The Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidayat) is one of the last books written by the great 12th century Persian scholar, Imam al-Ghazali. It is intended to be a guidebook for structuring daily activities and rectifying the state of your heart as you strive to be a worshipful servant of God.
The book covers three sections: acts of worship, avoiding misconduct and advice on keeping company with others. It begins with the intentions of seeking knowledge, the etiquettes of waking in the morning, the basics of ritual purification, prayer, the etiquettes of the mosque and congregational worship, preparing for sleep and fasting. Advice is given on the illnesses of the heart and how to purify oneself of them, and on the etiquettes of choosing friends, mixing with people and social life in general. This program also includes a study of al-Ghazali’s short treatise on the essentials of Islamic belief (aqida).
This book is often the first classical text that new Muslims, students of sacred knowledge and older children study. It will be taught in English using two classical commentaries, the Maraqi al-’Ubudiyyah by Shaykh Muhammad Nawawi al-Jawi, and al-Kifayah by Imam AbdulQadir al-Fakihi.
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Online Class Recording # 7: Guarding Against Transgressions of the Heart - Introduction and Envy
Imam al-Ghazali begins the next section on guarding against the three transgressions of the heart addressed in this book; envy, ostentation and conceit.
The introduction looks briefly at the animalistic qualities inherent in a human being and how they are overcome by developing angelic qualities, through knowledge, wisdom and certainty. Two extremely important points are also mentioned for their relevance to the ideologically dominated time in which we live.
Thereafter, the first of the three transgressions, envy, is discussed in detail with the comprehensive commentary of Imam al-Jawi.
Online Class Recording # 6: Avoiding the Transgressions of the Hands and Feet and Conclusion of the Section
This section on transgressions of the limbs ends with Imam al-Ghazali's advice on guarding the hands and feet from unlawful and unpraiseworthy acts.
This part of the book is concluded by reminding people of the need to act positively and constructively to seek knowledge and sustenance, and to know that God's blessing upon you is facilitating that for you.
The question and answer session at the end of the class has been edited out.
Online Class Recording # 5: Breaking the Two Desires
This week's class continued with the study of the transgressions of the limbs with a focus on the stomach and private parts - the two desires or two carnal appetites.
Imam al-Ghazali approaches the topic of eating with a perspective based on consuming pure and halal food, and avoiding products about which one is doubtful.
The topic of al-War' / scrupulousness regarding one's consumption was then discussed by looking at the famous hadith: "The halal is clear and the haram is clear and between them are doubtful matters, which few people know...".
The class finishes with a discussion on sexual relations within the context of the Maqasid al-Shari'ah / Objectives of the Shari'ah, of which the preservation of the means of reproduction and producing the next generation is one of the five central goals.
The question and answer session at the end of the class has been edited out for brevity.
Online Class Recording #4 Avoiding the Sins of the Tongue: Concluding Episode
The final five types of transgressions of the tongue are explained in detail according to Imam al-Ghazali's text and Imam al-Jawi's commentary and contextualized for contemporary times.
This class deals with:
Disputation, Argumentation and Competitive Debate
Ascribing Goodness to Oneself
Supplicating Against Creation
Jesting, Ridiculing and Making Fun of People
This episode ends with the example of Sayyidna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, and how he prevented himself from indulging in speech that was not beneficial in the dunya or akhira. May we follow his lofty example of self discipline and the advice of Imam al-Ghazali and refrain from speaking words that might be harmful to others and ourselves.
Online Class Recording #3: Avoiding the Sins of the Tongue - Lying, Breaking Promises and Backbiting
This lesson takes us into the first of the types of speech that are hazardous and sinful for a Muslim who is concerned about their conduct in this life and the consequences of it in the next.
Imam Al-Ghazali counsels us to avoid lying, which is one of the foundational sins of the tongue.
Then breaking promises is discussed, with the hadith on the qualities of a hypocrite who is unable to rid oneself of the blameworthy qualities mentioned.
The subtleties of backbiting are also examined, along with the four reprehensible qualities that are often mixed with it.
May we learn well from our scholars and apply what we learn, in sha Allah.
The lesson begins at 6:05 minutes, after an introduction, the dua for seeking knowledge and a brief mention of the outline of the book for those who were joining for the first time.
Online Class Recording #2: Avoiding the Sins of the Eye, Ear and Tongue
Welcome to the second, online class recording of Imam al-Ghazali's Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidayat).
We discuss how the commentator, Imam al-Jawi, builds his commentary by drawing upon eleven branches of knowledge that we identify and colour code in a sample paragraph. Not many English speaking, female students of knowledge would be exposed to such an analysis, albeit brief, and part of our goal at MISK Women is to expand the student's holistic understanding and competence in dealing with classical texts.
We read the Arabic and English translations of the book and discuss a fairly detailed reading of the commentary on the four sins of the eye, the sins of the ear and the introductory paragraph to the eight sins of the tongue.
The question and answer section has been deleted from this audio recording for brevity.
The actual class begins at 4:09.