Introduction to Ethics and Theology

[These are rough notes from the first session of the workshop on Historical, Intellectual and Spiritual Approaches to Islam conducted by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Karachi, during Feb 2016]

Disclaimer: This is a purely educational course held to spread the teachings of Islam, with no intention of offending any sect or School of Thought.

Defining the Premises 

This series will cover three approaches to Islam:

  • Historical
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual

The mistake some of us make is that we take singly or exclusively an intellectual approach to religion. We try to understand it only on the basis of our mind. We don’t realize that ultimately deen is a matter of the heart. In Qur’an Allah (swt) is addressing our heart. Blessed Prophet (sws) was gifted with a pure, noble and a beautiful heart. His (sws) heart won over the hearts of Sahaba (ra).

Vast majority of people who convert to Islam today, were you to ask them their story, they would tell you a story of the heart. Along the way there will be small triggers and decisions that may have taken place in their minds, but if you try to track their journey, it would come to be a journey of the heart. Therefore, there should also be an understanding of the spiritual aspects of Islam.

If a person takes all of these three aspects into account, then they would get this multi-dimensional, coloured, robust, in-depth picture of the deen of Islam. This is the overall approach that we are going to take to this course.

In the Western universities they have developed three models to study religion.

  • Faith-Based
  • Secular
  • Divinity School Approach

Faith-based: Sometimes it is also called a confessional study of religion. It means those people who confess, who profess their belief in that scripture, they try to go into an academic study of religion, but that academic study of religion obviously has a limit, because in the course of that study, they are not going to question the existence of Allah (swt); they are not going to question whether Blessed Prophet (sws) was really a prophet or not. That has already been decided by their iman. Those are the first principles that they assume and take for granted, and on that platform they want to study their deen.

For example, they still have, even though most people in Pakistan don’t know about it, a lot of madrassahs which are called seminaries. There are some very prominent seminaries, like the Jews Theological Seminary in New York, there is a Catholic Theological Seminary, and Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, and different denominations of Protestant seminaries. A few of them even have affiliations with top universities. One seminary in Chicago, the Graduate Theological Union, has affiliation with the University of Chicago – one of the top 5 schools. There is another seminary in Berkeley that has affiliation with University of California, Berkeley – also one of the top 10 schools in the US. Inside a seminary, they conduct a faith-based and confessional study of religion.

Secular: Secular study of religion doesn’t just entail, but it demands, it necessitates that you don’t bring your belief in Allah (swt), belief that Qur’an is kitab ullah, belief that Blessed Prophet (sws) is the prophet and messenger of Allah (swt), you don’t bring that to your study of religion. Your approach to religion should be, in their terms, quote unquote, open minded. It means that your mind should be open to disbelief; open to the possibility that Allah (swt) doesn’t exist; open to the possibility that the Qur’an may or may not truly be the word of God; open to the possibility that Blessed Prophet (sws) was the prophet, or he wasn’t. This is the secular study of religion.

In the US people who study in the departments of religion, most of the faculty and students aren’t believers of any particular religion. There are a number of believers as well, but they make it a point to divorce and separate their belief from the classroom, from the lecture and from their own writings. Literally, it’s a very conscious effort in trying to despiritualize their study of religion. That’s one way of studying it.

Divinity School Approach: In some universities, particularly in Harvard, Yale and Chicago, they have made another school called the Divinity School, they call it Div School for short. In this school of divinity a new approach is taken; trying to combine the faith-based confessional study of religion along with those elements of the secular study of religion that are not critical to or skeptical of the matters of belief. You can say it is a faith-based academic approach that is willing to engage in that level of academics that does not critic or call into doubt one’s very foundations of belief. This is the method which I will be taking with you in these sessions.

This is actually something that is extremely lacking in Pakistan. Here we just have madrassahs, or we have faculty that teaches religion, especially in the elite universities, that are not bound by the faith-based approach. You will find varying levels of iman in different professors of Islamiyat, and obviously that is a matter between them and Allah (swt), but they have chosen to adopt secular methods in terms of their teaching and they often try to divorce their faith from their teaching. I don’t feel there is a need to do that. Or, at the very least, if one were to argue that the secular university should operate on that principle, we still need institutes that combine both. We need, what we have called, the divinity school approach.

Critical v. Analytical

I want to show you the difference between these two terms because there is a lot of buzz here that you should have critical thinking. Critical thinking in of itself is a good thing, but you have to be very careful, because when a secular educational institute uses the word critical thinking, for some of them the underlying message is that you should be willing to critic Allah’s (swt) book Qur’an, you should be willing to critic Blessed Prophet’s (sws) sunnah. So the more proper term which I prefer to use is analytical thinking, analytical thought, which is also a term, you can Google it. In fact, there is a whole area of Philosophy called Analytic Philosophy, some people call it Analytic Theology, and this actually has been used very much in Divinity School approach in America by Christians who want to retain their core principles of faith and belief, while embarking on an academic study which has the historical, intellectual and spiritual approaches to understanding the religion.

Always remember that, if you ever hear any Islamic lecturer or an ’Alim counseling you not to adopt critical thinking, they are not saying that don’t use your mind. They are saying don’t engage in critiquing Allah’s (swt) Qur’an, or critiquing the sunnah of Blessed Prophet (sws). Any Islamic scholar is human; he is subject to critic, he is subject to review and refutation, he is subject to partial or full agreement – that’s for insan. But as far as Allah’s (swt) Qur’an and Blessed Prophet’s (sws) sunnah go, the word we are going to use is analytical i.e. we are going to analyze, we want to understand, we want to explore, we want to ponder, we want to reflect.

Introduction to Theology

In Arabic, there are two words used in theology:

  1. Aqidah
  2. Kalam

Aqidah: Strictly speaking, aqidah is normally translated as creed, or a creedal statement. For example, within Sunnis the most agreed upon creedal statement is a text written by Imam Abu Ja’far Tahawi (rh) known as Al-Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah; which is agreed upon by all the Sunnis, and even in terms of contemporary Pakistani/Indian Sunni division, known as Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl-e-Hadith; all three of them agree on this aqidah; the Saudis agree on it, the Pakistanis agree on it, the Indonesians agree on it. And it has been translated in English by a very well-known, respected American convert scholar to Islam, Hamza Yusuf. His translation was published in America.

So aqida; creedal statement — what does this mean? A creedal statement embodies your basic set of beliefs about Allah (swt), prophecy, prophethood of Blessed Prophet (sws), angels, scriptures, life after death, resurrection, etc. They are very short statements. Another well known aqidah has been written by Imam al-Ghazali (rh), and some say he wrote it when he was in Quds sharif i.e. Jerusalem, and it is known as Ar-Risala al-Qudsiya fi Qawa‘id al-‘Aqa’id. It has also been translated in English, in fact both of these books are available on the internet. I’m not going to talk to you about aqidah in this course.

Kalam: Kalam is an analytical approach in trying to understand matters of faith. In English they sometimes translate it as Dialectic Theology. Ilm al-Kalam is all about going deep into different things that Allah (swt) has mentioned to us. For example, what is iman? What does it mean that Allah (swt) has a zaat; has an essence; has siffat – attributes?

You would be amazed at how deep some of the ulema explore some questions e.g. free will and predestination; these are questions that many university educated people ask, like do I have a free will if Allah (swt) knows everything, if Allah (swt) decrees everything? You will find lengthy discussions on this topic. Why did Allah (swt) create evil? Why did Allah (swt) create Shaytan? Why will Allah (swt) punish somebody eternally to hellfire, why not punish them for a finite amount of time? Why does Allah (swt) need to punish people?

I have, in my own personal one life, never yet encountered a single question raised by any philosopher or any Atheist, except that when I went back and researched I found that the ulema of kalam had already discussed and analyzed the same question at length, but using their understanding of Qur’an and Sunnah — and not merely on the basis of their intellect and rationality.

All of these questions have been addressed in ilm al-kalam. We will be talking about some of these questions in the upcoming session Science, Rationality and the New Atheism. I hope to do a couple of them today so you would get an idea how this system works. Every lecture that I’m giving you is just a drop in a very vast ocean. We could do a whole course on Islamic Theology. One could design an entire degree program on this; and there are such degrees in the world.

The point of these few sessions is just to give you a glimpse of, what I sometimes call, a behind-the-scenes tour. What happens when you go on a behind-the-scenes tour of a factory? You will not learn enough to build your own factory, nor will you learn enough to understand every element of the factory, but somebody will grab you by the hand and show you major things in that factory, and at the end they will take you right back to the exit door and send you on your way. If ever you decide that you also want to build a factory, or really understand a factory, for that you will have to embark on a much longer course of study.

Hadith-e-Jibrael & the beginning of Islamic Learning

This is a very famous hadith. It has been narrated both by Imam Bukhari (rh) and Imam Muslim (rh) in their Sahih collections. The reason I’m mentioning this to you today is that the classical study of Islam used to usually begin with this hadith, and this hadith was used to frame a discussion.

From ‘Umar, there is that he said, “While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, one day a man came up to us whose clothes were extremely white, whose hair was extremely black, upon whom traces of travelling could not be seen, and whom none of us knew, [Syedna Umar (ra) must have realized that he was not from Madinah, so he must have come from somewhere else, and if he came from somewhere else and he made a desert journey, then his clothes should have been dusty and his black hair should have been dusty. All of you in Pakistan like to buy white cars, once a boy explained to me that black-coloured cars show dirt more. I said white will show the dirt more, he said no dark will show it more. And he was right as it turns out. So that’s what they mean here, there are both things; that the clothes were white and the hair was black.] 

He sat down close to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, [he cut through all our ranks and he went straight to Blessed Prophet (sws) and he sat by him] so that he rested his knees upon his knees and placed his two hands upon his thighs [which is a very intimate way; physical contact, considering he is a stranger, without a doubt, and he immediately asks a question, no salam, no introduction, no how are you, no who am I?] and said, ‘Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless with him and grant him peace, said, ‘Islam is that you witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and you establish the prayer, and you give the Zakat, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform the hajj of the House if you are able to take a way to it.’

He said, ‘You have told the truth,’ and we were amazed at him asking him and [then] telling him that he told the truth [normally a person higher in knowledge would tell you if you had spoken truly]. He said, ‘Tell me about iman.’ He said, ‘That you affirm Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you affirm the Decree, the good of it and the bad of it.’ [as I told you, aqidah, creedal statement, begins with this sentence and they just open it up, and they write a commentary of 6-7 points] He said, ‘You have told the truth.’ He said, ‘Tell me about ihsan.’ He said, ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don’t see Him then truly He sees you.’

He said, ‘Tell me about the Hour.’ He said, ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the one asking.’ He said, ‘Then tell me about its tokens.’ He said, ‘That the female slave should give birth to her mistress, and you see poor, naked, barefoot shepherds of sheep and goats competing in making tall buildings.’ He went away, and I remained some time. Then he asked, ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ [look at his (ra) adab; he didn’t try to guess and score some CP points!] He said, ‘He was Jibrael who came to you to teach you your deen’.”

Now I’m going to open this up for you that how this is the beginning of studying deen. It begins with the last line ‘He was Jibrael who came to you to teach you your deen’. This is a very beginning, elementary definition, to what is deen. Deen means:

  • Iman
  • Islam
  • Ihsan
  • Social Reality [knowing that there is something coming i.e. the Hour; end of the world, and knowing the signs that will reveal the coming of that time.]

So all four of these constitute deen. Part of deen is to understand these three things i.e. iman, Islam and ihsan. Another part is this notion that there is an end of times which is a notion of the future. One is the historical past, one is the vision of the future. And secondly, there will be signs that indicate the decline that will lead to the end — that’s the understanding of a society. In modern terms we will call this Sociology. It’s an understanding of a social reality.

It is also implying that for deen, you need to be aware of the social reality, because, why are signs given? Signs are given for you to prepare, but if you don’t have your pulse on society and you don’t have a social reality, you will not be able to perceive those signs, you will not be able to take the heed which Allah (swt) wants you to by telling you of those signs. It means that part of deen is knowing there is a future as an end of the world, and that future is going to be marked by spiritual decline, and for this a person must be tracking the spiritual decline in society. Therefore, you can see why I have mentioned this notion of historical approach.

Disciplines of Islamic Learning

Following disciplines emerged in Islamic learning from the above mentioned constituents of deen:

Ilm al Kalam: First discipline that emerged was the study of iman, that was the subject matter of aqidah and kalam. This was a whole area of learning with a whole spectrum of scholars, again, across time, in historical context, who were also trying to capture the universal meanings of truths; a whole series of scholarship; books, treatises, discussions, debates, disagreements, consensuses taken on this question of iman – this is known as ilm al-kalam, or ilm al-aqai’id.

Ilm al Fiqh: Second, on the notion of Islam, Blessed Prophet (sws) has mentioned some of our obligations: prayer, fasting, zakah, hajj. A whole realm of scholarship developed around the study and understanding of this and that is known as ilm al-fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) and we will be covering it a few days later. It means to understand the commands and wishes of Allah (swt) from the sources of deen, from the Qur’an and Sunnah; to derive an understanding from the textual sources of Islam.

For example, here we understand that we have to fast. But what is fasting? How long is the fast? What breaks the fast? That’s not mentioned in this hadith. It’s mentioned that you should pray, but how do you pray? How many raka’at are in a prayer? What will invalidate your prayer? What are those things that, if you forget, you can make up for with two extra sajdahs? That’s not mentioned in this hadith. So a whole world was developed called the ilm al fiqh; which another whole area of study.

Ilm al Tazkiyah: Third was what is ihsan? A whole world was developed on this as well, we were given a target: worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him. First of all, what does that even mean? What does it mean that you worship Allah (swt) as if you are seeing Him? These are the things that are beyond the realm of rationality. Your rational mind will tell you I cannot see Allah (swt), but Blessed Prophet (sws) is saying worship as if you see Allah (swt). Obviously, there has to be something beyond rationality, some way of learning, some understanding.

This is the realm of the spiritual approaches. This is known as ilm al tazkiyah; the knowledge of spiritual purification. Later some people gave it the name tasawwuf, but its original, classical name is ilm al tazkiyah. It’s about how to create those feelings in yourself. If you cannot get the feeling that you are looking at Allah (swt) then know that Allah (swt) is looking at you.

Some people when they narrate this hadith, they use the word ta’budallah; make ibadah, it means all ibadah, not just the salah, not just the daily prayer. If you recite the Qur’an, recite it in a way that you feel as if you are seeing Allah (swt). If you recite durud sharif, salawat, do it in a way as if you are seeing Allah (swt). It can even be taken to mean a broader sense of ibadah; if you are doing any relief work, any humanitarian work, khidmet for society, even if you are spending time with your family (any and every aspect of your life, with the right intention, can be construed as ibadah of Allah swt) so it means do all of that with the feeling in your heart as if you are seeing Allah (swt).

How does a person do that? How does a person spend their whole life such that this feeling is always there? So we need some understanding for that. This needs to be opened up in tafseel; we need to learn it and be trained in it in order to acquire this. Why? Because this is also a part of your deen. This is why it is a great mistake that people make when they say that in Islam you just need to do these five things. Look at this hadith; Islam also means that you need to have this iman, it also means that you worship Allah (swt) with such feelings, and it also means that you have awareness of social reality; of the notion that the humanity is going on decline.

Tools of Analytical Interpretation

1. Intellectual Approach

a. Turning the knob

I’m going to go back to the hadith-e-Jibrael and show you a way the deen is analyzed i.e. its analytical study. I will start with this very last thing which are the signs of the Hour:

“The slave-girl will give birth to her mistress”

Some things in Islam are literal; we can understand them just by the linguistic meanings. For example, make hajj if you are able to. Understood. But what does this mean that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress? When you are going into an analytical study of Islam, the question is that will you always take the text literally, or are you open to the idea that maybe the literal meaning is not only what is intended, maybe the literal meaning is a metaphor.

This is something we call turning the knob. The knob is the interpretive scope that you want to apply on any verse of Qur’an or any text of hadith. If you keep the knob at zero, the meaning is only literal i.e. there is a girl who is a slave who will grow up to have a daughter, and somehow that daughter will become free and she will choose to buy her mother as a slave, thus she will enslave her own mother. There is no metaphor here, no deeper meaning, no general meaning. That’s quite difficult to imagine. It’s almost impossible that someone would become free and enslave her own mother. But, strictly speaking, because now this is a faith-based element, our faith in the Blessed Prophet (sws) demands us to believe that that might very well happen. Allah (swt) knows best, I may not be able to see how it will happen, but there may come a time in the world when this will happen, and when that literally happens, I will understand it as the sign of the Hour.

Second option is to turn the knob a little, so lets say I turn it to 1. Here we will open up the meaning a little bit. Maybe Blessed Prophet (sws) is telling me a deeper meaning so I have to read into that language. The lesson we derive from the literal text is that it would be a terrible thing to do for a daughter to enslave her own mother. So if we take this lesson, it would mean that the daughter would not respect her mother. We may even take the meaning that she will be so disrespectful to her mother, she will view herself as the mother and make herself a female master of her own mother.

If you turn the knob further at 2, you will get a wider meaning. You will still keep the literal meaning, and the second meaning that daughters will disrespect their mothers. Third, it is just generally referring to social disorder and chaos. It is the over-turning, flip-flop, of the natural order of things. So, for example, now in 2016 I could say that in some Western countries they believe in the same-sex marriage which, otherwise, classically, in the vast majority of Western history and even today among many people in the West, has been viewed to be strictly between a man and a woman. If I turn the knob at 3 and take this wider meaning, this is called in Arabic amoom al ma’ana; ta’leel fil ma’ana — to create a broader understanding in the meaning from the lafz (articulated word). Then I would say this is a role reversal. Role is supposed to be that man and a woman get married. Now they are saying that man and man can get married, or woman and woman can get married.

Now what happens is that, depending on where you turn the knob, it would determine whether the sign has occurred or not. If I turn the knob all the way to point 3, you might say that same-sex marriages are happening in the world so this is a sign that the day of judgement is coming near. If a person keeps the knob at zero, so there is no slave-girl yet who has given birth to her mistress, you might say that the sign hasn’t happened yet. So you see it has mass implications. When you open up and explore, you get a wide range of meaning, so the term we are going to use for this is turn the knob. How far will you turn the knob?

That is another question that who is allowed to touch the knob. If anyone could touch the knob, there’s going to be a problem. Even on sound control over here, we always designate people who are going to be doing the sound and presentation. If everyone jumped in then, like they say, too many cooks spoil the broth. This interpretation cannot be completely arbitrary or completely random. There needs to be some guidelines, some limitations. I’m not going to do those guidelines with you in this course. This is just for you to understand that all these things come up when you want to have an analytical understanding of your deen.

“Barefoot, naked, destitute shepherds will compete with one another in constructing tall buildings”

Here if you keep the knob at zero, you can actually see this happening if you ever travel to Saudi Arabia or any of the GCC countries. Part of it is a kinayah (metaphor) to indicate that they are extremely poor and they are being used to construct sky-scrapers, you can see this today even in Makkah Mukarma. If this is the interpretation, and if this is a sign that is there even within hudood-e-haram itself where you will find Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Egyptians and even some Indonesians now, very poor people, this is called migrant labor who are being given very low wages, living about 10 persons to a room to save some money to send back home, and what are they doing? They are constructing tall buildings. Dubai had the highest one, and now Saudis are saying that we are going to make the highest one, so there is this notion of competition. So besides the barefoot and naked part, if you keep the knob at zero, the literal meaning is there.

If you turn the knob a little bit, you can get a more general meaning from that. Lets turn the knob all the way to 3. This could mean materialism, capitalism, this notion of free competition in order to pursue materialistic ends. So basically, it’s about the knob. One interpretive tool is the knob. Another tool is explanation, that’s different from interpretation. For example, worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him. You need an explanation on how to do this. So you open it up, you get explanation. But here, in interpretation, you turn the knob. So this is the first aspect where I give you a glimpse of theology. So I showed you how, like this hadith, is studied, understood and analyzed.

b. Building the workshop

What is iman? You might think that why do I need to ask this question when you just showed me the hadith that Angel Jibrael (as) asked the Blessed Prophet (sws) this question. It’s already been done. And Blessed Prophet (sws) responded that iman is to believe in the angels, the books, prophets, day of judgement, and the decree that everything good and bad comes from Allah (swt). But the reality is that now when you understand anything, for example in the case of iman, you have to do a second thing called a workshop.

In order to get a deep analytical understanding of your deen, you have to go to Qur’an and take every single verse that has iman, mu’min, alazina amanoo, mu’mineen, and bring it all to the table. You have to build a workshop even if you want to answer this one question that what is iman. Then you have to go to the hadith and take everything where Blessed Prophet (sws) has told us about iman, has described iman, and defined iman, and bring all of that to the workshop. It’s not easy! Don’t think the analytical approach means that you just use your mind and try to guess what iman is. In any academic endeavor, there are some sources, there is certain literature, certain fundamental truths that you have to engage. In Islam the fundamental truths are the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The answer you will get even to such a central, crucial question as this, would be multiple, multi-layered and it might even sometimes appear to have contradictions.

c. Linguistic Analysis

There is another aspect to the intellectual approach, which is linguistics. I can go deep into Arabic linguistics, I can do what is called the etymological study, I can look at the roots of iman; ا م ن; iman (ایمان) is related to aman (امن). Can the Arabic language itself tell me something about what is iman? Yes, it can. I could say that iman and aman are derived from the same note so iman means aman; all the words that are derived from the same root have an interrelationship (nisbah) what we call in Arabic alaqatu tashbeeh (interrelationship in meaning), that’s also something I will bring to the table.

2. Historical Approach

Now were you to take the historical approach, it would add that how do all of these verses on iman have been understood historically by the tafsir tradition. So now I will add to the workshop every single mufassir’s commentary on every single verse of iman. Obviously, that is not necessarily binding upon me but it’s something I should look at. Similarly, I have to take every hadith scholar’s (muhadith) commentary and understanding and explanations (tashrih) of every hadith that mentions iman. I’m building a huge workshop, then I’m going to dive in and read all of that stuff and try to figure out the basic crux of what is iman.

3. Spiritual Approach

Spiritual means the living embodiment of deen; those individuals in the ummah who have had this iman, because, obviously, deen isn’t just about the theory. Deen must necessarily also have a practical, real, lived, exampled and legacy in a real living tradition. Those people who really are mu’mineen, saliheen mu’mineen, mutaqeen mu’mineen, zakireen mu’mineen, sadiqeen mu’mineen, awliya mu’mineen — all of these words are in Qur’an — what was their spiritual state? What was their condition that described the feeling of iman? What does it feel to have iman in a heart? What are those things that can increase or decrease the strength of iman in one’s heart?

Living tradition will tell me all of this. Sometimes these people expressed their iman in poetry, sometimes in prose, sometimes they wrote letters and treatises explaining what makes a person’s iman strong, or weak. I’ll have to add all of that from the spiritual, lived tradition, the legacy and practical aspects of iman. All of this needs to be done if you want to truly get an understanding of your deen; intellectual, spiritual, historical; the text, the context, the interpreted tradition, the linguistic aspects, the lived aspects, the feelings aspect — all of that just to answer this question that what is iman.

Positions on Iman

After the Islamic tradition built this workshop and they looked at all the things I’ve just mentioned to you, they came up with four answers to this question that what is iman.

  1. Heart: Iman is a feeling that lies in the heart only. Simply feeling the feelings of iman.
  2. Tongue: If someone expresses iman with their tongue i.e. they simply say ash’hadu an la ilaha illallahu wa ash’hadu anna muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh, they just have to say it with their tongue and it will be enough for iman.
  3. Heart & Tongue: They have to do both. They must truly believe in it in their heart and they must also express it with their tongue.
  4. Heart, Tongue & Actions: Iman means to believe in your heart, to express it with your tongue, and to perform the actions of iman. The way they express it is that al ’amalu dakhil i.e. actions are a part of iman, they are not something separate.

Showing you the whole workshop would take up a lot of time. When I was a full-time student of Sahih Bukhari, its chapter on iman is like a dozen pages, and we had to spend a few hours everyday, 6-days a week, for a couple of months just to do kitab al iman, just to understand that one part of the workshop about those hadith that Imam Bukhari (rh) narrated on iman. There are many other hadith and verses, linguistics and all of that. So the workshop is very in-depth but I’ve fast forwarded it to show you the conclusion. There is no fifth conclusion that came out in the entire history of Islam.

Why is this important? Sometimes you might get a question; I’ll give you a very classic example. It happens many times in this community that there is a Pakistani boy who has gone abroad to study in America or UK and he comes back and he says that I want to marry this girl and it turns out that the girl was born to an Atheist family, and the girl is an Atheist. Now parents come to me that our son wants to get married to an Atheist! But you yourself had sent him abroad, you put him in a university which was an open minded decision you took, where he lived in an open society, in an open environment, with open interaction with the opposite gender, so when you created so much openness these things can happen. Then they say that we have explained to him that the girl must accept Islam and the girl has agreed.

What does it mean to accept Islam? So for some people it’s just about saying the sentence. So what she means is that look I really want to marry you and you want to marry me and all I have to do is say this sentence in front of a few people, so I’ll say the sentence and we will get married. Sometimes the parents are also happy with that. They say that son, as long as she is willing to say the sentence (they will euphemise it in a nice way) only Allah knows what’s in the heart. That’s true too; only Allah (swt) knows what’s in a person’s heart, but many times a person reveals their heart.

If somebody comes and says I’m an Atheist, I can’t say that only Allah (swt) knows if there is iman in his heart or not. Obviously Allah (swt) knows, but I also know now because he has said there is no iman in his heart. It doesn’t mean that the human being cannot know things; we can know things! But to know things we need to receive it from an authentic source. If someone else tells me something about someone, that’s not an authentic source. But if a person himself tells me that I don’t have iman in my heart, that’s an authentic source, it’s a source of knowledge, I’m entitled in my deen to say this person does not have iman because he himself told me that he doesn’t have iman.

What happens is that the girl says that I’m still an Atheist, but I’m willing to recite this sentence, and sometimes the boy’s parents will say that it’s fine as long as you recite the sentence. Now, it depends on what position you take. If you take the second position that iman is just reciting the sentence with the tongue, then you are good to go and you can get them married. But if you take any other position on the board, because all the other three have a heart, she will truly have to believe in her heart, but she’s saying I don’t do that, so this marriage will not be valid. That goes back to what social reality a person has. Your understanding of deen effects the issues of social reality.

There are so many issues like this. For example, who has to pay zakah? A person who just says it with their tongue, or a person who believes it in their heart? There are things like marriage where we do need to identify this question to determine as to who has iman or not. There are certain societal, family, collective, interpersonal aspects of Islam that require this question to be defined.

Defining the Boundaries: Inclusivism & Exclusivism

When you are talking about definitions (e.g. the definition of iman) to define something also means to create its border. The Arabic definition for border is hadd; hudood i.e. borders; to define something. In formal science concerned with definition, which is called taxonomy, you try to define things so precisely that it includes all elements of that set (inclusivism) and excludes all the elements that are not a part of that set (exclusivism).

It would mean to define iman so precisely that everyone who has iman would be included in that definition, and also people who don’t have iman should be excluded from that definition. That’s also a word in Qur’an and it’s called kufr; and there is a word kafir; kuffar — people who don’t have iman. That’s also a concept of Qur’an. Right now people are not learned enough to handle the topic of what is kufr in a sensitive, academic, non-violent, non-extremist manner. So right now I chose to do iman for which I gave you this much of an answer; howsoever you answer the question what is iman, it will also necessarily give you an answer to your question what is not iman. When you decide what is iman, you will, as a necessity, end up also deciding what is not iman.

Multiplicity of Meanings

Now I’m going to go back and show you what caused these four positions to emerge. There is this notion of multiplicity of meanings, which you will very quickly encounter, very first day in the first session I’m going to show you upfront why there is multiplicity of meanings. This itself disturbs some people. They don’t understand. A nice, well-intentioned, ordinary Muslim says how can there be disagreement on something fundamental like iman? In order to understand why there is disagreement, you need to go behind the scenes and appreciate how that disagreement came about. Yes, there are some disagreements that come about because of ideology, sectarianism. But the point is to show you that there are some disagreements, meaning multiple, divergent understandings which come only through this analytical, academic study of Islam.

When you take into account the intellectual, historical and spiritual approaches, you build the whole workshop, and you start turning the knob, you are going to get multiple meanings. Without the workshop, without touching the knob, without using all three approaches, you can end up with just one meaning.  But when you start doing all of those things that I have shown you up till now, you will start getting multiple meanings on very many things.

ءَامَنَ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مِن رَّبِّهِۦ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ‌ۚ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتِهِۦ وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَرُسُلِهِۦ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۖ غُفۡرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ
The Messenger has believed in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and the believers as well. All have believed in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. “We make no division between any of His Messengers,” and they have said: “We have listened, and obeyed. Our Lord, (we seek) Your pardon! And to You is the return.” [2:286]

Blessed Prophet (sws) believed in all that was revealed by Allah (swt), and all the believers also believed. So here you can see another concept of iman. Let me give you an example, how many of you have iman that I have a watch in my hand? All of you raising your hand are wrong! Alazina yu’minoona bil ghayb; iman means to believe in the unseen. You could see the watch. That’s called mushahada in Arabic. You have eye-witness testimony. How many of you have iman that I have a pen in my pocket? If I told you I have a pen in my pocket, you would have iman based on if you believed I was a true person. Allah (swt) is saying here that ’amana Rasulu; Blessed Prophet (swt) believes, bima; in each and every single thing, munzila elaihim min Rabbihi; that has been revealed to him (sws) from his Rabb, and the believers also believe in that.

[to be cont’d.]

Channeling Negativity

[These are rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed db on Saturday, March 25, 2017]

Sometimes Allah (swt) puts a person in a situation where there is no way out for them, except by turning towards Him. There is nothing they can do to change their situation. Many times these situations prompt a certain emotional reaction. If the person reacts in a negative way, then that situation, which could have been a means of developing qurb (proximity) with Allah (swt), while not necessarily making them distant from Allah (swt), can surely leave them stuck. On the path of suluk (spiritual development), there is ‘uruj (going forward), wuquf (getting stuck) and ruju’ (going backwards, in reverse).

A woman who is listening to talks like these is obviously trying to come closer to Allah. There maybe something out of her control in her surroundings, in her environment, maybe in her children or in-laws that might be holding her back. So she may feel as though she is in a tug. So for example, maybe she comes to a gathering, or she reads, or she teaches and she drowns herself in the dhikr for Allah (swt), but when she comes back home, her husband is watching TV, or her kids want to watch a movie, so this complete rupture, culture shock creates an emotional reaction.

The first feeling is sadness and despondency whereby she loses her motivation and inspiration. That spiritual connection and yearning she had felt earlier gets lost. You have to protect these feelings from things outside of your control. You cannot lose it due to something that is happening even in your own home, because that will lead to depression. Your emotional feelings should not affect your spiritual feelings. To some extent you have to employ a certain level of ‘ajnabiyyat (alienation), even if it’s in your own home, or with your own spouse.

For example, let’s say I travel to Blackburn/London on the weekend, and spend that whole weekend sharing and listening to nasihah (counsel); after one to three days, all of our mind and soul would be redirected towards Allah (swt), and then on Monday, we go back to our research, and sometimes encounter different people. Now, because that is not my home, you can all understand and imagine how I compartmentalize that. I don’t let that other environment intrude in my relationship with Allah (swt). You may also have to do this with maybe your own family at home.

It doesn’t mean you become a stranger to your family, or you become a social recluse. It doesn’t mean you don’t function, and don’t fulfill your roles as a mother, daughter etc. It just means that you inwardly maintain the feelings for Allah (swt). In fact, you should reflect even more, and develop more fikr (concern) for others. You need to channel it in a positive way. It doesn’t matter if you think your in laws or husbands will not change. It’s in your control to keep your own mukhlis genuine concern for them.

If they don’t change, and you think they’re stubborn, then your fikr for them should be as stubborn. Your fikr should also be as inflexible and rigid. Your fikr should  refuse to bend and adapt. You should also walk with your armour protecting your own spirituality. All of us can be sad about our family, in-laws etc. but you need to channel that in a positive way. Like we discussed the term miskin yesterday — when you are feeling trapped by challenges with nowhere to move, then we should have yaqin [firm conviction] at that point. Miskin believes that Allah can suffice him, and ONLY Allah (swt) can suffice him. We can try everything, but miskin feels that no-one can help him except Allah (swt).

So there are two things that can happen; one thing that can happen is Allah (swt) will accept your du’as and bring about change. Another possibility is that Allah swt wants you to be in this test forever, so yes, some of you say, it’s been like this for 5-10 years etc. The question is, will you give into depression or will you maintain your yaqin and connection with Allah (swt)?

Lets accept it at this point — maybe it is impossible for those affecting you to change, but do you change? You will be amazed at the types of situations some women go through, for example, for some of them their husbands were totally off deen, but then these women created their own environment. They found a way to preserve and continually increase in their relationship with Allah (swt). We can say it is impossible as far as the present and past goes, but as for the future, only Allah (swt) knows, so you should always have hope that things could change for the better. Allah (swt) may choose to bring khayr. For some divine wisdom, He (swt) may choose not to change that situation; either way, we should be fine.

It is easy to go into depression, despair etc. I know women in such situations who kept going even though for them it was a traumatic experience. They didn’t just survive in deen, but in dunya also. The whole world can tell them they are finished, but anyone who goes through zulm, or a traumatic experience, they won’t be able to carry on unless they turn entirely to Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) will never keep a person in one state permanently. Allah swt has promised in Qur’an:

إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرً۬ا
So, undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease. [94:5]

‘Usr is a word denoting extreme difficulty which Allah (swt) will follow up with yusr. You should always have hope in that promise of Allah (swt). For those of you who are studying online, you may have experienced exam anxiety at some point. However, ultimately, on the day of exam you are fine, because you know the exam will end in a couple of hours. Say you have an exam that starts at 9 AM and ends at 12 noon; guaranteed, it will definitely become 12 noon (if we live), and one way or another it will end. This notion of knowing the end will come lessens the difficulty. Allah (swt) wanted us to feel this in this verse too — that ‘usr will definitely end, and Allah (swt) will actually even bring ease. No matter how bad an exam goes, there is still happiness after it ends — you will celebrate its ending. Same goes for any situation Allah (swt) puts you in.

May Allah (swt) accept us, and every relationship for His sake. May He (swt) not allow things outside of our control affect our spirituality. May He make us the living embodiment of the ayah:

وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلۡحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ
And exhorted each other to follow truth, and exhorted each other to observe patience. [103:3]

وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Being Part of the Ummah

[These are rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed on March 12, 2017]

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا 
In the same way, We made you a moderate Ummah (community), so that you should be witnesses over the people, and the Messenger a witness to you… [2:143]

The concept of ummah in our deen is vast; it is not enough just to be a believer. Allah (swt) has mentioned many different attributes and features of this ummah – if we don’t have these features in us, we are not really members of the ‘ummah’. Same is the case with the organisations of the world; merely joining a company doesn’t mean you will have the company’s ethos, spirit etc. Just like that, many of us are believers, we are muminin , but we don’t have the spirit of ummah within us!

What does the word wasata mean? Many think it means moderate, in the sense of being somewhere between Abu Bakr and Abu Jahl. This is wrong. Moderate isn’t that we are mediocre. Jannah is an extreme place; it has extreme happiness, bliss, joy, purity; and so is Jahannam- they will both last forever. What wasata means is that we are an ummah of balance; it means our approach to dunya should be balanced. We should take from this world a reasonable amount of comfort. One female sahabiyah complained to Nabi (sws) about her husband, that he fasts all day and prays all night, and Nabi (sws) said your body has rights over you, your spouse has rights over you – meaning don’t fast all the time, and don’t pray all night long.

In the ayah mentioned at the beginning, Allah (swt) also said ‘you will be a witness’ – why? Because we are the last and final ummah, and we have the last and final book! Nabi (sws) was the last and final Messenger, hence we are witnesses to the previous generations.

This is an ummah for all of humanity – part of being from this ummah means we have a feeling of companionship with fellow believers. Previously we have discussed how to be a true believer in seclusion, in suhbah etc. Tonight, we will discuss how to be a true mu’min as part of the ummah.

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ
You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah [3:110]

You are the very best ummah- you enjoin towards that which is known to be virtuous and pure, and you call away from those things that are rejected by Allah (swt). This is ihtiyat; to stay away from those things Allah dislikes, and to do things which Allah likes.

Whenever I come to England, I’m always amazed at how little capacity we have to do da’wah on the non-Muslims. There is so much capacity in our colleagues, neighbours, friends etc, but so few of them do we bring to deen of Islam. Sahabah (ra) always had fikr. The original meaning of da’wah is to engage with people who don’t have iman, and then to bring them to iman. We don’t even try; we say we are too scared, and embarrassed. We find it awkward. You’ve known someone for 1 year, 5 years etc, and you can never talk to them about Allah (swt)? What if they grabbed you on the Day of Judgment, and said my colleague and friend never ever told to me to prepare for this Day. We should at the least do our duty, we should care. We shouldn’t feel awkward. Even if its awkward for a couple of weeks, at least we can say on the Day of Judgment that we tried.

Allah (swt) puts barakah in da’wah when we are truly sincere – we don’t appreciate and value our own iman. If you valued it, you would want to share it. For most of us, we didn’t actively accept Islam, since we were born in families of deen, and hence we don’t appreciate this iman, and we don’t share it.

The core of iman is tawhid and ubudiyyah. Our whole focus should be this. Once there was a Shaykh who asked his students, ‘What is tawhid?’ The students replied it is to believe Allah (swt) is one. The Shaykh then explained that it is not solely to believe in the oneness of Allah, but also to live your entire life for the sake of that one Allah (swt). This is called ubudiyyah.

Allah (swt) has many names. One particular one is Malik, which goes with our identity of slave. We have one name, we are one thing – we are ‘abd (slave). Allah can be Rahman with us, He can be Wakeel, He can be Malik, but we will always be ‘abd. We only have this one identity. We are ‘abd ur-Rahman, ‘abd ul’Halim, ‘abd ul-Malik etc. We always remain ‘abd!

At the conquest of Makkah, Nabi (sws) said Alhamdulillahil-lazi sadaqa wa’dahu, wa nasar ‘abdahu – Praise is to Allah (swt)  who has fulfilled His promise, granted victory to His slave – he (sws) didn’t enter as  a leader, as a conqueror; he entered as a slave. Even in tashahhud in salah, we attest he (sws) was ‘abd before rasul. Nabi (sws) was Rasulullah, but he acknowledged that he was ‘abd first. We also need to understand this; ‘abd first, engineer second; ‘abd first, doctor second!

True tawhid and ‘ubudiyyah will make us live a life of yaqin (certainty in faith) and tawakkul (reliance on Allah). You cannot invite others to the deen without tawhid and ubudiyyah.  Whatever difficult circumstance might happen, our faith should not decrease if we have true yaqin and tawakkul. In the battle of Ahzab, the disbelievers gathered as a coalition against the believers. This was when they should be fearing the enemy, but how did Allah (swt) mention this in Qur’an:

الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُواْ لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَاناً وَقَالُواْ حَسْبُنَا اللّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ 
those to whom people said, ‘the people have gathered against you; so, fear them’ – it increased them in faith and they said, ‘Allah is fully sufficient for us, and the best One in whom to trust.’ [3:173]

Whenever we face some opposition, maybe from our own nafs, maybe from some creation, maybe from some enemies – do we have the same yaqin and tawakkul? Most people suffer and fall into laziness, apathy, inaction, anxiety, and depression. They don’t even feel like making du’a. Do we only fear Allah (swt)?

فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي
…so fear them not, but fear Me [2:150]

‘Ulama go through difficulties, people doing relief work go through difficulties; individuals go through difficulties; people of da’wah go through difficulties. This world is a world of test – Allah (swt) wants to see who is the most virtuous in behaviour. This is the world of test and the world of effort. There is the world with no test – that is called akhirah (afterlife).

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ 
O’ you who believe, seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere [2:153]

You must persevere in your good deeds, and you must patiently bear whatever difficulties Allah (swt) sends your way. Allah is with such people. Many times, we aren’t able to do this? Why?

وَاسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلاَّ عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ 
Seek help through patience and prayer. It is indeed exacting, but not for those who are humble in their hearts. [2.45]

Many people have ujub and value themselves as something, and when a difficulty comes to them, they find it extremely difficult to have sabr (patience). One core attribute is to develop this humility in us. If we are humble, we will be able to survive the tests and trials that come our way, otherwise we’ll just panic. These are things we can’t learn in difficulty.

Another attribute we need is taqwa – if we don’t leave sins, we don’t have this feature of ‘ummah’

إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ
Surely, Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change themselves [13:11]

So we need iman, khushu (humility) and taqwa, and this will all enable us to have sabr and salah – and it is then that we will have this balance and equilibrium.

What is a sign of a person truly being a part of the ‘ummah’

Nabi (sws) has said; A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he does not oppress him, nor does he fail him, nor does he lie to him, nor does he hold him in contempt. Taqwa is right here, and he pointed to his chest three times. [Muslim Sharif]

1. Don’t oppress anyone.

Taqwa is something internal. It is in the batin – and if we have this, we will never oppress or belittle anyone.

Don’t ever be a zalim (oppressor) – this means husband shouldn’t oppress the wife, and the wife shouldn’t oppress the husband. Children should not oppress their parents and parents should not oppress their children. There should be no zulm! Don’t be an oppressor, and don’t let anyone be oppressed – do something about it if you see someone else being oppressed. As a believer, we should rescue anyone else who is being oppressed.

2. Don’t view anyone with contempt.

Another thing is to not view anyone with contempt. Why don’t people care about the Rohingyas so much; because they are not some sacred ethnic group like Palestinians? Many haven’t even heard of the Rohingyas. Many didn’t even know there were muslims in Burma, Cambodia, Thailand etc. They are abandoned, they have no rescuers, illa masha-Allah. We viewed them as below our notice/time. Why does this happen? It happens when a person has worldly blessing, or they have some religious blessing maybe  – then we start viewing others as haqir (inferior) and faqir (destitute)!

Notice in this hadith of taqwa, there was no mention of anything about leaving sins. It was all about our relationship with others.

We know Allah (swt) has said in Qur’an:

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
Surely the noblest of you, in Allah‘s sight, is the one who is most pious of you. [49:13]

إِنْ أَوْلِيَآؤُهُ إِلاَّ الْمُتَّقُونَ
The friends of Allah are none, but the God-fearing. [8:34]

It becomes a fashion for people, that they want to become a wali of Allah, but many think becoming a wali has nothing to do with taqwa. They might think it has to do with wearing certain clothing, listening to a certain amount of nashid, doing certain dhikr. The friends of Allah are none, but the ones with taqwa!

Our pious predecessors would serve the needy, they would help the poor. Yes, they also did a lot of worship and dhikr, and they stayed away from sin – but this was also one of their attributes. They had feelings for ummah. How did islam spread in the subcontinent? Shaykh Moinuddeen Chishti (rh) sat with the poor people, and there were masses of such people who were known to be downtrodden, subdued, powerless etc in society. They were the lowest in terms of caste. He showed them so much compassion, and they accepted Islam. At least we should have a special feeling to do the same, because many of us owe our iman to such people. Half of the ummah is in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh! 600 million Muslims are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It’s a joke in our communities, that when someone gets some money, they upgrade their neighbourhood. We leave the people. Someone in the family might get a degree, and then they don’t come back to help their neighbourhood, they hang out with the elite university crowd. Being a believer doesn’t mean default, we are a member of the ummah. It involves a lot of features. How many from the 1.2 billion muslims are actually the ‘ummah’.

Abu Dharr reported Rasulullah (sws) as saying that he reported it from his Lord, the Exalted and Glorious:

‘Verily I have made oppression unlawful for Me and for My servants too, so do not commit oppression.’

Allah (swt) also this in Quran;

لَا ظُلْمَ الْيَوْمَ 
No injustice will there be that Day… [40:17]

This is the way Nabi (sws) made society; a zulm-free society! You support the truth, you help the needy, you serve the needy, you help the oppressed, you serve the oppressed.

Once Nabi (sws) was sitting with some of the sahaba and he tested them. He (sws) said, Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. So the sahaba (ra) asked, O Rasulullah (sws), It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor? Rasulullah (sws) said, By preventing him from oppressing others.

Nabi (sws) liked that Sahaba (ra) asked questions. So there are three aspects here. Firstly, don’t yourself oppress others; secondly, help the oppressed; and thirdly, try to roll back the zulm in the zalim! We have to help the oppressor also!

Nabi karim (sws) had a very different way of thinking; we just brush things under the carpet. Nabi (sws) said you must go to them, and help them!

To show the importance of this, there is another hadith:

It was narrated that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr said: I saw the Rasulullah (sws) circumambulating the Ka’bah and saying: How good you are and how good your fragrance; how great you are and how great your sanctity! By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of the believer is greater before Allah than your sanctity, his blood and his wealth, and to think anything but good of him.

One dent in one brick of ka’bah! We would drop everything to save even one brick of ka’bah from one dent. That is our passion, emotion and jazbah! One scratch on one believer should be even more offensive to us than even one dent on one brick of ka’bah. K’abah is baytUllah, but ummah is ‘Abd-Allah! Forget scratch, slaughter, mass murder is happening. Burma is the lowest we can go. Burma is a backwards third world country; they are not even a superpower- even the Burmese army are slaughtering Muslims. This is how low we have become; we are not an ummah anymore.

It comes in another hadith:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Rasulullah (sws) said, Verily, Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O’ son of Adam, I was ill but you did not visit Me.’ He would say: ‘O my Rabb, how could I visit you and You are the Rabb of the worlds?’ Thereupon He would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such a slave of Mine was ill but you did not visit him? Did you not realize that if you had visited him (you would have known that I was aware of your visit to him, for which I would reward you) you would have found Me with him?’

Look at how strongly Allah (swt) expresses. Sickness is a natural thing. Imagine oppression.

‘O’ son of Adam, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me.’ He would submit: ‘My Rabb, how could I feed You and You are the Rabb of the worlds?’ He would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such a slave of Mine asked you for food but you did not feed him? Did you not realize that if you had fed him, you would certainly have found (its reward) with Me?’ 

Hunger is still less than oppression…

O’ son of Adam, I asked water from you but you did not give it to Me.’ He would say: ‘My Rabb, how could I give You (water) and You are the Rabb of the worlds?’ Thereupon He would say: ‘Such and such a slave of Mine asked you for water to drink but you did not give it to him. Did you not realize that if you had given him to drink you would have found (its reward) with Me?’

It shows us how much compassion we should have; we fall into israf (extravagance). How much we waste is amazing. Even when we go for umrah, we waste there. Many are blessed to fast Monday and Thursdays, but even there, many roll up so much good food after iftar. There is some extreme poverty in Muslim parts of the world. In another hadith, Nabi (sws) has mentioned;

Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve him of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in the world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in the world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (his faults) for him in the world and the Hereafter. And Allah (swt) is engaged in helping the worshiper as long as the worshiper is engaged in helping his brother.

This also could mean, as long as he doesn’t help his brother, then he is in danger Allah will stop helping him. Sometimes, we have to look at the simple things. Normally we discuss spiritual topics, but sometimes it is important to remember that it is not only about our own ibadah etc, it is also about our own ummah.

Practical steps

Begin with those who are closest to you – spouse, siblings, children, neighbours, friends. We fail right here. We fail with our spouses. Your wife is also part of ‘ummah’. Children and parents is also ummah. If you aren’t good at home, how can you be good to the global ummah. Begin close, and Allah swt will accept us for far.

May Allah (swt) accept this from us.

وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Marriage Workshop – Session II

[These are brief notes from the second session of Marriage Workshop conducted by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed] [Session I]

Importance of love between Husband and Wife

Allah (swt) has put love of women in every man’s heart, it can be either lawful or unlawful. If you want your heart to have pure love for a woman, it should already have love for Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sws). Such a heart will find it very easy to love his wife. The heart lacking in the Allah’s love and Prophet’s (sws) love will find it difficult to have love for that which is pure.

First example of love illa mashaAllah that a child sees is between husband and wife (parents). Children learn about love from the love they see in the family. The family without love is raising a child without love. We are doing injustice to them if we don’t show them love. What kind of people will they become when they grow up? Science tells us what happens to children who come from broken homes; they don’t trust love because they have never seen it.

Once a child was asked what is love? The child said, there was an elderly couple that lived across from my street. When I stopped seeing the old lady around, I asked the old man about her. He began to cry because she had passed away. Child said that maybe this is what they call love. Children can recognize true love. Allah (swt) has given them that ability so they can be raised recognizing that love.

Imam Rabbani (rh) has mentioned a strange thing. He said that a woman is the ultimate manifestation of Al-Dahir (apparent). Al Dahir refers to his creation. And Al Batin (hidden) refers to that which He knows Himself the best. A woman is the manifestation because most beauty in Dahir is in a woman. There’s no beauty like the beauty of a woman. Allah (swt) decreed that the greatest beauty He has created should at times be revealed and at times be concealed, like revealed in front of mahram and concealed in front of na mehram. A woman should understand it this way that I am the manifestation of ism-e-dahir of Allah (swt), how can I show my beauty to just anyone?

So Allah (swt) has placed love for women inside the hearts of the men. Khyr there are so many stories of love, were we to mention, of so much love that the husband and wife can have for one another. We will give you one example.

Story of Umm Sulaim (ra)

There was a Sahabiya her name was Umm Sulaim (ra). Her husband was a tradesman. When she was expecting and was near to delivery, her husband had to leave due to urgent work. When she gave birth, her baby boy passed away a few hours before the return of the father. Umm Sulaim (ra) thought that I don’t want to hurt him just now, instead of being happy about coming back home he will be devastated. So she wrapped the child in a blanket to make it seem like he was sleeping. She adorned her beauty and said Alhamdulillah Allah (swt) blessed us with a baby boy and he is resting. Imagine that woman being intimate with the husband when her dead baby boy is lying a few feet away and she is still being loving and kind to her husband.

This is also a mujahida. It’s not always about your mood and feelings. Mujahida is to go against your nafs. It’s a tremendous tragedy. In the morning the woman asked the husband if Allah (swt) entrusts a person with something, and a time comes to return it, should the person return it with grief or joy? AllahuAkbar these are called Sahabiyaat. What a woman, what a mother, what a person! (Ra).. only Allah (swt) can give her reward for this. The husband (ra) was sad when he got to know, so he went to Sydna Rasool Allah (sws) and told him (sws) everything. He (sws) gave so many duas to Umm Sulaim (ra). She got the greatest of duas, the couple had so much barakah after that, they conceived 9 sons, and each one of them became Aaima.

Spiritual aspect of Marriage

Then Allah (swt) in Quran al Kareem has taught us that this love between husband and wife is not just in this world, but eternal.

Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. [43:70]

Scholars have written some people will also go to jannah because of the barakah of their pious spouse. Marriage is a very delicate topic. I’m myself a husband in progress. We try to do amal. We don’t just want to listen, we have to come and leave with the intention of amal. We have to live with all the hidaya.

Reflecting on the Khutbah of Nikkah

Why did Prophet (sws) pick out these three verses for the khutbah of nikkah?

You would have noticed that the tilawah that is recited in khutbah of nikkah has the word taqwah: taqwah means to abstain from sin because you fear Allah the way He should be feared, and also out of love for Him. These three ayats for the khutbah means that one of the things we need for a successful marriage is taqwah.

O humanity! You should have fear for Your Rabb who created you from a single cell and from it created its mate (Amma Hawwa) and from them propagated all of the human race. You should fear Allah (swt), that Allah (swt) by whom you ask (your rights) from one another. [4:1]

In nikkah, we invoke Allah (swt) to make man and a woman husband and wife. So we ask in the name of Allah (swt) when we ask our spouse for anything.

You who believe, you should fear Allah. [4:1]

Fear Allah (swt) as He deserves to be feared. Ya Allah! Having taqwah was hard enough. Doing haqq of taqwah, you can imagine, is so difficult. Imagine how delicate and precious this relationship is.

And die not except in the state of Imaan. [3:102]

It means if you don’t fear Allah (swt) in regards of your spouse then your very imaan and deen is in danger. Your deen is dependent on it. Allah (swt) wants these verses to be recited every time there is a nikkah.

O you who believe! You should have  imaan in Allah (swt) and you should always speak the truth. [33:70]

Husband and wife should always be truthful, they must always have the correct speech. If you fear Allah and out of fear speak truthfully to your spouse, then:

He will make your aimaal saleh, and will forgive you for all of your sins. [33:70]

Being happily married isn’t just on this earth. Allah (swt) says it’s going to be a means of your maghfira (salvation), sakoon (tranquility), muwwada (tender love), all of that.

And whoever obeys Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sws), he has gained a signal victory. [33:71]

If a person does this, Allah al Azeem is saying in Quran al Azeem, you will get magnificent success and joy. They will get jannatul firdous. Scholars say it cannot be anything less than jannatul firdous.

Taqwah: How to get that fear?

Has not the time come for the believers that their (spiritual) hearts should have fear for Allah (swt) whenever they do dhikr of Allah (swt), and for what has been revealed as truth? [57:16]

So one lesson here is that when you do dhikr of Allah (swt) or His dhikr is done in front of you, you should have fear of Allah (swt) in your heart.

Second thing you should know is that the fear of Allah (swt) can save a person from sin. Love cannot save a person from sin. Proof from Quran:

But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination [79:40]

Many people think that Allah swt is Rehman so we should not fear Him. Allah swt says:

The one who feared the Rahman (The All-Merciful Allah), without seeing Him, and came up with a heart oriented towards Him. [50:33]

That the person who fears Al Rehman when no one else is around: that wife will be loyal, that husband will be loyal who fears Allah swt even in seclusion.

This fear of Allah (swt) should also be inside our salah. We think that okay inside salah we should not sin. But inside salah we should also fear Allah swt. Can you imagine that Allah swt who tells us to fear Him in salah, can you imagine how much He would want us to fear Him when we are outside our salah?

Fearing husband and a fearing wife they are a true couple.

This fear doesn’t mean we are afraid in the same way we are afraid of a snake or something dangerous. It’s a fear borne out of love. Fearing that I will not be loved back by my Beloved if I do this thing.

6 types of crying accepted and valued by Allah (swt)

  • A person who sheds tears in hard times. Due to the museebat, they are moved to tears. These are real tears of mazloomeen; of people of Sham, of Palestine, etc.
  • When someone is separated from someone they love for the sake of Allah swt. Greatest example of this is when Syedna Yousaf (as) was separated from his father.
  • When someone is moved to tears by recitation.
  • The tears that are shed in the yearning and love for Allah (swt). Like when someone wish someone could go for hajj.
  • Tears of shukr (gratefulness). When a person is given something and they are so happy that tears of shukr comes out of their eyes.
  • Tears of khauf and khashiya. Tears out of fear of Allah (swt). It comes in a hadith (mafhoom) that a person will come to Allah (swt) and his deeds will be weighed and the scale of his good deeds will start going up and the scale of bad deeds will be so heavy that he will lose all hope. At this point a small piece of paper will be thrown in the scale of good deeds such that the scale will outweigh all of the bad deeds. That paper will have just one deed written on it: a time when that person had cried out of fear of Allah (swt) such that the tear had only wet one of his eyelashes.

Different levels of khashiya

Hope first that hadith is: O Allah, allocate to us a share of fear of You that will serve as a barrier between us and disobedience towards You. [at Tirmidhi]

  1. Fear of the awwamun naas (average people): Fear of punishment of Allah swt. That is the punishment of the fear of fire of Jahannam. All believers have that but some only have that and nothing more.
  2. Fear of saliheen (the pious): In addition to fear of punishment, they fear that we haven’t done enough. They are saliheen that what if I haven’t done enough for Allah swt? What if I fall short on the Day of judgement?
  3. Fear of siddiqeen (the truthful):In addition to the first two fears, they also fear that what if the aimaal that I have done are not worthy of being accepted by Allah (swt)? What if they are not maqbool?
  4. Fear of the nabiyyeen (the prophets (as)): All anbiya were afraid of Allah (swt). The were afraid of the beniyazi of Allah swt. The istighna of Allah swt. What if Allah (swt) simply says I don’t want you. I don’t need you. I accepted your aimaal e saleh. But I don’t want you. Nabiyyeen knew, they had the knowledge, that it won’t happen, but love exceeds knowledge. Imagine a newly-wed bride with everyone praising her, but she starts crying. She says all of you think I have these qualities but what if my husband doesn’t love me? What if he doesn’t accept me or want me?

The first step to launch on the journey of taqwah is through taubah. Make true taubah. We cannot land on taqwah directly. Those who are married, make taubah for all sins you did to your spouse. Those who are not yet married, make taubah for being such a daughter/son. Make taubah collectively. After your first step, then you have to keep moving. This is called tazkiya. So the person must keep taking steps and try to fit in some extra ibaadah in your daily regimen:

  • Daily recitation of Quran. If a passage is too much for you, recite less, but make sure you recite everyday even if it’s just one ayah.
  • Make istighfar everyday 100 times (sunnah)
  • Recite durood and salawat on syedna Rasool Allah (sws) 100 times.
  • Remember Allah swt. You can only fear Him if you remember Him.

How to get dhikr e katheer [remembrance of Allah (swt)]? Two steps:

  1. Try to remember Allah swt in your daily mundane tasks. Keep thinking thoughts, and keep reminding yourself to think thoughts, and remind the heart to have feelings for Allah swt and keep doing it for thousands of times a day.
  2. Do dhikr of Allah swt inside yourself. Take some time out to remember Allah swt with full concentration such that you forget everything else.And remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion.  [73:8]So we make dhikr of Allah’s name in such a way that you forget everything else.

وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Marriage Workshop – Session I

[These are brief notes from the first session of Marriage Workshop conducted by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed]

What does a woman want

If you divert your attention and only listen to her half-heartedly, she would know. That’s not respect. That’s disrespectful. The wife feels like I’m his life companion, here I’m sharing my thoughts with him and he’s not even listening to me. So she gets upset and frustrated. And she’s right in doing so. That’s her taqwah that she keeps talking to you. If you don’t listen to her there will be someone else out there willing to lend her the ear. You can fill in the rest of the blanks yourself.

Just like a man feels that the wife is not fulfilling me, the woman can feel the same way. The husband should be a means of bringing her to good. Scolding your wife in front of the children is disrespectful. One thing is to reprimand her, and one is to do it disrespectfully. You can make her understand. But if you do it disrespectfully she will only feel hurt. Sometimes the husband does it in a bragging way. It means he is flattering himself by hurting his wife’s heart. He is showing that he is the man and can talk to her in front of others like that.

The woman’s emotional need is devotion. She wants his devotion. How do you express your devotion? Expressing devotion means you give her priority. If you pick up her phone on 1st ring, she would acknowledge it as a sign of devotion. If there’s a problem, instead of beating about the bush, you can just tell her clearly that I’m busy at such and such time etc. But she needs to feel she is not at the bottom of the priority list.

Husband should never say: I’ll find someone better than you.

What does a man want

A husband wants support from his wife. He needs emotional support. When he makes a decision, he doesn’t want her to second guess him. He needs her to support him even if the decision is wrong. He doesn’t need you to tell him that you can’t do anything right. He already has too many people against him. He needs support in how to get out of that blunder. Saying you don’t do anything right is like kicking the man when he’s down. You don’t know what that support means to him. That’s when you should bring your co-operative side. When he’s down bring in your support.

Wife should never ever say: You don’t do anything right. If you criticize your husband like that he will automatically turn away from you.

The husband wants that his wife should accept him. The job of husband is to change for the better, the job of the woman is to accept him as he is. We are not talking about haram stuff. But generally the certain way he does things, maybe he’s not the most handsome, refined person to walk the face of this earth. The same way wife feels he should accept her, the same way the wife should accept him. Many good wives are exactly precisely like this with their husbands.

A husband wants the wife to emotionally praise him. Especially in front of her own parents. You are mistaken if you think he doesn’t have emotional needs. He will never ask you for it. But he needs it. If a woman communicates to me for help and all she does is complain then I turn my ears off – there’s something wrong there. Wife should never be all complaining and never praising. Once I even asked is there anything good? And she said no! Never be all complaining.

This is also a kind of gheebah. You should not say my husband did this. If you sincerely want advice say what if a man does this or this? That woman who doesn’t complain behind her husband’s back, won’t do it in front of him either. If you do it in front of them then he knows you will do it behind his back also. Men know this.

Never to be Second Guessed
When it comes to children, sometimes the men will enter into the realm of the wife. The wife should never second guess the husband. If he tries to get involved with the kids, don’t stop him, don’t laugh at him. You can observe silently and wait and talk to him later. That will also give you a more relaxed tone. It would not become an unwelcomed comment.

Sometimes a man wants to embark on something good but he’s a little bit unsure. The role of the wife is if she feels this is best for his akhira, she needs to encourage him to that deed, she needs to play the famous role of the woman behind him.

DON’T treat one another the way you want to be treated

The wife makes the mistake that she treats the husband the way she wants to be treated. He is not a woman! This golden rule does not apply when there is a gender difference! Fulfill his male emotional needs, not female emotional needs! Same for men: don’t treat your wife the way you want to be treated. If there’s a car that runs on gas, and you put diesel in it, it won’t work.

Mistake a man makes

Husband does not spend enough exclusive time with his wife. You have to make time out to sit with your wife, alone, separate from the joint family. Sunnah: take her out for a walk. Because a woman needs her own dedicated time when the husband sits, eats, talks to her.

Mistake a woman makes

If the husband makes a decision she doesn’t agree with, she doesn’t follow it. If you live in a country and there is a law you don’t agree with, you still have to follow it. You have to follow it even if you don’t agree. This has a lot of barakah in it.

Sometimes women get overly suspicious of the husband. She doesn’t believe anything he says. She starts denying and spying. Can you imagine the effect it can have on a person? How will the investigation affect him if he is innocent? How will he feel about those who make those charges against him?

Husband makes the mistake that he becomes overly possessive of his wife. Not talking about cases when someone is guilty, there the spouse has to be cautious. Once there was a case of a fellow married man in UK. He imprisoned his wife at home. She was literally locked in the house. He made sure the home was stocked with food and other requirements but the woman could not leave the house for a long period of time. The result was that the marriage fell apart. That was the husband being overly possessive. This is if the wife is innocent. She couldn’t even call her own mother. Even the husband attested to this that she was completely innocent.

Example of Misunderstanding
Once some children were talking with mother and had a disagreement. They were asking whether to do something this way or that way. Husband walks in and he doesn’t know the wife had already told the kids to do A. Husband says do it B way. Wife gets upset. This is completely unreasonable! This shows a lack of respect.

Example of Respecting One’s Wife
Once Syedna Rasool Allah sws was travelling with Safiya ra, in a wedding procession she couldn’t climb on the camel. Prophet sws went there and asked her to step on his sws thigh and then step on the camel. This is a way of respect. If Syedna Rasool Allah sws can offer his body then why can’t we do something like this for our wife?

Example of Devotion to the Wife
Syedna Rasool Allah sws married ummul momineen Syedna Khadija ra when he was 25. For so many years of his life, he was a one-woman man. This is also a sunnah that you have to do. Women need to be deprogrammed. They need to stop accepting this! What would you love for your own daughter? Love for your wife what you would love for your own daughter. The women are young they don’t understand this. This is a big problem in UK.

So after marriage, Syedna Rasool Allah sws married Syedna Aisha ra and loved her so much. Then Khadija’s ra sister came and he (sws) heard her voice and said Aisha Aisha its Khadija’s voice! She asked him (sws) later why were you so happy when you thought it was her voice? He (sws) replied Aisha she was with me when everyone was against me. Allah has put so much love for her in my heart there is nothing you can do to take it away from me. This is the sunnah devotion. Syedna Rasool Allah sws gave so much devotion to his (sws) wife.

Example of Accepting Husband the Way He is
Prophet’s (sws) daughter Zainab ra was married to a non-believer before the manifestation of naboowat. During migration, Zainab ra did not migrate to Madina and lived with her husband. She wanted to go to Madina, wanted him to accept imaan but she showed him that I accept you the way you are. She offered her mother’s necklace to free her kafir husband who had gone out on badr to kill prophet (sws)! (He (ra) later accepted Islam after Zainab (ra) passed away).

Example of Praising the Husband
Syedna Aisha ra once told Prophet (sws) that you (sws) are more dear to me than butter and dates.

Example of Support
When Syedna Fatima ra and Syedna Ali ra were really poor, one day they made some simple basic food for iftar. Syedna Ali ra gave all the food to a beggar but wife didn’t say anything.

Easy and simple way is to make your life the sunnah way. That’s easy. Making point by point notes is difficult and is the long way. The more and more husband and wife follow sunnah, the more their marriage will become successful.

Investment and communication
Example of investment is like a gardener. When a gardener puts seed in the ground he is always putting water and fertilizer to nurture it. No one else knows. People trample the seed with their food. But he keeps caring for the seed because he has faith in it. Then when the seed sprouts, he puts a stick and trims the leaves. The more and more he invests time in it, the more and more he can bear fruit and flowers from it. The couple is the co-care-takers and gardeners of the seed of marriage.

Husband and wife also have to learn the body language of the marriage. The gardener can look at the color of leaves and shape can tell that something is going wrong. Sometimes husband and wife are not able to read one another’s body language. Sometimes they can’t say too many words. Ideally, be so much tuned into the needs of your spouse that you understand what they want even before they talk about it. This can also happen. But that’s up to us if we want to give that level attention. Husband also sometimes doesn’t understand the signals or expressions of the wife.

Hadith: Story of 11 women 

Once 11 women got together for a gathering and a meal. Each one of them said today we will talk about our husbands openly and clearly! This is the gist of it:

  1. My husband is like the camel on top of the mountain. There is no easy path (to climb up to him) and he is heavy and fat (doesn’t come down). [They are talking in symbols.]
  2. I’m not going to spread the news, what if he leaves me? [She didn’t say anything but said a lot with this statement. Shows her insecurity.]
  3. If I speak, he will give me a divorce, if I keep quiet then he will keep me [he is short-tempered and my only solution is to not say anything].
  4. He is like the cool spring night but I’m still afraid of him [She felt comfortable with him but at the same time he still had his jalal]
  5. He is like a lion on the outside, but he is generous on the inside. [Very strong personality, but very soft and generous in house].
  6. My husband eats all the food and drinks all the water, he drools when he sleeps and doesn’t even inquire about his partner.
  7. Either astray, and wounds people easily [he argues a lot and hurts others].
  8. Soft like a rabbit and fragrant like summer grass [very handsome and fragrant]
  9. Very tall and very generous [well-known and people would come to him for advice].
  10. My husband is maalik and he is beyond any praise.
  11. My husband’s name is Abu Zara and he has pleased me and I have become so happy that I feel proud of myself. My children are also very nice. [End of story is that Abu Zara ends up leaving his wife. She gets married for the second time, she says he still gave me more than the 2nd husband has ever given me].

Lessons from the hadith

a. Women speak in symbols. They have a symbolic language and men sometimes need to read between the lines.

b. A woman needs the assurance that you will never divorce her. It’s a sunnah way of saying, I will keep you like a queen and I will never ever divorce you.

What Women Say and What They Mean

We never ever go out: Husband will say we just went out a month ago! Actually she means symbolically. She never speaks literally. She means I need some time to go out of the house. Don’t treat her words on face value. She means take me out. You need a translator for this.

Everyone ignores me: Husband says I don’t ignore you! That is not the answer. It means I need your attention now. She means you have gotten so involved in everything I don’t know when you are coming and when you are going. She means don’t spend too much time on work.

This house is always a mess: Husband says not always. She means I want you to make it tidy NOW.

Nobody ever listens to me: Husband says I listen to you… sometimes! It means listen to me NOW. This is called melodramatic behavior, no offence to women. This is a tendency in women. That’s the way they are. She is not giving factual historical statements. She means I like spending time with you. I miss spending time with you. If the husband could translate that he would be happy to know this.

There’s no point in me saying anything anymore: Different husbands will give different reactions to this (laughs). What she means is that it’s not your words that will help me, it’s your actions that will help me. I don’t want your words I want your love.

What Men Say and What They Mean

Give me some space I don’t want to talk: That’s what they mean. In some sense this is a sunnah of Syedna Rasool Allah sws. We want to escape and go into khalwa (solitude) during stressful situations. Example, Prophet sws used to go to Mount Hira. Men are like turtles, they retreat into their shells.

Men have their own way of dealing with this. Women have their own way, she says don’t go away, be here with me, I need to talk about it. Man needs time and she doesn’t understand his need for space. She starts probing and she starts thinking what’s going on. Then shaytan tries to answer for her. Whenever you ask the question that what’s going on? Shaytaan will answer for you, maybe he is having an affair etc. Then she insists even more forcefully. Maybe he just genuinely needed that time. Instead of drawing him into conversation, turn to Allah swt and make dua for him and make ruju to Allah swt.

When woman is upset she starts global broadcasting. She broadcasts it to anyone tuned into her channel. This is the complete opposite way of dealing with stress. A man consoles himself by dealing with grief individually.

Similarly, men should not say to women deal with your grief on your own, stop telling anyone, stop complaining, stop whining. She is going to share her grief. The man should give the wife the ear she needs. He should say, broadcast it to me! Share it with me. I should be the first one you should share it with.

Responsibilities of men

Allah swt has put certain responsibilities on both men and women. Spouse should understand this that these responsibilities need to be fulfilled!

Earning rizq-e-halal. The wife needs to understand and give him space for these responsibilities. Sometimes he may not pick up the phone. Deal with it.

Caring of parents. This is the Haq of mother over him. It’s a responsibility he has to fulfill. He simply must DO it. Sometimes these rights will make him spend time out of the home longer. Sometimes it will be out of his control.

Huqooq Allah. There are some things that he MUST do. He must go to masjid to offer salah. Yes you could say that I know you were chatting with friends after maghrib, come home early . But you cannot say don’t go to the masjid at all.

There are also some types of worship that are not a must do. But some men need to do them. They need it for their own salvation. Like sometimes he has to be in good company, getting ilm of deen and spending time in dhikr. All nafal ibaadah I’m calling it dhikr here. A person does dhikr in two sense.

One is for spiritual purification to stay away for sin that is fard.

Then there is another dhikr that is to get closer to Allah swt it’s strongly recommended, but it is not fard. But if husband feels its keeping him away from sin then it becomes wajib for him.

Men should remember to have a balance in these activities with the family. Give and take. Sometimes you have to be away to be with dawah or to be with the shaykh. Sometimes you have to take away time and give it to family. But it has to be give and take on both on both sides. Wife should realize that he needs it. And especially if it makes him better at deen. The more he will be better at deen, the better husband he will become.

Responsibilities of women

Haqooq Allah. Let her fulfill all of her faraid and wajibat. Sometimes it happens that the woman has not yet prayed her isha, let her pray isha. Have sabr, don’t put her in that situation that it becomes difficult for her to pray it.

Haqooq ul ibaad. Children have rights over her too. If the child wants to sleep with her, the man should let the child sleep with her. It’s her duty and she must fulfill it. Her parents also have rights over her. Going to her parents’ home and spending time with siblings etc. within a reason and certain level is also haqooq ul ibaad.

Managing the house.  I’m saying this openly that this is the woman’s job. Woman’s responsibility is managing that. If she needs to do something for the house you need to give her space for that.

A woman needs taqwah as much as men. But she can take less time out for that. If she can do it online then husband should be more lenient with her that you are not going anywhere and the children are also with you. The husband should be more accommodating in these things. If she feels she doesn’t feel anything in prayer, my tongue gets into backbiting then, it’s also wajib for her to engage in religious pursuits that will curtail these sins.

Cont’d in Session II 

Science, Rationality and the New Atheism

[These are rough notes from the second session of the workshop on Historical, Intellectual and Spiritual Approaches to Islam conducted by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Karachi, on Jan 05, 2016]

Disclaimer: This is a purely educational course held to spread the teachings of Islam, with no intention of offending any sect or School of Thought.

Does Islamic Scholarship have a perspective and a vantage point on science? Is that perspective and vantage point academically robust, is it significant, is it able to address those issues where outwardly, initially and apparently science seems to contradict areas of Islamic belief and faith?

Basic Terminologies

First we will begin with some basic terminologies. I am going to read these things out to you and then we are going to look at them one by one; truth, reality, objectivity, subjectivity, relativity, true and false, and verification and falsification. These are some of the words that are used in the discussion of science and rationality, especially when people are discussing the concept of religion.

1. Truth and Reality. There are many philosophical ways in which a person can describe truth. One way to describe it is that truth is that which corresponds to reality. Interestingly, this philosophical formulation is there in ilmul kalam. Ilmul kalam is a science of theology which you are completely unaware of. Because people are more interested in ilmul aqaaid – Sunni sect, Shi’a sect, this sect, that sect. But ilmul kalam is almost virtually unknown still in the majority of educated Muslims today. In ilmul kalam, there is a huge discussion on what is sidq and what is kizb, or sometimes it is called kazib in Arabic; what is truth and what is falsehood. You will find volumes on this.

I am going to start with this, because science operates on the principles of rationality and empiricism and demonstrable proofs. So truth is that which is demonstrated, through some scientific method, to be that which corresponds to the reality. In Arabic we call this mutabiq al waqai; or mutabiq nafs e amar; in correspondence to what exists in reality.

So what is reality then? Reality is that which exists separately and independently from us. That’s what is called real. Now if you want to go into the ilmul kalam discussion on this, a very interesting discussion is when they talk about Allah swt’s attributes of Asma ul Husna, and one of His attributes is that He is al-Haqq, to the extent that He is Real, and relative to that everything else is unreal.

However, from a scientific and empirical perspective, that reality should be separately observable and known. But if you move into the area of Neuroscience and Psychology, it is a big question that are my hopes real? Are my dreams real? What empirical basis do my dreams have? If I tell you that I had a dream last night, is that real? Is it true? Am I speaking the truth? Is there any way you can empirically test that? Is that empirical? Is it falsifiable? It is a claim I will make.

If you insist on taking this way of life, that every single thing has to be understood by science; this is a perfect example that your dreams to what extent are they real, and to what extent did you truly see them, this is not fully able to be captured by science. No doubt, cognitive science will try to deconstruct the brain to different neurochemical reactions in different parts of the brain. But still, no true cognitive scientist will tell you that we have a complete exclusively scientific understanding of how, and exactly why, do people dream.

In layman’s terms, if I asked you if dreams were a reality, you would say yes. I would ask you why. You would probably say because I had a dream myself. I say, but that is not empirical. It is not falsifiable. It does not pass the scientific method. What you are actually saying is something called knowledge by experience. That is something different from knowledge by demonstration. We will come back to this later.

2. Objectivity, Subjectivity and Relativity. Is there any such real thing as objectivity? Is there one single perception, understanding of reality that can be called “objective”? A lot of philosophers will say no. On the other hand, if every single thing is subjective, and you have complete subjectivity, then you end up in this notion of complete relativity.

Let’s say if I try to put forth a proposition to you, like in philosophy and logic they put forth a proposition, that there is no objective reality. There is no way that I can have an objective way to prove that statement. If I take the opposite extreme, that there is no subjectivity, there is no objective proof that I can use to prove that statement.

So logic was the tool that we used, and this is a very important thing that we should know that in the Aristotelian world, logic was the litmus test for any “scientific” type of a statement.  And this is one of the great things that Imam al-Ghazali rah incorporated, and he took all of Aristotelian Logic in its entirety.

When you take that logic, you will realize that a lot of statements that you make, they are claims, but you cannot logically prove them. If I say there are both; there is both objectivity and subjectivity, I cannot prove that. Although that may resonate with us. But that is something else. That is not called science. That is called intuition.

Intuition means that statement that resonates with you to be true based on your own experience and understanding of the world. When I say “your own experience” then again we are back to subjectivity. But shouldn’t truth be something that is objective?

Then if you ask the question of religion, is Allah swt actually suggesting that in Qur’an when He says:

أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ
Have you then no sense?

That Allah swt has given you an aqal (intellect), and if you use it you will arrive at the single objective truth, which is the belief in the existence of Allah swt. Believe me, in ilmul kalam they talk about this a lot. It is a mistake that you think Philosophy and Science are the only ones to talk about these things. But you are not conversant and versed in the Classical Arabic Scholarly Tradition of your own deen.

3. True and False, Verification and Falsification. By this I mean to declare something decisively to be true, or to declare something decisively to be false. If you can definitively declare something to be true, that means you will invalidate everything else. There is no multiplicity left. If you definitely declare something to be false, you will end up in a process of invalidation and elimination.

In Science, at one level, they put forth a hypothesis. When they are fairly sure that something is true, they call it a theory. But as you know that there have been time, and up till right now cutting edge of science, they are constantly revisiting and reconsidering their theories. Sometimes they disprove their own theory.

The most famous example of this was the Theory of the Universe by Ptolemy. He felt that the Earth was the centre of the Universe. When you look at demonstration, his model that puts Earth at the centre of the Universe and the Sun rotating around the Earth, that did perfectly, and still today can perfectly predict the stars and constellations that appear in the sky.

If you say that science is about demonstration and empiricism, actually that method of astronomy passes the test of empiricism and demonstration. All of the astrologers, and all astronomers, may use these models – putting the Earth at the centre, knowing and thinking the Earth to be the centre, and that the Sun is rotating around us – and they could actually perfectly predict the stars and their constellations in the sky.

Today me and you know that is not true; Earth is not the centre. Sun is the centre, and because the Sun is the centre, it is called the Solar System, and Earth has been revolving around the Sun. I 100% accept that. But interestingly that additional scientific truth did not in any way help the humanity in being able to observe the stars.

The prediction of the constellations of the stars, the navigation from stars, was perfect in the Ptolemaic System, which was scientifically untrue. So what is untrue and what is false? We have used the untrue system to perfectly navigate through the oceans for centuries. So it is a relative thing; you are talking about frames of reference here.

Let’s suppose that I say that all truths are relative, even for that there is no scientific, decisive, empiric proof. So basically, all of these things cannot be determined and decided by science. These are the fundamental things; what is true, what is false. It does not mean that science can never do this. When science realized that in some things it can make the determination, so it is called verification and falsification.

How do you test the hypothesis? The first thing is that the hypothesis should be constructed in such a way that its premises are falsifiable. As in, what you do is that you keep trying to falsify them. You run these experiments, and you keep doing it, and you keep getting these sets of data, and you constantly try to falsify. But even then, strictly speaking in terms of pure Philosophy of Science, you are making the highest approximation of the certainty that you can, but you still cannot say that you have achieved certainty.

For example, if I tell you that science says that xyz is the speed of light. What if I say that did you factor the particles of dust in that light? Did you calculate the speed of light in a vacuum? You are talking about the light from the stars that do not exist anymore, and you calculate the distance of those stars also using the speed of light, but how much particles were in the way? Along the way, maybe there was some asteroid belt; there maybe so many things.  Did you factor these things in your speed of light? They will say no.

It is like Calculus; the limit of X is that it approaches 5. I say, it isn’t X=5, it’s X is approaching 5. They will say that no but if X is approaching 5, then you will just take that approximation as a certainty that it becomes 5. All of the Maths is based on this principle. X isn’t 5 though. The limit of X as it approaches 5, reaches 5.

That is what they are saying in the first example. Basically, at the very higher level of approximation, this is the speed of light. We have no idea that what type of asteroid, or space matter, or star burst and that light travelled from the reminiscence of that star matter to us, and how that star matter may have effected the speed of light. We have no idea about these things. It is an approximation. It is an approximation based on human ability. It means that to whatever extent the human is able to falsify these premises, he must try all of his ways to falsify it, and if it passes the falsification test then we will verify it.

You may ask a philosophical question that is the human ability to falsify that hypothesis, is it complete? I say no it is approximate. You ask is it absolute? I say no it is approximate. If I ask science this question that could science itself in another 10 years possibly find a way to falsify this hypothesis, they will say yes. In fact we are trying, that is what we love to do. This is the area of scientific invention and progress that they try to discover new ways to test “tried and true” theories. So it’s all relative. It’s a frame of reference.

In terms of present, they will declare a theory of a hypothesis today, because to whatever ability the scientific method is able to falsify that hypothesis, it has attempted to falsify it and has not been able to falsify it, therefore they will view the theory to be true and they will verify it. But they don’t say that it is definitive or decisive for all of eternity.

Actually the realm of religion and revelation is totally different. There is no encroachment here. Encroachment would be that science is also trying to capture eternal truths. No, science does not make that claim. Science can change any day.

In ilmul kalam, and also in Philosophy and Science, people have written tons of books on these; what is subjectivity, what is objectivity, what does it mean to falsify. There are huge workshops on this.

Now, when you are building this workshop, it does not mean that the workshop only needs to have Qur’an and Hadith. If you want to play this game, and understand this, you are perfectly allowed in Shari’ah, and in certain cases you may very well need to, put the writing of the scientists and the philosophers in the workshop. The only difference is that the Qur’an takes a higher level of precedence on that workshop, but it does not mean that these things are not allowed.

Imam al-Ghazali has mentioned that his own personal view about Science and Maths was that there was nothing in it that was against religion. But he did observe that there were some individuals who got misled by some myths and realities and misunderstandings about Science and Maths. In themselves, science and maths have nothing in them that is against religion. I will come to this later that there are certain things that science has put forth today, such as the human evolution, that are clearly, directly against the scriptural revelation.

That is also a very interesting thing; this may also be the issue why the vast and overwhelming majority of humanity were not atheists, because the scientific discovering and understandings and theories up till that time do not actually have anything in it that would necessitate Atheism.

But obviously if a person comes to believe in the human evolution – a belief that Syedna Adam (as) had parents – it is not even a question of man being a descendant of Apes. Islam says Syedna Adam (as) did not even have human parents. It is a totally different thing. It is not even about evolution, if you think about it that way. It is about miracles. We believe that Syedna Adam (as) did not even have human parents. It might happen 23 years from now, that science deny evolution. Maybe they would do it. But they will still say Adam (as) had parents. They will not accept that he was created from nowhere. That itself is the difference.

That is the same case here; that most of the scientists were comfortable with their Jewish or Christian faith, because the science of their time and day did not really have anything that necessitated them to abandon their faith. That is why we have mentioned this term of New Atheism because it is not like there were no Atheists before, but there were atheists before for philosophical reasons, not for scientific reasons.

The Question of Whether Science Necessitate Atheism

The New Atheism, and this is a term used in Academia, is that Atheism which is purportedly, supposedly, born out of science. That confuses a person because we all agree with science. The earlier Atheism, which was born out of a particular philosophy, it was not a problem for Muslims, they would say I do not believe in that. I believe in Qur’an and Sunnah. But the New Atheism becomes an issue because a person may think that if the New Atheism is really born out of science, and I believe in science, then what does that mean? This is the question that does science necessitate Atheism?

Three Criticisms of Atheists to the Claim of Existence of God

Let’s go step-by-step. So if you ask this question that does God exist, or for us does Allah swt exists? If you answer yes, you are going to face three criticisms from the Atheists:

  1. Your claim is not scientific and therefore false, for only that which is contained in science is true.
  2. Your claim is not logical. You cannot give me a logical proof for the existence of God. Therefore, your claim is false.
  3. Your claim is not rational. There is no rational basis for the existence of Allah swt, so therefore it is false.

You have your science, logic and rationality. These are basically the first principles. We are going to look at all of these three things.

Brief Introduction to Scientism 

There is a word that has been coined; it is called Scientism. It is a worldview, it is something different than science. That is why its has the suffix ‘ism’. Scientism is a view which holds that whatever you will view to be true, or false, will be on the basis of science. Scientism means that science is the way in which you understand everything.

Science normally meant that this is the way you understand the material world. And normally the scientists did not try to investigate the immaterial world, or have questions about that. They did not try to investigate the ruh, or the qalb, or even mind and thought and consciousness.

Classically, scientists did not have the realm of neuroscience. It was created as a part of Scientism. Otherwise earlier, ideas were understood through Philosophy. But now Scientism is a belief that every single thing can be understood on the basis of science. So instead of Psychology, it is Psychiatry. And instead of Philosophy, it is Neuroscience, or Cognitive Behaviour.

Genetics is also a very important aspect of Scientism, because the cutting edge of genetics is trying to discover behavioural genes; the notion that a human being is genetically programmed to certain kinds of behaviour. Allahu Alam, if they ever discover the taqwah gene, or the haya gene, they might take it out!

They will not say that this is a theory. It is a hypothesis; it is research. They are not saying it is a fact. But like I told you in the ideology-based approach to knowledge, some of them are doing this as an ideology. Another way I can explain it to you is that when you choose to deny Allah swt, you have to come up with an alternate understanding of the world. And when you take that denial so far – like in scientism that science alone can understand everything – then you end up denying a lot of philosophy, a lot of psychology, a lot of other things.

Scientism is not just denial of religion. It is a denial of any way of understanding, explaining and engaging in the world. It is inherently against aesthetics, arts and creativity. Or it tries to explain all aesthetics and arts and creativity in terms of neuroscience and cognitive on the left side of the brain.

But the artist will tell you, no, it is because of my creative spirit. It is not because I have a different set of neurons in the left side of my brain than that one does. They will say I have a more creative spirit than that person does. I have a greater imagination than that person does.

Scientists will say, no this is all bunk; all of your creative imagination is fluff. It is all due to difference in your cognitive behaviour; your cognitive thinking power on the left side of your brain. That is called Scientism. It is not just the denial of religion. It is an entire world view.

Most Atheists are not following science. It is Scientism that they are following. And there are definitely many scientists who are following it. There are Atheist scientists who follow this. And those of you who are aware of it would know that they have a huge literature on it in English language; Dawkins, Hitchens – there are so many of them. Some of them were pure physicists, some of them were pure Mathematicians, some of them were pure Philosophers, and they are on both sides.

Mostly this is taking place in the Christian world; you have completely believing Christian evolutionary biologists, completely believing Christian pure particle Physicists, completely believing Christian Philosophers. I have studied under one of each at Oxford. And you have completely Atheists for all of the above. You have several, or dozens of them. And there is massive literature that they are writing, engaging and discussing each other.

On the fringes, there are certain extremists. It would seem like terrorism to you; the way they talk to you with the fatwas of kufr. Some of them have extreme hatred, and there are extremely horrific tones that they use. But on a very large scale, there are many discussions and debates taking place in a considerate and thoughtful manner. And volumes have been written on this.

The point of telling you all of this is that do not fall into an assumption that every Mathematician, every Physicist, every Philosopher is an Atheist. This is nowhere near the case in UK, US or Canada right now. Those people do not deny science. It is about scientism; it is all about this thing. That is why they coined this word.

They say it is not about science, I am also a Scientist, or I am also a Physicist, or I am also a Biologist. It has nothing to do with science. It is about Scienitsm; the question is that how will you choose to understand things that are outside the realm of science? Scientism says that nothing falls outside the realm of science. Therefore, everything would fall in the realm of science.

These believing scientists are saying that there are some things that fall out of the realm of science, and we are happy and comfortable understanding those things on the basis of revelation, scripture, and prophethood, in whatever faith system they may personally believe in.

So, Scienitism is a world view that only science and knowledge derived from science contains truth. Everything else is merely belief, superstition and myth. These are the three buzzwords that they use.

The Scientistic approach has trickled down to Liberal Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. So then you will find Scientistic Anthropologists. So the Anthropology of Religion would be that all religion is just superstition and myth and a product of culture.

You will find Scientistic Sociology which says that all religion that exists at the societal level, like Karl Marx said, is the opium for the people. The words that are used in Scientistic outlook enters the Humanities, Social Sciences and Liberal Arts; that everything else is just belief, superstition and myth. By belief they do not mean imaan, by belief they mean anything that is not knowledge; it is fluff.

Scientism Explored

Let’s examine this notion of Scientism. Like I told you, there are believing scientists who have tried to refute Scientism. Nobody is trying to refute science. I will come to the history of evolution at the end. Understand this very clearly, I am not talking about science now. I am talking about Scientism.

Applying the Self-Refuting Test on Scientism

The first thing is called the self-refuting test. How will Scientism be refuted? It is not going to be refuted from Qur’an and Sunnah. Scientism is going to be refuted by logic and philosophy. So you have logic and philosophy taking on Scientism in this discussion, that can everything be understood through science, or are there some things that cannot be understood through science?

Self-refuting test means that if you accept the proposition, like I told you about the box; that if you accept the position and flush out its consequences, the consequences itself negate the position in the box. It is self-refuting. And the self-refuting test means you take the proposition, you flush out its necessary logical implications and consequences. And if it turns out that its logical consequences actually would necessitate refutation of the proposition in the first place, then it is a self-refuting proposition. I did not even need to refute it.

The proposition that claims to be true actually refutes itself. If it just claims to be a hypothesis, then it is not going to work. But it will work if it claims to be the truth; this is what Scientism is. This is why the self-refuting test is applied to Scientism. Because they are not giving another hypothesis that maybe it is Philosophy, maybe it is Psychology. They are saying this is it. This is the ultimate demonstrable, rational truth; the only way to understand the world is the Sceintistic method.

Let’s take some claims of Scientism.

  1. It is their statement that true knowledge is only that which is contained in science and found through scientific methods. This sentence itself is not a part of science. This sentence itself cannot be proven through the scientific method. This sentence itself cannot prove itself. Therefore, if this sentence is true, then this sentence is false. Do you understand? This is called a logical fallacy. It is pure philosophical logic and syllogism that is used in the self-refuting of the sentence. It has nothing to do with religion vs. science. Do not count this debate in religion vs. science domain. The way you frame a debate, often that itself decides the victor and the loser in the debate. If you talk about religion vs. science, all the Muslims who are studying Engineering and Chemistry and Physics would be like I have been accused! It is not religion vs. science. It is religion vs. scientism. It is science vs. scientism. It is logic and philosophy vs. scientism.
  2. Second claim is that true knowledge is only that which is observable. Can you observe that statement? Is there any empirical observation to prove the statement that true knowledge must be observable? Can you observe the truth of that? You can accept that as a first basis. So actually Scientism is another religion. It requires imaan in these things. It requires you to accept something as your first principles, and then understand everything on the basis of those principles. Actually the choice is whether you want to accept Allah swt’s first principles in Qur’an, or you want to accept the scientism’s first principles.
  3. True knowledge is only that which is testable. Can you test this sentence? Is this sentence in itself testable? No, so then it is not true knowledge. Because if true knowledge is only that which is testable, this sentence itself is not testable, therefore it is not true knowledge.
  4. True knowledge is only that which is empirically verifiable. It is slightly different. Because scientific knowledge may have some things that are beyond empirical senses. Like saying that if you see it, you will believe it. Only that which I see will I believe. This sentence itself, did you see that somewhere? We could say that we saw it in Qur’an, but what would a scientist say if they were asked, where did you see it? This is self-refuting.
  5. True knowledge must be refutable. Is this sentence itself refutable? How will you refute that sentence? This is a bit tricky one. Let me keep it easier for you – true knowledge must be falsifiable. Can you falsify this proposition?

For example, if we take the example for true knowledge must be observable; can you touch, smell, or hear that concept? Not if you take empiricism at its basics. Empiricism can be more than that. But if you take it from that level, you will say no. This is a very small thing, but its going back to what I showed you – these things are not easy to figure out; truth, falsehood, relativity, subjectivity, objectivity.

Basically these are claims, but as I have shown you, they do not pass the self-refuting test. They are not objective truths. These are the subjective truths adopted by the Scientistic worldview and approach. And they are free to do that. But they pick the claim of objectivity for that, and then to take an exclusive claim of truth for that, and then to falsify and invalidate every other thing, there is no basis within their own system to do that. And it is not based on logic either.

Science Explored

Next is the question of what exactly is science? How do you separate science from non-science? For example, you will find this question in the Western academies that why were some of the Liberal Arts called Social Sciences, and why were the other ones called Humanities? Is Psychology a Social Science? Some Psychology departments are unhappy. They say we want to be in the School of Science and Engineering, we are science. Scientists say, no you are not a science, go to the Social Sciences school.

So what is science and what is non-science? Is there any objective, falsifiable, verifiable, absolute way to determine this question? Or is it relative? There was a writer, his name is Larry Laudan. He has written an article Science at the Bar. What he talks about is very interesting, or let me put it this way, it is a very enjoyable piece to read about this notion of what is science and what is non-science.

Now let’s suppose someone says a statement like true knowledge is falsifiable, let’s suppose I were to say this proposition to you that Martians will land on Earth in 2050. Or for that matter, humans will land on Mars in 2050. You cannot refute that. Maybe it will happen, maybe it will not – we do not know. So what does that mean, is it science now?

For any falsifiable test to be applied, you have to be open to the possibility; science is when you keep falsifying till you get an approximation of certainty, because to the best of your knowledge you have eliminated any possibility of truth or falsehood. How can you falsify that statement?

Let’s suppose I say in year 2500 humans will be living on Mars. You cannot falsify that. Does that make it science – because you cannot falsify it? Can I call it a scientific statement? You would say no, you cannot call it a scientific statement. But I say no science is what you cannot falsify, and you cannot falsify this statement.

These are internal contradictions on these issues. I am not talking about what you read in your Chemistry textbooks. We fully accept the Periodic Table – that’s science. I am talking about Scientism. What is in the Physics and Chemistry textbooks that is science. This is Scientism; trying to negate any understanding of truth and claiming pure objectivity only for themselves. That is Scientism.

Intuition and the Fallacy of Falsification

Let’s look at some other things that we may accept as knowledge. One issue is that of intuition. Your intuition is going to guide you on how many factors, or causalities, you have to look at in a scientific experiment.

For example, somebody told us that science says there was an earthquake in China, and it measured 8.2 on the rector scale. And if I tell them, did you take into account the weight of coal mines in China? And maybe because the weight of the coal in the coal mines of China was heavier, it was a 8.4 scale earthquake, but it came out at a reading of 8.2 because of this reason. They would say, no that is a negligible factor. These things are negligible.

Then I could come up with something nonsensical. I could say, did you write any scientific test to see that did the prices of tea in China effected the level of the earthquake? They would say that is nonsensical. I say, but it is a hypothesis, I want you to falsify it. If I talk like that then there are a billion factors that will have to be examined. This is intuition.

This is also a fallacy of falsification that we did eliminate everything humanly possible. First, you used your intuition to eliminate the nonsensical and the absurd. Then you used your intuition to eliminate the things that had a negligible effect. And only those things that your intuition told you possibly could have a tangible effect, you ran your falsifiability test on those things that you thought had a tangible effect. How did you decide that what was tangible and what was negligible and what was nonsensical? That was done on the basis of intuition.

In our tradition, we call it zauq. This is why in the Hadith Studies, you cannot just copy somebody in 20th Century that this hadith is weak. The Muhaditheen had zauq; they had an acumen, they had a flare for this. They were hafidh of Hadith; they had memorized 100,000 chains of narrations. They had seen that narration being narrated from so many people. If they did not tag it as zaeef, you cannot do your database researches saying I have discovered today that so-and-so scholar in the 20th Century decided that so-and-so is zaeef. He does not have that zauq. He is using a laptop. He is using a library. He needs to have it up here – zauq is the intuition.

If you ask any scientist who has won a noble prize, or any great inventor, how did you do that – was it just an empirical method? He would say it was my intuition. I had a hunch. I had intuition that this would work. All the way from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison; whoever it is, whatever they have invented, it is through intuition. Intuition is the creative force behind science.

This is what I was telling you about this empirical adequacy – or if you want to call it, the empirical inadequacy. If you insist that they should factor the negligible and the nonsensical, then we will say it is empirical inadequacy. But they say, no it is empirical adequacy. Why is it adequacy? If the factor was tangible, how did you define what is tangible? That was through intuition. That’s not science.

Scientists are fine with that. Scientism is not fine with that. Scientism is shattered by this. Scientists have no problem with this – they would say yes 100% we use intuition. We did not make any claim that every single way of knowing is going to be captured by science. They believe in inspiration. And many of the greatest scientists in history were believers, and they would write in their autobiographies that I was inspired by God.

Now the scientist today will say this is all fluff. He explains it as a cognitive moment – a surge of neurons and electrons activity in his brain, which he thought was an inspiration by God, in an attempt to falsify another person’s understanding of an event that actually lies outside the realm of science. I mean, are you a greater scientist or is Einstein a greater scientist? If science necessitates Atheism, then why in the world were these great scientists not Atheists themselves?

Arguments for God’s Existence

Theory of Uniformity & the Role of Intuition and Approximation

There is this thing called the Theory of Uniformity. For example, you take the law of gravity, to make it a law, the theory of uniformity means that these things will have to be uniform. It means that gravity must be universally the same in any corner of the Earth, baring some other external circumstances and conditions. But empirical method would mean you have to test it in all of these conditions. You cannot just make a claim like that. Then if you have a latitude inadequacy; let’s say how many points on GPS of Earth has the gravity been measured, it is probably not even on 10% of the places on Earth. So what is that? It is their intuition.

Very interestingly, in the ilmul kalam tradition, this intuitive element – that you have tested something at a level which is sufficient to give you certainty – that concept is called tawatir in our deen. And the tawatir concept is actually used in our deen, as well, to bring certain knowledge.

I will give you the example which Imam al-Ghazali (ra) gave that if one person walked in this room right now and said it is raining outside. Lets just pretend there is no window, lets pretend there are just four walls. Now when one person says it to you, you may not have certain belief. But if two people come in, three people come in, or five people come in, at some point it will be the ‘tipping point’; at some point you will reach a number of reports and narrations – it is not science – your intuitive heart will feel the feeling of certainty. You will look into your heart and say yes, now my heart feels certain that indeed it is raining. That will also have to do with how well you know those report givers; how true you know them to be; how upright you know them to be.

This is what the muhadith was doing when he was tagging. Yes, the Hadith scholars made a few comments, that so-and-so is this, and so-and-so is that, but those comments are just a drop in the ocean of the knowledge about that narrator and their feel about the narrator. Modern day researcher goes to the books of ilm al-rijal and looks up the narrator and sees the muhadith’s comment, and says I have discovered this hadith is dha’if which all these fuqaha had been using for the past 1,200 years.

No, you did not discover anything, you just discovered that the muhaditheen all accepted this hadith, even though for all of these centuries they knew that one narrator, critic, did make that one comment. They disregarded that comment on the basis of their intuition. And you think you are a hero because you discovered that comment, and you want to change the gradings of the hadith of the great hadith scholars?

So tawatir; they are saying that when we reach a certain level of tawatir, we will view that these things behave at a uniform manner, but actually it was just the individual thing that you saw behave in that way. You dropped a ball, you saw that it behaved in a particular way in the gravity. But you would extrapolate; it’s an extrapolation. Science is doing it right. A reasonable level of approximation, a reasonable amount of falsification based on the intuition, until they reach the level of certainty, but when they have reached that level of certainty, they take a leap and then they make a claim of uniformity, and we are fine with that, and up till now it bears out.

But strictly speaking in terms of Scientism, that leap is not warranted, that leap is unfounded, that leap is not acceptable. But for us, and for science, it is acceptable.

The Raven Paradox

This is something called the Raven Paradox. Raven is a particular type of a bird, and the notion is that all ravens are black. If you make a statement like that, how would you do that? Science will tell you that we used observation; we kept looking at the ravens and we kept seeing them to be black. We travelled around and we looked at raven populations; we went to raven’s nests, we tried to discover where they lived. And we kept seeing that they are black. At some point they made this statement that all ravens are black.

How many did you see? You saw a hundred, a thousand, the point is, you did not see all of them and yet you said that all ravens are black. You saw some of them, even many of them, you may have even seen a great many of them. Remember we are talking about Objective Absolutism now. I did not put the relativity in the absolutism. This is an absolute statement; all ravens are black.

It is possible that today somebody takes out the gene matter of a raven, and tries to analyze its genes, and maybe suggest that the pigment in the genes is only programmed to be black. Still, the question would be, that could there be any alternate sub-species of raven out there that have a slightly different genetic make-up? So, there is a certain intuition – a certain tawatir principle – with which you will end up saying all ravens are black.

All of science is based on these things; the Theory of Uniformity, The Raven Paradox, they all have this notion of approximation with certainty. The way science regulates itself is with certain standards, it is not arbitrary, there will be peer reviews, there will be articles written in the journals, the scientific community will have to accept the research of that scientist, and that may take a few years, and then they may say yes, we accept that theory and now uniformly we will also use it in our own research and our experiments. It is a process, it takes time. It is not arbitrary. It is a structured, governed, regulated process. So this covers a few more concepts in the philosophy of science.

This was to suggest to you that the existence of Allah swt is beyond science. The question was ‘Does God Exist?’ The Atheist’s response to this was that your claim (that God exists) is not scientific and therefore false, for only that which is contained in science is true.This is how you will face this question:

Your reply is that no, not only what is contained in science is true. The question of the existence of Allah swt is beyond science.

Next was that your claim is not logical and your claim is not rational or logical. Lets take this. There is a whole range here. I will give you a couple of things from a whole range.

Fine-Tuning Argument

Like I mentioned to you, I attended a whole bunch of series of lectures at Oxford; probably 40-50 of them, one by a Professor of Pure Math Theory, and one by a Christian Professor who taught courses on Philosophy of Religion. Now, this is one notion of creation. Some of you, who are aware of these debates in America, you may know of the Intelligent Design, Creationism vs. The Blind Watch Maker vs. No Watch Maker. There are certain buzz words that are used in this literature.

One such term is called the Fine-Tuning Argument which was put forth by Fred Hoyle. It means that the Earth’s conditions are so finely tuned to create the possibility for the existence of life, and although science, certainly, and it is not that I have to negate this, but science is open to the possibility that life may exist elsewhere, what we call the extra terrestrial life. But up till now science says that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to prove the existence of terrestrial life. So even from today’s state of the art science, the current knowledge, although open to the possibility that there maybe life in other planets in the world, but the current knowledge says that there is only life on earth.

Fine-Tuning means that if the Earth was a bit closer to the Sun, or even a bit further away from the Sun, life would not be possible on Earth, because the temperature and climate would not be suitable to Earth. Fine-Tuning means that if the speed on which the Earth rotates around its axis, if it were somewhat slower, or somewhat greater, it would be more difficult to have life on Earth. There are so many factors, which even science will admit that we have only identified  some, there are also going to be some factors that science yet has to identify.

No scientist claims that we know all the laws of the universe. No scientist who does anatomy in physiology can claim that we understand everything about the human body. There are so many diseases – still – of which we have not identified a cure for, nor do we know the cause. What does that mean? I accept also, that the disease is happening through a scientific process. But science itself is saying that we do not have the full understanding of this process. This is one disease, what causes the disease? We don’t know. How are you going to cure the disease? We don’t know.

I am not saying that the disease is some paranormal, psychal, spiritual thing. I am hundred percent saying the disease is physical, material, it is within the realm of science, it is the subject matter of science, but science does not know about it yet. This is a fact for so many things. So if it is true about the human body, then you can imagine the extent to which it is true about the universe. But they say that from what we know right now, there is no life anywhere else.

Multiverse Argument and the Law of Probability 

The counter to the fine-tuning argument, which some Atheist scientist put forth, is the Multiverse Argument. And literally, one of them actually has this idea that imagine that there is some machine that just creates universes. Sooner or later, the law of probability would demand that a universe will eventually be created in trillions, and trillions, and trillions of years, eventually a universe will be created where life could be obtained. Or they say you take any universe, that eventually over a period of trillions and trillions of years of galaxy formations, star formation and star death, and star collapse, it is a matter of probability, that sooner or later a solar system would be formed in which there was one planetary body – the planet Earth – which would be so fine tuned that life would exist.

I accept that, but what is the probability? If you ask the Mathematician, he would say the probability is 1 over, you know, like in Maths, 1 over infinity equals zero. Now strictly speaking, why are you negating that one? Strictly speaking, in Maths, 1 over infinity should not equal zero. Zero is zero, and 1 over infinity, no matter how small it is, it is still something. But it is so negligible when you keep dividing it, it is infinitely divisible by infinity, so when you keep infinitely dividing it, it becomes so insignificant that it is treated as zero.

So we do the same thing. We take the 1 over infinity argument on the Multiverse; that probability is so infinitesimal, so extremely small, we will treat it as zero using this principle of Maths that 1 over infinity equals zero. The chance for such a finely tuned condition for life to have happened on its own is 1 over infinity, we will treat it as zero according to Maths, that means there is zero chance that this world came into existence on its own, that means that it is logically necessary that there was a Creator who brought it into existence.

You would be amazed if you ever research this Fine-Tuning argument. Even if you take a human being, any doctor will tell you that how incredibly fine-tuned the human being is, and as soon as the tuning goes out, that is the process of death beginning. We are just a speck; human being is a speck on Karachi, Karachi is a speck on Pakistan, Pakistan is a speck; we are a speck, on a speck, on a speck, on a speck – this is our reality in the universe.

I took three courses in Astrophysics as an undergrad in Chicago, way back in 1992, and my TA was an Atheist. Me and him used to sit back in the lab and have discussions. These are jokes sometimes, this is not a serious argument. But I am sharing to lighten this a little bit for you.

Some of the things that I used to talk to him about, and other such people, was the creation of Big Bang, and all of that stuff. I have no problem with the Big Bang. I believe that when Allah swt said kun fayakun; so He just said kun and the Big Bang happened, and fayakun – the universe came into existence. I said, you have a problem with the small bang. He said what is that? I said that you accept that the universe just came into existence, and I am telling you Adam (as) – one small speck (compared to the universe) – came into existence, and you say that is not possible, he must have evolved from apes. So, you accept the Big Bang, and you do not accept the small bang.

When we came to this issue of probability, I said lets suppose I accept the Multiverse argument that eventually the laws of probability, over trillions of years, would be that the universe is created, and the finely-tuned system is created – all of that stuff. I am telling you it is 1 over infinity, but I accept that. I say, in recorded human history, roughly from 2,000 or 3,000 B.C. up till now, lets just take it at 500 B.C., everyone would be happy with that, it was the time of Socrates, 2500 B.C. Shouldn’t one paper clip could have come into existence? I mean, if the whole Big Bang happened, and the universe came out of nowhere, couldn’t a small paperclip have just come into existence?

This is a quote by Fred Hoyle himself who came up with this Fine-Tuning argument:

The probability of the universe emerging out of random forces or by chance is less than the probability of a hurricane sweeping through a junk yard and assembling a 747 Jumbo aircraft.

If an infinite number of hurricanes pass through a junk yard, forget even the junk yard, lets say the Boeing factory, I will go a step further than him, a Boeing factory where all the parts are laid out perfectly, what is the probability that if a hurricane sweeps through, it would manage to assemble and screw every nut and bolt into place? If the universe could happen through such random forces, then it should at least be able to make a perfectly formed paperclip. Has anyone ever recorded in human history that a pencil came out of nowhere, or a paperclip came out of nowhere?

The reason I’m giving you these names is because you should know. Everybody just knows about Richard Dawkins, you should know there is a whole other world out there. We have a big problem in our university campuses here in Pakistan, that there are Dawkins-toting, I myself have seen it on a campus, like they sometimes have Bible-toting, so Dawkins-toting professors who carry Dawkins around and put it around their desks and they are totally preaching Dawkins in their classes, in the class that has nothing to do even with this topic.

They are completely abusing their position as a professor and a lecturer at a university, to preach atheism to the Muslim students. And there is no one who can even speak about this, you are not even allowed to raise your voice about this. This is the situation in the, very few, but the more ultra-elite class, high-academic universities in this country, only about 2-3 of which basically would fill all that description, there is some serious atheism going on.

Kalam Cosmological Argument for God

When you go back, they have other theories (to refute the fine-tune argument). There is a theory that the world was always here, there was no bang, it was always here. If you take that, I will show you another argument of the Kalam Cosmological argument. This is now for the theory that the world was always here. The previous one was if we all agreed that the world wasn’t always here; so there you say that Allah swt created it, or you say the Big Bang happened, that just out of sheer probability the fine-tuning happened.

Second, they will say forget the Big Bang, forget Multiverse, forget the probability; this world was always here. Now the light-hearted response: I believe in an Allah swt who has always been around, you believe in a physically created universe that has always been around. Both of us are believing in something that has no origin; that itself is a non-scientific concept – to have anything in existence that does not have an origin. In the classical texts of ilm al-Kalam they used to talk about this; that Allah swt is the only being that is ghayr masboot bil adam; that He has never been preceded by non-existence. He has always been.

They take the same concept and use it for the world. The second argument that is given by the people that the world has always been there. You want us to give you the proof that who created Allah, yet you’ve created the universe yourself (through this argument)? This is the light-hearted response.

Coming to the Kalam Cosmological argument, very interestingly, one of these Western Christian Philosophers, his name is William Lane Craig, he was trying to discover a philosophical way to refute, one is the logical way, one is the scientific way, and one is the philosophical way to refute a theory. His research led him to our own ilm al-kalam. Our own Muslim youth don’t even know ilm al-kalam, and Western philosophers who are non-Muslims they are going to ilm al-kalam. He calls it ilm al-kalam, he writes it in his honesty, he does not try to hijack it or plagiarise it, and it is taught, I was taught this at Oxford – it is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Our heart was so pleased to hear the word “kalam” from the professor.

Now understand what is the Kalam Cosmological argument. So we have necessity, contingency and logical fallacy. Necessity is what in Arabic we call wajib al-wujub; that what must necessarily exist. Contingency is just a fancy word that means dependant on something else. Let me first show you the Islamic understanding, second I will show how the Kalam argument can respond to that concept that the universe was always here.

Islamic understanding is that, within our tradition we understand that Allah swt alone is wajib al-wujud; He is the only Being who necessarily exists. We are all mumkin al-wujud; we possibly exist, we could also not have existed, our non-existence was also possible. Allah swt not existing, is not possible. Me and you non-existing, that is possible. This is also what so many of the great people, now I’m bringing in the spiritual approach, they used to make du’a to Allah swt just in shukr for this; that Allah swt you brought me into existence. If You didn’t create me, I wouldn’t even exist. I wouldn’t even “be” if I weren’t in your irada of kun fayakun. And then there is another thing called mumtani’ al-wujud; something that cannot exist, and what is that? That is a shareek to Allah swt, that is another god, another divinity, so that means it is mumtani’ al-wujud – it is not possible to exist.

That which is mumkin al-wujud, that which possibly exists, its existence is dependant or contingent on that Being who necessarily exists. Why is it necessary? Because Allahu al-Khaliq; that zaat which is wajib al-wujud, He created us, otherwise me and you couldn’t have existed. There is only one thing, only one factor that determines realizing the possibility or not, and that is Allah’s creative power, there is no other factor, no random forces, nothing else, there is one and only causal mechanism that brought us into existence, while it was completely possibly that we didn’t exist, and that was the will and wish, might and power, and creation of Allah swt.

When we will continue to exist in akhirah, that is because Allah swt is al-Hayyu al-Qayyum; He will live forever, the Pre-Eternal and the Ever-Eternal. Now we will also be eternal, but that is not because of our own ability. It is because of Allah’s irada, Allah’s wish and will and desire that we live forever.

Everything will either necessarily exist, necessarily also means istighna; to be independent, it is not dependant on anything for its existence and its creation. Me and you are dependant on Allah swt; He is our Rabb, He is al-Razzaq. We are something that is contingent, dependant on something else for existence.

Now look at how the Kalam Cosmological Argument works.

Step #1: Setting up separate categories. Everything that exists in our world, everything that exists in this universe, will have to either exist independently on its own, or its existence is contingent and dependant on some other existence

Step #2: Mutually existing categories. Anything that falls in the first category of contingent existence, cannot fall in the first category of necessary existence. You cannot be independent and dependant simultaneously. Your existence is either dependant or it is independent, if it is dependant then it cannot be independent. If your existence is contingent, there is no way it can be necessary.

Step #3: Every single thing cannot fall in the first category. Because, if it did, then everything would be pre-eternal, and that goes against both our empirical and experiential knowledge of the world. Even science wouldn’t think, nobody thinks that every single thing has always been here, that you have always been here, this watch has always been here, the black cup has always existed.

Because not every single thing is in the category 1, then all these things that are in category 2 must have something that brought them into existence. That upon which it is dependant and contingent must precede its existence. Because the existence of B (contingent) is dependant on A (independent), so existence of A must precede B.

When we reach that conclusion, that there are things that exist due to their contingency on other things that must have necessarily existed before them, and those things necessitated bringing them into existence, the question is that which it is dependant on that is itself going to be either necessary or contingent.

For example, your existence is contingent upon your parents. Now we will take a step back, are your parents contingent in their creation? You will say they are contingent, they also depended on something. We go back to their parents i.e. your grandparents. We keep asking this question, we keep going back, until we reach something that must necessarily exist.

Let me now put it for you in another way, if you say that something’s existence is contingent, that means it must be dependant on something else. If it is dependant on something else, you will ask the question about this ‘something else’ – is that something else’s existence contingent or necessary? You say it is contingent. Then I will keep taking it back. You cannot take it back till infinity, that is a logical fallacy. They must be traced back to something that is necessarily existing. You cannot have an infinite regression of infinity. That is a logical fallacy.

In Arabic they call it daur, you can’t have a daur, or what happens is that you are going round and round forever, it’s not possible. In logic we will not accept this, it is a logical fallacy. If you have an endless stream of contingent beings, everything brought into existence by something that itself was dependant on something with contingent existence, you cannot do that, you cannot have infinite regression. It means that it must necessarily be traced back to some being that has necessary existence. You cannot have an infinite regression.

Still a person may object that if all events need causes, like you said every contingent being has a cause, and that cause arises from a being that is necessary, and you cannot have infinite regression, so ultimately you will have to reach a cause that is necessary existence, but your first proposition was that everything needs a cause, so doesn’t that thing that is necessary existent also need a cause? Like some people will ask this question that who created God then? If you say everything is created then who created God then?

This is a logical fallacy called a category fallacy, because Allah swt is in the category of necessary existence. Necessary existence, by definition, doesn’t need a cause. Not only does it not need a cause, it is without a cause. Necessary mean non-dependant, non-causal existence. It’s a category fallacy. It’s like asking, what colour is sound? Sound doesn’t have colour; it’s a question that does not apply to this category. You can say what volume is the sound. To ask the question that what is the cause of that being who is necessary, that is a category fallacy. By definition of being necessary, it means there was no cause. Just like if you say, who made God? It’s like saying who made the unmakeable?

Necessary means unmakeable, non-created, uncreated. It’s like saying who created the uncreated? What caused the necessary existence? If something caused the necessary to come into existence, then it’s not necessary existence; it’s contingent. You put it back in the other category. If you keep putting everything back in that category, you cannot have everything in the category of contingent, because it’s an infinite regression, that’s a logical fallacy.

This is the Kalam Cosmological argument. This basically revolves around these three concepts; necessity, contingency, and the logical fallacy which is what we call an infinite regression i.e. it cannot go back forever, you will ultimately have to have something that is necessary existence.

Imam Ghazali (rah) explains this logical fallacy in the following way. If you look at how many times the earth revolves around the sun, it is once in a year, however if you look at how many times the moon rotates around the earth, that’s twelve times in a year. Lets go back to the lunar calendar, there are twelve lunar months. Now if you say that the sun and the moon have both existed forever, then you will be bringing their number of revolutions in the past to infinity. At the same time, you are saying that the moon has twelve times more revolutions than the sun, i.e. A = 12B, but Maths will tell you

if A=∞ and B=∞
then A=12B
because 12 x ∞ = ∞

When for the sun and the moon you take infinite regression, they both reach infinity, then ∞=∞ so the number of revolutions of the moon around the earth and the number of revolutions of the earth around the sun are equal, but how can they be equal when we just said that the moon revolves around the earth 12 times the number of revolutions earth revolves around the sun every year? So there are different ways to use this system of the Kalam Argument. This was just a little bit about science, the point was to show you that there is a conceptual understanding in deen that can engage in this discussion. While on the other side, the conceptual science should not be called science, it should be called scientism.

Rationality in terms of Nabuwwah [Revelation and Prophethood]

Imam Ghazali (rah) has explained this concept in a beautiful way. He uses the epistemological approach, which is a fancy term that means studying knowledge and the way we know things. So there is a way of knowing, and then there are things that are knowable by that way of knowing.

  1. First way of knowing, he says, is through our five senses. That begins, even according to the modern human embryology, in the womb where the baby develops different levels of skills. There are certain things knowable that you will know through these five senses. This is what babies are doing all the time. They throw things if they want to check something is loud or not. They take things and put them in their mouths to see if it’s hard or soft, bitter or sweet. This a way in which they are constantly knowing, they are learning through their five senses. We accept the five senses. We accept that certain knowable things are known through that way of knowing.
  2. Second way of knowing, he says, progresses with human development i.e. your aqal (intellect)It is that stage when the child can begin to fathom concepts, and understand and intellectualize them. In our tradition this ability matures at the age of seven. That’s why Blessed Prophet (sws) taught us to really begin the child’s tarbiyyah at seven. This doesn’t mean there should be no tarbiyyah before seven, but you begin it in the earnest at that age. The ability to grasp concepts as right and wrong, moral and immoral, pleasing or displeasing to Allah swt really reaches its maturity at the age of seven. It’s not the peak, it keeps on increasing, but maturity means it has developed — it’s there now. It’s an ability now that the child has. So then through your aqal, i.e. your mind, you are able to know many things. For example, there may be many of you who have never been to New York. Your five senses have never experienced it. You have not smelt it live, heard it, touched it etc. But your mind tells you it exists. You know with as much certainty that New York exists as a person who was born and raised there. We acknowledge aqal as a tool of knowledge and we acknowledge the knowable that are known by that way of knowing.
  3. In the third level, Imam Ghazali (rah) takes it in reverse. He said there are certain things known by the five senses, and there are certain things known by the intellect. Now he is saying that there are some knowables the knowledge of which cannot be traced back to the five senses, and cannot be traced back to the aqal. What makes claim to that knowledge is revelation and Prophethood, Nabuwwah, Qur’an and Sunnah. The Qur’an is not something that came from our five senses, or our intellect. The Sunnah, the teachings of Blessed Prophet (sws) is also making a claim that this is knowledge, but the source of that knowledge is not the five senses, nor is it the aqal.

Now what he does is interesting, because this is well before the concept of modern science has even developed, but he very much adopts, what we call today, a scientific method. He goes for the falsifiability approach. He says that there are some things that claim to be knowledge and you didn’t know them through your five senses, and you didn’t know them through your aqal. So what you should do is you should test them out.

He takes one hadith that Blessed Prophet (sws) said: If you make pleasing Allah swt your first and foremost concern and worry in your heart, Allah swt will remove all the concerns and worries you have in the world. This is the proposition. It’s not the proper adab to say it, but lets just say it for the sake of understanding that this is a claim to knowledge made to somebody who, at this moment, thinks their only tools to knowledge are their five senses and their intellect. The five senses could never come up with this. They cannot establish this to be true that if you make the sole concern of your heart pleasing Allah swt, Allah swt will remove all your worldly worries and concerns. The intellect cannot establish this position. This is beyond its ken, beyond its ability and rationality.

Imam Ghazali (rah) then says that to find out, you have to adopt this position and see what happens i.e. you run a test. You do it. You make the only concern in your heart pleasing Allah swt and you see if Allah swt removes your worries and concerns in the world. And if you find that Allah swt does remove the worries and concerns in the world, you will realize that this statement is true. He says that you should do this with every single verse and hadith.

Remember when we covered correlation and intuition — that’s the scientific method that you keep running the experiment, and there’s a certain number of times you run it after which you will feel that yes now I know there’s fair uniformity, I will say this is uniform [and I will accept it]. Imam Ghazali (rah) is even more precise, he doesn’t say approximately try 10% of hadith or 40% of verses. He says try it on all – take every hadith and every verse of Qur’an and practice it. So it’s the perfection of the scientific method.

He says if you find that all of the hadith and verses are true through your experience, then you will know from yaqeen (certainty) the source of that knowledge. Now you know the knowables to be true. If the knowable is true, whatever was the source of that knowable is also true. The source of that knowable is Hadith and Qur’an. When you know the knowables to be true, you will know their source to be true, you will know Allah swt and Blessed Prophet (sws) to be true with certainty. That challenge is also there for anyone. Before non-Muslims, the Muslims have to take it up. Allah swt said in Qur’an:

Lower your gaze

Try it. See what happens. You say no I don’t want to lower my gaze, can you give me a cure, shaykh? That’s not how it works. We are also scientific. Deen of Islam makes no claim that you can disobey and still succeed. You say I want haya so I don’t commit these lewd crude sins on the screen but I don’t want to lower my gaze. Deen doesn’t make that claim. There is no hidayah like that, that you disobey Allah swt and you still get obedience. This is also a logical fallacy.

Deen says you try it. Do what Allah swt has told you to do and then see if you get haya. Build a spiritual workshop, don’t just build a workshop for your academic intellectual understandings. You should think I will build a workshop on every single thing in Qur’an and every single thing in hadith that Blessed Prophet (sws) taught me on how I can get haya, then I will, following Imam Ghazali’s (rah) approach, practice each and every one of those things. Then you will see, when you get that haya, you will have a certainty in your deen. You will say look at this deen — it’s kamil hidayah (perfect guidance). It changed my heart, it changed my life and it transformed my being. This is called deen.

You have to get real. This whole notion of not practicing Qur’an and Sunnah, and basically philosophizing and intellectualizing [Islamic teachings] — this is not the asal (real purpose). I’m telling you very openly, we just keep these type of lectures to take people out of the jails of their intellect. It’s like jailbreak. I’m breaking you out of the jail of your aqal so you can enter the life of your qalb (heart).

My dream is not that you go home and start building a workshop on Iman and you write me up all types of interesting intellectual questions. Go build a workshop on haya, build a workshop on sabr, build a workshop on taqwah. Then use Imam Ghazali’s (rah) method. Then see what happens. You will come to such a certainty. You will say I was a rock, I thought nothing could change me. I was full of anger, and lust and envy and I did what Allah swt said in the Qur’an and whatever Blessed Prophet (sws) taught me, and I changed. Then you will have true certainty.

This is what Imam Ghazali (rah) is showing through epistemology that knowledge through demonstration is knowledge, but knowledge through experience is a higher form of knowledge, which scientism can never aspire to, because scientism believes in knowledge through demonstration, we believe in knowledge through experience. You will experience the qurb of Allah swt. Anyone who has experienced this qurb does not need to be demonstrated that Allah swt exists. Allah swt says:

فَٱذۡكُرُونِىٓ أَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ
Remember Me and I will remember you. [2:152]

You will feel it. You will feel Allah swt making dhikr of you. You will know He is true, you will know He is real. You will not need any logical proof then, you won’t even need this Kalam Cosmological Argument. That was just a key to unlock the jail. You don’t need these things. This is what Imam Ghazali (rah) is teaching us that Qur’an and Sunnah have to be lived. They are not just to be translated and commented upon and analyzed and discussed — they are supposed to be lived by the heart. They were lived by the heart of the Blessed Prophet (sws). He (sws) brought sahaba karam’s (ra) hearts alive. This is called tazkiya in deen.

and cleanse them of all impurities. [2:129]

It means to bring the hearts alive. This is something which is supra rational. Deen is not irrational. It transcends rationality. Rationality and intellect is a weak scale. When you go to the jeweler, he has a small little scale that can weigh up to maybe 10 pounds, because he is weighing in .003 grams and ounces of gold. If I put my suitcase on that scale, it will burst. His scale does not have that ability. Intellect is like the scale of the jeweler. Allah swt says:

عَلَّمَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ مَا لَمۡ يَعۡلَمۡ
He taught man what he did not know. [96:5]

Allah swt will teach humanity the knowledge which they never could have known, nor did they ever know. Allah swt gave them a scale. They are running around with their small little jeweler’s intellect scales, trying to figure out what is true and what is real, what is false and what is untrue. Can you imagine? That scale of intellect is big enough, but it is like a small jeweler’s scale relative to Allah’s swt knowledge. So if:

1 = your ability to know
∞ = Allah’s swt knowledge
1/∞ = 0

That 1 is something, because that 1 little, pure, innate intellect was enough:

أَفَلَا يَعۡقِلُونَ
Then, do they not use their reason? [36:68]

…it was enough to understand the existence of Allah swt. If this inherent little small jeweler’s scale that Allah swt gave us is enough to understand and realize the existence of Allah swt, then can you imagine the transformative effect of the human being when he moves beyond the small scale of intellect and gets into the ocean of Qur’an and Sunnah? Imagine what type of ma’arafat (deep understanding) of Allah swt will he have. When he understands Allah swt, as Allah swt has revealed Himself to be:

وَلِلَّهِ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءُ ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰ فَٱدۡعُوهُ بِہَا‌ۖ
For Allah there are the most beautiful names. So, call Him by them [7:180]

When he understands Allah swt the way He wishes Himself to be known:

وَهُوَ مَعَكُمۡ أَيۡنَ مَا كُنتُمۡ‌ۚ
He is with you wherever you are [57:4]

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ
I am near [2:186]

What will happen to that person then? This transcends intellect. This is something else when Allah swt grants a person sharah sadr (lit.: opening up of the chest; enlightenment). Allah swt says to Blessed Prophet (sws):

أَلَمۡ نَشۡرَحۡ لَكَ صَدۡرَكَ
Have We not caused your bosom to be wide open for you? [94:01]

It’s your sadr, these understandings come in your chest, your qalb, your spiritual heart. The understanding of the sadr and qalb is way beyond any understanding that the aqal could have. And you want to leave the understanding of the sadr and qalb in deen and just be reading Dawkins and talking about Atheism, which is a matter of the aqal? I’m just trying to unlock you from this solitary confinement, small prison cell of the aqal. When you come out of that you will come into the unlimited expanse in the pastures of the true deen and the knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah, and in the pastures of your heart. You have to understand and keep all of these things in context.

This was a very small drop. In the end what I’m trying to do, I will tell you very openly, my personal view is that this drop is enough. I could sit down and give you a whole course on Atheism and Religion; existence of evil and this or the other, there are so many topics. For me, because I’m addressing you people, if I were talking to Atheists that would have been a very different engagement, but for the person who has Iman in their heart, this drop is enough to know that our deen has an academic and intellectual tradition, and also for you to realize that an ocean lies in the knowledge of spiritual tradition of my deen. My deen has engaged my aqal, but the real engagement is the way my deen has engaged my qalb. Allah swt says about Qur’an:

إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَذِڪۡرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ ۥ قَلۡبٌ
Indeed, there is a lesson in all this for him who has a heart [50:37]

Indeed in this Qur’an there is admonishment and advice, but for who? For that person who has a heart. A person who has a heart will be guided by Qur’an. They will be transformed and uplifted by it. But had I put that topic up only five of you would have shown up. I put this topic up that Science, Rationality and the New Atheism, then you flock to it. This is the problem. If I put Heart, Spirituality and Qur’an — I get only 10% of the attendance.

I didn’t do this just to get you to come. I did it because clearly this is an issue that’s disturbing you so I want to talk to you about it. I don’t want you to think that Islam has nothing to say about these things. I want you to understand it from the vantage point and perspective of deen. This is a speck for us. It’s a tiny dot on the map. This is an incidental discussion. Why something that the deen views as an incidental discussion, people are making it into the be-all and end-all of their decision to stay on Iman, or leave their Iman? This is a big problem and possibly because you hadn’t had these type of sessions, Allah swt knows best. We don’t know. We are desperately trying to figure out how to help these people who are getting distanced from their Allah swt.

May Allah swt accept our sitting here, may He grant us the khayr in it, may He save us from any confusion and error, may He just accept our intention that our intention in any and every Islamic gathering, in every learning and discussion, is only and only to become closer to Him, only and only to become more pleasing to Him, may He let us live on this intention and die on this intention, may He raise us up with this intention, and may He honor this intention by granting us the abode in Dar as-Salam in Akhira where we actually get what we want, and that’s not objectivity, subjectivity or rationality, we get what we want and that is closeness to Allah swt, belovedness to Allah swt and nearness to Allah swt.

وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Committing to our Deen and Becoming Steadfast

[These are rough notes of talks delivered by Shaykh kamaluddin Ahmed in December, 2016]

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا
Those people who strive in our cause, We will surely guide them to our ways [29:69]

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا
He has succeeded who purifies it, And indeed he fails, who corrupts it [91:9-10]

Allah swt says that, ‘successful is that person who does their tazkiyah’, who purifies their heart, who disciplines their nafs – this is a process, and this is a lifestyle, and this is a way of life, an outlook of life – nothing else will cut it in this day and age.

Now, all of you, at some point of your life made that iradah, you had that desire and intention that you wanted to adopt this way of life, this path of life, that you wanted to really look deep into your heart and into every single thing you say and do, and you wanted to find out what is pleasing to Allah swt, and what is not pleasing to Allah swt; what would be of benefit to the nafs on the Day of Judgment, and what will be against the nafs on the Day of Judgment (mā lahā, wa mā ‘alayhā) – you wanted to understand, and you were willing to change your life accordingly.

When a person begins their journey on deen, often in the beginning it is just about learning, and many people may come from a background who weren’t raised on deen, or they didn’t understand deen on their own, or they didn’t have their own passion and discovery of deen, then sometimes, just that initial learning is enough to keep them going. So they hear a talk and they discover something, they learn something about Quran ul-Karim, they learn some hadith of Sayyidina Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم ,they learn something about the sirah, the blessed life, model and example of Nabi Karim صلى الله عليه وسلم ,and it impacts them, it motivates them, it inspires them, it enlightens them.

A lot of the beginning part of the journey is about the learning; the learning continues all throughout the journey, the learning must continue all the way up until the grave.

Now what happens is, when we make that initial iradah, and no doubt we had sidq, we were true in the iradah, we had ikhlas, we were sincere in that iradah- we were truly, sincerely only embarking on this journey to please Allah swt, but Allah swt tests us along the way. Every relationship is tested in this world. That is why you will find that when people have marital problems, they cannot simply fall back on this that well, when we initially married each other, we truly, sincerely wanted to be happily married. Yes, you did when you initially wanted to marry each other, but now you are going through a test, you are going through a phase, and your original intention may ultimately be your saving grace, but now you have to do something more, so just like that, when a person embarks on this path of tazkiyah, Allah swt will put different tests in their way.

After this initial flux of learning, a person has to implement that learning, and has to put it into practice. Otherwise, what happens is – and a lot of us have this problem -because in this day and age of surfing and information, it has almost become our nature to acquire a lot of learning which we don’t put into practice – for example, if any of the men or boys are fans of formula one race cars or sports cars or any other such thing, then you will get a lot of information about these cars, but illa masha’Allah (except those who Allah wishes for), you will never ever practically ever drive a Porsche or Ferrari in your life.

Similarly, there are a lot of other things that we learn about; so much learning that we don’t practice in the secular worldly sense, such that it becomes our nature, such that we become people who acquire information, without actually processing it and practicing it; and there is a big danger then, that we become the same way about our deen. So we might even get a book and read it, but we don’t practice it. We might even learn a hadith about Nabi Karīm صلى الله عليه وسلم ,but we don’t live it. We might understand something about Qur’an, but we don’t even have the desire to memorize the few verses and even recite them in our own salah. This is a big danger; this media, infotainment, information overload, surfing, internet, and news are all types of learning that is irrelevant and unpracticed, so make sure your learning of deen is totally different.

There are so many things that so many people know so much about – I would tease some of you at times that I’m amazed at so many things you know. You can give me answers with so much explanation. So make sure your learning of deen goes beyond just knowledge and inspiration, it goes into practice, it goes into ‘amal; otherwise, that learning may even – maybe not yet at your age and stage in life – to whatever extent we don’t practice it may actually count against us on the Day of Judgment. There comes a time when it counts for you, but then if you actually don’t practice it, live it, and abide by it, it might be neutral, but later will come a time where it will testify against you on the Day of Judgment.

Look, don’t you say that when it comes to the world, that ‘oh, he is such an educated person, so at least he shouldn’t have done such a thing.’ People say this regarding secular education – that he shouldn’t have done such and such since he’s educated in the secular sense. So when it comes to a person who has studied the religion, and understands some of this deen, then all the more, they should stay away from unrefined acts.

Let me tell you a strange thing. First, when someone had greed for the world, they would sweat to attain it; they would take on slavehood. Then a person came who had no greed, so he became a corporate professional, and he used to strive day and night, just like that person who had greed for this world. That is what happens to the men who are more talented – if you do your job well, they promote you, then they want more from you, and before you know it, you are chasing the world in exactly the same way, with so much time, effort, and sweat, that you become just like the one who had greed. This is the nature of the dunya; it makes you run after it. They become a corporate slave. I’m not inventing this term – try searching it, you will find many results.

I’m not saying this just about corporate professionals, look at anyone that works for the world. It’s not haram, but you see, the same thing happens with for example, business. The person who starts the business wasn’t greedy for the dunya, but once he is successful, he can’t resist the success. He could resist the world, but he cannot resist the accomplishment, the attainment. He then moves onto more products, buys another factory etc. It’s like that with many of us. We want to move up to be the head of departments, because we want more. We are good, so we want more. Same thing was supposed to happen in deen; we should think why am I not a high achiever in deen.

Sometimes, we don’t do a’mal for no reason whatsoever; literally, for no reason. We would never tell our boss that today I came late for no reason whatsoever. You will find people doing ‘amal for all types of crazy things, with steadfastness.

You have to do ‘amal for your deen, and a beautiful thing about this path is that it gave you that vision, that intention – to have iradah, to have a dream – that dream, that you dare to become a wali of Allah swt. But that makes a person work harder. So your learning has to move into practice.

Practice is a completely a different field. You can learn whilst you are relaxed, in your home, lying in your bed, surfing the net on a tablet, reading a book, reading a magazine, listening to bayans – there are so many ways you can learn. But to become a person of action, of ‘amal, then you will need some ragra (lit. meaning scrubbing; figuratively, pushed/shaken). You will need to attain some tarbiyah, and it is a completely different thing.

There are some pious muttaqi people who can walk this path themselves to become people of ‘amal, but these people are few and far in between. Otherwise, most of us need to be snapped, or even maybe slapped, figuratively – i.e. we need to be shaken and pushed like what we call boot camp. In the army, they use all this marketing to recruit a person, and a person comes in wanting to serve and die for the country, but first, they have to go through boot camp; they have to leave and forget all the slogans, ‘live to serve, serve to die and protect’ etc. They have to leave all this and go through boot camp. That is something a lot of us need desperately.

Ask yourself; although I will answer for each and every single one of you without exception. But ask yourself; have I ever been lazy, ever? Have I ever been lazy in my studies? Have I ever been lazy in my work? Have I ever been lazy in something my mum and dad asked me to do? If the answer is yes, yes, yes a thousand times over – it means you need ragra. You need something to put yourself in some kind of mode to make you sahib-e-‘amal (person of ‘amal) in your deen.

This mode is in the nature of a believer; it’s a very delicate nature. It has its own attitude – one small sin, or some heedlessness and it can be removed from you – if Allah wants, we can totally go back to step one, and you would need to start all over again.

But no problem, to continue trying to strengthen this relationship and connection with Allah is called ‘ishq. ‘Ishq is not to establish the connection just once, but it is to establish the connection again and again. It is the same in marriage – the initial marriage vow is not enough, you have to constantly, continuously renew that bond. You have to keep stitching your heart to Allah swt, and it might snap, it might break, something might come loose, and you have to stitch it again. It’s very delicate. You have to get yourself into the mode and stay in the mode.

You have to be honest with yourself about this second thing. Ask yourself, that have I ever started something in deen, and after a little while, I slipped, and stopped? If the answer is yes, yes, yes a thousand times over – then understand, this is what has happened. That mode is very delicate. It’s like a small little candle flame, that if you light it, you have to be very careful. The slightest breath, slightest draft, open window, open door can extinguish it. How many times are you going to relight it?

Your life is like the wax – you only have so much time left on this Earth. You have to protect it. The student who knows this about himself, that I am lazy and I have short-attention span, which almost everybody has today because of internet, with the phone vibrating and ringing all the time. There are very few students, who if I asked that when was the last time for three hours solid (and three hours is nothing in the world of education), three hours non-stop without interruption, without distraction, did you study really hard, we would say figuratively ‘hit the books’ – the answer probably would be that they had only done this when there were three hours left for the board exam; it would be for that exam where you were meant to study all semester, and the exam was at 9am, so you woke up at 6am and studied like this.

That is a mode! I’m asking here as a norm, when there is no exam, no deadline, but just for the sake of learning. Whatever you did to get yourself in that mode for the sake of an exam; it was supposed to be done normally. You must’ve realized that I am lazy, I cannot have any distractions, I have a short-attention span, so you turned your phone off, and you went into the library. A studious person probably said to you, what are you doing here, brother; since when did you come here? You would say, it is your final, and it is my final too, so I have also come here. Our situation would be such that we would have to roam around, quietly, at least once to figure out where the library is, and where the seating area is – this is our state, we don’t even know, whereas the studious person would know the best place in the library to sit, the quietest place, the places which are best to study.

We had to do something to get ourselves into this mode. What did you do to put yourself in that mode? It’s the same thing you have to have to do for deen. You have to sacrifice, put some limits, you have to contain other things to create a space for yourself to become sahib-e ‘amal – to become a person of ‘amal. If we know a person is definitely a person of ‘ilm (sāhib-e ‘ilm), and they have knowledge of tafsir, hadith etc, then we respect and value them. Higher in degree to them are those who are people of ‘amal.

This is a strange Arabic word, sahib. Sahib-e‘amal, in Arabic, would have meant, that person who has done so much ‘amal, that him and righteous virtuous practices are companions to one another. ‘Amal is a part of him now, it is attached to him, and he is attached to ‘amal. That is called tarbiyah and tazkiyah – it is a process in which a person becomes sahib-e ‘amal.

Yes, a person can come for these occasional talks and join a bi-weekly class on Qur’an or Arabic, but the real name of the game, the real purpose of deen, sirat ul-mustaqim is to become a sahib-e ‘amal. There are many type of a’mal, and definitely ibadah is a major part, and good akhlaq is a major part, and the way you practically interact and interrelate with other people is a big part of a’māl. Broadly speaking, these are the three big things – ‘ibadat (worship), akhlaq and sifat (your character and qualities) and your mu’amalat (dealings with others).

Deficiency in ‘amal cannot be made up by anything else. Deficiency in ‘ilm can be made up when you stay in the shadow of someone else who has ‘ilm e.g. if you don’t know whether something is halal or haram, you can go ask a scholar – you can take advantage of his knowledge and be guided by him. However, when you don’t have ‘amal, you can’t rely on someone who has that ‘amal – you have to do it yourself. This is the critical importance of ‘amal, that a person has to do it himself.

Sayyidina Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم told Hadrat Fatimah that she needs her own ‘amal. You need to have ‘amal. It’s easy to add books in your library, but it’s not easy to add a’mal to your book of Deeds. If you want to take it to the next level, from occasional ‘amal to making it the mizaj, mode, mindset and framework, then you need to make an effort and have worry for it. It is a worry you need to have. You need to light a flame for it in your heart. You have to keep feeding and giving fuel to the fire, otherwise it will go cold. I told you before that it is very delicate; the fire is easily extinguished by sin and ghaflah – and then, you will need to relight it. You will need to restart all the effort. It is a constant effort. This is what tarbiyah and tazkiyah is; tawbah, taqwa, tawbah, taqwa – intention for taqwa, effort for taqwa, and then intention for tawbah, effort for tawbah. Tawbah also requires effort. Don’ think it doesn’t.

You need to make a lot of effort for tawbat un-nasuh, for sincere repentance – it is very easy for Allah swt to forgive us, but for us to make a sincere real tawbah, it can be difficult. We have to try hard; we have to try several times. You have to enter the mode, and until you enter the mode, you’ll just be like fluff in the air, and at any time shaytan and nafs can just snatch you away – at anytime – and it does happen; you will have experienced this yourself.

Just like that, you commit sin; just like that, your salah got qada – just like that, for no real reason at all. It’s not that there is any major reason or a major crisis or incident that happened. It will be just like that. It won’t be because you were super lonely, or super depressed, super in love, super wanting to get married and parents were super against it – it won’t be like that. It will happen just like that – just like that you unlawfully gazed at someone; just like that, you ended up missing your prayer; just like that, you ended up telling a lie – it won’t be because you were in a big dilemma, it will just be random. Random occasional arbitrary lies, unlawful gazes, qadas, all just like that, just for no reason.

The simple reason is because we weren’t in the mode – when you have the fikr, it doesn’t happen. When you are in the zone, it doesn’t happen. When a student is in the mode, he will never skip class or come late. Yes, when he’s not in the mode, then he forgets to attend. There is no way he will come even late when he’s in the mode; in fact, he’ll come early. He will come to class early having done the reading, but when he’s not in the mode, forget the reading and forget the attending.

A person needs to put himself or herself in the mode – that is what your intention really has to be. It is not enough to show up some times, listen to some talks and bayans – it might be enough to do right now, but it’s not enough to want. Your aspirations, your hopes, your desires, your intention, your iradah, your wish and your plan of action needs to go all the way in deen- it is not enough to just have a wish, you need a proper plan of action. Then, there will be a difference.

The kid who takes a freshman Physics class, a first-year Physics class with the intention and wish that he wants to become a physicist, his mode of learning will be different from that person who is just trialing the class. The former student had a high goal and aspiration, whereas the latter didn’t – his intention was just for that one class. Your iradah in deen is that you have to want to go all the way. Everything and anything in deen, you have to want it – all of it. You have faraidh, nawafil ibadah, akhlaq, sifat – you should want all of it.

We have to have the desire that we want to go all the way, and that we want all of it, that we want to do ‘amal on every single verse of Qur’an, and every single sunnah. I’m not saying you’ll be able to, practically speaking, do that right now, but we have to want it! That freshman isn’t a scientist in the first lesson, but he has that want and intention from that first class. It won’t happen in one class, but it’s a vision of his. We have to have this vision, like that Nobel prize – you want to be a wali of Allah, a friend of Allah.

From all of creation, insan has the highest rank; from amongst them, the Prophets (a.s.), but prophethood has ended. After the Prophets, the greatest of ranks belong to the sahabah karam (r.a.), and after that, the highest rank is the awliya. Awliya means that friend of Allah who leaves sins, and puts themselves in the path of deen, and makes deen their purpose. They are those who colour themselves in the colour of deen; they annihilate themselves in deen, fana fid-deen, fana fillah.

Make this the intention of your life, and as long as you have this intention, even if your ‘amal is slow, partial and gradual, but as long as you have that want and desire, then it will be accepted, and that small practice will change you. But the ‘amal we do with a half-baked partial intention, then it won’t change you; imagine you are doing the ‘amal, but you aren’t taking much from it. It’s all about the intention. This is one of the meanings Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم meant when he said that, ‘Innamal a’malu bin-niyyat’, that actions are according to intentions – that the quality and impact and effect of your ‘amal will be based on how much your intention is, and how far you want to go with this ‘amal.

Why are you praying Fajr? Just to be present? Just so you’ve performed the obligatory? So you become the obedient slave of Allah? For the pleasure of Allah? The niyyah you have is important. How far you want to go will colour every ‘amal that you do. If a person who goes to work and joins the job, with the intention that he wants to become a partner (in that business), he will have a different mode compared to that person who’s going to help around. Totally different attitudes; their ‘amal will be the same, but the effect will be different. The person will change, or not change, depending on how much irādah they bring to that ‘amal.

It is very important to become people of iradah – vision and mission are just baby words to capture iradah. Iradah is a firm resolve and determination. Pray salah with iradah, and see how much it changes you. If you just pray out of obligation, or habit, see how small of an impact it has. So also, one of the big aspects of tarbiyah and tazkiyah is to have this iradah, to constantly have this.

The world, and everything in it is trying to make itself your murad (goal) that all your iradah should be about working, earning, living – your iradah should be about the next model of car, the next model phone, your next watch, next stage in your worldly life. And when you have that as your iradah, you will see the person will pursue that with a passion, and will pursue that with an effort and a drive.

You will be amazed at the drive some people have. I’m not saying it is haram, but in terms of raw human emotion, the amount of drive they have to earn the world is amazing. The amount of effort, desire, drive some people have, and the amount of sacrifice some people make to attain the world, if we have same intentions for our deen, not even more, but just equal amount, imagine how religious and deeni we would become.

People say we should have a balance. Fine, bring a balance. Pursue your deen as passionately as you pursue your world, see what happens. Then what happens is, it doesn’t matter in reality, in terms of time, that you are full time dunya, and part time deen, you are a full-time student, you are a full-time professional, you are a full-time worker – so if you are full time in dunya and part-time in deen, but your mizaj is that you are full-time in deen, then this is enough. This is a secret – you don’t need to leave the world, but you need to have an intention for full-time deen. In terms of time, it might be the other way around – few hours on deen, and majority in dunya – no problem. You have to make yourself like this; it takes effort.

Otherwise, as I told you, the world is there to suck you in, to drag you in. Even news and sports; and I’m going to talk about news and sports, so imagine what I have to say about music and movies. Even news and sports are distractions trying to suck you in. There is no single athlete in the world alive who is worth even one drop of your emotion; there is no single team, no single tournament, no single sport that is worth your heart, that you become a fan. You know, fan is an abbreviation for fanatic. Sports fan means sports fanatic.

If you are going to do something for the Syrians, then read the news, but if you aren’t going to do anything, and night and day, you listen to and read the news, then there is no benefit. You won’t tell them on the Day of Judgment that everyday I spent an hour reading about you. They’ll just look at you. But that is our situation; I cannot tell you how insipid we have become when it comes to the state of the ummah. Leaving Syria on one side, lets take Burma. What’s Burma? What is the Burmese military capability compared to the Muslim ummah? Burma is nothing – you are talking about one of the most backward countries in the world, but even they are taking the blood of the Muslims. That is a sign of how low we’ve gone. What can we do? These are strange states – it’s not going to get much lower than that. Following the news, being aware of the news etcetera, is also there to suck you in.

We have to become a person of ‘amal. If we have the foundational ‘a’mal (ibadat, akhlaq, muamalat), then Allah will accept us for many a’mal – khidmat of the ummah, to face oppression etc. Allah doesn’t accept this from normal slaves, and whosoever tries to fight oppression without having the foundational a’mal, they will end up making mistakes, or becoming extreme. Allah swt will allow the sahibe ‘amal to fight the oppression.

Our own deen is being orphaned because of us, because we, being ahl-e-deen, are not able to serve the deen, serve the ummah, serve the people of deen, because we have lost the deen in our own hearts. How are we going to serve the deen? Khidmat of deen, da’wah of deen, khidmah of the oppressed, facing the oppressors – it won’t happen through us, illa mashaAllah.

You have to figure out a way to get yourselves into the mode, and the mizaj and iradah of ‘amal. Whatever you can do to bring yourself into that mode, you have to do it. If you don’t know how to bring yourself into that mode, you have to look for it; you have to seek guidance for it. Whatever brings you to that mode, you have to keep doing it more. What seems to keep you away from that mode, you have to keep staying away from that.

So the first step is awareness: You have to analyse in yourself what keeps you in the mode (keeps your heart warm), and what cools down the fire in terms of your deen. People have such awareness in terms of their stomach – but they don’t have this same awareness for their soul. They know what food is bad for their stomach, and what is hot for them (in taseer). Once, there was a Pakistani, and I got him a cold banana milkshake, and he said it’s warm and I said no, it’s cold. I didn’t realize what he was trying to say. He said it’s ‘garam (hot)’ and I was telling him it isn’t, and that he should touch it. He said it has milk in it, so it’s garam. I said it has ice cream! This was a long time ago, and he had such awareness.

There is no hope if we don’t learn these things about ourselves, if we don’t become aware and learn what is it that inspires and motivates our own heart. You are the driver of your own car. Alim and Shaykh can stand outside the car and give you directions, but you are the pilot of your own life. And you don’t even have the interest to know what it is that can guide you further and stronger in your deen? You need to have a worry and concern for yourself.

So now I want to explain to you what exactly I want you to do. [The first goal is different for the men and different for the women; goals two to five are the same]

For the men:

1a) To have a connection with worship in the Masjid

Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم did say to the sahābah that they should pray their sunnahs etc at home, but their houses were very simple. They had an environment of worship. For most of us, it is not like that. For most of us, the situation is that if we don’t pray our sunnahs in the Masjid, then we will end up getting involved in something else when we get home, and we will not pray properly. It is not hypocrisy, it is a natural thing for e.g. if you say that if I stay in the Masjid, and I pray the two sunnah after Zuhr there, I can pray in a calmer manner, and if I go home and pray, then I will pray more fast, so am I a hypocrite? No, actually, this isn’t your nifaq – it is the natural effect of the Masjid on your heart.

If your heart isn’t that strong to beat fast on its own, when it is hooked up to the machine, it starts beating fast. Hence, your spiritual heart, when it is hooked up in the Masjid, then generally (and not for show), you generally will pray in a tranquil manner. When you leave the Masjid, and go to your office or home, then that tranquility may not be felt, hence you pray fast. It wasn’t for show, it was your ruh, your iman. Yes, if you say when I pray at home, I can pray in a calm and peaceful manner, then yes, you should definitely pray your sunnahs at home. But for most of us, that isn’t the case illa ma’shaAllah. So the first point was to increase your connection to the Masjid, and to increase your worship in the Masjid.

Pray salah in congregation, in the Masjid; the day you pray all 5 salahs in the Masjid, then know it was a very big thing for you right now. Let me give you an example; imagine if you prayed all night Tahajjud, what would be the effect? You would think it would definitely have an effect. For you right now, praying 5 times salah in congregation, in the Masjid, is even more powerful than praying all night Tahajjud. Understand this – this is also within your reach. That’s the beautiful part. Praying Tahajjud all night isn’t in your reach, because you can’t remain awake all night. But for you right now, in Pakistan, to pray all your salahs in congregation is pretty much in your reach – you have to do ‘amal on that.

You need to sit sometimes in the Masjid. The three best times to stay in the Masjid is between:

  • Fajr till Ishraq
  • ‘Asr till Maghrib
  • Some time after Maghrib (maybe not all the way to ‘Isha.)

Try and do it maybe once a week, maybe Saturday or Sunday. That day you don’t have to go to work, or you don’t have to go to class, then there is no reason why you cannot sit in the Masjid till Ishraq salah. These are the a’mal that will put you in that mode. We wrongly think that these a’mal will only give us the nafl virtue that is mentioned in hadith, but we will also get this mizaj that I am a seeker of Allah, and a seeker of ‘ibadah, so to speak.

Just like, if you start spending more time in library, more time with your books, then you will start developing an identity of being a proper student of knowledge. When you spend more time in the Masjid, more ‘ibadah in the Masjid, more connection with the Masjid, then you will actually start feeling that you are a seeker on the path to Allah swt. It won’t happen just by the customary feeling of being a student etc. When you actually start doing it, then you will feel like a seeker.

All these acts are for those who are seeking Allah – to sit until ‘Isha, to pray awwabin at times, to spend time in the Masjid between ‘Asr and Maghrib at times – when you start doing these actions, then you will definitely feel that I am a person seeking my Rabb. So when you get a chance – and those of you are who students, and you have a final exam, may Allah swt help you with that, but then you will get your semester break.

Much more than the du’as we make for your worldly success and your finals week, is the du’a we make for your success pertaining to the hereafter in your semester break. The worldly success you attain from one semester, from 1/8th progression towards your undergraduate degree, the success you can attain in that one finals week, you can attain even more success pertaining to your hereafter in your two-week semester break, which you don’t even realise. We don’t even have a concern for it. For two weeks when you are totally free, then you have a chance of:

فَإِذَا فَرَغۡتَ فَٱنصَبۡ. وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَٱرۡغَب
So when you have finished [your duties], then stand up [for worship]. And to your Lord direct [your] longing [94:7-8]

You don’t think like this, you don’t have that mizaj and iradah; you aren’t looking for that opportunity, that is why you aren’t seeing the opportunity. It’s there, right in front of your eyes; any student who is going to go on semester break, the opportunity is right in front of you, but you are blinded to it, because you aren’t looking for it. There is a chance for ‘amal, an opportunity, a chance to seek ‘ilm, so you should connect with the Masjid, and the worship in the Masjid.

Worship in the Masjid via the five-time salah in congregation, and connection with the Masjid by extra sitting. This is your raghrah for now – to sit in the Masjid and pray Qur’an after Fajr. Sit in the Masjid, and view and treat it like the powerhouse that Allah made it. View and treat the Masjid like the power plant, and get yourself some jolts, and bolts and volts from the Masjid. Plug yourself into that Masjid. Keep doing this regularly, or at the very least, periodically.

You also have to make a plan of action for yourself, for example, every Saturday, from Fajr till Ishraq I will sit in the Masjid, and Sunday, after ‘Isha, I will sit in the Masjid. I’m just giving an example, but each and every single one of you must sit down and make a plan for yourself. You have to stick to it no matter what; make a firm intention. Like some people play golf on Sundays, no matter what. Their grandma comes from Karachi Saturday night, but they can’t leave the golf on the Sunday – no way. They will say, ‘O’ Grandma, this is my time for golf, so I will go and return in two hours’ I guarantee you – go on a Sunday, and you will see what I’m talking about.They play golf on Sundays no matter what. That is what you call iradah; that is what you call being your mizaj. That is called ta’aluq.That’s called being in the mode. We need to become like this with ibadah.

So then, what are you going to do in the Masjid whilst you are there? [See point two]

For the women:

1b) You have to really work on your ‘ibadah

I want to start off with your salah, but in a particular way now. You should try to pray earlier, and you should try to pray longer, and you should use brute force and willpower to do this. Allah swt told us in Qur’ān;

وَٱسۡتَعِينُواْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ‌ۚ
Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer [2:45]

…that whenever you have any difficulty, any setback, any fitna, any worry, any uneasiness, any tension, any struggle, any trouble, any test, then firstly, seek help from Allah swt. First and foremost, acknowledge your weakness, that you are in a state of helplessness, and you must seek help from Allah swt. It is not going to come first from your own effort, it’s going to come from Allah swt.

And again, sometimes, Allah swt puts us through such processes because maybe we became too self-reliant, maybe we became too self-confident, so you have to seek help from Allah swt. That is through crying, through supplication, through praying – we have to turn to Allah swt with sabr. Sabr meant that whatever good you were doing, you shouldn’t stop doing it. Sabr meant you keep your rada’, being pleased with Allah swt. Sabr meant you had radā’ bil-qadā’, that whatever Allāh swt makes happen, you must submit to it, you must be pleased with it, you must be happy with it – and that you keep your deen, mustaqim, that you have steadfastness on deen.

So what does it mean to seek help with salah; this person is a believer, they are already praying salah. It meant more salah, deeper salah, more intense salah. The deeper you go into your salah, the more you will feel connected to Allah swt; and that deeper connection with Allah swt inside salah, on the musalla will help you with whatever in the world is going in your life, outside the musalla. So that is the first thing you have to do if you haven’t done so already.

We even taught you, 6/7/8/9 months ago that start with salat ut-tawbah etc, then move on to salat ul-hajat, then move to salat ul-istikhara, then pray two rakah, not for any need, or for tawbah, not to seek goodness or guidance for any decision, but simply just for the sake of ‘ibadah, to show my servitude, just for shukr, just for love, just due to talab – a general two rakah salāh!

And I told you to pray earlier, especially ‘Isha salah – that hadith is especially for women because men are supposed to pray salah in congregation at the Masjid, so that hadīth where Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم said that to delay ‘Isha after half the night has passed (which can be even earlier than midnight actually) is makruh, is for women. You have to pray it earlier; you have to want to pray it. You have to make longer ruku’, longer sujud. You have to dig and find the tranquility (sukun) in your salah. I used to tell you to dig for the remembrance of Allah in your dhikr; you have to dig for that remembrance in salah.

Allah swt has told me in Qur’ān that I can seek His help and guidance in the salah; I can keep going deeper in salah. Maybe we will have to make salat ut-tasbih, or wake up for salat ut-Tahajjud, add ishraq, awwabin – you have to increase the quality of your ‘ibadah, and the length, and linger in your ‘ibadah. And you have to do it properly, with a proper plan of action. Keep a journal, and that journal is between you and Allah swt. Keep track. Make it a project; keep working on it. You have to work on your salah and ‘ibadah.

2) Make a nafl ‘ibadah regimen that you pick and select for yourself.

You need to know what you are going to do; you need to do this with a proper mission, proper sahib e iradah! We have taught these sorts of schedules many times – tilawah, salawat, istighfar, silent dhikr of the heart, du’a, nawafil salah – you must learn and chart out for yourself a regimen. View it as your tarbiyah. When someone is working out, they know exactly when they are going to go, and what they will do. It is not enough just to say I’m going to hit the gym, thrice a week, for an hour – he’s going to say I’m going to hit the gym and I’m going to do these these these sets, and these these these weights etc. He will take a full plan – that’s what you call iradah.

So you need to make a schedule for your dhikr, and this is where the guidance of the masha’ikh come in. Whether you want to follow the path of dhikr that you were already taught, or you want to follow the path that Shaykh ‘Ashraf Ali Thanwi gave as open permission, or even for masha’ikh to teach for that matter. We taught that to you in Ramadan, from Qasd us-Sabil – you must make a plan of dhikr, tilawah, some tasbihat, istighfar, salawat, masnun du’as dhikr e qalbi etcetera. You have to work on it, and stick to it.

Mashayikh are just like your personal fitness coach where they can help with the regimen and schedule, but we have to do the work. The benefit is in doing, not learning. A lot of us have this in this day and age, where we plan, but we have procrastination, dreaming, planning, and not doing, so they will download all sorts of diets, but they wont do it; they will download all sorts of exercises, but they won’t don’t it. It’s like a plague and syndrome that has affected people – you have to get out of this when it comes to the deen. You just have to do it.

So when you have a nafl regimen, you need to stick to it, and follow it – and it will make you happy when you do it. You will feel an accomplishment when you become a doer. When a studious person finishes the first three chapters, they get happy. When you get the first small success under your belt, you are willing to do more. Then, you are inspired and motivated, not by something, but by your own ‘amal. Your own practise will help you, inspire you and motivate you to take it to the next level. We need to start by doing it. Pick something small, pick something short, pick something easy – do it once a week, but take some plan and execute it. When you execute it, and implement it completely, you will feel become stronger, your iradah will become stronger, and you will dare to dream more, you will aspire and want more for the next level.

You have all the inspiration, motivation, teaching, and instruction from before – and it is very important. For those of you who were practicing wuquf e qalbi, you can’t always remember Allah swt in your heart; that is a higher level, and a lot of people aren’t able to attain that. So you should still aspire for that, but if you cant remember Allah swt in your heart, then you can remember him on your tongue. There are a few basic ways for that:

  • Tasbih: subhānAllāh/subhānAllāhi wa bi hamdih/subhānAllāhi wa bihamdihi, subhānAllāh-il-‘Azīm
  • To recite Salawāt
  • To recite lā ilāha il-la-llāh

So you need to make a regimen of dhikr, that you adhere to, follow and track yourself and work on – and its between you and Allah swt. And its important you do ‘amal, because until you do ‘amal, you will not appreciate what this path is about; you have to get the pleasure of Allāh swt. ‘Amal has this lutf (pleasure). By completing ‘amal, you will attain this pleasure and passion to supplicate to Allah swt, because the secret is that when a person does ‘amal, at that time Allāh swt accepts his supplications. You will feel it; you will feel like making du’a because you will feel that this is a moment my supplication will be accepted. You will feel the acceptance of that moment when you complete and finish an ‘amal.

It is just like when you fast in Ramadān, you may have heard the hadith that supplications are answered at iftar time, but even your heart would tell you at the time, you will even feel at that time that this is a time for the acceptance of du’as. In the same way, today (Jum’uah) the final moments before this day ends, then this is a time of acceptance of supplications according to one narration, but you can even feel this.

3) There should be some learning of deen

It might even be that you just take one book, and read a chapter a week. I’m starting with you very slow. It could be just once concept, one topic, one subject you want to understand. Some thing, some topic, some surah – you can link these things for e.g. one of the things you might have in your regimen is to recite Surah al-Kahf every Friday, so what you can do is to aim to understand the tafsir of Surah al-Kahf. Make some project, some ‘ilmi syllabus; again, execute it and learn it. Set some small discreet tasks that you can actually do, and you will feel like you’re learning, that you are a learner. Take a chapter. And obviously, a person can do much more. Many of you come twice a week here according to our schedule that we’ve made, but you need to make something for yourself. There has to be some progression in your understanding and knowledge of deen


What kind of muhaddith was he – compiling ahādīth that will melt your heart! Such a great compilation, but not many read it. Yes, if you had irādah, and you wanted your heart to be melted, you would have reached it by now. You’re not looking for the opportunities, hence why you don’t see them. It’s right there. All the opportunities to learn your deen, and become closer to Allāh swt are all right there. You won’t see it, unless you look for it. You won’t look for it, unless you want it – iradah Even if you’ve got graduated from the 4 year course, and even those in a 6 year course, you have to constantly and continually retain a relationship with your ‘ilm. It can be formal ‘ilm; those of you who have already graduated, then take the classes online which weren’t in your nisāb. Those of you, who have yet to start your learning, then read a book. Set some small target for e.g. I want to study the Makkan period of the life of my Nabī صلى الله عليه وسلم ;I want to learn the tafsir of Surah Ya-Sin;. Anything. I want to study the beautiful names of Allah; I want to study a text of Imam al-Ghazali. You should set some syllabus of ‘ilm. There should be some systematic effort to study more, not the random page hopping, and website surfing – no, no, no; you need to have a proper plan of action. You have to keep learning, keep learning, keep learning.

4) Purification of the heart

It has two aspects so we will split it into two parts:

First aspect is to purge and cleanse yourself from some negative attribute, negative feeling:

Observe and analyse yourself – do I have lust, anger, jealousy, pride, laziness, ghaflah – is there any negative attribute inside me; anything! Do I have isrāf (extravagance)? Do I oversleep? Do I overeat? Do I over talk? Start with one. Don’t try to take them all on. It won’t work like that. Start with one negative attribute, and try to reduce/eliminate that negative attribute/feeling from your heart. If you need training, then you need to seek that training, you have to find it. We will find everything in deen. This is the ultimate area of deen – how to make a person a better person. It’s a topic of deen, not a topic of science. One thing you will never learn in SS is how to better a human being. I’m not even saying better Muslim, I’m saying better human!

Science has nothing to do with that. This is the ultimate topic of deen. You have to strive for this, proper with iradah. When you pick that thing, it has to be your huge iradah to get rid of it. It is not enough just to know the negative attributes, and to think I need to get rid of it. Your intention should be that you will make sincere effort to get rid of that attribute/feeling. Once you’ve recognized what you need to get rid of, you should not stop putting effort until you’ve got rid of it. Constant, sustained effort to rid of your heart of whatever that negative attribute is. There will be a lot, but you start with one – and maybe you won’t even succeed in getting rid of it entirely, but even if you just reduce it, you will become happy that Allah is definitely helping me. The help and guidance of Allah is with me.

Don’t just confine it to the big five i.e. lust, anger, greed, envy and arrogance. Think deeper. What is another negative attribute? Laziness. What is another negative attribute? To think bad of others. What is another negative attribute? Oversleeping, over eating, wasting time and over talking. Laghw (futile things) – negative attribute. Don’t just think over the five all the time; there are also other poisonous illnesses. Maybe for some of you, you aren’t even suffering with the big five, your problem are these other things I have mentioned to you – they are your new big five. Laziness, apathy, disinterest, thinking bad and having doubts about others, extravagance, wastefulness, lack of shukr – you should work on this and get rid of it.

5) Adorn yourself with a good attribute

You can observe, study, listen to talks on the great character our Nabī صلى الله عليه وسلم and check how many things are missing. Start with one again. As soon as you pick one, then stick to it. It will not come naturally in you – you need to put effort and stick to it. None of these qualities will come into you; you need to acquire and develop good character. You have to work hard to improve your character. Purification of the heart is a very important aspect of our deen.

I would rather you focus on the positive attributes first, that are opposite to the negative ones mentioned. You have to be tough with yourself – it’s not enough for me to be tough with you. You have to be harsh and tough with yourself – you have to be more sensitive to any laziness, any apathy, any sloth, any disinterest, any heartache– you have to pick yourself up, and make yourself strong again.

You have already received, and have access on the website of so many teachings to tackle these things head on. It is all about the intention. Tazkiyah is a mizaj; if laziness has become your nature, you need to change your mizaj to yearning and desiring for Allah. I’m not here referring to all of you, but many of us need to get back in that mindset, in that mode, in that passion. You have to tackle the negative attributes


Whatever teachings, suhbah, tarbiyah you need for these things mentioned above, you need to search for them and cling to them. You need to acquire the tools to go about your reformation project. You will need some suhbah, ta’lim and tarbiyah! Later on, comes da’wah (propagation) and khidmah (service). Yes, sometimes it is possible that a person can use da’wah and khidmah itself to do this, but the reason I haven’t mentioned it today is because some people are then deceived by it, meaning, they get involved in da’wah and khidmah and will leave the rest. This is a misunderstanding.

But no doubt, some people will start with da’wah and khidmah, but they will also have to come to what was mentioned. There is no escape from this. Maybe for some of you da’wah and khidmah will guide you to these five things. So these are five projects/ tasks and five tools/methods. So five goals, and five helpers. (A person who doesn’t do the five things, then da’wah and khidmah is a helper; it is not the ‘asal, but for a person who does do the five, then da’wah and khidmah is the next level). If you ask me, this nasihah/project is enough to last you a year.

The main thing is your own connection with Allah swt, and certainly, Allah swt will take away the helpers, or will lessen our ability to benefit from the helpers to see how much we are really able to stand on our own; how much we individually want Allah swt, because ultimately this path of iradah and tazkiyah, this path of dhikr and remembrance of Allah swt is based on a person’s own talab; your own individual talab; your own individual yearning, longing for Allah swt. This is the ‘asal.

Yes, to have this yearning, to increase in this longing and desire, you may need suhbah, a certain environment, teachings, majalis, tarbiyah. Sometimes, you get involved in some khidmah, some da’wah, some university bayans, teaching some ‘ilm, some lesson on Qur’an, but all these things are not the main purpose. The purpose of them was to increase your own talab and yearning. Make effort on this; I thought it was more important to give you a practical talk. Now really think about your practice. ‘Amal is the beautiful part of your deen. I tell you, that as much enjoyment there is to studying ‘ilm, and then the enjoyment in understanding, after which comes the enjoyment in going deeper into the ‘ilm – more than all of this, is the enjoyment in ‘amal! We are just not aware of the pleasure and enjoyment in this. As much enjoyment you get when listening to a great bayan, there is a greater enjoyment in doing great a’māl, by many folds. But we aren’t aware of that pleasure.

Take all of this as your intention, and become a seeker; a seeker, searcher, that is the real meaning to the word murid – it means a person who has an iradah – that’s it. It doesn’t refer to some cult or identity; it is just a person who has a lot of iradah and talab (yearning). Talab, Iradah; Talab, Iradah; Talab, Iradah – that is it! Sometimes – not due to your own ‘amal, but by the grace of Allah – and I tell you this with certainty (but it doesn’t happen all the time, nor does it happen to everyone, but it does happen), that if a person with a lot of sidq and sincerity has this talab and iradah, Allah makes him his murad without his ‘amal. Allah swt can do that also – if he sees that you really want Him that badly, and sometimes, I’ve seen that it happens with people who are too weak to follow up on their iradah, and Allah sees this, that he has so much yearning, but doesn’t have the strength to execute it or follow through on his good intentions, then Allah swt gives it to him.

ذَٲلِكَ فَضۡلُ ٱللَّهِ يُؤۡتِيهِ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۚ
That is the grace of Allāh, which He will bestow on whom He wishes [62:4]

This is the ‘asal bounty and grace – that Allah makes us people of ‘ibadah, of dhikr, of good character and qualities, of those who have understanding of deen etc. This is the fadhl of Allah, without ‘amal. The second reality is that, even if people are hardworking and disciplined, and they execute the plan they have made, and work accordingly to their iradah, even then, it isn’t their a’mal that gives them success, it is still the fadhl of Allah. Even that is through the fadhl of Allah.

وَٱللَّهُ ذُو ٱلۡفَضۡلِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ
And Allah is the possessor of great bounty [3:74]

His grace and generosity, His ‘inayah (gift), His wahb (bestowal), and hidayah (guidance) is tremendous and great. Our job is to have a great iradah; to make a great project, a great transformation and change in our life that we want to become closer to Allah swt, and please Allah swt. We should make this iradah again and again; we should refresh our goal again and again; we should make effort again and again. We need to chase after this, stick to it, continue sticking to it. This is called tarbiyah and tazkiyah. Besides this, there is nothing, which is tarbiyah or tazkiyah.

May Allah swt accept this intention from us, accept this iradah from us; may He make us firm, strong and steadfast on our deen; may He open our hearts, our minds and our understanding to these vasts horizons of our deen. When the field opens up to us, as to how much we can please Allah, and how much we can desire Allah, as to how much we can obey Allah, and worship Him, and how much we can be present in our worship, as to what extent we can improve our character on the model of Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم ,as to how much we can improve our dealings with people, then we will become surprised to that extent, that there is so much we can do, and so much to do, and how much I don’t have in my life yet.

So it is better to have this regret now, before we have regret on the Day of Judgment. To protect ourselves from the regret, shame and embarrassment on that Day, we need to realize now. May Allah swt accept us all for this path, and make us people of effort. We should have a want, resolution, desire, yearning; I am doing this for my tazkiyah; I am doing it to attain closeness to Allah swt, to attain His pleasure. I want to develop a friendship with Him. Through my remembrance, through understanding Qur’an, through da’wah, through khidmah, my aim is only Allāh. My Rabb is my aim. When you do it like that that’s when you’ll get something.

وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُ
And if any one puts his trust in Allah, then sufficient is He for him (65:3)

You have to trust Allah swt. You have to have complete faith, confidence and reliance on Allah swt. Then you will regain and reclaim your spirit. And your passion because you know Allah swt is guiding you. He is the true murshid; He is the true Hadi. He is al-Muzakki all reality.

Wa lākinnAllāha yuzakkī may-yashā’
But it is Allāh who purifies whomsoever He wills [23:21]

That it is indeed Allah swt who will purify whomsoever that He wills, and he has expressed His will to purify you, each and every one of you many a time in the past. Why have you forgotten that? In a human relationship, we say the same thing – when we try to make someone understand, we remind that that what has happened to you? Don’t you remember when I did such and such thing for you? Have you forgotten how much I love you? How much have I done for you? So we make other people aware of this, so just imagine how Allah swt might address you. Have you forgotten how I allowed you to sit in front of sarf and Nahw, how we made you sit in front of Bukhari Sharif. Have you forgotten all of this?

We made you do that tawaf, we called you for ‘umrah, we gave tawfiq for you to do sa’i. So we do say that the calling is from Allah, so now is the time to feel it. Now is the time to feel it. This is something you’ve known for a long time. You can never become distant from Allah swt. That’s the golden rule in tazkiyah. That’s the golden rule of deen. Never fall back. Never turn back. Never fall back; never turn back. If you fall, then get right back up again. Turning back is completely another level. Allah uses this expression may-yatawalla- that person who turns back, who turns away, man a’rada – that person who turns back, who turns away – this is the way Allah swt talks. And fine, no doubt, in the Qur’an, it’s mostly talking about the disbelievers, but we don’t want to have any similarity with them, that we also turned away, and we also turned back – what’s the matter with us? Any ‘ilm, dhikr, dawah, khidmat, anything that Allah granted us tawfiq to do – we don’t want to turn away from it. We don’t want to turn back on anything. This would be a lack of gratitude.

It’s all about ‘amal. The only way out is ‘amal. And that’s something Allah swt teaches us also; He puts us in a ditch, in a trench, in a pit, and the only way out is through ‘amal.

وَأَن لَّيۡسَ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَىٰ
And man can have nothing, but what he strives for [53:39]

Allah doesn’t always so strictly hold us to this, in the sense that, many times, many of us can say about ourselves that we got things even without trying for it. This is due to Allah’s fadhl, or someone’s supplication, or someone’s gaze or suhbah. Them things we got for free; many things, we got like that, without any effort. But this ayah teaches us a lesson that there will come a time where we will not attain without striving. We can get many things without trying, but Allah swt is teaching us this lesson, that to attain, and to continue achieving, we need to do make effort on our dhikr, ‘ilm, akhlaq, adab. Like we say used to tell you in Ramadan; in Ramadan, Allah gives you a free taste. And then what happens in Shawwal, is that you have to work for it. Now, you have to work for it. Now you have to work for it. You have to get back to work and work for it. This should be a mizaj. This is what you should feel in your heart that Allah, whatever you have given me from Your fadhl without me doing anything, now I will make the effort and I have hope that you will grant me the tawfiq to do ‘amal. I’m ready; I’ll do it. Hard work, discipline, regimen, practice, drive, passion deliberate resolve, iradah – you will have to do it like this. And yes, sometimes Allah swt also puts a person into a position that nothing less will cut it. Nothing less will cut it. And you have to spend you know solid blocks – 1 to 2 hours – solid blocks in ‘ibadah. Solid’ilm. Solid. Not 5, 5 minutes, and then get distracted, and then do 5, 5 minutes – it needs to be solid. Solid, strong effort, then you will see that Allah swt will bestow His fadhl. Allah will grant his rahmah, maghfirah and hidayah. And isn’t this what we wanted, anyway? What did we really want? What was our iradah for? What was our niyyah? What did we want? We wanted to be strong believers. What did you want? Your niyyah should have been that we want to be salih dhakir. It’s not always that easy, but for now; you have to work for it. But that is what you wanted. That’s what you wanted.

Just like that person, who was the first-year student of the Physics class, they might get the inspirational professor in Physics one-on-one, but ultimately to become a scientist, sooner or later, they’re going to have to work for it – hard! They’re going to have to work for it really hard. It’s not going to just be about an inspirational lecture that maybe changed my major – that’s not going to take you all the way. That will get your foot in the door; that can get you started.

Makes your homes, make your homes places of ‘amal. Always make your home an environment of ‘amal. This is a very important matter for the women, a very important matter. You will see that some women make such a setting in their home, that it becomes a places of da’wah. I’m not talking about dawah of deen; I’m talking about invitation. They have a seating arrangement, such arrangement for food, such an arrangement in their lounge, so much so that people enjoy the function. We need to make our home an environment of ‘ilm, an environment of dhikr, an environment of deen. That’s your real mastery; number one test case will be you yourself. How much ‘ibadah do you do in your own room? How much are you able to remember Allah?

The effect needs to come into you first before the effect can be seen in others. If the effect isn’t in you, then how can one expect their husband and children to be affected? Who will cause the effect? Someone who wants to do something, they don’t look at the obstacles. That kid who wants to be a scientist, he may not have any money, or can’t buy any books, but if he really wants it, he works for it. He doesn’t look at it like that my in-laws are like this, and my parents are like that, and my brother is this, or my sister is that. These things mean nothing to a person, who is a person of iradah, who is a person of firm resolve. He doesn’t look at anything else.

We used to push people that no matter how weak you are at studying, keep studying, just keep studying. Don’t worry about it. Keep working; just keep trying. We need to be the in the same way with our tazkiyah and about our ‘ibadah. The love of Allah swt will enter our hearts, Depending on how much we pray, make du’a etc. We get one form of love for Allah swt when we listen to bayan, and there’s a love we attain when we pray Tahajjud, and when we make du’a, and when we pray Quran. You have got the first love many times; now you should chase the latter. Same thing with love for the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم .So yes, there is one that you get from bayan.

Then there is another one for those of you who are studying hadith – there’s another experience that you get from teaching hadith, and there’s another one that you get from living and practicing the hadith; living and practicing the Sunnah of Nabī صلى الله عليه وسلم ya’ni ‘amal. Through ‘amal you get ‘ishq; we thought that through ‘ishq we can get ‘amal, but by doing ‘amal, one can get ‘ishq. By doing ‘amal, ‘ishq increases. When ‘ishq increases, ‘amal will increase. The love won’t increase via more bayans; it will increase through more ‘amal.

We should be happy; we should say that Allah, You have confidence in me, that you are putting me in the second stage now. Ya Allah, I trust your confidence in me that I have now received enough ‘ishq and jazb, enough feelings and passion from all these years of listening to talks and majalis, that I am now ready for this field of ‘amal. I will enter this field, and stay in this field. This is how we should make our iradah. Make effort. Whatever I am telling you, by the will of Allah, you will also understand it through your experience. You will say yourself that the ‘ishq you get from ‘amal is different, and is also superior. It is different, and superior.

So now you have to work for it to get it. And this is something we need to do so much shukr for, that Allah swt, You have finally brought us to this. The Physics student, when he gets a PhD, he gets happy; he doesn’t miss first-year and think about when he was a freshman – he is happy when he reaches his goal! He thinks alhamdulillah, I have now got my PhD; now the door to real research has been opened. He will be happy.His goal has come even closer.

So just like that, when we realize we have got to the field of ‘amal, we should be happy. There is no despondency, no apathy, no sloth – you must be happy, firm and steadfast.

So these were the messages, I wanted to give you today. We hope that you take it to heart. We hope that you will work hard. We want to hear it from you, that you’re taking it to heart and that you are working hard. We make du’a to Allah that He swt guides all of us as individuals, guides all of us together, and that He guides us always and ever towards Him, in a way that pleases him and befits His Majesty, in a way that befits his ghayrat, in a way that befits his sha’n, in a way that’s according to His shari’ah and the Sunnah of Nabi Karim صلى الله عليه وسلم . May Allah accept this niyyah from us. May He accept our niyyah for you. May he accept any and every niyyah or iradah you have in your heart.

وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ