Friday, January 25, 2019

Beginning with the Right when Entertaining

By Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (Translation by Qays Arthur)

Now some people wrongfully allege, without properly grasping the texts nor giving them their due, that the Sunnah is to begin with whomever is to the immediate right of the host based on the hadiths that mention the virtue of beginning on the right

Yet that only pertains to when those present are peers with respect to their traits, virtues, or age. In that case the host begins with whomever is to his right. Otherwise if one of the guests is distinguished from the others, by age for example, then one would begin with him by virtue of that noble trait.

Imam Ibn Rushd (i.e. Muhammad bin Ahmad who died in 520 Hijri "the grandfather" of the famous philosopher, Allah have mercy on him) in his rich and magnificent work “Al-Bayan wa al-Tahsil” says:
"When the guests are the same or similar in stature then begining from the right is what would be most fitting by way of good character. That is because doing so entails not making a show of (arbitrarily) elevating some of them over others.
Yet if it happens that among them is a scholar or someone of nobility or age then the Sunnah is to begin with him wherever he may be in the gathering, and then to move on to whomever is to his right as was done by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when he was presented with a dairy beverage and to his right was a Bedouin while to his left was Abu Bakr and he drank of it then offered it to the Bedouin saying, ‘right by right’.
So the one to his left is not given, even if the prerogative would otherwise be his - by virtue of his knowledge or virtue or age - as opposed the one to the right of the distinguished guest. That applies unless permission is sought from the one on the right as was done by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when he was given a beverage which he drank from with a young boy to his right and elders to his left. So he said to the young boy, ‘Will you permit me to offer this to them?’ To which came the reply, ‘No, by Allah O Messenger of Allah. I will not give preference to anyone regarding my share in anything from you.’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) heartily pressed it into the boy’s hand acknowledging and confirming that it was his right.”
Thus always beginning with the one on the right of the host is appropriate when no one present is distinguished by a trait that merits his being put forward ahead of others.
Taken from the text "On Decorum in Islam" of Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah.
May Allah make us people of decorum. Amin.
This was also published by

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Note from the Sunnah on Health and Pain

By Qays Arthur

Illness can be a major test. Sometimes even with the best treatment pain and misery can persist. The following is some general advice from the Sunnah that can help with achieving good health and when dealing with physical pain. This is not meant to replace a visit to the doctor for those who suspect major issues, but the benefits of these tips can't be denied.

Firstly, one should try as much as possible to avoid excessiveness in food and drink. By that I mean to avoid eating for “comfort” and/or to relieve stress, and rather eat only when one is hungry and in moderation. This is the Sunnah and many of our books mention that it is the foundation of good health. If one snacks, avoid processed foods (which are often consumed without checking the ingredients) and do so with moderation and gratitude to Allah for his favor, and to gain strength and encouragement to worship.

Secondly, it is generally a good idea to ensure that one's diet includes dates, honey, and black seed as these are mentioned in the Sunnah as being generally conducive to good health.

But again, moderation is key.

The Sunnah doesn't recommend "alot" of anything except dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, Most High. Those who are not already consuming these foods and are on medical treatment regimens should check with their health care professional before adding them just as a precaution.

Finally, for pain in the body it is authentically related that the Prophet () prescribed the following for a companion who was in pain:

“ you hand on the part of the body where the pain is and say, 
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ 
(three times). 
Also say, 
أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ وَقُدْرَتِهِ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا أَجِدُ وَأُحَاذِرُ
“a’uthu billahi wa qudratihi min shari ma ajid wa uhadhir” 
(seven times – wiping the area each time).” (Muslim)

“Bismillah” means "in the name of Allah". “A’uthu billahi wa qudratihi min shari ma ajid wa uhadhir” translates roughly as “I seek refuge in Allah and in His omnipotence from the evil (pain) that I find, and I seek to avoid it.”

Of course, if one experiences persistent pain one should visit a qualified health care professional, yet the Prophet's () advice, being a supplication, can be followed before or after such a visit and can accompany other kinds of treatment.

One should do the three things above with the intention of gaining the pleasure of Allah, Most High, and drawing nearer to Him even in pain and adversity for that is our entire purpose in the world and the very reason we experience pleasure and pain, and ups and downs, in the first place. With that intention one should persist with the first two even after Allah brings relief and have recourse to the third measure whenever needed. We ask Allah for acceptance, well-being, and success.

This article was also published on MuslimVillage.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Sunnah of Giving Condolences

By Qays Arthur

The venerable shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (Allah have mercy on his soul) mentions in his Decorum in Islam (Min Adab al-Islam) that at times of death and loss it is beneficial to recall the words of Allah Most High:
وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡخَوۡفِ وَٱلۡجُوعِ وَنَقۡصٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲلِ وَٱلۡأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ‌ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ (١٥٥) ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ۬ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيۡهِ رَٲجِعُونَ (١٥٦) أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ صَلَوَٲتٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬‌ۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُهۡتَدُونَ (١٥٧)
“Surely We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and diminution of goods and lives and fruits; yet give thou good tidings unto the patient who, when they are visited by an affliction, say, 'Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return'; upon those rest blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those -- they are the truly guided.” (2:155-157)
He then mentioned some beneficial words that may be mentioned to the bereaved, among them:
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَا أَخَذَ، وَلَهُ مَا أَعْطَى، وَكُلٌّ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى
Inna lillahi ma akhaz wa lahu ma a’ta wa kullun ila ajalin musamma
"To Allah belongs that which He takes and that which He gives, and everything has an appointed time…" (Nasa’i)
In Jordan it is not uncommon to hear a variation of this:
أعْظَمَ اللهُ أجْرَكَ، وَأَحْسَنَ عَزَاءَكَ، وَغَفَرَ لِـمَيِّتكَ
A’zam Allahu ajrak wa ahsana 'azaak wa ghafara limayitik
"May Allah magnify your wage, bring about goodness from your grief, and forgive your deceased."
This latter supplication was mentioned by the venerable imam Al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on his soul) in his Book of Remembrance (Kitab al-Adhkar) where the Imam also mentioned how to condole a non-Muslim which is the same thing that is said to a Muslim less the last phrase "and forgive your deceased":
أعْظَمَ اللهُ أجْرَكَ، وَأَحْسَنَ عَزَاءَكَ
A’zam Allahu ajrak wa ahsana 'azaak
"May Allah magnify your wage and bring about goodness from your grief."
The Imam also noted in the same text that there is no rigidity concerning what may be said to those in grief and that whatever is appropriate and will bring comfort and benefit is admissible. He also identifies the first supplication in the list above as the best thing that may be said due to its firm ascription to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the excellence of the hadith it is taken from.
Finally, shaykh Abdul Fattah in the mentioned work on decorum also suggested what one may say oneself when confronted with a loss or affliction:
اللَّهُمَّ أْجُرْنِي فِي مُصِيبَتِي وَأَخْلِفْ لِي خَيْرًا مِنْهَا
Allahumma ujurni fi musibati, wakhluf li khairan minha
"O Allah! Compensate me in my affliction, recompense my loss and give me something better in exchange for it…" (Muslim)
In these luminous words, the meanings of which should affect us more than the words themselves, we are reminded of our ultimate purpose in this world and we are, even if by way of grief, afforded an opportunity to flee to the comforting majesty and intimacy of our exalted Lord that perhaps goodness may come from our grief.
May Allah accept from us, realize us in what He teaches us, grant us well-being, and bring about great good from all our states.
This was also published by

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Decorum Entails Honoring Seniors

By Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (Translation by Qays Arthur)
Know that seniors (those greater in age) have tremendous standing and rights. Therefore, if you walk beside an elder walk on his right side, slightly behind him. When you come to an entrance or exit, put him before you. When you encounter him give him his due by way of greeting with salam and showing respect.
When you converse with him then let him get the first word and listen with attentiveness and awe. If during the conversation points of disagreement come up then discuss them with decorum, composure, and kindness. Lower your voice when you address him and do not forget to be gracious when doing so or when calling out to him (from afar).
Here are some hadiths and reports that substantiate these points:
“Two brothers came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to inform him of an incident that occurred between them. One was older than the other. When the younger of them wanted to speak (first) the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Kabbir, kabbir.’” Meaning “Give the elder his right.” He then had the elder of the two speak. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Our master, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “He who does not respect our elders is not of us.” Another narration has it, “He who does not exalt our elders, nor show mercy to our young, nor acknowledge the right of our learned is not of us.” (Hakim, Ahmad, others)
Now listen to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) impart to the youth the decorum of keeping the company of and meeting with elders, as well as their priority over the young. The distinguished companion Malik bin Huwayrith (Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) came to us and we were young men of like age. He had us stay with him for twenty nights during which time he was ever so merciful and kind. He eventually came to think that we must miss our families so he asked concerning those we had left behind. We informed him concerning that and he said, “Return to your families and stay with them, teach them and instruct them. When you gather for the prayer then let one of you give the call to prayer and let the eldest of you lead it.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Taken from the text "On Decorum in Islam" of Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah.
May Allah make us people of decorum. Amin.
This was also published by

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lowering the Gaze Vs. Covering the Face

By Qays Arthur

Jarir bin 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) said:
"I asked the Messenger of God (ﷺ) about the inadvertent glance and he instructed me to avert my gaze."
Commenting on this hadith, Imam Al-Nawawi (13th century C.E.) says in his explanation of Sahih Muslim:
"The meaning of the 'inadvertent glance' is when a man's gaze falls upon on an unrelated woman, by accident. He does not sin immediately though it becomes necessary for him to immediately avert his gaze. Once that is done sin does not occur. But if he continues looking he thereby sins given what this hadith indicates. This is so because the Prophet (ﷺ) instructed Jarir to avert his gaze in accordance with the command of Allah, Most High, 'Say to the believing men to lower their gazes...' (Quran 24:30)
Qadhi Iyadh (11th century C.E.) remarked that the scholars say:
'This is evidence that the woman is not obligated to conceal her face as she goes about her affairs, rather that is a sunnah that is recommended for her. Instead, it is obligatory on the men to avert their gazes from her in all circumstances except when there is a legitimate, legally-countenanced purpose such as when giving testimony, seeking medical treatment, seeking marriage, purchasing a bondwoman, when buying and selling, and so on. Yet even in those circumstances, it is only permitted to the extent of the need and no more. Allah knows best.'" (Sharh al-Nawawi 'ala Muslim)
So it may be said that the default position in the Sharia is that, under normal circumstances, men must avert their gazes from women, while women may cover their faces from men.

By normal circumstances I mean in places/societies where both genders generally dress and conduct themselves in a modest and decent manner by the standards of the Sharia. The point is that, in those circumstances, the moral and legal obligation is on men while women need not take extra steps like covering their faces.

Yet in works of jurisprudence we find statements like the following:
"The young woman is to be prevented from revealing her face in the presence of men not because of (issues related to) nakedness but rather due to fear of impropriety (i.e. sexual assault or lust)..." (Hashiya Rad al-Muhtar, Ibn 'Abidin)
Such directives clearly indicate an obligation on the part of women to cover their faces. That obligation is due to "fear of impropriety" i.e. when the circumstances are no longer normal/decent and might entail sexual assault (الفجور بها) or lust (الشهوة).

The upshot, or life lesson as some say, is that legal and moral responsibility can and does change with circumstance. When society degenerates to the point where men are in fact not modest and decent with women, such that the integrity of women is threatened, it becomes binding on women, as independent legal agents, to protect their integrity by taking measures that would not ordinarily be required of them.

While both are required, prevention is always better than cure, which is to say, #NotMe is always better than #MeToo.

We ask Allah, Most High, to bless us with sincerity in our obedience to Him.

This article was also published at MuslimVillage.

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Genuine Parent

By Qays Arthur

While we may look for advice in the form of directives, concerning what to "do" to "produce" good children, that old adage, "The apple never falls far from the tree." seems to be persistently true.

Children are pure human beings, uncomplicated by those things that make adults less genuine and lucid. They are like mirrors and their conduct may tell us a great deal more about ourselves as adults than we may be comfortable with.

A man may go to great lengths to assume the appearance of one who lives in comfort, but if he is poor you will know from his children. A woman may assume the manner of a gracious hostess but if she is in fact troubled it will be reflected in her child- in simple, uncomplicated ways. I've come to appreciate that this reflective-ness of the child is very much connected to the way the child learns and to the veracity of that old adage.

The simple fact is that there is very little a parent can purposely say to a child that will make them better human beings than their parents. Sometimes parents are puzzled by children's ability to detect hypocrisy or injustice even though they may be quite easily duped by what adults would recognize as obvious lies.

That ability on the part of the child might be connected to the fact that young children learn mostly by imitation and interaction and less to by verbal instruction. That may be why when a parent is being hypocritical the child senses it immediately whereas the parent may say something hypocritical or even untrue and it may well evade the child altogether. What this means is that how a parent is has a far, far more profound effect on a child than what the parent says.

So a parent who is concerned with cultivating good character for themselves in private and public is much more likely to raise children of good character. For we are seldom aware when our children are absorbing our states from our natural actions, words, and reactions in the home. Children first internalize our unguarded natures evident in, for example, comments we may make assuming, mistakenly, they are in another room. They see what disgusts us and what we laugh at. They note our priorities from our decisions and reactions more than our words.

They look at our expressions when we talk about white people, or black people, or rich people, or poor people and they learn. Then when a little one does or says some objectionable thing, that we scarcely realize was merely copied from our own ways, we launch grand sanctimonious lectures (perhaps to be triumphantly recounted later to friends).

Yet the child will sense, based on our daily conduct, when there is a disconnect between our sayings and doings while we are left wondering what it was that so soundly convinced them to the contrary of our high-minded exhortations.

One could therefore say that arguably the most important rule of "parenting" has nothing at all to do with the child. And that rule is what was mentioned by Imam Abi Abdillah Al-Muhasibi (Allah shower him in mercy) when he said:
"Know, may God grant you mercy, that genuineness (sidq) and sincerity (ikhlas) are the basis of every (sound) condition."
Being a good parent is but another aspect of that cardinal rule.