Posts Tagged ‘Imam AlHaddad’

Imam al-Haddad on the meaning of La hawla wala quwwata illa billah

March 22nd, 2010 3 comments


You should know that the most comprehensive and inclusive formula for expressing the repudiation of one’s own claim to power and ability is La hawla wala quwawata illa billah (there is neither power nor ability save by God).

The Proof of Islam (Imam al-Ghazali), may God be pleased with him, said:
“Power (hawl) is motion and ability (quwwa) is aptitude.”

No creature possesses either ability or power over anything save through God, Who is Able and Capable. It is incumbent upon believers to have faith in whatever God permits them to do or abstain from – as for instance, in conforming to an injunction, whether by acting or abstaining, or in seeking their provision by resorting to action in the form of crafts and professions, and so on – it is God the exalted Who creates and originates their intentions, abilities and movements, and that the acts they choose to perform will be attributed to them in the manner known as ‘acquisition’ (kasb) and ‘working’, and shall be, in consequence, liable to reward and punishment; but that they exercise volition only when God Himself does so, and can neither do nor abstain from anything unless He renders them able to. They possess not a single atom’s weight of the heaven or the earth, nor do they attain to any partnership in its governance, or become supports to Him.

It is on the ability and power to make choices, which God has granted to His servants, that commands and prohibitions are based. Things which are done intentionally and by choice are attributed to them, and they are rewarded and punished accordingly.

Hence the meaning of la hawla wala quwwata illa billah is the denial of one’s possession of autonomous power and ability, and the simultaneous confession of the existence of that (relative) power and ability to make choices that He has given His servants to be their own.

He who claims that man has no choice or ability, that the acts he selects are identical with the acts he is compelled to do, and that he is in all circumstances coerced is a deterministic (jabri) innovator whose false claim would deny that there was any purpose in sending Messengers and revealing Scriptures. By contrast, he who claims that man possesses the will and power to do whatever he does by choice is a Mu’tazili innovator. But he who believes that a responsible (mukallaf) man possess power and choice to allow him to comply with God’s commands and prohibitions, but is neither independent thereby nor the creator of his own acts, has found the Sunna, joined the majoritarian community, and become safe from reprehensible innovation. There is a lengthy explanation to this, which follows a rugged road where many have slipped and gone astray; and beyond it is the secret of Destiny, which has always perplexed intelligent minds and into which the Master of Messengers has commanded us not to delve. So let the intelligent be content with hints and let it suffice them to believe that everything was created by God, and nothing exists without His will and power. Then let them require their selves to conform to the commandments and prohibitions, and take their Lord’s side against their selves in every circumstance. A hadith says that is one of the treasures of the Garden.’ Understand the indication contained in terming it a ‘treasure’ and you will know that its meaning is among the mysteries; for reward is of the same species as the act. The Prophet s.a.w has also said ‘Two raka’ats in the depths of the night are one of the treasures of goodness.’ Their reward comprises a hidden treasure because the time of their occurence, namely the night implies this.

It is also reported that ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah is a remedy for 99 ailments, the least of which is sorrow.’ It is a remedy for sorrow because grief mostly occurs when one misses something one loves, or when a distressful thing occurs; and whenever either of these things occurs people perceive their helplessness and inability to achieve their desired aims; hence they feel sorrow. If at such times they repeat in their heart and with their tongues words which mean that they disavow the possession of any ability or power of their own, then this gives them certitude in their knowledge that they are helpless and weak except where God gives them power and ability, with the result that their sorrow is banished, and their knowledge of their Lord is increased. This can be clearly understood from the Prophet’s s.a.w saying: ‘When one believes in destiny, one’s sorrow departs.’ And in attributing ability and power to His Name, Allah, which is the axis of the Names and the most supreme of them, and in following it on most occasions with the two noble Names which indicate two of the attributes of the Holy Essence, namly those of Exaltation (Al-‘Ali) and Magnitude (Al-‘Azim), lies a sign that He totally transcends and is absolutely holier than the illusions of those who have strayed from the path, are blind to the evidence, and have delved without insight into the secret of destiny and the acts of God’s creatures. So take heed!

– Imam Abdullah Ibn ‘Alawi Al-Haddad
in ‘Gifts for the Seeker’
Translated from the Arabic by Mostafa Al-Badawi
Publisher credit: Fons Vitae

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Imam AlHaddad – The Book Of Assistance – On Certainty

December 8th, 2009 5 comments

Chapter 1
On Certainty
You must, beloved brother, strengthen and improve your certainty. For when certainty prevails in the heart and establishes itself therein the unseen becomes as if seen and the man aided by providence says, as ‘Ali, may God ennoble his face, said: ‘Were the cover to be removed, I would not increase in certainty.’

Certainty is power, firmness and stability of faith so great that it becomes as a towering mountain which no doubts can shake and no illusions rock. Rather, doubts and illusions disappear completely, and when they come from outside are neither listened to by the ear nor heeded by the heart. The Devil cannot approach the possessor of such certainty; he flees from him, fears his very shadow, and is content to keep at a safe distance. As the Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘Satan is afraid of the shadow of `Umar, and `Umar never takes a road but that Satan takes another.’

Certainty derives its power and excellence from many things. The first, most essential and pivotal of these is that the servant listen attentively with his heart as well as his ears to verses and hadiths relating to God, His Majesty, Perfection, Magnitude, and Grandeur, His Uniqueness in creating and deciding, ruling and compelling; likewise to the truthfulness and perfection of the Messengers, the miracles they were aided with, and the sundry chastisements which befell those who opposed them. That these are sufficient to bring about certainty is indicated by His Word (Exalted is He!):

Is it not enough for them that We have sent down upon you the Book which is recited to them? [29:51]

The second is to learn from looking at the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and the wondrous and astounding creatures that God made them teem with. That this brings about certainty is indicated by His saying (Exalted is He!):

We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth. [41:53]

The third is to behave according to what one believes, outwardly and inwardly, zealously, and to the limits of one’s resources. That this brings about certainty is indicated by His saying (Exalted is He!):

And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.[29:69]

Proper certainty results in, among many other things, acquiescence in God’s promise, confidence in what He has guaranteed, turning to God with pure longing, abandoning all things which distract from Him, continuously returning to Him in all circumstances, and spending all one’s energy in seeking His good pleasure.
In sum, certainty is the essential thing, and all other noble ranks, praiseworthy traits of character and good works are its branches and results.

Virtues and actions are strong or weak, sound or unsound, according to the strength or otherwise of certainty. Luqman, upon whom be peace, said: ‘Action is possible only in the presence of certainty; a servant acts in obedience only to the extent that he has certainty, and a man becomes neglectful in his actions only when his certainty diminishes.’ This is why the Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘Certainty is the whole of faith.’

Believers have three degrees of certainty. The first is that of the People of the Right Hand, this is firm belief but with the possibility of becoming doubtful or shaky under certain circumstances. This is called faith.

The second is that of the Ones Brought Nigh, which is the possession of the heart by faith and its establishing itself therein so firmly that its opposite becomes no longer possible or even imaginable. In this degree the unseen becomes as the seen. This is called certainty.

The third is that of the Prophets and the True Saints (siddiqun) who are their perfect heirs. Here the unseen becomes seen, which thing is called unveiling (kashf) and contemplation (mushahada)

There are grades within each degree: all are good, but some better than others. That is God’s grace, He bestows it upon whom He will, and God’s grace is abundant. [57:29]

The Book of Assistance – Risalah al-Mu`awanah
Imam Abdullah b Alawi AlHaddad

Translated by Dr. Mostafa Badawi

Imam Alhaddad – Qad Kafani Ilmu Rabbi

September 18th, 2009 3 comments

A few renditions of this qasidah written by AlHabib Abdullah b Alwi Alhaddad.
Arabic/English text in PDF can be found below:

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Getting Rid of the Need to Obtain People’s Approval

May 30th, 2009 2 comments


O disciple, strive to purify your heart both from the fear of people and from putting your hopes in them, for this would make you remain silent when faced with falsehood, compromise your religion, and neglect enjoining good and forbidding evil. This would be ample humiliation. A believer is strong by his Lord; he feels no fear nor hope except with regard to Him.

When one of your brother Muslims offers you something by way of showing affection, take it if you need it, but thank Allah, for He is the real giver, and thank the one whom Allah has chosen to deliver it to you.  If you do not need it, see whether it would be better for your heart to take it or refuse it.  If you refuse, do it tactfully so as not to hurt the heart of the giver, for the feelings of a Muslim are of consequence to God.

Beware of refusing for the sake of acquiring a reputation, or of accepting for your appetites. However, to accept for your appetites is better than turning something down to acquire a reputation of asceticism and of turning away from the world. The truthful will not be confused, for his Lord gives him a light in his heart by which he knows what is required of him.

-Imam ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, Two Treatises of Imam al-Haddad

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Imam Alhaddad – The Fifth Response

May 22nd, 2009 No comments

a)Reciting Sura al-Waqi’a (‘The Event’)

As for your question about regular recitation of Sura al-Waqi’a, know that the following account has been narrated in this regard: ‘To read it each night is to be free from want,’ that is, to be independent of other creatures (this kind of ‘dependence’ meant here being that which shames a man, both in his worldy affairs and his manly virtue). When ibn Mas’ud, may God be pleased with him was told on his deathbed that he had left his children in poverty, he replied: ‘I gave them each a treasure: Sura al-Waqi’a’. The special attributes of certrain suras and verses of the Qur’an, and those of the invocations and prayers of the Prophet are not unknown: the books of hadith are full of them. Imam al-Ghazali wrote an entire book on the subject, entitling it: Unalloyed Gold: The Properties of the Majestic Book.

The regular recitation of al-Waqi’a and other suras of the same type, in order to bring benefit to oneself and ward off worldly harm, does not compromise one’s intentions or actions. Nonetheless, the motive should not be entirely lacking in religious purpose: since for a servant deliberately to guard himself against depending on others is the best of intentions. For an intelligent believer will not intend, in wanting independance from others and safety for himself and his family, those things are associated with physical comfort and pleasure; instead his intention will be to free himself from whatever may damage him religiously, of the things which can be seen in many people who suffer from such afflictions. This is why the great men of God are always keenly occupied with asking Him to safeguard the wellbeing [‘afiya] of both their souls and their bodies, being fearful of the manner in which their souls, weak and wavering by nature, respond when faced with things that repellant to them.

The Messenger, may blessings and peace be upon him, repeatedly sought protection against proverty and sickness. He said: ‘Poverty is not far from being disbelief [kufr]’, because people afflicted with it are liable to feel discontented with God’s decree, or angered against Divine providence, or at least assailed by some form of anxiety. Sufyan al-Thawri, may God show him His mercy, once said: ‘I do not fear hardhips because of the pain they cause me, but I fear that were I to be afflicted with hardship, I might fall prey to disbelief.’ Perfection for the servant lies in his being content with his Lord’s choices on his behalf, in sufficing himself with His knowledge, and in being more concerned with His choosing and disposing than with his own.

A certain gnostic once said:

In the regular recitation of Sura al-Waqi’a there lies a secret which increases one’s certainty, engenders peace in the heart, and adds this to a serenity, whether one possesses [one’s provision] or not. This because God opens and closes it with a mention of the Appointed Time, and the ways in which people shall differ on that day. Anyone who reflects on this will be too preoccupied with it to attend to any worldly matter that may occur to him. Here, too, God makes mention of the origin of man’s creation, how He makes his beginning a drop of seed expelled (75:37), and how the crops and the water upon which their subsistence originate. He enjoins them to reflect on this, and makes them all aware that they did not possess the power to create, grow and protect their crops, or bring down the rain; and this inculcates the most profound awareness of the Divine power and the pre-existent will and knowledge of God. When this awareness is coupled with the knowledge that God has guaranteed His servant’s provision and sustenance, the heart is pacified, and the one that attends to the worship of the Lord. And God knows best.

(b) A caution

A man may persevere in reciting certain suras, invocations or prayers, for which promises of immediate benefits have been made, and yet see no results. He should not doubt the soundness of these truthful promises, but should rather blame himself, and attribute to himself a deficiency in certainty and concentration. For a man who recites or invokes is not termed a [real] ‘reciter’ or ‘invoker’ according to the religious law unless all the conditions are fulfilled, and the fact that is that most people people fall short of doing this. The essential thing which will make these practices effective and fruitful is to nurture a certainty in the heart that the matter as it has been said, and to neither have doubts about it nor the desire to put it to trial. One should be truly concentrated, uniting one’s outward and inward [faculties] in engaging the matter, with one’s heart sincerely thinking well of God, and be utterly and attentively oriented towards Him. Rarely do these things come together in a man who is intent on reaching some objective by means of verses and invocations – whatever this objective may be – without this quest becoming his to control and manage at will. So let a servant whose determination falls short and whose earnestness and zeal are deficient blame only himself. And God is never unjust to the servants. (3:182)

– Imam ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, Gifts for the Seeker (It’haaf is-Saail bi Ajwibatil Masaail)

Imam AlHaddad – The Lives of Man

September 27th, 2008 2 comments

by Imam Abdallah Ibn Alawi Al-Haddad

The Lives of Man by Imam Abdallah Ibn Alawi Al-Haddad. Translated from the Arabic by Mostafa Al-Badawi. Editor’s preface by Abdal Hakim Murad, London 1411 and Foreword by Shaykh Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf, Formerly Grand Mufti of Egypt Member of the Senior Ulema Council.

The Prologue bears the caption: The Way to Remember and Learn from the Lives of Man that Wane and Perish and consists of the following five chapters:

  1. The First Life: Life before conception.
  2. The Second Life: Dunya-the Lower World, divided into:
    • In the Womb
    • Youth
    • Maturity
    • Seniority
    • Decrepitude
    • Sickness and Death
  3. The Third Life: The Intermediate Realm (barzakh), divided into: The torment of the Grave, How the Living may help the Dead, Visiting Graves.
  4. The Fourth Life: Judgment Day, divided into: The Balance and the Bridge, The Hawd, The Intercession.
  5. The Fire and the Garden, divided into: The Fire, The Garden with an Afterword captioned The Vision of God, and His Overwhelming Mercy.

Read more…

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Imam Alhaddad – On Fasting

September 1st, 2008 No comments

(From: Book of Assistance by Imam al-Haddad)

Increase your good works, especially in Ramadan, for the reward of a supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it: comes to good works, is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are open, and the herald calls every night at God’s command: ‘O you who wish for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt!’

You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when it arrives. Be intent on devotions and approach God more surely, especially during the last ten days. If you are able not to leave the mosque, except when strictly necessary, during those last ten days then do so. Be careful to perform the Tarawih prayers during every Ramadan night. In some places it is nowadays the custom to make them so short that sometimes some of the obligatory elements of the prayer are omitted, let alone the sunnas. It is well known that our predecessors read the whole Qur’an during this prayer, reciting a part each night so as to complete it on one of the last nights of the month. If you are able to follow suit then this is a great gain; if you are not, then the least that you can do is to observe the obligatory elements of the prayer and its proprieties.

Watch carefully for the Night of Destiny [Laylat’ul-Qadr], which is better than a thousand months. It is the blessed night in which all affairs are wisely decided. The one to whom it is unveiled sees the blazing lights, the open doors of heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, and may witness the whole of creation prostrating before God, its Creator.

Most scholars are of the opinion that it is in the last ten nights of Ramadan, and is more likely to fall in the odd numbered ones. A certain gnostic witnessed it on the night of the seventeenth, and this was also the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri. Some scholars have said that it is the first night of Ramadan, and a number of great scholars have said that it is not fixed but shifts its position each Ramadan. They have said that the secret wisdom underlying this is that the believer should devote himself completely to God during every night of this month in the hope of coinciding with that night which has been kept obscure from him. And God knows best.

Hasten to break your fast as soon as you are certain that the sun has set. Delay suhur long as you do not fear the break of dawn. Feed those who fast at the time when they break it, even if with some dates or a draught of water, for the one who feeds another at the time of breaking the fast receives as much reward as he without this diminishing the other’s reward in any way. Strive never to break your fast nor to feed anyone else at such a time except with lawful food. Do not eat much, take whatever lawful food is present ‘ and do not prefer that which is tasty, for the purpose of fasting is to subdue one’s lustful appetite, and eating a large quantity of delicious food will on the contrary arouse and strengthen it.

Fast on the days on which the Law encourages you to fast, such as the day of Arafat for those who are not participating n the pilgrimage, the ninth and tenth [‘Ashura] of Muharram, and the six days of Shawwal, starting with the second day of the Feast, for this is the more effective discipline for the soul. Fast three days in each month, for these equal a perpetual fast. It is better if these are the White Days, for the Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him, never omitted to fast them whether he was at home or traveling. Fast often, especially in times of special merit such as the Inviolable Months, and noble days such as Mondays and Thursdays. Know that fasting is the pillar of discipline and the basis of striving. It has been said that fasting constitutes half of fortitude. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, said: ‘God the Exalted has said: “All good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine, and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food and drink for My sake!”‘ ‘The one who fasts has two joys, one when breaking his fast, the other when meeting his Lord.’ And; ‘The odour of the fasting man’s mouth is more fragrant to God than that of musk.’

God says the truth and He guides to the way. [XXXIII:4]

Book of Assistance by Imam al-Haddad