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

Showing and Telling

In a hadith narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin ‘As that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:

“When the treasures of Persia and Rome are conquered, what kind of people will you be?” ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf رضي الله عنه‎ said: “We will say what Allāh has commanded us to say.” One of the meanings of this is that ‘We shall be grateful to Allāh’.

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said: “Or something other than that. You will compete with one another, then you will envy one another, then you will turn your backs on one another, then you will hate one another’. 

Envy and hatred go hand in hand. Envy leads to hatred. Hatred leads to envy. We can protect ourselves from envy and hatred by remaining private, subdued and quiet about our own achievements and belongings. Do not make a show and display of everything. Do not share everything with everyone. Do not even say ‘Alhamdulillah, Allāh has given me this’. It does not matter that you preface it with the praise of Allāh. Envy sees straight through the praise of Allāh too. It is best to be private and discreet rather than making a show and display of everything.

[This excerpt is based on a talk entitled ‘Envy: The Inferno Within Part 1’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on February 21st February 2020]

Be Active Not Passive

Imam al-Bukhārī’s  رحمه الله memory was amazing and he was renowned for it. Someone once asked him if there was any medicine available to obtain the kind of memory that he had for memorisation. People thought that perhaps Imam al-Bukhārī has the recipe for a secret potion that he drinks that helps him to memorise so much. Imam al-Bukhārī’s replied by saying ‘I know of no medicine or remedy better than enthusiasm and constant revision’.

Enthusiasm and constant revision were Imam al-Bukhārī’s secret to an amazing memory, the like of which he was blessed with. He was not passive in religion. He was active and made sacrifices.

If we want to be successful in our religion, we need to work hard and train. We have to have ambition and be eager to learn. Whether it is to do with learning Qurʾān, ḥadīth and fiqh or whether it is to do with enhancing one’s religion and spirituality, it cannot be done passively. We have to be active and have a desire to work hard. Unfortunately, many people think that they will improve their religion passively without making effort and sacrifice.

[This excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering for spiritual training) delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 16th February 2020]

Blinding Anger

When a person is angry, there can be many underlying reasons. It could be due to deep-seated insecurities or it could also be due to arrogance. In fact, arrogance can arise from insecurity also. When a person is deeply insecure and consider themselves lowly, they cannot reveal that to the world although sometimes people see flashes of that insecurity. How does that person mask that deep-seated insecurity? By creating an image of superiority. They act as if they are better than everyone else.

We really have to try and curb our anger. Anger clouds our judgement; it blinds us. No one else can solve our anger problems for us. We have to work on ourselves consciously. We need to take time out every day for self-reflection and contemplation. Just as we never forget to eat or drink, self-reflection should be part of our daily routine. Just as we eat and drink every day, we should ponder and reflect on our character every day. We should look at ourselves and ask ‘What is wrong with me? How can I better myself?’

Uncurbed anger will destroy us. Sadly, there are so many marriages that have been destroyed by talaq being uttered in anger and fits of rage. 

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 5’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 17th January 2020].

Projection of Guilt

Projection of guilt is a famous term in psychology and is also a trait of hypocrisy. This is where a person is guilty of something and they try and deflect that guilt on to another person. They have no shame in doing so. They are the ones that are lying but they tell the innocent person that ‘You are lying’. They say it with such conviction that the poor, innocent person pauses and thinks ‘Am I guilty?’. These people are remorseless, unscrupulous and lack any sense of guilt. They could be lying through their teeth, but they will gaslight the innocent person and continue to accuse them. The innocent soul is left questioning himself.

Allāh mentions this behaviour in the Qur’an in the context of the hypocrites:

وَمَن يَكْسِبْ خَطِيئَةً أَوْ إِثْمًا ثُمَّ يَرْمِ بِهِ بَرِيئًا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلَ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

Whoever commits a sin or a grievous error then he casts that sin on to an innocent person, then indeed they have borne calumny and clear sin. [Sūrat An-Nisāʾ4:112]

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 7’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 31st January 2020].

Verbal Judo

Often when someone tells us that we are in the wrong, we react in anger and reject the advice and insist that we are right. We offer contorted arguments and reasons to prove ourselves to be true and innocent. For an onlooker, it can be truly embarrassing to hear our attempts to justify our behaviour, but we feel no shame. We pay for this with a high cost in the trust that people hold in us, cost to our emotions and the cost to our relationships and friends. Not even an iota of this cost is worth it.

It is easier for us to put up our hands and say “I am wrong. I am sorry.” Or, if we are advised about something, we should accept and say “You are right. I am wrong in this. Help me, advise me, assist me”. This approach expends less energy and emotional cost. In fact, there is no price to pay. The opposite route of justification and refusal to accept has such a high price not only in the eyes of the creation but even with the Creator, Allah.

One of the core concepts of Judo is that you use the other person’s strength against them. Unique amongst all the other martial arts, this principle of using your opponent’s strength, aggression and momentum against them is referred to as the principle of ‘maximum efficiency’. Saying ‘Sorry’ is emotional or verbal Judo. If someone is angry because you have wronged them, they will become angry, aggressive and argumentative. All this anger and heat is being dissipated towards you. If you sincerely apologise, it disarms the other person. It leaves them without argument and evidence. If they continue to be angry and seethe with rage, then all their anger is now directed at themselves. It is human to get angry but it is devilish to refuse to accept someone’s apology. This is why Imam Shafi رحمة الله‎ used to say ‘Whoever is provoked and then he doesn’t become angry, then that person is a donkey but if someone’s forgiveness is sought and they refuse to forgive, then that person is a devil’. 

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 6’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 24th January 2020].

Hope and Scope

When we reflect on our character, conduct and behaviour we should realise that we may not be angels, but we are not absolutely worthless either. We are somewhere in-between. That gives us hope and scope for improvement and betterment. It makes us realise that we are far from perfect and there is a lot that we can improve on. When someone offers us good counsel and advice, then we should be receptive of that advice and realise that we have areas of improvement. How can we improve if we do not even accept that there is anything wrong with us? Acknowledgement and acceptance are the first steps to self-reform. We should follow in the footsteps of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb رضى الله عنه remembering his words ‘May Allah have mercy on a man who gives me a gift of my errors.’

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 5’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 17th January 2020].

Is Your Body Changing?

The external teachings of religion should be matched by a reflective, inner spirituality because ultimately that is what all of the teachings of religion lead to. We are not who we are because of our bodies but because of our rūḥ. Allāh created the rūḥ first. It is the rūḥ that was breathed into the womb of the mother, it was the rūḥ that was caged in this body, and that travels through this life. Whereas the body will die, the rūḥ will be transported in to the grave, to barzakh, the intermediary world between this world and the afterlife. It is the rūḥ is the essence of life and it is what makes us who we are, not the body.

The remarkable thing about our body, from the scientific perspective, is that the cells in our body are constantly being replaced. Some cells have a lifespan of just a few days. Others have a longer life span but still only last a matter of weeks or months. These cells are constantly dying off and being regenerated. Even our skin is constantly being shed as the cells in the superficial layers are constantly replacing themselves. We could therefore say that the body that we have now is not the same body we had some time ago, nor is it the body we will have in the future. Given that our body will continue to change, we should realise that is the rūḥ that matters not the body. The rūḥ is the essence of life and that is what we should be focussing on. 

May Allāh make us from amongst those who look beyond the appearance and the exterior of religion and ilm, and make us those that appreciate the inner dimension of faith and work on it. 

[This short excerpt is based on a majlis (gathering for spiritual training) delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Sunday 12th January 2020].

Arguing over Inches of land

Arguments and disputes over wealth are common. Siblings who grew up with each other argue over inches of land and fight over their dead parent’s inheritance. All love goes out of the window. That is how it can be even within families. 

We go to tribunals and stand before judges. We stand in court to make claims against each other – that he has taken my wealth, he has something that belongs to me, he has injured my feelings and therefore I want to sue him and so on. We want judgement in our favour in relation to obtaining wealth. This is common throughout the world.

The ṣaḥābah were so pure of heart. They were not interested in wealth. Allāhu Akbar! The Prophet ﷺ created a brotherhood between the ṣaḥābah. He made the muhājirūn the brothers of the Ansār. The Ansār said to the muhājirūn that we have orchards, palm groves and so on, and we want to give you half of our wealth. The muhājirūn refused to take it. What did the Ansār do? They went to the Prophet ﷺ, the Judge. They said that we want to make a claim against the muhājirūn as they will not accept our wealth. Eventually they came to an agreement and compromise – it was that the muhājirūn would take part of the produce of the Ansār but not take their land, orchards etc.  

That was the vision and understanding of the ṣaḥābah. May Allāh make us all pure of heart and grant us the same brotherhood and understanding amongst ourselves.

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 3’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 20th December 2019].

Deep Roots

In a hadīth, the Prophet ﷺ has described the munāfiq and the muʾmin with examples of trees. The muʾmin is similar to a tree with deep roots. It is tall-standing and firm. Even when it is buffeted by the strong winds of a hurricane, the most that happens to it is that it sways and bends with the wind. It does not snap or fall. When a muʾmin has deep roots of faith and īmān, even when he is buffeted by strong winds of calamities and misfortunes, the muʾmin does not break or snap. The muʾmin is swayed and shaken but does not fall due to their deep roots.

The Prophet ﷺ then described a bush-like tree which grows in the desert. It looks good but it has shallow roots and is top heavy. With a strong gust of wind, the whole tree is uprooted, and it is swept away with the wind. That is the munāfiq. A munāfiq does not sway or bend. One minute the munāfiq is there and the next minute the munāfiq is gone. Rather than bending, swaying or breaking, the munafiq disappears. A munāfiq is never stable, steady or perseverant because the munāfiq has no principles. Why would the the munāfiq have principles? A conscious does not matter. What matters is immediate gain and profit. For short term gain, the munafiq is willing to trade his opinions, position, loyalty and even religion.

May Allāh make us from amongst those that have deep roots and not those that sell everything for short term benefit. 

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 3’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 20thDecember 2019].

The Colour of Allāh

One of the traits of hypocrisy is that a person tries to please the whole of creation but not Allāh. It is impossible to please everybody and tell everybody what they want to hear. This is because to do so will mean that there is lying and deception involved. Every time someone tells another person what they want to hear, they will likely be lying, and lying is the probably the greatest trait of hypocrisy.

We ourselves do not know what we want. One minute we want one thing, and the next minute we want something else. Thus, it can be said that we are unable to please ourselves. Bearing that in mind, how are we going to be able to please everyone else all the time? When we do try and do that, we have to put on a facade, cheat and deceive – these are all the traits of hypocrisy. A muʾmin cannot and does not behave like that. A muʾmin stands for something and has principles. A muʾmin is honest and transparent and says ‘This is what I believe and this is what I stand for’. Therefore, a muʾmin, by his very character, cannot say different things to different people at different times with regards to his beliefs and opinions. He belongs to the group of muʾmineen, the group of believers. They have their colour, the colour of Allāh:

صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ

(We take our) colour from Allāh, and who is better than Allāh at colouring. We are His worshippers. [Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:138]

[This short excerpt is based on a lecture entitled ‘Traits of Hypocrisy Part 2’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 13th December 2019].

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