English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi

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What is a'mal-i saliha? The importance of namaz

This letter is written to Mawlana Abdulhay. It is declared in many parts of the Qur'an al- karim that those who perform 'A'mal-i saliha (pious deeds) will enter Paradise. This letter explains this and also explains how to thank Allahu ta'ala and describes the mysteries of namaz.

After thanking Allahu ta'ala and sending my prayer to the soul of our Prophet, I ask a blessing on you so that you will attain endless bliss. In many ayat al-karimas, Allahu ta'ala declares that those Believers who perform 'Amal-i saliha will enter Paradise. I had been searching for a long time to find out what these pious deeds might be. I had been wondering if they were all pious deeds or only a few of them. If they were all good deeds, no one could do them all. If there were only a few of them, what good deeds were they? Eventually, Allahu ta'ala blessed me with understanding the fact that these pious deeds were the five binding rules, the five basic pillars of Islam. If a person does these five pillars of Islam thoroughly and perfectly, he will most probably be saved from Hell. These are original pious deeds and will protect man against sinning and from doing loathsome actions. As a matter of fact, it is declared in the forty-fifth ayat of Surat-ul-'Ankabut of the Qur'an al-karim: "A prayer of namaz performed perfectly will certainly protect man against doing fahsha (foul) and munkar (loathsome actions)." If it falls to a person's lot to carry out the five principles of Islam, he has expressed gratitude for the blessings. If he thanks Allah, he will be protected from the torment of Hell. He declares in the hundred and forty-sixth ayat of Surat-un-Nisa: "I will not torment you if you have iman and thank Me." Then, one should try most willingly to carry out these five principles of Islam.

Of these five, among the ones that have to be done with the involvement of the body, namaz is the most important; it is the basic pillar of the religion. One should try not to miss even one of the adabs of namaz [see article 40]. If namaz has been performed perfectly, the basic and the greatest pillar of Islam has been erected. The strong rope that will save one from Hell has been caught. May Allahu ta'ala bless us all with performing namaz correctly!

When beginning namaz, saying "Allahu akbar" means to profess that "Allahu ta'ala does not need the prayer of any of His creatures; He does not need anything in any respect; men's performing namaz does not give Him a benefit." And the takbirs (saying "Allahu akbar") that are in namaz signify that "We are not capable of doing the worship worthy of Allahu ta'ala." Since the tasbihs in ruku' (bowing when performing namaz) have this same meaning, we are not commanded to say "Allahu akbar" when straightening up after ruku'. However, we are commanded to say it after the tasbihs of sajda (prostrating), for sajda is the lowest grade of humility, inferiority and degradation. By doing this one may suppose that one has worshipped properly and perfectly. In order to protect one against this supposition, it is not only a sunnat to say the takbir when prostrating and straightening up during these sajdas, but also we are commanded to say "ala" in the tasbihs of sajda. Because namaz is the miraj of a believer, we are commanded to say the words "attahiyyatu..." which our Prophet was honored with saying on the Night of Miraj [see article 46]. Then, a person who performs namaz should make the namaz a miraj for himself. He should look for the ultimate in closeness to Allahu ta'ala in namaz.

Our Prophet (alaihissalam) declared: "The time when man is closest to his Allah is the time when he performs namaz." A person who performs namaz speaks to his Allah, entreats Him, and sees that everything other than Him is equal to nothing. Therefore, because there will be fear, terror and fright in namaz, it has been commanded that we give salams twice at the end of namaz so that we might be consoled and relieved. Our Prophet commanded, in a hadith, to recite: "33 tasbih, 33 tahmid, 33 takbir and one tahlil after every fard namaz." [see article 31]. As far as this humble person understands, the reason for this is that the defects in performing namaz are covered with tasbih. In this way it is professed that not a worthy or perfect worship could be done. Knowing that being blessed with performing namaz is through His help and His making it possible, He is thanked for this great blessing by saying tahmid. And by saying takbir, it is professed that no one besides Him is worthy of being worshipped. One should not miss this important sunnat. [One should not omit the Ayat-ul-Kursi and the tasbihs even when there is a funeral.

We should learn how to perform namaz, the omitted prayers of namaz, and all kinds of religious information from the books of the Ahl as-sunnat savants; we should not believe the false writings and sweet words of the insidious enemies or of the ignorant.

In Islamic States there used to be Shaikh-ul-Islams, that is heads of religious affairs, and Islamic Muftis. Also, there were times when there used to be State officials called "Mufti." Islamic Muftis and the officials called Muftis should not be mistaken for one another. Islamic Muftis were the savants who taught Allah's commandments and prohibitions, that is, the Shariat. But the State official called Muftis did not know the Shariat themselves. If laws commanded something which Allahu ta'ala had prohibited, they would not say that it was not permissible to do that thing. If laws prohibited something which Allahu ta'ala had commanded, they could not say that it was necessary to do that thing. They would either remain silent or say the opposite. Thus, they would dissent from the religion and drive the Muslims into sins or disbelief. During the times such as when the armies of Genghis invaded Muslims' lands, or during the times of the Fatimids and the Rasulids, and even during the time of the Abbasids, such government officers called Muftis said "permissible" about the haram (forbidden). They even said that the Qur'an was a creature. During the times when those officials caused the religion to be demolished by writing made-up fatwas, those who remained loyal to the books of fiqh and to the books teaching the truth about the religion remained on the right way. They thus were able to save their faith.

Fatwa means to communicate if something conforms or not with the Shariat. It is not a fatwa only to say, "It conforms," or, "It is not permissible." It is necessary also to say from which book of fiqh and from which writing this answer has been derived. The fatwas that are not conformable with books of fiqh are wrong. It is not permissible to depend on them. Those who read ayats and hadiths without learning or knowing Islamic knowledge and who give them meanings according to their own minds and opinions are not called Islamic savants. They can be translators with a knowledge of Arabic like the priests in Beirut. No matter how ornamented and bright their writings and words are, they are worth nothing. Allahu ta'ala does not like or accept the writings and words that are not conformable with what the Ahl as-sunnat savants understood or with the books of fiqh which they wrote.

Ibni Abidin, while describing Qadis (judges), says on the three hundred and first page of the fourth volume, "It is not suitable for a sinner to become the Mufti because it is a religious matter to give a fatwa. The sinner's words cannot be accepted in religious affairs. The case is the same according to the other madhhabs. It is not permissible to ask such Muftis about anything. Also, according to the unanimity (of savants), it is an essential condition that the Mufti must be a Muslim and sane. The fatwa of a just and pious lady or of someone dumb (unable to speak) person is acceptable. The Mufti or the judge should give a fatwa according to the words of Imam-i azam Abu Hanifa. It he does not find it clearly in his words, he should take Imam-i Shaibani's words. After him, he should prefer Imam-i Zufar's words, and then Hasan bin Zayyad's. Those Muftis who are Ashab-i tarjih (mujtahids within a madhhab) choose the ones with sound documents from among ijtihads. Those who are not mujtahids follow the words which these have preferred. The words of the Muftis and judges who do not do so are not acceptable. This comes to mean that in the affairs which are not chosen by Ashab-i tarjih it is necessary to prefer the word of Imam-i azam. As it is seen, the Mufti has to be a mujtahid in a madhhab. He who is not so is not called a Mufti; he is called a narrator, that is, one who conveys the fatwa. Conveyors derive the fatwas from well-known books. These books are called mutawatir news."]

A namaz may be acceptable if it has been performed in full observance of its suhurut and adab (conditions and rules) and if the mistakes in performing it have been compensated for covered by saying the tasbih, tahmid and takbir. Then one should extend thanks (shukr) to Allahu ta'ala for enabling you to perform namaz. And lastly, with sincerity, one must declare through one's heart the kalima-i tawhid, which indicates that no one other than Him deserves being worshipped. Such a performer becomes one of those who performs namaz and who attains salvation. Oh my Allah! For the love of the highest of your prophets (alaihi wa 'ala alihimussalawatu wattaslimat) make us among those who perform namaz and attain salvation!