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Islam is More than Outer Appearance

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

16 December 2011 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

`Isha Suhbah at Private Residence

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani ‘r-rajim. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem. AlhamdulillahI’Lladhee ja`alanaa min ummati ‘l-habeebi ‘l-mustafa `alayhi afdala ’s-salaat wa ’s-salaam, wa sharafanaa wa nawarranaa bi an nakoona min ummatihi. W ’alhamdulillahi ’Lladhee qaal fee kitaabihi ‘l-kareem, yaa ayyuha ’L ladheena amanoo ittaqoollah wa koonoo ma` as-saadiqeen.

O Muslims, Believers! Before speaking anything, we have to establish a structure that we can build on, and it must be solid, like when you build a house, first you build on a strong foundation so that you can go one, two or three stories high, or you build a high-rise. But if you build a foundation with a little bit of iron bars, you will build one or two rooms, which is still okay because it is like a house, but it is not what everyone is looking for; you look for a house with one room or six rooms? More rooms, but you must also know that more rooms means more cleaning! Sometimes people prefer one room or two rooms, in order not to clean, so you can build more, and then you have to keep cleaning in order to show that you are clean enough, that you are always able to build more and clean more. So we have to say we are all in Allah's (swt) Divinely Presence, and we are all equal.

Prophet (s) said:

لا فرق بين عربي ولا عجمي إلا بالتقوى

laa farqa bayna `arabiyyan wa laa `ajamiyyan illa bi ‘t-taqwa.

There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab except through righteousness.

It means there is no difference among believers except through righteousness, so we have to establish taqwa as our foundation. If we don’t have taqwa,our foundation is going to be weak. Whatever wealth you have, or high-rise buildings or highways, you will leave all of that and go, but what you take, what stays with you is taqwa.

فتقوني يا اولي الالباب

Fatakoonee ya ooli ’l-baab.

So fear Me, O you that are wise. (al-Baqara, 2:197)

For those who have a mind and a heart, Allah said in Holy Qur’an, “fataqoonee,” which means, “Have taqwa for Me, keep taqwa in your heart!” You say you are intelligent, so between a pebble and a diamond, which will you choose? You choose a diamond. If you are intelligent, do you choose taqwa, or dunya? Don’t say, “I have taqwa,” to claim something that is only given by Heavens! If I go inside your office (of a mureed) and type a letter, saying , “I have examined so-and-so, and say he has no cardiovascular problems,” and I show this to people, they will not believe it because it has to have an official stamp and a signature as well. So anyone who claims to have taqwa, if it is not signed and stamped by Heavens, it has no value. It means that certification is important.

Like many shaykhs, I can also claim, “There is a jinn! Look, look, look! See him?” People believe that just because he is saying it, and they think, “Oh, there must be a jinn there.” If the shaykh is saying that, are you seeing a jinn? He must show them! Allah (swt) showed His Prophet (s) Qaba Qawsayni aw Adna and took him to Mi`raaj, to come back and tell people, “O Believers, O ummatu ’n-Nabi! this is the certification I got from Heavens.” He showed his ummah proofs that he went into al-Israa’ and Mi`raaj.

Why did he mention Israa’, the journey within the atmosphere of the world? Was Allah not able to raise the Prophet (s) directly from Mecca? Why did He first take Prophet (s) to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem? It was provide proofs of moving the Prophet (s) in space within the earth’s atmosphere so the unbelievers could not deny his journey. He traveled through the atmosphere and saw this tribe, that trade caravan, and informed them it would reach within two days; otherwise, how could he have known? Allah (swt) gve him the evidence, and Allah (swt) gave Sayyidina Muhammad (s) the Holy Qur’an. Prophet (s) was the walking Qur’an and wa kaana khuluqu ‘l-Qur’an, his character and words were the Holy Qur’an. So it is easy to say, “A jinn is there,” but show it to me, give me your evidence!

When Saariya (r) was in Damascus fighting the unbelievers and Sayyidina `Umar (r) was in Madinat ul-Munawarra, he could see Saariya and warned him, calling out, “Look behind you, Saariya! Take to the mountains, they are coming from behind!” Saariya heard it, but Sayyidina `Umar saw and heard. These are two qualities. Vision with the eye of the heart is difficult. You can hear with your heart, but to see through it is very difficult.

So let us build the structure, and say all of us here are equal, that there is no difference. I cannot claim I am better than you. You can claim you are better than me, it’s okay, but I claim that I am at the shoe rack, so that I can be at the door for people to put their shoes so that they stack it well. This is what we need to say about ourselves in order to keep the ego down, as our ego is so arrogant. No one can say anything to you and you get upset.

That is why I said, when anyone sees this jubba, they say, “Wow! What’s this jubba? Have you seen the red jubba?” But Islam is not defined by what we wear, Islam is based on character and behavior. You pray, but you don’t know if your prayer is accepted or not. So Islam is not a dress about which people say, “Mashaa-Allah, you dress nicely;” rather, Islam is based in good manners. Do I have good manners? No. You have to say to yourself, “I have the worst bad manners and everyone else has good manners!” This is Islam. Why? First of all, let us look at the big picture.

Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur’an:

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ

Inna ad-deena `inda Allaahi al-islaam.

The religion in Allah’s view is Islam (submission to His Will). (Aali `Imraan, 3:19)

So the religion is Islam. Zulaykha, who became the wife of Sayyidina Yusuf (a), ran after him until she got him at the end. Allahu Akbar! What did Allah say in the Holy Qur’an when she found the truth?

وَمَا أُبَرِّىءُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّيَ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Wamaa ‘ubarrio nafsee inna an-nafsa la-ammaaratun bi ’s-sooi illaa maa rahima rabbee inna rabbee ghafoorun raheem.

Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame); the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord bestows His Mercy, but surely my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Yusuf, 12:53)

It means, “I am not saying I am innocent; all of us have Nafs al-Ammaara, the ego that orders you.” If you don’t have Nafs al-Ammaara, the animalistic ego, you are a wali. First, your Nafs al-Ammaara tells you, “That lady is beautiful, run after her!” or, “That boy is handsome, run after him!” or, “Cheat, lie, deceive in this situation!” Nafs al-Lawwama makes you regret what Nafs al-Ammaara made you do and tells you, “Repent immediately, don’t wait! You did it, so what else you can do except say, ‘Astagfirullah.’” Then Allah will take you to Nafsi Mutma`inna, your “peaceful self.”

As Allah (swt) said, “My religion is Islam,” what did the Prophet (s) say? We have to follow that. We are not going to count here everything the Prophet (s) said, but do the minimum, which is goodness.

Someone came to the Prophet (s) and said, “Yaa Rasoolullah, awsinee, advise me.” Prophet (s) said, laa taghdab, “Don’t get angry.” That means if the religion is only five prayers or fasting or charity or Hajj or shahaadah (say “ash-hadu an laa ilaha illa-Llah!”), why did Prophet say, “Don’t become angry?” Prophet (s) also said, “Religion is advice,” so one side of formula means “ad-deenu naseeha” is equal to “al-deen al-Islam,” and if you cancel out “deen” from both sides, “naseeha” and “al-Islam” are left. It means naseeha is Islam. As we sit here, we are doing both naseeha and Islam, and they are equal sides.

Prophet (s) said, “Don’t get upset.” Ask any cardiologist: don’t they say depression and anger affects the heart? (Yes.) Does anyone here not have any anger? If someone does not get angry, raise your hand. (No one raises their hand.) It means you are destroying your heart by yourself. A mild heart attack results from depression and another type is from anger. You become excited and more hormones come into the heart and destroy the vessels. So will your Islam be affected by anger, or not? (Yes.) So Prophet (s) said to leave anger. “You are asking me for advice, which is ‘Don’t get angry!’” Do we get angry? Yes, but it varies from in intensity from one person to another, so try not to get angry. We came here out of love, to be together and to learn something, and tonight we learned, “Don’t get angry!”

When I was twenty-two, studying chemistry in the university, out of love to Grandshaykh at that time, my brother and I went regularly from Beirut to Damascus, which took two hours. One day, it was five o’clock in evening, and I had a big exam the next day, but I said, “I am going to visit Grandshaykh.” My mother stopped us, saying, “No, you cannot go you, have an exam tomorrow!” So she said, “Don’t go!” and I said, “I’m going!”, back and forth, and then we quarreled. She got upset. I took the car keys and drove all the way to Damascus.

In front of Mawlana’s house there are small steps you have to go up to knock at the door, then you have to go upstairs, then there is his room inside. Mawlana Shaykh would never come down from upstairs. That night we arrived and went up those little steps to press the bell, and he opened the door even before we rang it! He said, “Go back to where you came from, don’t come here with anger. Go and make your mother happy, then come.” How did they know? That is another question. Who told them? He did not say a nice, he shouted and gave us a very hard time, and slammed the door on my face! So we went back and our mother was happy, the next day we got an “A+” on the exam and she said, “Now go,” so we went back to Damascus and it was the same: Grandshaykh was at the door, opened it and said, “Now come in,” and he took us up.

He said, “I will tell you this one time only, I am not repeating this another time! By permission of Prophet (s), awliyaullah look at their mureeds a minimum of three times in twenty-four hours. They try to look at them with mercy and with a teaching; they are not going to put diapers, but their looks are going to be tests, not candy! So whenever you face a test in the day, remember your shaykh is looking at you by the order of the Prophet (s). I look at you and your brother a minimum of three times a day, so when I send a test, make sure you don’t get angry!”

Prophet (s) said to Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq (r), al-ghadab is kufroo, ghadab (anger) is like unbelief, because it makes you to not accept even salloo an-nabee. When angry you might say, “Salloo `alayh” to calm down, and you might say something not nice to the Prophet (s). So I am telling you, ‘Don't get angry.’” From that time on, we tried our best not to get angry. Sometimes they would say, “You don't have ahsaas, any feelings! I am speaking to you and you are like a crocodile, with no feelings; answer me!” He wants to fight, (and you say) “Don't bother, then Allah will be happy.”

So if we build on a firm structure, on advice from others, can you build a house without the advice of an engineer? Then how are you building your Islam when today they tell you, “Don't listen to a shaykh, there is no need for advice!” ‘Qur’anists’ (a group) say, “Only go with the Qur’an, there is no need for hadith.” Are you stupid? How can we know if we don't listen to the hadith? Prophet (s) said, “I left behind my Qur’an and the sunnah,” and while they are not equal, the sunnah also comes by revelation.

Also we will mention another hadith: “I left with you my Family and the Holy Qur’an, so take care of my Family.”

Our foundation should be certified, and therefore we have to follow instructions, like when you install software, or your computer won’t work properly. Prophet (s) and also our shuyookh gave us instructions. You need the certification of your guide in order that he will stamp your paper, sign it, and say, “Follow this and you will be in the presence of Prophet (s) in the Divine Presence.” Without a guide we are losers. And our guide, may Allah give him long life, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, is sending to us to say that when that man said, “awsinee,” Prophet (s) said, “Don't get angry.” So we must not get angry. Try to keep yourself from anger.

Remember, ad-deenu naseeha. Don't follow your own thinking because your ego might trick you, and the ego has different levels. The worst is Nafs al-Ammaara, “the ego that orders you.” The better one is Nafs al-Lawwama which advises you to say, “astagfirullah,” and the best is Nafs al-Mutma`inna. May Allah (swt) make us mutmai`nna (peaceful) and healthy and wealthy, and to have a happy life and happy children.

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


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