It’s a busy time of the year at work, and at such times, as we launch new campaigns and strive to create resources for healthy communities, I become very aware of how I communicate, the faults in how I express myself, and the ways the words of others impact me. I want to be kind and gentle in my speech – and I still have a long way to go. Recently I discovered a class through Sandala called Prohibitions of the Tongue with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf that was taught at the 2012 Rihla and I’m hoping the course can be a resource in improving my speech.
The description of the course (found on the Rihla website) is as follows:
Prohibitions of the Tongue
A famous hadith details several saving virtues and ends with the Prophet (pbuh) summarizing, “Shall I not tell you how to achieve all of this?” He took a hold of his tongue and said, “Restrain this.” Restraint of the tongue has been considered by scholars to be a central prerequisite to character development. This course, based on the famous text “Prohibitions of the Tongue” by Imam Muhammad al-Mawlud, will provide students with a deeper understanding of moral and immoral speech, its effects, and ways to protect one’s self from spiritual harm. Designed to help students to developed restraint of the tongue, this course is timely preparation for Ramadan – a time in which speech has the deepest spiritual implications.
I’ve started listening/watching to the class on my commute, and have heard one (there are fifteen classes so far. Notes from the session are below. The first class was an introduction/opening to the Rihla and because the points about making the most of the Rihla are important self reminders about how to spend holidays, weekends,’ free time’, I’ve included them below. If you’re interested in the course, access through the Sandala website is $10.
Notes from an amazing lecture on dua and Talking to Allah by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. Really really beneficial reminders here and I highly recommend hearing the two part lecture in its entirety. To hear the actual lecture, you can find the first part here.
- Dua means to call out, to speak, to address. Supplication is a very big word.
- Talking to Allah gives someone the spiritual nourishment & emotional fortitude to do what is right & what is better.
- We don’t just need to study the seerah, we need to mine the seerah. The seerah is a goldmine, it’s a treasure chest.
- Abu Hurairah is the outcome of a dua the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, made 10 yrs earlier when he prayed for the guidance of the people of Daws.
- “Dua is something very real, very practical. It is a means to talk and communicate with Allah in whatever situation we’re dealing with.
- There are three main etiquettes of dua.
- The first one is to talk to Allah from your heart with sincerity. When you make dua to Allah, just be honest. Be sincere. Be real. Pour your heart out to Allah. Allah accepts dua from a heart that is attentive, that is open, that is turning to Allah. Allah does not accept a dua from a heart that is empty and disconnected.
- The second etiquette is to praise and glorify Allah. Show some appreciation and gratitude for the blessings we have. Start with basics - look around you. One powerful way to show gratitude is through Allah’s Names. Allah instructs us to use His Beautiful Names. Take a few moments to learn some names of Allah and what they mean. Whether stocks, sports stats, we have so much useless information in our heads. We can take a few moments to learn some Names of Allah. So the second step is to use the Names and Attributes of Allah to praise and glorify Him.
- Third step is to send peace and blessings on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Ingratitude is a disease of the heart & it spreads. So it’s very important to show some appreciation for what the Prophet did. Look at how much the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him sacrificed for us.
- So to recap: be real, talk to Allah, praise and glorify Allah, and send blessings on the Prophet.
I’m reading an incredible book right now by Habib ali al-Jifri called Wayfarers to God, and so far, it is one of those reads where your heart softens because everything you are reading speaks to you. Below, a passage that made me stop and re-read several times.
No sooner do you attempt to examine your faults than the wickedness of the nafs surges forward to cover those faults. Yes indeed, many in the Community are far worse than you are, but have you been created to transfix your gaze upon those worse off than yourself? How many times have you looked at someone driving a car more expensive than yours and wished you had one like theirs? How many times have you worn a garment only to see a more expensive garment that you wished you could have worn instead? And how many times have you heard that gifts – from the gifts of this world – have been conferred upon so-and-so and wished that they were yours? Why didn’t you say, “alhamidullah. Many are without food and I am eating, alhamidullah”? Why do you not say, “Some people don’t have a mount or clothes, but I do”? Why is it that in the affairs of this world we look to those above us, but in the affairs of the Hereafter we look to those below us? Do you know why? Indeed it is because the nafs has not been purified, developed and cultivated. Indeed, it is your greatest foe on the path to Allah.
~Wayfarers to God, Habib Ali al Jifri, p. 21
2.”The only believers are those whose hearts tremble when God is mentioned, and who are increased in faith when the signs of God are recited to them, and who trust in their Lord;
3. those who pray regularly, and give of what We have provided them.
4. They are the ones who are truly believers; there are ranks in the presence of their Lord for them and forgiveness, and a generous provision;”
(The Quran, A New Translation, 8:2-4)
Several weeks ago, Shaykh Faraz had a series on Twitter about the etiquette of dua. Today, I was in need of this reminder and found my notes in my draft folder! The second part of the post is notes from a SeekersHub Global answer to a question about delayed response to duas.
A Twitter Primer on Dua
- Ask, don’t demand. And don’t fail to ask.
- Ask, keeping in mind the Prophet’s words ﷺ, “And each person shall have whatsoever they sought.”
- Ask in accordance with Allah’s Generosity and Mercy, not your worth (or perceived lack thereof).
- Ask, for Everything.
- Focus on the meanings of what you’re asking *before* you ask.
- Magnify your neediness and expressiveness in dua by repeating your dua–three or more times. #sunna
- Magnify your neediness, by calling on Allah by His Names. #YaHayyuYaQayyum #YaArhamArRahimin #YaLatifuYaKhabir
- Allah’s Response is certain: when He wills, not when you wish; in the way He wills, not in the way you wish.
- A sign of concern for others is praying regularly for them.
- Key Adab of #Dua: Absolute certainty in Allah’s Response. “Call on Me: I will indeed answer you.”
- Express concern for the Umma by a lot of dua–more effective than watching a lot of news.
- The best words to call upon Allah with are the words His Beloved ﷺ used to call upon Him with.
- Ask Allah that you fulfill your duties of slavehood and His rights of Lordship.
- The best of what you can seek in supplication is God Himself.
- Levels of dua: (1) ask for your worldly needs; (2) express your neediness; (3) realize Allah’s Lordship and Attributed.
- Duas aren’t demands. They’re expressions of need –and realizations of Divine Favour.
- When Allah inspires you to ask, know that He has willed to give.” (Ibn Ata’illah)
“The Indonesian situation is different, nearly unique among Muslim countries. Indonesia has thousands of institutions where women can become specialists of Islam. For example, in Islamic boarding schools called pesantren, male and female students spend years studying the Islamic sources. These schools produce female preachers, intellectuals and activists who are equipped with deep Islamic knowledge. Many of these women have focused for years on the heart of this knowledge, the law and its jurisprudence (Shari’ah and Fiqh) and go on to become professors in Islamic universities. Not only can these women debate with extremist Muslim groups who propose a different interpretation of the holy texts concerning gender issues, they participate equally in the interpretation and reinterpretation of these texts.”
~ Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur’an in Indonesia, by Pieternella van Doorn Harder.
Now we know what the path is, now we know where we have to go, we ask Allah, “Have there been others who have gone on this path?” When in college, you ask advice for graduates who have already found a job, the ones have already succeeded because people who are with you, you have no guarantees and therefore they have no guarantees.
This surah says: past tense. The path up, the straight path up, the one taken by those You showered favour upon. Past tense. So the real role models of Islam are not the ones alive, are the ones who have gone, because the ones who are alive are as volatile as you and me. The anchors who will not go away are the actual graduates not the students. Graduation ceremony is death. And then the certificate is issued by Allah. And there are some people who Allah already issued their certificate, told us all their transcript. This is what gave them their credit so that they could graduate. Learn from them.
So we ask Allah to show us the path of those who have already gone before. But in the language we say those who You showered favour upon. In other words, we didn’t say the path taken by those who already made it up all the way. Instead of giving them credit, gave Allah credit. The Muslim realizes that this path is really hard, isn’t any way to do this without Allah making it easy. So the Muslim asks, “Ya Allah, who did you make it easy for before?
The word An-amta.
- Come from softness. Something soft and relaxed. Word for cows comes from this. Cows are relaxed. Allah says that I made this path so relaxed for them, will be like cows. Allah says that this is such a hard journey, the more you go up, the more danger you’re in, but with My favour it will be relaxing. And Allah describes these people all throughout the Qur’an. The stories of the righteous, the story of the Prophets, the story that’s mentioned of good people, all this is Allah answering just that one dua of show me the previous graduates.
Recently on my commute I’ve been listening to a wonderful set of lectures by Sidi Amjad Tarsin from the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto on Imam Haddad’s text “Lives of Man” and alhamidullah, this has transformed my journey home into a beautiful and beneficial experience. The full set of lectures can be found here, and so far (I’ve heard two of the four classes) I really can’t recommend the series enough. Masha’Allah even through a recording, Sidi Amjad’s kind, gentle teaching style shines through and though the material is grave (pun not intended), the examples given are memorable, accessible and relatable, and you feel hopeful, not discouraged, at the end of each session.
Do benefit and share these lessons – as even if you’ve read this text before, this is a wonderful review. And to learn more about the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, you can find out more here.
Below, some notes from the second class. These notes were mostly taken on the bus, so they aren’t complete, and as always, all mistakes in notetaking are my own.
From the March 31st session.
- The nafs is you. It’s your internal state.
- Hawa is the entity in which the nafs manifests. Hawa is your internal inclinations, your desires.
- True religion is about character, going against yourself.
- The more you pray, the more you’re around good people, the more you do dhikr, the more your desires begin to change. You will always have desires, but the idea is for your desires to confirm to sacred teachings. It’s so important to have environments that cultivate this.
- First need to be able to govern our souls before we can lead anyone else.
- Need to be aware of the politics of the soul.
- Religion is beautiful, but not necessarily easy.
- We have a faculty of anger and a faculty of desire – both relate to caprice.
- While we are in this world, we’re supposed to know Allah in times of hardship and in times of ease. We are supposed to know Him in His Majestic manifestations and in His Beautiful manifestations.
- We should never be embarrassed to ask Allah for anything, no matter how small. Even if it is for salt in the food, if our sandal strap breaks, for whatever it is, big or small, we should ask Allah.
- Whenever we are in need, anytime we need help, we should turn to Allah.
- Know your Lord in a state of prosperity so that He will know you in a state of difficulty.
- Use good times of health to know Allah