Labbaik-Allahuma-Labbaik

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Labaik Allahuma Labaik“Here I am, O Allah! Here I am!” echoed in my heart, my mind and soul all in unison. For the first time in my life I experienced unadulterated rapture. I was off on the journey every Muslim dreams of making – to do all the things that billions of Muslims have performed solely for the sake of Allah (swt).

8th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

I am at Mina. The Hajj experience cannot be described in words, and it must be experienced to be fully understood. For the first time in my life, I am tongue tied. There is no other place on earth, where one willingly shares a bed with 250 people and a bathroom with 700 strangers in the space that was my bedroom back home! The rigors of these three days will almost certainly destroy the body; however, strangely enough, the more tired and uncomfortable one gets, the more one’s soul is purified and strengthened.

I have left three kids behind solely to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure. I have left my entire palette of experiences to be present under the open sky, where the Prophet (sa) once stood, once prayed, once slept and where his tears must have once fallen. Now, my tears fall here, repenting to Allah (swt) and asking for His mercy.

9th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

The day of Arafat. The emotions are high and the time is so very short. How can I possibly repent, beg for mercy, ask for all that I want for myself, my family, friends, neighbours, people all over the world, weep for the sins I have committed, cry over the mistakes I have made, plead forgiveness for the promises I didn’t keep, supplicate and beseech Allah (swt) to grant me all that I desire?

I now know that ‘beautiful’ is a simple word, and that is just what Hajj is – simply beautiful and purifying. Not complicated, not intricate, just simple dos and don’ts and mostly tolerance and patience – valuable tools for life.

This was the valley, where the Prophet (sa) once cried to Allah (swt) for forgiveness, where he prayed for us, and where his heart belonged. I prayed my heart out. It is exhausting but only mentally. I walked from Arafat to Muzdalifah to spend the night under the open sky. This is a journey of sacrifices and fulfillment, of friendships where one would not expect, and of great pleasure in simple acts.

10th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

What a splendid day! The elation of having put my mind and body through the severity, which cannot be imagined, voluntarily. Never in my life did I think that such physical fatigue and control over one’s desires and sacrifice would bring happiness. The tiredness of walking from Arafat to Muzdalifah, not sleeping but just absorbing Muzdalifah, walking to Mina, stoning the Satan, back to Makkah for the Tawaf e Ziarat and Sae’e and finally back to Mina – all in a day and a half has brought me peace of mind. What is this spirit that Allah (swt) has breathed into His creation? What is it that moves me to such heights of passion that I exert myself physically and mentally thus with only one purpose – to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure! EID MUBARAK!

11th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

Rami (stoning the devil) is such a simple concept, just like Islam, such a simple way of life. Why didn’t I realize this before? Islam asks so little and gives so much, only if we let go of all the trappings that have become our necessities. In Mina, I realized I didn’t need such a big house, only one sufficient enough to accommodate my family with love and tolerance. We don’t need two cars, just the two legs Allah (swt) has given us. I don’t need three kinds of food at every meal, just enough to feed my family.

Stoned the devil, cast him out but yet so many layers that I have to shed, before I reach the level of true submission. I have never slept so well or as soundly, as I did today.

This was my Hajj experience. Actually, this does not do justice to the overwhelming emotions, the unstoppable tears and the complete and utter calm that descends over you after completing Hajj. It is truly the ‘Journey of a Lifetime’! May Allah (swt) grant every Muslim the means and opportunity to experience it. Ameen.

Misguide ‘em Young

By Naureen Aqueel and Aisha Nasir

Youth may be crazy and wild, but they are also passionate, energetic and strong-willed. This is exactly what Satan realizes. Hence, he very cleverly schemes to add this ‘valuable human resource’ to his party. Because of strong emotions, desires and uncertainties that beset this stage of life, youth become vulnerable targets of Satan’s attacks. Therefore, it becomes ever more important for them to recognize some of the following avenues, by which Satan approaches them.

Deception: Sugar-coated Evil

Allah (swt) repeatedly mentions in the Quran that Satan deceives the mankind by making false promises and arousing false desires. He will promise you that no one will find out, if you sneak out; he will guarantee enjoyment, if you attend that college concert; he will promise you that there is nothing wrong with attending that dance party or hanging out with friends of the opposite gender. He will give you a thousand reasons, why it is just innocent fun, the ‘in-thing’, fashion and a means of getting a good message to different people. “Why not?” he’ll say, “you can do a lot of Dawah, while gossiping with non-Mahram friends or attending that concert!”

Allah (swt) describes these justification labels with the following words:

“… but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

Fear of People

Satan threatens you with loss of friends and your standing in society, if you obey Allah (swt). What will people say, if you don the Hijab? What will your friends and relatives say, if you decline that invitation to your cousin’s Dholki? Won’t your peers make fun of you, if you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend? Satan injects the fear of rejection and isolation, of being made fun of into the heart, feeding on it gradually, until it grows big enough to make you take several wrong steps, just because you are afraid of what people would say, if you didn’t.

Just Once

“What’s the harm of one puff of a cigarette? Or one puff of shisha? Once won’t harm you!”

How many times do you hear voices like these in your head? Put up your defenses – it’s Satan clean and clear! One song, one movie… one, one! And you won’t even notice, when that one becomes a few dozens more, turning into a habit. Allah (swt) calls this gradual process ‘following the footsteps of Satan’.

Carpe Diem

“Seize the day! Enjoy life! Make the best of this moment! You live only once!”

The theory behind this idea is that you should enjoy life to its fullest. Why? Because this is the only life you have! Wikipedia describes Carpe diem as ‘seize the day.’ Satan makes the youth feel that this is a time of enjoyment with no limits, and that this time will not come again, so one should enjoy it to the fullest. There’s plenty of time to be good in old age! Right? Wrong!

Allah (swt) likes the worship in the young age the best. Among the seven under the shade of Allah’s (swt) throne on the Day of Judgement will be the person, who worshipped Allah (swt) in his youth. Besides, who can be sure, when this life may end? So why should we delay being good for the old age?

Some of the other ways Satan approaches the youth includes causing one to forget Allah (swt) and other important things (Al-Mujadilah 58:19); causing one to backslide from their responsibilities, as he did to Muslims in the battle of Uhud (An-Nahl 3:155); inducing laziness; and causing one to dispute about Allah (swt) without knowledge (Al-Hajj 22:3).

However, Allah (swt) in His infinite mercy has taught us many ways to avoid the snares of Satan. It’s important to know the ways he comes to you, and then to seek refuge against him in Allah (swt). Satan had said: when he was expelled from the heaven, that he would not be able to misguide Allah’s faithful servants. So take up your most powerful defenses from today – Taqwa and Dua!

A Pilgrim’s Letter

By Dr. Farhana Azim

Assalamu Alaikum,

I am back from Hajj by the grace of my Rabb and with the commission of your Duas. All the relatives, friends and colleagues, whom I am addressing in this letter, were in my heart and in my Duas at Arafat and the Masjid-e-Haram. It was the least I could do for them, but I have faith that those Duas Allah – Rabus Samawat ul Ard – will grant in the most, Insha’Allah!

This has been a journey of a lifetime, of immense attainment, learning and enrichment. It has been one journey that took me so many years to embark on… for lack of ultimate preparedness and adjournment of that call from Allah (swt).

Hajj is a ritual and a pillar of faith, which completes the whorl for the wreath that adorns a life of purity supposedly destined for Heaven. This pillar of faith guided me to reinforce my life-structure more dogmatically, since the burden of a lifetime’s transgressions weighed on me heavily. It meant asking Allah (swt) to remodel me to the way of life, as prescribed in the Quran and the Sunnah, and to bring change in my perspective in aspiring for Mominhood from Muslimhood.

In the crowd of 3.5 millions, I may have bumped into a CEO, a leader, an academic or a beggar; there’s really no way to tell the difference. Rank and pomp are divorced of status. Ego is driven out of platform. In this condition, the Hajj does its work. More importantly, in this global commune of people, I saw people from all over the world come here for the love of their Creator. I witnessed how they dealt with each other in untoward situations and used Sabr and Shukr as weapons to combat the lurking Shaitan.

What I endured served to remind me constantly that Hajj is Jihad! Blessed is the Hajj, whose hardships serve to please Allah (swt). I am thankful to Allah (swt) that the forty days I spent there were almost a Jihad – situations varying from the famine of Ethiopia to the afflictions of refugees in distraught, on foot without shelter, men and women with no proper amenities or logistics. In my deal with Allah (swt), I did not choose the ordeals; but He gave them to me – He asked a higher price for my repentance… nothing was for granted! Human ‘soul wash’ demands the highest value, perhaps even more for a sinner like me.

After my adoration for Him fetched my ultimate strength and devotion, I got the courage to ask Him for a ‘backpack’ in the end! He gave me the greatest feeling of satisfaction and Shukr I could ever receive in my life, Alhumdulillah!

Moreover, Hajj has awarded me with a longing to repent more and to submit more! In many ways I choose to bring a deeper desire for His compassion – in my soul, my heart and my senses for continuing this valuation in the life that I am left with now. I know I haven’t left His Place entirely – my heart and soul will always be there with Him in that House!

Many of us come from Hajj happily thinking that repentance is granted, it’s all over now, and we can go back to business as usual. However, for our Hajj to be Mabroor, it is essential that from now on all our activities conform to Iman at all times.

I am thankful to Allah (swt) that I was honoured with this Ziarat. Being a Hajji has put a tremendous responsibility on me to safeguard the enrichment and wealth I have brought with me, to keep my cleansed soul unspoilt and unblemished by worldly indulgences.

Allah (swt), help me!

Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta)

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Amr bin Al Aas rtaAmr Ibn Al-Aas (rta) was born in a very rich, high-class family of Makkah. His father, Ibn Wa’al, owned a perfume trade. By joining his father in his trade, Amr (rta) had the opportunity to travel to neighbouring countries and gain experience in dealing with different people. At a young age, he (rta) established friendly relations with many kings and governors both in Arabia and beyond.

Amr (rta) was educated during his childhood and possessed high mental capabilities. He was blessed with insightful, sharp thinking and sound planning skills. Amr (rta) also received excellent military training and was always ready to stand up for the interests of his tribe.

At the time when Muslims were severely persecuted by the Quraish leaders, Amr (rta) was among those who exerted all efforts to stop the spread of Islam. When some of the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, the Quraish leaders became furious. The delegation they sent to the Abyssinian king Najashi to request him to expel the Muslims was headed by Amr (rta), since he had friendly contacts with the king and was known for his excellent negotiation skills.

However, the efforts of the Quraish were in vain – after listening to what the delegation of Amr (rta) and the fugitive Muslims had to say, Najashi not only refused to the hand over the Muslims but also promised them his protection for as long as he lived. At this point, for the first time, Amr (rta) realized that his excellent negotiation skills were useless.

Amr (rta) and other Quraish leaders tried to stop the migration of Muslims to Madinah as well. They even devised a plot to kill the Prophet (sa); however, thanks to Allah (swt) he (sa) managed to escape and reached Madinah safely.

After the Muslims had settled in Madinah, Amr (rta) convinced other leaders to wage war to stop the spread of Islam. They gathered an army of one thousand fully-armed soldiers. The battle took place at Badr, where with the help of Allah (swt), Muslims were victorious.

Although Amr (rta) was impressed by the victory of Muslims, he was not ready to give up so easily and began preparations for another war, which took place at Uhud. The Muslims were very close to victory even there, but were defeated in an unexpected turn of events. Feeling the approaching victory, the archers whom the Prophet (sa) had asked to protect the backs of the Mujahideen, left their positions and hurried to collect the booty. Amr (rta) together with Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) took advantage of the situation and immediately attacked the Mujahideen from behind, inflicting heavy losses on the Muslims.

In spite of this setback, the newly established Muslim state continued to flourish. Soon, the Quraish decided to wage yet another war on Muslims. A huge army of ten thousand soldiers set out for Madinah under the leadership of Amr (rta). Upon their arrival, they were surprised to discover a wide trench preventing them from entering the city. Amr (rta) and his soldiers stayed at the outskirts of Madinah for nearly one month, but weren’t able to enter it. Finally, in deep humiliation, they had no other choice but to return to Makkah.

The repeated failures made Amr (rta) realize that Muslims were backed by some higher power. Although impressed by Islam, he (rta) was not ready to become a Muslim – his arrogance and the pride of the Quraish stood in his way. But he knew that eventually Muslims would triumph over their enemies. With this awareness, Amr (rta) decided to leave Makkah before Muslims took over it; he set out for Abyssinia hoping to live under the protection of king Najashi. He figured that if Muslims established a tyranny in Makkah, he would be saved from it and if the Muslim rule was favourable, he would safely return to Makkah.

Amr (rta) and his companions arrived with expensive gifts for softening the king’s heart. As they entered Najashi’s court, they saw the ambassador of the Prophet (sa) leaving. Amr (rta), fired up for revenge, asked the king to let him kill the ambassador. To Amr’s (rta) great astonishment, Najashi not only rebuked him for his anger, but even asked Amr (rta) to obey the Prophet Muhammad (sa), the true Messenger of Allah (swt).

In disbelief, Amr (rta) asked the king if he wholeheartedly believed that Muhammad (sa) was a true prophet. After hearing the king’s confirmation, Amr (rta) finally felt ready to become a Muslim. He immediately pledged allegiance to Islam in at the hands of the Najashi. Having done this, Amr (rta) left for Madinah, so that he could pledge allegiance to the Prophet (sa) himself.

On the way to Madinah, Amr (rta) met Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) and Uthman Ibn Talhah (rta), who were also traveling in the same direction and for the same purpose. After all the efforts he had done to extinguish the light of Islam, Amr (rta) was embarrassed to enter into the presence of the Prophet (sa). Having said the Kalimah, Amr (rta) asked the Prophet (sa) to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness of his past sins. The Prophet (sa) replied that such prayers were not necessary, as Amr’s (rta) embracing of Islam had already expiated all his previous sins.

The warm welcome of Muslims filled Amr’s heart (rta) with a great love for the Prophet (sa) and his companions. From that day onwards, he wholeheartedly devoted all his efforts to the cause of Islam. After being selected by the Prophet (sa) to destroy idol Sawa, Amr (rta) went to its temple and crushed the idol into pieces. Thanks to his excellent diplomacy skills, Amr (rta) successfully convinced Abd and Jeefer, the two brothers who ruled Oman at the time, to enter Islam, thus bringing it under the rule of Muslims.

During the time of the Prophet (sa), Amr (rta) was sent to conquer Egypt and introduce its inhabitants to Islam. Upon entering Egypt, he (rta) decided to avoid open battlefields. Instead, his strategy was to siege the key places of the country, advancing city by city throughout Egypt. His conquest of Egypt concluded in the 20th year A.H.

After this conquest, Amr (rta) was appointed as its ruler. The year he arrived there, the waters of the river Nile did not rise during the season as it used to every year. Egyptians believed that the Nile had a will of its own. This is why every year they threw a beautiful girl wearing rich attire and jewellery into the Nile, hoping to please the river. Right after sacrificing the girl, the Nile used to fill with waters.

This cruel tradition angered Amr (rta). He asked the Caliph Umar (rta) for advice in this situation. The Caliph sent a letter addressed to the river Nile, in which he requested the river to fill with waters, if it was flowing by the will of Allah (swt). Amr (rta) threw this letter into the Nile, and during that same night, the Nile flooded twice the level of previous floods.

Amr (rta) ruled as the governor of Egypt till the 43rd year A.H. He made Egypt into a strong country, known for its justice, freedom and equality. Amr (rta) passed away on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and was buried in Egypt.

Dear Haadia

I am a young man in my late twenties, studying in a professional medical college. My educational environment entails mixed gender situations, and sometimes I feel highly uncomfortable with my fellow female students, especially when we have to work closely. I understand that Islam expects me to maintain my distance, but how can I do this, if there are no segregated medical colleges for males?

Answer: Maintaining distance between genders does not necessarily mean shunning one another or existing in a segregated society. If we are raised in a modest environment, it is indeed natural to feel uncomfortable with members of the opposite gender – so be glad that you do.

Allah (swt) has made both genders in this world, so that they may coexist peacefully. For this purpose, he has set down certain injunctions, which must be followed during necessary interactions. Khalwa, being alone with a non-Mahram individual, is strictly prohibited. A Hadeeth, which clearly states that in such a situation, the third is Satan: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them.” (Tirmidhi)

In public settings, if interacting with the opposite sex is an absolute necessity, certain rules must be followed: lowering the gaze, maintaining a business-like tone and ensuring that no physical contact (be it shaking hands, a friendly pat on the back, etc.) takes place. At the same time, these commands are not intended for robotic behavior.

For instance, lowering your gaze does not mean that you are never allowed to look at a girl during a discussion. It simply means that you should not make a sustained eye contact or stare at her. You can glance at her, then avert your eyes and repeat this with discretion. Similarly, talking in a business-like voice does not entail that you are not allowed to smile or laugh. Rather, you must not at any point become flirtatious. If you sense such an intention from a girl, change the topic or make an excuse and remove yourself from the situation. Worse comes to worst, request your professors to put you in a different group.

Do make sure that your behavior never arouses suspicion, even when surrounded by other people. For example, having a meal alone with a female classmate at a fast food joint is not allowed. It can lead to much speculation among people around you as well as in the mind of the girl herself. The concepts that ‘we’re just friends’ or ‘it’s only for fun’ are alien to the Islamic code of modesty between the two genders. (Likewise, if the intention for such outings is dating, then it is clearly forbidden in Islam, although unfortunately it is quite prevalent these days.)

Given your circumstances, do not forget the real reason you are at college: to gain knowledge. The girls are also there for the same reason. When you become a doctor, Insha’Allah, you will have to deal with female patients as well. Consider this a preparation for the future. Understand that one can interact with members of the opposite gender and yet maintain a distance figuratively. Internalize the commands set by Allah (swt) for such interactions and, Insha’Allah, He will make your task easier for you. And, of course, always make Dua that He keeps you on Sirat-e-Mustaqeem.