficulties. With wazā'if, our attention diverts towards the 'power' of the wazā'if.
The Reality of Wazā'if
In essence, it is only Allāh ta'ālā who removes difficulties, and du'ā is to ask Allāh ta'ālā to do just that. What chance is there of attracting the Help of Allāh ta'ālā through wazā'if if the person reciting them does not have any connection with Him?
Once a person came to Shaykh Ya'qūb Majaddidi rahimahullāh and asked him to explain the reality of wazā'if. The Shaykh did not give him a direct answer, but instead explained through an example, making use of a police officer who was present nearby.
The Shaykh asked, "If you were to say to this policeman, 'You are fired!' What will happen?" The person replied, "Nothing, it will have no impact whatsoever." The Shaykh then asked, "What if you were to repeat the sentence a hundred times?" The reply was the same. The Shaykh further asked, "What if you were to sit with a tasbīh (prayer beads) and repeat it a thousand times?" Again he gave the same reply, that it would make no difference whatsoever. The Shaykh then asked him how he could fire the policeman. The person explained that he would need to join the police force and work hard until he became the policeman's superior. Then just saying 'You are fired' once would be enough to have him removed. The Shaykh then explained that this is the same case with wazā'if.
If a person were to recite a certain verse, name of Allāh ta'ālā etc. a thousand times, it will have no effect until and unless the person acquires a position in Allāh's S eyes and becomes beloved to Him. Once he does so, he will just have to make du'ā once and Allāh ta'ālā will accept it.
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"There are many who are dishevelled, covered in dust, turned away from people's doors, who, if they were to take an oath by Allāh, Allāh ta'ālā would surely carry it out." (Muslim)
"(When my servant becomes my beloved) and he asks from me, I will grant him." (Al-Bukhārī)
Turning To Allāh ta'ālā Completely
There are many who do turn to Allāh ta'ālā and engage in du'ā, but do not realise that there are certain obstacles that prevent the du'ā from being accepted. One major obstacle is disobedience to Allāh ta'ālā; therefore, we need to turn to Allāh ta'ālā completely, after making a full assessment of our lives.
For example, someone neglectful of Salāh needs to become punctual with Salāh; someone involved in a particular sin needs to stop that sin immediately and repent. This is because it is very possible that the difficulty afflicting us is due to a sin we are committing, and du'ā will not bear fruit if the cause of the difficulty remains. Therefore, repenting from sin and changing one's life for the better is also a necessity for the acceptance of du'ā.
Allāh ta'ālā's Will
If after adopting all these means, the difficulty is still not removed, then we should remember that Allāh ta'ālā is Al-Hakīm (The Most Wise) and Al-Hākim (The Supreme Ruler). It is very possible that Allāh ta'ālā has something better in mind for us. While wishing for the difficulty to be removed, we may be unaware of the benefits hidden in it. However, Allāh's S knowledge is complete and He knows what is better for us in the long term. Therefore, if a difficulty remains then we should remain content and happy with Allāh's S decision.
From the Ahādīth we learn that the du'ās of a believer are invariably accepted (provided their requisites have been fulfilled), but their acceptance is manifested in either of the following three ways: a) sometimes Allāh immediately answers them and blesses the seeker with what was asked for; b) sometimes He substitutes what was asked for with something that in His Knowledge is better for the seeker; c) alternatively, through the blessings of the du'ā, He removes an impending calamity that was to befall the seeker.
At times, none of the above is the case, and instead the du'ā is saved for the hereafter. Such unanswered du'ās will bear so much reward in the hereafter that the seeker will wish that none of his du'ās had been accepted in the world.
Du'ā is asking Allāh ta'ālā for help or for the fulfilment of a particular need. It expresses a slave's helplessness and dependence on Allāh ta'ālā, the All-Powerful and Merciful. It is the channel through which one gets directly in touch with one's Creator.
The purpose of man's creation is worship and according to a hadīth, 'Du'ā is the essence of worship'. (At-Tirmidhī) And according to another hadīth, 'Du'ā is the worship'. (At-Tirmidhī)
Just as Salāh, Sawm, Zakāh, Hajj etc. are acts of worship, du'ā too is an act of worship. Therefore just as one takes out time to pray Salāh or to recite the Qur'ān or make dhikr, similarly, according equal importance to du'ā, one should also take out sufficient time for the sake of du'ā.
The objective behind every act of worship is the Recognition of Allāh ta'ālā as the Creator and the All-Powerful, and that one acts according to His Will and not as one likes. A Servant of Allāh ta'ālā accepts his weaknesses and recognises his need for Allāh ta'ālā. Out of all devotions, this humbleness and total submission is best expressed in du'ā. Furthermore, other acts of worship can become a source of pride whilst du'ā is an act which is usually free from any trace of pride.
Nowadays, du'ā has become a mere ritual. It has become a routine practice which one is accustomed to perform at certain times of the day. People raise their hands for a few moments at the time of du'ā, uttering a few words, some consciously, and some without even realising what they are asking for.
Today hardly anybody resorts to du'ā for solutions to their problems. For most people du'ā is a devotion which is the most difficult to practise. Even at the blessed places and in the blessed moments, a short while occupied by du'ās will seem like hours. By and large, we find that the engagement in Salāh or the recitation of the Qur'ān is relatively easier than making du'ā. This only reflects our distance from the Being of Allāh ta'ālā, as du'ā is the only act of worship which provides us with the opportunity to communicate with Allāh ta'ālā in the manner we wish. Lack of concentration in this act of worship shows that the performance of other acts of worship are also customary and superficial, and lacking the true essence. If we truly enjoyed the Proximity of Allāh ta'ālā, we would inevitably have found enjoyment in confiding in Him and beseeching Him. We would have always felt an eagerness to turn to Him, in open and in solitude.
Many of us make du'ā half-heartedly, not convinced whether our demands will be answered or not. We should know that Allāh ta'ālā always answers the du'ās of people. However, it may not always seem so and many people, failing to experience the effects immediately, begin to feel dejected and put off. This, however, should not be the case, as Allāh ta'ālā, the All-Hearing, undoubtedly hears and accepts the supplications of people, only that the du'ās of some are answered immediately, whilst those of others are deferred for their own benefit.
One should keep in mind that the acceptance of du'ās also depends on the expectations of a person. Allāh ta'ālā deals with people in accordance with what they expect of Him. In one Hadīth, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has related the following Statement of Allāh ta'ālā: 'I treat my servant as he expects of me…' (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
The Ahādīth also tell us that du'ās (provided that their requisites have been fulfilled) are accepted invariably, but their acceptance is manifested in either of the three below-mentioned ways: Sometimes, Allāh ta'ālā immediately answers them and blesses the seekers with what they have asked for; sometimes He substitutes what they have asked for with something that in His Knowledge was better for them; or alternatively, through the blessings of the du'ā, He removes an impending calamity that was to befall them. At times, neither of the above may transpire, but on such occasions, the du'ā is treasured for the Hereafter. These unanswered du'ās will bear so much reward that a person, on the Day of Qiyāmah, will wish that none of his du'ās were accepted in the world. (Kanz-ul-'Ummāl)
Abstaining from Harām (clothing, food, income, etc.) is another essential requisite for the acceptance of du'ā. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam once made mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hands towards the sky (and thus makes the supplication): "O Lord, O Lord," then the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, "But his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How then can his supplication be accepted?" (Muslim)
By keeping the following few points in mind concerning du'ā, inshā'allāh, one will benefit greatly. Firstly one should remember that du'ā is an act of worship and should be given an independent status of its own. It should not remain a mere ritual.
Secondly, one should make du'ā after performing all good deeds such as Salāh, recitation of Qur'ān, dhikr etc., and also fix a specific time especially for du'ā. In du'ā, one should adopt humility and ensure that one understands what is being asked. The time spent in du'ā should be gradually lengthened. In the initial stages, the same du'ās can be repeated over and over, and in the meantime more and more du'ās should be memorised. An effort should be made to learn those du'ās in particular which encompass the general need of all the Muslims.
Thirdly, when making du'ā, a person should have a firm faith that he is asking from Allāh ta'ālā the All-Powerful, and He is able to fulfil every need of ours. The chances of being cured from a fatal illness, for instance, may seem remote but it should be believed from the depths of the heart that Allāh ta'ālā is able to cure any illness if He so wished. Dr. 'Abdul Hay 'Ārifi rahimahullāh (a renowned saint) used to say, 'Does there exist any problem that cannot be solved through du'ā?', and then he would say 'How can there, when du'ā is a request made to Allāh ta'ālā for the removal of problems and there is no problem on earth whose removal is beyond His ability.'
One should ask Allāh ta'ālā for both worldly needs and those of the Hereafter. Rasūlullah sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has instructed us to ask Allāh ta'ālā for all our needs, however petty they may seem to be. He sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam mentioned that even if a person's shoelaces break, he should ask Allāh ta'ālā before embarking to obtain new ones.
Finally, one should not ask for anything unlawful. Many young people do not realise this and by asking for impermissible things incur the displeasure of Allāh ta'ālā.
May Allāh ta'ālā give us all the tawfīq to turn to Him for all our needs and may He fulfil all our lawful needs of this world and the Hereafter. Āmīn.
Sawm (fasting) means to refrain from eating, drinking and cohabiting from Subh Sādiq (early dawn) to sunset with a niyyah (intention) of observing fast.
Fasting in the month of Ramadhān is one of the five pillars of Islām and is fardh (compulsory) upon every muslim who is sane and mature. Fasting has many physical, moral, and social benefits. However, Allāh ta'ālā has made fasting compulsory so that we become pious and God-fearing.
Fasting will not be valid without niyyah. It is not necessary to express the niyyah in words. However it is preferable to recite
Allāhumma Asūmu Laka Ghadan (O Allāh, tomorrow I shall be fasting for You only).
In the case of Ramadhān, it is better to make niyyah in the night. However, should a person fail to do so, then it is permitted to make the niyyah during the day before the majority of the day has passed.
Mustahabb (Desirable) Acts in Fasting
To eat suhūr (the meal before Subh Sādiq).
To delay the suhūr up to a little before Subh Sādiq.
To break the fast immediately after sunset.
To break the fast with dates. If dates are not available then with water.
To recite this du'ā at the time of breaking the fast:
Allāhumma laka Sumtu wa bika āmantu wa 'alā rizqika aftartu
O Allāh! I fasted for You and in You do I believe and with Your provision (food) do I break my fast.
Things Makrūh (Detestable) While Fasting
To chew items such as rubber, plastic etc.
To taste food or drink and spit it out.
To collect one's saliva in the mouth and then swallow it.
To clean teeth or mouth with tooth powder or toothpaste.
To complain of hunger or thirst.
To quarrel or argue with filthy words.
Things that Break the Fast
To eat, drink or indulge in cohabitation intentionally.
To burn incense and inhale its smoke.
If water goes down the throat while gargling.
To vomit a mouthful intentionally.
To swallow vomit intentionally.
To swallow something edible, equal to or bigger than a chick pea, which was stuck between the teeth. However, if it is first taken out of the mouth and then swallowed, it will break the fast whether it is smaller or bigger than the size of a chick pea.
To drop oil or medicine into nose.
To swallow the blood from gums with saliva. However, if the blood is less than the saliva and its taste is not felt then the fast will not break.
To eat and drink forgetting one is fasting and thereafter, thinking that the fast is broken, to eat and drink again.
To apply medicine to the rectum.
To swallow intentionally a pebble, piece of paper or any item that is not used as food or medicine.
In all the above circumstances, only a single fast will become qadhā except in the case of number one (1), where qadhā and kaffārah both will become obligatory. (Consult an 'Ālim regarding the rules of kaffārah).
Things that Do Not Break the Fast
To eat, drink or indulge in cohabitation in forgetfulness.
To vomit without intention.
To vomit intentionally, less than mouthful.
To have a wet dream.
To oil the hair.
To use surma (collyrium) in the eyes.
To drop water or medicine in the eyes.
To clean teeth with wet or dry miswāk (a stick used for cleaning teeth).
To apply or smell 'itr (perfume).
To swallow a fly, mosquito, smoke or dust unintentionally.
To swallow one's saliva or phlegm.
Water entering the ears.
To take an injection.
Sunnah Practices in the Month of Ramadhān
To observe tarāwīh.
To increase the recitation of the Glorious Qur'ān.
To observe i'tikāf during the last ten days of Ramadhān.
Ahādīth Regarding the Virtues of Fasting
Sawm is a shield, as long as he (the fasting person) does not tear it up. (An-Nasa'ī)
Note: Fasting is a protection from Shaytān or from Allāh ta'ālā's punishment in the hereafter. One who indulges in sins whilst fasting, such as lying, backbiting etc., they become the cause of the fast becoming wasted.
All good deeds are for the one who renders them, but fasting. Fasting is exclusively for me (Allāh). (Al-Bukhārī)
Fasting is a shield and a powerful fortress. (Ahmad, Al-Bayhaqī)
I swear by that being in whose possession is the life of Muhammad! The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allāh than the fragrance of musk. (Al-Bukhārī)
Fasting is exclusively for Allāh, the reward of it (being limitless) no one knows besides Allāh. (At-Tabarānī)
Verily, Allāh and His angels send mercy upon those who eat suhūr. (At-Tabarānī)
Eat suhūr because in suhūr lies barakah. (Mishkāt)
Whosoever gives something to a fasting person in order to break the fast, for him there shall be forgiveness for his sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam; and for him (the one who gives) shall be the same reward as for him (whom he fed), without that person's (the one who was fed) reward being diminished in the least. (Ibn Khuzaymah, Al-Bayhaqī)
Whoever gave a person, who fasted, water to drink, Allāh shall give him a drink from my fountain where after he shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah. (Ibn Khuzaymah)
The fasting person experiences two (occasions) of delight: at the time of iftār and at the time he will meet his Rabb. (Al-Bukhārī)
Not a single prayer made by a fasting person at the time of breaking fast is rejected. (Ibn Mājah)
Throughout our life we remain students of one discipline or another. Whether we are acquiring religious knowledge by studying the Arabic alphabet or have reached the completion of the final lessons of Sahīh-al-Bukhārī, or we are pursuing secular knowledge by studying at school or completing our PhD, every single one of us is constantly undergoing some form of formal or informal tuition.
With regards to the acquisition of religious knowledge Imām Ghazālī rahimahullāh quotes in his book Kimiyā-e-Sa'ādat: '…if a person learns such an 'ilm, acquires such knowledge which keeps him away from evil and makes him do good deeds, what else can be better than that? Such knowledge is like water from the cooling streams for the thirsty and a treatment for the sick. The more one attains such knowledge the better it is for him.'
With regards to secular knowledge, many of us do not usually realise that even its acquisition can become a means of acquiring reward. All that is required to acquire reward for this learning is to turn our attention in the right direction. There are a few salient points which, if remembered, should enable one to begin to learn in a manner that will gain benefit not only in this world but also in the hereafter.
In a hadīth it is mentioned:
All actions are dependent upon intentions. (Al-Bukhārī)
Therefore before commencing any course of study we must question our intentions. Are we studying only for materialistic gain or are we studying so that we may utilise our knowledge for the benefit of mankind and thereby acquire the Pleasure of Allāh ta'ālā?
Having adopted the correct intention, we must constantly review our intentions throughout our course of study to ensure that they have not changed. Reviewing one's intention is essential because even though in the initial stages our intentions may have been pure and full of sincerity, the influences of one's base desires (nafs) and the influences of the environment around us during our course of study may bring detrimental, albeit, subtle changes in our motives. A useful way to gauge whether any shortcomings have crept into our intentions is to take account of our daily life and try to determine what we give preference to when there is a conflict between the Commands of Allāh ta'ālā and the demands placed upon us in our field of study. If we find that we are inclining away from the Sharī'ah, then this is a good indicator that our motives have changed. We should continually request Allāh ta'ālā to keep our intentions sincere, thus the following masnoon du'ā is extremely beneficial in this regard:
O Allāh, forgive me for those actions which we initiated purely for Your sake and into which other intentions later entered. (Al-Hizb Al-A'zam)
Choose a Good Subject
When deciding upon a course of study, one should not choose a subject merely because it is easy, rather one should endeavour to select a field of study that will be beneficial to us in both worlds and which can be a means of benefit to humanity. We should refrain from undertaking a course of study which may involve any violation of the Sharī'ah. Once again we find suitable guidance in the supplications of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam wherein one prayer states:
O Allāh save me from knowledge which is useless, from a heart that does not fear You and a prayer that is not entertained. (Al-Hizb Al-A'zam)
From this we can gauge hyphen due to the phrases used in the prayer hyphen that beneficial knowledge is only that which will help one develop the Recognition of the Lordship of Allāh ta'ālā.
Aim to be the Best
In the ahādīth, knowledge has been described as the lost property of a believer. We, as Muslim students, should aim and strive to be the experts in our chosen fields. Studying within the limits of the Sharī'ah, we should aim to acquire as much knowledge as we can and ensure that we complete our course of study with the maximum effort and striving. How is it that we, who claim to be the inheritors of the pioneers of astronomy, of mathematics, and of medicine, to name just a few fields in which Muslims have excelled, feel happy to scrape through our studies with the lowest grades.
Even though it is not possible that every person will be an expert in their field each of us should aim to try our best and thus try to provide a model representation of the Muslim student. Once we become professionals, we may be stationed at the meeting place of various cultures regardless of our work place. Our role will be of vital importance as we will become a linking bridge for the non-Muslims whose first contact and acquaintance with Islгm may be through us. Similarly we must sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallamtrive to remain practising Muslims to ultimately serve our Muslim community that is much in need of our expertise. Once again the masnoon du'ās of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam are extremely useful in this regard with two examples being the following:
O Allāh increase me in knowledge. (20:114)
O Allāh save me from inaction and laziness. (Al-Hizb Al-A'zam)
Time is a trust from Allāh ta'ālā and hence it needs to be valued and used appropriately. We should aim to create a timetable to ensure that we maximise the usage of our time. Many of us who do not adopt a timetable and find much to our regret near examination time that we have wasted many valuable hours in superfluous and profitless activities. We should always bear in mind the following principle that one only realises the value of something after it has been lost and experience also clearly demonstrates that to make up for lost time is impossible. We must address any weakness which may become embedded in our study habits in the early stages of our learning career, even though it may seem that there is still a long way to go before we complete our studies. Failure to rectify any shortcomings, whether academic or spiritual, will prove to be extremely detrimental to our knowledge later on. Therefore from the beginning we should aim to make the most of the time that we have at hand and refrain from frivolous and wasteful activities. In a hadeeth it is mentioned:
The sign of a believer is that he refrains from that which does not concern him. (At-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah)
Consequently we should also refrain from all those activities which are not beneficial to either our studies or our religion. Adopting a timetable also allows one to work on a regular basis. Bearing in mind the hadīth, The most beloved action to Allāh ta'ālā is the one done on a regular basis (Bukhārī, Muslim), a timetable will not only allow us to complete our studies but will also enable us to practice upon this hadīth.
Be Grateful & Adopt Respect
The opportunity to study is not given to all. There are many intelligent people throughout the world who due to their circumstances are unable to pursue formal education. Likewise there are many who have the opportunity to study but have not been blessed with the necessary intellectual capacities required to follow their preferred course of study. Consequently, we must constantly remain grateful for having been given not only the opportunity to study but also the relevant faculty of intelligence too. It is a famous saying among the scholars of Islam that Bā adab, bā nasīb, be adab, be nasīb i.e. the one who adopts respect is blessed (with knowledge) and the one who is lax in respect is deprived.
Gratefulness goes hand in hand with respect and thus one should respect one's teachers, within the guidelines of the Sharī'ah, and the mechanisms e.g. books etc. by which one acquires knowledge. The humility, reverence and respect that one should adopt for knowledge and for one's teachers is aptly demonstrated by the blessed Companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum who used to display such rapt attention when learning from the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam that it used to be as if 'birds were perched on their heads.'
Upon commencing a course of study the student agrees to follow certain rules and regulations as specified by the institute/teacher. This agreement, whether written or verbal, needs to be fulfilled to the best of our abilities as this is the Command of Allāh ta'ālā that we fulfil agreements. Many of us turn up late for lectures, not meet deadlines etc. Not only are such actions an infringement of the rights of the agreement that we have undertaken, but they also portray an extremely negative view of Islam. Many of us also fall prey to the habit of making false excuses when not having met deadlines or having missed lessons. We should remember that even though our false excuses and lying may remove what may seem like a major difficulty in this world, but it will create major obstacles in the hereafter. In the ahādīth we find numerous examples of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam exhorting us to keep our agreements and to be punctual. One such famous example can be seen when the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam waited for an acquaintance for three days at a certain location even though the other party had forgotten to attend. (Abū Dāwūd)
Adopt Taqwā & the Company of the Pious
Taqwā means that we try our utmost to shun every sin. In the acquisition of knowledge, sinning is a major obstacle. Beneficial knowledge which allows one to recognise his Creator is a gift from Allāh ta'ālā. We find a reference to this in Āyat-al-Kursī wherein it is mentioned, one can only grasp that amount of beneficial knowledge which Allāh ta'ālā wishes. (2:255) Thus how can we expect our knowledge to increase or be of benefit if we disobey and sever our connection with the Dispenser of knowledge? The company of the pious will help one to acquire taqwā and is a means of learning the value and respect for knowledge. Respect, gratefulness, sincerity and taqwā are all attributes and qualities of the heart which are essential requisites for the acquisition of knowledge which will benefit one in this world and the hereafter. The anti-thesis of these qualities are those attributes and illnesses of the heart such as pride, arrogance, and jealousy which prove to be obstacles in the path of knowledge. Consequently we need to aim to remove our weaknesses in not only those aspects of the Sharī'ah which are related to exoteric (external) acts such as prayer, fasting etc. but also those related to the esoteric (internal) acts such as the removal of pride and the adoption of respect and humility. The adoption of the company of the pious and of those who are experts in the fields of Sharī'ah will help one to attain these objectives inshā'allāh.
By following the above few points it is hoped that inshā'allāh we will begin to acquire the blessings of Allāh ta'ālā in our endeavours. We should aim to commence all our work with the name of Allāh and be grateful to Him upon its completion. One should also aim to learn the sunnah supplications such as 'O Allāh increase me in knowledge' and also study the lives of the Companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum and pious predecessors in order to ascertain the manner in which these noble souls studied and strove in the path of knowledge. We should always bear in mind that Allāh ta'ālā is the ultimate Giver and it is only through Him that we receive beneficial knowledge that will neither lead us astray nor be detrimental for our future. Thus we should always ask Allāh, to keep us on the straight path, of those who have been rightly guided and not of those who have acquired Allāh's anger or gone astray.
May Allāh ta'ālā give us the ability to recognise the value of knowledge, may He increase us in beneficial knowledge and may He enable us to utilise the gift of knowledge to acquire His Pleasure and Mercy. Āmīn.