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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. )

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