Islamic Character Prayer With the Divine


Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Sabirah Reinke

Part I | Part II | Part III

In Sahih al Bukhari, Saad ibn Abi Waqas mentions a story about a bone. He was using the restroom and urinated onto a camel’s bone.  He took that bone, washed it, took it home, and made soup out of it – all because of the difficult situation that they were in.

I want you to try to visualize things. When Umar radi allahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) became Muslim, there were only 41 other men and 11 women who were Muslim.

When the Prophet ﷺ migrated to Medina, there were about 65 muslims.  So being a Muslim in Mecca wasn’t like shopping at Old Navy. It wasn’t popular, man! (I don’t know if Old Navy is even popular any more.)

It wasn’t popular and it was very difficult for them, but Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) strengthened them with the Qur’an.

There were two important things that happened in Mecca. Number one is their creed, their tawheed (belief in the Oneness of Allah swt); their relationship with Allah (swt) was made pure and strong. Number two was their behavior, the way Allah (swt) trained them. The people that came out of Mecca were really remarkable and excellent examples.

As Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (ra) said, if the companions of the Prophet ﷺ were his only miracle, the transformation of his companions would be enough to prove that he was a prophet.

The people of the Quraysh sent two people to Medina to ask the Jews of Medina about Muhammad ﷺ. When the people got there and met them, they described the Prophet ﷺ and what he was calling to. The Jews said, ask Muhammad about three things; nobody knows about these things – they are only known to Allah (swt). If he can answer you regarding these three issues, he is a prophet.

1. Ask him about the youth, ashab al-kahf (the people of the cave).

2. Ask him about this king who ruled a large portion of the world who was just and honest and so on.

3. Ask him about the ruh (spirit).

They went back to the Quraysh and told them: “These are the questions they told us to ask him. If he can answer these questions then he is a prophet.” The Quraysh asked the Prophet ﷺ and he said, “Come to me tomorrow and I will answer your questions.”

The next day they came but the Prophet ﷺ didn’t have an answer. The following day, they came, the Prophet ﷺ didn’t have an answer. For around fourteen days, there was no answer, and the Prophet ﷺ started getting upset and saddened because they started to say that the Prophet ﷺ was breaking his promises.

Then Allah (swt) sent Jibril to reveal Surat al Kahf (Qur’an, 18). That’s why in Surat al Kahf Allah (swt) says:


“And never say of anything, ‘Indeed, I will do that tomorrow,’ except [when adding], ‘If Allah wills.’” (Qur’an 18:23-24)

So we learn adab (manners), reliance on Allah (swt), and trust in Allah (swt).

Verse number one has 8 points. Allah (swt) says:


“[All] praise is [due] to Allah, who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and has not made therein any deviance.” (Qur’an 18:1)

This hamd (thankfulness) found in Surat al Kahf is not the same as the hamd in Surat al Fatiha (Qur’an 1). One is called jumlah insha’iya, the other is called jumlah khabariya.

Jumlah khabariya is a declarative sentence, so the sentence in Surat al Kahf is declarative in nature. Allah (swt) is informing you of something! The meaning of al hamd in Surat al Kahf is different. Allah (swt) is telling you “Look! I’m the one who deserves all praise, for a reason.” So it’s different now. He’s informing you, that’s called khabr.

Whereas in Surat al Fatiha, the hamd is insha’iya, or imperative. According to the scholars it means that Allah (swt) is ordering you to say alhamdullillah (all priase is to Allah). “If you want to thank me, if you want to praise me, say alhamdulillah.” This is the meaning in Surat Al Fatiha.

The first sentence in Al Fatiha is like an order: if you want to praise me, Allah (swt) is saying, if you want to magnify me, say alhamdullillah. In Surat al Kahf, this verse is not an order by Allah (swt) to say alhamdullillah. It is a declarative sentence, this means he is informing you, that he is the one who has the sole right to be praised, and for a reason!

What do you think that reason is?

All praise is due to Allah (swt) or what? Who sent the Qur’an? Can you imagine if you had no Qur’an?

Can you imagine if there was no subhanAllah (glory be to Allah) in your life, can you imagine if there was no salah (prayer)?

I go through that; believe me, we are all the same, brothers!

We are all the same, brothers, there is no difference; we are all in the same boat. Even in Al-Azhar! When I’m studying sometimes, I think, man, I’ve gotta pray but I really enjoy this book of tafsir (translation and interpretation of the Qur’an)! See how Shaytan (Satan) works? It’s the same game just a different means!

So all of us struggle, we struggle and sometimes salah feels heavy. Worship Allah (swt), and we might feel some heaviness. That’s all part of our struggle.

One of the ways to combat that is to imagine life without salah. Imagine life without any connection to Allah (swt). Life without the feeling in your heart that you get when you pray fajr (the pre-dawn prayer) in the masjid, or the feeling that you get when you give sadaqah (charity) or the feeling that you get when you do well in school or at work for the sake of Allah (swt).

Then we can value the worship and the wonderful relationship that Allah (swt) has blessed us with.

Ibn al Qayyim (ra) said the charity that Allah (swt) gave us Muslims, nobody can fathom this charity! Such benevolence from Allah (swt)!

Allah (swt) said:


“Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?”


“Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.” (Qur’an, 76:1-2)

You weren’t even known and Allah brought you out of the wombs of your mothers, created you, formed you and gave you sight and hearing!

Today in my hotel room, there was a strange channel. The only thing they do is show people killing others and catching people who kill others. Really, who would watch this hour after hour from 3 to 5? It was all about the secrets of serial killers! Who would watch that? I don’t want to know how serial killers live their life!

I want to know how Ibn al Qayyim lived his life, how Ibn Tamiyyah lived his life, and I want to know how the Prophet ﷺ lived his life!

Then from 5 to 8:30, it was about the history of the Bloods and the Crips. So what’s next? We have to be very careful what we are putting into our minds. And Allah (swt) gave us this Qur’an and our worship as our Norton Antivirus. We use it to clean us out; this is our dialysis!

So Allah (swt) blessed us, and I can tell you, you don’t know how lucky you are to be born Muslim, wallahi (by God)!

You don’t know how thankful you should really feel. Even though you might be young and you’re in high school and you don’t mind being called a Muslim, having to fast for 30 days, and wearing baggy clothes. Clear all that up and think about what it would be like not to have Islam. Then you can really taste how lucky you are!

In Egypt, I lived with people in poverty, but they don’t kill each other. They still invite you for tea and coffee! That faith causes people to transcend the difficulties that they live in and still be decent people. Here, if one economic crisis hits, it has a devastating impact on the people!

So the lesson we can take tonight is Allah (swt) says alhamd (praise) be to the one who sent the Qur’an! How much of a blessing it is to have the Qur’an and Islam. Alhamdulliah rabb alameen (all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds)!

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Alhamdullillah! Thank you for this article, I agree with every single word of it and if you alloud me, I would like to give a bit more of attention to the senses, our brain connects with the world that we move on through our senses, when the sight is caught our world becomes what we are watching, we laugh, we cry, we shout, whatever the image inspires us, the same with the other senses. Being conscious of this, awake us to a new world, our own world where we choose what shapes our reality in a conscious way, insha´Allah. And if we want to tune in with Allah(swt) we shape our reality to be closer to Him, choosing what we know it is the best for this, insha´Allah.
    I always learn something new with all of you, thank you for sharing your Knowledge and your Wisdom.

  • I am better than before. I have a plan of action which I am following, I just want to let you know that your words had a big bearing on my part and gave me some glimpse of hope to not let go. Thank you. ^^

    • As salamu alaykum,

      Thank you so much for sharing, God bless You and continue guiding you through all the process. Remember ….You are a shining Light for many, me included, you had brought a smile to my Heart.

      All my Unconditional Love to You.

  • As salam alaykum.
    I am a student at Umm al-Qura in Makkah studying Shari`ah, and I wanted to firstly thank you for your heart-warming article. I would humbly like to add some other very important lessons: after the Prophet (alayhi salam) was taught a very important lesson about saying “Allah willing”, he was instructed and guided to remember Allah whenever he forgets. This shows us the importance of thikr in all circumstances. So, imagine us being Muslims yet in a state of heedlessness (al-ghaflah) wherein we forget to realize that Allah is in control of all affairs. This, upon pondering, leads us to be humble to our Lord as in this verse we see just how feeble we are. The rest of the verse says, “…and say, ‘May my Lord guide me closer to what is right’ (or maybe, ‘Perhaps my Lord will guide me closer to what is right’ however I prefer the first interpretation…Allah knows best). This portion of the verse encourages us to have good thoughts about Allah as He only wants good for us. What joy does a Muslim experience knowing that Allah only wants good for His creation even if He tests us as it is simply to reevaluate our relationship with Him. I hope that what I have added is of some benefit. Keep up the good work dear brother.

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