Friday, August 18, 2006

The Lava Tracts

On Monday, the first of Jumadi al-Thani, 654 A.H. (1256 A.D.), weak earth tremors were felt by some residents of Madinah. As the days went on, these tremors began to increase, that by the 5th day there were about 18 earthquakes in and around the area of Madinah. When the shaking ceased, the residents were horrified to see a lake of fire approaching the city from the area known as Harrat Rahat, approximately 19 km away from the city.

As the lava flow approached the city, black ash and gas clouds filled the sky. The light from the lava illuminated the night to the point that it was almost as bright as day.

On the 6th day, the residents of Madinah, including the women and the children, gathered at the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) mosque to pray to Allah to stop this impending doom. Even the jails were emptied to gather more people to pray at the mosque. People were encouraged to forgive one and other of their debts, the instruments were all ordered to be broken and the wine poured out, and even the slaves were freed.

By the dominion and power of Allah, the lava flow was diverted away from Madinah thus averting its complete distruction.

The students today had the opportunity to survey the lava tracts that were left from this event exactly 750 years ago. The lava tracts cover an area from north to south of about 310 km, and it has a width of about 75 km. It is a veritable wasteland; nothing grows or lives there, just mounds of jagged, black rock as far as the eyes can see.

Shaykh Hamza reminds us that this event had a connection to our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who had predicted this event in one of his hadith. It is also a powerful sign of Allah, not simply because of its sheer magnitude, but that it shows the love Allah had for his beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his city. To demonstrate the veracity of this miraculous event, Shaykh Hamza told us of a story that happened last year when the Saudi government brought in a western (non-Muslim) geologist to survey the lava tracts. They asked him why the lava flow had suddenly changed direction and did not head towards the city, which was occupying the lowland. The only explanation the geologist could give was that the prayers of the residents of the city were answered.

Farewell Session with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdallah al-Kadi

In the evening, Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Abdallah al-Kadi gave a farewell statement since Shaykh Abdallah had to leave. Shaykh Abdullah began by apologizing for anything that was wrong with the trips he had personally arranged for us. This caused the students to feel very touched and they were humbled by his sincere apology, given that he had worked so hard to arrange all those amazing trips. He then went on to give the students advice, and basically advised three things. First, he said we should have "rifq" with everyone. He described "rifq" as beautiful, good treatment. Next, he strongly advised the good treatment of women. He quoted a hadith which stated that the best of men are those who are best to their women and the most wretched of men are those who mistreat their women. Finally, he advised that we treat everyone with "rahmaa" or mercy. He also gave the students ijazah to transmit a hadith where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that for those who show mercy, the Merciful One will show mercy to them: Have mercy for those in the earth and He who is in the heavens will have Mercy on you.
After that, Shaykh Hamza spoke. He said many things, and it is difficult to do justice to sum up what he said. First, he said that he doesn't personally know why we're here, but he assumes that we're here to be closer to Allah and that this should have been our goal. He said if we had a "good time" than Alhamdulillah, that's fine, but that's not why we we're here. We were here to draw closer to Allah. Shaykh Hamza also expressed a deep concern for the state of the Muslim Ummah. He said that people ask him how he became Muslim but that the real question is not how he became Muslim but why did he stay Muslim. He said the reason he stayed Muslim is because he met people like Shaykh Abdullah al-Kadi. The way he explained his friendship with Shaykh Abdallah was beautiful: it was very pure and without any contempt, malice, jealousy, or any human disease that would contaminate a friendship. Shaykh Hamza advised the students to continue their struggle to get closer to Allah and to spend their lives serving the Muslim Ummah. He said when we go back, we will see how empty our lives are, and we will be sitting with our friends and we will see how empty our conversations are. Shaykh Hamza also spoke about differences of opinions between the scholars, especially with respect to Muslims in the West. He said that there are facts in Islam and then there are opinions, and different shaykhs will have different opinions. He said that he, Shaykh Abdullah al-Kadi, and Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah all agree that there is a need for Muslims to be in the West. He also said that Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah said that you shouldn't sit with a non-Muslim without assuming that he is better than you because you don't know that person's station with Allah. That person could become Muslim and become a better Muslim than you are, and that this is the attitude that spread Islam.
Finally, Shaykh Hamza advised us to use our intellect. He said we can't always depend on others for all the answers. The beautiful thing about Islam is that it teaches you to use your intellect and to think for yourself. Sayyidina Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, taught people how to use their intellect. Sayyidah Aisha essentially grew up in his household, and she became a brilliant woman. He said our Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was an amazing human being, and he taught people how to be amazing themselves.
Many students cried very hard that day after the session in response to the truth of the words that were stated and the sincerity of the advice given and also because of a deep sense of loss, knowing that their time in Madinah was ending and knowing that the Rihla was also ending soon. Many spent the rest of their time in Medinah with a heavy heart.
After the talk there was not a dry eye in the room, as everyone witnessed the deep friendship and love Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Abdallah had for one and other.

May Allah bless our Shuyukh and keep them with us for many years to come, amen.


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