All messed up: There’s more to the picture

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

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

1. Why did it happen to me?

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

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

2. Khayr is there, look for it.

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

Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

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

3. You have the cure, use it!

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

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


4. Realized? Time to repent!

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

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

5. Call Him, He is never engaged!

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

6. Please Him, not them!

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

7. No pill, no kill- just chill!

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

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

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Araaf

pearlsWith this message we begin Surah Al-Araf. Allah (swt) says, (This is the) Book (the Quran) sent down unto you (O Muhammad (sa)), so let not your breast be narrow there from, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers.” (Al-Araf 7:2) How fortunate we are that we have the Quran, which is an anti-depressant; yet how selfish we are that we do not communicate its gems and wonders with our friends and families. We recite the Quran, learn it, preserve it in our hearts and keep the knowledge to ourselves. The Prophet (sa) said, “The best among you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.” (Bukhari) If someone informed us that there is a university where from if we graduated we will get $150,000 per month we would have rushed to enrol ourselves in it. The Prophet (sa) is calling us to something better and we are not moved.

We have read Harry Potter and other similar books. We wait for their launch and fantasize the stories; but have we also read the Quran? If we have not read the Quran ourselves, how can we teach it to others and be amongst the best? This is the Book of Allah (swt), the word of the Creator which we have not even attempted to learn. That is why we don’t have peace in our lives.

We need to be careful of the devil’s plot. Shaytan says, “Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” (Al-Araf 7:17) He beautifies sins for us and makes us fall for them. May Allah (swt) bless us the insight to distinguish between the straight path and the trap of Shaytan. Ameen.

Adam (as) and the treachery of Shaytan

Allah (swt) then mentions the story of Adam (as) that how he lost a certain place in Paradise due to the treachery of Shaytan. This teaches us an important lesson: if we fall for Shaytan, Allah (swt) will take away the blessing that He gave us. In this story, we also learn about clothing; which is both an adornment and a covering.

Clothe with piety

When we are invited to our friend’s house or some renowned politician, businessman or anyone famous, we pick up the best clothes that we can. We make sure our hair and our accessories are in order. We check ourselves out several times in the mirror before leaving the house. But how do we approach Salah? When the Maker of everything invites us to stand before Him for a private conversation that guarantees us everything that we desire, what clothes or condition are we in? Sometimes for Fajr Salah, we simply roll out of our beds, throw water on our face, perform a quick Wudhu and stand up in prayer in our sleeping pyjamas. Is that an attitude of gratitude towards Him Who rewards one good deed up to ten times?

Allah (swt) says, “O O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Ka’bah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31) Do not be extravagant in your clothing. When one looks today at the prices of bridal and semi-formal clothing, he wonders where the money is coming from. An ordinary dress with trimmings of silk or Banarsi fabric and some embellishments is priced at 50,000 rupees or even more. Lawn which was the clothing of common people is now sold at Rs. 6,000. Allah (swt) says, “And the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” (Al-Araf 7:26)

Not only should the clothing be sanely priced, but also, it should serve the purpose for which it was created. And that is “covering”. Too tight, too short, too revealing is not the clothing of people of Taqwa. If Salah is not accepted in such clothes, how can one step out of their house wearing those welcoming gazes of strange men?

Choose the appropriate attire

If one has to shed their clothing in order to appear attractive in front of others, then they should know twenty years later, they will not have the same appearance. So why not attract people by your character and Taqwa, instead of superficial things? If we dress up according to how Allah (swt) commands us, we will, Insha’Allah, attract those who are best for us in the Sight of Allah (swt). Who doesn’t want a righteous companion? Everyone does! The righteous companion pushes us to give our very best to Allah (swt). Thus, let us not attract the filth and dress appropriately instead.

Allah (swt) has promised us that He will send messages and reminders to us in various forms. Some fortunate ones lived in the midst of the messengers. For later generations, there were people who had acquired knowledge from the messengers and disseminated it to others. And that is how it reached us.

What should be our attitude towards Allah’s (swt) messages?

Allah (swt) says, “O Children of Adam! If there come to you Messengers from amongst you, reciting to you, My Verses, and then whosoever becomes pious and righteous, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Araf 7:35)

Two actions are required: Taqwa and reform. By being conscious of Allah (swt) and rectifying our faults, we will be free from anguish.

Dialogue between the dwellers of paradise and hellfire

Then we learn about a dialogue that takes place between the people of hellfire and the people of Paradise: “And the dwellers of the Fire will call to the dwellers of Paradise: Pour on us some water or anything that Allah has provided you with. They will say: Both (water and provision) Allah has forbidden to the disbelievers.” (Al-Araf 7:50)

What actions lead to hellfire?

Allah (swt) says, “Who took their religion as an amusement and play, and the life of the world deceived them. So this Day We shall forget them as they forgot their meeting of this Day, and as they used to reject Our verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.).” (Al-Araf 7:51) Materialism took over them. They were more attached to the material things than to their Maker. The love of Allah (swt) should exceed our love for every other being or thing. People who have taken religion as play and amusement, have chosen to ignore Allah (swt) (may Allah (swt) protect us). Hence, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will disregard them.

How does one ignore Allah (swt)?

By not abiding to His rules and regulations, by not abstaining from His prohibitions, and by not following the commandments that He has ordained upon us. Move towards Allah (swt) even if it’s inch by inch. Our Prophet (sa) would say: “O Allah (swt), make faith appear beautiful to us and adorn our hearts with it, and make Kufr, sin and disobedience abhorrent to us. Make us of those who are rightly guided. Ameen.”

Befalling of a calamity – boon or bane?

Again we learn about calamities. One thing to remember is that a calamity is not always a punishment. While some people drown and die in floods, there’s someone in the same city who died in the state of prostration. Your heart gauges whether a calamity is destruction or a blessing. If you find contentment and peace in your heart, then you are blessed. It could be a mean to raise your status in the sight of Allah (swt). So be pleased with His decree.

Sometimes we see images of calamity-stricken areas and we notice almost the entire settlement has perished, except one house. Why it is that one house is saved while all the other houses collapsed? It could be because the resident of that house was engaged in enjoining good and forbidding evil. He did his duty, he forwarded the knowledge that he had acquired. If people didn’t pay heed, he would not be held accountable for it. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “So when they forgot the reminders that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” (Al-Araf 7:165)

Lesson to learn

The key to stay protected from Allah’s (swt) punishment, after we have reformed ourselves, is to remind others. Tell the brothers to come to the Masjid for Salah. Advise the sisters not to dress in a certain way. Remind, for reminders benefit the believers.

Pay full attention to the Quranic recitation

How would one feel if the CEO of the company is talking and no one is paying attention? Sometimes, we turn on the Quran recitation and continue chatting on the side; paying absolutely no attention to what is being said. Allah (swt) warns us about this in the Quran, “So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy. (I.e. during the compulsory congregational prayers when the Imam (of a mosque) is leading the prayer (except Surah Al-Fatihah), and also when he is delivering the Friday-prayer Khutbah).” (Al-Araf 7:204) Listening to Quran results in receiving Allah’s (swt) mercy, Subhan’Allah! Our mind and heart both should be attentive. Know that the one who receives the mercy of Allah (swt) is a person of high rank.