Ramadan: Jihad of the Self

According to Ibn Qayyim, there are 14 modes of Jihad, subdivided into 4 categories, and Jihad is one of the best actions we can do as Muslims. If we want to earn the pleasure of Allah, we need to strive in His path with our hearts, wallets, tongues, and bodies.

O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ۩

And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah . He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ

Al Haj, 77-78

(Note: there is a sajda in the first ayat.)

I’ve already covered the various forms of Jihad that we can undertake through preaching to and encouraging hypocrites, giving dawah to non believers, and doing battle with the little devils all day with the best of our ability, and all only with the strength and will of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. But I ran out of time last night, and so today let’s briefly talk about…

Jihad of the Self

  1. That he strives to learn guidance and the religion of truth which is there is no felicity or happiness in life or in the hereafter except by it. And when he neglects it, his knowledge is wretched in both words.
  2. That he strives to act upon it after he has learned it. For the abstract quality of knowledge without action, even if he commits no wrong, is without benefit.
  3. That he strives to call to Allah and to teach it to someone who does not know it. Otherwise he will be among those who conceal what Allah had revealed of guidance and clarity. His knowledge doesn’t benefit him or saves him from Allah’s penalty.
  4. That he strives with patience in seeking to call to Allah. When the creation harms him he bears it all for the sake of Allah.

So: Learn–>Act—>Teach–>be Patient.

Allah says in the Quran:

(I swear) By time,

وَالْعَصْرِ

Indeed, all mankind is in loss,

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ

Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ

Surah Asr

Do you see the similarity? 0) Believe; 1) (learn what ‘righteous deeds’ are); 2) do righteous deeds; 3) advise each other; 4) be patient.

Ash hadu anla ilaha il Allah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasoolullah. I proclaim that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, and I proclaim that Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the Messenger of Allah.

On the learning front, InshaAllah I do as much as is easy for me, but I fail time to time with learning opportunities. Last fall Imam Nick Pelletier arrived at the masjid with a bang, and quickly started two classes for revert Muslims. Class one, Sunday from 4-the next prayer, covered Aqidah and then moved into Hanbali fiq. Class two, on Saturday from 2-4 taught the Arabic alphabet and then transitioned to reading Quran with tajweed and memorizing Juz Amma. Later this fall, Imam Nick plans to transition the class to learning the Arabic language.

I went strong at both for the first 4 weeks, then missed the Saturday class, then went limping to the Saturday class the next week, then had to give it up. 2-4 on Saturday afternoon just got to be too disruptive of family and leisure time. After all, I work 5 days a week and need at least one weekend day to clean up and do house work. With Sunday evening given to study of Fiq, I just couldn’t manage to reorganize my time to fit in 2+ hours in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening, I could’ve handled; a weeknight, I could’ve handled; but not Saturday in the middle of the afternoon.

Will Allah grant me another opportunity to learn Arabic, for free, with in-person instruction? InshaAllah, and Allahu Alim. If He does, may He guide me to drop what I’m doing and get to it. I hate standing in prayer and not having one clue what the Imam is reciting. Alhamdulillah, every day I pick up a few more words, but it’s still mostly gibberish to me.

Astaghfirullah.

As to acting on what I know, well, I’ve changed some of my behaviors based on things I’ve learned, modified my prayer to InshaAllah get a bit closer to correct on all the physical parts, and I know I need to get better on both fronts. Much of what I learn is fairly academic, but practical things, things about character and belief, I need to be more focused on living out.

As to teaching what I know, Alhamdulillah, I have this blog (that nobody reads), and I try to pass relevant things that I learn from Imam Nick’s Sunday class and from the innumerable lectures that pour into my ears all day at work to my wife, her sons, brothers at the masjid that I (rarely) speak to, coworkers, and others, and may Allah guide me to speak with more conviction and confidence to more people: His word, His teachings, His book, and the actions and sayings and character of His prophets are too valuable to keep locked up.

And then patience… InshaAllah I get more and more patient as time goes on. I try very hard to remain patient in calling to Allah’s path, what little I do of it. And Alhamdulillah, most people seem receptive to what I have to offer. InshaAllah this isn’t because I don’t offer much, or don’t push them, and may Allah guide me to fear Him alone, especially when it comes to striving hard in His path.

I expect you have other opportunities to Learn–>Act–>Teach–>be Patient.

If you have the opportunity to listen to things at work, try out the podcasts from Yasir Qadhi, Yaser Birjas, Nouman Ali Kahn & Bayyinah, Mufti Menk, Qalam Institute, Halal Tube, and if you have other favorites, please share them! They’re all free via iTunes or your favorite pod catching app, and there’s great stuff in there. If you pay just 10% attention to them, you’ll pick up actionable things every day, InshaAllah. (Of course, it’s better to attend to lectures of this type, but if you listen at work like I do, your employer has some rights over you, and 90% of your attention is way more than most people give to their work…)

In the realm of action, fear only Allah and just do it… If it’s something that requires weapons, brawling, or otherwise running afoul of various government entities, make some nafl salat and beg Allah for guidance, and don’t act on that stuff, please. But if it’s easy things like the duas for leaving your house or entering your workplace, if it’s ideas for better kushooh in salat, if it’s recipes for happier marriages, or other useful, practical, daily things, try to get on it.

We’re not supposed to be perfect. We’re supposed to struggle toward perfection.

In the realm of teaching, reach out to your coworkers with little tidbits from the Quran and Sunnah, remind them that there is only one God, that He is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Protector, the Judge, of all that existed, all that exists, and all that will come in the future, and that He is the only thing worthy of our worship. This is harder than it sounds, and I’m the first one to fail at this. May Allah forgive me, I get the nerves so bad, but the more I do it, the easier it gets: baby steps, InshaAllah.

And above all, be Patient.

Learn–>Act–>Teach–>be Patient.

May Allah guide us to be better learners, to act on what we learn, to teach what we know, and to be patient with all of that, and may He enable us to fear only Him and to seek only His pleasure, Ameen.

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