Hajj 2015 – the Good I Witnessed

hajj2015

It might be startling for many to believe that there was any good in Hajj 2015, especially after the unfortunate tragedies of the crane crash and Mina stampede. May Allah swt accept the Shahadah (martyrdom) of those who lost their lives. But I was there performing my very first pilgrimage to Bait-ul-Allah. It was an ethereal experience.

The system in place to manage 30 lac pilgrims was quite impressive. The exits and entrances to Masjid al Haram were efficiently monitored to prevent any crowd surges. Policemen were lined up with spray bottles filled with cold water, ready to spray at any face that wanted respite from the heat. Free potable water and juice cartons were distributed to weary Hajis trudging on foot. Free bus rides were arranged from Khana-e-Kaabah to other parts of the city from where one could either walk home or hail a cab. Eager volunteers were present to guide you to your destination sometimes in sign language if you didn’t speak Arabic. Public toilets were present after every few meters and were considerably usable for Wudu and to answer the call of nature.

And who can forget the call of the beautiful Adhan soring high in the Haram. It raised the hair on one’s back, lifted the lowest of Imans, brought tears to eyes blurring the black majestic Kabah ahead. Each worshipper poured his heart out to his Rabb. Everyone had a love story of his own to narrate. Their hands stretched out yearning for the Lord’s Mercy and Love. It was the moment. All else faded away in the background.

Hajj was truly a picture of supreme brotherhood. Muslims from all continents and of every colour praying in one direction, to one God in one language.  We shared food, water, our prayer mats and smiles. We tried conversing in sign language, broken English and wavering Arabic. We pushed wheel chairs of complete strangers and shared taxi rides with them too.

Personally three things helped me immensely. I embarked on the pilgrimage with my husband with zero expectations. I realized that if I was a guest of Allah (swt) I had to trust and respect His hospitality. This meant no complaining and exhibiting patience. And believe me this submission to Allah (swt) worked wonders. We were always pleasantly surprised since we expected nothing.

Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship

Secondly offering Sadqah every day in the morning reassured our faith. Be it the cleaners at the Haram or old and frail Hajis, we felt a sense of tranquility to be able to help the lesser privileged. In return we asked of Allah’s (swt) pleasure and mercy in our affairs.

Lastly the prayer of Ibrahim (as) “Husbiy allaha wanaimal wakeel” was a fort against every forwarding trouble in sight. He recited these words when he was thrown into the fire by King Namrood. Allah (swt) had commanded the fire to cool down and offer safety to prophet Ibrahim instead and he walked away unhurt. Hence I relied on the same prayer for the slightest of issues possible. Be it long queues, day’s heat, big crowds, wait for the cab, chance to enter the Haram gates, possibility of Tawaf, etc.

On a closing note, Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship. It is meant for the ones who want to grow spiritually and are ready to offer sacrifices of their everyday comforts and conveniences. It’s not for those who think that since they are wealthy enough they should embark on it as they are an eligible candidate for it. If we wish to have our entire life’s sins wiped out, we will have to pay some price.

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah right before they advance for their pilgrimage. It will help them greatly appreciate the lofty sacrifices Muhammad (sa) made for us. At Hajj we could pray anywhere in the Haram, perform as many Tawaf as possible in the ocean of other pilgrims, behold the captivating sight of the breathless Kabah. But Prophet (sa) was beaten at the same place so many times by the disbelievers of Makkah in the first thirteen years of his prophethood for simply offering Salah on the same grounds. And finally he was driven out of the city.

We can today peacefully go for Hajj and worship lovingly all we can. The inconveniences we face in this journey should not even be mentioned if we remember what our Prophet (sa) bore in the way of Allah (swt).

“By the fig, and the olive. By Mount Sinai. By this city of security (Makkah).” (Surat  at- tin 95:1-3)

From Ms. to Mrs. – Expectations Versus Reality

Vol 4-Issue 3 Muslim WeddingsI’m getting married -Yay! There is so much to be done- designer dress, jewellery, footwear, bags, make-up artist, salon etc. How many days will the wedding celebrations continue? How many functions? Theme of the day? What about the dance preparations? Do we have enough time to rehearse the dances in-sync? Oh wait- I almost forgot, the photographer! ‘Capturing memories that will last for a life-time.’ I want my wedding album to be the most creative. I’ll update my face book profile pictures and cover photos every day. Why not share my happiness with the world?

Many of us start considering these things as soon as the wedding bells start ringing in our head. The fairy-tale we had been reading, watching and dreaming of since our childhood is finally becoming true. So what do I do to prepare myself for this life-altering event? Yes! I Know! I need the wedding glow. I can’t be a dull bride. Manicure, pedicure, whitening facial, skin treatments, weight-loss plans, gym programs (Obviously, I can’t be a fat bride. What will people say?)

But….What happens once we say ‘Qubool Hai’? The fairy-tale wedding, the excitement of the events, the food, the glittering dresses, and need not mention the never ending laughter. What happens when all of this comes to an end and a new chapter in our life begins? What happens when the first time we get into an argument with our husband? What happens when someone from the in-laws says something that hurts you deeply? What happens when misunderstandings arise? This is the time when it truly hits us that the fairy-tales always promised a happily-ever-after, but this is not what we had imagined. What does this ‘happily-ever-after’ mean anyway?

We are so focused upon the fairy tale wedding events and the preparations that we forget to make preparations for the real life drama that would follow-on later.

Expectation vs. Reality

  • Expectation: My husband will come home every day with a smile on his face.
  • Reality: Girls, sorry to burst your bubble, but this is not true for an everyday routine. Your husband is a human. He goes through different stressful routines and tasks in a day at his work. He gets tired, he has hunger pangs, he is uncomfortable with the work-place politics and there could be a number of other reasons which you are unaware of. At times, he would want solitude for a little while. Try to calm him down. Ask him about his problems, strike a light conversation to divert his attention, give him a light snack to eat, dress-up adequately for him and be empathetic. Don’t take it personally. His mood will eventually become better.

 There will be times when you face criticisms and you will feel that you aren’t appreciated for your efforts.

  • Expectation: I will live the way ‘I’ like.
  • Reality: Once you get married, for some initial months, you are new to the in-laws and your in-laws are new to you. Learn their living habits, likes/dislikes and make sincere efforts to adjust to the new lifestyle. Pray to Allah (swt) for an increased level of patience and Taqwa. In times of turmoil, recite the Quran and the burden will be lifted from your heart Insha’Allah. Seeking permission wouldn’t mean the end of your freedom. Your husband would like it when you seek his permission and value his opinion in every matter.
  • Expectation: I will be showered with compliments
  • Reality: There will be times when you face criticisms and you will feel that you aren’t appreciated for your efforts. This is the time when you require patience the most. Keep doing good anyway. Keep a clear heart and try to improve your short-comings. Allah (swt) is the All knowing and All seeing. Allah (swt) is the turner of hearts.
  • Expectation: I will never get into a disagreement with my spouse
  • Reality: You and your husband are two different people with two different minds. There are going to be many occasions when you would not agree with a certain behaviour of your husband, or when your husband doesn’t agree with your opinions or conducts. Satan becomes the happiest when there is disagreement between the husband and wife. So, whenever you see yourself lose control of your patience, remember to seek refuge in Allah (swt) from the Satan. Even the Holy Prophet (sa) once had misunderstandings with Hazrat Aisha (ra) due to the malicious rumours spread by certain slanderous people, while on an expedition against Banu-Al-Mustaliq (Ref: Book Enjoy your life- Deduced from a study of the Prophet’s (sa) life by Dr. Muhammad Al-‘Areefi) Have the utmost faith in the judgement of Allah (swt). Try to finish the disagreements as soon as possible. Don’t prolong them. Be courteous and respectful even in the state of anger.
  • Expectation: I will spend my husband’s money as I like
  • Reality: You are now the lady of the house. It is your responsibility to make sure that the house expenditures run efficiently. Well, who doesn’t like shopping? But, set priorities and be a helpful and considerate spouse, rather than a shopaholic spendthrift. Make efforts to strengthen your Iman and do not indulge too much in the worldly desires.  In Surah Al-Araf, we are told, “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of ) the Kabah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

The Satan gives a big reward to the subordinate who has created differences and distances between the husband and the wife in the form of arguments, disagreements and fights.

My dear sisters, the relation of a husband and wife is the first relation to come into existence i.e. that of Hazrat Adam (as) and bibi Hawa (as). The Satan gives a big reward to the subordinate who has created differences and distances between the husband and the wife in the form of arguments, disagreements and fights. We, at times, have such high expectations from our marital lives that even a slightest issue disrupts the harmony which we had imagined; and we tend to give up hope. Marriage is a relationship upon which you and your spouse have to work coherently. Learn to adjust, learn to give-in, to forgive, understand each other and above all respect one another. May Allah (swt) guide us to the best of knowledge and Iman.

Ibn Qayyim said: “The (path) always starts with trials and tests, then comes the period of patience and reliance (upon Allah (swt)), and the end is enlightenment, guidance and victory.” (Shifaa’ Al-Aleel)

Heart-Break

Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca / Foter / CC BY

Free Grunge Textures – www.freestock.ca / Foter / CC BY

Yet another serious heart-break,
yet another unexpected blow.
Yet another discrete proof of,
people’s fake and outward show!

Ready to help us all the time,
support they’re willing to offer.
But when the time comes to help,
their words and actions differ!

Expectations are built and broken,
it happens again, and yet again.
One feels dejected and ditched;
friendships are lost without gain!

Words of hope echo in your mind,
their false claims give you tears.
But you, O human, do not stop,
to turn to the “Only” who’s near!

Nothing to lose when you love Allah (swt),
His pleasure wins you all gain.
Benefits in this world and the next,
happiness and rewards, no pain!

Yet we humans fail to be believers,
we find it difficult to rely on Him.
Shaytan wins the battle with us,
chances of not being doomed are slim!

We know all this yet from people,
our needs of love, we associate.
We get hurt but we keep trying,
to fool ourselves till we dissipate.

Then we gather our shattered self,
we bow down to Him in depression.
We renew our faith, and we pledge,
We’ll only yearn for His attention.

A few days pass by until we stick,
to the new promise and resolve.
However, Shaytan doesn’t cease,
we give in to his tricks, we absolve!

Our mind tries to hold us back but,
our heart craves for love and care.
Self-deceived and misguided again,
we turn to the creation in despair!

Knowingly we treat ourselves unkind;
we get involved in people again.
Expecting from others rather than Him,
Utterly dismayed, we shout in pain…..

“Yet another serious heart-break,
yet another unexpected blow.
Yet another discrete proof of,
people’s fake and outward show!”

Are You Comfortable Being a Muslim?

strangersWe as human beings are most likely to give into the pressures of the society and perform deeds just to please the Nafs. Why do we give in? So that someone else can approve of our actions? Our own Nafs can give us some form of appreciation? Surely appreciation makes one feel excellent about oneself and feel motivated to do things with a robust energy. But the question is: Do we tend to bask too long in this “feel good” moment? And the answer comes in positive from within!

Islam is often emphasized as a religion of peace and brotherhood (which surely it is), whereas it also obligates that we follow its injunctions properly in order to enter the fold of Islam completely – as mentioned in the Quran. However many of us cling on to the part of maintaining brotherly ties and goodness way too tightly; when it comes to take a stance and do what is right, we find ourselves agonizing over the reactions of the people: What will my aunt’s cousin say? How will I show my face to the community?

Very conveniently we assume that Allah (swt) will understand and so we beneficially choose a path that is more compliant with the norms of society and our family’s expectations.

Well, do we see something wrong in this picture? Yes, of course! We aren’t worrying about Allah (swt). We really don’t care about Allah’s (swt) approval. Very conveniently we assume that Allah (swt) will understand and so we beneficially choose a path that is more compliant with the norms of society and our family’s expectations. Everything else seems to take precedence over our obligations as Muslims and we become more complacent in the matters of our Deen rather than pondering as to what can be healthy for our Iman.

This complacency results in a lower self-esteem and confidence as Muslims. There is a negative aspect to everything associated with the word “Islam”; Islamic teachings: my parents don’t agree with them. Islamic dress code: I will be ridiculed. An Islamic lifestyle: Oh! It’s too difficult to adopt; I’d rather live comfortably the way the society expects me to. Hence, we slowly edge away from the actions that boost our Iman .We start convincing ourselves unconsciously that our Deen is not good enough and as a Muslim, we are unable to function as a “normal” human being. However, in reality, this is far from the truth. Islam enables us to move beyond the cultural hang up and petty disputes that come with being a “normal” human being. It liberates us from the chains of ignorance gifted to us by our society.

While many elements convince the masses (Muslims included) that Muslim women are oppressed and Muslim men are complete savages, I strongly feel that we as Muslims are buying the stories they concoct about us. Whenever some negative image is portrayed about us, we tell ourselves: “Islam is the religion of peace”. Inwardly, we feel afraid as if someone is pointing at us and our confidence abandons us to openly proclaim our identity.

when someone calls us strange and outdated, instead of feeling ashamed or hurt; ask Allah (swt) to give you the ability to enlighten others with the spark of your Deen and prove yourself to be a blessing in disguise for the humanity

It is true that being the “strange” one in the crowd can be intimidating and we want someone to relate to us. But let’s not become complacent as Muslims, searching for some form of appreciation or comfort from the people. It does not mean that we break ties and turn into hermits. Rather ask Allah (swt) to make His Ordinance our foremost priority. Ask Him to fill our heart with the concern to uplift the plight of this Ummah and give us the strength and confidence to carry out our identity proudly like the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) and some contemporary examples we find in the form of scholars and some legendary Muslimeen. Lastly, when someone calls us strange and outdated, instead of feeling ashamed or hurt; ask Allah (swt) to give you the ability to enlighten others with the spark of your Deen and prove yourself to be a blessing in disguise for the humanity. May Allah (swt) accept our prayers. Ameen.

In the end, I would like to quote this Hadeeth:

Narrated Abu Hurairah (ra), the Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)