Let the Quran do the Miracle

Park-Bench-SA-087-Last month, her life turned into a complete mess. Sitting on a bench in a park, she went into reminiscence of her past; she was a happy girl, leading a happy, prosperous life. She had a beautiful family comprising of her loving parents and siblings; a home, a good job with a successful career and many good friends. One day, while coming back from a family picnic, her car got into a terrible accident. Her parents and siblings died on the spot, while she got badly injured and lost her arm that made her handicapped. Due to her incapacitation, she was fired from her job; moreover, to pay for her medical expenses, she had to sell her house and move into her aunt’s home.

“Life has treated me cruelly!” she thought, while sitting on the bench, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. She felt worthless and purposeless, and found no reason to live anymore. She’d even tried committing suicide, but that too failed. The ghastly circumstances she’d seen in the last one month had made her miserable and depressed; all she wanted was some peace.
Some days later, she started working at a place, which accommodated people with disabilities. Since she was a hardworking and talented woman, she was able to buy a house soon with her earnings. She got a little stable with a decent job; yet, she did not get the peace and satisfaction that her heart yearned for.

She decided to get involved in various activities to divert her mind, hoping to get over her depression and emptiness in her heart. She started clubbing and partying, regularly attended social gatherings and visited friends. That company made her feel better, but she still did not get the peace she longed for.

Then, she joined a musical band and started listening to songs frequently on a friend’s advice, who told her that music is food for the soul; hence, it’d give her peace. She gave it a try and it felt good for some time, but then again, she felt that music gave her nothing but headache.
Afterwards, she decided to get into shopping spree; she’d spend all her time roaming in the markets. She made herself aware of the latest brands as well as the trends in fashion and shopped accordingly, stuffing her wardrobe with branded dresses, bags, shoes, jewellery and makeup. Consequently, spending all her time shopping made her forget about the sadness in her life; but, after about a week, all that felt useless. Her wardrobe, bloating with branded stuff, could not give her peace of mind and heart. It could not fill the emptiness in her heart.

Then, she started watching movies all the time. She got so absorbed in them that she’d forget all her worries; however, as soon as the movie was over, she’d start feeling restless and depressed again.

After that, she took up another job to keep herself as busy as possible, hoping it would help her get over her depression; but it was not much of a help either.

Next, she decided to go on a world tour. She had gathered enough money from her jobs, so she made a list of all the countries that she wanted to visit. Excited about the tour, she thought that it would certainly give her contentment, as she had wanted to have that tour since forever. So, she visited all the countries one by one, but to her disappointment, it couldn’t give her peace and satisfaction; her heart still felt vacant and peace less.

Her depression was gradually increasing; she even went on medication, but it did little good.Then, she got into drugs, expecting to get relief from her depression. But, it made the situation even worse! She had tried one thing after the other, but all in vain. All she wanted was peace and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul.

Then one day, she decided to visit an old friend, not knowing how this visit would change her entire life. Just as she entered her home, she heard something that captured her attention at once. It was somebody reciting the Quran. She stood there still, unable to take any step further, and listened to the words of the Quran – it was so beautiful and pleasing that it touched her heart, and she could feel the warmth of tears on her cheeks. She left the house that very moment, and felt ashamed realizing how long had it been since she had last read the Quran. All these years, she had been neglecting the Book sent by the One, Who created her!

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

She went home immediately, opened a cabinet that had not been opened since ages, and took out the Holy Quran, which was covered with dust. She wiped off the dust with trembling hands and watery eyes, her heart heavy with sheer embarrassment. She quickly performed ablution and sat down with the Quran in her hand. She randomly opened a page in the Quran, and the first Ayah on the page that caught her eyes was,

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find peace.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Reading this, she could not stop crying. It was as if these words were written exactly for her. All her life, she had been trying to find peace through materialistic desires, and that was the moment she felt utmost peace. In her flight for the search for peace and satisfaction, how beautifully Allah (swt) had landed her on the amazing Ayah!

She started reciting the Quran along with translation, and started obeying all of Allah’s (swt) commands in the Quran; it gave her so much peace and gratification that she could have never imagined to have. It felt as if the emptiness in her heart had finally been filled. She found contentment and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul that she had been longing for since a very long time.

Through the Quran, she realized that the death of her family, loss of job and all the other calamities were trials for her; challenges through which Allah (swt) tests His people, so that they bear patience on them and He raises their standards. The calamities and hardships of life are nothing but a blessing for us, which washes away our sins.

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

If I can go back…

if-you-could-time-travel-back-to-the-past1

My past cannot be retrievable, cannot be reversible

The imprints are still there, which determines my story

It determines who I am, it doesn’t seem like a fairy tale

I wish I can go back once and pick up the crumbs of ifs and buts

the chants of complains and nuisance of negativity

the uproars  of hopelessness and discomforts of despair

the burden of countless expectations from myself and others

the world became a gloomy and lonely place for years

the positivity seems to shatter, the true passion disappeared

the wave of darkness overcame the joys and cheers

the circle of trust was weakened, the hopes and dreams shattered

life was meaningless, clueless, worthless, and senseless

why it happened what  was the reason behind all this distress

may be it was the lack of trust on the Lord

may be it was too much trust on one own self

may be it was the shackles of  ingratitude leaving me heartless and cold

may be the reward of every hardship in the hereafter was forgotten

maybe the real purpose of this life was stolen by the glitters of this world

then I realized that the Lord never burdens the soul what it can’t bear

He is with you, He holds you, He calms you , He is always there  for you

His words gives you hope, His remembrance gives you peace

He never leaves you alone, his decisions are always fair

no matter how harsh and hurtful this life can be

if you are patient, the everlasting joys are yours to share.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anfal

Akoya_pearlQualities of a believer

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

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

Honouring claims and contracts

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

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

Stay honest with entrusted responsibilities

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

All belongs to Allah (swt)

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

Taqwa – The key to right decisions

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

It’s either my way or the highway

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

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

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

Consistency is the key

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

Test or punishment?

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

How can we nurture contentment in our hearts?

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

Opt for a ceasefire; this initiative will bring you peace

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

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

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

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

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Qanat

roadblocks

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, freelance writer and Academic Coordinator

Dawn is that part of the day when you notice the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. Allah (swt) in His all encompassing Wisdom tells us: “(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89:27-30)

The believer’s soul is at peace with its Lord, certain of its way, confident of its fate. It is a soul which is satisfied with all eventualities: happiness or affliction, wealth or poverty.

Our dilemma is that we have no idea how to be the soul that is ‘in complete rest and satisfaction’. The answer is simple and logical. We need a wake-up call from our worries about money, jobs, kids and family; in fact, all the things that tie us to this world obstruct us from attaining true contentment.

There are four simple rules for bringing back contentment into our lives and overcoming any roadblocks to Qanat (being content with what you have):

(1) Free your heart from hatred

The Prophet (sa) said: “By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you submit. You will not submit until you love one another. Greet each other with peace and you will love one another. Beware of hatred, for it is the razor. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves away the religion.” (Bukhari) It’s as simple as that – submit yourself to Allah (swt).

(2) Free your mind from worries

Only Allah (swt) knows the precise moment, when we will take our final breath on this earth. “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s Leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” (Al-Imran 3:145)

Part of our belief in Allah (swt) requires us to have absolute certainty about Qadr, so why worry? We will get only what Allah (swt) has predetermined for us – just work hard to please Allah (swt).

(3) Live simply (Zuhud – abstinence from the greed of this world)

Abul-Abbas as-Saidi said: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me.’ He said: ‘Be detached from this world, and Allah will love you, and do not be attracted to what people have, and the people will love you.’” (Ibn Majah)

(4) Give more and expect less

Give freely of what you have – time, money, knowledge and energy – but expect a return only from Allah (swt). This world is not designed to be the venue for final judgements; accept Allah’s (swt) wisdom and defer to His logic and commands.

Getting rid of the roadblocks to Qanat is your decision. Are you going to get up each morning submitting to Allah (swt) or are you going to sulk in bed, mulling over all your worries? Use each day wisely and hoard good deeds for the Hereafter.

Islam’s Secret to Contentment

Jan 11 - Islam's Secret to contentment

By J. Samia Mair

“Consider well contentment, for it is a treasure without end.” (Al-Tabarani)

I am not sure anything satisfies me more than those rare occasions, when I experience a sudden intellectual breakthrough and spiritual advancement. This recently happened to me, when I was rereading a passage from one of my favourite books on Islam: “Those, who learn the lesson being taught by the Quran, understand that there is nothing they can do about their worldly lot, so they put their effort into improving their lot in the next world.”

I was immediately reminded of the following Hadeeth: “God has preordained five things for every man He has created: his period of life, his action, his lying down, his moving about and his provision.” (Ahmad) I thought about how different my aspirations are now that I am a Muslim.

Growing up, I was taught that God did not exist and religious people were fools. My parents wanted me to get a good job, make a lot of money, live in a big house and be happy. But what is happiness? Recently, I was visiting a Muslim sister, who said: “religion should be easy and make you happy in this life.” I disagreed. We obey Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) for the next world and eternal bliss. Submission is not always easy nor does it always make us happy – but it can make us content.

Our beloved Prophet (sa) taught us how to be content: “When one of you looks at someone who is superior to him in property and appearance, he should look at someone who is inferior to him.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Our provision, appearance and lot in life have already been decreed. We should be content and grateful with what Allah (swt) has provided us. He (swt) knows what is best and what will lead us to Paradise.

If anyone would have told me growing up that I would someday be a Muslim, wear a Hijab and cherish learning about Allah (swt) and how to obey Him (swt), I would have laughed out loud. I do not have most of what my parents had wished for me: I stay home raising my girls; I occasionally earn some money by writing; and I live in a two-bedroom apartment. But as it turns out, I am happier than they are, and more than I could have imagined.

Every day, I try to thank Allah (swt) for bringing me to Islam. Faith is a gift, and I did nothing special to deserve it. In fact, I could name many others, who appear far more deserving of this blessing than me. I am truly content with Allah (swt) as the Lord, Islam as the religion and with Muhammad (sa) as the Prophet and the Messenger.

Key to Happiness: Contentment

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Key to happinessIf there is one value we should all strive for, it is contentment. Once you are satisfied with what you have in this world, life will automatically become simpler.

“…that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them. Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.” (Al-Ahzab 33:51)

Here are a few suggestions for becoming more content with what we have in this world:

Write it down

Jot down in a journal, how many hours of the day you spend striving for this world and how many hours working for the next world. If we pride ourselves in being ‘moderate’ Muslims and following a balanced approach, do we really strike a balance in all our activities? We are so content with our Ibadah but we are not content with the size of our house, car or diamond ring. Our journal can surprise us, as to how balanced we really are.

Choose Good Company

A great way to increase contentment is to move around with people that are content with what they have in this world. Is your social circle making you more discontent? Are you throwing lavish parties and racking up credit card bills only to compete with others? If yes, it might be the time for migrating to friends that are content with what they have.

“Would that they were contented with what Allah and His Messenger (sa) gave them and had said: ‘Allah is Sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His Bounty, and so will His Messenger (from alms). We implore Allah (to enrich us).’” (At-Taubah 9:59)

Don’t get into the Rat Race

If you join the rat race of designer bags, shoes and other luxuries, it will never end. You may feel that you will buy just one expensive outfit and leave it at that. However, once your appetite has been whetted with the look and feel of luxurious items – plus the oohs and ahs that accompany it – you could be drugged for life. Try to stay away from this slippery slope of brand names. It is like quick sand that can suck you into unending depths of discontentment.

Teaching Contentment to Kids

Every time you think of buying your child a new toy, ask yourself, if you could rather snuggle in bed with her and have a reading marathon? Instead of a trip to a fancy restaurant, how about baking their favorite pizza at home from scratch? Don’t be ashamed to say we cannot buy this toy now, because it’s too expensive. Children should know they cannot have everything they see. If they like a particular toy, ask them to add it to their Eid wish list. Then, on Eid or when they get good grades, give them a monetary budget or toy item limit and let them splurge.

Contentment is our Tradition

As sister Huma Najmul Hassan explained in one of her Bayan ul Quran CDs, many of us follow the customs and traditions of our forefathers on weddings, deaths and other occasions as a means of respecting them. Now, even if our forefathers may have unknowingly been making mistakes in some traditions, they lived very simple and content lives. Just two generations ago, one dish was enough for dinner, cold drinks were a rare treat and new clothes were worn only on Eid. How convenient it is that we follow our ancestors in some aspects but not in others!

Victims of Discontent

Vol 3-Issue1 Victims Of discontentAamir, a middle-manager at a financial institution, complains of a measly salary compared to the workload he is entrusted with. Nafisa, a housewife, is livid due to her husband’s lack of interest in the household matters.

In these times of unbridled materialism, we are guided by our earthly possessions and seldom worry about the permissibility in faith of a particular course of action. What was unthinkable a few years ago is very much Halal these days. Take interest, for example – a myriad of bankers justify a conventional bank-based income by virtue of new fangled logic. Usury, they say, is what was disallowed in Islam, and not interest, which is a mere profit for the use of money.

Ironically, the type of people described above are the ones most discontent with their existence. If we look deeper into the causes of such discontent, Islam offers many answers. Prophet Muhammad (sa) provided us a role model in terms of contented living. There were instances, when the Prophet (sa) survived on a few dates. Yet, he never showed discontent with his fate and exhorted the faithful not to worry too much about “why this has not been given to us by Allah (swt)?”

Amr Ibn Taghlib has narrated: “Some property or something was brought to Allah’s Apostle (sa) and he distributed it. He gave to some men and ignored the others. Later, he got the news of his being admonished by those, whom he had ignored. So he glorified and praised Allah (swt) and said: ‘Amma ba’du. By Allah (swt), I may give to a man and ignore another, although the one whom I ignore is more beloved to me than the one whom I give. But I give to some people, as I feel that they have no patience and no contentment in their hearts, and I leave those who are patient and self-contented with the goodness and wealth, which Allah (swt) has put into their hearts, and ‘Amr Ibn Taghlib is one of them.'” Amr added: “By Allah (swt)! Those words of Allah’s Apostle (sa) are more beloved to me than the best red camels.” (Bukhari)

Islam does not discourage ambition per se. However, it is disallowed for us to reach a state of being constantly dissatisfied with our present and intoxicated with achieving more than our peers / neighbours / colleagues / relatives.

What medicine does Islam prescribe for avoiding such a state of discontent? Through His Messenger (sa), Allah (swt) has taught us ways to cope with the disease of discontent – a disease, which cripples the spirit. Remembering Allah (swt) is the cure for the constant human complaining. Allah (swt) says: “Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah (swt) – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah (swt): verily, in the remembrance of Allah (swt) do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:28)
Narrated by Abu Huraira (rta): “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Riches does not mean having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.'” (Bukhari)

In a world full of tantalizing wealth and tempting positions of power, it is quite natural to get swayed in this sea of inebriated desire to acquire more, which always seems elusive.

May Allah (swt) protect us all from the constant desires of our Nafs, make us do more Dhikr, and be content within ourselves. A Muslims’ focus is on the Hereafter – discontent with our worldly lives will make us lose focus from our primary goal.