Rights of Children (Part 2: Upbringing)

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Life by its very nature is fleeting, it is littered by enjoyment and tribulation. Yet, we must overcome these trails and must not become distracted by the embellishments. For a Muslim every enjoyment has the potential to be a trail and vice versa. This unique system is very beneficial for a Muslim as it means, that in essence, his life is not as black and white as enjoyment and trail. Rather every situation that manifests, is an opportunity to gain closeness to the Creator.

Children are no different, they are simply a means to gain closeness to Allah, they are an investment for the Hereafter. This an be understood from the statement of the Prophet (SAW);  “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” (Muslim) A pious child will continue to elevate our rank even after our demise. This means that the more pious the child the better assistance the parents will have in the Afterlife.

This assistance will come through the Prayers of the child and the good deeds done for the parents on their behalf, through this child. This has been illustrated by a narration of the Prophet (SAW); which has reached us through Ibn Abbas (RA). Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the mother of Sa’d ibn Ubadah (RA) died when he was away from her. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and I am away from her. Will it benefit her anything if I give in charity on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then I ask you to be my witness that I am giving my garden al-Mikhraaf (so called because it bore so many dates) in charity on her behalf.” (Bukhari) 

In order to reap the optimum benefits from our children, we must ensure that Islamic values are inculcated into them from an early age. When they are young this is very easy, as we have been told by our Prophet (SAW) that the default position of every child is Islam; “Every child is born in a state of fitrah (the natural state of man, i.e., Islam), then his parents make him into a Jew or a Christian or a Magian.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) Young children are very receptive and it is at this tender age that they should be familiar with the commandments of Allah and their duties as a Believer.

Children should grow up seeing their Parents praying Salah, this will create a natural longing to emulate their Parents. Many times we are unaware that our actions serve as the best lessons to our children, you can lecture them for hours, but leading by example has always been the most effective method to drive a point across.

Parents have been instructed to pay particular attention to the Salah of their children, the Prophet (SAW) has said, “When your children attain the age of seven, insist upon them to offer up Prayer (regularly), and when they’re ten years old, punish them if they do not, and have separate beds for them (to sleep on).”  (Abu Dawud) This age is mentioned as it is age where many of the habits your child will have throughout their lives will be established. It is also at this age when they will be nearing the time of maturity, so naturally parents should prepare for this. Privacy is a must at this age, parents must understand that they cannot bathe or make children sleep on the same bed at this age. Their children should develop a greater sense of independence and this should be catered for by providing separate beds.

It is imperative that Parents adopt both positive and negative reinforcement if they wish to make their child adopt a certain behaviour. When it comes to Salah if children are punctual they should be rewarded and if they are lethargic they should be punished appropriately. Do not be excess in their punishment, as many times a person has become antagonistic toward Islam due to the dictator-like implementation their parents adopted. This is not the Prophet way. Do not be draconian, be magnanimous and firm. It is an equilibrium which must be met if you wish your children to become practicing Muslims.

Parents should dedicate time to their children, especially in the beginning stages, they should feel that Islam is a part of their identity and not just a label they are stuck with. Parents should take their children to the Mosques when the child is old enough, this will create sense of community and ensure that our children will continue to fill the Mosques after our deaths. Care should be taken by the individuals who are responsible for the Mosques that the provide the facilities to cater for both the elderly and the youth of the Ummah.

With all of these important points in mind, Parents must also focus on the moral development of their child. They must ensure that they explain what is right and wrong, instilling Islamic etiquette as the child matures. This can be done in many ways, the most obvious is as was mentioned above, leading by example. However, a Islamic Tutor should also have input in the child’s upbringing. Parents should choose a Tutor who is knowledgeable and pious so that the child can receive an authentic Islamic education from an early age. Alternatively they can enroll them in a Islamic institute, however, this is not a free-pass, this does not mean that the Parent’s job is finished just because their child is studying in this institute . Parenting is a life-long process, the child must always feel that his parents are involved.  There can never be any substitute for good parenting.

In regards to moral development, the Prophet (SAW) has stated; “No father gave a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.” (Tirmidhi) And in a similar narration, “Show respect to your children and adorn them with good manners.” (Ibn Majah) If you do not show respect to your children and they see how you are an oppressor in the household, how can you expect them to attain lofty moral character? Do not contradict yourself, do as you say, as contradiction is the bane of morality.

May Allah bless us with pious, healthy, upright children. May he forgive us for our mistakes and fix our affairs. Ameen.

 

 

 

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Rights of Children (Part 1: Birth)

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One of the experiences which a person looks forward to is the birth of their child. No Parent can describe the unbridled happiness that overwhelms their heart when seeing their child for the first time. This is a natural predisposition that the Creator has imbued in His creation. It is a well-accepted premise that no Parent would want any affliction or harm to meet their child, however, many times parents unwittingly harm their child’s and their own hereafter.

Allah has stated that children are a natural boon which men will desire, they will want to become a Mother of Father as this is an intrinsic part of being Human. Allah states; “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.” (3:14) The reason that Allah has mentioned these things is that man will always covet them. But this desire can also be his downfall, if he abuses any of these things it could land him eternal punishment. He should not allow his love of these thing blind him and lead him to destruction.

Children are a test for their parents, if they raise their children well, fulfilling their rights then they will be  blessing on the Day of Judgement. If they fall short and do not fulfill their child’s right then they will be a means for great calamity. This is why it is mentioned in the Quran, “Your wealth and your children are but a trial.” (64:15) This verse should constantly stay in the mind of parents. They are holders of a trust from Allah and will be questioned in reagard to that trust.

The Quran also reminds mankind that the relationship between parent and child will not matter on the Day of judgement, “But when there comes the Deafening Blast – that Day a man will flee from his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his children.” (80: 33-36) Ties of kinship will not matter only how you treated your kinsman, the fact that you were a Father of Mother will not matter, how well you fulfilled your role will.

Now we have a basic understanding of how great a trust children truly are, we will discuss their rights.

From their very incipience, Parents should ensure their child is aware of who is the Creator, this is why when a baby is born the first thing that they should hear should be the Islamic call to prayer (Azan) in their ear which is then followed by the secondary call to prayer (Iqamat) . Abu Rafi’ (RA) has narrated, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) calling Azan in the ear of (his daughter), Fatimah.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud) This shows that the first right a child has when he enters this world over his parents, is that they say the Azan and Iqamat in their newborn’s ear. Scholars give many reasons for why this is done, one of the most accepted views is that the call to prayer will impart the knowledge of the spirit and fundamental tenets of Islam in a most effective manner.

The Azan and the Iqamat is said to a newborn, there is no prayer, the funeral prayer has no Azan or Iqamat as the first Azan and Iqamat a person hears at the beginning is the prelude for the prayer which is performed at his end. This is a very poignant aspect of the first call of prayer that one hears, to a certain degree we are all simply waiting for the prayer that was called for at the beginning of our lives. There is no doubt it is approaching, whether we prepare for it is up to ourselves entirely.

Another action which should be taken upon the birth of a child is Tahnik, which is where a piece of chewed date is placed on the palate of a newborn’s mouth. The date should be chewed by a pious servant of Allah. The Prophet (SAW) would chew the dates for the Companions (RA). They would then place it in the mouth of their babies.

This has been reported by Aisha (RA), “People used to bring their (newborn) children to the Prophet (SAW), and he would bless them and perform (the ceremony of) Tahnik.” (Muslim) This has many benefits for the newborn child, the Scholars mention that it brings blessings and guards the child from evil. But Allah knows best the benefits, since it was a practice the Prophet (SAW) would do and then the Companions (RA) carried on, who are we to deny the hidden benefits?

A similar narration has been given by Asma bint Abu Bakr (RA), she related that she was an expected mother at the time of Migration (Hijra). When she arrived to Madinah, Abdullah ibn Zubayr (RA) was born to her. She has said, “I took the child to the Prophet (SAW) and placed it on his lap. The Prophet (SAW) asked for a date, (when it was brought), he chewed it, and dropped the saliva in its mouth, then applied the chewed date on its palate and blessed the child. It was the first child to be born in Islam (in the home of an Emigrant after the Migration).” (Bukhari and Muslim) The Muslims were elated at the birth of Zubayr (RA), due to the malicious lie that the Jews had cast a spell on the Muslims, eliminating any chance of children being born from them. The birth of this pious child completely shattered their claim.

As mentioned before, the birth of a child is an occasion of great happiness, even in the time of Jahilliyah (Ignorance) the Arabs would celebrate the birth of a child. Many different cultures have variant customs, it was the practice of the Arabs that they would shave the head of the baby and sacrifice an animal out of happiness. They called this Aqiqah, the Prophet (SAW) kept this custom after the advent of revelation.

Buraidah (RA) narrates, “When, during the Age of Ignorance, a child was born to the wife of any of us, we would slaughter a goat and smear the head of the child with its blood. Later, after the dawn of Islam, our practice became, (on the advice of the Prophet SAW), that we sacrifice a goat of Aqiqah, on the seventh day of birth of a child, and shave the head of the infant, and apply saffron on it.” (Abu Dawud) This was the custom of the Arabs and a distinguishing trait of the community of Ibrahim (AS) this is why the Prophet (SAW) kept it and corrected it.

Salman ibn Amir al-Zahabi (RA) narrated that he heard the Prophet (SAW) say: “With the child is Aqiqah . So, sacrifice an animal on behalf of the child and have its head shaved.” (Bukhari) From these two narrations we understand that the Aqiqah ceremony consists of two acts: the shaving of the head, and the sacrifice of an animal. These acts were among the religious practices of the Community of Ibrahim (AS), the Muslims have kept these practices to show our association to this great Prophet.

The animal does not need to be a ram, that a ram is better as there is are many narrations that the Prophet (SAW) mentioned rams as the sacrificial animal and the Prophet (SAW) sacrificed a ram each for both of his grandsons, “The Prophet (SAW) did the Aqiqah of (his maternal grandsons), Hasan and Husain (RA), and slaughtered a ram for each of them.”(Abu Dawud) The Prophet only sacrificed one ram each as he was probably limited in his means at that time.

There are also narrations that two goats should be sacrificed for a boy and one for a girl, “Two goats should be sacrificed on behalf of a male child, and one on behalf of a female child, and it does not matter whether the animal be male or female.” (Tirmidhi and Nisai) if the family lack the means then one will suffice, if Allah wills.

Silver equal to the weight of hair which is shaved during the Aqiqah should be given in charity, this is a commendable practice although not compulsory. Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) sacrificed a goat in the Aqiqah of Hasan, and he told (his daughter), Fatimah (RA) to shave his head and give away silver in charity of an equal weight to his hair, it was found to be the heaviness of a Dirham or even less.” (Abu Dawud) Some commentators think that the Prophet (SAW) had told Fatimah (RA) to do this as the financial state of Ali and Fatimah (RA) did not permit the sacrifice of an animal. So, the Prophet (SAW) did the sacrifice himself but told Fatimah (RA) to donate in charity to show gratefulness to Allah for being blessed with a child.

In addition to the child being shaved on the seventh day his name should be given too “Every child is pledged for the animal of its Aqiqah. The animal should be sacrificed an the seventh day, the child’s head should be shaved and a name given to it.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasai) The name of the child should be chosen carefully, it should have some indication of its Muslim heritage. If you are naming the child after a certain individual make sure that this person is pious and the name is permitted in the Religion.

The Prophet (SAW) has mentioned, “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called out by your name and the name of your father. So, give good names.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) He has similarly stated; “Among your best names, the most liked to Allah are Abdullah and Abdul Rahman” (Muslim) The Prophet (SAW) named his own son after Ibrahim (AS), a great Prophet, and has advised us: “Give a name after the names of the Prophets (AS)” (Abu Dawud) Great care should be taken when giving a name, we should not name our children after individuals who do not even hold any Imaan (Belief) in their hearts. Give them pious names so that they mature into pious people.

More rights will be elaborated in Part 2. If Allah wills.

Allah give us pious offspring. May he allow us to fulfill their rights. May he make them the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.

The Rights of Neighbours

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The relationship of neighbours can be some of the most endearing relationships one can have in this life. They oft than not become life long friends and close acquaintances. Having well mannered neighbors can make life comfortable, whereas, the opposite can make life very difficult. Islam has recognised this beneficial relationship, as such it has certain parameters set by the Prophet (SAW). If we follow these parameters we will find our communities filled with co-operation and civility.

To mention the rights a neighbour enjoys, first, we must define who a neighbour is. This definition will be left to one of the greatest Scholars of our intellectual heritage, Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy upon him), he defines a neighbour in his celebrated work, Fath-ul Bari. He writes that Scholars have various opinions about the extent of neighbours. It is reported from Ali (RA) that whoever hears the same Azaan (the call to prayer) are neighbours. Some say that whoever performs Salah (congregational prayer) with one in the same Masjid becomes one’s neighbour. A narration from Aisha (RA) reports that neighbours extend to forty homes in each direction. Imam Awza’i (RH) holds the same view, and Imam Bukhari (RH) [in his Adab-ul Mufrad] and Imam Tabrani (RH) have also cited narrations similar to this.

Allah has stated in the Quran, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” (4:36) 

In the above verse, Allah initially outlines man’s obligation to him, and that is to worship Him alone, without ascribing partners to Him. The essence of Islam is this acceptance of monotheism. Thereafter, Allah outlines our obligations to fellow human beings, and commences with parents, because if man is indebted to anyone after Allah, it is his parents. Allah then mentions kindness toward relatives then neighbours.

Two types of neighbours are mentioned in the verse. The near neighbour refers to the immediate neighbour, whilst the far neighbour refers to those whose homes at a distance from one. Some Scholars opine that the near neighbour refers to a neighbour who happens to be a relative as well, and the far neighbour is a normal person without any familial link. The one who is a relative and a neighbour will have more rights upon a person. Others give the explanation that the near neighbour is a person who is Muslim and the distant neighbour is the non Muslim. This does not negate the fact that a person must act in the best of manners regardless of the person’s belief system.

To understand the importance of the neighbour, the words of the Prophet (SAW) will suffice us, “Jibra’il (AS) persistently emphasised the importance of the neighbour to me, until I felt that he was going to declare him an heir in the estate.” (Bukhari) The heirs of the deceased have rights over his property, these are undeniable and in embedded in our Religion. Due to the emphasis regarding the neighbour, the Prophet (SAW) felt that Jibra’il (AS) would descend and accord the neighbour the status of an heir, was imminent. This is how much the rights of a neighbour are intrinsic in order to develop an Islamic moral code.

One of the basic rights a neighbour has over a Muslim is that he is not harmed, as the Prophet has stated, “He who believes in Allah and the last day should not harm his neighbour.” (Bukhari) Here, once more, the most important aspect of Islam is mentioned before the right of a neighbour is mentioned. The belief in Allah is mentioned coupled with the belief in an afterlife, these beliefs are the defining factor of a Muslim, if he does not have these then he cannot be called a believer. The fact that immediately after this, the Prophet (SAW) mentions the right of the neighbour, this is and indication on how profound the rights of a neighbour truly are.

This tradition does not go into detail as to what ‘Harm’ is, instead it was left to the Companions (RA) to define and the the Scholars. Due to harm having different connotations to different people, a general definition is difficult to produce. However, harm here could be best understood as harm to your neighbour’s life, direct or indirectly, harm to his property, his family, his honour or his wealth. Allah knows best.

A similar Hadith has been said by our Prophet (SAW), reported by Abu Huraira (RA), “By Allah, he is not a true Believer; by Allah, there is no faith in him; by Allah, he is not a believing man.” ‘Who?’ he was asked. “From whose mischief his neighbours do not feel secure.” (Bukhari and Muslim) From this harsh warning issued and the words chosen by our Prophet (SAW) one can imagine how vile a mischievous neighbour truly is. Here the Prophet (SAW) has again made the connection between belief in Allah and the rights of the neighbour. The crux of this Narration is that a Muslim should be so amiable with his neighbours that they have nothing to fear from him. If the neighbour lives in fear due to a person’s behaviour then he cannot be called a faithful believer.

The Prophet (SAW) has warned his nation of the bad neighbour, he has said, “The person whose neighbours are not spared from his ill-behaviour will not enter Jannah” (Muslim) This Narration is very similar to the above one, however, this one is more clear in regards to the destination of a ill-mannered neighbour. This is really the most severe warning that the Prophet (SAW) has given, this should be enough to highlight just how important a neighbour truly is.

May Allah give us the ability to act as good neighbours. May he save us from becoming bad neighbours and from having bad neighbours.

The Significance of Reconciliation

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In life there will be certain instances where you or the people you know will have disputes and differences. It could very well be that due to these disputes certain rifts appear in relationships. This is natural, humans by nature will always argue and at times fall out. However, what distinguishes people is the ability to forgive and to reconcile a once strained relationship.

This reconciliation is encouraged and commended in Islam. Many of the arguments that happen in many households are over trivial matters and if they were solved then not only the family members embroiled in the dispute, but the whole community would benefit. We see that it has become alarmingly common for brothers, sisters, parents and children to argue and to never reconcile, effectively ending the cohesive family unit. The message of the Prophet (SAW) was not one of severing ties or holding grudges, it was one of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Allah has mentioned in the Quran, “Indeed all believers are brothers, so reconcile between them.” (49:10)  Reconciliation is imperative if the Muslims wish to unite and stay united, you should not hold grudges, this does not benefit anyone. It is toxic and insidious. We have to understand this if we want to be the leaders of humanity, how can we help mankind if we are busy squabbling and nursing grievances?

If we look at the Prophet’s (SAW) life, he was the manifestation of mercy, there were so many instances where he was the oppressed, yet he forgave and overlooked past contentions. No day is more famous for showing this than when he was granted victory over the Polytheists of Makkah. To put this into perspective, these were the very same who has persecuted him, they had killed his family and close friends, they had ridicules him, exiled him, they had exhausted every effort in trying to make his life as difficult as possible, yet he forgave them. He allowed them respite and upon seeing his lofty moral character the staunch enemies of Islam became some of the most prominent Muslims history has ever recorded.

Disputes within the community should be everyone’s concern, if no party wishes to reconcile a third-party should step in to take up the gauntlet. They should try their utmost to facilitate a return to normal relations as soon as possible. It is easier to treat a fresh wound than waiting for it to fester and become putrid. The third party should ideally be recognised and respected by the two disputing parties. They should not take sides and act in an impartial manner to solve the problem not to aggravate it or to play the blame game.

This role of arbitrator will not go unrewarded, as the Prophet (SAW) has said, narrated by Abu Darda (RA) that “Nabi (SAW) asked the Companions ‘Should I not inform you of an action that is more superior than [optional] Salah, Fasting and Charity?’ The Sahaba (RA) replied, ‘Surely, O Messenger of Allah (SAW).’ Nabi (SAW) said, ‘Reconciling two parties.'” (Abu Dawud) This is an indication of how virtuous the act of reconciliation. We should therefore try our earnest to involve ourselves in this.

Reconciliation is so profound in our religion, that even something that is impermissible becomes permissible, the Prophet (SAW) has said, “The one who speaks lies when reconciling between two people, does not receive the sin for lying, if he fabricates favourable remarks, and conveys it to the other party.” (Bukhari) We can understand from this narration just how important it is to settle disputes, we cannot even fathom how beneficial it can be. The benefit of a resolved grievance far outweighs a fabricated remark, here the priority should be clear, it is the solving of arguments which will then lead to harmony.

Allah grant us the ability to forgive and to reconcile with people. May He make us a force for good in our communities. May He allow us to become those people who enjoin ties and not sever them. Ameen.

 

Prophetic Guidance on Sorcery

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It is the belief of every Muslim that there exists a unseen world, this world can affect the seen world. We can understand this from the Quran and the teachings of the Blessed Prophet (SAW), there are many incidents which show the unseen world affecting the seen world. The Prophet (SAW) has left us various actions which can safeguard a person from the adverse symptoms brought about by sinister unseen forces.

This article will address sorcery, or black magic, from the Quran and the Sunnah. This is by no means a comprehensive elucidation, rather it is a brief introduction to the realm of the unseen.

With anything, if one wishes to understand it then a definition must be provided. Many Scholars of repute have defined Sihr as such:

  • “The basic meaning of Sihr is to make something appear in a form other than its real one” -Al Azhari (Tahdhibu Al-Lugha).
  • “When a Sahir makes something false appear to be real, or makes something appear to people differently from its true form, it means that he has given an object a status other than its real one” -Ibn Mandhur (Lisaan Al-Arab).
  • “Sihr is a set of Uqad (knots), Ruqa (incantations), and words uttered or written, or carried out in such a way as to affect the body of the subject (al-Mashur), his heart or mind, without even coming into contact with him/her. The reality of Sihr is that there are some types that can kill, cause one to fall ill, or act as an obstacle against a man having sexual intercourse with his wife. Other types can separate spouses, and can make them hate or love each other” -Ibn Qudama Al-Maqdisi (Al-Mughni).
  • “Sihr consists of the effects of evil souls and the reaction of the resultant forces” -Ibn Al-Qayyim (Zaad Al-Ma’ad). 

The action of Sihr is prohibited as our Prophet (SAW) has informed us, in a report by Abu Huraira (RA) he narrates, “The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Avoid the seven serious sins.’ People asked, ‘What are they?’ The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Shirk (polytheism), Sihr (sorcery), unlawful killing of a person, living on money from usury, usurping an orphan’s wealth, retreat at the time of Jihad, and accusing innocent married women of fornication.'” (Bukari) (Muslim) We can gauge the gravity of this sin when compared with the others in this narration, they are all grievous and cause mischief in the land. All of these have become rife in our society, is it any wonder that we are going through such testing times?

Many people deny the existence of Sihr, this is complete folly, Allah mentions this in the Quran: “And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say, “We are a trial, so do not disbelieve [by practicing magic].” And [yet] they learn from them that by which they cause separation between a man and his wife. But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah . And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them. But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.” (2:102) 

This is undeniable proof that sorcery does in fact exist and it causes evil upon whoever it is cast upon. It has since been passed on through the generations, still sowing discord among the people. Here the verse describes one famous use of Black magic, that is the separation of man and his wife. This is a very serious outcome, as society is dependent upon successful marriages in order for peace and tranquility to manifest. Destroying the family unit is a specialty of Magicians, in fact destroying marriages in general is pleasing to Satan.

The negative ramifications of a broken marriage can be best understood from the jubilation felt by Satan (Iblees), it is reported by Jabir (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Verily, Satan places his throne over the water and he sends out his troops. The closest to him in rank are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Satan says: You have done nothing. Another one says: I did not leave this man alone until I separated him from his wife. Satan embraces him and he says: You have done well.” (Muslim) We should constantly beseech Allah for pious spouses and successful marriages. It is unfortunate that many Muslims do not operate by the best of husbands example. The Prophet (SAW) should serve as the benchmark for all husbands to emulate.

When sorcery is mentioned in the Quran and Hadith it is this type of sorcery, where the magician seeks help from a Shayateen (evil Jinn/devil), the Jinn then stipulates certain polytheistic acts, which the magician must fulfill in order to get his request granted. We will not go into detail about what these actions of disbelief are, however they are detested and are forbidden in the religion.

This relationship between Jinn and some people has been mentioned is the Quran; “But there were certain men of mankind who would take refuge with certain men of the jinn, and they increased them in vileness.” (72:7) Here Allah explains these people rely on the Jinn, and due to this both parties are damaged spiritually. These people have been deluded as they have sought refuge from the creation and not the Creator. Regardless of the benefits they might attain in this world, their afterlife is a horrifying prospect.

We should remember that Sihr only happens with Allah’s permission, however anyone can be affected, no matter how pious they are, this can be seen in a narration where the Prophet (SAW) was affected by magic. Aisha (RA) reported that “A man known as Labid ibn al-A’sam from the tribe of Banu Zurayq performed Sihr on Allah’s Messenger (SAW) till Allah’s Messenger (SAW) started imagining that he had done something which he has not really done. One day or one night while he was with me, he invoked Allah for a long period, and then said, ‘O Aisha! Do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter i have asked him about? Two men came to me and one of them at near my head and the other near my feet. One of them said to his companion, ‘What is the disease of this man?’ The other replied, ‘He is under the effect of Sihr (Mashur).’ The first one asked, ‘Who did it?’ The other replied ‘Labid ibn al-A’sam.’ The first one asked, ‘What material did he use?’ The other replied, ‘A comb and the hairs stuck to it and the pollen of a male date palm.’ The first one asked, ‘Where is that?’ The other replied, ‘(That is) in the well of Darwan.’ So Allah’s messenger (SAW), along with some of his Companions (RA) went there and returned saying, ‘O Aisha, the colour of its water is like the infusion of Henna leaves. The tops of the date-palm trees near it are like the heads of devils.’ I asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger? Why don’t you show it (to the people)? He said, ‘Since Allah has cured me, I would not like to let evil spread among people.’ Then he ordered that the well be filled up with earth.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) 

This Hadith refers to the Sihr that was done upon the Messenger (SAW). The Jews hired Labid ibn al-A’sam, one of the most skilled sorcerers among the Jews, to perform magic upon the Prophet (SAW), for three Dinars. To do this heinous act, it is believed that he obtained tufts of the Prophet’s (SAW) hair. He tied the hairs to knot, using his spell on it, and dropped it in the well. The Hadith also indicates that the Jews wished to kill the Prophet (SAW) through this magic, however, Allah protected him and reduced it to the least harmful type. This is a clear evidence that Sihr can affect anyone whom Allah wants, no one is exempt.

It was upon this incident that the two famous Surahs of the Quran were revealed one being Surah Al-Falaq: “Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak.From the evil of that which He created. And from the evil of darkness when it settles. And from the evil of the blowers in knots. And from the evil of an envier when he envies.” (113: 1-5)  And the other being Surah an-Nas, “Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind, The Sovereign of mankind. The God of mankind, From the evil of the retreating whisperer – Who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind – From among the jinn and mankind.” (114: 1-6) These passages of the Quran have been described by many Scholars as the best defense against black magic, and as such should be recited often. They are used my many to counteract the negative effects of sorcery.

Now that we have proven Sihr as a reality through the Quran and Sunnah, the question remains, ‘How do we stay protected from it?’ The fist thing we must do is to beseech Allah to protect us, some Duas (Islamic prayers) have been prescribed to us by the Messenger (SAW), we should recite them in abundance:

Reciting:أَعـوذُبِكَلِمـاتِ اللّهِ التّـامّـاتِ مِنْ شَـرِّ ما خَلَـق

A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min sharri ma khalaqa

(I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from the evil of that which He has created).” (Muslim)

Reciting: “أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّةِ. مِنْ غَضَبِهِ، وَعِقَابِهِ، وَشَرِّ عِبَادِهِ، وَمِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ، وَأَنْ يَحْضُرُونِ”

A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min ghadabihi wa ‘iqabihi, wa min sharri ‘ibadihi wa min hamazat al-shayateeni wa an yahduroon

(I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence).” (Tirmidhi)

Reciting: ” أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّةِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ وَهَامَّةٍ، وَمِنْ كُلِّ عَيْنٍ لَامَّةٍ”

A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min kulli shaytaanin wa haammah wa min kulli ‘aynin laammah 

(I seek refuge with Allah’s perfect words from every devil and evil soul and from every evil eye.) (Bukhari).

Staying in a state of purity has been emphasised in the Sunnah and many Scholars opine that this will keep the filthy Jinn away from an individual. It is also imperative that we obey the commandments of Allah, as this will act as a natural defense against the dark arts. Having piety acts like an immune system to the evils of the unseen.

One measure that can be adopted is the consuming of seven dates every morning. The Prophet (SAW) said, “He who eats seven Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.” (Bukhari) We should make these dates apart of our diet, it will provide us with the protection needed to go about our daily lives.

Another preventative measure is observing the prescribed prayers in congregation as this, secures a Muslim from Satan, neglecting this makes Satan dominate him and if Satan overpowers a Muslim then he will find it difficult to carry out the commandments of Allah. The Prophet has said “There are not three people in a town or in the countryside who do not observe congregational Salat, but that the Satan dominates them. Remain with the community, for the wolf seizes the solitary sheep moving away from the flock” (Bukhari).  

Another step is observing optional prayer during the night (Qiyam-ul-Layl) as missing this virtuous act enables Satan to overpower the person this has been reported by ibn Mas’ud (RA), “When the prophet (saw) was asked about his opinion of a man who slept until Salat-ul-Fajr, without waking up for Qiyam-ul-Layl, he said that Satan urinated in the man’s ear”(Abu Dawud).

Additionally, one should seek refuge with Allah upon entering the toilet as this a filthy place, wherein evil Jinns dwell. When the Prophet (SAW) would enter the toilet he would say the following invocation “Allahumma inni a udu bika minal-khubthi wal-khaba’ithi.” (O Allah! I seek refuge in you from the male and female devils) (Bukhari)  

One thing which many Muslims are involved in, which has also been chastised by the Prophet (SAW), is Astrology; Ibn Abbas (RA) reported: The prophet (SAW) said “A person who has acquired knowledge of one of the sciences of Astrology, has acquired knowledge of one of the branches of Sihr, and the more his knowledge of Astrology is enriched, the more expansive his knowledge of Sihr becomes.” (Abu Dawud) Unfortunately many Muslims have taken to superstition and abandoned the Sunnah, these superstitions are detrimental to spirituality and no good can come from them. Zodiac signs, clairvoyance, fortune-telling, and the like which have become common place are all contrary to the Religion. They should be avoided at all costs.

Allah safeguard us from Satan and his treachery. Allah keep us removed from sorcery and its various branches. Ameen.

Different forms of charity in Islam

charity

Charity is widely accepted to be a very commendable action, it helps the impoverished, assists the oppressed, feeds the hungry, heals the sick. However, most Muslims are ignorant of the fact that their religion does not classify charity as just a monetary sum given in good faith, no, rather there is a wide spectrum of different actions that have been included as charity.

We should not neglect monetary charity, as Allah has explicitly stated its virtue in the Quran: “Those who spend their wealth [in Allah ‘s way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly – they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (2:274) Rather we should spend and do other forms of charity, neglecting neither to the best of our ability.

Charity has many variant forms, we should try to act on each one, some have been explained by the greatest of creation (SAW), he has said; “Every Sulama [bone] of every person owes Sadaqah [charity] each day in which the sun rises. To exercise justice between two people is Sadaqah, to help a man with his beast so that you help him mount it, or lift his goods up to him when he is on it is Sadaqah, a good word is Sadaqah, every step with which you walk to prayer (in the mosque) is Sadaqah, and to remove some harm from the road is Sadaqah.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) From this narration we can gauge just how vast the word Sadaqah or charity really is. The actions listed do not require exhaustive amounts of effort, rather they are simple to perform, this is why we should be motivated to carry out these various modes of charity.

In another narration the leader of worlds (SAW) has stated “There is Sadaqah due for every Muslim.” They asked, “What if he finds nothing [to give]?” He replied, “Then let him work with his hands, benefit himself and give Sadaqah.” They asked, “What if he is not able, or he does not do it?” He answered, “Then let him help someone troubled who is in need.” They asked, “And if he does not do that?” He replied, “Let him command good,” or he said, “what is right.” They asked, “And if he does not do that?” He answered, “Then let him withhold himself from doing wrong, because it will be a Sadaqah for him.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) Here we see a desire from the Companions (RA) who were constantly striving to gather good deeds. The Prophet (SAW) informed them that if one is unable to do a certain type of charity, due to some restriction, then there are many doors open to that individual. To the extent that staying away from that which Allah has forbidden is also considered a charity.

Monetary charity should be supplemented with these variant forms of charity, if one finds himself unable to fulfill this then he should turn to these other forms only. If he has correct intention the he will be rewarded, if Allah wills.

Another virtuous act of charity has been explained by the Prophet (SAW) as lending to a person in the time of need. The Prophet (SAW) asked, “Do you know what is the mot bounteous and best Sadaqah?” They [The Companions] said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “The gift (Manihah) that you grant your brother of some dirhams, or the back of a riding animal or the milk of a ewe or the milk of a cow.” (Ahmad) What is meant by the gift of the dirhams is ending them to him, the back of the animal means lending him a conveyance, the gift of the milk means lending him the animal so that he may drink from its milk. This means lending him these items to use, they would then be returned to the owner.

The above Hadith described loaning as the best form of charity, this noble act is corroborated by another Hadith; the Prophet has said, “Whoever grants the loan of a milking ewe or cow, or of silver, or guides someone on a narrow side-street, then it will be for him like freeing a slave.” (Tirmidhi) (Ahmad) At-Tirmidhi said “The meaning of his saying, ‘Whoever grants the use of silver,’ only means the loan of dirhams. His saying, ‘guides someone on a narrow side-street,’ only means guidance on the path, which is directing someone on the way.”  We can see from this how superb granting loans are.

In regards to loans and charity, the Prophet (SAW) has stated, “Whoever allows a [debtor] who is in difficulty some time, then he has a Sadaqah for every day before the debt is due. Then when the debt falls due and he allows him some extra time after that, then he has for every day the like of it in Sadaqah.” (Ahmad) (Ibn Majah) If you are owed money and you are aware the person who owes you that money is struggling with the payment then allow his respite, you will, if Allah wills, get your money back but that extra time you afforded him could benefit you in the next life.

If you still assume that charity is difficult then the Prophet (SAW) has informed us that, “Every right action is a Sadaqah, and it is a good action that you should meet your brother with a smiling face, and to pour from your well-bucket into his container” (Ahmad) Even smiling will be counted as a charity for you, how much easier could charity be? If you cannot spend anything just crack a smile.

May Allah allow us to spend abundantly in charity. May he record our good deeds as charity. May he increase our wealth. May he grant us Paradise. Ameen.

 

 

Inviting to good and forbidding from evil

enjoining-good

Whenever humanity strayed from the righteous path, whenever they had forgotten their Lord and indulged themselves in a hedonistic lifestyle, Allah sent Prophets (AS) to correct the people. They would advise the masses with wisdom and guide them toward Paradise. As the line of Prophets (AS) ended with the Messenger (SAW), his community has been entrusted to carry on his work and show the rest of creation the way they should live their lives.

Allah has outlined our mission: “And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (3:104) The responsibility of trying to guide others now rests upon the shoulders of the Muslim community. They will be questioned if they fail in this regard, if they are active in spreading the truth then they will attain eternal success. The Muslims should never overlook this aspect of their religion, as if they do then they invite calamities upon themselves and Allah’s punishment.

This aspect of enjoining good and forbidding evil is so important to the Muslim community that Allah has praised us for it; “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (3:110) If we are steadfast on this forbidding of evil and enjoining of good then, indeed we will be counted under this verse, being praiseworthy individuals. If we do not do this then we cannot claim to be the best of nations.

The reward for enjoining good is immense, as explained by the Prophet (SAW); “He who leads (anyone) to a pious task will get a reward equal to the reward of the person who does that pious work…” (Muslim) This Hadith can be best understood with an example, if one of your friends is neglectful of their compulsory prayer, and you were the means of making them conscious of their prayer. You will be rewarded for every prayer that they performed due to your counsel, every letter of the Quran they prayed in their prayer, their performing of ablution, all of this will be put on your scales on the Day of Judgment. This is a yield massive profit for a person, he is oblivious to the fact that his advice is accumulating good deeds for him. The act of enjoining good and forbidding is a very lucrative investment indeed.

Just as a person will be rewarded for the goodness someone did because of him, so too will he be held accountable for the evil that he spread and others committed due to him. The Prophet has told us; “If anyone invites (people) to the path of piety then he will get a reward equal to the reward earned by all those people who listened to him and walked on the pious path and performed the pious deed, and, because of that, nothing will be deducted from their reward. (And in the same way,) if anyone leads (people) to the wrong path (and bad deeds) then he will have the sin equal to the accumulated sin of all those people who perpetrate the bad deed and follow the wrong path on his lead, and, because of that , nothing will be reduced from the sin (and punishment) of those people.” (Muslim) Influence is a double-edged sword, if you are the means of others committing good then you will have unimaginable reward. If on the other hand, you are a person who propagates evil, be prepared to reap what you sow.

We have seen many incentives to carry out this noble act, yet we remain unaware of the calamities that may befall us if we turn our backs on this. The Prophet (SAW) has warned us; “I swear by that Being Who has my life in His hands, it is incumbent upon you, that you enjoin what is virtuous and that you should forbid what is evil, otherwise Allah will send His punishment on you. Then you will pray to Him but your prayer will not be accepted.” (Tirmidhi) Only Allah in His divine knowledge understands why the community is being tested so severely, however this Hadith may serve as some indication to the question: ‘Why aren’t our prayers being accepted?’. We need to remember; Allah is the same, the Quran is the same, the prayers are the same, the only difference is the people who are raising their hands to make those prayers. If the gates of acceptance are closed we only have ourselves to blame.

May Allah give us the ability to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. May he allow our efforts to yield benefit in both worlds. Ameen.