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Allah, Exalted and Most High, chose Habib Salim al Shatiri, Allah’s mercy be upon him; the Shaykh of shaykhs and the Imam and the son of Imams.

Upon hearing of his passing today, Friday, we say nothing other than “Truly we are for Allah, and truly to Him we return.”

إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

Subhanallah! His Father Sayyid Abdullah al Shatiri, Allah’s mercy be upon him, passed away on the same day (Friday Evening) at the end of Jumada al Ula seventy-seven years ago!

From the greatest of remembrance is that of the Righteous and that of the scholars.

When we visited Tarim, Allah, Exalted and Most High, blessed us to visit the Ribat Tarim, where he and his father before him taught. This is the very same Ribat where our great teacher Shaykh Umar al Haddad, Allah’s mercy be upon him, also taught. We had the opportunity to visit Habib Salim in his house and we benefited from his baraka and ilm (knowledge).

May Allah, Exalted and Most High, bless Habib Salim, Allah’s mercy be upon him, with the highest station in Jannah, and may Allah, Exalted and Most High, grant patience (sabr) for the Umma.

In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said that ilm will disappear and jahiliyya (ignorance) will spread. The Companions asked how that would happen, to which the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, replied that this would happen by the death of the scholars.

Habib Salim, Allah’s mercy be upon him, was a very unique scholar, and on this very day we remember one of his sayings:

Benefit and success are in striving, so strive towards hidayah (guidance), as those that will want to distract you are greater (in number) than those who want to guide you!

May Allah, Exalted and Most High, benefit us with his baraka. We beg Allah, Exalted and Most High, to unite our hearts with the Righteous of this path.

Allahumma salli alaa Nur.

Faid Mohammed Said

The post In Remembrance: Habib Salim al Shatiri appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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Habib Salim was born in Tarim in 1359 (1940). He was the youngest son of the great imam, Shaykh al-Islam, Habib Abdullah bin Umar al-Shatiri, who passed away when Habib Salim was only two years old.

Habib `Abdullah said of Habib Salim that he would live long and be a “sultan” or leader in knowledge. He later become known as “Sultan al-Ulama” or “leader of the scholars.”

His Youth

In his youth he took knowledge from the great scholars of Hadramawt in his time: Habib `Alawi bin Shihab, Habib Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafiz, Habib Ja`far bin Ahmad al-`Aydarus, Habib Umar bin `Alawi al-Kaf and Shaykh Mahfuz bin Salim bin Uthman.

He also spent four years of intense study in Makkah at the hands of scholars such as Sayyid `Alawi bin `Abbas al-Maliki, Shaykh Hasan Mashat and Shaykh Muhammad al-Fadani. He would take twelve lessons every day in a variety of different sciences.

His Call to Allah

He then spent 15 years in Aden teaching and calling people to Allah. Due to his popularity, the Socialist government tried to ban him from teaching and then tried to kill him. One of its militia members ran him down with his car, but Habib Salim survived and returned to Tarim two months later.

He continued teaching in Ribat Tarim until the Socialist authorities abducted him and subjected him to the worst types of torture. After being released, he moved to the Hijaz and began teaching in Ribat al-Jifri in Madinah alongside Habib Zayn bin Ibrahim bin Sumayt. He made periodic expeditions to different countries calling to Allah.

As soon as the Communist regime in South Yemen fell, he returned to Tarim. Along with his brother Habib Hasan, he reopened the Ribat which the authorities had closed and started teaching once again. Students from different parts of the world flocked to the Ribat to study. When Habib Hasan passed away in 1425 (2004), Habib Salim became the principal of the Ribat.

His Wealth of Knowledge

He was renowned for his reminders in public gatherings which were filled with humour, references to the great imams of the past and warnings against a whole range of misdemeanours. His knowledge was encyclopaedic and his memory was photographic.

Habib Umar bin Hafiz would make a point of attending his public lesson, known as Madras al-Ribat.

In his final years he was forced to leave Tarim for medical treatment and the deterioration of his health made it impossible for him to return. He split his time between Abu Dhabi and the Hijaz.

His Passing

He passed away in Jeddah on Friday evening, 1st Jumada al-Akhirah 1439 / 16th February 2018. The funeral prayer was prayed in Jeddah the following day and then again in the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and he was buried in the Ma`la Cemetery.

Habib Salim spent his life steadfastly serving Islam. Countless people benefited from his knowledge and wisdom. May Allah continue to benefit us and reward him on our behalf.

Source: Muwasala.org.

The post Obituary: Habib Salim al-Shatiri appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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The following post by Imam Zaid Shakir was first published on his personal FaceBook page immediately following the shootings. We chose to republish it as it attempts to bypass the emotionally driven factionalism and address the roots causes of what is happening.

School Shootings: More Than Deranged Teenagers

Our condolences to the families of those killed and wounded by Nikolas Cruz in the “Valentine Day Massacre” yesterday in Parkland, Florida. The fact that Parkland was recently rated the 15th safest city in America and the safest in Florida, indicates the kind of mindless violence which has befallen that city can rear its ugly head anywhere.

In looking for causes many will point to the mental challenges the killer was confronting. Others will point an accusing finger at the NRA as a major contributor to this type of continuous carnage. The problem is larger than mental illness and it is larger than the NRA.

“It Is What It Is.”

The problem is a system that demands our country be flooded with guns in order to protect the profits of gun manufacturers.

It is a system that demands the world be flooded with American weapons in order to protect the profits of our weapons manufacturers.

It is a system that demands we engage in an unending series of armed conflicts in order to deplete the inventories of our military stockpiles.

It is a system that allows for the unfettered sale of ever more vicious and violent video games, knowing that such games desensitize human beings to killing (see Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman’s, “On Killing”).

It is a system that spend’s trillions of dollars on war but cannot find money for adequate treatment and housing of the nation’s mentally challenged.

It is a system that is steeped in violence yet cannot admit just how normal violence has become.

The Truth Is…

The truth is that violence has become so normal that a candidate for president can be elected after saying, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters…”

Until we address the nature of the system defining the parameters of our politics, economics, our social and political cultures, and why it breeds such violence these tragedies will continue to occur. As the young folks say, “It is what it is.”

Imam Zaid Shakir

The post Imam Zaid Shakir on the Florida Shootings appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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This article by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller is a personal reflection on how he came to Islam. It is autobiographical in its approach to answering the questions of when, why and how. As such it details all the minutiae of place and time and people. Yet it ends with the quiet turning of the eyes — inward or upward — deeper into the meaning of what it is to be Muslim. It is a seminal piece of contemporary Muslim writing, and we are proud to be able to present it to you.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate 

Born in 1954 in the farm country of the northwestern United States, I was raised in a religious family as a Roman Catholic. The Church provided a spiritual world that was unquestionable in my childhood, if anything more real than the physical world around me, but as I grew older, and especially after I entered a Catholic university and read more, my relation to the religion became increasingly called into question, in belief and practice. 

Questioning Belief

One reason was the frequent changes in Catholic liturgy and ritual that occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, suggesting to laymen that the Church had no firm standards. To one another, the clergy spoke about flexibility and liturgical relevance, but to ordinary Catholics they seemed to be groping in the dark. God does not change, nor the needs of the human soul, and there was no new revelation from heaven. Yet we rang in the changes, week after week, year after year; adding, subtracting, changing the language from Latin to English, finally bringing in guitars and folk music. Priests explained and explained as laymen shook their heads. The search for relevance left large numbers convinced that there had not been much in the first place.   

A second reason was a number of doctrinal difficulties, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, which no one in the history of the world, neither priest nor layman, had been able to explain in a convincing way, and which resolved itself, to the common mind at least, in a sort of godhead-by-committee, shared between God the Father, who ruled the world from heaven; His son Jesus Christ, who saved humanity on earth; and the Holy Ghost, who was pictured as a white dove and appeared to have a considerably minor role. 

I remember wanting to make special friends with just one of them so he could handle my business with the others, and to this end, would sometimes pray earnestly to this one and sometimes to that; but the other two were always stubbornly there. I finally decided that God the Father must be in charge of the other two, and this put the most formidable obstacle in the way of my Catholicism, the divinity of Christ. Moreover, reflection made it plain that the nature of man contradicted the nature of God in every particular, the limitary and finite on the one hand, the absolute and infinite on the other. That Jesus was God was something I cannot remember having ever really believed, in childhood or later.   

Seeking Guidance

Another point of incredulity was the trading of the Church in stocks and bonds in the hereafter it called indulgences. Do such and such and so-and-so many years will be remitted from your sentence in purgatory that had seemed so false to Martin Luther at the outset of the Reformation.   

I also remember a desire for a sacred scripture, something on the order of a book that could furnish guidance. A Bible was given to me one Christmas, a handsome edition, but on attempting to read it, I found it so rambling and devoid of a coherent thread that it was difficult to think of a way to base one’s life upon it. Only later did I learn how Christians solve the difficulty in practice, Protestants by creating sectarian theologies, each emphasizing the texts of their sect and downplaying the rest; Catholics by downplaying it all, except the snippets mentioned in their liturgy. Something seemed lacking in a sacred book that could not be read as an integral whole.   

Moreover, when I went to the university, I found that the authenticity of the book, especially the New Testament, had come into considerable doubt as a result of modern hermeneutical studies by Christians themselves. In a course on contemporary theology, I read the Norman Perrin translation of The Problem of the Historical Jesus by Joachim Jeremias, one of the principal New Testament scholars of this century. A textual critic who was a master of the original languages and had spent long years with the texts, he had finally agreed with the German theologian Rudolph Bultmann that without a doubt it is true to say that the dream of ever writing a biography of Jesus is over, meaning that the life of Christ as he actually lived it could not be reconstructed from the New Testament with any degree of confidence. If this were accepted from a friend of Christianity and one of its foremost textual experts, I reasoned, what was left for its enemies to say? And what then remained of the Bible except to acknowledge that it was a record of truths mixed with fictions, conjectures projected onto Christ by later followers, themselves at odds with each other as to who the master had been and what he had taught. And if theologians like Jeremias could reassure themselves that somewhere under the layers of later accretions to the New Testament there was something called the historical Jesus and his message, how could the ordinary person hope to find it, or know it, should it be found?   

Losing Religion

I studied philosophy at the university and it taught me to ask two things of whoever claimed to have the truth: What do you mean, and how do you know? When I asked these questions of my own religious tradition, I found no answers, and realized that Christianity had slipped from my hands. I then embarked on a search that is perhaps not unfamiliar to many young people in the West, a quest for meaning in a meaningless world.   

I began where I had lost my previous belief, with the philosophers, yet wanting to believe, seeking not philosophy, but rather a philosophy.   

I read the essays of the great pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, which taught about the phenomenon of the ages of life, and that money, fame, physical strength, and intelligence all passed from one with the passage of years, but only moral excellence remained. I took this lesson to heart and remembered it in after years. His essays also drew attention to the fact that a person was wont to repudiate in later years what he fervently espouses in the heat of youth. With a prescient wish to find the Divine, I decided to imbue myself with the most cogent arguments of atheism that I could find, that perhaps I might find a way out of them later. So I read the Walter Kaufmann translations of the works of the immoralist Friedrich Nietzsche. The many-faceted genius dissected the moral judgments and beliefs of mankind with brilliant philological and psychological arguments that ended in accusing human language itself, and the language of nineteenth-century science in particular, of being so inherently determined and mediated by concepts inherited from the language of morality that in their present form they could never hope to uncover reality. Aside from their immunological value against total skepticism, Nietzsche’s works explained why the West was post-Christian, and accurately predicted the unprecedented savagery of the twentieth century, debunking the myth that science could function as a moral replacement for the now dead religion.   

At a personal level, his tirades against Christianity, particularly in The Genealogy of Morals, gave me the benefit of distilling the beliefs of the monotheistic tradition into a small number of analyzable forms. He separated unessential concepts (such as the bizarre spectacle of an omnipotent deity’s suicide on the cross) from essential ones, which I now, though without believing in them, apprehended to be but three alone: that God existed; that He created man in the world and defined the conduct expected of him in it; and that He would judge man accordingly in the hereafter and send him to eternal reward or punishment.   

A Call to Prayer

It was during this time that I read an early translation of the Qur’an which I grudgingly admired, between agnostic reservations, for the purity with which it presented these fundamental concepts. Even if false, I thought, there could not be a more essential expression of religion. As a literary work, the translation, perhaps it was Sales, was uninspired and openly hostile to its subject matter, whereas I knew the Arabic original was widely acknowledged for its beauty and eloquence among the religious books of mankind. I felt a desire to learn Arabic to read the original.   

On a vacation home from school, I was walking upon a dirt road between some fields of wheat, and it happened that the sun went down. By some inspiration, I realized that it was a time of worship, a time to bow and pray to the one God. But it was not something one could rely on oneself to provide the details of, but rather a passing fancy, or perhaps the beginning of an awareness that atheism was an inauthentic way of being.   

I carried something of this disquiet with me when I transferred to the University of Chicago, where I studied the epistemology of ethical theory: how moral judgments were reached reading and searching among the books of the philosophers for something to shed light on the question of meaninglessness, which was both a personal concern and one of the central philosophical problems of our age.   

According to some, scientific observation could only yield description statements of the form X is Y, for example, The object is red, Its weight is two kilos, Its height is ten centimeters, and so on, in each of which the functional was a scientifically verifiable is, whereas in moral judgments the functional element was an ought, a description statement which no amount of scientific observation could measure or verify. It appeared that ought was logically meaningless, and with it all morality whatsoever, a position that reminded me of those described by Lucian in his advice that whoever sees a moral philosopher coming down the road should flee from him as from a mad dog. For such a person, expediency ruled, and nothing checked his behavior but convention.   

Reading the Sea

As Chicago was a more expensive school, and I had to raise tuition money, I found summer work on the West Coast with a seining boat fishing in Alaska. The sea proved a school in its own right, one I was to return to for a space of eight seasons, for the money. I met many people on boats, and saw something of the power and greatness of the wind, water, storms, and rain; and the smallness of man. These things lay before us like an immense book, but my fellow fishermen and I could only discern the letters of it that were within our context: to catch as many fish as possible within the specified time to sell to the tenders. Few knew how to read the book as a whole. Sometimes, in a blow, the waves rose like great hills, and the captain would hold the wheel with white knuckles, our bow one minute plunging gigantically down into a valley of green water, the next moment reaching the bottom of the trough and soaring upwards towards the sky before topping the next crest and starting down again.   

Early in my career as a deck hand, I had read the Hazel Barnes translation of Jean Paul Sartres “Being and Nothingness”, in which he argued that phenomena only arose for consciousness in the existential context of human projects, a theme that recalled Marx’s 1844 manuscripts, where nature was produced by man, meaning, for example, that when the mystic sees a stand of trees, his consciousness hypostatizes an entirely different phenomenal object than a poet does, for example, or a capitalist. To the mystic, it is a manifestation; to the poet, a forest; to the capitalist, lumber. According to such a perspective, a mountain only appears as tall in the context of the project of climbing it, and so on, according to the instrumental relations involved in various human interests. But the great natural events of the sea surrounding us seemed to defy, with their stubborn, irreducible facticity, our uncomprehending attempts to come to terms with them. Suddenly, we were just there, shaken by the forces around us without making sense of them, wondering if we would make it through. Some, it was true, would ask Gods help at such moments, but when we returned safely to shore, we behaved like men who knew little of Him, as if those moments had been a lapse into insanity, embarrassing to think of at happier times. It was one of the lessons of the sea that in fact, such events not only existed but perhaps even preponderated in our life. Man was small and weak, the forces around him were large, and he did not control them.   

Sometimes a boat would sink and men would die. I remember a fisherman from another boat who was working near us one opening, doing the same job as I did, piling web. He smiled across the water as he pulled the net from the hydraulic block overhead, stacking it neatly on the stern to ready it for the next set. Some weeks later, his boat overturned while fishing in a storm, and he got caught in the web and drowned. I saw him only once again, in a dream, beckoning to me from the stern of his boat.   

Bloody Tough Captain

The tremendousness of the scenes we lived in, the storms, the towering sheer cliffs rising vertically out of the water for hundreds of feet, the cold and rain and fatigue, the occasional injuries and deaths of workers these made little impression on most of us. Fishermen were, after all, supposed to be tough. On one boat, the family that worked it was said to lose an occasional crew member while running at sea at the end of the season, invariably the sole non-family member who worked with them, his loss saving them the wages they would have otherwise had to pay him.   

The captain of another was a twenty-seven-year-old who delivered millions of dollars worth of crab each year in the Bering Sea. When I first heard of him, we were in Kodiak, his boat at the city dock they had tied up to after a lengthy run some days before. The captain was presently indisposed in his bunk in the stateroom, where he had been vomiting up blood from having eaten a glass uptown the previous night to prove how tough he was.   

He was in somewhat better condition when I later saw him in the Bering Sea at the end of a long winter king crab season. He worked in his wheelhouse up top, surrounded by radios that could pull in a signal from just about anywhere, computers, Loran, sonar, depth-finders, radar. His panels of lights and switches were set below the 180-degree sweep of shatterproof windows that overlooked the sea and the men on deck below, to whom he communicated by loudspeaker. They often worked round the clock, pulling their gear up from the icy water under watchful batteries of enormous electric lights attached to the masts that turned the perpetual night of the winter months into day. The captain had a reputation as a screamer, and had once locked his crew out on deck in the rain for eleven hours because one of them had gone inside to have a cup of coffee without permission. Few crewmen lasted longer than a season with him, though they made nearly twice the yearly income of, say, a lawyer or an advertising executive, and in only six months. Fortunes were made in the Bering Sea in those years, before overfishing wiped out the crab.   

At present, he was at anchor, and was amiable enough when we tied up to him and he came aboard to sit and talk with our own captain. They spoke at length, at times gazing thoughtfully out at the sea through the door or windows, at times looking at each other sharply when something animated them, as the topic of what his competitors thought of him. “They wonder why I have a few bucks”, he said. “Well I slept in my own home one night last year.”   

He later had his crew throw off the lines and pick the anchor, his eyes flickering warily over the water from the windows of the house as he pulled away with a blast of smoke from the stack. His watchfulness, his walrus-like physique, his endless voyages after game and markets, reminded me of other predatory hunter-animals of the sea. Such people, good at making money but heedless of any ultimate end or purpose, made an impression on me, and I increasingly began to wonder if men didn’t need principles to guide them and tell them why they were there. Without such principles, nothing seemed to distinguish us above our prey except being more thorough, and technologically capable of preying longer, on a vaster scale, and with greater devastation than the animals we hunted.   

Fishermen and Doctors

These considerations were in my mind the second year I studied at Chicago, where I became aware through studies of philosophical moral systems that philosophy had not been successful in the past at significantly influencing peoples morals and preventing injustice, and I came to realize that there was little hope for it to do so in the future. I found that comparing human cultural systems and societies in their historical succession and multiplicity had led many intellectuals to moral relativism, since no moral value could be discovered which on its own merits was transculturally valid, a reflection leading to nihilism, the perspective that sees human civilizations as plants that grow out of the earth, springing from their various seeds and soils, thriving for a time, and then dying away.   

Some heralded this as intellectual liberation, among them Emile Durkheim in his “Elementary Forms of the Religious Life”, or Sigmund Freud in his “Totem and Taboo”, which discussed mankind as if it were a patient and diagnosed its religious traditions as a form of a collective neurosis that we could now hope to cure, by applying to them a thoroughgoing scientific atheism, a sort of salvation through pure science.   

On this subject, I bought the Jeremy Shapiro translation of “Knowledge and Human Interests” by Jurgen Habermas, who argued that there was no such thing as pure science that could be depended upon to forge boldly ahead in a steady improvement of itself and the world. He called such a misunderstanding scientism, not science. Science in the real world, he said, was not free of values, still less of interests. The kinds of research that obtain funding, for example, were a function of what their society deemed meaningful, expedient, profitable, or important. Habermas had been of a generation of German academics who, during the thirties and forties, knew what was happening in their country, but insisted they were simply engaged in intellectual production, that they were living in the realm of scholarship, and need not concern themselves with whatever the state might choose to do with their research. The horrible question mark that was attached to German intellectuals when the Nazi atrocities became public after the war made Habermas think deeply about the ideology of pure science. If anything was obvious, it was that the nineteenth-century optimism of thinkers like Freud and Durkheim was no longer tenable.   

I began to re-assess the intellectual life around me. Like Schopenhauer, I felt that higher education must produce higher human beings. But at the university, I found lab people talking to each other about forging research data to secure funding for the coming year; luminaries who wouldn’t permit tape recorders at their lectures for fear that competitors in the same field would go one step further with their research and beat them to publication; professors vying with each other in the length of their courses syllabuses. The moral qualities I was accustomed to associate with ordinary, unregenerate humanity seemed as frequently met with in sophisticated academics as they had been in fishermen. If one could laugh at fishermen who, after getting a boatload of fish in a big catch, would cruise back and forth in front of the others to let them see how laden down in the water they were, ostensibly looking for more fish; what could one say about the Ph.D.’s who behaved the same way about their books and articles? I felt that their knowledge had not developed their persons, that the secret of higher man did not lie in their sophistication.   

The End of Philosophy

I wondered if I hadn’t gone down the road of philosophy as far as one could go. While it had debunked my Christianity and provided some genuine insights, it had not yet answered the big questions. Moreover, I felt that this was somehow connected I didn’t know whether as cause or effect to the fact that our intellectual tradition no longer seemed to seriously comprehend itself. What were any of us, whether philosophers, fishermen, garbagemen, or kings, except bit players in a drama we did not understand, diligently playing out our roles until our replacements were sent, and we gave our last performance? But could one legitimately hope for more than this? I read “Kojves Introduction to the Reading of Hegel”, in which he explained that for Hegel, philosophy did not culminate in the system, but rather in the Wise Man, someone able to answer any possible question on the ethical implications of human actions. This made me consider our own plight in the twentieth century, which could no longer answer a single ethical question.   

It was thus as if this century’s unparalleled mastery of concrete things had somehow ended by making us things. I contrasted this with Hegel’s concept of the concrete in his “Phenomenology of Mind”. An example of the abstract, in his terms, was the limitary physical reality of the book now held in your hands, while the concrete was its interconnection with the larger realities it presupposed, the modes of production that determined the kind of ink and paper in it, the aesthetic standards that dictated its color and design, the systems of marketing and distribution that had carried it to the reader, the historical circumstances that had brought about the readers literacy and taste; the cultural events that had mediated its style and usage; in short, the bigger picture in which it was articulated and had its being. For Hegel, the movement of philosophical investigation always led from the abstract to the concrete, to the more real. He was therefore able to say that philosophy necessarily led to theology, whose object was the ultimately real, the Deity. This seemed to me to point up an irreducible lack in our century. I began to wonder if, by materializing our culture and our past, we had not somehow abstracted ourselves from our wider humanity, from our true nature in relation to a higher reality.   

At this juncture, I read a number of works on Islam, among them the books of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who believed that many of the problems of western man, especially those of the environment, were from his having left the divine wisdom of revealed religion, which taught him his true place as a creature of God in the natural world and to understand and respect it. Without it, he burned up and consumed nature with ever more effective technological styles of commercial exploitation that ruined his world from without while leaving him increasingly empty within, because he did not know why he existed or to what end he should act.   

I reflected that this might be true as far as it went, but it begged the question as to the truth of revealed religion. Everything on the face of the earth, all moral and religious systems, were on the same plane, unless one could gain certainty that one of them was from a higher source, the sole guarantee of the objectivity, the whole force, of moral law. Otherwise, one man’s opinion was as good as another’s, and we remained in an undifferentiated sea of conflicting individual interests, in which no valid objection could be raised to the strong eating the weak.   

Ghazali

I read other books on Islam, and came across some passages translated by W. Montgomery Watt from “That Which Delivers from..

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On February 4th, 2018, SeekersHub Toronto launched the very first class of the Step One: Essentials Certificate!

Over 100 students attended. SeekersHub Toronto was blooming with lively discussions, great questions and many newly formed friendships. It is an exciting step as we embark on this blessed journey of learning. This is also one of the first steps into turning SeekersHub Toronto into an Islamic Seminary, and launching the Steps Curriculum.

Steps Curriculum

Part of a five step curriculum, this first step focuses on the religious knowledge that every Muslim must learn in order to fulfill their personal obligations to Allah Most High. This gives you a clear grounding in your beliefs, worship, living the religion, in your spiritual turning to Allah Most High, as well as a clear understanding of the Islamic scholarly method.

If you are in Toronto and want to learn more or register to the Step One: Essentials Certificate, click here.

If you are outside of Toronto, you could register for the Global Step One: Essentials through the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary, here.

A New Partnership

A new and very special partnership has been made between Seekershub Toronto and Global Deaf Muslims Canada (GDMC). Each class, interpreters will be present to interpret the entire lesson for the attending deaf community members. The first class was an absolute success for those attending and needing interpretation, Alhamdulillah.

We recorded a brief video message with Zohaib Qureshi, the Executive Director at GDMC. You can watch the video here.

We pray that Allah make us steadfast and consistent so that we may benefit and spread this benefit, with sincerity. And Allah alone gives success.

The post Step One: Essentials Certificate Launch at SeekersHub Toronto Islamic Seminary appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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Help raise $100,000 this month for scholars and students in need. 

The Islamic Scholars Fund needs your help to support a growing number of scholars and students of knowledge, on an ongoing monthly basis.

Your support enables these individuals to dedicate themselves to the path of Islamic scholarship, so they can preserve the Prophetic inheritance for generations to come.

Meet Bilal: The Activist Who Became a Scholar

Bilal was a leading community activist in a major North American city.

From his days in university, he was on the front lines battling Islamophobia and advocating for civic rights of Muslims in the West.

At a young age, he quickly became one of the Muslim community’s most prominent activists. He was instrumental in dealing with the backlash that the Muslim community faced after 9/11.

Bilal was at the top of the activist scene and making incredible contributions to the Muslim community. But still, he felt something was missing.

The more he immersed himself in the challenges facing Muslim minority communities, the more he saw the shortage of Islamic scholars who were equipped to deal with those challenges.

Not one to side on the sidelines, Bilal decided to pursue the path of Islamic scholarship himself — so he could serve his community at a higher level.

He saved up as much money as he could, gathered his wife and young children, and traveled east to study with the leading scholars of our times.

A few years later, Bilal had become a capable young scholar. He started teaching and translating several critical Islamic books. He only had a few years left to complete his studies before returning home.

And then life happened. Several unexpected circumstances put Bilal at a crossroads. He had to find another way to support himself and his family — or risk cutting his studies short and returning home early.

That’s when Bilal reached out to the Islamic Scholars Fund. After reviewing his case, it was clear that supporting Bilal in his final years of study would be a worthwhile investment for the Muslim community at large.

The Islamic Scholars Fund has been supporting Bilal for the last two years. He has now completed his studies overseas and is getting ready to return home — where he’ll be serving as a full-time teacher, scholar in residence, and religious leader.

All donations are zakat-eligible and tax-deductible in US and Canada.

Why Give to the Islamic Scholars Fund?

“This fund helps many scholars who have faced unfortunate circumstances, and find it difficult to continue a life of scholarship and service, to continue with that life.” — Imam Zaid Shakir

“The insight and wisdom of what’s being done at SeekersHub is astounding. I’m embarrassed more people don’t support it.” — Imam Siraj Wahhaj

“After we had our first baby, I was afraid this journey of knowledge would come to an end. For many women, this is why they can’t continue studying. But alhamdulillah, the Islamic Scholars Fund has supported me and allowed me to continue my studies.” — Fund Recipient

All donations are zakat-eligible and tax-deductible in US and Canada.

The post Alhamdulilah, Bilal is coming home soon – Support the Islamic Scholars Fund appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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The only thing that will save us is our love for Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him).

In this beautiful Khutba Shaykh Faid gives us examples from the lives of the companions of the Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, and how they attained closeness to Allah.

No Limit to how close you can be to Allah SWT - YouTube

Allah raised the Sahaba because of this deen and before that they were nothing. Upon reflection we see that these amazing men, women and children were chosen for this religion and acted accordingly.

Allah chose you for this religion, so appreciate this blessing. He tells us in the Quran “Those who are guided, we will increase them in guidance”

Imam Shafi said “God has chosen you and given you this blessing, look after this blessing. Verily if you disobey God, God will take this blessing away from you.”

We are grateful to Alubudiya for the video. Take the free course “I Am Near” with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

In this 9 lesson set, Shaykh Faraz unpacks this verse to give the believer guidance on seeking closeness to God and how to realise closeness with the Divine in one’s life.

Resources for Seekers:

Our transaction with Allah is based upon Closeness – Advice from Habib Ali al-Jifri – Muwasala
069 – Closeness to God Through His Remembrance | Reliance on Allah Most High
A Description of The Prayer of Those Close To Allah“Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills” – The Muamilat of Rahma and Baraka by Shaykh Faid Said
VIDEO: 5 Ways to Get Closer To Your Purpose on Earth

The post No limits to how close you can be to Allah – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth . . . “[1] The Light is one of the ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allah. Light is that by which things become known. Things may exist in the dark, but they cannot be seen.

Light may be physical, such as the light of the sun or the moon, or intelligible, like the light of the intellect. The latter is that which illuminates the darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge. Total darkness is non-existence, thus light is that which brings created beings out of non-existence into existence. It is the creative act of Allah and this is one of the meanings of “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth . . .

The other meaning is that every light in the universe is but a reflection of His mercy, every knowledge a reflection of His knowledge and so on. “Allah created His creation in darkness,” said the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, “then He sprayed them with His light. Those whom this light reached became rightly guided, while those it did not went astray.”[2]

And he also said, as recorded by Muslim, “Allah, August and Majestic is He, wrote the destinies of creation fifty thousand years before He created the Heavens and the earth. His throne was on the water. Among what He wrote in the Remembrance, which is the Mother of the Book, was: Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets.”

The Light of Creation

The Mother of the Book is the source of all knowledge, including the Divine Scriptures. It is the essential knowledge of Allah before He created creation. This is why it is said to have been written fifty thousand years before the creation of the cosmos, a symbolic number, since without stars and planets there cannot be days and years as we understand them.

Allah conceived His creation in the darkness of non-existence, then with the light of His creative act brought them out into existence. Thus the First Light was created, a being appearing against the dark background of non-existence.

“The first thing that Allah created was the Intellect,”[3] said the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him. He also said, “The first thing that Allah created was the Pen,” which amounts to the same thing, since the first intellect is the primordial light in its passive aspect as recipient of the knowledge of what is to be, while the Pen is the primordial light in its active aspect of writing this knowledge on the Guarded Tablet at Allah’s command. “The first thing that Allah created was the Pen and He said to it: Write! So it wrote what is to be forever.”[4] From this First light all of creation, with all its varied forms and meanings till the end of time unfolds.

The Light of the Prophet

This primordial light is what is called the Light of the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, since he is the created being who received the major share of it.

This light was also the origin of the lights of all other Divine Messengers, of the angels, then of all other beings. This is how the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, could say, “I was a Prophet when Adam was still between spirit and body.”[5] The power of this light made the Prophet’s radiation so powerful, once he appeared on earth, that Allah calls him in the Qur’an “an illuminating lamp.” Allah describes the sun and the moon in the Qur’an in like manner explaining what He means when He says that He made the Prophet “an illuminating lamp“. He says, Exalted is He:

“Have you not seen how Allah created seven heavens, one upon another, and set the moon therein for a light and the sun for a lamp?”[6] 

Here he calls the sun a lamp, since its light is self generating, but He calls the moon a light, since it but reflects the light of the sun. He also says: 

” . . . and We appointed a blazing lamp . . . “[7]

The sun’s light being extremely hot, and, “Blessed is He who has set in the sky constellations and has set among them a lamp and an illuminating moon,”[8] emphasizing that the moon’s light is light with little heat. When He says to His Prophet: ” O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of good tidings and of warning, as a caller to Allah by His leave and as an illuminating lamp,”[9] we are to understand that He made the Prophet’s light powerful like the sun’s, yet cool and gentle like the moon’s.

The Experience of the Companions

Some of the Prophet’s Companions were given to see this light as even brighter than both the sun and moon, for when they walked with him they noticed that he cast no shadow on the ground.[10] Those who saw him in the full moon noticed that his blessed face was brighter than the moon,[11] and one of his Companions, the Lady Rubayyi‘, when asked to describe him, said, “My son, had you seen him, you would have seen the sun shining.”[12]

The light of the Prophet shone at all levels, it filled the material, intermediary, and spiritual worlds, dispelled the darkness of ignorance and disbelief, and is destined to shine across the ages till the end of time.

That this light was physical as well as spiritual was borne witness to most amply by those who saw him. The Lady ‘A‘isha related how she saw the whole room fill with light one night, then it disappeared, while the Prophet continued to call upon his Lord. Then the room was filled with a more powerful light which disappeared after a while.

She asked, “What is this light I saw?” 

he said, “Did you see it. O ‘A‘isha?” 

“Yes!” she replied.

He said, “I asked my Lord to grant me my nation, so He gave me one third of them, so I praised and thanked Him. Then I asked him for the rest, so He gave me the second third, so I praised and thanked Him. Then I asked Him for the third third, so He gave it to me, so I praised and thanked Him.” 

She said that had she wished to pick up mustard seeds from the floor by this light she could have.[13] In the famous description of Hind ibn Abi Hala, the Prophet’s stepson from the Lady Khadija, “He was dignified and awe inspiring, radiant like the radiance of the moon on the night it is full…”[14] Ibn ‘Abbas described how he saw light shining from between his front teeth.[15] Abu Qursafa, as a boy, went to swear allegiance to the Prophet, together with his mother and her sister. When they returned home they told him, “My son, we have never seen the like of this man, nor anyone better looking, cleaner dressed, or gentler in his speech; and we saw as if light came out of his mouth.” [16]

The City of Light

The Companion, Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, described how, when the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, first entered Madina, everything in Madina became illuminated, then how, when he died and was buried in ‘A’isha’s house, the light disappeared. The phenomenon was so sudden that the Companions were taken aback and began to doubt whether they had really seen it at all.[17]

This was only the light that radiated from his blessed body, for Madina itself remained the city of Light. Abū Hurayra related how they were once praying the night prayer of ‘isha with the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, and how the Prophet’s two grandsons, Hasan and Husayn climbed onto his back when he went into prostration. When he was done, he placed one of them on his right and the other on his left. Abu Hurayra asked him, “Shall I take them to their mother?” he replied, “No”. Then a flashing light appeared from the sky, at which he said, “go to your mother.” The light remained until they reached their house.[18]

On another occasion, Anas said that, he accompanied the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, into the mosque where they saw a group of people with their hands raised, calling upon Allah.

“Do you see in their hands what I see?” the Prophet asked.

“What is in their hands?” Anas replied.

“There is light in their hands,” replied the Prophet.

“Ask Allah the Exalted to show it to me,” said Anas.

At the Prophet’s request, Allah showed it to him.[19]

Another Companion, ‘Amr al-Aslami, said that once they were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, on a very dark night and lost sight of each other. Suddenly ‘Amr’s fingers shone forth with light so that they were able to round up their mounts and gather again. The light did not subside until they had finished gathering.[20] As for Abu ‘Abs, he used to pray all the ritual prayers with the Prophet, then walk back to his dwelling, at Bani Haritha, a few miles from the mosque.

Scattering Darkness

One dark rainy night, as he left the mosque, his staff was made to shine forth with light, so that he was able to walk safely back home.[21] On another occasion, two of the Prophet’s well known Companions, Usayd ibn Hudayr and ‘Abbad ibn Bishr, left the Prophet’s house late on a dark night. The tip of the staff of one of them lit up like a lamp and they were able to walk. When they came to the place where they usually separated, the tip of the other staff lit up as well.[22]

Another Companion, al-Tufayl ibn ‘Amr al-Dawsi, related how, after his first visit to the Prophet, when he accepted Islam and was about to return to his tribe, he asked the Prophet for a sign to show to his tribesmen, at which a light shone forth from his forehead. He exclaimed, “Not here, O Messenger of Allah, they will think it a curse!” So the Prophet moved the light to the tip of al- Tufayl’s whip. He returned to his tribe with this sign and most of them accepted Islam.[23]

Ka‘b ibn Zuhayr was a man from Muzayna, a highly talented poet who used his talent against the Prophet and his companions. Once Macca had been conquered, Ka`b became a fugitive, aware that the Prophet had ordered him executed. His brother, Bujayr, was a Muslim. He sent Ka`b a message that he could only save his life if he came to the Prophet repentant. Eventually Ka‘b agreed to this and came to Madina. The Prophet forgave him, accepted his allegiance, and gave him permission to recite the poem Ka`b had composed in his praise. When he came to the passage,

The Messenger is a light that illuminates

An Indian blade, a sword of Allah, drawn

the Prophet took his mantle, his burda, off his shoulders and put it on Ka‘b’s, signalling his approval. The best swords of the time were Indian and the connection between the sword and light is that the Arabs signalled the way by standing on a rise and brandishing their swords in the sun so that they flashed like mirrors.[24]

The Birth of the Prohpet

The light of the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, manifested itself in his parents before and during his birth. His biographers have recorded that his father’s forehead shone with a light that a certain women from Quraysh noticed. She knew that the appearance of the Prophet of the End of Time was imminent and felt that ‘Abdallah’s forehead signalled his being the father. She offered herself to him, but he refused. Soon `Abdallah married Amina and, once she became pregnant with the Prophet, the light vanished from his forehead. He met the same woman again and, noticing she no longer wanted him, asked her why. She replied that he no longer carried that light on his forehead.[25]

As for the Lady Amina, when she became pregnant, she saw in a dream-vision that a light came out of her that lit the land as far north as Syria.[26] She was also told in her dream that she was pregnant with the master of this nation and the sign of that would be that when she gave birth to him she would see a light coming out with him that would shine over Bosra in Syria. “When this happens”, she was told, “call him Muhammad!”[27] “I conceived him, ” she said, “and suffered no pain until delivery. When he came out of me, a light came out with him that illuminated everything from East to West…”[28] She also said, “I saw the night I gave birth to him a light that illuminated the palaces of Syria so that I saw them.”[29]

The Prophet later confirmed this, saying, “My mother saw, when she gave birth to me, a light that illuminated the palaces of Bosra.”[30] This event is also a very clear indication of the spiritual rank of the Lady Amina, for to see the palaces of Bosra in Syria from Macca demands the spiritual vision of sanctity. Later, the Prophet’s uncle, ‘Abbas, praised him with a poem, on his return from the Tabuk expedition, saying:

You, when you were born, the earth was lit

And with your light so was the sky

When his wet-nurse, Halima al-Sa‘dia, first saw him, she laid her hand on him and he smiled. “When he smiled,” she said, “a light appeared from his mouth that rose to the sky.”[32]

Traditions and their Weight

Some of the hadiths we have quoted here have strong chains of transmission, others have weaker ones. However, we must remember that even the chain considered weakest by Muslim traditionists, is quite acceptable as historical proof to any professional historian on this planet, being far stronger and better authenticated than other ancient sources he works with. It is also well known that weak traditions strengthen each other so as to become acceptable. This is why those we have quoted here have been accepted by leading scholars such as Ibn Kathir, Suyutiī, Qadi ‘Iyad, Bayhaqi, and others.

Commenting on the verse of Qur’an,“There has come to you a light from Allah and a clear Book,”[33] the well-known scholar al-Alusi says that the light in question is no other than the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him. He quotes the Follower, Qatada, as an authoritative source for this opinion, as well as other well known scholars, pointing out that this is the most logical interpretation of the construction of the verse.

Then he also quotes those whose opinion differs from his in that they believe that both the light and the Book refer to the Qur’an. This he does because real Muslim scholars, as opposed to pretenders and impostors, always quote, along with their own opinions, the contrary opinions of other reputable scholars, so weighing both in the most objective manner. Qadi ‘Iyad, the famous author of al-Shifa, is of the same opinion as al-Alusi, an opinion shared by other famous commentators such as Tabari and Qurtubi.

The Ranks of Lights

Although the Prophet’s light is the most powerful in the universe, since he is the nearest created being to Allah, it is not the only one. Angels are made of light, the Qur’an is light, the spirits of human beings are light, faith is light, knowledge is light, the sun, the moon, and the stars are also lights. The light of each human being depends upon his faith, knowledge, and virtue. Thus the most powerful lights are those of Divine Messengers, then those of Prophets, saints, virtuous believers, and finally those of sinful believers. This is the hierarchy of human beings.

Both the first and the last are human, all have lights, and all are slaves of Allah, but the distance between the top of the pyramid and its bottom is so great that those at the bottom, in Paradise, will see those at the top as distant as, in this world, we see the stars at night.[34]

Notes:

1. Qur’an (24:35).
2. Tirmidhi.
3. Tirmidhi.
4. Tabarani and Abu Nu’aym.
5. Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Hakim and Bukhari in Tarikh.
6. Qur’an (71:16).
7. Qur’an (78:13).
8. Qur’an (25:61).
9. Qur’an (33:45 – 46).
10. al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi.
11. Tirmidhi.
12. Tirmidhi.
13. Abu Nu’aym in Hilia.
14. Tirmidhi in Shama’il, Bayhaqi, Tabarani, and ibn Sa’d.
15. Tirmidhi in Shama’il, Darimi, Bayhaqi, Tabarani, and ibn Asakir.
16. Tabarani.
17. Ahmad and ibn Majah.
18. Ahmad, Hakim, and Bazar.
19. Bukhari in Tarikh, Bayhaqi and Abu Nu’aym.
20. Bukhari in Tarikh, Bayhaqi and Tabarani.
21. Bayhaqi.
22. Bukhari.
23. Ibn Hisham.
24. Ibn Ishaq.
25. Ibn Hisham.
26. Hakim, Ahmad, Bazzar, Tabarani, Bayhaqi and Abu Nu’aym.
27. Ibn Ishaq.
28. Ibn Sa’d, Tabarani, Bayhaqi, Abu Nu’aym, Abu Ya’la, Ibn Ishaq.
29. Abu Nu’aym.
30. Ibn Sa’d, Ahmad, Bazzar, Tabarani, Abu Nu’aym, and ibn Asakir.
31. Hakim and Tabarani.
32. Bayhaqi, Abu Nu’aym, ibn Ishaq and Abu Ya’la.
33. Qur’an (5:15).
34. Tirmidhi.

This article was originally published by Masud Khan on his site. We have added the subheadings.

Resources for Seekers

True Gratitude for Food – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food
Content of Character 08 – Food Etiquette
What Are Some of the Sunnahs of Eating?

The post The Light of the Prophet ﷺ by Mostafa al-Badawi appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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SeekersHub Toronto has launched a new series of lessons on Imam Muhasibi’s “The Treatise for Seekers of Guidance” (Risalat al-Mustarshidin) as part of The Friday Circle: A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflection. In this series, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani covers and explains this early text of Islamic spiritual guidance. This work contains precious gems of religious guidance on how to increase in faith, following of the Prophetic sunna, and how to turn to Allah with a pure heart and excellence of character.

Here is the video of the first lessons of this series, where Shaykh Faraz introduces the author, Imam Muhasibi and the text.

The Friday Circle is a gathering of gratitude, joy, and inspiration. It is an ideal gathering to end one’s week with spiritual upliftment and beneficial company. All are welcome—young and old, single and families. In this weekly Circle, led by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, we uphold the Prophetic sunna of group remembrance (dhikr) of Allah; sending blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him); and exchanging beneficial and inspiring religious reminders.

The Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him) described the circles of remembrance as gardens of Paradise. [Related by Tirmidhi]

The post New Series on The Treatise for Seekers of Guidance at The Friday Circle in SeekersHub Toronto appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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On February 4th, 2018, SeekersHub Toronto launched the very first class of the Step One: Essentials Certificate!

Over 100 students attended; SeekersHub Toronto was blooming with lively discussions, great questions and many newly formed friendships. It is an exciting step  as we embark on this blessed journey of learning. This is also one of the first steps into turning SeekersHub Toronto into an Islamic Seminary, and launching the Steps Curriculum.

Part of a five step curriculum, this first step focuses on the religious knowledge that every Muslim must learn in order to fulfill their personal obligations to Allah Most High. This gives you a clear grounding in your beliefs, worship, living the religion, in your spiritual turning to Allah Most High, as well as a clear understanding of the Islamic scholarly method.

If you are in Toronto and want to learn more or register to the Step One: Essentials Certificate, click here.

If you are outside of Toronto, you could register for the Global Step One: Essentials through the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary, here.

A new and very special partnership has been made between Seekershub Toronto and Global Deaf Muslims Canada (GDMC). Each class, interpreters will be present to interpret the entire lesson for the attending deaf community members. The first class was an absolute success for those attending and needing interpretation, Alhamdulillah.

We recorded a brief video message with Zohaib Qureshi, the Executive Director at GDMC. You can watch the video here.

We pray that Allah make us steadfast and consistent so that we may benefit and spread this benefit, with sincerity. And Allah alone gives success.

The post Step One: Essentials Certificate Launch at SeekersHub Toronto Islamic Seminary appeared first on SeekersHub Blog.

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