"O Allah! We seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might) We seek strength, and We ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and We do not have the power. You Know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action (We are about to take) is better for my religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for us and make it easy for us and then add blessings [baraka'] in it, for us. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for us, bad for our religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from us and turn us away from it and whatever is better for us, ordain [destine] that for us and then make us satisfied with it."
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Importance of a good shaykh by Shaykh Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi Allahu anhu
Al Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh Sayyad Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi 'Allahu anhu said: You must work hard to ensure that your hearts are not locked out of the door of His nearness. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must seek the company of a Shaykh who is learned in the law [hukm] and knowledge ['ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and who will show you the way toward Him. Without seeing the successful [muflih], one cannot succeed. If a person does not seek the company of scholars who put their knowledge into practice ['ulama 'ummal], he is a chicken from an egg abandoned by the rooster and the mother hen.
Seek the fellowship of those who enjoy fellowship with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). What each of you should do, when the night has grown dark and people have gone to bed and their voices are silent, is get up, take an ablution [yatawadda'], perform two cycles of ritual prayer [yusalli rak'atain] and say: "O my Lord, guide me to one of Your righteous servants near to You, so that he may guide me toward You and make me familiar with Your path." The instrument [sabab] is necessary. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was quite capable of guiding [His servants] to Him without the Prophets [anbiya']. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must awaken from your heedless folly. As the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: If someone relies entirely on his own subjective judgement, he will go astray. Try to find someone who will be a mirror for the face of your religion [din], just as you look in the mirror to check the appearance of your outer face, your turban and your hair. Be sensible! What is this crazy foolishness? You say, "I don't need anyone to teach me," and yet the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: The believer is the believer's mirror [al-mu'minu mir'atu 'l-mu'min].
When the believer's faith is sound, he comes to be a mirror for all creatures. They behold their religious faces [wujuh adyanihim] reflected in the mirror of his speech, every time they see him and get close to him. What is this craziness? Not a moment goes by without your begging Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to provide you with more than you already have to eat, to drink, and to wear, with more sexual opportunities and more income. These are not things that could increase or decrease, even if you were to be joined in your plea by every supplicant whose prayers are answered [da 'in mujab].
Supplication [da 'wa] will neither increase one's sustenance by so much as an atom, nor reduce it by an atom. This is a foregone conclusion [mafrugh minhu]. You must devote your attention to doing what you have been commanded to do, and to avoiding what you have been forbidden to do. You should not worry about that which is bound to come your way, because He guarantees that it will come to you. Allotted shares [aqsam] arrive at their appointed times, whether they be sweet or bitter, whether you like them or dislike them.
The people [of the Way] attain to a condition in which they no longer have any prayer of supplication [du'a] or request [su'al] to make. They do not beg [in their prayers] to gain advantages, nor to get rid of disadvantages. Their supplication comes to be a matter concerning their hearts, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes for the sake of all creatures, so they utter the prayer of supplication without conscious premeditation [fi ghaiba].
"O '' Allah, endow us with good behaviour in Your company under all circumstances!
[When the believer's faith is sound], fasting [sawm], prayer [salat], remembrance [dhikr] and all acts of obedience [ta 'at] become second nature to him, mingled with his flesh and blood. Then he receives protection from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances. The restraint of the law [hukm] does not desert him, not for an instant, while he is on this course. The law comes to be like the vessel in which he sits, as he travels over the ocean of the power [qudra] of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). He goes on traveling over it until he arrives at the shore of the hereafter, at the shore of the ocean of grace and the hand of nearness. Thus he is sometimes in the company of creatures and at certain times in the company of the Creator. His work and toil are with creatures, while his relaxation is with the Creator.
From Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, "The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)," translated by Muhtar Holland (Al-Baz Publishing, Houston, 1992), p. 426-8.
Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (It was related by al-Bukhari)
“Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.”
Saturday, May 17, 2008
7 Tips for Muslim Businesses
How to Increase Profits and Help The Muslim Economy Grow
“I live in a suburban where there are 3 "Halal" meat stores within a 5 mile area, and another which is about 30 minutes away. I am an "American" Muslimah. In the three stores owned by Pakistani/Indian businessmen, the treatment I receive is terrible. In addition, the stores are filthy and no health code is followed. Blood from the meat is spread from meat counter to checkout counter, hands to money and pens, etc. In the store that is further away, the owner has argued and almost had fist fights with customers, and will not disclose his meat source. I have gone to great lengths to continue to buy Halal meat, but I feel that doing business with these people is not something I can continue to do." (Comment in the Halal and Healthy forum of the Sound Vision website, July 22, 1999)
Muslim consumers are often criticized for not doing enough to support Muslim businesses, whether it's paying the extra dollar (or two or three or four) to buy products, or to drive the extra mile (or two or three or four) to get to the store.
But what is rarely discussed in the North American context is what obligation Muslim businesses, especially Halal grocery stores, have to the Muslim community.
The above-mentioned complaint is not a reflection of all Halal grocery stores. However, the problems outlined in it cannot be ignored.
If Muslim businesses want the support of Muslim consumers, they will have to do more to accommodate them, provide better service and prices.
New York-based Muslim social scientist Ilyas Bayunus conducted a study in which he found that Chicago has a Muslim population of about 300,000. The state of Illinois has a population of 400,000.
This indicates the tremendous buying power of Muslims in this city and this state.
In Chicago alone, there are a minimum of 60 retail Halal meat shops that are owned and operated by Muslims.
Currently, the Halal meat business makes close to $5 million a year. But the potential profit could be as high as $60 to $80 million. The market hasn't developed for a number of reasons, some of them can be attributed to Muslim consumers, others to Muslim businesses.
Below are some tips on how you can improve service and profits of your Halal business. This can be applied to all business, not just the meat business:
1. MAKE PROFIT THE SECONDARY AIM
The first goal of a Muslim business should not be cashing in on a Muslim market. It should be pleasing Allah and establishing Halal as a way of life.
Seeking profit is not a bad aim, but it should be secondary.
By making Allah the goal, and implementing Islamic rules of honesty, truthfulness, and good behavior with customers, Insha Allah, any Muslim business is bound to boom.
2. BE TRUTHFUL AND HONEST
The Prophet has said the the honest and truthful businessman will be in Jannah amongst the Prophets the Truthful and the martyrs. Honesty and truthfulness are essential in this business. And when it comes to Muslim businesses, it means building a relationship of trust with customers, which cannot be done with lies and deceit.
3. BE OPEN TO SCRUTINY AND CRITICISM
While this may be a bitter pill to swallow, being ready to have your product or business scrutinized for cleanliness or the “Halalness” of products indicates a willingness to work with the consumer. This serves to build trust.
For those business people who may feel hesitant or downright angry with a Muslim consumer for even asking about the acceptability of a given product in their store, remember that this is the right of the consumer.
Remember, ultimately, we are all responsible to Allah. If a business is cheating Muslims, Allah will eventually expose those involved.
As well, a Halal business is not just one person's profit-making machine. It is also an institution of the Muslim community. Therefore, it must be ensured that it meets not just state and federal standards, but most importantly, the Quran and Sunnah's standards.
This is especially important for Halal grocery stores where the presence of animal blood is expected. Not being careful of this means not only lost customers, but also possible sicknesses from the germs in the blood.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Cleanliness invites towards faith (Iman) and faith leads its possessor to paradise." (Tabarani)
This cleanliness, by the way, does not just apply to those areas of a store a customer will see. It includes equipment and storage areas as well.
5. AIM FOR A HIGHER GOAL
Don't just aim for one successful Halal grocery shop in your chosen neighborhood. Think big. Improve the inventory of your store, the types of items in it, and strive to find ways to improve service and profit margins.
As well, look into the possibility of pooling resources within the Muslim community or with other shareholders to expand the business. Doing this will also reduce overhead costs and in the long run, the price of products for your consumers.
6. WORK WITH OTHERS IN YOUR MARKET
Yes. This can be very difficult. Finger pointing, accusations and nasty rivalry often characterize Muslim businesses aiming to market the same products. But this is not the way a Muslim economy should work.
Brotherhood in the Ummah cannot be forgotten. Consider forming an association of Muslim meat retailers or distributors that can sit down together share experience, and learn to cooperate. This cooperation could, in the long run, benefit the Muslim consumer, and in turn the Muslim businesses themselves.
One example of where cooperation can take place in the Halal meat industry is by having all grocers or butchers slaughtering the animals in one place, Instead of doing it the way it's been done since the beginning: every individual or couple of retailers slaughtering their own animals.
By slaughtering in one place, costs are reduced, and in turn, the Muslim consumer pays less for the same product.
7. DO NOT SELL THE HARAM
While there are more “Muslim” businesses sprouting up, not everything they sell is Islamic.
It is not difficult to find Muslim owned businesses selling pork, alcohol, pornographic magazines, and renting these kinds of movies on the one hand, while selling Halal meat on the other.
Of a less offensive nature, perhaps, are those businesses which sell Halal products but rent or sell cultural (especially Indo-Pakistani) movies. While these movies may seem harmless in comparison to those of the pornographic variety, what must be remembered is that when Muslim parents and elders indulge in watching such cultural films, their children can very easily find an excuse to watch their own “cultural” films (i.e. American-Hollywood).
This requires efforts on the part of Muslim business owners to wipe out the Haram and ensure the Halal in their businesses.
A telling anecdote about Haram business practices was provided by Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, New York during a Khutbah.
He recounted the case of a Muslim who owned a shop that sold newspapers and magazines-including pornographic magazines. The Imam tried to convince the Muslim brother to stop selling these publications. At one point he agreed, and removed them from his shelves.
But after a while, Imam Wahhaj noticed they were back on the shelves. When he asked the brother about their reappearance, he said he was losing money.
Shortly after that, the entire store was destroyed in a fire.