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The Gardens of Paradise on Earth

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

22 January 2016 Elizabeth, New Jersey

Pre-Khutbah Suhbah

Alhamdulillahi Rabbi 'l-`Alameen, wa ’s-salaatu wa ’s-salaamu `alaa ashrafi 'l-mursaleena Sayyidina wa Nabiyyina Muhammadin wa `alaa aalihi wa sahbihi ajma`een.

Alhamdulillahi 'lladhee hadaana li 'l-islaam wa maa kunnaa li-nahtadiya law laa an hadaana 'Llah. Fa 'l-minna min Allah `azza wa-jall li-annahu hadaana ila 'l-islaam bi-ghayri hawlah wa laa quwwatin minnaa. Wa-laakin al-minnah al-haqeeqiyyah hiya min Allah `azza wa jall wa min habeebihi 'l-mustafa (s) haythu khalaqana 'Llahu `azza wa jall min ummati 'l-habeeb al-mustafa.

Amma ba`d, I will now speak in English and give the Khutbah in Arabic, `ala madhhab Imam Abi Hanifa, al-imaam al-a`sam, hula imaamuna jamee`an.

Alhamdulillahi 'lladhee ja`alana muslimeen. We thank Allah (swt) that He made us Muslims. What more than this favor do we want? This is the heaviest that can be put on our Scale. Even if you have sins but on the other side you are a Muslim and saying istighfaar, with this Allah (swt) will forgive all your sins. That's why Prophet (s) said:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ثقيلتان فى الميزان حبيبتان إلى الرحمن سبحان الله و بحمده سبحان الله العظيم

Kalimataan khafeefataan `alaa ’l-lisaan thaqeelataan fi ’l-meezaan habeebataan li ’r-rahmaan: SubhaanAllah wa bihamdihi subhaanAllahi ’l-`Azheem.

There are two words that are very easy to say, yet very heavy on the Scale, most beloved to The Merciful, “SubhaanAllah wa bihamdihi subhaanAllahi ’l-`Azheem.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Two words or two sentences, that are very heavy on the Scale. When Allah (swt) says ‘thaqeelataani fi 'l-meezaan’, it means “the heaviest possible”, everyone will be impressed by its heaviness. Some say the mountains are the heaviest creation on Earth, but it might be in the universe there is something heavier than the mountains, Allah knows best, but as we are living here on Earth the mountains are heaviest. As it is said in many places, the Mountain of Uhud is the heaviest of all the mountains put together, because Allah (swt) balanced the dunya with it. When He created the Earth it was shaking, then Allah put mountains on it in order to balance it and make it heavy to stay in its place, and the Mountain of Uhud was the heaviest to balance the Earth and keep it surrendering and submitting to Allah (swt), not moving left or right.

Only when Allah (swt) wants to show His servants His punishments He makes earthquakes; may Allah protect us from them. The Prophet (s) said:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ثقيلتان فى الميزان حبيبتان إلى الرحمن سبحان الله و بحمده سبحان الله العظيم

Kalimataan khafeefataan `alaa ’l-lisaan thaqeelataan fi ’l-meezaan habeebataan li ’r-rahmaan: SubhaanAllah wa bihamdihi subhaanAllahi ’l-`Azheem.

There are two words that are very easy to say, yet very heavy on the Scale, most beloved to The Merciful, “SubhaanAllah wa bihamdihi subhaanAllahi ’l-`Azheem.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Two words are very light on the tongue, but very heavy on the Scale, which means heavier than everything you can imagine, heavier than mountains, heavier than the Mountain of Uhud. If you mention these two words, we are giving glory to Allah (swt) and thanking Him and they are heaviest on the Scale, so say: SubhaanAllah wa bihamdihi subhaanAllahi ’l-`Azheem. These two words are enough to purify you and clear you for a ticket to Paradise! That is why it is very important to look into the ahadeeth of the Prophet (s) that contain these praises of Allah (swt) of which Allah will forgive His servants for all sins.

من قال لا اله الا الله دخل الجنة

Man qaala laa ilaaha illa-Llah dakhal al-Jannah.

Whoever says “Laa ilaaha illa-Llah” enters Paradise. (Mustadrak of an-Nisaburi)

Is there anything better than this to say? Even if you didn't say anything else, but you said, “Laa ilaaha illa 'Llah Muhammad Rasoolullah” you enter Paradise. It means if you had sins, not to do sins because you think you are entering Paradise, but sincerely to show Allah loves us, He said, “Accept that I am The Creator and Muhammad is My Messenger,” you will enter Paradise, that is your ticket.

But in Paradise there are levels, how much Muslims and mu'mins have different levels? Prophet (s) said, in many places, the best`amal you can do is to be humble, as he said in this Hadith:

ألا أخبركم بأهل الجنة كل ضعيف متضعف لو أقسم على الله لأبره

Shall I inform you about the people of Paradise? (They will be) every weak and oppressed person. When he swears by Allah, he fulfills his oath. (Tirmidhi)

“Do you want me to tell you about the people of Paradise?” Of course the Sahaabah (r) wanted to know. He said, “Every weak, humble person,” who makes himself humble to everyone else, “Allah (swt) will send that Muslim to Paradise with no account.” To be humble: so let us check ourselves, are we humble or not? We check by our actions. How do we address people, our family, our children, our parents, are we addressing them with humbleness or with tyranny, fighting and anger? Prophet (s) said the People of Jannah are the du'afaa, the humble ones, so be humble and Allah (swt) will give you Paradise.

Do you want Paradise? Inshaa-Allah we will be in Paradise. That's why one of the greatest scholars in Islam, Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q), said in his munaajaat, supplications, “Yaa Rabbee! How can I come to You? I love You!” He was one of the very famous scholars in Islam. His soul had so much love to Allah (swt) and Prophet (s), and his sole concern was how to reach the Divine Presence. All of us are coming here and our concern is for Allah (swt) to be happy with us, so then we must ask ourselves what are things our ancestors did for us to follow and be guided?

Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q) was in love with Allah (swt) and wanted to enter His Divine Presence. He said, “Yaa Rabbee, kayf al-wusul ilayk, how can I reach You, how can I come to You? I want to come to You! I am praying for this but unable to see anything. I only see what people see.”

Prophet (s) said in a Holy Hadith which Allah (swt) spoke to him:

عن ‏ ‏أبي هريرة ‏ ‏قال ‏‏قال رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏إن الله قال ‏ ‏من عادى لي وليا فقد ‏ ‏آذنته ‏ ‏بالحرب وما تقرب إلي عبدي بشيء أحب إلي مما افترضت عليه وما يزال عبدي يتقرب إلي بالنوافل حتى أحبه فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به وبصره الذي يبصر به ويده التي يبطش بها ورجله التي يمشي بها وإن سألني لأعطينه ولئن استعاذني لأعيذنه وما ترددت عن شيء أنا فاعله ترددي عن نفس المؤمن يكره الموت وأنا أكره مساءته ‏

ولا يزال عبدي يتقرب إلي بالنوافل حتى أحبه، فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به وبصره

الذي يبصر به، ويده التي يبطش بها ورجله التي يمشي بها،

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 legs with which he walks (and other versions include, “and the tongue with which he speaks.”). (Hadith Qudsi, Bukhari)

In this Hadith Qudsi, Allah (swt) is saying to Prophet (s) to tell the Ummah, “If they approach Me through voluntary worship,” we cannot run away from our obligations, we must fulfill them, but approach Allah through our voluntary worship, through the Sunnah of Prophet and good behavior, makaarim al-akhlaaq:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِي

You are of the most exalted character. (Surat al-Qalam, 68:4)

انما بعثت لاتمم مكارم الاخلاق

I have been sent to perfect the best of conduct (your behavior and character). (Bazzaar)

You have to approach Allah (swt) through good behaviors. Who does that will be able to hear what people cannot hear and see what people cannot see, which means there is the possibility of seeing and hearing, otherwise Allah would not say that to Prophet (s), who would not say it to the Ummah. "My servant does not cease to approach me through voluntary worship until I love him," period, finished! When Allah loves someone (all other matters are) finished.

So Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q) wanted that love and kept asking "Yaa Rabbee! I give You my life, my self, I want to hear what cannot be heard as mentioned in that Hadith, to approach Your Divine Presence, at least to see Prophet (s) in a dream or vision!” How many of us see Prophet (s) in a dream? How much ni`mah is that? Some people say more and say they saw Allah in a dream. The Hadith states that Allah (swt) appeared to Prophet (s) in a dream smiling.

So Abu Yazid al-Bistami was asking, "Yaa Rabbee! I want to come to You. What do I have to do?" He heard a voice say, "Yaa Aba Yazid, you want to come to the Divine Presence? Welcome, but don't bring anyone with you." It's not about bringing people, but not to bring something else that is within you. "There is something in you that I cannot accept." That's why Prophet (s) said:

إن أخوف ما أخاف على أمتي الشرك الأصغر

What I fear most for my Ummah is the hidden shirk. (Ahmad)

What is hidden shirk? To do something and say, "I did this, I did that." No, Allah did it for you as a favor, you cannot do this or that, Allah gave you the power to do it! "I gave fee sabeelillah for a masjid, a hospital, a poor person." No, you didn't do that, Allah did that for you, Allah gave you to give. Allah (swt) is saying, “I don't want you to come to My Divine Presence with hidden shirk as your love has to be for only One.”

Allah (swt) tested Sayyidina Yaqoob (a) with Sayyidina Yusuf (a), because he loved Sayyidina Yusuf (a) so much that he began to forget about loving Allah (swt), and he is a prophet! Allah took his son from him and made his brothers, all of whom are prophets, put him in the well for someone else to take him, all to test Sayyidina Yaqoob (a). "When you come to Me, don't bring anything else with you, come alone. Your heart can contain One, but not two; two is shirk."

That's why Allah (swt) inspired Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q) to hear a heavenly Voice through the angels, saying, "Yaa Aba Yazid, if you want to come to Me, itruk nafsaka wa ta`aal, leave your self and come. Don't come with your self. Don't say 'I am a shaykh, I am the imam, I am a businessman.' Leave that for dunya and come to Me: mujarradan `an nasfik, completely denying and depriving your ego!"

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

He inspired the self of its good and its bad. (Surat ash-Shams, 91:8)

"Don't come with what is bad, come with what is good and surrender to Me." That's why Rabiah al-Adawiyyah (q), one of the famous ladies in the Islamic world, when her husband died and the `ulama came and told her she had to get married because there was no one to support her, she said, "I am busy."

They said, "What are you busy with?"

She said, "I don't have time for a husband. I am busy."

They said, "What are you busy with?"

She said, "I am busy with istighfaar. I don't have time in my life except to say ‘astaghfirullah’."

They said, "You have to marry."

She said, "No, I am busy, but if you answer my questions I will marry. When the Angel of Death comes to take my soul, is he coming with punishment or coming with Rahmah? If you say he is coming with Rahmah then I will marry the next day, but if you say he is coming with punishment, then I am busy as I want to worship, to make istighfaar."

Could they answer? No way! No one dared to answer.

She said, "Leave that. When everyone leaves me and puts me in the grave, when the two angels Ankar and Nakeer come to question me, are they coming with punishment or mercy? If you tell me you know, then I will marry."

They said, "Rabiah, no one knows."

She said, "If no one knows, then I am busy."

Are we busy today with istighfaar? “Inshaa-Allah” is a good answer. Inshaa-Allah. It means we are not yet ready. Real istighfaar takes you from the level of nothingness to be something, because your presence will be appreciated in Heavens. The angels of Heavens are happy when the `abd does istighfaar, and Allah orders them to do istighfaar on our behalf if we do istighfaar. Our istighfaar is blended like a soup, but heavenly istighfaar is pure. So they do it on our behalf because we are doing it in dunya blended with many other things. Allah ordered them to do clean istighfaar for us, to balance ours, and that's why our istighfaar will be accepted.

She said, "Do Ankar and Nakeer come with punishment or mercy? Give me any answer."

They said, "We don't know."

There is a question mark: are we safe or not safe?

Sayyidina Muhammad (s) said to Sayyida `Ayesha (a):

من حوسب عذب

(Yaa `Ayesha!) Who will be judged will certainly be punished. (Bukhari)

That is to the wife of Prophet (s) whom he loves the most: anyone who is questioned will be punished, because Allah will show him something he did wrong in dunya! That's why we ask Allah not to judge us. May Allah not judge us with the shafa`ah of Prophet (s).

Sayyida Rabia (q) said, "On the Day of Judgement, Allah will call me to His Presence to judge me. Will He call me with mercy or with punishment?"

They said, "I don't know."

She said, "Therefore, I am busy, so leave me alone to do istighfaar because my `amal and prayers need istighfaar in order to be accepted."

That's why we say “astaghfirullah” immediately after the prayer: for it to be accepted, because in the prayer when you say “Allahu Akbar” every nonsense thought comes to your mind and wastes your prayer. Everything in dunya comes to your mind the moment you say, “Allahu Akbar” and when you are not in prayer Shaytan doesn't come.

Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q) heard that voice saying, "So you want to come to Me? Leave your self, your desires, your pleasures, don't come with them." Sayyidina Musa (a) thought he can see Allah (swt), that he was ready.

قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنظُرْ إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ لَن تَرَانِي وَلَٰكِنِ انظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّىٰ رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقًا

He said, “My Lord allow me to see You.” He said, “You shall not Me, but look to the mountain. If it stays in its place then you will see Me.” When His Lord manifested Himself to the mountain He made it into dust, and Musa fell into prostration. (Surat al-Araaf, 7:143)

He had that tendency to say, “Let me see You.” What did Allah say? Laa taraanee. How will Allah show Himself to Sayyidina Musa (a)? This whole dunya will shake completely if Allah sends His Manifestation! Allah (swt) told him to look at the mountain and, “If it stays where it is, then you can see Me.” When Allah sent His Manifestation on the mountain it shattered completely and was not able to carry it.

O Ummat an-Nabi (s)! Sayyidina Musa (a) was unable to carry that Manifestation, but Prophet (s) was able to carry it:

لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily you would have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes that We propound to men that they may reflect.

(Surat al-Hashr, 59:21)

It means, “If We reveal it to the heart of anyone it would break and shatter, but Prophet (s) did not shatter,” he was able to carry the Manifestations of Allah's Beautiful Names and Attributes when He revealed the Qur'an to him (s). So our duty is to say, “Yaa Rabbee! Make us humble,” as we said at the beginning, the People of Jannah are the people of tawaadu`, humbleness. Then Prophet (s) said:

ألا أخبركم بأهل النار كل عتل جواظ متكبر

Shall I inform you of the People of Hellfire? They are every ignorant and arrogant one. (Tirmidhi)

How much in our lives do we ignore things we don't know and still we are proud of what we know? Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur'an, “You have been given only a little bit of knowledge, ” so don't think you know too much, the knowledge you were given is very little, mere drops from the Ocean of Prophet's knowledge, as Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah (r) said:

حفظت عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وعائين فأما أحدهما فبثثته وأما الآخر فلو بثثته لقطع مني هذا البلعوم

I have protected from the Prophet two containers; one of them I shared with everyone and the other one I was not able to share it, because if I would have spoken about it they would have cut my throat. (Ajluni)

Who would cut his neck in that time? He said he learned from Prophet (s) two kinds of knowledge: “One I explained completely with Hadiths and one I kept, because if I had shared it they would not accept it and they would have cut my neck.” It means there is something highly important to learn. That's why Allah (swt) said:

وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

You have been given but a little of knowledge. (Surat al-Isra, 17:85)

Allah gave`Uloom al-Awwaleen wa 'l-Akhireen to Prophet (s); do you think Prophet (s) needs it or did Allah give it to him for the Ummah? Whatever Allah (swt) gave him is for the Ummah! May Allah (swt) focus the Prophet’s (s) gaze on us to bless us with that knowledge for which Sayyidina Musa (a) ran after Sayyidina Khidr (a):

فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

So they found one of Our Servants on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our Own Presence. (Surat al-Kahf, 18:65)

To end up, what we need really to make us happy as Allah wants our happiness and for His Mercy to be sent on us, so Prophet (s) said to his Sahaabah (r) something that sometimes we don't look deep into, but it is a very strong, merciful Hadith that will save us from Hellfire:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مررتم برياض الجنة فارتع. قالو وما رياض الجنة؟ قال "حلق الذكر"

Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (s) said: "When you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, avail yourselves of them." The Companions asked: "What are the Gardens of Paradise, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "The circles of dhikr.” (Tirmidhi)

Of course Prophet (s) wanted his Sahaabah (r) to know that Hadith because they are practicing it with him, sitting with Prophet (s) is to practice that Hadith as he (s) is Riyaad al-Jannah, the Heavenly Garden, and all the Ummah likes to go into his Garden!

الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ

Those whom Allah has blessed among the prophets, the truthful ones, the martyrs, and the pious ones.

(Surat an-Nisa, 4:69)

Everyone wants to be with these groups of people, so how to be with them? Sit with them! It is very simple and Prophet (s) mentioned it:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مررتم برياض الجنة فارتع. قالو وما رياض الجنة؟ قال "حلق الذكر"

Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (s) said: "When you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, avail yourselves of them." The Companions asked: "What are the Gardens of Paradise, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "The circles of dhikr.” (Tirmidhi)

It means the Gardens of Heavens, the Rawdah of Prophet (s) is the real Garden on Earth, that's why you see people fighting to pray there. I remember when I was living there, every prayer we used to pray in the Rawdah, although now it is too crowded, but then it was easy.Alhamdulillah, more people are visiting there, which is better, even if their intention is to reach Rawdah or Hajar al-Aswad and they were not able, it is as if they did reach it as Allah (swt) will write it for them, they will not to be deprived as He gives everyone the same.

Prophet (s) wants us to be happy, so he told us the Hadith, "When you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, sit there.” Therefore, when you enter Heaven you will not be taken to Hellfire because you already entered the Gardens of Heaven and Allah knows, and by His Power He will make you to enter Paradise. Allah made a reflection from that Rawdah to be real, because whole people living there are blessed with the Rawdah, we are here, so are we blessed? Yes, because Allah will not allow some people to be blessed and others not! We are asking, "Yaa Rabbee! We are in a far away country and we cannot reach there."

That is why Prophet (s) told the Sahaabah (r), “When you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, sit there. Even if you are spreading Islam in Yemen, Shaam, North Africa, you are passing Riyaad al-Jannah, so sit with those who are making dhikr as it will be written for you as if you are in the Rawdah from its reflection.”

Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur'an:

قُلِ الله ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ

Say "Allah," then leave them to plunge in vain discourse and trifling. (Surat al-An`am, 6:91)

“Leave them, don't bother with them. Those who like to be with you can be with you.” These masaajid where people sit to learn, study, learn and to memorize the Qur'an and Hadith to understand Fiqh, make dhikr, anything they do, sit with them as that is a place Allah turns into a Paradise. It means you are in a Paradise, Allah turned this masjid into a Paradise! However long we are sitting here we are being blessed as if we are sitting in Riyaad al-Jannah. That is a mercy from Allah (swt) for the benefit of the Ummah.

Some people might turn their faces away, saying, "We are busy, we only go to Jumu`ah." No, you are not just sitting in a hall, you are sitting in a Rawdah. It is not me saying this, it is Prophet (s) saying to sit in the Gardens of Paradise! There are angels, we cannot see them, but Prophet (s) mentioned them: they surround us and circumambulate all the way up to Heavens!

مَا جَلَسَ قَوْمٌ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلا وَحَفَّتْهُمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ

No group of people sits together remembering Allah except that angels encompass them. (Daraqutni)

That place becomes a rawdah, not on the level of Rawdat an-Nabi (s), but its reflection. That time will be written for you as if you were sitting there. Allah is generous, He can write for you that you sat forever in Rawdah because you are sitting here but your soul is there, so why not? If Allah wants He can do it! Let us say, “Yaa Rabbee, do it for us!” So that's why hilaaq al-dhikr are very important in our lives. Let us thank Allah (swt).

لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ

If you thank Me, I will give you more. (Surah Ibraaheem, 14:7)

There is a lot of more, that is only one Hadith about such associations. Peoples come and go and you benefit from their presence because they make the circle alive and Allah turns it into a rawdah as a gift to Ummat an-Nabi (s) because He loved His Servant, Sayyidina Muhammad (s)!

May Allah forgive us, accept from all of us and turn this masjid inshaa-Allah all the time into a rawdah!

Bi hurmati 'l-habeeb, bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.


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