Welcome Eid and say “Go” to your Ego!

Mend a broken heartAnd those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah’s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell) .” (Ar-Rad 13:25)

The institution of family and kinship is one of the most valued aspects for mankind- proving its positivity through moral as well as the religious perspectives. No one can deny the noble relationship which is shared by two people of the same family as they possess similar blood running through their veins, and there are many other characteristics which link them to each and other. This is the reason why the Holy religion Islam has also directed a great deal of attention towards the aspect of creating harmonious social life for the Muslims. The Last Messenger (sa) directed people to maintain brotherhood amongst themselves.

“You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another.” (Muslim)

Muslims are ought to put up a shared stand against any group which tends to threaten their solidarity, or any other aspect of the Islamic state. It is morally regarded that unlike the other relationships where the barter trade of help is conducted, the family members assist each other spontaneously and with minimal expectations- as the bondage they share is beyond the other ordinary relationships.

The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance.

Now, as we enter into the mode of sacrificial worship on this Eid, it must be kept in mind that the sacrifice on this Eid has greater spiritual implication. The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance. To witness the vitality of sacrifice, one needs to have an insight and follow the findings. Mending the broken ties of relationship is one of the facets of the spirituality on this occasion.

Amidst the hostility, injustice and criticism, there are many underlying reasons beyond the broken ties. There may be some past experiences of hurting caused by one party to another; favours being given to one sibling when wills are formed; or a small rift among the children culminating in enormous issues. All these moments may have been ominous, but it does not mean that the relationships must be broken. For instance, brothers often do not talk to each other for a lifetime, keeping their families apart due to some past fight; they are only messing up their own lives. People often negate to take one last glance of the dead relative’s face because they did not talk for a long time, and do not desire to bid farewell. The two sides have an exaggerated style of battling, and this fails them to give an ear to what the other has to say.

But this Eid, let all the broken relationships get reconstructed. As Henri Frederic Amiel puts it,

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

A few acts that could be done to rectify the severed ties are:

Sending Gifts
Presents are considered as one of the most vital instruments in strengthening love and bondage between the relationships. It is, therefore, a tool that could be used to make the people on the other side happy. It may make them feel special and awaken the concern for each other. Send them gifts for their children, or send them home-cooked food with fine décor. Little effort with pure motives works miracles.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: On this Eid people also exchange gifts, i.e., they make food and invite one another to come and eat, and they get together and celebrate. There is nothing wrong with this custom because these are days of Eid.

Empathize
Instead of being judgmental or criticizing the actions they make, work on having conversation with your agonized relative. Emotional engagement and compassion can catalyze healing comfort and improve connectivity.

Express Concerns and demonstrate willingness to change
Show them that you desire to improve. Take steps towards reinvigoration. Once, they notice that you take their concerns seriously- they will feel valued and respected. They will be motivated to aggravate their own endeavours as well.

Making Frequent Calls
Re-connectivity is also boosted by the occasional calls. Pledge to call them often and ask about their children, health, profession etc. The common affairs would then help to bridge the gap Insha’Allah.

Invitations
As this is a festive occasion where people often arrange extensive parties for their relatives; you can also make such arrangements. Make special calls to the people who are upon no-talking terms and insist them to attend. If they don’t, let not your morals be down- call them to say how they were missed by all the recipients.

Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds

Conclusively , the acts of bridging ties must not be only limited for the occasion of Eid, but let them become constant. Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds. For once or twice, lower down your self-respect and not be egotistical. Consistency in this regard would eventually uplift the concern on the opposite side- making them feel guilty for their unresponsive attitude, and speculate at how they could restore the relationship through their own effort. It would also raise charges from you when Allah (swt) questions us all on the Day of Judgement.

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.” (Al-Imran 3:103)

Five Ways to Cleanse Your Thoughts

11775The Quran contains details of the previous nations so that we may take heed and not repeat their mistakes. Allah (swt) mentions the tales of both the obedient and the disobedient, giving us a choice as to which group we want to be from.

When the obedient people received a command from Allah (swt), they surrendered before Him and accepted it right away. For example, when Prophet Ibrahim (as) was asked to submit: “He said: I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131) No further questions.

When the other group was commanded to do something- they transgressed, rejected and ridiculed the message. For example: “And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow. They said: Do you make fun of us? He said: I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorant or the foolish).” (Al-Baqarah 2:67) A prophet does not make fun of others. He is sincere to his cause and wishes the best for everyone.

Why did they deduce a different meaning than the one intended?

The problem was in their thinking. They did not give due respect to their messenger; they always undermined his sincerity and harmed themselves.

Often in life, we make the same mistakes. Without understanding the intentions of others, we engage in arguments, risk relationships, and see only one side of the coin. This is called mental slavery. Generally, people fashion their thoughts based on their experiences and not the truth. This promotes racism, hatred, and other evils. But, we do not need to live in this slavery – we can change it.

And here is how:

1. Study Your Thoughts
Before you react to a conversation or any event, pause and think. What makes me think what I am thinking right now? Is that really the truth or am I being biased? Recognize your biasness. And throw it out.

2. Restrict the Ego from Taking Over
Social media threads and political talk shows often end up in arguments and severed ties because each participant allows his or her ego to take over. Allow other people to have their opinions. The way your thoughts were shaped by your environment and experiences, the other person went through a similar process. He is entitled to think differently. Give respect. Do not abuse.

3. Broaden Your Information Sources
Diversify your information bank. Do not always read or follow opinions that match yours. Pick up a book or listen to someone who thinks differently. Similarly, improve your company. Seek learned, truthful, respectful, and positive thinkers. Seek the truth, not attention.

4. Stay Busy
Knowing that every word spilling off our tongues is being recorded should encourage us to speak only when spoken to. Speak a good word, and do not always be opinionated.

5. Study the Seerah of the Prophets
Learn from the best. Allah (swt) chose and shaped the prophets to overcome life’s challenges and carry forward His message. The Companions adopted their teachings and moulded themselves. Study their lives. How did they live in this world while focusing on the hereafter?

A Shift in Focus – From ‘Them’ to ‘Me’

beforeWeek after week, sitting on the floor in reverent silence, enthralled by the eloquence of the woman gracefully perched on the couch, delivering a Dars (Islamic lecture), I was utterly mesmerized by the powerful message of the Book of Allah (swt). Satisfaction and pleasure would fill me up when Allah (swt) would address with pride ‘those who believed and did good deeds’. However, relief and something close to smugness would enter my conscience when hypocrites and non-believers were reprimanded. And this gave a head start to my journey towards a better understanding of my Deen.

Needless to say, I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others. I would think of others whenever a sin would be mentioned in the Quran or Hadeeth, and congratulate myself for even the minimum that I was doing. This thought of major self-deception makes me quiver. But Allah (swt) saved me with His Absolute Mercy.

I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others.

“… And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…” (Al-Imran 3:103)

Today, I marvel at myself as to how could I be so self-righteous when I was committing a number of sins myself. On one hand, I would justify a few sins as being minor and on the other hand delude myself that shunning the others was not in my capacity. I kept blaming external factors and features of the hour as culprits for my transgressions.

Alhumdullillah now, things have changed to a great extent. I do not know when this process actually began, for it happened gradually. It was definitely nothing great in my person that brought about this ‘shift in focus’. But it was purely Allah’s (swt) mercy and guidance that He has promised for those who take that first step towards His path.

“…Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light (Prophet Muhammad) and a plain Book (this Quran). Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Maida 5:15-16)

By the Mercy of my Rabb, now when I read Quran or hear any Hadeeth, my first thought is ‘Am I being talked about?’ My heart gets a little flip and I like to believe it is the flip of ‘Taqwa’, even though I know I am too far from being a Muttaqi. I earnestly start pondering upon my conduct whether consciously or sub-consciously I indulge in that wrongdoing or not. If I am not doing it, then relief washes over me. And if I am guilty, then the urge to resolve that problem fills my heart and incites me to change my ways. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not, sometimes I fall back into the same sin again, and repent, and the circle continues.

Perhaps, staying on the straight path is a grueling process because we cannot achieve a certain level of Iman and Amal, unless we maintain it by putting in countless efforts throughout our lives.

As our Prophet (sa) said: “The Qalb (heart) had been named so because of its inconstancy. The heart is like a feather hanged on a tree where the wind flips it side to side” (Al-Jami). Hence, in order to keep the heart steady on faith and good deeds, the tools to be used are hard work and constant reminders.

Alhumdullillah, I feel blessed that Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, has now given me the sight to see my own faults rather than those of others. The focus has shifted from ‘them’ to ‘me’ and it has greatly transformed the way I think and act.

this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me.

The best thing is that I can feel the effects of this ‘shift in focus’ in every aspect of my life. It is almost as if the ‘ego’ has taken a back seat and broadened my vision about life in general and myself in particular. Earlier if something would happen against my wishes or if I faced criticism and censure, I would get defensive. In cases where I could not react or defend myself, I would plunge deep in the mire of self-pity and harbour resentments against others. Whereas now, I examine critically what had occurred, and try to see where I was at fault in the situation. I do this because I genuinely want to rectify my mistakes and improve my character for the sake of Allah (swt). My heart truly believes that I will be held responsible for my actions on the Day of Judgement, and it is not just a theory anymore.

Moreover, this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me. For besides rectification of my errors which many a times caused conflicts in the first place, Allah (swt) has bestowed upon me the gift of tolerance and acceptance of the shortcomings and faults of my loved ones.

Equipped with this new ‘focus’ and a new zeal, I strive daily through the tests and trials that life throws in my way: Zeal to make myself a better person, a better Muslim, and zeal to accept, love and forgive others; for I hope Insha’Allah Allah (swt) would be pleased with my efforts and endeavours on the Day of Judgement. I wanted to share this with you as this new ‘focus’ has brought much ease in my life and I pray that Allah (swt) give all of us the right focus in our lives and correct our affairs Here and Hereafter. Ameen