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.
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.
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
“One day Sufyan al Thawri said in Rabi’a’s presence, “O God, mayst Thou be satisfied with us!” And she said, “Are you not ashamed before God to ask him to be satisfied when you are not satisfied with Him?”, and he said, “I ask forgiveness from God.
That her intercession was valued even in her lifetime by her disciplines is proven by an account of a man who said to Rabi’a, “Pray for me.” and she said, “Who am I? Obey your Lord and pray to Him, for He will answer the supplicant when he prays.”
~Rabi’a, The Life and Work of Rabi’a and Other Women Mystics in Islam, Margaret Smith, p.35.
Notes below from Bayyinah TV’s lesson on the second ayah of Surah Fatihah. One thing that really struck me as I was listening to this session is how much more meaningful something becomes once you understand what are you saying. I’ve heard from childhood that it is important to start an act with the words Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, and to miss this important step is to be cut off from all good. But hearing Sh Nouman Ali Khan’s commentary on the Names ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim puts this in context, and teaches us saying these words is a prayer for mercy immediately and in the future as well. Instead of saying supplications without thought to what the words actually mean, these lessons are a call to learn more and bring our heart to our prayers.
I recently subscribed to Bayyinah TV, and am excited about the prospect of listening to these wonderful lectures by Shaykh Nouman Ali. I’ve only heard the first lecture on the first ayah of the Qur’an and it was an incredible listen. There are so many gems and lessons in Shaykh Nouman’s words (the notes below are just a bit of what he said), and I never realised there was so much to reflect on in the words alhamidullah, rabb and alameen. May Allah bless and increase this endeavour, and help us to take advantage.