All from Mufti Taqi Usmani's oral lectures in Urdu.
There are five branches of Deen
I have repeatedly stated earlier that the injunctions that have been imposed on us can be divided into five branches, viz., basic beliefs, worship, business transactions and dealing with people, social living, and ethics (ethical conduct and character). These five branches make up what is called Deen. If any of these five branches is omitted then Deen is incomplete. Therefore the demands of each of these branches should be fully met.
Deen is incomplete without reforming the social life
So far we have discussed and studied the subject of ethics. Imam Nuwawee (ra) has framed a new chapter "Mu'asharah" (co-living with other people) and has cited Ahadith concerning this branch. This considers how we should eat, drink, live in the house or the neighborhood with others. All these activities form part of "Mu'asharah" i.e, social life.
Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (ra) used to say: Nowadays people have excluded "Mu'asharah" from the definition of Deen. They do not accept that the injunction concerning Deen also applies to this important subject. This is the stand even of those people who are very punctual and sincere in other activities of Deen, e.g. prayers, fasting, Tahajjud, remembrance, etc. As a result, their Deen is incomplete.
It is, therefore, necessary to know and act upon the injunctions and teachings which Allah and His Prophet(saw) have issued on the subject of "Mu'asharah". May Allah help us all to act upon these injunctions and teachings.
The Holy Prophet(saw) has taught us everything
Allama Nuwawee (ra) has commenced the first chapter on "Mu'asharah" with the etiquettes of drinking and eating. The Holy Prophet(saw) has given us very important directions on drinking and eating as he has given direction on other areas of life. Once a polytheist raised an objection to Islam and said to Hazrat Salman Farsi (ra): "Your Prophet(saw) teaches you everything, even the way of easing yourself in the latrine."
The polytheist said this by way of finding fault with Islam that the Prophet(saw) taught the Muslims such insignificant things of life like the use of the latrine. Hazrat Salman (ra) replied to him saying: We consider your objection as insignificant. In fact it is a matter of pride for us. Our Prophet(saw) has taught us everything of life, including the etiquettes of sitting in and using the toilet. He has taught us just as the parents teach their children every big and small thing in life. If children were not taught these aspects of life, they would never know them to become polished and civilized members of society. Being kinder to us than our parents, the Holy Prophet (saw) has taught us such nice etiquettes about drinking and eating that by following them our drinking and eating become an act of worship entitled to recompense.
Change the viewpoint at the time of doing every act in order to transform it into worship
Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hai Sahib (ra) used to tell us that he practiced this principle for years and years and explained by saying:
'I am sitting on the dining clothing. The food is there. I am hungry too. I refrain from eating for a moment and think that I would not eat the food. The very next moment I realize that the food before me is only Allah's bounty and not the result of any effort on my part. It was the practice of the Holy Prophet(saw) that when food was placed before him he ate it with Allah's thanksgiving. I, too, will eat the food placed before me in compliance with the Prophet's Sunnah. Thereafter, I begin eating with the name of Allah (bismillah).
I entered the house and felt happy to see the playful, lovely baby. I felt an urge to take the baby in my lap and play with him with love. Yet I kept back for a moment and thought that it was not good to take the baby only for the sake of my liking. The very next moment I remembered that the Holy Prophet(saw) loved children very much and took them in his lap. Now following his Sunnah I will also pick the baby up in my lap. With this notion, I picked up the child.'
After relating to us this practice, he recited this couplet: This means: 'It is not an easy job to make oneself used to grief and distress (in love). This is achieved by putting up with the tensions of grief and pain for a long period.'
He went on saying: I have attained this by the grace of Allah, by constant practice and I hardly miss the opportunity. Whenever some blessing of this kind comes before me, I feel at once that it is from Allah and thank Him after pronouncing 'bismillah' I do the job. I have now become used to it. This is what I call a 'change in vision'. As a result of this change, a worldly act becomes an act of Deen and an act of worship.
Compensating for an optional act
Being that Dr. Abdul Hai (ra) was a Sufi Shaykh and his pupils, including Mufti Taqi usmani (ra) were mostly Maulawis (fiqh jurists) that came to him to learn tasawuf, he often had to deal with their ingrained view of things. For instance, jurists will say no compensation is required for optional (Nafl) acts of worship, only for Fardh or Wajib. Yet, the Shaykh points out, the Prophet(saw) said in a Hadith that if you forget to pronounce Allah's name when beginning to eat, you should pronounce it when you remember it. Likewise, he recommends to make up any missed Nafl acts or prayers, whether you call it Qaza or whatever.
Right way of shaking off the dining cloth (emptying the dinner plate)
We usually just empty the plate right into the garbage. Mufti Usmani relates that he learned from his father who learned from Sayyid Asghar Husain Sahib (ra) that it's better to sort out the plate so nothing goes to waste. The bones with some meat still attached were put in a special place for the cats. The bones with no meat were put in a place for the dogs of the area. The pieces of bread were put on a wall outside for birds. The tiniest pieces of bread were placed near ant-holes. So nothing was wasted of Allah's sustenance.
The Non-Muslims have adopted Islamic principles of living
Once I had the opportunity to accompany my respected father on a journey by air to Dacca (Bangladesh). During the flight I felt the need to use the toilet. You may have seen a notice above the washbasin to this effect: After having used the wash-basin, kindly clean it with the cloth and dry it so that those coming later may not feel disgusted.
After I returned from the toilet my father said to me: The notice written above the wash-basin means the same warning which I have been giving you off and on that it is a part of our Deen to save others from distress and inconvenience. The non-Muslims have adopted this principle and Almighty Allah has bestowed upon them success and progress in this world. We, on the other hand, have excluded these principles from Deen and have confined Deen only to prayers and fasting, etc. We have totally ignored the rules and etiquettes of social living or "Mu'asharah". The result is that we are going back to deterioration and failure. Allah has planned the affairs of the world on the principle of cause and effect. Therefore, the results, good or bad, depend on man's deeds. This is a law of nature which according to Allah's Decree, applies to all, whether they are believers or non-believers.
An incident relating to an English lady
Last year I had to go to London. From there I was going to Edinburgh by train. On the way I felt the need to use the toilet. When I reached the toilet I saw that an English lady was standing there. I concluded that the toilet was engaged and the lady was waiting for her turn. I came back to my place. A long time passed neither anyone came out of the toilet nor the lady went in. I again went and saw the sign of 'vacant' on the toilet door. I asked the lady to use the toilet if she wants to. The lady told me that she was waiting for the train to move. It is the law to neither flush nor use the toilet while the train is stationed. No sooner than the train leaves the platform she will flush the toilet which she forgot earlier.
Now think about how this lady was waiting only to flush the toilet which she could not do earlier. She is not flushing it presently because the law of the railway stands in her way. At that time I remembered the advice of my father that it is a part of Deen to take care of such small matters as flushing toilets and latrines, so that you may not be a cause of inconvenience or disgust to those who come to use the facility later. Our behaviour in such matters is just the opposite. We have formed the habit of looking to our own comfort and convenience, leaving others to mind their own business.
Why are non-Muslim nations making process
Bear in mind that Almighty Allah has, in His wisdom, planned the affairs of this world on the principle of cause and effect. Following this divine principle, the non-Muslims began to work hard and reap the benefit of their labour according to the divine law of nature. They have no share in the blessings of the Hereafter because of their disbelief, yet by following the principles and etiquettes taught by the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad(saw), they have made themselves entitled to the blessings of success and progress in this world. Being Muslims and believers we feel jealous of them for their success and progress in this world, but we do not compare our way of dealings with theirs. These non-Muslims do not tell lies in business, nor do they betray trusts, nor are they lovers of ease and comfort. They work hard with honesty and self-sacrifice and reap the fruits of their labour according to Allah's dispensation. The Muslims have given up these manly traits of conduct and have confined Deen only to the four walls of the mosques and madrasahs. We have excluded from Deen other areas of life. In this way we have suffered a double loss - remoteness from Deen as well as disgrace and humility in the worldly life. In spite of the fact that the Holy Prophet (saw) has taught us all the principles and formulas effective in attaining success in matters relating to this world as well as to the Hereafter. If we find ourselves backwards and disgraced, the fault is our own. May Allah help us see things with the right perspectives. Aameen.
The influence of food on the inner self of man
Whatever has been discussed in the foregoing pages belongs to externally palpable effects of food. People whom Allah has granted inner insight can look into things much farther and deeper. They can easily find out by the light of their spiritual intuition which foods have salubrious effect on the emotions and thoughts of man and which darken the inner soul of man leading to the birth of bad thoughts and urging him to commit sins. Some foods are so full of blessings (barkat) that they please and elate the inner personality of man and provie nourishment to the soul which induces him to do good deeds. We, however, do not perceive this fine difference between one food and another and their enlightening or darkening effects. During these days of material race we have become blind to the real qualities and inner properties of things.
An incident illustrating the influence of food
This incident relates to Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob Nanotawi (ra) who was the Rector of Dar ul-Uloom, Deoband (India) and a teacher of Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (ra). Once a man invited the Sheikh to dinner. He went to the place of invitation and began eating. After putting only one morsel into his mouth he realized that the income of the man who had invited him was not lawful. He at once left the food and came back. He said that he felt for about two months the darkness of the one morsel he had swallowed. He felt during these two months an urge to commit sins. The experience related by the Sheikh appears to us to be incredible, because our chests are filled with darkness. Take the example of a white sheet of cloth full of spots. If one more spot is added it will make no difference. On the other hand even if a small spot is put somehow on a spotless white cloth sheet, it can be easily seen from a distance. Such is the similitude of the hearts of saintly men. So it is not at all surprising that Maulana Nanotawi (ra) instantly felt the adverse effect of the unlawful morsel which created in his pure heart an urge to commit sins. This was due to the darkness spread by that unlawful morsel. There is something which is called inner "Barkat" by virtue of which man develops in him spiritual integrity and ameliorates his conduct, character, and thoughts.
These are the conquerors of Iran
It was the custom of Khosran's court that, while he was sitting on his throne, the rest were standing in their respective places. Hazrat Rub'ee bin 'Amir (ra) told Khosran that they followed the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) who had forbidden that one man should be sitting and the rest standing before him as is the custom in his court. They were, therefore, not prepared to take part in the negotiations that way. So, either they should be provided to sit down or the Emperor should also stand before them. Khosran felt his insult in meeting this demand. He refused to talk to them and ordered that they should be sent back with a basket full of earth placed on their heads. Hazrat Rub'ee bin 'Amir (ra) placed that basket on his head. While leaving the court, he said: 'O Khosran! Remember that you have bestowed upon us the earth (i.e, land) of Iran.' The Iranians were very superstitious people who took this event as an ill omen. Khosran, therefore, sent some of his men to overtake them and get back the basket of earth. They could not find Hazrat Rub'ee bin 'Amir (ra) who quickly escaped with the basket of Iran's earth.
Refer to the Prophet Muhammad (saw)'s Hadith: "After this Khosran has perished there will be no Khosran again."