Monday, 6 October 2008

Shaykh ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam
“…and because of this, the Prophet exposed for us those who please us with their tongues, when he said: “Throw dirt in their faces,” meaning, the faces of those who praise people to their faces. Likewise, he said to the one who praised his brother to his face: “You have broken your brother’s back.” So, praising your brother to his face is disliked - if not forbidden - except in the case that you are trying to point out some of his faults. In such a situation, there is no problem in you mentioning some of his praiseworthy traits, such as saying to him: ‘Brother, you are very intelligent, and you are a man who is loved by the people, and you are a person who is considered a leader. However, I see in you such-and-such a fault, so, is it possible for you to correct these faults?’ And if the person that you wish to advise has a position of authority over you, is older than you, or is your parent, then there is no problem in sending him a message, for example.

Hasan al-Banna - may Allah have Mercy upon him - said: “We used to follow this way of commanding the good and forbidding the evil. We had a shaykh who used to teach us and guide us, so, one day, I saw him praying between the pillars of the mosque. So, I wanted to advise him that praying between the pillars of the mosque is disliked (makruh). So, I wrote him a letter, and addressed it on behalf of ‘A Doer of Good,’ saying: “O Shaykh, I saw you praying between the pillars of the mosque, and this is disliked, as the Prophet said.” I then signed it ‘A Doer of Good,’ and sent it to him by mail. He got the letter and read it, then he said: “O youth! I have received a letter from a man who advised me not to pray between the pillars of the mosque, and I did not previously know that this is disliked, so, don’t do it.”"

Hasan al-Banna added: “I was amongst the youth that he was addressing. So, we were able to fulfill a good action without causing any insult or offense to our teacher….”

Therefore, commanding the good and forbidding the evil requires a person who loves the people; a person who looks at the bigger picture; a person with a gentle tongue. Do not come to one and say: ‘I hate you for the sake of Allah because you do this or that.’ Are you not able to say, instead: ‘I love you for the sake of Allah, my brother! However, I saw a simple and small mistake from you.’

By Allah, a brother described to me the following: “Someone came up to me and said: “I hate you for the Sake of Allah.”

So, I said to him: “Why? Why do you hate me for the Sake of Allah?”

He replied: “Because your father is from the Ikhwan al-Muslimin.”"

There is no might nor power except with Allah. What Islam is this? I hate him for the Sake of Allah - for what? Because his father is from the Ikhwan al-Muslimin. Sufficient is Allah as the Disposer of our affairs, and this person considers this to be commanding the good and forbidding the evil and a proclamation of the truth, and he thinks that he will have some reward as a result of this, as a result of his putting off the Muslims…”

['Fi Dhilal Surat at-Tawbah'; p. 75]

Sunday, 2 March 2008

"And indeed every man shall have but that which he intended"


Is this sentence merely emphasising the previous? Imam al-Qurtubi considered it so. However in reality both are saying different yet complementary things. Sheikh al Uthaimeen wrote: "the first sentence is the CAUSE and the second is the consequence." The first one means that every deed performed by a human while he is rational and acting voluntarily must have an intention. It is not possible for a rational, voluntarily acting person to perform a deed without an intention. The second means that if someone intended the pleasure of Allah and desired the good of the Hereafter that will be achieved. Ibn Rajab wrote that the second sentence is a statement about the Shari’ah ruling; if the intention was sound or pious his deed is sound and he shall have its reward. If it was evil then his deed was evil and upon him is the burden. In other words, the goodness of a deed is according to the goodness of the inention.


Not everyone gets what they intend. For instance, someone migrates to marry someone but the other person refuses. Or a disbeliever does not intend to be punished for their deeds but Allah states this will happen. However looking at this hadith in its totality we can see that it talks about general categories of intentions:

1) The pure and pious intention of performing a deed for the sake of Allah. According to this hadith the person shall receive the pleasure of Allah and reward from Him. Allah says in Surah ar-Rahman 60: "Is there any reward for good other than good?"

2) The religiously neutral intention where one seeks something permissible of this world. The result of this intention will also be religiously neutral, that is, without reward or punishment in the Hereafter, although it may or may not be the exact result of what the person intended.

3) The blameworthy, evil intention. This is regardless of any claimed good motive of the person if the action is sinful. The consequence of that will be evil for the person in the long run, supported by the ayah from Surah Hood 15-16: "Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them we shall pay In full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing In the Hereafter but fire; and vain are the deeds they did therein. and of no effect is that which they used to do."


The stronger opinion is that if someone consciously avoids a certain action for the sake of Allah then he will be rewarded. For example, a person who avoids drinking alcohol despite being tempted by work colleagues, or a person who lowers their gaze from the opposite sex because of fear of Allah and in order to abide by His laws is rewarded. On the other hand if someone is allergic to alcoholic drinks and avoids it for this purpose, or if a person is busy reading a book hence is too occupied to look at a person of the opposite sex will not be rewarded because the intention for NOT doing those actions was for other than the sake of Allah.


We learn from later on in the hadith how the same action i.e. migration can be a source or reward for some and punishment for others depending on the intention. For example if a person washes themselves and intends with it the expiation of their sins committed by each area of the body that is being cleansed and the intention that one will be pure to worship their Lord may be rewarded manifolds for that intention. Whereas someone who merely showers because it is part of their daily routine will have a different intention altogether. Similarly, if a person attends the congregational prayer, travels out to the oldest masjid in the town on foot, seeking His pleasure and fearing His punishment, loving to be in the house of Allah, wishing to set an example to others, wishing to support the masjid, wishing to meet with brothers, intending to stay behind for a dars after the prayer has many pious good intentions. Similarly if someone attends the prayer because he wishes to be seen as a pious person then that is an evil intention, a type of shirk. Allah says in a hadith qudsi, "I am so self-sufficient (Ghani) that I am in no need of having an associate. Thue, he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me " (Muslim). Ali ibn al Madeeni once said, "A small act may be made great due to the intention behind it and a great act may be made small due to the intention behind it."

Saturday, 23 February 2008

"Indeed all actions are but by intentions..."

I help deliver a local circle to a few sisters based on what I've learnt mainly in the AlKauthar courses. At the moment I'm doing hadith based on the Drops of Dew course. The following are the notes I made on the first hadith of Imam Nawawi. I covered just the first sentence "innama al a'malu bi an-niyyaat..." and briefly the chain of narration. I relied heavily on the book by Jamal ud-Deen Zarabozo on his commentary of Imam Nawawi's 40 hadith.


Due to the large number of works this hadith appears in one may be of the impression that this hadith is narrated by numerous companions. The saheeh version of this hadtih is in fact narrated by only one sahabi, namely Umar ibn al Khattab, who narrated to one tabi’i (Alqamah ibn Waqqas), who narrated to another tabi’i (Muhammad ibn Ibraheem) who narrated to another tabi’i (Yahya ibn Sa’eed) who then narrated to many. Therefore the first 4 links in the chain are singular. Therefore this hadith is AHAD. Is this a problem? Can we accept ahad hadith?

Hadith can be classified in numerous ways. When we want to know about the authenticity of a hadith we are concerned with “saheeh”, “da’eef” etc. When we want to know about the chain of narration, we are concerned with MUTAWAATIR or ahad. Mutawatir hadith have the same status as Qur’anic ayat; it is impossible for the number of people in each and every level of the chain to have gathered upon a lie about a statement of the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam). Thus, mutawatir hadith are automatically saheeh, more so than non-mutawatir saheeh hadith. However it is important to note that other factors other than numbers of narrators come into play. Therefore a more accurate definition of mutawatir is A REPORT FROM A NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EVERY LEVEL THAT WOULD PREVENT THEN FROM AGREEING UPON FABRICATING THE NARRATION.

What is the definition of ahad hadith? According to the majority of scholars, it is not dependent on the number in a chain, rather it is HADITH WHICH IS NOT MUTAWAATIR.

Examples of mutawaatir hadith include: wiping over the socks in wudu, raising the hands before and after ruku’, the Prophet’s (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam) statement: “he who lies upon me, then let him take his seat in the Hellfire.” There are only 25 ahadith that ALL scholars agree are mutawaatir therefore much of Islam would be lost if we rejected ahad narrations. In reality, ahad narrations are not to be disregarded automatically before their authenticity is determined.

There are three opinions on ahad narrations:
1) They lead to doubt, not certainty
2) They lead to certainty if the narrators are just and trustworthy
3) They lead to certainty if the narration has supporting evidences that point to its authenticity.

The third opinion is the stronger one therefore we can conclude:

Only with further probing and study into the chain of narration can one then determine the authenticity of an ahad hadith.

It is worth noting that the sheikh ul hadith Imam Bukhari, rahimahuLlah, starting and ended his Saheeh with ahad hadith. Was he making a point? Well, he is famous for making subtle statements through his work.

There are some who say that ahad narrations are acceptable for fiqh issues but not in aqeedah, because aqeedah requires a heavier burden of evidence. Thus they may reject the belief in Adam as the first prophet, they may reject the punishment in the grave, and so on. This is incorrect. Sheikh Muhammad al Ameen al-Shanqeeti says: “it is obligatory upon the Muslim to accept everything that is established from the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam) with an authentic chain of narrators. Let him know that if he cannot achieve guidance and success by following that which has been established from the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam) then of a surety he cannot achieve it by using his deficient logic in the darkness of doubt and ignorance.” The issue of concern to the Muslim is “Is this hadith authentic or not?” as a measure of whether to apply it in his deen, whether that is aqeedah or fiqh, not “Is this hadith mutawatir or ahad?”


“Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), we readily grant Him what we will for whom we like. Then, afterwards, we have appointed for Him Hell, He will burn therein disgraced and rejected, (far away from Allâh's Mercy). And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it (i.e. do righteous deeds of Allâh's obedience) while He is a believer (in the Oneness of Allâh Islâmic Monotheism), Then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, thanked and rewarded (by Allâh).” (Isra 18-19)

Here the word iradah has been used which encompasses intention, resolve, desire, choice, will. In other words, it is used synonymously with niyyah.

The Prophet (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam) said: “Verily you do not spend in charity any amount desiring by it the Face of Allah except that you will be rewarded for it; even for the morsel that you put in your wife’s mouth.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
This implies that actions done with the intention of charity for Allah’s sake will be rewarded.

The salaf used to say: “Whoever desires to complete his actions, then let him perfect his intentions.”

Imam Yusuf ibn Hussain ar-Razi said: “The most honourable thing in this world is al-ikhlas.”


Imam at-Tabarani recorded on the authority of ibn Mas’ood that this hadith was stated concerning a man who wanted to marry a woman named Umm Qais but she refused to marry him unless e migrated from Makkah to Madinah. Therefore because he migrated to marry her he was called “migrant of Umm Qais.” Ibn Hajr says this authentic, however, he points out that nothing in this explicitly states that this was the reason the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alaiyhi wa sallam) said, “All actions are but by intention…”


This word implies both emphasis AND exclusiveness e.g. “certainly only”.


This term is general and includes all actions: actions of the body, speech, obligatory/voluntary, small/large, acts of worship, acts not related to worship. Actions are of four types:
1) Speech of the heart e.g. knowing there is a God.
2) Actions of the heart e.g. consequence of speech of the heart – fearing God.
3) Speech of the tongue.
4) Action of the limbs.


The letter ba has many meaning in Arabic. There are 2 possible interpretations for this letter in this particular hadith:

1. Accompaniment – “All actions are accompanied by intentions.”
2. Causation – “All actions are caused by intentions.”

Sheikh Al-Shanqeeti says that either is possible which would render the meaning to “the reward is confirmed due to the intention as it is the intention that has led to the act in the first place.”

The meanings of niyyah – what do you think they are?

Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah defined niyyah as “the knowledge of a doer of what he is doing and what is the purpose behind (this action)… The intelligent, voluntary actor does not do anything without first conceiving it and wanting it.”

Imam as Suyooti said, “Intention describes the driving force in the heart towards what the person sees to be in conformity with what he wants…”

Niyyah is not just a thought which comes to the mind; it is determination, want, and aspiration to do something. It includes all the meanings of endeavour, purpose, resolution, goal, aim etc. It means that if one has the intention to do something he will do it as long as nothing prevents him.

The place of the intention is the heart as all the above actually takes place in the heart or at least originates in the heart.

Niyyah implies knowledge and action. First there must be knowledge of the action one wants to fulfil. Secondly the action must follow if no external factors prevent it.


Is something missing in the sentence- “Indeed all actions are but by intention…”? Some argue that there is something missing that must be assumed because there are actions that can occur without intention – voluntary and unintentional acts. What then should be assumed? Ibn Hajr and al Mubarakpuri have given a list of suggestions: the completeness of actions, the correctness of actions, the consideration of actions, and so on. However this restricts ACTIONS to religious actions whereas the stronger opinion is the hadith refers to all actions, religious and otherwise. Therefore a more correct interpretation would be ALL ACTIONS OCCUR OR COME ABOUT DUE TO INTENTION which indicates that conscious voluntary actions do not occur except from an intention from the doer. It is possible to adopt both interpretations; we can say that the first is concerned with the ruling of an action whereas the second is merely stating a fact.


1) A good pious intention
2) A religiously neutral intention
3) An evil intention.

Any action which is specified as worship (IBADAH) must be done with the intention of please Allah and according to His Sharee’ah. For example going without food from dawn til sunset would not be considered fasting if the intention was not to fast. Similarly bathing so one can start praying must be accompanied with intention. Any act that is done for His sake (good pious intention) but is not specified as ibadah can move into the realm of ibadah (QURUBAH), for example walking with the intention of going to the mosque to pray. Any act that is religiously neutral and the intention is religiously neutral is not rewarded or punished (MU’AMALAH).

Thus, niyyah can further be divided into 2:
1) Intention for a particular act of worship –e.g. I am praying but is my intention for it obligatory or voluntary?

2) Intention towards the One you worship – e.g. Am I praying entirely for His Sake i.e. ikhlas

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Falling out of love

This is my theory: when you really love someone and you give them your all, if for whatever reason you have to stop loving them - be it divorce, or they break your heart, or whatever - a part of you has left you forever. A part of you remains with the person you loved and cannot be retrieved again. As a result you're never the same person again. I've seen this first hand with people so if this sounds soppy or "romantic" (it probably sounds a bit depressing actually) then I welcome alternative theories. What happens when you fall out of love?

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


"Adab is like a land with fortresses: the first one (fortress) made of gold, the second of silver, the third of iron, the fourth of baked clay, and the fifth with normal brick. If the fifth is defended properly, the enemies will not get it but if they become lazy and neglectful, they'll break into the first, and then to the second and then to the third until they destroy the lot. Likewise, imaan is five fortresses: the first is yaqeen, the second is ikhlaas, the third fulfilling the obligations, the fourth is fulfilling the sunan and the fifth is the preservation of the adaab. As long as the fifth is preserved and focused upon, Shaytan will never get in but if he leaves adab then the Shaytan will start to devour his sunan then his fara'id and then his ikhlaas and then finally his yaqeen."

Thus the salaf used to say. Many of us know that having good adab is important but few of us have little idea of the relationship between adab and other facets of imaan, and the importance of adab in fortifying our imaan. I think this statement of the salaf sums it up in a very concise manner. That becoming lax in our adab is the door to weakening in our 'ibadaat and internal aspects of imaan is a concept I certainly wasn't familiar with. Perhaps that is why the salaf likened adab to the weakest fortress, because people don't generally give it it's due significance therefore neglecting to guard, maintain, and strengthen it. Many a time we delude ourselves with our acts of worship, thinking them to be sufficient for our salvation, for ourselves to be qualified to be called "a good pious person". Perhaps that is the reasoning of those of us practising brothers and sisters who mistreat others. But if the above gem is anything to go by then no doubt our 'ibadah if not our ikhlaas and yaqeen is suffering if good adab is non-existent in us. And, if we preserve and strengthen the Adab Fortress, no doubt this will preserve and strengthen our 'ibadah and imaan insha'Allah.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

It snowed a bit today. Wicked.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

I got caught speeding.

Only 44mph on a 30mph road. It was after 9pm, raining, non-residential area, new camera so it caught me without warning. Bloody extortionists... Good thing I wasn't doing my usual 55-60mph...