- Respect women as soulful equals (Shaykh Abdullah Adhami)
- Increase in compassionate acts towards others in order to build trust. Build trust and compassion in your life this year, and then the next year (Imam Afroz Ali)
- Never in anyone who walked the earth has there been a heart that is so soft and yet so brave, peace and blessings be upon him (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani)
- We are literally drowning in blessings.
- Soundness of faith is on strength of attachment. Strengthening of the heart is in reminders and frequent remembering.
- When love something/someone a lot, you make mention of them a lot.
- Strive to show mercy and compassion to all those around you. Forbearance, generosity.
- Mercy is the foundation of all relationships. Love is the fertile ground from which mercy emerges. Let us revive mercy in our marriages. (Imam Zaid Shakir)
- In our world, love is not always reciprocal, but with the Divine, always reciprocal. Let us love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Let us love God, let that love translate into mercy that touches people’s lives in deep and meaningful ways and translates into obedience.
- Gratitude means that we use blessings in way that they were created.
- Let those who possess this love not be stingy.. Bring it to the marketplace, the workplace, the home. My heart holds your love, my tongue offers blessings, but my limbs often fall short.” (Sidi Haroon Sellers)
Today I heard a wonderful lecture by Ustadh Usama Canon filled with real reminders and practical advice on how to understand the events of your life. My notes are brief (it’s a lecture that should be experienced on its own) and I’m posting it here as a reminder to myself first and foremost. To support Taleef Collective, where Ustadh Usama teaches, please see here)
- Like all of you I’m on a journey. I’m on a journey to try and know myself, understand the world around me and through that to understand reality and my Creator. And everybody’s journey is different.
- Before the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him prays for anything, he affirms Allah’s reality. See this in the dua of Taif. When you say to someone who is generous that they are generous, you are asking them for something. When you mention to someone that the gift they gave you is really nice, you’re asking them for another gift.
The Taleef Collective is a space in Fremont, California that offers the space, content and companionship necessary for a healthy understanding, embrace and realization of Islam. I’ve been following their Video Reflections for a while now, and each one offers food for thought, reflection, and discussion with others. Earlier this week, I discovered the multimedia section on their website and heard a beautiful lecture on modesty that was both full of important reminders, and made me even more excited for “Taleef Live!” a project to make Taleef’s weekly, monthly and quarterly programs accessible worldwide through Live-Streaming. To help make this project a reality, please see here, and give generously.
On Modesty – Ustadh Usama Canon
Two things become incumbent on you when you learn something.
1) Incumbent that you implement it. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said. “Whoever acts according to what they know, Allah will give them knowledge of that which they did not know.” And he, peace and blessings be upon him, sought refuge from Allah from knowledge that did not benefit. So if you learn something and do not implement, that is knowledge that will not be of any benefit.
2) Incumbent to teach other people. Disseminate and share with other people.
- Modesty: that’s a thesis topic, not a seminar.
- Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that every religion has a defining quality, and the defining quality of my way is haya (modesty). So if something is the defining quality, what does it deserve in terms of time and what does it deserve in terms of reflection?
- The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is the pinnacle of altruism. He, peace and blessings be upon him, is the paragon of selflessness.
- He peace and blessings be upon him, is the imam of the people of mercy.
- He is the foremost of the people who have modesty.
- The thing with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is that any one of his attributes is enough for you to annihilate yourself trying to understand.
- So when you look at all of his attributes put together, and how they complement each other, it’s like any which way you turn, you’re like, Ya Rasullah! Look at this man. Look at his character. Sallallahu alayhi wasalaam.
- Main question we should be asking ourselves is when we say that we are following this man, how much work do we have to do?
- It’s an ongoing process, and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s not that you go to jummah, hear the khutba, and come out as sunna-man, or sunna sister.
- We don’t just become humble, we don’t just become sensitive, we don’t just become modest. It’s a process. Because any of the attributes of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would take a lifetime to gain the least bit of. So when we’re trying to implement all of them, how much work do we have to do?
- We have a lot of work to do. Sayyiduna Musa, alayhis salaam, just heard about the virtues of the Prophet’s, peace and blessings be upon him, community and was ready to forego his prophecy to be of his ummah, peace and blessings be upon him. Musa alayhis salaam. He keeps asking Allah, “who is that?”, and finally he said, make me of his community!
- May Allah make us more grateful. We have no reason to be cynical, Wallahi. We have no reason to be pessimistic except for our own shortcomings, wallahi. Alhamdullilah, Allah sent this light giving lamp amongst us, sallahu alayhi wasalaam.
On Saturday, the 2nd day of the ISNA Canada Convention, Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari gave a lecture that was the highlight of the convention for me. The lecture was about contentment, and was a reminder that in this abode, we should strive to have good character and behaviour towards everyone out of our love for God and not because we expect recognition from others. It was also a reminder to be grateful for gifts and blessings for the duration we are gifted them instead of resentful or sad when we no longer have them. Throughout our lives, our hearts and hopes should be attached to God and to His Beloved, peace and blessings be upon him.
Finally, Shaykh Ahmed Saad reminded us to not have overly specific expectations, and to allow ourselves to surrender to God’s Plan. The qadr of Allah is inescapable, and the path to contentment is to understand that as much as we try to bring about the things we want, we need to understand that our lives operate within the walls of Allah’s qadr. The lecture made me think of times when I’ve felt stressed out (when I was new to Toronto as a graduate student for instance), and assumed that everything would be easy, and unfold in a specific way, and how I became a more serene, tranquil person when I accepted the presence of challenges and had high expectations of God, but wasn’t overly prescriptive of what life should look like. This lecture was a reminder of that same point, and so much more. Notes below.
On the 2nd day of the ISNA Canada Convention, we were blessed with a wonderful lecture by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin that was a reminder to be people of gentleness who are embodiments of mercy on earth, and who understand that honouring the connection between ourselves and the rest of creation is an integral part of our faith, not simply a ‘good thing to do.” Ustadh Amjad reminded us that our faith is one of mercy, and when we learn something that contradicts mercy, we need to re-evaluate our understanding of what we’re learning. He also told us beautiful stories of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and brought joy to our hearts by sharing how all of creation loves the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. This is more than just “community service” he told us, “All of creation deserves our respect and reverence because everything worships and praises its Lord.”
Finally, Ustadh Amjad ended his talk by giving us practical ways to become stewards of the earth, and his reminder to eat halal, good, wholesome, pure food is the one that resonated most with me. Ustadh Amjad’s lecture gave us practical ways to do this in our daily life. Notes from the lecture are below.
This past weekend ISNA Canada held their annual convention at the ISNA Canada Masjid in Mississauga. And despite my full intentions to get there on time, I got lost on the 1st Day of the Convention, and only reached the masjid near the end of Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari’s lecture on Surah Kahf. What I heard was excellent though, and a good reminder to critically evaluate one’s time and energy in virtual spaces, to strive to have consistent behaviour regardless of who you are interacting with, and to have patience with the learning process.
After Shaykh Ahmed Saad spoke, Dr. Altaf Hussain gave a lecture on creating happy marriages and living “happily ever after.” He spoke about the importance of resisting the urge to have an elaborate wedding, and to focus instead on how a couple will live their life together afterwards. Once married he said, we need to focus on stopping “micro-aggressions” before they create major problems in our relationships, and build partnerships where dua and praying together and for each other are at the core of one’s shared life. Finally, he also addressed and you could hear the seriousness, emphasis and frustration in his voice as he spoke, about the importance of remembering that the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him and Khadijah, may Allah be well pleased with her, had an age difference between them. As communities and families he said, we must stop assuming that women past a certain age/are older are unacceptable spouses. I stayed for that lecture as well before heading back downtown.
I was a bit shaken from getting lost and so my notes from the 1st day are very basic, but I’ve included them below. I’m not normally a conference -goer, but was really impressed by the quality of the ISNA Canada Convention. The volunteers were polite, there were so many families and young people in attendance, the bazaar was lovely, the masjid was beautiful, and throughout the whole event, you could tell that several months of planning and careful thought had gone into this weekend. Every lecture in the main hall had a sign language interpreter on stage to make the event more accessible, and the entire conference had a strong sustainability focus. Every registrant was given a refillable water bottle and there were no plastic water bottles sold at the conference alhamdullilah. May God bless and reward in the best of ways all those involved in this conference, and enable us to implement what we learned insha’Allah. It truly was a beneficial, needed weekend.
One of my goals for Rabi al Awwal is to follow a series about the character of the Prophet called Embodied Light. The series is taught by Sidi Amjad Tarsin of the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto (for more information on how to get involved please see here) and from what I’ve listened to so far, is a beautiful class. This is the first part of my notes from the first session. As always, the notes aren’t complete, but you can find the audio of the class here.
Why is this the title of the course?
- Allah describes the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as a light. The thing about light is that we appreciate it on so many levels. In the material world, it helps us see, helps things grow, gives us warmth. Light is an extremely important quality in the material world. And then Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. One of the Names of Allah is al-Nur, the Light. There is a whole other dimension of what light is. So we have light in the physical world, spiritual light and Allah is the Ultimate Light.
- Allah describes the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him as a light. That is why this is the title of the course because even on a physical level, the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him was light. Was one of his qualities and miracles. Allah says in the Qur’an, “There has come to you from Allah a light and a manifest book. (5:15)
- Different interpretations of this verse but many people say the light is the Prophet, and the book is the Book.
- The Prophet also has a beautiful dua: O Allah place light in my heart, and in my hearing light and light in my sight and light on my right and light above me and light below me; place light in my sinew, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; place light in my soul and make light abundant for me; make me light and grant me light, and light behind me..and make me a light.
- We know that the Prophet’s dua is answered. We should make this dua. It’s a dua that highlights this light, this luminosity, this nur.
- 33:45-46 from the Qur’an: “O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a witness, a bearer of glad tidings, and warner. And as one who invites to Allah’s grace by His leave, and as a lamp spreading light. Then give the glad tidings to the Believers that they shall have from Allah a very great bounty.”
- A luminous lamp – this is the title Allah gave the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. The beautiful thing about a siraaj (lamp) is that it is an object that gives light in and of itself. The sun is a lamp. The light the sun gives off is intrinsic to itself. The light the moon gives off is a reflection. So when Allah describes the Prophet as a lamp, He is saying the Prophet’s light is intrinsic.
- Qadi Iyad: The Prophet was called a luminous lamp because of the clarity of his cause and the illumination he brings to the hearts of believers.
- So when we say embodied light, this is from the way Allah describes the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.
- How did the Companions of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him describe him? Hadith when Abu Hurarira said ” I never saw anything more beautiful than the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. Was as if the sun was running its course through his face.”
- Companions said every time we saw the Prophet, was like seeing the sun rise. As if the sun was running its course through his face.
- Story related by Sayyidna Aisha where she relates that she was sewing and it was dark, and the needle fell. She kept looking for it and couldn’t find it because it was dark. Then the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him walked into the room and the light from his face, made her see. His face was so luminous, peace and blessings be upon him that she could see. So she picked up the needle and started laughing. Then the Prophet said, O my beloved young one, what makes you laugh? And she said, I was looking for the needle and you walked in and I could see. And the Prophet said “woe to (waylun, waylun, waylun), to the one who doesn’t see my face on the Face of Judgement!” And she said O Messenger of Allah, who doesn’t see your face? And he said, “the miserly one.” And she said, who is miserly? And he replied, someone who when my name is mentioned doesn’t send peace and blessings upon him.”
- There is a physical light to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him’s face.
- Another companion was walking with the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him when it was a full moon (reminder: this is before pollution, no city light). And this companion is looking up at the full moon, and he is looking at the face of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, he is looking up at the full moon, and looking at the face of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him . And he said, “I swear by Allah, his face was more luminious than the full moon. More light was shining from the face of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him than the full moon.
- Great grandson of Sayyidna Yasir and Sumaiya (first martyrs of Islam). He was asking an older women to describe the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. And she said, “my son, if you saw him, you saw the sun rising.”
- The light of the Prophet was visible in his father even before he was born.
- So embodied light is chosen as the title of the course because that is what he was, peace and blessings be upon him. He was a light of guidance but he also had this luminosity. We also believe as Muslims that certain people have light in their face. And all of that is from following the one who was described by Allah as a light and a luminous lamp.