Love is the Fertile Ground from Which Mercy Emerges (Gems from the 2010 Celebrate Mercy Broadcast

  • 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)

Relationships are Connections of the Heart Supported by Reason (Gems from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani)

As a collaboration between the SeekersHub Toronto, the Muslim Chaplaincy at U of T and the U of T MSA, the Muslim Chaplaincy at U of T offered a course during the Fall of 2014 called Living Light with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. The sessions I attended were excellent, and left us with much to think about afterwards. Below, notes from one of the sessions. 

  • Have a daily point of connection to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him
  • The sunna is not just general principles, but practical specifics
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him would keep in touch with people for decades afterwards
  • Part of goodness to parents is goodness to the friends of one’s parents. To be respectful to their friends.
  • Have loyalty in relationships
  • We often like to study intellectual things but most important knowledge is that that transforms how we worship and how we are with Allah’s creation. We must constantly ask: what is the right action entailed by the right intention and attitude?
  • Sometimes to determine this we need to momentarily disengage. When Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him asked the Companions to come out of ihram and they didn’t respond, there is a methodology we can learn in his response.
  • a) Disengage (went inside his tent)
  • b) Consult when unclear. Sometimes expressing your problem helps to view it correctly  (Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him consulted his wife)
  • c) Only respond when sure. Don’t say or do anything hastily. Say the good or be silent.
  • Good character is manifest when tested
  • With couples/any relationship – tell yourself, i don’t want to respond to how I feel and what he/she saying, I want to respond in way pleasing to Allah
  • Attitude and then action. Look at your spouse with mercy and love.
  • Opposite of love is not hatred, it’s indifference. If motive is to look with mercy, you are seeking the good.
  • Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not deal with people on the basis of what they said or did, dealt with people on the basis of heart. What is their underlying concerns.
  • Have an eye of love and mercy. Have a good opinion of your spouse.
  • Relations are a matter of the heart (emotions), they aren’t rational.
  • Relationships are connections of the heart, supported by reason.
  • Deal with people on the basis of good chraracter.
  • The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, gave us numerous examples – need to renew our connection to him, peace and blessings be upon him.

On Modesty (Gems by Usama Canon)

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.

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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

Below is a continuation of my notes from the first session of a series about the character of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him 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 it’s a wonderful, heart softening listen so far. I’m so excited about the rest of the series!  The first part of my notes can be found here.  As always, the notes aren’t complete, but you can find the audio of the class here.

  • Even the mountains know the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. How do the mountains know the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him? What is the proof? Allah says, We sent you as a mercy to the Worlds.” Not just human beings. Not just a mercy to those who speak languages. A mercy to everything. And there is an interconnectedness between everything in creation. Everything in creation glorifies Allah. And the creation knows the beloved of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.To the mountains, he is Abdul Khaliq. The slave of the Creator.
  • To the lands, the valleys and the deserts, he is Abdul Qadir. The slave of the most Able. The most Powerful.
  • In the sea, he is Abdul Muhaymin. The servant of the One who controls all things.
  • For the fish, he is Abdul Quddus. The servant of the most Holy.
  • One of the things that people don’t appreciate in the modern world is Islam is not just do this, don’t do that. Islam is not just halal and haram. Don’t listen to music, grow a beard, cover your hair, and that’s it. That that is as deep as Islam gets. No. This is deep. This is the truth sent from the One above the lofty thrones. This is the transformative reality sent from Allah for all humankind to become greater than angels. When ALlah tells Jibril, and Mikail and Israfil to bow down to Adam, what is that all about?  Is it just about don’t do this and don’t do that, and khalas, that’s it?  I’m not saying the rules don’t matter, the rules matter.
  • This is about Allah sending a truth and a light to your hearts to transform the world and to connect people with the One most high. It’s not child’s play.  It’s not a game and it’s not something that can be controlled by the egos of human beings.  You have to do this for Allah. When you study the greatness of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, what you really should understand is the greatness of Allah who ennobled him. And gave him all of that for us. For us to understand. So when Allah has a name for every single creature regarding the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, it is a sign of the magnificence and power of Allah. We should realize that this isn’t just something small, this is the greatest message. The Prophets, who used to commune with Allah wished they could be from the ummah of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. They wished they could be in your shoes and my shoes because of the  greatness of what Allah has in store for his ummah. So we have to reflect upon this. We have to think about what is really going on. What do we have? When we look at people who don’t have what we have, and the thought crosses our mind that I wish I could have that, subhanAllah do we know what we have already?

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