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Al-Shaatibi wrote:

The difference between the hardship that is not normally considered hardship is whether or not the practice, if done on a continual basis, would lead to its being discontinued, totally or partially, or lead to some harm or defect in the person, his wealth or his circumstances. If [any of the later occur], then it would be considered a type of hardship that falls outside of the normally accepted hardship.  If none of those latter matters usually occurs, it would not normally be considered hardship.

However, many people confuse wanting to perfect one’s worship with extremism, but this is not the case, as Ibn al-Munir says, as quoted in Fath al-Baari:

The meaning isn ot preventing the seeking of completeness in one’s worship.  [Completeness of one’s worship] is obviously a praiseworthy affair.  What is meant to be prevented is going to the extreme such that it leads one to boredom or such exaggeration in one’s voluntary deeds that he leaves what is more virtuous.

I have been reading and enjoying a work on religious extremism, translated by Sh. Jamaal Zarabozo lately and came upon a hadeeth, while I’ve read it many times before, that I came to understand only recently in regards to raising children.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

إن الله رفيق يحب الرفق ويعطي على الرفق ما لا يعطى على العنف

Whenever I tried to achieve a goal, or have my children achieve a goal, if it was done in a harsh manner, the desired results were never achieved.  In other words, Allah did not give what is given when one is gentle and merciful.  If you teach your child anything from the Deen, desiring for them guidance and knowledge, perhaps that result would not be achieved until and unless you’ve bestowed that knowledge upon them with gentleness.  If you want Allah to guide your child to Islam and grant him/her Tawfeeq, you must be patient and gentle, otherwise, your harshness may leave your child deprived and your goal unfulfilled, wallahu A’lam.

There is a huge project I have started, which could take several years to complete.  Just thinking about how long it would take me to complete is a huge turn off, but the benefits of working on this project are enormous.  After finishing about 1/30th of the entire project recently, I took a small break, but found that I wasn’t as motivated as I was before to continue my work.  However,  a statement of Abu Ja’far at-Tabari really gave me a boost recently.  The story goes that he asked his companions about writing the history of the world starting from Aadam (‘alayhis salaam) all the way to our times (referring to his time).  His companions asked, “And how long would it be approximately?”  Abu Ja’far at-Tabari said, “Around 3,000 pages.”  His companions’ replied saying:

هذا مما تفني الأعمار قبل تمامه

Abu Ja’far at-Tabari replied, saying:

إنا لله قد ماتت الهمم

And how true are the words of at-Tabari today.

April 2009
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Ibn Taymiyyah Says…

"Verily, I constantly renew my Islam until this very day, as up to now, I do not consider myself to have ever been a good Muslim." [Narrated by Ibn al-Qayyim in 'Madarij as-Salikin'; 1/218]