“…there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil (Ghayya), but those who repent, who believe, who do righteous deeds, will enter Paradise. They will not be wronged in the least…” [Surah Maryam 19:59-60]
The meaning of ‘neglected’ here does not imply complete abandonment of the prayer but delaying it beyond it time.
It means not praying Zuhr until the time of ‘Asr; not praying ‘Asr until the time of Maghrib; not praying Maghrib until the time of ‘Isha; not praying ‘Isha until the time of Fajr, and not praying Fajr until the sun has risen. If someone dies persisting in this state without repenting, Allah has promised him Ghayy, which is a deep valley in Hell whose food is disgusting.
I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about ‘those who are forgetful of their prayer‘ (107:4-5), and he said, ‘It means delaying it’ – in other words, delaying it beyond its time.
After Shirk, there are no wrong actions greater than delaying the prayer beyond its time and killing a believer without right.
Whoever presevers in the prescribed prayers, Allah Almighty will grant him five honours:
- He will release him from straitened circumstances,
- protect him from the punishment of the grave,
- give him his book (of deeds) in his right hand,
- let him pass over the Sirat (The Bridge over hellfire) like lightning, and
- admit him to Paradise without reckoning.
May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and grant us the strength to worship Him in accordance with the Sunnah of our Master Muhammad ﷺ.
[Shams ad-Din adh-Dhahabi, al-Kaba’ir]
In this age of decadence where the moral fabric of the society is being ripped apart, there are some deluded people, sadly “scholars” too, who remain silent about falsehood and wrongdoings that surround them. In some cases, they endorse it, for whatever reason. And in many other cases, they conflate refutation and rejection of falsehood with “bad-adab”. As if Adab (propriety) entails accepting falsehood and wrongdoings and not speaking against them; handing out chocolates and gifts to the one who has slapped you; and overemphasising the Prophetic Jamal while neglecting the Prophetic Jalal.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“[Believers] you are the best community singled out for mankind: you enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah…” [Surah Aali ‘Imran 3:110]
‘Good’ in the Arabic language is ‘Khayr‘ and ‘Bad/Evil’ in the Arabic language is ‘Sharr‘. Why then are the words Ma’rūf and Munkar used? Ma’rūf literally refers to that which is known, because it is what the heart is familiar with. Munkar literally refers to that which is not known, as it is not known to the heart but the heart learns it. We don’t have the idea of ‘original sin’ or that children are inherently evil. They have to be taught that as their hearts are originally pure. The reason they begin doing bad things is because they are being taught that by humans or Shayātīn. [R Nsour, Sharh al-Akhdari]
It is interesting that Allah mentions “you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” first and then mentions “and believe in Allah”. Whereas belief in Allah should come first and our actions should then follow. But if we look at the testimony of faith: “There is none worthy of worship except Allah”, we see, as our scholars have mentioned, it is negation (‘There is none worthy of worship…’) followed by affirmation (‘…except Allah’). So, we are negating all deities and refuting all types of falsehood before confirming the Truth; Godhood and Oneness of Allah. One enters the religion with a refutation because falsehood must first be obliterated and only then will true belief manifest. It is also evident from the biography of our Master Muhammad ﷺ that he preached Tawhid (monotheism) for a decade, before conveying anything else, for it is necessary to know the One we are submitting to, before knowing what it is he has commanded us to submit to.
Having said that, to now believe that one must be harsh in preserving the religious boundaries or that we must have a “soft spiritual approach” where transgressions are tolerated, is far from the truth. We discipline our ego, put it aside and love and hate for the sake of Allah only, as that is how our Master Muhammad ﷺ taught us to be. He placed his love and anger appropriately and never got angry for the sake of his own self but only when the rights of Allah were violated.
The conditions for enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong are mentioned by Ibn Rushd in al-Bayan wa’l-Tahsil:
Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong is obligatory upon every Muslim, subject to three conditions:
- He should know what ‘right’ is and what ‘wrong’ is. If he is ignorant of the ruling then there is a possibility that he will forbid something that is right and enjoin something that is wrong.
- The denunciation of wrong should not lead to a greater evil, such as if he tells people not to drink alcohol and that may result in murder and the like. In that case, it is not permissible for him to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.
- He should know or think it most likely that his denunciation of evil will put a stop to it, and that his enjoining good will be effective and beneficial. If he doesn’t know that or doesn’t think it (will be effective), then it not obligatory upon him to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.
The first two conditions are essential for it to be permissible, and the third condition is essential for it to be obligatory. If the first and second conditions are not met, then it is not permissible to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. If the third condition is not met, but the first and second ones are, then it is permissible for him to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, but it is not obligatory.
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman bin Qudamah says in Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin:
Knowing that there is a certain evil in a market that can be reformed, one should rectify it. Every Muslim should reform himself first, keeping obligations and deserting sins. He should then do the same to his household and relatives, then comes his neighbours, then his fellows of his hometown, then citizens of his country. Finally come people of the world.
Lastly, Ustadh Amjid Mahmood mentions that Shaykh M.S. Ramadan al-Bouti said during a Dars he delivered on Jami’ al-Iman, almost a decade ago:
People often confuse using Hikma (wisdom) as being soft and gentle. But Hikma is rather to use the most effective method and treatment, which can sometimes be harsh and other times soft.
May Allah grant us the right understanding of our religion; forgive us for our shortcomings; and grant us ‘Afiyah (wellbeing) in religion, in our life in this world and in the world to come. Amin!
By Abdul Samad Ali
This statement of Oscar Wilde truly summarises the Islamic tradition where sinners like Malik ibn Dinar (d. 130 AH), ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH), al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyadh (d. 187 AH), and many others, abandoned their sinful lives and lived on to become Saints after a sincere utterance of Astaghfirullah [I seek Allah’s forgiveness].
Many classical texts on Tasawwuf or Islamic Spirituality highlight that one’s spiritual journey begins with Tawbah or Repentance. Allah says in the Qur’an: ‘Believers, all of you, turn to God so that you may prosper.’ [Surah an-Nur 24:31]
Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi (d. 741AH) comments on the above verse in his commentary Al-Tashil li ‘Ulum al-Tanzil:
“Repentance is an obligation upon every legally-responsible believer according to the evidences in the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus of the [Muslim] nation.
It has three obligations:
- Feeling remorse over the sin due to disobeying God, not due to some harm that may have come to one’s wealth or self.
- Refraining from the sin as immediately as possible, without procrastination or slackness.
- Resolving not to repeat it again; but if one does, then one renews the resolve.
It has three etiquettes:
- To acknowledge one’s sin along with feeling utterly broken.
- To increase in entreating God and beseeching His forgiveness.
- To increase in doing good works so as to erase past wrongs.It has seven degrees:
- Repentance of disbelievers from disbelief.
- Repentance of the sincere ones from major sins.
- Repentance of the upright ones from minor sins.
- Repentance of the devout worshippers from slackness.
- Repentance of wayfarers from the defects and vices of the heart.
- Repentance of the high-minded, scrupulous ones from doubtful matters.
- Repentance of those spiritually witnessing God from being distracted from God.The causes of repentance are seven:
- Fear of punishment.
- Hope of reward.
- Embarrassment of being held responsible.
- Love for the Beloved.
- The vigilance of the vigilant one who is near.
- Glorifying the station.
- Gratitude for numerous bounties.”
The Saints of God and who they are:
‘Ali bin ‘Uthman al-Hajweri [d. 465 AH] said:
Shaykh Abu Yazid Bistami said, “A saint is he who accepts courageously what is commanded (by God) and rejects what is prohibited (by God).” This is because the more a man loves God, the greater is His respect for His commands.
God Almighty has, therefore, upheld the validity of prophethood for good and has done so through the continuity of the class of his chosen people: the saints of God. They are God’s vicegerents on Earth and are fully devoted to Him without the slightest interference of the lower beastly self. It is through the spiritual blessings of the saints that God sends rain from the skies, grows vegetation form the earth and grants success to the Muslims over the disbelievers.
The saints of God are four thousand in number, but they are hidden from the gaze of the common people; and even they themselves don’t know one another. In fact, they are not aware of their own spiritual capabilities and virtues. In short, they remain hidden not only from mankind but from themselves as well. Their existence stands confirmed not only by the Quran and Hadith, but actual experience of the saints of God as well, including myself, by the grace of God.
Those who are entrusted the duty of administration are three hundred in number and are known as Akhyār or Nujabā. There are forty more who are called Abdāl; seven more known as Abrār; four more known as Awtād; three more known as Nuqabā; and one more who is called Qutb or Ghawth, (who is the most righteous man on earth at any given time). All these persons know one another and depend on one another in the performance of their duties. Their existence has been confirmed by the Holy Quran and Hadith, and by a vast majority of the Ummah, called Ahlus Sunnah wa’l-Jamā’ah (People of the Prophetic way and the majority of scholars). [Kashf al-Mahjūb]
Murabit al-Hajj [who resides in Tuwamarat, Mauritania] said:
While some of these terms (i.e. Nujabā, ‘Abdāl, Qutb etc.) are mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, others are not; but their existence has been confirmed by too many of the scholars and saints to deny them.
Loving the Saints of God:
Shaykh Abu Talib al-Makki [d. 386 AH] said:
If you are not from the righteous, see to it that you have love for them, for Allah Most High will look to their hearts, and perhaps He may look at your name and forgive you.
Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Mu’inuddin Chishti [d. 627 AH] narrated:
There was a man who hated the saints. When he died, and was placed in the grave, the people tried to turn his face towards Mecca, but it would always turn away from that direction. The people were astonished at this action. There was a voice from nowhere announcing, “It would be a futile exercise to try to turn his face towards Mecca, because he used to turn his face away at seeing the saints, and that he who would turn his face in disgust from My friends, I will turn My face from him. He is a condemned soul, and on the day of judgement, such people will appear with faces of donkeys.”
Fariduddin Mas’ud Ganj Shakar [d. 661 AH] narrated:
A sinful young man died in Multan. He then appeared to someone in a dream and was asked by him what his condition was. He replied that Allah had pardoned him. He explained that one day, when Khawaja Baha ul-Haq Zakariyya Multani was walking, he had kissed his hand with utmost respect. Due to this act, he had been pardoned.
Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq [d. 899 AH] said,
Know that the spirit of Islam is loving Allah, loving His Messenger—Salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, loving the Hereafter, and loving the righteous among Allah’s servants. [Badl al-Nasīha]
Shaykh Ibn al-Zakari, in his commentary on the above said:
It is related from my master, Abdul Rahman al-Thalabi, with his chain of transmission up to Imam al-Tabari who said, ‘A stranger passed away when we were in Mecca. We took his body to Bāb al-Mala and sat down to prepare for his burial when suddenly he rose up and sat upright. We asked ourselves, “Did he not die?” The stranger said, “I did, but I returned in order to bring you glad tidings and inform you that the most beneficial thing we have is love for the righteous and closeness with them.” Right after he said that, he became a corpse again.’
Shaykh Abdur Rahman ould Murabit al-Hajj [who resides in Granada, Spain] said:
Even if you never get to meet a saint of God, but simply love them and would love to meet them, the saints of God know without you having to tell them. The scholars of our religion say, “A person being blessed with just visiting the lands they reside in, without meeting them, is a great honour in itself.”
May Allah grant us love for the saints of God, allow us to meet them in this life and unite us with them in the next life. Ameen!