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

Exploring the Qur’an with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus(Class 3 Notes)

In this week’s class, we finished Surah Naba. This week I was mostly trying to take in what Shaykh Yahya was saying and so wasn’t able to take comprehensive notes. Still, here are a few gems that were mentioned during the session. Till next week…

Exploring the Qur’an  (Week 3 Notes)

  • 2nd degree of taqwa : to set a barrier between yourself and unlawful things, whether they are internal traits of the heart like arrogance or outward actions like backbiting
  • A higher stage of taqwa: not only have you left the haram, the disliked matters, but you leave the doubtful matters too.

Note: Another meaning of doubtful matters: matters regarding which there is a difference of opinion among scholars. In this stage of taqwa, you leave them out of scrupulousness

  • Fourth stage: Did what you were asked to do with the permissible. Did you give you the right of gratitude to what you were given?
  • Remember: to the degree that you don’t give thanks, the Day of Judgement will be lengthened. So we have to constantly remind ourselves to give thanks, to give thanks, to give thanks
  • Zakat of having a car: give people rides when they don’t have a car
  • Zakat of having a home: opening it to people to study
  • Zakat of owning own medical practice: serving people who are underinsured, or not insured
  • If you choose to leave the permissible out of a desire to prefer the next life, it is good.

Continue reading

Humility is the Glue that Keeps Everything Together (Sidi Amjad Tarsin at the SeekersHub)

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.

Continue reading

Exploring the Qur’an with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (Class 1 Notes)

Today was the first session of the new Seekers Guidance course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus titled “Exploring the Qur’an. In today’s session, Shaykh Yahya not only taught us about Surah Naba, but he also discussed the importance of constant reflection, the wisdom and knowledge contained within different languages, how we should interact with those who are struggling with faith, the value of good sleep, and how salawat is a powerful way to combat feelings of anxiety and stress, among many other topics. As always, being in his class was a reminder to strive to orient one’s own personal and family life around the principles of constantly learning, reflecting, spending time in nature and seeking to bring about the good, and I’m very very grateful to SeekersGuidance to providing this course in such an accessible format. If you can, please support their Bricks and Mortar campaign here: http://seekersguidance.org/donate/.  Selections from my notes are below.

Continue reading

Lasting Love: What Makes for Successful Marriage (Notes from the SeekersHub)

 On November 3rd 2012, the SeekersHub held a seminar titled “Lasting Love: What Makes for a Successful Marriage”. The course was live -streamed, and I logged on from Vancouver to hear the sessions. It was masha’Allah, a day that was well worth the investment in time. In summary, what I learnt from the course was that the core of marriage is good character, and that marriage is a long term opportunity for you to strive to be a better person. It is a means for you to work on the lifelong task of returning back to Allah with a sound heart. When two people have that intention, insha’Allah that leads to lasting love and a successful marriage, but really the seminar was not so much about marriage as about being a good human being. The video of the event is now available, and can be accessed here. And they are by no means comprehensive, but below are my notes from the event.

Continue reading

Ask Allah With Certitude in the Answer

Online on Facebook this morning, I saw that SeekersGuidance had opened up the final live session for their marriage course to general attendees. I wasn’t able to attend the whole class, but below are notes from the part of the lesson I was able to hear. Also, the new SeekersGuidance semester with courses on a variety of topics begins soon! Don’t miss out the chance to study from wherever you are, with qualified, reliable teachers.

  • (Some)Quranic supplications for getting married:
  • People will come with 48 points that they are looking for in a spouse. One example: Your husband must like reading! Not really. Discuss books with someone else. You are reading, he might be doing something else. Not such a big deal. Just have essential characteristics as your criteria.
  • Have a good opinion of Allah. Your Lord has said, call upon Allah with certitude in His Answer. How and when the answer comes is up to Allah. It may be that the dua is answered now, it may be that Allah wards off harm from you, it may be that the answer is given in the akhira, but He always answers.
  • To find a spouse: Most effective means to is go to people who are connected, who have influence and experience. That person might be relative, might be community leader, might be scholar, might be parents.
  • If want to study, need to choose someone who understand and is supportive of those long term goals
  • If someone wants something, they should ask a lot. Sunna to ask a lot, but in state of slavehood, not in a state of demanding Allah.

~Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Dec 16th 2012.