Do You Remember Him?

Image do you remember himBy Annita Sani

It is not surprising that while juggling responsibilities and meeting deadlines many of us feel that we have insufficient time and energy to increase our worship of Allah (swt). Pause and think about it for a moment. With the exception of completing the five daily prayers (which is challenging for many of us), which other acts of worship do you engage in on a daily basis? The stress and urgency of providing for physical sustenance takes priority over activities for spiritual development. Before you know it, years have passed and you still have not made the time investment to increase your Eeman.

Even now, you probably are not interested in reading an article that adds another activity to your “things to do” list. You need not worry; the aim of this article is to remind you, and myself, of the importance and benefits of Dhikr.

Definition of Dhikr

It may be defined as: All words of praise and glory to Allah (swt) extolling His Perfect Attributes of Power and Majesty, Beauty and Sublimeness, whether one utters them by tongue or says them silently in one’s heart.

Islamic scholars consider Dhikr, or remembrance of Allah (swt), to be a continuous form of worship that may be performed anytime and anywhere and when done consistently has numerous benefits. There are different acts of Dhikr, which includes, but is not limited to, acts such as recitation of the Quran, making Dua, performing Hajj, fasting during Ramadan, glorifying and praising Allah (swt), and observing and reflecting upon Allah’s (swt) signs.

Benefits of Dhikr

The benefits and rewards for those who consistently engage in Dhikr are numerous and are described in the Quran and Ahadeeth. They include:

  • Emotional stability and peace that result from feeling closer to Allah (swt),
  • Contentment of the heart and feelings of satisfaction when we become more aware of all that Allah (swt) has provided for us,
  • Success in our endeavours and freedom from poverty, as trust and dependence on Him for physical sustenance increases,
  • Repelling of Satan,
  • Erasing our sins and saving us from grief on the Day of Judgement.

About Dhikr in the Quran

  • “Remember Me and I will remember you.” (Al-Baqarah 2:152)
  • “Those who believe, and whose hearts find rest in remembrance of Allah (swt). Indeed, in remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)
  • “Remember Allah (swt) much perhaps you may achieve success.” (Al-Jumuah 62:10)

Impact of Dhikr on our lives

It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “The difference between the one who makes Dhikr and the one who doesn’t make Dhikr is like the difference between the living and the dead.” (Bukhari)

Are you interested in receiving only the bounty in this life or are you interested in having success in this life and in the life of the Hereafter? The answer seems obvious. However, Allah (swt) tells us that some of us will choose only success in this life and forsake any success in the life of the Hereafter.

Allah (swt) the Exalted says: “But of mankind there are some who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us (Your Bounties) in this world!’ and for such there will be no portion in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:200)

Prophet Muhammad (saw) reminds us of the sad state of affairs and life consequences of those who seek the wealth of this world only, and have no concern about their life in the Hereafter: “Sad is the one who is a slave of the dinar (coin) and the slave of the dirham (coin) and that of the fine cloth (velvet) and plush. Sad and set back he is. If a thorn pierces him, nobody will pull it out for him.” (Bukhari)

On the other end of the spectrum, there are rare individuals who do not seek any bounties in this life and only seek pleasures in the Hereafter. Of them, Allah (swt) the Exalted says: “And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is full of kindness to (His) slaves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:207)

It seems that most of us are interested in both the pleasures of this world and of the Hereafter. Allah (swt) says: “And of them are some who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!’ For them there will be allotted a share for what they have earned. And Allah is Swift at reckoning.” (Al-Baqarah 2:201-202)

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) said: “O son of Adam, Be devoted to my worship, and I shall fill your heart with contentment and shall remove your poverty; but if you do not do so, I shall fill your hands with the concerns of this world and shall not keep away your poverty.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Verbal Dhikr

Try as much as possible to say the following phrases in conversation throughout the day: Subhan’Allah, Alhumdulillah, Allahu Akbar, Insha’Allah, and Masha’Allah when you are praising something, and always say Bismillah before you start anything. If this is a new experience for you, then try one expression at a time until it comes natural for you. But always try your best to incorporate these phases into your everyday conversation.

Many of us shy away from using these phrases when we speak to non-Muslims because we fear that they will not understand us or we are concerned about what they think of us. Please remember that Dhikr is for your benefit and will increase your Eeman. Moreover, it is important to educate others about the meaning of what you are saying. You may be surprised by their reaction of appreciation and they may begin to share some of their experiences with you.

If you are still shy, then remember that these expressions can also be said silently or in the heart anytime throughout the day. So, next time you are driving to or from work, turn off the radio and Dhikr silently or aloud. Sit with your family and take turns counting while one person says the expression aloud and the other family members repeat the expression silently.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “He who recites after every prayer:

Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah) thirty three times; Alhumdulillah (praise be to Allah) thirty three times; Allahu Akbar (Allah is great) thirty three times; and completes the figure of hundred with the recitation of La Ilaha Illallahu Wahdahu La Sharika Lahu, Lahul-Mulku Wa Lahul-Hamdu, Wa Huwa Ala Kulli Shayin Qadir. Meaning: There is no true god except Allah. He is one and He has no partner with Him. His is the sovereignty and His is the praise, and he is Omnipotent, well have all of his sins pardoned even if they may be as large as the foam on the surface of the sea.” (Muslim)

Observing and Reflecting upon Allah’s (swt) Signs is also Dhikr

Observing and reflecting on the creation of the earth and all of its creatures is another form of Dhikr that you can easily perform anytime and anywhere. Tafakkur or deep reflection on a subject is considered a form of Dhikr, which when performed consistently, will Insha’Allah increase your awareness and appreciation of the mercy and numerous gifts provided to us by Allah (swt).

In the Quran, Allah (swt) provides us with guidance regarding His many signs or topics for reflection. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “What! Are you the more difficult to create or the heavens (above) (Allah) has constructed it; on high He raised its canopy, and He has given it order and perfection. Its night does He endow with darkness and its splendour does He bring out (with light). And the earth moreover, has He extended (to a wide expense); He draws out there from its moisture and its pasture; and the mountains has He firmly fixed; for use and convenience to you and your cattle.” (An-Naziat 79:27-33)

“Do they not see that it is Allah whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each ones knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And Allah knows well all that they do.” (An-Nur 24:41)

Allah also tells us to reflect deeply about our bodies and how they function without any effort from us and to express gratitude to Him for our bodies.

“It is He Who has created you (and made you grow), and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding. But little thanks do you show.” (Al-Mulk 67:23)

Regarding the miracle of the creation of the human body, Allah says: “O man! What has deluded you in respect of your Noble Lord? He Who created you and formed you and proportioned you and assembled you in whatever way He willed.” (Al-Infitar 82:6-8)

Most of us reflect on the functioning of our bodies when we are sick. At that time, we become keenly aware of the miracle of our bodies. However, as soon as we are no longer ill, we take our bodily functions for granted again. Try to express gratitude to Allah (swt) for your body on a regular basis for it is truly a blessing to have a fully functioning body. To begin to appreciate the miracle of the human body more, start by reflecting on the functioning of your body at the time you are using those bodily functions. For example, as you are eating lunch, slow down, and think about the miracle of digestion, which starts in the mouth, and simply say in your heart or aloud, Alhumdulillah.

If you are not too impressed with the act of digestion as it occurs in your body, then consider for a moment the many people who are dependent on tube feedings because they cannot perform oral feedings. This will, Insha’Allah, help you feel more grateful to Allah (swt) for something as simple as eating, and encourage you to express gratefulness more often.

Why should you remember Him?

Be mindful that what ever your occupation may be due to household obligations, career pursuits, social commitments or anything else, you still owe it to Him! Do you know why?

  1. Firstly He gave you the energy to handle so much and yet do more.
  2. Secondly, He equipped you with the most sophisticated faculties to acquire your ambitions.
  3. Thirdly, had it not been His mercy you could have never realized your dream. Whether it is passing your exam, getting that promotion, having a baby, enjoying with friends, the power supply comes from Him to light up our lives!
  4. Lastly and most importantly, you and I may forget to remember Him and thank Him, but He never forgets to feed us, make our heart beat, grant us love of friends and family and bestow upon us endless blessings we cannot even comprehend.

You may feel inadequate and too small before the Majesty of Allah (swt), but it is your love and fear of Him that draws you nearer to Him. So make place for Allah (swt) in your hearts and your lives!

A Fresh Look For Your Child’s Room

Image kids room

Alhumdulillah, the Muslim Ummah does not seem to suffer from the decaying illness of low or even negative birth rates. Islam not only highly encourages the natural growth of population, but also promises abundant blessings to parents for raising their children in a good manner.

If you are among the blessed parents who have one, two or may be a house-full of kids, then at one time or another, you have faced the question of decorating a room for your children. If you have not got started on it yet, here are a few helpful tips that will effectively, and without much expense, refresh the look of the living space for your children.

1) Toddlers and pre-schoolers will surely appreciate a large white or black board that would satisfy their “artistic need” to write on the walls, without actually doing it. Make sure to hang the board at an easy-to-access level and adjust it when necessary, as your child grows taller.

2) School-going children can utilize the same white or black boards for working on their homework and displaying their school related projects. If the board is not large enough, do not hesitate to put up the projects on the walls directly. Nothing helps to remember the lessons more effectively than repeatedly seeing the material in front of your eyes.

3) Decorative shelving can add a pleasant touch to an empty wall. Since most kids love colourful things, let your children select the colours for the shelves and involve them also in the painting process. Depending on the age of your children, the shelves can display soft toys, dolls, cars, books, awards, etc. If you and your children feel ready for it, you can extend the painting project to the other pieces of furniture in the room!

4) Encourage your children to create their own personal wall-calendars. Give them a helping hand in arranging the number part of the calendars correctly and marking down all the important dates they need to remember throughout the year: Islamic holidays, starting / ending of school sessions, dates of exams, etc. The opposite opening of each month can feature a selection of your child’s best artworks.

5) Walls and doors can also serve for displaying the Arabic alphabets, Duas, Surahs from the Quran, names of Allah (swt), and other Islamic texts, depending on the age and the learning level of your children. Posters containing Islamic landmarks can help to familiarize your children with these important sites. Work with your children on creating project posters that would highlight the Sunnah related to the Islamic festivals as well as their daily activities. Encourage your children to write out all the texts in their own handwriting – this will make memorizing easier.

6) A colourful area-rug will brighten up almost any part of the room, where it will be placed, be it near the bed, at the door or by the study table.

7) If siblings are sharing a room, create a private corner for each of your children, where they can retreat for reading or quiet playtime. Once again, a small area rug would be perfect here, along with some large pillows for a relaxing setting. A toy box or a floor-based bookshelf at an easy-to-access distance will add a more personal touch to your child’s corner.

Do remember, however, to keep yourself away from “surprising” your children by arranging their room in their absence. Although children are under your roof and care, their privacy, preferences, and personal belongings should be respected. Also, do not get carried away in unnecessary and expensive extravagances – kids’ tastes change pretty rapidly, therefore, the room setting should be flexible enough to accommodate those changes.

Finding the Best Friend

Image best friendA wide ocean, stretching for miles lay before me. Far away there was a wooden ship, floating away on the dark-coloured sea. The sun had set taking almost all the light of the world away as if a lantern had just blown out. My friends had deserted me for superficial and shallow whims and fancies of life.

I stood up, my hands in my pockets and looked towards the sky with sadness as if I were looking for guidance. It was dark all around and I could barely make out the shapes of the objects around me.

Suddenly, I saw an old woman sitting on a white bench. Her face was calm and the silver in her hair reflected wisdom. Just as I was about to turn back, she caught my sight and smiled gently. Unsure of myself I smiled back faintly. With a gesture of her hand she called me over. Hesitating to approach a complete stranger, I slowly moved towards her and took a seat at a careful distance. She smiled with a twinkle in her eyes, “Isn’t it a beautiful evening?” Trying to match her enthusiasm, I nodded gently, “Yes.” Eyeing me cautiously she inquired, “My child … why do you look so sad?” I tried to force a smile, “Oh no, no, I was just strolling about on my own.”

She looked into my face with her large brown eyes, closed the book in her lap and carried on gently, “Dear child, I do not know you or for that matter whatever it is that is bothering you, but I also have a grandchild just your age. She lives far away and we usually talk to each other through letters on the computer!” I smiled, “Oh you mean over the e-mail?” She chirped, “Yeah, that’s our postman! And you know whenever she is unhappy or lonely she always writes to me. And I always give her the same advice, ‘Talk to your best friend and He will not only understand but also guide you!’“

I looked at her quizzically, “Who is her best friend?” She boomed with delight, “Why Allah, of course!” Following my confused look she went on, ”You see, many times in life there is hardly anything anyone can do for you but there is always something Allah (swt) can do for you if you call out to Him. Then He sends you help and guidance through other people and sources. Let’s say … just now you may have bumped into me so that I can guide you. But in reality Allah (swt) worked it out for you, you see?”

It all started to sink in suddenly. She continued, “Never give up. Allah is Great and Most Merciful. Never hope to find perfect friends in your life either. Allah is the only ‘best friend’, as you call it. He says so in the Quran: ‘And you cannot escape from Allah in the earth, and besides Allah you have neither any Wali (guardian or a protector) nor any helper.’ (Shura 42:31)

Then she stood up, bade me goodbye and left. After a little while, I, too, came out of my thoughts and moved on towards the edge of the ocean. I could still see the wooden ship moving away. But now I felt much better. There was light everywhere, even though the sun was not present.

All of a sudden I realized that Allah (swt) has chosen me over so many to find my way, and win now and forever. Allah (swt) will certainly choose my friends for me so that I can stay guided and help others stumbling on the way. I would want no other replacement for this priceless relation with my Creator. Dear Allah (swt), thank you for being my Best Friend!