Category Archives: The Path

The Soul’s Estrangement

Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf shares an intimate conversation at a blessed time in a blessed place with his own soul.

My Generous Lord honored me to be at the Ennobled Kaaba during the last part of the night on a Friday. Heralds of longing began to stir in my heart for the reality of what Allah has created us for. I penned some of that in the following words, which I ask Allah the Exalted to make a means to direct the reader with truth and sincerity to Him the Exalted.

I ask you, dear reader, to read it in a calm and serene place.

Original Arabic text:

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 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.

Photo credit: mahabbah.foundation