Wednesday, 29 October 2014

What is al-Barzakh

Praise be to Allaah.

What is meant by al-barzakh is the period between a person's death and his resurrection on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever dies as a Muslim, obeying Allaah, will be in a blessed state, and whoever dies as a kaafir, disobeying Allaah, will be punished. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning);

“The Fire, they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon. And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): ‘Cause Fir‘aun’s (Pharaoh) people to enter the severest torment!’”

[Ghaafir 40:46]

The punishments vary according to the sins committed. A hadeeth was narrated in Saheeh al-Bukhaari which describes the torments of al-barzakh which will befall some of those who committed major sins. It was narrated that Samurah ibn Jundub (may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) often used to ask his companions, ‘Did any one of you see a dream?’ So dreams would be described to him by those who Allaah willed should speak. One morning, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Last night, two people came to me (in a dream), and woke me up and said, ‘Let’s go!’ I set out with them, and we came across a man who was lying down, with another man standing over him, holding a big rock. He threw the rock at the man's head, smashing it. The rock rolled away, and the one who had thrown it followed it, and picked it up. By the time he came back to the man, his head had been restored to its former state. Then he (the one who had thrown the rock) did the same as he had done before. I said to my two companions, ‘Subhaan Allaah! Who are these two persons?’ They said, ‘Move on!’ So we went on, and came to a man who was lying flat on his back, with another man standing over him, holding an iron hook. He put the hook in the man's mouth and tore off that side of his face to the back (of his neck), and he tore his nose and his eye from front to back in a similar manner. Then he turned to the other side of the man's face and did likewise. No sooner had he finished the second side but the first side was restored to its former state, then he went back and did the same thing again. I said to my two companions, ‘Subhaan Allaah! Who are these two persons?’ They said, ‘Move on!’ So we went on, and came to something like a tannoor (a kind of oven, lined with clay, usually used for baking bread). – I think the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, in that oven there was much noise and voices. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) added: - We looked into it and saw naked men and women. A flame of fire was reaching them from underneath, and when it reached them, they cried out loudly. I asked them, ‘Who are these?’ They said to me, ‘Move on!’ So we went on and came to a river – I think he said, red like blood. – In the river there was a man swimming, and on the bank there was a man who had gathered many stones. Whilst the swimmer was swimming, the man who had gathered the stones approached him. The swimmer opened his mouth and the man on the bank threw a stone into it, then the swimmer carried on swimming. Each time he came back, he opened his mouth again, and the man on the bank threw another stone into his mouth. I said to my two companions, ‘Who are these two persons?’ They said, ‘Move on, move on!’ We went on and came to a man who had the most repulsive appearance imaginable. Beside him there was a fire, which he was kindling, and he was running around it. I asked my companions, ‘Who is this man?’ They said, ‘Move on, move on!’ So we went on until we reached a garden of deep green dense vegetation, with all kinds of spring colours. In the midst of this garden was a very tall man, whose head I could hardly see because of his great height. Around him there were children, a great number such as I have never seen. I said to my companions, ‘who is this man, and who are these children?’ They said, ‘Move on, move on!’ So we went on, until we came to a huge garden, bigger and better than any I have ever seen. My two companions said to me, ‘Go up.’ So we went up into it, until we reached a city built of gold and silver bricks. We went to the gate and asked for it to be opened. It was opened and we entered the city, where we found men with one side of their bodies more handsome than the most handsome person you have ever seen, and the other side uglier than the ugliest person you have ever seen. My two companions ordered those men to throw themselves into the river. There was a river flowing through the city, and its water was pure white. The men went and threw themselves in the river, and came out with the ugliness in their bodies gone, and they were in the best shape. (My two companions) said to me, ‘This is the Paradise of ‘Aden (the Garden of Eden), and that is your place.’ I looked up and saw a palace like a white cloud. They said to me, ‘That is your place.’ I said to them, ‘May Allaah bless you both, let me enter it.’ They said, ‘For now you will not enter it, but you shall enter it (one day).’ I said to them, I have seen many wonders this night. What do all these things mean that I have seen?’ They said: ‘We will tell you. The first man you came across, whose head was being smashed with the rock, is the man who studies the Qur’aan then he neither recites it nor acts upon it, and he goes to sleep, neglecting the obligatory prayers. The man you came across whose mouth, nose and ears were being torn from front to back, is the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells a lie that is so serious that it spreads all over the world. The naked men and women whom you saw in a structure that resembled an oven are the adulterers and adulteresses. The man you saw swimming in the river with rocks being thrown into his mouth is the one who consumed riba (usury). The ugly-looking man whom you saw kindling a fire and walking around it was Maalik, the keeper of Hell. The tall man whom you saw in the garden was Ibraaheem, and the children around him were the children who died (young) in a state of fitrah (natural state of mankind, i.e., Islam).’ – Some of the Muslims asked, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, what about the children of the mushrikeen?’ He said, ‘And the children of the mushrikeen too.’ – ‘As for the men who were half handsome and half ugly, they were people who had mixed a good deed with another deed that was bad, but Allaah forgave them.’” (narrated by Muslim, no. 6525)

Shaykh Waleed al-Firyaan

How to pray Istikhaarah


Praise be to Allaah.

The description of Salaat al-Istikhaarah was reported by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Salami (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all things, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan. He said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:

(O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”

In arabic :
Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi

(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).

EXPLANATION: Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, commenting on this hadeeth:

“Istikhaarah is a word which means asking Allaah to help one make a choice.

The issue of istikhaarah is confined to matters that are mubaah (allowed), or in mustahabb matters when there is a decision to be made as to which one should be given priority.’ I say: it refers to both great and small matters, and probably an insignificant issue could form the groundwork for a big issue.

Pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer.’ This is mentioned to make it clear that it does not mean fajr prayer, for example. Al-Nawawi said in al-Adhkaar: He can pray istikaarah after two rak’ahs of regular sunnah prayer done at zuhr for example, or after two rak’ahs of any naafil prayers whether they are regularly performed or not.

The phrase ‘then let him say’ would seem to imply that the du’aa’ should be said after finishing the prayer, and the word thumma (then) probably means after reciting all the words of the salaat and before saying salaam.

The phrase ‘O Allaah, I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge’ is explaining ‘because You know best.’ Similarly, ‘by virtue of Your power’ most likely means ‘seeking Your help.’ ‘I seek ability’ (astaqdiruka) means ‘I ask You to give me the power or ability (qudrah) to do’ whatever is being asked for, or it probably means ‘I ask You to decree (tuqaddir) this for me.’ So it may mean making it easy.

‘I ask You of Your great bounty’ refers to the fact that Allaah gives out of His great generosity, but no one has the right to His blessings. This is the opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah.

‘You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not’ refers to the fact that power and knowledge belong to Allaah alone, and the slave has no share of them except what Allaah decrees for him.

‘O Allaah, if in Your knowledge this matter…’ According to one report, he should mention it by name. It is apparent from the context that he should state it, but it is probably sufficient to be thinking of the matter whilst making this du’aa’.

‘Then ordain it for me’ means ‘make it happen for me’ or it may mean ‘make it easy for me.’

‘Then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it’ means ‘so that my heart will no longer feel attached to it after it has been turned away.’

‘Make me pleased with it’ means ‘make me content with it, so that I will never regret asking for it or be sorry that it happened, because I do not know how it will turn out, even if at the time of asking I am pleased with it.’

The secret is that one’s heart should not be attached to the matter in question, because that will result in a person becoming restless. Being pleased with something means that one’s heart is content with the decree of Allaah.

(Summarized from the commentary of al-Haafiz Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) on the hadeeth in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Da’waat and Kitaab al-Tawheed.).

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

The Mercy of Allah in Regard to Forgiveness

The Mercy of Allah in Regard to Forgiveness

"O son of Adam, as long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I have forgiven you for what you have done and I do not mind. O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and then you would seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, if you were to come to Me with sins that are close to filling the earth and then you would meet Me without ascribing any partners with Me, I would certainly bring to you forgiveness close to filling it."

In this Hadithi Qudsi, Allah gives hope to mankind more than any other narration. It displays the quality and attribute of Allahs mercy. Indeed, He is ar-Rahman, the Most Compassionate, and ar-Raheem, the Most Merciful. In this Hadithi Qudsi, Allah tells man of the greatness of His forgiveness and mercy so that no one would despair due to the amount of sins he may have committed. This is supported by the following verse of the Holy Quran:

Say: O My servants who have transgressed against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah az-Zumar 39:53)

This hadith teaches us the importance of realizing Allahs mercy, having faith and hope in Him especially when making dua, calling to Allah alone for forgiveness, and the importance of repentance in the life and faith of a believer.

Allah catches the attention of mankind by calling out, O son of Adam! This is a call to every human being. Why didnt Allah say, O mankind or O People? The significance of this specific call is because it was the first human being, Adam (alaiyhis-salam) who committed the first sin. Adam was an example to all humans of the consequences of sin and how to turn to Allah for forgiveness of ones sins. This gives hope that even after committing a violation, ones sins can be forgiven if one repents to Allah sincerely the same way that the father of mankind sinned, repented, and was forgiven by Allah.

Allah calls out to His servants, a call of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. For He knows that man was created weak and is prone to fall into sin. After calling out to mankind, Allah informs them that as long as they call on Him and put their hope in Him, He will forgive them and not mind. This statement alone can convince one to have hope and never to despair. When one calls out to Allah or makes dua, he is displaying his need and dependence of Allah. He is demonstrating his weakness to the fact that he has no power to do anything for himself. It is the essence of submission and servitude. It is also a recognition of Allahs attributes of kindness, generosity, forgiving and merciful nature, and His unlimited power and knowledge. Humans are never in a situation where they are not in need of Allah. A believer always turns to Allah to ask for guidance as well as to seek forgiveness of sins and shortcomings.

Allahs says, Call on me and I will respond to you. One of the most important conditions of making dua is that one must completely trust that Allah will respond. One must also supplicate with sincerity, hope, and seriousness. One must not have any doubt at all on whether Allah will respond to ones call or if He accepts the dua. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, Supplicate Allah while you are certain of a response. And know that Allah does not respond to a supplication from a heart that is heedless and inattentive. He also forbade that one say, Oh Allah, forgive me if You will. But he said, Instead, you should ask with will and conviction for there is nothing so great to Allah that He cannot grant it.

When supplicating, one should truly seek Allahs aid and His forgiveness and demonstrate his need for Allah and submit to Him with fear and hope in receiving the desired response. Allah advises in Surat al-Araaf 7:56:

And invoke Him in fear and aspiration (of hope). Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to those who do good.

Another important condition of supplication is that one must not become hasty and impatient and stop supplicating because he did not receive a response sooner or at all. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, You are responded to as long as you do not become hasty and say, I supplicated and it is not being or was not responded to.

And the final condition of ones dua being responded to is that one must make sure he is living off of halal and permissible means.

Allah says, Put your hope in Me. Man was not created sinful, but he was created weak. He is prone to fall into the temptations of sin and the whispers of Satan and when he does, he should always remember to turn to Allah, call upon Him, and ask for forgiveness with hope in His mercy. Allah stated in a Hadithi Qudsi, I am with My servant as He expects of Me. The meaning of this is that Allah treats His servants the way he expects Him to. If one has hope in Allah and trusts Him, Allah will act accordingly to that servants beliefs and faith. And if he does not have faith and is in despair of his Lords mercy, Allah will act accordingly. Not having hope in Allah and despairing of His mercy is a great sin and an act of kufr. Allah quotes Prophet Yaqoob (alaiyhis-salam) in the Quran:

Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. (Surah Yusuf 12:87)

One must be hopeful of Allahs mercy and forgiveness and fearful of His punishment. It is this fear that should lead one to seek Allahs forgiveness with hope. Allah says:

Know that Allah is severe in punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surat al-Maaidah 5:98)

In the above verse, Allah gives us reason to fear because His punishment is justly severe, as well as good reason to have hope, since He is the Most Forgiving and Merciful. There should be a balance between fear and hope and not too much or too less of one or the other. If there is too much fear, then a person may negate Allahs quality of mercy and ascribe to Him unkindness (Allah forbid!).
There was a sect called Khawaarij, who worshipped Allah only in fear and held the belief that anyone who commits major sins was a disbeliever and would be thrown into the Hellfire forever. This is a gross extremism and straying from the correct path.

Sins deprive you

People fail to see the impact that sins can have on their lives in this world and in the hereafter. The truth is that if we don’t understand the ghastly nature of sins, we wouldn’t stay away from them. Consider a sample of the ill effects of sins that Ibn Al-Qayyim had explained:
  • Sins deprive a person of provision (rizq) in this life. In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Thawbaan said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: ‘A man is deprived of provision because of the sins that he commits.’” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4022, classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah).
  • A sinful person experiences a sense of alienation (indifference) with his Lord, and between him and other people. One of the salaf had said that he could see the impact of disobedience to Allah (in some aspects of his daily life).
  • A person who commits sins sees that things become difficult for him. In any matter that he turns to, he finds the way blocked or he finds it difficult. By the same token, for the one who fears Allah, things are made easy. 
  • ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Good deeds make the face light, give light to the heart, and bring about ample provision, physical strength and love in people’s hearts. Bad deeds make the face dark, give darkness to the heart, and bring about physical weakness, a lack of provision and hatred in people’s hearts.” 
  • Sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he cannot escape from it. Sin weakens a person’s willpower. It gradually strengthens his will to commit sin and weakens his will to repent until there is no will in his heart to repent at all . . . So he seeks forgiveness and expresses repentance, but it is merely words on the lips, like the repentance of the liars, whose hearts are still determined to commit sin and persist in it. This is one of the most serious diseases that is likely to lead to doom. He becomes desensitized and no longer find sins abhorrent; so it becomes his habit, and he is not bothered if people see him committing the sin or talk about him.

All in all, let’s remember that for us to stay clear from sins we need to constantly work at building a strong internal frame of reference that is reinforced with knowledge of the truth. This must be coupled with a living conscience that can help us recognize sins when we see them and to have it poke at us should we get inclined to indulge in those sins. Again, reflecting back on the verses of Sura Al-Qiyamah that we reviewed earlier, let’s strive to keep the burden of our sins light when we meet Allah, so that our faces are Nadirah (shining and radiant) rather than Basirah (dark, gloomy, frowning, and sad).