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“Navigating the Turbulence: Finding Inner Peace”

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

24 June 2011 Singapore

Simply Islam Event at Singapore Expo Hall

As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh. A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ وَوَضَعْنَا عَنكَ وِزْرَكَ الَّذِي أَنقَضَ ظَهْرَكَ فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانصَبْ وَإِلَى رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ

alam nashrah laka sadrak, wa wadh`ana anka wizrak alladhee anqada zhahrak wa raf`ana laka zikrak fa inna ma`al `usri yusra inna ma` al-`usri yusra fa idhaa faraghra fansab wa ila rabbika farghab.

Have we not expanded your breast for you and removed from you your burden that weighed so heavily on your back? And (have We not) raised you high in dignity? And behold, with every hardship comes ease; verily, with every hardship comes ease! Hence when you are freed (from distress), remain steadfast and turn to your Sustainer with love. (Surat ash-Sharh, 94:1-8)

Distinguished guests, audience, and viewers online: it is a great honor and pleasure for me to be invited by Simply Islam, an organization that is doing a lot of work in every field concerning human beings today. I thank the chairman who introduced me to the audience, for his nice words, and I hope I can say something that may benefit me and you.

I am not claiming to know something; I am an ordinary person, a talib al-`ilm, student of knowledge who wants to learn more about Shari`ah, Islam, and problems that face us in our daily lives: when we are teenagers or grown and married, working, and when we retire. That is the cycle of life we face. Does that cycle have an end or not? There are numerous changes that face us, but the big question is, is there an end or no end?

In thinking about this, I would like to say alhamdulillahI ’Lladhee hadaana li ’l-Islam wa maa kunna li-nahtadee law laa an hadaanaa Allah. Wa ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abdudhu wa rasooluh. fa awdahah at-tariqata wa nasaha al-khaleeqati sall-Allahu ta`ala `alayhi wa `alaa aalihi wa sahbihi, khusoosan minhum `alaa a’immati khulafaai rasoolillahi `ala at-tahqeeh umaraai ’l-mumineen, hadaaraati Abi Bakr, wa `Umar, wa `Uthman, wa `Ali, wa `alaa Sayyidatana Fatimat az-Zahra wa Ahlu’l-Bayt an-Nabi (s)!

This topic, “Navigating The Turbulence” is something to be studied well. The Sahaabah (r) learned from Prophet (s) and they were successful in navigating the turbulence of their times. But are we who live in the 14th century of Islam successful in navigating the turbulence? The answer is yes! We see (attendees) are facing the challenges of inner and outer turbulence. We see all of these young people, ladies and gentlemen present today, but where are the elderly who are alive and may be facing death the next day? Here, we are only seeing the youth, who make us say, “Islam is in good hands,” because it is very difficult to navigate today.

القابض على دينه كالقابض على الجمر

al-qaabidu `alaa deenihi ka’l-qaabidu `alaa al-jamr

The Prophet (s) said, “The one who holds his or her religion (in this time) is like one holding a burning coal in their hand.”

That is especially true for young ladies who are covered; that is a big turbulence in their life and it is very difficult. If men were asked to cover, they might not, we don’t really know, but for sure that is not something easy;. A young lady who covers modestly and studies in the west will face all kinds of problems, but alhamdulillah they are overcoming these problems.

I congratulate you as the best; you are better than all of us! All of you young ladies are keeping your religion, and for all the young men, may Allah (swt) bless you for coming to listen to what I am going to say. I am waiting for some information (inspiration) to come like a heavenly Twitter, a heavenly FaceBook or a heavenly YouTube, so I may (speak the truth), or else I am less than you. If I am not “plugged” I have nothing to say, so you will lose the money you spent to come here! (laughter) Until that inspiration comes, I will narrate a story mentioned in Shaykh ash-Sha`arani’s, Kitaab al-Minan, written in the seventh century, that illustrates where we stand today.

You might know that Sayyidina Musa (a) was like Sayyidina `Umar (r), always shadeed, tough and strong for shari`atullah; he could not accept any deviation this way or that. He always liked to go in the wilderness, deserts, valleys, forests or mountains, and he continuously sought the pleasure of Allah (swt). One day he passed by a cave and heard someone reciting and he became eager to find out what it was because he had never heard it before and it was in very pure Arabic. All prophets’ hearts know Arabic very well, but they speak the language of their respective nation. The only prophet to speak Arabic was Sayyidina Muhammad (s). Musa (a) knew what he heard would come in the future with the Seal of Messengers, Sayyidina Muhammad (s), and he approached the cave to try to hear that du`a:

alhamdulillah alladhee fadalanee `ala katheerin mimman khalaqnaa tafdeela.

Praise to Allah, the One Who has favored me over many whom He previously favored, and He favored me more.

It is similar to this ayah:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ ... وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلاً

Wa laqad karramnaa banee aadama … wa faddalnahum `alaa katheerin mimman khalaqnaa tafdeelaa.

We have honored the sons of Adam … and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation. (al-Isra, 17:70)

As he entered the cave, he saw it was full of light. There he came upon an old man in sajdah repeating this ayah, because he had turbulence in his life and wanted to navigate and overcome his problem.

Today technology has discovered navigation systems, but prophets gave that to their followers. In our time, what the Prophet (s) gave us is the best navigation system; he wrapped everything together and presented it to us, because in the old times they didn’t have what people have today.

So Musa (a) found that man in sajdah. Everyone likes to be in sajdah. The previous speaker just mentioned a hadith that the Prophet (s) was standing in prayer and he liked to make the prayer long, but if a child was crying he cut it short. The problem today is that we are cutting everything short, even our pants! (laughter) If you ask people, “Why are you jogging with shorts?” they answer, “We want to make our life longer.” Can you make your life longer? They are not “navigating” their turbulence, they are navigating dunya.

When that old man came out of his prayers, Sayyidina Musa (a) was shocked to see he had no arms and legs, he sat on his back, making sajdah and thanking Allah for favoring him over everyone. That man was navigating a way out of his problems, but he had no arms, so how did he eat, and he had no legs, so how did he move? Allah (swt) sent him a deer to suckle its milk and he was living without a problem.

Sayyidina Musa (a) said to him, “You have no arms or legs, so how are you reciting this ayah?”

The man answered, “Yaa `AbdAllah! Allah made me not to be kafir!” How much we have to thank Allah that he made us Muslim! Bi ’sh-shukr tadoom an-na`m, “With thankfulness favor increases.”

Today, are people thanking Allah forHis favors? That servant with no arms or legs was happy with his life, sitting in that cave, navigating through his problems. So the Prophet (s) taught the Sahaabah (r) to navigate their problems. One Sahaabee came to the Prophet (s) and said, “The Shari`ah of Islam is too much for me. I am an ordinary person, illiterate, and it is so much that I cannot take it. Please give me something easy that I can make.”

اجعل لسانك رطبا بذكرالله

ij`al lisaanak ratban bi-dhikrillah.

The Prophet (s) said: Keep your tongue wet with ِAllah’s Remembrance. (Tirmidhi)

That means the first step to navigate is dhikrulllah; it will take you wherever you need to go. What you memorized of Holy Qur'an or what you learned of the Beautiful Names and Attributes, recite that and Allah (swt) will guide you. The Prophet (s) navigated this universe in Laylat al-Israa` wa 'l-Mi`raaj and that is coming in front of us! Why did Allah invite the Prophet (s) to `Israa wa 'l-Mi`raaj? Allah was rewarding him for the torture and abuse from his tribe and the people!

A neighbor of Prophet (s) put garbage at his door every day and Prophet was removed it without saying anything. After several years when that person lay dying, the Prophet (s) went to visit her and she said, “I threw garbage at your door daily, and you have come to visit me?” He (s) said, “That is our way.” Then she said, “Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah wa ash-hadu anna Sayyidina Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasooluh.”

Prophet (s) mentioned about Sayyidina `Ali (r):

أنا مدينة العلم و علي بابه

`anaa madinatu 'l-`ilmi wa `aliyyun baabuha.

I am the city of knowledge and `Ali is it's door. (al-Haakim, Tirmidhi)

Sayyidina `Ali (r) said, “The entire Holy Qur'an is based on one point and whoever understands it can do whatever the Holy Qur'an and the holy hadeeth have mentioned. The head of wisdom is to fear Allah (swt). When you fear Allah (swt) you receive all kinds of wisdom because you put your self in the right way to navigate the right doors.”

The Sahaabah (r) asked, “How?”

He said, “Under that point are four different elements: be silent, listen, observe, and move.”

1) Silence, as-samt. Don’t talk; keep quiet, observe and don’t speak. There is an Arabic proverb, “If words are from silver then silence is from gold.” It means it is better not to open your mouth, because you will make mistakes and you might offend someone. So Sayyidina `Ali (r) is saying that one element for fear of Allah is to close your mouth: don’t back anyone. How can we navigate turbulence even as we backbite our fathers and mothers?

2) The second element is istima`, “to listen.” Close your mouth and continue to listen; then you will understand more and begin to notice what is going on. Allah (swt) said, “The hearing, vision, what you have in your heart and your organs will be questioned on Judgment Day.” What are you going to answer? Sayyidina `Ali is “navigating” us to keep silent and don't talk.

3) The third element is an-nazhar, “to look.” You must look carefully in order not to make a mistake. It means, be a witness on your “self.” When we say, “ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa habeebuhu wa rasooluh,” at that time you are a witness on your self.

4) The fourth element is al-haraka, “to take action” or “to move.” What is that action and where does it have to go? A hadith explains that as:

أفضل الجهاد كلمة عدل عند سلطان جائر

afdalu’l-jihad kalimatu `adlin `inda sultaanin jaa'ir

The best jihad is a word of justice before an oppressive ruler.

How many categories of jihad are there in Islam? Today many people think jihad in Islam is to fight others and also to commit suicide, but Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (r) counted fourteen different types of jihad, only one of which is to engage your enemy in war. If you don’t have a face-to-face enemy you are not allowed to fight, and you must not send something in the jungle or desert because you might kill innocent lives.

The Prophet (s) said, “The best jihad is kalimatul-`adl a word of justice.” It means to say something that gives justice, based on haqq, `inda sultaanin jaa'ir, in the presence of an oppressive sultan who oppresses everyone. You are rewarded Paradise for the best jihad, not for throwing a bomb on the innocent people and killing them!

“Jihad” is to struggle, to say to your enemy, “You are wrong,” against the sultan who is a tyrant. Who is a tyrant sultan for us? It is not our leaders, as they are navigating us to be a peaceful country. Don’t look outside, look here, at the topic of this conference, “Navigating Inner Peace.” Come and audit your self, not other people! Make an account and check what you have done in your life up to today. People look outward, not inward; they look at others and criticize them. Look at yourself as the biggest enemy is your Shaytan!

The Prophet (s) mentioned, “There is a place in the heart where Shaytan sits making gossip, whispering day and night.” That is where you have to hold a stick on that tyrant sultan by telling the truth! At least look in the mirror; if you cannot look at your inner self, the image in the mirror is a photocopy of you, so look at it and say, “What did I do today? I got angry, I shouted at my family, I made my friends angry with me....” How many complaints are made against us, because of that sultan controlling us?

Sayyidina Muhammad (s) said, “I am the only one who overrides my nafs, my ego.” Sayyidina Muhammad (s), the Best of Human Beings who was chosen as prophet to all the worlds, said:

Allahuma laa takilnee ila nafsee tarfata `aynin wa laa aqal min dhaalik.

O Allah! Don’t leave me to my ego for the blink of an eye, or I will lose.

It means, “I want to keep looking at You, yaa Rabbee, fulfilling Your Orders.” So the Prophet (s) taught us to navigate, to fight our ego. I am saying, “O Allah! Don’t leave me to my ego.” And all of us think we are the best, the highest, and everyone else is the lowest. But Allah (swt) said in Holy Qur'an:

وَفَوْقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ

Wa fawqa kulli dhi `ilmin `aleem.

Above every knower is a (higher) knower. (Yusuf, 12:76)

There might be one knower and hundreds higher. And Allah (swt) said, wa fawqa kulli maqaamin muqeem, “In every station there is a (higher) one.” Above every scholar there is a higher scholar; one is above another. To truly “navigate” is to go into our inner self, as Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur'an:

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىَ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

alladheena yadhkuroonullah qiyamaan wa q`oodan wa `alaa junoobihim wa yattafakkaroona fee khalqi 's-samawaatee wa 'l-ard, rabbanaa maa khalaqta hadhaa baatilan subhaanaka fa qina `adhaaba 'n-naar.

Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, (saying),"Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire." (Aali `Imraan, 3:191)

Allah (swt) said very eloquently in the Holy Qur'an, “those who are standing up,” which is what we are doing for one-third of our day, and for another third we are “laying down,”and then after that you navigate in Allah's Way and open your heart, and He will send tafakkur, “meditation, contemplation, deep thoughts,” on those who ponder the creation of Heavens and Earth. Allah said, “The creation of this universe is more complicated than the creation of human beings.” Every galaxy has 80 billion stars, and through that Allah (swt) is showing us His Power! Those who contemplate the creation of Heavens and Earth say, “O Allah! You did not create this in vain! Glory be to You, and protect us from the Fire.” Fear of Allah is to be afraid of Hellfire, and those on a higher level fear to be away from His Presence and His Love on the Day of Judgment.

Everyone wants the love of Allah (swt) and Prophet (s). How can we attain it? By dhikrullah and following shari`atullah. When our cars, mobile phones and other items now have satellite navigation systems, do you think there is no navigating system that receives knowledge from Heavens? Don’t underestimate awliyaullah!

أَلا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاء اللّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

alaa inna awliyaullahi laa khawfun `alayhim wa laa hum yahzanoon.

Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve. (al-Yunus,10:62)

Verily Allah’s saints have nothing to fear because, “I am supporting them, giving them a heavenly satellite through their hearts.” If we have such a system in dunya, why we can’t we have it in our hearts? Don’t be blind, as who is blind here will be blind in Akhirah; if you can’t receive, don’t object to others who are receiving. It is better to perfect yourself, your Maqaam al-Ihsaan.

Prophet (s) gave the navigation system he received from Allah (swt) to the Sahaabah (r), and they gave it to the ummah. There are scholars you can read about in books that can help you understand. The problem today is not to stay at the door, but to enter the room to be part of what is going on. We always want to be at the exit, we like to be outside, not with the Prophet (s), who mentioned the Signs of the Last Days, when we will observe too much ignorance. Are we observing this or not? We don’t go outside, and don’t say, “I can see by using technology.” We are even ignorant about ourselves; for example, do you know how many hairs are on my face? How are you a scholar if you don’t know how many hairs are in your beard; how are you going to know what Allah (swt) is saying?

In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah (swt) says:

ما وسعني سمائي ولا أرضي ولكن وسعني قلب عبدي المؤمن

maa wasi`anee samaee wa laa ardee wa lakin wasi`anee qalbi `abdee al-mu’min.

My Earth could not contain Me, nor My heavens, but the heart of My believing servant contained Me.

Can we count and see the manifestions of Allah’s Beautiful Names and Attributes in our heart? No! So that means we have to struggle to take that ignorance out. How will you struggle? Prophet (s) said:

تفكر ساعة خير من عبادة سبعين سنة

tafakarru sa`atan khayrun min `ibaadati saba`een sannah.

To remember Allah (swt) for one hour (contemplate or meditate) is better than seventy years of worship.

Allah (swt) is giving this to you so generously, so take it, navigate it, and work it out! He is telling us, “If you think about yourself a little bit, I am giving you the reward of 70 years for just one hour of contemplation. I will place all of those rewards on your scale on the Day of Judgment.” But sadly, we don’t think on it, we make the motions of prayer so quickly and don’t even give the right to our prayer; this is our new generation.

Also, knowledge will be lifted. Where are the people from before? From the first century Hijri up to the twelfth, everyone was involved in studying Shari`ah, but today no one is doing that. In addition, there is too much killing today. Not one country is safe as their citizens are fighting for the “chair.” Why do you want that? It is a big responsibility.

In summary, Prophet (s) said, “The best jihad is a word of justice in front of the tyrant sultan,” which is the self. If we tell our egos, “You are my enemy and I don’t want to be in that darkness,” and then struggle against it, Allah (swt) will support us, as He said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

Inna alladheena qaaloo rabbunaa Allaahu thumma istaqaamoo tatanazzalu `alayhimu al-malaa’ikatu allaa takhaafoo walaa tahzanoo waabshiroo bi’l-jannati allatee kuntum too`adoon.

In the case of those who say, "Our Lord is Allah,” and who further stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): "Fear not!" (they suggest), "Nor grieve, but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss) which you were promised! (al-Fussilat, 41:30)

When you navigate your way, Allah will send peacefulness through angels that He dresses in the Beautiful Names and Attributes and every time they recite Allah (swt) gives more meaning to that Name. Don’t think that the angel is reciting and it has the same meaning; it has to be different and you are being dressed with every recitation!

O Muslims! The Prophet (s) said:

قال سَمِعْتُ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلّى الله عليه و سلّم يَقُولُ إنَّ اللهَ لا يَقْبِضُ العِلمَ انْتِزاعاً يَنتَزِعُهُ من العِبادِ ولكِن يَقْبِضُ العِلمَ بِقَبْضِ العُلَماء حتَّى إذا لمْ يَبقِ عالِمًا اتَّخَذَ الناسُ رُؤُسًا جُهّا لا فَسُئِلُو فَأفْتَوْ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَضلُّو و أضَلُّوا

(وراه البخاري في كتاب العلْم و مسلْم)

Inna Allaha la yaqbid ul-`ilma intiza’an yantazi`uhu min al-`ibaad wa laakin yaqbad ul-`ilm bi qabd al-`ulama hatta idha lam yabqa `aliman ittakadha an-naasu ru`usun juhaalan fa-su’ilu wa aftaw bi ghayri `ilmin fa-dallu wa adallu.

Allah will not take knowledge from the hearts of the scholars, but He takes the scholars (they die). There will be no more scholars to take their place so people will take extremely ignorant leaders. They will be asked questions and will give fatwas without knowledge. They are misguided and they misguide others. (Bukhari, Muslim)

If you look at the history of Islam, first were the tabi`een scholars and then for three centuries came Imam Shafi`i, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Hanbali, and Imam Malik (r). After them, the volume of true scholars decreased. I am not saying there are no scholars today, but they don’t have the kind of knowledge the imaams came with. That is why the number of genuine scholars is quickly diminishing.

Until a time will come when there will not be many high-caliber scholars, as was mentioned in the beginning, wa fawqa kulli dhi `ilmin `aleem. (12:76) Scholars of today might be on an intermediate level, but they are not like the first four scholars. The people begin to follow ignorant leaders who claim they are scholars, who give fatawa (legal rulings), as we see on the Internet; this was predicted 1,400 years ago! That is why the Prophet (s) said, “People will follow ignorant leaders.” Mr. Chairman just said we need “true guides.” Are you going to take one who cannot even guide himself, or that guide who Allah (swt) gave?

Ma zaala `abdee yataqaraboo ilayya bin-nawaafil hatta uhibah. Fa idha ahbaabtahu kuntu sama`ulladhee yasma`u bihi wa basarahulladhee yubsiru bihi, wa yadahulladhee yubtishu bihi wa lisanahulladhee yatakallama bih.

My servant does not cease to approach Me through voluntary worship until I will love him. When I love him, I will become the ears with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees the hand with which he acts, and the tongue with which he speaks. (Hadeeth Qudsee)

These are the type of scholars you need. You can find them, they are with people; however, some of them are isolated and you may visit them in their homes, but you have to go and find them. You need to ask! Allah said, “If Allah wants good for His servant who is following the right way, if he did not find a guide, Allah will make his heart a guide.” Allah will fill it with knowledge.

The Prophet (s) said:

نعوذ بالله من منافق عليم اللسان جهول القلب

n`oodhoo billahi min munaafiqin`aleemun bi ’l-lisaan jahool al-qalb.

The thing I fear most for my nation is a hypocrite who is eloquent in speech but is ignorant in his heart.

Today we see hypocrites who speak eloquently but who are ignorant in their hearts. We must be careful to see where they are looking. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (q) said, “If you see someone walking on fire, say, ‘You are Shaytan!’” Don’t follow him, because Prophet (s) nor the Sahaabah (r) did that; they corrected their beliefs.

We also welcome the former Minister of Foreign States. His work for his country can never be forgotten. May Allah (swt) bless all of you.

Wa min Allahi 't-tawfeeq, bi hurmati 'l-habeeb, bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.