Muslim Spirituality – al-Hikam #1


[Direct download]

Taj al-’Arus al-Hawi li Tahdhib al-Nufus by Ibn ‘Ata Allah al-Sikandari (al-Iskandari)

The Bride-Groom’s Crown Containing Instructions on Refining the Self

“The master of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self-mastery.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

In his work, Sufism For Non-Sufi’s, Dr. Sherman Jackson writes,

“…part of Islam’s essential struggle from the very beginning was to identify good, substantively sound spirituality and distinguish it from and elevate it over bad, misguided spirituality. In sum, not all spirituality was or is good.” – Sherman Jackson

What is the function or purpose of spirituality from a Muslim perspective?

  • Inspire us: to do good, to do self-help, in all things which inspiration is required.
  • Elevate our morals: the world pulls at us asking us to merely adapt, not to transform.
  • Imbue us with “devotional confidence and resolve” to connect with God, worship God and put God front and center of our lives.

Spirituality and antinomianism:

  • “one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation”;
  • one who rejects a socially established morality;

Spirituality in the Muslim tradition should also perform two functions:

  1. Affirm the supernatural.
  2. Eschew the superstitious.

Hikam #1

من علامة الاعتماد على العمل نقصان الرجاء عند وجود الزلل

“Amongst the signs of leaning on one’s own handiwork of deeds is the loss of hope in the presence of mistakes.”

“Amongst the signs of relying on deeds is the loss of hope in the presence of mistakes.”

Humility Amidst Chaos – A Khutbah

What is the mindset of the Prophet? How can we practice his Sunnah without really trying to get into his habit, his wont, his behavior? How can we cultivate his Sunnah into actions? We have to create the environment to doing good deeds, having a good state of mind. A good place to start is to look at the supplications/دعاء of the Prophet and why would he make such supplications?

عن عبد الله بن عمرو أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يكثر أن يدعوا اللهم إني أسئلك الصحة والعفة والأمانة وحسن الخلق والرضا بالقدر

“O’ Allah!, I ask you for health, sexual morality, integrity, good character and satisfaction with what you measure out.” – related by al-Nisa’i.

Why would a man who is married ask for sexual morality? There’s the idea in today’s culture that once you’re married, it’s “game over.” Or that once you’re married, you no longer have to worry about that issue.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرُ أُمَّتِي قَرْنِي ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ قَالَ عِمْرَانُ فَلَا أَدْرِي أَذَكَرَ بَعْدَ قَرْنِهِ قَرْنَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلَاثًا ثُمَّ إِنَّ بَعْدَكُمْ قَوْمًا يَشْهَدُونَ وَلَا يُسْتَشْهَدُونَ وَيَخُونُونَ وَلَا يُؤْتَمَنُونَ وَيَنْذُرُونَ وَلَا يَفُونَ وَيَظْهَرُ فِيهِمْ السِّمَنُ

“The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘The best of you, are my contemporaries, then those who follow them, then those who will come after them. (‘Imran said, I do not know if he said this twice or thrice). Then, they will be followed by those who will testify but will not be called upon to testify; they will betray the trust, and will not be trusted. They will make vows but will not fulfill them, and obesity will prevail among them‘.” al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Ibn Hibban amongst others.

It can be no coincidence that some 1400 years ago the Prophet saw a connection between obesity and bad behavior. And while this should not infer that a skinny person is automatically more pious, it does address the problem when it (the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was addressing a group of people: ويظهر فيهم السمن) becomes a social issue, not simply the misgivings of a few individuals. How often do we hear today of so many behavior issues amongst children, indeed even adults, and we see that obesity is rampant. Yet seldom is this the Islam that is presented to the public.

وَأَحْسِن كَمَآ أَحْسَنَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ

“And do good as God has done good unto you!” Qur’an, 28: 77.

What may be the biggest inhibitor is the lack of humility amongst the Muslims ourselves; there can be no achievement of the Sunnah without modesty, humility. Ibn ‘Ata Allah wrote:

لا يدخل عليك الإهمال إلا باهمالك عن متابعة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم, ولا تحصل لك الرفعة عند الله تعالى إلا بمتابعة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم

“Neglect will find no way to you except through your own negligence in following the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. And you will not be elevated in the sight of God except by following the example of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.” Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah, The Bride-Groom’s Crown/Taj al-Arus al-Hawi li Tahdhib al-Nufus.

حدثنا أبو مسعود عقبة قال: قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إن مما أدرك الناس من كلام النبوة إذا لم تستحي فاصنع ما شئت

Additionally, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said concerning humility:

“Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqbah said that the Prophet [s] related that from what came to the people from the Prophets before is that if you have no humility then do as you please.”

Not only is this a condemnation, it is also an explanation and when the Prophet is explaining something to us, it’s for our benefit. People find no use for religion but from this statement, we can see that so much of what Allah has been trying to give people is to be humble, to be chaste, to be healthy, to be people who are trustworthy and are satisfied with what Allah measures out for them.

الإيمن بضع وستون أو سبعون شعبةً أفضلها لا إله إلا الله وأدناها إماطة الأذى عن الطريق والحياء شعبة من الإيمن

“Faith is comprised of some sixty or seventy branches, the best of which is the testimony of ‘there is no deity but the one true God’ while the lowest form of this faith is removing something harmful from the path; Humility is a branch of faith.” Sunan Abu Dawud.

Perhaps if Jeffrey Johnson had had more humility, had had more faith, had known that his need, his du’ah would be answered, that God would provide for him, then perhaps no one would have to have been shot or killed.

يستجاب لأحدكم مالم يعجل, يقول: دعوت فلم يستجب لي

“The supplication of each and every one of you will be responded to so long as you are not hasty, saying ‘I called upon you but I was not answered’.”

Fallacy of the Self-Made Man

In light of the hero culture we are bred in here in America, I fould Ibn Aṭa’ Allah’s words [may God have mercy on him] to be most inciteful on the fallacy of this myth:

من علامة الاعتماد على العمل نقصان الرجاء عند وجود الزلل

“One of the signs of relying on one’s own agency [vs. relying on God] is the loss of hope in the presence of a tribulation.”

You can read/download an Arabic/English copy of al-Hikam here.

Library of Islamic Books and Documents

For the students of Islamic studies, lay or otherwise, I thought, as I go, I would like to or provide books or other documents for download. I may also provide some reviews for books I’ve read in English on Islamic studies as well.

Books For Viewing & Download

‘Ilm Tajwid al-Qur’an علم تجويد القرآن: [download PDF] a concise introduction to science of  tajwid (rules for reciting the Qur’an) by Syrian scholar, Muhammad Hisham al-Burhani. Shaykh al-Burhani has been a faculty member of the University of Damascus in the department of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh] as well as having spent some time in the Gulf, teaching at the University of al-‘Ayn [جامعة العين في أبي ظبي] in Abu Dhabi. I will be using elements of this book to teach a tajwid class for UPenn’s MSA, starting Spring 2012.

Kitab al-Miftah fi al-Sarf كتاب المفتاح في الصرف: [download PDF] a short introduction to sarf (morphology) by the medieval scholar of Arabic language, al-Jurjani (full name Abu Bakr Abd al-Qāhir bin Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad al-Jurjānī). The work here is a short but concise intro to the study of Arabic morphology. Recommended for students who are able to read in Arabic but are looking to tackle the study of sarf in the Arabic language.

Bidayah al-Hidayah: [download PDF] a classic in the field of Muslim spirituality as well as moral and ethical excellence, Imam al-Ghazzali’s Beginning of Guidance is also available in a bilingual edition translated by Mashhad al-Allaf via White Thread Press.

Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim: [download PDF] a large early tafsir by Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi [born in al-Rayy in 240/854]. The son of a well-respected scholar, Abu Hatim al-Razi, this tafsir is based on the accounts of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, the Companions, and the Inheritors [may God be pleased with all of them]: امتاز هذا التفسير بأنه جمع بين دفتيه تفسير الكتاب بالسنة و آثار الصحابة و البابعين بالإسناد.

Hikam Ibn ‘Ata Allah: [download PDF] a collection of aphorisms by the Alexandrian scholar. A few minor errors in the copy until I get a chance to re-type a new one. English and Arabic edition.

al-I’tisam: [Vol. 1 and Vol. 2PDF; Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 .docx; ebook format with .epub and .mobi files] by Imam al-Shatibi—literally translated as Holding Fast—is an important volume on fiqh, especially as it relates to the Sunnah. The two volumes go into detail on such important topics as bid’ah, as well as clarifying actions and spontaneous actions. I hope to be able to translate this work into English.

Sunan al-Darimi: [download the PDF] the author’s full name being ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Darimi (181H–255H), his Sunan is a hadith collection among the other prominent collections such as the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, etc. Despite its title as a Musnad, it is not arranged by narrator in the manner of other musnads, such as that of Tayalisi or Ibn Hanbal. It is arranged by subject matter in the manner of a book of Sunan, like the Sunan Ibn Majah.

al-Mudawwanah [10 parts]: a classic Maliki text on fiqh. I wrote a small piece about it here. Download the 10 parts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 [PDF’s].

Matn al-Risalah of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani: [download the PDF]. Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani was a scholar devoted to the education of the youth. His scholarship still remains in a prominent position as one of the earliest proponents of education in history. The book is a summary of the main aspects of Aqidah (Faith), Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Akhlaq (character), and explains the essences of education in terms of these three principles. It was divided into 45 small, easy to read and understand chapters.

Mushaf al-Sahabah: a small volume [PDF] on the 10 recitations via the accounts of the Companions.

Sahih Ibn Hibban [two parts]: 1, and 2 [PDF’s]. A great muhadith and Shaykh, Muhammad Ibn Hibban al-Busti [also known as Ibn Habban], died in the year 354/965. His collection of hadith were compiled as Sahih Ibn Hibban. The hadiths in his book are arranged neither as in a musannaf nor as in a musnad. Ali b. Balban rearranged the hadiths and published them as al-Ihsan Fi Taqrīb Sahih Ibn Hibban. Ibn Hibban’s collection contains 2647 hadiths, which do not appear in the collections of Bukhari or Muslim, published in legal order in the book Mawarid al-Zam’an Ila Zawa’id Ibn Hibban by Nur al-Din ‘Ali b. Abi Bakr al-Haythami.

al-Wabil al-Sayyib: by reknowned scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [download the PDF]. The volume, also know in English as The Invocation of God, is a commentary on his master’s work [Shaykh al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyya], al-Kalim al-Tayyib, or The Goodly Word, also available in English.

Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah [in 3 parts]: a short hadith collection from one of the early sources. Volume 1, 2, and 3 in PDF format.

Sahih al-Bukhari [in 12 parts]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. All are Microsoft Word documents [.doc extension]. This files will only work on a PC to my knowledge, as the font is formatted for the PC. However, if you have a dual-book Mac with a PC side, it should work.

Sahih al-Bukhari [in 12 parts]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. All are PDF documents. These files are best if your machine [Mac, for example] cannot read the Arabic font from a PC.

Mukhtasar al-Akhdari: a short Maliki text on worship [‘ibadat] by the reknown scholar Abu Zayd ‘Abd al-Rahman Bin Muhammad al-Sagir al-Akhdari. Word .doc, PDF or eBook format — Arabic only.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: one of the most significant tafsīrs for the study of the Qur’an, Tafsir al-Jalalayn is generally regarded as one of the most easily accessible works of Qur’anic exegesis because of its simple style and one volume length. Download as a PDF.

Mushaf Riwayah Warsh ‘an Nafi’: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Warsh recitation, see here.

Mushaf Riwayah Qalun ‘an Nafi’: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Qalun recitation, see here.

Mushaf al-Susi min Abi ‘Amru al-Basri: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the al-Susi recitation, see here.

Mushaf Riwayah Khalaf ‘an Hamzah: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Khalaf ‘an Hamzah recitation, see here.

Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary: The Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic is an Arabic-English dictionary compiled by Hans Wehr and edited by J Milton Cowan. First published in 1961 by Otto Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden, Germany. Download as a PDF.