Simply Islam Event at Singapore Expo Hall
Q: Why does Islamic teaching often mention God’s punishment and things that we shouldn’t do. Should we fear Allah and not love Him? I want to love Allah, not just be afraid of Him.
A: As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh. What you are saying is what I believe also, I like to love Allah (swt) more than to fear Him. In Islamic teachings the sign of fear is more to make the person realize that they committed a sin or crime in order to repent, but saying this does not mean we don’t desire His love. In this instance, “fear of Allah” means that one is fearful that through their sins, they will be losing His love and nearness to Him on the Day of Judgment than others who are so close to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s).
Indeed you are right, love is more important than fear. You will hear most of the people in mosques today saying, “If you don’t do your five prayers, you will go to Hellfire,” it makes people afraid. My philosophy is when I go to mosques, I try to say it in a different way, “If you make your prayers, you will go to Paradise.” So I think that your heart is very excited to love Allah; keep on that way, it will be a great source of enjoyment in your life.
Q: How does one control anger, especially when they have a bad temper?
A: Anger is the trunk of all bad characteristics. The Prophet (s) said to Abu Bakr (r), “Anger is kufr (unblief) yaa Aba Bakr.” Anger makes you to forget Allah and His Prophet (s), you become like a drunk person. The spiritual guidance of shaykhs who are on different spiritual paths teach their followers to take anger out of their lives by reciting “yaa Haleem” 100 times a day. We know that on the spiritual path, anger is the root of the tree of 17 different negative characteristics, and that anger will provide food and water to those 17 branches.
Therefore, try not to be involved in discussion and arguing. When you become angry, go take a shower or make wudu and pray 2 raka`ats, that will quickly take the anger away, and that is how we train students as well.
Q: What sacrifice can we make to show our love to Sayyidina Muhammad (s)?
A: Prophet (s) said, “If you really love me, you have to love me more than yourself and your family.” So if you dedicate your love to Prophet (s) by making salawaat in every moment, that will raise you to know that the only real love is for the Prophet (s), and that is different from the love of family and children. Love of Prophet (s) is through reciting salawaat daily and by reciting from the du`a mathoor, that will take you to the real love of Prophet (s).
Q: It is difficult to follow the sunnah because we are normal human beings who find it difficult to fight our nafs. How can it be done?
A: I don’t think it is difficult to follow the sunnah, the Prophet (s) didn’t ask to follow all the sunan as it is not for beginners. But some sunnah prayers, such as: two raka`ats Ishraaq, two raka`ats Duha, and two raka`ats Sunnatu’l-Wudu, are easy to follow. It is the ego that controls you and tells you it is difficult. Even wearing a ring on your finger is following the hadith of the Prophet (s), “Whoever revived my sunnah at the end of the day, as someone who revived how I used to pray or my Sahaabah prayed, Allah will grant them the reward of 70 or 100 martyrs.”
For example, if you use siwaak before praying sunnah or fard, you will get the benefit of 70 martyrs. Look at how tremendous the rewards are for performing a small sunnah such as siwaak, yet you will not see many using it. If you wear a ring on the left or right hand, you will get the reward of 70 martyrs or if you pray eight raka`ats Duha, you will get the reward of 70 martyrs. Therefore, just count how many sunnahs you can follow. But the problem is our ego, the sultan al-jaa’ir (tyrant sultan) that prevents us to even use siwaak in our prayers.
Q: Why is it that the more we say we love Allah, the more tests are given to us?
A: When Sayyidina Musa (a) asked Allah (swt) to give Paradise to that man in sajdah who was saying, “O Allah! You raised up me more than many people you favored, by a lot,” Allah sent a hyena to eat him. Sayyidina Musa (a) said, “O Allah! I asked you to give him Paradise and You sent a hyena?” Allah said, “You asked for Paradise and that is not without tests and difficulties for my awliyaullah.”
If you look at Prophet Muhammad’s (s) life, you will see how much he and his Sahaabah (r) struggled and suffered to bring Islam to us on a golden plate. Everything comes with Allah’s Greatness and Favor on us.
Q: What should you do if for any moment you go outside of Islam?
A: Revive your Islam by saying, “ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa habeebuhu wa rasooluh.” Prophet (s) said, “Whoever says ‘laa ilaaha illa-Llah’ will enter Paradise.” If you said it, you have entered Paradise already.
Q: How do we know about fate and Allah’s will?
A: I prefer not to answer this question as this is form `Ilm al-Kalaam, the “Knowledge of Logic.” These kinds of questions confused `ulama in 4th century Hijri. This subject requires hours of explanation and is not suitable for this forum, but I will give a summarized example to help you understand.
What is Allah Will versus your will? If you go on a plane and it takes off on its set course, no one can change the direction of the plane until it lands; the captain is taking the plane and no one can change the course of travel, but inside the plane you can talk, eat, etc. So you can do anything inside the plane, but the plane itself is going to its destination. Allah's Will overrides all will. But partial will has been given to human beings to manage their lives. Prophet (s) said, “When you need to make a decision, you should ask for guidance or ask some who has experience in that, or make istikhaara.” Why did Prophet (s) give the istikhaara? To know if their decision is according to Allah’s Will or not.
Q: There are so many false ideologies, how do we find true guidance and avoid being misled by false ones?
A: Prophet (s) said, “If you are in a situation where you don’t know how to choose, ask your heart.” And I mentioned this hadith before: “If Allah wants good for someone, He will send guidance in his heart.” So Prophet (s) said, “Consult your heart.” Take a shower or wudu and pray two raka`ats, connect your heart to Allah and ask Him to give you an answer; inshaa-Allah it will come.
Q: Wudu and prayer can be done, but how do you make a true connection?
A: That needs some kind of continuity. If you find that every time you sit and really ask from within your heart, you are not able to connect the first time, or the second, or third, then this might be a test from Allah. Allah (swt) said, “Ask me I will give,” so the first, second, or third time it might not open, but if you have patience, Allah will open at anytime and give wisdom to the heart and tongue. Keep asking, Allah likes the servant who asks. He might keep it for akhira and give you more there and not in dunya, but ask continuously and inshaa-Allah Allah will give.
Q: If it is best to keep silent, how do we mingle with people moderately?
A: It is best to keep silent if you find yourself in a heated discussion, arguing for nothing, for umoor ad-dunya, exclaiming for example, “Qaddafi is right or not,” or, “Hosni Mubarak is right or not.” That is not your concern and therefore there is no need to talk on these issues. Argue in the sense of knowledge, such as, “Should we pray two raka`ats before Zhuhr, or four?” That is a good but not angry argument, such as, “You are wrong and I am right!” Whatever the opponent is saying, respect their opinion. If you end up in a discussion, don’t take a stick at them; rather, remain friendly throughout the community, be tranquil and listen to what they say. It is better not to argue.
One time I went with my shaykh to visit my uncle, who was the head of Religious Affairs. At Fajr, he would sit with `ulama and give teachings from the four different Islamic schools of thought and every day he spoke from teachings of a different imaam. Afterwards they would offer tea and everyone would begin to speak. I asked my shaykh to say something also; I wanted him to talk, not keep quiet when all these big shaykhs are present. He said, “When people are speaking it is better not to keep silent as talking is not going to change all things.”
Since then I don’t talk, but my wife gets upset. One time I was very busy as people were coming and going, asking questions and taking answers. We had recently arrived in California and the phone was continuously ringing. Then someone told me, “There is a lady on the phone wishing to speak with you.” I took the call, thinking, “Who is this lady?” It was my wife; she called from another phone, saying, “Can I speak with you for five minutes?” So that is the problem, you must keep quiet.
Q: How can one balance faith and work if work takes too many hours?
A: I was working 18 hours a day in work and in da`wa. I was working in construction and textile and in a hospital business as well. I used to work 18 hours and inside that I was doing da`wa. You are balancing, you work all your life for family and if you work hard and acquire money for mosques and Muslim organizations, that is not wasting time. Allah writes it as hasanaat (rewards).
Q: What is the definition of work where one splits the work you do for (mundane) things and work you do for Allah (swt)?
A: It is very easy. Allah gave us 24 hours in a day; eight hours for sleep, you cannot be an oppressor to yourself, eight hours for work, and eight hours for `ibadah. So Allah divided the day into three difference categories: eight for work, eight for sleep, and eight for `ibadah. This also includes giving time to family; help them, teach them, and sit with them. If you sit with your children for eight hours, it is as if you did eight hours of nawafil. So eight hours for family, eight for work, and eight for resting. If you overcome one of these eight hours over another, then you are oppressing yourself. If you give five hours to sleep and 13 hours to work, that is oppressing the soul. If you overeat, you are oppressing your soul. In the same way, you need to provide food to your soul.
Q: Why is it more difficult to find tasawwuf teachers than other teachers?
A: There are two kinds of knowledge: `Ilm al-Awraaq, “Knowledge of Books,” this is available to everyone. You may read a book about fiqh, chemistry, or physics, thus, you learn it and know it. But `Ilm al-Adhwaaq, “Knowledge of Taste,” is something you have to taste and experience; it is not something to read, like chemistry in a lab. If you are learning chemistry, you must also do lab tests experiments. You cannot say to yourself “I am a chemist” by merely reading books but not doing the labs.
Similarly, you cannot read books of fiqh without studying the inner meanings of what you read. I can tell you this cup is transparent and holds a liquid. But you don’t know what is that liquid without tasting it. So for sure there are less scholars of “taste” but more `ulama of papers because it is easily accessible through libraries and universities. But `Ilm al-Adhwaaq is from heart to heart. The example of which is when Sayyidina `Umar (r) called to Sariyyah. He spoke to Sariyyah through his heart, that is `Ilm al- Mushaahada, “Knowledge of Vision,” which is rare. It is difficult to find scholars in that field. If you do, then you have reached something very beneficial to yourself.
Thank you, As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh.