The Alchemy of Happiness

6 alchemy of happiness

Imam Al-Ghazali – Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent

The alchemy of happiness is a guide to transform the essence of man from baseness to the purity of the angelic state. This transformation is through increasing one’s knowledge of Allah (swt). However, before you can begin to know Allah (swt), you must first know yourself. This starts with the understanding of a human being’s two distinct components:

  • The body
  • The heart (the spiritual heart)

There are five steps to understand the heart:

  1. Recognize its existence.
  2. Know its true nature: The heart works to seek happiness through the knowledge of Allah (swt), which it acquires through the knowledge of Allah (swt)’s creation.
  3. The body is a kingdom: The body is a kingdom and within it, the limbs and organs are its workers.
    1. Appetite is the tax collector;
    2. Anger is the policeman;
    3. Intellect is the Chief Minister;
    4. The heart is the king.

The body is in a constant spiritual struggle between being held captive by appetite and anger and using them as a weapon to attain spiritual fulfillment. If the heart acts at the advice of the intellect and keeps appetite and anger under control, a part of happiness will be made accessible. But if the intellect becomes a prisoner of anger and appetite, the kingdom will become desperate, and the heart will be destroyed.

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Is Allah (swt) Happy with Me?

How can a believer tell that Allah (swt) is happy with him? Is there any sign?

If a person is doing what pleases Allah (swt), then he or she should feel that He is happy with him or her; otherwise, what was the point of Allah (swt) telling us to do what pleases Him? We don’t have to wait for any divine sign like a bolt of lightning from the heaven, stars, and so on. It is enough to know and feel certain that we are doing what pleases Allah (swt).

How does Islam describe happiness? Are there any examples from lives of the Sahabahs? Does our present-day definition of happiness differ from that of Islam?

Happiness is when we experience a state of emotional and spiritual satisfaction or pleasure, which is the ultimate happiness. We know from the lives of the Sahabahs that they were happy in the presence of the Prophet (sa). They were happy even in giving away their lives, when needed, for Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

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Allah’s (swt) Different Forms of Creation

 

Al Khaliq- the creator

                                                           Image Courtesy www.voqonline.com

 

There is an important point that is ignored by those who believe in evolutionary creation- which is Allah’s (swt) different forms of creation. Allah (swt) has produced living things that differ significantly from humans and animals, such as angels and the Jinn. This matter will be discussed in the following lines.

 

Two-, three-, and four-winged angels

 

Angels are beings that always obey Allah’s (swt) commands. The Quran describes their creation as follows,

“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the (only) Originator (or the (only) Creator) of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, – two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”

(Fatir 35:1)

As we can see from this description, the forms of angels differ considerably from those of human beings. Allah (swt) draws attention to the different forms of creation in the above verse.

 

Verses also show how angels are at Allah’s (swt) command and obey Him,

“And to Allah prostate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the live moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud [i.e. they worship their Lord (Allah) with humility]. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.” (An-Nahl 16:49-50)

“The Messiah will never be proud to reject to be a slave to Allah, nor the angels who are near (to Allah). And whosoever rejects His worship and is proud, then He will gather them all together unto Himself.” (An-Nisa’ 4:172)

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

 

In addition, angels were created before man. In fact, Allah (swt) told the angels when He was going to create Adam (as), the first human being, and commanded them to prostrate before him.

 

At the same time, Allah (swt) gave Prophet Adam (as) knowledge that was different from that of the angels, and taught him the names of things. Angels do not possess that knowledge. As the Quran states,

 

“And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, – while we glorify You with praises and thanks (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners) and sanctify You.” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.”And He taught Adam all the names (of everything), then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.”They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.”He said: “O Adam! Inform them of their names,” and when he had informed them of their names, He said: “Did I not tell you that I know the Ghaib (unseen) in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you have been concealing?”And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam.” And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah).” (Al-Baqarah 2:30-34)

Jinn are created from fire

 

Like angels, the Jinn’s appearance also differs from that of man. The verses below show that man was created from clay, while the Jinn were created from fire,

“And indeed, We created man from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. And the Jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire.” (Al-Hijr 15:26-27)

“He created man (Adam) from sounding clay like the clay of pottery. And the Jinns did He create from a smokeless flame of fire.” (Ar-Rahman 55:14-15)

In the Quran, Allah (swt) also reveals His purpose for creating man and the Jinn,

“And I (Allah) created not the Jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

 

It is clear from this that although man and the Jinn are very different beings; they both were created to worship only Allah (swt) by living by the values He prescribed. He has revealed in many verses that both angels and the Jinn have some characteristics that differ from human characteristics. For instance, both can transport matter,

 

“He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?”

He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?” An Ifrit (strong) from the Jinns said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work.” (An-Naml 27:38-39)

The Quran also says that the Jinn, just like the angels, were created before man. When He created Prophet Adam (as), Allah (swt) commanded the angels and the Jinn to prostrate before him. After that, He reveals that Satan is one of the Jinn,

“And (remember) when We said to the angels; “Prostrate to Adam.” So they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the Jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc).” (Al-Kahf 18:50)

Creation is a simple matter for Allah (swt), Who can create from nothing and with no previous cause. Just as He created the angels and the Jinn in different forms from nothing, He also created man as a separate being from nothing, and with no need for evolution

. The same applies to other living things, such as animals and plants. Allah (swt) created all of these spontaneously out of nothing, and without having them evolved – in other words, without turning one species into another. As we saw earlier, the stages Allah (swt) uses in this creation- which we mentioned before- have nothing to do with evolutionist coincidence, or random events; for each is the product of the flawless system Allah’s (swt) might and sovereignty brought about.

 

How the bird created from clay by the Prophet ‘Isa (as) came to life?

 

Allah (swt) endowed Prophet ‘Isa (as), with metaphysical properties in the life of this world, as seen in,

 

“…the Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.” (Al `Imran 3:45)

 

He came into the world with no father, spoke while still in the cradle, and cured the sick in a miraculous way.

 

Moreover, when Prophet ‘Isa (as) made a clay object in the shape of a bird, and breathed into it, the bird came to life by Allah’s (swt) will. This fact is related in the Quran,

 

“And will make him (‘Isa (Jesus)) a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave…” (Al `Imran 3:49)

 

“(Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection).”O ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-ul-Qudus (Jibrael (Gabriel)) so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, Al-Hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:110)

 

Allah (swt) can spontaneously create a living thing in that way. This is one of His miracles, and an important truth that evolutionist Muslims should not ignore.

 

A similar example mentions Prophet Ibrahim (as), and reveals how Allah (swt) endows inanimate things with life,

 

“And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”” (Al-Baqarah 2:260)

 

How Prophet Zakariya’s (as) barren wife had a child

 

One example of miraculous creation concerns the joyous tiding received by Prophet Zakariya (as),  that his barren wife would give birth to a child,

(Allah said) “O Zakariya (Zachariah)! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, His name will be Yahya (John). We have given that name to none before (him).”He said: “My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age?”He said: So (it will be).” (Maryam 19:7-9) As the verses reveal, creation is a simple matter for Allah (swt), Who requires no previous cause to create. He endowed this Prophet with a child, and by commanding that it should “Be!”- This Prophet’s wife spontaneously became pregnant. Our Lord reveals in the continuation of the verse,

“… He said: “So (it will be). Your Lord says; It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!”” (Maryam 19:9)

This Ramadan Protect your Iman from the whispers of Shaytan

whispers

                                                   Image Courtesy www.salafiri.com

 

Shayateen are widely believed to be chained during the holy month of Ramadan; yet, people are seen committing sins. How does it happen to be so?

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“When the month of Ramadan starts- the gates of heaven are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the Shayateen are chained.”

The above words of the Messenger of Allah (sa) explain that the Shayateen are chained- not annihilated or eliminated completely.

Apparently, Shaytan is our affirmed enemy, and he will always try to mislead the believers with his tricks, lies and deception, though restricted and imprisoned he may be.

Shaytan’s power during Ramadan

During this pious month Allah (swt) restricts Shaytan’s power to inspire evil and mischief to a considerable extent- as compared to the other times of the year.  In any way it does not mean that they are ruined completely from creating mischief.

In fact, it is clearly evident from what happens to the believers in the month of Ramadan.

Those, who normally do not pray, begin to perform the prayers regularly; those who are never seen in the mosques, start attending the religious congregations more frequently; those who hardly read Quran, make conscious efforts to recite the glorious Book of guidance in the holy month of Ramadan. There is a definite and notable increase in the devoutness and worship of the believers in this blessed month.

Locked, yet strong!

Although, the Shayateen are restrained by Allah (swt), yet they can whisper; and through whispering- Shayateen try, and get the human beings close to them.

It is narrated by Ali bin Al Husain from Safiya (rta), that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“The Shaytan circulates in the body of Adam’s (as) offspring, as one’s blood circulates in it.”

It means the Shaytan circulates in the body of a man, just like one’s blood circulates in it; thus, this avowed enemy of man is constant in his whispering of evil- whenever he is given an opportunity.

Shaytan’s main target- You!

Undoubtedly, the Shaytan’s main target is the true believer of Allah (swt); even though, he is chained and his power is curtailed during this holy month of Ramadan- but because of his keen hatred, and enmity towards the believers and worshippers of Allah (swt), he will continue to make mischief in whatsoever way he can.

The Almighty mentions in the Quran,

“Who whispers in the breasts of mankind, Of Jinns and men.” (An-Naas 114:5-6)

Evidently, if a person is sinning continuously for eleven months, and Shaytan has worked hard on him/her- it is as if the evil has been injected inside the heart and mind of the person. Hence, the person will still feel the effect of the sin throughout Ramadan- no matter Shaytan has been locked up.

The most common example is watching television. Many people are so addicted to watching their daily soaps. or their favourite TV shows. Some can’t resist and watch during Ramadan; and some record them so that they can watch it later.

Stronger the belief, weaker the mischief

The believers, who are observing the rules of Allah (swt), are concerned and apprehensive; hence, Shaytan control over them is reduced.

This sacred month, with all its blessings and spiritual motivations, lays pressure on Shaytan; and therefore, it acts as a kind of a barrier between the believer and the Shatyan.

The one who has deep faith in Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and the Last Day, identifies the evil’s mischief, and whispering of the Shaytan. The more faith and trust one has in Allah (swt), and the Last Day, the more he will be able to distinguish, and tackle the mischief of the Shaytan.

Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran,

“O mankind! Verily, the Promise of Allah is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” (Al Fatir 35:5-6)

Indeed, we praise Allah (swt), seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah (swt) guides, none can misguide; and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright.

 

Interview with Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan – How to have a productive Ramadan

achievement

Image Courtesy blog.iiph.com 

The following interview was conducted by Abu Productive and posted originally as a video interview. You can watch the entire interview here.

Interviewer: Assalamualaikum and welcome to this very special interview with our favourite teacher Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

NAK: Walaikumasalam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu

Interviewer: Jazak’Allah Khair for joining us for this interview

NAK: My pleasure.

Interviewer: I really want to talk to you about how you plan to prepare for and spend Ramadan? My first question is: What’s your definition of the purpose of Ramadan? What should we look out for, and try to achieve in Ramadan?

NAK: To me personally, my thoughts on Ramadan are inspired by the only passage in the Quran that deals with the subject. A little past the middle of Surah Al- Baqarah, Allah (swt) talks about the function, the purpose of Ramadan  and what I find probably the most inspiring in that passage- first and foremost- is that Allah (swt) did not describe this month as a month of fasting, nor did he describe it as a month of prayer. He described it as the month in which the Quran was revealed; and then, when He described the Quran, He described in a way as though He was introducing the Quran for the first time- like never before. And, this is a Madni Surah, which means that the Muslims have been receiving Quran through the Prophet (sa) for over a decade now, well over a decade. And, yet Allah (swt) says,

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” (Al-Baqarah 2:185).

As though, it’s like Allah (swt) is telling us what the Quran is for the first time; so what that teaches me at least, and I hope other Muslims too- is that you have to renew the relationship with this Book almost as though you never knew it before, and you have to come at it anew. Hence, it’s a month of rejuvenating your experience with the Quran, so you can experience it like the first generation that was taught to experience it all over again. That’s the first and foremost thing, like this month should be a celebration of revelation itself. That’s what it should be.

Interviewer: Subhan’Allah, that’s amazing. And based on that, what would be your most important goal to achieve in Ramadan.

NAK: I study the Quran throughout the year, but I turn it up a few notches in the month of Ramadan. My memorization goes up; I haven’t finished memorizing the Quran yet; I’m working on it- part time slowly but surely. But, it goes on an accelerator in the month of Ramadan. I try to catch Itikaf every year, and in Itikaf I do a lot of review of Quran. For me personally, the act of memorizing the Quran, is not just the act of memorization- but actually- when you recite the Ayat over and over again, it gives you a chance to reflect on the word of Allah (swt) too; and to think about the same thing over and over again. It brings about opportunities for insight which I really enjoy. So, that’s one thing that’s certainly I look forward to in Ramadan.

The other thing I really enjoy doing in Ramadan is the nightly Taraweeh prayers; but I will be honest with you- many a times, I don’t join the entire Taraweeh prayers; or a lot of the times, I’ll go to a Masjid- which actually takes it easier. Because some Masajid- unfortunately- their big goal is to finish the recitation of the entire Quran, and they rush through the recitation; and there are other Masajid Alhumdulilllah in our area that actually take it easy. They won’t recite a lot, but what they recite, they really enjoy reciting; and this month should not be about quantity, it should be about quality. There is no religious guideline that you have to finish the entire Quran- there’s no such thing.. We impose this upon ourselves, and you find people that pray their eight Rakat, and there’s a mad rush outside the Masjid. It’s just that I got over with it, let me get out of here. But actually, prayer is supposed to be reflective, a spiritual experience where you’re enjoying the word of Allah (swt) in ever Rakat; and that’s really something, I hope to restore every year for myself in Ramadan, and I hope other people do too Insha’Allah.

Interviewer: Insha’Allah. You mentioned about balancing your energy levels- trying not to do too much in the first days- for example, trying to leave some energy for the last ten days. Do you sort of structure the whole of Ramadan that way? You try to sort of spread out your energy so that you can maintain momentum throughout the month?

NAK: You know,  one of my teachers Dr. Madwi, has some pretty interesting insights on Ramadan, and how you should spend your time in Ramadan, and I tend to agree with him.

Ramadan is, actually, not supposed to be a time where you’re not productive in everything else- like you’re supposed to be as fruitful, as productive at your work, and with business and education and everything else as in the other months.

It’s not a time for vacation; in some Muslim countries- for example, people stay up until Fajr almost, and then they pass out until 4 p.m. Just in time for Iftar and start all over again. They become like creatures of the night, or something, because for them that’s what Ramadan is supposed to be.

That’s silly, that’s not the point of this month. As a matter of fact, the nightly prayers, they are just really a manifestation of Tahajjud, -that’s what they are. Lots of Muslims have a struggle even with the five prayers; but if you’re praying your five prayers, and you’re not good at Tahajjud- this is the month to get into it. There is an (Ayat), even the Ayaat for reciting the Quran in slow rhythmic tone; there are Ayaat about the night prayer,  and Taraweeh is actually supposed to be an exercise for the night prayer; so if, you don’t catch the Taraweeh, but manage to get up for Tahajjud, that’s even better for you.

We have to change- shift our mentality about how we make the most of Ramadan. The other recommendation I very strongly have for people is- if you didn’t catch the Taraweeh prayers at night, but you went to pray Isha, and a few extra Rakaat at the Masjid ,and then you came back for Fajr at the Masjid- that’s way much better for you than staying up until midnight doing Taraweeh, and then, barely catching Fajr, or not coming to the Masjid for Fajr. So, you have to be realistic with yourself; what is a bigger priority? I mean the Prophet (sa) instructions are true, and we should believe in them; if you catch the prayer at the Masjid at Isha and Fajr, it’s as though you prayed the entire night. That’s his promise. So, let’s believe in that promise, and especially, get into that habit in this month.

I personally believe, in my personal life, and I recommend it to my friends and students that if you can make a habit of catching Fajr and Isha at the Masjid, then you’re just going to have a productive life. Allah (swt) is going to put some Barakah in your life throughout your day, throughout your night, a lot of good comes of it; and then, this is the month to get into that habit, because you’re going to go anyway, but don’t overdo it in a way that you just totally can’t sustain it after it’s done. You want to use this month as an opportunity to instill habits in your life that you can sustain after this month is over. So, that’s how I see it.

I: You just touched on Barakah there; and I want you to touch on Barakah in particular. How can your fast and spirituality sustain you? How does Barakah of Suhoor and fasting boost your productivity

NAK: It’s pretty amazing because fasting is tough, but, and if you try to fast tomorrow, it’ll be really hard. You’re going to be dazed, you’re not going to be able to focus at work, and things are going to happen. But, what Allah (swt) says about Ramadan is pretty awesome. It’s not a universal statement; it’s actually intended within the month of Ramadan. Allah (swt) intends ease for you; the fasting in the month of Ramadan is actually easier than fasting any other time, and that’s something Allah (swt) instills into this month. It’s special; so nobody is going to be able to say genuinely that they’re having a hard time because of the fasting As a matter of fact, you might even find yourself having more energy than you ever had. Now, if you don’t find yourself having energy, then there are some other causes- not fasting.

What are those other causes? You’re over eating at Iftar; you’re going to town at Suhoor time you’re eating like four times the breakfast you normally eat; no wonder you’re tipped over half the day because you’re dying of how much you ate; the other half you’re dying over your starvation- so, a balanced diet is a big part of how productive you are. A balanced sleep schedule is really important. People have messed up sleep schedules in Ramadan; they’re not supposed to have those sleep schedules. You’re supposed to have a normal sleep schedule in Ramadan- so maintain these things, take care of these things, and Insha’Allah, it’s not going to be a problem. Speaking of the word Barakah, you know, the linguistic meaning of the word is increase beyond expectation.

Shellfish-setting the example for speed technology

nautilusCephalopod shellfish, such as the Squid and the Octopus, have reactive swimming systems based on hydrodynamic propulsion; in other words, the ability to expel water at very high speeds.

Engineers are trying to further develop speed technology by seeking inspiration from these abilities of Cephalopods.

Almighty Allah (swt) created a very special system which cephalopods can use when they need, or want to increase their speed. This system, which engineers have examined with admiration and attention, works perfectly. The reactive swimming systems of these creatures are a result of special body structures Almighty Allah (swt) created, especially for them.

What are the body structures that make Cephalopods special?

There is a thin layer of skin that surrounds the body cavity where the organs are placed called a coat. Cephalopods accumulate water inside them via the muscles found underneath this skin layer, and then they swim by strongly expelling this water. The water taken inside the coat wall is squirted outside with the help of a conically shaped pipe. The working of the system is like that of the kickback principle used in the production of space vehicles- in other words, rocket systems. This force occurs as a result of the cone – like opening, surrounded by many muscles, closing very fast. With the help of the squirting pipe, Cephalopods can swim as they wish, do sudden moves and arc.

From Shellfish’s Water Expulsion Systems to Generators

Assistant professor Kamran Mohseni from the Space Engineering Department at the University of Colorado has designed new generators by getting inspiration from the water expulsion system used by Cephalopods to be able to move under water. These designs help vehicles that will be used under water to maneuver better at low speeds.

Submarines with Safe Maneuvering Mechanisms

It is a must that vehicles used under water have safe maneuvering abilities, especially under difficult conditions. Manned or unmanned- submarines that will have such a mechanism will provide the opportunity to explore in greater detail ecosystems all over the world from underwater volcanoes to the cold depths under the ice pack in polar regions. The hydrodynamic designs of current vehicles make it difficult to maneuver at low speeds and in narrow spaces; and to get close to somewhere or stand in place in open fields. Therefore, the speed of vehicles with such qualities has to be very low.

Medical Services

Capsules equipped with a similar system are expected to help doctors diagnose certain diseases by being placed in the digestive systems of human beings. Thereby, this matchless art of engineering of Almighty Allah (swt) could bring benefits to humanity in the medical field as well.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Cephalopods cannot create such a detailed mechanism, which human beings can only replicate after months of research, in their own bodies. Almighty Allah (swt), Who creates all things in one piece and in its proper place, created these beings with the most suitable system to protect themselves, and tend for their own needs. In one verse, our Lord Allah (swt) reveals as such,

“Do they not see that We have created for them of what Our Hands have created, the cattle, so that they are their owners?” (YaSin 36:71)

The Call

adhan1

My heart was numb, nothing felt right,
I stayed awake all through the night.
My time flew, but I knew,
I am living a life that was not true.

My eyes were shut, my music loud;
I felt alone, even in a crowd.
I searched around, but could not find-
A moment in life to give me pride.

I sat one day staring at the wall;
Till I heard a call, just down the hall
Hayya Al As-Salah ; Hayya Al As-Salah
Hayya Al Al-Falah; Hayya Al Al-Falah

The words were pure, I could not ignore;
I bowed my head, down on the floor.
I found my soul; I thought I had no more.

I knew at once, this was right, my first step into the light
I found solace in my solitude; I made Sujood in gratitude.
Subhana Rabbi Al Aala………Subhana Rabbi Al Aala

Everything will end, let us not pretend;
So come to the Deen, oh my friend.

Make a wish list!

wish-listHandling kids in this technology era is not a piece of cake. We have to look after their needs and wants according to what the society has got for them. Also, greatest level of patience is required when we are opposing our children for something which is, undoubtedly, for their own betterment. Furthermore, we have to tell our children the advantages and disadvantages of technology- as one cannot escape the fact and figures around.

They come up with new ideas every day. Undoubtedly, the kids of this era are way more sagacious than we used to be at their age. Once, they start their nursery, they become more
brave and clever. These beauties with brains decide their dress codes and what they want for snack at school.

Just a few days back my son was telling me that he wants a black swimsuit like his friend and also a red water bottle. We must always listen to their demands and queries, but fulfilling each one of it is not a good idea.

Being parents, we must be careful about upbringing these precious pearls, so that they can become coolness of our eyes Insha’Allah. They should have the fear of Allah (swt) first and also the fear of parents. We should mould them in such a way that they should never hesitate in talking about their demands to us, and also ask Almighty Allah (swt) for help always. If they insist on taking a new model of x-box or a play station series or a pink laptop- don’t just hesitate or neglect their demands- rather, tell them that they have to pray to the Almighty Allah (swt) first who is seventy times more than a mother, and He knows what is best for us.

1. Ask for Allah’s (swt) help
Children should be aware of the fact that Allah (swt) is the Creator. He has created everything. All matters lie under His custody and He has the highest position. Moreover, He has absolute rights to distribute His wealth. We should always ask the Almighty for our needs and desires first
because nothing happens without His will. In the light of Ahadeeth, we can share this example that even when the shoe sole breaks, we have to ask Allah (swt) for help.
Besides this, we should also make it clear that whatever Allah (swt) decides for us is the best, and that we should not argue about it.

Parents can also tell them the Hadeeth about Dua which says that if a Dua is not fulfilled in the Dunya, Allah (swt) has got even better for you because He is Ar-Rahman.

2. Teach them right and wrong
Don’t let the children judge that you cannot fulfil their demands just because you cannot for some reasons; instead make the advantages or disadvantages clear about your decision. Tell them about the negativities about it, and that everything is good at a certain age. Also, don’t make promises; just tell them that as soon as they find it appropriate, and when the time will be right- you will try your level best to earn it.

3. Restrict their never ending list
Showering kids with lots of toys and getting all their demands fulfilled will not improve their character, rather weaken it. We should skip unnecessary demands of our children.

4. Take a look at the poor class
Very calmly just explain to your kids that a few people are even starving for the basic amenities of life. And Allah (swt) the Almighty has blessed us with a luxurious lifestyle. We should save a little bit of our pocket money to help the needy households. We can fix a specific amount to give every month which will ultimately reward us in the hereafter. This can only be done when we cut down our unnecessary expenses.

5. Count on your blessings
Allah (swt), the Almighty, has blessed us with health, wealth, family, education and so on. We ought to thank Allah (swt) for every breath we take. Hence, only listing down the things we are granted with will make us feel more thankful to our Lord.

Inculcating these habits in children will make them content in their lives; and hence, make them responsible individuals. Insha’Allah.

Sickness- A blessing in disguise

blessingSubhan’Allah, we have such a blessed gift of Allah (swt) – such a blessed gift, known as sickness. Did you ever know that sickness is a gift? It’s one of the few things that instantly draw you close to Allah (swt). You have no option, especially when medicine has been given to you, then you realise that you need to develop a link with your Maker. And that is a gift of Allah (swt). If that is what caused you to earn Paradise, then it is the best thing that could have happened to you. May Allah (swt) grant us cure. Ameen.

Some people never read Salah. Never ever. The day they cannot move anymore, they want to read Salah while sitting. Alhumdulillah! Beautiful! At least now you’re reading Salah- even though you’re now sitting, Subhan’Allah. It’s a gift of Allah (swt). So, Allah (swt) watches you, He sees you are ill, He sees you are sick. That’s a gift of Allah (swt). He knows. He made you that way because He loves you, and the Hadeeth says: ‘When Allah (swt) loves a worshipper, He tests him.’ He gives him more tests. Hence, Allah (swt) tests you. Allah (swt) will test you.

Sickness – Boon or bane?

Then you start crying to Allah (swt), helplessly. And, when you turn to Allah (swt), and obviously, there are two things that can happen- when you are sick and ill, Shaytan can get a hold of you, or spirituality can get a hold of you, religiousness can get a hold of you. So you need to be careful, it’s like treading a tightrope.

You’ll have someone who looks like a religious person and he says, ‘Hey, I can cure you.’ And you say, ‘Okay, cure is in the hands of Allah (swt), obviously- but let’s see what you have to say.’ Or if they’re giving you for example, some herbal medication or some ZamZam, or they’re giving you honey, and for example, the black seed and these things that are beneficial; various other items or they give you a diet to tell you, ‘You know what, try and abstain from this type of food; and try to eat this type of food, it’s high in mineral and vitamin.’ Alhumdulillah, we understand it.

Empty mind- A devil’s workshop

But, the minute they tell you, ‘Listen, stand on your left foot for three minutes and start looking up in the sky. And hold five leaves in your right hand and then you tell someone to put a piece of lemon in your mouth, and do that five times a day.’ You need to know that is Shaytan. Complete Shaytan. Allah (swt) is going to ask you. That is the devil, Wallahi. You need to know- where did they come from? This is nothing that makes sense. It’s not medication, it’s not herbal medication, it is superstition. It is the devil. No matter what the person who gave you this looks like, this is wrong. You need to have common logical sense that is unacceptable. This is Allah (swt); He’s going to ask you about this gift.

Early bird catches the worm

At the same time, your heart becomes softened, and you turn to Allah (swt) and cry. So your Salah, you don’t miss. Why? Because you have a problem. And, what happens when you have a major issue? Subhan’Allah. You get up a little bit earlier than Salat ul Fajr for another Salah that is known as Tahajjud. Isn’t it? You are up very early and you say, ‘Sister’, or if your husband says, ‘Hey wifey, why are you up so early?’ and you say, ‘You know, I have a problem, so that is why I am up.’ Subhan’Allah. May Allah (swt) grant us ease. Ameen.

So you are up very early and you cry to Allah (swt). This is why Allah (swt) makes it very beautifully clear where He says, “And when We show favour to man, he withdraws and turns away, but when evil touches him, then he has recourse to long supplications.” (Fussilat 41:51)

You have nothing missing in your life, absolutely nothing. Your health is okay, your wealth is okay, your children are okay, your work is okay, you salary is okay, your situation is okay, everything is beautiful. You are enjoying- eating out every other day, you have a holiday, everywhere you want to go, you have gone, and so on and you still keep on going and everything is going smoothly. Then what’s the point of knowing Allah (swt)? A lot of the people would say what’s the point of knowing? That is the time you’re supposed to get closer to Allah (swt). The winner is the one who has the Dunya and the Akhirah.

In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) explains to us this Dua, this beautiful Dua, ‘And of them there are some who say: “Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” (Al-Baqarah 2:201) That is the beauty; you want goodness here and there. That is obviously, not everyone will get this, but that is the ultimate gift of Allah (swt).

If you have an issue, and it is quite normal to have issues, problems, difficulties, learn to turn to Allah (swt) and Allah (swt) alone. It is when things go wrong that people begin to make supplications, long Dua, prolonged Dua. You know, if you see a man walking in the Masjid, and he sits in the Masjid, asking Allah (swt). And if you find him after Salah, he is sitting there after Salat ul Asr, and you go for Salat ul Maghrib and you find him- he is sitting in the same place, crying and asking Allah (swt). What do you think? You think this man has got a big problem, he is sitting on exactly the same spot, and he is asking Allah (swt). So, that is the description of Surah Fussilat in the verse I read, “When we have bestowed upon man, we have given him, he turns away, on his side. And when evil befalls him, he makes prolonged prayer.”

Spiritual analysis via sickness

Now let’s analyze- spiritually, which is the better condition? Is it better to turn away or is it better to be engaged in prolonged prayer? What is the gift of Allah (swt) here for us? May Allah (swt) bless us. Ameen.

Why is it that old people become sick, invalid? When you’re old, you find it a little difficult to walk. May Allah (swt) grant Shifa and cure to all those who are ill. Ameen. And then sometimes you cannot walk, you have to sit down; you become old, and then, pass away.

Why is it that Allah (swt) has kept it such in the older people? Why isn’t it that in the middle of your life? He makes you sick, but then healthy once again. It is Allah’s (swt) gift that when you get old, you start suffering pain, you start turning to Allah (swt), preparing for the day you will meet with Him. It’s amazing. You know that it’s time to go. You know it. It’s a fact. Why? Because you’re old, things change, everything happens and everything starts moving in a direction that keeps on reminding you, ‘I’m no longer the little teenager I used to be.’

May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to thank Him for His gifts. Ameen.

Transcribed by Asma Imran

My life saviour was an angel

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

The piercing sound of minions struck my eardrums. Without putting a glance I stopped my alarm. I jumped out from my bed at 6:30 a.m. It was Sunday morning; I quickly finished my routine work, wore a black gown known as Abaya, and fixed my scarf along with the Niqab. I took my bag which was a bit heavy, and rushed towards the door where I could see my driver rubbing his eyes and trying to get back to his life again. I had a great sympathy for him, as I knew how difficult it was to wake up in the morning- when nothing looks beautiful except your bed and pillow. But, I flushed out my thoughts and got back into my state.

I recited all the Duas that happened to be the most important act for me. I felt safe then. Suddenly, a drop of water fell on my cheeks and cold breeze touched my skin. I began to think how beautiful my Allah (swt) is, and at that moment my car started and took away my concentration. Forgetting about the driver and few people around me, I visualized myself around the spell-binding weather, cold mizzle and freed birds. I felt so content. The satisfaction led me to some flashbacks.

Rosy pink cheeks with attractive eyes- which were more prominent with well-blended eyeliner and lips were covered with Maybelline colour whisper; and shiny, thick hair flying out the window. Her beauty was attention seeking and she was already well-aware of it. She really wanted to be the perfectionist. Her beauty was enough to beat her plump body. She…I waited a second- why am I calling this girl (I pointed myself) as a third person. Then returning back, I continued- I was appreciated and people used to ignore the fact that I wasn’t a zero figure, I was fat then. Again, I corrected, actually “I am still a fat girl.” I was so much into this world that I forgot about the reality and went astray.

Temporary world’s beautification used to attract me, and it grabbed me so tightly that I was blind; I couldn’t distinguish between falsehood and truth, but what thing changed me? Yes Allah (swt) sent an angel for me who corrected me and made me realize that I went on a wrong path. That angel came into my life and I did come up with the devilish ideas to get that angel out of my life, but that angel didn’t leave me and stood by my side at every moment and situation.

Then one day, the people who used to appreciate my beauty- mocked me and pointed out on my character; they pointed out such things that I had never done, nor did I intend to do. But still, without saying a word, I went out of that place and rushed towards my room and cried as much as I could. Those false allegations on my character weren’t going out of my mind, I couldn’t sleep. My self-confidence, my poise was all gone. I didn’t know why, even though I knew I was pure but nobody believed. I was broken and I couldn’t enable myself to face those accusing faces- I died inside. I was unable to stand in front of my Allah (swt) because I regretted for ignoring Him.

But once I  realized, I was scared and embarrassed to face my Only Creator, my Only Supporter. An angel whispered in my ears to open the Quran. And after a war within myself, I opened the Holy Quran with shivering hands, and removed the dust that fully prevailed on its cover. I randomly opened it and wind blew, and the most shocking part of my life occurred, I called it a miracle and it totally changed my life.

I read the bold lines, “Verily, proofs have come to you from your Lord, so whosoever sees, will do so for (the good of) his own self, and whosoever blinds himself, will do so to his own harm, and I (Muhammad (sa)) am not a watcher over you.” (Al-Anam 6:104)

I stood on my prayer mat without any fear and when I went in Sujood, I cried and I got my life back again. Now, I have saved my beauty for my Allah (swt) and for that man whom Allah (swt) has chosen for me. People do call me with offensive names, call me extremist, but I don’t react, nor does it affect me because Allah (swt) has said, “And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous good deeds, that for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise).

Every time they will be provided with a fruit there from, they will say: “This is what we were provided with before,” and they will be given things in resemblance (i.e. in the same form but different in taste) and they shall have therein Azwajun Mutahharatun (purified mates or wives), (having no menses, stools, urine, etc.) and they will abide therein forever.” (Al-Baqarah 2:25)

 

Good, better, best- Never let your Taqwa rest

Vol 2-Issue2 Manners of reading QuranTaqwa to the believer is to know that Allah (swt) is watching over you throughout your life. Whatever you speak, whatever you do is all monitored by Allah (swt). Allah (swt) mentions Taqwa in the Quran nearly two hundred times, because He is emphasizing strongly on the concept of His fear.

TAQWA- True And Quality Worship for Allah (swt)

Taqwa makes our acts of worship meaningful. For instance, alone just the physical act of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa, while performing Hajj or Umrah, will gain no importance in the eyes of Allah (swt). Similarly, have we ever pondered what will be the actions of Salat, such as bowing and prostration mean without a heart containing Taqwa? What makes our thirst and hunger different from a disbeliever, during Ramadan? The answer to all these questions is Taqwa.

It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provides these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah (swt). It is mentioned, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad (sa)) to the Muhsinun (doers of good). (Al-Hajj 22:37)

Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.” Let us ensure that our acts of worship and our hearts are beautified with feeling of Taqwa.

What is Taqwa?

As per the scholars, the definition of Taqwa is:

Abu Darr said: “From the completion of Taqwa is that the servant fears from His Lord even with regard to things, the weight of an atom.”

Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi says: “The word ‘Muttaqoon’ is the plural of ‘Muttaqi’. ‘Muttaqi’ is the gerund from the verb ‘Ittaqa’ (acquired protection). ‘Ittaqa’ is from the root verb ‘Waqa’ which means he protected himself from that which harms him.”

One of the more complete definitions and explanations was provided by Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is Wajib (obligatory) or Mustahab (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is Haram (forbidden) or Makrooh (disliked).” (Reference 1)

Abu Darr was once asked, “What is that you love most in this life? He replied, “I love sickness, hunger and death. He was asked the reason and he said, “If I get sick, my sins fall off; And, if I get hungry, my heart becomes closer to Allah (swt), And if I die I meet my Creator”. This is level of Allah’s (swt) fear.

Where do you stand on the graph of  Taqwa and guidance of Allah (swt)?

There are three types of people mentioned in the Quran, in the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqarah.

The first group: In the first few verses 2 – 5, Allah (swt) clearly explains that the Quran is guidance for Al – Muttaqoon- the people who have Taqwa in their hearts, and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:

  1. Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah (swt), angels, the holy books that Allah (swt) revealed but got changed with time, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)
  2. Perform Salat.
  3. Spend for Allah’s (swt) cause from what Allah (swt) has provided to them.
  4. Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sa).
  1. Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to the Prophets before Muhammad (sa).
  2. Believe in hereafter.

The second group: The second group falls on the other end of the spectrum- as mentioned in verses 6 and 7- and are the disbelievers. In explaining these verses, Allah (swt) says that these people have a seal on their hearts and ears, as well as, a covering on their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.

The third group: Finally, the third group is from verse 6 to verse 18.

Regarding these people, the Quran says, Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (sa ) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.” (Al-Baqarah 2:6)

Some of the attributes that Allah (swt) points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:

1. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!”

2. “In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies.

3. Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doings to wander blindly.

4. When Allah (swt) tells them to believe by modeling themselves according to the Prophet and the true believers, they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” Allah (swt) then responds by saying that, “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”

5. And when they meet those who believe, they say: “We believe,” but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils – polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: “Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.”

6. Allah (swt) remarks about these people, “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”

These groups were reminded in order that we should check our intentions and thoughts. These verses should be enough to create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (Al – Muttaqoon: the ones fearful of Allah (swt)). Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) reveal that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2)

Taqwa can be inculcated in our hearts by taking a few steps.

A believer should realise the fact that Allah (swt) has the biggest right after saying:
“La Ilaha Illa Allah”, Allah (swt) right becomes mandatory.

Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s (swt) right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah (swt) and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s (swt) grace and mercy. It is Allah’s (swt) right that He should be obeyed and not disobeyed: that He should be remembered and not forgotten; and that He should be appreciated and not unappreciated . . . Many people think about their rights over Allah (swt) and do not know about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah (swt) and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves.” (Ighathatul Lahfaan)

Time and again we should check the status of our hearts- whether we have the required devotion and fear of Allah (swt)? Or, do we have remnant of hardness and carefree attitude about Allah (swt) and His teachings.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (tomorrow), and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do” (Al-Hashr 59:18)

Ibn Kathir says that the phrase ‘let each soul see’ or “let every person look” in the above verse means to take an account of one’s own actions before being audited (by Allah (swt)) (Tafseer Ibn Kathir).

Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before doing the audit of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”

Taqwa reflection in every action

After inculcating Taqwa in the heart, actions should instill the element of piety, Allah’s (swt) consciousness, humbleness, righteousness. We have inspiring examples of Sahaba and Salafs, whose deeds manifested their hearts. Ibn omar used to stay awake the whole night, so that he does not miss a prayer in congregation, since the reward for praying in congregation is more rather than praying alone. Hence, through the Taqwa in the heart every difficult act becomes easy.  As per Imam Ghazali- our Nafs should not deviate, as it is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din).

About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people” (Tirmidhi)

Remembering our final resort – death

We should remind ourselves about death and our meeting with Allah (swt), in order to retain Taqwa in our hearts. We should become ardent learners of what Allah (swt) like and dislikes, and mould our lives accordingly. This is because the life of this world has to come to an end, and we should take it seriously. With this thought in our mind, Taqwa can never leave our hearts.

Be positive – Put your hope in Allah

Path.Woods_“Think positively!” is the most common phrase. I used to hear this every single day. I was a girl who used to curse fate and life for everything that went wrong. I was depressed, spiritually weak, and distressed; I used to blame myself for my ill-fate and for every mishap. I was always a good student, but soon the turmoil deepened its root, and I started to lose my grades. The good girl turned into a bad irritable girl, but soon found peace within herself.

The peace-hunt

It sounds so easy to get close to Allah (swt), but actually, it is the most difficult journey. All you have to face is total guilt. I faced myself going back to my past- it seemed like I started living in hell having vicious flash backs. My heart sank, my brain struck with pain. I wanted to get rid of my past, and still, I am trying to get rid of it. But trust me- it’s more peaceful than before. I feel I am half washed and half pure because I am trying.

Maybe my story is not that strong, but all I believe is that trying and getting close to Allah (swt) will not just enlighten your heart, but it will also stabilize your soul.

I am the luckiest person living on earth, and I am sure you will be the next.
Hold on to Allah (swt), this is all we need for success…

“Some found Allah (swt) in the depth of their sin.” This is what I love to relate with myself.

People often get too depressed for what they had been doing in the past, and they lose hope in nurturing their self and soul for better.

I personally advise people to let it off and try to start a new chapter- A pure chapter of your life. Insha’Allah.

All messed up: There’s more to the picture

lightIt was early in the morning when X looked out of the large wooden window she was sitting in front of. The night that had just passed was something she feared would come again. Her room had already started to illuminate with the light of the rising sun, but she thought it was something she wouldn’t be able to experience in life. Things quite dark had happened to her, and she thought there was no one to help her stand up again. All this made her wonder if she could choose not to live.

What if in the midst of what X was going through, something could convince her not to do so? What if there was something more to the picture? What if there was something that could overpower her worries to finally leave her? If you think you had been having the same thoughts as X lately, for sure you need to know how the religion of Allah (swt) answers all such questions.

1. Why did it happen to me?

This life is a test, so we must always be ready to receive tribulations. True happiness will be granted to us, Insha’Allah, if we get past these tests with good grades; and we’ll be motivated to do that only if we desire for Jannah. In short, these trials are our chances to reach Jannah. Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) has already told why Allah (swt) afflicts His servants with trials.

It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “If Allah (swt) wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” (Bukhari)

2. Khayr is there, look for it.

Each event that happens in our lives leaves us with some understanding which we couldn’t have acquired if it didn’t happen the way it did. Especially, the bad ones when pass, strengthen us to face bigger challenges. The finest steel does become what it is, after going through the hottest fire! A bird does learn to fly when its mother pushes it out of the nest. Until this doesn’t happen, it never knows it can fly. At the time of hardship, we can’t exactly see where the Khayr is. But, we all know our knowledge is limited, while indeed nothing is hidden from Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

3. You have the cure, use it!

What you have been given as a test by Allah (swt) is something that you can bear. This is Allah’s (swt) blessing on each one of us, which we should always be thankful for. You just have to gather yourself again by keeping in mind what Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

 

4. Realized? Time to repent!

Many a times, people feel stuck because they know they’ve done wrong, and that it is the reason why they feel devastated. But, what they forget is that their Lord is Ar-Rahman. His forgiveness is beyond our imagination. Keeping this in mind, there remains no need to try to shut doors which have already been kept open!

Abu Sa’id ibn Sa’d ibn Malik ibn Sinan al-Khudri (rta) reported that the Prophet of Allah (sa) said: “Among those before you there was a man who killed ninety-nine people. He asked who was the most knowledgeable man in the world and was directed to a monk. He went to him and said that he had killed ninety-nine people and was repentance possible for him? The monk said, ‘No,’ so he killed him and made it a hundred. Then, he again asked who was the most knowledgeable man on earth and was directed to a man of knowledge. He said that he had killed a hundred people, so was repentance possible for him? The man said, ‘Yes, who can come between you and repentance? Go to such-and-such a land where there are some people worshipping Allah (swt, the Almighty. Worship Allah (swt) with them and do not return to your own country. It is an evil place.’ So he went and then, when he was half way there, he died. The angels of mercy and angels of punishment started to argue about him. The angels of mercy said, ‘He came in repentance, turning with his heart to Allah (swt) Almighty.’ The angels of punishment said, ‘He has not done a single good action.’ An angel came in a human form and they appointed him arbitrator between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two countries and whichever one he is nearer to, that is the one he belongs to.’ They measured and found he was nearer to the land to which he was going, so the angels of mercy took him.” (Riyad As-Salihin)

5. Call Him, He is never engaged!

It takes us little time to realize how merciful our Lord is. Even though, He tests us with trials throughout our lives, He has blessed us with various ways to call Him for help. One may call on Him at any part of the day, but to call is what must be done!

6. Please Him, not them!

Many problems arise when an individual is unable to live up to other people’s expectations. Each one of us comes across numerous people in life each of whom has different likes and dislikes. No matter how hard a person tries, at the end of the day criticism still remains. This happens when one forgets what he was born for. To be precise, pleasing people was never our duty, but to only obey Allah (swt). This doesn’t mean we have to do nothing with people. But, whatever dealing that has to be with them is only what Allah (swt) has ordered us to do.

7. No pill, no kill- just chill!

Many may think committing suicide means putting an end to problems, but in reality it doesn’t.  Rather it creates problems even in the afterlife-the life which one will live forever.

It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it, and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.” (Bukhari)

Miracle of Allah: Tolerance of our body’s defense system

photogallery-human-body-11-fullThe elements of the defense system fight against the enemies that will harm the body just like ordered and disciplined soldiers. First, the soldiers that render the enemies ineffective by swallowing them (known as phagocytes) come to the battlefield. Sometimes however, the battlefield conditions overwhelm the abilities of these soldiers; then other soldiers (known as macrophages) step in. This causes a “situation alert” to occur in the target area and an army of soldiers (called helper T cells) is called to the battlefield.

However, during this struggle, a miracle takes place. Even though the body is always on the alert to fight against the organisms that can cause it harm, it allows millions of other types of bacteria to live in some organs. For example, it is known that 80-eighty species of microorganisms live in the mouth, throat and the tonsils. According to research, there are 200-two hundred organism species which keep our bodies constantly healthy. The reason that our defense system does not attack these organisms is that these are vital for tolerance of the defense system.

T cells are the fighter white blood cells of our body. They fight against everything harmful to the body, and they eliminate hazardous bacteria and molecules out of our body. However, during the clean up they do not harm the body’s healthy tissues and bacteria beneficial to the body.

Every cell has an identification system to introduce itself, that we call receptors. Fighter T cells can make this distinction by recognizing the receptors in all other cells, and they ignore the cells the body needs. This quality of the defense system is called “tolerance.”

This situation is actually a great miracle because the defense system is able to distinguish thousands of different proteins from one another.

 This situation is actually a great miracle because the defense system is able to distinguish thousands of different proteins from one another.

The incredible cell drill

So, how did cells acquire a system that allows them to distinguish such different structures from one another?

It is, of course, impossible for coincidences to account for the ability to choose, which requires characteristics such as knowledge, consciousness and intelligence. There is no doubt that the defense system acts with the inspiration of Almighty Allah (swt) as revealed in the verse, “hearkening to its Lord as it is bound to do!” (Al-Inshiqaq, 2)

The defense system that we have been speaking of causes another very miraculous event. The pancreas is sheltered from the rest of the body. Therefore, the white blood cells do not directly work together with pancreatic cells. Instead, some intermediary cells interface with white blood cells and introduce the pancreas. In order to do this, these cells put on a mask that displays the antigens of their normal neighbours, thus suppress the immune system and keep it in a quiet and calm state. These are called “dendritic cells.”

T cells recognize these antigens, and learn not to become alarmed by the pancreatic cells and attack this organ.

As it is clear from this example  that qualities like developing new methods to recognize one another, agreeing with one another, making plans and moving with a perfect organization according to these plans cannot be expected from defense cells and a mere organ. There is no doubt that even a community of human beings couldn’t move in such a flawless synchronicity, and accomplish what needs to be done without failing, forgetting, making a mistake or causing confusion.

There is only one definite truth that must be accepted here and that is- all cells, just like everything else in nature, are created specially by Allah (swt), Who is the Owner of an infinite power, knowledge and intelligence.

“… He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything” (Al-An’am 6:101)

Another organ, which the defense system tolerates, is the intestines. Even though, our general body is covered with very detailed defensive weapons, millions of bacteria nonetheless continue to survive in our intestines because the food we eat and the fluids we drink are digested by the bacteria in our small intestines. In addition, these bacteria provide a natural method of protection as they prevent the reproduction of other bacteria that could harm the body; hence, defense cells cooperate with these bacteria that prove beneficial for the body. Even though, there is the possibility of activating an immune system response, and starting a war in the intestines- T cells, somehow, ignore the bacteria in the small intestine and prevent this.

So, how do defense cells tolerate these bacteria?

Cells’ training- that is amazing!

In a research paper published in Nature Immunology journal, investigators led by Shannon Turley of Harvard Medical School have found that the defense system has a tolerance mechanism that was previously unknown. According to this, the lymph nodes are like strategic encampments that surround the whole body. The white blood cells pull the antigens to the lymph nodes and fight them.

However, the lymph nodes found in the intestines are like a training center more than a strategic encampment. The basic cells found there train the T cells, which are the soldiers of our defense system, about behaving in an appropriate and tolerant manner toward these uninvited, yet friendly guests. It cannot be explained away that such a system in this part of the body could have come into existence by coincidences. Shannon Turley states her excitement as such: “It’s obvious that T cells must be able to ignore — or become ‘tolerized’ to — normal intestinal tissue. … But it has been unclear how dendritic cells, which are extremely sensitive to microbial agents such as bacteria, teach T cells to resist attacking healthy intestinal cells.” Unconscious cells do not have the intelligence, consciousness and ability to make it possible to “teach” a biological process to one another. There is no doubt that a system, which even the most intelligent researchers and scientists cannot comprehend, being placed inside a cell with no ability to think and consider things for itself has a very special meaning.

Allah (swt) created the defense system with impeccable equipment

With the invention of the microscope some 250 years ago, scientists revealed that we live side by side with numerous tiny organisms invisible to the naked eye. Moreover, these organisms were everywhere, from the air we breathe to the water we drink; from everything we touch to the surface of our own bodies. In addition, these organisms frequently enter inside the body. The presence of this enemy was detected 250 years ago. However, many of the secrets of the “defense system” that fights that enemy so effectively are still not completely understood today.

The defense system recognizes and distinguishes viruses and bacteria that are harmful to it from friendly organisms. The way that defense cells- with no mind or brain- can accomplish this, is a reflection of the matchless Creation of Allah (swt), the Lord of infinite knowledge, seen in a small cell. It is revealed that Allah’s (swt) infinite knowledge encompasses all.

“…And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

Lessons of Calmness from Khawlah bint Thalabah (ra)

calmseaKhawlah Bint Thalabah (ra) is one of the companions about whom verses were revealed.

Khawlah (ra) and her husband had reached old age. If maturity and wisdom are the gifts of age and experiences, irritability and illnesses are the bane. With age, Aws Ibn As-Samit (ra) had become short-tempered and he would utter words without meaning them.

One day, he told his wife that she was to him like his mother’s back. Zihar, back in the days, meant divorce. Her husband’s words grieved Khawlah (ra). She had been married to him for years, and had birthed many children. She felt it was unfair to divorce a woman when she was of age and unattractive.  Without responding to the husband’s unjust statement, Khawlah (ra) took the matter to someone she thought could help her. The Prophet (sa) listened to her complaint and instructed her to fear Allah (swt) and consult her husband. Khawlah (ra) refused to leave until Allah (swt) responded to her plea. Just then, Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (as) descended and brought revelation:

“Indeed Allah has heard the statement of her (Khawlah Bint Tha’labah) that disputes with you (O Muhammad) concerning her husband (Aus bin As-Samit), and complains to Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer. Those among you who make their wives unlawful (Az-Zihar) to them by saying to them ‘You are like my mother’s back.’ They cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie. And verily, Allah is Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.

And those who make unlawful to them (their wives) (by Az-Zihar) and wish to free themselves from what they uttered, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch each other. That is an admonition to you (so that you may not return to such an ill thing). And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. And he who finds not (the money for freeing a slave) must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And for him who is unable to do so, he should feed sixty of Miskin (poor). That is in order that you may have perfect Faith in Allah and His Messenger.

These are the limits set by Allah. And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment.” (Al-Mujadilah 58:1-4)

Lessons: We see that when Khawlah (ra) is hurt by her husband’s words, she neither argues with him nor shares the private family matters with anyone. Rather, she took her case to the one who could guide her and provide a solution. What happens when we face a conflict? Are we able to tame our temper, or do we come back with an intense response? Are we able to keep our domestic disputes to ourselves, or do we share them with anyone and everyone that we come across? Children, domestic help, parents, neighbours, friends and colleagues, almost everyone knows that the couple had a fight.

This ‘certainty’ is what is missing from our supplications. We make Dua but with an inattentive heart. We are sure that our Dua will not be answered; we give up and turn to people

What do we look for when we share our matters with others? Is it to get it off our chests, gain sympathy or to resolve the issue?

Invocation with conviction

Look at the words that Allah (swt) used in the revelation. He said, Certainly, Allah has heard the speech. This ‘certainty’ is what is missing from our supplications. We make Dua but with an inattentive heart. We are sure that our Dua will not be answered; we give up and turn to people. Or sometimes, we turn to people first, and make Allah (swt) our last resort.

At another place in the Quran, Allah (swt) says, “I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Yaqeen (conviction) is the key ingredient for our supplications to be answered. When you make Dua be present in the moment. Fill your Duas with emotions without going overboard. You don’t have to scream because Allah (swt) is the nearest to us. He hears even a whisper or the thought that we hold in our hearts. Do not be hasty with your Duas, for He responds in His timing and in His Own way. His wisdom is incomprehensible, but there is goodness in it; a lesson that we must learn.

Inspect with respect

There was no shouting, no wailing and no usage of bad words. It was because she did not intent to get the matter off her chest, rather she sought solution.

Aisha (ra) narrates that she was sitting in the same room as the complainant, yet some words escaped her ears. From the Seerah, we know the Prophet (sa) did not live in a spacious house. His house was only a room added to the Prophet’s Mosque. Can you imagine how calmly Khawlah (ra) presented her case? There was no shouting, no wailing and no usage of bad words. It was because she did not intent to get the matter off her chest, rather she sought solution. She came to the Prophet (sa) only to find out what the couple was to do in such a situation, and how they could make amends.

Allah (swt) calls husband and wife, a clothing. Like a piece of clothing, they are to adorn one another and conceal flaws. This is an intimate relationship where the two people living this close are better aware of each other’s shortcomings than anyone else. Allah (swt) instructs them to screen the flaws and reveal the strengths. They are not supposed to divulge their secrets or publicize their disputes, not even to their parents, children and siblings. One’s spouse should not be the topic of discussion in a friends’ gathering.

May Allah (swt) allow us to honour our contracts and be respectful to one another, Ameen.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

15 Tips to Raising Great Children

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children1) Start by teaching them the importance of worshipping only Allah (swt): The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach  their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (swt) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (swt).
2) Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to our children, they in turn would show kindness to others. Our Prophet (sa) was the best example in being kind to children.
3) Teach them examples: Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn Khattab, Uthman Bin Affan, Ali Bin Abi Talib and others. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world, and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
4) Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Prophet (sa) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people.
5) Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family; and that they have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
6) Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them your company.
7) Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them, and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value.
8) Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
9) Sports: The Prophet (sa) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended- as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing.
10) Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function, and you will find them eager to help you out again.
11) Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
12) Don’t be friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them; keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you, and ask you questions when they have any.
13) Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in the act of Salah (Salat). Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of Salah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
14) Emphasize the Halal: It is not always good to say: “this is Haram, that is Haram”. While you must educate them on Haram things, Islam is full of Halal; and tell your children to thank Allah (swt) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs, and the ultimate blessing, Islam in their hearts.
15) Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islam is filled with Divine advices to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to acquaint them with Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.