Ep. 58: Islamic Principles #21: Dialogue

We do not live alone. We are constantly interacting, communicating, and dialoguing with others. Yes, the term “interfaith dialogue” frequently comes up in the context of religion, but in this episode I have something much more broad than that in mind.  After all, these are our first principles meant to provide guidance for us in all aspects of our life. Hopefully this brief discussion will provide a framework for constructive communication and dialogue with others.

Episode Notes

The hadith that Prophets were sent to their people, but Prophet Muhammad was to sent to Mankind, Bukhari

Recite (96:1)
People that know are not like those who do not know (39:9)
You ca not guide whom you want, We guide whom We will (28:56)
Verses on the creation of Adam and the dialogue of the angels (2:31-37)

Ibn Hazm

Ep. 57: Islamic Holidays #6: The 15th of Sh’aban

The eve of the 15th of Sh’aban is one of the most significant and spiritually important times in the Muslim calendar. It is a night that the salaf used to seek out and honor with pious devotion and sincere supplication. What follows is a very simple overview of the importance of this event and recommendations for observing it.

Episode Notes:

Check out my blog post on this episode that also references the dua for the eve of the 15th.

Devotional Acts for the Eve of the 15th of Sha’ban

The eve of the 15th of Sh’aban is one of the most significant and spiritually important times in the Muslim calendar. It is a night that the salaf used to seek out and honor with pious devotion and sincere supplication. What follows is a very simple overview of the importance of this event and recommendations for observing it.

The Eve of the 15th of Sh’abān in the Hadith

There are many hadith that speak to the importance of this event. Some, but not by any means all, that speak intothe exalted status and blessings of the eve of the 15th of Sh‘abān are as follows:

1. Imam ‘Alī (Allah give him peace) said, “when the eve of the 15th of Sh‘abān comes, stand its night in prayer and fast its day, for indeed Allah Almighty descends to the lowest level of the heavens until sunset and says, ‘Is there not one who seeks forgiveness that I may forgive, is there not one asking for sustenance that I may give, Is there not one afflicted with troubles that I may cure them, is there not so forth and so forth?’ until the coming of the dawn prayer.” Narrated by Daralqutni, Ibn Shahīn, and Ibn Mājah.
2. Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal said that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah glances at His servants on the eve of the 15th of Sh’abān and grants forgiveness to all creation except for those who associate with Him or cut their family ties.” Narrated by al-Ṭabarānī.
3. ‘Aisha (Allah give her be peace) said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stood in night prayer on the eve of the 15th of Sh‘abān and said, “In this evening it is written who will be born, who will perish from the human race, and all actions are raised (to Allah) during it, and all sustenance is distributed during it.” Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in his work Faḍā’il al-Awqāt.

Most of the hadith narrated that relate to the 15th of Sh‘abān carry the same meanings. Despite the fact the some of these hadith have weaknesses, together they strengthen one another, as is known in the science of hadith, to at least the level of being sound (ḥasan) hadiths. In addition, and as is also known in the science of hadith, weak hadith are used for encouraging good works, especially when their weakness is not severe.

What we can take from these hadith the following basic conclusions:
1. These directives are descended from the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawḥ al-Maḥfuẓ) to the angels that are responsible for carrying out these orders. And since from our perspective these directives are “distributed” it is as if they have been revealed in this evening, although they are written on the Preserved Tablets.
2. This evening serves as a preparation for our approach to the Night of Power during Ramadan. Just as we seek out Laylatul Qadr in Ramadan, so too to we seek out this evening with prayer and supplication.
3. It is a night of remembrance and for turning sincerely to Allah for forgiveness, guidance, sustenance, and healing.
4. Fasting the day of the 15th of Sh’abān is a sunna and a great way to prepare for fasting during Ramadan.

Devotional Activities for the eve and day of the 15th of Sh’abān

1. Spend a portion of the night, anytime after maghrib prayer, reciting some of the Quran and turning to Allah in sincere dua.
2. Recite the prophetic dua, found below, on the eve of the 15th of Sh’abān
3. Fast the 15th of Sh’abān.

The Dua of the eve of the 15th of Sh’aban

This dua is a combination of two hadiths: one narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba in his Muṣanaf and Ibn Abi Dunya in his al-Du’a on the authority of Ibn Mas’ūd and Ibn ‘Umar ( Allah be pleased with them both). The second is narrated by Ibn Jarīr and Ibn Mundhir and al-Ṭabarānī also on the authority of Ibn Mas’ūd (Allah be pleased with him). As for the tail-end of the dua, it is an addition by the famous Mauritanian mystic Mā’ al-‘Aynayn (d. 1328/1910) in his equally famous work Na’at al-Bidāyāt and it is certainly an acceptable formulation since additions to supplications are authorized by the Sharia.

Allahumma yā dhal manni wa lā yuman ‘alayhi. yā dhal Jalāl wa’l Ikrām yāl Ṭawli wa’l In’ām. Lā ilāha illa Ant, ẓahrul lāji’īn wa Jār al-Mustajirīn. wa amān al-khā’ifīn. Allahumma In kunta katabtani ‘indaka fī Umm al-Kitāb shaqiyan aw maḥrūman aw Maṭrūdan aw Muqataran ‘alaya fi’l rizq, famḥu. Allahumma bifaḍlika shaqāwatī wa ḥirmāni wa ṭardī wa iqtār rizqī wathbitni ‘indika fi Umm al-Kitāb sa’īdan marzūqan muwaffaqan lil khayrāt. Fa innaka qult, wa qawluka haq fi kitābika al-munazzal ‘ala lisān nabbiyika al-mursal, “Yamḥu Allah mā yashā’ wa Yuthbit wa ‘indahu ummu’l kitāb.” Ilāhi biltajalli al-‘Aẓam fi laylatil niṣf min shahr sh’bān al-mukarram alati yufraqu fiha kullu amrin ḥakīm wa yubram, An takshifa ‘anna min al-balā’ ma n’alam wa ma lā n’alam wa mā anta bihi ‘Alam Innaka Anta al-‘A’azu al-Akram. Wa ṣalla Allahu ‘ala Sayyiduna Muhammad al-Nabiy al-Ummiy wa ‘ala Ālihi wa ṣaḥbihi wa salam.

O Allah, Tireless Owner of Bounty. O Owner of Sublimity, Honor, Power, and Blessings.
There is no diety except You, the Support of refugees and Neighbor of those who seek nearness, Guardian of the fearful.
O Allah, if you have written in Your Book that I be abject, deprived, banished, and tight-fisted,
then erase O Allah, through Your bounty,
my misery, deprivation, banishment, and stinginess
and establish me with You as happy, provided with blessings,
for surely You have said—and Your Word is True—
in Your Revealed Book on the tongue of Your Messenger,
“Allah blots out or confirms what He pleases, and with Him is the Mother of Books.” (13:39)
My God, by the Great Manifestation of the Night of the middle of the Noble Month of Sha`bān
“in which every affair of wisdom is made distinct and authorized,“(44:4)
remove from us calamities—those we know and those we do not know,
and Thou knowest best—for surely You are the Most Mighty, the Most Generous.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and Companions.

Historical Significance

It should be noted that the 15th of Sh’abān is the anniversary of the changing of the direction of prayer (qibla) from Jerusalem to Makkah. After the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) migrated to Madina, he could no longer face Jerusalem by facing the K’aba, which he used to do before the migration. While in Madina, he had to give his back to Makkah in order to face Jerusalem, an action that pained him. Allah answered His beloved’s desire to face Makkah and therefore the qibla was changed eternally for the entire Islamic faith.

Ep. 56: Islamic Principles #20: The Environment

We cannot be who we are or do the things we do except through and by the natural world around us. The Quran and Hadith literature are replete with references to the animated nature of the environment, to the duty we owe the environment, and to the obligation to keep its balance. The environment is one of the meta principles of Islam, and since the natural world around us is in crises, it is ever more important that we learn what it means from our faith point of view.

Quran Mentioned
The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but invokes His praise; but you understand not their praise. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving. (17:44)

The stars and the trees adore. (55:6)

I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. (51:56)

And He has made of service for you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; it is all from Him. Lo! herein verily are portents for a people who reflect. (45:13)

He brought you forth from the earth and has asked you to develop it. (11:61)

And of mankind there are those whose conversation on the life of this world pleases you, and he calls Allah to witness as to that which is in his heart; yet he is the most rigid of opponents. And when he turns away his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah lovs not mischief. (2:204-205)

Hadith Mentioned
Anybody who plants and animals eat you are rewarded, (Ahmad) Story of Gabriel and dog, (Bukhari)

Dogs are nations too, (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi)

Women and cat, (Bukhari)

Man who gave a dog water, (Bukhari and Muslim)