islam: The Outer Dimensions
O Allah! You are the One Who alternates the states of our hearts. Make our hearts steadfast on Your Deen.
In our journey to discover the true dimensions of Islam, the Hadith of Jibreel provides the essence of determining and “re” defining our Deen. Thus far, we have discussed three requirements found in the Hadith of Jibreel: Adab, etiquette and excellent character, Sanad, unbroken chains of transmission that extend back to the Prophet (saw) and the Vetting of our scholars, taking knowledge from qualified, credentialed people who possess the chains of transmission.
I - What Allah is Concerned with when it Comes to His Creation
- Allah (swt) is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.
- Allah (swt) is concerned with and has told us about every single element of who we are and what we experience.
- The answer to the question of what Allah expects of us is not a subjective truth; Allah tells us clearly.
II - The Questions of the Hadith of Jibreel
- The Hadith of Jibreel shows that the Prophet (saw) is asked a series of questions by Jibreel that cover the entire being of existence.
- The answer to three of the questions collectively define how we are to be servants of Allah (swt).
- The first question is concerned with the outward state: What is islam refers to what you are doing externally, who you are outwardly, how you are engaging the material world with your physical being.
- The second question is a deeper, intellectual, philosophical question: What is iman refers to what your ideas, thoughts, philosophies that govern how you think about this world and the next are.
- The third question is a deeply spiritual question: What is Ihsan refers to the depths of the soul and the heart. It concerns the spiritual reality of the human being.
- These truths are articulated in the scripture of the Qur’an and the Hadith, as well as in the deep intellectual inheritance that has been brought down to us from the Prophet (saw) until today. We must never deny or neglect them.
III - What is Islam?
- Shahada: You testify there is no God but Allah. La Ilaha Ilallah. The testimony of faith occurs with the tongue.
- Aqimu salat: Establish prayer. Perform the ritual prayer as commanded by Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (saw). The believers are concerned with how they stand in prayer, where they place their hands, what they utter with their tongues, where they look with their eyes, how they motion in prostration.
- Tuqi zakat: Give your alms, give your charity. Take the wealth that has been gifted to you by Allah, take it in your hand and motion with your body; you have to move your hands, your body, your feet to give your zakat. It is a physical manifestation of giving.
- Saum: Fasting the month of Ramadan is a physical action in which you restrict your body from food and drink, control your urges, discipline yourself, sacrifice your pleasure, sacrifice your physical state to be in loving surrender to Allah (swt).
- Hajj: Pilgrimage encompasses every physical act, every part of your body must be in physical surrender to Allah (swt). How you dress, what you eat, how you spend your money, the motions you make are not of your choice, they are all in physical surrender to the Will of Allah (swt).
IV - What we do Matters
- Allah has made it abundantly clear that He is concerned with what we do. It is not possible to do whatever we like and be deeply religious.
- When Allah speaks about corruption that is seen on the earth, He says: You see the corruption on the land and in the sea by what the hand of humans have wrought. 30:41.
- In a sound Hadith the Prophet (saw) says, “There are people who will travel this earth and they will raise their hands and say, ‘O Allah, grant me Heaven grant me righteousness, grant me goodness’, but what they eat is haram, what they drink is haram, their clothing is haram, their actions are haram, their tongue is unrestricted, speaking in haram. Why would this person be responded to?” If someone is turning to Allah (swt) asking Him, “Guide me, grant me, give me” but is transgressing against Him at every turn, what should that person expect from Allah?
- It is different to say instead, “O Allah, I am doing much wrong. I am transgressing against You, I speak in ways I shouldn’t speak, I look at things I shouldn’t look at, I have relationships I shouldn’t have, I miss my prayers, I don’t do the things You command me to do, but I beg You for Your Forgiveness, I yearn that You forgive my sins and my shortcomings, that You uplift my condition, that You fix me, that You help me fix myself, that You help me help myself.”
- The actions that you do externally will deeply impact you in your Afterlife. The whole self, outwardly and inwardly will be analyzed to determine whether you were a good believer.
V - Our Legal Tradition
- The outcome of the first question in the Hadith of Jibreel, in which the Prophet (saw) elucidates five points is our legal tradition, the do’s and don’ts, the halal and haram.
- Our religion is legal, philosophical, theological and spiritual. The legal tradition informs us how to dress, how to speak, how to testify how to pray, how to ritually cleanse ourselves, how to use the bathroom, how to marry, how to divorce, how to buy and sell in ways that are pleasing to Allah (swt). The details of our external reality are outlined in extreme detail in the books of law.
- Our legal tradition sets forth what is halal and what is haram, lawful and unlawful. Halal and haram are the most liberating concepts, because Allah (swt) gives us what we need to know. It frees us from having to figure out what is good and what is not. Allah (swt) says: What I command you to do is righteous and everything that I prohibit is wretched, rejected.
- The Prophet (saw) said, “Every single thing has a perimeter that is boundaried that you should not go beyond because if you do, you will find hardship, pitfalls and pain.” The idea of prohibition is profoundly liberating. The maharam of Allah is a sacred boundary. When we are outside of it, we are vulnerable, weak and exposed. Allah (swt) says:Verily these are the boundaries ordained by Allah so do not transgress them. If any do transgress the boundaries ordained by Allah, they oppress themselves. 2:229. So do not oppress yourselves by crossing those boundaries. Do not deny yourself goodness, pleasure, happiness with Allah (swt) by transgressing His boundaries.
VI - Choosing How to use our Physical Bodies
- Allah (swt) created the physical and the metaphysical. There is a deeply physical reality and we have to orient our physical bodies the way in which Allah wants us to orient ourselves in this physical world. We must be very mindful of what we do with this body. That is why Allah (swt) tells us that you see corruption and pain on the earth by what you have done with your physical bodies.
- You can use these tongues to say, “Ash-hadu an La Ilaha Ilallah, Muhammadun Rasulullah, or you can use it to cause all sorts of pain and harm. Make sure this tongue won’t come on the Day of Judgment and witness against you for how you used it.
- Our Prophet (saw) has taught us through unbroken chains of transmission that these tongues will be revived and speak, these hands will bear witness to what you touched with them, bought with them, these eyes will come to life and testify as to what you looked at with them, these ears will testify as to what you listened to with them. May Allah (swt) make it that our worst enemy on the Day of Judgment is not ourselves.
- What can I do to use my physical self to benefit Allah’s Creation?
- How often am I using my tongue in other than the remembrance of Allah?
- What parts of the body can be instruments of self-oppression?
Preparation for Ramadan
The month of Ramadan requires that we prepare ourselves. Last week we spoke about the importance of seeking forgiveness and making Astaghfar 100 times each day, of conditioning the body through fasting each Monday and Thursday, with engaging in the night vigil through the one raka of Witr at the very least, and to making sure to perform each salah on time. Today I am advising you and myself to develop a habit of reciting the Qur’an so that when Ramadan comes we are already oriented around the Book of Allah:
- Do not forget the Book of Allah, the Light of Allah (swt), the Guidance, the Healing, the Clarity. Every single day, at the very least, read one verse of the Qur’an, and whatever amount of Qur’an you are accustomed to reading each day, double it between now and Ramadan.
- The first command given to the Prophet (saw) was: Stand in the night and pray and recite the Qur’an in deliberate recitation.
- Only in the recitation of the Qur’an will we be elevated in the Afterlife. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said it will be said to the person on the Day of Judgment, “Read and recite and rise up as you did in the dunya.”