Monday, February 18, 2013

Barakah







A few weeks ago, I lead Jumu'ah prayers at a musallah close to my office, wherein I delivered a talk on developing a connection with the Quran, and particularly infusing love for the Quran in our children. To motivate the topic, I gave examples of devotion to the Quran from our history. For instance, that 'Uthman (may Allah be pleased with Him) read the entire Quran in one rak'ah of prayer. And that both Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam ash-Shafi'i (may Allah have mercy on them) recited the Quran 60 times during Ramadan. I gave other examples as well. 

A brother approached me after the prayer and asked that I give daleels (proofs) for these examples. It is true that I didn't give references for the examples I presented. 

When I give khutbahs, I normally don't provide references for every single fact I mention, because I feel that the purpose of the khutbah is not academic, but rather for admonition, inspiration, and reminder - to have a positive transformative effect on the audience. 

I surfed the web to see if there were any references for the above examples in addition to the ones I already had. I did find some additional references, but I also found something quite, well, interesting. I found that Muslims were debating over these sorts of examples on various forums, some taking the position that these examples are nonsensical because they are not physically possible. Some 'ulama also shared this opinion. I realized then, that the reason the brother was asking me for references was because the examples I provided on devotion to the Quran sounded outrageous. 

The line of reasoning is the following: it takes at least twenty minutes to complete a juz (one thirtieth) of the Quran, so to recite the entire Quran would take at least ten hours, that is, if someone could stand that long. Therefore, the claim that 'Uthman recited the entire Qur'an in one standing sounds bogus. 

While this reasoning sounds logical on the surface, it suffers from the modern worldview of time, which holds the premise that time is linear and constant. It ignores the reality that since Allah is the creator of time, He is not restricted in His abilities by time. This is why the Prophet's Isra wa al-Mi'raj  (night journey and ascension), despite the numerous events it included, all occurred at the blink of a second. The following hadith of The Prophet  also suggests that time is not linear: "You should travel during the night. The earth is rolled up at night." (Abu Dawud) i.e., travel time is less at night. 

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The field of time management teaches various principles, techniques, and tools that allow people to make the most effective and efficient use of their time, and ultimately achieve their goals. Time management has made a profound impact on my productivity, and I encourage others to learn about time management. But there is another ingredient that allows one to achieve more in one's time. It is through this ingredient that the likes of Imam An-Nawawi left an incredible legacy of knowledge with a lifespan of only 45 years; that Imam Suyuti completed Tafseer Jalalayn in 40 days; that Islam spread from Spain to India in a course of only 100 years; that children, even today, can memorize the entire Qur'an by memory (often without even having an understanding of the Arabic language) at ages as early as six or seven. 

This ingredient is called barakah. Divine blessing. 

Barakah refers to the phenomenon of abundance through apparently little. It refers to the idea that one can produce a lot in a very short span of time; that one can fulfill his needs and desires with very little wealth; that one can feed many people with little food; that one gain incredible insight through limited exposure to knowledge or scholars; etc.  

Barakah refers to the result of high output through little input. 

Closer examination reveals that quantity is not a measure of one's success. Rather, success is measured by the barakah in that quantity. One could be very wealthy, yet unhappy, wrought with family problems, addictions, debt, and mental conditions. And one could be middle class, yet enjoying life, having sound family, physical, moral, and social health. Someone may have a lot of time but achieve little, while someone with little time may achieve a lot. A dinner could have limited variety and quantity of food but it is more enjoyable and satiating than another dinner with a wide variety and quantity of food. 

I'm sure we have felt barakah at least once in our lives, whether it be in one's time, wealth, possessions, or abilities. If you have experienced barakah, you will understand that barakah doesn't work according to natural laws. It works in an unseen way. It cannot be measured - in fact, barakah disappears as soon as one starts measuring it.  

The way to have barakah in one's life is to turn to Allah and rely on Him. "Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will give him a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect." [65:2-3]. 

Let us be people of taqwa, and people with barakah in our lives. 

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Proofs of 'Uthman reading Quran in one rak'ah: 

  1. Sayyiduna 'Uthman used to recite the Quran in a Rak'ah of Witr, and also Sayyiduna Sa'id Bin Jubayr used to recite the Quran in a Rak'ah. (Tirmidhi)
  2. "In a single Rak`ah, those who completed the Quran during one rak`ah are too numerous to enumerate. The early generations include: 'Uthman bin 'Affan, Tamim Al-Dari, and Sa'id bin Jubayr (Allah be well pleased with them) completing it every rak`ah inside the Ka'bah." (al-Nawawi: Tibyan fi Adab Hamalat al-Quran - Etiquette with the Quran)
  3. ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn ‘Uthman reported that, “One night I was praying when someone touched me on my back. I saw that it was ‘Uthman, the leader of the believers. I made space for him and then he started to pray. He recited the whole Quran in one single rak'ah and then came out of prayer. I said to him, ‘But you have prayed only one rak'ah’ “That is my Witr prayer.” he said.” (Baihaqi)
Proof of the Imams Abu Hanifa and Imam ash-Shafi'i reciting quran 60 times in Ramadan: 

"The early Muslims would recite the Qur'an during prayer and at other times during Ramadan. Al-Aswad used to complete the Qur'an every other night during Ramadan. Al-Nakha'i would read at that rate during the last ten days specifically. During the balance of the month he would complete it every third night. Qatada would complete the Qur'an every seven days throughout the year, but during Ramadan every third night. During the last ten days of the month he would complete it every night. During Ramadan Imam Shafi'i would complete the Qur'an sixty times, all of them outside of prayer. Abu Hanifa would read at a similar pace." (ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Lata'if al-Ma'arif, courtesy newislamicdirections.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Conflict Management the Prophetic Way Part 5


Her ugly facial expressions, harsh tone, and speed of talking made it clear – she had a mean attitude. I didn't feel a mustard seed of pity for the patron who was talking to this receptionist, though. My thoughts were consumed over how I, being next in line, was going to present a rather unusual request to her, without being the recipient of the same wrath the patron in front of me was suffering.