Can We Come To Love Ritual Again?

In today’s world where efficiency and competitiveness create a culture of racing to the bottom, there’s a temptation to view everything in our lives through the lens of performance. As Elisha and Stefanie Goldstein write,

“Your practice isn’t a performance. Judgment about whether a meditation session was ’good’ or ‘bad,’ or whether mindfulness is ‘working’ or not, isn’t helpful. In fact, this performance-based mindset misses the point entirely. If there is a goal to any of the practices it’s simply to learn. Bringing a learning mindset to this practice is the fastest route to growth and mastery”1.

Similarly, the prayer (or du’a, or dhikr) is not performance. That is not to say that the how-to of it is inconsequential (number of raka’at, the order in which things are said, the times in which they may be performed, etc.). This is where Islam departs from mindfulness, or any other philosophy, in that the how-to does matter but it still should not be mistaken for being all about a particular emotional experience (such as happiness, for example) or that if the salah is executed properly that this will guarantee us safety, protection, or our heart’s desire.

1. Goldstein, Elisha. “An Invitation To Mindfulness”. Mindful, 21 July 2017, pp. 2-3.


Eid al-Fitr Khutbah 1438

The following audio is the Eid al-Fitr khutbah delivered by Imam Marc Manley on the 1st of Shawwal, 1438 (June 25th, 2017).

Allah asks us an enduring question:

فَأَينَ تَذهَبونَ

“Where are you going?”Qur’an, 81: 26

As we say, “life is a journey”. Where is that journey headed to? There are many landmarks we’ll pass but where are we ultimately ending up at?

Having completed a month of fasting, we know what we’re capable of and we know where we’ve been. We’ve been through a trial and stayed the course but where do we go from here?

At times in our lives we attain great things and after those moments we sometimes lose confidence as to where the next hill, the next challenge, is.

The beautiful part of this chapter is it’s telling us things are literally “winding up”, or down, depending on how you look at it. The sun is going to collapse. The stars are going to become dull. We know these things now (the universe is expanding farther and farther apart): what was once familiar will now become distant and unfamiliar.

Everything points towards Allah and that Meeting with Him.

Stick together. We may lose sight of the sun and the stars, the world may become a strange and unfamiliar place, but we can become the signposts and rest stops along the way. We, not only through unity, but in unifying God, can point the way to one another when we feel lost or tired. We can also serve that function for others. In fact, we’ve already done it in the blessed month that just passed. Let us strive to keep its spirit alive in our hearts, homes, carrying that light as a beacon of light in dark times. Keep the faith and never fear the dark for “God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth”.

اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذينَ آمَنو

ا يُخرِجُهُم مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ إِلَى النّورِ

“God is the protector of those who have faith taking them out of darkness to light.”Qur’an, 2: 257

اللَّهُ نورُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ

“God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.”Qur’an, 24: 35

This chapter was revealed after the defeated at Uhud and so Abu Sufyan tried to break the Muslim resolve by sending a man to spread rumors in Medina about how fearsome the Quraysh army would be, hoping to prevent the Muslims from accepting his challenge!

إِنَّما ذٰلِكُمُ الشَّيطانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَولِياءَهُ فَلا تَخافوهُم وَخافونِ إِن كُنتُم مُؤمِنينَ

“It’s only Satan who instills the fear of his minions in you, so don’t fear them.  Rather, fear Me if you (really) do believe.”Qur’an, 3: 175

If we have faith and courage, God will light the way for us.


Contentment With the World is the Enemy of Success

[Direct download]

إِنَّ الَّذينَ لا يَرجونَ لِقاءَنا وَرَضوا بِالحَياةِ الدُّنيا وَاطمَأَنّوا بِها وَالَّذينَ هُم عَن آياتِنا غافِلونَ

أُولٰئِكَ مَأواهُمُ النّارُ بِما كانوا يَكسِبونَ

“Those who don’t look forward to their meeting with Us, who are satisfied with the life of this world and who disregard Our Signs (verses) they’re going to have their home in the Fire on account of what they’ve earned for themselves.”Qur’an, 10: 7-8

قال الحسن: والله ما زينوها ولا رفعوها ، حتى رضوا بها وهم غافلون عن آيات الله الكونية فلا يتفكرون فيها والشرعية فلا يأتمرون بها

Ibn Kathir relates in his Tafsir: “They adorned this life and praised it until they became completely satisfied with it.  They were unconcerned with God’s signs in the universe, nor did they ponder over them.  They were also unconcerned with God’s commandments, nor did they adhere to them.  Their resting place on the Day of Resurrection will be in the Fire; that’s their reward for what they earned in their worldly lives through all their sins and crimes, and that’s in addition to their rejection of God, His Messenger and the Last Day.” — Hasan al-Basri

Never Being Satisfied With One’s Character

من قرأ القرآنَ فقد استدرج النُّبوَّةَ بين جنبَيْه غيرَ أنَّه لا يُوحَى إليه لا ينبغي لصاحبِ القرآنِ أن يجِدَّ مع من وجَدٍّ ولا يجهلَ مع من جهِل وفي جوفهِ كلامُ الله تعالى

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever recites the Qur’an, they have approached prophethood, the only difference being they do not receive Divine Inspiration. It is not appropriate for the Companion of the Qur’an to act hastily with a hasty person nor be ignorant with an ignorant person while having the Word of God in his breast”. — al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

اغْتَنِمْ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هَرَمِكَ وَصِحَّتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكَ وَغِنَاكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكَ وَفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغُلِكَ وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكَ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Take advantage of five things before another five are taken from you: [1] youth before old age; [2] health before sickness; [3] wealth before poverty; [4] free time before becoming busy; and [5] life before death”. — Narrated by ’Abdullah bin ’Abbas in al-Bayhaqi’s Shu’ab al-Iman

Satisfaction With The Creator vs. Created Things

إِنَّ الَّذينَ آمَنوا وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ أُولٰئِكَ هُم خَيرُ البَرِيَّةِ

جَزاؤُهُم عِندَ رَبِّهِم جَنّاتُ عَدنٍ تَجري مِن تَحتِهَا الأَنهارُ خالِدينَ فيها أَبَدًا ۖ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنهُم وَرَضوا عَنهُ ۚ ذٰلِكَ لِمَن خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ

“However, those who believe and do what’s morally right are the best of creatures.Their reward lies with their Lord: everlasting gardens beneath which rivers flow — and there they shall remain — God well pleased with them and they with Him.  This is what’s in store for the one who adored his Lord.”Qur’an, 98: 7-8



Abject Argumentation – Presented by the Lamppost Education Initiative

أَنَّ الْحُسَيْنَ بْنَ عَلِيٍّ، حَدَّثَهُ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم طَرَقَهُ وَفَاطِمَةَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَلاَ تُصَلُّونَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا أَنْفُسُنَا بِيَدِ اللَّهِ فَإِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَبْعَثَنَا بَعَثَنَا ‏.‏ فَانْصَرَفَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حِينَ قُلْتُ لَهُ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ سَمِعْتُهُ وَهُوَ مُدْبِرٌ يَضْرِبُ فَخِذَهُ وَيَقُولُ ‏”‏ وَكَانَ الإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَىْءٍ جَدَلاً

Al-Husayn bin ‘Ali narrated on the authority of his father, ‘Ali b. Abu Talib, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came one night to see him ‘Ali and Fatimah (the daughter of the Prophet) and said,

“Why aren’t you praying (Tahajjud)? I (‘Ali) said, ‘Messenger of Allah, our souls are in the hands of God. If He wants to wake us up (to pray), He’ll wake us up’. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left when I said this to him. I heard him say, with his back turned, striking his hand on his thigh,

“More than anything else, man is argumentative!” — Qur’an, 18: 54

in reference to the verse,

وَلَقَد صَرَّفنا في هٰذَا القُرآنِ لِلنّاسِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ ۚ وَكانَ الإِنسانُ أَكثَرَ شَيءٍ جَدَلًا

“We’ve given detailed explanations in this Qur’an, using every kind of example for people to ponder. But more than anything else, man is argumentative!” — Qur’an, 18: 54

خَرَجْتُ لأُخْبِرَكُمْ، فَتَلاَحَى فُلاَنٌ وَفُلاَنٌ وَإِنَّهَا رُفِعَتْ، وَعَسَى أَنْ يَكُونَ خَيْرًا لَكُمْ، فَالْتَمِسُوهَا فِي التَّاسِعَةِ وَالسَّابِعَةِ وَالْخَامِسَةِ

Narrated ‘Ubadah bin al-Samit,

The Prophet ﷺ said, “I came out to inform you about the Laylah al-Qadr, but as so-and-so were arguing, so the news about it had been taken away and perhaps that was better for you. So look for it in the ninth, the seventh, or the fifth of the last ten days of Ramadan”.


Who Are The Muslims – In Ramadan, Get To Know Yourself Again

The chapter The Heights (#7)/al-A’raf, was revealed in the Late Meccan Period, during the very last days of the Prophet’s stay in Makkah. This passage, amongst many things, addresses new concerns like interfaith relations.

The Makkan leaders questioned the Jews pertaining to Muhammad and what their religion might have to say about him

Thus, this chapter addresses all social participants: Muslims, Jews and Pagans.

كِتابٌ أُنزِلَ إِلَيكَ فَلا يَكُن في صَدرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِنهُ لِتُنذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكرىٰ لِلمُؤمِنينَ

“This is a book that’s being revealed to you from God, so don’t let your heart be troubled any more over how people may respond to it, for with this Book you can give warnings and reminders to the believers.”Qur’an 7: 2

The Need To Understood vs. The Want To Be Loved and Accepted

Like our time, the Muslims were not always well understood in the broader social context and the powers-that-be went to sources other than the Muslims to find out who they were.

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

‏ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَى دِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْرِ

Anas bin Malik related that the Prophet ﷺ said, “A time will come upon mankind where the perseverant amongst them regarding his or her religion will be like one who grasps a burning coal.”al-Tirmidhi, #2260

In addition to illustrating the pressure the Prophet felt to be understood or even accepted, Allah reminds the Prophet of his mission: “[to] give good news and warnings”. Not to be accepted because acceptance would undoubtedly involve having to accept the Quraysh’s idolatry and morality. Neither of these is acceptable to God.

Push Yourself – Don’t Settle For Yesterday

وَالَّذينَ آمَنوا وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ لا نُكَلِّفُ نَفسًا إِلّا وُسعَها أُولٰئِكَ أَصحابُ الجَنَّةِ ۖ هُم فيها خالِدونَ

“Those who believe and do what’s morally right – We don’t place upon any soul a burden greater than it can bear! – they’ll be the companions of the Garden, and in it they shall remain!”Qur’an, 7: 42

So Who Are The Muslims? – We prioritize God

Nowadays we (the Muslims) want to be known as social justice warriors, helpers of the needy, etc., but we never give the why. Why do we care about others? Because of this Mighty Book:

القرآنُ شافعٌ مشفَّعٌ وماحلٌ مُصدَّقٌ من جعله أمامَه قادَه إلى الجنَّةِ ومن جعله خلفَ ظهرِه ساقَه إلى النَّارِ

Jābir relates that the Prophet said, “The Qur’an is an intercessor whose intercession is accepted whose testimony is trustworthy. Whoever places the Qur’an before him, it will lead him to Paradise. Whoever puts it behind his back, it will lead him to the Fire.” —  al-Mundhi, al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib


Ramadan Is About Being A Believer

Modern society has become obsessed with winning. But what happens if you can’t always win? What happens if God puts you in circumstances in which you lose?

God, in the Qur’an, had to tell the pagan Arabs that God will not cause any good you’ve done in secret to fall by the wayside.

وهو شهرٌ أولُهُ رحمةٌ وأوسطُهُ مغفرةٌ وآخرُهُ عتقٌ من النارِ

“It [Ramadan] is a month in which the first of it is mercy, the middle of it is forgiveness and the last of it is salvation from the fire.” — narration from Salman al-Farisi

‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about this verse”:

عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ سَعِيدِ بْنِ وَهْبٍ الْهَمْدَانِيِّ، أَنَّ عَائِشَةَ، زَوْجَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَتْ

سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ هَذِهِ الآيَةِ

إِنَّ الَّذينَ هُم مِن خَشيَةِ رَبِّهِم مُشفِقونَ

وَالَّذينَ هُم بِآياتِ رَبِّهِم يُؤمِنونَ

وَالَّذينَ هُم بِرَبِّهِم لا يُشرِكونَ

وَالَّذينَ يُؤتونَ ما آتَوا وَقُلوبُهُم وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُم إِلىٰ رَبِّهِم راجِعونَ

أُولٰئِكَ يُسارِعونَ فِي الخَيراتِ وَهُم لَها سابِقونَ

‏قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ أَهُمُ الَّذِينَ يَشْرَبُونَ الْخَمْرَ وَيَسْرِقُونَ قَالَ لاَ يَا بِنْتَ الصِّدِّيقِ وَلَكِنَّهُمُ الَّذِينَ يَصُومُونَ وَيُصَلُّونَ وَيَتَصَدَّقُونَ وَهُمْ يَخَافُونَ أَنْ لاَ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَهُمْ لَهَا سَابِقُونَ

“Indeed, those who anxiously fear their Lord, who believe in the signs of their Lord, who don’t make partners with their Lord and who give whatever they give in charity with nervous hearts, knowing that they’re going to return to their Lord, they’re the ones who rush forward to do every type of good deed. They’re foremost in doing what’s pleasing to God.Qur’an 23: 57-61

‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “Are they those who drink alcohol and steal?” He ﷺ said, “No, O daughter of al-Siddiq; they are the ones who fast and pray and give charity, but they fear that it will not be accepted from them; they are the ones who race for the good deeds.”Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, #3175

عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه

خياركم من قرأ القرآن وأقرأه

Ibn Mas’ud related that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The best of you is the one who recites the Qur’an (for his or herself) and then recites it to others.”


Ramadan – Getting Back To What’s Real

In Surah al-Zumar Allah uses a word: ibādi, referring not only to Muslims to everyone. Allah shows care and concern us all.  However, He also doesn’t say “you’ll never experience unhappiness in life” or that “your mom won’t die”. Rather, He says, if you do what I say you will live forever after death/after Judgment in tranquility and have whatever you want.

In other words, salvation.

قُل يا عِبادِيَ الَّذينَ أَسرَفوا عَلىٰ أَنفُسِهِم لا تَقنَطوا مِن رَحمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغفِرُ الذُّنوبَ جَميعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفورُ الرَّحيمُ

وَأَنيبوا إِلىٰ رَبِّكُم وَأَسلِموا لَهُ مِن قَبلِ أَن يَأتِيَكُمُ العَذابُ ثُمَّ لا تُنصَرونَ

وَاتَّبِعوا أَحسَنَ ما أُنزِلَ إِلَيكُم مِن رَبِّكُم مِن قَبلِ أَن يَأتِيَكُمُ العَذابُ بَغتَةً وَأَنتُم لا تَشعُرونَ

أَن تَقولَ نَفسٌ يا حَسرَتا عَلىٰ ما فَرَّطتُ في جَنبِ اللَّهِ وَإِن كُنتُ لَمِنَ السّاخِرينَ

“[Muhammad – Tell the people that I, Myself, have said, ‘All My servants who have acted excessively against their own souls! Don’t lose hope of God’s mercy, for God can forgive all sins. He truly is the Forgiving and the Merciful!’

‘Turn towards your Lord and surrender to Him before the punishment overwhelms you, for then you’ll have no one to help you.’

‘Follow the best of what’s being revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment overwhelms you all of a sudden without your even realizing what’s happening.’

‘For then your soul will cry out, “I’m doomed! I neglected my duty to God, and I scoffed!”Qur’an, 39: 53-56

There is no “guess work” in religion:

عن وابصة بن معبد رضي الله عنه قال‏‏ أتيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال ‏جئتَ تسألُ عن البرِّ والإثمِ قلتُ نعم فجمع أصابعَه الثَّلاثَ فجعل ينكُتُ بها في صدري ويقولُ يا وابصةُ استفْتِ قلبَك والبرُّ ما اطمأنَّت إليه النَّفسُ واطمأنَّ إليه القلبُ والإثمُ ما حاك في القلبِ وتردَّدُ في الصَّدرِ وإن أفتاك النَّاسُ وأفتَوْك

Wabisah bin Ma’bad, a Companion of the Prophet ﷺ reported that he went to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he asked me, “Have you come to inquire about piety and sin?” I replied, “yes”. He ﷺ then gather his three fingers together and poked me in my chest, saying “Wabisah … ask your heart regarding it. Piety is that which contents the soul and comforts the heart, and sin is that which knots up the heart and causes one’s chest to be hesitant even if people pronounce it permissible and give you verdicts on such matters again and again.” — al-Mundhiri relates this in al-Targhib wa’l Tarhib with a sound chain

What you’re missing out on the other 11 months of the year:

تُفتَحُ أبوابُ الجنَّةِ يومَ الاثنينِ ، ويومَ الخميسِ ، فيُغفَرُ لِكُلِّ عبدٍ لا يشرِكُ باللَّهِ شيئًا ، إلَّا رجلًا كانت بينَهُ وبينَ أخيهِ شحناءُ

“The doors of Paradise are opened every Monday and Thursday. Thus, every worshiper of God is forgiven except for the person where there exists rancor between him or her and his or her brother or sister.”Related by Abu Hurayrah, recorded in Sahih Muslim, #2565