Your Perceptions Define Your Experiences (Gems from Soul Food with Ustadh Amjad Tarsin)

The Muslim Chaplaincy at U of T runs an amazing weekly discussion circle called Soul Food.  Below are notes from one of the sessions this term. Alhamdullilah for spaces to grow and learn with others!

  • A true sense of hope is hoping for God’s mercy and working for it.
  • When you see a sunset, why do you enjoy it? When you’re with family, what is your response? The response should be thankfulness
  • Take advantage of every moment as an advantage of drawing close to God. We are sowing seeds for the akhira (afterlife)
  • What is your purpose? Tip: Spend 5 minutes at the end of the day and sit and reflect. Engage in dhikr and quiet. 
  • Death is around the corner. Allah and eternal bliss is what we should strive for. Death gives you immediacy. Contemplating death allows you to ask the question, where am I going? I’m going somewhere based on what I do here. How do I achieve the goals I have in the best way possible?
  • Don’t be attached to results, be attached to God.
  • Companions weren’t morbid, they were content with death. Natural to have a fear of the unknown but if have yaqeen, better able to handle things.
  • Is what I’m doing, what I’m intending, something I will be glad that I did?
  • Seek greater goals. Then everything you do becomes an act of worship.
  • A righteous person, funeral is like a wedding. Your perceptions define your experiences.
  • Really important to reflect on life. Where are you going? What are we attached to? What are our lives about? People who have a strong sense of this strive to do the most amount of good. Their hearts are full of the things that really matter.
  • As attachments to the world decrease, arguments, grudges, backbiting decrease.
  • We shouldn’t be small minded people, we should look at the big picture.
  • We tend to have shallow communications. We hang out with people, but don’t have deep communications. 
  • Chicken soup to a neighbour, the greatest act to change the world. Mutual acts of caring performed often forge a sense of belonging. Try to reignite the role of neighbours.



The Prophet Was Only Sent to Perfect Noble Character (Gems by Ustadh Usama Canon)

I heard a beautiful lecture through the Yale MSA yesterday that was filled with wonderful reminders about leadership, being a positive contributor to the world, recognizing one’s attachment to the world, having good manners and so much more. Thanks to the Yale MSA for uploading the video of this beautiful talk and making it accessible to a wider audience. My notes are brief as the stories can only be done justice by hearing the lecture on one’s own. 

  • When we talk about spiritual leadership, need to revisit and understand your role as khalifa, as steward of God and the earth.
  •  It’s about understanding I’m not here just for the heck of it, and I’m also not here to consume, also not here just to make money, also not here just to procreate, but I’m here for a reason, for a purpose, and I’m here on behalf of somebody, and the One that I’m here on behalf of determines the greatness of my vicegerency, the greatness of my stewardship. And that is on behalf of All Mighty God.
  • Each of us is a leader in some regard, at least as it relates to our own soul. And this is scary but this is also really exciting.
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said there are seven people shaded on the Day of Judgement. The first one is a just leader, or a just ruler, depending on how you look at the word. The commentators say this applies to everybody who is an imam in any regard. Doesn’t mean have to be in role of religious authority, but leaders.
  • When you get married and have kids, need to think about the fact that spiritual leadership is not just exported to the masjid.
  •  Be careful of the life you lead, you may be the only book some people read.
  • What is spirituality? The people of our tradition say someone who has increased you in good manners has increased you in spirituality.
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him was sent to perfect noble character.
  • Spirituality can be having really good manners.
  • Imam Zaid – if he’s by himself, he’s reading Qur’an and doing dhikr. Story of Imam Zaid spending three times as much time as it took to make wudu, wiping the floor so that there isn’t a mess for the workers at convention centre. That’s spirituality.
  • Some of us have never seen a scholar make wudu. If you have a chance you should, because you might look and realize haven’t been doing it right my whole life.
  • How many of us have read Islam and the Black American? How many of us have read Roots? The Autobiography of Malcolm X? Need to realize that where we are is because of the sacrifices of other people.
  • The only way to make it is to be in good company, with people who are more advanced than you. Have to be around elders and mentors. It’s the same way we make strides in other parts of our life as well.
  • Be mirrors of his beautiful light.

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.

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Exploring the Qur’an with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (Class 5 Notes)

Apologies for the delay in posting these notes! I haven’t been at home much this past week.

Verse 15: Has the story of Moses reached thee?

  • Rhetorical purpose: see Allah bringing solace to the heart of His beloved.
  • Makes us ask: What is the station of this creation that when Allah sees his prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) troubled, He reveals a verse to comfort him?
  • General point: the story of Moses and Pharoah appears many times in the Qur’an. Very important story. In different junctures we hear different aspects of this story. Many meanings ot this story that are very relevant for our time. One lesson here: some person can attain great status even being in the belly of the beast. Some people wil grow up in societies that in themselves are societies of unbelief, and yet they themselves will be the means for the demise of unbelief.

V16: When his Lord called out to him in the holy valley of Tuwa.

  • Allah called out to Moses in this sacred valley of Tuwa. Allah spoke to Moses. Learn from this that there are sacred places. There are places that are special and we deal with special places and special people and times with tadheem (exaltation)
  • If Ramadan comes and goes and we don’t have tadheem, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for jumu’ah, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for the mosque, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for our Muslim brothers and sisters, our heart is dead.
  • We have to have tadheem in our heart for the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him. We exalt him. We respect and honour him.
  • Saying the name Muhammad is not like saying other names. We are supposed to say Rasulullah and all of his other beautiful names
  • To have tadheem means that in our hearts you esteem it.
  • If you have a bottle of water with water from spring and bottle with zam zam water, though we shouldn’t waste water and mistreat any of Allah’s creation,  we use zamzam in a different way. We are going to pour it  in different cups and stand up and face qibla before drinking, and going to say special dua. Will have increased amount of esteem
  • When walk in house, different than when we walk in a mosque.
  • Tadheem: it translates into respect and honour for these things.

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Knowledge is a Means for a Person to Arrive to the Knowledge of Allah

The goal for a Muslim is to attain the pleasure of Allah. Not only Jannah, but the pleasure of Allah which is even greater. The greatest, utmost end of any Muslim to die and have the Lord of the Worlds to be pleased with us. And any act that we do in our lives, from doing worship to smiling, to visiting our brothers and sisters, whatever the action is, in every action this should be our intention: to gain the pleasure of Allah. This is the end of ends. The final thing, the utmost thing, the greatest thing. And if only Muslims today could realise that one of their greatest problems are taking things that are supposed to be means, as ends!

Knowledge is not an end in and of itself. It is a means for a person to arrive to the knowledge of Allah. This is why Allah tells us in the Quran, Allah commands us in the Quran to fear Him and have taqwa. But what is the result of us establishing taqwa? That fear Allah and Allah will teach you. These are the knowledges that Allah talks about when He speaks of the knowledge of Sayyidna Khidr.

~Unknown teacher (class from 2008)

Seeking Knowledge (Imam Ghazali)

With eager desire you are setting out to acquire knowledge, my friend; of yourself you are making clear how genuine is your longing and how passionate your thirst for it. Be sure that, if in your quest for knowledge your aim is to gain something for yourself and to surpass your fellows, to attract men’s attention to yourself and to amass this worldly vanities, then you are on the way to bring your religion to nothing and destroy yourself, to sell your eternal life for this present one; your bargain is dead loss, your trading without profit.

On the other hand, if in seeking knowledge your intention and purpose between God most high and yourself is to receive guidance and not merely to acquire information, then rejoice. The angels will spread out their wings for you when you walk, and the denizens of the sea will ask pardon from God for you when you run.

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

Everything Allah Has Granted You Makes You Who You Are

 A dear friend of mine recently recommended Bayyinah TV’s flowing translation of the Qur’an and their other resources as a way to utilize my daily commute.  I heard a couple of their sample videos with Shaykh Nouman Ali Khan today –  both were very impressive, and I’m looking forward to insha’Allah using these resources. The Qur’an video in particular, was a powerful reminder to get to work. Notes below.

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