The Virtues of Zamzam Water

The Virtues of Zamzam Water

Zamzam 2.jpgPraise be to Allah.

Zamzam is the name of a famous well in al-Masjid al-Haraam [the Sacred Mosque in Makkah], which is thirty-eight cubits away from the Ka’bah. It is the well of Ismaa’eel the son of Ibraheem (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both), from which Allah quenched the thirst of Ismaa’eel when he was an infant. His mother looked for water for him, but could not find any. She climbed to the top of al-Safaa, praying to Allah to help her and give her water for Ismaa’eel, then she climbed to the top of al-Marwah and did the same. Allah sent Jibreel, and he struck the earth with his heels, and water appeared.

‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib رضي الله عنه said: “The people used to compete over Zamzam during the time of Jahiliyyah. People who had children used to bring them and give them to drink, and this was their early-morning victuals. We used to used to think that it was a help for people who had children.” Al-‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): “During the Jaahiliyyah, Zamzam was known as Shabaa’ah (satisfaction).”

Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Zamzam water is the best and noblest of all waters, the highest in status, the dearest to people, the most precious and valuable to them. It was dug by Jibreel and is the water with which Allah quenched the thirst of Isma’eel.”

It was reported in Saheeh Muslim that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to Abu Dhar رضي الله عنه who had stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and nights with no food or drink other than (Zamzam): “How long have you been here?” Abu Dharr رضي الله عنه: “I have been here for thirty days and nights.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Who has been feeding you?” He said, “I have had nothing but Zamzam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.” (Narrated by Imam Muslim, 2473).

Other scholars added, with their own isnaads, “… and a healing for sickness.” This was narrated by al-Bazzaar (1171, 1172) and al-Tabarani in al-Sagheer (295). In Sunan Ibn Maajah (al-Manasik, 3062) it was reported from Jabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah that the Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.”

The Salaf and ‘ulama’ acted upon this Hadeeth. When ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Mubarak (Allah have mercy upon him) went for Hajj, he came to Zamzam and said, “O Allah! Ibn Abi’l-Mawali told us from Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir from Jabir رضي الله عنه  Your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.’ I am drinking it to ward off thirst on the Day of Resurrection.” Ibn Abi’l-Mawali is thiqah (trustworthy) so the hadeeth is hasan (good).

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:“Myself and others tried seeking healing with Zamzam water and saw wondrous things. I sought healing with it from a number of illnesses, and I was healed by the permission of Allah. I saw someone who nourished himself with it for a number of days, half a month or more, and he did not feel hunger; he performed Tawaf along with the other people just as they did. And he told me that he consumed nothing but Zamzam water for forty days and he had the strength to have intercourse with his wife, to fast and to perform Tawaf numerous times.” Zaad al-Ma’ad, 4/319, 320.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah preserve him) said:

“So you should have the intention of what you want to gain by drinking this water. He should drink his fill, i.e., fill his stomach with it until it is filled to the ribs, because this water is good. A hadeeth has been narrated concerning this: the difference between the believers and the hypocrites is drinking one’s fill of Zamzam water.” (Narrated by Ibn Majah in al-Manasik, 1017; al-Hakim, 1/472). Imam Al-Boosairi RH said: this is a saheeh isnaad; its men are mawthooqoon [trustworthy].

This is because Zamzam water is not sweet; it is somewhat salty, and the believer only drinks this somewhat salty water out of faith, believing that there is barakah (blessing) in it. So when he drinks his fill of it, this is a sign of faith. (Sharh al-Mumti’, 7/377, 378, 379).

Perhaps Allah did not make it sweet so that people would not forget that the meaning of drinking it is an act of worship. Whatever the case, its taste is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. We ask Allah to quench our thirst from the Cistern (al-Hawd) of His Prophet on the Day of the greatest thirst. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad SAW. Ameen.

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) described this water itself as: “It is blessed, it (even) serves as food.”  Narrated by Muslim (2473). According to a report narrated by al-Bazzar, at-Tabarani, al-Bayhaqi and others, there is the addition, “and a healing for sickness.” See as-Sunan al-Kubra (5/147).

The apparent meaning of the evidence, in sha Allah, is that this barakah is general and applies to all Zamzam water, whether it is in Makkah or has been taken to other countries. Therefore more than one of the scholars said that it is permitted to take Zamzam water out of Makkah and that its barakah and specific characteristics remain even after it has been taken elsewhere.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Whoever takes any Zamzam water elsewhere, it is permissible; the salaf used to take it elsewhere.”

Imam As-Sawi al-Maliki (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is recommended to take it – meaning Zamzam water – elsewhere, and its specific characteristics remain, contrary to the claim of those who say that it loses its specific characteristics. End quote.

Haashiyat as-Saawi ‘ala ash-Sharh as-Sagheer (2/44). Something similar is stated in Minah al-Jaleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel (2/273)

Shaykh ‘Ali ash-Shibraamilsi ash-Shafa‘i (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The words “Zamzam water is for that for which it is drunk” include those who drink it anywhere other than in its location. End quote. Hashiyat Nihayat al-Muhtaj (3/318)

It is sunnah to drink one’s fill of Zamzam water and to quench one’s thirst.

The fuqaha’ have mentioned the etiquette that is mustahab (recommended) when drinking Zamzam water, such as facing the Ka’bah, saying Bismillah, pausing to take a breath three times, drinking one’s fill, praising Allaah after one finishes, and sitting whilst drinking it, as one should do when drinking other kinds of drinks. As regards the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said, “I gave the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Zamzam water to drink whilst he was standing,” (reported by al-Bukhari, 3/492), it is taken to mean that it is permissible to drink whilst standing, and the disapproval of doing so is understood to mean that it is makrooh. The scholars also recommended that the person who drinks Zamzam water should sprinkle some of it on his head, face and chest, make lots of du’aa’ when drinking it, and to drink it for a purpose that will benefit him in this world or the next, because of the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The water of Zamzam is for whatever purpose it is drunk for.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 2/1018; see Al-Maqasid al-Hasanah by al-Sakhaawi, p. 359).

It was reported that when Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنه from the water of Zamzam, he said: “O Allah, I ask you for beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision and healing from every disease.”

Al-Daynoori (may Allah have mercy on him) that al-Humaydi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “We were with Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (may Allah have mercy on him), and he told us the hadeeth about the water of Zamzam being drunk for whatever purpose it is drunk for. A man got up and left the gathering, then he came back and said, ‘O Abu Muhammad, is the hadeeth which you told us about the water of Zamzam saheeh?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ The man said, ‘Just now I drank a bucket of Zamzam so that you would tell me one hundred hadeeths.’ Sufyan (may Allah have mercy on him), ‘Sit down,’ so he sat down and he told him one hundred hadeeths.”

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Tuhfat al-Muhtaaj (4/144): he may take it back to his homeland so as to seek healing and barakah for himself and others. End quote.

As-Sakhkhawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Some people say that its virtue remains so long as it is still in its original place, but if it is moved elsewhere it changes. But this is something for which there is no basis. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) wrote to Suhayl ibn ‘Amr telling him: If my letter arrives at night, do not wait until morning, and if it arrives by day, do not wait until evening, before you send me some Zamzam water.”

And in the report it says that he sent him two containers; at that time he was in Madinah, before the conquest of Makkah.

This hadith is hasan because of corroborating evidence. Similarly, ‘Aa’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) used to take Zamzam water with her and she stated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to do that, and that he would carry it in vessels and skins, and he would pour it over the sick and give it to them to drink. If a guest came to Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), he would honour him with Zamzam water. ‘Ata’ (Allah have mercy upon him) was asked about taking Zamzam water (away from Makkah, after visiting) and he said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) al-Hasan and al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them) used to do that.

The two angels washed the heart of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he was a child, after they had taken it out, then they put it back. Al-Hafidh al-‘Iraqi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The reason why the Prophet’s chest was washed with Zamzam water was to make him stronger so that he could see the kingdom of heaven and earth, and Paradise and Hell, because one of the special qualities of Zamzam is that it strengthens the heart and calms the soul. The report about the chest of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) being washed with the water of Zamzam is proven in the hadeeth of Abu Dharr رضي الله عنه, who reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “My roof was opened when I was in Makkah, and Jibreel (peace be upon him) came down and opened my chest, then he washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a gold basin full of wisdom and faith, poured it into my chest, and closed it up again. Then he took me by the hand and ascended with me into the first heaven.” (Reported by al-Bukhari, 3/429).

There is nothing wrong with selling Zamzam water or transporting it from Makkah.

If Zamzam water is mixed with other water, the mixture will have the barakah of Zamzam as much as the ratio of Zamzam in the water. That is because the person who drinks the mixture will inevitably drink some of the Zamzam water that has been mixed with other water, so it is true to say that he is drinking it. Zamzam 3

http://www.theidealmuslimah.com/2014/10/25/10-facts-benefits-of-zam-zam-water/

Bismillah

1.The Story of how it came to be
This accurate account of the originof Zamzam holds with it an exquisite message…
Hajar (Alayhis salam) made use of the small amount of food that Ibrahim (Alayhis salam) left for her and her baby, but ran out eventually and was soon thirsty and hungry-her milk dried up, her baby Ismail (Alayhis salaam) became hungry and began to cry. Hajar couldn’t afford seeing her son in pain so climbed up the hill which was later called As-Safa, to see if there was anyone in the horizon. She saw no one. She then climbed down, and reaching the valley, ran to the other hill, later called Al–Marwa, doing the same again, all this time her son twisting and turning in hunger. She repeated this seven times, and on the 7th time reached the top of the hill and heard a sound. To her amazement she found it coming from beneath the feet of Ismail (Alayhis salam).
At that point Jibra’eel (Alayhis salaam) began digging the well of Zamzam from beneath his feet. Hajar was excited to contain the water, it being a desert and so arid and dry-the water would seep into the ground, and she tried making a pool to contain it.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said, (Allah have mercy on the mother of Isma’eel) ”If she had left the water, (flow naturally without her intervention), it would have been flowing on the surface of the earth.”
 {Sahih al-Bukhari 3365,Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 584}

So because of her efforts to contain the water, Zam-zam amazingly became a well.

Hajar (Allah have mercy on her) before the water was brought out of the ground, running in search, probably heart-broken and crying in pain at the suffering of her son, did not know what Allah was preserving for her in the future. If she knew that a time would come when millions from all parts of the world would follow in her footsteps, she probably may never have cried. And one can only imagine her reward in the hereafter if that were her reward in this world.

So when experiencing challenges in life, remember that Allah may be hiding something for you in your future.

Zamzam

2. Its Names
The names of Zam-zam are many, over 60 according to some experts and scientists, its names derived from its characteristics. Some of the familiar ones are:

  • Murwiya (derived from the Arabic word meaning ‘quenched’)
  • Shabbaa’a- (derived from ‘satisfying’)
  • Maymouna

3. Positive Energy
Within Zam-zam is an ingredient different to other waters, which heals and helps energetic and cell systems within the human body. The German Scientist Dr Knut Pfeiffer,and head of the largest medical centre in Munich, has studied Zam-zam with his colleague and assistant Husam Othman. A miracle in itself is that the Zam-zam specimen they studied still extraordinarily increased dramatically the energetic fields in human cells having travelled from Saudi Arabia to Munich, sustaining climate changes, probably having gone through an X-ray machine at customs, and then being stored for approximately two weeks. The opposite reaction would exhibit with other types of water especially if stagnant for some time, including water from Munich which is considered chemically pure.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness.”
{Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3302}

4. Uncontaminated
Zam-zam has been flowing from the Ka’aba for over 4000 years. Samples taken from all water sources in the world contain some germs in it. Through studies by Doctor Yahya Koshak (expert on Zamzam) it has been proven that Zam-zam does not contain any contaminants. It is an established scientific fact that pools or water wells tend to grow vegetation such as algae– especially in warm climates. Amazingly this is not the case in the well of Zamzam. It has remained free from biological contaminations.

5. Its Purity
Evian – water from the highest part of the French Alps is renowned for its high mineral content and purity, and high percentage of bicarbonates (357mg/l). Murwiya contains 366mg/l of bicarbonates, and is purer, in fact the purest water on earth.

6. Healing Nature
Scientific proof shows that Zamzam contains healing components due to its higher content of calcium and magnesium salts and natural fluorides which present germicidal properties.

It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to Abu Dhār رضي الله عنه, who had stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and nights with no food or drink other than (Zamzam): “How long have you been here?” Abu Dhār رضي الله عنه, “I have been here for thirty days and nights.” The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Who has been feeding you?” He said, “I have had nothing but Zamzam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.”

7. The miracle of its Origin
Mecca is built on a mass of igneous rock, and due to the process in which they form, these rocks have no pores and – due to partial melting of the minerals of which the rock comprises -cause any existing pores to close up. Science tells us that water reservoirs can only exist in rocks that are highly porous and permeable. Geologist Dr Zaghloul Al-Najjar, head of The Committee of Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah states that this simple and great fact verifies the sanctity and holiness of the land.

8. Hadith substantiates its Science
Origins of the water was a mystery until tunnels were dug around Makkah, where engineers and workers found hairline fractures in the solid mass of rock that stretched for kilometers in either direction through which Zamzam was seeping out, extensive fractures which could only be caused by a mighty impact. Sunnah states that it’s because of the strong blow with which Jibra’eel Alayhis salam struck the earth that Isma’eel Alayhis salaam was able to drink.
The well isn’t that deep, 30 metres in fact of which 13 metres or a little less are filled with compressed sediments from the valley which don’t allow water to flow out. Below this is about 17 metres of igneous rock through which the water flows through these long hairline fractures in the rock, where it gains its high mineral content beneficial to both the body and soul of man.

9. It Manifests for what it is Drunk

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.”
{Narrated by Ibn Majah, 3062}

This is a hasan hadeethA myriad of cases exist that testify to the healing nature of Zam-zam. Drinking Zamzam with the sincere intention of fulfilling a need, such as healing a physical ailment, being freed from poverty or distress, even achieving calm in the wake of any type of anxiety, gives way to Allah fulfilling these needs. One could continue drinking it until one is completely healed.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasalam) used to wash his chest with Zamzam to gain courage and relieve anxiety through Allah’s grace,before visiting the heavens; he would drink it and use it for Wudhu.

10. Water fasting.
Water fasting isn’t something new, and has even been done during the time of the Prophet (Sallalahu alayhi wasalam). Revisit the hadith in point 6:

It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to Abu Dhār (Allah be pleased with him), who had stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and nights with no food or drink other than (Zamzam): “How long have you been here?” Abu Dhār (Allah be pleased with him) said, “I have been here for thirty days and nights.” The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Who has been feeding you?” He said, “I have had nothing but Zamzam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.”
{Narrated by Imam Muslim, 2473}

Some of the positive benefits of a 48 hour Zamzam fast are an increase in the number of blood platelets and increased immunity through an increase in white blood cells, as well as a detoxifying effect on the body. Murwiya (Zam-zam) also increases hemoglobin levels, which result in increased energy levels. Testimonials state that these fasts eradicate morning breath, and hunger pangs, also providing a noticeable nourishing effect on the body.

References
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VonRItb61sw
http://www.youmuslim.com/video/40975/dr-knut-pfeiffer-islam%20s-zamzam-water-positive-effect-on-human-cells/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHm2y1mpTLw
“The Book of Zam Zam”, by Doctor Yahya Koshak
http://islamqa.info/en/6831

Authored by Sister “M”
Edited by Noorain Fathima

Zamzam 1

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Memories Of Martyrs – Sumayya Essack

Extremely impressive poetry…Ma Sha Allah!

Treasures Of The Ummah

The sky casts a momentary twilight glow over the silent, dark streets.
The hush of the city is disturbed by a sudden rumble of thunder as it rolls across the sky, quietly at first, and then with a startling bang that causes the sturdy building walls to vibrate and the floors to shudder. The lights in my bedroom flicker and then disappear, leaving me drowning in a sea of darkness.

I am lost.

The luminous moon has hidden its striking rays behind a puff of grey clouds, and the stars seem to run for cover as the sky trembles with anger.

I am afraid.

There is no hand to hold me, no light to guide me, and no one besides me.

Groans of thunder follow a sudden flash of lightning, and I use its light to hastily switch on a torch. I run for cover beneath my soft duvet covers…

View original post 1,100 more words

The Usage Of Weak Hadith

REFERENCE: https://haq2012.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/imam-ibn-taymiyyahs-stance-on-the-usage-of-weak-ahaadith/

IMG-20140514-WA0002

All praise for Allah, may peace and blessings be upon our noble master Mohammed sallalaho alayhi wasallam, upon his pure family his noble companions and all those who follow them until the day of judgement.

Respected readers, what I would like to discuss here inshallah is an issue which causes a lot of controversy, that is the issue of usage of weak ahaadith. We have some people who go the extreme of saying that weak ahaadith should be rejected entirely. I will state the obvious here, and mention that other that the sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim) every other book of hadith, be it the sunan of Imam Tirmidhi, Imam Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi, the mustadrak of Imam Haakim, musannaf of Imam ibn Abi shaybah and others all contain some weak as well as sahih ahaadith.

What we must understand is that there is a difference between a weak and a fabricated hadith but unfortunately and sadly we have certain ignorant people who don’t differentiate between the two. They treat a weak hadith like a fabricated hadith and totally disregard it. I am not saying for a second that fabricated ahaadith should be entertained, we all know the severity of attributing a lie to the messenger of Allah sallalaho alayhi wasallam who himself said ‘whoever attributes a lie to me has reserved his space in the fire of hell’ (Bukhari).

Some people who are even regarded as scholars have this attitude that weak ahaadith should not be used at all, and if this approach was adopted then the majority of the books of hadith would be rendered useless and only Bukhari and Muslim could be applied thus making life extremely difficult.

The majority view of the ulema is that a WEAK hadith is permissible for usage in non-fiqh issues. The following are some great scholars who hold this view : Imam Nawawi, Ibn Salah, Sufyan Thawri, Ahmed bin Hanbal, Ibn uyaynah, Ibn Mubarak, Ibn mahdi, ibn ma’een, khateeb Baghdadi, Bukhari, mullah Ali Qari, ibn Hajr al Asqalani, ibn Taymiyah, ibn Qayim, imam Sakhawi, abu Dawud.

Even Imam Bukhari RA himself has compiled weak narrations in his book ‘Al Adab Al Mufrad’ which shows that he accepted weak narrations in regards to virtues of good deeds, so we can see here that the majority of muhaditheen accepted the usage of weak ahaadith and did not have this attitude that the salafis of today have.

I will now present work from none other than imam Ibn Taymiyah RA from his famous book ‘al qaedah jaleelah fit tawassul wal waseelah.’ The reason I chose to use Ibn Taymiyah RA on this occasion is because those people today who like to reject weak ahaadith and condemn others for using them are those who use Ibn Taymiyah RA as a reference and would always accept any ruling of his without hesitation.

The imam states:

“But Ahmad ibn Hanbal and other scholars permitted the narration [of hadith] regarding the virtues of good what is not sure as long as it is not known that it is a lie.” [laakinna Ahmad ibn Hanbal wa ghayruh min al-‘ulama jawwazu an yurwa fee fada’il al-‘aamal maa lam yu’lam annahu thaabit idha lam yu’lam annahu kadhib.]

Ibn Taymiyya goes into a full chapter of discussion of this subject from here, Chapter 8 of “al-qaida al-jaleela fit-tawwasuli wal-waseela“, where he presents the views of the majority of the ‘ulama of Islam and he presents his own views of the subject. And here we will examine this in detail.

To continue, Ibn Taymiyya says, in para 478:

“and that is the action which is known to be lawful with a shari’ah evidence, and there has been narrated in its virtue hadith that is not known to be a lie, it is possible that the reward will be true and none of the Imams have said that it is permissible to consider something required [waajib] or recommended [mustahabb] by way of a weak hadith, and whoever said so differed from the consensus [ijma’a].”

So here we see that Ibn Taymiyah RA is explaining that if there is a hadith, even though it has not been judged to be authentic, if it encourages what is known as a good deed in Islamic shari’ah, something of virtue, a praiseworthy action, or idea, then it is fully acceptable to refer to such a hadith as an encouragement for that deed.

And here also, Ibn Taymiyah RA refers to the ijma’a, the consensus, which is a clear reference to the concept of ijma’a of scholars of Islam as being a fully accepted concept and one which *he* accepts. And this is a clear proof that Ibn Taymiyah RA, though he considered himself a mujtahid mutlaq, capable of independent reasoning, nevertheless depended on the consensus [ijma’a] of scholars as a proof for the opinions he considered acceptable. And this is the position of Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’at.

Then he continues in para 479:

“And just like it is not permissible to forbid something without a shari’ah evidence, [daleel shar’ee] but if it something is known to be forbidden and a hadith has been narrated in warning the one who commits such an action, and it is not known that it is a lie, it is permissible to narrate it. And it is permissible to narrate it in the manner of encouraging and discouraging [at-tarheeb wat-targheeb] what is not known that it is a lie. but in what is known that Allah has encouraged or discouraged with another evidence besides this [weak] hadith whose authenticity is unknown [majhoul haaluh].”

So from this we see that Ibn Taymiyah RA is using the weak hadith [ahadith da’eef], to discourage people from doing an evil deed, as long as this deed is known to be forbidden in the shari’ah. If the deed is forbidden in the shari’ah, it is acceptable to use a hadith whose authenticity is unknown, as long as the hadith is known not to have been an actual lie. This principle is acceptable, in anything that it is known that Allah expressed its forbiddance. Ibn Taymiyah RA continues to explain this concept in para 480:

“This is like the [situation] of the Isra’iliyyaat [stories related by the Jews]. It is permissible to be narrated as long as we know that it is not a lie, for encouraging or discouraging in what we know that Allah has ordered in our law [shar‘] or forbade in our law [shar‘].”

Here we see that Ibn Taymiyah RA is not only accepting that the weak are acceptable in the case of encouraging good deeds and discouraging evil ones, but he is showing clearly that he accepted the use of Isra’iliyyaat, stories related from the Jews, which many Salafis reject today as unacceptable. And this is verified in the hadith of the Prophet (saws), “narrate from the hadith of Bani Isra’il and there is no harm in doing it.”

So respected brothers and sisters, we see from the above evidences that Imam Ibn Taymiyah RA himself accepted the usage of weak ahaadith, I ask those salafi brothers who love to insult the likes of hazrat Moulana Zakariyyah RA because of his usage of weak ahaadith, will you now refute and condemn your own imam on the same grounds?

May Allah give us all the ability to understand the deen in its entirety, Ameen.

 

https://islamqa.org/hanafi/qibla-hanafi/35756

I have a question regarding the text Faza’il – e – A’maal by
Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kaandhlawi. From many I’ve heard that this text contains many weak hadiths and should not be read for the hadiths all are not saheeh. Is this correct? If so, please explain if this text would be appropriate to read and are the hadiths with strong chains?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most MercifulAssalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah most Gracious Most Merciful.

Along with many sahih hadiths, Fada’il A’mal is also known to contain a number of weak hadiths. In fact many of the great hadith collections contain weak hadiths. This is the case with Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, al-Bayhaqi, al-Mustadrak of Imam Hakim, Mishkat al-Masabih, al-Tarqhib wa al-tarhib, etc. Besides these, popular works such as the Ihya ‘ulum al-din of Imam Ghazali is one in which Allama ‘Iraqi has judged many hadiths to be weak. However, these works have been overwhelmingly accepted by the majority of traditional scholars of Islam throughout the centuries. Furthermore, despite the rigorous authentication of the Sahih of Imam Bukhari, his other works such as al-Adab al-Mufrad and Juz’ al-qira’a khalf al-imam contains many weak narrations.

What we understand from this is that it is not a crime to relate weak hadiths, as some like to advocate. Individuals have risen in the last century who have attempted to “purify” the books of the pious predecessors by sifting the weak hadiths from the authentic (many a time with great injustice) and have published the classical collection under new titles such as Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Sahih Sunan Ibn Maja, etc.

The approach of the classical scholars was not such. It was accepted among them that works on the subject of virtues and fada’il did not have to meet the same levels of authenticity as was needed in discussions on the belief system of Islam or the laws and rulings of the lawful and unlawful.

Great hadith experts such as Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn al-Mahdi, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, “When we narrate in regards to the lawful [halal] and unlawful [haram] we exercise extreme strictness and when we narrate in regards to virtuous and the like (stories and narratives) then we are more lenient.” (See Suyuti’s Tadrib al-rawi).

We learn from this statement that the scholars were more relaxed in the case of using weak hadith in virtues, but were very strict when it came to aspects of belief or fiqhi rulings. There were also other conditions for accepting weak hadith. For instance, the weakness should not be extreme that it is bordering on fabrication or the hadith should not be a spurious one. Likewise the weak hadith should not contradict an established principle of Shari’a or go against the spirit of the teachings of Islam (See Tadrib al-rawi).

If one takes the approach of shunning every book that contains weak hadiths would be left with very few books to benefit from. This would create great difficulty in regard to the din. Imam Tirmidhi has demonstrated in his Sunan as to how so many fiqhi rulings have been based on not-so-strong narrations.

The Fada’il A’mal is not a book of juristic laws. it is a book of virtues and as such there is no doubt that one can read it and practice on the virtues mentioned therein, even if they are from weak hadiths. Allah has granted this book such a widespread popularity that it is difficult in many countries to find a masjid without a copy. Many have benefited and softened their hearts for the remembrance of Allah and other such virtuous acts by reading it and the Fada’il Sadaqat by the same author.

The author Shaykh Zakariya Khandelwi taught the Sahih al-Bukhari for numerous years and spent his entire life in the service of the hadith of the Messenger (upon him be peace). His works include the editing of the Badhl al-Majhud (Arabic commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud), al-Hall al-Mufhim (Arabic commentary of Sahih Muslim), and al-La’ali al-Dirari (Arabic commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari); then the Awjaz al-Masalik is his Arabic commentary of the Muwatta of Imam Malik (Dar al-Fikr, Syria edition over twenty volumes), and the Khasa’il al-Nabawi, his Urdu commentary of the al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiya of Imam Tirmidhi. Besides these he has authored numerous other works in Urdu. He passed away in Madina Munawwara on Monday the 1st of Sha’ban 1402 corresponding to 24th May 1982.

Wassalam
(Mufti) AbdurRahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

Regrets of the Dying

http://www.bronnieware.com/blog/regrets-of-the-dying

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Based around this article, Bronnie has released a full length book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for. This inspiring memoir is available internationally through Hay House, with translations in 29 languages.  More information about regret-free living is available here.

Dreams in the Scale of Islam

(September 2011 Makkah Al Haramain Salah Recordings)447519614767

Dr Shaikh Abu Ibrahim Sa’ud ibn Ibrahim ibn Muhammad
ash-Shuraim  (Imam of Makkah)


O people! The son of Adam has a great desire and an enflamed interest regarding the unseen, whether it is related to the past or the future, and refusing to accept that such a phenomenon exists, is ignoring a fact of life. People’s obsession with such phenomena is related to how close they are to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) and Qur’an which firmly addressed this subject and clarified it, as Allah says, which means, “(He is) Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His (knowledge of the) unseen, Except whom He has approved of as messengers, and indeed, He sends before him (i.e. each messenger) and behind him observers” (Al-Jinn: 26-27).

It is no wonder that the further people are from the time of prophet hood, the more confused they become and mix facts regarding the issue of the unseen, and the more eager people with weak souls become to know the unseen. Some believe in illusions as facts, others accept what fortune-tellers say, and others guess and speak about the unseen during all times while the verses from the Qur’aan are recited before them day and night, like the saying of Allah, which means, “Say, ‘None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah and they do not perceive when they will be resurrected.’”  (An-Naml: 65) as well as the sayings of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam), like the Hadeeth where he said, “Five things only Allah knows, and he recited the verse (the meaning of which is) “Indeed, Allah (alone) has knowledge of the hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Luqman: 34)”


Thus, it is not possible to know the unseen or address it, except through what Allah has told us, or what He revealed to His Messenger (Sallalhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam). Anything other than this would be guesses and illusions, or a mixture of words conveyed to people by some Jinn.


Islam removes confusion and illusions from the mind and guides those who stray from the straight path. Believing in the unseen cannot be equated with believing in fantasies.


Those who survive this phenomenon, get trapped by their eagerness to know the future, which they think is a major factor in deciding the stability and instability of their lives, so they try to reach that through dreams. You might meet a brother (in faith) or a friend and be greeted with a gloomy or cheerful face, but you would be surprised to discover that this disposition is due to a dream which they have seen in their sleep.


Slaves of Allah! This issue is not only the concern of individuals or common people, but many eminent figures join them in this concern. Dreams have disturbed many great people, and other dreams came as glad tidings to many others. Some dreams became the concern of nations, like the dream of the king of Egypt, which the Qur’an told of in the story of Prophet Yoosuf, peace be upon him. His dream included both glad tidings and warnings at the same time; it gave glad tidings of the increase in provisions for seven consecutive years, then warned against famine for the following seven years.


Slaves of Allah! Dreams have had great importance in people’s lives before and after Islam. Educated people and intellectuals might differ in the way they view dreams and judge their issue. Philosophers have rejected that dreams have any meaning at all and claimed that dreams result from the reactions which take place in the body and reflect the state of mind. Some psychiatrists have a negative stance towards dreams, which is actually very close to that of the philosophers. They refer it to the mood of people and certain parts of their memory which become hyper during sleep, making dreams purely biological.


On the other hand, Islam and its scholars have followed the prophetic path in dealing with dreams, and have judged dreamsaccording to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. They have ruled that true dreams are from Allaah, some warn and others bring glad tidings. Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “Prophecy is finished but tidings remain” people asked, ‘What are these tidings?’ He Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam replied, “A true dream which a man sees, or others see for him” (Bukhari & Malik). These tidings could be good or bad as Allah says, which means, “So give them tidings of a painful doom” (Al-Inshiqaaq: 24).


Slaves of Allah! These dreams are the ones which the truthful and trustworthy Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said about them that, “At the end of time, the believer’s dream will rarely be incorrect; the more truthful a person is, the truer his dreams are; and the dream of a faithful believer is a part of the forty six parts of Prophecy.” (Bukhari & Muslim).


In this era, many people’s hearts have little attachment to Allah. Belief in divine decree, pre-destiny and that whatever Allah wants happens and whatever He does not will not happen, and that everything happens with His command…all these aspects of belief have become weak in people’s hearts. Due to this, their hearts have become more attached to the issue of dreams, and in this way, they have differed from the righteous generations of our Salaf. They have started talking about this issue more and relying on it, until it has reached a level where it has overwhelmed people’s discussions in their gatherings, on satellite channels and religious inquiries, so much so that people ask more about dreams than they ask about matters of religion, and what should and should not be done by a Muslim.


These practices take place while people are heedless of what they should do regarding dreams, and how they should deal with them based on the prophetic instructions, which one should not transgress nor ignore. The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam left us with a clear religion, and he sufficed us regarding the issue of dreams, talking about it, getting attached to it, seeking to find out its interpretation or relying on it. People’s increased inquiries about dreams is a form of transgressing the limits set in the Sunnah and an imbalanced approach to the issue.


When some people see a dream, their lives become disturbed, and they become terrified and unable to relax until they find someone to interpret it for them so as to discover whether it brings glad tidings or evil news to him. If we stop at the limits which are set for us in the prophetic guidance, then such anxiety would not be felt, and people would not occupy themselves with this subject, which has become a way to attract audiences to the internet and satellite channels.


In order to discern the best way of dealing with this widespread phenomenon in our communities, let us listen to some of the etiquettes relating to this issue. Abu Salamah, (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘I used to see dreams and become sick because of it, until I saw Abu Qutaadah and told him about this.’ So he said to me, I heard the Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam saying, “Good dreams are from Allaah, and bad dreams are from Satan, so if of you see in your dream something which you dislike, then spit three times to your left and seek refuge in Allah from its evil, then it will not harm you” (Muslim). In another narration Abu Salamah, (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘I used to see dreams and they would feel heavier on me than a mountain, until I heard this saying of the Prophet, then it never bothered me after that’ (Muslim).


Slaves of Allah! We see that not everything one sees in his sleep is a good dream that needs an interpretation, because what people see in their sleep is one of the three types, as narrated by ‘Awf Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “Dreams are of three types, some are from Satan to sadden the son of Adam, some are the result of what a person thinks about while he is awake so he sees it in his sleep, and some are one of the forty six parts of prophecy” (Ibn Majah). Imam Al-Baghawi said, ‘This Hadeeth proves that not everything which a person sees in his sleep in true and should be interpreted. The correct understanding is that some of it is from Allaah, and the rest are mixed up falsedreams which have no interpretation’.


An example for these mixed up false dreams is the story of the Bedouin who came to the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I saw in my dream that someone beheaded me, and my head rolled and I started going after it “ So the Messenger Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said: “Do not inform anyone nor talk to people about whispers that come to you in your dreams from Satan” (Muslim).


As we were instructed through the Sunnah, the way a believer should deal with this type of dream is to seek refuge in Allah from its evil and the evil of Satan; to spit three times to the left; not to inform anyone about it; to stand up and pray as much as he is capable of; and then switch to the other side when he lies down. Some scholars added that he should recite the verse of Al-Kursee (the throne) because the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) informed us that Satan will not be able to harm the one who recites it.


Imam An-Nawawi (Allah be pleased with him)said regarding the way to deal with evil dreams, ‘One who sees an evil dream should follow all the etiquettes which were mentioned in the different narrations from the Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and even if he does only some of them, it will protect him from the evil of Satan with the will of Allah’.


The second type of dreams is that which results from a person’s whims and what he thinks about during the day and that which occupies his mind. For example, if he has been thinking about traveling or a trade, then he would see in his dream similar to what he was thinking while he was awake. These mixed up dreams are also ones that cannot be interpreted.


The only type left is the true, good dream from Allaah that brings good or bad tidings. It may be clear and not in need of an interpretation, as the dream of prophet Ibraaheem when he saw that he is slaughtering his son. Some may be ambiguous and need someone to interpret them, like the dreams that the mates of prophet Yoosuf saw in prison. This is the type which the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam forbade us from telling except to scholars or wise people seeking their advice, the Messenger Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said: “Don’t tell your dream except to a scholar or a wise person seeking his advice” (Tirmidhi).


All other dreams which one might see and it includes legislating things to be lawful or unlawful; performing certain acts of worship; deciding the night of Al-Qadr which the Prophet was informed with then later was made to forget it; or dreams which result in judging people, giving or depriving them of their rights, and whether they are truthful and honest people or not…all such dreams are mixed up dreams and doubts, which we should not rely on, according to the sayings of the majority of scholars, like Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim RH, Ibn Taymiyyah RH, An-Nawawi RH, Ash-Shaatibi RH and others. Ash-Shaatibi RH mentioned the story of the Caliph Al-Mahdi who wanted to kill the judge Shurayk Ibn ‘Abdullah RH. Shurayk RH asked him, ‘Why do you want to kill me, while it is unlawful for you to spill my blood?’ He replied, ‘I saw in my dream that I was talking to you and you were talking to me with your back to me, so I asked an interpreter, and he told me that this man (Shurayk) is one who visits you often and opposes you behind your back’ Shurayk said, ‘O leader of the believers! Your dream is not like the dream of (prophet) Yoosuf the son of (prophet) Ya’qoob, and Muslim’s blood cannot be shed based on dreams’ so Al-Mahdi bowed his head down and signaled him with his hand to leave, so he left.


Ibn ‘Asaker RH mentioned in the history of Damascus that some people saw Imam Ash-Shafi’ee RH in their dream saying to them, ‘Yoonus Ibn ‘Abdul A’laa lied on my behalf in narrating such and such Hadeeth, I did not narrate it’ Imam Ibn Katheer RH commented on this saying, ‘‘Yoonus Ibn ‘Abdul A’laa is a trustworthy scholar, and cannot be doubted simply because of a dream’.


Imam Dhahabi RH narrated that Al-Maroozi RH said, ‘I took Ibraaheem Ibn Al-Husari (a righteous man) to Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal RH, and he said to Imam Ahmad RH, my mother saw such and such a dream for you, and she mentioned you in Paradise. So Imam Ahmad said, dear brother, Sahl Ibn Salaamah was told the same by people, then he started killing Muslims. A dream should not deceive a believer’.


O people! If we want to be just, fair and sincere in our advice, then we should not put all the blame on the people who see thedreams, but we must also address those who interpret them, because they have a great responsibility towards people who see these dreams.


An interpreter should be a scholar in this great field of knowledge, and should be able to weigh the harms and benefits resulting from the interpretation. He should not take the lead in interpreting dreams, specially those who do it through satellite channels, and in big gatherings, because it is just like passing a fatwaa. The king said in the story of Yoosuf, as Allah says, which means, “And (subsequently) the King said, ‘ Indeed, I have seen (in a dream) seven fat cows being eaten by seven (that were) lean, and seven green spikes (of grain) and others (that were) dry. Oh eminent ones, explain to me my vision, if you should interpret visions.’” (Yoosuf: 43).


Ibn Al-Qayyim said RH, ‘A person passing Fatwaa, an interpreter and a doctor are exposed to the private hidden affairs of people, so they should conceal these things’.


Interpreters should not rush to interpret dreams, nor should they make people feel that their interpretations are facts. They should know the danger of this and the arrogance it could lead to. Ibn ‘Abdul Barr narrated that Imaam Maalik was asked, ‘Can anyone interpret dreams?’ he said, ‘How can people play around with matters related to prophecy’. Ibn ‘Abdul Barr also narrated that Imaam Hisham Ibn Sassan RH said, ‘Ibn Sereen RH used to be asked about one hundred dreams but he would not answer, but he would tell people, fear Allah while you are awake, then what you see in your dream would not harm you’ and he would also say, ‘I only say what I think to be the interpretation, and I could be wrong’.


If this was the saying of the leader of interpreters through the ages, how should people in our time act? We see a person asked about one thousand dreams, and not once would he say, I do not know, or say that they are mixed up false dreams.


Interpreters should also realize the danger of interpreting dreams through TV channels that millions of people watch or in big gatherings, for the following reasons:


First: It is dangerous because he is talking about the unseen, specially that no one can say for sure that what he is interpreting is going to take place or not.


Second: It is difficult to know the situation of the one who saw the dream through TV channels, and whether they are righteous people or not, which has a strong connection to how a dream is interpreted. Two men came to Imaam Ibn Sereen both saw that they were calling the Athaan (the call for prayer), so he interpreted it for the righteous man as performing pilgrimage according to the verse which means “And proclaim to the people the Hajj (pilgrimage); they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they w ill come from every distant pass” (Al-Hajj: 27), while he interpreted it to the other man that he will steal and his hand will be cut according to the verse which means “So when he had furnished them with their supplies, he put the (gold measuring) bowl into the bag of his brother. Then an announcer called out, ‘Oh caravan, indeed you are thieves.’” (Yoosuf: 70).


Third: Some people would not comprehend the way the interpretation was done through the screens, and ignorant people would think that it is a type of fortune telling which is prohibited, and the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said: “Say to people that which they are acquainted with, or do you want that people reject what Allah and His Messenger say” (Bukhari).


Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood, (may Allah be pleased with him), narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “If you talk to people with words which they cannot comprehend, then it will be a trial for them” (Muslim).


Fourth: Preventing evil precedes accomplishing benefits, and the evil of interpreting through TV channels is greater than the benefits for many obvious reasons. One reason being the fact that it is talking about the unseen and interpreting is like passing Fatwaa and our Salaf used to avoid that. And then the evil resulting from the interpretation of some dreams is also great. For example a girl will not succeed in her marriage or another case whose husband will marry a second wife in secret. What do you think the situation of these women would be? One is awaiting failure in life and will remain depressed, and the other will always doubt her husband? Some people take these interpretations without referring to trustworthy scholars to confirm them, which results in the expected problems.


Some people give the excuse that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) used to ask: “Who saw a dream?” (Saheeh Muslim) so that he can interpret it for them. We would answer saying,

· This was the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and his interpretations were undoubtedly true.
· His interpretations were in a mosque that was attended by a small number of people, not millions like the case of TV channels.
· The audience with the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) were the companions whose wisdom cannot be compared.
· No one from the four rightly guided caliphs or those who came after them did that, and especially Abu Bakr RA for whom the Prophet (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) testified that he is knowledgeable in the field of interpretation.

How to Remember What You Read

https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/10/how-to-remember-what-you-read/

“I cannot remember the books I have read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why is it that some people seem to be able to read a book once and remember every detail of it for life, while others struggle to recall even the title a few days after putting down a book?

The answer is simple but not easy.

It’s not what they read. It’s how they read. Passive readers forget things almost as quickly as they read them. Active readers, on the other hand, retain the bulk of what they read.

There is another difference between these two types of readers: The quantity of reading affects them differently. Passive readers who read a lot are not much further ahead than passive readers who read a little. If you’re an active reader, however, things are different.

The more that active readers read, the better they get. They develop a latticework of mental modelsto hang ideas on, further increasing retention. They learn to differentiate good arguments and structures from bad ones. They make better decisions because they know what fits with the basic structure of how the world works. They avoid problems. The more they read, the more valuable they become. The more they read, the more they know what to look for.

Think back to the books you studied in school. Despite the passage of time, most us remember a lot about them. Even if the details are fuzzy, we can doubtless recall the basic plots, main characters, notable themes, and motifs. We didn’t just passively read those books. We actively read them. We had class discussions, took turns reading parts aloud, acted out scenes, or maybe even watched film adaptations. No matter how long it has been since we set foot in a classroom, we all probably remember Animal Farm.

Having a deliberate strategy for anything we spend a lot of time on is a sensible approach. But most people don’t consciously try to get the most out of the time they invest in reading.

For us to get the most out of each book we read, it is vital to have a plan for recording, reflecting on, and putting into use the conclusions we draw from the information we consume. In this article, we will look at a strategy for deriving the maximum benefit from every single page you read.

First, let’s clear up some common misconceptions about reading. Here’s what I know:

  • Quality matters more than quantity. If you read just one book a week but fully appreciate and absorb it, you’ll be far better off than someone who skims through half the library without paying much attention.
  • Speedreading is bullshit. The only way to read faster is to actually read more.
  • Book summary services miss the point. I know a lot of companies charge ridiculous prices for access to summaries written by some 22-year-old with zero life experience, but the point of reading for fluency is to acquire a repository of facts and details. Nuance, if you will. In this sense, you understand a bit more about why things work.
  • Fancy apps and tools are not needed. A notebook, index cards, and a pen will do just fine. (For those of you wanting a simple and searchable online tool to help, Evernote is the answer.)
  • We don’t need to read stuff we find boring.
  • We don’t need to finish the entire book. 

“Every time I read a great book I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself. But each map was incomplete, and I would only locate the treasure if I read all the books, and so the process of finding my best self was an endless quest. And books themselves seemed to reflect this idea. Which is why the plot of every book ever can be boiled down to ‘someone is looking for something’.”

— Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Before Reading

Choose Your Books Wisely
There are no rules when it comes to choosing books. We don’t have to read bestsellers, or classics, or books everyone else raves about. This isn’t school and there are no required reading lists. Focus on some combination of books that: (1) stand the test of time; (2) pique your interest; or (3) resonate with your current situation.

The more interesting and relevant we find a book, the more likely we are to remember its contents in the future.

For older books or those that have been translated, check which version is considered to be the best. For example, the Hayes translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is regarded as being truest to the original text, while also having a modern feel.

Get Some Context
A good place to start is by doing some preliminary research on the book. Some books – for example, A Confederacy of Dunces and The Palm Wine Drinkard – have a very different meaning once we know a bit about the life of the author.

For older books, try to understand the historical context. For books written in an unfamiliar country, try to understand the cultural context. Some helpful questions to ask include:

  • Why did the author write this? (Did they have an agenda?)
  • What is their background?
  • What else have they written?
  • Where was it written?
  • What was the political, economic, and cultural situation at the time of writing?
  • Has the book been translated or reprinted?
  • Did any important events — a war, an economic depression, a change of leadership, the emergence of new technology — happen during the writing of the book?

Know Why You’re Reading the Book
What are you reading this book for? Entertainment? To understand something or someone you don’t know? To get better at your job? To improve your health? To learn a skill? To help build a business?

You have to have some idea of what you want to get from the book. You don’t just want to collect endless amounts of useless information. That will never stick.

Skim the Index, Contents, and Preface
Before starting to read a book (particularly non-fiction), skim through the index, contents page, preface, and inside jacket to get an idea of the subject matter.  (This article on how to read a book is a brilliant introduction to skimming.) The bibliography can also indicate the tone of a book. The best authors often read hundreds of books for each one they write, so a well-researched book should have a bibliography full of interesting texts. After you’ve read the book, peruse the bibliography and make a note of any books you want to read next.

Match the Book to Your Setting or Situation
Although it’s not always practical, matching books to our location and circumstances can be powerful. Books will have a greater resonance as they become part of an experience rather than just supplementing it.

When choosing books, take a look at your own situation and decide on genres or authors that might help you overcome any current challenges. Whatever your state of affairs, someone has been in the same place. Someone has felt the same feelings and thought the same thoughts and written about it. It’s up to you to find that book.

For example:

  • Traveling or on holiday? Match books to the location — Jack Kerouac or John Muir for America; Machiavelli for Italy; Montaigne’s Essays, Ernest Hemingway, or Georges Perec for France; and so on. Going nowhere in particular? Read Vladimir Nabokov or Henry Thoreau.
  • Dealing with grief? Read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Torch by Cheryl Strayed,or anything by Tarah Brach.
  • Having a crisis about your own mortality? (It happens to us all.) Read Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life or Theodore Zeldin’s The Hidden Pleasures of Life.
  • Dealing with adversity? Lose your job? Read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way.
  • Dissatisfied with your work? Read Linchpin by Seth Godin, Mastery by Robert Greene, or Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

If I were a Dr., I’d prescribe books. They can be just as powerful as drugs.

While Reading

You’ll remember more if you do the following seven things while you’re reading.

Make Notes
Making notes is perhaps the single most important part of remembering what you read.

The best technique for notetaking is whichever one works for you and is easy to stick to. You need to create your own system. Some people prefer to record notes on index cards or in a commonplace book; others prefer a digital system. Notes are especially useful if you write on a regular basis, although everyone (not just writers) can benefit from making them.

Start by writing a short summary of each chapter and transcribing any meaningful passages or phrases. If you are unsure how to simplify your thoughts, imagine that someone has just tapped you on the shoulder and asked you to explain the chapter you just finished reading. They have never read this book and lack any idea of the subject matter. How would you explain it to them?

In The 3 Secrets That Help Me Write and Think, Robert Greene describes his notetaking process this way:

When I read a book, I am looking for the essential elements in the work that can be used to create the strategies and stories that appear in my books. As I am reading a book I underline important passages and sections and put notes … on the side.

After I am done reading I will often put it aside for up to a week and think deeply about the lessons and key stories that could be used for my book project. I then go back and put these important sections on notecards.

David Foster Wallace recommends a similar form of active reading (for more, see Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace & Bryan A. Garner Talk Language and Writing):

Not just reading a lot, but paying attention to the way the sentences are put together, the clauses are joined, the way the sentences go to make up a paragraph. Exercises as boneheaded as you take a book you really like, you read a page of it three, four times, put it down, and then try to imitate it word for word so that you can feel your own muscles trying to achieve some of the effects that the page of text you like did. If you’re like me, it will be in your failure to be able to duplicate it that you’ll actually learn what’s going on. It sounds really, really stupid, but in fact, you can read a page of text, right? And “Oh that was pretty good…” but you don’t get any sense of the infinity of choices that were made in that text until you start trying to reproduce them.

Stay Focused
Decide that for the time you will be reading, you will focus on the book and nothing else. No quick Twitter checks. No emails. No cell phone. No TV. No staring into midair. Understanding and absorbing a book requires deep focus, especially if the subject matter is dense or complex. Remember, we are aiming for active reading. Active reading requires focus and the ability to engage with the author. (Focus is hard work. If you’re lost, start here.)

Referring to the time before the internet, Nicholas Carr writes in The Shallows: “In the quiet spaces opened up by the prolonged, undistracted reading of a book, people made their own associations, drew their own inferences and analogies, fostered their own ideas. They thought deeply as they read deeply.”

If you’re struggling to stay focused on a particularly difficult or lengthy book, decide to read a mere 25 pages of it a day. It takes only a few minutes to nibble away at a challenging text. Completing a long book in this manner might take months, but at least you will have read it without getting overwhelmed or bored.

Mark Up the Book
Most of us were taught as children to treat books as something sacred – no folding the page corners, and no writing in the margins, ever. However, if you want to remember what you read, forget about keeping books pristine. I’ve spent a lot of time helping my kids unlearn the rule that books are not to be written in.

In fact, go crazy with marginalia. The more you write, the more active your mind will be while reading.

Jot down connections and tangential thoughts, underline key passages, and make a habit of building a dialogue with the author. Some people recommend making your own index of key pages or using abbreviations (Maria Popova of Brain Pickings writes “BL” next to any beautiful language, for example).

The first time you write in a book can be unnerving, but in the long term, it leads to a rich understanding and a sense of connection with the author.

Billy Collins has written a beautiful poem on the joys of marginalia: “We have all seized the white perimeter as our own / and reached for a pen if only to show / we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages; / we pressed a thought into the wayside / planted an impression along the verge. /… ‘Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.’”

Stop and Build a Vivid Mental Picture
Building vivid mental pictures is one of the most effective techniques for remembering anything, not least what we read. When you come across an important passage or concept, pause and visualize it. Make the picture as salient and distinctive as possible.

Make Mental Links
Books do not exist in a vacuum. Every concept or fact can be linked to countless others. Making an effort to form our own links is a fruitful way to better remember what we read.

Nicholas Carr writes in The Shallows:

The bond between book reader and book writer has always been a tightly symbiotic one, a means of intellectual and artistic cross-fertilization. The words of the writer act as a catalyst in the mind of the reader, inspiriting new insights, associations, and perceptions, sometimes even epiphanies. And the very existence of the attentive, critical reader provides the spur for the writer’s work. It gives the author confidence to explore new forms of expression, to blaze difficult and demanding paths of thought, to venture into uncharted and sometimes hazardous territory.

Keep Mental Models in Mind

Mental models enable us to better understand and synthesize books. Some of the key ways we can use them include:

  • Confirmation bias: Which parts of this book am I ignoring? Does this book confirm my opinions? (Okay, but does it actually affirm your beliefs or are you just seeing what you want to see? If you cannot think of a single point in the book that you disagreed with, confirmation bias is perchance distorting your reasoning.)
  • Bayesian updating: What opinions should I change in light of this book? How can I update my worldview using the information in it? Keep in mind the words of John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
  • Pareto principle: Which parts of this book are most important and contain the most information? If I had to cut 99% of the words in this book, what would I leave? Many authors have to reach a certain word or page count, resulting in pages (or even entire chapters) containing fluff and padding. Even the best non-fiction books are often longer than is imperative to convey their ideas. (Note that the Pareto principle is less applicable for fiction books.)
  • Leverage: How can I use lessons from this book to gain a disproportionate advantage? Can I leverage this new knowledge in a tangible way?
  • Incentives: What motivates the characters or the author? What are they seeking? What is their purpose? Here’s how Kurt Vonnegut described the importance of incentives in books: “When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”
  • Availability bias: Are the books I have recently read affecting how I perceive this one? How are my neoteric experiences shaping my reading? Am I assigning undue importance to parts of this book because they are salient and memorable?
  • Stereotyping tendency: Am I unconsciously fitting the author, characters, or book in general into a particular category? Or is the author stereotyping their characters? Remember, there is no such thing as a good stereotype.
  • Social proofHow is social proof — the number of copies sold, bestseller status, the opinions of others — affecting my perception of this book? Is the author using social proof to manipulate readers? It is not unusual for authors to buy their way onto bestseller lists, providing social proof which then leads to substantial sales. As a result, mediocre books can end up becoming popular. It’s a classic case of the emperor having no clothes, which smart readers know to look out for.
  • Narrative instinctIs the author distorting real events to form a coherent narrative? This is common in biographies, memoirs, and historical texts. In The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality, Hayden White explains our tendency to meld history into a narrative: “So natural is the impulse to narrate, so inevitable is the form of narrative for any report of the way things really happened, that narrativity could appear problematical only in a culture in which it was absent… narrative is a metacode, a human universal… Narrative becomes a problem only when we wish to give to real events the form of story… This value attached to narrativity in the representation of real events arises out of a desire to have real events display the coherence, integrity, fullness, and closure of an image of life that is and can only be imaginary. The notion that sequences of real events possess the formal attributes of the stories we tell about imaginary events could only have its origin in wishes, daydreams, reveries. Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories, with central subjects, proper beginnings, middles, and ends, and a coherence that permits us to see “the end” in every beginning? Or does it present itself more in the forms that the annals and chronicle suggest, either as mere sequence without beginning or end or as sequences of beginnings that only terminate and never conclude? And does the world, even the social world, ever really come to us as already narrativized, already “speaking itself” from beyond the horizon of our capacity to make scientific sense of it? Or is the fiction of such a world, a world capable of speaking itself and of displaying itself as a form of a story, necessary for the establishment of that moral authority without which the notion of a specifically social reality would be unthinkable?”
  • Survivorship bias: Is this (non-fiction) book a representation of reality or is the author failing to account for base rates? Survivorship bias is abundant in business, self-help, and biographical books. A particular case of a successful individual or business might be held as the rule, rather than the exception.
  • Utility: If a book offers advice, does it have practical applications? At what point do diminishing returns set in?

Put It Down If You Get Bored
As a general rule, people who love reading never, ever finish a crappy book.

As Schopenhauer once wrote, “one can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books: bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind.” Life is much too short to finish a bad book.

Nancy Pearl advocates the Rule of 50. This entails reading the first 50 pages of a book and then deciding if it is worth finishing. The Rule of 50 has an interesting feature: once you are over the age of 50, subtract your age from 100 and read that many pages. Pearl writes:

And if, at the bottom of Page 50, all you are really interested in is who marries whom, or who the murderer is, then turn to the last page and find out. If it’s not on the last page, turn to the penultimate page, or the antepenultimate page, or however far back you have to go to discover what you want to know… When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book…When you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.

Nassim Taleb also emphasizes the importance of never finishing a substandard book:

The minute I was bored with a book or a subject, I moved to another one, instead of giving up on reading altogether – when you are limited to the school material and you get bored, you have a tendency to give up and do nothing or play hooky out of discouragement… The trick is to be bored with a specific book, rather than with the act of reading. So the number of the pages absorbed could grow faster than otherwise. And you find gold, so to speak, effortlessly, just as in rational but undirected trial-and-error-based research.

“The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book.”

— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

After Reading

Most people think that consuming information is the same as learning information. This idea is flawed.

The basic process of learning consists of reflection and feedback. We learn ideas gained through experiences – ours or others – that remain unchallenged unless we make the time to reflect on them. If you read something and you don’t make time to think about what you’ve read, your conclusions will be shaky.

The Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique is named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. You can think of it as an algorithm for guaranteed learning. There are four simple steps: choose a concept; teach it to a toddler; identify gaps and go back to the source material; and review and simplify.

Think About What You Can Apply
So, you’ve finished the book. Now what? How can you use what you have learned? Don’t just go away with a vague sense of “oh yeah, I should totally do what that author says.” Take the time to make a plan and decide how to implement key lessons from the book.

Reading alone is not enough. We have to contextualize the knowledge. When does it work? When doesn’t it work? Where can I apply it? What are the key variables? The list goes on. If you can take something you’ve read and apply it immediately, it will reinforce the learning and add context and meaning.

Teach What You Have Learned
Teaching others is a powerful way to embed information in your mind. This is part of the Feynman technique.

Upon completing a book, grab the nearest (willing) person and tell them about what you have learned. You’ll have to remove or explain the jargon, describe why this information has meaning, and walk them through the author’s logic. It sounds simple. After you try it the first time, you’ll realize it’s not easy.

If there is no one around who is interested, try talking to yourself. That’s what I do … but maybe I’m crazy.

And if that doesn’t work, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or post about it on Reddit or anywhere else where people are likely to be interested.

One of the benefits of our virtual reading group is that people are forced to actually think about what they are learning. We ask weekly questions on the assigned reading, and responses are diverse and thoughtful. The jargon goes away and people remove blind spots. It’s incredible to watch. The result is that after reading a book with us, people say “I’ve retained so much more than I would have if I did it on my own.”

It was Schopenhauer who said, “When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process.” To escape this, you need to reflect on your views and see how they stand up to feedback.

Catalogue Your Notes
There are endless ways of organizing your notes – by book, by author, by topic, by the time of reading. It doesn’t matter which system you use as long as you will be able to find the notes in the future.

Having a catalogue of everything you learn from reading creates a priceless resource which can be consulted whenever you need an idea, want inspiration, or want to confirm a thought. Over the years, you will build up a bank of wisdom to refer to in times of crisis, uncertainty, or need. It is hard to convey quite how valuable this can prove to be.

As General Mattis wrote: “Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.”

The options for cataloguing your notes include:

  • A box of index cards, ideally organized by topic, author, or time of reading. Index cards can be moved around.
  • A commonplace book (again, ideally organized by topic, author, or time of reading).
  • A digital system, such as Evernote, OneNote, or plain old Microsoft Word. Digital systems have the added benefit of being searchable, which can save a lot of time if you refer to your notes on a regular basis.

Schedule time to read and review these notes.

Reread (If Necessary)

Great books should be read more than once. While rereading them can seem like a waste of time because there are so many other books to read, this is a misunderstanding of the learning process. The best time to start rereading a great book is right after finishing. The goal is not to read as many books as possible; I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. The goal is to gain as much wisdom as you can.

Rereading good books is of tremendous importance if we want to form lasting memories of the contents. Repetition is crucial for building memories. As Seneca wrote: “You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind.”

There’s no better way to finish this article than with the wise words of Henry Thoreau:

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.

3…2…1…!

3…2…1…!
race
Someone made my day by posting this today.
New York is 3 hours ahead of California, 
but it does not make California slow. 
Someone graduated at the age of 22, 
but waited 5 years before securing a good job! 
Someone became a CEO at 25, 
and died at 50. 
While another became a CEO at 50, 
and lived to 90 years. 
Someone is still single, 
while someone else got married. 
Some get married and have five children in five years,
Another couple is trying for their first child after five years.
Obama retires at 55, 
but Trump starts at 70. 
Absolutely everyone in this world works based on their Time Zone.
People around you might seem to go ahead of you, 
some might seem to be behind you. 
But everyone is running their own RACE, in their own TIME. 
Don’t envy them or mock them. 
They are in their TIME ZONE, and you are in yours! 
Life is about waiting for the right moment to act. 
So, RELAX. 
You’re not LATE. 
You’re not EARLY. 
You are very much ON TIME, and in your TIME ZONE Destiny set up for you.  
In conclusion don’t rush to get and don’t be sad when refused.
“Be grateful when granted and patient when denied…”
Make everyday your day !!
Anonymous
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