The Meaning and Virtues of Al-Fatihah (The Opening of the Book)

The Meaning and Virtues of Al-Fatihah (The Opening of the Book)

By: Editorial Staff

Surat Al-Fatihah is the first chapter of the Qur’an. It is a Makkan chapter; revealed in Makkah. Al-Fatihah is full of blessings. In this surah we praise to Allah, declare His glory and majesty, declare our sincerity to worship Him alone (You alone we worship and You alone we seek help from).

In the second half of the surah we pray for Allah for guidance and steadfastness upon the straight path of those who are guided not of those who had gone astray:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Various Names

This Surah is called Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. It is also called, Um Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars.

It is also called “as-sab` al-mathani” (the seven verses that are repeatedly recited). We recite this surah in all rak`ahs of every prayer. Allah says:

And indeed, We have bestowed upon you as-sab` al-mathani (the seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) and the Grand Qur’an. (Al-Hijr 15:87)

Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “(Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbi Al-`alamin) is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated ayahs of the Qur’an.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said,

“The prayer (i.e. , Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’”

Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah – the prayer.

Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa’ (the Cure).

It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Hadith, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion, (How did you know that it is a Ruqyah)

A Must in Every Prayer     

Abu Hurairah said that the Prophet said: “Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Um Al-Qur’an, then his prayer is incomplete.” He said it thrice. (Muslim)

The Prophet said: “There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “The prayer during which Um Al-Qur’an is not recited is invalid.” (Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban)

Abu Hurayrah said, “When­ we stand behind the Imam” He said, “Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say, (Allah, the Exalted, said, ` I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says, (All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.)

Allah says, ` My servant has praised Me. When the servant says, “The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me.” When he says, “The Owner of the Day of Recompense.” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me,” or ` My servant has related all matters to Me.” When he says, “You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.” Allah says, “A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for”. When he says, “Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray”, Allah says, “This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’).’” (Muslim and An-Nasa’i)

The last hadith used the word ­ Salah­ ”prayer” in reference to reciting the Qur’an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah, “And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between” (Al-Israa’ 17:110) meaning, with your recitation of the Qur’an.

Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every rak`ah.

The Virtues of Al-Fatihah

– Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:

While Jibril (Gabriel) was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he heard a sound above him. He lifted his head, and said: “This is a gate which has been opened in heaven today. It was never opened before.” Then an angel descended through it, he said: “This is an angel who has come down to earth. He never came down before.” He sent greetings and said: “Rejoice with two lights given to you. Such lights were not given to any Prophet before you. These (lights) are: Fatihat Al-Kitab (Surat Al-Fatihah), and the concluding ayahs (verses) of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings it contains.” (Muslim)

Abu Sa` id ibn Al-Mu`alla said, “I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, (What prevented you from coming) I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah ! I was praying. ‘ He said, (Didn’t Allah say), “O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life” (Al-Anfal 8:24)

He then said, “I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the masjid.” He held my hand and when he was about to leave the masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an. ‘ He said, “Yes.” “Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbi Al-`Alamin” (It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given. )” (Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i Ahmad, and Ibn Majah)

– In another hadith, Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubay ibn Ka` b was praying and said, (O Ubay! ) Ubay did not answer him. The Prophet said, (O Ubay! ) Ubay prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, ` Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah! ‘ He said, (Peace be unto you. O Ubay, what prevented you from answering me when I called you) He said, `O Messenger of Allah! I was praying. ‘ He said, (Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to me,)

“O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life” (Al-Anfal 8:24).  He said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.’ The Prophet said, “Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the Tawrah, the Injeel, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (the Qur’an)” He said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah said, “I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it.” He (Ka`b) said, ‘The Messenger of Allah held my hand while speaking to me.

Meanwhile I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before he finished his conversation. When we came close to the door, I said: O Messenger of Allah ! What is the Surah that you have promised to teach me’ He said, (What do you read in the prayer. ) Ubay said, ‘So I recited Um Al-Qur’an to him. ‘ He said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injeel, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it . It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.” (Ahmad)

– Abu Hurayrah recorded from Ubay ibn Ka`b that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah or the Inj il anything similar to Umm Al-Qur’an. It is the seven repeated verses and it is divided into two halves between Allah and His servant .” (An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmidhi)

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Islam’s Code of Life: Between Faith and Obedience

Islam’s Code of Life: Between Faith and Obedience

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

Islam means obedience to God. And it is common sense that this obedience cannot be complete unless man knows certain basic facts of life and places firm faith in them. What are those facts? And what are the essentials which a man must know to fashion his life in accordance with the Divine Way?

Islam’s Code of Life Between Faith and Obedience

One should have an unshakable belief in the existence of God; without this, obedience to Him is clearly impossible.

Tawheed

First of all, one should have an unshakable belief in the existence of God; without this, obedience to Him is clearly impossible.

Then, one must know the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of the attributes of God which enables man to cultivate the noblest of human qualities and to fashion his life in virtue and godliness. If a man does not know that there is One and only One God who is the Creator, the Ruler and the Sustainer of the Universe and there is none else to share with Him even a shred of Divine power and authority, he may fall prey to false gods, and offer his homage to them in search of favour.

But if he knows the divine attribute of tawheed (Oneness of God), there is no possibility of this. Similarly, if a man knows that God is Omnipresent and Omniscient and sees, hears and knows everything that we do in public or private – including our unexpressed thoughts! – then how can he afford to be disobedient to God?

He will feel that he is under eternal vigil and will, therefore, behave accordingly. But he who is not aware of these attributes of God may be led, because of his ignorance, into disobedience. It is the same with all the other attributes of God.

The fact is that the qualities and attributes which a man must possess, if he wants to pursue the way of Islam, can be cultivated and developed only out of profound knowledge of the attributes of God.

It is the knowledge of God’s attributes which purifies a man’s mind and soul, his beliefs, morals and actions. And a mere cursory acquaintance with or just an academic knowledge of these attributes is not sufficient – there must be an unflinching conviction firmly rooted in the mind and heart of man so that he may remain immune from insidious doubts and perversions.

Moreover, one must know in detail the way of living by following which one can seek the pleasure of God. Unless a man knows the likes and dislikes of God, how can he choose the one and reject the other? If a man has no knowledge of the Divine Law, how can he follow it?

Thus knowledge of the Divine Law and the revealed code of life is essential.

But here, again, mere knowledge is not enough. Man must have full confidence and conviction that it is the Divine Law and that his salvation lies in following this code alone. Knowledge without this conviction will fail to spur man to the Right Path and he may be lost in the blind alley of disobedience.

The Reward

Finally, man must also know the consequences both of belief and obedience and of disbelief and disobedience. He must know what blessings will be showered upon him if he chooses God’s way and leads a life of purity, virtue and obedience. And he must also know what consequences follow if he adopts the way of disobedience and revolt.

Thus, knowledge of life after death is absolutely essential for this purpose. Man must have an unwavering belief in the fact that death does not mean the end of life; that there will be resurrection and he will be brought to the highest court of justice, to be presided over by God Himself; that on the Day of Judgment complete justice will prevail; and that good deeds will be rewarded and misdeeds punished.

Everybody will get his due; there will be no escape. This is bound to happen. A sense of accountability is essential for fully-fledged obedience to the Law of God.

A man who has no knowledge of the world to come may consider obedience and disobedience quite immaterial. He may think that the obedient and the disobedient will both meet a similar end: after death, both will be reduced to mere dust.

With this attitude of mind, how can he be expected to submit to all the inconveniences and troubles that are inextricably associated with the life of active obedience, and avoid committing those sins which do not apparently bring him any moral or material loss in this world? With this mental attitude a man cannot acknowledge and submit to God’s Law.

Nor can a man, who lacks firm belief in the life hereafter and in the Divine Court of Judgment, remain steadfast in the turbulent waters of life with its temptation to sin, crime and evil; for doubt and hesitancy rob a man of his will to action.

You can remain consistent in your behaviour only if you are firm in your beliefs. You can whole – heartedly follow a course only if you are sure of the benefits that will accrue to you by following it and of the losses that will engulf you if you disobey it.

Thus, a profound knowledge of the consequences of belief and disbelief and of the life after death is crucial.

These are the essential facts which one must know if one wants to live the life of obedience, that is, Islam.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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Beautiful Names of Allah: Al-Ghaffar (The All-Forgiving)

Beautiful Names of Allah: Al-Ghaffar (The All-Forgiving)

By Dr. Mohammad Ratib Al-Nabulsi

Allah’s Beautiful Name, Al-Ghaffar, comes in the Qur’an under three forms, first of which is “Ghafir”. Allah, All-Mighty, says:

Beautiful Names of Allah Al-Ghaffar The All-Forgiving

Man’s sins and wrong-doings are by no means infinite, but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is really Infinite.

Ghafir-i-dhamb (the Forgiver of sin), the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the One Who Bestows (Favors). There is no god but He, to Him is the Final Return. (Ghafir 40:3)

The second form is “Al-Ghafour”, as in Allah’s words:

And your Lord is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Owner of Mercy. Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would have hastened punishment for them; but they have their appointed time, from which they will find no escape. (Al-Kahf 18:58)

In His words:

And He (Allah) is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Compassionate. (Al-Buruj 85:14)

Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that truly, I am Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Most Merciful. (Al-Hijr 15:49)

Say to My salves who have transgressed against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:53)

The third form of this Divine Name is “Al-Ghaffar” as in Allah’s words:

And verily, I am Al-Ghaffar (the All-Forgiving) for him who repents, believes and does righteousness and is moreover rightly guided. (Ta-Ha 20:82)

I said: ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord, (for) verily, He is Ghaffar (All-Forgiving). He will send rain to you in abundance, and give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers. (Nuh 71:10-12)

In short, “Ghafir”, “Ghafour” and “Ghaffar” are all used to the same purport in the Qur’an, for they are derived from the same root, “Al-Maghfirah” (i.e. Forgiveness).

Kinds of Sin

Some scholars said: “A person who disobeys Allah, All-Mighty, is described in the Qur’an as being “dhalim”, “dhaloum” or “dhallam”. For example, Allah says:

Then We gave the Book (the Qur’an) as inheritance to such of Our slaves whom We chose. Then, of them are some who are “dhalimun linafsih” (i.e. wrong themselves), and of them are those who follow a middle course, and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds. That is indeed a great Grace. (Fatir 35:32)

Another example is Allah’s words:

Truly, We did offer the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it; verily he was “dhalouman” (i.e. unjust to himself) and ignorant. (Al-Ahzab 33:72)

A third example is:

Say to My slaves who “asrafou” (have transgressed) against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Thus, the way man commits sins or does wrong to himself determines the way in which Allah responds and forgives such sins or wrong-doings.

Infinite Divine Forgiveness!

The delicate point in this context is that man’s sins and wrong-doings are by no means infinite, but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is really Infinite. Therefore, only those who disbelieve in Allah despair of His Infinite Divine Forgiveness! Only those who are ignorant despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy! Only those who are ungrateful despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Grace!

If your sin is finite but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is Infinite, then it is most unwise, most ignorant, and most ungrateful to despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy. Therefore, a desperate person is an ignorant ungrateful disbeliever.

All Sins

Another delicate point with regards to this Divine Name “Al-Ghaffar” is that the verses in which this Name is mentioned include verbs in the past form, as in Allah’s Words:

He (David) said: ‘He has wronged you in demanding your ewe in addition to his ewes; and verily, many partners oppress one another, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds – and such are few.’ And David guessed that We have tried him and he sought Forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance. So, We forgave him that, and verily, for him is a near access to Us and a good place of (final) return (Paradise). (Sad 38:24,25)

They also include verbs in the present form, as in Allah’s words:

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him, but He forgives other than that to whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has indeed invented a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

They also come in the imperative form:

Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one (Muhammad) calling to Faith: ‘Believe in your Lord!’, and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and expiate from us our evil deeds, and make us die as pious and righteous. (Aal `Imran 3:193)

They also come as verbs in the root form:

The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and so do believers: each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers, saying, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) “Ghufranaka” (i.e. Your Forgiveness), our Lord! And to You is the Final Return.’ (AL-Baqarah 2:185)

This means that Allah, Most Gracious, forgives you your previous, present and future sins, for He is the Oft-Forgiving. Whenever you commit sins, He is Oft-Forgiving. He, Most Gracious, also forgives all kinds of sins. In other words, for any sin or misdeed, He is the All-Forgiving. If you wrong yourself or other, He forgives you, but of course, after you have turned to Him with true repentance and sincere devotion. He, Most Merciful, forgives all kinds of sins everywhere and at all times, for He, Glory to Him, is the Oft-and-All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

In fact I say such words so that brother believers may not despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy, for only ignorant desperate disbelievers despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy.

Now the question is: why does this Divine Name come in such different forms? This is a very reasonable question.

The answer is: Linguistically speaking, such variation of word-forms of Allah’s Beautiful Name “Al-Ghaffar” denotes differences in both quantity, quality and frequency of occurrence, for Allah is Ghaffar in the sense that He is both Oft-Forgiving and All-Forgiving. In other words, whatever sins mankind commit, regardless of quality or quantity of such sins, or time or place of their occurrence, Allah forgives such sins, except for one unforgivable sin, namely associating other gods with Him in worship, which is by no means forgivable, as He, All-Mighty, says:

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him, but He forgives other (sins) than that to whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has indeed invented a tremendous (unforgivable) sin. ((An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

In this context, Allah says

Whosoever does deeds of righteousness, it is for (the benefit of) his own self; and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. And your Lord is by no means unjust to His slaves. (Fussilat 41:46)

In other words, Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, never does injustice to any of His slaves, all of whom enjoy being under His Infinite Divine Justice.

Another thing: Linguistically speaking, the Arabic word “Ghafara” means “to cover or hide”, but when Allah speaks about Moses (peace be upon him):

He (Moses) said: ‘My Lord! I have wronged myself, so forgive me!’ Then, He (Allah) forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (Al-Qasas 28:16)

…and also about His Messenger, Muhammad, (peace be upon him):

That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, and complete His Favor on you, and guide you on the Straight Path. (Al-Fath 48:2)

He, Glory to Him, means that He pardons and forgives, i.e. He, Most Gracious, does not punish His Prophets and Messengers but rather forgives them.

The problem is that when we read one part of the Qur’an, we forget another. For example, when we read Allah’s words:

Say to My salves who have transgressed against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is the All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’ (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Here, we should not stop but rather continue reading:

And turn you in repentance and in obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit yourselves to Him before the Torment comes upon you, and then you will not be helped. (Az-Zumar 39:54)

In other words, Allah, is Ghafour (All-Forgiving) for those who turn to Him, for those who repent, for those who abstain from committing sins and misdeeds, for those who reform, for those who ask for Forgiveness, not for those who insist on their sins and misdeeds and never think of repenting from them, thinking, wrongly and naively, that Allah, All-Mighty, is Oft-and-All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. To this effect, Allah, Glorified and Exalted, says

Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that, truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful, and that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment. (Al-Hijr 15 :49,50)

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Source: nabulsi.com

 

Dr. Al-Nabulsi is an outstanding Syrian Islamic scholar. He has written a number of Islamic books, most remarkable of which are: “Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Names of Allah”, “Encyclopedia of Scientific Miracles of the Holy Quran and Prophetic Sunna”, “Outlooks on Islam”, besides articles for some Syrian, Arab, Islamic, and Western magazines and newspapers. He also delivers a number of lessons, symposiums and interviews on Arab, Islamic radios and TVs.

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What Does It Mean to Believe in Allah? (Part Two)

What Does It Mean to Believe in Allah? (Part Two)

By Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri 

Part One

What does it mean to believe in Allah?

Belief in His Servitude

We know and have full conviction that Allah alone is the true deity Who has no partners and that He alone is the One who deserves to be worshiped. So He is the Lord of the worlds, and we worship Him with what He has legislated with complete humbleness, love and reverence for Him.

What Does It Mean to Believe in Allah

We have full conviction that to Allah alone belong the most beautiful Names and lofty Attributes.

Just as we have humbled to His Lordship in creation and maintenance, we must humble to His servitude in commandment and legislation.

We also know and have full conviction that just as He is One in His Lordship without any partner, He is also One in His servitude without any partner. So we worship Him alone without any partner, and stay away from worship of everything besides Him:

And your god is one God. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:163)

So Allah (Exalted be He) is the true deity, and the servitude of anything worshiped other than Him is false, as well as their worship:

That is because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand. (Al-Hajj 22:62)

Belief in His Names and Attributes

This means understanding, memorizing and acknowledging them, using them as a means of worshipping ah and acting in accordance to them.

Thus, knowledge All of Allah’s Attributes pertaining to His grandeur, glory and majesty, fill the hearts of the slaves with reverence and awe for Him. Knowledge of the Attributes pertaining to honor, strength, ability and omnipotence, fill the hearts with humbleness and submissiveness to Him.

Knowledge of the Attributes pertaining to mercy, beneficence, kindness and generosity, fill the hearts with love of Allah, as well as desire and craving for Allah’s bounties, kindness and generosity. Knowledge of the Attributes pertaining to knowledge and encompassment necessitate for the slave to be aware of Allah’s constant observance of him in all his movements and situations.

Finally, knowledge of all these attributes necessitate for the slave to have reverence, love, desire, delight, reliance and nearness to Him by worship of Him alone without any partner.

* We also affirm for Allah what He has affirmed for Himself or what His Messenger (peace be upon him) has affirmed for Him in regards to His most beautiful Names and lofty Attributes. Likewise, we negate from Him what He has negated from Himself or what His Messenger negated from Him. We also believe in Allah’s Names and Attributes, and that which they indicate of meanings and effects. So, for example, we believe that Allah is the Most Merciful. This means that He is the possessor of mercy. From the effects of this name is that He has mercy upon whom He wills. And the same can be said with the rest of His Names and Attributes.

We affirm all of that for Him in a manner that is befitting to His Majesty, without changing their meaning, without negating them, without specifying the exact nature of them and without resembling them to the creation, based on what He says:

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

* We further know and have full conviction that to Allah alone belong the most beautiful Names and lofty Attributes, and we invoke Him with them:

1– Allah says:

And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave (the company of) those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing. (Al-A`raf 7:180)

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

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e. one-hundred minus one; whoever enumerates them will go to Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Fundamental Principles of Belief in Allah’s Names and Attributes

Belief in Allah’s Names and Attributes are built upon three fundamental principles:

The first: Exalting the Creator from any similarity to the creation in His Essence, Names, Attributes and Actions.

The second: Having iman (belief) in what Allah has described for Himself or what His Messenger (peace be upon him) described for Him of Names and Attributes.

The third: Cutting off any desire to try to specify the exact nature of Allah’s Names, Attributes and Actions. Just as we do not know the exact nature of His Essence, we also do not know of the exact nature of His Names, Attributes and Actions, as He says:

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

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

 

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Dhikr: Closeness through Worship

Dhikr: Closeness through Worship

How can one get closer to God through specific acts of worship? Is it through obligatory or supererogatory acts we may reach such closeness? God says:

Closeness to God

For each specific obligatory `ibadah, there is an additional nafl or supererogatory equivalent.

Remember Me and I shall remember you. Be grateful unto Me and deny Me not.” (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

For us to achieve a continuous and sustained awareness of Him, Allah, in His Wisdom and Mercy, has taught us some very specific mechanisms of dhikr. These include: the formal `ibadah (worship) like salah (prayer), sawm (Fasting), Zakah and Hajj; tilawah of the Qur’an, du`aa’, istighfar (asking for forgiveness) and tawbah, seeking the company of the righteous and da`wah.

Together these mechanisms or methods constitute what we have classified above as the second form of dhikr– coming after dhikr as a way of continuous and sustained awareness of God– but here we may sub-divide them into two groups: those that can be performed individually and those that are performed collectively.

Methods of Individual Dhikr

The foremost of the specific methods pertaining to individual dhikr include the fard or obligatory `ibadah. Allah has said in a hadith qudsi (Divine hadith):

My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved by Me than what I have made obligatory. (Al-Bukhari)

Each specific formal `ibadah or act of servitude to God, has been ordained as an instrument of self-development. When we observe our salah regularly at the proper times, together in congregation whenever possible, with clear intentions and sincerity; when we fast in the month of Ramadan with awareness and resolve; when we give zakah as soon as it falls due with a generous heart; and when we fulfill the obligations of Hajj as soon as we have the means, we will gain that special closeness to Allah that He has promised.

Closeness through Worship

God says:

Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and reclining and who reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth are highly commended in the Noble Qur’an. They are wise in that they fill their hearts with the remembrance of God in every, moment, in every circumstance and in every posture of their lives. (Aal `Imran 3:191)

Indeed, we may get even closer to God through additional observance of these specific formal acts of servitude, for Allah continues in the hadith qudsi:

My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with additional devotions until I love him. When I love him, I become the hearing with which he hears, the sight with which he sees, the hand with which he strikes and the foot with which he walks. Were he to ask for something I would surely give it, and were he to ask for refuge, I would surely grant him refuge. (Al-Bukhari)

For each specific obligatory `ibadah, there is an additional nafl or supererogatory equivalent. These are as follows:

The Sunnah Prayers

These include the additional prayers before and after the five obligatory ones, but just as importantly the Tahajjud Prayer (optional late night Prayer).

The Sunnah Fasts

As recommended by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to be practiced on Mondays and Thursdays of each week, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth day of each lunar calendar month, and other recommended days in the Islamic year.

Sadaqah

The giving of voluntary charity, however much and whenever one can afford, for the pleasure of Allah.

The `Umrah

Performance of the voluntary short pilgrimage.

In addition to the obligatory and their related supererogatory `ibadah, there are two further specific methods of individual dhikr: the first is the daily recitation of the Qur’an, and the second, frequent du`aa’ or supplications to Allah for forgiveness, guidance and fulfillment of needs.

These specific methods of dhikr are instruments of tazkiyah (purification of the heart), dhikr, and  true closeness to God.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development.

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