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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Letters from prison (the Sheik of Islam)

Shaykh ul-Islaam (the Sheik of Islam) Ibn Taymeeyah to his
companions urging them to turn to Allah and be attentive to Him
from his prison in Alexandria

In the Name of Allah, ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem

"And of your Sustainer's blessings shall you always speak" (93:5)

I would like to inform my companions, may Allah please and favour them in this life and the next, that I am in a state of bliss the like of which I have never seen or experienced before. Allah has indeed opened wide for me the gates of His endless bounties. These blessings from Allah will only be tasted by those who have acquired insight into the realities of eemaan (faith) and tawheed (montheism) and were granted a share in what all people endeavour towards: knowledge and faith. The subsequent pleasure and happiness, total joy and excitement, that are difficult to describe, are all found in and are a manifestation of, the higher spiritual wisdom and knowledge of Allah the Exalted in Might, believing in Him and worshipping Him Alone in the true way.

One Shaykh used to say, "I experience a state where I think to myself: Lucky are the people of Paradise if they are in this state!" Another says, "There are times when my heart dances with joy due to the blessing of knowledge and belief, since there is not one blessing in this life equal to that of the Hereafter's, apart from those." In the same vein, the Prophet (saw - may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) used to say to Bilaal (ra - may Allah be pleased with him):

"Comfort us by prayer, O Bilaal (ra)".

The Prophet (saw) had never asked to be comforted from prayer, as the sluggish might say. As Allah says in His book:

"And seek help in patience and prayer, and truly it is heavy and hard except for the Khaashi'oon". (2:45)

Attentiveness is the total surrender to Allah. It is the inner peace derived from the confidence in Allah in heart and limb. The Prophet (saw) used to say: "It has become beloved to me from this life of yours, women and beautiful scent".

Until he said,

"And my total peace and ultimate delight are from prayer."

The Messenger of Allah (saw) did not just pronounce the first sentence of the hadith. Some people today pronounce the first sentence and stop, although it was not the way that Imam Ahmad and Nasa'i had related it. Those Imaams explain the joy of attentive prayer and the subsequent satisfaction, to be more significant than the other things mentioned.

It is the heart where the whispers of the inner-self dwell. The Shaytan (devil) commands the following of desires, and makes them seem attractive. He whispers doubts and thereby turns life into a miserable existence. He who loves any other besides Allah is tormented in this life and the next. If that person attains his urges, he will then be punished for it. However, if he does not, he will be distressed and saddened.

There is no complete happiness and total delight but in the love of Allah and in practising the acts instructed by Him. This love is attained through the rejection of all others, and this is the reality of Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (There is nothing at all in the heavens above nor, the earth below, worthy of worship except Allah). It was the reality of Ibrahim 'alayhis salaam (may peace be upon him), and the rest of the Prophets and Messengers, may the peace of Allah be upon them all. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to say to his companions (ra - may Allah be pleased with them all).

"Say that we are on the fitrah (natural disposition) of Islam, the word of sincerity, the religion of our Prophet Muhammad and the way of our father Ibrahim, who was a true believer and never a mushrik (pagan)."

Yet man is wicked and ignorant, as His Creator, Allah said:

"Verily we did offer the trust to the Heavens and the earth, and the mountains but they refused to hear it because they were afraid of it. Yet man took it up - for verily, he has always been prone to be most wicked, most foolish". (33:72)

So the objective of those loyal to Allah, His successful party and victorious soldiers, is repentance. And due to this, this religion is a mixture of affirming Allah's true Oneness AND seeking His forgiveness.

"Your God is One therefore, take the straight path unto Him and seek forgiveness of Him" (41:6)

And so, the achievement of all the commands and abandonment of all the forbidden acts are a part of the tawheed of Laa ilaaha ill-Allah. When the willing servant of Allah is blessed with tawheed, and he has absolute confidence and conviction, then Allah will bless him with safety, happiness, joy and mercy. Alternatively, the fear that dwells in the heart is ash-shirk (polytheism) as Allah says: Into the heart of those who are bent on denying the truth,

"We shall cast dread in return for their shirk". (3:151)

Similarly in an authentic hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

"Grief unto the servant of dinaar and grief unto the servant of dirham (monetary units). Grief unto the servant of ostentatious clothes, and grief unto the servant of beautified cloth. May grief and distress be on him, and if he was to feel pain, may he never be relieved".

When the Prophet of Allah, Ibrahim, was threatened with the idols of his people, he replied:

"And why should I fear anything that you worship which you set up beside Allah, seeing that you are not afraid of ascribing divinity to others beside Allah, for which, He has revealed unto you no warrant? [Tell me] Which of the two parties has a better right to be secure? [Answer me that] if you have knowledge!" (6:81)

Therefore, Imam Ahmad said to one man, "If your belief is correct, you should fear no one". Furthermore every act that the Muslim does in accordance with the Prophet's (saw) command has a share in Allah's saying:

"Grieve not, verily Allah is with us". (9:40)

We have seen and experienced this godly company many times. It is this company which was foretold of in Qur'an, that will ultimately be victorious, and will exist until the Day of Reckoning. Alternatively, he who rejects what Muhammad (saw), came with will have a share of:

"Verily he that hates you has indeed been cut-off [from all that is good]" (108:3)

Abu Bakr ibn 'Ayash says, "The Ahlus Sunnah live and so does their fine reputation. Whereas the death of the people of innovations ends their mention. This is due to their dislike of what Allah had revealed, and so they were cut-off accordingly." Those who proclaim the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) will have a share of Allah's Promise to him:

"And We have raised you high in dignity". (94:4)

In conclusion, what Allah has blessed me with whilst in this place has been enormous, and I am unable to even count His favours upon me here. Yet what pains me is my distance from my "group" (2), for I would love for them to attain the delight and happiness which they strive for. I would also love for them to be more obedient to Allah, and to reach the highest levels through participation in struggling for His sake.

I aim to tell the group that, Allah's favours upon me are increasing. If I cannot be with them in person and to be of service to them, then I am supplicating to Allah day and night for their well-being; thereby fulfilling part of my duty towards them. What I command every one of them, is to fear Allah and be conscious of Him, to be reliant solely on Him, to be a struggler in His Way, and for his supplication and all other acts to be in accordance with Allah and His Messenger's commands.

O Allah! Be Merciful to the believers, men and women. Gather their hearts and resolve their differences. Make Muslims victorious over Your and their enemies, and distance them from sin, the apparent and the hidden.

O Allah! Aid Your Religion, Book and faithful servants. O Allah! Punish the disbelievers and hypocrites who desire to obstruct Your Path and change Your Deen (religion).

O Allah! Send Your unswerving might upon the transgressors. O Allah! The Mover of Clouds, the Revealer of the Book, and the Striker of the Confederates! Strike them, pulverise them, shake the earth under them, and
assist us against them.

O Allah! Aid us and do not aid others against us. Plan for us and not against us, and help us overcome our oppressors.

O Allah! Make us amongst the thankful, the obedient and those who return to You,

O Allah! Accept our repentance, and cleanse us of our sins. Strengthen our reasoning and correct our tongues, and take out those dreaded diseases from our hearts.

And Praise be to Allah, whose succour of the Sunnah is permanent, and His crushing of the people of innovation is plain and evident. May blessings and peace be upon Muhammad, (saw), his kin and companions (ra).


1. Khaashi'oon means those who are attentive and humble in spirit and fear Allah's punishment much.
2. Meaning the Shaykhs followers and beloved brothers in Damascus

This world is a difficult journey
An obstacle to overcome,
Especially in the place we live in,
Not everyday is bright and fun.
The righteous salaf were as fearful of their good deeds being squandered,
or not being accepted, as the present generation is certain that
their neglect would be forgiven.
[Hasan Al-Basri]


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