Ibn Taymiyyah sat with his pen poised over a sheet of paper.
“Had birds been able to carry me,” he wrote, “I would have come to you.”
He was writing to his mother, whom he was missing terribly. But he couldn’t go to her.
Because he was locked up, quite unjustly.
Imagine being in prison for years, not being able to see your mother, to go out, earn money or eat as you like, or to attend prayers in the mosque.
Imagine Eid in a dungeon, eating jail food instead of the special Eid meals your mother would have cooked for you.
How would you feel?
Locked Down in Ramadan
Are you worried about how Ramadan is going to go this year?
With the COVID-19 threat looming over our heads, many of us are perhaps feeling depressed and anxious.
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) spent seven years of his life in lockup if not lockdown.
Here’s how he felt about it in his own words:
“If I gave as much gold as that which would fill this citadel, I wouldn’t have been grateful enough for this grace of being imprisoned.”
He didn’t feel depressed or anxious. He felt grateful.
And do you want to feel grateful for the grace of being in lockdown?
Step 1: Build a Madrasa
It was the night of Eid, and Ibn Taymiyyah was being dragged into Cairo’s famous jail. They threw him in a cell where the other prisoners were having a party. They were engaged in all kinds of forbidden acts in the name of fun.
Over the next few days, ibn Taymiyyah observed that the other prisoners, though Muslims, weren’t interested in praying. They would rather play illegal games all day.
He began teaching these thieves and thugs and undesirables of Egypt. Amazingly, the men began to really listen to him. They began to pray. They started to love seeking knowledge. They were loving it so much that they didn’t even want to be released from jail. Many of them would petition to extend their stay.
Ibn Taymiyyah had turned his jail into a thriving school of knowledge.
In his lifetime, he wrote more than three hundred books. And he wrote all of them in prison except one. He issued hundreds of fatwas and produced a galaxy of students.
Perhaps this was what he was talking about when he wrote to his mother, “Allah has opened for me His gates of blessings, mercy and guidance in a way I have never conceived of before.”
2020: When Your Home Can be a Thriving School of Knowledge
Ibn Taymiyyah didn’t have access to the internet. You do.
There is an ocean of authentic Islamic knowledge out there waiting for you to immerse in. You can attend classes, watch lectures of renowned scholars from around the world, and read a vast library of Islamic books and articles in the language of your choice.
And don’t just stop there. Teach, in whatever capacity you can. Teach your household, your friends and social media. Write articles, make videos, info-graphics, audio recordings – use whatever talent Allah has given you to spread His words. The world needs reminders now more than ever.
Step 2: Find Paradise in Your Heart
“What can my enemies do to me? My paradise is in my heart. If they imprison me, this is a chance of seclusion to worship Allah. And if they kill me, this is a chance to become a martyr.”
How can you have your paradise in your heart?
With a constant shower of Allah’s remembrance to make your heart alive and thriving. You can’t grow a garden in dried, parched soil.
Knowledge and worship are two sides of the same coin. They fulfill each other.
Ibn Taymiyyah didn’t pursue knowledge for the sake of intellectual satisfaction. He learned how to worship Allah in the best way and then applied it.
There was a luscious garden in his heart which he looked after with a constant shower of worship. That’s what kept him so happy and optimistic throughout his life.
It Could be Your Last Ramadan
A hundred thousand people have died of COVID-19. What if we are next? More importantly, if we are, will Allah be pleased with us when we meet Him?
COVID or no COVID, this could be your last Ramadan. And you can make it the best one of your life – by growing your paradise in your heart.
Ibn Taymiyyah was ‘grateful for the grace of being imprisoned’ because it provided him free time and seclusion to worship Allah.
Take advantage of your free time and seclusion:
1- Night Prayers:
You can have all your sins forgiven by praying tarawih in Ramadan (Bukhari and Muslim), and, note this, it doesn’t have to be in the mosque. Pray by yourself or with your household. Make it like the prayers of the Prophet (peace be upon him): Recite slowly and mean every word that you say.
The gist of Hajj is staying at certain places during certain days of the year by Allah’s command. If you are pleased with Allah’s decreeing lockdown for you, then your stay becomes an act of worship.
In our fast-paced world, reflection is almost an abandoned act of worship. But we have been stopped in our tracks. Now is the perfect time to just sit and reflect. Reflect on the Quran, on the creations of Allah, on His perfect Names and Attributes, and on His blessings in your life.
What can this invisible enemy do to you? If it imprisons you in your home, this is a chance to worship Allah. And if it kills you, this is a chance to become a martyr.
If your Paradise is in your heart.
A.Q.M. Abdul Hakim al-Madani, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah. Book.
Dr Yasir Qadhi, “Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah”. Video.