Monday, July 4, 2011

Idle Talk

Praise be to Allaah The Almighty Who created man in a balanced form, inspired and adorned him with the beautifying light of faith, taught him eloquence and therewith, made him a pioneer and superior being, providing him with a tongue to articulate what is in his heart.


Truly, the tongue, from among the greatest blessings of Allaah The Almighty, is one of His most sophisticated and unique creations of all organs in the body. Although small in size, its impact is paramount. Faith and disbelief, which stem from obedience and disobedience, respectively, can not be known except through the testimony of this very organ.


Moreover, those who keep their tongues unchecked, fall prey to the devil’s influence, who will cause them to say evil things and lead them to an edge of a bank that is about to collapse, forcing them to fall down. Truly, no one escapes the evil of the tongue except who restricts it to the constraints of Sharee'ah, using it only to utter what is of benefit to him or her in this life and the Hereafter, while preventing it from uttering anything that may bring any harm, sooner or later.

That is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, as narrated by Mu'aath, may Allaah be pleased with him: “Could anything cast people in the Hellfire face down” – in another version, “on their noses”“except the harvests of their tongues?” The phrase “harvests of their tongues” refers to the recompense and punishment for uttering what is prohibited. Each one of us plants good and evil acts with our words and actions; and then, we reap them on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever plants a good word or deed will harvest dignity, and whoever does the opposite only reaps regret. Thus, as the Hadeeth apparently indicates, the most common cause of people entering Hell is the sinful utterance of their tongues.

That includes Shirk (associating partners with Allaah), the gravest sin in the sight of Allaah The Almighty, as well as what is connected to it: ignorantly speaking of Allaah The Almighty. It also encompasses false testimony, doing magic, slander, and other major and minor sins like lying, backbiting and talebearing. In fact, all sinful deeds are mostly associated with utterances that support them.

That is why many Hadeeths refer to the virtue of silence. On one occasion, Sufyaan ibn ‘Abdullaah Ath-Thaqafi, may Allaah be pleased with him, asked: “O Messenger of Allaah, what is the most serious thing you fear for me?” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, held his tongue and said,“This.” Similarly, another Companion, ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir, may Allaah be pleased with him, says: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, how can I obtain salvation?’ The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied, ‘Control your tongue [from idle talk].’”


Under the chapter entitled Eemaan (faith) in Saheeh Al-Bukhaari, it is stated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming other Muslims with his tongue and hand.”He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said:“Whoever believes in Allaah The Almighty and the Last Day should utter good words or remain silent.” Perhaps one of his more eloquent and concise sayings, this not only bears a command to say what is good, but provides the only alternative as keeping quiet. For, indeed, as Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].} [Quran 50:18]

In fact, the stakes are higher; Sahl ibn Sa‘d, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrates that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “He who guarantees for me what is between his jaws and what is between his thighs, I guarantee him Paradise.” This means that the one who uses his or her tongue only regarding relevant matters and restrains it from what does not concern him or her, and guards his or her private parts against illicit acts, is promised Paradise by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Ibn Battaal, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, “This Hadeeth indicates that the greatest trial for man in life is [the responsibility of] his tongue and private parts. Therefore, whoever is protected from their evil is protected from the gravest evil.”

Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, warned: “One might utter a word thinking it to be trivial and sinks [because of it] in Hell further than the distance of the east”; the wording reported by Muslim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, states: “farther than the distance between the east and west.” Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, that an example of such a word “is what a person utters before an unjust ruler [in order to please him].”

In another version of the Hadeeth, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that it may be “a word that he does not understand”, meaning he is unaware of whether it is good or bad, as explained by Shaykh Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus-Salaam, who added, “Hence, it is prohibited for a Muslim to speak any [such] word.” Commenting on this Hadeeth, An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, “[It] encourages a man to watch his tongue. If a person wants to say something, he should think of, and fully grasp, what it is before he utters a word. If he finds that there is benefit in it, he should say it, otherwise, he should hold his tongue.”

‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, would reportedly say: “By Allaah, nothing needs prolonged confinement more than my tongue.” He also used to say, “O my tongue, say good words and you will succeed, and speak no evil and you will be secure; otherwise, you will regret.” Another Companion, Abu Ad-Dardaa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, “Protect your ears from your mouth; indeed, you have two ears and one mouth, in order to hear more than you talk.”

Al-Hasan Al-Basri, may Allaah have mercy upon him, also said, “They used to say that the tongue of the believer is behind his heart; when he wants to say something, he contemplates it with his heart and then utters it. Whereas, the tongue of the hypocrite is in front of his heart; when he intends to say anything, he utters it before deliberating it in his heart.” He, may Allaah have mercy upon him, went a step further, saying, “He who does not watch his tongue does not understand his religion.”

If you ask why the virtue of silence is so great, it is because the tongue, with hardly any effort may lead to evil, lies, backbiting, talebearing, ostentation, hypocrisy, obscenity, dispute, self-praise, indulgence in falsehood, controversy, distortion, harming people and a violation of their privacy and honor. Moreover, it has a charm that affects the heart, and is motivated by a person’s temperament and is influenced by Satan. Those who indulge in idle talk can barely control their tongues so as to utter what they like and restrain it from what is not pleasing to them. It is one of the ambiguous facts that danger lies in idle talk, whereas safety, in silence, thus its enormous virtue.

Furthermore, keeping quiet strengthens a person’s zeal, maintains his or her gravity, helps him or her focus on meditation, remembrance of Allaah The Almighty and worship, and keeps him or her safe from the ill-effects of idle talk in the worldly life and its punishment in the Hereafter. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].} [Quran 18:50]

Speech can be divided into four categories:

1-   1- Purely harmful – one should remain silent instead of indulging in such talk.

2-   2- That which includes both harm and benefit – such speech must also be avoided, because the elimination of evil takes precedence over the realization of benefit.

3-   3- That which has neither harm nor benefit – this is idle talk and keeping oneself busy with it is a waste of time, which, in itself, is nothing short of a great loss.

4-   4- Purely beneficial – after three-quarters of all categories of talk have been dismissed, it is only this that one must indulge in; however, a threat looms here, as well, since such talk may be subtly tainted with ostentation and self-praise, which is a grave risk.


Friday, June 24, 2011

The enduring bond of sisterhood

The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of Eman (faith): One to whom Allaah and His Messenger become dearer than anything else, whoever loves his brother (or sister) solely for Allaah’s sake, and whoever hates to revert to disbelief just as he loathes to be thrown into the Fire.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Although we readily understand the sweetness of Emaan (faith) that one experiences from loving Allaah and His Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and hating to revert to disbelief, the concept of loving a sister in Islam is not often discussed in this manner. How could love of a sister in Islam be tied to the sweetness of Eman? And what is the sweetness of Eman?
In essence, love for the sake of Allaah is a thing that cannot be truly grasped until it is experienced. But some explanation may be beneficial.
Love for the Sake of Allaah
When a Muslim woman loves her sister ‘in Islam’ she loves her for the ‘sake of Allaah,’ subhanahu wa ta’ala—as noted in the hadeeth. This means that her love for her sister is connected to, and is part of her love for Allaah. She may love her and want to befriend her and be close to her for all the good reasons people love and befriend one another, but in addition, she loves her and treats her in the manner that Allaah has ordained she be treated in. Maintaining that as the basis for the relationship is what strips the love from worldly elements, and purifies it so that she and her friend know and feel their love extend way beyond this world.
In this way, a Muslim woman is certain that her love for her sister will endure, because they share a special bond that can never be broken, the bond of faith in Allaah, the Creator of all humankind, the Lord through whose Love people love, respect and be kind to one another. It is a bond between hearts and minds that brings them together in a
unique and special way; so much so that they are willing to sacrifice anything for each other knowing they will gain the pleasure of Allaah in the process. Nothing is ever done for worldly gain or purpose.
Status of those who love for the sake of Allaah
It is important to understand that loving someone solely for Allaah’s sake may not be easily found and nourished, but for those who do, the reward goes far beyond tasting the sweetness of Eman in this world to an unimaginable blessing—eternal enjoyment in Paradise. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “On the Day of Judgment, Allaah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, will announce, ‘Where are those persons who (in the world used to) love each other for the sake of My Pleasure? This day I am going to shelter them in the shade provided by Me. Today there is no shade except My shade.” (Muslim) Sisters who love each other for Allaah’s sake will find His shade on the day when there will be no other shade. The rewards that Allaah gives for this love are beyond what we are capable of earning through other deeds. This emphasizes the importance of loving each other for the sake of Allaah.
In another story, “A man went to visit a brother of his in another village. Allaah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, sent an angel to wait for him on the road. When the man came along, the angel asked him, ‘Where are you headed?’ He said, ‘I am going to visit a brother of mine who lives in this village.’ The angel asked, ‘Have you done him any favor (for which you are now seeking repayment)?’ He said, ‘No, I just love him for the sake of Allaah.’ The angel told him, ‘I am a messenger to you from Allaah, sent to tell you that He loves you as you love your brother for His sake.” (Muslim) How could we deny or ignore the significance of this, when we understand that our love for our sister in Islam brings to us the love of Allah? How could we treat our sister in any other way than that which would gain us Allah’s Pleasure and Grace? How could we harm our sister in Islam knowing that that will lead to losing all of these rewards and blessings?
The sweetness of Emaan
Have you tasted Eman? Do you know how it feels?
It is one of the most amazing gifts in this life, and how sweet it is. Loving your sister in Islam for the sake of Allah is one of the paths to tasting the sweetness of Eman. Experiencing this sweetness requires effort, self-sacrifice, and compassion.
The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “None of you has Eman until he desires for his brother Muslim that which he desires for himself.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] He also said, “The Muslims in their mutual love, kindness, and compassion are like the human body, where when one of its parts is in agony, the entire body feels the pain, both in sleeplessness and fever.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Feeling the pain should prompt us to action to alleviate the pain of our sisters in Islam. We should not sleep a night until our sisters are free from the pain and suffering that they are experiencing. When we start feeling the pain our sister feels, and not rest until we do something to alleviate it, then, and only then, we feel joy and happiness, no matter what hardships we had to overcome, we have tasted the sweetness of Eman.
This is one of the ways a sister can experience the sweetness of Eman, and this is the pinnacle of being a Mu’minah. Achieving that is an essential stage on the path to strengthening the Muslim Ummah.
The keys to being a true believing sister
Even though being a true believing sister in Islam is an achievable goal, it is not a simple matter, and there are many ways to fulfilling it. What is listed below outlines the things sisters should struggle to keep in their relationship so that it grows to be for the sake of Allah.
A true sister in Islam will honestly and sincerely love her sisters for the sake of Allah. This should not be construed to mean that sisters will not, and may not, have disagreements or problems. This is not possible, because we are human beings not angels. What makes our relationship unique is the fact that it is controlled by Allah’s commands and guidance. No matter what goes wrong, ultimately, we deal with one another according to the acceptable ways of Shari’ah, seeking only to please Him.
Thus, a sister will strive hard to maintain the ties of love and sisterhood. She will like for her sisters what she likes for herself, and will not forsake them or cut off relations. She will greet her sisters with a cheerful, smiling face, even (or especially) if she does not know them. Tolerance and forgiveness for mistakes will be an important part of her character, and she will be certain to cover the faults of her sisters. There will be no hatred, envy or malice, and she will not hurt feelings by being hostile or argumentative. The true sister will not backbite or gossip, and will stop others who engage in this harmful behavior. She will be kind and generous to her sisters and will offer them sincere and constructive advice when necessary. She will make every effort to enjoin them to the right and forbid them from wrong. She will be loyal toward her sisters and defend them in their absence.
It comes back to us
In the end it all comes hack to us. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “One who helps a fellow Muslim in removing his difficulty in this world, Allah will remove the former’s distress on the Day of Judgment. He who helps to remove the hardship of another will have his difficulties removed by Allah in this world and the Hereafter. One who covers the shortcomings of another Muslim will have his faults covered up in this world and the next by Allah. Allah continues to help a servant so long as he goes on helping his own brother.” (Muslim)
The rewards that we gain are far beyond the efforts and sacrifices that we make. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Happy Home

Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And Allah has made for you from your homes a place of rest.}[Quran 16:80]
You have told the truth, O our Lord! The home is a place of rest, stability, comfort, reassurance, safety and tranquility, in which we live, and with which we protect ourselves from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It is also our shelter in which we take refuge after the trouble and toil of the day.
If a little bird's nest is its shelter, place of rest and abode of reassurance, it would be more worthy for man to have his home an abode of happiness and a source of his pleasure. A home is not only walls, furniture and linen, but it is also a place of worship, an institute, and a place for cordiality and comfort. The spouses fill it with love and affection, and tranquility, calmness and stability shade it.
In the Muslim home, material and sensual rest is combined with spiritual and emotional rest; thereby the home is comprehensive and balanced. Also, Allah The Almighty has made the home a place of rest for the couple; He has made the husband a source of tranquility for his wife, and the wife a source of tranquility for her husband. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.} [Quran 30:21] Thus, marriage is a source of tranquility, and homes are places of rest – a favor from Allah The Almighty which should be appreciated, maintained and preserved.
Some of us might wonder: “Why a Muslim home? Is there a difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim home?”
Undoubtedly, the Muslim home differs from any other. Its inhabitants carry in their chests a glorious belief which fills their hearts with the light of faith, and this light is reflected on all aspects of their life. A Muslim person should be (an example of the) Quran among people, the same as was the moral character of the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). For this reason, a Muslim home, with its corners, furniture, and the way it is arranged, should express the Islam of its owner.
The Muslim home might be a simple hut, or a graceful palace, and in either there is pleasure, gratitude, satisfaction and living in the shades of the Noble Quran and Sunnah. The family members are happy, not because they have great furniture or expensive fittings, but because happiness springs from their believing hearts and reassured souls. This is because they are pleased with Allah The Almighty as their Lord, Islam as their religion and Muhammad,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), as their Prophet and Messenger.
The houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), were a good pattern for an Islamic home. As small in size and modest in building as they might have been, they were full of happiness and satisfaction, and remained the highest ideal for the homes of the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them and any of the Muslims who wished to lay the foundation of a home afterwards.
The houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), were established on obedience and seeking the satisfaction of Allaah The Almighty, thereby representing the best example of the real Islamic home. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Then is one who laid the foundation of his building on righteousness [with fear] from Allah and [seeking] His approval better or one who laid the foundation of his building on the edge of a bank about to collapse, so it collapsed with him into the fire of Hell? And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.} [Quran 9:109]
Although the houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), were as humble, only enough as to satisfy his need, as simple as to cover (the minimum requirements of) his living, they were full of happiness, where their inhabitants were well-pleased with the fate and sustenance endowed to them by Allah The Almighty, and believing in the statement of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “He, upon whom morning comes while being safe and sound, healthy in his body, and having the sustenance of his day, seems as if the entire world has been granted for him.” [At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]
The houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), were based on worship and obedience to Allah The Almighty, where humbleness, simplicity and abstinence from the enjoyment of this worldly life seemed evident. All his houses surrounded the mosque. Some of them were built of palm reeds covered with mud, others of stones piled on top of each other, having their ceiling made of palm reeds.
The home of the Mother of Believers, ‘Aaishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her the dearest of his wives to hi
m after Khadeejah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her consisted of one chamber, built of bricks covered with mud, and another room annexed to it, made of palm reeds, covered with animal hair. Its door had a single wooden post, and its ceiling was low, like all the other houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). It had simple furniture: a bed of pieces of wood tied with fiber ropes, having a cushion of leather stuffed with fiber; a water-skin; and clay vessels for his food and ablution.
Simplicity and contentment also seemed evident in the homes of the Companions of the Messenger of Alla-ah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). The furniture of Faatimah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her the daughter of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), with which she was wed to ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taalib  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him consisted of a mantle of velvet, a cushion of leather stuffed with fiber, a millstone, a water-skin and two jars. That was the furniture of the leader of the women of Paradise, and the daughter of the master of all the prophets, may Allah exalt their mention. This shows how the houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), and of his Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them were a good model for the Islamic home.
If such was the state of the houses of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), and his Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them this does not mean that Islam impedes one from being blessed in a graceful spacious home; on the contrary, according to Islam, that is a sustenance, favor and grace bestowed by Allah The Almighty upon whomever He pleases. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?”} [Quran 7:32] The Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: “Four things bring about happiness: a righteous woman (i.e., wife), a spacious residence, a good neighbor, and a comfortable means of transport.” [Al-Haakim] Man then has to utilize this pleasure in all that is good, for he would be held accountable about it on the Day of Judgment as confirmed by Allah The Almighty in the verse (which means): {Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.} [Quran 102:8]
Like other human beings, the Muslim family inclines to possess the best, the most spacious, the prettiest, and the richest of homes. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.} [Quran 3:14]
The Muslim family knows well that real happiness is to make the home, whether it is small or large, a garden full of faith, satisfied with contentment, shaded with tranquility and reassurance; and to have its members adopt high morals and upright conduct. It perceives that in whichever state it might be, it is living in a favor bestowed by Allah The Almighty for which gratitude is due. Gratitude for a favor develops, purifies and proliferates it as confirmed by Allah; Allah The Almighty (what means): {If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor].} [Quran 14:7]
The Muslim family neither boasts nor shows pride over others because of the favors of Allah The Almighty bestowed upon it. It always shows the bounty and favor conferred by Allaah The Almighty upon it in response to His statement (which means): {But as for the favor of your Lord, report [it].} [Quran 93:11]  And, acting upon the statement of the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “Indeed, Allah likes to see the signs of His favor on His slave.” [At-Tirmithi and Al-Haakim]
But, at the same time, the Muslim family should not engage in worldly pleasures and neglect obedience to Allah The Almighty, nor be mainly concerned with their house in this worldly life, which diverts them from working for their house in Paradise, Allah willing. To this meaning a poet refers, by saying that one shall have no abode to reside in after death other than the one he built before his death. If he built it well, his residence (in the Hereafter) would be good; and if he built it with evil, he would fail.
Once, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taalib  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him passed by a man who was building a house, thereupon he said to him, “You were dead before you came to life, and in a short while you will be dead [yet again]. You are building a house for the perishing abode [i.e. this worldly life], so build a house for the eternal abode [i.e. the Hereafter as well].”
Blessed be the Muslim family if it is to have the world in its hand and not in its heart; and blessed be it if it is to utilize all things surrounding it correctly in such a way as to help it obey Allaah The Almighty, acting upon the following wisdom, “Work for your worldly life as if you would live forever, and work for your Hereafter as if you would die tomorrow.” [Ibn Al-Mubaarak in Az-Zuhd]
To talk about the Muslim home, its components and furniture, does not mean that all those specifications should be comprised in every home. But, it is an ideal we ask Allah The Almighty to give to every Muslim on the face of the earth.
The main point lies not in the walls and furniture of the house so much as it lies in its inhabitants. Hence, every family member could bring about happiness and satisfaction to his household with the smallest thing available to him. The faithful believer is intelligent and prudent, as the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: “The sagacious one is he who holds himself accountable [for his deeds], and works for [the life] after death; and the incompetent is he who subjugates his self to its fancies and has hopeful expectations from Allah.”[Ahmad, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]