The Benefits of Sending Prayers and Salutations on the Prophet

وقال صلى الله عليه وسلم من صلى علي من أمتي كتبت له عشر حسنات ومحيت عنه عشر سيئات

The Prophet said [s]: “The one who sends prayers upon me, from amongst my Ummah, shall have ten good deeds written for them and shall have ten sins expiated.”

Reported in an-Nisā’ī.

من صلى علي مرة صلى الله عليه بها عشرًا

The Prophet [s] stated: “The one that sends a single prayer upon me, Allah shall respond in kind to that person tenfold for doing so.”

Reported in Miftāḥ al-Afkār by ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Bin Muḥammad as-Salmān.

Cleanse Your Palate

حدثنا ابن أبي شيبة في كتابه كتاب الأدب من الجزء ما جاء في كف اللسان و خوف ما يكون من الكلام, عن وكيع عن سفيان عن عبد الله بن دينار عن ابن عمر قال: أحق ما طهر المسلم لسانه

Ibn Abī Shaybah relates to us in his work, The Book of Etiquette [Kitāb al-Adab], from the part, “What Is Said Concerning Withholding the Tongue as well as Fear Concerning Locquacious Speech”, by which we receive it on the authority of Wakī’, on Sufyān, on Abdullah Bin Dīnār, on Ibn Umar [may Allah be pleaed with him], who said:

The most duty-bound thing a Muslim can clean is his tongue.

Man in the Age of Heedlessness

Dear respected brothers and sisters in Islam, I greet you today with the greeting of Paradise, “as-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu”.

First Khutbah – Main Points

اقترب للناس حسابهم و هم في ذلك غفلة معرضون

“The Reckoning is ever drawing closer to Mankind, yet they are woefully heedless of it, turning away.” [Q: 21: 1]

The times we live in are full of doubt, confusion and heedlessness.  Many people, having capitulated to the false demands of science, have decided to bury their heads in the sand.  Many varieties of philosophies abound about the nature of reality but none of them possess even the merest ability to launch out on this endeavor.  Science is not wholly equipped to look for God, though some of God’s Signs [آيات] are detectable by science.  One of the signs of this heedlessness is over the argument about the Hour, which for some has become either a joke or an unquantifiable determinacy.

One of the flaws that science has is that while it is capable of looking out, it cannot look in.  Even when applied in microscopic terms [which may seem like looking inward but in reality it is not], it is still looking out; a “horizontal” activity.  For Islam, the phenomenon of Revelation is a top-down one.  One may even say that Allah’s relationship with the creation is “vertical”, a top-down relationship.  Thus, for man, if he is to know his Lord, he must reflect, ponder, and use his heart and brain in tandem.  While this process does involve looking out to the cosmos or up at the heavens or at the wonders in creation, ultimately the human being must turn inward if s/he is to understand their role in relation to God.

For the Muslim, the primary means of coming to know about Allah is through His Book and the life of His Prophet [s] and one of the primary avenues of attaining these two is through a sound heart, for we all know the famous hadith in which the Prophet [s] relates to us:

إن في الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح بها سائر الجسد – و إذا فسدت فسد بها سائر الجسد ألا و هي القلب

“There is a morsel of flesh in the body; when it is sound then the body moves to soundness by it – and when it is corrupt, then the body moves to corruption by it – it is nothing other than the heart”.

This statement is not a medical examination – not a cardiovascular assessment of the heart.  For in Islam, the heart does not simply pump blood but it is a sensory organ.  And when it is sound then the actions that the limbs commit will be sound – likewise, if the heart is corrupt, so shall the deeds committed be vile.  It all depends on the state of the heart.

I have spoken before on the connection between responsibility and Reality – on the responsibility each soul will have on the Day of Judgment and the need to get in touch with The Reality [for one of God’s 99 Beautiful Names is al-Haqq, the root of which is a derivative for ‘reality’].  We can see the Wisdom of Allah’s early Revelation in which, through poetic metaphor, He alludes to another reality, His Reality, where the old misconceptions of the world have to be broken up and dispelled.  The world as mankind came to know it was not based on Truth or Reality.  We live in similar times today.

إذا السماء انشقت و أذنت لربها و حقت
إذا السماء انفطرت و إذا الكوكب انتثرت
إذا الشمس كورت و إذا النجوم انكدرت

“When the sky has split itself open, for it has heard its Lord and must make it so!…”
“When the sky is cleft asunder and the stars are scattered…”
“When the sun folds in on itself, and when the stars fall…”

These verses seek to show man that the world he thinks he knows is not the whole story – that there is another greater reality, one in which the life of this world will end, for Allah has ordained it.

Instead, mankind focuses on that which has little benefit for him in this life and none in the next.  Muslims are guilty of this as well, squabbling over matters that are of small importance will ignoring the bounty and opportunities that Allah has given us.  In the words of Ibn ‘Ata Allah [ra]:

اجتهادك فيما ضمن لك و تقصير فيما طلب منك دليل على انطماس البصيرة منك

“Striving for what has been provided [also read ‘not concerning you’] for you while falling short in that which is demanded of you, is proof of the incomprehensibleness of your ability to perceive.”

We spend so much of our time dedicated to things that are of little benefit to our character – that put little weight on our scales.  This is a type of ghaflah [غفلة], or heedlessness that the Qur’ān warns us about. Let us turn to some of the Qur’ān’s commentary on ghaflah:

و لقد ذرأنا لجهنم كثيرا من الجن و الانس – لهم قلوب لا يفقهون بها – و لهم أعين لا يبصرون بها – و لهم ءاذان لا يسمعون بها – ألئك كالأنعم بل هم أضل – ألئك هم الغفلون

“Leave no doubt we created many from amongst the Jinn and Mankind for the Hell-fire.  They have hearts but they use them not to comprehend with – and they have eyes but they use them not to see with – and they have ears but they use them not to listen with.  They are like cattle, no! They are even further astray than that.  They are completely heedless.” [Q: 7:179]

Dear brothers and sisters, the Paradise is real – the Fire is real – the Hour is coming, let there be no doubt about it.  And Allah will surely raise whoever is in the grave.

Let us now turn to Allah, ask His forgiveness, His protection from misguidance and from heedlessness, for He is Oft-Forgiving, the Loving.

الحمد لله, و الصلوات و السلام رسول الله و بعد

Second Khutbah – Main Points

We have to be the teachers of one another and of mankind.  We have to show that there is not simply another reality, but there is only one Reality and it is through conformity to this realization we can bring about a change that will benefit this life and the next.  Make no mistake about the next life where Allah says in suwrah Qāf:

و جاءت سكرة الموت بالحق – ذلك ما كنت منه تحيد
و نفخ في الصور – ذلك يوم الوحيد
و جاءت كل نفس معها سائق و شهيد
لقد كنت في غفلة من هذا فكشفنا عنك غطائك فبصرك اليوم حديد

“And the agony of death will descend upon you in truth – for it is that which you seek to evade!
And the Trumpet has been sounded – that is the Promised Day!
And every soul will attend – with it shall be a driver and a witness,
For surely you have been unmindful in this – therefore we have removed your blindfold – your vision today will be most keen!” [Q: 50:19-22]

Modern man strives to cheat or defeat death but there is not hope for this.  Therefore, instead, let us inform ourselves and the rest of mankind of the life to come, to use the time in this life to prepare ourselves to the journey we all must take.  For when we look at the above example, we can see there will be no excuse on the Promised Day – and all feigned excuses will fall aside, and our sight will bear true that which we wish might be concealed.

Let us play the role we were sent to do – deliver the Message and live lives in accordance with the responsibility and cognizance of “No god but God”, in accordance of “Muhammad is the Messenger of God”, in accordance with the adab and akhlaq of the Prophet [s], seeking Allah’s protection from Shaytan and from heedlessness.

We close now with a du’ah from the Prophet Muhammad [s] regarding the condition of the world we live in, asking Allah to protect us from its fitnah, so our souls may have salvation on the Day of Judgment:

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من قلب لا يخشع
و دعاء لا يسمع
و من نفس لا يشبع
و من علم لا ينفع
اللهم  إني أعوذ بك من هؤلاء الأربع

“O’ Allah! I seek protection in you from a heart that has no humility,
And from a supplication that is not heard,
And from a soul that cannot be satiated,
And from knowledge that has no benefit.
O’ Allah!, I seek refuge in you from all four of these!


Continuing Thoughts on Building the Correct Adab Towards Allah

إن الحمد لله نحمده و نستعينه و نستغفروه و عليه نتوكل
و نعوذ به من شرور أنفسنا و من سيئات أعمالنا
فمن يهده الله فلا مضلل له, و من يضلله فلا هادي له
و نشهد أن لا إله إلا الله, وحده لا شريك له, رب الأرباب و مسبب الأسباب, فاطر السماوات السبع و خالق كل شئ
و نشهد أن نبينا و إمامنا و أميرنا محمد ابن عبد الله, أبي القاسم, عبده و رسوله, خطم الأنباء و أشرف المرسلين
صلى الله عليه و على آله و أزواجه و أصحابه و أنصاره و ذرياته و سلم
إن لله و ملائكته يصلون على النبي, يا أيها الذين آمنوا صلوا عليه و سلموا تسليما, و بعد

Surely, all praise is due to God, we praise Him, we seek His Aid, we ask for His forgiveness and upon Him do we rely solely. We seek protection in Him from the evil that resides within all of us as well as from the mischief of our own actions.

As for the one that God chooses to guide, there is no misguider for him – and for the one that God misguides, there is no guidance for him.

We bear witness that there is no god but God, know as Allah in the Arabic language, completely alone and without peer or partner, Lord of lords, Causer of all causation, the Fashioner of the Seven Heavens and the Creator of all that is.

We also bear witness that out Prophet, our Imam, our leader, Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, father of al-Qasim, is his slave and messenger – the seal of the Prophets and most noble of the Messengers. May God abundantly send peace and prayers upon him and on his noble family, his wives, his Companions, his helpers, and his progeny. “Surely, God and His Angels abundantly send peace and prayers upon the Prophet – therefore O’ you who believe! Lavish peace and prayers upon him frequently.

As for what follows, the main topics of this khutbah will pick up on the last khutbah, which focused on looking at the psychology of the human being as Allah as laid out in His Book:

و لو يعجل الله للناس الشر استعجالهم بالخير لقضي عليهم أجلهم

“And if God were to answer mankind in the same manner for their evil requests as they wish he would hasten on the good, they would be totally annihilated.” [Q: 10: 11]

Man often gets impatience when he feels he is under duress. But if God were to answer all of our requests equally, we would be finished. Therefore, God answers based on His Wisdom and judgment of what is really best. This is also a test – as we saw in suwrah al-Baqarah,

أم حسبتم أن تدخلوا الجنة و لما ياتكم مثل الذين خلوا من قبلكم مستهم البأساء و الضراء و زلزلوا حتى يقول الرسول و الذين آمنوا معه متى نصر الله

“Do you think that you shall waltz into the Paradise without such trials as those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with poverty and disease and they were shaken such that the Messenger and those who believed that were with him cried out, ‘When will the Help of God come?’” [Q: 2:214]

As we summarized, being tested is a part of life and how we react to those tests, how we react to God for being tested will determine the results of our test. This is all said to help understand and inculcate the proper adab or etiquette towards God.

To look further into this issue, this issue of being honest to God, we must work on recognizing God, first and foremost, as an authority figure. We are conditioned in our various societies to recognize authority – one can even say this is a sunnah of Allah as it relates to the human beings’ primordial condition [fitrah]. We recognize our parents, our teachers, law enforcement officers as authority figures and we obey them. These signs [ayat] should be no different to us than the signs that God has put in His Creation to call man to His attention:

هو الذي جعل الشمس ضياء و القمر نورا و قدره منازل لتعلموا عدد السنين و الحساب ما خلق الله ذلك إلا بالحق نفصل اللآيات لقوم يعلمون
إن افي اختلاف الليل النهار و ما خلق الله في السماوات والأرض لأيات لقوم يتقون

“It is He who has made the sun a shining spectacle and the Moon a light, having measured out for them appointed stages so you might come to know the number of years and how to account for time. And God created this in nothing else but pure Truth. Such do We explain the signs to people who have knowledge.”

“Without a doubt, the variances in Night and Day and whatever God creates in the Heavens and in the earth are signs for a people that have taqwa.” [Q: 10:5]

So we can recognize the authority of God by looking at His Creation. When we understand our proper relation with him, we may desist from petty bargaining with One-Who-Has-Everything.

One of the many theories on the meaning of the word “Allah” in the Arabic language is that it is derived from the أداة التعريف or the definite article [ال] and the possessive له meaning “for him”. Combined, this comes to take on the meaning of “all of which belongs to him”

ال+ له = الله

But we should not think that being tested only happens in a “negative” context. Indeed, Allah shows us that we are also tested in what is good:

و إذا أذقنا الناس رحمة من بعد ضراء مستهم إذا لهم مكر في آياتنا, قل الله أسرع مكرا, إن رسلنا يكتبون ما تعملون

“And when We have made mankind to taste some of Our mercy after a calamity has come upon them, Witness!, they take to plotting against Our Signs! Say [Prophet Muhammad], surely Allah is swifter in planning. Always are our messengers writing what it is you do!” [Q: 10:21]

It is pointless to try and barter with One Who Has It All. God is clearly showing His Superiority over man and thus councils us to behave with that knowledge in hand.

We live in an age where many believe themselves to be self-made and self-sufficient people. Imam ‘Alī, may God be pleased with him, gives us some sound words of advice:

من ظن أنه بدون الجهد يصل فهو متمن – و من ظن أنه ببذل الجهد يصل فهو مستغن

“For the one that thinks that he will achieve his goal without effort is a wishful thinker – and for the one that thinks that he shall, by the expending of effort, be successful, is presumptuous.”

Being honest with God has many sides and facets for the human being to analyze and reflect upon. We mustn’t delude ourselves – we need God! And there are so many people out here in our society that need Allah, yet they may not know it.

May Allah make us of the people of sincerity.

The Parable of the Boat

We will see in the below verse how man is always cruising along, happy when the world’s “going his way” but then as soon as he is hit from an unseen vantage point, he cries out:

هو الذي يسيركم في البر البحر – حتى إذا كنتم في الفلك و جرين بهم بريح طيبة و فرحوبها – جائتها ريح عاصف و جاءهم الموج من كل مكان و ظنوا أنهم أحيط بهم – دعوا الله مخلصين له الدين لئن أنجيتنا من هذه لنكونن من الشاكرين

“It is He who makes it easy for you to travel by land or sea – such that you can even travel by boat with a favorable wind and thus they rejoice – then an ill wind turns their way and the waves crash in upon them from all sides and when they think they are overwhelmed – they cry out with all sincerity of the moment to Allah, pleading: ‘If you save us from this catastrophe, we pledge to be from amongst the most thankful of servants’.” [Q: 10:22]

Again – when man needs God [and when does he not need him?], he cries out in anguish, attempting to barter his pitiful obeisance to the One Who Owns Everything. Leave off gainless bargaining and begin a way of showing your obedience and love and respect to your Creator by improving your character – being thankful when your ni’mah is in abundance, not cursing your rizq when it is in short supply, and bearing hardship with patience and understanding. And a final word on good character,  a hadīth related to us from Imam Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, through Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’:

أثقل ما يوضع في الميزان يوم القيامة تقوى الله و حسن الخلق

“The heaviest thing to be weighed on the Scale on the Day of Judgment will be taqwa of God [for now, we will term this God-consciousness – I address this term in a later khutbah] and goodness of character.”

We ask Allah to make us from amongst the people of good character and forgive us our sins. Amīn.

Changing the Rules of Engagement

Nothing sets one off in the way an arrogant, self-aggrandizing personality does. These personality types make it near to impossible to engage in meaningful dialog. A stream of self-informed consciousness pours from their mouths while they remain impervious to any counter thought.In a recent conversation I had with an interfaith colleague, this was the unfortunate observation of previous speakers that had been invited to partake in a knowledge sharing endeavor. Instead of being open to questions and sharing opinions, they dictate their opinions as religious canon, often at the cost of putting down other faiths. Yes, I am specifically talking about Muslims here – Muslims who have no social graces and lack the “bedside manner” of participating in interfaith dialogs. This points to the serious need for Muslim communities to demand standards from our spiritual leaders and public mouthpieces.

The aim of this post is not to blast any of these persons in specific. In the aforementioned case I am not aware of any specific names and where there have been cases that I have witnessed firsthand, the names will remain anonymous, as it is not my objective to perform character assassination on any single person. But it does beg the question of why are we in this situation and what qualifications do these people have in representing us? I have witnessed firsthand the social fumbling of immigrant imams attempting to engage in dialog with non-Muslims and the results have been something of a plane crash. Many do not even possess the requisite oral skills such as being proficient in English as well as having sufficient background in the culture, history and politics of this country. Simply knowing that Islam is al-Haqq is not longer an acceptable qualification. It is a moot point that one believes that Islam [or Christianity or Hinduism] is the correct religion. If you’re a practitioner of that given religion it is safe to say you believe it’s correct. But the function of an interfaith dialog is not a boxing match where ones debates his or her theology. It’s about exchanging ideas and learning how to educate and be educated. We must never forget that we are there to learn as well.

Instead of spokespersons who are adept at public speaking and public engagement we are left with representatives who in reality possess self-esteem issues. And in an attempt to bolster that weak esteem, raise themselves and their faith on lofty, albeit rickety, pedestals, that in no way accomplish the goal of a give-and-take dialog. Unfortunately, this is not solely an immigrant issue. Many indigenous imams, both having been influenced by immigrant rhetoric as well as suffering from their own brand of inferiority, have adopted similar stances as well.

So what is the solution? In another conversation last week with a friend I spoke on how many of us [meaning converts] would not tolerate second-rate quality goods in our pre-Muslim days and yet as Muslims we seem to have lost any notion of standards or accountability. I don’t know any of us that would have accepted a brand-X quality education or unqualified doctor to attend to us or any scenario where quality, responsibility and accountability would have not mattered. And yet it is precisely this that we not only tolerate we seem to discourage any form of scrutiny. How is this possible? If the Muslim community [and here I speak of the indigenous community] is to raise up out of this quagmire, we are going to have to demand standards and qualifications from our leaders. No longer is it enough that the imam know some Arabic or studied with shaykh So-and-So, he is going to need to be formally trained in a number of areas. And this qualification will require us to examine, “what is it we need?”. “What are the duties of an imam? What kind of function will he perform?”. These questions and demands for quality will have to extend to our schools as well. And perhaps the imam isn’t the person best qualified to deal with community affairs. Perhaps a spokesperson [yes, man or woman] would be best to engage in such activities.

Ultimately, for any of these changes to take effect it is going to take a lot of ground work, leg work and quite honestly, the passing of a generation [whether that be people ceding power or whatever form it takes], whose ideals are sorely out of touch with the reality that we live in. It is also going to take an aggressive attitude of a new generation of Muslims, young people, that have vision and the tenacity to carry it out. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. It is of the essence. The choices we make now will greatly dictate the nature of our reality for many years, possibly generations, to come. And God knows best.