Salat-ul-Istikhara – A Refuge from Stress

Istikhara                                                   Image Courtesy www.missionislam.com

 

At first, the realization that fortune telling is forbidden in Islam saddened me a bit. But I knew there must be an alternative that Allah (swt) must have provided for us Muslims. When Allah (swt) provides us with a dozen doors, and we have to turn the knob of only one then how can this laborious task become easier without a peek at the future? 

The Holy Prophet (sa) bestowed his Ummah with an ideal treasure that is enormously better than future prediction known as Salat-ul-Istikhara.

 

“Istikhara” means to seek goodness from Allah (swt). When a person does Istikhara, then it is as if he is entrusting Allah (swt) with his decision of a complex situation. He seeks His forgiveness, knows that He is All Merciful and Trustworthy, and will help him in making the best decision which no other person is capable of doing.

 

It was narrated by Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (rta) that: The Prophet (sa) used to teach the way of doing Istikhara in all matters as he taught us the Surahs of the Quran. He said: “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job, he should offer two Rakat prayer, other than the compulsory ones; and after praising Allah (swt) and asking for His forgiveness and mercy, he should recite:

Istikhara duaa

 

“O Allah (swt)! I seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might); I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and I do not have the power. You know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action ———————————————— (which I intend to do) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here (in this world) and the hereafter then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings (Barakah) in it, for me. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain (destine) that for me and then make me satisfied with it.”

 

Once the person is done with Istikhara, then Allah (swt) will bless him with some form of indication- either through a dream, or through his inclination towards a particular direction. It is not necessary that a person will get a proper indication in his dream. Some Ulemah are of the opinion that a dream about some fruit, soothing thing is an indication that Allah (swt) is pleased with the decision. And, if he dreams about something burning, or any dangerous animal, or red color- then it means that the particular decision is not good for him. But, this answer of Allah (swt) in a person’s dream has become a misconception.

It is not necessary that a dream will show Allah’s (swt) will. Instead, Allah (swt) will mold the person’s intention to what that is good for him, and will turn him away from that which is bad.

 

Istikhara can be repeated for seven days- in case a person does not feel satisfied with the particular decision. However, the misconception of Istikhara to be done only when a person is taking a life changing decision like marriage, switching jobs etc. should be removed. Istikhara can be performed for even little decisions of life like taking up courses, deciding a methodology for a project, doing a particular task or not etc. Imagine how an advice from Allah (swt) in small decisions of your life can make them the biggest and blessed ones. And, as a consequence, you will only find satisfaction, salvation and a determination to build a stronger relationship with the One responsible for writing your fate.

 

 

A well-prepared welcome to Ramadan

ramadanRamadan is just around the corner, and we are still busy in our day to day routine. Well, this article is for the “Rush- Hour personalities”; those who don’t find much time to spend on Ramadan preparation, or are lazy enough to do so. Either way, if you just start working from the first night of moon sighting, you will still be able to spend Ramadan in an effective sinless way. But firstly, we should know the significance of the first night.

Why is the first night of Ramadan important?

It is reported from Prophet (sa):“Surely Paradise is decorated the whole year for the Ramadan to come. When the first night of the Ramadan comes, a wind called “Musira” blows from the bottom of the skies. Leaves of the trees of Paradise, and the handles of Paradise doors, shake strongly; and therefore, such a nice sound is heard that listeners have never heard a more beautiful sound than that.Thus, the Hur of Paradise appear standing at the highest point of Paradise and say:“Is there anybody who wants to marry? Allah (swt) marries him.”Then Hur says: “O the keeper of Paradise! What night is tonight?”The keeper replies with respect: “Tonight is the first night of the month of Ramadan. The doors of Paradise were opened for those from the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) who observed fasting.” (At Targheeb wa’t-arheeb)

In another Hadeeth of Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, the Prophet (sa) said: “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious Jinn are chained up; and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist. And Allah (swt) has those whom He frees from the Fire, and that happens every night.”

It is the first night where the preparation for Ramadan begins in the unseen world. Every one welcomes Ramadan. Hell is shut down and the doors of Paradise open up for the believers. The whole year before Ramadan, a believer is caught up in the tangled web of deception created by Shaytan, trying to fight his way out of it. But, he could not find time and strength to worship Allah (swt) as it should be done. The first night of Ramadan is indeed a glad tiding for the believers to revive their Iman. In the first night of Ramadan, Allah (swt) chains up the mischievous Jinn and devils to ease His servants, so that they can take complete advantage of this blessed month, and can proceed with their good deeds or worship uninterrupted.

What to do on first night of Ramadan?

1. Be grateful to Allah (swt)

The very first thing to do on this night is to thank Allah (swt) that He gave us life, and another chance to accumulate the blessings of this month. Considering the uncertainty of our lives, we should know that we might not live up to the next Ramadan. So if, Allah (swt) has chosen us to live through this Ramadan, then one should take complete advantage of this opportunity.

2. Sale on rewards- Make the most of it!

Second step is to chalk out a plan for the whole Ramadan. Plan will include the complete time table of Salah, Suhur, Aftar, Taraweeh, Quranic recitation, Nawafil (voluntarily prayers), Lailatul Qadr, Itekaf, Extra deeds (Dhikr, Tahajjud, Dua, charity, volunteer welfare work etc). Each and every minute of our day should be planned in order to avoid any time wastage or miss out the blessings of this month.

3. Avoid T.V. “The Viral”

Third step is very crucial, i.e. to lock away our usual entertainment gadgets. Television is the most common ‘Shaytan’ inhabiting our houses. Other cyber Shaytan along with television are the shield against the blessings of this month. One might say that there are several Islamic programs on T.V. regarding Ramadan, and they seem quite helpful; but trust me, they are of no use if Allah’s (swt) blessings are tossed away from your roof top. Hence, on the first night of Ramadan, shut away your television sets in your store rooms. Islamic lectures and Fiqh of fasting could either be listened in recording, or read in authentic Islamic books and magazines. If you must watch T.V. programs, or lectures regarding Ramadan, then do it all before the first night of the blessed month. And when the first night approaches, cut off all the distractions.

4. Motivate the children to do good deeds

Our fourth step includes motivating our children. First night can be the best opportunity to think through the plans of guiding and inciting the younger members of our family for Ramadan. The elders of the house should lead the younger members, and assist them in spending their time in worship and good deeds. Special attention should be given to children who have reached puberty, and it is their first month of fasting.

It might be a very hard experience for them- especially when Ramadan is in summer and the time duration of fasting has increased. Help them to recite Quran, engage them in positive activities and focus on Nawafil. If some particular child doesn’t have a habit of prayer prior to Ramadan, then help him/her in developing the habit of praying five times a day. Try not to push them hard for extra volunteer prayers, for that would scare them away even from obligatory prayers.

5. Charity is the best policy

Fifth step will be regarding Zakat and charity. As it is the month of blessings, we should try to give away as much charity as possible apart from Zakat. On the first night of Ramadan, sort out your clothes, shoes and other useful accessories that are extra than your usual need, and are in good condition, give them out in charity. Preparing Suhur and Aftar for others can also be the best charity.

6. Ramadan resolution for a big revolution

Sixth step can be very significant, where one can make a resolution, an oath to him/herself. It can either be a tiny thing or a much bigger promise depending on the stamina and level of Iman. That resolution can include the commencement of any virtue; letting go of any bad habit (sin), or taking up any good habit starting from this Ramadan till the rest of your life. One bad habit left, or one good habit added every Ramadan could lead to a revolution in one’s life. And if, every person of this Ummah starts practicing this, it can yield a much bigger result on a mass scale.

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.

I know I am Blessed

blessings

I cried just because I didn’t get what I expected
I laughed because I got what was unexcelled.

My expectations arise,
My desperation begins.

More! More! More! engulfed me,
Looting away happiness from me.

My faith weakened,
My life shaken.

I observed my circumjacent,
I felt complacent.

I bow down to the Almighty,
And I got back the felicity.

I am blessed I know this,
I am endowed I assured this.

The Benefits in Being Grateful

thankGratitude (Shukr) is an important characteristic; and the one who instills it, is endowed with great blessings.

Allah (swt) says, “And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” (An-Nahl 16:78)

Also, it is mentioned, “Allah, it is He Who has made the night for you that you may rest therein and the day for you to see. Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind give no thanks.” (Ghafir 40:61)

Gratitude infiltrates a person with happiness, and evicts pressure and anxiety. It teaches one to be content and happy in whatever state he is. Also Allah (swt) has made mankind grateful by nature; thus, we should express gratitude- not just to Allah (swt), but also to the people we deal with.

Many a times in the Quran, Allah (swt) divides people as being grateful and ungrateful in order to motivate us to join the camp of those who are grateful. In one of such verses, Prophet Sulaiman (as) said, “One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!” then when (Sulaiman (Solomon)) saw it placed before him, he said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his ownself, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his ownself). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful.”(An-Naml 27:40)

Gratitude is escorted with many blessings. Some are discussed below:

Gratitude- A blissful attitude

We, today, are busy like robots; having full plate and swamped by work the whole day- we tend to forget the countless blessings around us. Being grateful to Allah (swt) helps us to focus on the gifts gifted to us by our Most Generous Lord Allah (swt); and hence, it reminds us that everything is decreed by Allah (swt), and whatever happens with us is by the will of Allah (swt).

As He says in the Quran, And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.” (An-Nahl 16:53)

He also says, “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.” (Ad-Duha 93:8)

Let’s therefore, constantly remind ourselves of Allah’s (swt) bounties by expressing our gratitude to Him in prayers and at other times.

Gratitude- The best mind craftBy paying gratitude for our blessings, prevents us from focusing on other peoples’ lives and blessings. When we allow our minds to look into other peoples’ lives, we welcome a lot of different problems and negativity along with it to enter our brains. Let’s therefore, use gratitude to motivate ourselves to look for solutions and possibilities, and not the negativity associated with the problem.

Gratitude- Wards off Allah’s wrath

Allah (swt) is happy with His slaves if they are thankful to Him. Such people are protected from all evil- hidden or evident. If you are not grateful, then one deserves wrath and resentment of Allah (swt). We know that if Allah (swt) were to punish us for our negligence, He would be justified for it.

He says in the Quran, And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His slaves. (Fatir 35:45)

At the same time though, Allah (swt) provides us a way to escape His punishment by being thankful to Him. He says, Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147)

Gratitude, therefore, is not an option; and we should clean our hearts to thank Allah (swt) for everything that He has provided us, for not doing so would bring the displeasure of Allah (swt).

It teaches us to slow down, rather than always waiting for our next wish to come true. It trains our minds to be happy and content with our blessings, today and always

Gratitude- A self-guide

It teaches us to slow down, rather than always waiting for our next wish to come true. It trains our minds to be happy and content with our blessings, today and always. It also shows us that if we are not happy with our life today, then we will never be happy with the blessings to come tomorrow. It helps in controlling the unnecessary wants and desires by restraining our Nafs; and recognizing that we have what many people are yearning for. Gratitude is a sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more, but rather from a sense of knowing that Allah (swt) has already blessed us with what we need. In one of the Ahadeeth reported by Ahmad, the Prophet (sa) said: “…if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second, and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third. The stomach of the son of Adam will be filled only with dust (i.e. he is never satisfied)…” (Saheeh Al-Jaami’). So, let’s use gratitude to enjoy what we have today, rather than fretting over it and losing it tomorrow.

Patience

With restraining our Nafs, comes the lesson of patience as well. As per Ibn Qayyim, “Patience in resisting desires is easier than patience in dealing with the consequences that result from desires. It is because consequences either lead to pain and punishment; or they prevent a more complete pleasure; or it deprives one of a blessing which would be more pleasurable and better than the fulfillment of desires; or they cut off an oncoming blessing; or they have a life-long negative impact on one’s character – because deeds have a great impact on one’s character and behaviour.” (Al-Fawaa’id) Exercising patience against the forbidden commands prevents us from harmful results coming thereafter.

Good attitude, Good life

Gratitude makes us less demanding and teaches us to remain happy in all states. Thus, personal desires fulfillment can be easily sought with less. As a result, we can be happy with others easily by having fewer expectations, which thereby, withdraws burden from our close relationships. This trait makes our company more pleasing instead of making us unhappy, demanding and burdensome for other people.

Gratitude says go to ego

Holy prophet (sa) made it quite evident via his sayings that thanking Allah (swt) also comprises of thanking people who have done any favour on us. To be grateful to people is also an important factor. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra): “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah (swt)” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi) He also said: “Whoever does you a favour, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him until you think that you have reciprocated him.” (Abu Dawood )In another Hadeeth, he said: “Whoever has a favour done for him, and says to the one who did it,‘Jazak’Allah u Khairun,’ has done enough to thank him.” (Tirmidhi) Let’s therefore, ensure that we do our part to sincerely thank our families and those who have done good to us.

 Actions speak louder than words

The prophet (sa)  continued to strive for His pleasure, although his sins were forgiven. It was narrated that A’isha (ra) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (sa) prayed, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. ‘A’isha said: O Messenger of Allah (sa), why are you doing this when Allah (swt) has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O ‘A’ishah, should I not be a thankful slave?” (Bukhari, Muslim). Let’s, therefore, pray the Nawafil to thank Allah (swt) for His blessings.

Gratitude augments one’s blessings

Allah (swt) says, “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)

Let’s, therefore, make thanking Allah (swt) an integral part of our morning and evening remembrances (Adhkar) to get Barakah in our blessings.

Gratitude- Allah’s (swt) pleasure here and hereafter

The People of Paradise will say, “You (Allah) have given to us what You have not given to anyone among Your creation,” Allah (swt) will say to them, “Shall I not give you something better than that?” They will say, “What is it? Have You not brightened our faces, and admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?” Allah (swt) will say, “I bestow My pleasure upon you, and I will never be angry with you after that.” (Muslim)

What better reward can we expect? So, why not be grateful to Him for what He has blessed us with?

Finally, remember that being grateful is not an option, but an obligation; and being one brings us closer to those whom we thank and appreciate.

Conclusion

Gratitude’s importance was emphasized by the Prophet (sa) when he took the hand of Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal and said: “O Mu’adh, by Allah (swt) I love you, by Allah (swt) I love you.” Then he said: “I advise you, O Mu’adh, do not fail to say this after every prayer: O Allah (swt) help me to remember You, to thank You and to worship You properly.” The Arabic version of this Hadeeth is the following. Let’s ensure that we memorize it and recite it after every prayer.

Finally, remember that being grateful is not an option, but an obligation; and being one brings us closer to those whom we thank and appreciate.

We can be grateful to Allah (swt) by utilizing our blessings, the way Allah (swt) has ordered. For example- if we have enough money, we should give a lot of Sadaqah and the prescribed amount of Zakat. This way Allah (swt) will increase our blessings. Similarly, if someone has adequate knowledge in any subject, the best way to be grateful is to spread that knowledge and expect its reward from Allah (swt) solely. This way gratitude helps us to seek Allah’s (swt) pleasure; and aids in transmitting positive energy around us by carrying an optimistic dynamism.

In a nutshell, gratitude is very essential for building strong relationship with the people in this Dunya;  and of course, our association with Allah (swt) will also have an impact, consequently affecting our Akhirah.

 

Appreciate Allah’s Blessings – Before They Are Taken Away

Small-paper-boats-in-water_1920x1200Losing your father when you are only three days old makes you feel devastated when you learn about it. Sounds like an emotional dialogue, isn’t it? However, some events in our life take place to make us strong which unfortunately some people fail to realize.

At the age of seventeen, when I was told by my grandmother that some people at my dad’s funeral named me as an unlucky child for the family- that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I felt so bad even my mother’s words were not enough to console me although she read inspiring Islamic stories to me and told me not to get worried over such things; she told me she loved me and I was a blessing for her.

I felt she was only uttering those words to make me feel better. I did not change my thinking and told some of my friends about this. I felt really embarrassed because I am an introvert. However, as it is said, “good friends are a blessing,” which was very true in my case. They helped me to think about the blessings which I had and forget about the past.

My mother has always strived hard to make me feel content for whatever I have and to be thankful to Allah (swt). But, I took really long to appreciate the countless blessings I have. Whining about not having a father and a lavish lifestyle did not end until I lost my grandmother at the age of twenty one.

That moment changed my thinking. Why did I fail to realize that when Allah (swt) takes something away from you, He compensates in some other way? Why did I fail to understand that Allah (swt) had blessed me with my grandmother, who had always been supportive and understanding? I felt so ashamed of myself, and began to realize that Allah (swt) is the best planner; and we are no one to term our lives as unfair. Life isn’t unfair and it can never be; we human beings term it as unfair which is not true. Allah (swt) loves us more than seventy mothers, so how can we even think that our mothers would do or plan something which is unfair?

Alhumdulillah for what I have! May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path. Ameen.

Discover Yourself: Break the Shackles of Inferiority

fish2Often in shopping malls, restaurants, educational institutions and in family functions, there is this girl who is trying to hide herself from everyone around. With eyes defining both fear and sadness, she wishes to be as beautiful as the girl sitting next to her. She wants to become as fairer, taller and confident as this girl in order to avoid the fear of being compared and the sadness that consequently follows it. But, her wish list goes on as the number of people she comes across in life is countless. These wishes increase each day when she meets someone better than her; her heart aches and she finds herself devastated. This scenario, with a few subjective variations, is something that goes on in many peoples’ lives. Not only girls, but boys too fall prey to inferiority complex. They are letting this plague take over their lives to such an extent that they are willingly stepping into the dungeon of depression. It would be well suited to use the word ‘willingly’ because no child is born with an inferiority complex. It is later in life when he/she learns to make such choices on the basis of various stereotypes the society is following.

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings.

Stereotype is Hype

A stereotype is a widely accepted view that is applied to a particular social category and every individual in it- without deeply knowing what that particular individual is like. Beliefs like all dark complexioned people are aesthetically inferior, men are insensitive, people who wear glasses are nerds, all riches are successful and lead a happy life, no Hijabi manages to get good marriage proposals or Hijab wearing women are oppressed are some examples of stereotypes that our societies follow. In short, these are man-made criterion that the human race has set to judge one another. Anybody who fails to satisfy these criteria is considered as “The Unlikable”.

Ever since most of us are put to watch TV as kids, we start feeding it in our minds that beautiful girls are as fair as snow, have impossibly tiny waists, are up to date with the latest fashion, and that they have sweet melodious voices to mesmerize everyone around. Such personas are often made to appear kind hearted, caring, well mannered, successful, smart and above all they are the protagonists. The antagonists are likewise made to appear the opposite.

In case of programs that young boys are subjected to, all the successful stereotypical characters own noticeable cars and latest gadgets, play video games, are clean shaven, possess a super muscular body, at times are rich too and above all manage to attract the opposite gender. In short, such stereotypes define gender roles and criteria for physical attractiveness in most of the existing societies. Unfortunately, racial and physical attractiveness stereotyping does not end in cartoons, but lingers on in most of the dramas, movies, literature, and art and even in commercial advertisements- ultimately forming the society’s mentality. Such stereotypes do change with the passage of time e.g. the ideal women in the early 1600s were voluptuous as compared to today’s ideals. People that don’t possess the admirable physical traits highlighted by some sources tended to alter and are still altering with what Allah (swt) gifted them. But, the part of the society that cannot afford to have alternatives catering their demands, fall prey to depression when subjected to never ending criticism.

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination.

Block Criticism – It’s not for You

Criticism occurs as most of us are in a habit of associating positive personality traits with people who seem physically attractive to us without even knowing them completely. In one of the psychological studies on physical attractiveness, male and female subjects were presented with photographs of some men and women from a college yearbook and were asked to rate the pictured individuals on a number of traits. The photographs had been previously rated as very attractive, average, or unattractive. Compared to the unattractive individuals, the attractive individuals were rated as being more sensitive, kind, interesting, strong, poised, sociable, outgoing, exciting, and sexually warm and responsive. They were also rated as having higher status and as being more likely to get married, to have a successful marriage, and to be happy. The only exception to this rosy portrait was that the more attractive individuals were rated as being slightly, but not significantly, less likely to be good parents than neutral or unattractive individuals (Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, 1972).

Imagine the frustration when one has a lock, but the key is nowhere to be found. But to end this frustration it is obvious that one will look for ways to find the key- the solution to the problem. This would be the rational perspective as throwing the lock away would add more to the list of incomplete tasks which when piled up becomes a burden for the whole life time. And this exactly would end up in regrets, and only regrets. In the same way, there are solutions adhering to which one can get rid of inferiority complexes, and some of them are as follows:

  1. The Real Criterion for Superiority

Unlike the changing criteria of society, Allah (swt) the Almighty has put before mankind only one criterion of superiority in Islam that is piety. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Hujurat,

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (i.e. one of the Muttaqun.) Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination. It liberates an individual to such a level where he embraces Allah’s (swt) will. He learns to bow down only before Allah (swt) the Almighty which saves him from bowing down before other peoples’ will. To be more precise, he discovers his true self that connects him with Allah (swt) Almighty, and discards other selves that he had been keeping to please the people. Such ‘selves’ are like masks that are well suited for different desirability criteria set by different people. But, when there remains no need to please the people, since no human was born to do so, one can get rid of these masks and breathe freely in open air. One may become popular by becoming desirable amongst people, but it is only in the remembrance of Allah (swt) that hearts find rest.

  1. Help Yourself by Helping Others

If you had been subjected to criticism because you couldn’t fit in the society’s criteria of beauty or desirability, and intend to bring a revolution in people’s mentality; bring a revolution from within yourself at first. Try not to do to others what you had to face. Sometimes in an attempt to face the harshness of the society we ourselves become harsh in order to fit in it. Along with that pray for the ones who are or were being harsh to you once. Return them with something good and simply follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) who never wished bad for the ones who wished bad for him. It is through forgiveness that you would be able to relieve yourself of the pain you had been carrying all along. Let it go and move ahead with firm belief in Allah (swt) the Almighty. Remember what Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Fussilat,

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)

  1. Acknowledge What You Have Been Blessed with

Most of us don’t know how much we’ve been blessed with ever since our birth; probably because we never took out the time to focus on this aspect of our lives. This happens because most of us are busy noticing what we don’t have, and what others have. For sure if we spend our time thanking Allah (swt) for what we have, we wouldn’t get any time whining for what we don’t have as Allah’s (swt) blessings upon us can never be numbered. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Ibrahim,

“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).” (Ibrahim 14:34)

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings. But, along with that Allah (swt) tests His slaves due to His wisdom that He is aware of, and due to a benefit that He wants His slave to attain. Consider the example of a rich man who has every luxury that any man unlike him would wish for, but despite of the entire treasure, he cannot sleep well at night without taking tranquilizers. On the other hand a farmer with very little income has been blessed with a good night’s sleep. Both have been subjected to certain trials, but they are not deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings at the same time.

  1. Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Do we appreciate doctors, writers, counselors, social workers, Daees, Ulema etc. due to the good looks that they possess? Or is it due to the work that they do? If we’ll manage finding out the answer to this question, we would certainly be introduced to the real meaning of beauty.

  1. Beauty is Culturally Defined

As mentioned earlier, the criteria for physical beauty is different for different cultures. With so many cultures all around, it is difficult to mould one’s self according to anyone. You might end up pleasing a fraction of people, and displeasing another. That is when Islam stands high by bringing in concepts that can be universally acted upon. This is because Allah (swt) the Almighty is aware of everyone’s needs and that is why He revealed to mankind a system that caters each one of us. So, simply bring back what you had lost earlier.

Conclusion

Concluding by focusing all my words to pinpoint one beautiful fact- I would like to say that if you are beautiful by thought, you’ll certainly meet people who are beautiful by heart. For that you don’t need to alter your physical self, but to change your thought. Such bonds that you’ll make will never end up even if you turn old or do not possess the beauty that you once had. To be precise, focus all your energy on doing something that really matters, because the world is becoming short of beauty that comes from the heart – the everlasting beauty. Remember the following Hadeeth for refreshing your Iman:

Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Verily, Allah (swt) does not look for your faces and your wealth; but He looks for your heart and for your deeds.” (Muslim)

The Mountain Peak

jannah-paradiseHow honorable is dwelling with mates,

In Paradise and that’s indeed the best company,

How great is neighborhood to persons of repute,

They will have the pleasure of seeing the Lord,

And listen with delight to His Sublime Word,

With silk brocade being their main garment,

They have their heads crowned with finest crowns,

Inlaid with ornate pearls and rare moonstones,

Or silver that is made of only pure gold

And golden rings and bracelets molded,

Of silver and prettily adorned forearms

Their served food is soft bird meat

The finest of camel that feed on all sorts

And bowls of precious pearls and gold,

Strewn, as seventy thousand, on a thousand tables,

If you feel a thirst and desirous for these,

As much as an exile who yearns for home,

Be as charitable as you can and then you will

Be rewarded for good with that which is best

Prepare for the Gardens of Eden and all

The blessings of it that surely never cease,

Observe fast always and rise in prayer,

For both are indeed acceptable deeds,

Wake in the night and recite Qur’an,

And have little sleep as an anxious one,

Perhaps, your death knell once suddenly tolls,

Your coffin then, not bed, will be the place to rest, How great to shed tears at night,

Due to the fear of the Lord, the Ever Compassionate,

So, lower your gaze and always avoid,

Any forbidden looks and strain to be modest,

Strive and beware of all women’s temptations,

You get them as mates as many hours in Paradise,

Blessed is life there and all its pleasures,

With all kinds of fruit as served in pairs,

Belittle you never any venial sin,

As fire begins with little sparks

Once you sin, be quick to repent,

For fear of sudden death, with no delay,

Sate not your whims and never be excessive,

Allah surely hates greedy persons,

The one who gives in to lust and appetite,

Will suffer forever their two-forked yoke,

So, fast by day to drink your fill

On the day people will be parched with thirst,

There is no good at all in musical instruments,

Or dancing or similar forms of merry-making,

The devout are always afraid of their Lord,

Avoiding listening to music and singing,

They rather recite the Glorious Qur’an,

Especially with melodious and tuneful to ears,

At night, than all those flutes and fifes,

If you just perceive the Doomsday’s horrors,

You would surely flee from kinfolk and home,

Due to its horrors, the skies would crack,

The infant’s hair will turn grey,

Austere and distressful that day will be,

And highly burdensome for humans at all,

that day the devout are driven to their Lord,

With finest of mounts carrying them all,

The wretched, however, are driven to Hell,

Where they will suffer the parching thirst,

So, Heaven and Hellfire respectively will be

For the devout and wicked an eternal abode.

(Published with permission from “On the Mountain Peak” by Dr. Muhammad Al-‘Areefi. Publisher: “Darussalam”)

[Hadeeth Commentary] The Reality of Hasad (Jealousy)

hadeeth3

Related on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Do not be envious of one another; do not artificially inflate prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not shun one another; do not under cut one another in business transactions; be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah (swt). A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. Piety is here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honour.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth is about the rights of a Muslim. A Muslim has more rights upon another Muslim compared to a non-Muslim. This Hadeeth clarifies the things which you should not do to another Muslim. This does not in any way mean that all these things are allowed if the other person is a non-Muslim. Certainly, Allah (swt) demands that we be fair and just to all.

Unity is one of the greatest aims Islam asks Muslims to strive for and Allah (swt) forbids any division among the Muslim Ummah. The Quran urges Muslims in countless verses to remain united. Allah (swt) says: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (which is Islam) and be not divided among yourselves…” (Al-Imran 3:103)

Several guidelines steer Muslims to practice deeds resulting in unity. Simultaneously, Islam prohibits many actions that can lead to divergence in the Muslim Ummah. The very first action that the Prophet (sa) forbids us is envy (Hasad). The fact is that Hasad led Shaitan to envy Adam (as) and lose his status among the angles. Hasad is also responsible for the first sin committed on earth by Cain (Qabil) who murdered his brother Able (Habil).

What is Hasad?

Hasad means desiring the removal of a blessing from somebody else that has been bestowed upon him by Allah (swt). For instance, somebody is blessed with wealth/children/knowledge and you feel Hasad. Hasad is having this feeling in the heart. It is felt in matters of both Deen and Dunya. The envious person actively wishes the removal of the blessing from another person, and wishes for them to get deprived even though he or she might not receive a similar blessing. For example, thinking about how someone is wealthy and always travelling; feeling upset because you cannot do the same. You just do not want another to have something you do not have, or cannot attain.

hasad

 

Ibn Taymiyah also included in the definition of Hasad that one hates the person having a blessing and feels that they do not deserve it, even if you do not know that person. The reality is that you hate something that Allah (swt) has given someone. Allah (swt) distributes the blessings and you are accountable for your feelings.

Levels of Hasad

Ibn Rajab states in his definition that it is part of human nature that a person dislikes anyone who is better than him in virtues. He says that people differ in their attitudes and he lists five categories of envy that people have:

  1. Some people will make the effort through action/speech to end the bounty received by someone whom they envy.
  2. Others will try to take it away from the person they envy and then try to get it for themselves.
  3. Some people do not make any effort by action/speech to harm the one whom they envy. This category of people can be of two types:
    1. The one who does his best to eliminate the feeling of envy within himself but he cannot overcome it. In spite of this, he keeps fighting and struggling against it. Ibn Rajab says: “This type of person is excused from punishment.”
    2. The one who thinks about envy and practices it repeatedly. He does not make any effort to fight it even though he does not do any harm by action/speech. He wishes that the bounty of the envied one gets lost. Consequently, this person deserves punishment.
    3. Those people who envy someone but do not harm. They do not even wish the loss of the bounty from the envied one. Instead, they make an effort to attain a similar bounty or virtue for themselves. Ibn Rajab says: “If this bounty is worldly virtues/ bounties, there is no benefit in that. But if it is a righteous virtue, then it is good.”
    4. Some people who whenever feel envy, they do their best to stop it and do something good for the person whom they envy. Also, they make Dua for that person until they love him because envy is usually associated with hatred. Ibn Rajab says: “These people are the best believers since everyone is subjected to indulge or be trapped by envy.” (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)

We should keep in mind that unlike the sins that are temporary, Hasad is more dangerous and worse as it is in the heart and can last for days and years. For example, drinking alcohol is a sin at the time of the act. But Hasad is a long-term sin. When you hate someone else for being blessed, it is akin to your objecting to Allah’s (swt) decree. If you look at Hasad from this angle, it makes it easier for you not to strive to compete with others, but to accept what Allah (swt) has decreed for you. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Nobody will attain faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Why is Hasad prohibited?

By Allah’s (swt) Will and Permission, Hasad can cause harm to another Muslim. Hence, it is an evil deed. This is a quality of Shaitan; even if you wish bad for someone, it can happen. The Prophet (sa) said: “Creeping upon you is the disease of those people before you: envy and hatred. And hatred is the thing that shapes. I do not say it shapes the hair but it shapes the religion. By the One in whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Certainly, let me inform you of such things that you may establish: spread the greetings and peace among yourselves.” The Prophet (sa) also mentions: “Hate and business transactions are tied together with Hasad. If you do not envy, you will love and if you love you will not be unjust or unfair.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi).

“And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, they bear on themselves the crime of slander and plain sin.” (Al-Ahzab 33:58)

Muslims are the helpers and supporters of one another; they should treat each other with tolerance, love and mercy. This is how a Muslim should be.

How do I Improve my Character?

CharacterHere are some tips for you. Foremost is to stop doing Haram. Stop doing bad things. Don’t talk about adding good until you get rid of bad deeds. You can’t talk about giving a medicine unless you stop bleeding. It doesn’t make any sense. So, first of all, stop the entertainment addiction. You’ve got to stop watching films. You’ve got to start lowering your gaze when walking on the street, because you become less of a human every time you stare at a woman. You stare at her, as if she is a piece of meat or an animal. That just means that you’ve lost the respect of a fellow human being.

Gain your humanity first, and then embellish and beautify your life with good deeds. These simple small things, such as perfecting prayer, memorizing few supplications, trying to be honest in the workplace, and being kind to your mother are not complicated things.

This is what the Creator asks from us. Someone asks, “Why does He want this from me? How does it benefit Him?”

Don’t talk about adding good until you get rid of bad deeds. You can’t talk about giving a medicine unless you stop bleeding.

It’s a good question. One of His names is Al-Ghani. Ghani means: “The One who doesn’t need anything”. There is a verse in which He has commanded us to do certain things. He is Ghani; He is free of need. You are the ones who are bankrupt. He doesn’t need anything, and we need everything because we are the bankrupt. And then, He told us to do a few good things. And if you do those few good deeds, He will make you Ghani; He will make you free of need. He will give you a shower of huge blessings. Good deeds are beneficial to us because they are like medicines. They bring with them bonuses in this world and the next world.

For example, you’ve been looking for a job and you are also mean to your mother. Then you start being kind to your mother. Mysteriously, they call you back. They want you to come in for an interview. Thus, you receive the blessings of being kind to your mother.
One good deed will open up other doors for you. That’s what Allah (swt) does in this world. Whoever becomes conscious of Allah (swt), He starts opening doors for him, making a way out for him. He will provide him in a way he couldn’t have even imagined. All this happens because this person has become conscious about Allah (swt). That’s all Allah (swt) is asking us. And He wants us to ask Him only, to make our lives better.

And if you do those few good deeds, He will make you Ghani; He will make you free of need. He will give you a shower of huge blessings.

People ask: “What does Allah (swt) want from us?” That’s a really fundamental question. There are a few verses that tell us the answer. One of them is:

“Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak. ” (An-Nisa 4:28)

A Life Transforming Experience

villages-of-punjab-pakistan-2It was late in July when I came across a vision so touching in its splendour. It was indeed, a pleasurable morning with stillness all round, the sun was smiling gently down upon us, sounds of chirping birds were also gratifying to my ear, and the weather was as calm as sea in the fresh atmosphere.

My dad was sitting in his chair reading the newspaper while my mom was busy in the kitchen as she was preparing breakfast for us. My younger sister Sadia came rushing down stairs, shouting,’’ Dad, dad!’’ I asked if something was wrong but that little fellow just wanted the attention of her father. She went to him and said in a whining tone, “another month has gone and we have not yet been to a picnic.’’ Our dad never turned down a request from his daughter. He replied,’’ Well, you are right about that, but where to go?’’ My father moved into deep thought and said after a moment with excitement in his voice, ‘’ Oh yes, we can go to my friend who lives in a village!’’ I did not know much about villages so I thought it would be something new and I along with my mother and sister happily agreed.
Few days later, we were packing our bags; my mom and younger sister were putting on their jewellery and make up while my younger brother and dad together with me were waiting for them in the car. We prepared for the journey with great enthusiasm. Our cheeks flushed, boots were shining and excitement seemed to fill our body. My family was looking forward to a thrilling, sizzling and stimulating new adventure!

It was Monday so the roads were busy but my father smoothly drove to the village. After an hour or two, the car had reached its destination safely by the grace of the Almighty Allah. As we stepped out of the car, we saw a vast plain area. There were small houses of bricks, mud or clay. The people were not delighted to see us; we looked alien to them. I said in amazement,’’ Where are we?’’ My dad was not surprised and he called a pedestrian and asked if he could tell us about the residence of Hayyat Mohammad, the man replied, “right there,’’ pointing this finger towards a mansion. That was not far away but we had to cover that small distance on foot. After a walk, we were standing at the gate of the huge dwelling house which was a trendy flavour of structural design.

Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

At first the guards did not allow us in but as soon as our names were approved they were no more a hurdle for us. I walked into the mansion, observing the tallest ceiling ever, I could also see the wonderful garden that was covering a large area and the beautiful flowers there were also a fascination.

We waited for my dad’s friend in a luxurious room. He did not take much time and appeared just after five minutes. A tall middle-aged man with a broad chest, his beard was mostly black, with a few grey hairs sprinkled in it. My father saw him and stood up and embraced him warmly, he came to meet me too with his hand stretched out in welcome. We returned the greetings and got settled in the sofa which was quite comfortable. It was a perfect drawing room with a beautiful centre table, a book shelve in the corner along with a big TV that had two units on each side. Afterwards, that tall man served us coffee, biscuits and other snacks. Perhaps he was a rich land lord of the village that could afford such an arrangement of top class. Eventually, he turned his face towards me and said, ‘’in which school do you study?’’ I replied, “I am a student of ninth class in Beacon Light Academy that is in Karachi.’’ He was glad to know of it and further inquired about my studies which made him happier. He said to my father, “Your children are in good hands.’’ For a moment, silence had dominated the room when Mr. Hayyat looked at his watch and said, ”I will have to leave but my servant would lead you to your rooms.’’ The room was very well kept and it was a consolation for us. After a while all of my family members had fallen asleep except me because restlessness existed in my nature. I decided to visit the village.

I moved outside the mansion as curiosity forced me to explore the village life, although I was dead tired. Stepping outside the mansion was like leaving a bed of roses and welcoming a bed of nails. The common men of the village were leading a miserable life! They had dressed themselves very simply; most of their children were wearing ragged clothes living in small houses of clay that had insufficient space for the expanded families with empty stomachs. I was surprised, I never knew of people with such a pathetic life style. I felt blue and felt sorry for them, drowning in a sea of grief maybe because I was not at all familiar with that.  Only a cold blooded could pass by calmly. Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings. I saw their elders working with their fingers to the bone in their farms yet they were unable to make enough money. ‘Why is that so?’ I asked myself. Perhaps it was education, I thought. Maybe education could have made their situation better.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings.

I found myself as empty as a lake without water. I did not pay much attention towards my studies although my school and teachers were very good. At that instant, I had recognized the significance of knowledge. I became even more acquainted with the importance of knowledge when I noticed a baby crying and her mother was preparing medicine for the child. The mother could not read and this is why she did not perceive the expire date on the label, I told her that it had expired and would rather be harmful but she refused to obey saying that she did not have enough money to get another one. I came to know of why we say that ‘knowledge is power’. It is because knowledge is a light that comes from the lighthouse in order to guide the ships when it is dark. My heart was sinking and I made a pledge to myself once again that from now on wards I will put my heart in gaining knowledge. Furthermore, I will try to spread the light of knowledge as much as I can. I said to the villagers that time would heal all their wounds but that was a cold comfort to them.

All that I had observed and pondered over turned me into a new leaf. It had transformed me into a careful and mature young man from a reckless and stubborn teenager.Whatever I saw had a noteworthy optimistic effect on me!

Ramadan – A Time to Improve and Sustain Yourself

RamadanAbdul Azeez Qari invites all Muslims to make the most of the blessings of Ramadan

The Prophet (sa) used to give glad tidings to his companions, upon the arrival of this month. Allah made it a time of action, when believers should strive for four things: fasting, Quran, worship, and righteous deeds. These are the most obvious gifts of Ramadan.

Why does evil diminish in Ramadan?

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Heaven (in another narration – the gates of Paradise) are opened, the gates of the Hellfire are sealed, and the Shayateen (devils) are chained” (Bukhari and Muslim)

He (sa) also said: “On the first night of Ramadan, the Shayateen and the leaders of the Jinn are chained.” (Ibn Majah)

This means that during Ramadan, their ability to tempt people diminishes. Evil and disobedience decrease, because, although the causes of disobedience are many, the greatest factor of all is the whispers of Satan. However, narrations prove that during this month only the leaders of the Shayateen are chained. This is why the evil does not come to a complete halt.

There also are many other sources for evil, one of them being the human soul, which is naturally inclined towards evil. Human devils are another reason for immorality in addition to man’s own lusts and desires. Yet another reason is that the remaining devils, which do not get chained, continue to misguide people. Nevertheless, all of these sources of evil have a lesser effect on the fasting people, because fasting bestows upon them a certain blessing.

What are the mercies of Allah during Ramadan?

Allah ordained fasting during this month, whereby people refrain from food, drink, and conjugal relations from dawn until sunset. When the sun sets, a fasting person can eat, drink, and have marital relations. The nations that came before us were not allowed to touch their spouses even at night. Likewise, if a person from them fell asleep before he had the chance to eat or drink, he was restricted from food and drink until the end of the next day.

However, Allah has made it easy for this nation. He says: “…Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and (wants) for you to complete the period and to magnify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

One of such signs of ease is that an ill person and a traveller can break their fasts and make them up at a later time after Ramadan. Also, the elderly who cannot bear fasting, as well as the people, who have no hope for a cure (i.e., the chronically ill), instead of fasting, can feed the needy – they do not have to make up their missed fasts. In these mentioned cases, the believers should make use of the permission Allah has furnished for them, because He likes, when people take heed of the mercy He has endowed.

O, Muslims! Know that fasting is a protection from wrongdoing. This month is an opportunity for you to purify yourselves. During Ramadan, a Muslim has fewer burdens, as his desires are diminished and he acquires more goodness from being involved in fasting. One can rid himself of bad habits, such as overdoing matters, which are lawful – overeating, talking too much, and being over indulgent in sexual relations with ones spouse. We must stop the awful habit of going to extremes in fulfilling these desires.

What about hypocrites during Ramadan?

Some people fail to understand the reality of fasting. They spend their mornings hungry, while their evenings are full of sin. They spend the whole night watching television with their families, eating all night long to make up for the food they have missed while fasting. Therefore, fasting means no more to such people, but a change in the times of eating.

A Hadeeth states: “A man by the name of Abu Ghazwan came to visit the Prophet (sa). This was before Abu Ghazwan had become Muslim. The Prophet (sa) was the most generous of all people. He milked seven sheep for him, so the man drank all of the milk. Then the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Is it not time for you to become a Muslim?’ He replied, ‘Yes’ and became a Muslim. The Prophet (sa) then stroked his chest (while supplicating for him). The next day, the Prophet (sa) milked only one sheep for him, but Abu Ghazwan, was not able to drink all of the milk. So, the Prophet (sa) asked: ‘What is the matter, Abu Ghazwan?’ He, responded: ‘I swear by the One Who sent you as a Prophet, I have had enough.’ So the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Last night you had seven stomachs, while you were a disbeliever, and today you have only one stomach’ (At-Tabarani)

A believer can eat less and control his desires more, since he does not eat to enjoy nor to fulfil a desire, but rather to stop hunger and become stronger, so that he can worship Allah. The disbeliever, however, who does not believe in the Day-to-come, eats with a strong desire and the lust of animals, as Allah describes him in the Qur’an, saying that which means:

“…But those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as grazing livestock eat, and the Fire will be a residence for them.” (Muhammad 47:12)

What about the marketing strategy for MORE?

One type of cooked food is enough; let us not be like the Children of Israel, who would not settle for only one kind of food. O, people, who observe fasting! When you put these different types of foods on the table in front of you, before you begin to eat, remember that the Prophet (sa) would remain without lighting a fire in his house (i.e., without cooking) for one or even two months: “He and his family only ate dates and drank water” (Bukhari)

This was not because he could not have obtained it. It was merely because he stayed away from worldly pleasures, living a simple life and aiming to draw ever closer to Allah. Even though Allah offered him control of the treasures of the earth, the Prophet (sa) chose to live in poor conditions, eating as a slave eats, sitting as a slave sits. He used to say: “O Allah! Let me live as a Miskeen (humble servant) and resurrect me with the Masakeen (humble)” (Tirmidhi & Baihaqi)

How does Allah reward fasting?

Allah says as reported in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “He left eating and drinking and his desires for My sake. Fasting is for Me and I give reward for it – one blessing (for fasting) is multiplied ten times.” (Bukhari)