Worship Protection

Sometimes we can fall short in our performance of the obligatory acts of worship. This is why it is so important to be consistent in the sunnah act of worship.

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For every act of obligatory act worship there are supererogatory and voluntary acts of worship that act as a protection for the obligatory acts. The five daily prayers have the rawatib, zakat has sadaqah, Ramadan has the 6 days of Shawwal, and Hajj has Umrah. The purpose of these sunnan are to protect and preserve the obligatory acts of the religion so the slave doesn’t find himself falling short in his duties to Allah.

It is well known that iman can rise and fall and because iman involves the heart, the tongue, and the limbs that means that as iman rises and falls so does the quantity and quality of a person’s worship. The sunnan act as a buffer or a reserve to tap into when the iman drops, so that instead of falling short in an obligation instead the person falls short in the performance of a sunnah. Likewise, if the person, due to low iman or otherwise, performs the obligation, in a way that is deficient or lacking then the sunnan act as a rectification or recompense for that. For example, if a person performs the Maghrib prayer, but is lacking in his khushu’ or focus, then his performance of the two sunnah prayers after that will make up for that deficiency.

The scholars also inform us that from the signs that an act of worship is accepted is that you follow it up with more acts of worship. So if you want to know if your Hajj was accepted then ask yourself did I come out of the Hajj a better Muslim than when I began? Or if you want to know if your Ramadan was accepted then ask yourself am I worshipping Allah more than before Ramadan? If you just performed the Esha prayer and you want to know whether it was accepted then just ask yourself did I follow that prayer with another? If the answer is yes to these questions then most likely your worship was accepted by Allah

Think of the sunnah as an insurance policy protecting your worship. There is nothing more valuable than your good deeds and the most valuable of the good deeds are those that Allah made obligatory, so you should want to protect them as you would your car or home. So protect your worship by being consistent upon the supererogatory acts of worship and meet Allah on the Day of Judgement with a heavy scale of good deeds

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Luqman Al-Hakim

This post is a brief biography of Luqman Al-Hakim. A wise man mentioned and praised by Allah in His Quran. This post features in the TMM Muslim Heroes series.

Luqman Al-Hakim or Luqman The Wise was an Ethiopian man known for his great wisdom and piety. He was described in a number of narrations as having dark brown skin and a broad nose and was said to have lived during the lifetime of Dawud (alaihi assalaam).
Luqman was a pious man who was fascinated by the world around him. He would observe the beauty and order of the creation and the lessons and signs therein that reflect the magnicence of the Creator. Luqman was a shepherd by trade and it is said that he also worked as a tailor and sone say he was a carpenter.
One day Allah sent the angel Jibra’il to Luqman and he gave him a choice of being granted kingship or wisdom and he chose wisdom. Allah, the Most High and Glorified mentioned this in His Book:
“Indeed, We blessed Luqman with wisdom.” (Luqman:12)
It was reported in some hadith that after he was blessed with great wisdom Allah tested him with a great tribulation. Luqman was captured by slavers and sold into slavery unjustly. The man who bought him recognized his high level of intelligence and wisdom and as a test he told him to slaughter a sheep and bring to him the two best parts. Luqman did as he was instructed and brought him the heart and the tongue. The slave owner then told him to do the same thing but this time to bring him the two worst parts, so Luqman did as instructed and brought him once again the heart and the tongue of the slaughtered sheep. The man was puzzled by this and asked him to explain his choices. Luqman told him that if the heart and tongue are upright then they are the best parts of the body, but if they are corrupt then they are the worst parts of the body. The slave owner was delighted by this and soon word spread of the great wisdom of this Ethiopian slave. People came from far and wide to speak to him and seek his advice and guidance.
A man came to Luqman one day whilst he was in a majlis with a large group of people and he said to him, “Aren’t you the slave who used to tend sheep with me in such and such a place?” Luqman replied, “Yes.” Then he continued to ask, ” So how did you reach the position that I see today?!” Luqman said, “By Allah’s decree, fulfilling the trust, honest speech and not talking about things that don’t concern me.”
In another narration a man approached Luqman and said, “You’re Luqman, the slave of Bani Hishaas.” Luqman said, “Yes.” He continued, “You’re the black man who tends to sheep with me!” Luqman replied, “As for my skin color then that is quite apparent, but what is it that perplexes you?” The man said, “How the people sit at your feet, wait at your door, and are so pleased by the things that you say!” Luqman said, “O son of my brother! If you do as I say then your situation can be the same: I lower my gaze, I guard my tongue, I am moderate when I eat, I guard my private parts, I perform my duties, I fulfil my covenants, I honor my guests, I take care of my neighbor, and I don’t talk about things that don’t concern me. That is how I was blessed with this stature.”
After he was emancipated he travelled to Palestine and was made a judge by Prophet Dawud (alaihi assalaam) in his court.
There are a number of lessons we can learn from Luqman’s life:
  1. There are two types of intelligence that which is learned through keen observation or teaching and that which is innate and cannot be learned.
  2. Wisdom is better than power.
  3. With wisdom comes status and the love of the general people.
  4. True wisdom is piety and obedience to Allah.
  5. Allah tries those whom he blesses with wisdom and guidance with the hardest tribulations.
  6. If one is patient during times of hardship Allah will bless him with great rewards.
  7. A person’s worth is not determined by their race or status, but rather by their piety and character.
  8. A trait of intelligent people is that they don’t talk a lot, but when they do it is with purpose and meaning.
  9. The importance of not talking about things that doesn’t concern you or you don’t understand.
  10. The importance of guarding the tongue and purifying the heart from its diseases.
  11. The importance of eating healthy foods and moderate portions.
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*The information in this post was based on the narrations mentioned by Ibn Kathir in his history book Al-Badayah Wan-Nahayah.

Eid Al-Fitr

The final installment of the TMM Ramadan Series. This is a simple how-to guide about zakat al-fitr that every Muslim needs to know.

We are nearing the end of Ramadan so this is the time you should reflect on how you did this month. Were you striving to uphold the Ramadan etiquettes the whole month, or did you fall short? If your Ramadan was perfect then thank and praise Allah and if your Ramadan was something less than perfect then seek His forgiveness in these last remaining days.

Allah, in his ultimate mercy, legislated zakat al-fitr at the end of this blessed month to give the Muslim a means to make up for whatever bad deeds he most surely committed during Ramadan. Ibn Abbas said:

“The Messenger of Allah obligated zakat al-fitr as a purification for the faster for any idle speech and inappropriate acts and to feed the poor, so whoever performs it before the prayer then the zakat will be accepted and whoever performs it after the prayer then it is a general charity.” (Ibn Majah, and Abu Dawud)

Zakat al-fitr is obligatory upon every Muslim male, female, adult and child according to the majority of scholars.

The zakat should be paid in the form of a staple food that is storable. The Sahabah used to give dates or barley, because they were staple food items for them at that time. Today it might be more appropriate to give rice, oatmeal, cereal, etc, depending on the food of the people in the area that you live.

Some of the Salaf, such as Abu Hanifah, Sufyan Ath-Thawree, Al-Hasan Al-Basree, and others were of the opinion that it is permissible to give the equivalent in money, but this opposes the clear hadith and the actions of the Sahabah.

The amount to be given is 1 saa’ per person in the family. A saa’ is a volumetric measurement equivalent to about 3 litres. Different grains have different weights so the best thing to do is weigh 3 litres of the food item you intend to give and then use that weight as a guide to how much you need to buy and disperse.

The following are the weights of common food items per person:

Rice = 82.5oz

Oatmeal = 40.5oz

Grits = 75oz

Cereal (Cheerios) = 12oz

So for example if you have a wife and two children (4 people total) and you want to give rice then the amount would be:

4 x 82.5 = 330oz or 20.6 lbs of rice.

The best time to distribute the zakat al-fitr is the morning of the Eid, before the prayer, but it is permissible to distribute it up to 2 days before.

The zakat al-fitr should be distributed to the poor people and the people who have debts they are unable to pay in the area that you live.

You can give your zakat to just one person or to a number of different people. It is also permissible for a group of people to give zakat to just one person.

It is also permissible for the poor person to take the zakat al-fitr given to him and give it out to someone else if they want the reward of giving zakat.

 

I ask Allah to accept all our fasts and bless us with a joyous Eid.

 

**UPDATE**

A simple method of working out the amount needed for zakat al-fitr if you live in America is to look at the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back. It usually shows the serving size in cups and the amount of servings in the container. A saa’ works out to be about 13 cups, so work out how many cups in the container then work out how many containers you will need to make 13 cups.

For example:

Nutrition label

The label shows that a serving is 1/3 of a cup and there are 11 servings, therefore

11 x 1/3 = 3 2/3 cups in this container

So to make 13 cups we will need about 3 1/2 boxes of this food item. So either round up to 4 boxes or find a box that is 1/2 the size of this container.

Ramadan Etiquettes

This is the second installment of the TMM Ramadan Series that discusses the obligatory and preferred etiquettes of the fast and Ramadan.

The etiquettes of Ramadan and fasting are of two types: obligatory etiquettes and preferred etiquettes. If the obligatory etiquettes are not observed then your fast may not be accepted, but if the preferred etiquettes are not observed then it does not diminish your fast, but you will have missed out on extra rewards.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“Whoever does not abstain from lies and ignorant conduct, Allah has no need for him to abstain from his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari)

Jabir (radiallahu anhu) said:

“If you fast then let your ears, your eyes, and your tongue fast from lying and sins; refrain from upsetting your neighbor; act dignified and calm; and don’t let your day of fasting be spent the same way you spend your day not fasting.

Here the Prophet ﷺ and his noble companion are referring to some of the obligatory etiquettes of Ramadan, and that is to perform your obligations as a Muslim and to keep away from sins.

The first and foremost obligation for the Muslim is to pray the five daily prayers, because it is the most important of the 5 pillars of Islam after the Shahadah. So the Muslim man must perform the prayer with all of its pillars, obligations, and conditions. One of the most important conditions of the prayer is that each prayer is prayed in its allotted time, so you cannot go to sleep during the day with the intention of waking up just before it is time to break fast and then pray Thuhr, and Asr together. Those prayers will not be accepted, Allah, the Most High, said:

“Indeed, the prayer has been decreed for the believers (to be performed) at specified times.” (An-Nisa:103)

Some fasters during Ramadan may even leave off the obligatory prayers for the supererogatory prayers by abandoning the 5 daily prayers, but performing the Tarawih prayers every night. Tarawih can be the highlight of Ramadan and I certainly don’t want to discourage people from praying it, but the Tarawih is sunnah, meaning that if you don’t do it there is no sin upon you, but the 5 daily prayers, on the other hand, are wajib, meaning that if you don’t do them then you are sinning, and in this case it is one of the worst of the major sins.

The Muslim man should also refrain from the sins of the tongue, because they are very easy to fall into and can be extremely serious in terms of their punishment. An example of a sin of the tongue is lying, the worst of which is to lie on Allah and His Prophet ﷺ, Allah, the Most High, said:

“And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” so as to invent lies against Allah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper. A passing brief enjoyment (will be theirs), but they will have a painful torment.” (An-Nahl:116-117)

And the Prophet warned us from lying in general:

“Beware of lying, for lying leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Hellfire.” (Al-Bukari and Muslim)

The Muslim man should likewise avoid backbiting and tale-carrying, because Allah, the Glorified and Most High, said:

“O you who believe! Avoid having suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Al-Hujarat:12)

And the Prophet ﷺ said:

“The tale-carrier will not enter Jannah.” (Muslim)

Another thing that the Muslim man should avoid are the sins of the eyes and this is especially true for the brothers fasting in the non-Muslim countries during the summer time. Allah, the Almighty, said:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is well acquainted with what they do.” (An-Nur:30)

These are an example of some of the duties and sins that the Muslim man must abide by whilst fasting, so as not to nullify or lessen the reward of his fast and if one should fall into one of these things then let him seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy during this blessed month when the doors of Jannah are opened.

From amongst the preferred etiquettes of the fast is to eat Suhur. Suhur is the meal the Muslim eats in the early morning before beginning the fast. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Suhur, all of it is a blessing, so do not leave it, even if you were to just drink a cup of water, because Allah and His angels send their prayers upon those who have Suhur” (Ahmad)

The Prophet ﷺ instructed us to delay Suhur to close to the time to start fasting, because that is better for the faster and makes it less likely for him to fall asleep and miss the Fajr prayer, he ﷺ said:

“Eat and drink until you hear Ibn Umm Maktum call the adhan, because he doesn’t call the adhan until Fajr has entered.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also from the preferred etiquettes is to hasten to break your fast once the time for Maghrib has entered. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“People will not cease to be upon goodness for as long as they rush to break their fast.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

And the Prophet ﷺ said that Allah said:

“Indeed the most beloved of my slaves are those who rush to break their fast.” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)

The sunnah is to break your fast with rutub dates (moist dates), and if those are not available then tamr dates (dried dates), and if those are not available then water. Anas (radiallahu anhu) said:

“The Prophet ﷺ used to break his fast before he prayed with rutub, and if there were no rutub, then tamr, and if there were no tamr, then water.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and At-Tirmidhi)

When you break your fast you should make dua for what you want, because the Prophet ﷺ said:

“When the fasting person breaks his fast, his dua is not refused.” (Ibn Majah)

And when you break your fast it is the sunnah to say:

ذََهَبَ الظَمَأُ وَابْتَلَتِ العُرُوقُ وَثَبَتَ  الأَجْرُ إِنْ شَاءَ الله

“Dhahabah adh-dhama’u wabtalatil urooqu wa thabatal ajru insha’allah.”

Which means:

“The thirst is gone, the blood vessels are moistened, and the reward is affirmed, if Allah wills.”

From the preferred etiquettes of the fast and Ramadan is to increase in reading the quran, making dua, performing the prayer and giving charity. Ibn Abbas said:

“The Prophet was the most generous of people and he was at his most generous during Ramadan when the angel Jibra’il (alaihi assalaam) used to meet him every night and teach him the Quran. The Messenger of Allah was more generous than the blowing wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

And the Prophet ﷺ said about praying the night prayer during Ramadan:

“Whoever prays in Ramadan with sincere faith, hoping for Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Muslim)

So implement these simple etiquettes so that you may perfect your fast this Ramadan, and beware of the things that will decrease or nullify the rewards of your fast.

And don’t miss the next installment of the TMM Ramadan Series where we will be talking about the rulings of Zakat Al-Fitr.

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The Two Joys

The first installment of the TMM Ramadan series features the excellence of Ramadan and fasting.

Alhamdulillah Allah has blessed us all to reach another Ramadan, so let us reflect on exactly how amazing this month really is. This article will be the first of a series of Ramadan posts where we will discuss its many different facets.

Ramadan combines personal sacrifice, remembrance of others less fortunate than ourselves, prayer, supplication, forgiveness, forbearance, sincerity of worship to the One who deserves to be worshipped alone without partners, and countless other beautiful traits. No wonder Allah chose this particular form of worship to be for Him alone. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that Allah said:

“Every act of the Son of Adam is for him, they are multiplied in their reward from ten to seven hundred times, except the fast, which is (exclusively) for Me, and I will reward him for it. The person observing the fast abstains from food and drink only for My sake.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The fast is unlike any other act of worship, because it is truly for Allah alone. This cannot be said for the prayer, charity, Hajj, or any other act of worship, because a man might pray to Allah so that people can say he is pious, or give charity so people can say he is generous, and so on. The fast, on the other hand, is for Allah alone, because no one but Allah and yourself know whether you are truly fasting or not. If you wanted you could easily eat and drink when nobody is watching. Therefore, if you start the day fasting and you end the day fasting then you did that for no other reason than for fear of Allah’s punishment and hope for His reward.

Because of this Allah said “and I will reward him for it”, this doesn’t mean that the reward for other good deeds come from other than Allah, instead it means that Allah will reward the fasting person without limit. Allah in His complete wisdom and generosity rewards the believer from 10 to 700 times for any regular good deed that is performed, but the fast, due to its excellence, may be infinitely rewarded.

The Prophet ﷺ also told us about this truly special month that:

“When Ramadan begins, the gates of Jannah are opened, the gates of Hell are locked, and the devils are chained.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah opens the gates to Heaven during Ramadan due to all the good deeds that are done during this time and as an incentive to the doers of good deeds; He locks the gates of Hell due to the lack of bad deeds done by the believers, and He chains the devils so that they are unable to lure and tempt the people who are fasting to disobey Allah.

Ramadan is a joyous month for the believer, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that:

“The fasting person experiences two joys: when he breaks his fast he feels joy, and when he meets his Lord.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The fasting person feels joy that Allah blessed him to reach another Ramadan, guided him and gave him the desire to fast for His sake and he feels joy on the Day of Judgment when his fast stands as a witness for him and he is called to enter Heaven. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“The fast and the Quran will stand as witnesses for the slave on the Day of Judgment. The fast will say, ‘Indeed my Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires, so allow me to intercede for him’, and the Quran will say, ‘I prevented him from sleep at night, so allow me to intercede for him’ and they will both be allowed to intercede.” (Ahmad)

And Prophet ﷺ said:

“In Jannah there is a gate which is called Ar-Rayaan through which only those who used to fast will enter on the Day of Resurrection. It will be called out, ‘Where are those who used to fast?’ So they will stand up and proceed towards it. When the last of them will have entered, the gate will be closed and then no one will enter through that gate.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Brothers, we have reached a great month full of blessings, mercy and forgiveness, but you can’t receive these blessings unless you perform your fast in the right way, keeping to the etiquettes of Ramadan, so strive to perform your fast in the best way, stick to its boundaries and limitations, and seek forgiveness from Allah for any shortcomings during this month.

And don’t miss the next installment of the TMM Ramadan Series where we will be talking about the obligations and sunan of the fast to help you perfect your blessings and reward.

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Words to Live By

In this article we look at an amazing piece of advice from the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for the Muslim man.

 

“Fear Allah wherever you are, do good deeds after doing bad ones, the former will wipe out the latter, and behave decently towards people.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

These three pieces of advice from the prophet Muhammad make up the code by which the Muslim man lives. If you follow these three rules in your life your dunya and akhirah will both be a success.

 

“Fear Allah where ever you are…”

Allah is All-Seeing, All-Hearing, and All-Knowing, so no matter where you are He sees, hears, and knows everything you think, say and do. Like as Luqman, the Wise, said to his son:

“O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and within a rock or somewhere in the heavens or in the earth, then Allah will bring it forth.” (Luqman:16)

Yes! On everything you did in your lifetime, big or small, good or bad, will be recounted back to you on the Day of Judgement. Nothing will be missed or forgotten.

So if you are at work, fear Allah; if you are at home, fear Allah; where ever you are, fear Allah.

 

“…do good deeds after a bad deed, the former will wipe out the latter…”

After advising us to fear Allah at all times and in all situations, the Prophet ﷺ tells us what to do if we slip and do a bad deed, because lets face it we are only human and it is inevitable that we will all, at one time or another, do a bad deed. The Prophet ﷺ tells us that good deeds wipe away bad deeds, such as performing the prayer, or fasting, performing umrah, giving charity, etc. The Prophet ﷺ said about the prayer:

“If there was a river at someone’s door  and he took a bath in it five times a day would there remain any dirt on him?” The Sahabah responded, “Not a trace of dirt would remain.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out evil deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

And he ﷺ said:

“Al-Umrah to Al-Umrah is an atonement for what is between them.” (Al-Bukhari)

He ﷺ also said:

“Charity wipes away sin as water extinguishes fire.” (At-Tirmidhi)

 

“…and behave decently towards people.”

Then after reminding us about our responsibility to Allah the Prophet ﷺ proceeds to advise us regarding our responsibilities to our fellow man. Good manners are an essential part of the Muslim man. The Muslim man treats people as he likes to be treated and he understands his duty, as a Muslim, to everyone around him. Whether they are a family member, a neighbor or a stranger on the street, everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and good manners. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“If kindness is added to something it beautifies it, and if it is removed from something it disfigures it.” (Muslim)

And he ﷺ said:

“The things that most lead people to Jannah are fearing Allah and good manners.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

 

This hadith belongs to a group of hadith known as the jawaami’. These are hadith that have few words but great meaning, and this hadith is a perfect example of that, because this hadith manages to incorporate almost the whole religion within three short sentences. If you were to implement this one hadith in your life it would be sufficient for your success in both the Dunya and the Akhirah.

 

 

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Honesty is Always the Best Policy

The Muslim man is always honest. It pains and sickens him to tell a lie.

The Muslim man is always honest even when it is to his own detriment. Allah, the Most High, said:

“O you who have believed, stand firm for justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.” (Nisa:135)

Very few habits can destroy a man’s honor faster than lying. When a man is caught in a lie once it puts doubts in the minds of his family and companions and cause them to question everything he says. The liar isn’t believed even when telling the truth. Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurdhi said:

“The liar only lies due to contempt he has for himself.” (Rawdatul Uqala)

Lies may seem small, but one lie often needs to be followed by another and another, and lies give the liar permission to do as he pleases, as the Prophet ﷺ said:

“Be honest, because honesty leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man continues telling the truth and trying hard to tell the truth until he is recorded with Allah as a truthful person. Refrain from lying, because lying leads to wickedness, and wickedness leads to the Fire. A slave (of Allah) continues lying and trying hard to lie, until he is recorded with Allah as a liar” (Muslim)

A man who is honest at all times is a man of courage and honor, but a man who frequently lies is cowardly and untrustworthy. In fact the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ informed us that frequent lying is one of the characteristics of a hypocrite.

A man can become conditioned to lying until the lies roll off the tongue with ease and without thought. The only cure for this is to first ask for Allah’s help and forgiveness and then, with determination and consistency, train the tongue to tell the truth. The tongue is a muscle and like any muscle in the body it can be trained and exercised until what was previously hard becomes easy. The important thing is to train it and condition it to speak only the truth.

Remember Allah only forbids us from things that are harmful, so if He, the Most High, has forbidden us from lying then it must be detrimental to our well being, whether we realize it’s harm or not.

I will close with a saying from our righteous predecessor Umar bin Abdulaziz:

“I haven’t lied since I learned that lying adversely effects the liar.”

TMM

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