So it was only a Q & A session, but it felt like an intense Rawha session simply because our teacher was sitting right in front of us: we concentrated more, we sat up, we focused on everything he was saying. Habib Kathim's mere presence affects our receptiveness to learn, if that makes sense. The men are so lucky.
"Honor scholars, as they are the inheritors of the prophets. Anyone who honors them has honored God and His Messenger."
Habib Kathim kept looking around at us, and it felt like he was looking directly at each one of us (we were all wearing niqab out of respect). He also kept smiling these little smiles. I wonder what he was thinking? We gave him our sebah (rosaries) to do tasbeeh with and give them back to us, and we got to pray 'asr behind him. We also took pictures of him, which felt so rude and stupid to do (even though we can see flashing cameras through the curtains in class which means the men also take pictures).
So, the gist of Habib Kathim's advice/answers to our questions:
- You can increase your iman by increasing your acts of worship gradually, so you can sustain them. Do salawat on the Prophet. Read Qur'an. Read books about and by good people. They are small things but their effect is greater than you know.
- You do istigh'farr not just to erase your sins but to increase your rank with Allah.
- Good character is the best da'wa. It will be a magnet to other people.
- Just doing good deeds if front of those who don't is da'wa.
- The key to having presence (hodoor) in prayer is wudu' (ablution). When Imam al-Shafi'i died Sayeda Nafeesa (the granddaughter of al-Hussein, the prophet's grandson) said: "May Allah have mercy on him, he perfected his wudu'." She said that and not "he was a great scholar," because if you perfect your wudu' it will lead to perfection in prayer and so on. Have presence and awareness in wudu'u because it is the key to everything else.
- To get married say Prophet Musa's du'aa (which is part of verse 24 in surat al-Qasas) "raby eny lema anzalta ilaya men khayren faqeer"
"So he watered (their flock) for them. Then he turned aside into the shade, and said: My Lord! I am needy of whatever good Thou sendest down for me" (Pickthal translation, 28:24)
Habib Kathim also gave bay'aa to about half a dozen of us who wanted to. He asked for those of us who didn't want to give it to get up and exit the room. It felt extremely extremely rude to do that, kind of like saying "I don't want to take bay'aa with you," but I got up, and elhamdulela I wasn't the only one.
After Maghrib we had our class with him, and he gave us ijaza (permission (to transmit what has been taught)) as he ended. When he said it, I was doing wud'uu in Habib Umar's house (which, by the way, was unlocked. Imagine leaving your door unlocked?) since we were going to pray 'isha behind him. So now I have the memory of saying "qabelt al-ijaza" (I accept the ijaza) while doing wudu' :)
Today was our last class with Habib Kathim, and his last words to us were to make du'ua when we saw the crescent, since tonight was the first night of Sha'aban, the month before Ramadan. Subhan Allah we had just left Habib Umar's house and looked up at the cresecent, and we felt a few drops of rain. Just small drops, almost insignificant, but rain. And then we saw the procession of men walking in the street going "Hud, Hud, Hud," which they will do for the next seven nights until they leave for their visit to Prophet Hud.
Today's Quote: To attain the secret of knowledge, act upon it. To attain the secret of dhikr, do copious amounts of it. To attain the secret of prayer, have presence in it. Habib Kathim