The Multiple Paths to Islam

Spiritual Personalities in Islam

Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instil conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.

As Muslims, we often face the question of what the best way is to practice our religion, develop our relationship with Allah and the Messenger of Allah, and emulate the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. It can feel as though there are so many different spiritual aspects to Islam that it is impossible to find the “correct” one.

This question was posed to one of the greatest Muslim scholars, Imam Malik of Madinah, who was asked why he spends his time in circles of knowledge rather than the other aspects of faith, such as working directly in his Muslim society.

He responded by explaining the idea of a spiritual personality, similar to the way we would understand our human personality.

“Certainly, Allah has divided good actions like he has divided His providence (rizq). It may be that prayer has been facilitated for a person, but fasting hasn’t. Another person may have a tendency for charity but not fasting… And I am happy with what Allah has facilitated for me (the pursuit of knowledge). I don’t think what I am focused on is lower than what you are focused on. Rather, I hope that we are both upon goodness and righteousness.”

This understanding makes space for the plethora of pursuits we are encouraged to undertake as Muslims, from worshipping Allah to cultivating good character, to practising societal and personal development.

Importantly, these are not replacements for the obligations of faith, such as praying 5 times a day or fasting the month of Ramadan, but rather they are supplementary pursuits that allow us to emulate the Holy Prophet and please Almighty Allah.

This approach gives us an insight into the Quranic understanding that

Everyone will act according to their nature, and your Lord knows best who is rightly guided.”

(Quran 17:84)

Read more in

Souls Assorted: An Islamic Theory of Spiritual Personality

by Zohair Abdul-Rahman

Dear Depression Spoken Word

Dear Depression – A Unique Spoken Word Piece

This spoken word piece follows a conversation between two friends, whereby one of them is trying to assist the other to overcome his feelings of depression and sadness. So often we come across people who are struggling in life and we are at a loss of words on how to respond or how to be of assistance.

The piece aims to not only explain why some of us go through struggles but also aims to break down several misconceptions we may have about depression and sadness. For instance, many people often have mistaken hardship as a reflection of God’s anger for a person, yet this disregards the fact that Allah indeed tests those that He loves.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.”

(Sunan Ibn Majah)

Nevertheless, the piece also sets to remind those suffering to seek help in times of need, whether it be via reaching out to health professionals (for those that are suffering medically) or surrounding yourself with supportive figures from friends, family and spiritual mentors.

So don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Don’t be ashamed to look out for your health.”

Of course, this poem is also addressed to those who know people that are suffering, to constantly ask about their well being and to visit them in times of need. This is a quality which was emphasised by the Prophet ﷺ himself in many narrations.

There is no believer who consoles his brother at the time of a calamity but that Allah the Exalted will clothe him with noble garments on the Day of Resurrection.

Sunan Ibn Majah (Hasan)

Imam Ali also narrates that:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say:

‘Whoever comes to his Muslim brother and visits him (when he is sick), he is walking among the harvest of Paradise until he sits down, and when he sits down he is covered with mercy. If it is morning, seventy thousand angels will send blessing upon him until evening, and if it is evening, seventy thousand angels will send blessing upon him until morning.’

Sunan Ibn Majah (Hasan)

There are many more concepts that the video touches up on, however we should let the video speak for itself. Have a watch and let us know what you think in the comments.

The lyrics for the poem are as follows:

Truth is my life is a mess

I’m sad and upset

Sick and depressed

I got stress on my chest

Man I’m sinking in debt

My relationships wrecked

And It’s breaking my neck

 

And I can’t find a job

Man I got nothing left

Asked me how I was

Man I wish I was dead.

 

I’m upset I’m upset.

Man I’m upset

 

Woah

Brother just breathe man lift up your head.

I understand what you mean – but don’t you forget

this life is a test.

That’s what Allah said

He made life and death

To test who was best in deeds.

I mean what’d you expect

For it to be ease for it to be rest.

For us to just leave for us to be left,

To say that we believe without any tests?

Nah.

Of course it gets hard

As tests become large

But as hard as it gets

It doesn’t last.

 

Brother I understand what you’re saying

I just don’t have the patience

I’m tired and anxious

I swear I can’t take this

 

I can feel myself breaking

I don’t know if God hates me

Because that’s what they say to me

 

I’m stressed and depressed coz apparently I’m low in Iman?

Or it is as though I’m not reading the Quran.

Man I’m trying my best I’m just sick of it man.

I don’t know why it’s happening to me I just don’t understand.

 

Brother you just keep the doing the best that you can.

And whatever happens it happens it’s all in God’s plan.

Just put your trust in Allah it’s all in His hands.

And ignore what they say coz they misunderstand.

 

See Allah will test those that He loves,

Just look at the best of the best, the Messenger of Allah

He had it so tough, he had it so rough, man he he had it so hard

Yet despite all this, he was the most beloved.

 

Brother I’m trying to believe

But I’m torn and I’m weak

See at night I can’t sleep

From all my worry and grief

It’s brought me to my knees

 

Then in that case you’re in the best place you can possibly be

To call upon your Lord in need

For verily in the remembrance of God hearts finds relief

 

Brother please,

I’m sorry you don’t know my story you don’t know where I’ve been

 

Yeah – but I know that surely after every hardship comes ease.

Surely after every hardship comes ease.

 

So don’t lose hope and don’t you ever despair.

And no matter how hard it gets,

Allah will never burden your soul more than it can bear.

I’m only saying this because I love you, Wallahi I swear.

 

Thank you my brother it’s good to have someone there,

To have somebody by my side who actually cares.

So I thank you for listening,

Just please keep on visiting.

I’m sorry if I was bickering I know have flaws.

I just need your support

 

Brother this is exactly what Muslims are for.

This is what the Prophet ﷺ he taught.

So don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Don’t be ashamed to look out for your health.

And know that in order to change it starts with yourself.

May Allah make it easy for you and everyone else.

 

May Allah grant relief to all those who are suffering from feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety.

Five Benefits of Worship

Five Benefits of Worship

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.

We always hear about the importance of worshipping God, and the responsibility every human has to worship Him alone. Allah says in an important and oft-quoted verse of the Qur’an that,

“I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.”

(Qur’an 51:56)

However, it is also a solace to those who find worshipping Allah difficult that there numerous great blessings to be gained if one does so. These blessings can only be fully gained through worship, and are essential for every human who wishes to live a fulfilling life.

Here are 5 of those blessings that we can remember in the times that worshipping Allah becomes difficult.

  1. Worship is required for inner peace and self-actualization.

Every soul has a restless craving for spiritual fulfillment. By doing dhikr and obeying Allah, our spirits flourish.

The Prophet ﷺ said,

“The difference between the one who remembers his Lord (God) and the one who does not remember his Lord is the difference between the living and the dead.”

  1. Worship is liberating.

Ibn Taymiyyah said,

“The real prisoner is the one whose heart is locked away from its Lord, the Most High and the real captive is the one held captive by his desires.”

Worshipping God empowers you to enjoy the material world without being enslaved by it.

  1. Worship forms the foundation of morality.

When you see yourself as a servant of God and recognize that moral rules come from Him, your values, responsibilities, and behavior become more consistent and you worship the One who made you capable of doing good.

  1. Worship refreshes faith.

The heart is inherently unstable, prone to forgetting and being agitated. Daily salah, wudhu, and dhikr rinse away the stains of the heart and keep it alive and illuminated.

  1. Worship harmonizes humans with the universe.

The entire universe was created to be obedient to God and to serve human beings, so humans can actualize worship. When we voluntarily conform to God’s will, we mirror the entire universe involuntarily conforming to God’s will, and create a harmony that benefits all of humanity.

May Allah make us all of those who truly worship only Him.

Read more in Why Does God Ask People to Worship Him? by Mohammad Elshinawy

The amazing rewards of patience and gratitude

The true nature of gratitude.

In this timely reminder following the blessed pilgrimage of Hajj, brother Hassan Shibly shares some reflections on the virtues of gratitude and patience, as well as their mighty rewards from Allah ﷻ.

In Surat az-Zumar, Allah ﷻ says:

“Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.”

(Qur’an 39:10)

The virtue of patience is oft-repeated throughout the Qur’an, and is very often coupled with gratitude, where Allah points to His blessings as signs for those who are patient and grateful

(14:5, 31:31, 34:19, 42:33).

One of the core aspects of both of these virtues is that for them to be truly practiced, they must be applied both in times of ease and in times of hardship.

This principle was alluded to in the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ when he said,

“The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.”

This shows that patience and gratitude are not only practiced when it’s easy. For one to be truly patient and grateful, they must embody these virtues even in the most difficult of times.

In his reminder, brother Hassan Shibly describes the different ways in which gratitude can be expressed, in both good times and bad.

“We’re grateful to Allah in good times by using his blessings to serve Him and serve His creation get closer to Him,” he said. “We’re grateful to Allah through hard times by being patient and by recognizing that you know what, it could be much worse, and trusting in His plan and having complete reliance on Him. That’s how believers get the love of Allah.”

We ask Allah to make us of those who are patient and grateful, both in the good times and the bad.

Here Are Three Ways to Overcome Your Desires

Here Are Three Ways to Overcome Your Desires

Ramadan is a time devoted to overcoming our base desires, by abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours. Here are some tips to help us in this month, and to carry on the practice after it is over.

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

In today’s world, we are faced with an onslaught of temptation and desire each and every day. The challenge of staying connected to the religion of Allah has never been more difficult, and yet it is still open.

One of the great scholars of our history, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, was influential in our approaches to contemplation and spiritual psychology. He identified a number of different Prophetic and Qur’anic approaches to controlling our minds and our hearts in order to help us on our journey to Allah.

In his book ‘Iddat as-Sabireen, he put forth a number of strategies for reminding ourselves of the knowledge and beliefs that we hold, particularly in the face of temptation and desire. He referred to this as Tadhakkur, in reference to the verse of the Qur’an in which Allah says:

‘Certainly, those who are righteous, when a party of Shaytaan touches them, they immediately remember (Him i.e Allah SWT), then they gain insight’

(Surah A’raaf: 201).”

To achieve this, he recommended those struggling to bring to mind different thoughts to their conscious awareness, three of which we will mention here:

  1. Remember Allah’s countless blessings upon you and that your disobedience will erect a barrier between you and them.  
  2. Remember that through your fulfilling desires and attainment of temporary pleasure you will lose out on goodness both in this world and in the next.  Faith, Providence, and wealth all decrease as a consequence.
  3. Remember that Allah has promised to replace what you leave for His sake with something much better. It is worth the struggle.

May Allah give us the ability to act in a way which is pleasing to Him and to make use of the scholars of our present, past and future.

Read more in The Lost Art of Contemplation: Spiritual Psychology by Zohair Abdul-Rahman  

How can Muslims practice mindfulness?

The 4 Aspects of Islamic Mindfulness

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instil conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot today. It is generally understood to be a form of meditation and self-awareness, vaguely associated with Buddhist or Zen practices.

From the Islamic context, whilst ‘mindfulness’ as it’s generally understood today has many benefits, its major shortcoming – and likely the reason for its widespread popularity – is the absence of a requirement for God-consciousness or theological understanding for any practitioner.

Instead, the Islamic tradition espouses the practice of muraqabah, the vigilant awareness of Allah and one’s relationship with Him. Indeed, the traditional understanding of this concept not only includes mindfulness as we understand it today, but encompasses it within an orthodox understanding of Allah and the responsibilities He has given us.

According to Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, muraqabah involves an active, conscious awareness of 4 aspects:

Knowledge of Allah

Our knowledge of Allah [God] comes only from the understanding which He Himself gave us, through His divine scriptures and the Prophets and Messengers that He sent to teach us.

According to ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, by reflecting on the 99 Names of Allah, particularly on the names the Watcher (Al-Raqib), the Guardian (Al-Hafith), the Knowing (Al-‘Alim), the Hearing (Al-Sami’), the Seeing (Al-Basir), one can acquire muraqabah.

Knowledge of the enemy of Allah, Iblis [Satan]

The two sources of evil in our life are primarily the demonic whisperings of Satan, and the suggestions and weaknesses of our own souls [nafs].

By reflecting on the reality of Satan, his whisperings, and his weakness and reliance on Allah, we are able to protect ourselves from this fundamental danger in our path to Allah ﷻ.

Knowledge of your own soul, and it’s capacity to suggest evil

An understanding of our own self is the sole focus of what we today call “mindfulness”. The Islamic tradition becomes very beneficial in this regard, as the insights it holds for the reality of our souls are numerous.

By reflecting on the major diseases of the heart, as well as the beautifying qualities and characteristics we should replace them with, we can consistently refine and elevate our soul.

Knowledge of deeds to be done for the sake of Allah

This aspect is necessary for the practice of muraqabah to be consistent with the Islamic tradition, and is essential in fulfilling the goal of refinement and nearness to Allah.

By learning and reflecting upon Islamic law and jurisprudence, as well as the various actions that good character calls for, we can give true meaning to our acts of worship for Allah.

Many spiritual practices within an orthodox understanding of Islam involve a consistent practice of ‘meditation’ upon these 4 aspects.

Ibn al-Qayyim described,

muraqabah as the reality of the pure heart [al-qalb al-salim]…by which no one is saved but by coming to Allah with it”.

A true practice of muraqabah requires consistency and discipline, and involves a comprehensive awareness of the basics of Islamic creed, law, ethics, and of one’s own subtle psychological make-up.

Read more in How to be a Mindful Muslim: An Exercise in Islamic Meditation by Justin Parrott

Tawba Is Not Just Forgiveness

Is the door of “Tawba” always open?

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

The concept of “Tawba”, or “returning”, is a central aspect of Islam, and an action which both the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad  called to repeatedly.

However “Tawba” is not simply just asking for the forgiveness of Allah, although that is an important part of the process.

Rather, Tawba is a “return” to Allah (swt), where you humbly admit your fallibility, express sincere remorse while asking for forgiveness, and intend to restrain, reform, and improve yourself in the future.

It calls for you to hope in Allah, without assuming you’ll be forgiven, and to pray for yourself and all sinners without despairing.

So for all the times you feel regret or think it’s too late to change, know that the door to Tawba is wide open, as long as you’re alive.

Read more in “Tawba” Is Not Just “Forgiveness” by Roohi Tahir   

3 Tips to Remain Steadfast After Ramadan – #ReviveRamadan

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How Can I Keep Being Consistent in Ibadah After Ramadan?

We’ve done so many good deeds during Ramadan: fasting, sadaqah, night prayers etc, but the question is:  What happens after this month?

Allah tells us in the Quran:

“…and do good.  Indeed, Allah loves those who do good.” (2:195)

The Prophet (ﷺ) also has told us that the most loved deeds by Allah are those that are consistent.

Narrated ‘Aishah: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

(Bukhari)

So, here are three tips to staying steadfast after Ramadan:

  1. Purify your intentions. Ensure that your good deeds are only for Allah.
  2. Make it a habit.  Even if it’s only a $1 sadaqah a day, or two raka’at of extra prayers each day. Make sure you do small consistent deeds, every day.
  3. Ask Allah for consistency in your good deeds. By asking Allah for His help you are showing your sincerity.

Stay consistent this Ramadan, and Revive Ramadan.

Make Your Intention to Fast – #ReviveRamadan

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Don’t forget to make your intention to fast before Fajr.

A common mistake people often make in Ramadhan is forgetting to actually make the intention to fast before Fajr.  

Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar from Hafsah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before Fajr, there is no fast for him.”

(Imam Ahmad)

This is only in regards to obligatory fasts (eg: Fasting in Ramadan). With regard to voluntary (naafil) fasts, it is permissible to make the intention to fast on the day, if you have not had anything to eat or drink or relations with your spouse after Fajr.  

This is proven in the hadeeth of ‘Aishah that the Prophet (ﷺ) entered upon her one day at Duha time and said,

“Do you have anything (any food)?” She said, “No.” He said, “Then I am fasting.”

(Muslim)

So, make sure before you sleep, or any time up until the adhan of Fajr, that you make the intention in your heart to fast, and let’s ‘Revive Ramadan’.

Exert Yourself in the Last 10 Days of Ramadan – #ReviveRamadan

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Make the Most of the Last 10 Days and Nights of Ramadan

The one who has wasted the first 20 days of Ramadhan but perfects the last 10 days of Ramadhan is better than the one who perfects the first 20 days of Ramadhan but wastes the last 10 days.

The reason for this is because the last 10 nights contain a night which is better than 1,000 months, ie: Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Decree).  

Allah mentions “The Night of Qadr (decree)” three times in just five ayaat of Surah al-Qadr (97).

  1. We have sent down this (Quran) in the Night of Qadr
  2. And what will make you know what the Night of Qadr is?
  3. The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months.
  4. The Angels and the Ruh (Jibreel) descend in it with every decree, by the permission of their Lord.
  5. All that night there is peace, until the rising of the dawn.”

This surah by itself highlights the supreme importance and greatness of this night. We do not know which night it will be and that’s why RasulAllah (ﷺ) commanded us to,

“Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadhan.”

(Malik)

So, Ramadhan is all about the ending, and how you end it.  

The Prophet ‎ﷺ said:

إنما الأعمال بالخواتيم

‎ “Verily deeds are according to their endings.”

(Bukhari)

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“The lesson lies in perfection of the conclusion of a thing, not in the shortcomings of the beginning of it.”

We all know that the most important part about a race is winning at the end.  If we exert all of our energy in the beginning but exhaust ourselves, and the end we could come last.  So, Ramadhan is the same. Exert your energy in the last 10 days, race towards the finish line, and win the race and end on a high.