Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 13

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Essence of Dhikr

What does Dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah (swt)) entail? Some people confine this to the act of doing Tasbeeh such as: uttering Subhan’Allah and Alhumdulillah. Dhikrullah means to keep Allah (swt) in our thoughts all the time; bearing in mind that He is watching us. One should remember Him by his tongue, his heart and keep Him in his mind. One should know that all tests are from Allah (swt) and that he is sent by Him and will return to Him. This is the source of attaining peace. We learn, “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28) May He make us of the Dhakireen. Ameen.

Make Arabic your language

When one falls in love with the Quran, the first thing that they get upset about is the language barrier. A lot of meaning is lost in translations. Non-Arabs wish they were born in an Arab land and Arabic was their native language. Allah (swt) maintained diversity by making us belong to different races. However, we are encouraged to learn different languages, as this is the sure way of bridging gaps. “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Ibrahim 14:4) Learn Arabic and witness how your understanding of the Quran reaches a higher level.

Goodness comes with gratitude

We all want an increase in goodness and escape from punishment. How can we make that happen? “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

How can we be grateful to Allah (swt)?

We can be grateful by honouring His commands. By offering our prayers at their appointed time and not when we will. Gratitude should be expressed by the tongue, the heart and the limbs. Allah (swt) has blessed us with health; we should make the most of it by serving Him and His religion. Allah (swt) has given us wealth, we should spend it in His cause. If one is told to count the favours of Allah (swt), he would never be able to do so.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa).” (Ibrahim 14:34) This is a challenge to the entire mankind. We miss one thing from our lives and we claim Allah (swt) has kept us deprived. What about the one thousand others things that we have?

Ingratitude belongs to the Shaytan, the deceiver

Ungratefulness is from Shaytan, he beautifies the harmful things for us and we feel as if we are denied. On the Day of Judgement, Shaytan will excuse himself from us. “And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun.” (Ibrahim 14:22) What a devil he is! First he whispers evil thoughts and then backs out from enticing.

Allah’s (swt) assurance of His mercy upon His slaves

While Shaytan conspires for our downfall, what does Allah (swt) assures us of? “Declare (O Muhammad (sa)) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” (Al-Hijr 15:49) Reading this verse what should we say? We should hasten to make the Dua: O Allah! Forgive me and have mercy on me. Grant me peace in this world and the next. Ameen. Again, this is not a license to continue sinning.

We live in times, where mosque which is free to enter, but is empty; while clubs which cost several thousands to enter, but are packed. This is why the verse right after the previous one warns us, “And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” (Al-Hijr 15:50) Thus, we must not indulge in acts that can lead to His painful punishment.

Islam is protected by Allah (swt) alone

Next, we learn about a miracle that was given to Muhammad (sa), “Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers.” (Al-Hijr 15:95) Each time the scoffers mocked the Prophet (sa) – they were either punished for the words they uttered, or they were guided because of that. How were they guided? Each time someone decides to damage Islam by drawing caricatures, more people become interested in Islam and embrace it. There were many people during the time of the Prophet (sa), who wanted to harm him; but within moments, they were testifying that Muhammad (sa) is the Prophet of Allah (swt). While such incidents of blasphemy hurt us, we must remember Allah (swt) is the In-Charge here, He will hold the perpetrators accountable.

The matter that requires our attention is that when a non-Muslim disrespects Islam, we come out on the streets, carry out protestations, burn vehicles, damage property and gather all the energy to endure heat and discomfort. But when the call to prayer is given in the mosque, we don’t budge. We are so far away from our own religion, why criticise the non-Muslims? Reverts are much better than some of the born Muslims. May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.

It is natural for a tender-hearted person to be distressed by what’s happening around them. Allah (swt), the All-Knowing, knows the hearts of His slaves, “Indeed, We know that your breast is straitened at what they say.” (Al-Hijr 15:97) This was His assurance to Muhammad (sa).

Sunshine or rain – He is the domain

What should one do when he is suffering? He says, “So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” (Al-Hijr 15:98-99) Rain or shine, we must never forget the purpose of our creation. If things are good, praise and thank Allah (swt). If things are not so good, have patience, praise and thank Allah (swt). The Day of Judgement will settle all disputes. Prostrate whenever you can, because that is the closest we can get to Allah (swt).

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)


Top 5 Challenges to Learning Quran & Arabic

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

CHALLENGE #1: I don’t have enough time.

We all claim to be too busy to achieve every one of our goals. But how much of our time could be used for something more productive? A LOT! We have to train ourselves to be more disciplined with our time.

CHALLENGE #2: I’m too old / too young.

No matter the age, in today’s world there are innovative ways for every one of us to learn…anything! That includes Quran and Arabic.

CHALLENGE #3: I’ve taken classes before, but no results.

There are courses which have provided results for tens of thousands of students around the world.

CHALLENGE #4: I’m bad at languages.

Allah (swt) has made the Quran and the Arabic language easy to learn and understand…you just need to do your part by putting in sincere time and effort to learn. You will be shocked at how simple it can be.

CHALLENGE #5: I’m not religious enough.

Don’t ever underestimate yourself, or let someone else tell you what it means to be “religious”. No matter your level of spirituality, you should be trying to improve yourself all the time. What better way to do so than by getting closer to Allah and His Book?

Adapted (with permission) from an inspiring email sent by Bayyinah Institute

The Power of Dua

duaI was about 20 years and I absolutely, head over heels, fell in love…

I went into a Masjid in Ramadan. I heard a remarkable scholar explaining the Quran. I had not read the Quran, except in translation before that day. I heard him speak about the Quran in the form of almost a conversation. You know in the Quran Allah (swt) is speaking to us directly. I felt this direct speech of our Lord for the first time. The scholar was doing this every night of Ramadan for about 4 hours at a stretch. He went through the entire Quran in this fashion.

I attended this entire series with him because I was hooked completely; I was mesmerized by this Book. I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t have any clue… any idea about what this Book was. This Book was always there and I always thought I had read something from it or some translation; I felt I had an idea about what it says or what it has to say. But when I heard what it really has to say for the first time, I felt that there’s like this person in it… there’s this Book that I love so much and I have no relationship with it.

Of course the barriers were many including the knowledge of it, and even the language. I had no idea what the Arabic language was. Not a single clue!

You know what was the only thing that I could do at that time? It was to make Dua!

I just asked Allah (swt) something very simple. I didn’t even know how to ask it in Arabic or anything. I didn’t know any Dua by heart.

I asked Allah (swt): “O Allah! I love Your Book. I love Your Book! I’d love nothing more than to learn it and to teach it! Just make it easy for me to learn it. And make it easy for me to teach it because I love Your Book!”

That’s all I asked and I swear to you by Allah (swt)! I am a terrible student of anything; I am absolutely horrendous specially in learning languages.

I was not a good student in college. I used to hate studying. You know if I ever had sleep problems, the easiest way for me to catch some sleep was to open up a text book and ten seconds later… apathy would lead me to the world of dreams.

I’d have 12 hours of solid sleep because nothing would knock me out like studying. Luckily the teacher, who was presenting the Quran, also happened to be taking an Arabic class. When I attended his class, it was like knots opening up. I couldn’t stop studying. I couldn’t put the books down. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was doing like conjugations and going through grammar in my sleep. I was studying it in the train. I was doing it at work, at school, all the time!

I just became obsessed with it. What people around me found so difficult, Allah (swt) made it so easy for me. I knew something had just happened. Allah (swt) had given me a gift in response to my Dua. I tell you: to this day, if I try to study anything else I have a hard time. But when I study Quran, I can spend hours and hours and hours – and it’s easy for me.

Alhumdulillah! It’s a gift of Allah (swt) to me. But this was something that I had personally experienced in terms of the power of the Dua.

Original transcription courtesy; edited by hiba’s team with permission.

Review: Get Fluent in Arabic

book1Being multilingual in today’s world is not only an asset but a necessity. The world has shrunk, bilingualism is commonplace, and as people scramble to gain an edge over others, adding a third or fourth language to one’s credentials is desirable.

Moniur Rohman’s book, “Get Fluent in Arabic” is basically a self-help motivational genre. He takes the reader along for his personal struggle in learning Arabic, with anecdotes and experiences that at times detract from the message. ‘Get Fluent…” is divided into four parts titled:-

  1. The Four Basic Skills
  2. How to Approach Learning Arabic
  3. Tools
  4. Going Abroad

In Part One, Rohman explains to the reader that there are two types of skills required when embarking on the language journey – Receptive and Productive Skills. The language student must train all four of these skills (reading, writing, listening & speaking) to attain fluency. He talks about the benefits of each skill. This is common knowledge to any person who has learned any language, even his mother tongue.

The book, in Part Two introduces the reader to popular language accusation methods used by teachers all over the world. He denounces the Grammar-Translation method and advocates the Direct Method, using language immersion – the author moves to Egypt to study Arabic. I like his tip about not knowing ‘difficult’ words in Arabic, so he uses simpler words to describe what he wants, still using Arabic. For example, if you want to say, “The car has four wheels.” However, do not know the word for wheels, say, “The car has four circles,” but do not under any circumstances switch to your first language.

The book gives valuable advice to a novice seeking to learn Arabic, and for seasoned veterans I like his list of resources and self-check milestones scattered throughout the book.

Part Three, talks about the various ways he tried, failed at and succeeded in. Mostly it is about his experience living and studying at an Institute in Egypt. Rohman mentions the difference between Fusha (classical) and Ammiyah (vernacular), but does not dwell on it. To understand Quran you need Fusha, but to carry on a conversation with a native speaker you use Ammiyah. This part is by far the most useful; I found his analysis of the various opportunities including pros and cons very practical and informative.

In my opinion, Part Four is really common sense and didn’t need to be in the book. It talks about the pitfalls of staying in a less developed country that anyone can just Google in this day and age.

The book gives valuable advice to a novice seeking to learn Arabic, and for seasoned veterans I like his list of resources and self-check milestones scattered throughout the book. I feel his personal incidents in the Introduction detract from the value of the book as resource for Arabic Learning. My favorite parts in the book were Rohman’s summaries at the end of each chapter in Part One, his website resource list and advice on Arabic books and dictionaries.