What I learnt in SPOL 2013. The note does not follow in sequence i.e., Saturday then Sunday. I just put everything into one immense writing.
By Ustazah Wan Nadia bte Muhammad Yusuf
Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem.
I begin with “basmalah” (this was a talk on the second day). Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks stated that Ar-Rahmaan is Allah swt’s mercy in general, to everybody without distinction. There is no favouritism and He gives without caring. On the other hand, Ar-Raheem is Allah swt’s mercy in specific forms. Allah swt says in Surah at-Tawbah, 128-129:
Verily, there has come unto You a Messenger (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom You know well). It grieves Him that You should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad) is anxious over You (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allâh, and beg Him to Pardon and forgive Your sins, In order that You may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (He is) full of pity, kind, and Merciful. But if they turn away, Say (O Muhammad ): “Allâh is Sufficient for Me. Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the Right to be worshipped but He), In Him I put My trust and He is the Lord of the mighty Throne.”
Ar-Raheem is special; it is for those who believe in Rasulullah (saw). And this word reminded me of the word “womb”; when being translated to the Malay language, it is “rahim”. In Arabic it is also named as “rahm” and I strong believe there is a beautiful association behind this.
When a wife finds out she is pregnant, she will, in all circumstances strive to look after the pregnancy and keep herself healthy for the child’s wellbeing. The wife will observe her food intake (cravings are excused I suppose), her daily routines and whatnots. This also applies to the husband, the soon to be father, who will take extra care of his fragile wife. The soon to be mother, hoping to nurture a beautiful soul, would take steps in inculcating correct Islamic values into the child; even at this early stage. This means the mother’s love for the child is special. The mother gives an exceptional undivided attention towards her baby. She picks up the habit of reading the Quran to the child, keeping good thoughts towards others, having positive attitude despite the fact the mother suffers multiple hormonal changes which include morning sickness and constant unimaginable cravings (I have a friend who craved reading comic books while she was pregnant.) in the middle of the night and many others too many to list down.
That kind of mercy and sacrifice the couple takes on in order to ensure the child is safe and unharmed.
And you and I, we know the mercy of Allah swt is ever greater than that.
There is a hadith, Sayyidina Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) relates that some prisoners were brought before Rasulullah (saw) and amongst them was a woman who was frantically searching for someone in the crowd. When she found a baby amongst the prisoners, she took it in her arms, cradled it next to her chest and suckled it. So Rasulullah (saw) said: “Do you think that this woman would ever throw her child into the fire?” We said: ‘By Allah, Never!’ So he said: “Allah is more merciful to His believing servants than that mother could ever be to her child.” – Sahih Bukhari and Muslim.
This is true.
In fact, this form of mercy should begin during the conjugal relationship between the husband and wife. There is the adab and du’a for this, which is why we should truly understand that Islam is indeed the way of life; it covers every single aspect of our actions. The du’a is:
Bismillah. Allahumma jannibnash-Shaytana, wa jannibish-Shaytana ma razaqtana.
Which means, “In the Name of Allah, O’ Allah, keep the devil away from us and keep the devil away from that which You provide for us.” – Sahih Bukhari and Muslim.
Shaykh Muhammad Mendes said do not think that sustenance (rezq) is only about Allah swt granting us children. Rezq could be in any form. That du’a is important to ensure that we are protected from the devil, and that the intimate relationship becomes blessed (since it is an ‘ibadah). Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy reminds us that even the intimate relationship between a husband and wife is a form of charity and we get rewarded for that. When Rasulullah (saw) mentions this to the sahabah, they were quite shocked and responded, “We get rewarded even doing that?” Rasulullah (saw) replied to carry the meaning, “If it is done outside of nikah, won’t you be accountable for it? If it is done in nikah, you will be rewarded for it.”
Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy further explained meticulously concerning the conjugal relationship, (Although I will not list down all, it is actually extremely crucial in order to maintain strong bonds between spouses and upbringing the children as they grow.) because there is adab to it. And if it is done with adab and God-consciousness, one will be surprised by the effect; especially in the long run.
Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy mentioned a phrase which I fail to give the proper translation, (please help me here) “Qaddimoo li-anfusakum walaw biqabalah.” It loosely means “Approach your wife properly, even with kisses.“ Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy said this meant as how we use the term today as “foreplay” (Excuse my language) In Surah ali-Imran 14, Allah swt says,
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. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.
Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy elucidated that the first thing in the list that men love is, women…and all after that. Men would want to possess them, keep them close and smother them. But if we look into the life Rasulullah (saw), we can see how remarkable (even this adjective does injustice to Rasulullah (saw)) he is towards his wives. He respects them, he loves them, and he protects them. So, do not jump at your wife, do not scare her. Plant the seeds properly, mercifully with grace.
Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy then listed down the benefits of intercourse (jima’) (hoho yes there are benefits) and he made clear that Allah swt created that lust in us to be channelled properly; fulfil it the right way, not follow it the wrong way. So do not be misunderstood that it is a despicable thing to do.
1) Firstly is “Ghaddul basr” which loosely means “lowering your gaze”. Conjugal relationships do help in lowering your gaze from prohibited (haraam) actions and thoughts because it has been fulfilled. It makes you love your spouse even more and makes you feel less attracted to others. As we all know, we get attracted to someone or something by gazing at it.
2) Secondly is “Kaffun Nafs” which means refraining of the desire.
3) And thirdly is “al-Qudrah ‘ala ‘iffah ‘anil haraam” (I hope I got that right) which means to have the power to abstain oneself from haraam. You have self control, you have the strength to avoid and say no to haraam actions and thoughts. These are some of the benefits.
In order for the abovementioned “tips” by Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy to fittingly take place, we should realize it should start from choosing the right spouse! And to want a good spouse, and finding the “right one”, we have to be good Muslims first! We should start from ourselves! This is important in order to raise hence produce God-fearing God-conscious children. Shaykh Muhammad Mendes said that we know we have found the “one” when we hear the birds singing…okay, he said he was kidding. Shaykh Muhammad Mendes said that you should see the compatibility and seek matching spiritual objectives. You cannot expect your spouse to change for the better after marriage, which is the mistake we all do. Notice that mercy is necessary is all aspects and levels of our daily lives.
Shaykh Muhammad Mendes reiterated marriage life is based in perfection (ihsan), not on jurisprudence (fiqh). Marriage is one of the paths to reach Allah swt. Marriage is worship (‘ibadah); where you serve the family. Responsibilities are a form of ‘ibadah since it is a trust (amanah) to provide for the family. Hajja Ashaki also reminded us to learn to forgive. Learn to give and take. Respect the elderly, have mercy on the young. Give 70 excuses to others. Find the positive things in them. Remember the little good things that initially made you fall for them.
All these boil down to selflessness. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks said that selflessness suppresses the ego. Shaykh Muhammad Mendes also mentioned that we should then strive to beautify the self by manifesting the names of Allah swt. Carry the manifestations of Asma-ul Husna. These names have been divided into three: the Jamaal, Jalaal and Kamaal.
The women should manifest the meanings of the Beautiful Names of Allah swt (Jamaal: Rahman, Raheem, Ghafoor, Wadood etc), and the men should manifest the meanings of the Majestic Names of Allah swt (Jalaal: Qawiy, Jabbaar, Qahhar, Muntaqim etc). If these 2 synthesizes, it reaches perfection (Kamaal: Hayy, Haqq etc). These manifestations will be portrayed and translated into our daily actions, and unconsciously suppresses the ego to selflessness. At the end of day, it boils down to true spirituality. We are spiritual beings with human experiences.
For the self, we must keep this in our mind consciously, nobody is perfect – but we strive for perfection.
Allah swt has provided us with the Shari’ah, the path, the guidelines, but we as humans falter; we make mistakes. We still disappoint others and vice versa. Your spouse may cheat on you, your parents may beat you up, your children may disobey you, you may still be wandering looking for the “right one”, your husband may not give you your rights, your ex-wife may disallow your from seeing your children and many others.
There will always be difficulties and tribulations, and we must understand several facts as elucidated by Hajja Ashaki: Everything in this life and life itself is temporary and everything in it belongs to Allah swt. The Owner of everything and everyone has the right to take it all away. Allah swt’s trials are not rejection but it is a mercy to those who are patient. (Patience has been mentioned over 90 times in the Quran). Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah swt) makes you realise Allah swt holds the solution to all problems just as how the trials also come from Him. Dhikr is the best form of worship and the best medicine for a broken heart. And lastly, forgiveness is not for others but for you. Forgive others in order to forgive yourself. Allah is at-Tawwab ar-Rahim. If you want Allah swt to forgive you, learn to forgive others for this helps to cleanse your heart.
We must also know our roles, and when to play that role. For a man, he is son, a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a nephew, a husband, a brother, a boss to his company and many others. He has to when to play what role. For example, it is impossible for him to treat his female secretary as how he treats his wife; for he is her boss. As for the woman, she is a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a niece, a wife, a sister and perhaps an employee and many others. It does not make sense if she nags to her husband as a mother nagging her child. We have to realize who we are. Play your role at its proper place. All the scholars said that “man ‘arafa nafsah faqad, ‘arafa rabbah” which means, he who knows his self, knows his Lord.
Interestingly, all this talk about marriage, spouse, love, children and seeking the love of Allah swt has its connection with our food intake. I kid you not. Consuming the right amount of food at the correct time affects our self. The stomach is the home of diseases; hence, watch what you are eating. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks gives a systematic and detailed description of this matter. It goes back all the way to Nabi Adam (as) and his wife Hawa (but I could not catch up with that, forgive me). But what struck me was when he said, “Do you know what the first bid’ah is? It is getting fat.”
“Getting fat.”Well, not fat fat, but more of unfit fat, if that makes sense.
I had to hide my face for feeling incredibly guilty of that.
He explained that Muslims are strong and fit. They are neither underweight or weak nor fat or gluttony.
Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks listed down the benefits of hunger; there are 10, but he managed to explain 4 due to time constraint.
1) Firstly it purifies the heart, illuminates the natural disposition (qarihah) and sharpens one’s insight.
2) Secondly is the development of softness i.e. gentleness (ar-Riqqah) and softness i.e. purity (as-Safa’) of the heart. This leads to more remembrance in Allah swt consequently moulding into becoming a gentler and better person.
3) Thirdly is the state of brokenness (Inkisar), the mortification and abasement: removal of exultation, rejoicing and exuberance which comprise the beginning of rebellion and heedlessness of Allah swt. This causes us to have composed trust in Allah swt and to be able to realise our vulnerability as a servant to Allah.
4) And fourthly is charity (Sadaqah). We learn to put others before ourselves. Give charity to the orphans, you give others food, you share what you have.
We fail to realize that hunger is part of sunnah for Rasulullah (saw) did not eat much. There was one time where he had a small meal after not eating for 3 days (And we eat at least 3 meals a day,). There is a significant connection and effect regarding the state of our stomach to our actions. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks simplifies them like this: from the desire (shahwah) of the stomach; it breaks the shahwah of the farj, and then it breaks the shahwah of the status (jah) and wealth (maal), and then breaks the shahwah of pride (riya) and ostentation (takabbur).
Amazing is it not?
And he highlights that Rasulullah (saw) instructs us to strive to conquer ourselves with hunger and thirst.
To be a good individual is to love Islam. Gathering information about Islam does not necessarily bring you change. Islam is not just information, but realization. The information should become a realization. This is a process of transformation. Your knowledge (‘ilm) should take you to ma’rifah. Reading more books could increase one’s iman but not necessarily. It is not ‘ilm, if it does not increase your iman. We must have iman that’s not shakeable like a mountain. (I paraphrased this from a sister from KL who attended the SPOL 2013.) And this reminded me of Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks telling us to remind him about fish (it was really funny). It is a hadith of Rasulullah (saw):
If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.
The renowned scholars have shed light regarding all the levels of love; between husband and wife (to the explicit adab in intimate relationship), between a parent and a child (to be merciful towards, not abuse, beat or abandon them), between us and the community (serving them: khidmah); and all these fall into place perfectly…after we’ve found Him (the ultimate and real love). – Because it is an awful waste of life if you found everything, but not Him (A powerful mind-blowing statement by Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy which blew me away). He also added that we should learn to inhale love & exhale gratitude; otherwise, you are just wasting your breath. Hajja Ashaki reminded us our daily routine should revolve around our ‘ibadah, and not the other way round.
Shaykh Muhammad Mendes also said that if we do not seek Allah swt, we would regard marriage as a boyfriend-girlfriend simply doing “it” the halal way; and not wanting to take responsibility in looking after the family. And when they have children, they find it a burden, not giving enough attention and care, which results in domestic violence and leaving the family with no nafaqah.
When there are too much problems within the marriage institution (domestic violence, chauvinist father, irresponsible mother, verbal/sexual/emotional/psychological abuse etc), it becomes close to impossible to serve the community. How can one serve the community when he cannot even take on the responsibilities entrusted to him to lead the family?
Hajja Ashaki uses Surah Luqman 13-15 to give explanation to her points.
Allah swt says in the Quran:
13. and (remember) when Luqmân said to his son when He was advising him: “O My son! join not In Worship others with Allâh. Verily! joining others In Worship with Allâh is a great Zûlm (wrong) indeed.
14. and we have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. his mother bore Him In weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is In two years give thanks to Me and to Your parents, unto Me is the final destination.
15. but if they (both) strive with You to make You join In Worship with Me others that of which You have no knowledge, Then obey them not, but behave with them In the world kindly, and follow the Path of Him who turns to Me In repentance and In Obedience. Then to Me will be Your return, and I shall tell You what You used to do.
Do not commit polytheism (shirik), and be dutiful to your parents. Have mercy on your mother. Have mercy on your parents as how they brought you up when you were little. And even if they are from different beliefs (especially if you are not Muslim and you embrace Islam), you as a Muslim must treat them kindly for they are your parents in this world. But in terms of the deen, find a guide, be in good company of the Muslims, recite abundant salawat to Rasulullah (saw) and you will be guided, inshaAllah. If you want to be treated well in future by your spouse and children, start now by showing acts of kindness towards your family. Hajja Ashaki stated that good families are the basis of a good society.
From the family: husband and wife and it traces back to the individual self. She reminded us to learn to give. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks also suggested that we should give, even when you have little. Just give, because that is when Allah swt will increase you. Try to do something nice to someone. You will be amazed how it will change your life.
Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredericks articulated that we should do acts of kindness selflessly for Allah swt, and have good opinions towards others. Be kind even in the smallest of things, you may never know that could be the first act of kindness that other person received. Do not assume, do not judge. Do not worry about who is going to paradise or hell, that is not our concern. Our concern and worry should be about ourselves: how sincere are we in doing things for Allah swt? Lose yourself in doing service to others, in assisting others, helping others, putting others before you. This is one of the footsteps of Rasulullah (saw), this is one of the sunnah. Because this is exactly what Rasulullah (saw) did. Help others, and Allah swt will help you.
Responsibilities (i.e. family, work, children, education) if based on correct intention, it becomes an ‘ibadah. It becomes a service (khidmah) for the family, a khidmah towards Allah swt as you are carrying out your trust (amanah). There will be no fret or complains because you know this is for Allah swt. Purify the intentions. And if difficulties were to take place, do not complain to other created beings; ask Allah swt for help. Ask Allah swt for assistance and seek professional help as well if need be. Rasulullah (saw) tells us to tie the camel and have tawakkal.
I thought these were powerful punch lines that I could “exploit” on my FB status (lol). But then I realized these lines have punched my rotten heart and I pray that this rusting heart will be awakened, inshaAllah.
I began by sharing about the “womb”. And I shall end this note with a beautiful hadith which pretty much sums up the whole idea of this year’s SPOL’s theme, Pursuit of Happiness.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him. – At-Tirmidhi.
I seek forgiveness to the scholars if I may have misquoted you or taken your words out of context. I am sure I missed out a lot of points as well. Please excuse my poor translation of Arabic and I welcome you to correct me, inshaAllah.
Those are the words that they articulated. You should have seen how they are in person. It was truly a humbling experience. The way they eat, the way the shook hands and hugged others. The way they asked us to make du’a for them. You see humility, you sense that they are fully aware that they are servants of Allah swt, and they behave as servants of Allah swt.
One of scholars, when he eats, he makes sure his plate is clean. He would wipe the plate using his finger and made sure there is no leftover.
Another scholar, when we shook his/her hands (brothers and brothers, sisters and sisters, of course) they would not allow us to kiss their hands. Even if we managed to kiss their hands, they insist to kiss our undeserving hands. They would hug each other and sometimes kiss the cheeks.
They love children. They kiss the hands of the children. They pat the heads of the children and made du’a for them.
When they walk, they neither haste in their walking, nor walk too slowly that we have to wait for them. When one of them sat, he refused to sit on a chair; he chose to sit on the steps, or on the floor. This embarrasses us for we are seated above him and we quickly moved to a place which is lower than him (the scholar).
When they speak, Allah. Their lips are in constant praises to Allah swt and praises to Rasulullah (saw). They recite basmalah before beginning their speech, before responding to any questions, when opening the door, when walking out, when stepping into the car, when entering a place. And they never end any statement without saying “if Allah wills” (insha Allah) or “Allah swt knows best” (Allahu ‘alam.)
Allah-conscious: They are aware that Allah swt is aware of them.
Allahu ta’ala ‘alam. ندية خُديمة