dimanche 3 février 2008

"Loving the Beloved of Allah", Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqubi

Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
His biography :
He is one of the leading scholars of Islam in the world whose words have transformed the lives of thousands of people. He is a charismatic public speaker in both Arabic and English; and studied seven languages. He is a descendant of the Prophet PBUH, from a family of scholars which have taught the Sacred Knowledge for centuries. Three of his ancestors were Imams in the Grand Omayyad Masjid in Damascus, including his father, the great erudite scholar and master of both shari’a and tasawwuf, the late shaykh Ibrahim al-Yaqoubi. Shaykh Muhammad was born in Damascus in 1382, accompanied his father until he died in 1406. He was his servant, his disciple and his student. His father trained him in the Sufi path and gave him and qualified as a murshid. He studied under him the major works of the Sacred Knowledge, memorized many texts and didactic poems. His father gave him several ijazas. He also received several other Ijazas from the top scholars of Syria such as: the Hanafite Mufti of Syria Shaykh Muhammad Abul-Yusr ‘Abideen; the Malikite Mufti of Syria, Sayyid Makki al-Kittan; Shaykh Ali al-Boudaylimi of Tlemsan; Sh. Saalih al-Khateeb; and Shaykh Abdul ‘Aziz ‘Uyoon al-Sood. He made his debut as Friday speaker at the age of 14, was appointed as Friday Imam and speaker at the age of 17 and as a teacher of the Sacred Knowledge at the age of 20. Since then, he has been teaching the sciences of the shari’a such as ‘Aqeeda, tafsir, Hadith, fiqh, usool, grammar, etc. to students of all levels. He taught Tafsir al-Nasafi, Sahih al-Bukhari five times, Sahih Muslim, al-Muwatta six times, al-Shama’il of al-Tirmidhi 17 times, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, al-Tahawiyya over twenty times, Sharh al-‘Aqaa’id al-Nasafiyyah, Ihya ‘Uloom al-Din, al-Hikam of Ibn ‘Atta’illah, al-Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyaad, al-Qudouri, al-Hidayah, Maqaamt al-Hariri, Mughni al-Labeeb and many other books. Shaykh Muhammad is an authority of hadith; his isnads i.e. chains of transmission, are of the highest amongst scholars of our time. Students and scholars visit him in Syria or when he travels to hear the masalsalaat and take ijaza in narration of hadith. Between 1992-2001, He worked in Kuwait, Sweden, and USA; and travelled across the world teaching the sacred knowledge and calling people to Allah. He toured many countries in North America and Europe, the Far East and the Arab World. Over a thousand people took shahada at his hands; and many repented after listening to him. He resides now in Damascus and teaches in the masjid of sh. Muhyiddeen Ibn ‘Arabi, and in his home; while several of his students are spreading the sacred knowledge and reviving the way of Ulema around the world.

Lecture entitled: “Loving the Beloved of Allah”
As some of you may know, our blessed teacher and spiritual guide gave a talk about the beloved of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him (pbuh), on Thursday 31 January in Kensington Town Hall .
The Shaykh, upon his entering, asked everyone to stay seated. He discreetly went to seat on the front row, only to be asked by the organiser to sat on the stage.
After a praising and introducing him, Adil, a chemistry student at Imperial College, asked the sheykh to address the audience…
Sheykh Muhammad got up, walked towards the pulpit, put his walking stick on his left, and wonders started coming out of his mouth…
What follows is what a remember from what he said; I ask Allah forgiveness for any inaccuracy, and also ask for your duas:
Starting by praising Allah, asking blessings to be showered on the prophet (pbuh) and invoking the blessing of God upon the people in the gathering, our beloved Syrian scholar went directly to the point: Love.

Talking about love brings love to everybody. Love enlightens the spirit, lifts up the people; it has an effect on an intellectual as well as on an emotional level. He explained the crowed that everybody experiences love, may it be to someone; or to something.
Wali Muhammad then described what kind of love people are experiencing at different stages of their lives:
1. Love for the parents: it is the first love one experiences. When our parents leave us, we miss them, thus demonstrating that we love them.

2. Love of friends, classmates: our second love; we love their company.

3. Love between spouses: the shaykh said that young people eventually need to get married. He made a dua for young people who are not married to marry As Soon As Possible. Many people giggled, probably because they couldn’t cry in front of everybody lol!

The attachment of one’s spouse, emotional, is different from the love for parents, based on respect, when the love for friend is on a social level.

After mentioning the importance of love in one’s life, our beloved teacher remarked that God in the Koran did not used the word “love, Hubb” when talking about the relationship between husband and wife: “And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love (“mawadda”) and mercy. Lo! herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect. » (chapter of rum, verse 21)

The Shaykh said the word translated here as love is not Hubb (love), but mawadda. He himself translated it as friendship, or permanent love. He stated that in order to keep the family strong one needed something else than “Hubb” between mates. Indeed it is friendship and mercy that can make a marriage lasts.
He justly pointed out that many people married for love, but then work against each other after few years under the same roof.
The Sham scholar explained that a major reason for disputes is that either wife or husband is too busy with the children. Husband can end up being jealous. Similarly he said the wife needs a break from the husband, achieved for example when spending time with the children.

Shaykh Yaqubi subsequently had a word about one’s love for business: making money. He said it was not a problem in itself to love our business, saying it would actually cause it to prosper. He made a distinction between people who love their job because it is a mean, while others (alas!) see their trade as an end…

Our Imam finally mentioned the love one has for his home, for his homeland, affirming that this type of love is a rational ones, invoking souvenirs and memories to a person.

He further explained that these various levels of love were all mentioned and acknowledged in the Holy Koran: “Say: ’If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your clan, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, dwellings you love -- if these are dearer to you than God and His Messenger, and to struggle in His way, then wait till God brings His command; God guides not the people of the ungodly.” (At-Tawbah: 24)

The Shaykh continued: if we love all the above-mentioned more than Allah and His messenger, we need to beware of a coming punishment, ie His command in the verse.

He affirmed that love was a starting point: the people of Allah, the Sufis, find that the way to Allah is neither through extra prayers nor extra fasting, but through love, refering to the hadith when a Bedouin asked the Prophet about the Hour. He said, "It will surely come to pass. What have you prepared for it?" The man said, "O Messenger of Allah, I have not prepared much in the way of prayer and good works, but I love Allah and His Messenger." The Prophet said, "You will be with those you love." The Muslims had never rejoiced as much they did when they heard this hadith. Our blessed Shaykh confirmed that love was the shortest way to Allah, allowing one to understand and see the blessings and the miracles of the Creator.

Although arguing that love is the most important issue, he warned us against being in an ivory tower, through “loving our enemies”… However, from an ethical and spiritual perspective, he said that love was the solution. He affirmed that the love mentioned by Allah in the Koran was of a spiritual dimension.

Our Wali remarkably insisted that the love for Allah and His messenger (pbuh) was in every human being…
Ok for the 1.5 million Muslims all have love for the Prophet, but why would it be so for the whole of mankind??

The Shaykh amazingly said that it was simply so because everyone loves perfection!

He at once stated that the best approach to Da’wa in the West was [simply] to act like the Prophet (pbuh). He criticised all the different approaches to Da’wa: when talking to Christians and Jews, they agreed –especially the Jews- to unity (= ineffective)… When calling people to ‘Ibada (acts of worship), it puts too much burden on the people…

He said we, as Muslims in the West, have to consider the approach of love. Wanting to prove his point, the Shami scholar reminded us that the best Muslim is someone people are safe from his tongue and hand, according to an authenticated hadith.

He deplorably avowed that the Muslims have lost energy in wrong Da’wa approach for the past 50 years, focusing on fighting polytheism (shirk).
He said: “All Muslims agree Muhammad (pbuh) is not God! He is human; and we do not downgrade him through saying that.”
He then related a hadith narrated by Anas Bin Malik, where the Prophet (pbuh) said that we should love Allah for what he provides of bounties, love him (pbuh) because Allah loves him (pbuh), and love his family because he (pbuh) loves them”: this is why we should love the Messenger of Allah.

Shaykh Muhammad Yaqubi continued by affirming that Allah does not deprive, but sometimes gives us although we simply cannot see it. Indeed, we love Him because He gives, because He is our Master, us His servants.
In fact, he continued, there is little reason why we should love the Messenger, as he (pbuh) said: “Love me for the love of Allah”.

Wali Yaqubi attested that most of the sins one commits is because of heedlessness, adding that we sometime have too much hope, taking us away from the straight path, or too much fear, giving us a sense of despair.
Going back to the love, he reiterated that Allah loves the messenger, so we love him (pbuh).

He illustrated the love factor in the deen by the mention of few poetry lines written by Rabi'a Al-Adawiyyah:

“ I have loved Thee with two loves, a selfish love and a love that is worthy (of Thee).As for the love which is selfish, I occupy myself therein with remembrance of Thee to the exclusion of all others,As for that which is worthy of Thee, therein Thou raisest the veil that I may see Thee.Yet is there no praise to me in this or that,But the praise is to Thee, whether in that or this.”

The point he emphasised is that Rabi’a, a major female saint of Islam, was finding great pleasure in the remembrance of her Lord (‘dhikr’).

He then gave us something to reflect upon: “What is your position in the Universe??”, “When you fail, what do you think?” i.e. whether we are angry, or satisfied by Allah’s decree.
Our blessed teachers raised his voice: “Look at how Allah makes thing!” What he tried to convey then was that everything is happening because of Allah: “Medecine does not cure by its nature!” How amusing yet true statement!
He described Rabi’a as being annihilated by Allah, seeing him everywhere.

According to a hadith narrated by Anas r.a, said Sheikh Muhammad, we should love the Messenger of God more than our fathers and our children and the people altogether. He defied the people attending the talk to do a list of their most beloved people, and see where the Prophet (pbuh) fits: “Actions speak louder than words!” He indeed adjoined that one’s love should be reflected in his actions, jokingly asking what kind of love is that of the man who says: “I love you but I can’t help you.”

The Sheikh then commented the hadith where Umar bin Khattab said he loved the Messenger (pbuh) more than any body else, except his own self, upon which the Prophet (pbuh) responded: "None of you will believe until I am dearer to him than his own soul", upon which Umar replied: "By the One who sent down the Book on you, I love you more than my soul which is between my two sides."

The righteous Syrian scholar asked the attendees: “Do you see that? Where he stands [in relation to the Prophet (pbuh)]?”, asserting that the Prophet (pbuh) is not a mere messenger… He did so much favours to us; he is central to our lives.

To demonstrate the love His companions had for the Messenger (pbuh), he gave the example of a woman who lost her brother, her husband and her son at the battle of Uhud. When someone approached her to announce her that her close family had been martyred, her first question was: “Where is the Messenger of Allah?!” She indeed did not ask where her husband or son were. She was only thinking about seeing the Prophet (pbuh), and would not be reassured until she sees him (pbuh) from her own eyes. On seeing him (pbuh), she cried out: “Every calamity after you is nothing O Messenger of Allah!”

This is how much love the Sahaba had for him (pbuh).

Another of his companions said that he (pbuh) is more beloved to us (the Sahaba) than cold water when thirsty in the desert.

Imam Yaqubi subsequently quoted from the Hikam of Ibn Ata Illah: “What has he lost who has found you (O Allah), and what has he found who has lost you (O Allah)?”
Indeed, the sheikh continued, if we do not find Allah, we have lost everything.

Another reason for loving thing, the Sheikh said, is because they are beautiful. The attachment to images is a very important aspect of one’s life. “Allah knows that, so He made Rasul Allah the most beautiful person!” Expressions of amazement and excitement resonnated in the hall.
He carried on saying that we have a detailed description of the entire body of the Prophet, except for his ‘awra’, ie between is knees and navel. The Eastern spiritual master ornated his argument with a prophetic saying: “Prophet Yusuf was given half of beauty; I was given all of it!”
One of the sahaba said that he (pbuh) was more beautiful than the full moon!
The description of the appearance of the Nabi (pbuh) is complete: his hair, his beard, his eye brows, his lips, his mouth, teeth, earlobs, hips, the way he walks... No other human being in the history of man is described with as much details as he (pbuh).
He then gave the example of how the shari’a meets every need, with for example the rules of etiquette in eating, such as how to spit out an olive seed, which he explained and demonstrated… Amazing!

Shaykh Muhammad asserted that the ‘sunna’ is for all times, in all places, and for all people.
One of the mercy that the Prophet came with is that Allah will not punish mankind immediately, but it is rather delayed.
He said that the messenger is constantly making dua for us, emphasising his concern for his community, according to the hadith of Ibn mas’ud: ” My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be presented to me, and if I see goodness I will praise Allah , and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.”

One way to get closer to Allah, told the Sheikh, is achieved through sending prayers and blessings on the Prophet (pbuh). It is also an indirect way to achieving likeness to our Nabi (pbuh).

When you make a prayer to the Prophet (pbuh), they are presented to him on Friday; furthermore, he (pbuh) answers them with his own tongue! Upon hearing that, his companions were surprised: how can he hear? They knew all too well that a body do not last long buried under the earth… The Prophet explaine: “Allah has forbidden the Earth to eat the flesh of prophets." The prophet is alive in his grave, a thing upon which even controversial scholars like Ibn Taymiya or Ibn Qayyim agree!

Imam Muahammad asked us: “Do you feel the connection??” On the Day of Judgement the Prophet will say: “O Allah! My umma! My umma! (my community! My community!)” He will offer people water to drink from his pond…

We can love our husband, or business etc, but as a mean, not an end!

One of the few questions one will be asked in his grave is ‘what did you do about this man (Muhammad) I sent you?”

Terrorism is a lack of love for the Prophet (pbuh). Sheikh Yaqubi mentioned the names of few works written about the Prophet (pbuh): Dala’il Al-Khayrat (he said it is best seller number two after the Quran in Islamic writing!), Shama’il Tirmidi, Shifa Qadi Iyad… “Where are we now?!” We need to follow his way, peace and blessing be upon him, his family and companions.

“We do not negate Jihad, [but] when we need it”, there are rules: it is legitimate for people under attack, like in Palestine in Iraq, but not when one lives in peace with non-Muslims.
“We defend every bit of our deen, but we need to understand his way (pbuh).” He asserted it is the only way to victory: to follow his way!

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqubi next wished for everyone to go home and see the Prophet in his dream. To dream of him is salvation, referring to a famous hadith... “Engage in loving him”. Shaytan do not take the appearance of the Prophet (pbuh).
To conclude, he asked: “Do you miss him (pbuh)? Do you yearn to see him? Apply the Sunna, change your life!”
He finally guarantied us that if we see the Prophet in our dream and then look at ourselves in the mirror when waking up, “you will see it has changed!”

What a beautiful talk ma sha Allah. May Allah give him a long life in order to make the Umma benefits from his teachings, amin!

(Abdelmalik Fransi)