Hadrat Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullah
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.
Significance of the First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah
Allah has taken oath of ten nights in Sūrah Al-Fajr. According to the majority of the commentators of Qur'ān, the nights are those of the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Abū Hurayrah radiyallāhu ‘anhu related that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu alayhi wasallam said, "On no days is the worship of Allāh desired more than in the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the worship of each of these nights is equal to the worship of Laylatul Qadr." (At-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah)
The mother of the believers, Hafsah radiyallāhu ‘anhā reports that Rasūlullāh sallalahu alayhi wasallam used to fast the (first) nine days of Dhul Hijjah. (Nasā'ee, Ahmad, Aboo Dāwood)
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!
Istikhārah means to turn to Allāh ta'ālā and seek goodness from Him. This is because Allāh ta'ālā knows what we do not know. As Allāh ta'ālā is fully aware of the end result and consequence of every matter and we merely speculate, we should ask Allāh ta'ālā to guide us towards goodness in our endeavours or tasks that we are about to embark on. It should be understood that istikhārah is simply a du'ā like any other du'ā. However, it has more chance of acceptance in the Court of Allāh ta'ālā as it has been specifically taught by Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam to his Ummah. It is a prayer offered to Allāh ta'ālā before embarking on a particular course of action or choosing from a number of options, asking Him to guide us towards goodness and the correct and better choice, and to save us from that course of action or choice if goodness lies elsewhere.
A point of great importance in istikhārah is to free one's mind of all thoughts and inclinations before performing it. What would you expect from a person's istikhārah when he has already resolved to do something!
The method of istikhārah is to perform two raka'āt at any time of the day, other than the times when nafl salāh is forbidden. It is preferable to recite Sūrah Al-Kāfirūn in the first rak'ah and Sūrah Al-Ikhlās in the second. Thereafter one should praise Allāh ta'ālā, send salāh upon the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and then recite the following du'ā:
O Allāh! I seek goodness from You, through Your Knowledge, and I seek strength through Your Power and ask for Your great Bounty, for You are able to do things while I am not, and You know while I do not; and You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allāh, if You know that this matter [name your matter] is good for me, in respect to my Dīn, my worldly life and the consequence of my affairs, then decree it for me and make it easy for me, and then grant me barakah in it. And if You know that this matter [name your matter] is bad for me in respect to my Dīn, my worldly life and the consequence of my affairs, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good, wherever it may be, and make me be pleased with it. (Al-Bukhārī)
If after the initial istikhārah you remain unsure about something, then perform istikhārah for 3, 5, or 7 days. Inshā'allāh within seven days the heart will feel at ease.
There is also another method of istikhārah in the form of a short du'ā. If a decision needs to be taken and there is no opportunity to perform two rak'āt and do istikhārah in the aforementioned way, the following du'ā should be recited:
O Allāh, grant me goodness, and choose for me. (At-Tirmidhī)
As mentioned earlier, istikhārah is a du'ā and Allāh ta'ālā will accept it and grant you goodness, as long as there are no factors that prevent its acceptance. Obstacles to Allāh ta'ālā accepting prayers include disobedience to Allāh ta'ālā, harām earnings, and praying without the conviction that Allāh ta'ālā will definitely accept the prayer. If there are such obstacles present in one's life, he should do tawbah in earnest, and then make istikhārah.
Results of Istikhārah
If, as a result of doing istikhārah, a person feels positive, he should proceed accordingly. If his du'ā has been accepted, he will acquire goodness and success. However, many people feel positive after istikhārah and proceed accordingly, but do not see success. This can be explained by the following:
In the du'ā of istikhārah, a person first asks Allāh ta'ālā for goodness in one's Dīn which is the main objective of a believer, and thereafter he asks for the goodness of the world. Therefore, if after istikhārah one finds apparent worldly loss, but his Dīn remains safe, one should believe that through the barakah of istikhārah Allāh ta'ālā has granted him a minute loss of this world and saved him from a greater loss of the Hereafter.
Many times, the du'ā as a result of istikhārah is accepted and Allāh ta'ālā grants him goodness, but that goodness takes two forms: one form is that the choice he has made is one hundred percent good, without an iota of harm in it; the other is that he is guided towards the better of two possible outcomes. To understand this, take the example of a person who purchased a house as a result of a positive feeling after istikhārah. After six months, a new neighbour moved in next door and started harassing him. This person needs to understand in this situation that it is through the barakah of istikhārah that he has been saved from a bigger calamity, i.e. if he had chosen another house, the neighbour there would have harassed him even more.
Sometimes, a person feels positive after istikhārah despite his du'ā not being accepted due to the aforementioned obstacles. In this case the positive feeling he was experiencing in his heart was not from Allāh ta'ālā. It was either a condition that existed before the istikhārah or it was a feeling from Shaytān. Sometimes a young man is deeply in love with a girl and after doing istikhārah he feels very comfortable. What can be expected from such an istikhārah? Are his positive feelings a result of the istikhārah or was that condition present before?
There are a number of common misconceptions about the sunnah practice of istikhārah:
One of the main points of confusion is the assumption that if, as a result of doing istikhārah, a positive feeling about a particular course of action results, then it is a guarantee from Allāh ta'ālā that it will be one hundred percent successful. People incorrectly believe that istikhārah is Divine Revelation. If after istikhārah a person of knowledge and experience was to advise an alternative, their opinion is discarded by saying, 'I have performed istikhārah and now there can be no change.' As a consequence, people proceed according to their feelings (e.g. they choose a marriage partner) and then, if some time later things do not work out, they begin to have doubts and negative thoughts about the sayings of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam regarding istikhārah. May Allāh ta'ālā protect us all from such a condition.
Likewise, people only do istikhārah nowadays when they are unsure about something. They perceive it to be a remedy for confusion; a way to request Allāh ta'ālā to fix something for them. Istikhārah should not be limited to occasions when a person has doubts about doing something, or when a person is indecisive about something! Istikhārah is to be performed for all mubāh actions, even if you are 100 % sure about the course of action. For example, you may want to enrol your child in a particular school and have no doubts about it being the right one; even then you should perform two rak'āt and read the du'ā of istikhārah so that you are granted goodness and saved from a wrong decision.
Nowadays, istikhārah is more or less confined to finding a marriage partner.
Many believe it is necessary to perform istikhārah during the night before going to sleep, and compulsory not to talk to anyone after performing the two rak'āt of istikhārah.
Similarly, some believe it to be totally necessary to sleep on the right hand side facing the qiblah.
Many expect and desire to see a dream in which one is clearly told that this is the path for you. Seeing a dream guiding towards a particular choice is not necessary in istikhārah. One needs to pay attention to the inclination of the heart whether one sees a dream or not. In all circumstances, the decisive factor is the inclination of one's heart.
Another common misconception is to ask others to perform istikhārah on one's behalf. Many feel that we are sinful, so what good will our istikhārah do? Thus they search for a pious god-fearing person and ask him to perform istikhārah for them. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam did not state any condition that a sinful person cannot perform istikhārah, and moreover, leaving sin and repenting is not an act of difficulty. One should leave sin, repent and perform istikhārah himself. This practice of asking others to perform istikhārah is not in accordance to the sunnah. Yes, when making istikhārah for a marriage partner, it is permissible for the parents of the boy/girl to perform istikhārah. This is because this is a need of the parents too, as it is their responsibility to marry their children into suitable families.
Finally, with istikhārah, istishārah (consultation) is very important too. One should, before, during, and after performing istikhārah, seek consultation from those well-wishers who are learned and experienced in the relevant matter. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
The one who does istikhārah will not be unsuccessful, and the one who consults will not see regret. (At-Tabrānī)
Zakāh is one of the five fundamentals of Islām. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
“Islam is founded on five pillars: bearing witness that there is no deity except Allāh, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger; establishment of salāh; paying zakāh; performance of hajj; and fasting the month of Ramadān.” (Al-Bukhārī)
After Īmān, salāh is the most important act of worship which is to be performed physically, and zakāh is the main act of worship which is to be performed monetarily. Salāh and zakāh have been mentioned together on many instances in the Glorious Qur'ān, to cite just some examples, Allāh ta'ālā says:
“And establish regular salāh and pay regular zakāh, and bow down with those who bow down.” (2:43)
“In fact, the mosques of Allāh are built only by those who believe in Allāh and the Last Day, and those who establish salāh and pay zakāh and who fear none but Allāh. So, it is hoped that they are to be among those on the right path.” (9:18)
Such verses of the Qur'ān substantiate that zakāh is the most important fundamental after salāh. Those who fulfil this duty have been promised abundant reward in this world and the Hereafter; and those who evade zakāh have been sternly warned in the Qur'ān and ahādīth of the consequences.
Benefits of Giving Zakāh
The following are some of the many benefits mentioned in the Qur'ān and ahādīth for the one who gives zakāh:
Pleasure of Allāh ta'ālā.
Increase in wealth.
Protection from losses.
Forgiveness and blessing from Allāh ta'ālā.
Safety from calamities.
Protection from the Wrath of Allāh ta'ālā and from a bad death.
Shelter on the Day of Judgement.
Security from seventy misfortunes.
Safety from the fire of Jahannam.
Safety from grief.
Consequences of Not Paying Zakāh in this World
When Allāh ta'ālā sends a calamity to punish people for their sins, no power on earth can prevent the onslaught. Men may form thousands of plans, but something decreed by the Lord of the universe must come to pass. Nowadays, the calamities of famine, flood, etc. have become a great problem for the whole world. If we wish to seek relief from such sufferings and cure the malady, we shall have to follow the remedy revealed to us by Allāh ta'ālā. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has warned us over fourteen hundred years ago, against all those evil practices which bring calamities and afflictions in this world.
These warnings were given long ago and now the world has witnessed their truth through experience. Today, the predictions are coming true. If only people had acted according to the rulings prescribed by Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, who was undoubtedly the wisest of all wise men. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss how specific evils cause specific afflictions, but I will bring to the attention of the readers the ahādīth related to the subject matter - non payment of zakāh.
Non Payment of Zakāh – A Cause of Famine
Buraydah radhiyallāhu 'anhu relates that Rasūlullāh said,
“The nation that withholds zakāh (i.e. does not pay it), Allāh afflicts famine on them.” (At-Tabarānī)
Ibn 'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu relates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam once said,
“O Muhājirūn! There are five (dreadful) sins; if you fall into these – and I take refuge in Allāh from the evil of these sins lest you fall into them – (you will face horrible disasters)…”
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam thereafter enlisted a number of sins and their punishments, amongst which he said,
“Thirdly, if people stop paying zakāh, rain will be withheld from them, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them.” (Ibn Mājah, Al-Bazzār, Al-Bayhaqī) A similar hadīth is also reported by Ibn 'Abbās radhiyallāhu 'anhu.
Non Payment of Zakāh – A Cause of Windstorms, Earthquakes, etc.
'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu and Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu report that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam prophesied fifteen actions which his Ummah will perpetrate, and from amongst these he mentioned,
“When zakāh is looked upon as a penalty (i.e. people will pay zakāh with a heavy heart, as though it is a penalty), then look for violent windstorms, earthquakes, men being swallowed by the earth, metamorphosis, stones raining down from the skies, and calamities following one another in rapid succession, like beads of rosary falling one after the other when its string is cut.” (At-Tirmidhī)
Destruction of Property
'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
“Wealth is generally lost on the land and the sea because zakāh is not paid on it.” (At-Targhīb)
'Ā'ishah radhiyallāhu 'anhā narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
“Zakāh will destroy wealth in which it is.” (Al-Bazzār, Al-Bayhaqī)
The destruction of wealth upon which zakāh is obligatory will be by way of Allāh ta'ālā destroying the wealth in which the amount due for zakāh lies, or by removing the barakah from it.
Consequences in the Hereafter
“As for those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allāh, give them news of a painful punishment. On the day it (i.e. the wealth) will be heated up in the fire of Jahannam, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it and (it will be said to them), 'This is what you had accumulated for yourselves. So, taste what you have been accumulating.'” (9:34-35)
The majority of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum and 'Ulamā are agreed that the severe punishment mentioned in the verse is for those who do not pay zakāh. May Allāh ta'ālā protect us from such severe punishments. Āmīn.
“And let not those who hoard wealth, which Allāh has bestowed them with from His grace, think that it is better for them. No, it is worse for them. That which they hoard will be made into a collar (in the form of a snake and put around their necks) on the Day of Qiyāmah. To Allāh belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the earth. Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (3:180)
Imām Ar-Rāzī v writes in his tafsīr, “This verse does not apply to the cases of nafl (optional) spending. It applies to cases of failure in obligatory spending.” This is substantiated by a hadīth in Al-Bukhārī that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “The person on whom Allāh bestowed wealth, and he does not give zakāh on it, then on the Day of Judgement, his wealth will be transformed for him into a large bald snake with two black spots over its eyes; it will wind round his neck on the Day of Judgement, then grab (him) with both his jaws and say, 'I am your treasure.'” Then Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam recited the above verse.
Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “If anyone possessing gold and silver does not pay what is due, then on the Day of Judgement his gold and silver will be made into sheets and will be heated in the fire of Jahannam. His side, forehead and back will then be branded with (the heated sheets), again and again, on that day, the duration of which will be fifty thousand years.” (Muslim)
Once, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam saw gold bangles on the hands of two women. He inquired if they had given zakāh for the bangles. They replied, “No.” Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “Do you wish that on the Day of Judgement you be made to put on bangles of fire?” They replied, “No.” He said, “Give zakāh on them.” (Ahmad)
The following facts are clear from the aforementioned discussion:
Zakāh is fard.
The significance of zakāh is very great.
Failure to pay zakāh will bring calamity and misfortune in this world and the Hereafter.
Allāh, the All-Merciful has bestowed upon us many favours: He has given us health and wealth, luxury and comfort, friends and children, life and wife. Every penny that we earn is from the Grace of Allāh. He has given us everything and asks for only 2.5% to be spent in His way upon those who are not capable of providing for themselves. Remember, 2.5% at the end of the each Islamic year from the excess wealth (i.e. which remains after spending) is basically nothing. If we pay zakāh in full and abstain from greed, extravagance, etc. there will not remain a single destitute among the Muslims. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam's hadīth is clear evidence for this claim. He said,
“In the wealth of rich Muslims, the amount which is sufficient for the poor among the Muslims has been made obligatory. The hardships of the poor among the Muslims regarding food and clothing are because of the deeds of the wealthy (i.e. their refusal to pay zakāh). Beware! Allāh will demand a stern reckoning from them and mete out a painful punishment.” (At-Tabarānī)
Bear in mind that anything we leave behind is not ours. If we want to protect our hard-earned money and save it for use at a time when we shall need it badly, let us spend it in the way of Allāh ta'ālā and deposit it in the bank of the Hereafter.
Wedding of Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā
Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā is the youngest daughter of our beloved Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. Out of all the children, she was the most beloved to him. He said, 'The queen of the ladies in Jannah is Fātimah.' He also said, 'Fātimah is part of my body. Whoever grieves her, grieves me.'
When Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā reached the age of fifteen, proposals for her marriage began to come from high and responsible families. But the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam remained irresponsive.
'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu, who was 21 at the time, says:
“It occurred to me that I should go and make a formal proposal, but then I thought, 'How could this be accomplished, for I possess nothing.' At last, encouraged by the Prophet's kindness, I went to him and expressed my intention to marry Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam was extremely pleased and asked, 'Alī! Do you possess anything to give her in mahr?' I replied, 'Apart from a horse and an armour I possess nothing.'
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, 'A soldier must, of course, have his horse. Go and sell away your armour.”'
So, 'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu went and sold his armour to 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu for 480 Dirham and presented it to Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. Bilāl radhiyallāhu 'anhu was ordered by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam to bring some perfume and a few other things and Anas radhiyallāhu 'anhu was sent to call Abū Bakr, 'Uthmān, Talhah and Zubayr with some companions from the Ansār radhiyallāhu 'anhum.
When these men arrived and had taken their seats, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam recited the khutbah (sermon) of nikāh and gave Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā in marriage to 'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu. He announced, 'Bear you all witness that I have given my daughter Fātimah in marriage to 'Alī for 400 mithqāl of silver and 'Alī has accepted.' He then raised his head and made du'ā saying, 'O Allāh, create love and harmony between these two. Bless them and bestow upon them good children.' After the nikāh, dates were distributed.
When the time came for Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhā to go to 'Alī's radhiyallāhu 'anhu house, she was sent without any clamour, hue and cry, accompanied by Umm Ayman radhiyallāhu 'anhā. After the 'Īshā Salāh, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam went to their house, took permission and entered. He asked for a basin of water, put his blessed hands into it and sprinkled it on both 'Alī and Fātimah radhiyallāhu 'anhumā and made du'ā for them.
The sovereign of both worlds gave his beloved daughter a silver bracelet, two Yemeni sheets, four mattresses, one blanket, one pillow, one cup, one hand-grinding mill, one bedstead, a small water skin and a leather pitcher.
In this simple fashion, the wedding of the daughter of the leader of both the worlds was solemnized. In following this sunnah method, a wedding becomes very simple and easy to fulfil.
The many customs as regards engagement are contrary to sunnah. In fact, many are against the Sharī'ah and are regarded sins. A verbal proposal and answer is sufficient.
To unnecessarily delay nikāh of both the boy and the girl after having reached the age of marriage is incorrect.
There is nothing wrong in inviting one's close associates for the occasion of nikāh. However, no special pains should be taken in gathering the people from far off places.
It is appropriate that the bridegroom be a few years older than the bride.
If the father of the girl is an 'ālim or pious and capable of performing nikāh, then he should himself solemnize the marriage.
It is better to give the Mahr Fātimī and one should endeavour to do so. But if one does not have the means then there is nothing wrong in giving less.
It is totally un-Islamic for those, who do not possess the means, to incur debts in order to have grandiose weddings.
It is fallacy to think that one's respect will be lost if one does not hold an extravagant wedding and invite many people. What is our respect compared to that of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam?
The present day practice of the intermingling of sexes is an act of sin and totally against Sharī'ah.
There is nothing such as engagement parties and mendhi parties in Islām.
Great care must be taken as regards to salāh on occasions of marriage by all - the bride, the bridegroom and all the participants.
It is un-Islamic to display the bride on stage.
The unnecessary expenses incurred by the bride's family in holding a feast has no basis in Sharī'ah.
For the engaged couple to meet at a public gathering where the boy holds the girl's hand and slips a ring on her finger is a violation of the Qur'ānic law of hijāb.
It is un-Islamic for the engaged couple to meet each other and also go out together.
Three things should be borne in mind when giving one's daughter gifts and presents at the time of nikāh:
Presents should be given within one's means (it is not permissible to take loans, on interest, for such presents);
To give necessary items;
A show should not be made of whatever is given.
It is Sunnah for the bridegroom's family to make walīmah.
NOTE: In walīmah, whatever is easily available should be fed to the people and care should be taken that there is no extravagance, show and that no debts are incurred in the process.
To delay nikāh after the engagement is un-Islamic.
In following modern day trends, we have adopted many cutoms that are un-Islamic and contrary to the sunnah.
Some examples are:
Displaying the bride on stage;
Inviting guests for the wedding from far-off places;
Receiving guests in the hall;
The bride's people incurring unnecessary expenses by holding a feast which has no basis in Sharī'ah. We should remember that walīmah is the feast arranged by the bridegroom after the marriage is consummated;
It is contrary to sunnah (and the practice of some non-Muslim tribes in India) to wish, hope for or demand presents and gifts for the bridegroom, from the bride's people. We should always remember that our Rasūl sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam did not give 'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu anything except du'ā.
On the occasion of the death of a person, we are reminded of the Hereafter, and to an extent, we are mindful of ensuring that our actions concerning the deceased are completed according to the Commands of Allāh ta'ālā and the sunnah of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. Unfortunately, one area which remains largely unpractised and neglected is that of the correct distribution of inheritance.
The wealth, possessions, property, etc. that a person leaves behind are the deceased's estate. This needs to be distributed to the rightful inheritors in accordance with the laws of Sharī'ah. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, stressing its importance, says,
Learn (the knowledge of) inheritance and teach it (to the people), for it is half of knowledge; and it will eventually be forgotten. It will be the first (knowledge) to be taken away from my Ummah. (Ibn Mājah)
Nowadays, even those considered religious, who are very cautious regarding their wealth and food, ensuring that they are all from halāl sources, are neglectful regarding this part of Sharī'ah. Beware of the fact that not giving someone their due right from the inheritance is just like stealing their wealth. Stated below are a few points which will, inshā'allāh, help us learn some basic principles of inheritance, together with prevailing misconceptions and incorrect practices. Due to the delicate and complex nature of the rules of inheritance, one must consult the 'Ulamā and Muftīs in all circumstances.
When distributing the deceased's estate, the following steps need to be taken in the order mentioned:
From the estate, the first right of the deceased is that of the funeral expenses. It is of course another matter if out of love one or more of the inheritors decide to personally bear the expenses. However, if the deceased be a woman survived by her husband, then her husband will bear the funeral expenses. This will be his responsibility, irrespective of whether she has left behind an estate or not. It should be remembered here that neither should one indulge in extravagance nor miserliness, but a path of moderation should be adopted.
After drawing the funeral expenses, one will need to ascertain whether the deceased had left any debts. If needed, scrutinise his records and statements to determine this. Any debts need to be paid off before any inheritor can receive any share. For example, if the deceased left behind a house valued at £100,000 and also had debts amounting to the same, then the house will be sold and the debt will be settled after deducting funeral expenses. The inheritors will, in such circumstances, receive nothing. Should the inheritors refuse to clear the debts and unjustly claim the house for themselves, then the estate, which they will have wrongfully seized, will be deemed harām.
A person has the right to make a wasiyyah (bequest) in one third of his estate in favour of certain individuals or eligible organisations and causes. There are two principles which apply to this.
Firstly, the deceased cannot make a wasiyyah for anyone who stands to receive a share in his inheritance as defined by the Sharī'ah. This is because the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said, “There is no wasiyyah for the inheritor.” (Abū Dāwūd)
Secondly, wasiyyah can only apply to a maximum of one third of the estate.
For example, if a person makes a wasiyyah for £5,000 to be donated to a particular masjid, as far as the first condition is concerned, the masjid will be eligible as it is not an inheritor of the deceased. However, upon death, if after deducting the funeral expenses and debts, it is calculated that only £9,000 remains, then the masjid will not receive £5,000 as proposed in the wasiyyah. Rather, it will only receive £3,000, as wasiyyah can only apply to a maximum of one third of the estate.
Lastly all those who are eligible to receive a share of the inheritance should get their respective shares according to what has been defined in great detail in our Sharī'ah. For this, an 'Ālim or Muftī should be consulted.
Important note: Females who stand to inherit are often neglected. The Sharī'ah, with its wisdom, has allocated shares for both males and females and it is important that these are abided by.
For men there is a share in what the parents and the nearest of kin have left. And for women there is a share in what the parents and the nearest of kin have left, be it small or large, a determined share. (4:7)
Unfortunately, nowadays in society it is common that women are not given their share; rather, they are contacted by the brothers who inform them of their plans for their share of the wealth and in doing so attempt to coax them into making the same decision. In many cases, due to the position of the brother in the family, the sister, daughter, etc. will find it difficult to actually acquire her share. Therefore, the money should be physically handed over to her so that she can decide as she wishes.
Note: It should be borne in mind that in situations wherein there is a minor (non-bāligh) amongst the inheritors, and the inheritors decide to collectively spend the estate in a certain cause, the consent of the minor will not be valid until he/she reaches maturity. This is because in many cases the consent of a minor is not valid in Sharī'ah. However, if other inheritors besides the minor decide to individually or collectively spend their share of the inheritance in a particular cause then this is their prerogative.
Note: Another very important matter to keep in mind is that of separate and identifiable ownership. Many people nowadays have joint bank accounts. Upon the death of a person, it becomes extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to ascertain exactly how much belonged to each person because each would deposit their money into one account. By keeping separate bank accounts it becomes easy to distribute the inheritance correctly after someone's death. Similarly, every item in the home should have an identifiable owner, so upon the death of someone there are no issues. In order to do this, records should be kept clearly identifying the owners of all items in the home.
Inshā'allāh, if we keep in mind the importance of consulting the 'Ulamā and Muftīs regarding inheritance and start with the few basic principles mentioned above, we will be able to ensure its correct implementation upon someone's death. May Allāh ta'ālā grant us the tawfīq to fulfil His commandments in all facets of our lives.
In the period before the advent of our beloved Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, the whole world was engulfed in the darkness of ignorance. Humans were uncivilised, morally decadent and devoid of good character. When Allāh ta'ālā sent the Leader of all the Ambiyā 'alayhimus salām and the Seal of the Messengers 'alayhimus salām, Muhammad Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, the entire world was illuminated. By following his example and teachings people of all backgrounds and creeds, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have achieved great successes throughout the ensuing fourteen centuries.
The underlying reason behind success in following his example is that Allāh ta'ālā created His beloved Rasūl sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam the best in every way. Whenever the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum described a particular characteristic of his, they would always qualify it with the superlative it deserved. They described him, for example, as the most generous, the most knowledgeable, the most courageous etc. Their descriptions proclaim quite clearly to all who followed his era that in every praiseworthy trait Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam was 'The Best'.
Even objective non-Muslims, have had no option but to praise the Messenger of Islām sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.
George Bernard Shaw writes:
I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of humanity. (The Genuine Islam, Vol 1 No8, 1936)
Pandit Gyanandra Dev Sharma Shastri, at a meeting in Gurakhpur, India (1928) said:
They (Muhammad's critics) see fire instead of light, ugliness instead of good. They distort and present every good quality as a great vice. It reflects their own depravity… The critics are blind. They cannot see that the only 'sword' Muhammad wielded was the sword of Mercy, Compassion, Friendship, and Forgiveness – the sword that conquers enemies and purifies their hearts. His sword was sharper than the sword of steel.
Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational doctrines, of a religion without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he? (Histoire de la Turquie, Vol II, Paris, 1854)
A critic, David Samuel Margoliouth, an Oxford University Professor of the early 20th century, wrote a biography of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. He writes in his preface:
The biographers of the Prophet Mohammed form a long series which it is impossible to end, but in which it would be honourable to find a place. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, 1905)
When Gandhi read the sīrah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in two volumes, he commented:
When I closed the second volume I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life. (Gandhi, Young India, 1924)
The sīrah (life or biography) of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam is full of lessons. It is an ocean that has no shore, meaning the sīrah is never-ending when it comes to deriving lessons from it. It is from the miracles of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam that his life has been recorded and preserved in such detail. All credit goes to his beloved Companions y who recorded this beautiful life with great care and detail to the extent that his humorous statements have also been preserved, and have proven to be an ocean of knowledge. Let us study an example:
Sayyidunā Anas ibn Mālik radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates how Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam would try cheering up his younger brother by saying a little rhyme:
O Father of 'Umayr! What has happened to the nughayr (a type of bird)? (Al-Bukhārī)
The small child would be delighted at the rhyme and by the fact that Allāh's Messenger would call him, a mere toddler, Father of 'Umayr!
This is one small and seemingly insignificant episode from the life of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, but the 'Ulamā having pondered over this statement of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam were able to deduce over sixty religious precepts from it. Such is the power and depth of a single humorous statement, what can one say about his formal and serious statements!
The blessed sīrah is truly a light and full of guidance for all circumstances and situations we may encounter in life. Allāh ta'ālā says:
Indeed, there is a beautiful example for you in the Messenger of Allāh... (33:21)
The life and teachings of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam are truly comprehensive that a day will never come when the Muslims will not be able to find a solution through them to any issue they encounter. Guidance can be found in his teachings on every subject matter. And if we follow these beautiful teachings, we will become successful in both worlds.
So we need to emulate the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in all aspects of our lives: 'aqā'id (beliefs), 'ibādāt (acts of worship), mu'āmalāt (dealings and transactions), mu'āsharāt (social conduct) and akhlāq hasanah (good character). It is unfortunate that many of us have confined Dīn to the first two branches, 'aqā'id and 'ibādāt, only. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has warned of destruction for such people. Once Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam asked his Sahābah:
'Who is a poor person?' They replied, 'A poor person amongst us is he who has neither dirham nor wealth.' Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, 'The poor person in my Ummah will be one who will come on the Day of Judgement with his salāh, sawm and zakāh; however, he swore at someone, accused someone, unlawfully consumed the wealth of someone, killed someone and hurt someone, then his good deeds will be given to his victims. And if his good deeds are exhausted but the compensation of his victims remain, then their sins will be taken and entered in his account and he will be thrown in the hell-fire.' (Muslim)
In addition to protecting our good deeds, the practice of mu'āmalāt, mu'āsharāt and akhlāq hasanah presents the beauty of our Dīn to the whole of humanity, as they predominantly relate to social interaction. The life of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and of those who followed him to the highest degree, contain numerous episodes of winning the hearts of people, through practically demonstrating these branches of Dīn.
If we strive to make our lives fully in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and emulate him in every way, then we will become the beloved of Allāh ta'ālā.
Say [O Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam], 'If you really love Allāh, then follow me, and Allāh will love you and forgive you your sins. Allāh is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.' (3:31)
Once we become His beloved, we will automatically become the beloved of His entire creation. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
When Allāh ta'ālā makes a servant His beloved, then Allāh ta'ālā summons Jibra'īl 'alayhis salām and says, 'Indeed, Allāh ta'ālā loves such a person; you too love him.'
When Jibra'īl 'alayhis salām hears this command of Allāh ta'ālā, his heart is infused with love for this person. Such a person is now the beloved of Allāh ta'ālā and Jibra'īl 'alayhis salām. Then, Allāh ta'ālā commands Jibra'īl 'alayhis salām to address the dwellers of the heavens and say;
Indeed, Allāh ta'ālā loves such a person; you too love him.
Upon hearing the command, their hearts too are infused with his love.
Then this person is granted acceptance amongst the people on the earth [resulting in everyone entertaining love for him]. (Al-Bukhārī)
This is a simple solution to the problems that are blighting the entire world at the moment; in fact, this is the only solution. As Muslims, we should endeavour to adopt the way of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in every facet of our lives. Our 'aqā'id (beliefs), 'ibādāt (acts of worship), mu'āmalāt (dealings and transactions), mu'āsharat (social conduct) and akhlāq hasanah (good character) should all be like that of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.
If we desire that the people of the world look at us with love and respect, then we need to resolve to live our lives according to the way of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam so that we become the beloved of Allāh ta'ālā and as a result become the beloved of the entire creation.
Let us resolve today, assess/review our lives and rectify any shortcomings. When our actions completely reflect the teachings of the beloved of Allāh ta'ālā, then spiritual blessings will become apparent which will resolve all our issues of this world and the Hereafter. This is a very pertinent matter at the current time and needs our utmost attention. If we make a firm resolution to learn the way of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and act upon it accordingly - whether the action is fardh, wājib, sunnah or mustahabb - then success awaits.
The advent of the month of Shawwāl brings with it the remembrance of Ibrāhīm 'alayhis salām u and his memorable hajj. All over the world, those who are fortunate make preparations for this great spiritual experience. Hajj is from the five pillars of Islām and is farḍ upon every sane and mature believer who possesses the means to perform hajj. Allāh ta'ālā mentions in the Glorious Qur'ān:
…As a right of Allāh, it is obligatory on the people to perform hajj of the House – on everyone who has the ability to manage (his) way to it. (3:97)
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
Islām is founded on five (pillars): bearing witness that there is no deity except Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh, establishing salāh, paying zakāh, performing hajj and fasting in the month of Ramadān. (Al-Bukhārī)
In another hadīth, he said: “O people! Indeed Allāh, the Mighty, the Exalted has made hajj obligatory upon you; therefore perform hajj.” (Ahmad)
Virtues of Hajj
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has mentioned many virtues of hajj, encouraging the believers to fulfil this obligation:
“The performers of hajj and 'umrah are deputations of Allāh. If they call Him, He answers them; and if they seek His forgiveness, He forgives them.” (Ibn Mājah)
There is no reward for an accepted hajj except Jannah. (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
Whoever performs hajj for the sake of pleasing Allāh, and therein utters no word of evil, nor commits any evil deed, shall return from it free from sin as the day on which his mother gave birth to him. (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
The performer of hajj becomes so pure that even that person is forgiven for whom he seeks forgiveness. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
When you meet a Hajī (on his way home), then greet him, shake hands with him and ask him to beg forgiveness of Allāh on your behalf before he enters his home, for his prayer for forgiveness is accepted since he is forgiven by Allāh. (Ahmad)
Warnings for Non-performance of Hajj
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has also warned those who do not fulfil this obligation despite it becoming obligatory upon them:
He who possesses enough provisions which will suffice for him to reach the House of Allāh, and he does not perform hajj, then there is no care whether he dies as a Jew or a Christian. (At-Tirmidhī)
Hajj is fard upon every sane, adult and healthy Muslim, when he has sufficient wealth to enable him to travel to and from the Ka'bah. This will apply when the wealth required to take him is in excess of his needs (such as house, transport, clothing, etc.). He also needs to have sufficient wealth to leave behind for the needs of those who are dependent on him. Furthermore, the journey needs to be a safe one and a woman needs to be travelling with a mahram. As can be understood from the great virtues and stern warnings above, a person upon whom hajj is fard should endeavour to perform hajj at the earliest possible opportunity – this year. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
The one who intends to go for hajj should hurry; for sometimes he can get ill, his conveyance can go missing or some other obstacle may arise (which will hinder him from travelling). (Ahmad)
Misconceptions and Lame Excuses
Many people delay the performance of hajj due to misconceptions which become lame excuses for not performing hajj. Inshā'allāh, I wish to clarify a few of these misunderstandings, so that those who find themselves in these situations can repent and make preparations immediately.
Many people have enough wealth for them to go for hajj, but they wait to accrue enough wealth so that their spouse can also accompany them. If the husband has enough wealth then he should go for hajj immediately. And if the wife has enough wealth, and she has other mahārim with whom she can go for hajj, then she should go immediately too. The Sharī'ah does not give either permission to postpone the hajj and wait for the other.
Many people think that it is necessary that they make arrangements for their parents to perform hajj before they do. This too is incorrect in light of the Sharī'ah. Undoubtedly, to make one's parents perform hajj is a great virtue and honour; however, if hajj is not fard on them, but it is fard upon the children, then they should not concern themselves with their parents' hajj at this moment and fulfil their own obligation. It is possible that in the children waiting for the parents - or in the case of the husband waiting for the wife or vice versa - the one upon whom hajj is fard passes away and is questioned by Allāh ta'ālā for its non-fulfilment.
Others delay embarking on the journey until certain worldly tasks have been completed. Remember! The targets of the world will never end. If it is one worldly target that is the excuse this year, then it will be another next year. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
No servant leaves hajj for some worldly objective but that he will see the people returning from hajj before his worldly objective is fulfilled. (At-Tabrānī)
Therefore, one should put aside any worldly goals he has in mind and fulfil the obligation of Allāh ta'ālā first. It is also noteworthy to remember that it is from the ploys of Shaytān that he will never say, 'Don't perform hajj', rather, he will make you defer its performance, year after year, until it's too late.
Similarly, many delay their hajj because of this hadīth: “He who performs forty salāh in my masjid in such a way that he does not miss a single salāh, then Allāh prescribes his freedom from the Fire of Jahannam, freedom from punishment and freedom from hypocrisy.” (Ahmad) Many think that it is necessary to perform forty salāh in Al-Masjid An-Nabawī, and some have the desire and greed for this virtue, so they delay their performance of hajj as they cannot spare enough time or money to stay in Al-Madīnah for the duration of forty salāh. Hajj is for five days only, and it becomes fard upon that person who can only afford to go for the minimum time. The inability to travel to Al-Madīnah will not be a valid excuse not to perform hajj. Of course, after reaching so close to the blessed city of Al-Madīnah, one should endeavour to at least spend a day in the blessed city and visit Al-Masjid An-Nabawī, and present himself in the Court of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.
Some believe that if their children have reached a marriageable age and are not yet married, then the parents cannot perform hajj until the children are married. This too has no basis whatsoever in the Sharī'ah.
Some delay in travelling as they have small children at home. Once hajj becomes fard, they should seek suitable relatives, friends, etc. who can look after their children whilst they go for hajj; and they need not travel for long due to their circumstance and situation.
Some delay their hajj as they think it is better to perform it in their old age closer to their death! This is a fallacy as they have no guarantee for how long they will live, and this idea is in complete contrast to the command of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam to perform hajj at the earliest opportunity.
Some delay performing the hajj as they only obtain a set number of days off work, and they postpone their journey hoping that they may get more days off next year and can spend more time in the Al-Haramayn. This too is not a valid Shar'ī reason to postpone the hajj. They should go and spend whatever time they have available and absolve themselves of the obligation of hajj.
Some delay the hajj, as they cannot afford to buy gifts for people, thus deferring their obligation until they have enough money that they can buy gifts for their loved and dear ones. This again is not a valid Shar'ī excuse.
Some delay in going for hajj as they cannot afford the 'five star', 'deluxe' or 'golden' package. From a Shar'ī point of view, as soon as they can afford the cheapest most basic package, hajj becomes fard upon them.
Others can afford a package, but as the package includes a hotel which is far from the Al-Haram, they are not able to read all five salāh in Al-Haram. This does not justify delaying the hajj. Remember, as long as the five days of hajj are part of the package, hajj will be fard upon them.
Some do not go for hajj on the pretext that they are not yet ready to change their lives. Such a thought is from Shaytān. Do we think the same when it comes to reading salāh or paying zakāh? And if this is the case, then change your life, for it is obligatory anyway! Moreover, inshā'allāh, through the barakah of hajj, the life will change for the better. Some go to the other extreme and have resolved to change their lives, but make comments such as, 'My Īmān is not yet strong enough and I need to build on my Īmān.' This thought too is from Shaytān. Hajj is a very important fundamental which helps to make one's Īmān stronger.
Shaykh Muftī 'Abdur Rahīm Lājpūrī rahimahullāh mentions with regards the permissible reasons for postponing hajj:
The following are reasons for which hajj may be postponed:
Fear of a tyrannical leader.
An unsafe journey.
Illness because of which the person cannot travel.
For a woman not to have a mahram or husband to accompany her.
For a woman to be sitting in her 'iddah.
He further states that although these factors justify postponing hajj; however, it will be compulsory to proceed with the journey as soon as they no longer exist.
Therefore, it is my heartfelt plea to those upon whom hajj is fard, that they embark on this blessed journey this very year. They should have trust in Allāh ta'ālā for all their affairs and fulfil this obligation. May Allāh ta'ālā remove all difficulties and hurdles that anyone may have and make hajj easy for one and all. Āmīn.
Hajj is an invitation from the Lord of all the Worlds to visit His Sacred House and an opportunity for us to correct the shortcomings and faults we find in our lives. All intending pilgrims should be focused on the great journey that awaits them and prepare for it as best as possible. In addition to the essential task of learning the injunctions of Hajj, there are a number of other points that should be given special attention by all those who are about to become the Guests of Allāh ta'ālā.
Intending pilgrims should examine their intentions and ask themselves why they are going for Hajj. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
Actions are only according to intentions. (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
If one's intention is correct and sincere, the deed is accepted, but if it is incorrect then the deed does not receive acceptance. Regarding the intentions for Hajj, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam predicted:
Near to Qiyāmah, the affluent of my ummah will perform Hajj merely for leisure whilst the middle-class of my ummah will perform Hajj for the sake of trade, the scholars will perform Hajj for show (and ostentation) and the poor will perform Hajj in order to beg. (Kanz-ul-'Ummāl)
We need to examine our intentions. We should not be going just to appease relatives and friends who keep 'pestering' us to go or because we desire the title of Hājī. Our sole intention should be to please Allāh ta'ālā who created us and who granted us the health, wealth and opportunity to visit Makkah Mukarramah and to fulfil His Command. Moreover, we have to endeavour to maintain this sincerity all the time whilst performing the rites of Hajj and after we return, until our last breath.
As we are to acquire a unique proximity to Allāh ta'ālā and be His guests of honour, it is inappropriate to go as offenders, guilty of disobedience. Therefore the next task for us is to make tawbah (repent) from all sins, major and minor. Perform two rak'āt nafl salāh with the intention of repentance and make sincere tawbah from all past sins. Regardless of whether sins relate to the Rights of Allāh ta'ālā or the rights of His creation, or whether they relate to the realm of akhlāq (moral conduct), 'ibādāt (worship), mu'āmalāt (transactions) or mu'āsharah (social interaction), tawbah is necessary in each case.
There are certain preconditions for tawbah: For those sins which only violate the Rights of Allāh ta'ālā, such as drinking alcohol, fornication, gambling, failure to perform salāh or give zakāh etc., there are three conditions. The first condition is immediate abstention from such sins. Secondly, there must be regret in the heart for having committed these sins; a feeling of remorse about disobeying Allāh ta'ālā who brought us into existence when we were nothing. Thirdly, there must be a firm intention never to engage in those sins again in the future.
If a sin also involves violation of the Rights of Allāh ta'ālā's creation, e.g. defrauding someone, slander or backbiting, then in all such cases a fourth condition will also have to be met. It will be necessary to make amends to the person whose rights were violated, e.g. if someone's wealth was misappropriated, it will have to be returned or forgiveness sought. If the violation was such that it cannot be compensated for materially, forgiveness must be sought from the victim and his displeasure must be abated.
When a servant fulfils all these conditions, then, as appears in a hadīth:
A person who repents from sin is like one who has no sin. (Ibn Mājah, At-Tabarānī)
True tawbah results in a commitment to perform the five daily salāh and to complete any qadhā salāh, to discharge zakāh on time and to settle any past zakāh and to fulfil the obligation of qurbānī and to pay sadaqah for previously missed qurbānīs. If we have oppressed or wronged someone, we must seek their forgiveness; if we have defrauded or usurped somebody's wealth, we must return it; if we are on bad terms with somebody, we must reconcile our differences.
The reason behind meeting people before departing for Hajj is just this; that we ask for forgiveness and reconcile any disputes that may exist between us. Superficially saying, 'Forgive me,' is not enough to secure forgiveness, we have to genuinely make an attempt to please the person whom we have wronged. Nowadays, we go to meet and seek forgiveness from those whom we are on good terms with and where there is no real need to seek forgiveness, yet we do not go to see and make peace with those with whom we have some quarrel.
3. Trust in Allāh ta'ālā
A further point worth addressing is the anxiety felt by those intending to go for Hajj. There are two reasons for this: firstly, the quite natural apprehension of travelling to a foreign country, and secondly, the negative comments made by those who have been to Hajj before. It should be understood that throughout the whole journey of Hajj, inshā'allāh you will witness 99% comfort and a mere 1% of difficulty. Shaytān however, in order to ruin our ibādah, makes us look only towards the 1% so that upon our return, we complain about the difficulties encountered in the sacred places and spoil our Hajj. The consequence of such disrespectful talk is that other servants of Allāh ta'ālā become discouraged from performing Hajj.
The reality is that every journey has its hardships, even travelling to the Airport involves discomfort and inconvenience. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam commented:
Travel is a portion of suffering. (Al-Bukhāri, Muslim)
The journey of Hajj is long, with approximately two to three million people from all over the world congregating at one specific place. Often they all flock to one place at one time to perform the very same ibādah! Organising for such an event is beyond the capacity of any organisation/government, it is only possible through the Power of Allāh ta'ālā. In such circumstances, the minute amount of inconvenience we may encounter is totally insignificant; the sheer bliss of just casting a single gaze at the House of Allāh ta'ālā outweighs all the difficulties.
Therefore pilgrims returning from Hajj are requested to only relate the positive and complimentary tales of their journey and to forget any negative experiences. Relating negative experiences is a Shaytānic ploy designed to ruin the reward of our Hajj. And if, due to our stories of hardship, someone decides against going for Hajj, we may be held responsible.
So those going for Hajj, and in particular those going for the first time, should pay no attention to the tales of others. The journey of Hajj is a comfortable one, free of any threat, where everything is available. Of course, being a journey, it has some inconveniences, as do all journeys, but we should place our trust in Allāh ta'ālā and remove all anxieties from our minds.
My late respected father, Hāfidh Ibrāhīm Dhorat rahimahullāh, used to say a wonderful thing to those intending to go for Hajj. He would say, 'When we go to visit somebody and become their guest, we do not need to worry about our sleeping arrangements or meals etc. Our host takes full responsibility for us and repeatedly asks us our preferences and if we need anything, we simply request it from our host. Now when this is our state of affairs when our host is a human, is it conceivable that when we go as guests of Allāh ta'ālā, the Creator, He will not fulfil our needs?'
So we need to realise that during Hajj we are the guests of Allāh ta'ālā. And if we do experience any inconvenience, we should think that Allāh ta'ālā is making us go through some minor problems in order to wipe out the mountains of sins we have committed in the past and to save us from the eternal troubles of the Hereafter.
4. Selection of Travelling Companions
When selecting travelling companions, care should be taken to choose pious and righteous people, possibly people who have performed Hajj before. If it is possible to travel with a pious scholar, then all the better. The group should not be too large and fellow travellers should be like-minded, able to get on with, assist and serve each other without considering it a burden. Experience shows that during Hajj, if people of dissimilar temperaments travel together, some disagreement or other always crops up. Obviously Hajj is a journey in which rancour and bitterness are to be avoided. It has been seen that friendships that develop during Hajj remain lifelong as do hostilities. Accordingly, our companions should be pious people, who will prompt us when we are neglectful and make us incline towards Allāh ta'ālā, the Ākhirah and the successful accomplishment of our goal.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Luggage
Another point to remember is to avoid taking along unnecessary items. This will make the journey easier, particularly at customs, and whilst travelling to and fro between the airport and hotels. Everything is available at our destination and can be purchased when needed. Essentials to take along are necessary clothing, toiletries, etc. Generally, people take along many superfluous items from home and then end up going through hardship because of them.
6. Refrain from Unfounded Customs
During the time leading up to departure, we must refrain from all disobedience to Allāh ta'ālā, including those customs and traditions which displease Him. We do many things just because others do, e.g. inviting lots of people for a meal before going for Hajj. It should be remembered that whatever act is done merely for show incurs the displeasure of Allāh ta'ālā, not His Pleasure.
Should someone give an invitation out of affection, which is accepted out of affection, then it will be a rewarding deed. If however, one feels compelled to offer an invitation because other relatives have done so, then the act of inviting is just for show and devoid of any reward. Furthermore the intending pilgrim, having been invited by so many people, feels obliged to arrange a meal for them too. Thus, just before setting off on his blessed journey, the intending pilgrim hires out a hall and invites lots of people to a function resembling a wedding party in its extravagance. There is no need for such formalities and excesses. We should beware lest the burden of sins we already bear prior to going for Hajj is added to by such behaviour.
7. Acquire and Study a Book on Hajj
Every intending pilgrim should acquire a book on Hajj in the language he is most comfortable with. The book should not be too brief nor should it be overloaded with masā'il and it should be written by an authoritative and experienced 'ālim. Repeated study of this book, preferably under the supervision of a reliable 'ālim or mufti, will ensure a firm grounding in the method of Hajj. And whatever is not clear should be clarified again with a qualified authority.
8. Study 'Virtues of Hajj'
The masā'il of Hajj can be acquired through the above method, but to give life to the rites of Hajj and to endow them with their true spirit, 'Virtues of Hajj' should be studied carefully. It should also be taken along and read during the journey of Hajj.