Archive for May, 2011

Why do we search for skills?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I once visited a deprived town to deliver a lecture, after which there came to me a teacher from outside the town. He said,”I hope you can help us finance some students.”

I said,”Strange! ’ arent the schools government funded, and therefore free?”

He said, “indeed they are, but we would like to fund their university education.”

I said, “Well, the universities are also government funded. They even offer student grants.”

He said,”Allow me to explain to you…”

“Go ahead”, I said.

He said,”Our students graduate from their secondary school with no less than 99%.They are so clever that if their intelligence was divided amongst the ummah, it would suffice! But when a student becomes determined to travel outside his town to study Medicine, Engineering, Islamic Law, Computer Science or any- thing else, his father prevents him from going, saying, what you know is sufficient! Now, remain with me and be a shepherd!”’

I screamed impulsively,”Be a shepherd?!”

He said,”Yes, a shepherd!”

And indeed, the poor boy stays with his father and becomes a shepherd, whilst all his abilities are wasted.Years go by and he remains a shepherd. He may even get married and have children whom  he may treat exactly as he was treated by his father Hence, all his children also become shepherds!

I asked,”So what’s the solution?”

He said, “The solution is to convince the father to employ someone as a shepherd for a few hundred riyals, which we will pay, and allow his son to take full advantage of his skills and
abilities. Of course, we will also continue to fund his son until he graduates.” The teacher then lowered his head and said,”it is inexcusable that such skills and talents in people are wasted when they long to utilise them.”

I contemplated upon what he had said and realised that we cannot reach the pinnacle except by taking advantage of the abilities we have and acquiring those that we do not.

Yes, I would challenge anyone to find a successful person, be they successful in academia, preaching, lecturing, business, medicine, engineering, or influencing others; or be they successful in family life, such as a successful father with his children, or a successful wife with her husband; or be they successful in their social life, such as a person who is successful with his neighbours and colleagues, and I mean a truly successful person, not one who simply climbs upon others’ shoulders! I would challenge anyone to find me any such highly successful person who does not practise certain interpersonal skills through which he has been able to achieve such success, whether they realise it or not.

Some people may exercise such interpersonal skills instinctively, while others may have to learn them in order to be successful, and these latter people are the types of successful personalities whose lives we would like to study and whose methods we would closely seek to follow in order to discover how they were successful, and to find out whether or not we can take their route to success.

A while ago, l listened to an interview with one of the most affluent people in the world,Shaykh Sulayman alRajihi, and found him to be a mountain in terms of his manners and thoughts.This man owns billions, possesses immense real estate, has built hundreds of mosques, and has sponsored thousands of orphans. He is hugely successful. He spoke of his humble beginnings around fifty years ago, when he was a regular person who would only have enough money to feed himself for the day, and sometimes not even that. He mentioned that he would sometimes clean peop|e’s houses to feed himself and continue working at night at a shop or money exchange. He discussed how he was once at the bottom of the mountain, and how he continued to climb until he reached the summit.

l thought about the abilities and skills he possesses and realised that many of us are well capable of being like him, if Allah grants us the ability. lf one learns these skills, exercises them, perseveres and remains steadfast, then yes, he can surely be like him.

Another reason for us to search for these skills is that some of us may have certain abilities, which we remain unaware of, or which nobody has assisted us in discovering, such as the skills of delivering a lecture, business acumen, or possessing general knowledge.

One may discover these skills on his own, through a teacher’s  or a work colleague’s help, or even through a sincere brother  however few they may be! However: these skills may remain buried inside the person until his personality becomes as stale as anyone else’s, and this is when we all lose out on another leader, lecturer or scholar; or perhaps a successful husband, or a caring father.

Here we will mention certain skills which we would like to remind you of if you already possess them, or which we would like to train you in if you don’t. So come along!

A thought…
When you climb a mountain, look to the top and not to the rocks that surround you. Make sure of where you step as you climb, and do not leap in case you loose your footing.


The Night Journey (Al-Isra wa Al-Mi raj)

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
The Night Journey (Al-Isra wa Al-Mi raj)

The Night Journey (Al-Isra wa Al-Mi raj)

The night Journey (al-Isra’) of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was a journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and was followed by the Heavenly Ascent (al-Mi’raj) which took the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through the seven Heavens and brought him to the All Mighty Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Lord of the Worlds. It was one of the most incredible events in the history of humanity and occurred at a time when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was going through the most difficult phase in his life.

The Night Journey raised many controversies which challenged Islam and questioned the faith of the believers. This book takes the reader through the incredible and fascinating voyage in a chronological order. It details the physical features of the Journey and emcompasses the spiritual dimension which has significance for every believer for all time to come.

This incredible journey undertaken by the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through the power of Allah ensured that his faith remained unbending and enabled him to face the vast challenges to come during his Prophethood. This book will instil in the believer a greater understanding of the significance of the Night Journey, the high rank of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and realisation of the Greatness of Allah’s power.

About Ismail Adam Patel

Ismail Adam Patel is the chairman of  Friends of Al Aqsa a non-profit making organisation  concerned with the defense  of basic human rights of Palestinians as supported by various international groups and organisations. It also stands for the protection and safety of Al-Aqsa Haram Sharif (The First Qibla) in Al Quds (Jerusalem).

He is  a graduate from UMIST UK  and an Optometrist by profession. He is a regular contributor to discussions, debates and articles in the media and international forums on issues effecting the Muslims in general  and Palestine in particular.

Publisher: Al-Aqsa Publishers
Pages: 108
Size: 21.5 x 14 cm


A Believer’s Intention is Superior to His Action

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

First Words
A Hadith of the Holy Prophet  tells us. “A Believer’s intention is superior to his deed.” Every deed is aptly performed at its proper place and time but if it is not performed properly then no significance is attached to it. Thus, to undertake social service at the time of Salal, and forgo it, is not an act of worship. ln the same way, charity is given only to him who is entitled to it otherwise it is not recognised as virtuous by Shari ‘ah. However. Allah recognises the intention behind every deed. Hence, sometimes, a wrong deed receives approval only because it was prompted by a sincere intention. This narrative tells us of a man who paid his sadaqah (charity) to a wrong man but his intention was very sincere.

A Believer's Intention is Superior to His Action

A Believer's Intention is Superior to His Action

(lt is narrated by Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah , that the Messenger of Allah  said: A man said (to himself) that he would give some charity. He went out with this objective and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. Next morning. the people said that someone had given charity to a thief. (On hearing that) he said, “O Allah! All praise and thanks are for You. l will give alms again.” So. he again went out with his alms and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. Next morning the people commented that charity had been given to an adulteress in the night. The man said. “O Allah! All praise and thanks are for You. l gave charity to an adulteress! Surely. l will give charity again.” So. he went out with his alms again and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich man. Next morning, there was talk again that someone had given alms to a rich man. He said, “O Allah! All praise and gratitude is for You. (l had given charity) to a thief`. an adulteress and a wealthy man.” Then someone came to him (in a dream) and said, “The charity that you gave to the thief might make him abstain from stealing (why should he steal if he gets help from unseen sources?). The alms given to the adulteress might stop her from adultery (she too might repent if she relies on unseen help). The wealthy man who was given charity might take a lesson and spend the wealth that Allah has given him in Allah’s cause (seeing that someone spends it secretly).”](Bukhai·i# I421 .Muslim)

To spend in the cause of Allah and to give charity is very much dear to Allah. The Messenger of Allah  has narrated the account of a man who was given to spend in Allah’s way, and he had resolved to give charity to gain is pleasure. Different people are driven by different pious ambitions.  Some men occupy themselves in supererogatory Salah,  Some observe voluntary fasts. Some devote themselves to service to htunanity and some give charity generously. Generally, man loves wealth very much. Hence. it is very dear to Allah if anyone spends liberally in His Cause. Further, the more one spends secretly. the more sincere it is and thus more worthy of approval by Allah. This man had resolved to spend in the darkness of the night so that no one could observe him not even the receiver. Undoubtedly, his intention was very praiseworthy but Allah willed that when he doled out the charity he placed it on the hands of a thief He could not know in the darkness of the night whether he was giving charity to a deserving person or not. ln the moming, people began to talk that someone had given charity in the night to a thief.

When he heard it, he felt very sony that he had intended to give charity for the sake of Allah but he had given it to a wrong man. So. he praised Allah and resolved to repeat the charity in the night. Again, he placed the money in wrong hands, it was an adulteress this time. Again, people remarked in the moming that an adulteress was paid charity in the night by someone. He felt sorry and pained at his mistake but he praised Allah and resolved again to give charity in the night. He went out in the night and this time he happened to place the money in the hands of a wealthy person who was not entitled to receive charity. There was again talk among the people that someone had given charity to a rich man in the night although it was not proper to do so.

This grieved the man very much and he thought that he had committed a blunder on all three nights. Instead of offering his charity to a deserving person, he had been paying it to non-entitled people for three consecutive nights. He lamented that his charity was wasted. In this state, sleep overtook him and he dreamt that someone told him:

“There was wisdom in the charity going to a thief The wisdom lay in the possibility that the thief might repent and reform, when he sees that he gets his livelihood without having to steal. He might place his trust on Allah and repent from stealing. The same thing might be said about the adulteress who might also repent and reform. She might trust Allah to provide herlivelihood without her having to sell her body.

The wisdom in the charity going into the hands of a wealthy man was that perhaps it might dawn on him to spend likewise in the cause of Allah.

Hence. do not feel sorry. All your three donations are approved and accepted by Allah.”

Certainly, man cannot fathom the wisdom behind a deed. He may suppose that something is wrong and against Shariah but Allah may have placed several blessings in it. This man had paid charity honestly and with a sincere intention but it went into wrong hands unknowingly. Of course, it is not allowed to give sadaqah (charity) to wrong people intentionally. If anyone knows that a man is not deserving in the eyes of Shariah then it is wrong to pay charity to him.

Something similar to it had occured in the times of the Holy Prophet . It is transmitted by Muslim in his Sahih.

“Sayyidina Yazid bin Akhnas once gave some dinars to a man in the mosque with instructions to give them to a deserving person. After some time Ma’n, the son of Yazid, came to the mosque (and this man gave them to Ma‘n). Ma’n took the money and he did not know that his father had set them aside for charity. He took the money to his father who, when he learnt the details, disallowed him to take the money. He said, ‘By Allah, l did not intend to give these dinars to you.’ Ma’n took the case to the Messenger of Allah   who gave his verdict and said, ‘O Yazid! You had formed an intention and got the reward against it. And, O Ma’n! What you have taken is yours.”(Muslim)

In other words, Yazid  got the reward against his intention to pay sadaqah (charity) for he had not intended that his money go to his son. What Ma’n got was received unknowingly and so it was proper for him. He had not received it as charity (or sadaqah).

Lessons and Messages
1. It is really the intention behind deeds that is counted in the sight of Allah. Of course, the visible signs of the deed are also considered. In cases of deeds prescribed by Shariah both are
observed. the intention and the practical deed. The outward execution of a righteous deed should conform to the demands of Shariah and the intention too should be formed in a correct manner. lf either of the two lacks sincerity. the reward against the deed will be lost.

Sometimes. the outward appearance of deeds does not match the dictates of Shariah and one gets the impression that they are contradictory to Shariah. However, in reality they appear against Shariah because of some reasons known to Allah and their true test of authenticity is found in the intention prompting them. This is what is meant by the saying of the Holy Prophet  “The intention of a Believer is better (or superior) to his deed.” Sometimes, a man’s intentions are lofty and sincere but his deeds lack perfection. Allah rewards him on the purity of his intentions.
2. lt is better to give sadaqah in secret because that leaves no room for ostentation. However. it is also proper to give it publicly if there is a reason for that.
3. Sometimes man intends to do something but the consequences are what he had not thought of at all. Allah sees what His slave had meant and rewards accordingly as we saw in the case of a thief, adulteress and wealthy man receiving charity.
4. True dreams are good tiding. They are a forty-sixth part of Prophethood. This man’s dream was one of those and it disclosed to him that his sadaqah was approved and his sadness was thus removed.


Half the Earnings Belong to the Sea

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

First Words
Nature sometimes used the mute animals to teach the greedy and avid man a lesson in honesty. This is the story of a man who was dishonest because of excessive greed. Allah taught him a lesson through an ape. The Holy Prophet told us about it.

[Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah , reported the Messengerof Allah as saying that a man sold wine on a shop. (He wasso greedy that he was not satisfied with his unlawful earnings through wine and so engaged in cheating.) He mixed water intothe wine. He had a monkey with him who picked up his purse” and climbed up the top of the mast. There, he began to throw adinar into the sea and a dinar into the ship until he had divided them into two parts (half of it went into the sea because it was income from the adulterated and the man had no right over it).]
(Al·Harbi, Bayhaqi, Ahmad)

This is the story of a greedy trader who traded in wine, the worst of the unlawful things. His desire to cam more in a little time induced him to adulterate wine with water.

We_must know that wine was not disallowed by some religions before Islam, and it was not forbidden in the beginning in Islam too. Hence. we should not wonder why this man was blamed for adulteration and not for dealing in wine. Or, we should not ask why the Hadith has not questioned him for selling wine. We do not get the impression from the Hadith that there is nothing wrong in dealing in wine.

We must also remember that this is a story of one of the earlier people. Wine is unlawful, and it is a grave sin in the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad to have to do anything with wine including, drinking it, serving it, selling it, buying it, brewing it, preparing it or abetting and helping in these things.

Anyway, that man used to sell wine mixed with water and he carried on his business on a ship. He had a monkey with him who observed his conduct. One day. he suddenly picked up his master’s purse and climbed up the top of the mast of the ship so that no one could get hold of him. He opened the purse and threw one dinar into the sea and one into the ship. In this way, he threw away half of the money into the sea and half of it in the ship for the trader. He told him, as it were, that the money that was not his was returned to the sea.

Lessons and Messages

1. The main lesson the Hadith teaches us is that cheating and adulteration are wrong acts and are disallowed. It is unlawful to cheat anyone and the income therefrom is unlawful too.

The Shariah has termed adulteration as the worst of sins. The Messenger of Allah said  “Anyone who cheats or adulterates is not one of us.”
Unfortunately, our Muslim brothers are much involved in this sin. Greedy people, bereft of human qualities, adulterate every necessity of life—milk, honey, ghee (clarified butter), and so on. They also mix impurities in medicine. These people neglect the Hereafter and they sort of worship money. These filthy people play a horrible game with our society very boldly for there is no one to stop them.

So, it is a grave sin to sell adulterated items just as it is sinful to adulterate.

2. While Allah will punish the wrong-doer in the Hereaiier, sometimes He also gives him some punishment in this world. The problems and difficulties a man faces in this world are the result of his vvrong—doing.

Allah punished the trader in our story through his own monkey who threw away half his earnings in the sea.

3. The Hadith also reveals amazing secrets of the animals. Allah has given the animals too some intellect and ability to understand some things. The story shows that the monkey understood what was happening and could dispense justice.

4. We also learn from this case that if anyone has accumulated unlawful eamings then he must not use it but throw it away or give it to a needy person. The Shariah commands us in the first instance to desist from making unlawful earnings but if any of it comes in our hands then we must no use it.

Some people have money derived from interest. It is not proper to use it. Interest earnings are unlawful. It is better to give that money to a deserving person. The Ulama should be consulted to determine who the deserving person is.

This is an excrept from the book Stories from the hadith:


The Humblest Branch of Faith – Lesson in Social Living

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

First Words

Faith has more than seventy branches. The most excellent of these is to declare “There is no god but Allah”, and the humblest of the ranks is to remove a harmful thing from the road. The teaching of the Holy Prophet pbuh is to remove injurious and harmful things from people’s passage. These may be thoms, garbage, and so on. This is the lowest of the branches of faith and the last symbol of civility. This is the story of the man who earned Paradise on this simple task.

The Humblest Branch of FaithTranslation
[1. Bukhari and Muslim have transmitted in their respective Sahih that Sayyidina Abu Humyrah , has said that the Messenger of Allah said , “While a man was going
on a way, he saw a thomy branch and removed it from the way and Allah became pleased with his action and forgave him for that.”]

[2. The version in Muslim is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “A man while walking along the path saw the branches of a tree lying there. He thought, ‘By Allah, I shall remove these from this road, so that they may not harm the Muslims, and he was admitted to Paradise.”]

[3. Yet another version is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah quoted the Holy Prophet as saying, “I saw a man enjoying himself in Paradise because of the tree that he cut from the path which was a source of inconvenience to the people.”] (Bukhari Hadith # 652, 2476. Muslim # 6340, 6341)

To remove anything that causes inconvenience to the passersby is the lowest form of faith. This means that if anyone finds an obstacle on the road and does not remove it then he deprives himself of even the lowest kind of faith.

The Hadith teaches us that Allah forgives even those who practice the lovvest form of faith. The man mentioned in the Hadith was forgiven for that.

There is an important lesson in this narrative for the Muslims and religious-minded people of the current era for they regard such a practice as very ordinary and commonplace.

Today, the non-Muslim people hold it as against civil behaviour to leave obstacles on common thoroughfares and inconvenience the passersby. It is worth thinking over that this teaching was first imparted by Islam which made it instrumental in getting forgiveness. Alas, today, the people of Islam, instead of removing obstacles from
the road, have identified themselves with those who hurd hindrances on the roads. The position on our roads in areas where ninety percent of the residents are Muslims is that they are blocked and obstructed in different manners which cause inconvenience to the passersby. The many ways in which road-users are put to trouble include people spitting here and there. ejecting beetle—nut after chewing it. parking motor cars before door-steps of homes and mosques. throwing rubbish on roads, draining house-hold waste on streets. and so on. This is a very common observation in our Muslim societies although it is clearly against teachings of Islam. The overflowing sewers, stinking drains, broken roads and such scenes reflect our conduct and show how we default in abiding by the teachings of Islam. It is something all of us must ponder.
Must we not think that if Allah forgives a man for removing obstacles from the road and admitting him to Paradise then will He not punish those who act against that and throw rubbish and obstacles on the road and inconvenience passersby in other ways? Surely, He will call to account these people and will punish them. The Believers must correct their behaviour for Islam does not merely teach Salat and fasting but it also requires its adherents to adopt excellent maners and social conduct conducive to a better civil society.

Lessons and Messages
1. The first lesson we learn is that the teachings of Islam are not limited to worship alone. Islam is not the name of a few customary forms of worship but it is a method of spending one’s life in an instinctive way, being pure, having high moral character and clear thinking. It develops a proper civic sense and grows a highly civilised society.

2. It is the right of the road that pedestrians and road-users are not inconvenienced. It is not even proper to stop on the road and converse if that causes inconvenience to other people.

3. To try to protect a Muslim from inconvenience and wish well for him is a conduct that entitles one to enter into Paradise. Obviously, to remove an obstacle from the road is trying to protect a Muslim from inconvenience; it earned for that man enjoyment in Paradise. A Muslim is a well-wisher of another Muslim and he tries his best to save another Muslim from difficulty and hardship. This is what Islam teaches and this is the name of Islam.

This is an excrept from the book Stories from the hadith: