Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rabia Basri's quotes

• When asked about some worldly thing she wanted to have, she replied: I am ashamed to ask for a thing of this world from Him to whom this world belongs; how can I ask for it from those to whom it does not belong.

• Indeed your days are numbered, for when one day passes; a significant portion of your life has passed away. And when that portion has fled, soon it will come to pass that your whole life has disappeared. As you know this, strive always towards the performance of good deeds.

• I am not after any reward for my good works, but only that on the Day of Judgment the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) should say to the rest of the Prophets: 'Behold this woman of my community; this was her work.'

• All people are afraid of the reckoning of the Day of Judgment, whereas I long for it. At last Allah will address me as ‘O, My servant!'

• Conceal your good qualities as much as you conceal your bad qualities.

• Death is a bridge between friends. The time now nears that I cross that bridge, and friend meets Friend.

Rabia Basri is and will remain to be a role model for Muslim women.


Rabia Basri: A role model for all Muslim women

Rabia Basri is a role model for all Muslim women. She rules on the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Born in 95 A.H. in Basra in a poor but respected family, she was the fourth daughter of her father. 

She was born in a dark night. The family was so poor that there was no oil in the lamp even to light it. Her sister asked her father to get some oil from the neighbor's house, but he said he would never ask anyone for any help except Allah.

When he slept with a heavy heart, he dreamed that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came to him and said, “Don't grieve, your newborn daughter is a favorite of the Lord and will lead many Muslims to the right path. You should approach the Amir of Basra and present him a letter with a message that every night he is wont to offer 100 daroods to me and on Friday nights 400. But this Friday he did not offer daroods, so tell him that as a penalty he must give you 400 dinars.”

Rabia’s father got up and went straight to the Amir. The Amir was delighted on receiving the message. He distributed 1,000 dinars to the poor and joyously gave 400 to Rabia's father. The Amir then asked Rabia’s father to come to him whenever he needed anything as it was an honor for him to help somebody liked by Allah.

After the death of her father, Basra was hit by famine. Rabia got separated from her sisters and left alone. She was with a caravan that was attacked by robbers. The chief of the robbers took Rabia as captive and sold her as a slave. Rabia’s new master used to make her do hard work.

One day while she was going out, a man chased her. She ran to save herself but fell down and broke her arm. Thereupon, she prayed to Allah, “I am a poor orphan and a slave. Now my hand is broken. But I do not mind these things if Thou be pleased with me...”

Rabia used to spend the whole night in prayer after finishing her household work. She used to fast regularly. Once when her master woke up in the middle of the night he was attracted by Rabia's prayer:
“My Lord! You know well that my desire is to carry out Your commandments and to serve You with all my heart. O Light of my eyes. If I were free I would spend the whole day and night in prayers. But what should I do when You have made me slave of a human being?”

The master felt that it was sacrilegious to keep her as a slave. He freed her and offered her the choice of staying with him or leaving. She told him she wanted to carry on her worship in solitude. She went to the desert and devoted herself to worship. Her mentor was Hassan Basri. Much of her early life is narrated by Farid Al-Din Attar, using earlier sources. Rabia herself did not leave any written work.

She devoted herself to prayers. Later she set out for Haj. Rabia reached Makkah and there she met Ibrahim Adham who also performed Haj that year.
Throughout her life, her love of God, poverty and self-denial remained her constant companions. She spent all night in prayer and contemplation. As her fame grew she had many disciples. Though she had many offers of marriage, and even one from the Amir of Basra, she refused them as she had no time in her life for anything other than the Love of Allah.

Once when asked why she did not marry she replied:
“If you free me from having to worry about three things, I will marry.  First of all, at the moment of death, shall my faith be sufficient to bring me to salvation? Second, will the Book of my deeds be given to me in my left or right hand? Third, on that hour when a party of people are called forth on the left hand to Hell, and another group from the right hand are summoned to Heaven, which company will I belong to? And further when I am interrogated in the grave by the two angels, shall I be able to answer their questions?”
Once Malik Bin Dinaar visited Rabia Basri. He found in her home a partly broken pitcher which she used for ablution and drinking water, a very old straw-mat on which she slept and a brick which she used as a pillow. He said to her, “I have many affluent friends. Shall I ask them to bring some items for you?”

Rabia Basri said, “O Malik! Is my Provider, your Provider and the Provider of the wealthy, not the same?” Malik said, “Yes.” Rabia then said, “Has He forgotten about the needs of the poor on account of their poverty, while he remembers the needs of the wealthy?” Malik said, “It is not so.” Rabia then said, “When He never forgets anyone, why should we remind Him? He has wished this condition for me and I am pleased with it, because it is, His pleasure.”

Rabia has taught us that repentance is a gift from Allah because no one can repent unless Almighty Allah allows him to do so.

Ibn Al-Jawzi relates that at the time of her death, she called Abda Bint Abi Showal and told her that no one be informed of her death and that she be shrouded only in her old robe for burial. When her last hour came, leading sheikhs gathered around her, but she told them to “Go out and leave place for the Angels.” They all went out and closed the door. While they were waiting outside, they heard from inside a voice reciting: “O soul at rest and peace! Return to your Lord...” For a long while thereafter there was silence. When they went inside, they found that she had passed away.

Zubaida: The great philanthropist

Zubaida Khatoon was born in 148 A.H. (766CE) few months after Haroon Al-Rasheed. She was very pretty and so her grandfather Caliph Mansur named her Zubaida (a cup of cream). 

Her actual name was Amatul Aziz (like Abdul Aziz for boys). She was daughter of Jaafer, brother of Caliph Mahdi and her mother Salsal was the sister of Khaizran, wife of Caliph Mahdi. Thus, she was connected to Haroon Al-Rasheed from her mother as well as father's side. She was very brilliant, beautiful and fond of learning. She learned the Holy Qur'an, Hadith and Arabic literature with due interest. She also showed great interest in literature and science and allocated funds inviting tens of poets, scientists and literary figures to Baghdad. It is said that her palace “sounded like a beehive” as she employed one hundred women maids who recited the Holy Qur'an day and night. Wherever she went in the palace the verses of Holy Qur'an were echoing. 

She sponsored a group of Ulema for promoting Islamic learning. She lived during and after the time of Imam Al-Shafe'i. She was married to Haroon Al-Rasheed in 165 AH (781 AD), who was the fifth Abbasid Caliph and ruled for 23 years (786-809). Queen Zubaida was a very devout Muslim and never missed a prayer. She also performed Haj many times, often making the 900-mile trip from Baghdad to Makkah on foot with her husband.

Zubaida got a son named Mohammed Al Amin. He was six month younger to his step brother Ali Al-Mamoun whose mother was a concubine named Marajel. Zubaida pleaded for the nomination of her son Amin as the crown prince though Caliph Haroon preferred Mamoun because of his intelligence and scholarship. Finally, Haroon decided not to infuriate his wife and appointed her son as crown prince and Al Mamoun as crown prince to the new crown prince, and also appointed his third son Al Kassim as a third crown prince.

As expected, Al Amin started to mess things up from his first days in power, after the death of his father. Eventually, his conflict with his brother escalated and it ended after fierce battle, in which he was killed. His mother overcame her sorrow and tragedy and wrote to Al Mamoun “I congratulate you as the new caliph. I have lost a son, but he was replaced by the son that I did not give birth to.”

These words moved the new caliph as Mamoun was also raised by Zubaida when his mother died after three days of his birth. He rushed to her and swore that he did not order the killing of his brother. Zubaida lived for 22 years after the death of her husband. Caliph Mamoun gave her full respect and comfort and consulted her in important matters. She died at the age of 67 in 216 A.H.

Her biggest achievement was the planning and execution of a road project from Baghdad to Makkah. There was a path that existed before but she saw the pilgrims dying with thirst and losing the way because of desert and sandstorms. To solve this problem, Zubaida planned to build a well-demarcated route with buildup walls and shelters to protect the travelers from shifting sands and harsh weather conditions. Her engineers moved in the direction of Qibla and drew a map of over 1200 km. The road was divided into more than 40 stations for shelter of huge caravans of pilgrims with their animals. Deep wells, water pools, guest houses, mosques and police posts were erected to provide comfort and security to the pilgrims. High minarets were raised to locate the place and in the night towers were lit with fire to guide the caravans to the right direction.

All these structures were so strong that they remained intact for centuries. The result was that Darb Zubaida served for more than 1,000 years for million of pilgrims from Iraq, Fares, Khorasan and Kurdistan. Though about 1,300 years have passed, some of the wells and pools of this route can still be identified.

Darb Zubaida started from Baghdad and passing through Kufa, Najaf, Qadsiya, Mughiatha, Thalabia, Feedh and Samera reached  Naqra where it bifurcated for Madina through Al-Akhakia. The main route to Makkah continued through Mughaith, Beir-Ghifari, Al-Saleelah, Birka-Zabda and reached Mahad Dhahab (Gold mines). Later crossing through Safinah, Ghamrah, it reached Meeqat named Zat-Irq, and later passing through Bustan reached Makkah.

Darb Zubaida also mobilized the cultural and commercial activity in the region. Pilgrims exchanged their ideas, delivered sermons, told historical stories and reached commercial dealing during the night halts. This route remained active for six months every year for Haj traffic and for the rest period served the locals and traders. It is said that Zubaida spent 1,700,000 mithqaal on this project which is equal to 5,950 kg of pure gold costing billions of dollars today.

Apart from Darb Zubaida that mobilized the cultural and commercial activities in the region and provided pilgrims a platform to exchange their ideas and reach commercial dealings, her another achievement was the canal named Ain Zubaida.

Few sites remaining as her monuments can still be seen at Birkah Al Areesh located 70km north and Birka Al Bidaa, located 20 km northeast of Turbat Hayel. Another site is Birka Al-Jumaima, 14 km east of Rafha and Birkat Zarood, 50 km northeast of Buqaa.

Zubaida's another milestone achievement was the canal named Ain Zubaida. After her husband's death in 193 A.H., Zubaida went for Haj. She noticed great scarcity of drinking water in Arafat, Mina and Makkah. Pilgrims were suffering with thirst and the cost of water had risen to one dinar a bottle. She was so distressed and moved by the situation that she decided to build a canal. She enlisted the services of the best engineers to build a canal that could provide free water to the pilgrims throughout all areas of Makkah. Ibn Al Jawzi recorded that Zubaida ordered engineers to conduct an urgent study to bring water to Makkah. After a survey, they reported to her that it would be an extremely difficult job, since it requires digging tunnels under massive rocks and building tunnels along slopes for over 10 miles. The report also concluded that it would be a very costly project.

"After surveying the entire area they decided to bring the canal from Hunain valley where water springs from the mountains provided water to the residents and for irrigation. The valley of Hunain was the place where the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had won Ghazwa-e-Hunain. The area was rocky, the land was barren and dry and the weather very hot. It was very difficult to sustain a canal on the surface of the earth, so the engineers planned to make a subterranean canal in the form of a tunnel (aqueduct), with water stations raised above the ground at different intervals, wherefrom people could meet their water needs."

On the orders of Zubaida, the entire area of Hunain valley, which contained springs and other sources of water, was bought by paying a huge amount of money. To bring water through the mountains was a Herculean task, which required a large number of manpower, enormous funds and expertise for cutting the mountains and digging the barren and rocky hills. But nothing could frustrate Zubaida's determination. "For each stroke of spade and shovel, I'm ready to give a dirham if needed", she said and the work was launched. The whole project took three years and cost the equivalent of billions of dollars of our time, which she paid from her own money.

After several years of hard work, the canal was eventually brought all the way down to Jabal-e-Rahma in Arafat, and then to Mina and Muzdalifah. The spring water from Hunain valley and whatever water sources found on the way were converged into the canal. The water supply through this canal brought great relief to the pilgrims as well as to the residents of Makkah for more than thousand years. The remains of this historical canal can still be seen on the side of Mount Arafat.

On a historic day, a crowd had gathered outside the beautiful palace of Queen Zubaida, waiting for her audience. The queen appeared in the balcony and very gracefully addressed the crowd: “Today I close all the account books on the Makkah Canal. Those who owe me any money need not pay back. And those whom I owe any, will be paid immediately and double the amount.” Saying this, she ordered that all the account books be thrown into the river and said: “My reward is with Allah.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mubarak narrated that he saw Queen Zubaida in a dream and asked her. What Almighty Allah did with you? She said, My Lord granted me forgiveness on the first stroke of the shovel on Makkah route.

This is an interesting contrast. If austerity elevated the name of Rabia Basri, the wealth raised the name of Queen Zubaida. Today we have thousands of Muslim women who are millionaires and Muslims are facing enormous difficulties, let them get inspiration from Queen Zubaida. May Allah grant her the best reward.


The story of Malik bin Dinar, how he came to repent

He was a very pious and learned man. He was not a companion of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), but a Taabeii (successor of the Sahaba). He met Abdullah bin Abbas, Imam Maalik and Hasan Basri. His family was from Sijistan (or Kabul) who later embraced Islam. He lived a very austere life and earned his livelihood by writing the Holy Qur’an. He learned Hadith from leading scholar and narrated few Hadith from Hasan Al Basri. He died in 127 A.H. He was a beacon of light for new Muslims.

Malik bin Dinar narrates his story in the following way: “I was a policeman and very fond of drinking. I led a care-free life. I bought a beautiful slave girl whom I loved dearly. I had a daughter from her, a lovely child. When my daughter began to walk, I loved her all the more and she remained with me all the time. The innocent child had a strange habit. When she saw a glass of wine in my hands, she would snatch it and spill it on my clothes. Being fond of her, I never scolded her. As fate would have it, my child died when she was two years old and I was shocked and sorely grieved.

“One the night of 15th of Shaaban, I was drunk and went to sleep without performing Isha prayers. I had a horrible dream. I saw myself among those bring driven to the assembly of people on the Day of Resurrection. I heard a noise and felt something following me. When I looked back, I saw a huge snake chasing me. Ah! It was a horrible sight; the snake had blue catlike eyes, its mouth was wide open and it was rushing toward me furiously! I ran faster in terror, desperate for my life, the horrible snake still running after me and drawing closer.

“I saw an old man, dressed in elegant clothes with rich perfumes wafting all around his person, I greeted him saying, “Assallam-o-Alaikum” and he returned my greetings. I said, “For the sake of Allah, help me in my misery”. He said “I am too weak to help you against such a mighty foe; it is beyond my powers. But you must go on running; perhaps you may find some help”. Running wildly I saw a cliff in front of me and climbed it, but on reaching its top, I saw, beyond it, the raging fire of hell. Meanwhile, I heard a voice calling aloud, “Get back, for, you are not one of them (the dwellers of hell).

“I turned and began to run in the opposite direction. The snake also turned around and came after me. I saw again the old man in white robes and said, “Old man, can’t you save me from this python.” The man began to cry and said, “I am too weak to help you against such a mighty snake, but I can tell you that there is a hill nearby where they keep the ‘sacred trusts’ of the Muslims. If you go up that hill, you might find something of yours, kept in trust, which might save you from the snake.” I rushed toward the hill, which was round in shape, with a large number of open curtailed casements. The casements had golden shutters studded with rich rubies, and most precious jewels; on each shutter hung a curtain made of the rarest silk.

“When I was going to climb the hill, the angels called aloud, “Open the windows and raise the curtains and come out of your closets! Here is an unfortunate man in misery; may be you have with you some ‘trust’ of his, that might help him in his distress.” The windows opened at once, the curtains went up, and there issued forth from the casements a host of innocent children, with faces bright as the full moon. By this time I was utterly despondent, for the snake had drawn very close to me. Now the children called their friends, “Come out quickly, all of you, for the snake has come very close to him.”

Hearing this, more children came out of their windows, in large crowds, and among them I saw my own dear daughter who had died some time ago. She also espied me and began to weep, exclaiming, “By Allah! He is my own dear father.” She jumped on a swinging cradle, which seemed to be made from heavenly light (Noor) and darted across to me. Next moment, she was standing by my side and I took her to my bosom; she lifted her left hand towards me and with her right hand motioned the snake away.

The snake went away immediately. Then she gave me a seat and sat in my lap and began to stroke my beard with her right hand saying, “My dear father, ‘Has not the time come for the believers (who indulge in sins) that their hearts should submit in all humility to the remembrance of Allah and to the truth which is revealed’ (Al-Hadeed:16)”. I was moved to tears and asked her, “My daughter, do all of you know the meanings of the Qur’an? She replied “We understand the Holy Quran even better than you.”

I asked her “My dear child, what was this snake?” She said “It was your own evil deeds which had made it so strong that it was about to push you into Jahannam”. I asked “And who was that white-robed old man?” She replied “That were your good deeds and you had made them so weak with your scanty good deeds that he could not help you against the snake (though he suggested to you a means of escape.)”

I asked “What are all of you doing on this hill?” She replied “We are children of Muslims, who died in infancy. We shall live here till the Day of Resurrection, waiting to be reunited with you when you come to us at last and we shall intercede for you with our Lord”. And then I awoke from the dream, with the fright (of the snake) still heavy on my heart. I turned to Allah in repentance, as soon as I arose; and abandoned all my evil ways.


Abu Ayub Ansari, a prominent companion Abu Ayub Ansari, a prominent companion

HIS name shines on the horizon of Madinah. He was the first who offered full hospitality to Holy Prophet (peace and mercy of Allah be upon him) when he arrived in Madinah. Later he proved that he was not only an extraordinary host and a warrior, but also Katib-e-Wahi, a Hafiz Qur’an and a Faqih whose fatwas were trusted. Abu Ayub Ansari also served as imam of the Prophet’s Mosque during the Caliphate of Uthman bin Affan. He took part in all the famous battles including Badr, Ohud, Khandaq, Hunain, Khayber and Tabuk. 

Abu Ayub Ansari belonged to Bani Najjar tribe. It was not a new relationship for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). His great-grandfather Hashem married a lady named Salma from Banu Najjar of Madinah, later he went to Shaam for trading and died at Ghazza and was buried there. Salma gave birth to a boy. Later when Thabet bin Manzar (father of Hassan bin Thabet) visited Makkah he informed Muttaleb about his brother Hashim’s marriage in Madinah and the birth of a boy. Muttaleb visited Madinah and brought his nephew. This boy was named Abdul Muttaleb, later to become the grandfather of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah the whole city erupted in jubilation with young boys and girls welcoming the Prophet (peace be upon him) with noble songs.
The residents stood on the way asking the Prophet to stay with them. The Prophet said, “I will stay at the place where my camel sits.” The camel moved for a while and sat at an open place. He asked whose house is nearby. Abu Ayub Ansari burst with joy and said: “This is my house, this is my house, I am here to serve you.” Asad bin Zararah took the camel to his house. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stayed at Abu Ayub’s house for about seven months until the Prophet’s Mosque was built on the open space where his camel had stopped. Thus Abu Ayub became the Prophet’s closest neighbor who always served him during his life. This house was later known as “Maktaba Aarif Hikmat Bey” about 10 meters from the present Bab Baqie of the Prophet’s Mosque.
It is reported that once Abu Bakr and Omar came out of their houses because of acute hunger. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also joined them and they went together to the house of Abu Ayub. He was filled with joy to see the honorable guests. He rushed to the garden and brought dates. He later slaughtered a goat and offered it to them. They ate it and thanked Almighty Allah for His great bounties. In the meantime Prophet (peace be upon him) took a piece of meat, placed it in a loaf and said, “Abu Ayub, take this to Fatimah, she has not tasted the like of this for days.”

Abu Ayub devoted his life and property for the sake of Islam and participated in most of the campaigns during and after the life of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He was born in around 590 AD. He had three sons — Khalid, Ayub and Mohammed and a daughter named Umrah. Their descendants are found in Egypt, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

During the rule of Ameer Muawiya when a call was made for jihad against Constantinople, he raised his sword and participated in it. Though he was one of the favorites of the Holy Prophet, he preferred to leave Madinah and fight in distant lands for the sake of Islam. During this campaign he fell sick and instead of returning to Madinah he said before his death: “Convey my salaams to the Muslim army and tell them: ‘Abu Ayub urges you to penetrate deep into the enemy territory as far as you can so that you carry me (my dead body) with you and that you bury me under your feet at the walls of Constantinople.’”

Then he breathed his last. The Muslim army fulfilled the desire of the companion of the Messenger of God. They pushed back the enemy’s forces in attack after attack until they reached the walls of Constantinople. There they buried him.

Later, Ottoman Caliphs built nice tomb and a mosque. The locality is now called Ayub Sultan on the European part of Istanbul. Besides the grave of Abu Ayub Ansari there are 28 more companions buried in Turkey who laid their lives for the sake of Islam on this land. Ayub Sultan has become a sacred locality and many Ottoman caliphs were crowned at this place and later many nobles were buried near him.

This is a Hadith narrated by Abu Ayub Ansari (May Almighty Allah give him high ranks in Paradise), Allah’s Messenger said, “It is not lawful for a man to desert his Muslim brother for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first.”