The Hub was blessed yesterday to have Sidi Amjad Tarsin, the Chaplain at the Muslim Chaplaincy of U of T teach from the Book of Assistance by Imam Haddad. The lesson was on the chapter of Social Duties, and subhanAllah, it was beautiful to have the words of Imam Haddad explained in such a relatable, lively way. It was a practical, powerful talk about how we need to be people who love each other, who don’t have malice or anger in their hearts, who sincerely wish the good for others and who strive to serve. It was a reminder that we are here for a purpose, and we can’t get sidetracked in chasing self recognition. Below, selections from my notes.
- We gain unity through love mercy and compassion for one another. Nasiha is to have sincere concern for other Muslims. It is to have same love for a believer in front of their face as when they are not around.
Imam Haddad also talks about trust:
- Story of a person that when someone came to see him, he would ask if their question is a business matter or a personal matter, and if it was a personal matter, he would light his own candle. But if official business, would use a different candle. That’s a high level of trust. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a person of sidq. We should be people of trust. Unfortunately person of trust is rare nowadays, and this is a sign that we don’t have real community. So it’s very hard to feel truly safe with another person. Easy to say salaams, and ask how people are, but we need relationships where we can feel truly safe.
- A person has no faith if they are not trustworthy. Our faith is commensurate to the amount of trustworthiness we have. We need to be trustworthy, whether it is with the secrets of others, the feelings of others, the property of others..all of these things. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he would talk to a person he would turn to them with his full face. That’s amana. He is not even taking their feelings and concerns lightly. So where is our level of iman?
Rights of other Muslims.
- Incumbent upon you to have reverence for all Muslims, and to show respect especially to people who are people of virtue. People who are scholars, righteous, people who have aged, incumbent upon us to have reverence. This is almost gone, having a deep sense of reverence for other Muslims. But there should be a value given to human beings simply because they have lived longer. Modern mind has a problem dealing with this.
- We should have a general reverence and respect to all Muslims, and be careful to not scare any Muslims. Haram to scare another believer. Generally bad to do it to anyone, particularly bad to do it to a Muslim. People like to play practical jokes, but these things really scare someone, and you have to have enough reverence for a person that you want them to maintain their tranquility and composure.
- Said that If the noor of iman of disobedient believer was revealed it would fill up the heavens. If Allah made that manifest, would fill up the sky. So what about the person who prays and tries his best? No small thing to be a Muslim. No small thing that Allah has blessed us with Islam. Because no small thing, have to be careful of other people. So we shouldn’t look at people with gaze of disgust. THat they walk in and we give them a look. That’s a form of backbiting that would hurt the person. All of these things: scaring a person, belittling them, looking at them with disgust, this is from bad character and blameworthy acts. Not fitting of a believer.
So what do we do? What is the solution? How do we proactively avoid these things?
- A: It is incumbent upon you to have humility. The solution is humility because it is the character of a believer. All these things that create discord in the hearts of believers, the solution is humility. It is the character of the believers. Be very careful about arrogance. Whoever is humble, whomever lowers themselves in humility, Allah will raise them up. And whoever is arrogant, Allah debases them. People think that it is the other way round: you need to tell people your skills, beat the competition, but being cooperative and having that humble spirit opens doors you wouldn’t imagine.
- Person who has a mustard seed of arrogance, will not enter Paradise. May Allah give us wellbeing and Jannah!
- Arrogance is the most destructive sins, it destroys all the good. Destroys friendships, communities.. arrogant person is not the kind of person that someone wants to be around.
- What is arrogance? Kibr is rejecting truth and looking down at people. If person thinks they are better than someone, how can they ever be of service to that person, how can they ever benefit from that person, how can they ever become closer to Allah?
- Story of young scholar told to look for someone who is less than them. And in each person they saw, realized In reality I don’t know if this person is less than me because they can very easily become better than me, and I can very easily become worse than them. When he came back and said “I haven’t found anyone better than me”, his father said now you are ready to teach.
- Humility is the glue that keeps everything together. Whoever looks at themselves with look of reverence, than that person is an arrogant person. Really this it in essence: if you think very highly of yourself and put other people down, that is arrogance.
- How do you do dawah? Assume that everyone you meet is better than you. At face value they might not better than you, but in reality with Allah, you never know. Sayyidna Umar, (may Allah be well pleased with him) Allah loved him because Allah knew who he was going to be. We need to be very careful about how we look at other people.
What are some of the signs of being humble?
1) Loving anonymity and hating to be famous
- Now we live in a world when it is the opposite and we think “If I could be the spokesperson of Islam, I could solve all the world’s problems”. We live in a world that glorifies fame. But does that really make us full on the inside? Or is it having 1,2,3 people close to you who love you, and being famous in the sight of Allah even if no one knows your name?
- Story about Sayyidna Owais who was not technically a companion, though he lived at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke about him and said when you meet him, ask him to make dua for you. He was someone who was so good to his mother, and it is said that he didn’t see the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) because he was taking care of his mother. Sayyidna Owais suffered from vitiligo and he asked Allah to relieve him of it, but to leave a patch of it remaining so that he would remember Allah’s blessing, and his dua was granted. He was very difficult to find, but finally when they met him they said “I am Umar al Khattab and this is Ali ibn Talib and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked us to ask you for dua. After that he became famous, and he ran away and hid.
2) Accepting truth from whomever gives it to you, whether they are noble or not.
- Someone could be bad but they say something and it’s true. You should take those words. When we get advice our instinctive reaction is, “Hey what about you, look at what you’re doing.. I want to tell you a thing or two.” The nafs wants to be everyone else’s lifecoach.
3) Another sign of humility: love of poor people and mixing with them and sitting with them.
- The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) loved poor people, and he let them live at his masjid. Now we care about rich people, and their business is on every magazine. And poor people who have been through struggles, we want nothing to do with them. This is the inverse of what should be our concern in reality. Part of being humble is to serve, to give rights, to serve as much as one can. To serve other people and forgive others who fall short.
Signs of people who are arrogant.
a) Like to be made visible in gatherings. They complain that their seat isn’t big enough. They complain when they aren’t mentioned. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sat on the same level with the companions.
- The nafs is tricky – sometimes people say, I’m just going to mention this side fact so that people know, so that they have the right adab with me. That “I’m not telling you to kiss my hand, but it would be better for you.” (Don’t do this). The servants of the most Merciful, they walk on the earth gently.
Note: Sign of hypocrisy: not to serve the needs of other people, and ask “why is so and so coming to me! Doesn’t he know that I have problems?” Someone who is humble will remember that “Allah helps a person as long as he helps his brother.”
- In healthy communities, rich people who want to do good, but may not have connections. And the scholars will distribute. Helping the orphan, the widows, the poor, that is a sign of faith.
- If we are not exerting ourselves to be people of these qualities, then people will naturally run away. Then we will find dissension, suspicion slander, backbiting, all these ugly things.
Summary: All he is really talking about here is humility. If we could just do that one thing, humility, the ripple effect would be enormous. What is humility is today’s world? Where? If we could have critical mass of believers saying we are trying to be a Muhammadan community, with Muhammadan concerns, and then have our actions speak for us, that’s enough. People would say, “wait, I can find a place where I can be treated with respect, where I won’t have people looking down at me, where it isn’t that important with Allah and His Messenger how I look etc, where the only matter of concern is my heart?”. It would be huge, these things are needed.
Practical things that Imam Haddad suggests:
- responding to salaams
- helping people out
- Even making space for someone in the gathering. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was very observant. He would deduce people’s needs before they had to ask. To have that kind of awareness of a person’s wellbeing would make great changes. So many people I know have become Muslim just because of hospitality. The idea, “we will be with you in ten minutes, we’re all eating right now,” that is rare in most Muslim households.
- Having a concern for people is transformative. If you love your brother, love your sister, let them know. Don’t know about sisters, but as guys, how often do we tell each other, “I love you! I love you for the sake of Allah.”?
- These things can be transformative and can create a lot of healing. We are a scarred society, we are a hurting people. The world is a difficult place as it is. We need to live these kinds of things in a way that can create healing.
- Religion is not just a set of rules, do this, don’t do that, yes no, tick off the box, it’s so much more. It’s meant to transform your life, and meant to create a light for you and make you a light for others. And when this happens, people when they have experienced so much pain and hurt, can look and say “Look, Muslims are a healthy people, they don’t hurt one another, they don’t scare one another, they don’t belittle one another, look what they have! It’s really deep.
Question: in regards to humility, how do we actualise humility?
Answer: Any virtue is a healthy virtue when expressed in a healthy balance. When extreme, becomes a vice. (ex: Forberance –> apathy)