Is Practising Islam Easy or Difficult?

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

Islam is supposed to be easy but I am finding it hard to practise. How can we reconcile between this ease and hardship?

All good things are not beyond a person’s capacity to attain but they are only attained through effort. Even in worldly affairs, effort is required to attain one’s goals. If we look at the religion from the perspective that it does not give us obligations which we are unable to fulfil, we find ease in it. In addition to this, we find that whenever we act upon the injunctions of the religion we receive great openings, gentleness and assistance from Allah. When the spirit begins to find pleasure in acts of worship and the person begins to appreciate the inner beauty of the religion, all physical hardship becomes easy to bear. In fact, the hardship which the lower self experiences – which has been likened to holding on to a hot coal – is transformed into pleasure which the spirit experiences. When Sayyiduna Bilal was asked how he bore the pain of being tortured in Makkah, he said that he caused the sweetness of faith which he was tasting to overcome the pain of torture.

The religion is easy to practise but the soul goes through difficulty in establishing it in the best way. There is no contradiction in this. What makes it seem more difficult is that the majority of people around us do not practise it. The Prophet ﷺ said: “This religion began as something strange and it will return once again as something strange, so good tidings to the strangers who bring life to the affairs of my Sunnah which people had caused to die.”

What is the Ruling on Organ Donation?

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

What is the ruling on organ donation?

It is impermissible to take a dead person’s organs. Some scholars allow someone to donate an organ such as a kidney if they can do without it, especially if they are donating it to someone close to them such as their father or mother and doing so would save their life. It would not be permissible to donate your eye or your hand for example because you do not in fact own your own organs but rather they belong to Allah. It is permissible to donate blood because it replaces itself and donating it does not detract from a person’s makeup.

Defence Against Tribulation

 

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Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) teaches us that our connection to Allah and His Beloved  ﷺ  are a defence against tribulation. He also helps us to understand some of the divisions among the Companions and the concepts of tawassul and service. Summarised from his speech in Dar al-Mustafa at the closing ceremony of the 22nd Dowra, 17th Dhu’l-Qa`dah 1437 / 19th August 2016.

All credit belongs to the Prophet ﷺ, our guide and teacher. The good works of anyone who reached any rank will be recorded in the Prophet’s book – from the Siddiqun and the greatest of them: Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman and `Ali – to the first of the Muhajirun and the Ansar, to the Ahl al-Bayt, the scholars and callers to Allah. Every mosque and institute of knowledge that Allah accepted will be recorded in his book.

The Valley of Hadramawt was blessed by the Companions, the Followers and the scholars that came after them and was then crowned by the arrival of Imam al-Muhajir. From his progeny came forth many shining stars, people of truthfulness and sincerity. This is our source of pride. Neither outward appearances nor empty ceremonies are a source of pride. This path is a path of removing all ceremonies and formalities. The people of this path paid no attention to outward appearances. They paid no attention to things that have no value in Allah’s sight and which are of no benefit in the next life.

Our Prophet ﷺ said: “A sign that a person has perfected his Islam is that he leaves that which does not concern him.” This is the path a person should take in this life, knowing that which concerns him in his religion and worldly life in the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. That person then frees himself from the domination of disbelief which has numerous manifestations on the face of the earth. The Prophet ﷺ mentioned that tribulations will be presented to people’s hearts and this is exactly what we see today –in the name of movements or revolution or progress or other things.

When we study the lives of the Companions and the divisions that took place we only accept the narrations which are in accordance with how Allah describes them in the Qur’an. We do not allow anyone to tamper with our history. People tamper with our recent history and much of what is said is false. What the Prophet ﷺ informed us of is sufficient. He saw people having their faces torn with hooks made of fire. He asked who they were and he was told: “A man from your Ummah who lies and his lie then reaches the horizons.” Look at the precision of the Prophet’s description!

Sayyiduna `Ali said after the Battle of the Camel: “I hope that I and Zubayr and Talhah are among those who Allah described: We will remove from their hearts all rancour  – they will be brothers facing one another on couches.”[1] Sayyiduna `Ali made sure that Sayyidatuna `Aishah received the best treatment. He would pass by her tent to check up on her and he would address her as his mother. When she decided to return to al-Madinah he personally bid farewell to her. He arranged for his female relatives to accompany her and he walked not a few paces, but two miles, to see her off.

This is consistent with how Allah describes the Companions in the Qur’an: They are merciful to one another.[2]  This is appropriate for those who were taught by Muhammad. We do not accept other versions presented to us to divide us.

If we receive Allah’s light it cannot be extinguished regardless of the tribulations that come. The greatest tribulation will be the Dajjal, but the people of truthfulness, sincerity and humility and the people who love Muhammad will be safe from it. When Sayyiduna `Isa descends he will inform them of their stations in Paradise. The problem is that we have exposed ourselves to tribulations and we are deluded by what is presented to us.

If you want to be safe, enter the fortress of Muhammad. He brought us the fortress of la ilaha ill’Allah. Allah says in the hadith qudsi: “La ilaha ill’Allah is My fortress. Whoever enters My fortress will be safe from My punishment.” According to the strength of our connection to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, we will be safe from the greatest tribulation, not to mention the tribulations that come before and after it.

It is as Sayyiduna al-`Abbas said: “Tribulations only descend due to sins and they are only lifted by tawbah.” He said this when Sayyiduna `Umar put him forward to seek rain for the people at a time of drought. `Umar said: “O Allah, we used to use Your Prophet as an intermediary and now we are using the uncle of Your Prophet as an intermediary, so bless us with rain!” The whole region was then blessed with rain and Sayyiduna al-`Abbas became known as ‘the one who brought rain to the Haramayn.’ No-one said that this was an innovation or shirk. They knew that al-`Abbas was merely a means for the rain to come.

May Allah bless those who attended this Dowra, especially in the current conditions. Why did they come? Many people suffer hardships and long journeys for the sake of a qualification or a job but what was it that brought these people here? What do they want? “The one whose hijrah was for Allah and His Messenger..” Did they come to enjoy the parks or play games?

We also cannot forget the people involved in service, which is an arena of jihad. They will gain a greater reward than many people involved in jihad in our times and in previous times. Sayyiduna Abu Darda’ said: “If someone thinks that going out to seek knowledge is not jihad then his intellect is deficient.” These people served without expecting any worldly reward. Do you think that this will come to nothing? Allah says: We do not allow the reward of those who perfect their actions to go to waste.[3] Success is in truthfulness with Allah and working together to please Him.

May Allah bless the institutes of knowledge in Yemen and Sham and bring back their strength and vibrancy. May He bless al-Azhar al-Sharif and all the places and people of knowledge in the East and West. May He revive true knowledge among them. May He unite the Ummah and protect it from all harm.

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[1]  Al-Hijr, 15:47

[2] Al-Fath, 48:29

[3] Al-Kahf, 18:30

On Dealing With False Claims About the Parents of the Prophet ﷺ

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

How should we deal with those who claim that the blessed parents of the Prophet are destined for the Fire ﷺ?

The first thing to mention is that we should avoid pointless debate with these types of people. They should be ignored unless it is hoped that they will return to the truth, in which case the correct position should be clarified to them. It is enough to say that the evidence of the Qur’an is given precedence over solitary hadith reports (ahad). The Qur’an clearly says that: We do not punish until We send a messenger.[1] If this is not sufficient proof for such people then there is no hope that they will be guided so they should be left.

We should remind people that verbally abusing a person’s parents hurts their children. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Do not verbally abuse the dead so that you harm those who are alive.”[2] These people should ask themselves: who is the son of the people they are abusing? We should also remember the Prophet’s etiquette when `Ikrimah, the son of Abu Jahl came to accept Islam. The Prophet told his Companions not to mention anything unpleasant about his father, in spite of the fact that Abu Jahl was the Fir`awn of this nation, a disbeliever destined for the Fire.

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[1] Al-Isra’, 17:15. At the very least, the parents of the Prophet would be considered to be Ahl al-Fatrah, meaning people living in a time and among a people to whom no messenger had been sent.

[2] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban and al-Tabarani

On Working With ‘Salafi’ Groups

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

Can we work with ‘Salafi’ groups?

If these groups truly follow the Salaf (the Pious Predecessors) in the realm of tenets of faith then we are in agreement with them. If, however, they claim to follow the Salaf but in reality go against their methodology then we should avoid mixing with them so that confusion does not arise regarding how we call people to Allah. It may be possible to work with the moderate elements among them on things on which there is scholarly consensus and which benefit society. We may also work with them on projects which are run in the name of all Muslims in the region, not in the name of a specific group.

The Definition of a Scholar (`Alim)

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

When can someone be said to be an `alim (scholar)?

Linguistically anyone who has even one piece of Islamic knowledge is an `alim (literally someone who knows). Technically speaking there is consensus that an `alim is someone who is qualified to make ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) and issue fatwa (formal legal opinion). Someone who has attained a large amount of knowledge but has not reached this level may also be called an `alim, but there is not consensus on this.

Criteria for Showing People Respect and Veneration

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 Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) explains the criteria for showing people respect and veneration. Summarised from a Rawhah lesson in Dar al-Mustafa, 18th Shawwal 1437

It is praiseworthy to show respect and veneration to someone who the Sacred Law commands you to show respect to, such as a scholar, an elder or your parents. Kissing someone’s hand and standing up for them when they enter is an expression of that respect and veneration.

This is how the Companions expressed their veneration for the Prophet ﷺ and for one another. When the delegation of the tribe of Abd al-Qays came to visit the Prophet ﷺ in Madinah they rushed to greet him and kiss his hand (Ahmad). The Prophet did not rebuke them for doing so. He did not say they were being excessive or that they were committing shirk.

On the other hand it is blameworthy to show respect and veneration to an oppressive ruler or to someone who is openly disobedient to Allah.

You find someone is prepared to lower himself to his boss at work in the hope of some worldly benefit but he refuses to show respect to his mother and speak kindly to her. Such people have got their priorities the wrong way round because the Prophet ﷺ said that the person most deserving of good treatment is your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father (and then other people) (al-Bukhari).

So you should show respect and veneration to people for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of worldly benefit.

As for the person who is being shown respect, they should dislike this and see themselves as being unworthy of it. Many of the pious would tell people to sit down if they stood up for them.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “If someone loves for men to stand up for him out of veneration, let him take his place in the Fire (Abu Daud).”

 

 

 

On Books Containing Deviant Beliefs

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

I have some books which contain deviant beliefs and opinions. What should I do with them?

To remove harm from the path of the believers is one of the branches of faith so you should remove these books from the path of the believers by burning them or disposing of them in any other way that is appropriate.

Someone once sent a batch of books full of innovations to one of the pious. He asked him some time later if he had received them. He replied that he had received them and that it had only taken one matchstick to burn all the books.

Books which contain deviant beliefs either within Islam or outside Islam should only be in the possession of specialists who are able to refute these beliefs and clarify the truth. It is better for people who do not possess this knowledge to dispose of these books.

Life is short, the journey is long and we only have a small amount of provision. We do not have to time to pay attention to things which distract us.

On Responding to False Claims About Sayyiduna Muawiyah

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

How do we respond to those that claim that Sayyiduna Muawiyah is not one of the Companions and that we should not say ‘may Allah be pleased with him’?

The best response is to continue to say ‘may Allah be pleased with him,’ and to avoid any argumentation. This is just one of a number of issues that certain people bring up today to cause friction, disunity, to waste Muslim resources, to stop them from having an influence on others and to show them as being divided. So we should focus on that which is of benefit and not allow them to achieve these base goals.

Appreciating Barakah

 

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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).

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[1] Al-Baqarah, 2:125

[2] Al `Imran, 3:96

[3] Qaf, 50:9