How to deal with Peer Pressure?

peersHijab leads to an Abaya!  A 19-nineteen year old was surprised to see herself,and soon, the whole college was talking about her. Fatima was scared to face her friends.

Peer pressure is not a recent phenomenon; it is as old as history itself. All the prophets and their descendants faced all kinds of peer pressure. Hence, if you are facing such a thing in your life, you should be bold enough to carry it rightly and be on your straight path.

One should adopt the following rules to handle peer pressure.

1. Keep your vision upright and feed your faith

People love to talk aimlessly, and especially, when it comes to religion, they have their own golden rules and principles of understanding. Usually, they interpret rules which benefit them. Regarding Hijab, they’ll say it’s not necessary to cover your body and that one should be modest at heart.

Hijab- Gone by the wind

People totally alter the concept of basic modesty in Islam.  Thus, keep feeding your faith by:

  • Working on your relationship with Allah (swt).
  • Plug-in yourself with Quran and Sunnah

2.  Uplift your identity

The major cause of peer pressure is that we do not have a secure Muslim identity, which results in lack of knowledge about the rules in Deen. Therefore, learn about Seerah and lives of our predecessors for better acknowledgement of Deen.

3. Take lessons from those who are steadfast on Deen

Be in the company of those who practice Deen with great zeal and enthusiasm. As it is said: “The best of you are those who repent.”
So, try to be with those who can help you in moral uplifting.

4. Friends with ever-lasting benefits

Friends are the real asset. Try to be friends with those who can help you become a better Muslim.

If your friends make you feel out dated with respect to your vision about Deen, and give you grief for your beliefs- so that is their problem. All you have to do is:

  • to bail out
  • avoid their gatherings

5. Seek Allah’s (swt) help

You cannot attain anything in this life against Allah’s (swt) Will; hence, keep asking for His help and mercy, so that you can find your way easily.

  • Make Dua for complete Hidayah
  • Get down in prostration and pray for Istaqamah

6. No complains

You cannot get Jannah easily. Hurdles are always there; all you need is to act firm on your beliefs and work to gain Allah’s (swt) love. Therefore, be positive and build up your nerves to stay courageous in all circumstances.

7.  Ignore criticism and mockery

Follow the Sunnah of forgiveness, and you will be straight on your path; ignore insulting actions of ignorant people and make Dua for them.

8. Keep yourself cool

To keeping oneself cool is one of the most difficult tasks- especially, when the other half of the world is busy in making you lose control. But being a good Muslim, it’s our duty to stay calm. Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa) love those who remain quiet at hard times.

Try to be positive and optimistic in every aspect of life; and never lose your focus just because of what others will think of you.There will be no one who will save you from the fire of Hell, except Allah (swt).

Birds of a feather flock together- Fly with the best!

birds-of-a-featherI had entered a new institution; and to move into a place where you only have unpleasant memories to hold up your image, is not a fun feeling. I had been here before for quite some time, and that had not been a good time period.

As a fellow student, I had been popular due to my language and confidence. But, just as I was getting used to it, life started taking a different turn for me.
A girl in my batch, I believed, had made a resolution to keep me as unhappy as she could, for a reason I could never decipher. Planting things in my bag and framing me for whatever went wrong; she was so good at proving me guilty, and I always happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The worst part was, I had no one to believe me; and I got called into the principal’s office more times than you could count. The principal herself thought I was guilty. I wasn’t exactly what you could call an ideal student, but in this case, I was innocent. When my mother got sick of being called to the school repeatedly, she suggested that I switch to another school. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.

I was ecstatic. Finally, I got a chance to reinvent myself, a chance to start over. I turned over a new leaf- changed my priorities and my grades improved. I could focus at school and had great friends. I started praying regularly; and thanked Allah (swt) for the brilliant opportunity, whenever I could remember. There I found a person who inspired me to bring out the best in me. Her name was Maryam Raza.  Every action of hers left me in awe. To me, she was a perfect role model. She stayed calm in situations that got people hysterical, and also had perfect grades.

The teachers there loved me. I wasn’t the best at studies, but my frank and playful attitude, along with my innocent tricks made me fairly popular in the staff room gossips. My English teacher Ms. Shireen, simply adored me, and I loved her too. My paternal grandmother died before I was even born, so I placed Ms. Shireen as close to me as a grandmother. Spending time with her wasn’t formal; I hung on to every wise word she told me, every advice she gave me.

I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with.

But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Due to some maintenance issues, the school had to shut down. However, after a protest by some devoted students, the management negotiated and only my year had to be dissolved. That was the hardest part. Letting go of a place that holds priceless memories is hard on even the strongest of people. To make matters worse, the time for admissions was up, and the only open option for me was my old school. Hence then, not only I had to leave a place that I held so close to my heart, but I had to go back to the place that held the worst memories of my life. I complained so much to Allah (swt), demanding as to why I was being shown such cruelty. Yet, every time I went to a Quran class, or attended a lecture, it felt like Allah (swt) was there, talking to me through the words of the Quran- telling me that it  was a test, and I had to be patient.

The first day was the worst. Every glance was hostile, every look held judgement. The new students knew about my past, the old were waiting for me to strike again. Every time someone went, ‘Where’s my pencil?’ or ‘Where’s my book?’- several heads turned in my direction. I had no friends, and I could hear people whispering about me behind my back. It felt like no one was ready to give me a second chance. Then, one of my ex-classmates joined, and things started working up. After almost a year, people started letting me in, recognizing me as one of their own. I started seeing the good in them, something I thought was non-existent.

Finally, in my last year, I made plenty of amazing friends. My best-friend was a shy girl called Humnah. The bond of friendship between us was very strong; it overthrew every obstacle in our way. She helped me through my last year and never once betrayed my trust, like many had before her. I was finally happy.

The gist is, like Allah (swt) said in the Quran, “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5)

I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with. Every time I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, I cried in prayers, and my heart found peace. A big help was the company of friends I had.

Like Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan repeatedly tells us, we have to select friends wisely, who would help us be better Muslims. Alhumdulillah, Humnah kept track of my daily prayers and gave me an earful if I missed one.

I learnt to move on and face the challenges life threw at me with bravery; and thanks to the many beautiful people who truly cared about me, and helped me be a better version of myself. And of course with Allah’s (swt) Mercy, I became a better Muslim.

Beware Of Your Friend

compnayDo you know if you have bad qualities, most probably you got it from your peers- those you intermingled with? Sometimes, they might even be your family members, sometimes your parents. So if you have a bad quality, you probably got it from somewhere. But, you didn’t get it from Allah (swt), you got it from the devil!

The devil came to you in the form of, most probably your friend and your peers. And sometimes, this devil comes in the form of your best friend. May Allah (swt) protect us. Ameen. Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp. He’s very intelligent.

Sometimes the upbringing in the home is very good, but the school you send your children to, they learn an accent which is totally unacceptable. They begin to speak slang. They begin to swear, they begin to steal and cheat- all that is learnt from the school. We need to be careful which schools we send our children to. We need to be careful of what type of friends our children mix up with, more importantly- what type of people we mix up with.

So, Allah (swt) says in Surah Furqan, regarding the one who did not keep good company, “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al Furqan 29)

Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp.

Definitely, on the Day of Qiyamah, they will regret keeping bad company.

Now let me inform you, when a person is smoking, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the people they’ve mixed up with! When a person is on drugs, nine times out of ten, it is from people they were associated with. When a person is an adulterer, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the company they kept. When a person does not come for Salah, nine times out of ten it is because that is the trend of the people they mix up with. When a person is an alcoholic, nine times out of ten, it is because of those whom he or she is with, are also like that. When a person has a bad mouth, it’s also the same and that is why rehabilitation is a waste of time if you, yourself, do not want to help yourself. I can promise you- a person who is on drugs, a person who is an alcoholic, a person who has any bad habit, it is up to him to change! The whole world can want to rehabilitate him forever and ever; but if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you! May Allah (swt) protect us.

And this is why Allah (swt) says that if you want to save yourself, the first thing you need to do is change your company, totally. Totally…every one of them! Change them!

If you are a bad person on drugs, cut out your whole friendship. And parents of those who are on drugs, let me inform you that you might want to change the suburb and the city you are living in, in order to protect your son or your daughter. You might want to go into a remote town so that your children can abstain from those they’re associated with! It will do you a ton of good- even though your income might decrease, you will save your children.

if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you!

That’s the importance of the locality you live in, the importance of it- and how serious it is. Your suburb, the area you live in- be careful, make sure you choose it properly. You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt). Hence, we ask Allah (swt) to protect us from evil company.

That is one of the biggest plans of Satan is that he comes to you through your company. And this is why we are taught, when you want to know someone, don’t look at them- just look at the people they mix up with and close the file. That’s it. We say this normally regarding marriage, you want to know a boy; you want to know a girl? More important than asking them about themselves, look at those they mix up with. That’s it. Close the file thereafter.

If they are drunkards, they can turn green in the face telling you, ‘I’ve never drunk!’ They are lying. What are they doing with those…?

When you see fish in the ocean, you will notice that the whale moves with all other whales. You will notice the little bream moves with other breams, the snook moves with the snook, the hake moves with hake, and so on. I am using names of fish we eat actually, Subhan’Allah! But you will never find one small fish, one big fish, one other fish, one snook, one hake, and so on. You won’t find that!

You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt)

The reason is, that is foolish. They have to have something in common to be moving together. The same applies to human beings. Someone who is pious, and someone who is a drunkard, they can’t move together! Really! It’s like a sardine moving with a whale! Allahu’Akbar! It can’t happen. One will devour the other. Allahu’Akbar!

So, this is why let them not fool you when they tell you, ‘Look, I am not on drugs, but the ten guys who I mix up with they’re all on drugs!’ Tell him, ‘You are the boss! You are the main one. Don’t lie!’ May Allah (swt) protect our offspring.

Remember, those who are tested with drugs, it is up to you, really- you change yourself! No one else will. You need to develop the will power! You need to develop the willpower and you need to make a Dua to Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect our offspring from drugs, and may He protect our offspring from all these bad habits.

Wallahi (By Allah (swt)), there are good people who lose their children, just because of their company, Allahu’Akbar.

Transcribed for Hiba by Asma Imran.

Dealing with False Company: Control, Alter or Delete!

ctrlaltdeleteAnother depressing day, and I didn’t know why I was sad. I really thought about my life, and I realized that I was doing things I wasn’t supposed to do. I had started listening to music, and I prayed twice a day, which was soon to abandon. It was 4 p.m. and I could hear footsteps coming towards my room. It was probably my mom coming in to force me to go to my Quran class, and yes, that was exactly what happened. I dragged my feet to the car, and grabbed my scarf in exasperation. People already regarded me as a weirdo, and hardly anyone would talk to me.

I was ten minutes late for the class, and I had already planned that I would just go to sleep, because the lecture was always boring. My teacher knew that something was wrong with me, but she didn’t say anything. The topic that day was about the influence of friends/social circle. I was least interested, as my problems seemed bigger to me than a boring lecture.

Mrs. Hamid said that wherever you are, choose your friends wisely. This was her favourite sentence. “The social circle in which you are can change your lifestyle; so choose your friends wisely.” It was not until the next day, when I started pondering over these words. I realized that my problems were due to my friends, with whom I would hangout most of the time.

“If someone in your life is a bad influence, get away from that person as soon as possible and surround yourself with people, who will support you.” These words echoed in my ears. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t due to my friends, as we had been together for the past eight years; besides, they were really good people.

It was winter break, and I had decided to observe my life without those friends of mine. Also, I tried to pray regularly and stopped listening to music. I deactivated my accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat; moreover, I didn’t talk to them on Whatsapp.

“Wake up Manahil! You have to pray.” I had asked my mom to wake me up for Fajr that I used to regret every morning. My warm, cozy comforter hugged me; and my bed was as soft as wool. I’d never felt this comfortable in thirteen and a half years! I tried to get up, but the cold morning air was another obstacle I had to face. Oh! I totally forgot about the freezing water, and within five minutes, I was fast asleep.

“Hey, listen, come to my house tomorrow. Okay? See you tomorrow! Bye.” One of my friends called and invited me to her house. All of us gathered the next day, and they decided to listen to music. “Hey, listen guys, let’s do something else. Can we not listen to music?” I asked my friends.
“We can talk while the song is playing…” replied Amna.

“Can’t we pray first?” I asked, trying to avoid music.

when there is a ‘knock knock’ in your heart, and you realize that you were on the wrong path, ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness and start doing the right thing.

“Oh my God, Manahil! What has happened to you?! Don’t be too Islamic.”

“Yeah, we are here to enjoy, so, please!”

“Okay fine…” I couldn’t say anything else. I don’t know why, but I started feeling very uncomfortable with them. I sent a message to my mom to pick me up in five minutes. “Mrs. Hamid was right…” I told myself. Winter break was way better than school days, because I was far from my so-called ‘best friends’.

“Yes, Mrs. Hamid, I don’t know why, but I wasn’t comfortable. I always had a lot of fun, when I used to hang out with them but…” I narrated the whole incident to her.

“I’m glad you realized. Always remember – when there is a ‘knock knock’ in your heart, and you realize that you were on the wrong path, ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness and start doing the right thing. It’s a golden opportunity for you. Let me tell you one thing – most of the people today are listening to music; how beloved you will be to Allah (swt), if you don’t listen to it! Try to leave those friends – you can only be betrayed by the people you trust. Choose your friends wisely. The company you keep defines you and your level of faith. Also, you don’t become what you want; instead, you become like the ones you hang out with. The Holy Prophet (sa) described the good and bad companions when he said: ‘The example of a good companion is that of the bearer of musk, and the worker on the bellows. The bearer of musk would give you some of the perfume- you either buy it, or smell its fragrance. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand- either burns your body or your clothes, or you smell a bad odour from him.’ So choose your friends wisely.”

Shaikh Hussain Yee’s Words of Wisdom

paperpenDonning a brown shirt and a cap, the Sheikh was seated in the centre of “Fajr Academy’s” training room. His voice was tranquil yet firm, his face was radiant yet purposeful, his eyes scanned all across the room filled with teachers seated in awe before him. It was inspirational to be in his company and here is what he had to say:

As a Muslim

He is someone, who maintains a fine balance between physical, mental and spiritual needs. Why does a Muslim need to be like that? Well, if his body is weak, his mind is weak, too. And if his mind is weak, he cannot seek knowledge. And what is the best knowledge? That you can act upon right away. Why? It is because every person’s needs are different. Be proactive and be a part of the circle of people of knowledge. So you may ask them questions. That is the fastest way to learn your Deen. Also remember knowledge without action is not beneficial. Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) hate such individuals, who only listen but do not act upon what they hear.

As a teacher

At my educational centre in Malaysia, I teach my students that this is your home. Keep it clean and don’t litter around. I teach them to sweep the floor and wash the dishes, because this requires a special set of skills. It is an art to clean correctly; otherwise, you are just wasting soap and water. Your heart should be in it. Yes, something as insignificant as cleaning. The whole point is that whatever you do in Islam, you must be committed with your heart and soul. Also, don’t just be a Mualim or Mualimah. Be a Murabbi. The difference is that a Muslim comes and delivers the lecture and leaves unbothered. But a Murabbi imparts knowledge, monitors that it is implemented and keeps supervising, until it is properly imposed. Our Prophet (sa) was a Murabbi, too.

I teach my students to participate. I tell them that when Allah (swt) calls, you must respond. If you don’t, you are not the chosen one. Similarly, when I call you as a teacher, you must come willingly. When you will need me, I will be there for you too. We are a family. I have students who have become fathers and now their children come to me as students. So I am practically a grandfather of hundreds of children.

Your mind is a home for right knowledge. It is counter-productive to seek incorrect knowledge, as it corrupts and confuses your mind and thoughts and ultimately – your actions.

The best way to strengthen your soul is to perform DhikrAllah. Remember Him much. Recite:

“Rabbi Aainni Ala Dhikrika Wa Shukrika Wa Husni Ibadatika.” (An-Nisai)

(“O Allah (swt), help me to remember you, to thank you and to worship you in the best manner.”)

Why do we need Allah’s (swt) help in remembering Him, offering thanks to Him and worshipping Him? Why can’t we just do it on our own? Mainly because this only holds value if performed in the manner Allah (swt) commanded us to do and the Prophet (sa) taught us to do. We cannot please Allah (swt) in any self-created or self-innovated way. It may lead us and others towards misguidance unknowingly, and we might end up displeasing Him instead.

As a servant for community

The supreme manner to offer gratitude to Allah (swt) is to use your health, time, knowledge, and resources in His way. Each time you receive something from Allah (swt), know that it is time to give back by sharing with others. Everything the Lord (swt) granted to you is a Nai’mah (blessing).

Our community needs to be trained with patience. At my centre in Malaysia, my wife and I first clean the rooms before the initiation of any activity. Next, we put up signs around the rooms to educate people for different purposes and mannerisms. Even then many people fail to follow instructions and behave otherwise. They are insensitive to others. We take extra effort to correct Saf (rows) in the Jama’ah (congregation). I do not begin leading the prayer, until all the rows are straight, worshippers standing shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe with no gaps in between. I have a senior sister to signal me from among the ladies to begin, once the same has been achieved on the female side.

Also, significance of Jama’at (group) is very critical. When you are alone, you are exposed. Find creative ways to unite the Ummah. If you had been on the spiritual journey of Umrah or Hajj and had companions along, host gatherings every month, taking turns and inviting them. Your kids will learn the importance of being an Ameer and uniting the Ummah.

As a father

In today’s age, I will strongly advise fathers to remain a step ahead of their children – frisk their school bags and belongings discretely. If you ever find something objectionable, talk to them about the importance of honesty, without confrontation. If the child still conceals or lies, go another round of Ahadeeth and Quranic verses that highlight the dangers of lying. If the kid reveals the truth, which might be disturbing, do not yell at him/her. Otherwise that will be the last time the child will ever confide in you.

Muslim families must internalize the Asma-ul-Husna. Learn and bring into your discussion the ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) with your family. Allah (swt) should be present and not passive in your lives. And when you are gone, your children will remember Allah (swt) the same way you did at every step of their lives.

As a husband

Trust is the single most important ingredient of one’s marital life. My wife and I have no secrets. She remembers my passwords more than I do. At times, when I get any indecent message from unknown female talking rubbish, I show the message to her first, so that it doesn’t create any Fitnah between us. We simply ignore it and the problem takes care of itself. But if you keep secrets from each other, it has adverse effects later.

Also there needs to be a balance between Dawah and home responsibilities. If you have not taken care of the minimum at home and stepped out for community service, it will become a bone of contention and domestic disputes. Take care of your homes first and then the community.

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from a talk held at “Fajr Academy” (Karachi)

Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Furqan

pearls5Surah Al-Furqan

Now, we begin Surah Al-Furqan – the Criterion.

Stop picking holes in others!

Some of us love picking on others. But why do we do that? Is it because we have silently acknowledged they are better than us and a tiny seed of jealousy sits in our hearts? People mock the practicing Muslim wherever they see them. The Quraish mocked the Prophet (sa) and called him all kinds of name.

Some of their arguments were, “And they say: Why does this Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat? And the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) say: You follow none but a man bewitched.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-8)

Allah (swt) comments, “See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a (Right) Path.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-9) Because their hearts have been sealed to receive any guidance; therefore, they mock the messenger. Here is a warning for us: never mock the scholars or those who are knowledgeable. It is Allah (swt) who eases the path to knowledge for those whom He chooses. We should pray to Him to make us of those, instead of holding ill thoughts about the other person.

Allah (swt) responds, “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer (of everything).” (Al-Furqan 25:20) Had Allah (swt) not sent a human messenger, how would have we related ourselves to him? We would have perhaps said, “Oh, he is not human he does not understand us.” It is a great favour of Allah (swt) upon us that He chose a human messenger whose conduct is an excellent example for entire mankind. Today, the disbelievers are studying his Seerah to improve their lives.

The intense opposition of the Quraish

Why were the Quraysh so intense in their opposition to the Prophet (sa)? It was because of the company that they kept. None of them had a genuine concern for people’s well-being. All of them desired authority and leadership and shamelessly devoured people’s properties. Hence, we go back to our earlier lesson: you are known by the company you keep. Because there was no one in their circle who could advise them to goodness; they considered themselves right. Staying in wrong company only destroys us in the end. Therefore, it is best to distance away from those who call us to a path other than that of the messenger (sa).

A fruitful reminder

Allah (swt) warns us, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad (sa)).” “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!” “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29) This tells us the importance of holding on to the Quran, studying it and reflecting on its verses.

Knot ties with the Quran

On the Day of Judgement the Prophet (sa) will complain, “And the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will say: “O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur’an (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).” (Al-Furqan 25:30). This is the month of Quran. Allah (swt) gives us a chance after every eleven months to re-connect with it and not be of those who have discarded it. Let us not miss this opportunity. Let us learn it and also teach it to others.

Discipline your desires

Our hearts are not opened to accept what is against our desires. Ibrahim (as) heard the command of Allah (swt) and he submitted right away. Allah (swt) asks us, “Have you (O Muhammad (sa)) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire? Would you then be a Wakil (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him? ” (Al-Furqan 25:43)

Following one’s desires is a sure way to end up in hell-fire, unless one realizes his mistake and repents. Desires are Shaytan’s (Satan) trap to trick men. If everyone was to follow their own desires, there would have been a chaos on earth. Therefore, Allah (swt) blesses us with Ramadan to discipline ourselves and soften up our hearts to follow His instructions.

Traits of a submissive slave of Allah (swt)

Talking about submission, let’s read how Allah (swt) describes His slaves, “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (Al-Furqan 25:63)

First, He calls them Ibad-ur-Rahman (the servants of the Most Merciful). He associates them to Himself, and the attribute that He chooses is mercy. Subhan’Allah! He is teaching us to be merciful to others, walk humbly on earth and excuse ourselves from disputes and arguments with a word of peace. Allah (swt) does not like the proud and boastful; humility is a dear quality to Him. Hence, we are required to be humble in our prayers and acknowledge our low position.

Allah (swt) points to another quality of Ibad-ur-Rahman, “And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Al-Furqan 25:64). This is where we should be spending our energies. One night, wake up only for Him. If we can do it for world cup, then why not for Jannah-cup?

We have heard the Hadeeth where it is stated Allah (swt) calls out at night; if there are any people seeking His forgiveness, He may forgive them; or if they are making Dua for something, He may answer it. Let’s not waste this opportunity of getting our Duas answered.

Turn a deaf ear to useless disputes

Engaging in disputes is a futile activity. Such people are not really interested in learning. They argue for the sake of arguing. Therefore, our Prophet (sa) guaranteed a house in Paradise for the one who gives up arguing. Why engage our tongues in something that is not approved by Allah (swt)? Why miss a few moments of Allah’s (swt) remembrance?

In arguments pretend to be deaf. You will be controlling your tongue from committing a sin and also achieve a lot of peace.

Seek refuge in Allah’s (swt) from the Shaytan

One thing is to abstain from sins, another is to increase good deeds and a third category is asking Allah (swt) to avert from us the punishment of Hell. This is the Dua of the Ibad-ur-Rahman:

رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say: Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.” (Al-Furqan 25:65-66)

Shaytan (Satan) controls us and we cannot control him, but for Allah (swt) it is possible. Let us then seek refuge with Allah (swt) against the treachery of the cursed one. Add Duas to your daily routine seeking Allah’s (swt) protection. Without His help, nobody can protect themselves from the tricks of Shaytan (Satan).

Spendthrifts – friends of the Shaytan

One of the traps of Shaytan (Satan) is to make us splurge on the non-essentials and when it comes to spending in the Cause of Allah (swt) we are counting change. Or he makes people overspend to later burden them with debts and loans. He is ever so active in snatching away people’s peace. Ibad-ur-Rahman knows the art of budgeting. They are neither extravagant nor miserly and choose the middle path instead. Let’s cut the size of our pocket.

Repent for peace within

Allah (swt) describes that they do not commit Shirk (associating partners with Allah), kill a soul unjustly, or commit illegal sexual intercourse. Since these are some of the major sins, there is punishment and humiliation for he who commits them. But the one who repents and changes himself, he will find his Lord Merciful, “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71) One of the qualities of a good believer is to be constantly engaged in repentance.

Strive to be the true Ibad-ur-Rahman

The Ibad-ur-Rahman does not testify to falsehood, and stays away from time wasters. In Ramadan, people are hastening towards doing good. Someone is reciting the Quran. Someone is offering extra voluntary prayers. There is someone hastening to give voluntary charity. And then there is someone busy in a computer game. Let us only make the best use of technology, rather than making it a means of our destruction.

Allah (swt) again mentions the importance of holding on to the Quran, “And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” (Al-Furqan 25:73). That is a sign of a living heart. They make Dua for righteous spouses and offspring that will be a comfort to their eyes. For them are treasures as a reward for what they have patiently endured in this world and they will enter peace. May Allah (swt) make us of the Ibad-ur-Rahman. Ameen.

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

 

 

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

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

Be cautious – this world deceives

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

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

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

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

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

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

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

Sincerity in charity

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

Zakat – an obligatory charity

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

 

بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

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

Levels of believers

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

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

Diversity in Ummah

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

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

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

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

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

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

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

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

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

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

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

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 1

pearls3As we are seated in our houses in comfort and peace, there are fellow Muslims across the globe suffering for various reasons. Some of them are being tested by famine. Some of them are showered with bombs. Some of them are gripped by civil war. We might not be able to lessen their sufferings, but at least we can make Dua. We need to be sensitive to others people’s pains. May Allah (swt) bring them comfort and relief. Ameen.

“Remind!” for reminder has benefits

Allah (swt) has sent us several reminders through the Quran. These reminders are not merely to be heard, but we also need to pay heed and reform our lives to the pleasure of Allah (swt). The previous nations were much stronger and powerful than us, yet they were perished due to their negligence and disobedience. We need to study their stories so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.

Allah (swt) says, “Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.” (Al-Anam 6:6)

What goes around, comes around

Messengers after messengers were sent but it did not move their hearts. Their hearts were hardened. They would mock the messengers and hurt them. Sometimes today in our gatherings when Shaytan overtakes us, we make fun of the scholars. Remember, if today, we make fun of the messengers or the message that they brought; the scholars and the knowledgeable; the pious and the friends of Allah (swt), then someday, we will be made a laughing stock of. “And indeed, (many) Messengers were mocked before you. But their scoffers were surrounded by the very thing that they used to mock at. Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth.” (Al-Anam 6:10-11)

Mock at your own risk

Don’t laugh at others. Sometimes, we lose our peace because we made fun of a scholar, a pious person or a friend of Allah (swt). We used the tongue that should be engaged in Quran recitation and Dhikr in abusing someone. We need to seek repentance and make Dua to Allah (swt) to soften our hearts; so that we don’t end up like the perished nations. This is the main purpose of reminders: to guide us and give us a wakeup call.

Further Allah (swt) talks about the reverence of the prophets, Allah’s (swt) message and friends of Allah (swt). The discussion, then moves on to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). This is the most repeated topic of Surah Al-Anam, since the main addressees of this Surah were the idolaters of Makkah. Allah (swt) says, “And on the Day when We shall gather them all together, We shall say to those who joined partners in worship (with Us): Where are your partners (false deities) whom you used to assert (as partners in worship with Allah)? There will then be (left) no Fitnah (excuses or statements or arguments) for them but to say: By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah.” (Al-Anam 6:22-23) We need to thank Allah (swt) that unlike some other people who bow before a passing animal or revere an idol, He made us of those who worship the Creator. Alhamdulillah!

This world – a temporary abode

There are some people who say, “You live only once, do as you please.” They do not believe in the Resurrection. Allah (swt) addresses such people in the Quran and says, “And they said: There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection). If you could but see when they will be held (brought and made to stand) in front of their Lord! He will say: Is not this (Resurrection and the taking of the accounts) the truth? They will say: Yes, by our Lord! He will then say: So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.” (Al-Anam 6:29-30) Yes, we do live our lives in this Dunya once; but one day we will be resurrected for an eternal life, and we don’t want to lose that.

Turn a deaf ear to the fools

Then Allah (swt) reminds us of how the Prophet (sa) was persecuted by the people of Makkah in the early days of Prophethood. He was called a sorcerer, a magician, a person after position and power, a person after money and so on; yet he remained patient and brought about victory.

Here’s a lesson for us. If the best of the creation was not spared, then how can we be spared? People will spread rumours about us and disturb our peace. Ignore them. Don’t waste your time in replying to them. And please don’t go into depression. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “We know indeed the grief which their words cause you (O Muhammad (sa)): it is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’an) of Allah that the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny. Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you (O Muhammad (sa)), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (before you).” (Al-Anam 6: 33-34)

If you are truthful and you have not snatched the rights of others, then Allah (swt) will protect you. As the saying goes, His help is near. Be patient and endure a little more.

Advocate the truth

This also teaches us another lesson. When we receive any information about someone else, if it does not concern us we don’t need to spread it around. And in case that we must share it with others, then we must verify its authenticity first before spreading the word; whether it is true or not! When we are away from Allah (swt), He puts a difficulty in our lives so that we might raise our hands in Dua. The question is: Must we wait for a calamity to strike before we connect with Allah (swt)?

Rags or riches – living with humility is the key

He says, “Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad (sa)). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health with calamities so that they might believe with humility. When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not believe with humility? But their hearts became hardened, and Shaytan (Satan) made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do.” (Al-Anam 6: 42-43)

Sometimes, we look at people living in big houses and driving fancy cars; we look at them and conclude Allah (swt) must be really pleased with them to grant such blessings upon them. It is the way of Allah (swt) to open the doors to His treasures and let people enjoy themselves. He then observes their attitude. One would hope it would soften their hearts and make them humble. On the contrary, being blessed with worldly treasures people engage in all kinds of sins. Shaytan beautifies for them their sin. Their hearts become hardened and they do not even realize the evil that they are committing. It is then that they are struck by Allah’s (swt) wrath.

The point is that material possessions do not communicate one’s closeness to Allah (swt). Rather, it is one’s actual connection with Allah (swt) that determines one as the favoured ones. If the connection with Allah (swt) is missing from our lives then everything else is insignificant.

Muhammad (sa), Allah’s (swt) Messenger, owned very little and lived his life in poverty. Yet, he was the most content of the people. You know why? It is because he lived within his means and was generous. He never yearned for the treasures of Dunya. And if ever he was sent some gift or food, he would share it with others, especially the poor. Our problem is that we have increased our wants; which is why we see more and more people taking loans. Then committing suicide for not be able to pay the mountain of debt that they have burdened themselves with. Financial constraint has been noted as one of the reasons for marriage failures. You want peace? Limit your wants. For how long are you here in this world? Learn to live within the sustenance that Allah (swt) has provided you with.

A person sitting high above at the top, with every little blessing of this world within his means, can be destructed by the smallest nudge at the bottom. Ever observed a stack of books? You have meticulously arranged a pile of books. When you are placing the last book on the top, your foot accidentally touches the books at the bottom and there collapses your tower. One small nudge and all is gone. That is how Allah (swt) destructs nations.

Equality rules

Islam prohibits its followers from making money as the sole focus of their lives. When money and things become the criterion for judging someone’s character and status- the ones wealthy are considered as high and noble; while the poor ones are considered as unworthy and low. We learn that the weak and the poor were the first to accept Islam. Then Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) and other rich Muslims spent their wealth in freeing of slaves. In Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, these weak and poor would be seated near to him, listening attentively to what the Prophet of Allah (swt) had to say. The Makkan leaders demanded the Prophet (sa) that if he wished to see them in his gathering, then he first needs to get rid of the weak and the poor. The Makkans were filled with pride and ostentation; they could not envisage being seated next to someone who was once their slave. Allah (swt) said, “And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face. You are accountable for them in nothing, and they are accountable for you in nothing, that you may turn them away and thus, become of the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:52)

Meet and greet

Further, He said, “When those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) come to you, say: “Salamun ‘Alaikum” (peace be on you).” (Al-Anam 6:54) The weak and the poor are to be greeted by the most honourable greeting of the Muslims: Salam-un-Alaykum.

This tells us not to be a racist or judge people according to their skin colour, language or wealth. Don’t underestimate anyone; they might be the first ones to enter Paradise while we will still be defending ourselves in the court of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect us, Ameen.

A person is judged by the company he keeps

One way of protecting our hearts and tongues from doing or uttering the most detested thing is not sitting with those who make fun of the verses of Allah (swt), as He says, “And when you (Muhammad (sa)) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur’an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:68) In discussions people say, “Hey! We are studying the Quran and trying to understand religion.” But when these discussions are filled with foul language, abuses, mockery and ridicule then there is no Khair (goodness) in them. Get up and leave unless they talk about something else. If one keeps sitting with them, he will be influenced and become like them.

The courage to speak up, stop and leave the gathering of evil results in peace. If they can mock the Book of Allah (swt), tomorrow they will be ridiculing you. May Allah (swt) help us realize the consequences of our deeds, Ameen.

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