The Mirage of More

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This was her third nightmare in the past two weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, Farhat dreamt she was inside a tunnel – running in search of light. Finally, when she was able to see some light at the end of the tunnel, a train came out of nowhere and hit her.

Earlier last week, she dreamt she was drowning in a river. She tried hard to come to the surface, but to no avail. It was so frightening. Yet after waking up, she felt relieved it had been a dream.

Last night, she had another nightmare. She was in a desert with no sustenance, looking everywhere for water. After a long search in the scorching sun, her throat filled with thorns, she could see it. It was water indeed. “It will quench my thirst and give me life,” thought Farhat to herself. When she dragged herself to that natural pond, all she could see was sand. It was a mirage.

“What’s happening? Why am I seeing these nightmares? Something’s not alright,” she thought.

“Perhaps it’s because I was at a restaurant with my friend yesterday, enjoying their ‘all you can eat’ offer. All this eating probably caused an uneasy sleep,” she assumed. But her stomach was alright! And what about the previous dreams? She could think no more.

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Inculcating the Akhirah Attitude in Children

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We are living in times of Fitnah. According to Ibn al-Arabi: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, and Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

It is the responsibility of parents to make their children focused on the Akhirah. When children are referred to as Fitnah in the Quran, it means that the parents are being tested as to how much they can keep their children Akhirah-focused and how far can they keep the Dunya from their hearts.

Before enumerating the techniques that can be helpful in teaching kids about the Hereafter, we have to look into the Marshmallow Experiment conducted on children aged four and five, which they remembered into their young adulthood. The experiment was based on delayed gratification, which is recognized by researchers as a critical skill for prosperity. Basically, the children were offered a small reward in the form of a marshmallow or a cookie and simultaneously offered two rewards if they could wait for a short period. The results indicated that those who could delay gratification due to greater self-control were found to be healthier in adulthood and had better life outcomes.

Examination

On and off, whenever children have their assessments or tests at schools, parents should find an opportunity to talk about Akhirah and the temporary nature of this life. Physical bonding with the child is extremely important; hence, a mother can embrace the child and explain the parable of this life as a test and this world as an examination hall, pointing out that that the Quran and the Sunnah are just like the syllabus to prepare. The attitude of the parent has to be so loving and kind that the children actually believe and trust the parents. If they delay gratification, or do not watch those cartoons or give up on any bad habits, they can be sure that delaying will be worth in the next life.

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[Stories from the Quran] An Uncalled-For Murder

quran-2The Background

This is a story about the nature of evil, anger and hostility- as well as-the nature of goodness, forgiveness and peace. These two characteristics are in complete contrast, and result in the first murder that humanity ever experienced. This is the story told in Surah Maidah, verses 27 to 31.

Fraternity

“And (O Muhammad (sa)) recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam in truth…”Allah (swt) narrates the tale of two brothers who are the sons of Adam (as). This story occurs only once in the Quran, and we know that it is the truth. No authentic Hadeeth, or Quran, mentions the names of the main characters – the two sons, nor are we told the time or place where the incident occurs. Ibn Qutb says: “Leaving the story in the general terms in which it is given in the Qurān ensures that the purpose of relating it is fulfilled and its lessons are understood”.

Generally, siblings fight with each other, but they also love and protect one another; this is inherent in our nature as humans. Siblings are essentially the people we are closest to and care about. So, let’s see what happened between the two sons that resulted in a violent crime.

Faith or Fury?

“…when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other.”

Each of the sons offered a sacrifice to Allah (swt). This situation in any normal person’s mind is about pleasing and obedience to Allah (swt). However, when they both offered their sacrifices, one was accepted and the other was not. The Quran or Hadeeth does not detail the nature of how an offering was accepted at that time; hence, we deem it as unimportant. What we must focus on is that one son offered the best sacrifice only to please and obey Allah (swt), he proved to be God-fearing; while, the other brother’s sacrifice was not accompanied by Taqwa.

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The fire of desire

“The latter said to the former: I will surely kill you.” This statement clearly shows the evil intent of one brother. It makes us shocked and horrified. How can such a severe punishment be given for no crime at all? We all disapprove of this son’s behaviour and thought process. The only reason for such a statement is envy. Envy is a serious disease of the heart; it is what led Iblees towards pride, which resulted in Allah’s (swt) disobedience.

“The former said: Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun. If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns, and all that exists).Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours, then you will be one of the dwellers of the Fire, and that is the recompense of the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers).”

Envy is a serious disease of the heart; it is what led Iblees towards pride, which resulted in Allah’s (swt) disobedience.

The other brother did not react violently; he remained calm and tried to reason with his sibling. He put the entire matter in a proper perspective. This son of Adam said that, “It is not you or I who is better- it is the way we perform our sacrifices for Allah (swt).” This brother after explaining why the sacrifice was not accepted tried to reason with his sibling. He assured his brother, “I shall not lay my hand on you to kill you…” He feared Allah (swt) and would not commit a sin, even though he was being wronged. This was his advice, in a gentle calm manner.

Ibn Qutb describes this as, “What we have here is a case of a peaceful man making clear that his attitude is based on fearing God and implementing His commandments. We must admire the victim’s calmness, reassurance, and the fact that he fears God alone. His gentle words should have been sufficient to quench his brother’s rage, reduce his anger, re-establish the feelings of brotherhood and the reassurance of faith.”

The just brother added a warning- in case his gentle words were not heeded. He said that, “If you murder me, it would only add to all your other sins and you would ultimately be a loser.” The murdering brother would be gaining a double sin. He, the just brother, was staying on the right path at the stake of his life. He was not ready to go against Allah’s (swt) commands.

The narcotic Nafs

“So the Nafs (self) of the other (latter one) encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him to hide the dead body of his brother. He (the murderer) said: Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother? Then he became one of those who regretted.”

After all the peaceful persuasion and gentle warnings, the crime was committed. The murderer’s evil soul was able to overrule his good side. Following only his Nafs, removed all obstacles and drove him towards killing. He lost a sibling, a brother who was a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and a companion. More importantly, he lost his after life, as he added that new sin to his earlier ones. Once the deed was done, the crime then took on a physical shape in the form of his brother’s dead body. It began to rot and he did not know what to do. He felt helpless and weak, not because he was remorseful, but because he did not know what to do.

Allah (swt) sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body. Once he had hidden the body, he was regretful; not because he killed- but because he realized how useless the crime was. This son of Adam (as) did not gain anything from murder; the killing of his brother didn’t make his sacrifice more acceptable to Allah (swt). He was helpless and weak, in complete loss due to his actions – a result of envy and pride.

Moral of the story

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Transcribed and adapted by Tasneem Vali.

Come back to where you belong!

3cloud_heartIt is beautiful. A glimpse of what Jannah may look like. Just a glimpse! First, the allure of Dunya captures your mind and then slowly your heart. Makes you believe in its beauty, the exuberance, and makes you believe that this is the moment, this is what’s going to stay with you, forever. The way it draws your attention, the way it makes you fall for it, and the way it falsifies each and every bit of its being, is surprisingly impressive.

Blind-folded by the illusion of love

So it captures your heart. And now your heart belongs to it. Whatever you think, perceive and do is in line with how this Dunya and the people in it are going to take it. So while you’re dressing up for an event, you’re looking in the mirror through their eyes. When you’re at the event, you make sure that each and every act of yours doesn’t ruin your image that you look good, beautiful and stunning. So maybe you can beat it with everything you have. But who beats its trumpery and the façade it owns? It knows how to make you believe in it after all.

Dunya owns your heart

Why is your heart’s sulking? Because this Dunya owns your mind and depletes your self-control. As if your self has been stolen from you. As if you don’t belong to yourself anymore. But were you created for this Dunya? You forget that you were not created for this Dunya. You were sent down here for a purpose, but you don’t belong here! It’s a journey back home. Yet, you cling to this place, which was meant to be a mere journey. The feeling of scarcity eats you from within, and you want to escape. But you forget that scarcity produces more scarcity. And it creates its own trap.

Dunya is a deceptive truth

It’s right there; but it’s just a deception, a dream. But the harsh reality is that you believe in the dream, while your eyes closed. You can’t seem to believe that one day you’re going to open your eyes and this dream would be over. And you’ll open your eyes when your deeds will be weighed.

“And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners.” (Al-Anbiya 21:47)

No soul in this Dunya will get help. You tried to please people, yet they’re not even going to recognize you. You tried to convince them, yet they won’t be able to convince The Master. If only you could try convincing your Master and not the slaves!

Break the shackles! Tear your heart! And take out whatever has bruised your heart! Come back to where you belong. And seek what’s going to heal and fill that hole in your heart, in its true sense. Fill your heart with the love of your Merciful Creator, Allah (swt).