Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم described the people of Yemen as soft-hearted. But in order to maintain a balance, a person needs to know when to adopt a firm approach and when to adopt a lenient approach. Understanding this is a skill but how will we learn this art? By making mashwara with the Shaikh first before making any change in life (i.e seek his advice). Many instances, people do not do this and land themselves in trouble.
A person sent an email saying that I cannot afford to go for Umrah, but an agent is prepared to sell us a package, on the condition that we pay monthly once we return. Now this person took the right step by making mashwara first, asking if he should take the offer. He was informed that he must not because umrah is nafl, why get yourself in debt to go? Make dua to Allah ﷻ, read Ishraq salah everyday and you will get the reward of Umrah inshaAllah. Do what you can afford and do not get involved in debt.
Other times, we are given mashwara but we operate and dissect it to suit our needs. One friend asked me, “Maulana there’s a warehouse available, shall we take it?” I replied, “Do you need it?” He said, “No.” So I said, “don’t.” Then he says ”No, but I’ll need it one day!” If we are not willing to take the advice given, why ask?
Sometimes we turn to deen yet when it comes to certain aspects in our life, we are still nafsparast (slaves of our own desires). What is bayah? When a person takes bayah, he is handing his heart over to the Shaikh. Now he’s plasticine in the Shaikh’s hands, the Shaikh will mould him and shape him. Does plasticine protest against a child who shapes it? No – because it’s soft and willing to change! Likewise we need to become soft and willing to change, otherwise, how will we make our islah?
It’s easy to remove a strand of hair from plasticine, yet that same strand of hair is so difficult to pull out of cement that has hardened. In the same way if one’s heart is soft, it will be easy to remove the evil traits. But when the heart is hard, then it is extremely difficult to remove the evil traits. A hard heart is hard to work with.
So allow yourself to be moulded by the Shaikh. This is islah. Coming to the lectures alone is not islah, true islah means to rectify our hearts, ridding it of its evil qualities. Look at life differently. Look at each person as a servant of Allah ﷻ, as an ummati of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم. Is Allah ﷻ not watching me? This is an ummati, will Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم – the one who would even embrace his enemy – be happy with the way I treat His ummati?
Coming back to the topic of being firm and lenient, sometimes we don’t know when to be lenient and when to be firm. Our kids read Quran from Monday to Friday yet when they slack a little the dad says that what should I do with these kids?! I’d say, adopt a lenient approach and calm down. Other times, when the son wants to go for a braai/barbecue late at night then adopt a firm approach.
Our Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel رحمة الله عليه once gave an example of a person who decided not to attend wedding functions that were conducted in halls, but his family wanted to go. So Hazrat رحمة الله عليه did not tell him to go home and shout at his family, asking them; “Why are you acting like shayaateen? You go to the function but I’m not taking you by car, you can walk there!” Rather, Hazrat رحمة الله عليه advised him to drop the family off to the wedding and then pick them up when they’re done.
This is wisdom. Why? Because his family went once or twice but this time, his wife noticed the fitna even more than usual. She started to feel guilty so she stopped going and her kids followed suit. If he was to adopt a harsh stance then yes, maybe the family wouldn’t have gone, but they’d do so begrudgingly. By adopting a lenient stance and following the advice of his Shaikh, the entire family happily gave up going to these types of functions. The problem was solved with no fuss or fight.
Once, there was a person who would watch T.V. He made talluq with a Shaikh and learnt T.V was haram. He tells his wife and she says, “no problem, I’ll stop watching but I can’t give up Dallas”. Now he doesn’t know what to do. On one hand he thinks this T.V is haram, it must go out, but then on the other hand he realises if I act harsh then why did I take bayat? So after discussing with his Shaikh, he was advised to encourage his wife to totally give up T.V but not to force her, as she was not ready just yet for this change. However, the Shaikh also told him that he must not watch and he must not sit with her while she is watching. Alhamdulillah by following the Shaikh’s advice, in a short while she gave up T.V totally and willingly.
So in the above case he had conflicting, confusing views. The solution is…I must tell my Shaikh and follow his advice. However if I’m going to follow what’s in my mind then you’re not bayat to your Shaikh, you’re bayat to your mind. What hurts the Shaikh is when the mureed does not follow his teachings, not when people talk bad about him.
Defending a Shaikh when people talk bad about him yet not following his advice is not muhabbat. This is nafsaaniyat. The Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم wanted to retaliate to those who would speak rudely to Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم but Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم responded by saying that no, don’t retaliate. So the Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم wouldn’t. Many times Umar رضي الله عنه wanted to take out his sword but he would ask Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم first. When Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم would say no, he’d put that sword straight back into its sheath, because His mindset was…I’m not here to do what I want to do, I’m here to do what Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم told me to do. That’s what’s right.
This is what a Shaikh is for – to guide us back to the Sunnah.
So Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم said the ashariyeen were soft-hearted people. Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم further explained; due to this reason, imaan is Yemeni and wisdom is Yemeni. Meaning the hearts of these people due to its softness, will be warehouses of imaan and marifah. Fountains of ilm will flow out from this type of heart because when noor is on the inside, that will shine on the outside too. There are so many Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم here, yet Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم is saying the Yemeni heart is an embodiment of imaan.
So islaah will sort out the root problems in our lives. But for this to happen, we must become soft-hearted like the Yemenis, take the knocks in life and allow ourselves to be totally moulded and shaped in the hands of our Shaikh. Then we will see the real change happen.
May Allah soften our hearts, Aameen.
– Hazrat Maulana Dawood Seedat حفظه الله
(The above is an edited extract from a lecture delivered by Hazrat Maulana. To listen to the full audio, please click here.)