A collection of words of wisdom and excerpts from the spiritual gatherings of Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq

Abstention

Fasting in Arabic originally means abstention, therefore we should not only abstain from food and drink but from anything that displeases Allāh سبحانه وتعالى. Thus the fast of speech will mean abstention from all foul, offensive and sinful speech which is ḥarām (forbidden). Otherwise, if a person remains hungry and thirsty while continuing to do sinful acts, he/she would not have fulfilled the purpose of fasting.

[This excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq].


Staying Afloat

There is no concept of remaining stagnant in deen. We are either rising or falling, progressing or deteriorating, but we never remain at a constant level of spirituality and devotion. In order to remain afloat in water, we have to do something proactive or else we will sink. Similarly, the greatest benefit of attending gatherings of learning is that they provide the environment, link and connection with the ulama in order to check any decline. We may not necessarily learn something new all of the time, but such gatherings keep us afloat in our religion.

[This excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 30th May 2006].


Who are your True Friends?

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Holy Qurān,

الْأَخِلَّاء يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا

الْمُتَّقِينَ

The intimate friends on that Day will be hostile unto one another save the God-fearing.

[Az-Zukhruf 43/67]

This verse tells us that the best of friends will be enemies of each other on the Day of Judgement except those with taqwa. In reality, there are no friends. Often our so-called friendships are our enemies as we do things because of these friendships and relationships, for which we normally have no inclination. We sometimes sin and change our behaviour for the worse because of our friends. A characteristic that is deeply ingrained in human nature is that we want to be liked and loved and as a consequence we feel too weak and embarrassed to say ‘no’ when with friends.

Your only friends are those few friends who have taqwa. This is because they stop you from sinning and help you improve spiritually. So-called friends will never be around in the dunya when you need them, let alone in the akhira. We should be our own person, recognise the truth and follow it even if it is contrary to the behaviour of our friends. Everybody has to go to his or her own grave.

[This short excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 17th September 2003].


Show the Initiative in Good

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Holy Qurān,

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي

هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ

كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

Nor can good and evil be equal. Repel thou evil with that which is goodly then behold he between whom and thee there was enmity, will be as though he was a warm friend.

[al Fussilat 41/34]

The teaching of Islam is that no matter how others treat us, we should always respond with that which is better. If we merely adopt the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’ i.e. good for good and evil for evil, then metaphorically speaking, there will no one left with an eye; someone has to give way. In Islam we are required to show the initiative in doing good and not just reciprocate good. By persevering upon this conduct, even an enemy will become a close friend.

[This short excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 31st March 2004].


Self-Reflection

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم in the Holy Qurān,

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ

So let man look – from what is he created.

[at Tariq 85/5]

This verse reminds us that we should focus on ourselves. When man thinks about his lowly origin, it will lead to humility. Many of the teachings of Allah and Rasūl Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم are about looking inward and changing oneself. To look at oneself and change oneself is difficult, whereas it is easy to blame others and external factors. By blaming other people or other factors, it allows us to deny our own faults.

Often when there is a problem, we could resolve things but instead we choose to blame other things. Whenever there is fighting, argueing and quarreling, such as with family members, we should learn to control ourselves and change our own behaviour. We should not wait for everyone else to act on the Qurān and ḥadīth, rather we should act on them ourselves.

In a hadeeth Rasūl Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم says

“A believer is a mirror of a believer.” [Abū Dāwūd]

“A believer is a mirror of a believer.” [Abū Dāwūd] – See more at: http://www.contentsoul.com/page/3/#sthash.IbOLdknx.dpuf

When a person looks in a mirror and sees a flaw, the mirror serves its purpose by allowing the person to recognise what needs to be changed. The person will then rectify that flaw. Similarly, we can rely on others to point out our faults. If someone sincerely points out our faults, we should be grateful.

Sayyiduna Umar ibn Khattab رضى الله عنه would say ‘May Allah have mercy on a man who offers me a gift of my faults’.

Enjoining the good and forbidding evil is an obligation for us. But, it is an obligation on ourselves before anybody else. We should work on our nafs before anyone else.

[This short excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 17th November 2013].


Spiritual Training

Just as martial arts is physical training, tazkiyah is spiritual training. Martial arts instructors train and discipline their students in order that they may defend themselves. Tazkiyah under the guidance of a spiritual guide is training in order that we may defend our imaan (faith) . However, many of us who adopt the path of tazkiyah make the mistake of having too high and unrealistic expectations of both tazkiyah and the spiritual guide. When our expectations are not realised, we lose hope and abandon the path. The goals of tazkiyah will not be attained overnight and results come after many years. This path of spiritual purification may seem dull, monotonous and repetitive, however the training and discipline received over many years of dedication will ultimately pay off. This may be when we are tested such as when a calamity has befallen us or when Shaytaan attacks us. Many years of learning will come into effect during these crucial and difficult times.

[This short excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 22nd March 2006].


The Environment

وَالْعَصْرِ

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ

By time
Indeed man is in a great and constant state of loss
[Surah al Asr 103:1-2]

We learn from the Qur’an and hadeeth that man is in a constant state of spiritual decline. You do not have to do anything wrong to be in decline. This is because even if you do not commit a sin, the environment around you will have an effect on your level of spirituality. It is for this reason that religious gathering such as daroos and majalis are vital to arrest our spiritual decline.

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[This short excerpt is based on a brothers' majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 13th January 2013].


Gift of Ilm

Gratitude for a gift is not something that is expressed verbally, rather it is expressed in attitude and deed, i.e. it is appreciated and utilised it in a beneficial manner. We have the opportunity to learn, educate and reform ourselves, yet despite this gift of ilm available to us, we lack desire and motivation. We do not appreciate this opportunity since we have become involved in a rat race and rivalry has distracted us.

[This short excerpt is based on a brothers' majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 13th April 2004].


Fickle in Friendship

People never forget any wrong done to them by others and any good done to them is easily forgotten. However a believer should overlook any wrong done to him and engrave in his heart and mind any good done to him no matter how small. Unfortunately, nowadays the tables are turned and people are fickle in friendship and loyalty, and are willing to overlook many years of good done to them, yet are unforgiving even for a single mistake.


[This short excerpt is based on a brothers' majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 20th March 2004].


Inner Reformation

The whole purpose of tazkiyah is to reform one’s fitrah (core character). A person may adopt a facade for a certain time, however when he is tested, his true fitrah emerges. On the path of spiritual purification, a person must strive and work hard in order to eradicate bad character.A spiritual guide can only help and advise, however the onus, effort and struggle is upon the individual.


[This short excerpt is based on a brothers' majlis (gathering held for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 12th March 2003].