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The video clip posted below is taken from one of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lectures: “The Critical Importance of Al-Ghazali in Our Times”. Shaykh Hamza in this 2:25 min video clip touches upon what Imam al-Ghazali meant when he spoke about Trust in God and Tawhid. I would encourage you to listen to the clip (and the whole lecture if you can, but this clip in particular). For me, this clip pretty much sums everything up. I think once we get our heads around this thing Imam al-Ghazali wrote about and Shaykh Hamza narrates (which doesn’t happen overnight), we will be able to deal better with the situations and circumstances God places us in. It’s not an easy thing, but hey, who said this life was meant to be easy? But we strive, and strive, and persevere, and try to build our understanding which ultimately gives us the strength and spiritual energy we need to carry on in our journeys back to our Lord.
I have transcribed the video clip (well most of it!) which I have pasted below. Hope you find it beneficial.
“…Realising that, the destination that you’re on is the one to your own death. And he ends this, he has fear and hope and trust in God, and he puts Trust and Tawhid in the same chapter which is very interesting. Because to him, Tawhid is not a theoretical construct which it is to most Muslims, this idea that God is One. No, to him, God is doing everything at every instant. That is Tawhid. And Ghazali is arguing that if you really understand this, you will have utter trust in God. You will put all your trust in God because it’s all God. God is doing everything in every instant. And this is why if you’re not content with your circumstances, he argues you’re not content with God because it’s God that put you in those circumstances but what God is asking you to do is to respond to them appropriately. That’s the challenge. It’s not the circumstances. The challenge is the power that God has given you in your will, your irada, to actually take your circumstances and respond appropriately. And there are only four circumstances and four requisite responses. You’re in tribulation, and he says the response to that is patience. You’re in a situation of blessing and you have to respond to that with gratitude, and that will increase you. And if you don’t do those things, what he says is, if you are in a state of gratitude and you respond by heedlessness, the blessings will be taken away from you. Not as a punishment, but as a reminder to pull you back. One of the things he says is, there are only two types of people (from a hadith):
1. People in tribulation
2. People in good situations
He said, if you are in a good situation, God will send the people of tribulation to you. And if you reject them and close the door on them, He will make you the people of tribulation. He will take away your blessings because your blessings are to serve the people in tribulation. These are the awakenings that he is trying to instill and inculcate, and this is why as you read this book, a transformation should occur. If it doesn’t, you haven’t read the book.”
- Anyone who is in a state of heedlessness, and reads the Ihya, it will take them into a state of presence.
- Hearts have a colour. Everything we do colours the heart in a certain way. Something about the Ihya is that it grabs you and takes you from heedlessness to presence.
- Ostentation- a type of ostentation is when you get happy when someone hears/find out you have done good.
- Reading the Ihya is the process of healing.
- Adab is the essence of our deen (religion).
- Indeed the Qur’an is the banquet of Allah so benefit from it, and what He gives you.
- If you let the world overtake you, it will let you. It will eat you up and you will always be constricted.
- Contentment is a treasure that will never perish, the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam said.
- The Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam is the way to ultimately judge everything by.
- The story of the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam’s life should be directly related to our connection to the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam. You can only determine the scholar if they love the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
- You should never increase in knowledge until you also increase in humility. The more in knowledge you increase, the more humility you should have.
- Reward and punishment relate to the inner realities of human beings.
- We need to bring back the sunnah of smiling!
- Allah created everything in existence. He embellished its form and order. He is the One who measured it out and cautioned it in the best way. Nothing is in existence, except It’s wisdom.
- Knowing how to apply ones knowledge is something, and knowing how to place something in its position is another thing.
- The greatest crisis of our time is the crisis of adab.
- Adab is related to wisdom and putting things in their right place.
- The inward relates to the outward; and the outward relates to the inward.
- The outward etiquette’s are proprieties. The way of carrying them outwardly is indicative of what is in one’s heart.
- Nothing is done outwardly for except it stems from the heart, and nothing comes to the heart unless it’s from a thought.
- Righteous people don’t even backbite people in their thoughts!
- All behaviour begins with a thought; they have a natural inclination. Then you decide one way or the other on what you are going to do.
- We are not taken into account for our thoughts or inclinations. We have to struggle- learning to control ourselves.
- Our deeds that we do is a trait of our character.
- The Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam is the gifted mercy from Allah to us. The Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam brought guidance to us.
- Learning is a process; it’s from the cradle to the grave!
- The hidden secrets of the heart- these are the planting places for seeds. It is the light of these innermost secrets of the heart; these are what shine outwardly.
- Whomsoever’ heart is not in a state of humility, their outward state will not be in a state of humility.
- The heart spreads light if there is light in it.
- Your heart is constantly changing. It’s important to know the state of the heart.
- The spiritual path is not linear. You will get what you need in the moment you need it but it’s not the way you expected. Everything that comes to you is in reality for your benefit. We accept the Qadr (Decree); not only accepting, but also knowing the lessons Allah has/is teaching us through that. We might learn through by being hurt, or through tribulations.
- No one served like the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam did. He was in the service of people and His Lord. Anyone who does not serve, will not progress spiritually.
- Don’t cut off ties with any of your family; doing so cuts off the Mercy from Allah.
- One is in absolute need of his Lord and there is nowhere else to go!
- Knowledge gives birth to other knowledge! Anytime you learn something, you should write it down. Review and revisit notes. You take notes on the basis of teaching others.
- If we don’t learn from lessons from people, we become lessons to other people.
- There has to be a balance in everything, except dhikr of Allah which needs to be constant/often.
- Be patient with everything that afflicts you.
- If you are the easiest person to please, and the hardest person to get angry then everyone will love you!
- Don’t be content with what you have achieved, keep going. Shaitaan and Nafs will tell you to stop and hold you down, but don’t you listen to them!
- If we are not thankful to Allah for small amounts, then how are we ever going to be thankful for great amounts? Gratitude is the key to tawfiq (success).
- Make big intentions. Allah opens 70 doors of tawfiq for the one who opens up him the door of righteous intention.
~ Shaykh Yahya Rhodus– The Life Conduct the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wasalam, Rihla 2011, Bursa, Turkey (Paraphrased)
More gems to follow inshaAllah ta’Ala……
(Photos’ courtesy- Rihla Student Please keep them in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )
Gems from Rihla 2011- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (Part 2)
- Imam al-Ghazali is a giant; he is a mountain. And the more you learn about him, the bigger the mountain becomes.
- The Iyha was Imam al-Ghazali’s magnum opus. He wrote it with the intention of giving the Ummah the book that besides the Qur’an will be enough for the educated Muslims. Some argue that the Ihya is all you need as your guide back to Allah.
- The Ihya has immense impact. First thing tells us that the Ihya is in 4 parts. In each section/part Imam al-Ghazali put 10 books. There are 40 books in the Ihya. 40 is a special number.
- The Qur’an is central to Imam al-Ghazali’s teaching.
- If God can make a house holy, you don’t think He can make a heart holy? If He can sanctify stones, He can sanctify a human heart.
- If you’re knocking at the door, the knocking is itself the opening of the door; if you are journeying, your start is your beginning, don’t worry if you don’t get there. Stop wasting time. Death is waiting for you. This was the key message of Imam al-Ghazali
- Only thing that reduces anxiety is by certainty (Yaqeen), and knowing that everything that happens is only because of Allah, and you’re in good hands.
- Wudu is ibadah. It’s independent worship. You can do wudu just as a form of worship. If you are not doing any practices to prepare for prayer, you will probably not feel anything in prayer. Sidi Ahmed Zarruq said “The degree of your presence in prayer is dependent on your wudu”
- Wudu comes from Wada’a which means to make bright. The wudu is how the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam recognises his Ummah on the day of judgement, i.e by the light of their limbs.
- Don’t let shaitaan take the light away from your prayer.
- You have to have time between you and your Lord.
- The greatness of the creation of the mosquito is no less than the greatness of the creation of the elephant. Everything that happens is a cause for marvel.
- The whole world is a metaphor; we are all travellers in this world.
- The world can reject you, but Allah will never reject us. His door is always open.
- Allah created a world of expansion and contraction. The heart contracts and expands. Natural state of human is that he is in-between contraction and expansion.
- Allah creates death and life to try us to see which of us is best in virtue and action.
- If you are in blessing, you have to be very grateful.
- The easiest thing in this world is not very beneficial. The hardest thing is very beneficial. The struggle is what makes us stronger and gets us closer to Allah.
- In the lifting up of our feet, even the act of walking is indicative of our fitra desire to yearn for a return to al-Jannah.
- The Van Allen belt is formed by Earth’s rotation and serves as a protection barrier from radiation. This is the secret behind the power and protection of making tawba and our turning to towards Allah.
- The recording Angel on the left doesn’t record our sins until the end of the day. So hasten to make tawba.
- Our aspirations should always be in the celestial. That’s why almost all of the early scholars of Islam were astronomers.
- Every civilization in power has been obsessed with astronomy and law. Astronomy equals law of the heavens; Law equals law of the land.
- If the stars ever go out in the night sky, how will men come to know God?
- Just as the sun rises bit by bit, it’s the sunnah of God for openings from Him to also come bit by bit. So, be patient
Allah created the stars:
1. As a way to ornament the sky with the lamps- stars so we would marvel at them.
2. To strike down the shaitan.
3. Signs that we are guided by.
4 Levels of patience:
1. Patience with ibada (worship).
2. Patience with avoiding sins.
3. Patience with tribulations and we show this by being content with the decree of Allah.
4. Patience with blessings, we show this by thanking Allah for all the blessings He has given us.
- When things get really bad, know that things will get better. The Sahaba (companions) of the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam used to say that when they were in trepidation, they knew bad/hard things will be coming their way, and when bad things happened, they knew that good things will be coming their way.
- If someone commits to the practice of surrendering and sabr (patience), over time the tribulations become easy and they no longer feel the tribulation. You are in paradise whilst in duniya then!
- ‘We will test you until we see who is patient’- to see what you are made out of. The struggle and patience go together. The best attitude to have is patience.
- Patience takes time and effort. Over time you can acquire this natural state.
Don’t attach to dunya because:
1. It’ not permanent
2. It is the tests you will go through due to it
- ‘With hardship comes ease’ The ease will overwhelm the hardship!
- In tribulations, things come slowly. The night is peeled away. Just as the night is peeled away slowly, tribulations move away slowly.
- The opening is there, but will only come when the time is right!
- The clouds of goodness contain rain; when the time comes, it will pour. Allah sends down rain to dead lands; He does it at the appropriate time. When the appropriate time for openings come, it will come. He does things in His time, not our time. This is part of being content with the Qadr and what happen has been apportioned for you.
- A person is not a Sufi until the angel does not record a sin for 20 years!!
- A person on a path will change 40 times in a day where as those who do not have a path stay in the same state for 40 years!
- Your spiritual life is not curvier linear; it should be constantly moving up!
- A life is made up of building blocks and how you move through the knowledge block.
- Every believer is a wali.
- Shariah = outward path to Allah, Tariqah= inward path to Allah and only joining the both together will give you Haqiqa- reality.
- Seeing the Creator in all of creation and seeing the Provider in all provision is Tawheed in a nutshell.
- When doors of guidance open for you, hasten up. Don’t try to get to the end before the beginning.
- ‘Practice makes perfect…’ no it doesn’t, it makes permanent. If you practice wrong, it doesn’t make perfect. You need a Teacher.
- Don’t follow books; follow the people who know the books.
- Often times people are deficient in one area, but are made up for it in another area. Historically, Muslims recognised this.
- One of the great mysteries of the Qur’an is that no matter how often you read it, you always find something new in it.
- So many verses in the Qur’an relate to being patient. Being patient with people in Iman/faith. Some are naturally born more tolerant, but you can change that.
- Patience is a sign of sincerity and its from Taqwa you show patience.
- Even the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wasalm was commanded to be patient!
- Allah loves the patient; part of the reason the tribulation comes is to draw the quality of patience out of them- He loves this quality. Allah is with the patient one.
- When tribulations hit you, patience (sabr) is actually when you are accepting something. This also relates to having a good opinion of Allah. When you have a good opinion of Allah, the tribulation you know happen for a reason, although it might not seem so at the time.
- The one who submits their entire being. This means that the future is not a concern for them, and the past is not a worry for them. They are living in the present. There are people of good and those who do good; they are not in fear and nor do they grieve.
- Children are very much in the moment, they do not worry or care about their past or future. The Arifs’ (Gnostic) heart is like the child. Childrens hearts are in submission. They are in Tawhid.
- Trusting the past is over, and doing Tawba that its over. If you truly made tawba, you don’t remember your sin as it obliterates the past. Tawba is like editing a video. You go and edit the parts of the video you do not like so on the day of Judgement, you can see the film without any blunders. Just say Astagfirullah, the angels will cut the bad thing!
- Hold onto Allah! He is your Lord, He is the One who takes care of your affairs.
- Some people focus on reliance on Allah, others only focus on means; but a balance of both is all that will save the ship of humanity.
- If you make all of your concerns of the akhira (afterlife), Allah will take care of everything for you.
- The benefits of your Lord are many; all the benefits of your Lord are for your nourishment. It has a beautiful fragrance- seek it out.
- The blessings of Allah are countless.
- Sometimes there is a fail that comes that brings you to life; there are great waves/ocean that come to you. Creation is all in the hands of Allah; some are being elevated, some being debased; some are being difficult or tested in blessing.
- Media is one of the tribulations of our life, they make things worse!
- Single most difficult limb is the tongue. Its one of the great wonders of Allah. You have to discipline the tongue. The tongue is a great tribulation.
- The world is not cursed. The world is also the cosmos. When we talk about the blameworthy aspects, we mean the duniya. This mountain (Uludag) is not cursed, it’s an incredible testimony of Allah.
- You should worship Allah because He is worthy of worship!
- Allah is Wahid- al-Qahr. Everything in the heaven and earth are acknowledging this at some level. He is calling us to reflect on this. The events that happen in our lives are purposeful; there is always a reason behind it.
- The best sleep is immediately after Isha and the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam said not to engage in too much entertainment at night.
- Nawafil night prayers protect the body from diseases and wrong actions. But you won’t be able to get up if you sin a lot.
- Contentment with the decree of Allah is appropriate- this should be your reliance. The Contentment with Allah’s decree is a very high Maqam. Rabia al-Adawiya was asked how do you know if someone is content with Allah’s decree. She replied by saying ‘ When you feel the same joy in periods of tribulation as you do during periods of blessing’
~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Jewels and Pearls of the Qur’an lesson, Rihla 2011, Bursa, Turkey (Paraphrased)
More gems to follow inshaAllah ta’Ala……
(Photos courtesy- Rihla Student Please keep them in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )
- Path to Allah is through struggle. That struggle brings its own reward and bliss.
- Seeing Allah in al-Janaah is better then anything else in this world.
- A person who arrogates themselves won’t go much higher but the one who humbles himself before Allah, Allah elevates him.
- Allah has power over all things; He does whatever He does. Don’t limit the Qudra (power) of Allah. If Allah wants to give you that gift, He will give you that gift. We should have good etiquette with Allah.
- Increase the love for the Messenger salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalm through knowledge, Seerah and the Shamail. Learn about his struggles and tribulations, and the knowledge he brought to us. Salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
- A Muslim’s compassion is a form of dhikr.
- Human have aspects of beasts and angels within themselves. The more we pray, the closer we get to angels.
- Salah bequeath light to us.
- Expose yourself with the gentle breezes of Allah; Allah blesses the night with His gentle breezes and in the early hours in the morning. What Allah gives through Gentleness, He doesn’t give through harshness.
- Allah is good and pure and only accepts that which is good and pure.
- Fasting has an internal and external reality. It’s a powerful form of Ibadah, and it’s reward is unlimited. Fasting is a manifestation of patience, and the reward for patient people is unlimited.
- Greatest act of taqwa is fasting. We give up things which are lawful and pure, therefore we cannot manifest insincerity in fasting.
- The prophet salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam was asked why he fasted on Monday, he salla’Allahu alayhi wasalam replied because it’s the day I was born. So fasting is a mawlid!
- Always ask Allah for sincerity. Once you have done the act, move on, don’t let shaitan whisper to you.
- Struggle in the way of your Lord. Hardship brings ease. The one who does not struggle, does not get ease.
~ Imam Zaid Shakir– ‘Forty Foundations of the Religion’ Class, Rihla 2011, Bursa, Turkey (Quotes above are paraphrased)
More gems to follow inshaAllah ta’Ala……
(Photos courtesy- Ibrahim Varachia. Please keep him in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )
2 of my favourite quotes from ‘The Forty Rules of the Religion of Love – Shams of Tabriz’, taken from the “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak:
“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remained closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied. “
“O Soul! Despair not of a major fault! Great sins resemble little ones, in God’s forgiveness. It may be, when my Lord distributes His mercy, that it will come in proportion equal to our sins. My Lord! Let not my hope in You be overthrown, nor let my credit with You be void of worth. Deal kindly with Your slave in both worlds, for when terrors call to him, his patience is weak.
~ The Mantle Adorned (Imam Busari’s Burda), 155-158, translated by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
A great sermon by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad which is well worth the listen (as are all his lectures mashaAllah!)
“In this sermon, Sheikh Abdal Hakim discusses the difference between having patience (sabr) during the struggles of life, and taking pleasure or having contentment (rida’) in them. By Allah’s Mercy, accepting what He decrees with patience for us is a route to salvation, but it is a higher degree for us to embrace and love that decree. By another inspiring aspect of Allah’s guidance, the latter is initially harder but actually makes the path toward Him easier. Instead of religion just being a set of duties or things we have to put up with, it becomes an on-going source of wonder and contentment. May Allah grant us the state of being contented with His Decree.”
May Allah increase and bless Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, and may we continue to benefit from his teachings. Amin.
Storms occur unexpectedly; some last for a few minutes, some last a few hours and some last a few days. Regardless of the duration of each storm, we know that they pass and come to an end eventually. Storms are like the trials and tribulations of this life. Each situation passes and moves onto the next. We may face a certain trial or a series of trials suddenly, abruptly and simultaneously. Often we cannot predict how long we will be under that specific trial for, but knowing that just like storms eventually come to an end, the trial(s) we face also come to an end eventually.
“If you want to be a true follower of Abraham, then do as he did: I do not love that which wanes and vanishes [6:76]. Every circumstance wanes and vanishes. It is ephemeral and will pass away. One poet has said:
Coming from nothing
Going to nothing
It’s called circumstance
Because it circles.
Everything that appears
By necessity disappears.
Look at the shadow as you stand
To what end does it come?
No matter how long it is,
It inevitably grows less and less
As I said, whatever circumstance you find yourself in, whether you enjoy it or despise it, will without a doubt pass away.” ~ Excerpt from The Book of Illumination by Ibn Ata’Allah al-Iskandari
Dealing with one trial is extremely testing and demands incredible sabr (patience), but having a serious of trials one after the other makes one realise Allah’s Lordship over them and that no matter what they do, they have no control over their affairs. Allah is the One who can and will ease things when He wants, not when we have had enough and can’t cope. We must never forget the beautiful words of our Lord ta’ala when He says in the Qu’ran al-Karim:
“On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear” (2:286).
When placed under those circumstances, we have no choice but to submit ourselves to the Lord of the worlds and endure everything, regardless of the excruciating pain we may feel, whether emotionally or physically. Submission is not as easy as it sounds and the heart is in constant turmoil with preconceived thoughts of what the outcome may be, or the length we have to be in that state for. But regardless of how we may feel, we are powerless to do anything about the situation and just have to wait until the Lord most High pulls us out of the situation, because only He has the Power to do that. We all get tested but in different ways; whatever the case, we must know that Allah ta’ala will never leave us and is fully aware of our situation. People may turn their backs, but Allah ta’ala will never leave us. Allah ta’ala knows our state, situation and what we carry in the hearts and only He can bring the ease and fulfil our needs when He wills. As the great Gnostic Ibn Ata’Allah said eloquently in his Book of Illumination:
“Knowing that Allah knows our condition gives us patience with Allah’s decision.”
“Knowing that divine goodness’ subtleties hidden in every difficult gives us patience in high degrees to endure all divine decrees.”
May Allah alleviate the sufferings of all those Muslim brothers and sisters who are going through trials and tribulations, and may each trial be a means of seeking His forgiveness and salvation on the day of judgement. Allahumma amin!
Photo credit: David HR http://www.flickr.com/photos/hdr400d/1517884823/
“No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” (Narrated by Sayyida Aisha radhiAllahu anha, Sahi Bukhari, Vol: (7) Hadith No: (544))
Life can be tough at times, but the above hadith reminds us that nothing goes un-noticed to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, not even a tiny thing such as a prick from a thorn; so what about everything else that the heart endures when afflicted with calamities, hardships, trials/tribulations?
With this in mind, let’s rejoice and seek comfort in knowing that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is aware of what is going on in our hearts. Each difficult moment, day, month, year(s) we experience, lets be assured that He subhanahu wa ta’ala is aware of our state and situation. Life is short, and thus time is important; each breath is a blessing and gives us an opportunity to get closer to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, which is really want all these situations are about- for us to run to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala. As Mawlana Rumi very eloquently sums it all up for us:
“He has afflicted you from every direction in order to pull you back to the Directionless.”
May our hearts always be attached to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, and may each difficulty we all face be a means of purification for us. Amin ya Rabb! Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad!
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death”
~ Thomas Paine