Yahya Ibrahim: Shaykhs Need Advice, Too

Much thanks to brother Kamil for sending me this email; may Allah reward and bless him. It’s a nice short piece written by brother Yahya Ibrahim; may Allah reward and bless him; and I thought I’d share it with those of you who still visit my blog (despite the inactivity). I hope and pray that we all benefit from what Yahya’s mentioned; it’s quite a beautiful story and reminder.

Writes Yahya:

I found myself standing before an audience numbering in the tens of thousands; maybe even hundreds of thousands. Mumbai in November is mildly humid with an acceptable temperature that allows you to perspire but not sweat. The sweat came from the lights, cameras and action.

Shaykh, Shaykh please look into the camera.

Perspire.

Shaykh can we ask you a question, you have so much knowledge?

Sweat.

One of the problems with internet scholarship, convention groupies and seminar murids is the negative effect they inflict upon the heart of the “Shaykh.”  This is not my unique observation. Rather, it is from years of observing, discussing and questioning various lecturers, callers and organisers of Islamic educational conventions, seminars and classes.

People at times forget that the “Shaykh” is an individual who struggles each and every day of their life to worship Allah competently and in fulfillment of the Divine Grace of sacred knowledge that they have been afforded by Ar-Rahman.

Ibn al-Jawzi rahimahullah sat to teach and found more than 10,000 heads looking up at him. So he wept and supplicated to Allah:

O Allah! If You punish me on the Day of Judgment for my sins, do not let these students of mine witness it. I pray this not to save face, but so that they do not say, ‘The One he called us to is the One who punishes him.

While in Mumbai as a lecturer for Dr. Zakir Naik’s 2009 Peace Conference, I was blessed to meet Sh. Salah al-Budair, the Imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah al-Munawarrah. The Shaykh, may Allah grant him protection and shelter him, would lead us in the fajr prayer at the hotel and then have breakfast with us.  He was always joyful, humble, content with whatever was offered to him and a great listener with refined adaab. I have heard him speak before and listened to his awe-inspiring recitation of the Quran during Taraweeh and Qiyaam.  He is known for his soft heart and ease of weeping.

I took council with other honoured lecturers about how to ask him a sensitive question that I feared may be misunderstood. Abu Ammaar (Yasir Qadhi) said, “Just ask.”

Ya Shaykh, Allah has honoured you and has bestowed an enormous Grace upon you by granting you the duty and privilege of standing on the very Pulpit of the Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), in his masjid, within sight of his home and burial site, sala Allahu alayhi wa salaam.  You lead the prayers and advise others on his (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) behalf.  Ya Shaykh, how do you prepare yourself for this? How do you prepare your Ikhlas to find the courage to stand where you stand and lead where you lead?

I can’t fathom the pressure, critical self-assessment, and self-doubt and fear that must be experienced by the Shaykh.

I know from personal experience and through my interaction with numerous students of knowledge and scholars that:

Shaykhs need advice.

Shaykhs need help.

Shaykhs make mistakes.

So-called “Shaykhs” can also be rotten to the core.

Sacred Knowledge and following through with sincere action has always been an eternal, internal struggle of the learned.

Al-Ghazali, al-Ash‘ari, Ibn Taymiyyah…those before them and superior to them in knowledge and those after them have ALL commented on Ikhlas, self-reformation, muhaasabah and Taqwa. In fact the first chapter of any hadeeth manual will begin with the chapter of Ikhlas.

At times we forget the Ikhlas that Allah enjoins upon us and that was exemplified by our humble Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

Knowledge, its acquisition and dissemination was never the aim of the student or the instructor.  ‘Amal – Sincere action, that was the objective.

Imam Muslim narrates that Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said,

The first amongst mankind to be used as kindle for hell-fire will be an individual who studied [religious] knowledge and taught it and who used to recite (memorise) the Qur’an. He will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favours and he will recognize them. It will be said: ‘And what did you do about them?’ He will say: ‘I studied [religious] knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Qur’an for Your sake.’ It will be said, ‘You have lied – you did but study [religious] knowledge that it might be said [of you]: He is learned. And you recited the Qur’an that it might be said [of you]: He is a reciter. And so it was said. Then it will be ordered that he be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire…

Shaykh Salah smiled. Bowed his head down and politely said, “Every level has its Divine assistance. To abstain from that would be Riyaah (showing off).”

Subhan Allah.

Allah provides the Ikhlas that we seek to attain and pray for.  It is Allah who grants us success and only Allah who can turn us away from it.

True Ikhlas is actually intending success and seeking Allah in all that we do.  True Ikhlas is a willingness to challenge ourselves and demonstrate conviction of faith to ourselves and others. True Ikhlas compels us to repent and rise up after our stumbling.

True Ikhlas is not a change in mood or a whimsical period of time. It is consistent, constant.  It is a compass that when abandoned one cannot arrive to salvation.

Later in the day, Shaykh Salah pulled me to the side and said privately, “Every day I pray that Allah take my life rather than allow me to stand in the place of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) with an overwhelming hypocrisy in my heart.  I pray every night that I not wake if I do not discharge the trust placed upon me.”

We both wept.

About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

3 Responses to Yahya Ibrahim: Shaykhs Need Advice, Too

  1. Assalamoalaikum

    SubhanAllah!! These are the people with the knowledge, with the wisdom and have devoted their lives to obeying Allah and His messenger (S,A,W) and they have so much fear in their hearts, and then here we are. from top to toe, statues of sins and yet, we think we are pious…

    [RG’s edit]: Fixed some minor typos.

  2. Yusuf says:

    May Allah protect Shaykh Salah al-Budayr.. it is suspected that someone actually tried to murder him last month during the Fajr prayer in al-Masjid an-Nabawi. Someone was two rows behind him behaving strange, not doing rukoo’ or sujood. He was detained during the prayer and they found two sharp daggers on him. There is a video of the prayer here, but I didn’t notice anything. The guy is an Arab but I don’t think from Saudi Arabia.. probably a Raafidhi.

    In addition to being an imaam in al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Shaykh Salah is also a judge in the greater courts in Madinah.

  3. al-Falastini says:

    MashaAllah good piece. May Allah preserve Brother Yahya and Sh Salah.

    By the way, Rasheed, what’s up with Brother Yahya? Is he still doing Da`wah? I regret that he’s not coming to North America anymore. Why is that?

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