Friday, June 23, 2017

Very balanced fatwa on Mawlid celebration:

Shaikh Abdullah bin Bayyah on Mawlid celebration:


The celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is an issue of controversy amongst the scholars. Thus, there were some who considered it a disliked innovation, a few even saying it reached the level of prohibition, and there were others who considered it a praiseworthy innovation.

This difference is traced back to a divergence concerning the division of innovation (bid’ah). Some scholars recognized the validity of such innovations and this was, primarily, the school of Imam Al-Shafi’i (May Allah have mercy upon him) and the head of this thought was Al-’Izzi Adin Abdul Salam (May Allah have mercy upon him). In addition, Imam Al-Qarafi (May Allah have mercy upon him) who was a Maliki, carried this same opinion, giving it great attention , explaining it in an exhaustive manner. In his discussion Al-Qarafi (ra) expanded the concept of innovation to included innovations that were commendable, highly recommended, obligatory and a disliked nature. Thus, he divided innovation into five parts: (obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked and forbidden).

There were some scholars who failed to accept this division contending that, “Any innovation, if it appears, then it is repulsive in nature.” They did this by restricting the statement of ‘Umar (ra), regarding the tarawih prayers, “This is a good innovation” to its linguistic meaning. There was a large body of scholars who held this opinion such as Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Shatibi, in his book Al-’Itisam, and many scholars from the Maliki and Hanbali schools (may Allah have mercy upon all of them).

Finally, there were scholars who wrote in support of celebrating the Mawlid such as Al-Suyuti (May Allah have mercy upon him) and, at the same time, there were others who wrote against it. Thus, in my opinion, there is no need to drag this discussion out, nor continue to argue about it any longer.

The Ruling:

Whoever wants to celebrate the Prophet’s (sa) birthday should celebrate it and avoid doing any action contrary to Islamic Law. This act should be done with an intention that it is not a sunna nor an obligatory act. If these conditions are observed, and one is careful not to contradict Islamic Law, out of sincere love for the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah upon him), then, Allah willing, there is nothing wrong with this action and this person will be rewarded.

Commenting on this, the Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (May Allah have mercy upon him) said, “Indeed, such a person will be rewarded because of his intention.” Likewise, for the one who shuns this celebration, seeking to cling to the sunna out of fear of falling into innovation, then this person will also be rewarded, Allah willing. It is important to note that this is not a big issue. Nor is it necessary to give it more attention then it deserves.

The Methodology:

Our attention towards this issue is directed towards uniting the Muslims and curbing these differences. We base this understanding on facilitation (for both sides) and ease. This ease is not founded on an empty premise, but is referenced directly back to the Quran, traditions of the Prophet (sa), the fundamental objectives of Islamic law, and the order of the Prophet (sa) to work towards unity between others. If a contentious issue arises pertaining to a matter, we exercise great consideration and respect for both sides. This consideration is not simply an act of being overly accommodative, as some contend, or attacking those who hold weak opinions. But, this respect and consideration for differences is guided by the fact that both opinions are based on proofs from Islamic Law. In some regards these proofs are clear, and in other regards the opposite holds true. Thus, some (scholars) have provided evidences for these acts’ legitimacy, and others hold proofs for the opposite. In conclusion, our stance is that both are on goodness, Allah willing, as long as this act is not mixed with some type of evil and the intention is correct.

Allah knows best.

Translated by Suhaib Webb

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Advice for Muslim Graduates

Advice For Muslim Graduates

By Shaikh Omer Bajwa

[Omer Bajwa is the “Director of Muslim Life” in the Chaplain’s Office at Yale University.  He earned his Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary]

I have had the privilege of working with intelligent, talented and ambitious university students for over a decade, and over the years, I have developed some advice and then shared it with students as they graduate before entering the next phases of their lives. In this season of transitions and life moments, I wanted to share this advice and some action items:

Stay Humble

Studying at and receiving accolades from prestigious institutions can easily inflate the Nafs, especially if it’s not regularly monitored. Graduations literally feature ‘pomp and circumstance’ as commencement addresses laud students' accomplishments and families shower effusive praise on their children.

Indeed, you’ve likely worked diligently for many years, but don’t be distracted by the power, status, and privilege that you have accumulated. Indeed, these are both blessings and tests from Allah.

Were it not for Allah facilitating the path to your college education, you wouldn’t be there. Your loving and supportive parents, and their financial sacrifices, as well as your helpful teachers helped make you who you are. Our Islamic Tradition is replete with timeless wisdom about not claiming ownership for our worldly successes, be they coveted positions or prestigious professional school admissions.

Do not mistake worldly success for Allah being pleased with you because, remember, there are many successful people whom Allah is displeased with; Pharaoh was one of the most successful people in his time. If you want to know your standing with Allah, look at His standing with you.

Therefore, we must reassess and recalibrate our common definitions of success. True success (falah) consists of consistent commitment in worshipping Allah (ibadah) and selfless service to others (khidmah).

Thus, success is the realization we must use His divine blessings of our faculties and opportunities to seek His pleasure to serve His creation as we work for His paradise. Allah encourages us to, “Seek the life to come by means of what Allah has granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as Allah has done good to you.”1


Ask yourself: what does success mean to me?  What do I want my life to look like?  How did I get to where I am?  Where do I want to go from here? Every time you feel self-impressed, say Alhamdulilah, thank Allah, and recall one of your shortcomings. This will discipline your Nafs.

Inculcate Gratitude

No one accomplishes anything by themselves; surely, there are parents, friends, teachers and mentors who facilitated your work and impacted your trajectory. You should identify these people, from your past and present, and you should express sincere gratitude to them, for their patience and encouragement as well as their exhortation and admonition.
Their involvement in your life has likely had an immeasurable effect, all of which is from Allah who reminds us: “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah.”2

To express and inculcate genuine gratitude, our Prophet ﷺ taught us that, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah.”3
Thus, be more grateful to the people in your life and you will in turn be more grateful to Allah.

Gratitude is a state of being that you must actively choose, integrate and embody; thereafter, it will transform your terrestrial and celestial relationships. Gratitude is connected to humility because if you’re grateful, you’re ascribing agency to another, which demonstrates humility.

Much of our dominant culture’s malaise and ennui stem from deep spiritual ingratitude which leads to perpetual dissatisfaction and condemnation in the world. Our Prophet ﷺ cautioned us to, “Look at those who are lower than you and do not look at those who are higher than you. That is more likely to prevent you underestimating the blessing of Allah on you.”4  Perhaps no verse illustrates this consciousness better then ar-Rahman’s interrogative: “So which of Lord’s favors do you deny?”5  At the same time, Allah reassures us, “Remember that He promised, ‘If you are thankful, I will give you more.”6

Honestly ask yourself: who and what are you grateful for?  Why?  Have you actively expressed your gratitude?  If not, why?You should thank at least five people who helped you get to where you are. Write them a sincere letter of gratitude and then read it to them.

Develop Heartfelt Connection to Allah

We live in age of superficial “friendships” yet we restlessly seek notions of “authenticity” in our relationships, conversations and institutions.

Essentially, what we are all seeking, and in need of, is love. If we want Islam to be a vibrant and transformative force in our lives, we must understand that our core religious emotion needs to be love.7 

We will never succeed, in this life or the next, without love being indelibly rooted in our hearts. It is said that the Qur'an is the only book in which the ‘author’ is in love with the ‘reader’ and so Allah reminds us throughout the Qur'an about his love, mercy and compassion for us. These powerful states are engendered by His remembrance: “...It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find tranquility.”8  And know with conviction that He says if you, “Remember Me, I will remember you”9 and that “He is with you wherever you are.”10 Thus, the most powerful and meaningful relationship that you will ever experience will be with your Lord because your soul was created to know and love Him.

Graduations can be turbulent transitions because when you graduate you move away from friends and you may move away, again, from family for work. But the one constant is Allah. Therefore, building a connection with Allah will anchor you in the midst of all this movement. Your family and friends may be distant, but Allah promises “if My servant asks about Me, verily I am close.”11

Ask yourself: how often do I think of Him?  Who do I long to share my hopes and dreams, or fears and anxieties with?  When was the last time I unburdened my soul’s yearning or weariness unto Him?

Make your Dua a daily conversation with Allah. Start one small daily Zikr litany and be consistent. Excellent options include “The Book of Remembrances” [Kitab al-Adhkar] by Imam Nawawi and “The Accepted Whispers” [Munajat-e-Maqbul] by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi.

Stay Connected to Community

We are witnessing a rise of spiritual rootlessness across society, especially as we live increasingly atomized lives, and emerging unmosqued voices are identifying genuine discontent, which must be acknowledged and addressed. But remember that community is your lifeline.
If we imagine the Prophet’s ﷺ Ummah as a beautiful, sturdy tree, then our communities are its branches and our people are its leaves.

Just as leaves that fall from a tree turn brown and die, so too can we as disconnected people wither away, especially from social and spiritual drought. Communities, like the tree branch, bring nourishment that would be impossible to obtain yourself.

Yes, our communities suffer from many problems, but do not let those problems drive you away from the community altogether. Rather, strive to create and nurture intentional communities that are committed to shared values and are still connected to the larger community.

Virtuous companionship (suhba) is essential for personal development and spiritual edification because hearts affect each other. The Prophet ﷺ counseled, “A man follows the religion of his friend, so everyone should consider whom he befriends.”12 

Life will only get more complicated and distracting, and so you need to actively seek out people and places that spiritually nourish and sustain you.

At the heart of this is thinking well of your community. This must be rooted in love, which our Prophet ﷺ said is invaluable because “No man loves another for Allah’s sake without his Lord honoring him,”13 and “Verily, Allah would say on the Day of Resurrection: Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory's sake?  Today I shall shelter them in My shadow when there is no other shadow but the shadow of Mine.”14

Ask yourself:  do I think well of others in my community just as I want them to think well of me?  What can I contribute to my community?  How can I benefit and uplift those around me?  Who do I sincerely love for the sake of Allah?  Where do I find spiritual solace?
Find a community and offer your time, treasure or talent. Follow the community on social media. Invite two people from the community to a meal.

Find a Mentor

Every field has specialists and we are all in need of mentorship and guidance, especially in our religious and spiritual lives. This life is a journey and an intelligent traveler seeks out a guide, as both companion and teacher, to elucidate the path, highlight the pitfalls, and show the fastest and easiest way to get to the destination.

Even Olympic athletes who have reached the pinnacle of performance still seek out coaches, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Our spiritual and personal development also need a wise, trusted and experienced figure who can appropriately guide, counsel and educate. Indeed, Allah beautifully instructs us to, “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.”15 

This is especially important in an age of autodidacticism and DIY-Islam. The purpose is to find an interlocutor for serious spiritual inquiries and trustworthy example of refined character (akhlaq). Undoubtedly, the Prophet ﷺ is our exemplar as he demonstrated this ancient arrangement of ‘teacher and student’ or ‘mentor and mentee’ with his Companions. He ﷺ taught us, “Verily, I have been sent only as a teacher,”16 and “the best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.”17

Ask yourself:  what am I struggling with?  Who inspires me to become a better Muslim?  What are the areas I want to grow in?
Make a plan to identify and contact a potential mentor.

Graduations are life moments infused with anxiety about the unknown future as well as with excitement about new possibilities. I hope these recommendations are beneficial as you forge your path of personal and professional development. The path ahead will likely be filled with joys and struggles, and so let us reflect on the prayer attributed to Sayyiduna Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him): “Oh Allah, when I lose my hopes and plans, help me remember that Your love for me is greater than my disappointments, and Your plans for me are better than my dreams.”

May Allah grant you the best of this world and the next; ameen!

1. Quran 28:77
2. Quran 16:53
3. Jami at-Tirmidhi
4. Agreed upon
5. Quran 55:13
6. Quran 14:7
7. Paraphrased from Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Introducing the Burda of al-Busiri documentary: “If religion is to survive and endure and to flourish, it’s no good imposing it on people. It’s no good trying to persuade people with abstract, doctrinal, theological, or philosophical arguments. What they need is to love it. They need to have that huge human capacity for a rich spectrum of emotions satisfied by the religion that seeks to sit at the core of their identity. And no amount of religion is going to succeed ultimately as a transformative, popular, vibrant force in society’s life, if it’s just about ideas or if it’s just about obedience. It has to be about emotion and the core of religious emotion always has to be love.”
8. Quran 13:28
9. Quran 2:152
10. Quran 57:4
11. Quran 2:186
12. Sunan Abu Dawud
13. Jami at-Tirmidhi
14. Sahih Muslim
15. Quran 16:43
16. Sunan Ibn Majah
17. Sahih al-Bukhari