Prophetic Love is a Love that Heals (Visiting the SeekersHub)

On Thursday last week my heart was feeling heavy, and so following my mother’s excellent advice that remembrance of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him eases the heart, I went to the SeekersHub Toronto to hear Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari speak and to participate in the weekly mawlid.

Though I’ve been in Toronto for the past couple of months, this was my first visit to the new Hub location, and I’m so, so happy I made the trip finally. (God bless and reward the kind soul that helped make the journey easier by picking me up).  If you haven’t visited the SeekersHub Toronto yet either, I highly recommend the trip. To start with, the space is beautiful.  One wall features a large calligraphy piece by Toronto calligrapher Sehar Shahzad, and seeing this piece in person is worth the trip alone. Her work radiates love, and its wonderful to see local institutions supporting local artists. 

But the Hub is so much more than a beautiful physical space. It almost felt like Eid that night- there were families and people of all ages in the Hub, and everyone was smiling, happy, and truly glad to be there celebrating the beauty of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and so many unknown ones, and to see how much the Hub has grown since I last lived in Toronto alhamdullilah. 

And even though it had been a while since I’ve participated in a mawlid, it was a very accessible gathering. The evening started with a beautiful recitation of the Dua Nasiri, a powerful dua that applies to our world and to our everyday, individual lives. One line in particular that I found moving was the following:

“You are the One on Whom We call to remove our adversities,
and You are the One we hope will dispel our sorrows.”

To you, our Lord, we have stretched out our hands
and from You, our Lord, we hope for kindness.

Be kind to us in what You decree
and let us be pleased with what pleases You.

 

Since the Mawlid I’ve been listening to this dua constantly, and I highly recommend hearing this recitation of this moving, important dua.  After the Dua Nasiri we recited a beautiful dua for rain, and again, hearing the dua and reading its meaning about physical and spiritual rain was a heart-softening experience.

Supplication for Rain

Supplication for Rain

 

Later on in the mawlid, Shaykh Ibrahim Hussain shared a beautiful Urdu naat with us, and though hearing about the Prophet in any language softens the heart and is beautiful, hearing poetry in a language where I can appreciate the subtlety of the poetry without the intermediary of translation was my favourite part of the gathering.  Sidi Nader Khan also shared an Urdu naat with us that was exceptional, and such moments are the ones have the most impact on my heart. Alhamdullilah for the diversity of forms of praise about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him!

The mawlid closed before Maghrib with Sidi Nader treating us to an bluesy-jazz number in English that was extraordinary, and something we could all participate in through the chorus of “laa ilaha illAllah”. By this point in the gathering, I felt so much joy and happiness, and felt markedly different from when I walked into the door. Alhamdullilah for this deen and the light of faith, alhamdullilah for the beauty and mercy of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and alhamdullilah for the beauty and company of fellow believers! Truly, reflecting on the gifts we’ve been given make external challenges so much easier to deal with, and the Hub facilitates such remembrance.

After Maghrib Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari gave a powerful reminder (I highly recommend listening to it in its entirety!) about how the Qur’an should change our lives (notes below) and people stayed after the lesson for Isha, to drink delicious Moroccan tea (everything about the Hub is sweet) and to catch up and meet new friends and old. All in all, it was a night of tranquility, and I look forward to my next visit insha’Allah! 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Building a Spiritual Connection With the Qur’an – Gems from Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari

Yesterday I attended Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari’s lecture on “Building a Spiritual Connection to the Qur’an” at the University of Toronto – Mississauga , and I am so grateful to the Muslim Chaplaincy, the SeekersHub and the MSA for making this lecture possible.  It’s been a difficult week, and I came to the class in need of spiritual rain and respite and relief from my own thoughts.

Alhamdullilah, I’m so glad I made the journey! Shaykh Ahmed gave us excellent, practical advice on how to develop a connection to the Qur’an, and his joyful, gentle state, and palpable love for the Book of Allah gave us the encouragement we needed to strive to implement his advice.  The class was a reminder that the Qur’an is the medicine our hearts sorely need, and that developing a relationship with the Qur’an is what will heal our hearts. Happiness and contentment is only through proximity to Allah, His Book, and following the way of His Beloved, peace and blessings be upon him.

My notes from last night are not extensive as I listened more than took notes, but you can hear the lecture in its entirety here through the Muslim Chaplaincy Soundcloud page. (I highly recommend listening to the lecture in its entirety – the stories Shaykh Ahmed told us during the class were so so beautiful!)  If you’re in the Toronto area though, do make sure to check out Shaykh’s Ahmed’s remaining lectures while he is still in town. He speaks tonight (the 15th) at the SeekersHub, and this weekend at the ISNA Canada Convention. Such gatherings of goodness soften the heart and should not be missed.

Notes:

The Miracle of the Qur’an

  • The Qur’an is the biggest ni’ma (blessing)  that Allah has given us. Every Prophet, peace be upon them all, was given a miracle that was enough for people to follow him. Musa peace be upon him, had a stick that turned into a snake. And our Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, told us that what he was given was not a physical miracle, it was the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not time-bound. It proves the message by the content of the message.
  • The Quran is an accessible book. Every book is structured with an audience in mind. A primary school book is not written the same as an academic book. The Qur’an is a book that addresses everyone.
  • The Quran has always been at the centre of the ummah.
  • Allah tells us, “We have made the Qur’an easy for remembering. Is there anyone who wishes to remember?
  • The scholars are particular about every sound of the Qur’an and how it is pronounced. They wouldn’t be particular in the same way about spoken Arabic, but this isn’t just spoken Arabic, it is Qur’anic Arabic. It’s not dialectical variation. The scholars even discuss the validity of the prayer for someone who makes a mistake in recitation.

Stories of people who had a spiritual connection to the Qur’an

  • There was a Companion who was on night duty in Madinah, and was reciting the Qur’an in his prayer, and as he was praying, he heard some noises, and saw some lights. In the morning, he asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him about what he saw. And the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said that those were angels who came down to hear his recitation, and if he had continued till morning, people would have seen the angels on earth.
  • I have always wondered: what was different about his recitation that it brought angels to earth, and our recitation doesn’t hit our hearts? That we don’t even have presence of heart in our recitation?
  • Abdullah ibn Mas’ud – he was asked to recite to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him and his recitation brought tears to the eyes of the Prophet.  What was unique about his recitation that it invoked the tears of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the person who actually received the Qur’an? He was reciting the Qur’an to the person who received the Qur’an, the person who already knows everything that is in the Qu’ran. Was it just the sound of his voice?
  • Very few of the Companions were asked by the Prophet to recite the Qur’an to him.
  • There was another companion who had a beautiful voice, and the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him would sit for hours outside his tent listening to his prayers. And one day he came out and saw the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him there, and he was surprised. He asked, “Oh Messenger, how long have you been sitting there?” And the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said “You have a beautiful voice like Dawud alayhis salaam”.
  • Why did the Prophet  peace and blessings be upon him mention Dawud alayhis salaam, when all the Prophets had beautiful voices? Allah has mentioned the voice of Dawud alayhis salaam in the Quran, and told us that when he recited, the whole universe was listening and chanting with him. The mountains and birds were chanting with him, the animals were accumulating to listen to him. Allah subjugated the mountains to him, and they would praise Allah.
  • After 40 years of marriage, The father of Imam Jazari did not have kids. And then he went for Hajj, had a lot of ZamZam water and prayed for a child who would be a great scholar. 9 months later, Imam Jazari was born, and he was someone who was separated from his kids, stopped from doing Hajj, went through incredible persecution, and throughout it all, he was writing and teaching texts about the Qur’an. He had an unimaginable connection and devotion to the Qur’an. He even taught his kidnappers, so much saw that they delayed his release in order to get ijaza from him. And Imam Jazari is to the sciences of Qur’an the way Imam Bukhari is to hadith.
  • The best of you is the one that learns and teaches the Qur’an. – Hadith.
  • Why?  The Qur’an has always been central to the ummah. The Qur’an cuts khilaf (difference). When you have a Qur’an teacher, you care about their knowledge of recitation, not about other issues of difference.
  • The Qur’an is the strong rope of Allah that binds us together.

Continue reading

Gems from Shaykh Muhammad al Yaquobi’s Lecture “Visiting the Messenger of Allah” (CD1)

Today I found an old notebook of preparation notes for the 2007 Rihla with the Deen Intensive Foundation. To prepare, we were sent a lecture by Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaquobi titled Visiting the Messenger of Allah.  It’s been several years since I’ve heard this lecture, but it is one that I remember being very helpful in becoming mentally ready to visit Madinah, and that I’ve recommended to others preparing to go on Umrah or wanting to learn more about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. In his talk, Shaykh Muhammad Yaquobi stresses that we are only able to visit Madinah when we receive an invitation to do so, and though I was scheduled to go on the 2007 Rihla, at the last moment my visa application was unsuccessful.  In 2007, this lecture was a great comfort when I realised I would be unable to make the journey, and made my visit to the cities of Makkah, Taif and Madinah in the 2008 Rihla that much sweeter. As always, all mistakes in notetaking are my own.

  • When we come to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) we come with nothing other than loads of sins, and forgetfulness, shortcomings, deficiencies.  We have no knowledge, no claims, other than being lovers.
  • We are here as neighbours of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and it’s a great honour to be neighbours here in Madinah. We come with intention of visiting him, to live in this city.
  • Sayyidina Umar was one of the sahabas who believed it was better to live in Madinah than Makkah. Dying in Madinah is a great honour. On its tenets may blessings be. Anyone who dies in this city, the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him comes to testify that that person is one of the ummah.
  • Be happy that you have reached here, this city is the Messenger’s sanctuary. In order to reach it, must have received an invitation. We are his guests. You have received an invitation. One can only can be welcomed on his behalf, peace and blessings be upon him.
  • He was most generous of all human beings. You are here as guests of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
  • His generosity includes granting us his company, giving us drinks from his basin on the Day of Judgement, coming to us in visions.
  •  What we are asking from him is much more than dunya – akhirah. Worry about akhirah! Don’t worry about your job, your degree,  your children, your studies, your income. Worry about the Day of Judgement. Nobody will help us except what we have prepared for that Day, our good works in this life. The Prophet. This is why if you don’t have feelings for him, you will not benefit a lot. If you’re coming to visit a noble man, and don’t know why he is noble, will come and go the same.
  • The adab you need with the Prophet starts in the heart.

Continue reading

Gems from Sidi Amjad Tarsin’s Khutbah “Where is the Love?”

Every time I listen to content from the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, my heart fills with joy, and I wonder why I don’t visit their SoundCloud page more often. Masha’Allah, the Chaplaincy content is relevant, practical and full of mercy, and I’m so glad it’s accessible to people like myself who live outside the Toronto area. (To sustain the Muslim Chaplaincy, you can learn more here) Below, my notes from their Feb 7th Khutba titled “Where is the Love.”

  • Be mindful of Allah. Every blessing we have is a manifestation of His generosity. And every blessing we have, and every luxury we enjoy should be used in His service and gratitude.
  • To proceed, one of the most important responsibilities we have as an ummah, as a community of believers is mutual love and concern for one another.
  • As the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said:  “None of you truly believes until you love for brother and sister what you love for yourself”. That extends to a brother or sister in humanity, and the rights we owe brothers and sisters in faith is even greater. The sincere concern we should express for one another is even greater.
  • Allah says in the Qu’ran: Indeed the believers, are brothers and sisters.” The bond of faith is greater than an intellectual agreement. It goes deeper than that. Our bond is rooted in the Real. We owe one another rights and we owe one another love. We owe it to love one another.
  • Sometimes we hear this and think it applies to someone else. Very easy for nafs to say other people are falling short. But we need to talk about I can improve, how we can improve. When we improve, the benefit will spread by Allah’s Grace.
  • Need to ask ourselves: How much love, how much sincere concern do I have for my brothers and sisters? And this is a duty. This is a duty we have to Allah and His Messenger and to one another, to have love for one another. We have to ask ourselves, how much love and concern am I showing?
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him when he would sit with his companions, he would ask about people, he would notice when people were missing. When someone was sick, the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him would say, lets go visit them. It was a community that was built upon love and reverence of Allah, and it permeated and translated into the way that they treated one another. Which is why we are still benefiting from the fruits of their love and reverence 1400 years later in Canada. We have a responsibility to live that way, to care for one another and have that sincere love for one another.
  • We have to have that sincere concern for everyone, for people we don’t agree with, for people who may be falling short. It’s easy to show love to people who show goodness to us, who agree with us.
  • There was a companion that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him pointed out as a person who was granted Paradise. He didn’t perform extraordinary acts of worship, but when asked what he did for the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him to have pointed him out in this way, he responded saying, “I can’t think of anything special, but every night before bed I forgive everyone who has wronged me. “

Continue reading

Gems from Embodied Light, Class 2 with Sidi Amjad Tarsin (Part 1)

In the second session of the class Embodied Light with Sidi Amjad Tarsin from the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, the physical description of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him was discussed. (The subject of the first session was the Prophet as light and the names of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him). Below, notes from the first half of the class. What I love about this class so far is that even listening from afar, learning about the Prophet creates a happiness in the heart. There was a moment in the class where the teacher described a story where the Prophet wore a red garment, and hearing that story really does make you long to see the beauty and light of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. What a gift to have teachers who make you want to be a better person and be someone who is loved by the Beloved! To learn more about supporting this mubarak class and other excellent programming, please see here.

  • What is love? How does love manifest itself, express itself in human interaction? Some ways:
  1. Doing things that make the person you love happy.
  2. Want to know everything about that person. You want to immerse yourself in that person.
  3. Want to emulate that person.
  • People around the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, were lovers.
  • The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, was physically the most beautiful person, even more beautiful than the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him. No one before him or after him was given that appearance, peace and blessings be upon him. He was neither exceedingly tall or short. He was in between, but inclined to tallness. His hair was neither fine nor coarse. His skin was neither white to the point of paleness nor was he dark, peace and blessings be upon him.
  •  One of the miracles of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was that everything about him was moderate.
  • When he brushed his hair it would part and also curl.
  • Allah has told us in the Qur’an, “We have made you a middle nation”. If you look at Islam, one of the amazing things about it is that everything is in moderation. Extremes in the religion are to be avoided. If you look at Islam, you have rules and you have spirituality.
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had thick hands and feet. Prophet was manly, peace and blessings be upon him and was the most beautiful expression of manliness you can find.  One of the plights we have today is that men are not manly. The Prophet,peace and blessings be upon him, exuded strength.
  • He had a large head, but not exceedingly large. He had big limbs and bones. He was sturdy, peace and blessings be upon him. He had light hair on his chest in a line to his navel, peace and blessings be upon him.
  • When he walked, his whole body was involved in the process of walking. When you saw the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, knew that he was not a lazy person, peace and blessings be upon him. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, never dragged his feet. The Prophet’s actions and habits have wisdom. There is always something to do. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had determination in his life. He had things to do. And if you look at his life, in the span of 23 yeras, the Arabian Peninsula and the Quraysh went from being unknown to being world powers on a global scale. And of course the point of Islam isn’t to become a world power, but it goes to show how the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, transformed people. He did this (with the attitude)  that I don’t have time to waste. Nowadays we have people playing videogames into their thirties, have people watching movies all day long, but we should say, I don’t have time for that. I’ve got to change the world. I’ve got to connect people with Allah. I’ve got stuff to do. That’s how the Prophet was, peace and blessings be upon him. They say that when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was walking and had something to do, just get out of the way. Nobody could stay in his way, sallallahu alayhi wasalaam.

Continue reading

Notes from the Qalam Institute Seerah Podcast (Episode 3)

Continuing on with the Qalam Institute Seerah Podcast, here are notes from Episode 3.

  • Unless you understand the circumstances that were present at the time of the Prophet, you can’t understand the impact that he made, peace and blessings be upon him.
  •  Understanding the Arabs help answer the question why the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him was sent to these people.
  • Basic understanding of this word is that it is something that runs, something that flows.  The word Arab would refer to clarity of speech. The opposite is a person who when they speak, they babble. An Arab is someone who speaks clearly.
  • The Arabs believed that their speech was superior because it flowed. The word Arab is never used in the Qur’an. Forms of the word Arab are used.
  • The Arabs  were very clear in their speech, very articulate in their language. Very passionate people. Had great admiration for hilm, being calm and serene.
  • Also had chaos around them. Did not a systematic form of economics, government, religion.

Continue reading

The Blessing of Work

  • Dawud (David) peace be upon him was a Prophet who was a labourer, a blacksmith who worked with his hands. He earned a honest living.
  •  Often we feel there is a clash between earning an honest living and serving the deen. Need to stop presenting this idea that working is bad. If someone is honest and hardworking and able to turn their skills into a halal income, that is praiseworthy. A businessman who is honest and hardworking will be raised with the righteous. Whoever gives a full refund to a customer Allah will build a palace in paradise.

Continue reading