Farewell O Blessed Rabiʿ al-Awwal

By Abdul Samad Ali

“Love”, according to Shibli, “is what obliterates everything from the heart except the Beloved.” Al-Hajweri then explains,

But what Love is, in reality, cannot be described by the word ‘love’, for love is a feeling and feelings cannot be expressed by words. Love is a Divine Gifted and cannot be achieved by effort. Man is finite but love is infinite, and the finite has no control over the infinite.”

The point is, we try to express this love for our Master Muhammad ﷺ in the month of His Blessed Birth – Rabiʿ al-Awwal – but between one Rabiʿ al-Awwal to the next, we do everything that offends “our Beloved”. God knows how weak we are, even “our Beloved” knows. He ﷺ is the one to whom our deeds are presented every morning and evening; He ﷺ is the one who asks God to forgive us for our transgressions and praises God upon seeing the little good that we do.

Were it not for his concern, his enemies would have been crushed by the very mountains that surround them. Were it not for his solicitude towards us, we would not have been blessed with the light of guidance. But we still don’t know and can’t comprehend who “our Beloved” is. He ﷺ is the Beloved of God. God did not love anyone like He loved him nor did He bring anyone as close to His presence as He brought him. What is this rank before the Divine Presence? What Sayyidna ʿUmar and Sayyidna ʿAli saw was nothing but the shadow of “our Beloved”, then what about us? What we know of him is nothing compared to what our Lord has given to our Master Muhammad ﷺ. He is the Beloved of the Great Lord.

O God allow us to realise! O God grant us the ability to love our Master Muhammad ﷺ as he should be loved. You know our sinful states, but we hope that by loving Your Beloved, our Master Muhammad ﷺ, we attain salvation. And by loving His Family (Ahlul Bayt) our loved ones will attain eternal bliss. Allahumma Ameen!

اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد عبدك ونبيك ورسولك النبي الامي وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم تسليماعدد ما احاط به علمك وخط به قلمك واحصاه كتابك والرضاءعن ساداتنا ابي بكر وعمر وعثمان وعلي وعن الصحابة اجمعين وعن التابعين وتابع التابعين لهم باحسان الى يوم الدين

Farewell O Blessed month of Rabiʿ al-Anwar.

29 Rabiʿ al-Awwal, 1436

The Intentions for Attending Mawlid Gatherings

  1. To attend a gathering to invoke blessing and prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ.
  2. To attend a gathering which the scholars encourage people to attend.
  3. To listen to an account of the life of al-Mustafa – The Chosen One ﷺ.
  4. To attend a gathering of counsel and guidance.
  5. To implement what you have heard of the Muhammadan characteristics.
  6. To occupy your time in what is good.
  7. To increase the number of people of truth.
  8. So that Allah may grant you the Prophet’s ﷺ character and qualities, as described in the mawlid.
  9. So that through your attendance you are able to fulfil some of your duties towards the Envoy ﷺ.
  10. So that you will be ennobled by Allah with a vision of the Prophet ﷺ.

[Al-Habib Muhammad bin Alawi al-Aydarus, al-Kitab al-Niyyat (The Book of Intentions) Chapter 19]

What is Manhood (Rujūlah)?

Image Courtesy of Time4Thinkers

The definition of manhood (Rujūlah) has been endlessly discussed and dissected in scholarly tomes. For many ancient cultures, manhood was rooted in being a warrior. But it was a battlefield-specific manhood ill-prepared for life during peacetime. In early American history, manhood was connected with being a yeoman farmer or independent artisan. But when the Industrial Revolution moved men from farm to factory, men wondered if true manliness was possible in the absence of the economic independence they once enjoyed. In the 20th century, manhood meant being the familial breadwinner. But during times of Depression and Recession, and when women joined the workforce in great numbers, men felt deeply emasculated.

When manhood is connected to such cultural, and ultimately ephemeral guideposts, and times change, a crisis of manhood results. Some men then cling stubbornly to a past that cannot be recreated while others seek to redefine manliness in ways that while well-intentioned, end up stripping manhood of its unique vitality. Thus, the definition of manhood clearly needs to be rooted in a firm and immovable foundation. One that works across time, place, and culture and is attainable for any man, in any situation.

So how do we define manhood (Rujūlah)?

For Aristotle and many of the ancient Greeks, manhood meant living a life filled with eudaimonia. What’s eudaimonia? It is living a life of “human flourishing,” or excellence. Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to take actions guided by rational thought that would lead to excellence in every aspect of his life. Thus, manhood meant being the best man you can be.

For the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue. In fact, the English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word virtus, which meant manliness or masculine strength. The Romans believed that to be manly, a man had to cultivate virtues like courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness. Thus for the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue.

For us, Muslims, the Prophet ﷺ is al-Insān al-Kāmil (The Perfect Man); manhood can therefore be defined as the imitation of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in ethical, spiritual and moral behaviour. A man should try his best to be what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, and those perfect characteristics and exalted qualities and magnificent ethics are innumerous:

  • His ﷺ Vigilance
  • His ﷺ Wisdom
  • His ﷺ Knowledge
  • His ﷺ Eloquence
  • His ﷺ Courage
  • His ﷺ Physical Strength
  • His ﷺ Generosity
  • His ﷺ Shyness
  • His ﷺ Loyalty
  • His ﷺ Patience
  • His ﷺ Perfect Resilience
  • His ﷺ Asceticism; Reliance upon God
  • His ﷺ Responsibility
  • His ﷺ Forgiveness
  • His ﷺ Military Leadership
  • His ﷺ Justice
    His ﷺ Integrity
  • His ﷺ Perfect Care for Cleanliness
  • His ﷺ Humility
  • His ﷺ General Manners and Etiquette
  • His ﷺ Kindness to His Family and Relatives
  • His ﷺ Kind way of Covering with Others
  • His ﷺ Excellent Way of Rebuking and Censuring
  • His ﷺ Perfect Way of Teaching and Guiding
  • His ﷺ Perfect Method of Directing People to Higher Aspirations
  • His ﷺ Mercy with Animals
  • His ﷺ Amiability in Social Settings

Both genders are capable of and should strive for virtuous, human excellence. When a woman lives these virtues, that is womanliness; when a man lives the virtues, that is manliness. Which is to say that women and men strive for the same virtues, but often attain them and express them in different ways. The virtues will be lived and manifested differently in the lives of sisters, mothers, and wives than in brothers, husbands, and fathers.


References:

– Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawī al-Mālikī (2013). Muhammad ﷺ the Perfect Man. UK: Visions of Reality Books. Contents.
– Brett & Kate McKay. (2010). What is Manliness. Available: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/05/16/what-is-manliness/. Last accessed 12th Aug 2014.
– Harvey C. Mansfield (2007). Manliness: Yale University Press. 304.
– Image courtesy of Time4Thinkers.

Rabi’ al-Awwal | The Noble Birth of Our Master Muhammad ﷺ | A narration of His ﷺ birth by Abu Nuaym al-Isfahani

[Ibn Abbas] said: [Lady Amina] used to say:

“I began to have labour pains (lit. “there befell me what befalls women,” la-wad akhadhanī mā ya ‘khudhu ‘l-nisā’), and no one, male or female, knew about my situation; I was alone in the house, and Abd al-Muttalib was circumambulating [the Kabah]. She said: I heard a great crash and a mighty sound (sami’tu wajba shadīda wa-amran azīman) and it struck me with terror – that was on a Monday. I saw [a vision] as if the wing of a white bird stroked my heart, and then all the alarm, panic, and suffering that I had felt left me. Then I turned, and there was a white drink; I thought that it was milk. I was thirsty, so I took it and drank it, and a bright light radiated from me. Then I saw women like lofty palm-trees, resembling the daughters of Abd al-Muttalib[1], surrounding me. As I was wondering [over this] and asking myself, “Woe is me, how did these women know about me?” my labor became intense. I heard the crashing becoming louder and more fearsome all the time. Suddenly I saw a piece of white brocade stretched between the heavens and the earth, and a voice saying (idhā qā‘il yaqul), “Take him where no one can see him.” [Lady Amina] said: I saw men standing in the air, holding silver ewers in their hands; I was dropping sweat like pearls, sweeter smelling than fragrant musk. I was saying, “If only Abd al-Muttalib had come to me” – but Abd al-Muttalib was far away. She said: I saw a flock of birds that had come without my noticing from whence they came, until they covered my chamber. Their beaks were made of emerald and their wings of rubies. The veil was lifted from my sight (fa-kushifa lī ‘an basarī) and at that moment I saw the eastern and western horizons of the earth. I saw three banners raised, a banner in the east, a banner in the west, and a banner on top of the Ka’bah. The labor pains seized me and I was in great distress. I felt as if I were leaning against the limbs of women; they became numerous, to the point that it was if there were many hands in the house, but I did not see anything (kuntu ka’annī mustanida ilā arkān al-nisā‘ wa-kathurna ‘alayya hattā ka’anna al-aydī ma’ī fī‘l-bayt wa-anā lā arā shay’an ). I gave birth to Muhammad; when he came out of my womb I turned and looked at him, and lo and behold, I saw him prostrating himself, with his finger raised like one who was pleading and supplicating. Then I saw a white cloud that had come from the sky come down until it covered him and he was concealed from my sight; I heard a voice call out, “Take Muhammad around the east and west of the world; take him into all the oceans, so that they will know his name, his description, and his form, and they will know that in [the oceans] he is called ‘al-Māhi’ (‘the Effacer’), because there is no polytheism but that it will be effaced by him in his time.” Then [the cloud] revealed him again in the twinkling of an eye, and lo, he was clothed in a woollen robe that was whiter than milk, and underneath him was a piece of green silk. He was grasping three keys of brilliant white pearl, and a voice said, “Muhammad has grasped the keys of victory, the keys of the wind, and the keys of prophecy.” Then another cloud, from which the whinnying of horses and the fluttering of wings could be heard, approached until it covered him and he was concealed from my sight. I heard a voice call out, “Take Muhammad around the east and the west, and the birthplaces of the prophets; present him to every being with a spirit (kull ruhānī), whether jinn, human, bird or beast. Give him the contentment (safā) of Adam, the tenderness (riqqa) of Noah, the friendship (khulla) of Abraham, the tongue (lisān) of Ishmael, the good tidings (bushra) of Jacob, the beauty of Joseph, the voice of David, the patience of Job, the renunciation (zuhd) of John, and the magnanimity (karma) of Jesus. Immerse him in the moral qualities of the prophets.” Suddenly a voice said, “Good! Good! Muhammad has grasped all the world, and none of its people remain but that they have entered his grasp.” Then I saw three people, in the hand of one of whom was a silver ewer, in the hand of the second a basin of green emerald, and in the hand of the third a piece of white silk. He unfolded it and took from it a seal that dazzled the eyes of its beholders. He washed it [with water] from that ewer seven times, then sealed between [Muhammad’s] shoulders with the seal and wrapped it in the silk. Then he picked him up and held him between his wings for a while, then returned him to me.”

[1] Other narrations read “the daughters of Abd Manaf. Transmitted from Abu Nu’aym al-Isbahānī in Jalāl al-Din al-Suyutī, al-Khasā‘is al-kubrā aw kifāyat al-tālib al-labīb fī khasā‘is al-habīb, ed. Muhammad Khalīl Harās [Cairo]: Dār al-Kutub al-Hadīthīya, n.d., 1:120-1.

Rabi’ al-Awwal | The Noble Birth of Our Master Muhammad ﷺ | Recommended books on His ﷺ Sirah

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

Below is a short list of books on the life and character of the Beloved Prophet ﷺ, that I have either personally read and recommend or have been recommended to me by others.

This being the blessed month in which so many great events in the life of the Beloved Prophet ﷺ took place, in particular his ﷺ noble Birth, which was a source of guidance and pleasure for all creation. Truly, feeling pleased and honoured at his ﷺ noble Birth is a sign of faith. This is not to say that anyone who does not take part in celebrations of Mawlid/Meelad is not from amongst the Muslims. He may not choose to express  his love in this manner, but through other means and that is fine – as we accept the valid difference of opinions.

Indeed true feelings manifest as actions, and the greatest way to show love for the Beloved Prophet ﷺ is to follow and obey Him ﷺ.

اللهم صل و سلم على سيدنا محمد مفتاح باب رحمة الله، عدد ما في علم الله، صلاة و سلاما داءمين بدوام ملك الله، و على آله و صحبه عدد كل ذرة ألف مرة

Allāhuma salli wa sallim ‘alā Sayyidinā Muhammadin miftāhi bābi rahmatillāh, ‘adada mā fī ‘ilmillāh, salātan wa salāman da’imayni bi-dawāmi mulkillāh wa ‘alā ālihī wa sahbihi ‘adad kulli dharratin alfa marrah.

[Oh Allāh send your salutations and blessings upon our Master Muhammad (ﷺ) , the key to the door of Your Mercy, the amount that which is in the Knowledge of Allāh, salutations and blessings forever continuing with the Dominion of Allāh, and upon His (ﷺ) family and His (ﷺ) companions; equal to the number of every atom a thousand times.]

Recommended books on the Life and Character of our Master Muhammad ﷺ: 

The Sealed Nectar (Al-Rahīq al-Makhtūm) – al-Mubarakpuri

Muhammad: The Perfect Man – Al-Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi al-Maliki

Shama’il al-Tirmidhi – Mawlana Zakariyyah Kandehlawi

– Ash-Shifa – Qadi Iyad al-Maliki

The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography – Shaykh Ramadan al-Buti

Prophet Muhammad and His Miracles – Said Nursi

Provisions for the Hereafter – ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

The Prophet’s Night Journey and Heavenly Ascent – Al-Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi al-Maliki

The Life of The Messenger – An-Nawawi

Bidayat as-Sul Fi Tafdil ar-Rasul – Imam Izz ibn Abdassalaam

Muhammad: His Life based on the Earliest Sources – Martin Lings

Our Master Muhammad: Volumes 1& 2 – Imam Abdullah Sirajjudin al-Husayni

– The Mawlid: Blessed Birth of the Prophet – ibn Kathir

Seeratul Mustafa – Mawlana Idris Kandehlawi

The Life of the Prophet Muhammad – ibn Kathir

Seerah of the Final Messenger – Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani

Sirat un Nabi – Allama Shibli Nomani/Allama Syed Sulayman Nadwi

The Perfect Paragon Muhammad – Thaqib Mahmood

Special Du’ā for Sidi Salman

Manners of visiting the resting place of the Prophet ﷺ

By Imām ibn al-Hājj al-Mālikī [d. 737 AH]
Translated by Suraqah al-Tufahi

As for what has been mentioned regarding visiting the grave of the Master of the first and last ﷺ, then all that has been mentioned should be increased by many folds, meaning, in humility, brokenness, and tranquility, because he ﷺ is the one who will intercede and have his intercession accepted, the one whose intercession will not be rejected. The one who intends him (in their journey of visitation) will not be let down, nor will the one who disembarks upon his ﷺ place, nor the one who seeks his ﷺ aid or refuge (wa lā man ista’āna aw istaghātha bihi ), for he ﷺ, is the pole of perfection and the crown jewel of the kingdom. Allāh the Exalted said in His mighty Book:

“He has certainly seen the greater signs from His Lord.’’

Our scholars (may Allāh the Exalted have mercy upon them) have stated: He ﷺ saw his image, for he is the crown jewel of the kingdom. So, whoever makes tawassul through him ﷺ, seeks aid through him (istaghātha bihi), or seeks his needs through him ﷺ, then he will not be refused or disappointed. [1]

Ibn al-Ḥājj further said:

Our scholars (may Allāh the Exalted have mercy upon them) said: The visitor should cause himself to feel as if he is standing in front of him ﷺ just as he would be in his life, for there is no difference between his death and life, meaning, in his witnessing of his Ummah, and his knowing of their situations, intentions, resolves, and inner thoughts. That is (all) clear to him ﷺ without there being any concealment whatsoever. If someone said (in objection to this): These attributes are particular to the Master (Allāh) ﷻ, the response is: All of those who have relocated to the hereafter from among the believers know the situation of the living predominately. That has occurred to no end (found) in accounts that have been (reported) to have occurred. It is possible that their knowledge of that is when the actions of the living are presented to them, and there are other possibilities to it (as well). These matters are hidden from us. The truthful one ﷺ informed about the presentation of deeds to them (the dead) so it must occur. The knowledge of how it occurs is not known and Allāh ﷻ knows best about it, and it is sufficient as a clarification, the statement of the Prophet ﷺ: “The believer sees with the light of Allāh.’’

The light of Allāh ﷻ is not veiled by anything. This is regarding the living among the believers, so what about those among them in the other worldly abode? The Imām, Abū ‘Abdallāh al-Qurṭubī said in his al-Tadhkirah: (It has been narrated that) Ibn al- Mubārak narrated with his chain to al-Minhāl ibn ‘Amr who narrated that he heard Sa’īd ibn al-Musayyib say: ‘There is not a day, except that on it, the actions of the Ummah are presented to the Prophet ﷺ, both in the morning and the evening. So, he knows them by their deeds and appearances, and it is due to that he ﷺ will bear witness against them. Allāh ﷻ said:

“So how will it be when We bring every nation with a witness and bring you as a witness over these’’

It has proceeded, that the deeds are presented to Allāh ﷻ on Thursday and Monday and (the deeds are presented) to the Prophets and fathers and mothers on Friday and there is no contradiction, for it is possible that it is specific to the Prophet ﷺ that the deeds are presented to him ﷺ every day and on Friday with the other Prophets. (end quote from al-Qurṭubī) [2]

Further on, Ibn al-Ḥājj said:

So when he visits him ﷺ, if he is able to (remain standing) and not sit, then this is better. If he was unable, then he can sit with proper decorum, respect, and honor. When the visitor is seeking the fulfillment of his needs and forgiveness of his sins, he might not need to mention that with his tongue. Nay, he may bring that to presence in his heart while he is standing in front of him ﷺ, because he ﷺ, knows his needs and benefits more than him, and is more merciful to him than himself, and more caring towards him than his own relatives. He said ﷺ: “The likeness of me and all of you is like moths that are rushing into the fire while I am standing to prevent you from it.”, or as he ﷺ said. This applies to the Prophet ﷺ at all times- meaning in tawassul through him and seeking the fulfillment of one’s needs by way of his rank with his Lord ﷻ. Whoever is unable to undertake a visit to him ﷺ with his body, then let him intend it at all times with his heart, and let him bring present to his heart that he is there in front of him seeking intercession through him unto the One who bestowed (His) bounty (Allāh) through him, as was said by the Imām, Abū Muḥammad ibn al-Sayyid al-Baṭalayūsī (may Allāh have mercy upon him) in his line (of poetry) that he sent to him:

Unto you I flee from my slips and sins,
and when I meet Allāh you are the one sufficient for me

Visiting your grave that is visited by foot
is my longing and desire if my Lord wills

So if visitation of him is prevented by my body,
then I am not prevented from visiting him with my heart

To you oh Messenger of Allāh I send, from myself,
a salutation of a believer and lover.  [3]

———————————————–
[1] Al-Madkhal 1/258
[2] Ibid 1/259
[3] Ibid 1/264

Tawassul (Intercession) Through The Prophet ﷺ and The Awliyā (Saints)

By Imām ibn al-Hājj al-Mālikī [d. 737 AH]
Translated by Suraqah al-Tufahi

After quoting the narration of the tawassul of ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb through ‘Abbās (May Allāh be pleased with them), Ibn al-Ḥājj said:

Then he is to perform tawassul through the people of those graves, I mean: through the righteous from among them in fulfilling his needs and forgiving his sins. Then he should supplicate for himself, his parents, his teachers, his relatives, and the inhabitants of those graves, and the dead from among the Muslims and their living and their offspring until the Day of Judgment and those who are not present from his brothers. He should turn to Allāh the Exalted in supplicating at their place (of burial) and frequently make tawassul through them unto Allāh the Exalted, because He, the Glorified and Exalted chose them, honored them, and ennobled them. So, just as He caused them to be a source of benefit in this world, so it will be in the hereafter, nay, even more. So, whoever has a need to be fulfilled, then let him go to them and make tawassul through them, for they are the intermediaries between Allāh the Exalted and His creation.

It has been established in the Sacred Law, and Allāh the Exalted knows what He has vouchsafed to them of (Divine) care. That is abundant and well known. The people have not ceased, among the scholars and elders, from elder to elder, both East and West, deriving blessings by way of visitation of their graves, and they find the blessings of that both in the sensory, and spiritual (ḥissan wa ma’nan). The Shaykh, the Imām, Abū ‘Abdallāh Ibn Nu’mān (may Allāh have mercy upon him) mentioned in his book titled: safīnat al-najā’ li ahl al-iltijā’ , regarding the miracles of the Shaykh, Abūl Najā’. Speaking about this, he said:

“It has been realised by those who possess insight and consideration, that visiting the graves of the righteous is beloved for the sake of obtaining blessings along with reflection. The blessings of the righteous flow after their death, just as it did during their life. Supplicating at the graves of the righteous and seeking intercession through them has been acted upon by our verifying scholars from the Imāms of the religion.”

{al-Madkhal; 1/255}