Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tafsir of Short Surahs: Surat al-Duha

A summary of Habib Umar’s commentary on Surat al-Duha, Ramadan 1436

This surah was revealed after a period in which revelation had stopped coming to the Prophet ﷺ . Some of the disbelievers of Quraysh, including the wife of Abu Lahab, said to the Prophet mockingly that Allah had forsaken him and was displeased with him.

Allah then revealed:

By the midmorning

And by the night when it is still

Your Lord has neither forsaken you, nor is He displeased.

The fact that Allah swears by the midmorning (al-duha) is proof of its merit. It is a noble time, in which it is recommended to pray the Duha Prayer. This prayer, along with the prayer between Maghrib and Isha is known as Salat al-Awwabin, or the prayer of those who constantly return to Allah. If someone prays the Fajr prayer in congregation and then remembers Allah until the sun has risen to a spear’s height and then prays the Duha Prayer, they will have the reward of both Hajj and `Umrah. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Performing `Umrah in Ramadan is like performing Hajj with me.”

Many people worship Allah in the night in Ramadan but few stay up after fajr to pray salat al-Duha.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “As each morning comes, every one of you must give charity for every limb of their body.  Saying ‘Subhanallah’ is an act of charity, saying ‘Alhamdulillah’ is an act of charity, saying ‘La ilaha ill’Allah’ is an act of charity, and saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ is an act of charity. Commanding people to do good is an act of charity and forbidding evil is an act of charity. To pray two units at the time of Duha suffices you all this.” The person who prays  the Duha Prayer will also have plentiful provision and will be protected from the Jinn.

Allah thus swears by the morning and by the night that He has not forsaken His Beloved and He is not displeased with him. This is a false claim, since the Prophet is the most beloved of the creation to Allah. 

The hereafter will be better for you than this world

The honour which We will bestow upon you in the next life is far greater than that which We have bestowed upon you in this life. Likewise, although the sincere believer is given mercy and blessings in this life, what is awaiting him is much better.

Another meaning is that for the Prophet ﷺ  every instant is better than the one before it, because he is constantly being elevated. The Prophet is being rewarded for every person who is fasting on the face of the earth today. The pious inherited this state from him, such that every day for them is a celebration, an Eid.

Your Lord will surely give to you, and you will be content

The present tense here is used, implying that Allah will give and continue to give to him. He will give you permission to repeatedly intercede for your nation to the extent that the guardian of the Fire will say: “You did not leave anyone to experience the wrath of your Lord!”

When the Prophet ﷺ cried out of concern for the wellbeing of his Ummah, Allah sent Jibril to say to him: “We will make you content concerning your Ummah.”

There is no one in creation who is more content with Allah than Muhammad and there is no one in creation who Allah is more content with than Muhammad. Allah continues to bestow indescribable gifts upon His Beloved which continue to make him content.

A man from Kufah came to ask Sayyiduna Muhammad al-Baqir whether the hadith of the Prophet’s intercession was authentic. He confirmed that it was and then he said: “You say that the most hopeful verse in the Qur’an is: Say: My slaves who have wronged themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.[1] We say, however, that the most hopeful verse is Your Lord will surely give to you, and you will be content.” [2]

Allah then reminds His Beloved of the blessings He bestowed upon him at the beginning of his life:

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter?

When you came into this life your father had already died and then when you were six years old your mother died. But Allah took care of you and placed you in the care of your grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib and then your uncle Abu Talib. Allah used these means but it was in fact He Who was taking care of you.

The word for orphan in Arabic – ‘yatim’-  has the meaning of something unique. It is used to describe a unique jewel. Likewise the Prophet ﷺ  is unique and cannot be compared to anyone else.

Did He not find you wandering and guide you?

The word used here is ‘dall’, which can be applied to someone who is completely in love. The sons of Ya`qub used the same word to describe their father’s love for Yusuf. Allah found you consumed by love for Him, so He guided you to the secrets of direct knowledge of Him which He did not guide others to. We found you amongst a people who worshipped idols and drank alcohol but We guided you and you never did any of these things.

You grew up amongst a people who did not know your station and your greatness. Allah then guided those that He wished through His revelation. They then realised that you were the Seal of the Prophets. It is only Allah, however, who completely knows your station.

Some scholars say that this verse refers to occasions when the Prophet got lost – once when he was a child in Makkah and once when he was travelling with Maysarah. On both occasions Allah guided him back to safety.

Did He not find you in need and make you independent?

The word ‘ghina’ in Arabic has the meaning of wealth and independence. Allah is the One who enriches and makes independent all those who realise that they are in need of Him.

We found you in a poor family and We enriched you, outwardly through the support of `Abd al-Muttalib, Abu Talib and then Khadijah, whose wealth she put at your disposal. But you had no interest in worldly things: whatever wealth came to you, you spent immediately.

Due to your inward neediness, Allah made you independent of everything other than Him, for true wealth is the wealth of the soul. He gave you spiritual support and sustenance such that you said: “I spend the night with my Lord and he gives me food and drink.”

He offered to turn the mountains of Makkah into gold for you without this detracting from your reward in any way, but you refused. One of the Mothers of the Believers said: “The hunger of the Family of Muhammad was by choice.” They could have eaten like everyone else but they chose to prefer others over themselves.  Sayyidah Fatimah would suffer from the pain of hunger, so the Prophet  ﷺ asked Allah to remove this pain. From then on she would be extremely hungry but she would not feel any pain.

The one who is in need of other than Allah and thinks that by this he is independent should realise that independence is only given by Allah. Money can be stolen and you can lose your job but if you rely upon Allah you will be independent for eternity.

Allah then elevated His Beloved through the following teachings and made him the best example to all:

Therefore treat not the orphan with harshness

Tell your Ummah to uphold the rights of orphans and to remember that their Prophet was born an orphan. Do not harm orphans and do not look down upon them. If you are given responsibility for their property then fulfil this responsibility with excellence and give them from your own wealth. Do not take advantage of their weakness and do not think that they have no supporters.

It has been narrated that when an orphan cries, Allah says that He will be content on the Day of Judgement with the one who comforts him and stops him crying. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ raised his index finger and middle finger and said: “I and the sponsor of an orphan will be like these two (fingers) together in Paradise.” We have been taught to treat animals in the best way, so our treatment of Muslims should be far better and our treatment of orphans better than that.

In some Muslim societies orphans are honoured to such a degree that other children wish they were orphans. It is only when people’s faith and attachment to the religion weakens that orphans are abused and looked down upon. The best of houses in Allah’s sight is the house in which an orphan is honoured. The worst of houses in Allah’s sight is the house in which an orphan is mistreated.

And repel not the one who asks

Do not repel anyone, whether they are asking for the provision of this life – something worldly – or the provision of the next life – knowledge.

The Prophet  ﷺ said: “Knowledge is stored in treasure troves, and the key to those troves is a question, so ask, for four people will be rewarded: the one asking, the scholar, the one listening and the one who loves them.”

When Ibn `Abbas was asked how he attained his vast knowledge, he said: “I was given great understanding in my heart and a tongue that constantly asked questions.” He also said: “I humbled myself in the pursuit of knowledge and I was then honoured as someone from whom people sought knowledge.”

Once when the Prophet  ﷺ was on the minbar delivering a sermon a Bedouin said to him: “Teach me some of the knowledge which you have been taught.” The Prophet then came down, sat with him and taught him and then returned to the minbar.

There are rulings pertaining to begging. If someone possesses enough food for the next day and night it is impermissible for them to beg claiming poverty. The one who shames someone else into giving is like someone who takes money by force. The one who makes begging his profession will always live in poverty however much money he accumulates. This is because his soul and heart are poor.

The worst type of beggars are those who beg in mosques. However, you should not have a bad opinion of such people and if you are able to give something to them there is no harm in doing so, unless you there are clear signs that they will spend the money in disobedience to Allah.

Allah sometimes sends angels in the form of beggars to test His slaves. We should not turn a beggar away, especially if it is the first beggar to approach you that day, because it could be an angel. If you have nothing to give, then say something pleasant to them. Do not raise your voice at them and do not repel them aggressively.

As for the bounty of your Lord, proclaim it

Recall the bounty that Allah has shown you and tell people about it. Part of showing gratitude to Allah is recognising His blessings and telling others about them. The people of Allah talk about Allah’s blessings while their hearts recognise that they do not deserve those blessings. The arrogant talk about Allah’s blessings but attribute those blessings to themselves, like Qarun who said of his great wealth: “I have been given it only on account of the knowledge I possess.”[3]

The Messenger of Allah  ﷺ was given immense gifts and he told people about them. Among the greatest of these were the Qur’an which was revealed to him and prophet-hood. The Companions were once marvelling at the gifts which the previous Prophets had been given. The Prophet heard what they were saying. He said to them that everything they had said was true. Then he told them: “I am the beloved of Allah and this is not a boastful claim; I am the first one to intercede and the first one whose intercession is accepted on the Day of Judgement and this is not a boastful claim; I am the most noble of the first and the last in the sight of Allah and this is not a boastful claim and I am the first person who will come to knock on the gates of Paradise and with me will be the poor believers and this is not a boastful claim.” He thus affirmed their praise for the previous Prophets. He then taught them how to praise him for the blessings Allah had bestowed upon him, for doing so is an act of obedience which draws one closer to Allah.

We thank Allah for the greatest of blessings: Muhammad. Did you pay anything to be a member of his nation? May Allah give him the greatest of rewards on our behalf. May we drink from his pool, may we be in the shade of his banner and may we enter Paradise with him.

***

[1] Al-Zumar, 39:53

[2] Meaning that the Prophet  ﷺ will not be content for any of his Ummah to enter the Fire, and will do his utmost to intercede for every member of his Ummah

[3] Al-Qasas, 28:78

The Six Days of Shawwal

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that whoever fasts Ramadan and then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal has fasted the whole year, since each good deed is multiplied by ten. Thus the thirty days of Ramadan equal three hundred days and the six days equal sixty which together make up the whole year of three hundred and sixty days. The scholars say that what is meant is that one has the reward of a whole year’s compulsory fasting, not merely supererogatory fasting. The Prophet  also said that whoever completes Ramadan and the six days will emerge as free from sins as a new born baby. It is thus recommended to fast any six days of Shawwal.

Imam al-Nawawi said that it is preferable that they be fasted consecutively immediately after Eid and this is one of the reasons why the people of Tarim generally fast the six days from the second of Shawwal. The Ramadan schedule and atmosphere thus continue for another six days. It is also easier on the self (nafs) to continue doing what it has become accustomed to, whereas if fasting these six days were left to the end of the month it would be much harder to achieve. The people of Tarim then celebrate Eid a second time once they have fasted the six days and they have attained the promised reward.

Some of the scholars also allow for intentions to be combined. Thus if someone has Ramadan fasts to make up they can intend making up the compulsory fast along with the sunnah of the six days of Shawwal. The scholars also mention that fasting in Sha`ban before Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers which come before the obligatory prayer, while fasting in Shawwal after Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers which come after the obligatory prayer.

Note: the rulings mentioned are based on the Shafi`i school. Other schools may differ slightly.

On Preserving Allah’s Gifts

 

Here are two ways of preserving the gifts that Allah has bestowed upon us in these blessed times:

  • Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) teaches us to say at the end of Ramadan:

اللَّهُمَّ إنَّا نسْتَوْدِعُكَ مَا عَلَّمْتَنا و ما وَفَّقْتَنا لَهُ مِن الطَّاعات

Allahumma inna nastawdi`uka ma `allamtana wa ma waffaqtana lahu min al-tta`at

‘O Allah, we place in Your trust the knowledge you have taught us and the acts of obedience You have given us the ability to perform.’

Here we are being taught to place our knowledge and actions in Allah’s trust so that they are both preserved and we receive the full reward for both. Allah will then return them to us at the time we need them most.

  • Sayyidi Habib Kazim al-Saqqaf (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) said that it was the practice of Habib Muhammad al-Haddar and other pious people to read the following Prophetic supplication after every action they performed:

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَ

Subhanak’Allahumma wa bi hamdika ashhadu al la ilaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk 

‘Transcendent are You, O Allah and praise be to You. I bear witness that there is no god but You. I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You.’

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ taught us to recite this supplication in order to wipe out any sins or heedlessness that we have fallen into in a gathering. If we read it after every action we perform, however, it removes any impurities from that action and guarantees that we receive its full reward.

Weekly Salawat: Ya Mun`im (Bestower of Blessings)

At Eid we thank Allah for the immense blessings that He has bestowed upon us, the greatest of those being our beloved Prophet  ﷺ, who taught us the meaning of Ramadan and Eid.

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz teaches us to ask Allah for an increase in blessings, for gratitude and for those blessings to be preserved.

اللَّهُمَّ يا اللهُ يا مُنْعِمُ صَلِّ على عَبْدِكَ و حَبِيبِكَ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ النَّبِيِّ النِّعْمَةِ العُظْمى و على آلِهِ و صَحْبِهِ و سَلِّمْ تَسْلِيماً و وَسِّعْ عَلَيَّ نِعَمَكَ و ارْزُقْني شُكْرَها و احْفَظْها مِنْ الزَّوَالِ و أَنْعِمْ عَلَيَّ بِما أَنْتَ أَهْلُهُ في كُلِّ حِينٍ و حَالٍ ظاهراً و بَاطِناً

Allahumma ya Allah ya Mun`im salli `ala `abdika wa habibika Sayyidina Muhammad annabiyyi’ni`matil-uzma wa ‘ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallim tasliman wa wassi` `alayya ni`amik wa’rzuqni shukraha wa’hfazha min azzawal wa ani`m `alayya bima anta ahluh fi kulli hinin wa hallin zahiran wa batina.

O Allah, O Bestower of blessings, bestow abundant prayers and peace upon Your slave and beloved, our Master Muhammad, the Prophet, the greatest blessing and upon his Family and Companions. Expand Your blessings upon me, bless me with gratitude for them and prevent them from disappearing. Bestow Your blessings upon me as only You are worthy of doing in every time and state inwardly and outwardly.

Appreciating Barakah

 Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) discusses the concept of barakah. Extracts from a Rawhah lesson on  17th Ramadan 1436 / 4th July 2015.

The Messenger of Allah instructed people to lick their fingers after eating and to clean the dish, saying: “You do not know in what part of the food the barakah lies.”

He also said: “When a morsel of your food falls down, you should pick it up and remove any dirt and then eat it. Do not leave it for the Devil, for you do not know in what part of the food the barakah lies.”

The Prophet used to pray for barakah (blessings) in his days, his nights, his food, his drink, his clothes, his wives, in everything! Everything revolved around barakah. Barakah was the Divine flow that enabled him to attain his purpose and would ward off tribulations. The Prophet was the source of barakah. The Companions took barakah from him on numerous occasions.

People no longer understand the meaning of barakah. Their intellects cannot comprehend it. “What barakah?” they say. Their senses have become numb such that they cannot perceive the taste of blessings. In previous generations, ordinary people had an intuitive understanding of barakah. They knew that barakah was more important than quality and quantity. They knew that a little of something with barakah was much better than a lot of something with no barakah in it. People today only appreciate material things. They do not appreciate the presence of barakah in things! Their perception of these realities has become numb because they have cut themselves off from the people of purification and the people of the Qur’an.

There was once a pious man who was in need of money. He was told in a dream that a thousand dirhams were waiting for him in a certain place. He asked: “Is there barakah in it?” He was told that there was no barakah in the money. So he said: “I have no need for it.”

The following night he had a similar dream in which he was told that one hundred dirhams were waiting for him in a certain place. He asked “Is there barakah in it?” He was told there was no barakah in it and again he said he had no need for it.

On the third night he was told that ten dirhams were waiting for him in a certain place. Once again he asked if there was barakah in it. He was told no there was no barakah in it, and so again he said he had no need for it.

Then on the fourth night he was told that two dirhams were waiting for him in a certain place. He asked if there was barakah in it and he was told that yes, there was barakah in it. He decided to take the two dirhams.

The next morning he told the entire story to his wife. She was not someone who appreciated barakah, and so she asked: “Why did you reject a thousand dirhams and decide to take two?”

He replied: “I do not want a thousand dirhams with no barakah. I want the two dirhams which are halal and which have barakah.” So he went and found the two dirhams. On his way home he saw a fishmonger selling fish in the street. He found that two fish costed two dirhams, so he paid the two dirhams he had and took the fish home. When he arrived home, he cut the fish open and found inside some precious jewels worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams! Allah had made him a rich man by virtue of the barakah in the two dirhams. This is a manifestation of how a small amount with barakah is much better than a large amount with no barakah!

Previous nations learnt the meaning of barakah from their Prophets, and even disbelieving people knew what barakah was! When the Prophet was on the Hijrah, he stopped at the tent of Umm Ma`bad to see if she had any food or drink. Umm Ma`bad and her husband, Abu Ma`bad had not accepted Islam at the time, although they did later. She told the Prophet that they were facing severe drought and the goats were emaciated and not producing any milk. The Prophet took permission to milk a goat himself. Miraculously he got so much milk out of the goat that it was enough for Umm Ma`bad and him and his companions to drink and the goat still had plenty of milk. In fact the goat continued to produce milk from that day until it died during the khilafah of Sayyiduna `Umar. When Abu Ma`bad returned, he was amazed to find milk in the tent. He asked his wife where she had got it from. She replied that a “blessed” (mubarak) man had milked the goat. She described the Prophet to her husband; his appearance, good manners, smile and gentleness. From that day onwards, every time they mentioned him , they would call him the “blessed man” and they would recall “the day the blessed man came.” They were not Muslims, but they knew how to recognise barakah.

Some people condemn “tabarruk” (seeking barakah or blessings) and say that it is impermissible. They claim that barakah cannot be received from any thing or any person. This is an erroneous understanding of an issue which is clarified in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and in the actions of the Companions.

The Prophet once went to drink from the Well of Zamzam and Sayyiduna al-`Abbas gave him water in a new bucket, but the Prophet refused this bucket and asked to drink from an old bucket in which people had put their hands. This shows the Prophet’s desire to receive barakah from the Muslims, in spite of the fact that he is the source of all barakah for them.

Sayyiduna `Umar ibn al-Khattab once suggested to the Prophet that they pray behind the Station of Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim). Why would he suggest such a thing, except to receive blessings from the place? In response, Allah revealed: Take the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.[1] Allah did not say: “Do not pray there, there is no barakah there!”

A man once drank rain water from the Mizab (rain spout) of the Ka`bah to attain barakah from it. When people forbade him from doing so, he told them that Allah informs us that the Ka`bah is blessed: The first house (of worship) appointed for people was that at Bakkah (Makkah) – full of blessing.[2] He also informs us that rain is blessed: We sent down from the sky blessed water.[3] Allah says Himself that these are blessed things! So why do you prevent people from seeking these blessings? When he mentioned this, they left him alone.

We need to return to the creed of the Quran. We cannot allow people to accuse Muslims who are following the teachings of the Qur’an of disbelief and associating partners with Allah (shirk). They say they are blocking the means to evil (sadd al-dhari`ah) but in reality they are preventing people from practising their religion (sadd al-shari`ah).

*** 

[1] Al-Baqarah, 2:125

[2] Al `Imran, 3:96

[3] Qaf, 50:9

On Spreading Peace

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What is the best way of obeying the Prophetic command to spread peace, feed people, honour the ties of kinship and pray at night?

We do this by not harming any human or animal and by having a good transaction with inanimate objects such that we walk upon the earth in humility. We should look after our relatives and neighbours and speak well whenever we meet anyone. We should pray in the night even if it is only two units of prayer. We should give charity, give people gifts and invite them to our houses.

On Non Muslim Parents Who Engage in Forbidden Things

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

How do we deal with non-Muslim parents when they engage in things which are forbidden?

You should show mercy to them and wish that Allah guides them and use whatever means are available to enable this. Treat them well at all times but avoid their company when they are doing things which are inappropriate or are disobeying Allah. Give them gifts and assist them in all that is permissible.

Indeed with Hardship Comes Ease

 

At the most difficult of times and in the most testing of circumstances, while the Muslims were being besieged by the Confederates (al-Ahzab), the Prophet ﷺ gave his Companions the good news that Syria and Yemen would be opened to Islam.

Allah’s saying: “Indeed with hardship comes ease” was thus manifested in his noble state.

Similarly, the believer finds deep certainty within himself at times of crisis, and his inner state proclaims:

‘If tribulations increase in severity, they will then depart and the coming of dawn is close.’

—Habib Ali al-Jifri (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him)

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Making our Prophet ﷺ Happy

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By Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him in this life and the next), Ramadan 1436

The Prophet said ﷺ :

“The one who makes a believer happy, makes me happy, and the one who makes me happy has taken a covenant with Allah and the one who has taken a covenant with Allah will never be touched by the Fire.”

There is a great reward in pleasing a believer but how much greater is the reward for pleasing the Master of the Believers ﷺ? The Companions would discuss which of them never once displeased the Prophet. Among them was Sayyiduna Ali.

On Fridays our actions and intentions are displayed to him so let us seek to please him in what remains of Ramadan so that we attain the highest of stations.

May Allah protect us from anything which displeases him. It is not fitting that we displease him when he is the one who shows the greatest compassion and mercy to us.

 

Weekly Salat: Ya Dha’l-Jalal wa’l-Ikram (Lord of Majesty and Generosity)

Allah says: “Blessed be the name of your Lord, the Lord of Majesty and Generosity (55:78).” The Prophet would often call upon Allah by this name and it has been narrated that it is Allah’s greatest name. It combines the attributes of majesty and beauty and inspires in the slave both hope and fear.

Here Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz teaches us to ask Allah by this name to bestow prayers upon His Beloved, who possesses these same attributes of majesty and generosity and to bless us with these attributes.

اللَّهُمَّ يا اللهُ يا ذا الجَلالِ و الإِكْرَام صَلِّ على عَبْدِكَ و حَبِيبِكَ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ النَّبِيِّ الجَليلِ الكَرِيم ِو على آلِهِ و صَحْبِهِ و سَلِّمْ تَسْلِيماً و هَبْ لَنا بِهِ جَلالاً و جَمالاً و كَمالاً و إِكْرَاماً و أَكْرِمْنا بِما أَنْتَ أَهْلُهُ أَبَداً سَرْمَداً

O Allah, O Lord of Majesty and Generosity, bestow abundant prayers and peace upon Your slave and beloved, our Master Muhammad, the majestic and generous Prophet and upon his Family and Companions, and by him bless us with majesty, beauty, perfection and nobility. Ennoble us for evermore as only You are worthy of doing.