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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 08 May 2011 at 12:43pm
The Balance
 
“No obedient person should be self satisfied, and no disobedient should lose hope.”

~Ahmad Sam’ani
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 13 May 2011 at 12:21pm
Constants on the Path: Five levels of Taqwa and 3 Ways to Acquire it!
 
Being mindful of one’s relationship with God is an individual obligation whose foundation is knowledge, and whose life is practice according to Islam. Allah call’s the believers, ordering them to be cautious: “Oh you who believe, be cautious of Allah.”

5 Stations of Taqwa (God-consciousness)

Ibn Juzay al-Maliki a great classical scholar, wrote, “The degrees of taqwa are five:

1. Being cautious of falling into disbelief. This is the station of submission to God (الإسلام).

2. Being cautious of falling into sin and evil. This is the station of repentance (التوبة).

3. Being cautious of doubtful things. This is the station of carefulness(الورع).

4. Being cautious of the permissible. This is the station of indifference (الزهد). Ibn al-Qayyim said, “There are some people who will observe the obligations and avoid the prohibited. However, Shaytan will busy them with the permissible acts until the fail to make use of their extra time.”

5. Being cautious of letting anything enter the heart save Allah. This is the station of witness (المشاهدة).”

Taqwa in Practice:

Once ‘Umar radi Allahu ‘anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) asked a companion, describe for me taqwa.” The companion responded, “If you were to walk through a thorny pathway with a flowing robe, how would you walk?” ‘Umar answered, “I would gather my garments, squeezing them tight, and walk carefully.” The companion responded, “That is taqwa.”

How to Gain Taqwa?

If you were born a Muslim, or accepted Islam, then you already possess taqwa. This is great news and should serve as a spring board to preserve and develop your existing relationship with Allah! There are some pretty clear ways to do this. However, knowledge and practice are two very different entities:

1. Make a sincere intention to improve your taqwa.

2. Ask Allah to increase your tawqa. It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon Him) used to supplicate:

اللهم إني أسئلك الهدى والتقى والعفاف والغنى

“Allahum Inni asalukal huda wa ttuqa wal ‘afaaf wal ghinaa.”

“Oh Allah, I ask You for guidance, piety, virtue and sufficiency.”

3. To increase your worship. Allah says, “Worship Allah…you will obtain taqwa.”

4. Observe the sunnah whenever possible. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “I am the most God fearing person.” Thus, following him is a guarantee, if one’s intention is right, that one is on the ways of taqwa. Imam Malik said, “The Sunnah is like the Ark of Noah. Whoever got on board was safe. Who didn’t, drowned.”

At the end of the day, these steps are like tools hanging in our garages. If we use them, we will build something. If we neglect them, making excuses, being lazy or having bad feelings about our Lord, then we have none to blame but ourselves. Start by observing the obligatory acts, increase the number of sunnah, charity and civic engagement. All of those, if done for Allah alone, are Red Bulls for taqwa without the withdrawal!

Taqwa is a quality whose virtues are astounding. Imam al-Faruzabadi mentioned 22 virtues of taqwa mentioned in the Qur’an! Look for them here in the future, God willing.

~Imam Suhaib Webb
 


Edited by a well wisher - 13 May 2011 at 12:22pm
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 24 May 2011 at 9:08am
The Reality of Taqwa, its Scope and 10 of its Causes
 

An Abridgment of Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Mayara’s Writings

Its Definition

Taqwa means to abandon religious prohibitions and observe religious injunctions. It is defined by Shari’ah as, “A person’s protection from what will harm him in the Hereafter.”

Its Scope

Abandoning the prohibitions and observing the injunctions implies an inner and outer reality. Thus, its application falls under four types:

1. Abandoning the outer prohibitions (like leaving prayers or smoking weed)
2. Abandoning the inner prohibitions (like envy or despairing His mercy)
3. Observing the outer injunctions (like prayer and being good to one’s neighbors)
4. Observing the inner injunctions (like the love of God and fearing Him)

Gaining Balance

Based on what was mentioned previously, it could be said of a person who observes religious acts, but harbors arrogance in his heart, that his taqwa is unbalanced. The same could also apply to a person who has no malice in his heart towards others, but fails to observe certain ritual acts.

It is also possible that a person’s heart is balanced, but his outer worship is not. For example, he attends rally after rally, meeting after meeting and class after class, but fails to observe the dawn prayer regularly. This common disease is a sign of an imbalance in a person’s taqwa. The same could also apply to a person who observes the ritual acts of worship, but fails to take part in his share of community work. Ponder this, because its possibilities are mind boggling.

The Causes of Taqwa are 10:

1.  Fear of worldly punishment
2.  Fear of punishment in the Hereafter
3.  Hope for rewards in this life
4.  Hope for rewards in the Hereafter
5.  Fear of being audited in the Hereafter
6.  Realization that God sees you
7.  Being thankful for His blessings with obedience
8.  Knowledge
9.  Extolling His magnificence
10.  Sincerely loving Him

We ask Allah to make us from the people of taqwa.Aameen

~Imam Suhaib Webb
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 24 June 2011 at 9:50am
When Are ‘Good Actions’ No Longer Good?
 

Good actions are supposed to make us good people. Bad actions usually have the opposite effect. Yet what if ‘good’ actions do not have this positive effect? If doing good can have the opposite result to what was intended, are such good actions really good?

Look at the following verse:

“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.” (Qur’an, 2:263)

If one is not wholeheartedly willing to help a poor person or is unable to, kindly turning down the offer is better than to give charity followed by spiteful words. This is stated despite the fact that giving your wealth in charity is outwardly better and usually harder on the ego than simply offering kind words; Imam Fakhr al-Rāzī mentions why. The first case of charity is from pure goodness, whereas in the second case there is a mixture of good and bad, which can easily be predominated by the latter1. Then to encourage charity without feeling bitter Allah reminds us that He is free of need, whilst we rely on him. By the same logic, we should give to those who look up to us.

To further confirm the fact that spiteful words can destroy the reward of giving charity Allah says:

“O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day…” (Qur’an, 2:264)

Thus the two causes that invalidate charity are:

1) To follow it with egotistical reminders and spiteful words (al-adhā)

2) To give charity with the intention of showing off (al-riyā’)

In the science of Tafsīr however, there is an agreed upon principle which states it is better to keep the application of a verse more general than to restrict it2. Based on this, as well as keeping in spirit with reflecting upon the Qur’an (4:82), we can generalise the above verse.

Firstly, we can apply this verse to any good deed. This is obvious in the case of showing off (riyā’). There are several Qur’anic verses and sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) mentioning the destructive effect riyā’ has on our actions3. As for spite (al-adhā), then we can take this as an indication (juz’ī) to any verbal form of inflicted harm as a result of a good deed we have done. For example, after studying an area of Islam, we can feel very confident in our own opinions and thoughts, leading to ridiculing others or calling them innovators etc…

We can also apply this verse a step further. The specific form of verbal harm can be understood as alluding to any form of harm emanating from someone’s limbs, not necessarily the tongue. As for riyā’, it can be understood as symbolising any harmful action of the heart. For instance, feeling a “holier than thou” complex indicates a problem on both aspects. Here, one carries oneself arrogantly due to the conviction that one is somehow better at being Muslim than others, which is predicated on one’s perceived ‘good actions’.

As for defining what a good deed is has three aspects:

1) The outward form of the action itself,

2) The inward state of the person who performs it, and

3) Whether or not Allah accepts it.

Therefore while some actions may outwardly appear good, they are cancelled out due to the negative state of the person they emanate from. And in that sense a good action can seize to be good, especially when it leads to an evil end. This is a dangerous situation for us for if the very means which Allah gave us to purify our egos of spiritual blemishes become avenues which we use to only strengthen them, how than can we be from those believers described by Allah as having a “sound heart4“?

For those of us who do manage to (1) purify the outward form of the action as well as (2) our inner states, there exists a third level for that action to qualify as wholly good. This depends on whether or not Allah is pleased with that action. And because we can never be entirely sure of our judgment from Allah, we can never have certainty that what we have done is ultimately good or bad. It is this last humbling aspect that helps a Muslim keep their feet on the ground.

Since in the end, the value of our outward action ultimately depends on its connection to our hidden inward. Thus, when we fully understand this, we are all in a better state of hope and fear5.  Hope: because of the All Merciful nature of our Lord Who accepts our actions even though they don’t befit His majesty, and fear because we are aware of our own shortcomings and weaknesses.

May Allah help us to act and create with goodness throughout. Ameen.

  1. Tafsīr al-Kabīr
  2. see Fatḥ al-Qadīr of Imam Shawkānī
  3. For examples, See Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn
  4. Quran 26:88-89
  5. Link to Salah article of taqwa- on ‘khawf/khushu’

http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/character/when-are-good-actions-no-longer-good/

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 10 July 2011 at 11:44pm
A Talk on Taqwa - Chantal Carnes

A brief talk on taqwa by sister Chantal Carnes in a MAS video from the series in the Shade of Ramadan


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB5mHrDWMZE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB5mHrDWMZE
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 17 July 2011 at 7:50am

Taqwa in Ramadan

Imam Zaid Shakir's Eid Khutbah on October 1, 2008 at the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyBdAcEmH-w

(39 mins)

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 03 September 2011 at 6:57am
Ramadan, Counterculture, and Soul
 
Each religion has a history. Among the aspects common to most of them is the fact that seasons of fast have long been part of their spiritual regimen. For millennia sages of diverse experiences have offered insights, esoteric and practical, on the benefits associated with voluntary deprivation for a specific time and for a transcending purpose. They have expanded on how the molecular realm of food and drink, for example, connects with the intangible realm of will and choice and of gratitude and conscience, and how certain sublime knowledge comes only to those who have mastered their desires. But nestled among the insights there may also be an indictment especially germane today: apparently, there is something corrupting about going through a full year in this life without some major interruption in habit, a break from conformity, that helps us to step outside our cartoon world. Ramadan, the Muslim season of fast, is such a disturbance. 
 
In one month we're given the peculiar assignment to defrock the ephemeral world of its authority over us and to reinstate a spiritual bearing that, if unsuppressed, is competent in perceiving where permanence lies and privy to the sham of postmodernism and its strobe-light logic. In contemporary terms, fasting the month of Ramadan is a countercultural movement that confronts an ethos that tries to cancel the interior of religion and discount the importance of rituals in human life. What the modern aspirant does in Ramadan is hardly subtle. In depriving ourselves of food and drink from dawn to dusk, we implicitly defy a despotic marketing imagination that has deputized nearly all of us to serve a culture of "buy and dispose and buy more." This depletes resources, darkens the sky, and melts Arctic glaciers. But it also dulls our sense of the sacred. 
 
We each have a body, a fact we're constantly reminded of, and a body does have needs, organic and sensual, which we cater to day and night. But to submit to the curriculum of fundamentalist secularists that "body" defines humanity is a dereliction that revealed religion has always warned of. We are created from the clay of the earth but are also infused with a soul that has no material correlate in this world. Religion has recognized this duality, not as a glitch in our creation, but as a trial. Somewhere in the teachings of all the great ones (including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad), there's an un-asterisked point: in negotiating the material and spiritual selves, one brushes up against salvation. The choice, they have stressed, comes down to the question: what aspect of our humanity do we devote ourselves to? 
 
For the Muslim, the nurturing of the soul is paramount and is guided by what we offhandedly call in pamphlets the "five pillars of Islam," essential rites of worship that have been passed down from the Prophet Muhammad. These pillars start to lose their meaning when we forget a baseline understanding of religion: Islam insists that each of us is born into this world with a pure condition, a state of grace, in fact. While humans may be feeble, sometimes foolish, belligerent, and forgetful, our center was made uncorrupt. This is equally true for men and women. The rites of worship and the way of life they engender are meant to bring us closer to our original state because it is not confused about God nor indifferent to our role in His world. 
 
During this time, our devotions are supposed to help us reclaim the organizing principles of revealed religion, which cannot really happen without regaining control over our desires. If the coup is successful, scholars say, then there's spiritual manumission, a kind of freedom in which we "remember." Interestingly, the Arabic word for "humanity" is related to the Arabic term that means "forgetfulness" (as some Arab linguists have suggested). What this implies is that the human being's chief hurdle in his salvation-quest is to actively remember the ultimate drama of life: we have a Maker; our lives are brief and with purpose; we are accountable for what we do; and after our earthly lives, we all shall live again and be brought back to God. 

The religion project has always sought to help us remember, not something new, but what we all know intuitively. In each of us there is this soul, a spiritual master, originally very close and aware of God. In the tumble of a crowded life, however, we are prone to silence or ignore that spirit. This is especially true when there is subtle pressure to forget our unseen origins. Ramadan mitigates this pressure. The spiritual aspirant is freer to see gain through subtraction: more faith through emptying, eloquence by learning silence, and honor in being humble. 

It is an axiom of Islam that matters of salvation and faith involve choice and effort, everyday. Faith in God and purity of heart do not survive a passive relationship. God-consciousness is not a state per se, but a course and always so. God by His very nature is forgiving and merciful. He does not need an event in history or violence to forgive. What He asks of us is to remember Him and have this remembrance honorably expressed in what we do. And in the event of failure, there is recourse in asking for forgiveness, supplicating with a penitent heart that rejects despair. In the Quran, despair is severely censured and associated with disbelief itself. The reason for this is self-evident: without hope, faith is simply not possible. 

I remember a conversation with a zoology professor of mine during my undergraduate days. He said that it is unlikely that creatures deep in the sea have any kind of awareness of what it means to be wet, not even an awareness commensurate to primitive brains. But the irony is not restricted to fish: the greater the immersion the less aware we become of it. There is an observation generally agreed upon among religious folk, that there is indeed an immersion in the fleeting realm, and it's nearly impossible to escape it without help. It is before our senses, from billboards to broadcasts. And after a while, we're disabled from even noticing. Ramadan is help, a knock on a door, an invitation to walk out of the cave.
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 17 September 2011 at 5:18pm

Taqwa or God-Consciousness After Ramadan

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf offers reflections before the sermon and prayer on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS9GZBB_D8M

(29 mins)

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 24 September 2011 at 10:57am
Taqwa in the Shade of Ramadan

Dr. Imad Bayoun talks about taqwa in the MAS series (In the Shade of Ramadan)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvKyZ1Jmbxc


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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 19 October 2011 at 1:51pm
Tafsir Surat Al Hashr verse 18 by Imam Suhaib Webb
 
(About 11 mins)


Edited by a well wisher - 19 October 2011 at 1:56pm
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 November 2011 at 1:57am
Keeping up with Mentioning Allah

In his well-known book, Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom), sheikh Ahmad Ibn `Ataa'illah As-Sakandari says:

Do not stop mentioning Allah just because your heart is not present. Forgetting Him completely is worse than being inattentive while you are mentioning Him; perhaps He will elevate you from being inattentive to being attentive, and from being attentive to being fully present with Him, and from being fully present with Him to being fully absent from anything but Him. {This is not difficult for Allah} (Fatir 35 :17).

Along the path of our journey, we are still going though the stage of clearing up, searching for our flaws and attempting to get rid of them. This word of wisdom tackles a serious flaw of the soul which is ‘forgetfulness’; that is, the lack of the remembrance of Allah. We often fall to this mistake throughout the day, and the way-out is to remember Allah, by tongue or by heart.

{O you who have attained to faith! Remember Allah with unceasing remembrance. And extol His limitless glory from morn to evening} (Al-Ahzab 33: 41-42), and {so remember Me, and I shall remember you} (Al-Baqarah 2: 152).

Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Always keep your tongue busy with Allah's remembrance". (Reported by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

These are clear and direct advices to remember Allah at all time and in every situation. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to mention Allah in all situations, and for every situation, he had a special supplication which is in itself a form of mentioning Allah.

In the light of this, mentioning Allah brings about a state of rest in the heart which draws one closer to Allah. We read in the Qur'an: {Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of Allah - for, verily, in the remembrance of Allah hearts do find their rest.} (Ar-Ra`d 13: 28)

Mentioning Allah is the ultimate goal of any act of worship. Allah says: {And be constant in prayer, so as to remember Me!} (Ta-Ha 20: 14) This means that the objective of the prayer itself is Allah's remembrance.

Ibn `Ataa' says: "Perhaps He will elevate you from being attentive to being fully present with Him". Being fully present with Him is a degree higher than being attentive, i.e., the servant's heart is present while mentioning Allah.

This presence of the heart is what `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) described in his famous sermon about the characteristics of those who are conscious of Allah.

 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 25 November 2011 at 12:52am

Laws alone cannot bring about peace and security. 

This is a very important factor that sets Islam apart from all human attempts at peace and security. 

The first and most important factor that contributes to security has to do not with laws but with what is in the hearts of the people

The ultimate goal of Islamic law is to establish, strengthen and support the faith in individuals and in the community as a whole.  This faith brings peace into the heart, which immediately curtails violent feelings towards others.

Furthermore, part of this faith is the implanting of taqwa. taqwa brings him peace but it also restrains his actions.  He must behave only within a set of general principles and one of the goals of those principles is the establishment of peace and security...
 
http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/growing-in-faith/454784-peace-and-security-god-consciousness.html

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 24 February 2012 at 10:28am
Taqwa Between Love and Fear

Is Taqwa Simply Fear?

The term fear, when used to refer to God-consciousness in the Islamic context, does not mean being scared of God because being scared excludes any feeling of love or respect.


Fear of God means to fear His disobedience and punishment, on the Day of Judgment, and to fear forgetting Him and losing His blessings.
Another partial meaning of fear, which is nobler, is the fear of displeasing God, the One Whom you love.

For example, when two people love each other, you find each of them trying their best to please the other and to avoid even forgetting their anniversaries or birthdays. If this is the attitude of humans towards each other, then it is more appropriate that people fear God’s displeasure.

People should love God most because they owe everything to Him: their lives, property, and, above all, His guidance to know and worship Him.
So, fear of God is not founded on a vengeful concept of hate and fear of God. It is actually based on love, which leads to a feeling of fear of God’s displeasure...

http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/understanding-islam/ethics-and-values/439939

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2012 at 5:09pm
The Prophet’s counsel to pray to God “as if” we saw Him, “for, though you see Him not, yet He sees you”, has a wide application, indeed it might be applied to almost everything we do.  The words “as if” are a key to the good life.  In a sense they even compensate for our apparent absence and make a break in the veil which cover us.  In the deepest darkness, we can still act as if we stood in the light and, of course, imagine that we are in the light. 
 
The man of bad character may decide to act as if he were better than he is and perhaps become better by doing so.  Those whose faith is no more than a flickering candle can still worship as if there were an unquenchable radiance in their hearts.  Even those who have fallen into the pit of despair may transform their situation as if all were well.  For a bad man knows that goodness exists, the doubter knows that faith exists, and the victim of misfortune knows that happiness exists.

Here again there is a contrast between the possibility open to the Muslim and the corresponding attitudes in the contemporary West.  The Westerner emphasizes what he calls “honesty” and “sincerity”, having no use for “as if”.  We should not, he believes, pretend to be other than we are – or other than we think we are – and we should always face up to the facts: our bad character, our lack of faith or our misery.  Once again, he will accuse the Muslim of hypocrisy.  I think he is wrong.  This is not hypocrisy but an aspiration towards the heights as an alternative to wallowing in the depths.
 
Charles Gai Eaton in Remembering God: Reflections on Islam
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