In Service to the Book of Allah – Sheikh Muhammad Ayub

QuranPage

By Ejaz Taj

It was at Fajr time this morning; I received the sad news about the passing of our beloved Sheikh Muhammad Ayub from his son in Madinah. He was a man whose life was in service to the Book of Allah (swt) and its teaching – from his earliest days to his final moments before returning to his Lord. He was born in a poor Burmese migrant family living in Makkah, in 1952. His family had fled oppression against Muslims in their native Burma. His childhood was difficult. Being the eldest of his siblings, he had to work to provide for his family (as his father was imprisoned in Burma). At the same time, he attended his daily Hifz classes in Makkah.

At that time, there were very few roads developed, and no tunnels were constructed through the mountains that we see today. The Sheikh mentioned in a rare interview that his daily journey used to be on foot to the Masjid where he studied; his route involved ascending and descending two steep hills, between which were wild dogs and other desert creatures. This is a testament to his dedication from a young age in this era of Skype classes from the comfort of our bedrooms.

As he grew older, he showed a great aptitude for the recitation of the Quran – impressing his teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman, who held in a high standard. The Sheikh accompanied his teacher wherever he went, practising and perfecting his recitation.

In the year 1410 AH (1990), the Sheikh had just been given the position of Imam in Masjid Quba. The head Imam of Masjid Nabawi at that time, Sheikh Abdul Aziz As-Salih, was informed of a new Imam by the name of Muhammad Ayub in Masjid Quba who was known for his beautiful voice and excellent skill in recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, towards the end of Shaban, summoned Muhammad Ayub to a gathering. In the end, he called him to sit next to him in front of everyone and asked him to recite. The Sheikh, unsure of what exactly was happening, proceeded to recite, something that was as natural to him as breathing; he managed to impress everyone in the gathering by his eloquent recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, taken aback, immediately said to him (with only a few days notice before the start of Ramadan) “You will be leading Taraweeh in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah (sa).” Dazed and unable to believe what had just happened, he prepared himself for the great moment.

He said about his first night in the Mihrab of the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid: “My heart was racing and my ears were buzzing. My hands were shaking uncontrollably from the greatness of where I stood and in remembrance of those who stood here before me. I sought refuge with Allah (swt) and proceeded.” He also said: “Every single time I stood at the Mihrab of the Messenger of Allah (sa), I was filled with intense awe and a deep fear; fear that I would not be able to do justice to this great position, nor fulfil this heavy responsibility on my shoulders.”

In his first year as Imam, he led all twenty Rakahs of Taraweeh alone for the entire Ramadan apart from three days. This feat was matched only by one other Imam of the Haram Sheikh Ali Jabir in Masjid Haram (who was a close friend of his and over whom he led the Janazah). His teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman was away when Sheikh Muhammad Ayub got appointed as an Imam and only found out when he heard his student on the live radio broadcast from Masjid Nabawi. He would then call him every day, pray for him, and remind him of the importance of sincerity.

The Sheikh continued to lead the Taraweeh and Tahajjud in the Haram till 1417 after which he was removed. He spent a few years leading at Masjid Quba and various other Masajid. He moved on to teaching Tafseer at the Islamic University until his retirement in 2014. The Sheikh travelled extensively delivering lectures and study programmes on Arabic Language, Quran, Aqeedah, and Fiqh in places such as Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Senegal, and Turkey. Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham hosted him in the 90s where the Sheikh led the Taraweeh prayers.

After his retirement, the Sheikh took on a handful of dedicated Huffadh, who he would listen to in order to give them Ijazah, daily in Masjid Nabawi, until he passed away. Despite his ill health, he did this daily and never failed to show up, often listening to four students simultaneously while stopping and correcting each one. This is something that I witnessed personally. He would then head back to his Masjid where he led Isha and Fajr every day.

He holds a very unique position in the world of Quran reciters; respected widely by the Qurra from all backgrounds and nationalities. He had a massive impact on reciters in Saudi Arabia in general being a master of the Hijazi style which, by his aptitude and position at Masjid Nabawi, became very popular. Mishary Rashid, in a show about the biographies of modern day Qurra, said about the Sheikh: “He was the Mustafa Ismail of the Arabian Peninsula; he was far more influential in shaping the recitation of many reciters, and Imam of Masajid in that region than anyone else.” Today, he is widely imitated, even in the Haramain with Imam, such as:

Abdullah Johani, Bandar Baleela, Ahmad Talib Hameed and Khalid Al-Ghamidi, in both Makkah and Madinah, demonstrating deep influence by him, as they studied the Quran themselves.

He maintained a sadness that remained with him after no longer being appointed to lead at Masjid Nabawi in 1417 AH. The Sheikh mentioned in an interview when asked about his wishes for the future that he hoped he would be given the opportunity to lead in the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid one last time before he returns to Allah (swt). His Dua was answered as he was appointed one last time to lead the Taraweeh in the final Ramadan of his life in 1436 AH (2015) before returning to His Lord at Fajr 9th Rajab 1437 AH (16th April 2016).

I was blessed to meet the Sheikh a number of times. I felt honoured praying behind him in Ramadan 2015, and again just two weeks ago before his passing, in Masjid Nabawi as he sat and listened to his students. His final words to me were:

“The Arabic language is not difficult. Had it been as such, we would not have been able to memorise and learn the Book of Allah (swt), as it has been today from East to West.”

The Janazah was held on the 16th of April 2016 after Dhuhr in Masjid Nabawi. The Sheikh had thirteen children: five sons and eight daughters. The men are all Huffadh and well-accomplished within their fields; and a handful of the women are Huffadh, some still memorising, and also well studied in their respective fields.

May Allah (swt) raise him in rank in the hereafter; and may He allow the Book to which he dedicated his life to intercede for him in the grave and on Qiyamah. May Allah (swt) join him with the Messenger of Allah (sa), Abu Bakr (rta), Umar (rta), Uthman (rta), Ali (rta), and all those of the righteous with whom he shared the Imamat of that blessed Masjid throughout history, in the Akhirah. Ameen.

In my heart- Forever and Always By!

father-daughter-holding-hands-web

When I was just a baby,
you sang me your melodious lullaby.
From dusk to dawn you worked in an office,
I was taken care of by Mum and Sis.
As hours passed by…. I became a carefree child,
But, despite my obnoxious demeanour, you were always mild.
You walked me to school each day,
“Don’t leave me father”- with tears I would say.
Bringing me toffees and toys – indifferent to the cost,
listening to my unbearable sulks and taunts.
You were revelry to my heart,
Told me enchanting stories about Prophet Nuh and his ark.
Time flew, once again;
Over the years you were seen with a crooked cane.
You became subtle and old,
a face full of wrinkles and folds.
You became grumpy and cold,
“I don’t want to live”, I was told.
I remembered the times when I would catch a cold;
You’d tell me it came in return of a righteous deed sold.
I repaid your benevolence and love,
With responsibility and affectionate words.
Fulfilled my duties, household chores-
Aiding you while you trotted on the glossy floor.
As days resumed, the moments came near…
When you would become persistent with fear.
The sparkle in your eyes subsided, disappeared-
Before your death, you spoke a few words-
Whispering in my ear, vivid and clear.
“Always remain empathic to commence a noble deed.
These words are golden, so pay heed.
Discover you potential and ingenuity,
Never let hampers defeat your simplicity.
Stay away from decadence and profanities;
Don’t let conceit and aversion weave.
Death is an inevitable phase,
a numerous predicaments you will face.
Have determination and inspiration to dream,
Faith and trust, a strong belief.
Pray for me, as I’ve always prayed for you;
It’s a matter of servitude, ending soon.
Now it’s time to say adieu and good-bye…
But in my heart you’ll stay-
Forever and always by.”

Sabr and Shukr- Formula for a happy life

inna lillahThis world is full of trials and tests, and there comes a time when Sabr and Shukr is the need of the hour. As it is said in the Quran, that everyone will be tested in life- some will be tested with property and some with off springs.

Recently, I was tested by Allah (swt).  He blessed me with a beautiful daughter on 17th of June 2014 and she died the next day. It was a very hard day for me and my family. I felt that my whole world has shattered. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. As soon as a girl comes to know that she is expecting, she starts imagining about the baby being formed inside her. It was a big shock for all of us, but being Muslims we have to bow our heads in front of Allah (swt).

It is said in the Holy Quran that get patience through Salah. The thought that helped me observe Sabr was that my daughter is at a better place- in the arms of her Creator Who loves her more than me. She will be there waiting for me and my husband, and she won’t enter paradise until we have entered.

Secondly, Durud Sharif and ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) also helped me in observing Sabr. After every Salah, I thank Allah (swt) for all His blessings upon me. Also, reciting Quran daily and making Duas regularly have boosted my Sabr to a higher level. One more thing that has given me Sabr is the recitation of Inna lillahi wa inna iliahi rajioon (we all belong to Allah and to him shall we return) and that He will provide me with something better as the reward is so good.

[Part 1] Repent Now – He (swt) is Waiting!

uturn“But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Maidah 5:39)

Allah (swt) has sent us all on this earth to worship Him only. This life is momentary and full of trials and adversities. We are given a method to live this life but as humans, we are likely to make mistakes along the way. There will be daily encounters with the Shaytan. We have to make choices every now and then in this temporary life.

Repent in good and bad times

Life is a continuous struggle. We fall and we get up again but the struggle continues till our last breath. Allah (swt) tests us every day through blessings and through trials. A Muslim is patient when he is going through a trial, and in times of blessings, he is grateful to Allah (swt). Thus, a Muslim is in a state of either Sabr (patience) or Shukr (gratefulness).

When we face difficulties in life, we are worried and often repent. We ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness and pray more. But as soon as the tough period is over, we gradually lose contact with our Lord (swt) and get busy in our worldly matters. Some people need a few such incidents to make sincere Taubah; but for others, a whole lifetime is not enough, as they forget their Master (swt) and continue to commit sins.

Sins may be huge but they are not greater than Allah’s (swt) mercy

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) created the creation, He wrote in His Book. He wrote (that) about Himself, and it is placed with Him on the Throne: Verily My mercy overcomes My anger.” (Bukhari)

People often think that their sins are huge, but they do not realize the enormity of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. He waits patiently for His people to turn to Him in repentance: “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise).” (At-Tahrim 66:8)   

Often, when a Muslim’s faith becomes weak, he may be overwhelmed by his desires. Shaitan makes the forbidden attractive to him, so he wrongs himself and commits sins. Allah (swt) accepts the repentance of anyone who repents sincerely after doing wrong as He (swt) is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful.

Repent from your heart

Repentance does not mean to utter certain words without thinking. A Muslim should repent honestly from his heart, realizing his wrongdoings, regretting his sins, and offering a sincere apology and promise to his Lord (swt) not to repeat the ill actions.

Repent before death

The doors of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness remain open until a Muslim faces his death. Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran:

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now I repent;’ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) extends His hand at night to forgive those who sinned during that day, and He extends His hand during the day to forgive those who sinned during the night. This will continue to be the case until the sun rises from the west.” (Muslim)

We may get tired of repenting but Allah (swt) never tires of forgiving

We may get tired of committing sins, but He never gets tired of forgiving His slaves. Allah (swt) loves the repentance of His slaves and expresses joy over it. The Prophet (sa) said: “When a person repents, Allah (swt) rejoices more than any one of you would rejoice after finding a camel you had lost in the desert.” (Bukhari)

Retrospection: Death is Inevitable (Part 2)

kum-saati1It is human nature (more specific in women) that they dwell in their past, hold grudges, taunt and are sarcastic about the times that have been wronged by others; they chase luxuries, hoard wealth, and the list goes on. As much we remember all this, we must remember our death, too. Death is inevitable. We all will face it sooner or later.

“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)

She was laid in her grave. I was more worried about what she will be facing. It is said that the grave clenches itself for the wrongdoers and spaces up itself for the righteous. It is not for us to judge, whether a person has been good or bad – Allah (swt) is the Supreme Authority, Who will decide, and His judgement would be fair. We still have time to retrospect about our own selves than to pinpoint others. Who knows whether we are going to live for the very second minute? It aches to even assume that one day it will be my own parents, my siblings, my offspring, and my spouse. Do I really love them when I claim so? Will I be able to see them burning in hellfire? Will I be able to bear the endless pain of hell?

We still have time to retrospect about our own selves than to pinpoint others. Who knows whether we are going to live for the very second minute?

“That is the recompense of the enemies of Allah: The Fire therein will be for them the eternal home, a (deserving) recompense for that they used to deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.).” (Fussilat 41:28)

Nouman Ali Khan explains it very nicely that we get immune to constant pains at some point in this world and then we don’t feel the intensity. But in the later world, we will not get immune. We will feel the intensity the same way we felt it for the first time. Our body will not get used to it. It will be as severe and as fresh, as it was the first time we experienced it. The torment will be eternal, hence, no escape.

Am I striving to lead a righteous life? Am I contributing or trying to protect my loved ones from going astray? Am I prepared to meet my Lord? Am I bringing up my children to be happy and content to face their Lord? Why are we afraid of death? It is not because we fear losing our loved ones. It is because of the underlying fear that we ourselves have – the fear to meet our Lord, to face His wrath, to see our bad deeds leading us to hell (Astaghfirullah), to imagine ourselves alone in our dark, gloomy graves, where we will be stung by scorpions and snakes. We are aware of all this. The Quran warns us so many times, if we go through it, but we do not have time to open it and to read it, to comprehend it or to implement it. I am among those, too. We are aware, yet we are letting ourselves fall for the petty things. We know we will be questioned about our prayers, yet we are not offering any or delaying them. We associate others with Allah (swt) by believing in amulets (Taweez), going to shrines and making vows; believing that it is the doctor or red chilies that will cure the ill ones amongst us, when Allah (swt) is the One in authority to give health and recovery; doctors are just a medium.

“Hunafa’ Lillah (i.e. to worship none but Allah), not associating partners (in worship, etc.) unto Him and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place.” (Al-Hajj 22:31)

“After the soul becomes in the hands of the Angel of death (Azrael – Izraeel) the other present angels take the soul and prepare it in a coffin with good fragrance of musk or the worst odor(depending on one’s deeds) and take it up on a trip across the Seven Heavens towards Allah. In the case of the soul of the person with Faith in Allah the angels in each Heaven welcome it and know it is a good soul because of its beautiful smell that has come from towards earth. But in the case of a disbelieving person, the gates of each Heaven will not easily open for it and the angels will point to its bad odor. Until the soul reaches the Seventh Heaven and Allah knows what type of person he was and Allah commands his record to be written in “Illiyeen” (in the highest place) or Sijjeen (in the lowest earth). Then Allah will command to take it back to earth. So the angels gently return back the believing person’s soul to his body. As for the unbelieving person’s soul, the angels throw it from the Heaven to go back to its body.” (Tafseer ibn Katheer)

We must pray for our deceased ones and give charity on their behalf. We must also work for our eternal abode ahead. Death is not an end but a newfangled beginning. We are going back to our home where our parents (Adam and Hawwa) were – that is Jannah. It is a moment of rejoice, if we have done well for the life hereafter.

Retrospection: Death is Inevitable (Part 1)

grave2“Please, baby, sleep now,” I pleaded to my child, as was down with a terrible headache. A train of thoughts occupied me. Every second that passed by was adding more to my vulnerability. It all came to a halt, when my husband’s cell phone rang. It was my brother on the line. The cell phone broke the silence, but it also led to more scream and crying. I knew it the very minute. My husband sympathetically said Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilaihe Rajioon. It was my beloved, my role model, my grandmother, my Amma, who had expired.

The following day, I composed myself for her farewell. I was keeping all the religious steps in mind. We tried our best to avoid innovations (Biddah). I did not even weep and was in state of denial, a defense mechanism.

“I will give her bath,” I told my mother and aunts. We arranged the stuff needed for her final bath. I was having chills, as I had been among those, who would avoid such gatherings. I never used to attend any funerals. I used to sob and yell, if caught a sight or sniffed the smell of camphor (Kafoor). My teeth would chatter, and I would get goosebumps. The moment I saw her dead body, I was numb, as if chilled to the bone. I was unable to move an inch, my legs felt so weak then. She was lifeless, cold and stiff. I can still recall that touch. Her head was up and eyes were little bit open. I felt the pain on her face, as if I could myself feel her soul departure. That white shroud was so daunting to me when I was little. Wrapping her up in that white shroud was strenuous and backbreaking. We whimpered but did not weep out loud.

Amma’s presence had always been so energetic, pleasant and cheerful. Why that time the mere sight of hers drenched us all in the plethora of bereavement and dullness. The thought was disturbing me and badly quavered my nervous system, while others (outsiders) were indulged in their chain of worldly talks, which comprised of back biting (Gheebah) – people, who were more concerned about: who was attending the funeral? Why he/she was not present? Her death reason, her attire and who had accompanied her when she was on ventilator (was she wearing Saree as always)? How many kids her granddaughters had? When will Biryani be served and the specific preference of the chicken piece? Which hospital was she admitted to? Was it clean enough for kids to visit frequently? Who came first and who did not call for condolence?

A highly esteemed person or a well-known human is soon termed as a cadaver. It is our identity that is lost and we are nothing, but a carcass.

A highly esteemed person or a well-known human is soon termed as a cadaver. It is our identity that is lost and we are nothing, but a carcass.  Aren’t we fearful of the fact that one day we will be in her place? Helpless. Who knows, what a corpse is going through? Is the dead person happy or sad? We don’t know what it is saying, crying for help, or eager to go to its grave soon.

It is narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri that, Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: “When the funeral is ready (for its burial) and the people lift it on their shoulders, then if deceased is a righteous person, he says, ‘Take me ahead,’ and if he is not a righteous one then he says, ‘Woe to it (me)! Where are you taking it (me)?’ And his voice is audible to everything except human beings; and if they heard it, they would fall down unconscious. (Bukhari)

“And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve (at death), they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): Taste the punishment of the blazing Fire. This is because of that which your hands had forwarded. And verily, Allah is not unjust to His slaves. Similar to the behaviour of the people of Firaun (Pharaoh), and of those before them; they rejected the Ayat (proofs, verses, etc.) of Allah, so Allah punished them for their sins. Verily, Allah is All-Strong, Severe in punishment.” (Al-Anfal 8:50-52)

“Nay, when (the soul) reaches to the collar bone (i.e. up to the throat in its exit), and it will be said: “Who can cure him and save him from death?”And he (the dying person) will conclude that it was (the time) of departing (death); and leg will be joined with another leg (shrouded).The drive will be, on that Day, to your Lord (Allah)! So he (the disbeliever) neither believed (in this Qur’an, in the Message of Muhammad (sa)) nor prayed! But on the contrary, he belied (this Quran and the Message of Muhammad (sa)) and turned away! Then he walked in full pride to his family admiring himself!” (Qiyamah 75:26-33)

To be continued…

While Gaza Cries

APTOPIX Mideast Israel Palestinians

Glimpses of the Internet these days
Shiver me too much and scare…
There are ruthless stories to tell,
And blood of the destitute everywhere!

These explicit videos and images,
That I can’t see, I wouldn’t even dare!
I wonder… “This atrocity,
How do our Palestinian brothers bear?”

Look! There’s a child screaming
In one corner of the destroyed land.
There’s no one to wipe his tears,
And no one to hold his hand!

The sight of that little girl,
Who has blood oozing out,
The wounded child stands still,
While people around her shout!

That brother lost his entire family –
One drone attack and it was over.
He lost both his parents and children,
He lost his wife and his brother!

That mother, who is left deprived,
Hysterically shouts in pain and agony,
Her sons killed and daughters, too!
No one can offer her consoling sympathy!

That father gives his child… one last kiss!
Holding his body, that is now in eternal bliss!
Allah O Akbar! They still keep saying…
“La Illa ha Illa Allah,” without hesitating!

That torn body of the elderly lady,
Her fate… she couldn’t flee!
Her husband couldn’t survive either,
Together in Jannah they hope to be!

No escape from bombs, nor from shooting,
Kidnapping, abduction, killing and looting!
Each visual has the same story,
“Oh Allah; please, on them have Mercy!”

Murder, mutilation and destruction!
No justification for their barbaric actions!
Generations have been killed by this genocide,
The world seems to give but NO reactions!

And while Gaza cries alone…
The super powers stand stunned
No support from the Arab leaders,
No support from ANYONE!

Muslims around the world are shock-struck
At Israel’s inhumane brutality,
They condemn and curse the Zalimoon!
“Oh Allah, listen to their pleas!”

They make sincere Duas for Palestine!
They stand in prayers with renewed zeal,
This year’s blood filled Ramadan,
For Gaza is an unbearable ordeal!

“Oh Al Adl; do justice, please, listen!
Have mercy on our oppressed brethren!
Send your help to salvage and finish!
This cold blooded massacre and unfair anguish!”

“HasbunAllahi wa Na’imal wakeel,”
“Nasrun minAllahi wa fathun qareeb!”
Oh Allah, Gaza is dying and crying,
Please, send help to rescue them, Al Mujeeb!

A Handful of Earth

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a very large train station. Young people, old people and children are all rushing past; they are all in a great hurry. They are all trying to get on the same train, because they will all be setting out on the same journey. Some have carefully packed all they own. They are unaware that they will not need any of it at the end of the journey. Some are bidding farewell to their families. They do not realize there can be no return at the end of the journey. We are just some of the millions of travelers who will board that same train when the time comes. We stand there and wait for the train that will take us off to our eternal lives in the Hereafter – a train that we shall one day have to board.

At the end of the journey lie death and angels to meet us. We all carry ledger books that we cannot see. If we think of that train trip as the brief life we spend in this world, then everything we do on that journey, all our sins and merit, is written down in fine detail in those ledgers. We may not be aware of it, but the angels carefully write down every word we say, every step we take, and all our sins and merit. The opening of those ledgers is the best of tidings for believers, because the believer has filled his brief lifetime with good deeds, worship and prayer. He realizes that death lies at the end of that journey, after which will begin the unending life of the Hereafter. That is why he stands before our Lord in submission and trust:

“Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand will say: “Take, read my Record!” “Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!” (Al-Haqqa 69:19-20)

Deniers, on the other hand, embark on that train journey with great joy and delight, since they are deceived by Satan into being caught up by this world. There is no training of the lower self on their journeys, no religious observances and no relying on and trusting in God; just living for the transitory joys of this world. Yet, the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

“And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed (in the right hand for a believer in the Oneness of Allah, and in the left hand for a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah), and you will see the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.), fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (Al-Kahf 18:49)

In fact, if you look, there is a huge crowd full of false and insincere souls all around at the station that millions of people are passing through. It is such a vast crowd that people become lost in it. They may see one another’s faces but forget to see the face of God. They value one another very much. What their spouses and friends say is of enormous importance to them. They become so caught up by the events of the day that everything they say revolves around this world. They talk about how they make money, how they put their children through the best schools, and how they accumulated wealth and possessions; yet, they do not know that they will have to leave all these behind at the stations they stop at. They do not know that all that awaits them at the end of the journey is God.

“So leave them in their error for a time. Do they think that We enlarge them in wealth and children, We hasten unto them with good things (in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter)? Nay, but they perceive not.” (Al-Muminun 23:54-56)

Believers, on the other hand, board that train with deep faith, submission and a sincere heart. They know that the journey is actually quite short. God will test them with difficulties and sickness in the brief life of this world, and they will respond to these tests with fortitude and goodness. Their journeys will be filled with good works, prayer and worship. They will also have to leave behind their wealth, possessions, spouses, friends and children at every stop because all that awaits them at the end of the line is the cold ground and a white shroud. Since they are aware of this, they have no passion for the life of this world; and realize that the life of this world is not a place for greed and desire. At the end of this journey, which they make with a sincere heart and deep faith, stands open the gates to the Gardens of Paradise to meet them.

“For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” (Al-Imran 3:136)

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)

It is a fact that not a single person will be able to avoid waiting at that station and boarding that train. All the people we value so much in the life of the world will board that train, and at the end of the journey, those millions of much-valued bodies will turn into a mere handful of earth. As those bodies all enter the ground at the end of the journey, the bones will fall apart and not a trace will remain of all those millions of people; all that will remain is the souls bowing in awe before our Lord and hoping for forgiveness.

“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Furqan 25:70)

“The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours), La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), to Him is the final return.” (Ghafir 40:3)

Trials and Tribulations

Photo credit: BarbaraWilli / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: BarbaraWilli / Foter / CC BY

Every human on this planet has to come across hardships in life. Not only us but also our ancestors had to face certain trials and tribulations. Some of us manage to go through difficult times by being patient, while others hand themselves over to depression. Some grieve over lost possessions, while others cry upon seeing their loved ones in pain. This is the principle of life that differentiates the believer from the hypocrite, steadfast from the shaky, and claimer from the doer. If man manages to know, why he is made to suffer, he will soon find out the reason behind his existence. This is the truth that most of us do not yearn to look for. This is the knot that we still need to untie by sparing sometime to think about us, and about our self!

Humans often do things that they once claimed not to do and vice versa. How many times it happens that we tell someone not to reveal our secret, yet we find people talking about us the next day? Students, at times, fix the date for a particular test with mutual agreement, and still they are not prepared for it on the fixed day. But, it is not a universal truth for all; as there are people who keep secrets and students who prepare for the test as planned. Same is the case with the believer who acts upon his/her own claims. The believer can only be a believer when by actions he/she displays his firm belief in Allah (swt) Almighty. Trials and tribulations befall us by the command of Allah (swt) Almighty to see if we truly believe in Him, as we claim.

Allah (swt) says, “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.” (Al-Ankabut 29:2)

From entering a medical college to getting a driver’s license, everybody has to go through a test, without which such goals cannot be achieved. Same is the case with a sports person, who practices all day long to have what he had wished for. In short, every achievement has its own criteria of eligibility. The one who manages to fulfill such criterion simply has it. We, humans, are also tested by Allah (swt), so that He would know, which one of us is righteous in deeds. The ones, who will ultimately manage to pass all the trials with patience and strong faith in Allah (swt), will, Insha’Allah, get the greatest reward – Jannah!

Allah (swt) says, 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.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

There is no doubt about the fact that we all will be tested. But what is more important to know is that the burden we will be subjected to would not be something unbearable.

There is no doubt about the fact that we all will be tested. But what is more important to know is that the burden we will be subjected to would not be something unbearable. This shows Allah’s (swt) mercy, as our Lord despite of testing us, creates ease for us.

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

Allah (swt) Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Most Generous, has put before us examples of prophets to follow. The life of each prophet portrays a lesson for the believers. One can relate to their stories, while going through the walk of life. Hearing of trials and tribulations, prophet Ayoob’s (as) name comes to my mind. Allah (swt) Almighty tested him in everything that he had. He lost his children, wealth, health and even his closest friends. Yet, after going through such tests, he showed patience and prayed to Allah (swt). Regarding Ayoob (as), Allah (swt) says:

“And (remember) Ayoob (Job), when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.” So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost), and the like thereof along with them, as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all who worship Us.” (Al-Anbiya 21:83-84)

Living and trying to face our problems with patience is better than giving it all away to depression. Especially, when we know that it is something, which we can handle. Burying our head in the sand to avoid danger would not change the reality. We are going to be tested when there is time for us to be tested. So, it is better to strengthen our Iman (faith) before that time comes. In order to increase our faith in Allah (swt) Almighty, we must increase our knowledge about Islam. And to do that, let’s just spare a few minutes from our busy lives learning about Islam, in order to nurture our soul and manage our highs and lows.

Pearls of Peace: An Extract from Juzz 16 & 17

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam talks about the birth of Prophet Isa (as). But there is another story that is equally meaningful. It is the incident of a few young strong men; who distanced themselves from the community, because of their deviant beliefs and self-invented forms of worship. In the exegesis, we read they were involved in idolatry and grave worshipping.

Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the idolatry

In Surah Maryam, we learn about Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) people who were engaged in idolatry, including his father. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was not pleased by what he saw in his community. Unconvinced by their need to bow before clay idols, carved by themselves; Ibrahim (as) asked his father, “When he said to his father: O my father! Why do you worship that which hears not, sees not and cannot avail you in anything?” (Maryam 19:42) He invited his father to follow a path that is straight, “O my father! Verily! There has come to me of knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Straight Path.” (Maryam 19:43)

Kind speech – the best way to preach!

It might come to some as a surprise that a son was correcting his father. Sometimes people younger than us are more knowledgeable or have a better understanding of a subject. We should be open to listening to the words of goodness; irrespective of speaker’s age, skin colour or worldly status. We also learn a Dawah tip from this story. Kind speech has been a repetitive reminder in the Quran. We should be mindful of our tone and words when we call people to Allah’s (swt) Deen. We need to soften their hearts, so that they may actually listen; and not repel them with our harshness or disrespect. Moreover, we should be prepared to expect a repulsive or rude behaviour from the other person. When that happens, we should not lose our temper. Recall the times Prophet (sa) endured abuse and hostility for Allah’s (swt) sake. If we are truly concerned about someone’s guidance, we should let go of their uncouth behaviour.

Do not stray away for the evil end awaits!  

This is not a small matter that can be pushed aside by arguments and justifications. Allah (swt) says, “Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salat (the prayers) (i.e. made their Salat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times, etc.) and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell.” (Maryam 19:59)

They have an evil end waiting for them because of their pursuing their desires. A person who is worried about his prayer will be protected from immoral behaviour. A person who is not worried about his prayer, how will he have a link with Allah (swt)? Let’s commit to being regular in our prayers. The outcome will be attaining closeness to Allah (swt), increased provision and peace. It will not happen all at once; but it will happen one day Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Beneficent (Allah) will bestow love for them (in the hearts of the believers)” (Maryam 19:96)

We learn through Hadeeth, when Allah (swt) loves a person; he calls out to Jibrael (as) and commands him to love the person as well. Thus, all the inhabitants of the heaven would love him, and then he will be granted the pleasures of the people on the earth (Bukhari, Muslim)

Make Dua to excel in religion

Sometimes we look at people who are better than us in religion and we feel a kind of anger in our heart. The anger is there due to our weak connection with Allah (swt). How can we get rid of it? It is possible by asking Allah (swt) to allow us to excel in religion just like them or even better. Make Dua for the people who inspire and remind you of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) open up our hearts to goodness. Ameen.

How often has it happened that our best friend calls and we catch up with them, as if we have been separated for twenty years? In reality, it could be that we spoke to them only yesterday or a few hours ago. For how long does this phone call continue? It would be hard to find a person who hangs up in ten minutes. If that happens, then we are certainly not close enough. Now, let’s look at our prayer. For how long do we remain seated at our prayer mat after the prayer is over? Most people jump off the moment they do Tasleem. What does this tell us about our relationship with Allah (swt)? It requires no further explanation.

Moosa (as) honoured by his Lord!

When Moosa (as) was called in the valley of Tuwa by Allah (swt) and informed that he had been chosen as the Prophet of Allah (swt) and there went on a brief interview. Allah (swt) asks Moosa (as) about his staff, in reply Moosa (as) did not give a one word answer. Then he went on describing his staff and stated the different purposes he used it for. He said: “He said: This is my stick, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses.” (Ta-Ha 20:18)

Did he not know the Lord who is addressing him from up above can see and know more about his staff than himself? But he cherished this meeting so much that he could not contain his excitement. He wanted to extend this meeting, so he went on talking. This Ramadan, let us commit to correct ourselves and give our utmost attention and respect to Allah (swt). Let’s take out time to speak with Him in Sujood, in Dua, at Suhoor and Iftar times; and whenever and wherever we can steal a moment of privacy.

A gentle approach to Dawah

When it comes to correcting people, we often admonish them in such a way that they would not want to see our face again. Allah (swt) picks up His best man to invite the worst man towards the right path.

With what instruction did Allah (swt) send Moosa (as)? He said, “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (Ta-Ha 20:44) This was Pharaoh he was being sent to and the instruction was “speak gently”. Let us reflect on our interpersonal skills and be kind to one another for the sake of Allah (swt). Use encouraging words to bring them closer to Allah (swt). Do not rebuke them; lest we widen the gap. Our job is only to take the message to them. We are not Hakim (ruler) over them, for Allah (swt) says, “But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship.” (Ta-Ha 20:124)

Is turning away from Allah (swt) the right decision?

People tend to turn away from Allah (swt) because they are distracted by the material things around them. Therefore, Allah (swt) warns us, “And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheists and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), the splendour of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” (Ta-Ha 20:131) Material wealth of this world will remain in this world. Let us not make it a source of our ingratitude towards Allah (swt). Let us apply the wise principle that our Prophet (sa) taught us. In terms of material wealth look at those below you; and when it comes to good deeds and religious status, look at those who are way ahead of you. May Allah (swt) allow us to keep our perspective right. Ameen.

Surah Al-Anbiya

It is ironical that the place where we do not have to live forever, we are concerned about it as if it is the only life we have. And the Hereafter, which is eternal and lasting, is to our least concern. Allah (swt) reminds us, “Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness. Comes not unto them an admonition (a chapter of the Quran) from their Lord as a recent revelation but they listen to it while they play.” (Al-Anbiya 21:1-2)

Are we living in oblivion?

Our death and resurrection should keep us worried; especially when engaging in something that we shouldn’t be doing. When the soul urges us to do wrong, we must ask ourselves: what if I die right now? How will I face Allah (swt)? In what condition will I be resurrected?

Strive for an honourable life and death

Some years ago, there was news of college girls dying in a stampede in a concert. I was haunted by the thought that in what condition their souls would be recollected? May Allah (swt) bless us all with an honourable life and death. May we die in the state of prostration. Ameen. To be honoured with such a death, we need to become the kind of people who say, “We heard and we obey,” and not of those who say, “We have heard but we are not going to obey.” Because we will be questioned about our time spent on this earth, as Allah (swt) says, “He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.” (Al-Anbiya 21:23)

Life here vs. life in the hereafter

Let us prepare for the questioning of the Hereafter as we prepare for our worldly exams. Let us strive to be among the high achievers as we do for worldly positions. Allah (swt) tells us that our deeds will be weighed, and when that happens where would we stand? “And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners.” (Al-Anbiya 21:47)

There is glad tiding for him whose good deeds outnumber the bad ones. An easy way to raise our scales is to get busy in glorifying and praising Allah (swt) with words such as SubhanAllahi wabihamdihi SubhanAllahil Adheem.

Remember Allah (swt) and He will remember you!

We have learnt in Surah Al-Baqarah that when we remember Allah (swt) with our Dhikr, He too remembers us. Allah (swt) takes care of His righteous servants, no matter what people plot against them. When Prophet Ibrahim (as) spoke against the idols, the community advised his father to burn him. They said, “They said: Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.” (Al-Anbiya 21:68)

Little did they know that Allah (swt) is the Creator of fire. Allah (swt) said, We (Allah) said: O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim (Abraham)! And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.” (Al-Anbiya 21:69-70) When man surrenders to Allah (swt), Allah (swt) helps him miraculously. We see this in the example of other messengers as well. They surrendered before Allah (swt), cried out only before Him, and sought help from Him alone. Allah (swt) helped them all and took them out of distress, at His decided time. Let us not be hasty with our prayers and have strong hope in Allah (swt) alone.

Learn to make an eloquent Dua

Sometimes when we want something, we are unable to articulate our words properly. It is a mercy of Allah (swt) that through His prophets He taught us the words to make Dua to Him. In Surah Al-Anbiya, we learn the Dua of Prophet Yunus (as), “But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)), Glorified (and Exalted) are You (above all that (evil) they associate with You.) Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” (Al-Anbiya 21:87)

Look at how he makes the Dua, he first praises Allah (swt) and then acknowledges his mistake. In the narrations it has been said, when the angels heard this Dua, they pleaded his case in the court of Allah (swt) because they would often hear him being engaged in Dhikr. Such is the power of Dhikr. What chances do we have that if a whale swallows us up, we will come out alive? Have we attained that special status with Allah (swt) where He will save us miraculously?

Talking about miracles, Prophet Zakariya (as) was blessed with an offspring despite his old age and his wife’s barrenness. Indeed, for Allah (swt) nothing is impossible.

Prostrate – be the closest to Allah (swt)!

It is said that one can get closest to Allah (swt) when in prostration. The entire creation in the heavens and the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and believers prostrate to Allah (swt), as we learn in Surah Al-Hajj. When we choose to neglect our prayers, it is not that Allah (swt) is in need of our prostration. There are billion other creatures that prostrate to Him and win a special status near Him. At the end it is our loss. Allah (swt) says, “Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and (it will be) said to them: Taste the torment of burning!” (Al-Hajj 22:74)

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

Old Enough to Die

Is it Real? III - Shroud of TurinSomeone crossing the street is unaware of the fact that he can be hit by a car and killed, or crippled for life one minute later. Someone who visits the doctor is unaware that his internal organs are riddled with cancer cells. A baby opening its eyes in this world is unaware that it will be taken to Paradise by the angels in a few minutes’ time. Someone sitting quietly in his chair is unaware that he will suffer a heart attack in the very next second. A family returning from dinner at a restaurant and thinking about so many different things are unaware that they are about to have a traffic accident and lose their lives.

Death does not recognize age, position or wealth. If a person’s time has come, absolutely nobody can halt the angels of death; because the angels obey the commands given them by our Lord and will come and take away that person’s soul. Someone who is so proud and boastful, and spends hours thinking about the most unimportant things, is actually entirely helpless. He has no idea that the very next step he takes will see him pass to a very different world in which he will be unable to establish any contact with this one. The things he was so preoccupied with will remain here, while he steps into the eternal life of the hereafter.

“And you at the moment are looking on, But We (i.e. Our angels who take the soul) are nearer to him than you, but you see not.” (Al-Waqiah 56:84-85)

Nobody in the world can know the hour of his death, neither can he postpone it or bring it forward. Allah (swt) has appointed a moment of death in the destiny of every person He creates, and destiny operates down to the tiniest detail at every moment. A person carries on quietly living, goes about his daily business, talks and laughs with his friends and eats and drinks and has fun. Yet, that very day may possibly be his last in this world. After that, all contact with this world will be cut off, and everything to do with the life of this world will be left behind him.

Death does not recognize age, position or wealth. If a person’s time has come, absolutely nobody can halt the angels of death

“Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high! And if some good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if some evil befalls them, they say, “This is from you (O Muhammad(sa)).” Say: “All things are from Allah,” so what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word?” (An-Nisa 4:78)

So if everyone is old enough to die, should not people remember death all the time? After all, the angels of death are waiting as we sleep, walk along the road, pre-occupied with work or while we’re talking with our friends; we cannot see or hear them, but they can see us and they record all we do. If the person that died was a believer in life, if he filled his earthly ledger with good deeds, worship, patience and submission to Allah (swt), if he lived and died for Allah (swt), then he will see the angels in all their beauty and will be rewarded with Paradise. There will be no more fear for him, because then he will be one of the people of Paradise with whom Allah (swt) will be well pleased. Insha’Allah.

“They (angels) said: Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” (An-Nahl 16:32)

If death is waiting just one step away, then one should not waste a single day, a minute or even a second; every new awakening in the morning is a fine opportunity given to one by Allah (swt) to earn further merit. One must live for His approval on that day too, and adorn it with prayer, worship and good deeds. Everything on that day, from the believer’s smiling face to his humility, from his training of his lower self to the moral values he exhibits at every moment, is of the greatest value because they are all recorded and will earn him merits for the Hereafter. A believer will be rewarded many times over in Paradise for his good deeds in this world. While he spends with fervour and passion in this world, the finest mansions are being prepared from him in Paradise.

The life of this world is literally no longer than a single breath. The best thing to do before that last day comes is to know “that one is always old enough to die” and live in the light of that awareness.

“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)

[Poem] Du’a

dua

There’s unexplainable anguish,
And unbearable pain!
My heart feels heavy while,
I stare my surroundings in vain!

I am in a state of denial,
I am experiencing agony,
I want to escape the truth,
Oh Allah, I want to flee!

The hand that rocked my cradle,
Is not in the world, no more!
I can’t change what’s happened,
As it was your will, I know!

But the reality is killing me,
Agonizing, this pain is so much!
My heart seems to tear apart,
Nothing to console me, as such!

I feel I have lost my shelter,
I feel so insecure,
My mother was my refuge,
She was my Jannah’s door!

Her voice echoes in my ears,
I can still feel her touch,
Her beautiful smile and face,
I can’t forget, It’s really tough!

Although my ‘Ma’ has departed
To her abode that’s final,
I want to acknowledge,
The goodness of her survival ….

Her beautiful patience,
Her demeanor that was lively,
Her kind words and deeds,
Her dua’s that came timely!

“TO ALLAH WE BELONG,
AND TO HIM WE SHALL RETURN!”
Oh Ummi, I miss you badly,
While you submit to His summon!

I know you are in a better place,
You are in Allah’s perfect care,
You have finally met your Creator,
You are much happier there!

May Allah lighten up your grave,
And may He shower His mercy,
On you, O Ma, so you may,
Reach eternal bliss and be…

A resident of the Paradise,
His rewarded and blessed one,
May you be granted the highest rank,
In your journey, that has just begun!

Aameen.

Key to Productivity: Bowing to the Will of Allah (swt)

dawnIn the life of this world, we have countless matters and desires to deal with. When we believe in one God, we have this faith that whatever good or bad happens to me (us) is from Allah (swt). No human being or any other creature on this earth has the right or power to benefit me or harm me. This is the crystal clear Islamic belief, find and accept it straight.

When most of us start practicing, we focus more on ‘apparently bright sides’ and forget the ‘apparently dark sides’ of believing and surrendering to the will of Allah (swt).

Now empathize with these situations:

  • What if you are a Muslim who prays five times a day, who does Dawah and other virtuous activities; but Allah (swt) makes your son die, who was born after twelve years of marriage? Imagine your son was almost one year old and he just started playing with you well.
  • What if you are extremely ugly in the eyes of people? You do not meet the criteria of world beauty. Your body is fat, complexion is black and height is extra-large; hence you are labeled ‘ugly’. But do you still believe in God and His love for you, is that the case?
  • What if your age is perfect for marriage and everyone in your circle who is getting married makes you feel low, that you are deprived and a loser. Deep down in your heart, you are struggling to maintain chastity and wondering, ‘what is the will of Allah (swt)?’ Isn’t it the right time for the acceptance of all your Duas?
  • What about the little sinless children who die in disasters like earthquakes, wars, floods etc. Hearts ache and eyes weep on all this, but a Muslim surrenders to the will of Allah (swt), right? Ya Salam!
  • When everyone else is having a good time with their parents, enjoying being pampered by their parents’ love and affection, but you, just at the age of fifteen, are burying your father.

Will of God? Good for You?

What does Allah (swt) want? Your heart shrieks, eyes weep and brain questions. Do people make you feel extremely low? Do they make you feel deprived and less-privileged with zero self-respect?

Why is it so:

  • that Allah (swt) loves His Prophet Muhammad (sa) but He made his parents die, when he was too young?
  • That Allah (swt) gave beauty to Hazrat Yusuf (as), but he was put into problems by women because of the same beauty? Hazrat Yusuf (as) was a handsome prophet, but was ruthlessly troubled by his brothers and women and had to spend time in prison? Why did Allah (swt) make him go through so much?

Oh dear people, who are entering into Islam and who have started practicing it – make sure that you train your body and mind for both sides. Wake up from dreams and fantasies that our whims and desires will be accepted because we are the best people on earth.

Yes! You’re the best but Allah’s (swt) will is the wisest.

Hazrat Yusuf (as) was a handsome prophet, but was ruthlessly troubled by his brothers and women and had to spend time in prison? Why did Allah (swt) make him go through so much?

“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer.” (Ash-Shuara 42:11)

We cannot compare Allah (swt) with any of His creations. He (swt) is beyond comparison and most of us cannot comprehend the wisdom behind matters.

In the story of Musa (as) and Khidr in Surah Al-Kahf, we get to know that the child was killed, because his life would have proven to be a Fitnah for his parents.

What if your child, whom you are crying for, would have deviated you from the path of Allah (swt) and let you die as Kafir? We just surrender before the decree of Allah (swt) because we know that all this is happening for best!

Allah (swt) has not over-pressurized us. He knows we are weak, which is why we are allowed to grieve for three days and nights for those who die.

Hadeeth states: Once Hazrat Sa’d Bin Ubadah became ill, and the Prophet (sa) went to see him; he was moved to tears on seeing the pitiful situation of his companion and said: “Allah (swt) does not punish because of tears, nor because of grief, but he punishes because of this” – and he pointed to his tongue. (Bukhari)

“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” (Az-Zumar 39:10)

We need to believe that life lies ahead of this Dunya!

Read out loud: life lies ahead of this Dunya!

What did I say? Life lies ahead of this Dunya!

Ultimate success lies in surrendering your spirits and drives to the will of Allah (swt) as per basic Islamic Aqeedah. The everlasting life will come after we die where we will find reward for all our patience and result of trials. This world is but a temporary abode.

As a Muslim, we need to be mature and help our fellow Muslims to stay grateful and calm. One easy way is to not show-off the blessings you have; so that those whom Allah (swt) has not given those things, will not feel bad and stay grateful.

This world is a deception – tests and trials are a reminder for good

Moreover, have this clear in your mind that afflictions are not a sign that you are a loser or Allah (swt) wants to do bad with you! No, Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the Cause of Allah) and the patient ones, and We shall test your facts (i.e. the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).” (Muhammad 47: 31)

Ultimate success lies in surrendering your spirits and drives to the will of Allah (swt) as per basic Islamic Aqeedah. The everlasting life will come after we die where we will find reward for all our patience and result of trials.

Sheikh As-Sadi (ra) said: “That is don’t extend your eyes out of amazement and don’t keep looking out of approval at what people are enjoying of worldly gains- such as tasty food and drink and fancy clothing and adorned homes and beautified women; for all that is from the splendor of worldly life which the souls of deceived ones rejoice over, and which the eyes of the negligent are amazed, and which the wrongdoers enjoy – without thinking of the hereafter. Then it all passes by quickly and disappears and kills those who love and adore it; and they regret at a time when regret is of no benefit. Then when come forward at the time of Resurrection, they will know what they were upon and that Allah (swt) had only placed it as a trial and test, to see who would be deceived by it as opposed to who would be better in deed as the Exalted says (what means):

“Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. (i.e. those who do good deeds in the most perfect manner, that means to do them (deeds) totally for Allah’s (swt) sake and in accordance to the legal ways of the Prophet (sa))” (Al-Kahf 18:7)

Article based on: http://islamqa.info/en/178673 and http://islamqa.info/en/71236

It Wasn’t Her Time to Die

stock-footage-empty-swimmingpool-at-eveningStanding in front of the mirror and staring at her reflection. “Death,” the girl in the mirror whispered to her that rolled her memories to that very moment, when she was supposed to die. The day when she was supposed to meet the “celebrity” who plans to meet everyone individually some day. But nobody really wants to meet him though and that is the Malk-ul-Maut (the angel of death).

It was another beautiful day in mid summers and she along with her friends decided to visit a pool that was at almost ten minutes drive from her home. God! It was hot and the pool was big and crowded with women. She wanted to jump in but didn’t know how to swim.

“Okay, I could just stand in, right?” she thought.

She was there standing in the pool. A little girl, while judging her fear, whispered, “Don’t worry! You can’t drown, because your feet are touching the bottom of the pool.”

“It’s okay!” she said, as she smiled at the little girl. She liked it that way – standing in the pool, while the water was a little lower than her neck.

But suddenly something extraordinary happened. Her feet slipped and she was drowning. She could feel the water gushing over her head and she could do nothing. Breaking through the surface of the water now and then, gasping for air; she was screaming but no one could hear for it was inside her head! She was finding something to hold on to, but nothing was there except water everywhere; she returned empty handed every time she tried to hold onto something. She was dying and to her surprise “La ilaha illa Allah” was not her last thought; maybe because she had never lived her life according to it. Maybe just to be born in a Muslim family wasn’t enough! The only thing she could think of was, “Oh God! I beg you for one last chance. I would live my life according to La ilaha illa Allah.” There was still the faintest hope, in the darkest hour. A hope to survive! Then, something happened. She heard her friend yelling her name and felt a warm hand lifting her by her arm. And finally, she was above the water and was alive! This was a miracle, when she was least expecting it.

With this last thought, she returned to her present. Wasn’t she so incredibly lucky?  “You could’ve died. Do you have any idea what would’ve have happened?” she asked herself.  She was supposed to die, wasn’t she? Drowned in that pool years ago! That very day! But she was there, right there, gazing at her reflection. Did the angel of death surpass her? But no, the angel of death doesn’t make mistakes! Maybe that wasn’t her time to die. Maybe that was just a wake-up call for her, a second chance!

She was still standing in front of the mirror and tears were rolling down her cheeks, she screamed, “Oh God! I was supposed to die. But I didn’t. I spent sixteen years of my life disobeying you. While you had given me a second chance!” she cried and cried. But then she remembered, “There is a way to be good again.” That was the day her life changed and changed forever. She had fallen in love with her Rabb soon after that day and lived happily ever after. Trails came and went; but one thing is for sure, “With every hardship comes ease”.

She was given a wake-up call but we might not.
She was given a second chance but we might not.
Death is certain.
We can’t deny.
From angel of death we can’t flee.
It wasn’t her time so she didn’t die.
But death is certain.
And we can’t deny.
So, why not get prepared while we still have time?

The Mountain Peak

jannah-paradiseHow honorable is dwelling with mates,

In Paradise and that’s indeed the best company,

How great is neighborhood to persons of repute,

They will have the pleasure of seeing the Lord,

And listen with delight to His Sublime Word,

With silk brocade being their main garment,

They have their heads crowned with finest crowns,

Inlaid with ornate pearls and rare moonstones,

Or silver that is made of only pure gold

And golden rings and bracelets molded,

Of silver and prettily adorned forearms

Their served food is soft bird meat

The finest of camel that feed on all sorts

And bowls of precious pearls and gold,

Strewn, as seventy thousand, on a thousand tables,

If you feel a thirst and desirous for these,

As much as an exile who yearns for home,

Be as charitable as you can and then you will

Be rewarded for good with that which is best

Prepare for the Gardens of Eden and all

The blessings of it that surely never cease,

Observe fast always and rise in prayer,

For both are indeed acceptable deeds,

Wake in the night and recite Qur’an,

And have little sleep as an anxious one,

Perhaps, your death knell once suddenly tolls,

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

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

So, lower your gaze and always avoid,

Any forbidden looks and strain to be modest,

Strive and beware of all women’s temptations,

You get them as mates as many hours in Paradise,

Blessed is life there and all its pleasures,

With all kinds of fruit as served in pairs,

Belittle you never any venial sin,

As fire begins with little sparks

Once you sin, be quick to repent,

For fear of sudden death, with no delay,

Sate not your whims and never be excessive,

Allah surely hates greedy persons,

The one who gives in to lust and appetite,

Will suffer forever their two-forked yoke,

So, fast by day to drink your fill

On the day people will be parched with thirst,

There is no good at all in musical instruments,

Or dancing or similar forms of merry-making,

The devout are always afraid of their Lord,

Avoiding listening to music and singing,

They rather recite the Glorious Qur’an,

Especially with melodious and tuneful to ears,

At night, than all those flutes and fifes,

If you just perceive the Doomsday’s horrors,

You would surely flee from kinfolk and home,

Due to its horrors, the skies would crack,

The infant’s hair will turn grey,

Austere and distressful that day will be,

And highly burdensome for humans at all,

that day the devout are driven to their Lord,

With finest of mounts carrying them all,

The wretched, however, are driven to Hell,

Where they will suffer the parching thirst,

So, Heaven and Hellfire respectively will be

For the devout and wicked an eternal abode.

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

Allah – The Best of Planners

KarakorumHighwayIt’s been four years, but for me Ramadan will never be the same. If I close my eyes, I can still relive the entire evening and subsequent days down to the smallest detail.

It was Ramadan 2008, two months before I was to be married. It was almost time for Iftaar and it was the first Iftaar of the month so the excitement was at its peak. The spiritual high of the initial fasts combined with the anticipation of eating pakoras, chaat, jalebis and samosas. My mother was wheeling the trolley laden with dates, sherbet and scrumptious snacks when the phone rang. Leaving the trolley mid-way in the passage, she reached for the phone while we all looked at each other wondering who could be calling five minutes before Iftaar. This was a time when most Pakistani households are busy engaging in Zikr (remembrance), last-minute frying and assembling the family for breaking the fast. I still remember the way she picked up the phone, responded to the greeting of the caller with a quizzical smile on her face and then froze. Simply froze.

Ending the call with “Allah Hafiz” (literally meaning ‘May Allah be your Guardian’, which in retrospect seems even more profound considering the news she was about to break to us), she gently returned the cordless to the cradle and sat down on the chair next to the phone. In a voice devoid of emotion, but with eyes that were becoming tenser by the second she said, “There has been an accident. Talat, Jalal and the children were returning from Umrah and their car has crashed on the highway. They are being taken to the hospital but it does not look good.”

Iftaar and the excitement of the first fast forgotten, we proceeded to make further calls – both, for gaining more information, as well as for informing others in the family – that my uncle (my father’s youngest brother), aunt, their daughter, second son and his two children had been in an accident. We then proceeded to my uncle’s house – my dad’s eldest living brother – where we sat in suspense, alternately making phone calls, praying for a miracle, lending each other support and just sitting in shock. Every time someone’s cell phone rang the sound was ominous. And sadly, so was the news. Each call we received lowered our hopes further.

Until finally, it was confirmed. Both my uncle and aunt did not make it along with their son and one of the grandsons – a five-year-old boy with Down Syndrome. The only survivors were their daughter and their three-year-old grandson.

I had never seen my father break down as he did that day. As tears streamed down his face, he seemed to be reliving the death of my eldest uncle in 1981 at the young age of forty-seven. As he cried out, “I lost my eldest brother and now the youngest is gone too”, I saw my father as a person for the first time. A person with feelings, fears, hopes; someone who had experienced losses and lived through them, perhaps becoming stronger in the process. We often think of our parents as ‘parents’ – the word denoting responsibility, strength and tranquillity. Most of the time we consider the ‘output’ that is our parents and rarely do we understand or comprehend the ‘input’ that went in to produce that output. I learned that day how much we take our parents for granted. We identify them as unbreakable pillars of strength which they are most of the time but they do need their ‘off days’. I also understood that we hold our parents responsible for a lot – too much at times. For their problems, our problems, familial problems, our upbringing, our day-to-day living, how we turned out and so forth. And that’s just not right. They do the best they can, just like we do. When we didn’t get the first prize in a contest or got less than perfect marks on that test, didn’t they tell us, “It’s okay, you did your best. That’s what matters”? Then, why can’t we do the same for them? Just because they are ‘parents’?

As the details of the accident unravelled, we were even more overwhelmed and depressed. My uncle had lived in Medina for thirty-odd years with his family.  That particular year he had wanted to do Umrah on the first of Ramadan and so the family set out to perform the minor pilgrimage. He was accompanied by his wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and their three children, and the daughter-in-law’s parents. They were returning to Medina on the second of Ramadan (first Ramadan in Pakistan) and had all planned to leave together in two cars. However, since it was extremely hot my uncle’s son advised his wife to leave from Makkah a little later with their three-month old baby and her parents, while he departed for Medina with his parents, sister and the older children earlier. Little did they know that this plan only came about since the Angel of Death was meant to come for them and not the rest. As Allah (swt) says, “…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (216:2 Al Baqarah). In our imperfect comprehension of Allah’s ways, we can only understand that He created this intentional divide between the husband and wife so that she would not have to experience the horror of her husband and son’s death first-hand.

The details of the accident itself are still a mystery. My uncle’s daughter only remembers her mother reciting supplications in the back seat while her father sat in front with her brother. Soon after they left Makkah, she recalls a splintering sound and then the car collided with the crash barrier on the roadside where it continued to move at a very fast speed against the barrier until the car started rolling over. Considering the speed at which most Saudis drive, especially on the highway, I shudder to think of the magnitude of the tumble and ultimate impact. Whether my cousin dosed off at the wheel or the car had some sort of a mechanical failure, we will never know. The car itself – a Ford Expedition – was reputed to be a ‘fault-free’ car and received a five-star frontal-impact rating in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests for both the driver and front passenger*. Even after the accident the experts could not find any defect that could have caused the accident. But then that is why we are taught, “Inna Lillahi Wainna Ilaihi Rajioon” (Surely, to Allah (swt) we belong and to Him shall we return) right? My uncle’s daughter had bruises on her face along with major injuries to her arm and leg. Her bruises were such that when her eldest brother saw her, he actually wondered why Allah (swt) had spared her. She had to undergo surgery, get rods inserted in both, her arm and leg and was confined to the bed for a long time. But by the grace of Allah (swt), today she is the happily married mother of a one-year-old baby girl. The scars that remain are all on the inside.

But instead of being consumed with the hardship itself, you learn from it. You learn to strike up a conversation with Allah (swt). You learn to hand over your griefs and miseries, your anger and lamentations, your aspirations and visions, your setbacks and failings.

The doctors confirmed that my uncle, aunt and their grandson had possibly died on impact while my cousin had sustained major head injuries, which may have left him a vegetable for the rest of his life. Again, we see the miracle of Allah (swt) here – had my cousin survived he may have been plagued with guilt for being in the driver’s seat in an accident which took away his parents and son’s life. We see the miracle of Allah (swt) for not letting the young wife be a witness to her husband’s horrifying death and for not burdening her with a possibly comatose husband. We see the miracle of Allah (swt) in taking away the life of the child with Down Syndrome and letting the other one live in order to ease life for the young widow. As callous as all these statements seem, they are our only consolation in the shocking tragedy that took away half the family; that removed three generations in the blink of an eye; that rendered a young girl a widow and a grieving mother in an instant; that left a daughter crying for her parents and older brother; that left a minor three-year old saying repeatedly, “Meri gaari toot gaee, Mere Baba mar gaye” (My car broke and my father died).

How do you get over something like that? You don’t. But instead of being consumed with the hardship itself, you learn from it. You learn to strike up a conversation with Allah (swt). You learn to hand over your griefs and miseries, your anger and lamentations, your aspirations and visions, your setbacks and failings. You learn to lighten yourself; cleanse yourself. As you talk to Allah (swt) you feel the burdens lift; as the tears flow down your cheeks you feel your heart lighten. As your hands reach out in supplication, you feel like you are all alone in the world but with the Greatest Presence beside you, behind you, before you, above you, beneath you. You learn that that is all that matters. That is all you need. You learn as Allah (swt) said in Surah Inshirah, Verse 5 – 6, “For indeed, with hardship comes ease. Indeed, with hardship comes ease”. You learn how short life is and how important people are. You learn who the important people are in your life. You learn to sort through the clutter of life and prioritize. You learn to love, to smile, to help, to forgive, and to move on. You learn to do everything with love – love for yourself as a creation of Allah (swt), love for people and moreover, love for Allah (swt).  You learn to make a home, build a family, work hard and smile. You learn how to make things work in your own unique way. You learn to say ‘Alhamdulillah’ for all you have.

Above all, you learn that Allah (swt) always, always has a bigger plan. You may not understand that plan till your last breath but you learn to submit to it and to trust in Allah (swt). You learn to sit back, relax and take life one step at a time.

*Source: http://www.edmunds.com/ford/expedition/2008/