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 al-Haddad Rebukes One of His Students

MakamImamAl-HabibAbdullahbinAlwiAl- (2)

We are blessed to have a large number of letters which Imam al-Haddad wrote to his students. Each letter contains many lessons for us and paints a picture of the methods the Imam used in nurturing his students and guiding them along the path.

In this letter, Imam al-Haddad issues a strong rebuke to one of his students. Before even addressing him personally, he eloquently reminds him of the worthlessness of this life and warns him against being attached to anything worldly. He asks Allah to rectify his heart and bless him with contentment. Then comes the rebuke: the Imam says that it is as if none of the time they spent together has had any effect on him and uses a Quranic verse and one of the aphorisms of Imam Ibn Ataillah to make his point. Finally he warns him against backbiting, which can be done with the pen just as it can be done with the tongue. In spite of the rebuke, the Imam remains compassionate and tells him that he loves him and is praying for him.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

My people, this worldly life is only temporary enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter – that is the everlasting abode.

All praise be to Allah, Who made love of this world and coveting it one of the clearest signs that a person’s heart has become hard and has been plunged into an ocean of darkness in which the raging winds of grief blow against it and the waves of anxiety break upon it from all sides.

Transcendent is the One Who gave no rest and respite to those who avidly seek this worldly life. If only instead of giving them respite, He prevented calamities from befalling them.

May Allah’s prayers and peace be upon our master Muhammad and his Family and Companions at all times.

From the one in most need of Allah the All Powerful, Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad al-Alawi al-Husayni, to the one who he loves him for Allah’s sake, the one who is connected to the people of Allah: Ali bin Umar Uqbah. May Allah give him relief through contentment with the bitterness of Allah’s decree. May Allah sever his attachment to this ephemeral contemptible world and allow his heart to focus on the next life which is far greater and more enduring. Amin.

Salam alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

Be certain, my beloved brother, that we have received your letter but we did not take any comfort from it other than from the praise of Allah which it contained and your greetings.

I am astonished: it is as if you do not know how Allah described this world in His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger!

I really wonder what effect those gatherings had upon you, gatherings that were filled with priceless pieces of wisdom. Was your heart not softened by them? Did your mind not find tranquility in them? It is as if you have no heart and no mind! If you had them they would have benefited:

Do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; rather, they are further astray.

Everything that has happened to you or will happen is as one of them said: “Whoever does not turn himself to Allah due to the gentle manifestations of His kindness, will be dragged to Him with the fetters of severe trials.”

I have no preference in whether you travel or not. Had you not gone against our teachings, you would not have experienced what you are now experiencing.

Never write to us again mentioning something bad about a fellow Muslim. Do you not know that the most disliked of people to us are those who backbite others?

Do not send a letter without a seal.

We are praying for you.

Wassalam.

Mukatabat, Vol 1, Letter 72

On Following the Sunnah and Avoiding Ostentation

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

I want to follow the Sunnah but I feel pride and ostentation in my heart when I do so. What should I do?

You should try to remove those blameworthy qualities while continuing to follow the Sunnah. The Devil may try to make you leave the Sunnah by making you fear falling into pride and ostentation. If he succeeds in doing that, he may then succeed in making you leave the prayer.

———

See these classes delivered by Habib Ali al-Jifri on ostentation and how to deal with it

 

On Becoming Aware of Diseases of the Heart and Dealing With Them

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

Whenever I think I have dealt with one of the diseases in my heart I find I have other diseases. What should I do?

This is a sign that the remedies you are using are working. Continue to seek to purify yourself of these diseases. The more you search and put the spotlight on these diseases the more you will be aware of them and the better you will be able to deal with them. The fact that you have been made aware of these diseases is a sign that Allah wants good for you and wants to rid you of them. You should continue seeking remedies for these diseases and never despair and abandon good actions.

On the Cause of Harm Befalling You

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

When harm befalls you, how do you know whether it is from the effects of the Evil Eye or due to one’s sins?

Generally speaking anything that befalls you is due to your sins, although it can be to raise your station. If it is due to the Evil Eye it usually occurs suddenly and it leads to a state which is not your normal state.

The Worst Type of Pride

Habib Ali al-Jifri said: “I asked my teacher, Habib Umar bin Hafiz: which is more dangerous – being proud of one’s actions or being proud of one’s understanding?”

Habib Umar replied (may Allah preserve him): “Being proud of one’s understanding is more dangerous than being proud of one’s actions and its outcome is more serious. Look at the response of Iblis (may Allah protect us from him):

I am better than him – You created me from fire and You created him from earth.

Iblis relied upon his understanding and did not mention any of his actions.”

Pride (`ujb) stems from attributing things to oneself and being heedless of Allah’s enabling grace (tawfiq). Imam al-Ghazali mentions that it is more subtle than ostentation (riya’). May Allah save us.

On Differentiating Between Wisdom and Caprice

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

How can I differentiate between when I act out of wisdom and when I act following the caprice (hawa) of the lower self?

Caprice and wisdom are in opposition to each other. Someone driven by his caprice rushes to gratify the desires of his lower self in a state of heedlessness of Allah. Someone who acts out of wisdom, on the other hand, rushes to seek that which pleases Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, and this is hard for his lower self. He experiences tranquillity, especially when he remembers Allah, and increases in humility and abasement in front of Allah.

On the Role of the Shaykh in Purification of the Heart

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

What is the role of the Shaykh in purification of the heart?

The Shaykh is the most important means of removing the seeker’s blameworthy traits. The Shaykh is not someone who makes false claims or performs miracles but rather someone who is upright in his religion and has a sanad (chain of connection) in purification of the heart. If the seeker is truthful, Allah will cause him to meet a shaykh who will purify him.

On Ridding Ourselves of Harshness and Arrogance

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

 

How can we rid ourselves of harshness and arrogance?

The illnesses of the heart must be treated with a combination of knowledge and action. We thus treat harshness by continuously reading what has been narrated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah about the blameworthiness of harshness and what has been narrated about the praiseworthiness of being gentle and merciful. We must then strive to be gentle and merciful.

We treat arrogance by reminding ourselves that someone who shows arrogance is liable to be rejected and abased by Allah. Rationally it is not befitting for a person to be arrogant and the Sacred Law does not permit anyone to be arrogant. We must study what has been narrated about the blameworthiness of arrogance and reflect upon the statement of the Prophet ﷺ: “Whoever who has an atom’s weight of arrogance in their heart will not enter Paradise.” We should also read about the virtue of humility, the lives of the people of humility, love them for the sake of Allah and strive to emulate them. We must continue to force ourselves to do that until the light of humility becomes firm established in our hearts.

On Attaining Praiseworthy Attributes and Purifying the Heart

Answered by Sayyidī al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him).

There are too many praiseworthy attributes that we must attain and too many blameworthy attributes from which we must purify ourselves. Even if we focused on just one of these attributes it would take a lifetime. What can we do?

If one can attain two attributes it will lead to the attainment of all praiseworthy attributes and to purification from all blameworthy attributes:

  1. Constant awareness of Allah with a heart that is present;
  2. Following the Messenger of Allah ﷺ with complete awareness (of that following).