Is Allah (swt) Happy with Me?

How can a believer tell that Allah (swt) is happy with him? Is there any sign?

If a person is doing what pleases Allah (swt), then he or she should feel that He is happy with him or her; otherwise, what was the point of Allah (swt) telling us to do what pleases Him? We don’t have to wait for any divine sign like a bolt of lightning from the heaven, stars, and so on. It is enough to know and feel certain that we are doing what pleases Allah (swt).

How does Islam describe happiness? Are there any examples from lives of the Sahabahs? Does our present-day definition of happiness differ from that of Islam?

Happiness is when we experience a state of emotional and spiritual satisfaction or pleasure, which is the ultimate happiness. We know from the lives of the Sahabahs that they were happy in the presence of the Prophet (sa). They were happy even in giving away their lives, when needed, for Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

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Islamic Online University

44 iou interview

Q1. How did Islamic Online University start its journey? Tell us a little about the initial days.

Alhumdulillah, the Islamic Online University (IOU) began its journey in 2001. Unfortunately, the programme ran into technical difficulties and had to shut down; however, the material developed for its courses was used to establish a department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Preston University, Ajman, UAE, and three years later, the department had its first batch of BA graduates. In 2007, IOU made a comeback with completely free diploma courses., and in 2010, the degree programme was launched and the first batch of Bachelor’s degree students began their journey of seeking authentic Islamic knowledge in a structured manner.

Q3. Where are the headquarters of the university? Are there any onsite campuses?

The IOU headquarters are located in Gambia, where we offer locally the Intensive English Course, which is also available offline in two other countries. Insha’Allah, we will also be launching Bachelor of Education offline in Gambia.

Q4. Tell us about the teaching staff: who are they and what is the criterion for their recruitment?

The IOU teaching staff is divided into instructors and tutorial assistants. Instructors explain lessons to the best of their abilities through recorded lectures. A minimum requirement to teach at the Bachelor’s level is Master’s degree in the respective field and higher, and Master’s or Ph.D. and higher for the IOU’s Master’s level. Most of our instructors hold either Master’s or Ph.D. degrees.

IOU tutorial assistants guide and help students during their semester. Each subject has its designated and highly qualified tutorial assistant, who is available to students through emails, various forums, Skype, or telephone. They have also recorded supplementary sessions to review and further explain given material. All IOU tutorial assistants must have at least Bachelor’s degree.

Q5. The IOU is a huge project comprising of so many faculties – how is everything organized and managed? Please shed some light on the efforts of the non-teaching staff too.

From across the globe, we have more than 100 administrative staff spread over different departments such as Registrar’s Office, Academic Coordination and Development Department, Promotions, IT, Human Resources, Chat/Info/Help Desk, and individual contributors, who form the admin infrastructure of IOU and work tirelessly in the backend to support the structure in its daily operations to ensure a smooth and comfortable study environment for IOU students. Alhumdulillah, we are glad to say that over the past years, we have gained a certain extent of expertise in global online staff management.

Q6. The concept of seeking Islamic knowledge online is a rather new one. How is the Muslim world taking it, especially with reference to IOU?

Alhumdulillah, Muslims are taking advantage of the Internet and participating in various educational activities that IOU offers. Word about the quality, authentic, and affordable education is spreading. The number of enrolled and graduate students is increasing with each semester. Alhumdulillah, the global IOU student body is comprised of 200,000+ registered students and 5000+ degree students from 228 different countries.

Q8. The university was founded with the vision “changing the nation through education” – do you now see this vision manifested?

The IOU students and graduates are probably our greatest assets and flag-bearers of changing the nation through education. Our students are involved in various activities that benefit their local or online communities.

Q9. What feedback have you received from IOU graduates? What are the major accomplishments of the university in terms of human capital?

Alhumdulillah, we have recently launched the M.A. in Islamic Studies programme, and most of our graduates have enrolled and continue their studies with us. Some of our students have started a second Bachelor’s programme at IOU. In addition, some students joined our administration team or faculty as tutorial assistants. This in itself shows that they are satisfied with IOU and the quality of education we offer, as they are continuing their journey with us. Moreover, we have received positive feedback from our students and alumni, who further recommend and present IOU to their local and online communities.

Q10. The university often arranges innovative programmes and workshops for youth, such as YL360 and Empowered Muslimah. What is their impact?

Our special workshops, such as the YL360 and Empowered Muslimah, have been a success primarily because these courses were aimed at helping the youth inculcate a sense of belonging, a sense of pride in our rich history, which is very much lacking in today’s generation. During one of the sessions of YL360 programme, students were taught to start a community project. Many sisters have even starting teaching the Empowered Muslimah course locally in their communities for the sisters, who do not have any Internet facility.

Q11. Your message for the Islamic world, especially Muslim families.

Acquisition of knowledge should be given a high priority. The only way to overcome the problem of Muslims getting radicalized is by educating the Muslim community about Islam. As Dr. Bilal Philips says: “Islam is not about kissing the Quran and keeping it on a shelf. It is about seeking knowledge by reading, understanding, and reflecting.”

Q12. What are the aspirations of the IOU team?

A new course packed with seven powerful sessions covering topics from improving one’s communication skills to acquiring the skills of working efficiently in a team called “The Seven Gems” will be introduced shortly. This new course is aimed at helping the youth out of the shackles that prevent them from achieving success, personally and professionally. With Allah’s (swt) help, more interesting and beneficial programmes will be coming soon.

Resolving Family Conflicts – A Lectureshop with Dr. Bilal Philips

As most of you know already. Dr. Bilal Philips is coming to #Karachi Insha’Allah! On this occasion, Hiba Magazine and LIVE DEEN have joined hands to bring to you a mega event:

Resolving Family Conflicts
A Lectureshop and Q&A with Dr. Bilal Philips

When: Friday, 27th February, 2015
Timing: 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Where: Marriott Hotel Karachi

Ticket price
Single: PKR 1500/-
Special discount for couples: PKR 2500/- (SAVE PKR 500/-)

Tickets are available from Hiba Magazine’s office, Role Model Institute, and Da’wah Books.

Separate arrangement will be made for mothers with children under 5 years.

We hope to see you there, Insha’Allah!

Lectureshop Flyer

Dr. Bilal Philips’ Official Statement from Immigration Detention, Davao City

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, renowned speaker and author, has been arrested in Davao City, Philippines, and is recommended for deportation. Following is his official statement as posted on his Facebook page. We pray to Allah (swt) to help him and grant him relief. Ameen.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful

10 September, 2014
From Immigration Detention, Davao City
Mindanao, Philippines

Dear Friends, Students, and Supporters,
Salaam alaykum. Peace be upon you all.
I would first like to thank you for all your prayers and various positive expressions of are, concern and support. I’m happy to inform you that I am safe and well-treated in Davao City immigration custody, as my request for voluntary deportation is being processed.

Though I appreciate your rallies and demonstrations of support in Marawi City, Zamboanga and elsewhere, I advise you all to keep calm and not let your genuine expressions of support spiral out of control and degenerate into wanton destruction of property and the loss of life and limb.

Please allow the due process of law to take its course. The false allegations and misunderstandings circulating in the media will be tackled legally in order to clear my name and lift the ban on any future visits to the Philippines – God willing. There is sufficient evidence to prove my innocence in my hundreds of youtube video lectures and khutbahs (see my youtube channel: aabphilips), over 50 published books, many of which can be downloaded freely from my website: www.bilalphilips.com or www.kalamullah.com, or the hundreds of posts on my official facebook page: Dr. Bilal Philips, with almost 2 million likes.

As to my being on the no-fly black list of America, I join the ranks of Nelson Mandela who was put on it while he was in Robbin Island, and he remained on the list as president of South Africa until he won the Nobel Peace Prize for the same reason he was put on the list in the first place. Because of a narrow policy of the US and inhospitable atmosphere, I prefer not to go to US like one your local public official in Davao City who shunned going to the US for medical treatment. Not to mention the actual meaning of American label placed on me as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 attempted bombing of the World Trade Center. In normal language, “un-indicted” simply means “no charges have been filed against me due to lack of evidence”, and “co-conspirator” means “guilty by association”, that someone who the authorities arrested had my name in their telephone book, or they were seen shaking hands with me, or they prayed next to me in a mosque, etc.

Regarding the British 3-year ban, based on a statement taken out of context from a video program originally made in 1995 and rebroadcast along with my other programs continuously in Sharjah TV, UAE, since 2003, it has already been successfully demonstrated to Canadian Immigration authorities that I was misquoted. The ban in Australia follows the American lead blindly and the ban in Kenya also blindly follows the British ban. As for the German lifetime ban unilaterally issued by the Mayor of Frankfurt, it was thrown out of court in Germany last year. The Mayor’s appeal was also rejected by the higher courts, he was made to cover all court costs and the ban was lifted. I was not banned or deported from Bangladesh earlier this year as in commonly falsely reported. I entered the country and left on my own will.

Sensational journalism has also played a major role in demonizing me, like that of the daily newspaper which plastered a picture of me on their front page, Sept. 10th issue, with the heading “Suspected Terrorist Arrested”. The related article contained a series of irresponsible, inflammatory and inaccurate statements from PRO 11 Regional Director Chief Superintendent Wendy G. Rosario. Superintendent Rosario was quoted as saying that I was considered a person of interest because of alleged links to a terrorist group outside the country. I have never had any links nor have I ever been accused of having links to any terrorist group. Superintendent Rosario further stated that I was invited for questioning by the police while lecturing in a mosque which is inaccurate, as I did not lecture in any mosque in Davao, my lecture on “Raising Righteous Children” was a public lecture in the Sunny Point Hotel auditorium attended by Muslims and non-Muslims. He then stated that I was prevented from lecturing in Zamboanga scheduled for the 4 and 5th (correctly the 5th and 6th) which is untrue. I personally decided not to go to Zamboanga when the Mayor of Zamboanga withdrew her support by cancelling the venue and her provision of government security forces. She also requested the Department of Justice to prevent me from coming there. The organizers in Zamboanga requested me to come anyway, assuring security from ex-generals from their ranks, but I thought it prudent not to go since the mayor was personally opposed. He then stated that the Bureau of Immigration issued a blacklist order against me on the 4th September, also untrue. They issued the order on the 5th at the request of the Mayor of Zamboanga, and I arrived in the country on the 4th. He then mentioned that there was a report that I was already blacklisted while failing to mention that the previous blacklisting was lifted by the government. Such irresponsible sensational journalism has been identified by the UK government’s Runymede Report as a major source of Islamophobia. I trust and pray that the majority of the people of the Philippines will not tolerate such attitude.

It is very sad that lecturers and speakers like myself who call to Islamic moderation and oppose extremism, terrorism, indiscriminate violence and revolt, are blocked from conveying this peaceful message to Muslim minority communities. We recognize that extremism is a product of ignorance of true Islamic teachings so we promote in our lectures the acquisition of correct knowledge and the practice of Islam’s authentic teachings. In banning and demonizing us, they have created a vacuum of information which continues to be exploited and filled by extremist elements who easily recruit youthful impressionable followers with emotional messages to their savage, violent and merciless unIslamic methodologies and ideologies.

I have always been a proponent of peaceful solutions to our problems as you all know, the motto of my university (Islamic Online University.com) is “Changing the Nation Through Education”. Please be an active part of this prophetic methodology for change by joining the ranks of over 180,000 registered students in my university, most of whom are studying free of any charge in the free Islamic Studies Diploma program.

Peace be upon you all.
Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
Chancellor, Islamic Online University

Beyond Ramadan: Sustaining the Spirit of Worship

Beyond Ramadan

Ramadan is not just thirty days of one year. We should look at it as life itself. When we are young, we are absorbing information and trying to understand the reality around us. In mid-life, we have matured enough to comprehend what life is about. In the later years of our life, we begin to apply what we had learnt.

We can measure our fast on the same scale and determine if, beyond Ramadan, we have matured as a believer or are on a downturn. We might have started the month enthusiastically, but our spiritual drive weakened towards the end. In such a case, we need to go back to the heart and soul of Ramadan. As the Prophet (sa) said: “Truly, in the body, there is a morsel of flesh which, if it is whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” (Bukhari)

This is true for everything. If the core is not lived and grasped, the benefit doesn’t come. For our worship to transform into action, thoughts and sound deeds, it is critical to understand the essence of Ramadan. While we are fasting, there is a spiritual connection between us and Allah (swt). This God-consciousness is called Taqwa. Ramadan is the month to develop Taqwa.

Reciting the Quran

Recitation of the Quran during Ramadan aims at the development of Taqwa, which is the highest point of Islam. Once Jibreel (as) asked the Prophet (sa): “What is Ihsan?” The Prophet (sa) responded: “It is to worship Allah, as (though) we see Him, or as (though) He sees us.” (Bukhari) This is the pinnacle that Allah (swt) wants us to reach.

Our Senses

Our fast should involve every atom of our body through the cooperation of all senses. When we look, we exercise caution that our sight doesn’t wander at forbidden scenes, magazines, movies, etc. And if we happen to cast an accidental look, we must immediately look away, rather than engage with it and displease Allah (swt).

Our Speech

In matters of speech that involve the tongue, a fasting believer is advised to refrain from cursing, abusing, lying, arguing or backbiting. If others coax him into it, he should simply inform them: “I am fasting,” as per a renowned Hadeeth. This means that we will not partake in any sinful conversation, which can dent our spirit of fast and hijack our Taqwa. It is advisable to stay silent unless we have something constructive to utter. Likewise, we should not lend our ears to others, as we may become the means for spreading their gossip and slander. In order to keep the above resolutions alive, it is imperative to intend to do so, either the night before the fast or at Suhoor before Fajr. This intent will ensure that our fast doesn’t become a ritual exercise or daily breakfast.

Giving Charity

Another Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) that builds Taqwa is giving charity. He was known to be the most generous of all, but when Ramadan arrived, he was like a gentle gale of generosity, bringing relief to anyone it touched. Open charity in the form of Zakah is a Fard (obligation) but secret charity (Sadaqah) is highly recommended. These are priceless deeds, especially when the receiver of the endowment doesn’t even know where the aid is coming from.

Qiyam-ul-Lail

Believers should perform Qiyam-ul-Lail from day one of Ramadan. We need to reinstitute this in our life and if possible, re-establish it in our communities. It is worth striving for.

Salah

The Prophet (sa) encouraged people to pray with presence of mind. Perform each prayer as if it were your last one. How does a worshipper pray if he is told that he will be bidding farewell to this world afterwards? Will he pray the way he usually does? No. He will be conscious of his every movement. Once, Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated to Bilal (rtam): “O Bilal! Call the Iqamah for the Salah, so that we may find comfort in it (prayer).” (Abu Dawood)

Wudu

Prayer begins with Wudu, which is a process of purification. We should perform every Wudu as if it is our last, focusing on the spiritual elements of ablution. When we wash our limbs, we should believe that our sins are being washed away with every drop of water that falls off our body. As the believer moves from one Wudu to the next and from one prayer to the next, his awareness of Allah (swt) grows stronger, and brings him closer to His pleasure. In the absence of this soul, Ramadan becomes merely thirst and starvation for the person and nothing more.

Istighfar (Repentance)

Making Istighfar is crucial. In between our Sujoods in the prayers, we say: “Rabbigh-firli.” It is an ideal moment to seek forgiveness, but instead, many of us simply sit, prostrate and jump back up again without extracting any benefit from those prostrations.

Pondering over what is beyond Ramadan and how its essence should translate into actions, we need to look at another dimension that governs our life as a whole. As the Prophet (sa) indicated, he was sent to us to perfect the highest level of moral traits. We need to evaluate what have we given up and how that translates into our own moral behaviour. We need to assess our relationship with Allah (swt), our relationship with others and our relationship with the world He submitted to us.

Interestingly, food and drink are critical to one’s existence and so is the need to procreate. Yet, during Ramadan, Allah (swt) restricts what is Halal and vital, in order to raise the will to give up Haram. When this will is strengthened, we become conscious of Allah (swt). In this righteousness, we achieve the purpose of our creation. In terms of existence, it is Paradise, turning the whole life to worship. Hence, fasting helps us to develop the goal we need to apply beyond Ramadan.

In order to keep the spirit of fasting alive, we are encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal. For fasting thirty days of Ramadan, the reward is equal to a worship of three hundred days. For fasting the six days of Shawwal, we are rewarded for another sixty days of worship. These days combined complete a whole year in the lunar calendar.

Then, we are advised to fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month. Likewise, fasting is advised on such significant days as Yaum Arafah and the 10th of Muharram. Sins of the entire year fall off sincere worshippers, while they fast.

The one who went through Ramadan but was not able to have his sins forgiven has suffered an unthinkable loss. We need to treat each Ramadan as a farewell Ramadan. What if we don’t experience this merciful month next year? If we were diagnosed with cancer, how would we live our life? Let us not wait for the doctor to come and tell us that! Just do the right thing now.

Let the focus on Allah (swt) translate into the rest of the year. Taqwa will make everything else in our life right. Allah (swt) will become our talking, hearing, seeing, walking, etc. Without this connection, we are misguided. The worst form of misguidance for us is to live for eating, drinking, procreating and dying.

We can bring Ramadan’s essence back to life if we have lost it, or introduce it to our life and start anew. Fasting is undoubtedly a firm barrier and a protective shield against greater satanic attacks. May Allah (swt) enable us to reap maximum benefits from Ramadan this year. Ameen!

Ramadan – Scriptural vs. Cultural

ramadan

How does Islam manifest itself in Ramadan today? We witness a struggle between two forces – the traditional version or the cultural baggage versus Ramadan as it was brought and enforced by Muhammad (sa).

Abu Umamah (rta) has reported: “A man came to the Messenger (sa) and asked him to advise the man about something that would lead him to Paradise. The Prophet (sa) instructed him to fast.” (An-Nasai) It is generally misunderstood that fasting begins and ends with Ramadan. In the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, fasting was perennial.

According to the scriptural perspective, the greatest challenge of the fast is not to give up food, drink or sexual relations during the daylight hours. Rather, it is a means to train the human will. When we give up the Halal (permissible) for a month to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt), it should then become possible for us to give up Haram (forbidden) for the remaining eleven months of the year.

Hence, the simplest definition of an acceptable fast would be to do what Allah (swt) loves and to forsake what Allah (swt) hates.

How much of tradition can a believer incorporate in his fast without marring Ramadan’s original essence?

A customary element, which has emerged, is that Ramadan is the month of feasting. Actually, fasting and feasting are two different worlds. During Ramadan, Muslim around the world indulge in eating as if there will be no tomorrow, whether that later results in cholesterol issues, diabetes, acidity, etc.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported ten years ago that there were more obese people recorded in human history than starving people. The three meals an average American partakes in one day is equivalent to what 25 poor individuals eat in one day in certain African and South Asian countries.

This is an extreme way to look at life; if life is not pleasant or enjoyable, it is not worth living. For this very reason, we hear people committing suicide or wishing they could end their lives if they contract a terminal illness. We even hear of doctor-death going around, facilitating death for these patients as they find no joy in life. This mindset of over-indulgence and feasting destroys the human will. Fasting, on the other hand, disciplines it.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “They are like cattle, nay even more astray…” (Al-A’raf, 7:179)

We need to understand that Allah (swt) has created angels with intellect and no desires. He has created animals with desires and no intellect. Human beings are the only creation with intellect and desires. But if humans give up their intellect and fall for desires, they start to behave like animals. Animals can’t fast. They only know how to feast. Similarly, when humans give up their desires and only work with their intellect, they become angelic.

It is a well known Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) that “the worse container a human can fill is his stomach.” (Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, he mentioned: “We should eat one-third food, drink one-third water and leave one-third room for air/breathing.” (Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

During Ramadan, our test begins at Sahoor (pre-dawn meal) and determines whether we lay a foundation of feasting or fasting. If we have eaten to the brim, our system will take nearly ten hours to digest all that. By the time the digestive system has taken care of the Sahoor, we are ready for Iftaar (fast-breaking meal), when we reload our stomachs. We travel from one excessive point to the other. According to research, the highest number of cases of digestive disorders stream into the emergency wards during Ramadan.

Where does the fault lie? Is it in traditions such as piling up a guest’s plate even though he categorically refuses anymore, and thinking that it is a Sunnah to over-feed your guests? Or, do we think that over-consumption of food is a means of expressing gratitude to the Lord? How do we sift the real Islam from the cultural one?

If we do not carry authentic knowledge, we automatically start depending on traditions. Traditions, at times, lead us to innovations. And all innovations will end up in Hellfire. So, if fasting, which is meant to be our vehicle to Paradise, is not taking us there, where are we headed?

We have a choice. If we didn’t, Allah (swt) would have removed this responsibility from us. Allah (swt) never burdens any soul beyond their capacity.

We should commit and change our Ramadan pattern. Begin by making an intention to fast in the night before the dawn. One who does not make an intention has no fast. This helps us reflect upon the reason of the meal, which is not to celebrate. It will remind us that we are now boarding the vehicle that will take us to Paradise. How did the Prophet (sa) drive this vehicle? We will be encouraged to study the Sunnah. We will be living the life of Ihsan – a life that is conscious of Allah (swt).

An official statement or Dua is not necessary. However, it is important that we focus and prioritize our mind on the fast and plan that this is not going to be a feast; rather, it will be a fast. We will experience hunger pangs during the day. How else will we appreciate the blessings of Allah (swt) and feel the pain of the destitute? So, pause for a moment to check your intention. Then take a light Sahoor such as olives, egg, brown bread, etc. Pray Fajr in congregation.

The second part of the test will be at the time of Iftar. Will we board that cultural feasting train that we can’t control and head down the misguided path? Or, are we going to make Dua, eat a few dates, drink water, pray Maghrib in congregation, and then take a moderate meal?

The Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) says: “Every act of Adam’s descendants is for themselves, except fasting. It is meant for Me alone, and I alone will give the reward for it.” (Sahih Muslim)

Place your fast on the prophetic scale. What and how much did he eat? Did he prevent over-indulgence? Did he ever advise us to fast for 30 days and end up gaining 5 kg at the end of Ramadan? Muslims were meant to be a balanced nation with moderate behaviour. We were warned not to fall victim to extremism, like the People of the Book. Feasting is extremism.

May Allah (swt) help us to fast the way He has prescribed. Ameen.

This article is based on a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen” in 2011. It has been transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.

Don’t Get Caught Dead Without Islam – Part 2

Don’t Get Caught Dead Without Islam (2)

By Dr. Bilal Philips – Scholar, lecturer, author, editor, translator, professor, and founder of Islamic Online University, Doha

We all believe that we cannot escape death. However, if we accept that death is inevitable and consider ourselves to be practicing Muslims, our actions should reflect our preparation for death. Preparation for death does not mean buying your Kaffan (wrapping shroud), travelling to Makkah, washing it in Zam Zam water and bringing it back to store in your closet. It means to follow Allah’s (swt) commandments in order to be rewarded in the Hereafter with what He has promised the believers.

We should realize that it doesn’t make sense to fear death; this is because if we fear death, we fear Allah (swt) Who has created death. If we fear Him, it simply means that we fear the harm that will come to us because of our disobedience. It is not like fearing fire and hence avoiding it, or fearing a lion by escaping from it. Similarly, we should not fear Allah (swt) in that sense and should not try to run away from Him.

Today, the fear and avoidance of death, which has become deeply rooted in people’s hearts needs to be addressed. For this, firstly, we should supplicate in our Salah and request Allah (swt) to grant us the spirit of sacrifice in this world; we should ask Him to make our life and our death dedicated to Him and in accordance with His Will. This Dua should then become a reality in our lives because whatever good we do in this life, we are doing it for ourselves; whatever evil we do will ultimately be against us only. We might think we are settling scores with somebody or we are hurting someone in this life, but in the end, what we have done is unjust. Allah (swt) says that whatever evil we do in this life is really against ourselves, because the greater it is, the greater its punishment in the next life.

Death is just a transition; it is unavoidable. We should visit the graveyards to remind ourselves that this transition is a reality. We should visit the sick to comfort them and also to remind ourselves that we can be sick any time and may not recover. Health is a blessing from Allah (swt), which can be taken away anytime. While we are healthy, we need to prepare for the time we are ill – the worst that can happen to any Muslim is dying in a state of Shirk. The only way we can protect ourselves from such a situation is by understanding the principles of Tauheed thoroughly and applying them on ourselves.

Unfortunately, even though much has been written about Islam, there is very little material on Tauheed. You will find many books talking about the fundamentals of Islam, but Tauheed is given only a paragraph. As a result, people who read and study about Islam today miss some of the essential material, which should form the basis of everything else. Allah (swt) is One, and that is the final truth. Our economics, our politics, and our prayers – in fact, everything has to be built on a solid foundation of Tauheed. One verse of Allah (swt) is more than just a statement – it represents the entire framework of life for a believer. Thus, it is essential for us to understand how Tauheed should operate in all the factors of our life. For those with limited knowledge in this area, I would personally recommend a book which I have written – “The Fundamentals of Tauheed”. It is perhaps one of the very few books available, which deal in depth with the essential principles concerning Tauheed.

When we die, all our deeds in this life will end. But we can still earn and receive genuine benefit after our death from three basic actions that we did while we were alive:

One: Charity which we give to people and it continues to benefit them.

Two: Knowledge that we pass on, which continues to guide others.

Three: A righteously-raised child who prays for us to Allah (swt).

Our preparation for death should involve giving as much charity as possible. If we know that the only thing which can benefit us after we die is charity which people continue to benefit from, we need to find multiple avenues where we can give our wealth. We need to find out as much about Islam as we can and educate others.

Furthermore, we should prepare for death by looking after our children – by trying to educate them as best as we can primarily from an Islamic perspective. Of course, we also need to prepare them for surviving in this world, so secular education is a part of their life too. However, we should not allow them to consider secular education to be the main goal – we should not let it become the most important aspect of their education. We should discover new avenues for our kids to educate them spiritually, for instance, by bringing them into contact with other righteous young people and by involving them in gatherings wherein righteousness is spoken about, etc.

Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) said that whoever says “La Ilaha Illa Allah” as his/her last words will be led to Paradise. This is not easy for a person who has not lived “La Ilaha Illa Allah”. On the death bed, a corrupt person will not automatically utter “La Ilaha Illa Allah”. Thus, if we consider our God to be Allah (swt) and if we want to enter Paradise as Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, we have to start living “La Ilaha Illa Allah” from now only.

Our will is also a part of our preparation. Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “If we have anything to will others and we want it to be given to others after our death, we should not allow two nights to pass without writing it down.” (Malik, Bukhari, Muslim and others) This is a part of awareness of death. Because people are unaware of death, they die and never avail the opportunity to write down any special thing they wanted done upon their burial or regarding their belongings left behind.

If we are believers in reality, we have to be amongst those who prepare for death. We cannot have in our hearts an overwhelming fear of death; instead, we have to be aware of the reality of our end and of what is to come, which should be reflected in our preparation throughout our life.

A point to contemplate concerns the Jews, who claim to be the beloved and the chosen people of Allah (swt): “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): ‘O you Jews! If you pretend that you are friends of Allah, to the exclusion of (all) other mankind, then long for death if you are truthful.’” (Al-Jumuah 62:6)

Allah (swt) commands the Jews to wish for death but they will not do so because of the evil they have committed. They know they are not really the chosen people of Allah (swt); it is only their claim. Hence, they fear death because of the evil in their hearts.

This fact shows a mirror to the Muslims – are we repeating what the Jews have done? Do not Muslims around the world harbour this fallacy that they are going to enter Paradise just because they are born Muslims and their parents are Muslims? In reality, they fear death. Sadly, we, too, have become like the Jews and the hypocrites.

May Allah (swt) enable us to adequately prepare for our death throughout our life. Ameen.

Transcribed and compiled for Hiba by Mr. Nazir-ud-Din Qureshy.

Don’t Get Caught Dead Without Islam – Part 1

Dont get caught without Islam

Why do we fear death? Why do we fear something, which we have not tried out? Normally, we fear fire, because we have been burnt by it. We fear only something we have experienced, and from that experience we understand its dangers and harms. So why it is that we fear death, since none of us has experienced it or have come back and spoken about it?

We suppose that the reason for our fear is, perhaps, partly instinctual. This is something, which is shared by all the Allah’s (swt) creatures. They all have a natural desire to survive. But beyond that we, who remain above Allah’s (swt) other creatures, have an intellectual ability to go beyond our instincts.

If our intelligence serves us right, we should not fear something which is unavoidable – death – which comes to everyone. We know without a doubt that we cannot take this world with us. We will leave everything behind – all the things we have gathered: the house, car, wife, children, friends and everything else. If we are certain about this reality, then our intellect should also indicate that we cannot become too attached to this world.

However, we choose to fear death and love this world. This is one of the signs of our times, which Prophet Muhammad (sa) predicted would happen to Muslims. In the Prophet’s (sa) time, his companions were not afraid of death. And that is why they defeated people around them, who were far greater in number and stronger than them in might.

A renowned publication called “The Companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa)” written, compiled and translated by Abdul Wahid and published in England is worth mentioning here. It is critical for us to read these stories, because they give us the feeling about the lives of the early generation of Muslims, their understanding of Islam, and how it transformed them in their time.

Fourteen hundred years ago, our beloved Prophet (sa) had spoken of a time, when the world would partake in the destruction of the Muslim Ummah. What happens, when you put a plate of food down before a group of animals? They all rush to the plate, and every one sticks his mouth in the plate for gobbling up the food. He (sa) gave this metaphor to explain that the plate of food represented the Muslims of the future. The companions questioned him, bewildered – will this happen, because Muslims will be few in numbers in the future? He replied: “No. Their number will be many.” We always hear that one third or one fourth of the population of the earth is Muslim – that comes to nearly one billion Muslims.

The Prophet (sa) continued: “They (Muslims) will be many, but they will be like bubbles, like the foam produced by the flood. The flood comes through and takes things away, churns them up and, hence, bubbles are created on the surface of the flood, having no strength, very weak, useless and that is what all Muslims will be like.” He went on to explain why.

They will be useless, because they will have a deep and strong love for life and fear of death. The fear of death will penetrate into their hearts so deeply that they would do anything to stay alive and to collect the trinkets of this world. Because of that, other nations will destroy them. This state will not change, until Muslims once again realize the reality of this life and return to the essence of the faith of Islam.

The meaning of the religion is not for people to come to the Masjid to pray, while in reality they are not praying. You see them playing with their head guards, checking their watches, leaning on one foot and switching to the other foot, cracking their knuckles and engaging in all kinds of other distractions during prayer except praying. It is as if prayer is just a ritual their parents do and, thus, they are doing it, too.

What is the purpose of praying? Are we doing Allah (swt) a favour? Does Allah (swt) need our prayers? Are we praying, because we need to pray? And if we need to pray, why do we need to pray? These are the realities, which we have to grasp in order to become meaningful Muslims. And when Islam becomes a way of life, it will ensure that we will loose the fear of death. Only then we will be able to become Muslims, who are the source of guidance for this world. We will become an example of righteousness, upholders of the law, which should govern the lives of mankind.

But the reality is that we, today, fear death, because we don’t know, what comes after it. We don’t know, what we are going to find, when we die. It is unknown; though Allah (swt) has told us in great detail what we will find, following our demise. He has explained to us about the angel, which comes to takes a person’s soul, about the whole process of being in the state of grave, about resurrection and the judgment, about crossing over the bridge (Saraat) and going either to Paradise or Hell, about what is in Paradise and what is in Hell. In spite of all this being unknown, through revelations Allah (swt) has explained it to us vividly. Because our faith has not gone beyond the state of meaningless rituals, we remain in darkness.

It is a reality that the societies, which have gone to the Moon, etc., are the same societies destroying the various creatures and vegetation, the atmosphere and themselves, too. We find the rate of murders, suicides, AIDS, diseases, etc., rising higher every year. Technological advancement does not provide stability to society, as ultimately the stability comes from faith. It is spiritually based. This is one of the things, which amazed some Westerners and caused them to become Muslims. They came across Muslims, who, under the worst circumstances, seemed to have a spiritual calmness and ability to deal with their situation, in spite of the severity of the calamity. This serenity was a result of their firm faith in Islam as a way of life. Western society cannot explain how it can be that some people seek death. Those early empires, which came across Muslim regions, could not understand it then, and society cannot understand it today either.

Transcribed for Hiba by Nazir-uddin Qureshy