Recently, I was approached by a concerned brother who had been facing some difficult times with regards his provision and sustenance. This is something that many of us face at some time in our lives. Naturally, when we are in this situation, we begin to panic and look for ways out. Some bear the situation remaining within the laws of Sharī'ah and with patience make it through, whilst others fail in this test from Allāh ta'ālā and take to prohibited means to try to solve their problems.
So, when the brother asked the question, I pondered for a while and the following advices, all based on the Qur'ān and hadīth, came to mind:
1. At such difficult times it is paramount to adopt taqwā, which is to stay away from each and every sin. Remember, what is thought of to be a tough financial situation will differ from person to person, but in these circumstances it is necessary that we stay compliant with the Commands of Allāh ta'ālā. Both the dos and don'ts commanded by Allāh ta'ālā have to be adopted. Salāh, Sawm, Zakāh, Hajj and all farā'id must be performed. Similarly, we must refrain from all sinful activities. In return for this adoption of taqwā, Allāh ta'ālā has promised that He will see to our needs:
"Whoever adopts taqwā, Allāh brings forth a way out for him and provides him (with what he needs) from where he does not even imagine. And whoever places his trust in Allāh, He is sufficient for him. Surely Allāh is to accomplish His purpose." (65:2)
"If the people of the towns believed and adopted taqwā, We would have opened for them blessings from the heavens and the earth, but they disbelieved. So, We seized them because of what they used to earn for themselves." (7:96)
2. A second point to keep in mind is to make istighfār (seek forgiveness) abundantly. A person should look towards his own misdeeds and take them to be the reason for finding himself in the predicament he is in. He should turn to Allāh ta'ālā and repent. Sometimes, such circumstances are caused by Allāh ta'ālā in order to make His servant turn towards Him. Such is the Mercy of Allāh ta'ālā!
"Pray to your Lord for your forgiveness. Indeed, He is Very-Forgiving; and He will cause the heavens to rain upon you in abundance, and will help you with riches and children, and will cause gardens to grow for you, and cause rivers to flow for you." (71:10-12)
"O my people, seek forgiveness from your Lord, then turn to Him in repentance, and He will release the heavens pouring upon you, and will add strength to your strength, and do not turn away like sinners." (11:52)
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"He who holds firm to seeking forgiveness, Allāh will make an exit for him from every tight situation, will grant him relief from every trouble and will provide for him from where he does not even imagine." (Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah, Ahmad)
3. Another point is to ensure that we keep our transactions free from sin. For this, we must consult the 'Ulamā, learn from them in regards to what is halāl and what is harām and act accordingly. Any transaction which is contrary to the teachings of Allāh ta'ālā and His Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam will be devoid of barakah (blessings); therefore, no matter how great the profit or benefit seems, it will soon disappear. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
"The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return the goods until they part. And if both parties spoke the truth and described the goods accurately, then they would be blessed in their transaction, and if they told lies or hid something, then the blessings of their transaction would be lost." (Al-Bukhārī)
Similarly, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam also says:
"Taking (false) oaths improve the sales, but it eradicates the blessings." (Al-Bukhārī)
4. Nowadays, many people look for wazā'if (the recitation of certain verse(s), name(s) of Allāh ta'ālā etc. a certain number of times to fulfil a particular need) to solve their problems. Whereas, within the boundaries of Sharī'ah, this is permissible, there can be no better solutions than those shown by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam regarding whom Allāh ta'ālā says:
"He does not speak out of (his own) desire. It is but revelation revealed (to him)." (53:3-4)
• In a hadīth the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam mentions that whoever recites the following 100 times between subh sādiq and Fajr salāh, wealth shall come to him unwillingly and humbled. (Ihyā)
"Pure is Allāh and for Him is praise. Pure is Allāh, the Great. I seek forgiveness from Allāh."
• In another hadīth, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam passed by a person who was dishevelled and worried, at which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam told him to recite the following words through which his worry and poverty would go away. The words were:
"I place my trust in the Ever Living who is not to die, Praise belongs to Allāh who has neither had a son, nor is there any partner to Him in His kingdom, nor is anyone (needed) to protect Him from (any) weakness. And proclaim His greatness, an open proclamation." (Abū Ya'lā, Ibn-as-Sunnī)
5. Read Sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night:
'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu visited 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu during the last stages of the latter's life. 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu asked him, "What is your illness?" 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu replied, "My sins." He then asked him, "Is there anything you desire?" 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu replied, "The Mercy of my Rabb." 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu then asked if he would like him to re-issue the allowance that was allocated for him during his life that he had refused. When he declined, 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu said, "Let it be for your daughters for after your death." Upon this, 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu asked, "Do you fear poverty upon my daughters after my death? I have instructed them to recite sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night; for I have heard the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam say, 'Whoever recites sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night shall never be afflicted with poverty.' " (Al-Qurtubi)
6. Imām At-Tabarānī rahimahullāh has quoted a hadīth in which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"Washing hands, before and after food, safeguards against poverty."
7. We should constantly make du'ā to Allāh ta'ālā, for in du'ā lies the solution to all our problems. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"Indeed, du'ā is of benefit for those things that have descended and (also) for those things that have not yet descended. O servants of Allāh, hold fast to du'ā." (At-Tirmidhī)
One important point to ponder upon here is that to be afflicted with financial difficulties is not an everlasting problem, for tomorrow we may be relieved; either our problem may ease or we may not live for long. Why then do we have so much concern for this temporary issue? If a solution is guaranteed, we will be prepared to do anything. On the other hand, the life hereafter is inevitable and definite, but we do not have the same concern. How surprising it is that for something inevitable we have no concern, yet that which is uncertain occupies our hearts and minds all the time. Surely, we have set our priorities incorrectly!
If someone asked you to use just one word to describe yourself, what would you choose? From all the words that may cross your mind, which would you select?
Words are important because they can shape our beliefs and ambitions, so before we use a word or a title to describe ourselves we must first understand fully what that word or title means. Many young people like to be described by the word 'gangsta' and consider it a sort of badge of honour. But what does it really mean?
The word 'gangsta' is slang for a member of an urban street gang, but the word it comes from, gangster, shows that it has a much darker meaning to it too. Dreams of a 'gangsta' lifestyle are in reality dreams of a life steeped in criminality and completely opposed to the commands of Allah ta'ālā and to the interests of society.
The 'Gangsta' Way
It's easy to look up to the 'gangsta' way of life, but the truth is that there is no such thing as honour among thieves. Every gang member wants to get to the top and is generally willing to do anything to get there. Whilst being part of a gang may bring a sense of belonging, it's important to realise that in gang culture 'use and abuse' is the order of the day.
Fellow gang members are not truly friends. They see each other living lives of sin and destruction, yet do nothing about it. As a result they are enemies of each other in this world and they will be eternal enemies in the hereafter. The Qur'ān states:
All friends on that day [Qiyamah] will be enemies to one another except the muttaqīn [god-fearing]. (43:67)
When it comes to inter-gang rivalry, the blind loyalty to one's 'crew' is nothing but a return to the tribalism of the dark days of Jāhiliyyah. It was the pagans of Arabia who used to live like that and it was Islām that took them out of that craziness. Islām came to bring people out of the darkness and into the light; a 'gangsta', however, does exactly the reverse because he chooses a path that will take him right back into the darkness.
Easy Come, Easy Go
Maybe it's the money that's so attractive. Money comes easy to a 'gangsta' doesn't it? But it's important to remember that harām income can never bring the blessings and goodness of halāl income. It goes as easily as it comes. Money is meant to help you, but harām money will only hurt you. harām money brings nothing but harm in this world and the hereafter. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
A body that has been nurtured with harām will not enter Jannah. (Al-Bayhaqī)
One way of making quick money is through drugs. Some people may try to justify their activity by arguing that dealing drugs is a job just like, say, selling medicine or selling food. They might say that they only supply drugs because there is a demand and that dealing drugs involves a lot of hard work. Others may say that it's OK to buy and sell drugs as long as you don't take them yourself. Some may argue that they are not causing any harm because the drugs they deal are not hardcore drugs like cocaine or heroin.
All this however is just wishful thinking: Islām teaches that the producing, buying, selling and taking of any intoxicant is harām.
Is it Worth the Trouble?
Drug dealing and criminality may seem like attractive options, but as with anything in life, we need to consider the wider effects and consequences. Imagine if we introduce somebody to drugs; not only will we be responsible for their first experience with drugs, we will also be responsible for all the other drug related sins they commit in the future. As the hadīth says:
…Whoever calls towards evil will bring upon himself sin equal to the sins of those who follow him, without their sins being diminished in the least. (Muslim)
Is this a risk worth taking? Whilst we may not have felt the consequences of our actions so far, we need to understand that what goes around definitely comes around. As the respected Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh warns:
'…Today you deal in drugs and enjoy yourself. You deal to our youngsters and do not think about the harm you are causing. You don't care about the young innocent lives you are destroying forever. You don't hear the pleas of their parents and you don't stop to think about how you are breaking their hearts. But remember, you will also be a parent one day. And remember, Allāh ta'ālā is just. Think and reflect: how will you cope on that day when your child's life is destroyed by the same drugs that you used to sell to others?'
If it's not the money that's important then maybe it's the 'buzz' that comes from being held in respect and fear by others. It may be worth considering a saying of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam though:
The worst of people is he whom people avoid because they fear his mischief. (Al-Bukhārī)
The type of 'respect' earned by 'gangstas' is hollow; it is earned by acts of bullying, violence and criminality and generates hidden resentment and hatred all around. It stays for as long as the balance of power is in your favour. That's why, with all his respect and reputation, the 'gangsta' has to always keep looking over his shoulder.
Self-respect also disappears for a 'gangsta'. Take the example of gangs hanging around in the street. Does a real man stand on street corners with his crew, eyeing up women who are passing by? Such behaviour is not to be expected from a decent human being, especially a Muslim. The next time we feel we have to stand on the road to socialise we should remember that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
[The right of the road] is lowering the gaze, refraining from harming others, returning greetings, and enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil. (Al-Bukhārī)
How many of us can say that we do all these things when we are chilling outside with our mates?
True respect, like the respect enjoyed by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum, is earned through honesty, justice and helping others. A person with true respect, though he may be held in awe, is loved by the people.
'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu once said:
We were a wretched people. And it is through Islām that Allāh honoured us.
Before accepting Islām the status of 'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu was such that the mere mention of his name would strike fear into people's hearts. People respected him out of fear of his strength and power. After accepting Islām he was respected even more, but the respect was genuine because Allah ta'ālā made him beloved to the people. They loved and respected this new 'Umar whose strength was now used to support the weak and needy and no longer threatened them.
Wealth, fame and power were slaves to the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and his Companions y. They were real leaders of men, and everyone around them, whether friend or foe, held them in respect. But they did not let any of this get to their heads because they were not slaves to their image. They lived simple lives for they were slaves only of Allāh ta'ālā.
We need to sit down and think what the 'gangsta' lifestyle really offers. In a nutshell, it offers to make us slaves. In direct opposition to the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and his Companions y, a 'gangsta' becomes a slave to wealth, fame and power. They go to his head and he feels so proud and superior that he doesn't realise that he is a slave. Instead of being in charge of his life though, he lets his desires rule him.
It takes a true man to be a good human being and a good Muslim; it's up to us to choose whether we want to live free or as slaves, chasing fantasies of being a 'gangsta'.
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)
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.