My life saviour was an angel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Resolving family conflicts

familyIslam is based on a relationship with Allah (swt), with its creations and the world we live in. As soon as we come together, a potential conflict exists. But conflict is not unnatural. Of course with Allah (swt), there is no conflict- as He is Al-Aziz (The Mighty) and Al-Jabbar (The Compeller). Whatever He decides will be. However, between humans there exist differences. Allah (swt) wants us to take the best out of these differences. It is Allah (swt) Who has planted the seed of difference in our existence in regard to other human beings. Be it our colour, our nations, our tribes, etc.

We live in a community, and were not sent to live in a monastery or on top of a mountain. The Prophet (sa) said: “The believer who mixes with humans and bear’s their harm is better than the one who does not mix with people and bear their harm.” (Tirmidhi) Hence, the preferable way for the believer is to deal with conflicts positively as it contains good. But, as soon as we utter the word ‘conflict’, we think negative. We are trained to think that ‘we should avoid it, block it as it is bad.’ Circumstances without it are better.

The issue is, are we able to identify the good in the conflict? The following might just alter your perspective:

  1. Means for a change. Conflicts provide just that. When we change from what we were doing to something different, it highlights that our previous way of handling something was wrong. It shows a conflict between what we were doing versus the best way to do something. This spells the need for us to change to what is beneficial for all.
  2. Motivates us. Conflicts motivate us to do better. Otherwise, we are complacent and lazy about the way things are. Things either improve or degrade. The idea of going at one pace with no ups and downs is impossible. That is not life. That is the life of a stone. Living creatures experience change- whether it is a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, or a child growing up to be an adult. Allah (swt) states, “We created human beings in struggle.” (Surah Balad, 90: 4)) Struggle is a result of conflict. Gravity tells us to lie down, but struggle tells us to roll over. Gravity tells us to stay where we are. Struggle tells us to move, and eventually, we start walking. Struggle and conflict are part of our own development.
  3. Increases awareness of issues. Pain in life is important for us to know that things are not going in the right direction in life. Those patients, who due to a damaged nervous system are unable to feel pain, self-destruct themselves. Pain lets us know where our problem exists; otherwise, we would bleed and bruise to death. Similarly, conflicts identify where issues need to be corrected so we can repair and improve.
  4. Improves decision-making. Conflicts also cause decisions to be sought out more carefully. Through conflicts, some careful decision-making is reached; more precautions are taken and secure analysis is done.

    The attitude of gratitude is the most powerful attribute after believing in Allah (swt). Whenever you feel frustrated, distressed, in the middle of a conflict make Sujood-as-Shukr.

  5. Opportunity for self-assessment. It helps us to understand what we are really like. We might think of ourselves as someone very calm and understanding, but as the heat turns on our voices raise. It exposes our weakness. It is under conflict that we can take benefit for personal change to correct short comings that we are not normally aware of.
  6. Smaller conflicts defuse greater conflicts. If we can deal with certain issues by catching them at an earlier stage, we are then able to prevent greater harm at a later stage. It is nipped in the bud.
  7. Amusement, if not taken seriously. Differences can be put in place. If we have the ability to handle them in a non-serious manner, we can laugh about them. We all argue and later look back and laugh at it realizing that it was nothing to be uptight about.
  8. With every evil exists good. Can we capitalize on the positive and do not become overwhelmed and overcame by conflicts? Allah (swt) does not cause any harm, evil or bad to occur, unless there is a good side to it. Allah (swt) didn’t create Satan to commit evil. Likewise, Allah (swt) didn’t create Hazrat Adam (as) to disobey. But, He did provide them with the opportunity to ask for forgiveness later. The template for life is, ‘Repentance must follow error and sin.’ And the power of repentance is so great that the Prophet (sa) said: “One who repents from sins is like one who never sinned.” (Ibn Majah; Hasan)). Repentance is a higher level of worship. It is the reason for creation of sin.
  9. A means to get to know others. When we face a problem, we should work vigorously to deal with the problem and not the person. Also, we must understand that asking others and their listening to us doesn’t equate to agreeing to and obeying. We confuse ourselves when we say something and assume that others are in agreement. We need to ensure first if he/she accepts it or not.
  10. Develops Husn-e-Zan. In the course of a dialogue, words have impact. If in the discussion we accuse: “You said or you thought or you did…” it works like fuel on the fire. You are taking it right to the person. Instead, you may say: “I thought or it was my interpretation or I understood…” This does not sound confrontational. You are defusing the problem. Hence, beware of ‘you’ and ‘your’. Always give the benefit of the doubt to others by assuming the best interpretation they meant. To have assumed the worst, well in fact, it wasn’t intended at all, is bad.

Importance of gratitude

It is for us to take the good out of conflicts when they occur in families, whether it is between spouses, parents and their children or siblings. We need to look at the glass that is half full. Islam always talks about positivity. Muslims recite the chapter of Fatihah seventeen times daily. What is it? It teaches gratefulness. The attitude of gratitude is the most powerful attribute after believing in Allah (swt). Whenever you feel frustrated, distressed, in the middle of a conflict make Sujood-as-Shukr. This is the best cure. It was the Prophet’s (sa) regular practice. Sujood-as-Shukr keeps us in touch with the positive side of reality.

Ingratitude is so dangerous that the Prophet (sa) said the majority of women will be in hellfire as they are quick to deny good. It’s an alarming practice with horrible consequences. It is important for us to be grateful to Allah (swt) and then to our fellow beings. The Prophet (sa) said that whoever is not thankful to people is not thankful to Allah (swt). If the wives do not appreciate their husbands for what they have done, they are not thanking Allah (swt) either. Similarly for men, big displays of gratitude to Allah (swt) mean little if they mistreat their wives.

Some conflicts end in depression. Depression is the inability to recognize good. Hundreds of people are killing themselves due to it. Psychologists consider offering gratitude to be the best remedy for dealing with depression. As a general principle when resolving family conflicts this needs to be considered carefully. This is a huge topic. We can apply this principle to virtually all circumstances.

In any conflict, ask Allah (swt) what good does He want to bring forth? Then develop strategies. Difference between needs, values and beliefs are reasons for problems resulting between people in conflict. Though Pakistan has mostly a homogenous community, still there are some unique familial, tribal customs and values people carry with them as they come together in marriage.These are some foundations of conflict, but Allah (swt) commands us to resolve them.

We need to ask ourselves a very vital question: “Would I rather be happy or would I rather be right?”

Say ‘Go’ to your Ego!

In families, the biggest problem is communication breakdown. Marriage psychologists especially highlight this challenge. Men usually do not like to talk. Women always like to talk. There are different ways that people use to deal with their troubles. We must keep the dialogue going. We need to ask ourselves a very vital question: “Would I rather be happy or would I rather be right?” What if you actually give up when you have an opportunity to further go into conflict?

The Prophet (sa) states: “If a person gives up his argument in spite of being right, Allah (swt) promises him a place in Jannah.” (Abu Dawud). Some people insist that they will fight for their right, but actually, it is not always wise to be right and have the last say. One must analyze the situation. What is the greater good of the situation?  Greater good is in happiness. Allah (swt) has put a husband and a wife together for them to be in a state of love, comfort and happiness.  Do not let smaller issues be blown out of proportion.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan, editor Hiba.

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.

Understanding Surah Asr – 2

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

How scholars define Asr?

Ibn Abbas (ra) says that “Asr” refers to the different ages of different nations. Allah (swt) is talking about human history as a proof that human beings are in loss. Ibn Kisan says that “Asr” refers to the night and the day. Hasan Al Basri says this is the time from late day to sunset, signifying the end of an era; we should know that we are on the verge of death. Qatada says it’s the last part of the day. Another Mufassir says that it means the time of Asr prayer; the busiest time of the day. Asr refers to time; all of it.

Be the change to bring a change!

The time you’re supposed to change for the better, this is implied in Asr. A lot of your days are exactly the same. If you can change one part of your day, you’ve transformed your life. We change at the death of a person, or in Ramadan; but then we go back to our old ways. For example, you know you have to reach your workplace at 9 a.m, no matter what, no negotiation; you’ll do it, or you’ll lose your job. Similarly, if you are convinced that certain behaviours will lead to loss, changing your life becomes easy. This is why the first thing that is mentioned is “belief”. If your boss comes into the office and says, “Every single employee over here is in trouble, I swear to you!” Will you take it casually? In this world, there must be a sense of urgency.

Choice is NOT yours – It’s all or none!

Sometimes, the boss gives you tasks you’re really good at. Sometimes you get tasks you don’t like doing. If you decide to do only two out of four, decide not to even touch the other two tasks, thinking that the first two being done excellently will compensate for the other two not being done, what do you think the boss’s reaction will be? So when Allah (swt) sets out four conditions, and we say, “we should work on our faith, do some good deeds, this other stuff is not for me, it’s for the speakers and Dawah workers.” If you’re picking and choosing, you are also in loss. It’s all or nothing.

You don’t need to memorize the whole Quran to change your life. Just start with Surah Asr!

Humankind is in loss

“Inna” is used to talk to people who are in doubt about what you are saying. Rhetorically, it is used to remove doubt; the doubt already exists. You’d think this was addressed to disbelievers; but Allah (swt) has addressed all humanity, “Illa” at the end conveys that it includes all humanity.

“Insan” comes from “Nisyan” i.e. “forgetfulness”. The word “Insan” is used here to refer to our forgetfulness, and also to refer to each of us as individuals. If someone specifies a person individually, that person pays more attention.

This is a noun-based sentence “Jumla Ismiya”, which is stronger than a verb-based sentence. The word “Insan” is presented as “Al-Insan” i.e. with emphasis. It is not “the human being is a loser” or “has lost”, it is “in loss”. He is immersed in loss. Someone being a loser is one thing, but by using the preposition “Fi” the meaning of constantly being in that state is given. The translation doesn’t even begin to cover the rage and the terror embedded in this verse.

Truth and patience cure doubts and temptations

There is the meaning of “delusion” in “Khusr” i.e. humans are deceiving themselves. “La fi Khusr” means that mankind sets itself up for a vicious end, the kind of end people don’t want. Ibn Taimiyyah comments, “Humanity is kept from accepting the truth of this Deen by two obstacles, doubts and temptations.” When you ask someone to accept Islam, you’re asking them to give up a lot of things. Someone says, “I can’t give up the life of partying.” He can’t give up his temptation, even though he has no doubts. Most people are caught in temptations, even if they give the excuse that they are in doubt. They cover up their desires by making intellectual arguments. Truth and patience mentioned in this Surah are the cures for doubts and temptations.

Humans are so preoccupied with their personal problems that they fail to see the larger picture. They fail to see the problems lying ahead. They think they are in loss in this world, but that is nothing compared to the loss that is coming. They fail to see the signs in the creation of Allah (swt). Financial and health problems are nothing compared to the problem of faith. That’s a much bigger problem.

Breakthrough anxiety, fear and despair

Human beings have more suffering than animals. In addition to physical suffering, we also have psychological suffering. In this Surah, Allah (swt) doesn’t just give us relief from the loss of the hereafter, but from the loss of this world; freedom from anxiety, depression, fear and despair.

You should remember that the entire Surah is linguistically one statement.

The entire society has headed to the way of loss. The ones, who are not the losers, are considered strange because they practice Islam.

United we stand, divided we fall!

When Allah (swt) mentions the loss of the human being, the human being is being addressed singularly. This is because when the time comes to face the consequences of your actions, you will be all alone. However, when Allah (swt) mentions the four exceptions, He uses the plural. This means that the ones who are successful, find success in teamwork, good company, counsel, reminder, Salah (prayer) and Jamaa (congregation).

Do you know the taste of faith?

In this verse, Allah (swt) doesn’t mention any qualifications of faith. How are you supposed to know what faith tastes like? The fruit of faith is tranquility. If you have faith, you know that this world is temporary, and compared to what Allah (swt) has in the hereafter, is nothing. You are at peace with your life whether you are old or young, healthy or ill.

The word “Assaalihaat” (good) is an adjective, which requires a noun. The Arabic says just “good”, not “good deeds”, but it is implied. The form of the adjective is such that it conveys the doing of a few, countable good deeds. The main obligations are few. Then there are things that embellish your life as a Muslim; the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). There are a few things that you should definitely do, and there are a few things that you should not do. Everyone knows those things.


Psychology of Gheebah, Sorrow and Envy

tumblr_md0m4qVITd1qil46jo1_1280Have you ever tried to find out why, even after working so hard to avoid backbiting or thinking negatively about a situation, we bump into the same thoughts again and again? Are you struggling to leave your habit of negative thinking or trying to look towards the brighter side of the situation? Our reasoning behind events and relationship issues are from automatic thoughts, habits of thinking that come to us so effortlessly and we start assuming they come from outside our own mind.

When the aspiring Muslim woman encounters a situation at family or home, she is often trapped into a myriad of cognitive distortions that lead her to backbite, envy or compare herself to others. 

Recently, faced with an interpersonal conflict, I realized that a venomous self-critic resides inside me which blurs my vision of reality and takes me far away from the purpose which is to please Allah (swt). The Muslimah today can be sensitive and at times very anxious. She undoubtedly has to fulfil many responsibilities at home and in the society. The Muslimah, in her struggle, tends to think negatively about situations, relationships and especially about her own self. At heart, the Muslim girl or woman is emotional and yet very strong.

When the aspiring Muslim woman encounters a situation at family or home, she is often trapped into a myriad of cognitive distortions that lead her to backbite, envy or compare herself to others. This is common especially when the vulnerable Muslimah has to deal with multiple family issues and handle the household chores to her best.

The theory of cognitive distortions has its roots in the work of Aaron Beck and David Burns. They highlighted the errors in our perceptions that we continually make, if we don’t identify them. To actualize the essence of a true Muslimah, a woman has to challenge the erroneous thought patterns so that she can identify the unintentional harm that she is doing to herself and others. Our Deen has all the required remedies for perceptual distortions however, we just need to identify where we lack.

We want the other person to change to suit our peace of mind. In fact, our peace of mind is rooted in the remembrance of Allah and a very strong connection with Deen.

Following are some selected cognitive distortions as outlined in the work of David Burns, that I felt can be applied to the day-to-day contradictory  situations that we face  causing us to automatically start thinking negatively without consciously choosing to do so.

  • Filtering: This means magnifying the negative aspects in a situation or a relationship, leaving out all the positive aspects. For example, in a family gathering, some far relative from the in laws makes a cynical remark over one’s appearance; we automatically start thinking bad about her, without knowing the person completely and without considering their positive aspects.
  • Polarized Thinking: This is the either/or thinking style. We think in yes or no terms, without understanding the situation holistically. We might become so fond of perfection in our kitchen cleaning, that a minor stain somewhere will disappoint us to the point that we start considering it as a malfunction in kitchen cleaning. The kitchen is either all clean or not clean at all; this will disappoint us, affect our habits and the entire day will be spent struggling with a bad mood.
  • Personalization: In the pursuit of comparison of our work, our homes and ourselves with others, we tend to see ourselves as the cause of a situation at odds. For instance, when we consider ourselves responsible for an unhealthy external event such as a guest with digestive trouble; we automatically start thinking that something was wrong in our cooking or food. Such thoughts do occur normally, and they need to be challenged otherwise they might develop into core negative backgrounds that we think alongside. Control Fallacy: One part of control fallacy is that we feel helpless or externally controlled. We try to displace the uneasiness of an event on someone else, feeling controlled. For instance, saying something like “I can’t help it if the dessert doesn’t taste good; I was busy working for mother-in-law, she is so demanding!”
  • Blaming: This has become so common and it can ruin the tranquillity of many relationships especially between parents and children or husband and wife. For instance, a mother might yell on her child, “Your disobedience to me makes me feel so miserable!” We should make a note to ourselves that Allah (swt) has given us free will and control to manage our emotional reactions.
  • Shoulds: Shoulds are the most dangerous of all distortions; the kind which can ruin one’s very own mental health. Let’s say, in a cultured gathering, we automatically start saying to our sister how the sister should have spoken, should have covered herself and what not. This way, we get trapped in the tunnel of Gheebah and don’t realize that we are indirectly eating the flesh of our Muslim fraternity.
  • Fallacy of Change: This is also one of our distorted perceptions and values. We believe that we can make the other person change. Have you ever wondered why? This is because, we believe inside without much toil in our mind that for our happiness and sorrow, we are dependent on these people. We want the other person to change to suit our peace of mind. In fact, our peace of mind is rooted in the remembrance of Allah and a very strong connection with Deen.

If we commence to identify these modes of thinking, we can gain the balance between mind, body and soul. Hazy, negative thinking prevents us from getting closer to Allah and seeking His pleasure and love. Also, we should pause and reflect over the signs around us to abstain from negative thinking and break the shackles of anxiety, hopelessness and lack of enthusiasm to completely delve into this beautiful Deen. Consider the following quotes and Ayahs whenever you feel you’re again dripping into that same old mode of thinking again.

  • Yasmin Mogahed: “If you want to kill something, neglect it. It happens in both good and bad. Neglect a relationship, it dies. Neglect your Iman, it dies. But the same principal applies when you want to kill something like a thought or a desire. Neglect it, it dies.”
  • Al-Mutanabbi:“Don’t receive what time brings except with indifference, as long as your soul is a companion for your body, whatever you are happy with is fleeting, and sadness revives not lost loved ones.” (Don’t be Sad, Aid-al Qarni, IIPH).
  • Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright). (Al-Araf 7:201)
  • …..and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve. (Yusuf 12:87)
  • 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)
  • Say: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Az-Zumar 39:53)
  • Say: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Maula (Lord, Helper and Protector).” And in Allah let the believers put their trust (At-Taubah 9:51)

For a daily reminder, you can ponder over the following Hadeeth:

On the authority Of Abu Malik Al-Harith bin Asim Al- Ashari, The Messenger (sa) said: “Purity is half of faith. Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scales, and Subhana’Allah [How far is Allah from every imperfection] and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Quran is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” (Muslim)