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.
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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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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.

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A Primer on #Dua (Gems by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani)

Several weeks ago, Shaykh Faraz had a series on Twitter about the etiquette of dua. Today, I was in need of this reminder and found my notes in my draft folder! The second part of the post is notes from a SeekersHub Global  answer to a question about delayed response to duas.

A Twitter Primer on Dua

  • Ask, don’t demand. And don’t fail to ask.
  •  Ask, keeping in mind the Prophet’s words ﷺ, “And each person shall have whatsoever they sought.”
  •  Ask in accordance with Allah’s Generosity and Mercy, not your worth (or perceived lack thereof).
  • Ask, for Everything.
  • Focus on the meanings of what you’re asking *before* you ask.
  • Magnify your neediness and expressiveness in dua by repeating your dua–three or more times. #sunna
  • Magnify your neediness, by calling on Allah by His Names. #YaHayyuYaQayyum #YaArhamArRahimin #YaLatifuYaKhabir
  • Allah’s Response is certain: when He wills, not when you wish; in the way He wills, not in the way you wish.
  • A sign of concern for others is praying regularly for them.
  • Key Adab of #Dua: Absolute certainty in Allah’s Response. “Call on Me: I will indeed answer you.”
  • Express concern for the Umma by a lot of dua–more effective than watching a lot of news.
  • The best words to call upon Allah with are the words His Beloved ﷺ used to call upon Him with.
  •  Ask Allah that you fulfill your duties of slavehood and His rights of Lordship.
  • The best of what you can seek in supplication is God Himself.
  • Levels of dua: (1) ask for your worldly needs; (2) express your neediness; (3) realize Allah’s Lordship and Attributed.
  • Duas aren’t demands. They’re expressions of need –and realizations of Divine Favour.
  • When Allah inspires you to ask, know that He has willed to give.” (Ibn Ata’illah)

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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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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.

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Exploring the Qur’an with Sh Yahya Rhodus (Class 2 Notes)

On Feb 17th, we were blessed to sit in Shaykh Yahya’s second session for the new SeekersGuidance live class, Exploring the Qur’an. This week, Shaykh Yahya reminded us to make learning about the Qur’an a priority, and emphasized that we need to reflect upon the akhira. He spoke about the reality of the Garden and the Fire and stressed that because it is difficult for the mind to accept these realities, we need to have environments where we can understand these topics.

He also spoke about the need to have role models we can follow, the importance of connecting ourselves to scholars who are part of a tradition, and advised us to take ourselves to account daily. Shaykh Yahya stressed that the more we take ourselves to account now, the better we will be when it comes to the Ultimate Accounting.

I love this class because Shaykh Yahya’s lessons are nuanced. At one point in the class for instance, he mentioned that “no one can ever say that if someone doesn’t wear hijab they are not going to Jannah. One of the most dangerous things you can do is have someone despair of the mercy of Allah and feel distant”. He followed this statement by reminding us that “the rules of the sacred law are beautiful, and we should strive to implement them.” An answer of perfect balance alhamidullah, and the whole session was like that.  My notes from class 2 are below.

 

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