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Ramadan, Rumi, and Love

By Zeshan Zafar

Sunset. Ramadan 2015.  Iphotography.

Sunset. Ramadan 2015.
Iphotography.

It is part of life to have a difference of opinion with various individuals or groups of people. Terry Tempest Williams, in one of her books, states, “Most of all, difference of opinions are opportunities of learning.”

However, generally speaking, on many occasions, when this occurs, if one doesn’t manage it well or lacks comportment, the result can turn into a feeling of animosity. Furthermore, when uncontrolled, it can turn into hatred, a spiritual disease that sits at the core of one’s heart, dictating and defining one’s behaviour unbeknown to oneself.

When such hatred sets into our way of life, individuals choose to deal with it in a variety of ways. Some try to mask the emotion or seek validation for that hatred; others seek revenge or violent harm with devastating consequences to those they may have loved unconditionally at one time. We also see the modern phenomenon of social media being used to spread this hatred, unfairly sowing the seeds of doubts that stick and label many unfortunate individuals with “justified” gossip becoming an accepted discussion on each of our tables.

Such behaviour has unfortunately broken down many marriages, families, friendships, communities, business partners, etc. as this trait continues to become rampant to the point that we no longer discern the goodness and sacrifices that many still work towards in our respective communities, regardless of our opinions. Instead, we tend to sideline them and bad mouth them, thinking we are safe to share statements against people in the confines of our close circles, yet at the same time we do not realise the terrible human beings we are all becoming through the mismanagement of this emotion.

One of my teachers once said in one of his lectures, “Do not have a crablike mentality whereby when crabs are put in a bucket together, each one tries to escape by pulling the other one down, just to escape themselves, leading to collective demise.” This is exactly what hatred is doing to the development and growth of our communities in times when our real challenges are elsewhere and which we should all really be focusing our energies on. Unfortunately, we cry out emotional slogans such as “Muslim Unity” without realising that little can be changed without changing oneself.

One of the most notable scholars and thinkers of Islam, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, recently shared a profound insight from the Qur’an that states, “Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” He stated that our community is besot by changing the world whilst forgetting the simple hard rule of changing oneself, and that the role of changing the condition of people as a collective is the role of God. So if we all focused on changing ourselves first, ridding ourselves of our hatred for one another and purifying our own hearts, God will take care of the rest.

The question arises, how can we move beyond this hatred and begin to remove this infection so that goodness can be achieved in the short time we tread on this earth, with the invaluable gift we have been given of life?

Many have their own mechanisms of dealing with this. Recently, whilst on a journey to the States, a dear friend of mine gave me valuable and practical advice on a way to manage such tendencies, by making a conscientious and sincere effort to reach out to individuals you feel you have wronged, or who you feel wronged you, or who seem distant to you. He suggested making a prayer for them to rid your heart of antagonistic presumptions by reaching out to them on a weekly basis, until all that is contained or constricts your heart disappears until you only have mahabba (love) for that person.

The Muslim community as a whole is known to be a giving community, especially when it comes to charity and hospitality, and they continue to hold tight to the noble virtues that are fast disappearing in a globalised world. Yet charity as described by our Prophet (peace be upon him) is also through actions and good deeds: hence being altruistic through your generosity, kindness, compassion, and time are equally important. Letting go of the self is important to move away at an individual level, especially in a world where the “self” has become a dictator over our natural inclination of moderation. Many argue over the ownership of ideas and whether certain ideas are relevant and can work. The best advice I was given was to let people learn from their mistakes but to not cause further rift that our communities are regularly torn by. Instead, you must choose the incision point that you feel can best help and support individuals that you perhaps disagree with, as our commonalities are far greater than our differences.

For those who feel they do not need help from someone sincerely trying to offer their support or help, remember even if such advice is not appropriate or compatible with your aims, never ignore it. You will always find a time when such advice can be found to be valuable at a different stage of your life or applicable to a different situation.

This is what distinguishes people of wisdom, such as Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who represents someone that keeps love at the centre of how he lives (may Allah grant him good health and a long life), through his acts of consistency. He epitomises renewal in his scholarship, but, more importantly, through his self-discipline and observance, he embodies renewal in his character. He is someone who knows not of hatred. He is someone who cannot but love and be objective to those who may be fierce critics or who oppose him or his approach. What struck me in my observances of the Shaykh is that despite any animosity shown to him, he always takes the time to listen and offer his help as he would to those who are amongst his family. This is evident in the Shaykh’s writings and rulings that speak with kindness, graciousness, and nobility of the other. I am sure everyone can relate to an individual out there who embodies such prophetic characteristics, and if you can, do not be ashamed to acknowledge your shortfalls before making that effort of change required by those who inspire you.

As Ramadan makes its yearly entrance into our homes, lives, and hearts, this is what I will be aiming to strive for, being mindful and realistic that things do not happen over night. I hope others can have mercy with me and forgive me for any wrongdoing. Imam Shafi’i famously said, “Be hard on yourself and easy on others,” noting that our God is a God that is all-merciful and all-forgiving; these are utterances that we grow up on and repeat daily.

So if your heart has flipped once, let it flip repeatedly until you have nothing but love for those who are around you. This can be achieved only by empathising. Ramadan Kareem. I will leave you with the words of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Zeshan Zafar is the Director of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and is currently based in Abu Dhabi. 

“There is nothing on earth that God loves more than His slave, hands raised helplessly in supplication, weeping, and pleading.” (Signs on the Horizons)

Haroon Sugich, Dubai, 2014

Haroon Sugich, Dubai, 2014

Towards the end of November 2014, I was sent for a week long work assignment to Dubai. Whilst I was out there, I had a wonderful meeting with Michael Sugich (whose Muslim name is Haroon), author of the beautifully written book: Signs on the Horizons. Sidi Haroon came to the UK in May 2014 and conducted a book reading at Rumi’s Cave. As much as I wanted to attend that event and meet Sidi Haroon, I was unable to go because of work (it was quite an intense period at work and I could not make it to the event in time). Six months down the line, not only did I get to meet Sidi Haroon, but I also was fortunate to be able to spend a couple of hours with him, talking and discussing his book, and simply listening to the many wonderful stories he had to share. It’s amazing how work was the reason I could not attend his event in London, but then, work was also the reason I was out in Dubai and had the meeting with Sidi Haroon. Allah plans beautifully! For those who have not read the book: Signs on the Horizons is a memoir written by Michael Sugich (Sidi Haroon) about his spiritual journey of finding his spiritual guide, meeting and interacting with men who have transcended the ordinary and achieved stations of spirituality and enlightenment. I won’t reveal details about the book, but all I can say is that it is one of those books that you must all own and read at least once in your lifetime because it is full of stories that are inspiring and REAL. The interview below has been checked and approved by Sidi Haroon, and I am publishing this after his consent. If you have a chance of meeting him, please make sure you do! —- Sidra: What inspired you to write the book? Haroon: I started writing these stories down over a period of years because I was afraid I was going to forget the details as the years went by. And I began to write them mainly for my children because, while the older children remember some of these great people (who are mentioned in the book), but the younger ones had no connection with them. That was initially the motivation for writing these stories down– basically just to preserve the memories. Shems Friedlander, a very close friend of mine, was publishing a journal on Sufism and he asked me if I would contribute something, and I had one of these stories to share. The story was on Moulay Abu Qassim as the story had a big impact on me when I was young. I had a story already written, I sent it to Shems, and he included it in his journal. What surprised me was the reaction. People would say: “You really met these people?” “These people really exist?” The reaction from people started to make me think that it would be useful for a wider audience, there seems to be a longing for this sort of thing. The response to the book has validated that idea because I have come to learn that many Muslims have become disconnected from these kind of people (those mentioned in the book). They exist, but they have receded. When Sidi Abdul Adheem (Peter) Sanders and I were young, we would be in a room where you might have 50 Awliya (Friends of God)! This is very hard to find anymore. It’s not because they don’t exist, but they’ve withdrawn to a certain extent because people have lost interest in spirituality. Also, I have spent the last 20 years writing for other people, and I felt I wanted to write something that had meaning for me. My daughter was studying in an art school in Paris in 2009. She would go off to school in the mornings and I would spend the whole day writing and loved it because I got to think about these people, it was a wonderful experience, and I would like to do more of it. Sidra: A lot of your book covers personal experiences, in fact all of it is based on your personal interactions with these great people. Many people shy away from writing and sharing these kind of experiences where as you have been very open. How comfortable did you feel about writing and sharing such intimate and personal experiences? Michael: I wrote about things I felt I could write about. I am an old man now (laughs), so something that I might not have written 25 or 30 years ago, because it’s something in the distant past (most of the stories are recounted from when I was so young), there was less to reveal in a spiritual way back then. Sidra: What was the hardest part about writing the book? Haroon: I would not say that writing the book was hard. However, what was difficult was that I had to be careful, true and accurate to the memory and try not to embellish things or make up things for the purpose of impact and literary effect, which can be a temptation. I had to be very careful as this was going to be something before Allah. Once the first draft of the book was done, I spoke to a lot of friends and asked them to share some of their memories to make sure I didn’t get it wrong. What I found out though was that most of my friends have a worse memory than I do! (laughs). I did not get as much detail back from my friends as much as I thought I would. An example of this is as follows. There is a chapter in the book called “All Night Long”, and it’s about a wonderful Naqshbandi Shaykh, Sufi Abdullah (who is based in Birmingham, UK). I wrote the story, and it was about a night of Dhikr we had. It was an amazing night, but what I completely forgot, and my friend Abu Qassim Spiker (who was there that night reminded me, saying, “Don’t you remember Sufi Abdullah was wearing Christmas lights around his neck!” (laughs). If I do another version of the book, I will add that in because it was so bizarre and funny, and it reminds us that people are human. Sufi Abdullah is a great man and I was able to see him recently, he is old and frail now, and it was a poignant and beautiful meeting with him. Also, when we were putting together the book, Shems insisted that each chapter ends with a quote or epigraph. That was the hardest part and took me longer than actually writing the book!

Moulay Hashem said, “It is through the prayer on the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , and love of the Prophet that you receive knowledge and an Opening.” He admonished us to balance the invocation of the Great Name (Allah) with Prayer on the Prophet ﷺ .” The Name of God is hot,” he said. “The Prayer on the Prophet cools the heart.” (Signs on the Horizons)

Sidra: What was the best part of writing the book? Haroon: The best part was to be able to spend a lot of time thinking about these great people. I loved it. I loved thinking about them. Next to that, the best part has been meeting people who have read the book, who have come to the readings, it’s been a wonderful experience. It has given me a lot of opportunity; there are a lot of wonderful young people out there. People need to understand that my generation dropped out: Peter Sanders, Yusuf Islam, Richard Thompson, Abdul Latif Whiteman, etc, most of us dropped out and left everything we were doing because there was no social context; there were no communities. The communities that existed forty years ago were immigrant communities with dysfunctional families, but now it’s completely changed. Your generation have a lot of young people who are vibrant, intelligent, active, who are Muslims but also living in mainstream society, working and achieving. This wasn’t the case back then so it’s so encouraging to see. As troubled as young people seem to be sometimes, it’s encouraging to me to see how much faith young people have. There is so much publicity about extremists and fanatics, but there are many more young people who have their heads in the right place and are decent and productive. Sidra: Your book has been well received. How does that make you feel? Haroon: It’s great. I said to Shems Friedlander that if one person is moved by the book or the book has meaning for just one person, then that would make the effort worth it. However, it has been thousands of people who have appreciated and taken the book to heart. It’s gratifying, I am truly grateful for that.

One member of our group had been struggling on the Path. He asked the Saint (Sidi Mohamed Al- Sahrawi), “What do you do if you perform remembrance of God for year after year but it never reaches the heart?”. He replied, “You keep on invoking God because you never know when your invocation will take hold of the heart. Sometimes the effects of remembrance cannot be felt until the moment before you die. Have patience. Persist. Never give up.” (Signs on the Horizons)

Sidra: In your opinion, do you think every soul needs to go out in search of a teacher or spiritual master? Haroon: I am not really qualified to answer something like that. I think every soul longs for God and Knowledge and wants to tread this path, and should find someone whom is alive to take the path with. But should every simple human being do it? Maybe, but they don’t. Sidra: What would your advice be to the younger generation who are struggling to find that balance of seeking God and living this worldly life? How do we find that balance? Haroon: Firstly, we tend to romanticise the past thinking the past was so perfect and if we were living in another time, everything would have been different. The fact of the matter is that people have always struggled with this, struggled to find a balance of being in the world and heading into the next world, and being distracted by the world. The first thing our society exalts is the accumulation of wealth and fame. I am not sure that was as intense in earlier times as it is now. Someone nowadays can become famous for no reason. We definitely live on a much higher level than our ancestors lived in terms of greater comfort. But are we closer to God? I don’t know. I doubt it. The most important thing young people have to remember is that: you are going to die. The most insane thing in existence is the denial of death, because its the only thing that is certain. My friend Faarid Gouverneur once said to me “There are three certainties: Now, Death, God”. You are not going to live forever, and you won’t be able to retain things forever. Imam al-Ghazali said: ‘Love whatever you like but you will lose it. Live as long as you like but you will die’. And this is the reality. But in this age people think that it is being morbid. It is not morbid, and it’s real and a relief. Why do you want to keep struggling along as a donkey in this life when there is the next life? If you don’t believe in a next life, then I believe you are in trouble. That’s why we remember God. My advice to young people is to remember God standing, sitting and reclining. Moulay Abdul Salam ibn Mashish said, ‘There is nothing acceptable to Allah except DhikrAllah’. What does this mean? It means that if you are doing Salah and you are not remembering Allah, then your Salah is useless. If you are fasting and not remembering Allah then your fasting is useless. If you are giving Zakat and you are not remembering Allah, then your Zakat is useless. If you are struggling for the sake of Allah and you are not remembering Allah then your struggling is useless. Everything is remembrance and this is what absolutely transforms the soul. So this is what young people need to embrace. Everyone makes the way and path harder than it is. Part of the reason I wrote the book is, if you read the existing text on the Awliya, especially in English, you read someone (I am making this example up) who prayed and fasted all the time for 40 years, which seems like an extreme thing and then has an incredible opening. What you don’t read about is all the hundreds and thousands of men and women who had tremendous spiritual benefits from just being ordinary people and remembering Allah. With regards to young people, what I have seen is a lack of confidence. This is because of the inordinate influence of Salafis who see everything in black and white terms. For example, if you sin, you will go to hell, that is what is taught to the youngsters, but Allah is Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem. He is the Most Forgiving, and His Mercy precedes His wrath. My teacher Sayyid Abdullah said that if you read the Qur’an carefully, you will see that most people go to heaven. I found that Muslims feel insecure and they feel they are sinners. Of course we are sinners, but the Rasul ﷺ  said that if you did not sin, Allah would destroy you and replace you with the people who did sin so they can make tawba (repentance) and ask for forgiveness. That is the transaction: tawba and istighfar, that is what it is all about. What is the sin of a Wali of Allah? Forgetting Allah for a split second. That is what his sin would be in this world. In our world today, remembering Allah for a split second is a great thing! We are in that cycle where we make a mistake, we correct ourselves. We make a mistake and correct ourselves. And so on until we are finally purified. We live in an instant age! We want instant Nirvana, everything has to happen tomorrow. You have these insane weekend groups, enlightenment weekends and after one weekend, you are supposed to have changed! People spend 30,40, 50 years on the path, day in and day out doing the same thing. This is what it is all about, not instant results. Yes, some people who are very pure and have sudden openings when they are very young, however these people are exceptional. My teacher Sayyid Umar used to say “The later the better”. By this he meant that later in your life you have maturity and can handle deep spiritual openings.

“God is so immensely generous that He gives His servants everything that they ask for, even if only at the moment of death” (Signs on the Horizons)

Sidra: Your book does not cover or mention any female Saints. I am curious whether you met any? Haroon: No, mainly because of conventional Muslim societies. Men do not meet women. I have met 1-2 women who are Saliheen, but I did not mention them in the book because it would have imbalanced it (i.e more men featured than women). Sidra: As a writer, what would your advice be for aspiring writers? Haroon: Write every day and find a way to do that. Read a lot. If you are writing on Islamic subjects then be humble and refer to people who know more than you. One of the worst things that has happened in modern times is you have a lot of ignorant people writing about Islam and we have to be very careful about that. However, in terms of pure technique, write and re-write. Good writing is re-writing. Basically good writing is part of good thinking. My advice is keep at it. If you don’t have any talent for writing, then don’t do it! Find something else you have a talent for. But if you do have a talent for writing then refine that and get better and better at it, love language. Language is a beautiful thing which separates us from animals. We are able to express ourselves. Therefore it’s a responsibility if you have a gift for writing. One of the reasons I wrote the book is I felt the need to use what small talent I have and do something that has some meaning, rather than just do it. John Steinbeck, when he was young, wrote two huge novels that were never sold. Then he wrote a book called “Tortilla Flat” which was a success. He then wrote “Cannery Row”, which was a huge success, and then he wrote “Grapes of Wrath” which was his masterpiece and while he was writing it he knew that it was going to be a masterpiece. Steinbeck wrote to his friend saying that ‘it was all those millions of words before’. Sidra: When can we expect your next book and what will it be about? Haroon: I am working on 3-5 books at the moment, it’s not a good thing! I’m working on a book on extremism, another on the turning of the heart (tawba), a third is a kind of sequel to Signs on the Horizons. We have a project pending on Morocco. It will take me a while, but something may come. The answer is, I don’t know!

“I told him with some pride that three people had just converted to Islam with me. He smiled sweetly and said, “Why not three hundred?” His response left me deflated. Was he teaching me humility? Was he teaching me not to be satisfied with a small achievement but to aspire to greater things? I expected a pat on the back and felt that my efforts had been dismissed by this great man. In retrospect, it occurred to me as I was setting down these memories decades later that one of the three souls who had converted to Islam was an intense and brilliant 18 year old former theological student who subsequently learned Arabic, travelled the world in search of knowledge, sitting with many of the great men of the Way and emerged as one of the most influential Muslim thinkers and orators in the West, reaching millions and guiding thousands on the path of Islam. He is known today as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. In balance I would say he counts for three hundred, at the very least. Perhaps Shaykh Al- Azhar understood this with the eye of insight” (Signs on the Horizons)

—– BookThe book is available to buy from Amazon. You can also follow the Signs on the Horizons Facebook Page. Please keep Sidi Haroon and his family in your prayers! Special thanks to my dear brother and friend “The Conscious Muslim” for his help and support in checking this blog post for me before I published it- please recite a prayer for him too!

Everything that has a beginning has an end. That is a sign in this world. Everyone will abandon us in the end, but God and His Messenger will never abandon you. If you feel it’s bleak, know you have a Merciful Lord and a Prophet ﷺ who is concerned for you. ~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (via my friend Zaynab Salman)

I have been going through Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s commentary on the Miracles of the Qu’ran from chapter 6 of the Burda by Imam al-Busiri this Ramadan (1435/2014), and thought I would share the links to the recordings here so others can also benefit inshaAllah ta’Ala.  In addition to the actual commentary, in part 6, towards the end (play from 42:00 onwards), Shaykh Hamza recites the English translation of the Du’a al-Nasiri (Prayer of the Oppressed) by Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Nasir, it’s really beautiful to listen to and reflect upon, especially in these difficult times. 

Part 1:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

 

 

….Allah is the name without attributes, so He reveals Himself through His attributes but His essence is unknown. We can’t know Allah that’s why Rahman is such an important attribute because it is the single most important attribute of Allah. What He is letting us know is that the essential nature of God is Merciful, it’s not Majestic. He is Majestic and Beautiful, but the quality that He wants to reveal to man is first and foremost Mercy. If you embrace that Mercy, then that is what you get, if you reject that Mercy, He reveals himself with Majesty… (Taken from the clip by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf below.)

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. )

* If you seek something false, Allah will make you fall so you restore yourself- this is out of His mercy for you.

* Allah gives to whom He pleases, and  constricts whom He pleases. He is aware of His servants and knows them well. Allah blesses them with constriction even though its hard, people of Allah will see the constriction as a blessing. There are people that can do without, and people that can’t do without. Allah knows exactly what to give you to help you return to Him. The events in your life are purposeful, appropriate & non random.

* The world is a thing by which you know your Lord. The entire cosmos is designed for life in the universe. 

* Good and evil are both in the providential nature of Allah and in His will. The evil is disliked; don’t judge a thing because you are judging based on your own judgement. If you do Istikhara, whatever happens is good for you. Even if the marriage didn’t work out, the experience was good for you. There is always good in His trials/tribulations.

~ 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- Ibrahim Varachia. Please keep him in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )

(Photo taken by Deen Intensive)

As-salamu’alaykum!

I pray you all are well and in the best of states. Firstly, I would like to apologise for not updating the blog or Facebook page with quotes as frequently as I used to. Alhumdulilah, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend this year’s Rihla in Turkey. Initially, I intended to blog some of the gems our Scholars were providing us with on a daily basis whilst on the Rihla. However, I then had a change of heart and wanted to completely disconnect myself from everything whilst on the Rihla, and simply enjoy being in the company of, and sitting at the feet of the Scholars to learn Sacred Knowledge.

I usually take my camera with me to most places, but this time, I even left that behind! At the RIS retreat last year, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said something to the effect of how sometimes we should just put away our cameras and experience the moment, and everything around us in that moment, rather then focus all our efforts in capturing the best picture! (paraphrased). I can attest that the experience is really different, if not, much better when you do not have a camera to take shots with! You really can enjoy and cherish those special moments in a more profound and reflective way.

The Rihla is an experience, which you won’t fully understand or realize the worth of it until you actual experience it. This year’s Rihla was very special as it focused on the vision and works of Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH/1111 CE). The programme took place in the famous Uludag mountain of Bursa. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said that Mount Uludag has it’s own relationship with the people of hearts! 

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus mentioned in one of his final lessons that it’s important to share the knowledge we gain with others so they can benefit inshaAllah. With this in mind, I will be posting some of my notes/quotes from this year’s Rihla on the blog over the next few weeks. I will not be able to share all my notes, but what I do share, I hope it benefits the readers. I will also try posting some photos to complement the notes/quotes, but will have to ask other students to provide some photos as I did not take any!

The Deen Intensive Social Media team did a fantastic job of tweeting quotes from each lesson, which I hope you all were following. In addition, the Live Stream provided people around the world the opportunity to be part of the Rihla. I would strongly recommend signing up to the Live Stream as you still are able to view the videos from all classes, that is if you haven’t already signed up! Please keep the Deen Intensive Rihla Team in your blessed prayers as they worked really hard to provide a wonderful programme. 

To be continued……..

The worst type of love is unrequited love: when you love somebody and they don’t love you – there is nothing worst than that in the world, unrequited love. And obviously the worst type of unrequited love is with God, because we want the Love of God. ~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.

“Allahumma inni asaluka hubbak(a), wa hubba may yuhibuk(a), wa l-amala ‘lladhi yuballighuni hubbak(a)”

O Allah! I beg of You Your love and the love of those who love You and I ask of You such deeds which will bring me Your love. (Tirmidhi)

As the beautiful month of Ramadan approaches, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very blessed month ahead!

May we all be blessed with His gaze on the first night of this month, may He forgive all of our sins, accept all of our fasts and worship, and may this month be a means of gaining nearness to Him and His beloved salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam.  Amin ya Rabb! Please keep me and my loved ones in your blessed prayers.

(Picture by Peter Gould)

Some very useful and beneficial links about Ramadan below:

Moonsighting

The Moon sighting papers from Zaytuna. Very important as it teaches one the basics of usul al-fiqh (legal methodology).

Cesarean Moon Births Part 1

Cesarean Moon Births Part 2

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Moonsighting- audio

Imam Zaid on the Crescentwatch Policy change


Articles:

Inner Dimensions of Fasting by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, trans. from the Ihya’ by Mukhtar Holland

Ramadan Mubarak! A Message From Imam Zaid

Ramadan Address by Habib Ali Jifri

Approaching Ramadan By Imam Zaid Shakir

Chapter from al-Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya

Chapter from al-Imam al-Haddad’s Nasa’ih ad-Diniyyah

Blessings Exclusive to Ramadan

Seeking His gaze in Ramadan by Shaykh Abdulkarim Yahya

Pre-Ramadan reminder :: Sheikh Ibrahim Osi-Efa(You need a Facebook account to access these notes by sister Fadhila Bux)

Fiqh:

The Fiqh Of Fasting In the Hanafi Madhhab

Maliki Fiqh on Ramadan (click on the relevant links)

Shafi`i Fiqh of Ramadan

Audio:

Ramadan advice by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

What do we do in Ramadan Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Ramadan by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Imam Al-Haddad On Fasting By Shaykh Abdul Aziz Ahmed.

Khutba: Ramadan: The Month of Seeking Closeness to Allah by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Video:

Ramadan Advice – Where is Your Heart? by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Ramadan lectures by Shaykh Faisal Abdur-Razak

Ramadan and Charity by Imam Zaid Shakir

The Fast of Ramadan & the Furious Shaitan by Imam Zaid Shakir

Ramadan Resolutions by Imam Suhaib Webb

Many thanks to A.Tariq, S.Aslam and S. AlMuslim for their assistance in helping me collate the list above. May Allah reward them in abundance. Please keep them and their families in your blessed du’as also in this month.

Yours in peace,

Sidra

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