Two Types of Determination: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali commented in one of his monographic works:

والعزم نوعان: ـ

Determination [al-‘azm] is of two types:

أحدهما : عزم المريد على الدخول في الطريق : وهو من البدايات . ـ

The first of them is the determination of the follower to enter upon the path, and this is in regards to the beginnings.

والثاني : العزم على الاستمرار على الطاعات بعد الدخول فيها ، وعلى الانتقال من حال كامل إلى حال أكمل منه ، وهو من النهايات . ـ

And the second is the determination to continue upon acts of obedience after entering into that and to move from an excellent condition to an even more excellent condition than that one. And this is in regards to the conclusions.

ولهذا سمى الله خواص الرسل أولو العزم ـ وهم خمسة ـ وهم أفضل الرسل . ـ

And for this reason Allah named the leading Messengers the “Possessors of Determination” [al-Uloo al-‘Azm] – and there are five of them – and they are the best of the Messengers*.

فالعزم الاول يحصل للعبد به للدخول في كل خير ، والتباعد من كل شر ؛ إذ به يحصل للكافر الخروج من الكفر والدخول في الإسلام ، وبه يحصل للعاصي الخروج من المعصية والدخول في الطاعة ، فإذا كنت العزيمة صادقة ، وصمم عليه صاحبها ، وحمل على هوى نفسه وعلى الشيطان حملة صادقة ، ودخل فيما أمر به من الطاعات فقد فاز . ـ

So the first type of determination allows the slave to thereby attain every good and to distance himself from every evil. And in the case of the disbeliever, then he thereby attains exodus from disbelief and entrance into Islam. And the disobedient one thereby attains leaving from disobedience and entering unto obedience. So if it is true determination and its possessor persists upon it and launches a true offensive against his own desires and against the shaytaan, and he enters into what he has been commanded with of the acts of obedience, then he has achieved success.

[Majmoo’ al-Rasaa’il li-Ibn Rajab 1/344]

*Translator’s Note: Concerning the definition of the Uloo al-‘Azm, Imam al-Shinqitee briefly wrote:

اختلف العلماء في المراد بأولي العزم من الرسل في هذه الآية الكريمة اختلافا كثيرا . وأشهر الأقوال في ذلك أنهم خمسة ، وهم الذين قدمنا ذكرهم في ” الأحزاب ” و ” الشورى ” ، وهم نوح وإبراهيم وموسى وعيسى ومحمد – عليهم الصلاة والسلام – . ـ

The scholars have differed greatly regarding the intended meaning of Uloo al-‘Azm among the messengers in this noble ayah [46:35]. And the most well-known position in that regard is that they are five, and they are those who were previously mentioned in surah al-Ahzab [33:7] and surah al-Shooraa [42:13], and they are Nuh, Ibrahim, Moosaa, ‘Eesaa and Muhammad (‘alaihim al-salaatu wa’l-salaam).

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 7/242. Read the entire discussion here]

See also: “Those of determination among the messengers”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Two types of despairing of Allah’s Mercy: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: You will surely be tested: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “Indeed to Allah we belong, and indeed to Him we will return”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: We have made for every prophet an enemy: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: You will surely hear much abuse: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions the following points of benefit concerning the relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar (seeking Allah’s forgiveness). After mentioning some notes concerning what is conducive to freeing oneself from the hell-fire during Ramadan, he writes:

و فيه أيضا : [ فاستكثروا فيه من أربع خصال : خصلتين ترضون بها ربكم و خصلتين لا غناء لكم عنهما فأما الخصلتان اللتان ترضون بهما ربكم : شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله و الإستغفار و أما اللتان لا غناء لكم عنهما : فتسألون الله الجنة و تستعيذون به من النار ] فهذه الخصال الأربعة المذكورة في الحديث كل منها سبب العتق و المغفرة : فأما كلمة التوحيد : فإنها تهدم الذنوب و تمحوها محوا و لا تبقي ذنبا و لا يسبقها عمل و هي تعدل عتق الرقاب الذي يوجب العتق من النار و من أتى بها أربع مرار حين يصبح و حين يمسي أعتقه الله من النار و من قالها مخلصا من قلبه حرمه الله على النار

And on this topic also is, “So be prolific in four characteristics: Two characteristics by which you please your Lord, and two characteristics which you cannot do without. As for the two characteristics by which you please your Lord – they are they shahaadah that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and al-istighfaar [seeking Allah’s forgiveness]. And as for the two which you cannot do without – they are your asking Allah for al-jannah and seeking refuge in Him from the Hell-fire.” So all four of the aforementioned characteristics in this statement are causes of emancipation and forgiveness. As for the kalimah al-tawheed (i.e. the shahaadah), then verily it destroys sins and completely erases them and sin does not remain, and no action precedes it [in virtue]. It is equivalent to freeing a slave, which necessitates the freeing of one from the Fire.

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The Prophet Muhammad is the fulfillment of Ibrahim’s du’a : Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the month of Rabee’ al-Awwaal, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali discussed some of the virtues of the Prophet and his prophet-hood. During this discussion he mentioned some of the proofs foretelling Muhammad’s prophet-hood, and began by writing:

 الدليل الأول : دعوة أبيه إبراهيم عليه السلام ، و أشار بذلك إلى ما قص الله في كتابه عن إبراهيم و إسماعيل لأنهما قالا عند بناء البيت الذي بمكة : { ربنا تقبل منا إنك أنت السميع العليم * ربنا و اجعلنا مسلمين لك و من ذريتنا أمة مسلمة لك و أرنا مناسكنا و تب علينا إنك أنت التواب الرحيم * ربنا و ابعث فيهم رسولا منهم يتلو عليهم آياتك و يعلمهم الكتاب و الحكمة و يزكيهم إنك أنت العزيز الحكيم } ـ

The first proof: The supplication of his forefather Ibrahim (‘alaihi al-salaam), and that points to what Allah narrated in His Book about Ibrahim and Ismaa’eel that when they were building the House in Mecca they said,

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The meaning of al-thulm : Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ

Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm – for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.

[al-Qur’an 6:82]

Commenting on this ayah, al-Haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote:

خرّج البخاري ومسلم : من حديثِ ابن مسعود ، قال : لمّا نزلت : < الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ > ، قال أصحاب الرسول الله ﷺ : أيّنا لم يظلم نفسه ؟ فأنزل الله : < إِنَّ الشِّرْ‌كَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ > . ـ

Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported the hadeeth of ibn Mas’ood that he said, “When the ayah, ‘Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm‘ [6:82] was revealed, the companions of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘Which of us does not wrong himself?’ So Allah revealed the ayah, ‘Verily al-shirk is great thulm‘ [31:13].

و معنى هذا : أنّ الظلم يختلف : ـ

And this means that the meaning of al-thulm varies: Continue reading

“A donation is not to be compared to a bribe”: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Abu’l-Faraj Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in part of a longer discussion on repentance, wrote the following insightful words on a great difference between our father Adam (‘alaihis salaam) and the Shaytaan.

سبحان من إذا لطف بعبده في المحن قلبها منحاً, وإذا خذل عبداً لم ينفعه كثرة اجتهاده, وعاد عليه وبالا. لُقِّنَ آدم حجَّتَه وأُلقي إليه ما تُتَقبَّلُ به توبته : ( فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّ‌بِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ).

Exalted is He who, if He is kind to His slave in tribulation He bestows a blessing upon his heart, and if He abandons a slave, then no large amount of effort will be of benefit to him, and this effort will turn upon him [i.e. he will be punished for his misguided efforts]. Adam was inspired with his plea and received what would lead to the acceptance of his tawbah (repentance), “Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance.” [2:37]

وطرد إبليس بعد طول خدمته فصار عمله هباء منثورا (قَالَ فَاخْرُ‌جْ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّكَ رَ‌جِيمٌ  وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ اللَّعْنَةَ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ). إذا وضع عدله على عبد لم تبق له حسنة, وإذا بسط فضله على عبد لم تبق له سيئة

يُعْطِي وَيَمْنَعُ من يشاء كما يَشَا     وهِباتُهُ لَيْسَتْ تُقارِنُها الرُّشا

And Iblees was expelled (from Jannah) after he prolonged his dispute, so his deeds all came to nothing, “[Allah] said, ‘Then get out of it, for indeed, you are expelled. And indeed, upon you is the curse until the Day of Recompense.” [14:34-35]. When Allah executes His justice on a slave, then no good remains for him, and when He extends His favor to a slave, then no sins remain for him.  

Allah gives and withholds to whom He wills, as He wills
And a donation is not to be compared to a bribe

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 123]

See also: “All of you are astray except whomever I guide”: Explanation of Ibn Rajab

See also: Allah created His creation in darkness: Sharh al-Mubaarakfoori

See also: The purpose of Allah’s creation: Imam al-Shinqitee

The perfection of Allah’s generosity and goodness towards His slaves: Ibn Rajab

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali writes in his commentary on al-Arba’een al-Nawawi:

 وقال ‏{‏لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَى مِنكُمْ‏}‏ الحج‏.‏

Allah says, “Their meat will not reach Allah , nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is taqwa from you.” [22:37]

والمعنى أنه تعالى يحب من عباده أن يتقوه ويطيعوه كما أنه يكره منهم أن يعصوه ولهذا يفرح بتوبة التائبين أشد من فرح من ضلت راحلته التي عليها طعامه وشرابه بفلاة من الأرض وطلبها حتى أعيى وأيس منها واستسلم للموت وأيس من الحياة ثم غلبته عينه فنام واستيقظ وهي قائمة عنده وهذا أعلى ما يتصوره المخلوق من الفرح هذا كله مع غناه عن طاعات عباده وتوباتهم إليه وإنه إنما يعد نفعها إليهم دونه ولكن هذا من كمال جوده وإحسانه إلى عباده ومحبته لنفعهم ودفع الضر عنهم فهو يحب من عباده أن يعرفوه ويحبوه ويخافوه ويتقوه ويطيعوه ويتقربوا إليه ويحب أن يعلموا أنه لا يغفر الذنوب غيره وأنه قادر على مغفرة ذنوب عباده كما في رواية عبدالرحمن بن غنم عن أبي ذر لهذا الحديث من علم منكم أني ذو قدرة على المغفرة ثم استغفرني غفرت له ولا أبالي‏.‏

That means that He, the Exalted, loves for His slaves to have al-taqwa of Him and obey him, just as He dislikes that they disobey Him. For this reason, He rejoices at their the tawbah of the repentant one more strongly than one who has lost his mount which was carrying his food and drink while he is in the barren desert land, and he seeks it until he gives up all hope in despair, and submits to [impending] death and he despairs of life, then his eyes are overwhelmed so he sleeps, and then when he wakes up there it is standing in beside him. This is the highest joy that a human being can imagine. All of this is despite His being rich beyond the need of His slaves’ acts of obedience and their acts of turning in tawbah to Him, and along with the fact that their benefit only returns to them and not to Him, yet this is from the perfection of His liberal generosity and goodness to His slaves, and from His love for that which will be of benefit to them and repel harm from them. He loves for His slaves to recognize Him, love Him, fear Him, have taqwa of Him, obey Him and draw near to Him, and He loves that they should know that no one forgives sins other than Him, and that He is able to forgive the sins of His slaves, as is narrated by ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam from Abu Dharr in this hadeeth, “Whoever of you knows that I have the ability to forgive and then asks Me to forgive, I will forgive him and it does not bother me.”

‏[Jaami’a al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hikam 2/44-45]

See also: “O Mankind, you are in need of Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Names of Allah: al-Ghanī – explanation of Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The gratitude of a slave is better than the blessings of this world: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: Generosity and Studying the Qur’an during Ramadan: Ibn Hajr

Eemaan, jihaad and Hajj mabroor: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali writes the following under the chapter heading, “Concerning the Hajj, it’s virtues and an incitement to perform it”:

في الصحيحين [ عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال : أفضل الأعمال إيمان بالله و رسوله ثم جهاد في سبيل الله ثم حج مبرور ] هذه الأعمال الثلاثة ترجع في الحقيقة إلى عملين

In the Saheehayn, Abu Huyayrah narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The best of deeds is eemaan in Allah and His messenger, then jihaad in the path of Allah, then Hajj mabroor.” These three deeds, in reality, return back to being two deeds.

أحدهما : الإيمان بالله و رسوله و هو التصديق الجازم بالله و ملائكته و كتبه و رسله و اليوم الآخر كما فسر النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم الإيمان بذلك في سؤال جبريل و في غيره من الأحاديث و قد ذكر الله تعالى الإيمان بهذه الأصول في مواضع كثيرة من كتابه كأول البقرة و وسطها و آخرها

The first of them is al-eemaan in Allah and His messenger, and that is firm affirmation of Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers and the Last Day as they are explained by the Prophet (ﷺ). Having eemaan in that was in the question of Jibreel and others besides him in various aahaadeeth, and Allah the Almighty has mention al-eemaan with this foundation in numerous places in His book, such as the beginning of surah al-Baqarah and its middle and its end. Continue reading

The Importance of Pure Intention: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

The muhaddith Ibn Hibbaan brings the following narration in his Saheeh:

 حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب أنبأ العباس بن الوليد بن مزيد البيروتي أخبرني أبي قال : سمعت الأوزاعي يقول : حدثني أبو كثير الزبيدي عن أبيه قال

 سألت أبا ذر فقلت : دلني على عمل إذا عمل العبد به دخل الجنة قال : سألت عن ذلك رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ، فقال : تؤمن بالله . قال : قلت يا رسول الله إن مع الإيمان عملًا ؟ قال : يرضخ مما رزقه الله . قلت : وإن كان معدما لا شيء له ؟ قال : يقول معروفا بلسانه . قال : قلت فإن كان عيبا لا يبلغ عنه لسانه ؟ قال : فيعين مغلوبا . قلت : فإن كان ضعيفا لا قدرة له؟ قال : فليصنع لأخرق . قلت : وإن كان أخرق ؟ قال : فالتفت إلي وقال : ما تريد أن تدع في صاحبك شيئا من الخير ، فليدع الناس من أذاه . قلت : يا رسول الله إن هذه كلمة تيسير ؟ فقال : والذي نفس بيده ما من عبد يعمل بخصلة منها يريد بها ما عند الله إلا أخذت بيده يوم القيامة حتى تدخله الجنة

Abu Kathir narrates from his father that: I asked Abu Dharr (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu), “Show me an action which if the slave does it he will enter al-Jannah.” He said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about that and he said, ‘That he has eemaan in Allah.'” So I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Isn’t there action along with the eemaan? He said, “Let him give a little of what with which Allah provides him.” I said, “What if he is destitute, not owning anything?” He said, “Let him say what is good with his tongue.” I said, “Then what if he is incapable and his tongue will not express what he intends?” He said, “Then let him help someone who has been overcome.” I said, “Then what if he himself is weak and has no power?” He said, “Then let him make something for a clumsy, unhandy person.” I said, “Then what if he himself is clumsy and unhandy?” Then he turned to me and said, “You don’t want to leave your friend with anything good, do you? Then let him protect people from his own mischief.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah! All of this is easy.” So he said, “By who One in Whose Hand is my soul! There is no slave who does any one of these practices, seeking thereby that which is with Allah, except that I will take him by his hand on Yawm al-Qiyaamah until he enters al-Jannah.”

[Saheeh ibn Hibbaan #373, and he declared it saheeh. Sheikh al-Albaani graded it as saheeh li-ghairi in al-Saheehah #2668. al-Haakim reported it with a different wording in Mustadrak al-Haakim #212, and he considered it saheeh according to the conditions of Muslim. Sheikh al-Albaani graded it as Saheeh li-ghairi in al-Saheehah #2668. Al-Tabarani also reported a different wording of the hadeeth in al-Kabeer, which al-Albaani graded as hasan li-ghairi.]

Ibn Rajab mentioned this narration in Jaam’i al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam, after which he mentions:

فاشترط في هذا الحديث لهذه الأعمال كلها إخلاص النية كما في حديث عبدالله بن عمرو الذي فيه ذكر الأربعين خصلة وهذا كما في قوله عز وجل ‏{‏لاَّ خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّن نَّجْوَاهُمْ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلاَحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ ابْتَغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا‏}‏ النساء‏.‏

A stipulation is this hadeeth is that all of these actions must have purity of intention, as is mentioned in [a previously mentioned] hadeeth of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr discussing the forty characteristics. And this is like Allah’s saying, “There is no good in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or reconciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking the pleasure of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward” [4:114].

[Jaami’ al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam 2/90]

See also: Ask that his eemaan be preserved!

See also: Those who come to Allah with a Pure Heart: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: Notes on Perfecting One’s Deeds and their Acceptance: ibn Rajab

See also: Three Conditions for the Acceptance of Deeds: Imam al-Shinqitee

When I am afflicted with a calamity, I praise Allah four times

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali reports that some of the salaf used to say:

قال بعض السلف : إني لأصاب  بالمصيبة فأحمد الله عليها أربع مرات : أحمد الله إذ لم تكن أعظم مما هي ، وأحمد الله إذ رزقني الصبر عليها ، وأحمده إذ وفقني الاسترجاع ، وأحمده إذ لم يجعلها في ديني

When I am afflicted with a calamity, I praise Allah four times: I praise Allah for it not being worse than it is, I praise Allah that He provided me with the ability to bear it patiently, and I praise Him for granting me the accord to say, ‘Verily to Allah do we belong and to Him do we return’, and I praise Him for not making the tribulation in my religion.

[Majmoo’ al-Rasaa’il Ibn Rajab vol. 3 p. 155]

See also: “Indeed to Allah we belong, and to Him we will return”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Whoever believes in Allah, He will guide his heart in times of trial: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

The gratitude of a slave is better than the blessings of this world: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following in part of his great work Jaami’ al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam, a detailed a thorough commentary on Imam al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadeeth:

وقال أبو بكر بن عبدالله ما قال عبد قط الحمد لله مرة إلا وجبت عليه نعمة بقوله الحمد لله فما جزى تلك النعمة جزاءها أن يقول الحمد لله فجاءت نعمة أخرى فلا تنفد نعماء الله

Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abdullah said, “A slave never says al-Hamdulillaah one time except that he must receive a blessing for his saying al-hamdulillaah.” So what is the proper response to that blessing? Its response is to say al-hamdulillaah, and so there will come another blessing, and so the blessings of Allah never cease.

وقد روى ابن ماجه من حديث أنس رضي الله عنه مرفوعًا إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما أنعم الله على عبد نعمة فقال الحمد لله إلا كان الذي أعطى أفضل مما أخذ وروينا نحوه من حديث شهر بن حوشب عن أسماء بنت يزيد مرفوعًا أيضًا وروي هذا عن الحسن البصري من قوله

And Ibn Maajah has narrated the marfoo’ hadeeth of Anas (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu), “Allah never bestows a blessing upon a slave and he then the slave says ‘al-hamdulillaah‘ except that Allah gives him something better than that which he takes.” And we have also narrated the likes of that from the marfoo’ hadeeth of Shahr ibn Hawshab from Asmaa’ bint Yazeed. And this is narrated from Hasan al-Basri from his own statement. Continue reading