The Prophet’s (sa) Hajj

Prophet's HajjReinforcement of Tauheed

Tauheed is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that the Prophet (sa) realized and fostered. During the Hajj, he continued to recite Talbiyah (saying, “Labbaik Allah Humma Labbaik”) from the moment he began the ritual, until he had cast Jamratul Aqaba (Aqaba stone) on the slaughter day.

Supplications to Allah

Supplications have special status in Islam, as they aim at expressing total surrender to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said: “Supplication is worship.” (Abu Dawood) During the Hajj, he used to say more supplications than at any other time. He also offered lengthy supplications on the day of Arafat, while riding his camel and by raising his hands close to his chest, as if he were a poor man begging for charity.

Performing good deeds

The Prophet (sa) performed Ghusl before assuming Ihram, wore perfume upon assuming and ending it (Bukhari), and marked and garlanded the Hadiy. (Bukhari) He started Tawaf as soon as he entered Al-Bait (Bukhari), walked briskly, touched the two corners of the Kabah, offered two Rakahs of Tawaf behind Maqam Ibrahim (Muslim), supplicated to Allah on the hills of Safa and Marwah, ran in the middle of the valley, and did Dhikr upon touching the two corners and while throwing the Jamarat. (Bukhari)

Moderation in acts of worship

Islam encourages moderation and censures exaggeration. In fact, equanimity was the most significant attitude of the Prophet (sa) during the Hajj. He adopted a happy medium between his acts of worship (Bukhari) and his responsibilities as a leader of the Muslims. However, he did not neglect his duties to his wives, who needed care and affection.

Physical well-being

The Prophet (sa) equally cared for his body and soul. The awe-inspiring surroundings of the Hajj may compel to observe only the spiritual, entirely forgetting the physical. On Tarwiyah day, the Prophet (sa) moved closer to Mina, in order to be nearer to Arafat (Muslim), slept during the nights of Arafat and Muzdalifah (Bukhari), took breakfast on the day of Arafat (Bukhari), but did not offer supererogatory prayers. (Muslim) He took shelter in a dome made from camel hair, erected especially for him, moved between the sacred sites (Bukhari) and performed some of the Hajj rituals, while riding his camel. (Muslim) Furthermore, he even had someone to serve and help him. (Ibn Majah)

Role as an educator

Allah sent the Prophet (sa) as an educator to make people’s lives and acts of worship easier. Undoubtedly, he excelled in his mission. He publicly announced his intention to perform the Hajj, in order to give those, who wished to accompany him, an opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey. The crowds flocked to Madinah, hoping to learn from the Prophet (sa). (Muslim) The Prophet (sa) ordered Muslims to learn the Hajj rituals from him and made it clear that this could be his last Hajj. (Bukhari)

Giving Fatwas

Giving of Fatwas (religious verdicts) was among the most important tasks that the Prophet (sa) performed during the Hajj. A famous Fatwa was given to a woman from the Khatham tribe, who asked, if she could perform the Hajj on behalf of her aging father. She said: “He cannot ride his camel.” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Perform the Hajj on his behalf.” (Bukhari)

Matters concerning women

Aisha (rta) narrated: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (sa): ‘Is Jihad incumbent upon women?’ He replied: ‘Yes, Jihad which does not include fighting is incumbent upon them, it is the Hajj and the Umrah’.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (sa) narrated: “I heard Prophet Muhammad (sa) addressing and saying: ‘A man must not be alone with a woman, unless when a man who is a Mahram (a relative she is so closely related to that marriage is not possible) is with her and a woman must travel only when accompanied by a man who is a Mahram.’ A man stood up and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, my wife intends to go out to perform the Hajj, and I have been enrolled for such and such expedition.’ Thereupon he said: ‘Go and perform the Hajj with your wife’.” (Muslim)

Prophet’s (sa) mercy

The Prophet’s (sa) mercy was always evident. He ordered those, who did not offer Hadiy, to end their state of Ihram completely – this permitted them to have intimate relations with their wives, to be dressed in normal clothes, and to wear perfume. (Muslim) He combined Asr and Zuhr prayers at Arafat (Bukhari) and delayed his prayers, when he moved to Muzdalifah (Bukhari), thereby making it easier for people to perform rituals. He gave permission to the weak to move from Muzdalifa ahead of the rest of the pilgrims at night, right after the moon would set. Thus, on slaughter day, they were able to perform their rituals easily before the others. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) generosity

The Prophet (sa) was so generous in giving alms and charity that he gave away one hundred Badanas (sacrificial camels), including their meat, hides, and coverings. (Muslim) He also donated in other charities on many occasions. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) leniency

The Prophet’s (sa) showed exemplary leniency, while in Hajj. “Seeing a man walking and leading his sacrificial camel, the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Ride on it’. The man replied: ‘It is a Badana.’ The Prophet (sa) said the second and third time: ‘Ride on it, woe to you’. (Muslim)

The Hajj is not a momentary act of worship that begins with a journey and ends once a Muslim returns home. On the contrary, it is a trial to show that the spirituality earned in the Hajj will be brought back home and implemented in the Muslim’s daily life.

In the sermon delivered on the Day of Arafat, the Prophet (saw) urged pilgrims to hold on to the Quran as the only way to deliverance from sins. “I have left you with the Quran,” he said: “you will never go astray, if you adhere to it.” (Ibn Majah) Now, it is a challenge for all Muslims to obey this advice and bring about a metamorphosis, leading to enrichment and positive transformation of the Muslim Ummah.

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms (Final Part)

classroom

26) Turn the attention of the questioner towards a more important issue.

Sometime it is better to turn the attention of the questioner to a more important issue. Once a person asked the Messenger (sa) when the Day of Judgement would come. Instead of replying, the Prophet (sa) asked him: “What have you prepared for it?” The man said that he hadn’t done much in terms of praying, fasting and charity, but he did love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). The Messenger (sa) said: “You will be with whom you love.” (Bukhari)

The question that the person asked was out of genuine curiosity, but the answer was neither revealed to the Messenger (sa), nor did he consider his preparation for it. So he turned the attention of the questioner towards a more important and pressing issue, i.e., his deeds.

If the teacher doesn’t know the answer to a question, or thinks there are other more important things to be taught, s/he should not snub the student but rather divert him/her to what s/he thinks needs to be learnt first.

27) It doesn’t matter, if you are a bit inconvenienced.

A Bedouin approached the Messenger (sa), while the latter was on a journey. The person took hold of the reins of the Prophet’s (sa) camel and then said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform me of what will draw me closer to paradise and take me away from (hell) fire.” The Prophet (sa) said: “He has certainly been blessed or guided.” The Messenger (sa) then addressed the person saying: “What did you say?” The person then repeated his question. The Messenger (sa) replied: “You should worship Allah (swt) and not ascribe any partners to Him. You should establish Salah, give Zakah and maintain good relationships with your kith and kin. You may now leave my camel.” (An-Nasai)

Note: Even if you are in a hurry, give attention to the seekers of knowledge. A little inconvenience for the teacher may result in a huge benefit for the student.

28) Don’t criticize directly.

Many a time, the Prophet (sa) would observe a person committing a wrong deed. He would immediately take action, but not necessarily point out the wrongdoer. He would stand and address the people saying that ‘some people do so and so’, so that the individual would not be embarrassed before everyone.

Not only does this method protect a student’s self-esteem, it also teaches others about the incorrect action. At the same time, it strengthens the bond between the teacher and the student.

29) Use humour.

A person asked the Prophet (sa) to give him a camel, so that he may carry his goods on it. So the Messenger (sa) said to him: “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel.” The man said: “O Messenger (sa)! What can I do with the offspring of a she-camel?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Is it not so that camels only give birth to camels?” (Abu Dawood)

The Messenger (sa) used to joke and jest with his companions on certain occasions. However, he spoke nothing but the truth. His humor did not hurt, offend or insult anyone. The companions asked him: “O Messenger (sa)! You joke with us?” He replied: “I speak nothing but the truth.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) used to teach many things through joking and humour. In the above Hadeeth, he teaches analytical thinking and deduction, at the same time lightening the atmosphere of the assembly. A classroom tends to get stuffy at times. A light hearted joke or anecdote blows away the clouds of stiffness and perks up the atmosphere.

30) Show interest in children’s hobbies.

Abu Umayr (rtam) was a young boy who had a pet bird. The Messenger (sa) was aware of this fact. One day, the bird died. When the Prophet (sa) came to visit them, he saw that Abu Umayr was sad. So he asked: “What has happened to him?” The people of the house said: “His bird has died.” The Prophet (sa) said to him: “O Abu Umayr! What has happened to the Nughayr (small bird)?” (Abu Dawood)

This shows the Messenger’s (sa) affection and compassion for the young child, whose bird had died, leaving him heartbroken. Upon seeing the sad look on the child’s face, the Prophet (sa) immediately enquired about the matter and consoled him with words of comfort. I would like to add here that the Messenger (sa) was an exceptionally busy man, assigned the greatest and most difficult task in the history of mankind – yet, he was not too busy to inquire about the happiness of a small child. Such acts develop a strong bond between the teacher and his students, one that is pivotal in successful learning.

31) Be open to suggestions.

When the companions reached the battlefield of Badr with the Messenger (sa), he chose a certain position for pitching the tents of the army. One of the companions, Hubab bin Munzir (rtam), who was a seasoned war strategist, approached him and said: “Has this place been chosen by Allah (swt) or is it your own decision?” The Prophet (sa) replied that it wasn’t a revelation from Allah (swt); rather, he had chosen it by himself. Hubab (rtam) then requested him to consider his decision, because there was another spot at a better location for the battle. The Messenger (sa) readily accepted this proposal and changed the location of the base camp.

If the Messenger (sa) is open to suggestions at all times, the teacher too should feel happy to have students who are able to reflect and suggest ideas to him. This does not make the teacher bound to ‘obey’ a suggestion , but s/he is bound to allow students to make them.

32) Leniency in punishments.

The Messenger (sa) said: “Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) himself disliked awarding a physical punishment to people and encouraged mildness in all matters. The way of the Messengers (sa) was one of love and affection. Those around him obeyed him, because they loved him and feared his disobedience, because they knew their sins upset him, not because they would be beaten.

The anger of the teacher should be feared, because it might banish someone from his/her good books, not because of corporal punishment.

Anas bin Malik (rtam) narrates: “I served the Prophet (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me, ‘Uff’ (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?’” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) did not, however, ban physical punishment. He said: “Teach the child to pray, when he is seven years old, and smack him, if he does not pray, when he is ten.”

Firstly, keep in mind that a Muslim child ought to see his parents and those around him involved in prayer from the time s/he is born. Growing up in such a household would automatically result in him/her engaging in Salah from a very young age. The Messenger (sa) has asked us to encourage a child to offer Salah regularly at the age of seven and to ensure that s/he does so by the age of ten. This means that the next three years should be spent teaching and training him. And when all this fails, then he has suggested physical punishment. There are certain things to be noted. A ten-year-old child, having spent his/her entire life watching people offer Salah, would not abstain from it. In case s/he does so, there might be some special reason behind it, which must be attended to. And before someone starts beating up their children, remember that the Messenger (sa) forbade striking anyone on the face, hitting so hard as to leave a mark on the body and beating excessively. Also, remember the purpose of physical punishment is not to injure a child but to scare him/her from an evil deed, nor should the punishment serve as a vent of frustration, when the teacher fails in his/her own duty.

A piece of advice: do not use your hands to inflict a blow; whenever your hands reach out to the child, it should always be for affection. Also remember that the fear of physical punishment should be used more often than the punishment itself. Another thing is that physical punishment does not necessarily have to be hitting, but it could also be strenuous exercise or banishment from an enjoyable task.

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

Published and distributed by M/s Al-Misbah, 16 Urdu Bazar, Lahore.

Phone: +92 42 371224656. Email: info@almisbah.biz

All rights reserved with the publishers.

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms – Part 3

13) Teach what is easily acceptable

Ali ibn Abi Talib (rtam) said: “Narrate to the people what they are acquainted with. Would you like Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) to be rejected?” (Bukhari)

Educators should remember that if they overload the students, this might result in a complete breakdown. If a student collapses intellectually once, it takes a mountain of effort to bring him/her back on track.

In terms of teaching Islamic obligations, one step at a time should be taken, in order to make the new entrant in this field comfortable. For example, let younger children begin their Salah with Fard only. Later, when they get into the routine, ask them to attempt a few Sunnah units as well. This way, they will not feel over-burdened. Sports’ coaches face similar situations. For instance, weights are increased progressively to make the athlete accept the challenge easily.

14) First the easy and then the difficult

When the Prophet (sa) sent Muadh ibn Jabal (rtam) to Yemen, he said to him: “You are going to the people of the Scripture. Let the first thing to which you will invite them be the Tauhid of Allah (swt). If they learn that, tell them that Allah (swt) has enjoined on them five prayers to be offered in one day and one night. If they pray, tell them that Allah (swt) has enjoined on them Zakah of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor. If they agree to that, then take from them the Zakah but avoid the best property of the people.” (Bukhari)

Thus, Allah’s Messenger (sa) taught Muadh (rtam) the order, in which to teach the people of Yemen, so that they would not suddenly feel overburdened with the injunctions. This step-by-step approach must be adopted in today’s classrooms, so that the students easily grasp concepts, as they grow intellectually.

15) Make matters easy for the students

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah has not sent me as a person, who causes difficulty to others. Rather, He sent me as a teacher, who gives glad tidings.” (Muslim)

According to Allah’s Messenger (sa), the primary function of the teacher is to make matters easy for students to understand, that is, simplify and dilute the lessons for their wards. The level of lesson must be brought down to match the mental abilities of the students. A teacher can impress his or her students with fancy words, but if he or she fails to make them comprehend the lesson, then the purpose is lost. Educators should ensure their students understand the lesson.

16) Break down into easier goals

Abdullah ibn Masud (rtam) said: “When any of us (companions) learnt ten verses, he would not go any further, until he had learnt their meaning and how to put it into practice.” (Kashf al-Qina) This is the perfect example of Allah’s Messenger’s (sa) teaching methodology. Breaking down a larger task into smaller units can help students achieve the easier goals. These can finally culminate to become important milestones for the students.

17) Interactive teaching

Abdullah bin Amr (rtam) said he heard Allah’s Messenger (sa) asking his companions: “Do you know who is a Muslim?” They replied: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe.” (Ahmad)

Interactive teaching is one of the most prominent characteristics of the Messenger’s (sa) teaching methodology. By asking questions, he stimulated the intellect of the students, and they then became more eager to absorb the knowledge. This method is especially beneficial, when a lesson becomes somewhat dull, and a question (on any related subject) becomes a wake-up call for those present.

18) Teaching by demonstration

A person came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) and said: “O Allah’s Messenger! How should I perform ablution?” Allah’s Messenger (sa) asked for water in a container and demonstrated the complete act of ablution for him. (Abu Dawood) When teaching, the best way to make students remember and understand is to show them by performing the act yourself.

19) Similes and examples

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk and the one, who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. As for the seller of musk, then either he will grant you some, you will buy some from him or at least you will enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one, who blows the blacksmith’s bellows, then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Here, Allah’s Messenger (sa) has used a simile to explain the difference between good and bad company. Likewise, he would frequently use parables and similes to make the students understand the points he wanted to make. An important lesson here is that the teacher should not just issue orders; he or she should explain the wisdom behind them as well.

20) Storytelling

One of the favourite methods of Allah’s Messenger (sa) was true storytelling. The Quran, the Ahadeeth and other Islamic books are full of historical events and inspiring narratives, which can be used to impart knowledge and values to the students. Regardless of which subject you teach, you can always narrate an interesting anecdote, when the class becomes boring during a long discourse.

21) Use body language

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Should I not inform you about the most serious of major sins?” He said this thrice. At that time, he was leaning against something. Then he sat up and said: “Behold! A false statement and a false testimony! Behold! A false statement and a false testimony!” (Muslim)

The repetitive style of the Messenger (sa) is used here to emphasize the importance of the subject coming up. Note that to utter the last statement, he sat up. A teacher’s body language is very important to his delivery. A sudden change in posture can make the students more attentive in class.

22) Illustrate with hand gestures

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “A believer to another believer is like a wall – one part strengthens the other.” Allah’s Messenger (sa) then interlocked his fingers. (Bukhari) In the absence of audio-visual aids, even a simple act of using one’s hand or body can help students understand an important topic.

23) Exhibit items

Allah’s Messenger (sa) took a piece of silk in his left hand and some gold in his right hand. He raised them with his hands and said: “These two items are prohibited to the males of my Ummah.”

Announcing the prohibition might have been enough, but the Messenger (sa) deliberately chose to exhibit samples of the items being discussed. This emphasizes the importance of visual images in teaching. Educators using these on a regular basis will experience a higher level of learning from their students, Insha’Allah!

24) Let students take notes

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas (rtam) said: “I used to write down everything, which I used to hear from Allah’s Messenger (sa).” (Abu Dawood) Bear in mind that some students are slow in writing. Be patient with them, so that they may record your knowledge.

25) Encourage students to ask questions

The Quran instructs: “…So ask of those who know the scripture [learned men of the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], if you know not.” (An-Nahl 16:43) A teacher must be willing to answer his students’ queries. Allah’s Messenger (sa) encouraged the people to put forward their enquiries. He said: “The cure for ignorance is questioning.” (Ad-Daraqutni)

When dealing with queries, answer calmly and maintain your composure. Use logic and rationale when responding to questions. Your attitude should encourage students to ask for further explanation, if needed.

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

Published and distributed by M/s Al-Misbah, 16 Urdu Bazar, Lahore.

Phone: +92 42 371224656. Email: info@almisbah.biz

All rights reserved with the publishers.

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms (Part 2)

Sunnah in Classroom

4) Earn Respect

When Allah’s Messenger (sa) began to preach the message to the people, they raised all kinds of objections about him and his person. In response, the Quran directed him to tell them: “Verily, I have stayed amongst you a life time before this.” (Yunus 10:16)

Here, the audience is being reminded about what they already knew about the Messenger’s (sa) character. Didn’t they already call him as-Sadiq (the truthful) and Al-Ameen (the trustworthy)? His entire life had been spent with the Makkans, and his record was sparklingly clean. Why was it surprising for them, if he declared himself to be a Prophet (sa)? Even Abu Sufyan attested before Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, that Muhammad (sa) had never lied or cheated anyone in his life. Heraclius then declared that someone who didn’t lie about anything in his life must also be telling the truth about Allah (swt).

The lesson to be learnt here is that you must earn a position of respect, before those around you begin to develop faith in what you say. Just the fact that you have been appointed as a teacher doesn’t give you much credence with your students. You will have to earn their respect. Then and only then they will start to trust you and listen to what you teach them.

Also, be well-prepared for your class, and if you are asked a question, to which you don’t know the answer, be brave enough to respond: “I don’t know, but I will have the answer soon, Insha’Allah!” Your honesty will win more hearts than you can imagine.

Another way to earn respect is punctuality. Being on time is part of the fulfillment of one’s promise and a characteristic of a true believer, mentioned repeatedly in the Quran: “Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts) and to their covenants.” (Al-Muminoon 23:8)

Reach your class on time, and if you promise something to your students, make sure you fulfill your promise.

5) Best Manners

Allah’s Messenger (sa) had the most perfect manners and behaviour. He said: “Surely, I have been sent to perfect manners (Akhlaq).” (Bayhaqi) The teacher’s own manners must be an ideal role model for the students. A teacher should be unbiased, rise above personal likes and dislikes and behave with everyone in such a way that people aspire to emulate his or her personality.

6) Feel your Responsibility

The Prophet (sa) said: “…Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is answerable.” (Muslim) As a teacher, this essentially means you are responsible and accountable for your students and your classes. Belief in accountability is an article of faith. The very fact of being accountable to Allah (swt) instills in a person a sense of responsibility that forms the basis of a commitment towards one’s jobs.

7) Make the Learners Feel Welcome

Safwan ibn Assal (rtam), a companion, came to Allah’s Messenger (sa), while he was in the Masjid. He said: “O Messenger (sa)! I have come to seek knowledge.” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Welcome, you seeker of knowledge. Indeed, the angels surround the knowledge-seeker with their wings, and then they pile up on top of each other, until they reach the lower heaven out of love of what he is seeking. What have you come to learn?” (At-Tabarani)

The warm welcome that the Prophet (sa) accorded the student is a clear manifestation of the manner in which a new student is to be initiated. The Messenger (sa) explains to him the great status of a student in the eyes of Allah (swt). Bear in mind that if this is the rank of a student, what would the rank of a teacher be? However, the Messenger (sa) did not refer to that. He indirectly encouraged the student, in order to make him feel the importance of learning. Teachers can make students feel welcome by greeting them with a smile and saying ‘Assalamu Alaikum’.

8) Dealing with Students

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No person can be a believer, until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.” (Bukhari) Indeed, how can one be really sincere, unless his standards for others are the same as those for himself? Teachers should ask themselves: “How would I like my teacher to treat me?” Within reasonable limits, one should implement the same for one’s students. Put yourself in the shoes of your students, and consider your own self as a teacher: are you a demon or a mentor?

9) Be Pleasant and Cheerful

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Be cheerful and do not be repulsive.” (Muslim) He himself was the embodiment of love and compassion. Ali ibn Abi Talib (rtam) says that those who met him were impressed, and those who came to know him loved him. The companions used to say that they had never seen a face more smiling than his.

Likewise, a teacher who is a picture of love and mercy attracts more students to his subject than the one who is repulsive. Allah’s Messenger (sa) has recommended that people should be greeted with a smile and the manner of speaking should be cheerful. It should not repel people.

10) Be Gentle and Kind

The Quran states: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you.” (Al-Imran 3:159) The compassion of the Messenger (sa), not just for his companions but for all those with whom he came in contact, is unmatched in the history of mankind. Generally, people are kind towards their loved ones. However, the Messenger (sa) showed compassion even for his enemies.

Similarly, teachers, too, should be a fount of mercy and forgiveness. Students cannot love and respect their teachers, unless they feel compassion flowing from their personalities. Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The worst among people is he, whom people avoid due to his harsh demeanor.” (Bukhari)

Here, we must clarify that being kind and gentle does not imply a disregard for rules and regulations, which are in place for the betterment of the students. Making students adhere to discipline is not considered to be unkind. Didn’t the Messenger of Allah (sa) punish certain individuals? Of course, he did, when he deemed it to be necessary. However, his attitude was not vindictive or revengeful.

11) Speak with Clarity

It is narrated in a Hadeeth that the Messenger (sa) would always speak clearly, with pauses. These momentary breaks were such that the one who was sitting there was able to remember what he said. (At-Tirmidhi) This manner of speech takes into consideration the different levels of comprehension of his audience. Modern psychology tells us that the level of comprehension is directly proportional to the vocal speed of the speaker. Speaking slowly and clearly allows all to understand the lesson properly.

12) Do not Tire Students

Abdullah ibn Mubarak (rtam) used to give a lecture to his students every Thursday. One day, a man told him that he wished he would give a lecture daily. Ibn Mubarak replied: “The only thing which prevents me from doing so is that I hate to bore you. No doubt, I consider your state, when preaching, by selecting a suitable time just as the Messenger (sa) used to do with us, out of fear of making us bored.” (Bukhari)

Remember that the attention and the devotion of the companions cannot be matched with any student in this world. Yet, the Messenger (sa) took their state of mind into consideration. Similarly, a teacher must be aware of the students’ disposition and avoid making lessons dry and bothersome. A joke or an interesting anecdote can be related between the lessons. However, these diversions should be in moderation and should not go too far.

 

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

Published and distributed by M/s Al-Misbah, 16 Urdu Bazar, Lahore.

Phone: +92 42 371224656. Email: info@almisbah.biz

All rights reserved with the publishers.

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms

35

The Messenger (sa) said: “I have only been sent as a teacher.” (Ibn Majah) Surely, that was his role: he had to impart the instructions and the message of the Lord (swt) of the worlds to humankind. This task assigned to him was multi-dimensional as well as layered with problems.

How can the Prophet’s (sa) example be applied to the modern-day classroom? The following tips are not only for the benefit of the instructors of Islamic sciences. They are applicable to teachers of all subjects and all schools. Remember: whatever profession you belong to, you shall have to play the role of a teacher at some time or the other; in fact, isn’t teaching the primary role of parents? It is hoped that teachers and parents alike will benefit from these tips.

1) Sincerity of Intention

Making an intention is a prerequisite for every action. Unless a deed is performed with a proper objective in mind, it cannot be rewarded. One must have a purpose for all that one does, rather than carry on without any direction. This is, of course true of a teaching as well.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The actions shall be judged only by the intentions.” (Bukhari) As educators, we will be rewarded for the noble intentions behind our teaching practices. There are three aspects of purifying one’s intention:

The first aspect: the intention to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Every action that is performed for His sake, no matter how routine, is considered to be an act of worship.

The second aspect: sincerity.

Tamim Ad-Dari (rta) narrated: “The Messenger (sa) said: ‘The Deen is Naseehah (sincerity and sincere advice).’ We asked: ‘To whom?’ He said: ‘To Allah, His Book, His Messenger and the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.’” (Muslim)

The third aspect: following the Islamic methodology.

The Quran says: “Say (O Muhammad): If you truly love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins; for, Allah is Oft-forgiving, most Merciful.” (Al-Imran 3:31)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) is the greatest reformer in the entire history. He is an emblem of all the best virtues and excellent qualities imaginable. He was blessed with the attributes of mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, love, compassion, truthfulness, piety, righteousness and steadfastness to the degree of perfection. To follow his example is to follow the perfect path – yes, this includes the classroom.

2) Teacher – Student Relationship

The most important element in teaching is the bond that the teacher has with the students. This relationship plays a decisive role in the learning process. If the relationship is based upon mutual love and respect, students will be able to absorb much more from their teacher. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, I am to you like a father is to his child; I am teaching you.” (Ibn Majah)

When a teacher becomes a second parent, the manner of dealing with the learners becomes positive and so do the results of teaching.

We know well the extent of love and respect that the companions of the Messenger (sa) had for him, the importance they gave him in their lives, and the way they were ever ready to lay down their lives at his command.

It must be remembered that this love did not and does not automatically install itself in the hearts; in the case of the companions, it was more of a reaction. It was the Messenger’s (sa) love and compassion because of which they became his devoted students. He was the embodiment of love and mercy for his companions.

The Quran says: “There has come to you a Messenger from amongst you: it weighs heavily upon him that which harasses you. [He is] anxious over your well-being. [He is] extremely compassionate and merciful to the believers.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

The love that the Messenger (sa) had for his students made them love him in return. The vibes of love and mercy he sent out led to their unconditional obedience. If the educators of today do not exude this level of compassion, how can they attain their students’ respect and obedience? If you want to receive love, you must first be prepared to give it.

3) Practice what you teach

The Messenger (sa) would teach through his own noble personality. His behaviour would inspire and motivate at the same time. His own actions were the best that can be in every scope of one’s life, especially as a teacher. The Quran says: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

The ideal example is that of the Messenger (sa), whose each and every action and word was revealed by Allah (swt) Himself.

The Quran says: “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.” (An-Najm 53:3-4)

What instruction can be better than the instruction of the Creator Himself?

Amr ibn al-Aas (rta) said about the Messenger of Allah (sa): “He does not command any good without being the first one to act on it.” (Al-Khasais Al-Kubra)

These words encompass a world of beauty in the art of teaching. There must not be a conspicuous disparity between what one says and what one does. If there is, what else do we call hypocrisy?

A question that arises here is: “This is good for a teacher of Islamic studies or such, but how can a mathematics teacher or a teacher of languages ‘practice’ what he says?”
The answer to this question has two parts. Firstly, a teacher of a language, say English, needs to have a high standard of the language that he or she is teaching. Likewise, if a teacher encourages reading as a habit, he or she should be seen with a new book under his or her arm regularly. All teachers encourage good handwriting – should they not be careful about their own handwriting at all times?

Secondly, a teacher of religious studies or morals is not the only educator who teaches ethics to students. Remember: Every teacher is a role model for the students who observe him/her on the school premises or outside of it.

Always remember: “Correcting others is based on correcting oneself. Therefore, begin with yourself and then with those who are close to you.” (Quoted by Imam Ghazali in Ihya Uloom ad-Deen)

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

Published and distributed by M/s Al-Misbah, 16 Urdu Bazar, Lahore.

Phone: +92 42 371224656. Email: info@almisbah.biz

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Multitasking and the Sunnah

Multitasking and Sunnah

By Maryam Sakeenah

You have to be a multitasker, or you’re old fashioned. It is just so normal nowadays to have a conversation while SMSing a friend, listen to a song while typing an email, update your Facebook status while looking up a reference on Google, watch the television, while having dinner with family. This just goes to show the magnitude of the transformation the technological revolution has brought about in our social and personal lives. Multitasking is the way of life.

While the modern lifestyle almost dictates multitasking, is it really an efficient way to get things done and get them done well? Much has been written about it and concerns voiced about multitasking taking its toll on human relationships, work efficiency and quality, time management, mental concentration and human behaviour.

What in the old-fashioned eighties would be considered rude manners, disrespect, attention deficit or disinterest is now the way to go about things. In a comedy show, Jerry Seinfeld explains his reasons for not possessing a Blackberry Smartphone: “Blackberry people… their pupils do not focus. They’re not really there. They hold the Blackberry in their hands all the time, because this is what it commands them to do. And they listen to what you are saying and compare it to what is on the Blackberry, and which one is really more interesting…”

It is interesting to note that the term multitasking is derived from computer multitasking. It is a basic computer function. But while machines are built to multitask, can we apply it to human lives as well? The modern way of life demands just that, but it is common observation that it leads to attention deficit, poor time management and poor efficiency. Psychological studies have disclosed that people show severe interference, when even very simple tasks are performed at the same time, if both tasks require selecting and producing action. Many suggest that the human brain can only perform one task at a time. (“Is Multitasking a Myth?” BBC News, August 20, 2010). Researchers examined, how multitasking affects academic success, and found that students who engaged in more multitasking reported more problems with their academic work. (Junco, R. & Cotten, ‘Perceived Academic Effects of Instant Messaging Use.’)

Inability to manage time is a frequent complaint one gets to hear so often. We are by far busier today than ever before, we have more things to do today than ever before, our lives are faster and our tasks speedier than ever before, but we get to accomplish little, if not nothing. Multitasking achieves little. With our uninsightful and rather thoughtless embrace of technology, the Barakah has fled from our lives, as we race against time and breathlessly chase deadlines, doing nothing to the heart’s content. We remain perpetual underachievers, perpetually dissatisfied.

As Muslims, the inspiration and guidance always comes from the life of the Prophet (sa). While we all know that the Prophet (sa) possessed a multi-dimensional personality and lived out many roles that inspire all sorts of people, he also did justice to each of these roles, lived each aspect perfectly well, and accomplished all of his diverse range of duties remarkably. Whether it be his family life, his political life, his social sphere or his spiritual life, Muhammad (sa) did it all to perfection. So then, dispensing so many tasks altogether, fulfilling so many of his duties that his position demanded, did the Prophet (sa) multitask?

Here are some insights from his life that give us clarity in this regard. For one, the Prophet (sa) was a beloved husband and spent quality time with his wives and children. To his friends, he was a mentor and a loveable companion. As a military strategist and soldier, a jurist and lawmaker, a head of state, leader and statesman, a teacher and guide, the Prophet (sa) was the paragon par excellence. Ayesha (rta) narrates: “The Messenger of Allah talked to us and we talked to him. However, he was as if he had not recognized us, when it was time for prayer, and he turned to Allah with his all existence.” This shows that the Prophet (sa) would give his best to each task, one at a time. While at home, he would be fully involved in domestic affairs, spending time with the people of his household, listening to them, talking to them and attending to their needs. And when it was time for other duties, such as the duty of prayer to his Lord, he would stop everything else and turn towards his Lord (swt) with heart and soul, with complete submission and thorough involvement. This is also why he managed family matters exceedingly well, and all his wives loved his noble companionship thoroughly.

It is also interesting to note the Prophet’s (sa) manners of conversing with others. It is said he would speak little, but with gravity, precision, balance and wisdom. More than that, he was an intent listener and would listen to others patiently with complete attention till they had finished. In fact, when spoken to, he would turn himself with full involvement and interest towards the speaker, making him feel thoroughly understood and given importance. It worked wonders in gluing together a closely knit and firmly bonded community of companions, disciples, associates and devotees, who later became integral to the spread of the Islamic mission.

In matters of the state or of military planning, the Prophet (sa) applied himself fully and achieved astounding results. The fact that the Prophet (sa) is universally acknowledged by all as, perhaps, the most successful figure in human history, must make us analyze his approach and methods with some seriousness. The way of the Prophet (sa) was clearly what may be called ‘uni-tasking’ – taking one thing at a time, performing it to the best of his ability till its conclusion without interruption, distraction or interference. It is only when one allows oneself to be possessed by a single idea and executes it to its successful end does one become an achiever with a deep sense of satisfaction. This deep contentment for having attained your target, after successfully finishing a task you devoted yourself wholly to, is an unparalleled feeling that is the privilege of the Sunnah-abiding Muslim to relish. Muslims are essentially uni-taskers.

“Allah (swt) is beautiful and He loves beauty” (Muslim)

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautiful

When studying other religions, one realizes what a blessing Islam is, for it does not associate religiosity with depriving the human nature of its natural urges. In fact, Islam encourages its followers to adorn themselves, when worshipping Allah (swt):

“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying…” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Furthermore, in the next verse, Allah (swt) says:

“Say ((O Muhammad (sa)): ‘Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allah, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) things] of food?’” (Al-Araf 7:32)

Therefore, Muslims should bear in mind that Islam does not associate piety with a dishevelled appearance.

During the time of the Prophet (sa), people beautified themselves in various ways – some were encouraged and retained by Islam, whilst other forms were prohibited, as they were repugnant to the human nature.

For instance, during the time of the Prophet (sa), people used to dye their hair. Jabir Ibn Abdullah (rta) reported that Abu Quhafah (rta) was brought on the day of the conquest of Makkah, and his head and beard were white like Thaghamah (a plant whose flowers and fruit are white). The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Change this with something, but avoid black.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) is also reported to have said: “The Jews and the Christians do not dye their hair, so differ from them.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) also recommended which dye to use. Abu Dharr (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “The best things, with which to change grey hair, are henna and Katam (a plant similar to henna, which is used as a dye).” (At-Tirmidhi)

From another Hadeeth, we know that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has hair should care about it.” (Abu Dawood)

Ata Ibn Yasser (rta) reported that a man came to the Prophet (sa), when he was in the mosque, with uncombed hair and an untidy beard. The Prophet (sa) pointed at him, as if ordering him to fix his hair and beard. He did so and returned. Thereupon, the Prophet (saw) observed: “Isn’t this better than one of you coming with his hair uncombed, as if he was a devil?” (Malik in Al-Mawatta)

Whilst reading the Ahadeeth, one gets an insight into the fashion and styles prevalent in that age. For instance, men and women used to shave their heads. The Prophet (sa) allowed men to shave all their heads but made it Makruh (disliked) for women to do so. Ali t said: “The Prophet (sa) told the women not to shave their heads.” (An-Nasai)

He also instructed the men not to shave portions of their heads and leave portions. Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) told us not to have the Qaza haircut [shaving some portions and keeping some].” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) saw a boy, whose head was partially shaved, and told the people not to do so and said: ‘Shave it all or leave it all.’” (Abu Dawood)

Likewise, men used to wear pure silk and gold. Although silk and gold were prohibited for men, they were allowed for women. From a Hadeeth we learn that the Prophet (sa) took silk in his right hand and gold in his left, and said: “These two are Haram (prohibited) for the males among my followers.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah)

People also used perfume to adorn themselves. One of the sons of Umm Atiyya (rta) died, and on the third day, she asked for a yellow perfume, put it over her body and said: “We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days, except for our husbands.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) encouraged the use of perfume: “Whoever is offered some perfume should not refuse it, because it is light to wear and has a good scent.” (Abu Dawood and An-Nasai)

He always used to accept perfume when presented to him. (Bukhari)

In fact, the Prophet (sa) rebuked people who ate raw legumes and threatened to exclude them from approaching the mosques due to the unpleasant odour that they carried.

Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (rta) reported: “Whoever has eaten from this malignant tree should not approach our mosque, until its smell completely vanishes.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibban)

Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has eaten garlic should not approach our mosque.” (Bukhari and Muslim) A foul breath is indeed a matter of great discomfort for people around.

Women used to wear earrings and bangles. On Eid day, when the Prophet (sa) preached about giving charity, women started giving their fore-arm bangles and earrings. (Bukhari) It was also a practice to apply Kohl in the eyes.

Umm Atiyya (rta) narrated from the Prophet (sa): “It is not lawful for a lady, who believes in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, to mourn for more than three days for a dead person, except for her husband, in which case she should neither put Kohl in her eyes, nor perfume herself, nor wear dyed clothes, except a garment of Asb.” (Bukhari)

In order to enhance their beauty, women used to pluck their eyebrows, widen and sharpen their teeth, tattoo their skins and attach hair pieces and wigs to lengthen their hair. The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Washimat and the Mustawshimat [tattooers and the tattooed], the Namisat and the Mutanammisat [those who pluck eyebrows and those whose eyebrows are plucked], and the Mutafallijat [those who widen the gaps between their teeth] for beauty, who change what Allah has created.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

In another Hadeeth, the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Wasilah and the Mustawsilah [those women who make wigs and hairpieces, and those who wear them].” (Bukhari)

However, if a woman has some obtrusive hairs on her face, which are a problem and an embarrassment for her, she may remove them. Aisha y was approached by the young wife of Abu Ishaq. She wished to remove her facial hairs in order to look beautiful for her husband. Aisha y advised her to do so. (At-Tabarani)

In all ages, men and women have paid attention to their personal appearance and spent time, money and effort in beautifying themselves. However, it is disturbing to note that the emphasis on personal appearance is so excessive in the current age.

As Muslims we need to remind ourselves that inner beauty comes before external appearances. After all, we have been taught to pray: “O Allah, just as You have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well.” (Hisnul Haseen) Ameen.

 

The Prophet’s (sa) Concern for Taharah

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautifulBy Halima Khan

Taharah is the first lesson taught by Islam. Ask any neo-convert and his declaration of ‘la ilaha illallah’ is closely followed by a Ghusl. Hence, the cleansing of a soul that was formerly stained by Shirk is complete only once physical cleansing has been observed. The essential connection between Islam and Taharah is already established from this relevant fact.

Tradition has it that the people of a small town near Madinah, who were very particular about Taharah, especially for their prayers, have been mentioned in the Holy Book. The Lord (swt) praises these people in the Quran:

“Never stand you therein. Verily, the mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray). In it are men, who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allah (swt) loves those, who make themselves clean and pure (i.e. who clean their private parts with dust [i.e. to be considered as soap) and water from urine and stools, after answering the call of nature].” (At-Tawbah 9:108)

After being blessed with Prophethood, the second revelation reminded the Prophet (sa) of his heavy responsibilities and asked him to observe cleanliness:

“O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)!” (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-5)

All blessings that come from Islam, the fountain of blessings, directly stem from cleanliness. The Prophet (sa), set for us the highest example in principles of faith and in cleanliness, which in Islam is not only a physical condition, but also a state of being and existence.

We know from history that the desert environment of Arabia and the nomadic life of its people were not very conducive to cleanliness and refinement. Most of them neglected the basic aspects of Taharah. Hence, it was the Prophet (sa), who instructed them in matters of Taharah, with his lively instruction and to-the-point admonition. Thus, he gradually led them out of their uncouth habits by teaching them refinement and civil manners.

The following incidents will illustrate how the Prophet (sa) used Hikmah in teaching Taharah to those around him.

Once, a Sahabi (rta), with his hair and beard unkempt, came to see the Prophet (sa). The Prophet (sa) asked him to tidy up his hair. He did so, and when he re-appeared before the Prophet (sa), he said: “Is this not better than that one should come with disheveled hair, looking like a devil?” (Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik) This incident illustrates that one should keep one’s hair clean, combed and neat at all times.

Another incident reveals that a Sahabi (rta) in dirty and ragged clothes once joined the company of the Prophet (sa) and his companions. On seeing his condition, the Prophet (sa) asked him about his financial condition. The man answered that he was financially blessed, and that he had everything from camels to horses to goats; in addition to all of these, he also owned a slave. The Prophet (sa) pointed out to him that the blessings that have been bestowed on him should also be apparent in his clothes and style of living. He (sa) said to him: “Since Allah (swt) has given you wealth, let Him see the effects of His favour and bounty upon you.” (An-Nasai) This shows that not using the blessings the Lord (swt) has showered upon us is a sign of ungratefulness towards His favours.

At one occasion, the Prophet (sa) saw a man with untidy hair and remarked: “Does he have nothing with which to comb his hair?” (Abu Dawood)

When he saw another man with dirty clothes, the Prophet (sa) remarked: “Can’t he find anything with which to wash his clothes?” (Abu Dawood)

It was also an instruction of the Prophet (sa) that people attend gatherings and congregations, such as the Friday and Eid prayers, in proper attire. He said that if you can afford it, it is befitting that you wear garments other than your working clothes to Friday prayer. (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) himself was so conscious of hygiene that, when he travelled, he carried with him several items for personal use like: oil, comb, pair of scissors, Miswak, mirror, etc. For oral hygiene, he cleaned his teeth regularly with Miswak – not once a day but several times. Aisha (rta) points out how diligently he used the Miswak every morning when he woke up, and also when he returned home. This was to such an extent that it is recorded that using the Miswak was among his last actions.

Many Ahadeeth of the Prophet (sa) also emphasize on Taharah, some of which are as follows:

“When you drink (water), do not breathe in the vessel; and when you urinate, do not touch your penis with your right hand; and when you cleanse yourself after defecation, do not use your right hand.” (Bukhari)

“Cleanliness invites toward faith, and faith leads its possessor to the Garden.” (Tabarani)

Taharah reflects not only personal hygiene but the condition of one’s faith as well. It is significant for us as Muslims to have a strong faith. We should take a good look at how important Taharah is to us – maybe that will tell us, where we stand in matters of faith. Make amends while you can, before the time comes for someone else to take care of your last Taharah rituals for you.

Advisors of the Prophet (sa)

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautifulCompiled by Hafsa Ahsan

The political system implemented by the Prophet (sa) makes an enlightening study. His political decisions were based on consultation with his Companions (rta). In his book “Advisors of the Prophet (sa).” Abdul Aziz Shanawi has detailed the profiles of all the Companions (rta) who gave wise counsel to the Prophet (sa). Following is a brief look at some of these individuals and their advice.

Sad Ibn Ar-Rabi (rta)

Sad Ibn Rabi (rta) belonged to the Khazraj tribe of Madinah. The Prophet (sa) consulted Sad (rta), when his uncle Al-Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib sent him a letter from Makkah, informing him that after the Battle of Badar, the Quraish were preparing another army for attacking Muslims.

Sad Ibn Ar-Rabi (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah! I indeed hope that there is goodness in that (i.e. for the Muslims to overcome them in battle).” The Prophet (sa) requested Sad (rta) to keep the contents of the letter a secret.

Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta)

Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta) was the first Muslim to receive a flag for a military expedition. He was also the first one to assign one-fifth of the war booty to the Prophet (sa), which later became a rule, following the revelation of the following verse:

“And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allah and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad)], (and also) the orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor) and the wayfarer…” (Al-Anfal 8:41)

Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta) was included in those Companions, who were consulted by the Prophet (sa) after the Battle of Badar. At the time, the Prophet (sa) wanted advice on how the seventy prisoners, taken during the war, should be treated.

Salman Al-Farsi (rta)

Prior to the Battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (sa) consulted his Companions on how the Muslim army should defend itself. Most of the Companions were reluctant to offer any advice. Salman Al-Farsi (rta) came forward and advised that the Muslims should dig a trench on the northern side of Madinah. He felt that the western and eastern sides were well-protected by rough terrain and volcanic rocks. A mountain and a cluster of date palm trees defended its southern side. This valuable counsel proved to be vital for the victory of Muslims in this battle.

Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta)

Before the Battle of Badar, both the Muslim and the Quraish armies hastened towards the wells of Badar. Obviously, the army which would have control of the water supply would be at a greater advantage. The Muslim army arrived at the wells first. At that point, Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta) asked the Prophet (sa), if Muslims had been commanded by Allah (swt) to camp at this spot. When the Prophet (sa) replied in the negative, he offered his advice. He informed the Prophet (sa) that the well closest to the Quraish army did contain plenty of water. He suggested that Muslims should make a reservoir over that well and destroy all other wells. The Prophet (sa) implemented this suggestion.

Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta) also gave some critical advice before the Battle of Khyber. When the Muslim army arrived at Khyber, they camped near the fortress of An-Natat. Al-Hubaib (rta) approached the Prophet (sa) and said that the people of An-Natat had excellent shooting skills. Being in a fortress gives them the advantage to shoot at the Muslim army from a height. They can also launch a surprise attack, as there is a thick cluster of date palm trees to conceal them. The Prophet (sa) then commanded Muhammad Ibn Maslamah (rta) to find another spot for the Muslim army, which was far away from the An-Natat fortress.

Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta)

The Prophet (sa) consulted Usamah (rta) at one of the most crucial times for him and his family. The hypocrites of Madinah had levelled a most serious allegation against his wife Aisha (rta). There was no proof of her innocence or her guilt. The Prophet (sa) consulted Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rta) and Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta). Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta) replied: “O Messenger of Allah, as for your family (wives), I know only good things about them. As for what the people say, it is a lie and completely false.”

Sad Ibn Muadh (rta)

Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) pledged his and the Ansars’ allegiance to the Prophet (sa) before the Battle of Badar. He also advised the Prophet (sa) to build a trellis, which could serve as the headquarters for the Muslim army. “Then, when we meet the enemy, if Allah (swt) honours us, and we come out victorious over the enemy that will be what we truly love and want. But if it is the other outcome (i.e., defeat)…you can return to those (Muslims), who are behind us (in Madinah),” he said.

During the Battle of Ahzab, Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) was chosen to be one of the delegates for the peace negotiations with the tribe of Ghatafan. This tribe was offered one-third of Madinah’s crops, if they returned without fighting the Muslim army. Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) opposed this deal. He (rta) informed the Prophet (sa) that in their pre-Islamic days, Ghatafan tribe was unwilling to eat even a single of Madinah’s fruits, unless they received it as guests or buyers. He (rta) said: “So now that Allah (swt) has honoured us with Islam, guided us to it, and honoured us with you, will we simply give them our wealth? By Allah (swt), we will give them nothing save the sword, until Allah (swt) judges between us and them.” The Prophet (sa) went forth with the counsel of Sad Ibn Muadh (rta).

Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta)

During the Battle of Hunain, Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta) advised the Prophet (sa). The Muslims had besieged their enemies, who had locked themselves in an impenetrable fortress with supplies, which would last them a year. When the Prophet (sa) consulted his Companions, Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah, when a fox is in a hole, if you stand over it, you will get it. And if you leave it (where it is), it won’t hurt you.” The Prophet (sa) ordered Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) to announce that they were leaving.

Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta)

During the Battle of Ahzab, Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta) was chosen to be one of the delegates for the peace negotiations with the tribe of Ghatafan. He (rta) offered his advice and said: “Then they will have nothing from us other than the sword.” The Prophet (sa), hence, told the men of Ghatafan tribe: “Return, for between us and you is the sword.”

Conclusion

When the Companions (rta) gave advice, they first asked the Prophet (sa), if a particular decision had been commanded by Allah (swt). It shows their level of submission to Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa). It also indicates that they did not look for any personal benefit in crucial political decisions.

Companions’ Love for the Quran

Vol 6 - Issue 4 Companinons' love

If someone would ask you what the Prophet (sa) has left for you, will it take you a while to respond? When Abu Hurairah (rta) told a group of people that the Prophet’s (sa) inheritance was being distributed in the mosque, the people returned lost, unable to find anything. What they missed out on was exactly what we would have missed out on easily. So, what was the Prophet’s (sa) inheritance? In the mosque, they found people performing Salah, others reading the Quran and discussing what was Halal and what was Haram. Abu Hurairah (rta) told them: “Woe unto you! That is the inheritance of Muhammad (sa).” (Tabarani)

Modern life moves at the speed of a bullet train, or perhaps even faster. In this rapid rut of life, we hardly find time to connect with Allah (swt). Unfortunately, Salah for most of us just becomes a combination of mechanical actions that we repeat day in and day out. The spirit in our worship lies in understanding the Holy Quran, which cannot come without the love of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) describes the believers in the Quran: “… But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else).” (Al Baqarah 2:165)

Such love is evident in the tremendous effort that the Companions put in reading and understanding the Holy Quran. Some used to finish the entire Quran in two months, some in one month, some even in ten days or less. Once, when Ibn Umar (rta) was asked by the Prophet (sa) to read the Quran in one month, he insisted on doing it in less than that, so he was then advised to read it in seven days and no less (Bukhari). A group of such Companions as Usman, Zaid Ibn Thabit, Ibn Masood and Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) used to complete the reading of the entire Quran every Friday. (Ghazali)

The Companions were a true example of the verse of the Holy Quran, “Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides…” (Al-Imran 3:191). They used to read the Quran during all hours of the day and night, whether they stayed in one place or were travelling. (Al-Nawawi)

They read the Quran in a slow and distinct manner (Tartil), as taught by the Prophet (sa). Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta) said: “That I read Surah of the Cow (Al-Baqarah) and the Surah of the House of Imran (Al-Imran) in a slow and distinct manner, while pondering over them, is better for me than to read the entire Quran babbling.” He also said: “That I read, [the surah beginning with] ‘when the earth is shaken’ (Surah Al-Zilzal) and Surah Al-Qariah, reflecting over them, is better for me than to read Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Al-Imran babbling.” (Ghazali)

Weeping whilst reading the Quran was also a way of the Companions. The Messenger of Allah (sa) commanded: “Recite the Quran and weep. If you do not weep naturally, then force yourself to weep.” (Ibn Majah) True to this tradition, Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta) tells us: “When you read [the Quranic verse of] prostration, in which occurs the word, Subhana, do not hasten to prostrate until you weep. If the eyes of anyone of you do not weep, his mind should weep [i.e. be filled with grief and fear of God].”

Some Companions liked to read the Quran silently and others liked to read it aloud. The Prophet (sa) directed them even in this matter in accordance with the Quranic verse: “… And offer your Salat (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.” (Al-Isra 17:110) Abu Qatadah narrates that the Prophet (sa) told Abu Bakr (rta): “When I passed by you, you were reciting the Quran in a low pitch [in the night prayer].” He replied: “I recite it to Him, Who hears [even my] whispers.” The Prophet (sa) continued: “Raise your pitch a little.” Then he told Umar (rta): “When I passed by you, you were reciting the Quran in a very loud pitch.” He replied: “I awake those who sleep, and make Satan run away.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Lower your pitch a little.” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

The Companions also read the Quran beautifully, thereby following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), who said: “Adorn the Quran with your voices.” (Abu Dawood) Reading beautifully meant reading in a slow and distinct manner, by controlling the voice though not with that excessive stretch which changes the prose order (Nazm). (Ghazali) One night the Prophet (sa) listened to the Quranic recitation of Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta), and with the Prophet (sa) were Abu Bakr and Umar (rta). They stood still for a long time [listening]. Then the Prophet (sa) said: “One who wants to read the Quran as fresh as it was revealed should read it following the reading of Ibn Umm Abd.” (Ibn Majah)

Merely reading the Quran was not enough. An important part of recitation was to understand the Quran. The Companions warned the people not to overlook understanding the words of Allah (swt). Anas Ibn Malik (rta) once said: “Often one recites the Quran, but the Quran curses him, because he does not understand it.” The sign of faith, according to Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta), was to understand the Quran. In this regard he said: “We have lived long … a time has come when I see a man who is given the whole Quran before he has acquired faith; he reads all the pages between Al-Fatihah and its end, without knowing its commands, its threats and the places in it where he should pause – he scatters it like the scattering of one fleeing in haste.” Ali (rta) said: “There is no good in the Quran reading which is not pondered over.”

A man once came to learn the Quran from the Prophet (sa), who taught him Surah Az-Zalzalah (99). When he reached the words “So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it; And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it,” the man said: “This is sufficient for me,” and left. The Prophet (sa) observed: “This man has returned as a Faqih (one who has acquired understanding).” (Abu Dawood)

There were also Companions like Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and Abdullah IbnMasood (rta), who, once they had learnt ten verses from theProphet (sa), did not go anyfurther, unless they had understood and put into practice whatever they had been taught. That is how they sometimes spent years in learning onlyone Surah. (Suyuti)

It was the strength of the bond with the Quran that kept the Companions steadfast in their faith, even when the Prophet (sa) was not amongst them. Due to the fine understanding and frequent reading of the Quran, they were able to control their excessive grief at the Prophet (sa)’s death by remembering the Quranic verse: “Muhammad (sa) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)?” (Al-Imran 3:144) May Allah (swt) fill our hearts with love for the Quran. Ameen.

Exemplary Lives, Admirable Deaths

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Exemplary livesBy Erum Asif

No nation has the kind of remarkable role models that Muslims are blessed with. These people had exemplary lives and admirable deaths. Allah (swt) has decreed death for all of us, but do we remember?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) remained ill for about ten days before he died. During one of these days, he admonished: “Do not make my grave an idol to be worshipped.” (Muwatta Imam Malik) This is a stern reminder for Muslims who commit Shirk by prostrating and praying to dead ‘saints’ at shrines. He further said: “He, whom I have lashed his back (wrongfully), then, here is my back, let him retaliate. He, whom I have ever blasphemed his honour, here I am offering my honour, so that he may avenge himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) had not wronged anyone, yet he humbly offered himself for revenge. Have we made amends to those we have hurt? He (sa) reminded the people to be good to the Ansar, adding: “…They have fulfilled their obligations and rights, which were enjoined on them, but there remains what is for them. So, accept the good (deeds) of the good-doers amongst them and excuse the wrong-doers among them.” or “….accept their good side and ignore their faults.” (Bukhari) What a noble approach! Focus on the positive deeds of your fellow-Muslims; overlook their faults, paving the way to a stronger Ummah, Insha’Allah.

A final instruction that the Prophet (sa) emphasized was: “Allah, Allah. Prayers and what your right hands own (i.e., the slaves).” (Dhahabi) Alas! What is the state of our prayers today? Do Muslims head for the Masjid upon hearing the Adhan? How many Muslims pray five times a day? Empty, divided Masjids tell us a sad story! Do we abandon cosy beds for a timely Fajr?

On the day of his death, Prophet (sa) removed his door curtain, looked at the Muslims praying Fajr and smiled. After sunrise, he asked for Fatima (rta) to be brought in. He whispered into her ear, and she cried. He whispered again, and she smiled. First, he had informed her of his death, and then of her being the first relative to join him, and of being the women’s chief in Jannah. He asked for Hasan and Hussain to be brought in and kissed them.

O, Muslim parents, isn’t there a beautiful example for you in Rasoolullah (sa)? This is an example of love and compassion, not of harshness and aloofness. Note his and Fatima’s (rta) mutual focus – the Hereafter.

In his final moments, the Prophet (sa) was leaning against his wife Aisha (rta). Her brother walked in with a Miswak (tooth-stick) in his hand. Aisha (rta) took and softened it, whereupon the Prophet (sa) used it. Such concern for cleanliness and fondness of the Miswak, as he is about to take his last breath! And what a loving relationship he and his wife enjoyed! Muslim couples can beautify their marriages by turning to the Prophet’s (sa) example. He wiped his face with water, saying: “La ilaha ill-Allah; truly, death has its agonies.” And glanced upwards, supplicating: “…O Allah, forgive me, have mercy upon me and unite me with the highest companions.”

(Quoted in “A Biography of the Prophet of Islam”, by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah Ahmad, Translated by Syed Iqbal Zaheer, Dar-us-salam, 2005 and “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum”, by Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Dar-us-salam, 1995)

Twelve years later, Umar (rta), the second caliph, was martyred. As he led the Fajr prayer, a Persian slave stabbed him with a poisoned, double-edged dagger. What was Umar’s (rta) concern as he fell fatally wounded? Prayers! He asked: “Is Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf among the people?” They replied: “Yes, he is over here.” Umar (rta) asked him to lead the prayer.

Later, Umar (rta) was taken home. He thanked Allah (swt) for not causing him to die from a Muslim’s hands. He was given milk to drink, which oozed out of his belly’s wound. He asked for the Muslim children to come. He stroked them affectionately. He gave instructions for the settlement of his debt and named the companions to be chosen from as his successor.

He (rta) also asked his son to seek permission from Aisha (rta) for being buried next to the Prophet (sa) and Abu Bakr (rta). Aisha (rta) agreed, and Umar (rta) thanked Allah (swt), since the most important wish of his was fulfilled. He (rta) said to his son: “Place my cheek on the ground.” And when that was done, he said::“Woe to you and to your mother, O Umar, if Allah (swt) does not forgive you, O Umar.” He then passed away.

(Quoted in “Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs”, Prepared and Translated by Tamir Abu As-Suood, Dar Al-Manarah, 2001)

More than seventy years after Umar’s (rta) demise, the Ummah witnessed the greatest ruler after the rightly-guided caliphs. That was Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, great-grandson of Umar (rta). Remember the God-fearing lady, who had refused to mix milk with water because of Caliph Umar’s (rta) prohibition? Umar’s (rta) son Asim married her. Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz was Asim’s grandson. This God-fearing ruler would gather scholars to remember death and the Akhirah, and they would cry, as if a funeral were before them.

He died after a short but exceptional rule of two years. In his last speech, he said: “Don’t you know that protection tomorrow will be limited to those, who feared Allah [today], and to those who sold something ephemeral for something permanent? (…) I swear by Allah (swt) that I say those words to you, knowing that I myself have committed more sins than any of you; I, therefore, ask Allah for forgiveness, and I repent.” He lifted up the edge of his robe and began to sob, causing people to burst into tears.

In the agony of death, he addressed his sons tearfully: “By Allah (swt)! I have not left for you anything in inheritance (except for a room). If you are righteous, then Allah (swt) is the caretaker of the righteous ones. And if you are evil-doers, then I will never help you in evil-doing with my wealth.” Each son kissed him, and he prayed for them. He left his sons barely a dirham each, but years later they were seen distributing multitude of horses as charity. Just before his departure, Umar asked to be left alone and was heard reciting: “That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqun.” (Al-Qasas, 28:83)

(Quoted in “Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs” by Tamir Abu As-Suood Muhammad and Noha Kamal Ed-Din Abu Al-Yazid, Dar Al-Manarah; “Sunehray Huroof” by Abdul Malik Mujahid, published by Dar-us-salam and “Umar Bin Abdul Aziz”, Muslim Heroes Series, by Naima Sohaib, Translated by Eeman Asif Misbah, Sahar Publishers, 2006)

Seriously ill before her death, Aisha (rta) was asked how she felt. She would say she was fine. Visiting her, Ibn Abbas (rta) started praising her. She asked him not to, adding, “I would be happy not existing.” What fear of accountability!

(Quoted in “Aisha (rta)”, Muslim Heroes Series by Naima Sohaib. Translated by Eeman Asif Misbah, Sahar Publishers, 2006)

They were well-prepared, yet fearful. We are unprepared, yet relaxed!

The Prophet’s (sa) Visit to Jannah

Vol 6 - Issue 2 Prophet's sa visit to jannahBy Asma Siddiqui

Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) [above all that (evil) they associate with Him] Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-Al-Haram (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. (Al-Isra 17:1)

The incident of the above Ayah is famous as the event of Isra. ‘Isra’ literally means ‘travelling in the night’. This Ayah mentions the journey of Prophet Muhammad (sa) from Masjid-Al-Haram to Masjid-Al-Aqsa.

During this journey, the Prophet (sa) saw great signs of Allah (swt). The main reason behind this journey was for him to witness the eventual abode of the good as well as the bad, in order that he might convey it to all fellow human beings. It was a little glimpse into Hell as well as Jannah, so that people learn to abstain from punishable acts and, instead, do activities that would bless them with Allah’s (swt) love.

There are many notable incidents, as reported in the Ahadeeth, which give one a glimpse of Jannah and the reward of those, for whom Jannah is the eternal abode.

One such Hadeeth mentions the following incident during the Isra journey. The Prophet (sa) passed though a village. As soon as the people there would harvest their land, it would grow back again immediately. The Prophet (sa) asked Jibrail (as), who these people were. He replied, they were fighters in the way of Allah (swt). Their good deeds grow 700 times in reward, and whatever they spend, they get rewarded for it. Indeed, Allah (swt) is the best Sustainer. (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also said: in another Hadeeth: “Then, Jibrael brought me to Sidrat Al-Muntaha, which was veiled in colors indescribable. Then, I entered Paradise, and its lights were of pearls and its soil was musk.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) also visited a valley, which was filled with a pleasant, cool, fragrant air. There, he heard a voice. He asked what this was. Jibrael (as) replied, this was the voice of Jannah. Jannah was saying: “Oh, Lord! Fulfill your promise to me. My wealth, silk, gold, honey, wine, everything is getting excessive. There should be someone to use it.”

Jannah then got the following reply from Allah (swt): “Every Momin, man or woman, who believes in Me and My Prophet (sa), does good deeds, who does not include anyone else with Me, does not consider anyone My equal, all those will enter you. Listen, whoever has fear for Me in their heart is free of fear from anyone else; who turns to Me for help, he is not deprived of Me; who gives loan to Me, I reward them; who has faith in Me, I become enough for him. I am the True Lord. There’s no God other than Me. My promises are not unfulfilled. The true Momin is forgiven already. Allah (swt) is the best Creator.”

Hearing this, Jannah said: “I am happy.”

It was narrated by Ibn-e-Abbas (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said that on the night of Isra, he smelled a very nice and precious fragrance. I asked: “What is this fragrance?” The reply that came was that that this is the pharaoh’s daughter’s hairdresser’s (female) and her children’s palace.

That is because once she was combing the pharaoh’s daughter’s hair, and the comb fell, and she immediately picked it up and uttered: “Bismillah.”

To this, the princess said: “My father is the only God.”

She said: “No, Allah is the only Creator, Who gives sustenance to me, to you and to your father.”

The princess said: “Really! Do you think anyone else is God other than my father?”

She replied: “Yes, mine and yours and your father’s Rab is Allah.”

The princess told this to her father, who got very angry. He called her immediately and asked: “Do you consider anyone else as God other than me?”

She said: “Yes, mine and your Rab is Allah, who is Great and Mighty.”

The Pharaoh immediately ordered that a bronze pot be heated. When it became hot, he ordered her children to be thrown into it. The hairdresser requested that her and her children’s bones be placed in the same place. The pharaoh agreed and one by one threw her children into the pot.

Finally, they turned to the youngest child, who was at its mother’s breast. The mother could not bear it. Allah (swt) bestowed the child with speech, and he spoke loudly: “Dear mother, don’t feel sorry. Do not falter. To die for truth is the best deed.” So the mother became calm. The infant was thrown into the pot, and so was the mother. The result was this fragrance that emerged from their palace. (Baihaqi)

During his journey, the Prophet (sa) also saw the Kauthar River. He said: “When I entered Jannah during Shab-e-Mairaj, I walked about and came to a stream, on either bank of which stand hollow domes made of pearls. They are hollow inside so that heavenly people may inhabit there. I asked Jibrail, what this was. ‘This is the same stream of Heaven (Kauthar), which is God’s blessing upon you.’ When I examined the soil of this stream, it had a sweet smell like the scent of musk.” (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) has vividly described Jannah in many Ahadeeth. Abu Hurairah (rta) asked Allah’s Messenger (sa), what the creation was made of, and he replied that it was made of water. He was asked, what Paradise was constructed of, and he (sa) replied: “A brick of gold and a brick of silver with mortar of strong-scented musk; its pebbles are pearls and rubies and its soil is saffron.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) has also mentioned that person, who is rewarded even with the lowest level in Jannah, will be blessed with a space equal to ten times the area of the world. The distance between the two arms of the frame of each door of Jannah will be so wide that if a person wants to cover this width, it would take him forty years to do so. (Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) visit to Jannah is of great significance. It has given the pious a picture of the lovely things that are awaiting them. This should serve as a motivation for us to live a life that will lead us to the eternal Paradise.

Shaitan’s Schemes against the Prophet (sa)

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Shaitan's SchemesSherlock Holmes had Professor Moriarty, Spiderman battled the Green Goblin – every fictitious hero has had to face a devilish, scheming enemy in their action-packed lives. The same is true for our real life heroes – Prophets of Allah (swt) have had to face many enemies, including the devil himself – the Shaitan (also known as Iblis).

It is taken for granted that Shaitan’s Waswasa (whispering) would encourage many people to conspire against the prophets, our guides towards the path of Jannah. However, Shaitan himself has also come physically for leading our prophets astray. For example, Shaitan appeared before Prophet Ibrahim (as), as he prepared to sacrifice Ismael (as) on Allah’s (swt) command. Shaitan was stoned for his efforts by both father and son, and the incident was made an important ritual of Hajj – stoning the pillars at Jamarat. On studying Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Seerah, we find that this evil nemesis and his aides made physical appearances during the Prophet’s (sa) lifetime, too.

It was during the turbulent times in Makkah, shortly before the Prophet’s (sa) Hijrah, that the Kuffar amongst the Quraish gathered to conspire against the Prophet (sa). They had tried verbal persuasion, physical torture, humiliation, starvation, banishment and even promises of wealth and position to lure Prophet Muhammad (sa) away from his mission of spreading the word of Allah (swt), but it was all in naught. At this point in time, Prophet Muhammad (sa) appeared most vulnerable to them, because his strongest supporters – his uncle, Abu Talib and his wife, Kadijah (rta) – had died.

As the Quraish debated on the best means to silence the Prophet (sa) forever, they were interrupted by an old man. He introduced himself as a well-wisher from the tribe of Najd, was curious to hear their talk and hoped for their success on reaching a sound decision. This old man was Iblis himself, and with his smooth talking he was readily admitted into the meeting! In this way he, too, was present when the Quraish plotted the murder of Muhammad (sa). (Ibn Hisham)

Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) warned the Prophet (sa) of their plans and temporarily blinded the assassins who surrounded his house, as he left Makkah and made his way to Madinah.

Later, Iblis made his appearance when the Quraish prepared to battle the Muslims at Badr. On hearing the fabricated news that the Muslims from Madinah were intercepting a Quraishi caravan returning from Syria, the Quraish swiftly rounded up their men and armaments for war. They rallied other Arab tribes to help as well and then came a moment of hesitation; they were afraid that the tribe of Banu Bakr (their age old enemies) might attack the Quraish’s army from the rear. Should they advance towards Muslims or not?

It was at this crucial point of indecision that Iblis approached them, disguised as Suraqa Ibn Malik Ibn Jusham Al-Mudlaji – chief of Bani Kinana. He boldly promised: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.” Thus reassured, the army of disbelievers charged forward.

It was in the very midst of the battle that Shaitan revealed his true self as a traitor and a liar. The Muslims were rapidly gaining ground on the battlefield and Angels had begun to descend, by Allah’s (swt) command, to aid the Muslim army. Seeing this, Shaitan fled. Indifferent to the pleas of his allies, he deserted the Kuffar’s army and plunged into the sea.

Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri has recorded these incidents of Shaitan’s interference in our Prophet’s (sa) life in his noteworthy book “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum” (“The Sealed Nectar”).

Shaitan’s workers amongst the Jinn have also been recorded to have made an effort to entice Prophet Muhammad (sa). It has been recorded by Imam Bukhari that Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated the following words of the Prophet (sa): “Last night, a big demon (Afreet) from the Jinns came to me and wanted to interrupt my prayers (or said something similar), but Allah enabled me to overpower him. I wanted to fasten him to one of the pillars of the Masjid, so that all of you could see him in the morning, but I remembered the statement of my brother Sulaiman (as stated in Quran): ‘My Lord! Forgive me, and bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me: Verily, you are the Bestower’ (Sad, 38:35).” The sub-narrator Rauh said: “He (the demon) was dismissed humiliated.”

These incidents prove that Shaitan is conniving, and even those most beloved to Allah (swt) are not spared from his plots to misguide. Truly, we are unable to stop his efforts; yet, we are not his helpless prey. Allah (swt) has armed us with Dua and Salah to protect us from Shaitan’s plotting. As we learn from the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and the lives of the prophets before him, Allah (swt) will protect those who seek His protection, and help those who seek His aid. May Allah (swt) grant us refuge from the evil schemes of the Shaitan. Ameen.

The Prophet (sa) and Us

Vol 5 - Issue 4 The Prophet sa & us

We live in a world desperately seeking heroes. Of skepticism: “He ‘looks’ so religious. Hmm, I wonder what the REAL story is!” Of mistrust: “Give me a break – teaching the Quran without an agenda? Not possible.” Of rituals we don’t understand and don’t bother to question. Of giant billboards but stunted role ‘models.’ Yes. Our world is ripe with sophisticated spin-doctors who could sell ice to Eskimos and sun glasses to a bat. And they are packaging and selling Islam to the Muslims with unparalleled bravado. Is it then any surprise that in the world we live in today, Prophet Muhammad (sa) hardly seems real or even possible?

He may well be the most influential man in history, but hey – what has he got to do with our contemporary, avant-garde, high-tech existence? They deliberate.

The spectrum of our connection with the Prophet (sa) is limited. For some, God’s gift to mankind is just that – a cliché. He seldom surfaces in their tête-à-tête. However, with an increased interest in religion within fashionable circles these days, the conversation does embark on ‘enlightened moderation.’ One may hear: “Have you read Karen Armstrong’s new book?” Or a trendy talk show on TV may present a flexible, ready-to-wear version of life in Madinah in the days of the Prophet (sa). Of course, there is also intellectual muscle flexing in some elite circles. But the point of reference is the Prophet (sa) as seen through the eyes of the Orientalist and is therefore purely academic. This almost mythical figure who lived some 1400 years ago in a land far away is a great conversational piece. He may well be the most influential man in history, but hey – what has he got to do with our contemporary, avant-garde, high-tech existence? They deliberate.

A large majority has erected impenetrable barriers of reverence between themselves and the Prophet (sa). Utter his name, and thumb and fingers will be kissed and put to the eyes at once. Question the validity of Eid Milad un Nabi, and they will lynch you in public. Their love for their Prophet (sa) has taught them to loot, plunder and burn other people’s property when his cartoons are published in a foreign newspaper. They will keep entire neighborhoods awake with hackneyed Naats sung on filmi tunes on loudspeakers after Fajr prayers. Ask them to emulate the ways of the Prophet (sa), and after many Astaghfurallahs, the retort shall inevitably be: “Us mere mortals? How can we even be the dust of the feet of the Prophet (sa)?”

A large majority has erected impenetrable barriers of reverence between themselves and the Prophet (sa). 

There is also a darker, more sinister shade on this spectrum – lurking behind well-trimmed beards, impressive vernacular and scholarly logic. These are the Munkar-e-Ahadeeth (deniers of Ahadeeth), who talk about the Prophet’s (sa) person and mission with deference, yet sow the seeds of doubts about the authenticity of traditions handed down to us through the generations. Their convincing and subtle deconstruction of Islamic practice based on the treasury of Ahadeeth gnaws at the very fabric of Islam itself.

If we interpret the Quran in isolation from the Prophet’s (sa) Ahadeeth and Sunnah, then whose ‘lens’ will be reliable? If Allah (swt) intended us to understand and interpret the Quran in a don’t-worry-be-happy-do-as-you-want-with-my-text kind of way, then what is the role of the Prophet (sa) in Islam?

That role has been clearly identified by Allah (swt) Himself in the Quran:

“O Prophet (Muhammad (sa))! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner. And as one who invites to Allah [Islamic Monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allah (Alone)] by His Leave, and as a lamp spreading light (through your instructions from the Quran and the Sunnah – the legal ways of the Prophet (sa)).” (Al-Ahzab 33:45-46)

What our relationship with the Prophet (sa) should be has also been defined in the Quran and also by the Prophet (sa):

Allah (swt) says: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad (sa)) you have a good example to follow, for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Abu Hurairah (ratm) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “All my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse. They said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Who will refuse?’ He said: ‘Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it).’” (Bukhari)

In the present ‘let us talk Islam’ climate, why then are some people hell bent on reinventing the wheel?

That is why picking up a pen (or a word processor) and writing about the Prophet (sa) is a serious and scary venture. Serious, because we dare not be flippant about the man who is Allah’s (swt) last Messenger till the end of this world. Scary, because of the following Ahadeeth: Anas (ratm) has narrated: “The fact which stops me from narrating a great number of Ahadeeth to you is that the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Whoever tells a lie against me intentionally, then (surely) let him occupy his seat in Hell-fire.’” (Bukhari)

His greatest strength lies in his humanness and the way he elevated it to perfection. Contrary to popular belief, intimate proximity with the Divine did not make the Prophet (sa) ethereal; rather, it made him more human. 

Alhamdulillah, there is a wealth of information available to us on every aspect of the Prophet’s (sa) life. His status and our role in reference to him, has been laid out. What we can safely do is sift through his life and Sunnah with the intention of building a personal relationship of trust, love, understanding and, above all, of finding our hero. This would then be a process of discovery, NOT invention. Taking the cue from the Companions of the Prophet (sa) will certainly be an advantage on this road.

One most remarkable and striking aspect of the Prophet (sa) was his ability to command respect in situations where anyone else would border on undignified. It takes a big man to sit on a mule and be commander-in-chief of an army. Look at the Battle of Hunain – the Prophet (sa) sat on his white mule and Burrah Ibn Azab (rta) narrated: “By Allah! Whenever the battle got intense, we would save ourselves through the Prophet (sa), i.e., we would hide behind him and the brave amongst us was that person who would stand beside the Prophet (sa).” (Muslim)

His greatest strength lies in his humanness and the way he elevated it to perfection. Contrary to popular belief, intimate proximity with the Divine did not make the Prophet (sa) ethereal; rather, it made him more human. We then have a hero with not some out-of-this-world super powers but with a dazzling human factor. It is this very factor that impressed friends and foes in his lifetime and still holds its own amidst venomous attempts to dent his Sunnah. He was ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. His unpretentious, modest simplicity did not waver with changing circumstances.

Alas! It is this same human factor that is so lacking in us today.

Combating Depression the Prophet (sa)’s Way

role modelThe most popular fictional stories of today speak of people, who braved humiliation and personal loss and arose from the ashes of depression to take on the world and march towards success. As inspiring as these stories may be, they offer little practical advice on coping with our own personal pain. For learning to deal with real grief, we must look at the stories of real people; and such is the story of our Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Sahabahs have recorded the many afflictions our Prophet (sa) faced and how he endured them for the benefit of all Muslims. Just like us, he also bore the loss of his loved ones. In fact, his beloved wife Khadijah (rta) died early in his mission of prophethood. At that point of his life, he was already struggling with continual physical and emotional harassment by his townspeople and soon faced the challenge and helplessness of seeing his strongest supporter Abu Talib die a Kafir. Rather than wring his hands in despair, Allah’s Messenger (sa) entrusted himself to Allah (swt). His daughter once wept, seeing him being harassed by insolent Kaffars, and he in turn tried to comfort her by saying: “Do not weep, my daughter – Allah will verily protect your father.” (Bukhari)

Later, our Nabi (saw) suffered the anguish of witnessing the death of his young son Ibrahim, the only son, who did not die in infancy. He wept, yet mourned by simply saying: “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh Ibrahim! Indeed, we are grieved by your separation.” (Bukhari)

Our Prophet (sa) also endured the pangs of starvation, the humiliation of being labelled a magician, a liar and even a mad man. He was stoned by disbelievers in Taif, and his blood glued his sandals to his feet. He was wounded in the battle of Uhud and even spat on by his enemies. Unable to shake him from his determination to continue his mission, they attacked his family by spreading slander about his youngest wife Ayesha (rta). In each case, he called out to his Lord and asked for mercy and patience.

Our Prophet’s (sa) entreaties and Duas to Allah (swt) are lessons for us to follow in our own cases of pain. Our Prophet (sa) bore more than what we, his humble followers, ever could endure, as he himself explained: “Those, who are most afflicted among the people, are the Prophets…” (At-Tirmidhi) Although he was an exceptional man, Muhammad (sa) was a human being. Being orphaned at an early age, he was known to be a very sensitive person. We would be mistaken to assume that because of his prophethood, he could shrug off his grief and continue to strive for his mission, just like our mythical comic book heroes do. Sahabahs claimed they had never witnessed the Prophet (sa) weep, as he did when his cousin Hamza (rta) was assassinated. Though he gave no orders to search for the assassin, it became known that a slave named Washi had done it. Much afterwards, when the Prophet (sa) met him, he asked Washi to hide his face from him (Bukhari) – the pain of losing Hamza (rta) was still felt by Muhammad (sa).

It was his unshakeable faith in Allah (swt) that provided Muhammad (sa) with the healing balm for the wounds cut by the tests of life. We will also be tested to see, if we are worthy of Paradise. We will be able to pass our tests of life only if we turn to Allah (swt) as our Prophet (sa) did.

Optimism – the Beauty of Islam

optimismThe tumults arising here or there in the Ummah have led the majority of the Muslims towards a defeatist attitude. It is not to say that Muslims shouldn’t realize their shortcomings, which are further exploited by their enemies, but they shouldn’t dwell upon pessimism, which only adds to the overall sense of despair and apathy. Rather, they should co-ordinate all their efforts towards a workable solution to overcome the problems.

Our beloved Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah teaches us remarkable optimism; maybe because he had an unshakeable faith in Allah (swt), which many of us lack today. We have forgotten who has control over everything in this universe; instead, we keep fearing Islam’s worst imaginable end.

When the intensity of trials increased and the enemies allied against Muslims everywhere, the Prophet (sa) was eager to give glad tidings to his companions and to inspire the hope that Islam will prevail. What was required was a constant and consistent struggle through patience and perseverance.

Khubab Ibn Al-Arat (rta) said: “We complained to the Messenger of Allah (sa), as he was sitting in the shade of the Kabah. We said: ‘Will you not pray for victory for us?’ He said: ‘One of those, who came before you, would be taken, and they would dig a hole in the ground and put him in it; then, they would bring a saw, which they would bring on his head and cut him in two. Or they would use an iron comb and separate his flesh from his bones, but that would not make him give up his religion. By Allah (swt), Allah (swt) will complete this matter (i.e., Islam) until a rider will be able to go from San’aa to Hadramot (cities in Yemen), fearing nothing except Allah (swt) and the wolf’s attack on his sheep. But you are trying to hasten matters.’” (Bukhari)

This also occurred during the campaign of Al-Ahzab; when the enemies were invading Madinah from all sides, once again the Prophet (sa) revived this concept. This was when the companions were unable to break a rock, while digging the defensive trench around Madinah. The Prophet (sa) struck it three times and it crumbled. Following the first blow, he said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Syria and, by Allah, I can see its red palaces this hour.” Then he struck it a second time and said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Persia, and, by Allah, I can see the white palace of Al-Maad’in (the capital city of Persia at the time).” Then he struck it a third time and said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Yemen, and, by Allah, I can see the gates of San’aa, from where I stand this hour.” (Ahmad, An-Nisai)

The Quran mentions situations such as these: “They said: ‘This is what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) had promised us; and Allah (swt) and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) had spoken the truth.’ And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness (to Allah).” (Al-Ahzab 33:22)

Abdul Aziz A.Saleh explains: “The hearts of the companions were filled with so much pain and fear, but those promising words came to offer consolation and peace of mind to them.”

Ibn-ul Qayyim said, commenting on the story of Ka’b Ibn Malik: “In the race between the horse-rider and the one, who climbed the hill of Sala to tell Ka’b the good news, we see evidence of the people’s eagerness for good news, and how they raced and competed to break good news to one another.” (Zaad Al-Ma’aad, 2/585) And what news could be greater than that of the victory of Islam?

Muslims today should be of good cheer. They should highlight the good efforts of one another and try spreading hope within the Ummah. This will help others to come back to the straight path. Optimism will brew further optimism. A true believer knows that ultimately only Allah’s Deen will stand victorious.