Tag Archives: taqwa

Four Practical Steps to Taqwa, Step 1: Muhasabah

Abacus
Photo Credit: Pienw (Flickr)

The first practical step to gaining taqwa is accountability, known as muhasabah in Arabic; taking account of your actions. We see this concept from the beginning of Islamic history.:

In the Qur’an

In Surah Al-Hashr, Allah says:

يا ايها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله ولتنظر نفس ما قدمت لغد واتقوا الله ان الله خبير بما تعملون

Translation: O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Surah Hashr, verse 18)

This ayah unequivocally states that we need to take ourselves to account before the Day of Repayment. It mentions taqwa, then mentions we need to take ourselves to account, then mentions taqwa again.

From the Sahaba

From the generation of the sahaba, we find a saying of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu ‘anhu):

Bring yourself to account before you are taken to account. Weigh your deeds before your deeds are weighed. (One source)

Applying Muhasabah In Your Life

‘Umar (radiallhu anhu) also praised a man who kept a bag of stones with him; in the bag, the man placed one white stone for each good deed he did, and one black stone for each bad did he did. At the end of the day,
he would recount and account how beneficially his day passed.

Other scholars performed other, similar acts of accounting. Some modern day shuyookh advocate keeping a journal and noting down your deeds appropriately.

From this, we find the two key points to take away:

  • Keep track of your deeds in some way that works for you — whether in your memory, or in a book, online document, etc.
  • Recount and review your deeds consistently at a time that works for you.

The key is to consistently review your deeds. If you can, perform a daily review. If not, use whatever schedule works for you — perhaps every two or three days, or once a week.

Also, find a time that works for you. For some, this may be in the shower, or while commuting, or while standing in line for something.

Recommended Order of Accountability

From the Qur’an and Sunnah, we find a suggested order of accountability:

#1: Prohibitions

In order to progress, you need to take one step forward, and not slide two steps backward. Scholars use this hadith:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ

Translation: What I have forbidden for you, avoid. What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you. (Bukhari, Muslim, and Imam Nawawi’s 40 ahadith, #9)

Note the order and wording of this hadith:

  • First, stay away from whatever rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) forbade us from. I.e., prohibitions first.
  • Then, do what rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) commanded us to do, as much as we are able (whatever is within our ability).

If you make a mistake or slip up, if you violate a prohibition, what then? Make tawbah. This means three things:

  • Regret the action you performed
  • Stop doing it.
  • Replace the bad deed with something better.

Action: These are all critical steps to integrate in your early muhasabah process: focus on proihibitons (things you need to stop doing).

#2: Obligations

After prohibitions, we focus next on obligations. Another interesting, supporting hadith:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ بِهِ الْعَبْدُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ صَلاَتُهُ فَإِنْ صَلُحَتْ فَقَدْ أَفْلَحَ وَأَنْجَحَ وَإِنْ فَسَدَتْ فَقَدْ خَابَ وَخَسِرَ فَإِنِ انْتَقَصَ مِنْ فَرِيضَتِهِ شَيْءٌ قَالَ الرَّبُّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ انْظُرُوا هَلْ لِعَبْدِي مِنْ تَطَوُّعٍ فَيُكَمَّلَ بِهَا مَا انْتَقَصَ مِنَ الْفَرِيضَةِ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ سَائِرُ عَمَلِهِ عَلَى ذَلِكَ

Translation: Indeed the first deed by which a servant will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection is his Salat. If it is complete, he is successful and saved, but if it is defective, he has failed and lost. So if something is deficient in his obligatory (prayers) then the Lord, Mighty and Sublime says: ‘Look! Are there any voluntary (prayers) for my worshipper?’ So with them, what was deficient in his obligatory (prayers) will be completed. Then the rest of his deeds will be treated like that.” (Jami’ At-Tirmidhi)

This hadith indicates that we will be asked about our obligations first, and if those contain any issues, they will be fixed based on our extra (nafl/sunnah) deeds.

Action: In your muhasabah, ask yourself about your obligations. Did you meet all of them? Did you fall short any where? Can you fix those with extra (non-obligatory) actions?

#3: The Tongues, Hands, and Feet

Out of these three, the tongue overshadows the other two by far. Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

مَنْ يَضْمَنْ لِي مَا بَيْنَ لَحْيَيْهِ وَمَا بَيْنَ رِجْلَيْهِ أَضْمَنْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةَ

Translation: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.” (Saheeh Bukhari)

In your muhasabah, ask yourself: Did I lie? Did I cheat? Did I steal? Do I frequently backbite? You may find that certain circumstances (eg. places you go, or people you spend time with) lead you into sins of the tongue.

Action: Make a “tongue” calendar. Count how many days your tongue is sin-free. Whenever you fall into a sin of the tongue, mark down the day, and start counting from zero. If you can survive 30-40 days without mistakes, you’ve mastered your tongue.

#4: Moments of Distraction

If you ever feel that you’re too busy, or that you consume entertainment too much (eg. music, television, videos, perhaps non-beneficial books), make a note of it. That’s a candidate to replace with dhikr.

Action: There is (literally) a dhikr for every occasion. Grab a copy (digital/app or physical) of Hisnul Muslim and other books of adhkar, and memorize appropriate du’as for your situation.

In Conclusion

If you can master muhasabah, you can consciously and continuously work towards a stronger hereafter. Every day that passes sees a better you (either a day with more good than bad, or a day with enough lessons learned to make you stronger).

For additional reading material, consider reading “Agenda to Change our Condition.” Ibn Tammiyah, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Imam Ghazali, and others also wrote extensively about taqwa and muhasabah.

Source: Four Steps to Taqwa. Presented by Arssal Shahabuddin on February 22, 2016.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Beacons of Light

The following is a guest post from I Got it Covered, a blog about hijab, Islam, and life. You can find the original article here.

In the time of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, radiAllahu anhu, the second Khalifah, it was mandatory upon all the young girls to learn Surat an-Noor.

From the beauty of this Surah is that it begins with, “[This is] a surah which We have sent down and made [that within it] obligatory and revealed therein verses of clear evidence that you might remember” [Surat an-Noor: 1]. Although the whole Qur’an is obligatory upon us, this Surah begins with that commandment, as a special reminder. And then, later on in the Surah, comes the commandment of hijab [see Surat an-Noor: 31].

The commandment of hijab is in a Surah that begins by reminding the reader that its contents are obligatory! And yet we find some people today trying to deny the command of hijab.

It should be noted that it was not mandatory for young girls at the time of Umar to wear hijab. Rather, it was mandatory upon them to learn this Surah, specifically at that age. Once these girls were immersed in the Qur’an, learning the beauty of its words, understanding its true meaning, hearing the tafseer – that is when understanding and conviction entered their hearts. They understood and become people who said “Sami’na wa ata’ana” – “We hear and we Obey.” [Surah Noor: 51]

Every day, it seems, we come across Muslims calling for certain commandments in Islam to be ignored, or others to be added. These people claim they’ve “experienced” the command or “read” the Qur’an. With this knowledge bulging like a pea in their back pocket, they are now free to hand over fatwas to the Mass Media. Whereas anyone with just a little bit of actual Islamic knowledge would know these claims were wrong.

It reminds me of how scholars of the likes of Imam Maalik, rahimahuAllah, would say “La ‘adree” or “I don’t know” when asked a question. They were not ashamed to admit when they didn’t know something, and were much more fearful of saying anything incorrect, of lying against Allah with incorrect knowledge. These scholars were the ones who had spent years learning under thousands of other scholars, and still felt uncomfortable giving fatwas out like there’s no tomorrow.

It seems that nowadays, thanks to having “Shaykh” Google in our cellphones and lattes in our hands, we can answer any question on Islam without any prior knowledge. We can condemn things and make other things permissible, because who are we going to answer to? I mean, all the knowledge you need is with “Shaykh” Google and that latte – it just proves how far we have come over the years. You need energy whilst giving fatwas, right?

SubhanAllah. Have we forgotten? “Shaykh” Google isn’t going to have our backs on the Day when there will be no shade except Allah’s. Only Allah will. He gave us the Qur’an, a guidance to mankind, out of His mercy; and yet some of us deny it, saying our intellect gives us better solutions to life’s dilemmas.

If we took out 1 hour each week, just 1 hour, studying the Arabic of the Qur’an – the meaning, the depth, the beauty, the hikmah (wisdom) – behind the commands, we would not be condemning our own religion. An ignorant, precursory glance over a (usually) mistaken translation often leads people to saying the incorrect things they do. But the understanding gained from regular study would allow us, when we hear this phrase (often repeated in the Qur’an) “Afala ta’qiloonDo they not then use their intellect?” [2:44, 2:76, 11:51 and others], to properly utilize our minds – a blessing given to us by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Himself.

Of course there are others, who, may Allah protect us, have had their hearts hardened and sealed, and so they speak out of ignorance and arrogance, not caring or admitting that they might be wrong; but mostly, I believe, these mistakes come from ignorance.

Even those who lived in “jahiliyyah,” or “ignorance” at the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not deny the beauty or truth of the Qur’an. Recitations of the Qur’an (because they also understood it) hit them like a brick wall – they stopped, frozen in their places, thinking of the words of Allah, even though they denied the message.

It seems 1400 years and countless scientific discoveries and advancements haven’t softened our hearts or opened our understanding. We’ve become a mass of people with tunnel vision.

With that being said, we need to make it a priority for ourselves to constantly be increasing in our ‘ilm, our knowledge. With the amount of ignorance of our deen among Muslims and non-Muslims, we need to become beacons of light, beautifully showing the Commandments of Allah in action. We cannot afford to speak out of ignorance, for the harm it brings to us, to others, and to Islam. Hikmah (wisdom) and ‘Ilm (knowledge) with proper implementation will allow us to become those beacons of light in this darkness of ignorance, insha’Allah.

The Arabian peninsula… and later the surrounding Arabian countries… then the Orient… and parts of Europe… they did not just come under Muslim rule because of a war. They came under Muslim rule because of the people – the beacons of light they saw coming to their cities – the well-mannered, merciful, polite ambassadors of Islam, who implemented what was commanded of them from their Lord. It is now our turn to follow their footsteps and to shine that light on our world.

If you want to understand Allah’s commandment for hijab – if you want to internalize it and have it enter your heart – go to the Qur’an. Go to Surat an-Noor, especially, with a clean heart and pure intentions, and read it. Open up Allah’s Book, open up the tafseer and the books of hadith, and insha’Allah, Allah will open up your heart and intellect to the truth.

For more posts like this, visit I Got it Covered at igotitcovered.org.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

You are on camera!

camera
Imagine this. You are speeding on the road. The police officer catches you, pulls you over and gives you a speeding ticket.  What would your reaction be, next time you are driving especially driving through the same road. You would naturally slow down! Or you are stealing from your prayer (i.e. racing through it), you glance over and it seems like your friends might be looking at you. Your reaction…. In these and in countless other situations, we refrain from doing bad because we fear that we might be caught or someone might be looking at us. Most of the times, we are not even full 100% sure and yet we change our behavior.  But how about Allah, the ever watchful, who we know with certainty is always watching us. How much are we aware of Him? Lets look at some examples:

  • While the khaleefah of the Muslims, Umar (RA) passed by a home where a girl and her mother were differing over whether to mix water in with the milk they intended to sell to the Muslims. The mother said to mix water with the milk so that they may sell more and the daughter reminded her that even if the Khaleefah couldn’t see them committing wrong, Allah is Al-Baseer (Always All-Watching). Umar (RA) was soo taken by the vigilance of this girl he married her to his son who later produced righteous offspring.
  • A man who was successful wealthy man Nooh ibn Mariam, had
    a beautiful daughter and had a slave (Mubarak). He called his
    slave and told him to take care of his garden. One day he went
    to visit the garden and ordered Mubarak to get him a cluster of
    grapes. He brought the grapes they turned out to be bitter and
    he did this 3 times and each time they were bitter. Nooh
    became upset and said to Mubarak that don’t you know the
    difference between bitter and sweet grapes. He said By Allah I
    have never tasted a single grape because you ordered me to
    take care of your garden. Nooh was impressed and proposed
    that he marry his daughter. The result of that marriage was
    ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak.
  • Luqman, the wise, when he advised his son, he said: “[And Luqman said], “O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted [31:16] This advise came even before he advised his son about salah, enjoining good and forbidding evil. This shows the importance of being vigilant. This is a very good lesson for parents as well. They can’t be with their kids all the time so they need to cultivate this feeling of consciousness into the young minds. This way no matter wherever they are,  they will always remember that Allah is watching over them.

Action Steps:

  1. Check out the verses: 50: 16 – 18 and post the translation in the comments.  Be the first one to post!
  2. Any time you think about committing some sin, remind yourself that Allah, the AlRaqeeb is watching over you.
  3. If you are trying to get rid of some bad habit, copy the verse 96:14 on a piece of paper and stick it in the place of temptation (TV, computer, mp3 player…..)
  4. Watch this video and find out which of the 5 advices relates closely to our topic (post in the comments)
  5. Make dua that Allah makes us among these people who are always aware of His presence.
  6. Pray for me

References:

  • Sheikh Riad. Lecture. AlMaghrib.  A Heart Serene. August 2008
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail