Etiquettes in the Bedroom

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

What are the etiquettes of a husband and wife in the bedroom?

The Prophet ﷺ taught us the correct etiquette for every situation and believers strive to abide by these etiquettes.

Before intercourse they should both recite the Prophetic dua:

بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ اللَّهُمَّ جَنِّبْنَا الشَّيْطَانَ وَجَنِّبْ الشَّيْطَانَ مَا رَزَقْتَنَا

Bismillah. Allahumma jannibna’shaytan wa jannib ashaytan ma razaqtana

“In the name of Allah. O Allah, distance us from Satan and distance Satan from what You grant us”

Although the Shariah tells us that between husband and wife there is no part of the body which the other party is forbidden from seeing, they should avoid looking at the other’s private parts. Sayyidah Aishah said: “I never saw the Prophet’s private parts and he did not see mine”. They should both be covered by a sheet. They should speak pleasantly to each other. When the man feels that he is reaching climax he should recite in his heart and not with his tongue:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ مِنَ الْمَاءِ بَشَرًا فَجَعَلَهُ نَسَبًا وَصِهْرًا ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ قَدِيرًا

It is He who creates human beings from fluid, then makes them kin by blood and marriage: your Lord is all powerful! (al-Furqan, 25:54)

One partner must never disclose any secrets about the other (especially with regard to the bedroom) to anyone. The Prophet ﷺ described this as a form of betrayal or disloyalty.

One of the most important inner etiquettes is that they both have in their hearts and minds only that which is pure and lawful. They should also have good intentions and be in a state of tranquillity and remembrance of Allah with their hearts. Imam al-Sha’rani: “My spiritual state when I am with my wife is the same as the state in which I enter the prayer”. This is the state of someone who has absolute presence with Allah. If that is the state of the Siddiqun (the people of absolute truthfulness) what does that tell us about the state of the Prophets and what does that tell us about the state of the Master of the Prophets ﷺ , the one who had the greatest knowledge of Allah and the most awareness and reverential fear of Him?

Selected Salawat: Seeking to be at One With the Messenger ﷺ

Habib Ali al-Habashi (may Allah have mercy upon him and allow us to benefit from him) teaches us to use this prayer to seek the pleasure of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and to ask that our actions and intentions be so connected to the Prophet that they are at one with him. Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz placed this prayer in his Hadrah Badriyyah.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وسَلِّمْ على سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ ، صَلاةً تُرْضِيكَ وتُرْضِيهِ ، وتَنْطَوِي بِها أَعْمَالي ونِيَّاتي وحَرَكَاتي وسَكَناتي فِيه

Allahumma salli wa sallim `ala sayyidina Muhammad salatan turdika wa turdihi wa tantawi biha a`mali wa niyyaati wa harakaati wa sakanaati fih

O Allah, bestow Your prayers and peace upon our Master Muhammad, prayers which allow us to attain Your pleasure and his and cause my actions, intentions, movements and stillness to be enveloped in him.

Allow Your Emotions to Be Elevated

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) calls us to allow our emotions to be elevated in order for us to taste the sweetness of faith and to be with Allah’s Beloved ﷺ

The Prophets, their Families and Companions and the angels are all party to intense feelings and emotions – emotions which are extremely lofty, noble, pure, divine, majestic and precious. These emotions constitute their connection to the Knower of all that is concealed, their love for Him and their seeking and receiving love from Him. They include complete submission to Him and love for His sake in order to receive His love. All the angels experience these emotions from the greatest of them down to the least of them, as do the Prophets and Messengers and their Families and Companions and followers and their leader and imam, Muhammad ﷺ.

But whatever love they have for each other for Allah’s sake cannot be compared to the love contained in the heart of the Beloved, the Chosen One. There is only one reason for this: that he is the one who knows Allah better than all of them. Since he knows Allah best, his love for Allah is more intense than all those who love for Allah’s sake. This is why Allah says: the Prophet is more caring towards the believers than they are to their own selves (al-Ahzab, 33:6).

Allah describes him as being extremely perturbed by the hardships you suffer, as being absolutely concerned for your welfare: a Messenger has come to you; grievous to him is your suffering; immensely concerned is he for you.. (al-Tawbah, 9:128) What is this verse telling us? It is saying look at your feelings towards My Beloved. Do you love anyone more than him? No one can be compared to him regarding the care and concern he has for this Ummah in this life and even after he passed from this life: “My life is best for you and my death is best for you.” How? In his life he showed people the path when things happened to them. After his death he said: “Your actions are displayed to me. I praise Allah for any good I find, and if I find other than that, I seek Allah’s forgiveness for you.” He did not say “if I find evil”. Out of his compassion he chose not to attribute evil to us. Instead he said: “If I find other than that..”

You are being invited to allow your feelings and emotions to be elevated. Iblis and his forces are competing in this. They want to control our emotions so that we venerate things and people who should not be venerated; so that we love people who are not beloved to Allah and so that we commemorate things which have no value in the sight of Allah and His Messenger.

The Prophet told us that with our emotions we will taste the sweetness of faith. We will taste that sweetness when Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to us than everything else.. Everything else, including Paradise. Had Paradise been more beloved to them, then Thawban would not have cried and neither would some of the other Companions. Paradise with its everlasting bliss was not more beloved to them than seeing the Prophet! They were unable to bear the thought of not seeing him!

Allah knew their sincerity and gave them the good tidings of being with the one they loved: Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those who Allah has blessed: the Prophets, the Siddiqun, martyrs and the pious – and what blessed company that is! This is purely from the bounty of Allah (al-Nisa, 4:69).

If you read this verse, you notice He did not mention Paradise or any of its pleasures. All He mentions is being with.. This is the highest pleasure of Paradise. These are the loftiest emotions that can be experienced.

The Best of Creation clarified things when he said: “None of you believe until I am more beloved to that person than his children, his parents and all people.” We ask Allah to bear witness to our joy at your Prophet and all that he taught. Allow us to live our lives with these noble feelings and emotions so that we meet You in the best of states.  

Dealing With Thoughts of Disbelief

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

Thoughts of disbelief sometimes come into my mind. Does this take me out of the fold of Islam?

No this does not take you out of the fold of Islam. We are only taken to account for the thoughts which we are content with and agree with. We will not be taken to account for the thoughts which you dislike and ignore. This is a manifestation of Allah’s bounty. The Prophet said ﷺ : “Allah has overlooked for my sake my nation’s mistakes, forgetfulness and thoughts as long as they do not talk about it or act upon it.”

One way of driving these thoughts away is to repeat Allah’s name lengthening the ‘a’ (Allaaaah) and raising the head upwards towards the sky.

There is nothing better than imploring Allah for His assistance and remembering Him constantly. Anyone who feels that they are unable to purify themselves should turn to Allah and say (as Imam al-Haddad says):

يا رَبِّ قَدْ غَلَبَتْنِي    وَبالأَمَـانِي سَبَـتْنِي
وَفِي الْحُظُوْظِ كَبَتْنِي   وَقَيَّــدَتْنِي بَالاكْبَــالْ

قَـدْ اسْـتَعَنْتُكَ رَبِي    عَلَى مُــدَاوَاة قَلْبِيْ
وَحَـلِّ عُقْـدَة كَرْبِـي    فَانْظُرْ إِلَى الْغَـمِّ يَنْجَـالْ

My Lord, my lower self has overpowered me

And deluded me with false hopes,

It subdues me with worldly pleasures,

and shackles me in chains.

I seek Your support, my Lord,

in curing my heart.

Release me from distress and look

(kindly) on my sorrow and dispel it.

How Do We Avoid Backbiting?

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

How do we avoid backbiting (ghibah)?

We do this by bringing to mind the ugliness and danger of backbiting. We should also reflect on the punishment for it in the next life. In the Quran, Allah likens the person who backbites to someone who eats the flesh of his dead brother. We should see backbiting as a lightning bolt which destroys our good deeds. We should accustom ourselves to only mentioning a person’s good deeds and qualities if there is a benefit in doing so.

If we are tempted to backbite someone due to a perceived fault, we should do two things instead: pray for them and give them sincere advice either directly or indirectly.

Instead of allowing yourself to backbite, you must hold your tongue and use it to remember Allah. Instead of talking about worldly things, use wisdom in choosing a topic of conversation which is beneficial, such as stories of the Prophet, the Companions, the pious or the next life. In this way you will be acting upon the hadith: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say what it is good or remain silent.”

Imam Hasan, son of Imam al-Haddad, and the Effect of Hajj

Imam Hasan, the son of Imam Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad was a seeker, a person of piety and a scholar who acted according to his knowledge. Imam al-Haddad, however, was waiting for him to reach higher levels. He said: “When that son of mine performs hajj something will be ingrained in him which was not in him before.”

So he went to perform hajj and implemented all the sunnahs, exerted great caution and effort until the hajj had its effect upon him. Then he returned to Hadramawt and became a paragon of renunciation of worldly things (zuhd).

They told him that part of his house was falling and it needed to be repaired (houses in Hadramawt are built from mud bricks and require regular repair) but he replied that he did not need that part of the house and life was short.

He focused on teaching and preparing for the next life until one half of the house caved in. He said: “The other half of the house is sufficient.”  He carried on in this way until only one room of the house was left standing. When people criticised him, he replied with a verse of poetry:

يقولون بيتك بيت صغير كأن نسجته لك العنكبوت

فقلت المقام قليل به وهذا كثير على من يموت

They say your house is so small it could have been woven by a spider!

I say to them I will not live long in it and it is plenty big enough for someone who is sure to die

This is the exact opposite of what hajj does to some people. They go to hajj and they have some humility but they return with more desire and concern for worldly things. This would be a sign that their hajj has not been accepted and we seek Allah’s refuge from that.

The whole purpose of hajj is to draw us closer to Allah, the King, the Living and that we see things as they truly are.

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

The Legacy of Habib Muhammad bin Hafiz

Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) reflects on the legacy of his father, Habib Muhammad.

On a Friday, on the 29th of Dhu’l-Hijjah in 1392 (1973) I went out with my father to the Friday prayer. I came back from the prayer with only his scarf. He had disappeared.

But in reality who disappeared? Those who abducted him or him?

Do you not see him? Do you not see what he left behind? Do you not see his dawah?

His blessed body disappeared and he attained the honour of martyrdom in the path of his Lord.

But what remains is his legacy, his memory, his dawah, his concern, his words, what he built and what he gave.

He is a member of this ummah whose blood is connected to the blood spilt by Hamzah, the Lion of Allah and His Messenger. Hamzah did not disappear. Hamzah reached the pinnacle of honour and nobility. He is the ‘Master of all the Martyrs’ in Allah’s sight (may Allah be pleased with him). After him came the martyrdom of al-Husayn which we remember in Muharram.

The Scholar Who Worked as a Waiter

One of our teachers was Habib Muhammad bin Alawi al-Attas, a scholar and a true worshipper. He was known as ‘al-Zabidi’ because he spent some years studying with the scholars of Zabid (once a great centre of knowledge in Yemen). During his time there he chose to work as a waiter in a restaurant, not because he needed the money, but in order to refine his lower self (nafs): running round taking people’s orders, bring this, do this..

We visited him in his home in Huraydah at the end of his life with a group of scholars: among them Habib Mashhur bin Hafiz, Habib Umar bin Alawi al-Kaf, Habib Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Shihab and Habib Salim al-Shatiri. 

He said: “Last night someone saw the Prophet ﷺ in this very room.”

May Allah have mercy upon him – a scholar who knew the importance of refining the nafs.

Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) during his commentary on Ihya Ulum al-Din, Dar al-Mustafa, 28th Dhu’l-Qa’dah 1440.

The Best Prayer is the Prayer of Arafah

The Prophet ﷺ said: “The best prayer is the prayer of the Day of Arafah. The best thing which I and the Prophets before me have said is:

لاَ إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ يُحْيُي و يُمِيت وَ هُوَ حَيٌّ لا يَموتُ  بِيَدِهِ الخَيْرُ و هَو عَلَى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَدِيرٍ

La ilaha ill’Allahu wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu’l-mulku wa lahu’l-hamdu yuhi wa yumit wa huwa hayyun la yamut bi yadihi’-khayr wa `ala kulli shayin qadir

“There is no deity save Allah alone. He has no partners. To Him belongs the dominion and all praise. He brings life and brings death and He is the Living Who never dies. To Him belongs all good. He has power over all things.”

The Prophet called it a prayer (dua) but where is the request? What is the person actually asking for when he says it?

The reality is all requests are contained in it if you are connected to its meaning and realise its implications.

If you say it with realisation, your Lord gazes upon you and all requests made to Him by anyone in the past and the future are insignificant compared to what He then gives you.

The believers should repeat it on the Day of Arafah whether they are performing hajj or not.

Saying it removes darkness from you until you become pure light. It removes the darkness of witnessing created things by affirming to Whom truly belongs the dominion and the power to give life and death.

Can you then have hope in other than Him, fear other than Him or rely on other than Him? No!

May Allah enable us to realise these realities.

May He bless us on the Day of Arafat such that the forces of disbelief, misguidance, corruption and deviance are stopped in their tracks. May the banners of Muhammad be unfurled in every place so that the promised time soon comes in which la ilaha ill’Allah enters every single house.

Raising Children Leaves No Time for Seeking Knowledge

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

All my time is spent raising my children and I feel I am missing out on worship and seeking knowledge. What advice can you give me?

For you to raise your children in the best way is an act of worship and is part of acting according to your knowledge. Try to follow a class when you have a bit of spare time. A pious woman from the Amudi tribe (in Hadramawt) wrote out the whole of Imam al-Subki’s three volume fatwa collection. At the end she wrote: ‘Please excuse any mistakes I may have made because I wrote this while I was breastfeeding’. The truthful person continues doing good works however small regardless of the situation.

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