Enjoying God’s Company and Praying to Him: Seventeenth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

Enjoying God’s Company and Praying to Him: Seventeenth Stop of Your Spiritual Journey to God

By Dr. Jasser Auda

If He takes you away from people, then know that He is opening to you the doors of His Company. And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.

Enjoying-God’s Company

God allows us to ask because He wants to give us something.

This word of wisdom is another example related to understanding God’s giving and deprivation. The Sheikh says: “If He takes you away from people, then know that He is opening to you the doors of His Company.”

Test

Sometimes God may test you by the death of a friend, a spouse, a brother, etc. You might travel to a remote country for one reason or another. You may be put in jail or taken to hospital. In all these cases, you feel loneliness and isolation.

The Sheikh makes it clear that all such trials may be a giving from God in the form of deprivation. This word of wisdom is supported by the hadith in which the Prophet says: “If God wishes to benefit someone, He will take him away from people.”

By the loss of your beloved ones and feeling loneliness, God is opening for you the door of remembrance, meditation and being in His Company which you cannot feel if you are mixing with people day and night. You may think that such trials are a form of deprivation which in reality is the actual giving.

One of my teachers always remembers some stages of his life which he spent in jail or in exile and says: “If it were not for the imprisonment, I would not have written my books or developed my ideas.” Therefore, imprisonment and loneliness were a reason for being in God’s Company and benefiting the people with his knowledge.

Then the Sheikh says: “And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.” This means that God may put you to a test for which there is no solution except praying to God. It is likely that before the trial you did not pray to God. You must have thought that you were not in need of praying to God or that you prayed to God without feeling distressed.

Getting Closer to God

Sometimes one faces a serious crisis and the only way out of this crisis is seeking God’s help. So, one earnestly prays to God and seeks His help and immediately comes God’s answer. God says: “Nay – who is it that responds to the distressed when he calls out to Him…”  (An-Naml 27:62)

Praying to God may continue for days or weeks, and this is considered a giving from God not a deprivation because you are in a continuous worship. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Supplication is an act of worship.” (At-Tirmidhi)

But the Sheikh says: “And if He allows you to ask, then know that He wants to give you something.” God gives abundant rewards just for praying to Him. Not only that but He answers those who pray to Him either in the world or in the next or both in this world and the next.

Therefore, God allows us to ask because He wants to give us something. If you ask a generous person for help, surely he will answer you. What about if you ask God Himself!

In other cases, God may give you very little providence just to offer a sincere repentance to Him.

Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves (of God). (At-Tawbah 9:126)

And, indeed, We tested them through suffering, but they did not abase themselves before their Sustainer; and they will never humble themselves. (Al-Mu’minun 23:76)

God tests you by afflictions and hardships so that you repent to Him, humble yourself before Him, and pray to Him. Such difficulties are forms of deprivation which is an actual giving if understood well.

Deprivation and giving should be measured by human standards which are based on material gains. The true standard is your relation with God.

Sometimes God puts you to a test and after God removes the affliction your relation with Him improves. This is in itself the actual giving from God.

At times gifts from God come only through hardships. For example, if I do not thank God for His blessings or do not perform the acts of worship properly, God may test me by depriving me from one or two blessings. I may show some concern for what happened to me, but soon I repent to God.

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The article is excerpted from “Some of Al-Hikam Al-Ataiyyah” (The Path to God: A Journey with Ibn `Ata’illah’s Words of Wisdom In the Light of the Quran, the Prophetic Tradition, and Universal Laws of God- By Dr. Jasser Auda

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Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: The Skinny but Great Man

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: The Skinny but Great Man

By: Faisal Az-Zamil

Every Muslim owes a debt of gratitude to him!

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq

This great man managed to unify Arabia and his reign was the basis for the Islamic Ummah we see today.

In physical appearance, Abu Bakr was a slender man with a slightly bent waist that the cloth that he wore round it often slipped down before he fastens it many times. He was very gentle and tender-hearted. He used to recite the Qur’an in a sad heart-touching voice awakening the hearts of the people of Makkah when particularly reciting:

And, O my people! What ails me that I call you unto deliverance when ye call me unto the Fire? You call me to disbelieve in Allah and ascribe unto Him as partners that whereof I have no knowledge, while I call you unto the Mighty, the Forgiver. Assuredly that whereunto ye call me hath no claim in the world or in the Hereafter, and our return will be unto Allah, and the prodigals will be owners of the Fire. (Ghafir 40:41:43)

Abu Bakr (may Allah be blessed with him) was an eloquent reciter of the Qur’an. His recitation attracted the people of Makkah who were gathering around his house to listen to him. When the leaders of Quraish knew about that, they sent someone to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) to “ask his friend not to pray in public as his recitations ruined their boys” … meaning their slaves who were yearning to the call of freedom that recognizes absolute equality between humans irrespective of any distinction of color, race or tribe …

Abu Bakr fought against the forces of slavery and racism, purchasing the freedom of slaves. The first of the slaves set free by him was Bilal.

We see this soft gentle nature of Abu Bakr disappearing when the shocking great news of the Prophet’s death spread, turning the Arabian Peninsula upside down.

The Companions of Prophet Muhammad were in shock and confusion. Some of them took the corner of the Mosque in silent and grief.

Before his death, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) had ordered the mobilization of a large army to march to (now) Jordan under the command of Usama Ibn Zayd.

While the army was ready for war, the Prophet began to suffer from the sickness.

The first issue that Abu Bakr as a Caliph was called upon to decide was whether army- halted outside Al-Madinah- should proceed to its destination, or should it be abandoned due to the danger to which Madinah was exposed following the death of the Prophet.

Abu Bakr saw that it was the wish of the Prophet that the army should be sent to Jordan and it should be fulfilled at all costs.

“Who am I to withhold the army that the Prophet had ordained to proceed? Come what may: let Madinah stand or fall; the Caliphate live or perish, the command of the Holy Prophet shall be carried out.”, said Abu Bakr.

The view of Abu Bakr reflected his faithfulness and loyalty with the unwavering faith that whatever the Prophet had ordered was in the best interests of the community.

Thus, on the third day after the Prophet’s death, the Caliphate Abu Bakr announced the departure of Usama’s army, as were the commands of Allah’s Messenger.

After twenty days march the army reached Palestine and fought the Romans. Usamah returned to Madinah with a great victory and no losses proving the certainty of Abu Bakr’s faith and the strength and integrity of the Muslims as well.

The victory came at the most critical time of unrest and disorder. The victory news spread around entire Peninsula. It was the powerful beginning of Abu Bakr’s caliphate and war against the apostates.

Abu Bakr’s Reign

Abu Bakr’s reign lasted for 2 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Here we will address four key features of his caliphate:

1- His War of Apostasy: A Comprehensive View of the Last Message

As Al-Aswad Al-`Ansi, Tulayha Ibn Khuwaylid, Sajah, Musaylamah claimed prophethood, turning many tribes like Muzhig followed Al-Aswad; Banu Asad, Ghatfan Tai’ and Al-Ghawth who followed Tulayha; Banu Taghlab and Banu Tamim who followed Sajah and Yemen which followed Musaylamah who canceled the ritual of Prayer. Also, Luqayt ibn Malik Al-Azdi claimed Prophethood in Oman. They all sent delegations to Abu Bakr to negotiate with him as regarding the cancellation of some of the obligation and pillars of Islam topped by zakah. Abu Bakr replied with his well-known word, “I swear by Allah that if they were to refuse me a rope of camel which they used to pay the Messenger of Allah, I will fight with them over the refusal of it.”

“`Umar said: ‘O Abu Bakr! How can you fight the people when the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) has said: ‘I have been ordered to fight the people until they say: ‘There is no God but Allah’ and whoever says this, makes himself and his property inviolable except by legal right, and his reckoning is with Allah?’ Abu Bakr replied: ‘By Allah! I will fight whoever made a distinction between salah and zakat, for zakat is a lawful right upon the property!”

This how comprehensive and firmly intact was Abu Bakr’s view of Islam as a whole.

When `Umar also asked him to go a bit slow, he taunted him: “I need your support and you let me down! Were you strong in pre-Islamic days to have become a coward now?”

2- If Apostates Had Succeeded, There Would Have Been No Islam

This firm attitude from a tender-hearted skinny man was a fence to protect the wholeness and unity of the religion and its pillars from breakdown. Following Musylamah, people began to give up the Salah, and withhold the zakah, coming up with a new religion that has nothing to do with true Islam; a religion guided by individual desires, by defaced and disintegrated beliefs and principles, and racist inclinations. The religion, then, would have been a region-based weird set of rules like that of the Mongols. But Islam is the religion of sound fitrah (natural inclinations of man) and healthy mind; a guidance for all time, addressing the whole humanity and integrating all domains of human life.

This is how Abu Bakr fought to protect the true religion of God from distortion and innovations without sacrificing the rulings of its pillars of salah and zakah.

In the hadith narrated by Bakr:

“He heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: just see, can anything of his filthiness remain (on the body of) any one of you if there were a river at his door in which he washed himself five times daily? They, said: Nothing of his filthiness will remain (on his body). He said: That is like the five prayers by which Allah obliterates sins” (Muslim)

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by some of his Companions: “Is Allah near so we invoke him or is he far so we call him? so Allah revealed the verse: “When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Where, other than Islam, can one find such guidance!

If those apostates had succeeded to spread their new invented religion, nothing of these teachings would have been reached us.

3- Majority Is Not A Precondition for Decision-Making

Another lesson we can learn is that Abu Bakr’s opinion was not a majority’s. Thus, shura (consultation) in Islam is not binding for the ruler if he has an opinion opposed to the majority. Shura, in this respect, is advisable and not strictly necessary. Almighty Allah says, “So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).” (Ash-Shura 3:159)

This is the basis of the principle of separation of powers, a term coined in modern times by these French political thinker Montesquieu and was adopted by the ancient Romans. They divided the state powers into executive power, the legislature and the judiciary. If the judiciary was clearly independent, the executive power fluctuated between the systems. Yet, the Shura principle is a criterion, and the head of state has to exercise his powers after that advice is done by Shura or consultation. This what Abu Bakr has done, to make consultation and thereafter make use of his powers even if being opposed by the majority.

4- Strategic Goal for Apostasy Wars: Unified Arabian Peninsula

At strategic level, Abu Bakr left to his successor, `Umar, a united Arabia. Without this unity, Islam would have never been spread beyond the caliphate’s borders., to West, East and North.

Abu Bakr managed to unify these rebellious factions and his reign was the basis for the Islamic Ummah we see today.

`Umar would often say that he would prefer to be a hair on the chest of Abu Bakr.

Back to the situations and words that show Abu Bakr’s firm character:

  • In the Hudaybiyah peace treaty, the decision of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the conclusion of a reconciliation with Quraysh, in which Muslims return to Madinah and do not enter Makkah to perform Umrah. The acceptance of this condition was difficult for Muslims and the most angry was Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). When Abu Bakr saw Umar reviewing with the Prophet (peace be upon him) repeatedly asking to him in a fully disciplined manner, “O `Umar, he is the Messenger of Allah. So, stop it.” He means that he has to follow the Prophet’s footsteps in full compliance, and do not overstep him.
  • Usama was riding his horse and he is the commander of the army and Abu Bakr, the Caliph, was walking on his feet. When Usama wanted to go down to walk with him, Abu Bakr said to him (Do not come down, what if my feet is covered by dust for an hour in the way of God!)
  • Make sure that death gives you life!

May Allah have mercy on this great man.

May Allah Almighty bless him and reward him for what he had done for the Muslim Ummah.

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That’s Why We Pray..

That’s Why We Pray..

Prayer constitutes one pillar of Islam and is considered the foundation of religion. But why do we pray?

Any Muslim who fails to observe his prayers and has no reasonable excuse is committing a grave offense and a heinous sin. This offense is so grave because it is not only against God, which is bad enough, but is also against the very nature of man.

why we pray

purifies the heart and develops the mind, cultivates the conscience and comforts the soul.

It is an instinct of man to be inclined to adore the great beings, and to aspire to lofty goals.  The greatest being and the loftiest goal of all is God. The best way to cultivate in man a sound personality and actualize his aspirations in a mature course of development is the Islamic prayer.

To neglect prayer is to oppress the good qualities in human nature and unjustifiably deny it the right to adore and love, the right to aspire and ascend, and the right to excel in goodness and achieve noble aims. Such oppression and denial constitute a very serious and destructive offense. Here lies the significance and vitality of prayer in the life of man.

It should always be borne in mind that God does not need man’s prayer, because He is free of all needs. He is only interested in our prosperity and well-being in every sense.

When He emphasizes the necessity of prayer and charges us with any duty, He means to help us; because whatever good we do is for our own benefit, and whatever offence we commit is against our own souls. Here, too, man is the center of gravity, and his common interest is the main concern.

Why We Pray

The benefit which man can derive from the Islamic prayer is immeasurable and the blessing of prayer is beyond imagination. This is not just a ‘theory’ or conventional assumption; it is a fascinating fact and a spiritual experience. Here is an explanation of the effectiveness of the Islamic prayer:

1- It strengthens the belief in the existence and goodness of God and transmits this belief into the innermost recesses of man’ s heart.

2- It enlivens this belief and makes it constructive in the practical course of life.

3- It helps man to realize his natural and instinctive aspirations to greatness and high morality, to excellence and virtuous growth.

4- It purifies the heart and develops the mind, cultivates the conscience and comforts the soul.

5- It fosters the good and decent elements in man and suppresses the evil and indecent inclinations.

When we analyze the Islamic prayer and study its unique nature, it will reveal to us that it is not merely a physical motion or a void recital of the Holy Book; the Qur’an. It is a matchless and unprecedented formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.

Comprehensive Act

It is an exclusively Islamic experience where every muscle of the body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of God. It is difficult for anyone to impart in words the full meaning of the Islamic prayer yet it can be said that it is:

1- A lesson in discipline and willpower;

2- A practice in devotion to God and all worthy objectives;

3- A vigilant reminder of God and constant revelation of His Goodness;

4- A seed of spiritual cultivation and moral soundness;

5- A guide to the most upright way of life;

6- A safeguard against indecency and evil, against wrong deviation and stray;

7- A demonstration of true equality, solid unity, and brotherhood;

8- An expression of thankfulness to God and appreciation of Him;

9- A course of inner peace and stability;

10- An abundant source of patience and courage, of hope and confidence

This is the Islamic prayer, and that is what it can do for man. The best testimony to this statement is to experience the prayer and avail oneself of its spiritual joys. Then one will know what it really means.

 

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A Professor and Islamic Lecturer, Syracuse University

The article is an excerpt from a book by the author titled ‘Islam in Focus’.

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Shirk: Its Meaning and Punishment in Islam?

Shirk: Its Meaning and Punishment in Islam?

By: Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri

Shirk is to set up a partner with Allah (Exalted be He) in His rububiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Lordship), or His uluhiyyah (Oneness of worship) or His attributes.

So if a person believes that there is a creator or helper with Allah then he is a mushrik; whoever believes that someone besides Allah is worthy of worship then he is a mushrik; and whoever believes that Allah has an equal in His names and attributes then he is a mushrik.

Danger of Shirk

1- Committing shirk is great injustice because it is a violation of the exclusive right of Allah, which is tawheed (Oneness of Allah). Hence, tawheed is the most fair of justices, and shirk is the most unfair of injustices and the most abominable of offences; because it is defaming the Lord of the worlds, directing what is exclusively His right to other than Him and equating Him with others.

Moreover, due to the great danger of shirk whoever meets Allah as a mushrik Allah will not forgive him, as Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2- Committing shirk is the greatest of sins, for whoever worships other than Allah has placed worship in other than its rightful place and directed it to other than who is worthy of it; and that is great injustice and a heinous offence, as Allah says:

Indeed, shirk is great injustice. (Luqman 31:13)

3- Major shirk renders all deeds worthless, necessitates destruction and loss, and is the greatest of major sins:

1– Allah says:

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you: ‘If you set up partners with Allah, your deeds would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.’ Rather, worship Allah alone and be among the grateful. (Az-Zumar 39:65-66)

2– And Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said thrice, “Shall I not inform you of the greatest of major sins?” They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Committing shirk and disobedience to parents.” He sat up after he had been reclining and added, “And giving false witness.” He continued to repeat it until we said, “We wish he would be quiet.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abominable Characteristics of Shirk

Allah has mentioned four abominable characteristics of shirk in four verses. They are:

1 –Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly gone far astray. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

3– Allah says:

Indeed, whoever sets up partners with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his abode is the Fire. And there are no helpers for the wrongdoers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

4– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah – it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place. (Al-Hajj 22:31)

Punishment for Those Who Commit Shirk

1– Allah says:

Indeed, those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the Fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. They are the worst of creatures. (Al-Bayyinah 98:6)

2– `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies while calling on something besides Allah, as a rival to Him, will enter the Fire.”

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “Summarized Islam Fiqh (In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah)”, translated by Kamil Ahmad & Jawad Beg.

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Life of the Prophet: The Message for Present Muslims

Life of the Prophet: The Message for Present Muslims

By Sheikh Abu Al-Hassan ‘Ali Nadwi

Obviously, the world was not a deserted place at the time of the upbringing of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was not a graveyard. The wheels of life were moving at that time too with very little difference from what they are now. Business was carried on almost in the same manner, and the people, generally, were satisfied with the things around them and did not feel the need for change.

nature

The chief anxiety of the Prophet about the Muslims was that they would fall prey to the allurements of the world and forgot their mission.

But the Almighty did not like the state of the world. As it is mentioned in a prophetic tradition: “The Lord cast a glance at the dwellers of the earth, and felt highly displeased with them, whether Arabs or non-Arab. He was angry with all except for a few who believed in the revealed religions” (Muslim).

He, thereupon, sent down the Prophet Mohammad, and along with him, made provision for giving rise to a whole community. This community had evidently been created for a definite purpose which was not being fulfilled by others. There could be no need to raise a new community for something that was already being done or to produce the storm in the placid ocean of life that followed the emergence of the new Ummah.

For a Reason

When the Lord created Adam, the Angels asked: Were they not enough for His glorification? Why should this creature of clay be brought into being? The Lord replied: I know what you know not. (Al-Baqarah 2:30)

He, thereby, indicated that Adam had not been created to fulfill the function of the Angels, but He intended to take some other work from him.

If the Muslims were being raised merely for trade, the merchants of Mecca who took their caravans to Syria and Yemen, and the Jews of Madinah who had established large business houses had the right to ask whether they were not good enough that a new community was called for. And if it was agriculture, the farmers of Medina, Khyber, Najd, Syria, Yemen and Iraq could have complained why they were being overlooked. And so on.

But Muslims were being created for a new task which no one in the world was performing or could perform. A new community was required for it. Hence, it was said:

You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and you believe in Allah. (Aal `Imran 3:110)

It was for this sake that people left their home for good, suffered loss in trade and agriculture, and shut their eyes to the comforts of the world. They shed their blood like water, preferred widowhood for their women, and the state of an orphan for their children.

Was all this strife, this struggle and sacrifice, aimed simply for the ends and activities with which the Muslims appear to be so contented today?

The way to their attainment was safe and even. There was no opposition from the contemporary world over it. Progress along it was not the bone of contention between the Arabs and the other people. They had repeatedly been offered the things the Muslims are hankering after now, but each time, the preacher of Islam, the Prophet, had firmly rejected all the proposals of power, wealth and luxury.

Now, were the Muslims to come down to the level of all the pagan communities subsisted at the time of the childhood of the Prophet, and come down to the level the entire non-Muslim population of the world is finding itself today, and plunge recklessly into worldly affairs and interests like the Arabs, Romans and Persians of those days, and then make the high aim of their existence the ends and advantages the sacred Prophet had  turned down with disdain, what could it denote save the repudiation and betrayal of the early history of Islam? Would it not show that the blood that was shed at Badr, Hunain, Al-Ahzab, Qadsia and Yarmouk had been in vain?

If the leaders of the Quraysh were able to speak today, they could rightfully tell the Muslims that the things they were craving for were exactly what they had offered to their Prophet. All these could be obtained without shedding a drop of blood. Was the net result of the whole struggle and the worth of all the sacrifices the way of life they had chosen and the moral standards that were so pleasing to them? What answer would we have then?

Man’s True Mission

The chief anxiety of the Prophet about the Muslims was that they would fall prey to the allurements of the world and forgot their mission. He had addressed this warning to them in the sermon he delivered during the last days of his life:

“It is not poverty that I fear for you, but what I really fear is that the earth should be spread for you, as it had spread for those who came before you, so that you could covet it as they had coveted, and, then, it destroyed you as it had destroyed them.”

As we learn from Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, when it was felt by the Ansar of Madinah that they withdrew, for some time, from struggle in the path of Allah and paid attention to trade and agriculture which were suffering through neglect, they could not even think of exempting themselves from the principal duties like Salah, Fasting and Zakat, but had only expressed the intention of taking leave for a time from participation in the active endeavor for the glory of faith– this temporary withdrawal, too, was held to be nothing short of suicide, and the following verse of Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed:

Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to fitting destruction; and do good as it ought to be and carry it on. Lo! Allah loves those who do good deeds. (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

The particular mould of a Muslim’s life is such that he should either be engaged in the preaching and propagation of Faith and other practical endeavors in its path or lending help and support to those who are so engaged, and also, wishing, genuinely, to join in the task himself.

The life of a contented citizen or businessman is not the life of a Muslim. It can never be his aim and ideal. Legitimate concerns of life and lawful economic activity, of course, are not forbidden.

On the contrary, these are a form of worship and a means to the gaining of the propinquity of the Lord provided that the intention is pure and the eye is on the reward of the hereafter and such an occupation is carried on within the limits prescribed by Islam.

This is the chief message of the life of the Prophet for Muslims. To remain indifferent to it is to allow its purpose to be wasted and turn a blind eye to the fundamental reality the life of the Prophet presents to us.

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Source: ilmgate.org

The article is an excerpt from the author’s Pathway to Medina.

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