On Prayer and Vigilance

If the prayer is correctly established, it is a means for seekers to take themselves to account (make muhasabah) and be in a state of vigilance (muraqabah). Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) expounds on this in this extract from a lesson in Imam al-Suhrawardi’s book, `Awarif al-M`arif. The lesson took place in Dar al-Mustafa on 19th Safar 1434 / 1st January 2013.

One of the wisdoms of the prayer is that it enables us to be in a state of vigilance and to constantly take ourselves to account. By being in control of your body you prepare your heart to attain this. Your prayer then puts light into your time so that the time between each prayer becomes illuminated. The Prophet ﷺ pointed to this when he said: “One prayer to the next; one Friday prayer to the next and one Ramadan to the next – all of these wipe out the sins a person commits between them, as long as grave sins are avoided.”

So if someone is alert, knows the purpose of the prayer, and does not allow himself to fall into grave sins, then all his time becomes illuminated by his prayer and he will constantly receive gifts from his Creator.

Sayyiduna `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin showed us in what state we should enter the prayer. When he approached the prayer his colour would change. When asked about this he said: Do you know in front of Whom I am about to stand and with Whom I am about to converse?”

Sayyiduna Ja`far al-Sadiq would carry on repeating one verse in his prayer until he would fall unconscious. When asked about this he said: I continued to repeat it until I heard it from the One Whose speech it is.”

He also said: “Allah manifested Himself to His creation in His speech but they are unaware of this.”

This is the state of those who constantly take themselves to account. Our prayers should have an effect on us. If they are correctly established they should enlighten us and purify us. We should not enter them in a state of heedlessness, unaware of their greatness, nor should their performance become a mere habit.

One of the pious people would take himself to account by writing the prayers down on a piece of paper and leaving a gap between each prayer. Whenever he committed a wrong action he would draw a line in that gap. Whenever he spoke about something that did not concern him he draw a dot. This enabled him to take account of his time between each prayer and thus constrict the Devil and his lower self which constantly orders to evil.

A shaykh once saw one of his students carrying a subhah (prayer beads) and remembering Allah.He said to him: “My son, you are obeying Allah a fixed number of times but you are disobeying him countless times! You do not take account of how many times you disobey Allah with your eye, your tongue, your hand and your intention. You are counting the number of times you remember Him but you are not counting the number of times you disobey Him. Being aware of your wrongdoings is more important.” 

Possessing a Little is Possessing Everything

A reminder from Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him). Extracts from a lesson in Ihya Ulum al-Din in Dar al-Mustafa, Dhu’l-Qa`dah 1432 / October 2011

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: 

“If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body; in a state of safety; possessing his day’s provision, it is as if he possesses the whole world and everything in it.1

This is a message from the one who does not speak from his own caprice. If you receive this message you will save yourself from numerous problems which befall the people of this world. Those that do not accept truths such as this live their lives as prisoners to their illusions. Iblis and his troops from among men and jinn strive to make people compete in amassing worldly possessions. As a result of this much corruption is spread.

If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body” – praise be to Allah, all of us have healthy bodies. May Allah bless us with continuous health and wellbeing.

In a state of safety” day and night we move about from place to place in safety. Where did this safety come from?

Possessing his day’s provision” – which one of us does not possess any provision? Which one of us is clutching his stomach out of hunger, unable to find even a single date to eat?

Great wealth—in excess of a day’s provision—will only be of harm to those who possess it, as they will have to account for it in this life and the next.

The wise used to say: “If all you want from this worldly life is what suffices you, then a small amount will suffice you. However, if you want more than what suffices you then everything that the world contains will not suffice you.”

As the hadith states: “Had the son of Adam possessed a valley of gold he would only wish for another, and had he had another he would wish for a third. The only thing that will fill his stomach is earth and Allah will turn to the one who turns to Him.”2

This is one of the realities that the Best of Creation spoke of:

“If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body; in a state of safety; possessing his day’s provision, it is as if he possesses the whole world and everything in it.

He spoke the truth—his Companions were the kings of this life and the next, may Allah be pleased with them, and often they did not even possess a day’s provision!

1 Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

2 Narrated by Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi.


The Believer is like a Bee

Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) reflects upon a beautiful hadith in a lesson in Dar al-Mustafa, 9th Shawwal 1432 / 7th September 2011

Let us reflect upon the following beautiful hadith, narrated by Imam Ahmad on the authority of `Abdullah bin `Amr.

قال رسول الله ﷺ : و الذي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ إِنَّ مَثَلَ المؤمِنِ كَمَثَلِ النَّحْلَةِ أَكَلَتْ طَيِّبَاً و وَضَعَتْ طَيِّبَاً و وَقَعَتْ فَلَمْ تَكْسِرْ و لَمْ تُفْسِدْ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the believer is like a bee which eats that which is pure and wholesome and lays that which is pure and wholesome. When it lands on something it does not break or ruin it.”

  • The bee only eats from flowers which are tayyib (pure and wholesome). It is not attracted to repulsive things, unlike other insects. Likewise the believer only eats that which is pure and wholesome.

  • The bee lays or excretes honey which is also tayyib. Likewise only that which is good and wholesome comes forth from the believer, whether it be his words, his intentions or his actions.

  • The bee is light and nimble and does not break the flowers upon which it lands, nor does it ruin them. Likewise the believer is gentle in his dealings with the creation and does not harm or ruin any human or animal or plant.

Turning Ourselves to Allah

Advice from Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him). Extracts from a talk during the mawlid in Dar al-Mustafa the night of 28th Sha`ban 1432/ 28th July 2011.

When people turn themselves in full obedience to Allah, saying and realising: I have turned myself to the One who created the heavens and the earth,1 Allah then makes His creation subservient to them. Even the angels of the highest gatherings compete to be with such a person and to pray behind him. This is the reward of those who respond to His call and make their only desire calling to Him and serving Him.

To us was sent the one that Allah chose out of all His creation ﷺ, Muhammad the son of `Abdullah. By him our faces were ennobled through prostration. I ask that just as these faces were ennobled through prostration that these hearts likewise be ennobled – a prostration from which they do not arise. When your heart prostrates to Him you know how to use what you have been given to attain that to which He has called you. Then you will have returned everything with which you have been entrusted to its rightful owner. Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due.2

Everything you have been given is a trust, so use it to obey Allah, spread good and give life to the Sunnah. Your hearing is a trust. Who does it belong to? Who gave it to you? Which factory produced it? Use your hearing to listen intently to His Qur’an, especially in Ramadan. How much do you recite in the day and night? How much did you recite last Ramadan? How much do you wish to recite? Arrange your time so you increase even if only gradually, so that you ascend and be amongst those whose fear drove them to travel by night so that they reached their destination, as in the hadith: “The one who fears travels by night and the one who travels by night reaches his destination. Allah’s prize is truly precious – it is Paradise.”3

1Al-An`am, 6:79.

2Al-Nisa’, 4:58.

3Narrated by al-Tirmidhi.



Counsels for Our Students

Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) counsels his students. Taken from an interview conducted by the Malaysian satellite channel “Astro,” Jumad al-Akhirah 1430/ May 2009.

What advice do you have for your students and what hopes do you have for them for the future?

We counsel our students specifically and students of the Sacred Law generally to check their intention and the thoughts which enter their minds, which cause them either to act sincerely for the sake of Allah or to seek other than Allah. We counsel them to reject every thought originating from caprice (hawa), from the lower self (nafs) and from the Devil which calls them to seek other than Allah and to desire anything other than attaining His nearness and pleasure. The knowledge of the Sacred Law is a trust which was borne by the Prophets and Messengers and was delivered to us by the Master of the Prophets and Messengers ﷺ. This knowledge is not mere information or the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, rather it is light which Allah casts into a person’s heart. Its reality is expressed in purity of the heart, truthfulness with the Most Compassionate and elements of Islam and Iman which allow someone to be elevated to the station of Ihsan and thereby attain direct knowledge (ma`rifah) of Allah. As for mere information and the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, these are possessed by both the righteous and the corrupt alike but the reality of knowledge is only possessed by someone who is truthful, sincere and has been purified. We thus counsel them to take note of this affair.

We also counsel them to be aware of their transaction with Allah in acting upon their knowledge, teaching it and spreading it, seeking in doing so the countenance of Allah Almighty. We warn them against being captured by the allurement of wealth or status from whatever direction or faction that allurement comes. We wish for them to be constantly aware that Allah is the One to be sought, that Allah makes wealth subordinate to someone who has sincerity with Him and that a person’s provision has already been apportioned and he will certainly receive it. Allah has legislated and made permissible certain means for a person to earn his provision, so if he needs to do so, he does it in the way that has been prescribed. He does not use the religion as a means of earning,1 nor does he earn by outwardly manifesting something which he does not possess. He does not earn a living nor attempt to attain some worldly objective by saying something which is not the most correct and beloved thing in the sight of Allāh’s Sacred Law.

Finally they should consider themselves as absolute servants of everything in creation for the sake of the Lord of Creation. With this we counsel them, and we wish that Allah, according to people’s response to this call and to their truthfulness with Allah, will bring about great good in the world, and that through this He will renew the religion of this Ummah as He has promised on the tongue of His Messenger ﷺ, and that He will unite its ranks and deflect from it many tribulations. We hope that in the future that they will spread this goodness with courtesy, piety and taqwa.

1 Meaning that someone should not seek religious knowledge purely for the sake of worldly gain.