The Path

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar radiyalaahu anhuma had mentioned, "Whoever wishes to follow the way of another, should follow the ways of those who have passed away. These were the companions of Muhammad sallalaahu alayhi wassalam, who were the best people of this Ummah. Their hearts were most pious, their knowledge was deepest and they were least pretentious. They were people whom Allah Ta'ala had chosen to be companions of His Nabi sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and for the transmission of His Deen. You people should emulate their character and mannerisms. By the Rabb of the Kaabah! The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam were correctly guided."

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Workplace

All praise is for Allah Ta'ala. We praise Him and seek help from Him. We believe in Him and have complete trust in Him. There can be none to misguide the person whom Allah Ta'ala has guided and there can be none to guide the person whom Allah Ta'ala has caused to go astray.

I was a manager in a public listed company. I worked in the department that was considered the most powerful and glamorous within the organisation - the corporate legal. By the time I joined the organisation, I already had close encounter of the tablighi jamaat.

In early 1997, a few months after I joined the organization, I first went out with a jamaat of 3 days.  Subsequently, for more than two years, as a part of the maqami effort, I had been using all my paid annual leaves from office for dakwah and tabligh effort, utilising one and a half days every month to make up for the required three days period (in those days most organisations had been operating half day on Saturdays instead of 5-day week). Thus, every month I would take a Saturday and a Monday off to join my local jamaat for khuruuj fiisabilillaah, confining myself only in three days jamaat in addition to daily local dakwah and tabligh effort. I recall those period of time when I was really focused, concerned and steadfast in the effort of dakwah and tabligh, albeit much limitation and shortcoming on my part, not acquiring in-depth knowledge about the effort. Nowadays, I might have acquired much more knowledge about the effort in the course of time but I have lost much focus, concern and steadfastness in this great and noble effort. I seek forgiveness from Allah Ta'ala and I request your du'aa for me.

Despite the top management and the staff of the organisation were predominantly Muslims, Deeni environment was severely lacking at my workplace. There were fitnas on daily basis. Business dealings were boldly conducted against the Islamic teachings. In the environment where there is no boundaries between men and women, even the most religious-looking amongst them would shamelessly made physical contact with non-mahram by shaking hands. As if the general view was to unnecessarily accept the need to compromise and maybe even do things which may go against the moral codes and the teaching of Islam. I believe there is not much changes in the general view, if not worse than before. These dilemmas arise and encountered daily by most Muslims when one is going for a job, when asked to do something that conflicts with Deen, to please others, or even to show others that we are not 'extremists'. "Allah knows what is in my heart" is probably the lame excuse given by many when in fact it really is due to and a sign of weak imaan. I too had experienced this but, alhamdulillaah, as I constantly spent my time in the effort of dakwah and tabligh and became aware of the Sunnah of Rasulullah Sallalaahu Alayhi Wasallam, my conscience gradually changed. Some people foolishly said I started to become a tablighi.

Sometimes we avoid doing certain acts that are commanded by Allah Ta'ala upon us out of embarrassment when in reality it means embarrassment of our Deen, the very Deen that has given us honour, dignity and the legacy of past civilisations and prophets. I remember back then once the company organized a team building session for managers conducted by a team of training consultants.They were about 30 participants. We were asked to reach a decision in a short time on certain given issues.  The task was to reach the decision in a given short time with the involvement of all participants without leaving out a single person. I was appointed the leader (or the CEO as it was referred to). I gladly take the challenge and applied the basic principles of mesywarah or consultation in accordance to the Sunnah of Rasulullaah Sallalaahu Alayhi Wasallam that I had acquired during numerous 3 days trip on dakwah and tabligh effort. It is really a basic knowledge amongst the tablighi brothers.

I divided the fellow participants into 5 small groups and appointed a leader from each group. I told all the appointed leaders to consult for opinion with everyone from their respective groups. I managed to briefed them the Sunnah ethics of consultation. It was really fun. I even told female participants to pretend that they were behind the veil amid the grudge expression on their faces. From their consultation, each leader should form a collective opinion on the issues given. I was not involved at all at this stage,sitting in a corner alone. I then make consultation with all the appointed leaders and each one of them relayed to me their respective group's collective opinion. Thereupon, I formulated and concluded the decision. The head consultant was so impressed by the whole exercise which was concluded way within the given short time. To our pleasant surprise, he admittedly declared that no group of participants had managed to conclude the exercise on time before. Truly, the Sunnah is the best and flawless way in all aspects of life. 

Once I was going down in an elevator to the surau below in the building at my workplace for Dhuhr solah. There was a non-Muslim Chinese woman in the elevator with me. I was wearing a koffia (the white skull-cap) on my head and a pair of sandals on my feet. I let out my shirt that was tucked in my pants before to cover the part of my satar that I felt was exposed due to the tightness of my pants and my pants were rolled up above the ankles. She asked me, "Is it Friday today?" I replied, "No, today is Thursday." She then said, "Oh! I thought you are going for Friday prayer." I said, "No, we pray five times daily." I supposed she came to that assertion because she had not seen Muslims going for the prescribed daily prayers in large number as for Friday prayer.

We are presently passing through a phase of time where the overall spiriyual urge and religious zeal of the general masses is perhaps at it's lowest ebb. A basic solution lies in the returning to the Shariah and reviving the Sunnah. However, such a revival does not lie in mere lip service and empty slogans but in a genuine attempt to practically incorporate Islam within ourselves. The result would be an absolute irrefutable certainty that our effort would gain us tremendous rewards both in this world and in  the aakhirah.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Levels of Jihad

A lecture delivered by Abu Uwais Abdullah Ahmad Ali

 Allah says in surah al-Ankabut

“And those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths and verily Allah is with those who are the righteous.”

And Abu Dardaa says as reported by Ibnu Abdul Bar rahmatullahu alayhi in Jamiul Bayan that “He who does not see that seeking knowledge in the morning and the evening is from jihad, his intelligence and his opinion is deficient. Seeking knowledge and act upon knowledge is from jihad, is from striving.”

Ibnu Qayyim rahmatullahu alayhi says, “Since jihad fights the enemy of Allah and those outside is a brand of the servant making jihad against himself for the sake of Allah as Rasulullah says, “The Mujahid is the one who strives against himself and the obedience of Allah.” Another hadith says, “The Mujahid is the one who make jihad against his desire. And the Muhajir (the one who migrate/the true migrator) is the one who leaves that what Allah has forbidden. Fighting against the self or striving against the self is preceded before you meet the enemy on the battlefield or fighting the enemy in the battlefield. He who doesn’t strive against his self first to do that which he had been ordered and to leave that which had been forbidden, fight against himself against his desire against what he wants for the sake of Allah is not possible for him to fight or make jihad against the enemy outside.”

How can he do that which he can’t control that which is between his two shoulders? When he can’t control his desire? When he can’t leave that what Allah had forbidden? And do that which Allah had ordered? If he can’t deal with himself, when his self and desires is over him, guiding him…if he can’t fight that how can he fight the enemy outside? So this desires and fighting against oneself, and struggling against oneself, leaving that which one loves for the pleasure of Allah, doing that which Allah had ordered, this is the first and the basis before you fight the enemy outside and it is the fundamental principle of it.

And along with this is the jihad against shaytan who comes at us with doubt (syubahat) and desires (syahawat). We can’t fight shaytan and we can’t fight the kuffar unless and until we fight our desire, unless that we strive against our desire. When we will be able to do this then we’ll be able to fight the enemy which Allah says, “take him (shaytan) as a clear enemy”. It is stated that we should know to take him as enemy, to know that we should do our most in fighting against him for he does his most in fighting against us. He does not rest, he does not relax, he does his most in fighting against us and leading us astray. So we must make jihad in this area. And many times when this issue was talked about, when they talk about jihad, this issue is far away from the mind of many of those who talk about jihad. The true mujahid is the one who goes against his nafs, does jihad against his desires and therefore he is able to do that then he can face the shaytan and deal with him, then he can face the kuffar and the munaffikin.

Ibnu Qayyim rahmatullahu alayhi mentions that jihad is of 4 levels: (1) Jihad of the nafs, Jihad against yourself, striving against yourself, striving against one’s desires, making sure that you are in obedience to Allah, preventing yourself from committing actions which are disobedience to Allah, controlling yourself from falling to that which is disobedience to Allah. Ibnu Barr rahmatullahu alayhi often said in many of his speeches and lectures that you are in jihad from the moment that shaytan has oppose you which is the beginning of your life until the moment to the grave. We are in the struggle and everyday we are struggling to mount this attack against our own self. And every one of us is a witness regarding himself. Verily everyone of us is upon himself. We all know ourselves even if we give excuses. So this is the first and foremost issue that we must understand. Fighting against oneself is upon four levels. The first level is to strive with yourself so that you learn the guidance and the deen of truth. There is no success for the soul nor happiness in this life and the next except with knowing the deen of haq. The one who misses this will be sad in this life and the hereafter, will be unfortunate in this life and the hereafter.

So first of all, starting to come to the circle of knowledge, trying to find or seek the knowledge, sitting in the circles of knowledge, we have to strive against ourselves to do that. Secondly, striving against the self to act upon the knowledge once we learnt it. Because just having the knowledge without action even if it doesn’t hurt us it won’t benefit. So the amal has to be striven for. The knowledge that we have we have to apply it. Thirdly, is to do battle against one self and make jihad against the core to it. Many of us know the haq or have the ilm and many of us act upon it but very few of us give dakwah. Very few of us call to the knowledge that we have. And I don’t know what the basis for it, either laziness or either shyness or either absence of certainty but this is not how the salafusolleh were. We should be upon their way so we must make jihad against ourself to make it, after having the ilm and after acting upon it to give dakwah to it.

Teaching to those who don’t know otherwise we’ll from those who hide the knowledge, who hide what Allah revealed. We’ll be committing the sin of the one who hide the knowledge and the knowledge does not benefit him not does it save him from the punishment of Allah. Fourthly, be patience upon what comes when you give the dakwah. The harms of the creature and all of those matters to able to pay the harm of the creature upon one’s back, to be able to pay all of that for the pleasure of Allah. And if this sounds like the echo of something you heard before then you may recall the aayah in Surah Asr, for these are the four means of success.

“By the time. Verily! Man is in loss. Except those who believe in Iman (Faith) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma'aruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah's Cause).” 

There is no doubt that there must be iman, and there must be amal soleh, and there must be dakwah, and there must be sabr of all what harm that may happen to you when you begin to give the dakwah, when you begin to call to the Book of Allah, and when you begin to call to tauhid. If you complete these four levels, could be from those robbani those people, scholars who feel Allah or individuals connected to Allah because the self has agreed that the one, the aalim or the scholar who has the right to be called robbani is the one who knows the haq, acts upon it and teaches to others and these individuals are called the aaziman or great and be heaven.

So he went on to explain (2) the jihad of shayatiin, and (3) the jihad of the kuffar, and (4) the jihad of the munaffiqin. But let it be known that first and foremost we must struggle against ourselves. The true mujahid is the one who makes jihad against his nafs. The best jihad is to go against the desire. And brothers, this is the jihad that we can do from the ending of this salaah, after saying “assalamu’alaykum warohmatullahi”, that jihad starts. Doing that which is against our nafs, struggling against our desire, controlling our tongue, making sure that it says only that which pleases Allah. Jihad, struggling against our desire, struggling against saying that which is haraam  or to back bite or to slander or to lie. Struggling against our hands, our limbs, preventing them to do that which Allah has forbidden. Forbiding our feet to walk towards that which Allah has forbidden. Stopping our eyes from looking towards that which Allah has forbidden. Stopping our ears from hearing that which Allah has forbidden.

“And those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths and verily Allah is with those who are the righteous.”

Ibnu Qayyim rahmatullahu alayhi says, “Those who act upon that which they knew Allah will guide them upon that which they did not know.” It is not right for the one who gets the knowledge unless and until he acts upon it. The knowledge will not benefit him, rather, unless and until he acts upon it. “And those who strive”, Ibnu Kathir rahmatullahu alahyi says it means Rasullullah and the sahabah and those who follow them illa yaumuddin. And Sama’ani rahmatullahu alayhi says about this aayah “and those who strive”. “You call a mujahid a striving. To striving is to be patience upon obedience and staying away from sins.” And this is the type of sabr that individuals need or that is required to be patience and obedience, to continue getting up everyday and doing that which Allah has ordered to do. Sabr to make five time daily salaah. Sabr on those issue that Allah has ordered. Sabr not to commit sins. The sins are all around us, the environment is polluted and corrupted. How close are the sins to us. To prevent one from reaching out to it or prevent one from falling into it, this requires sabr, patience. And sabr is not something easy.

And patience of the difficulties. That Allah will test us that which is good and which is bad in respect to us, that which is bitter and that which is sweet, that which we like and which we dislike. And we have to have sabr upon that. So these are the issues of success. I go back to the statement of Abu Sulayman Ad-Darami rahmatullahu alayhi to make sure that I translate it correctly. Ibnu Qayyim (Abu Ahmad) rahmatullahu alayhi said, “Those who act upon that which they knew, Allah will guide them upon that which they did not know.” And Abu Al-Hawari said “I told Abu Sulayman (who was known as ad-Darami) the statement, he liked it and he said, ‘It does not befit one who has inspired to do something good that he believes to be good until he hear the narration regarding it. When he hears that narration he acts upon it and he praises Allah that it agreed to with that which is in his heart.”

And fear Allah and Allah will teach you. If you fear Allah, Allah will give you a criteria, Allah will give you that which will distinguish between haq and baathil, between truth and that which is false. There are many narrations here but if we come away with this issue that the first jihad upon us is to correct ourselves, is to discipline ourselves, is to stay away from that which Allah has forbidden, to make ourselves obey Allah, to make ourselves stay away from that which Allah has forbidden. Then we are in fact the mujahid, for the mijahid is the one who makes jihad against his desire or against his nafs. All that it takes to do this, it does not take much, but to have sincerity in our hearts, there must be ikhlas and there must be dependence upon Allah. May Allah guides us to be those who are in fact describe by this aayah:

“And those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths and verily Allah is with those who are the righteous.”