Emulating Gardens of Eden…


                                      Image Courtesy www.edendomain.wordpress.com



The Almighty Lord promises eternal heaven to His righteous servants, and gives detailed descriptions of the wonderful life that awaits them. In the land of ceaseless happiness and beauty, believers will have everything their hearts desire, while sorrow and grief leave them forever.

By the grace of Allah (swt), we are, to an extent, able to picture the beauty of life in heaven.

For instance, the verse that reads, “The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2) have been promised is that in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine delicious to those who drink; and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure) therein for them is every kind of fruit;” (Muhammad 47:15) – makes it clear that beauty of paradise is beyond imagination.

Muslims throughout history have striven to emulate those beauties on Earth in an attempt to glorify the name of Allah (swt). As a result of this noble ambition, Muslim civilizations from Ottomans to Al Andalus, and from Abbasids to Iran, have been able to produce some of the most incredible art the world has ever seen.

The blue mosque in Istanbul, the Nasirol Molk Mosque in Iran, the legendary gardens of Alhambra Palace, and Taj Mahal, are only a few of those architectural wonders inspired by the beautiful descriptions of heaven in Quran.

Since, gardens are given a particular mention in the Quran, Muslim architects paid special attention to their gardens, and produced exquisite designs based on the descriptions they found in the Holy Book of Islam. Alhambra Palace and its magnificent gardens in modern-day Spain is a grand example.

Under the Caliphate of Córdoba, Al Andalus was a beacon of culture; and the city of Cordoba, shone as a cultural and economic centre in Europe. The civilisation was so advanced; many intellectual achievements that propelled humanity forward, such as trigonometry, astronomy, surgery and pharmacology, came from this part of the world. At a time, when Europe was grappling with the darkness of the Middle Ages, the Muslim civilisation of Al Andalusia thrived and prospered.

Unsurprisingly, Al Andalusia had some of the finest examples of garden landscaping. The elements of flowing water, shade and lush greenery that were amply used were drawn from the descriptions of heaven in Quran. 

In Quran, our Lord refers to gardens underneath which rivers flow. In Alhambra, Granada, the Nasrid dynasty designed a beautiful series of magnificent courtyards that sought to create such scenes- as much as possible- in worldly terms. In these courtyards, water was always at the centre.

The Court of Myrtles, a large pool bordered by myrtle hedges, and the Court of Lions, with its exquisite fountain, are just two examples. The gardens that extend from the courtyard form another series of courtyards.

However, they were made not by walls, but by hedges and trees, effectively creating secluded areas, as yet another attempt at emulating gardens of Paradise. Rose, jasmine and violet gardens and orchards were common sights. Fig, pomegranate, cherry, citrus, peach and almond trees with their abundant blossoms and fruits played important roles in gardens inspired by descriptions of heaven in Quran.

Despite these impressive achievements of Muslim civilizations, today’s Islamic countries paint a completely different picture.

Stagnation, radicalism, poverty, and backward societies dominate the majority of the Islamic landscape. No doubt this is mainly due to Muslims’ abandonment of Quran, which effectively deprived them of all the beauties Quran provided, including the refreshing and authentic art insight.

Nevertheless, it is never too late to correct mistakes and return to the essence of our beautiful religion. Once the Muslims embrace the real Islam in Quran, abandon the superstitions that give rise to radicalism and bigotry, they will rise stronger than ever. When that happens, there is no doubt that the art and culture that was once envied by the world will shine once again.

A Warm Welcome to Winter


Just take a walk amidst the cold

You will find a ray of hope

Those white snowy lands, and chilly winds blowing

Makes you realize that Allah (swt) is All-Knowing

He knows the human psyche so well

That He has offered us with variety, to happily dwell

They say winter is depressing, and drains one’s power

I say winter is the month of believer, and an energizer

We often hear people nag about the drop in temperature

It has blessings in disguise; let’s make use of this venture

Days are shorter, nights are long

Return spiritually to Him- to whom we belong

Fast the days, and pray the night prayers

Rekindle the faith, and keep it with care

Activities are put to halt, atmosphere is lazy

Read Quran to remove any perception that is hazy

It is an opportunity to be in love with your Rabb, and strengthen the tie

Buckle up O Muslim, for time flies.


Keep Your Doors Locked: An Introduction to Shaytan and his Avenues

locked door“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.”(Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers are Momineen, a rank higher than Muslimeen. In the above verse, Allah (swt) addresses the believers- the believers who submit to their Lord. Their thoughts, action, speech and silence- are all out of submission to Allah (swt).

Faith is not like a glass of water you can drink. It rises gradually like tiny droplets of rain showering gently. Faith increases with knowledge and application combined. Allah (swt) brings Deen forward to those who are prepared to receive it out of submission. They don’t question why, what, how, where, who, etc.

What prevents people from submitting to Allah (swt) and entering Islam fully?

The Prophet (sa) warned: “The Shaytan (devil) flows in a man like his blood.” (Abu Dawood). He is naturally aware of our weaknesses. Hence, plots against us. He injects evil ideas and makes them seem fair. He beautifies actions of disobedience.  But, our Nafs is more powerful. Shaytan may throw ideas into our mind and heart like a ball. It is up to our Nafs to catch them or let them pass. We need to be vigilant and strict about our fleeting thoughts. But if, our Nafs forms a treaty with the Shaytan, we will belong to the companionship of Shaytan.

The first door through which Shaytan enters is that of desire

He uses this door for majority of the people. The scholars call this entrance ‘Al-Bahimah’ cattle-like. The trial of Adam (as) and Hawa (as) started with food. They were commanded not to go close to a particular tree, and Shaytan tempted Adam (as) to eat of it in order to become immortal. The consequence was that they had to leave Jannah.

Shaytan builds attraction around food, drink and intimate relationships. This is especially relevant to Ramadan, when Allah (swt) forbids indulgence into Halal to train our Nafs against Shaytan. But, Shaytan’s mission is to make us indulge excessively into food and sexual relations.

How can we guard ourselves?

Make Dua to Allah (swt). Eat Halal (permissible) and Tayyab (pure) only. Ask yourself before eating: “Am I really hungry?” Avoid overeating- as it poorly affects our worship, mannerisms, moods, etc. Don’t force-feed a sick person, a guest in the house or a small child. Do not equate food with love.

The second door through which Shaytan enters is that of anger

The scholars call this entrance, ‘Sabaiyah’ like wild animals. An angry person just wants to attack. He carries a burning feeling in his heart.  Anger also leads us to pride and arrogance. Shaytan whispers to people to take revenge, instead of forgiving them.

As a result, we act disgracefully- regretting our actions later. He turns us into a Zalim (oppressor) whom Allah (swt) hates. Instead, Allah (swt) loves Muhsinun (who act beautifully) and suppress their fury.

The third door through which Shaytan enters is the door of Hawa

Shaytan makes some people obey their moods and conveniences. The scholars call this entrance ‘Shaytaniyah’ demonic. They may worship Allah (swt) as much as they like to, in the manner they like to and not be bothered about what Allah’s (swt) commands are. For them their personal choices matter more; hence, they pick and choose. Hawa is like a stubborn child. It will jump into a deep swimming pool simply because it appeals to it.

This attitude is opposite of Taqwa- the state in which you obey Allah (swt) regardless of your own desires and feelings.This sin can be originally seen in Iblees, who used to worship Allah (swt) out of desires because he found pleasure in it. But, when Allah (swt) commanded Iblees to prostrate before Adam (as), Iblees refused.

There is a difference between Shahwah and Hawa. Shahwah is restricted to excess in food, drink, sleep, relations, etc. But Hawa is dangerous, because it prevents a person from entering Islam completely. He embraces some parts and rejects the rest. He is entirely dictated by his moods. He creates innovations.

The cure is to know Allah (swt). Renew our intentions to gain knowledge only to please Allah (swt). And to analyze every action we take.

The Pharaoh, his Helper and the rich man

In Surah Qasas, Allah (swt) relates the story of Korah (Qarun), “Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. When his people said to him: “Do not be glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours). Verily! Allah likes not those who are glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours).” (Qasas 28:76)

The Surah begins with the story of Musa (as) and Pharaoh, followed by Haman, who is Pharaoh’s Army Chief and ends with Qarun’s tale of worldly riches. As in other stories, we do not know the time and place of where the events took place specifically, and so those details are not important. This story is narrated exactly as my grandmother told me many years ago.

Nani Jan (grandmother) talked to me because I had been given a warning from school about skipping class: Beta (child), you will always be known by the company you keep.

Me: What do you mean? Am I not accountable only for what I do?

Nani Jan: Yes, you are – but what you do is always influenced by who your friends are. Let me tell you a story of a tyrant king, his army chief and a rich man from his court.

Me: Oh, this sounds very interesting. I would love to be rich and buy whatever I want. No need to collect pocket money to buy treats.

Smiling a gentle, wise smile my grandmother started: Once upon a time there was a great nation, but it had its roots in evil, slavery and oppression. The king was called Firawn, and he forced his subjects to call him God. He enslaved an entire nation of people called the Israelites, and forced them to do whatever he commanded. His power was absolute in his kingdom, and no one dared challenge it. Firawn had helpers to maintain his power and evil. His biggest ally was his Army Chief – Haman. Haman used his physical strength, to oppress people and carry out his king’s orders of murder and injustice.

They also had a third partner, his name was Qarun. He was not of the people of Firawn, but he was from the slave race. Yet, due to his servitude to Firawn, he was rich and helped to subjugate his own people.


Most of the slaves were struggling for one meal a day and Firawn would kill the male babies and keep only the female babies alive. He would order Haman to abuse the slaves. The Israelites were believers in Allah (swt) and they told each other that Allah (swt) will surely send someone to help them against the evil Firawn.

As true believers, their heart never accepted doing the wrong thing – calling Firawn God, or oppressing others. They also never gave up hope of Allah (swt) saving them. These are signs of true Muslims. Even though, they could do nothing; they knew in their hearts that what Qarun was doing was a sin. Their test was long and hard, but they knew that help was on the way.


Since, the rest of Qarun’s people were true believers, they warned him not to be arrogant. They told him to invest in the Akhirah (hereafter) and seek only Allah’s (swt) pleasure. But Qarun’s friends were Firawn and Haman, he wanted to be like them; hence, he did not listen to his well-wishers. He thought they were jealous.

“But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).” (Qasas 28:77)

So, Qarun was blind to his faults and told the people, “He said: “This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without account).” (Qasas 28:78)

Me: But Nani Jan, can I not spend my money on myself? Must I always give everything away? That is just not fair. I work hard to earn my pocket money.

Nani Jan: Beta, Islam teaches us the best way, the moderate way. We can definitely use our portion of the wealth we have, but we must also remember to share with others. Be good to others as Allah (swt) has been good to you. So, when you see someone who might have more wealth and better things, thank Allah (swt) and know that it is a test.

Me: So, what happened next? Qarun was wealthy and he enjoyed his wealth. He was happy. What is so bad about that?

Nani Jan: Qarun, did not do anything to help others. In fact, he started to show his wealth off so others would feel sad and hopeless about what they did not have.

“So he went forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: Ah, would that we had the like of what Qarun (Korah) has been given? Verily! He is the owner of a great fortune.” (Qasas 28:79)

“But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The Reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth).” (Qasas 28:80)

Qarun was Dunya-centric. He did not care about what Allah (swt) had commanded. His friends did not advise him to help others. He was occupied in pleasing his desires only. He thought, “I am smart and know how to create wealth, others are stupid. Allah (swt) has not given me all this. I have earned it by using my intelligence.” Qarun spread mischief by parading his wealth; his intention was to show others that he was better than them all. The significance of the heavy keys mentioned in the verse are not that he locked the wealth to keep it safe, but that wealth is a heavy burden- a difficult test from Allah (swt) for the true believer.

Qarun was Dunya-centric. He did not care about what Allah (swt) had commanded. His friends did not advise him to help others.

Now some people, who did not know better, wished they had what Qarun had. But Allah (swt) tests each of us in His own way. We must go beyond the appearance, and be patient in whatever our test is. It could be knowledge, wealth, fame, fortune, poverty etc.

“So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves.” (Qasas 28:81)

“And those who had desired (for a position like) his position the day before, began to say: “Know you not that it is Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it to whomsoever He pleases of His slaves. Had it not been that Allah was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! Know you not that the disbelievers will never be successful.” (Qasas 28:82)

Now, those who desired his wealth and position knew that it is only Allah (swt) Who gives and takes. Allah (swt) is the only One Who can decide what is right for you. People thanked Allah (swt) for not being as wealthy as Qarun, or as arrogant. They were convinced that only the Hereafter is the ultimate goal, and only the pious will have a good end.

“That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqun.” (Qasas 28:83)

“Whosoever brings good (Islamic Monotheism along with righteous deeds), he shall have the better thereof, and whosoever brings evil (polytheism along with evil deeds) then, those who do evil deeds will only be requited for what they used to do.”. (Qasas 28:84)

Oh Allah (swt), shield us from the wealth trap. We are not Qarun, we do not envy him. In fact, we do not want to be mentioned along with him. His is not the company we want to keep.

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

Let Allah (swt) Guide us in Distress and Weakness

ShipStormIn times, when confusion and misguidance is rife and we can’t tell our foes from friends, when people, whether believers or disbelievers, are made to believe lies and led to hopelessness, we need to seek refuge in Allah (swt) instantly.

Our Creator has not just created us and left us to our own devices to wander around in this world blindly. There is a clear guidance for all situations for those, who believe.

The following invocations from the Quran and Ahadeeth will help us stay steadfast on the truth and secure peace around us, Insha’Allah. Please recite with an intention to obey Allah (swt). Also, share with all. Support the truth by actions and condemn injustices whether in your house, workplace, schools, road and market place.

May Allah (swt) always be our only Guide and provide us refuge from Shaytan’s schemes. Ameen.

1. “I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan.”

2. “My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shaytin (devils). And I seek refuge with You, My Lord, lest they may attend (or come near) me.” (Al Muminun 23:97-98)

3. “I seek refuge in Allah (swt) from being among the ignorant.” (Al-Baqarah 2:67)

4. “O Allah (swt)! I became obedient for You and believed in You, reposed faith in You, turned to You and fought by You. I seek refuge with Your honour, lest You might not lead me. There is no true God other than You. You are Ever-Alive. You never die, while the Jinn and the human beings die.” (Muslim)

5. “O Allah (swt), I seek refuge in You from the evil of destiny and from falling into the hand of calamity and from the mockery of (triumphant) enemies and from the hardship of misery.” (Muslim)

6. “O Allah (swt), I seek refuge with You from poverty, I seek refuge with You from want and humiliation, and I seek refuge with You from wrongdoing others or being wronged.” (An-Nasaai)

7. “O Allah (swt), I seek refuge with You from being overwhelmed with debt, from being overpowered by the enemy and from the enemy rejoicing over my misfortunes.” (An-Nasaai)

8. “O Allah (swt), I seek refuge in You from the bad day; from the bad night; from the bad hour; from the bad companion; and from the bad neighbour of the house of abode.” (At Tabrani)

9. “O Allah (swt), I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Abu Dawud)

10. “I seek refuge with Allah (swt) from turmoil and its visible and invisible aspects; and I seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the afflictions of the one-eyed liar.” (Ibn Hibban)

Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 14 & 15

pearlGain awareness – ignorance is not bliss

In Surah An-Nahl, Allah (swt) warns us against jumping to conclusions, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any but men, whom We inspired, (to preach and invite mankind to believe in the Oneness of Allah). So ask of those who know the Scripture (learned men of the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)), if you know not.” (An-Nahl 16:43) Here we learn the significance of being knowledgeable. People who acquire knowledge have a status above the ignorant ones.

Talking about ignorance, one of the practices in the days of ignorance was to bury the female child alive. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief!” (An-Nahl 16:58) Our Prophet (sa) strove to banish this evil custom from the Arabian Peninsula; sadly however, it has crept into our societies today. Despite all the awareness, people still make faces when a daughter is born. Women are divorced for delivering a baby girl; even though they are not given a choice!

How will we face Allah (swt) in the hereafter?

He decides who gets a son and who gets a daughter. We can’t fight His will. For some people, Allah (swt) has ordained only male children; we don’t know the reason behind it. But Allah (swt) knows. So thank Him. For some people, He has ordained only daughters; they are their Paradise. Thank Allah (swt). Girl is an Amanah; (trust) you only look after her for some time, for someone else. People who don’t have children, perhaps it is destined for them to get closer to Allah (swt) through this test. Having or not having children is not a scale to assess someone’s success. Some people do not benefit from their children at all. Look at the wives of the Prophet (sa). Other than Khadijah (ra) and Mariah (ra); none of them had children from the Prophet (sa). But they were never depressed. All of Prophet’s (sa) children, except Fatimah (ra), passed away before him. The best of creation lost many of his children, but was he depressed? Hence, sit with those who have knowledge and learn from their wisdom.

Justice – order of the day

Allah (swt) commands us to be just, “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet (sa) in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e. all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e. all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (An-Nahl 16:90) Notice that justice comes before good conduct. It is because while it is virtuous to forgive people like Yusuf (as) did, no one can expect us to keep forgiving- despite their continuous disrespect and oppression. Seek justice, it’s your right; however, avenge your heart from anger.

Our journey – to this world and back

There are times when one does not have anything. He is low in terms of his worldly status. Then Allah (swt) expands his provision and instead of being grateful, he becomes haughty. “Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (An-Nahl 16:96)

Presently, man misses his prayer for one more phone call, one more email, one more business transaction and one more task of the world. When he will enter Paradise, he will forget everything that he was given in the world. Jannah contains that which no eye has ever seen. It’s precious and free from filth. Man would look at his own wife and feel as if he is looking at her for the first time. No rancour or grudges. Let us not become arrogant for the blessings that Allah (swt) has gifted us. Rather, let us use those blessings for His cause. Give Him your wealth, your skills and your resources for a better return in the Hereafter.

Don’t strive for more – the day is close

Let us not waste our time here because Allah (swt) says, “(Remember) the Day when every person will come up pleading for himself, and everyone will be paid in full for what he did (good or evil, belief or disbelief in the life of this world) and they will not be dealt with unjustly.” (An-Nahl 16:111) The more things we possess, the more answerable we will be on that Day. It will be said, “(It will be said to him): Read your book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.” (Al-Isra 17:14) The poor (mentioned as Miskeen in authentic narrations) will be the first ones to enter Paradise, because they had very little rights upon others. Those who have been blessed by Allah (swt) have been informed of their responsibilities towards others. If we fail to honour their responsibilities, there will be people on the Day of Judgement fighting against us. They will take away our good deeds and there will be no help.

Polite invitation towards Deen

As Quran touches our hearts, it is equally important to speak to people in such a way that it has a positive effect on their hearts; especially when one is calling them towards Allah (swt), Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa)) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.(An-Nahl 16:125)

Use kind words and good speech to win hearts. Do not be harsh and condescending. The Prophet (sa) won people over by his beautiful conduct and gentleness. (If you lack confidence, recite the Dua of Prophet Moosa (as) (Ta-Ha 20: 25).)

Who deserves our kindness the most?

Our parents! If your parents are alive, exert yourselves in serving them. If they have passed away, make Dua for their forgiveness and an elevation of their status in the Hereafter. May Allah (swt) make us and our children a source of continuous charity for parents. Ameen. Our parents and household was chosen by Allah (swt). No child picks his own parents. Therefore, families are one of the tests decreed. Children are a test for their parents, and parents are a test for their children. Remember the phrase: As you do so shall be done unto you. Be kind to your parents; give them your love and respect, and above all give them your time.

Allah (swt) says, And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy…” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

“Uff”- the prohibited word!

“Uff” is a word uttered in rebuke. We should remember they are our parents. They fed us, looked after our needs, raised us, made arrangements for our education and upbringing, and did whatever they thought was right for us. If we feel they have failed in some aspects, then we should let it go and forgive them. Look at how the instruction of good treatment is followed by a Dua. Allah (swt) instructs us to say, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small. (Al-Isra 17:24) When we feel cold towards our parents, we should go back and check our Islamic history. Read up stories of the Companions (ra) and learn how they were with their parents. Some of them had non-Muslim parents; yet they never dishonoured them. Some of them were oppressive; yet the Companions (ra) never lost their good conduct.

Parental tyranny

We come across incidences of parental abuse even in Muslim societies. Today, being a parent is not enough. One must beseech Allah (swt) for his own uprightness. If we are not upright ourselves, what would we be teaching our children? Parents complain of their children not respecting them, have you reflected upon your own behaviour? How do you speak to them? How do you carry yourself around them? May Allah (swt) make us responsible and upright parents; and enable us to fulfil the rights of people around us. Ameen.

Spending rightfully

Look at what He says further, “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .” (Al-Isra 17:26) After spending on one’s own family, a person must look at the needs of his relatives, who might not be wealthy, and travellers who are strangers in a new land. Even though begging is despised; but never rebuke a beggar. Utter a kind word and turn away.

Next, Allah (swt) commands us not to be wasteful. Extravagance is one reason why people are unable to give in charity. We spend so much on ourselves in superfluous things that we have little left to give in Allah’s (swt) way. Wastefulness is ingratitude. We should not indulge in the worldly life so much that we lose our focus – the Paradise.

Balanced expenditures

Not being wasteful does not mean living like a miser, And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra 17:29) Islam recommends choosing the middle path. Neither be extravagant nor stingy. Keep a balance. Spend on your needs and occasional indulgences. We learn in Hadeeth that the best Dinar that a man spends is a Dinar that he spends on his family. (Muslim)

Why are we stopped from extravagance?

Extravagance instils haughtiness. And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.All the bad aspects of these (the above mentioned things) are hateful to your Lord.” (Al-Isra 17: 37-38) So why be haughty and demean others by means of our wealth when everything is from Allah (swt)?

Peace – the order of Jannah

“And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best.” (Al-Isra 17:53) Allah (swt) commands us to be careful with our words; which is why we see that one of the treasures of Jannah would be “no foul speech”.

Shaytan – the open enemy

“(Because) Shaytan (Satan) verily sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy” (Al-Isra 17:53) Shaytan, the known enemy to mankind, provokes us to gossip, back bite, slander, and hurt others. Let us not use the resources that Allah (swt) blessed us with, in evil deeds. Let us indulge our tongues in reciting the Quran, praising Allah (swt) and calling people towards His path. Let us consider another person’s reaction before we open our mouths. Let us remember that the angels near us are recording every word that we speak and every deed that we perform. Let us be people of Shukr and not those of Kufr.

How can one become a Kafir?  

By turning away from Allah (swt) despite enjoying all His favours, “And when We bestow Our Grace on man (the disbeliever), he turns away and becomes arrogant, far away from the Right Path.” (Al-Isra 17:83) What are the repercussions of distancing from Allah (swt)? He loses hope, And when evil touches him he is in great despair.” (Al-Isra 17:83)

Hope vs. fear

A believer should live his life between hope and fear. Hope that Allah (swt) will forgive him and fear for what if He doesn’t. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) would say, “If it were announced from the heaven: ‘O people! You are all entering Paradise except one,’ I would fear to be him; and if it were announced: ‘O people! You are all entering the Fire except one,’ I would hope to be him.”

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


Trials as Blessings for the Believers

trials-and-tribulations“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)

It is certain from the following verses of the Quran that Allah (swt) will test those who believed in one way or the other- as He tested the believers before. These tests may be in the form of hunger, loss of a loved one or health, or wealth as stated in the Holy Quran: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Why believers?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “This world is prison for a believer and heaven for the disbeliever.”

But why these tests are specified only for those who believe? What is the wisdom behind it?
Firstly, it is to check the level of their Iman – to make sure, whether they are strong enough to bear a calamity with an unwavering Iman; and secondly, to wipe out their sins – to purify them for the Akhirah.

Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Trials will continue to befall the believing man or woman on himself, his child and his wealth until he meets Allah (swt) with no sin on him.” (Tirmidhi)

It was narrated by Anas (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) wills good for His slave, He hastens the punishment for him in this world; and when Allah (swt) wills ill for His slave, He withholds the punishment for his sins until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi)

Aisha (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The believer is not harmed by a thorn or anything greater, but Allah (swt) will raise him in status thereby, or erase a sin thereby.” (Muslim)

The wisdom behind testing the believers through trials and tribulations is that they are made to remember Allah (swt) on account of these adversities. This makes them accustomed to remember Him and keep their thoughts busy with Him. It is natural for the believers to seek and turn to Allah (swt) for help in adversities; while in the times of comfort they forget and neglect it. A believer’s heart only gets content and rest while he remembers Allah (swt) as it is stated in the Holy Quran: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

How to deal with trials and tribulations?

Allah (swt) has stated in the holy Quran that the most powerful methods to bear calamities and trials are being patient and seeking help from Him through prayer.

“And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashiun (i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

Inspiration from the Prophets (as)

a) Prophet Adam (as)

Allah (swt) forbade Adam (as) to eat from the forbidden tree in paradise; but he got impatient and listened to Iblees. As a result, he gained Allah’s (swt) wrath and was sent down to earth. It took forty years of Dua and patience by Adam (as) to be forgiven.

b) Prophet Yusuf (as) and Yaqoob (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was sent to prison for the crime that he had not committed, but he remained patient and was released after several years; while, on the other hand, Yaqoob (as) met his son after the patience of thirty-four years.

c) Prophet Ayoob (as)

Prophet Ayoob’s (as) story is the most famous story of patience and forbearance. He remained patient during his illness, which lasted for eighteen years, and kept supplicating.

The reward for the patient ones

The trials and tribulations faced by the believers, who remain patient and rely on Allah (swt), never go un-rewarded. This is what Allah (swt) has promised in the Holy Quran:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

“And be patient; verily, Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers.” (Hud 11:115)

May Allah (swt) place us among the patient believers, to whom Allah (swt) has promised greater rewards. Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

perla negraWe now begin Surah At-Taubah. Since it begins with the mention of Allah’s (swt) anger and wrath, we notice that unlike other Surahs it does not begin with Bismillah. May Allah (swt) not deprive us of His mercy and forgiveness. Ameen.

Be cautious – this world deceives

Again, there is a reminder to not to get deceived by the treasures of this world such as wealth and children. He says, So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad (sa)); in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of the this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (At-Taubah 9:55) May Allah (swt) make our wealth and children a source of comfort for us and means for entering Jannah. May these blessings don’t pave our way to destruction. Ameen.

Beware of mocking Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

Then there is a warning against mocking Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and His verses. The hypocrites would come in Prophet’s (sa) gathering, give their verbal acknowledgement to whatever they learnt and when they met each other in private, they would confess their disagreement. Each time that happened, Allah (swt) would reveal their true condition to Prophet (sa). Sometimes, we receive jokes about heaven and hell, the angels and other matters of the Unseen. We read them and laugh with our friends and family. Allah (swt) says, “If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (sa) that you were mocking?” (At-Taubah 9:65)

This is not something to be taken casually; read what Allah (swt) says next about such people, “Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.)” (At-Taubah 9:66) Such a person is out of the folds of Islam. A Muslim leads a conscious life; he doesn’t get carried away by what’s happening around him. Delete such a message and reply them back with this verse. It could be that they don’t even know this verse is there in the Quran.

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

Among the many traits of hypocrites, one is that they will not leave anyone without defaming and ridiculing him in all circumstances, even those who give away charity. If, for instance, someone gives away a large amount, the hypocrites say that he is showing off. If someone gives away a small amount, they say that Allah (swt) stands not in need of this man’s charity. Al-Awfi narrates from Ibn Abbas (ra) that one day while the Prophet (sa) was collecting charity, a man brought a Sa’ of dates (a small measure of food grains). He said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! This is a Sa’ of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa’ of dates for my work. I kept one Sa’ and brought you the other Sa’.” The Prophet (sa) ordered him to add it to the charity. The hypocrites standing their commented that Allah (swt) and His Messenger are not in need of such small charity. What benefit could it bring? After that, came a rich man who wanted to give four thousand Dirhams in the way of Allah (swt). About him the hypocrites said that he gave this much amount to show off. It is the characteristic of Allah (swt) that He exposes those who lie and defame His righteous believers.

Hence this verse was revealed, “Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:79) A small or huge contribution does not matter. What matters is the person’s sincerity and that his wealth was earned from Halal means.

Sincerity in charity

Talking about sincerity, sometimes when we want something, we passionately make Dua and put a condition in it. We say, “O Allah (swt)! If such and such happens, I will be regular in my prayers,” or “I will give some particular amount in charity.” You know what is better than this? That we make ourselves punctual in our prayers and gave Sadaqah out of our willingness rather than putting a condition on it. Why treat Allah (swt) like a baby who you can trick with a candy for getting some work done? Allah (swt) says, “And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous. (At-Taubah 9:75). Know that if one can cheat their Maker, they can cheat anyone. May Allah (swt) forgive us and correct what is wrong within us. Ameen.

Zakat – an obligatory charity

Allah (swt) says, “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (At-Taubah 9:103) This command is about the obligatory charity that is Zakat. Zakat is a means for purification and increment of one’s wealth. Therefore, do not be stingy with your Zakat. How can we protect ourselves from the Fitnah of stinginess? By knowing that the wealth that Allah (swt) has given us is not ours to keep. He gave us this wealth so that we could spend it in His cause, helping the needy and the poor. Note that in the verse, the Prophet (sa) has been instructed to make Dua after collecting the Zakat. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when one is collecting donations or charity, he should make Dua for the well-being of donor. The Prophet (sa) prayed in the following words:


بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

“May Allah bless you for what you kept and what you gave away.” (Ibn Katheer) Such a statement will act as a reassurance for the donors and encourage them to contribute in future as well. Insha’Allah.

Levels of believers

Now we learn about the levels of believers, Allah (swt) says, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100) Look at their honour. We need to be very careful about what we say about the Companions and the righteous slaves of Allah (swt). We must ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the company of His righteous servants, so that we may aspire to raise our status in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

One is known by the company he keeps. It either guarantees one peace or snatches it away. However, good company promises goodness. An evil company only increases us in evilness. Reflect on your social circle. Are they bringing you closer to Allah (swt) or only distancing you further? If it’s the latter, do not be shy to break away from them or at least maintain minimal contact. Your Iman and Hereafter is more important than anything else in this fleeting world.

Diversity in Ummah

Then we learn about the diversity in Ummah, “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At-Taubah 9:122) Some people will go out to fight. Some will stay back to teach Quran and matters of religion. This is a great encouragement, especially for the women. Women sometimes feel their task is limited to raising children and managing the house. Allah (swt) has honoured women greatly with these responsibilities. The little Momins, Insha’Allah, will be tomorrow’s scholars and soldiers of Islam. By staying at home, you can focus on your association with the Quran, learn it, live by it and teach it to others. In Islam, no one’s role is insignificant. We make it trivial only by our thoughts. Change your thinking and reflect on your skills: How can I contribute in Allah’s (swt) way.

We have been talking about the certainty of tests in one’s life; in Surah At-Taubah Allah (swt) gives us reminders regarding afflictions. He says, “See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” (At-Taubah 9:126)

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

The purpose is that a person may draw himself closer to Allah (swt). There is nothing more that Allah (swt) appreciates than a servant being engaged in Astaghfar. Astaghfar does not mean that you are a sinful person. The Prophet (sa), who was the best being ever lived on the earth, used to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness 70 – 100 times a day.

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

As we are talking about Muhammad (sa), let’s see how Allah (swt) describes him, “Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (sa)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (sa) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Are we kind and merciful to one another?
  2. Do we grieve over the sufferings of one another?
  3. Are we concerned about one another?

Again we are reminded of good conduct. If others do not reciprocate kindness then say, “Hasbiya Allahula ilaha illa huwa alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbu al-arshi al-atheem (Allah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.)” Surah At-Taubah ends at this Dua. These words should be part of our daily remembrance of Allah (swt).

May He open up our hearts and minds to give Him our very best. Ameen.

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

Understanding Surah Asr – 3

time management sunnahTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

“By Al-Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd).”

Don’t wait to do good- It is now or never!

Many times, when you have to give advice, you hesitate. You wait for a better time. You keep waiting and that better time will never come. The sense of urgency is in the word “Tawasi”. “Wasiya” is also when you bequeath someone with property. What you are to offer someone is literally of value. When you give someone good advice, they reply with, “But I’ve seen you do this, what about you?” Most of us are reactive when we receive advice. When you are on the side of giving advice, you take the good of it and leave the bad.

“Tawasi bil Haq”

First, it is mentioned generally to do good deeds. Then one specific good deed is mentioned i.e. patience. Allah (swt) puts patience at the end and “Haq” first, to emphasize the nobility of good.

This Surah challenges us to change our definitions of success and failure.

The true essence of faith

A lot of people consider faith to be just a declaration. You could claim it as a lack of knowledge but in reality it’s an attitude; the assumption that we have faith, and the assumption that faith alone is enough. What does it mean to have faith? From a legal point of view, anyone who declares the Shahadah has faith. Legally speaking, anyone who claims to be a Muslim, is a Muslim. Then there is the matter of the distinction that Allah (swt) Himself makes in Surah Hujurat.

He says, “The bedouins say: ‘We believe.’ Say: You believe not but you only say, We have surrendered (in Islâm), for Faith has not yet entered your hearts.” (Al-Hujurat 49:14)

What people assume to be “Iman” (faith) is actually just the declaration of Islam. Faith is in the heart. The first thing inside the heart is faith, the second is revelation. If you memorize the Quran, it resides in your heart. The third thing, among others, associated most with the heart is Dhikr (remembrance). These three things are inter-connected.

In Surah Al-Anfal, “The believers are only those who, when Allâh is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qurân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith” (Al-Anfal 8:2)

The easiest gauge of faith is your Salah (prayer); “Allah would not be one to waste your faith.”(Al-Baqarah 2:143) This verse refers to prayers as “faith”. So where goes the statement, “I don’t pray, but I still have faith”? The second misconception that once you have faith, you don’t need deeds is crushed in this Surah. What kind of faith is this that you don’t have action? If we internalize this, we know that our faith will not survive, unless we have action.

A Believer vs. Those who believe!

The difference between two commonly used terms in the Quran, “believers” (Muminoon) and “those who believe” (Allazeena Aamanu): one of them is verbal (those who believe), the other (believers) is a noun. In Arabic, a verb is temporary, it is not stable, but a noun is fixed. “Believers” is used for people of mature faith. It is always used in a positive aspect. However, with “those who believe”, you may not find nice things. You find Allah (swt) saying to them, “those of you who believe, believe!” Become true believers. “Those who believe!”—category of those who are not necessarily doing well. “Believers”—mature faith who have already attained success.

The three core pillars of faith: “faith in Allah (swt)”, “faith in the Message” (the Book and the Messenger), and “faith in the Afterlife”. Sometimes people take one or two of these and say their faith is complete. If you do that, you will fall into a serious psychological imbalance.

Faith in the Messenger of Allah (swt)

Sometimes you can say something about the Messenger (sa) that can waste your Iman. On one hand, you have people who love him so much that they end up giving him a status beyond a human being. On the other hand, you have pseudo-intellectuals who treat him as just another historical figure. “It’s just a Hadeeth.” “It’s not even in the Quran.” The Surah Muhammad, Fath, and Hujurat discuss faith in the Messenger. When Allah (swt) mentions the Prophet (sa) in the Quran, He doesn’t use his name, and if He does, He says “RasulAllah” next to it. In the Quran, “O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet (sa), nor speak aloud to him in talk as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds may be rendered fruitless while you perceive not.” (Al-Hujurat 49:2) In order for good deeds to count, you must have faith.

Fruits of faith

Tranquility: you come to terms with the fact that all deeds are rewarded.

Iman: a treasure that you get to keep when you do good deeds. But what kind of person would you be if by feeding a hungry person, you would get more food back, but you still wouldn’t do it?

This statement is very empathetic because both the preposition and the verb have been repeated.

Haq: “truthfulness” means that you convey the advice in a truthful and sincere manner, holding nothing back. “With truth”, refers to Quran, that you counsel each other with Quran. Someone’s losing hope, how do you do “Tawasi bil Haq”? Through Quran, quote Quran to them: “My slaves who have violated against their own selves, don’t lose hope in Allah’s Mercy!”(Az-Zumar 39:53)

It’s easy to sit behind a microphone and talk about these things to strangers. It requires courage to do this with family. It requires patience.

What does “Sabr” mean? Patience, perseverance, commitment, constancy.

“It is to have the same level of obedience to Allah (swt) whether in ease or in difficulty.”(Ibn Taimiyyah)

Fidelity and forbearance is the key

Good people, who are working for Islam, may lose heart at all the criticism they receive. You must do “Tawasi bil Sabr” with them; tell them to be patient, no matter how difficult things get. They will appreciate it. Those who do work for this Deen; whether you are doing work for Islam inside your house or outside it, are under direct attack of the Shaytan. You must have patience and obedience to Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) speaks to us and He knows what kinds of lives we lead. There are brothers and sisters who are active in spreading Islam, but they have some very bad habits. They need someone to do Tawasi bil Sabr with them, to tell them to hang on.

These statements are in the past tense. Why not mention it in the present tense? It implies that these people spent their entire lives doing Tawasi bil Haq and Tawasi bil Sabr. You can never stop until death.

They are encouraging each other with patience. The way you deliver it requires patience, and what you are recommending them to do is patience.

These four things are connected to each other. If someone loses Sabr, they will not be able to do Tawasi bil Haq.

This is the shortest Surah, but also the heaviest Surah. It will change your attitude towards success and failure. Your time to get serious about faith, action, Tawasi bil Haq and Tawasi bil Sabr is short. May Allah (swt) make us of those who successfully fulfill the conditions of Surah Asr. Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anfal

Akoya_pearlQualities of a believer

Right in the beginning of this Surah, Allah (swt) describes the qualities of a true believer. He says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone).” (Al-Anfal 8:2) May Allah (swt) strengthen our Iman. Ameen.

These are those who say, “I have tried my best. Rest is all in the Hands of Allah (swt).” And they are content with that. Their other qualities are: “Who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and spend out of that We have provided them.” (Al-Anfal 8:3) We need to check ourselves. Do we have these qualities within us? If yes, then Allah (swt) says, “It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and Forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise).” (Al-Anfal 8:4) May He grant us Paradise and bless us with all the qualities of the true believers. Ameen.

Honouring claims and contracts

He then says, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him (i.e. Messenger Muhammad (sa)) while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: We have heard, but they hear not.” (Al-Anfal 8: 20-21) Several times during the day, we recite Surah Al-Fatihah, and beseech Allah (swt) to show us the right path. When the right path is shown to us, we turn away. Allah (swt) says when the message has reached you; when you have been informed what is right and what is wrong, then do not turn away. Do not become of those who claim we are the followers of Muhammad (sa). But when a command of Allah (swt) comes, they cannot be bothered to act upon it.

Once again we are reminded about the virtue of honouring contracts, Allah (swt) says, “O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know (the consequence).” (Al-Anfal 8:27) Marriage is a contract similar to business contract. By being Muslim, you naturally become an ambassador of Islam. Do not bring a bad repute to Islam because of your behaviour. Many people do not want to engage with the Muslims because of their deceit and clandestine behaviour.

Stay honest with entrusted responsibilities

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:28) Your wealth and children are a test from Allah (swt). He can take them away whenever He desires. They are not yours; you have only been entrusted with their responsibility. He may never bless you with wealth and children; He may bless you with wealth but not give children; He may bless you with children but deprive you of wealth or He may give them both to you and then take them away during your lifetime or after you are gone. This is a great reminder to not get attached to that which in reality belongs to Allah (swt). He can snatch it any moment.

All belongs to Allah (swt)

When an attachment is snatched away, a person loses his peace of mind and contentment. He complains and grieves for his loss. He utters ungrateful words. And when that happens his Iman begins to diminish. May Allah (swt) strengthen us and help us accept that we will suffer loss in this world.

Taqwa – The key to right decisions

In life, we are faced with miscellaneous decision-making. We wish we had a counsellor that we could consult with; Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong, or Makhraj, i.e. making a way for you to get out from every difficulty), and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you, and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” (Al-Anfal 8:29) What do we learn from this? The only thing required to make the right decision is Taqwa. If we are conscious of Allah (swt), He will grant us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Insha’Allah.

It’s either my way or the highway

This brings us to another important matter – in fact a great Fitnah of our times. Everyone is disagreeing with the other. The ideology is: if you do not follow my belief, then you have clearly gone astray. This continuous fighting has divided the Ummah immensely. Many people don’t come near the religion because they cannot understand who is right and who has deviated. Allah (swt) says, “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

The enemies are rejoicing as the Muslims fight among themselves. Let us reflect on our behaviour, be forgiving and reduce the distances between the Ummah.

We notice that in the Quran, the reminders for prayer and obligatory charity are frequently mentioned. It is because reminders benefit the believers. Each time we are reminded, we learn something new.

Consistency is the key

Allah (swt) loves those acts of worship which are done consistently. Doing them strengthens our Iman. And abandoning them can have serious implications on our heart’s condition. If you are content with worshipping and obeying Allah (swt), then you are among those who have understood their purpose in life; and know where they are heading to.

Test or punishment?

As Allah (swt) says in verse 53 of Surah Al-Anfal that He will not change a favour which He has bestowed upon His people; unless they change what was given to them. When that happens, then people deserve the gifts to be taken away. Having said that, we should remember that sometimes taking away of the favours is a test, instead of a punishment. How can one distinguish between a test and a punishment? Your heart’s condition will tell you. If your heart remains content and you say “Alhamdulillah” even in adversity, then Allah (swt) intends to increase your status by this test. On the other hand, if a calamity distances you from Allah (swt), then it could be His punishment. May Allah (swt) forgive and protect us. Ameen.

How can we nurture contentment in our hearts?

Let go of disputes and disagreements and forgive people. Look at what Allah (swt) says about confrontation with enemies, “But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:61) Allah (swt) is asking us to make peace with the enemies if they give up fighting too.

Opt for a ceasefire; this initiative will bring you peace

If there’s someone who has had an estranged relationship with you, and he now wants to mend it, then hasten to make peace with him. It is a sign of a good believer that he is the first one to apologize and forgive. Keep forgiving others and keep your heart calm. You might want to deal with that person differently, but do forgive them. “And if they intend to deceive you, then verily, Allah is All-Sufficient for you. He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers.” (Al-Anfal 8:62)

If they deceive you after making peace, then make Dua for them instead. Because Dua has the power to alter conditions. And in this we have the best example of Prophet (sa). When two greatest enemies of Islam were creating hurdles for him, he made Dua for the softness of their hearts so that either of the two would come and work for Islam. Reflect on this Dua.

Truly Muhammad (sa) was the mercy for mankind. Within moments we hear Umar ibn Al- Khattab (ra) has embraced Islam. Subhan’Allah! See the power of Dua? One of the mightiest opponents of Islam became one of the strongest proponents of Islam. A seemingly impossible situation was made possible. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength that Umar (ra) was blessed with. Ameen. Continue making Dua and you will witness the fruit.

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

Preparing for Eternal Happiness

Eternal Happiness

We all want to be happy! Alhumdulillah, as Muslims Allah (swt) has provided us an opportunity to attain eternal happiness that is in Jannah, of course.

While we are mentally prepared to go to Jannah and experience Allah’s (swt) exquisite bounties, many of us are not prepared for the transit journey, leading to our final destination: death.

How many of us talk about death or even think about it? Death is often discussed. We attend funerals and watch death depicted in the mass media. However, this is not the accurate depiction of what we as Muslims believe about death. As a result, many different misconceptions have taken root in our minds; a few common ones are discussed below, Insha’Allah:

I am a Muslim, so I have a free ticket to Jannah

Many of us believe that just because we were born into a Muslim family and belong to some lineage of pious ancestors, it automatically guarantees our entry into Jannah, regardless of whether we pray or fast or perform any good deeds. Nothing could be further from the truth! Allah (swt) is not impressed by titles. We need the right deeds and mindset to get to Jannah, Insha’Allah. The Qur’an dispels this myth in the following manner:

“That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Al-Baqarah 2:134)

I’m too young to die

This commonly repeated phrase is heard in countless action movies. When faced with a deadly situation the protagonist dramatically exclaims, “But I am too young to die!” And then he/she struggles to cheat death, proving to be successful and you see them triumph, living “happily ever after.” So, is there really an age when one can be considered too young to die? As Muslims we must remember that death can come any time regardless of the person’s age and you cannot cheat death.

When I die that is “The End” of my story

The mass media causes us to believe that while we are on this earth, we have all the time to enjoy ourselves, and be successful and happy. When we reach the grave that is ‘the end’ and nothing happens after that. My loved ones will weep over my grave, and then everyone will move on – end of story.

In reality, Islam tells us that when we are lowered into our grave, two angels Munkar and Nakeer will come and ask us questions. This period is called “Qiyamat As-Sughrah” or minor resurrection. In the grave, our judgement begins and based on this our place in Jannah or Jahannum is decided. We don’t sleep in our graves as many of us are led into believing. We bide our time and wait for the actual Day of Resurrection.

The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.

As we clear our minds of these common yet deadly misconceptions, we need to also learn why remembering death is a key element of our spiritual well-being and existence.

The first and foremost reason is the need for preparation. This test is greater than any other worldly examination for which we have prepared. Do you think it’s a wise thing to avoid or delay preparing for such a big exam coming up? We know that death is certain to come. Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

“Everyone is going to taste death…” (Al-Anbiya 21:35)

Striking the right kind of balance

When we constantly remember death, we are able get our priorities straight.  One doesn’t burden oneself too much with the temporary goals of this world where one only finds short-lived happiness in materialistic luxuries like the latest cars or designer clothes. Rather, he/she only gives as much attention as is necessary for the smooth running of his affairs but his heart yearns for Jannah and Allah’s (swt) pleasure and that is his true goal.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has the hereafter as his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, makes his affairs focused, and the Dunya will come to him whether or not it wishes to. And whoever has the Dunya as his goal, Allah will place poverty before his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing from the Dunya will come to him except what was decreed for him.” (An-Nasai)

The sign of an intelligent believer

A man came to the Prophet (sa) and asked: “Which of the believers is most virtuous?” He replied: “The best in character.” He asked: “Which believer is most intelligent?” “Those who remember death the most, and are best prepared for what is coming after it. They are the intelligent ones.” (Ibn Majah)

The wise thing to do is to remember death and prepare for it. To avoid thinking about it and kidding ourselves will only lead to our loss, not only in this world but in the Akhirah too.

Remind ourselves that we do not have a lot of time

Once, the Prophet (sa) heard his wife, Umm Habibah (ra), praying: “O Allah, allow me to enjoy my husband, Allah’s Messenger (by prolonging my life), and my father, Abu Sufyan, and my brother Muawiyah.” The Prophet (sa) responded, “Truly, you have asked Allah about time spans which are designated, days which are already numbered, and provisions which are already divided. Allah will not hasten something before its time or postpone something after its time. Had you asked Allah instead to save you from the punishment of the fire, and the punishment of the grave, it would have been better for you.” (Muslim)

Further, it is mentioned in the Quran: “And on the Day when He shall gather (resurrect) them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and graves) but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other. Ruined indeed will be those who denied the meeting with Allah, and were not guided.” (Yunus 10:45)

Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it. 

Imagine the extent to which individuals will regret their actions on that day if they spend all our lives in useless endeavours, running after temporary enjoyment and gains, and end up with no good deeds to make the scales heavy in the Akhirah, by means of which they can attain Allah’s (swt) mercy.

Cultivating the quality of Ihsan in our worship

At times, we complain that when we stand to pray Salah, we easily get distracted. When we extend our hand to give charity, we find our intentions tainted with motives other than Allah’s (swt) pleasure. The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.

A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “Oh Messenger of Allah give me advice and summarize it.” The Prophet (sa) said: “When you stand to pray, pray as if it is your last prayer, don’t speak with that which you would apologize for tomorrow, and be hopeless for that which is in the hands of the people!” (Ahmad)

Be amongst the successful ones

“Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah’s cause – Jihad,]. And who believe in (the Quran and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad [sa]) and in that which we sent down before [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell,) They are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:3-5)

In this world, everyone seems to have a different definition of success. Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it. This success is the means through which we can live lives of eternal happiness, the kind of happiness we have never experienced before. So, if we remember death as we live through each day, we can rid ourselves of the love for this world and diligently work towards attaining eternal happiness in Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Transcribed from a lecture that was part of a workshop titled “Quest towards Happiness” conducted by “Friends of Allah- Al-Wali” in 2013. Email: friends.of.allah.al.wali@gmail.com

Image courtesy http://www.danielmiessler.com