The Day of Arafah

Arafah

Every day in Islam is important. But Allah (swt) has favoured some years, days and months over others. One such day is the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah, the Day of Arafah, on which the central rite of Hajj is carried out. On this day, all the pilgrims gather in one place, regardless of their colour, status and nationality, submitting to the commandment of Allah (swt). The blessings of this day are not limited to those who go for Hajj – everyone can benefit from them.

Two major historical events took place on the Day of Arafah.

In 9 AH, the Prophet (sa) performed his first and only Hajj. When he reached the valley of Arafah, Allah (swt) revealed to him that He has completed his religion. It is reported from Umar (rtam) that a Jewish man said to him: “O Ameer al-Mumineen, there is a verse in your Book, which you recite; if it had come to us, the Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar (rtam) asked: “Which verse?” He replied: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Maidah 5:3) Umar (rtam) said: “We know on which day and in which place that was revealed to the Prophet (sa). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.” (Bukhari and Muslim) All praise is for our Lord, Who has chosen for us a religion, which is perfect.

The second glorious event took place on the Day of Arafah way before we were even born. Allah (swt) with His immense capability brought the entire humanity to life and spoke to us. It is reported that Ibn Abbas (rtam) said: The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’man, i.e., Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him, and then He addressed them: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes! We testify,’ lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers afortime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e. polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?’ (Al-Araf 7:172-173).” (Ahmad)

We testified that Allah (swt) is our true Lord, before we came into this world. We have already been programmed to believe in Allah (swt). This is why in times of hardship we call on only one God. We call it Fitrah – pure nature. Everyone is born upon Fitrah, and it reminds us of the oath we took in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has given us Fitrah, in order for us to distinguish truth from falsehood, so that we may be guided. Since our Fitrah can change according to our social environment, Allah (swt) has given us other tools, which can help us adhere to the Straight Path.

These tools given to us by Allah include the Shariah – the Quran and the Sunnah – for enlightening our life and guiding us to Paradise. Thus, the people on the Straight Path get the best of this world and the Hereafter  – they are Arafallah, i.e., they recognize Allah (swt) and the oath they took.

The Day of Arafah is the day to renew our oath and repent to Allah (swt). According to a Hadeeth, Satan feels more belittled, humiliated and angry on the Day of Arafah than he does on any other day. (Malik) The reason for this is that on this day, Allah (swt) forgives all those who repent and renew their oath. The best Dua to recite on this day is:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ، وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah (swt) alone, He has no partner, His is the dominion and His is the praise and He is able to do all things.”

It is the day of forgiveness of sins and the day of freedom from Hellfire. Aisha (rtaf) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no day, on which Allah (swt) frees more people from the fire, than the Day of Arafah.” (Muslim)

In addition to this, fasting on the Day of Arafah is a Sunnah and expiates sins. When the Messenger of Allah (sa) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah, he said: “It expiates the sins of the previous year and that of the following year.” (Muslim) However, fasting on the Day of Arafah is recommended only for non-pilgrims, because it was not the practice of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to fast on the Day of Arafah during Hajj.

On the Day of Arafah, Allah (swt) is close to the believers. According to a Hadeeth, Allah (swt) draws close, and then He happily says to the angels: “What do these people seek?” (Muslim) And Allah (swt) forgives all of them.

It is also the day, which reminds us of the greatest gathering on the Day of Judgement, when the entire humanity shall stand in front of their Creator. In order to succeed on that day, follow your Fitrah and hasten to do good deeds by channelizing your intellect and desires towards the path illuminated by the Shariah.

What’s after Arafah?

On the Day of Arafah, people stand and prostrate before Allah (swt), invoking and supplicating only to Him, as there is no god, who deserves to be worshipped, except Him. They do not want the sun to set, because they want to make the most of these valuable hours. They feel close to Allah (swt), and their hearts fill with peace and contentment.

When the sun sets on this humbling day, the faces of these people glow with happiness and joy, due to the mercy and bounties of Allah (swt). It is stated in the Quran: “Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.” (Yunus 10:58)

They are happy because Allah (swt) responds to their call. They rejoice, because He forgives their sins and takes away sadness from their lives. They feel blessed, because Allah (swt) descends and comes close to the people of Arafah and talks of their magnificence in front of the angels.

After Arafah, the pilgrims head towards Muzdalifah. It is a place between Mina and Arafah.

The word Muzdalifah is derived from Zulfah, which means ‘being near and close’. The people feel very close to Allah (swt), as they are His guests. They are required to stay overnight at Muzdalifah, and even their sleeping is considered to be an act of Ibadah. Such is the reward of total submission to Allah (swt).

Then, the pilgrims pray fajr and set out for Mina before the sun rises.

These are basic rites of Hajj – each one has a meaning for both the pilgrims and the rest of the believers. Whoever magnifies and honours these rites by performing and perfecting them, in turn magnifies Allah (swt).

As mentioned earlier, the Day of Arafah is like the Day of Judgement – a stressful and critical time, when the doer of good will be waiting for the reward, and the doer of evil will be waiting for the punishment. Everyone will want to hear the good news from the angels that they have been purified and will blissfully dwell in Paradise forever, but the ones worthy of receiving this honour will be the Muttaqeen (possessors of Taqwa).

The day after Arafah, which is the day of eid, resembles the happiness and excitement of the people, who will enter paradise. It is the day of eating and drinking, and of joy and happiness. And this very celebration is an act of worship, because it a command from Allah (swt). He will tell the people entering Paradise: “Eat and drink at ease for that, which you have sent on before you in days past.” (Al-Haqqah 69:24)

It is the day, when we offer sacrifice for the sake of Allah (swt), which brings us closer to Him. Allah (swt) does not need our sacrifice, but He accepts it, appreciates it and gives us the best reward.

It is also the day of remembrance of our Lord – we should celebrate it by increasing the Dhikr of Allah (swt).

The purpose of Eid is to express our gratitude to Allah (swt), and to glorify and thank Him for all His blessings. It is a celebration for those, who strove to do the best, because Allah (swt) will reward them with the very best.

Following are some Sunnah practices to be performed on the day of Eid:

  • Say Takbeer whenever possible. The most common form of Takbeer is: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illalahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Walil-lahil Hamd.” (“Allah is the Greatest; Allah is the Greatest; there is no one worthy of worship except Allah; Allah is the Greatest and to Allah belongs all Praise.”)
  • Continue to recite the Takbeer three days after eid.
  • Adorn for the occasion (ladies in their homes only).
  • Pray Eid Salah; walk to the Masjid if nearby.
  • Take one route to the Masjid and take a different route back.
  • Offer sacrifice.

Following acts should not be done:

  • Fasting on the day of Eid.
  • Making up the missed prayer of Eid.
  • Offering Eid prayer at home.

All of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are very important. Try to engage in acts of worship to the best of your ability and continue to do so even after the ten days are over. This is what Allah (swt) requires from all of us.

Love For Food

love for foodFood is close to our heart. Islam has given significant attention to the value of food. It is the tradition and manner of the Prophet (sa) that he used to lick his fingers and say: “You don’t know which part of the food is blessed.” (Tirmidhi) Hence he used to finish off every morsel of food on his plate.

Aisha (rtaf) once found a single grape next to her bedside. She gave it in Sadaqah (voluntary charity). People asked: “Oh Aisha, are you giving a single grape to the poor?” She replied: “How many atoms are there in a single grape?” Whoever did an atom’s weight of good will see it.

“How many atoms of weight of goodness are there in these grapes that I have given away?” A Sahabi said, after donating shrivelled grapes that had almost shrunk to the size of raisins. They would not even belittle that.

Shariah has given tremendous weight to the topic of food. One of the leading reasons for men to enter Jahannum (Hellfire) is that they never encouraged others to feed the poor. How many punishment’s Kaffarah (compensation) is to feed people? If you say your wife is like your mother’s back, part of the Kaffarah is to feed 60 people. If you kill somebody, sleep with your wife in the month of Ramadan (while fasting), break an oath, or are not able to fulfill your Hajj, the Kaffarah is to feed people.

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Seeking Lawful Livelihood – A Religious Obligation

Halal Earnings

Abdullah bin Masud (rtam) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “To seek lawful livelihood is next to the first rank obligations of religion.”

 

Scholars of Hadeeth unanimously regard this Hadeeth as authentic. The Prophet (sa) has said that to work and toil, and earn lawful livelihood is second only to the basic obligations: the pillars of Islam.

Seeking a lawful livelihood is not alien to religion. We may try to earn a livelihood through business, agriculture, employment or labour. Thus, if anyone avoids this duty and remains idle, not trying to earn a livelihood, one commits a sin. The Shariah calls upon us to shun laziness and not depend upon others for our livelihood. Man is asked not to beg from anyone besides Allah (swt). The Prophet (sa) has shown us a way to save ourselves from that by endeavouring, according to our capacities, to earn a lawful livelihood. Allah (swt) has not only placed on us certain duties concerning Himself and religion, but He has also placed on us rights of our bodies and souls and of our families. These rights cannot be given to them without trying to gain a lawful livelihood.

Prophets Earned Lawful Livelihood

Allah (swt) required all prophets to earn a lawful livelihood. Every one of them worked to meet ends. There were among them labourers, carpenters and shepherds. The Prophet (sa) also tended sheep against remuneration, worked as a labourer and engaged in business. He travelled to Syria twice in connection with business on behalf of Khadeeja (rtaf). We find him occupied in every way of earning a lawful livelihood, so that they are all Sunnah. Thus, if in pursuing them, we form an intention of following the Sunnah, then our endeavour will become part of religion, whether it is labour, business or farming.

We Must Seek the Lawful

To seek livelihood is an obligation, if it is the lawful that we seek. If we do not pay attention to this condition, then our effort loses its merit and does not form part of religion. There is then no difference in the effort for livelihood by a Muslim and a disbeliever. Believers examine every part of their earnings and ensure that they receive according to the pleasure of Allah (swt). They leave anything that is against it.

All Labour is not Lawful

Some people have adopted unlawful means of earning. Shariah disallows such efforts. For instance, some people live on interest earnings. If they are reminded of the evil, they are quick to indicate that they labour over it and put time into it. They must know that only that earning is lawful and that labour or effort is proper, which are sanctioned by Allah (swt). If we put in strenuous efforts and labour in ways not shown by the Prophet (sa), then our earnings are unlawful.

Is the Occupation Lawful?

Hence, when we have a means of earning before us, we must first examine, whether it is lawful or unlawful. If the Shariah does not allow it, then we must forsake it, no matter how much wealth we see in it. We must take up only that occupation, which has the approval of Allah (swt), no matter how little it holds for us.

Blessings of Lawful Earnings

Allah (swt) has blessed lawful livelihood but not the unlawful; thus, a little of the lawful provides more benefit than much of the unlawful. The Prophet (sa) made this supplication after performing ablution: “O Allah! Forgive me my sins, and make my house spacious for me and bless me in my livelihood.”

Today, people do not appreciate the worth of blessings. They merely count money and think in monetary terms, without evaluating the normal return of their wealth in terms of comfort and peace. Blessings cannot be bought, and many rich people lack them. Blessings are found in lawful livelihood only. Therefore, we must pay attention to our earnings and ensure that we feed our family members only what is lawful and Shariah sanctioned.

Part of the Salary that is Unlawful

There are some sources of income, which are known to be unlawful: interest, bribery, etc. But there are some other sources, which we do not know as unlawful. For instance, hours of work are fixed and the employment is also proper and lawful. However, the employees are slack in observing these hours. The salary for the number of hours they are purposefully absent is their unlawful earning; similarly, the hours they waste at work are also unlawful.

Lack of Blessings

All of us experience a lot of anxiety today. The rich and the super-rich are uncomfortable and worried. Their expenses are mounting high, and their problems are multiplying. The reason is that we do not distinguish between lawful and unlawful. We keep ourselves away from the few prominently unlawful sources of income, but we disregard the various smaller ways, in which we earn unlawful money.

Cheating on Telephone and Electricity Bills

Some of us misuse official assets and privileges such as the office telephone to make unpaid calls. This is a way to deceive the employer, and our savings in this manner are unlawful. Similarly, the electric meter is tampered with and savings are made on consumption of electricity. Here again, the unlawful adulterates our lawful earnings. Usage of official stationery without permission, official contacts for personal gains and side businesses hurting our place of employment, leaking business secrets to competitors, and other similar ways of cheating deprive us of blessings.

We Must Think About it

In view of the above situation, before doing anything, we must ask ourselves, if what we hope to do is correct or not. If we spend our life, sifting the wrong from the right and refraining from unlawful earning, then we must be rest assured that though we may lag behind in supererogatory worship and remembrance of Allah (swt), we may go straight to Paradise, if Allah (swt) wills that. On the contrary, if we do not refrain from the unlawful and fail to distinguish between the lawful and the unlawful, then though we may get up in the middle of the night to pray and offer all kinds of optional prayers, these exercises will not protect us from chastisement against unlawful earnings. The damage this deliberate corruption does to the society is worse and until individuals forfeit it and repent sincerely to Allah (swt), their worship will be futile.

The Unlawful Devours the Lawful

Each one of us must take an account of our earnings and the work we do. We must make sure that there are no gaps, through which we get unlawful earnings. I have presented some examples of unlawful income but there are many ways in which one receives unlawful money, knowingly or unknowingly. Our elders have told us that when the unlawful becomes part of the lawful, then it destroys it. The blessings are lost and the man, whose wealth it is, loses peace and comfort; thus, it becomes necessary that we examine our deeds and incomes, and preserve ourselves from unlawful earnings.

May Allah (swt), through His mercy and favour, help us to understand this fact. And may He cause us to live accordingly. Ameen.

Adapted from “Discourses on Islamic Ways of Life” Volume 10. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Umm Ahmad.

The Right Beginning

Young men and women seeking marriage must ensure their future spouse’s stance on Halal earnings. Understand their propensity to spend and save. A slave of desires and materialistic world can drive you to comprise your Deen, especially when children and larger families come into picture. Observe how your future spouse reacts when the gifts or Hadya exchanged are less in frequency or monetary value. It can give one an insight into their fiance’s preferences for things and control over his or her Nafs. A content and caring partner is essential to help you build a home where, if the earning is lawful yet less, pressures are not exerted for impermissible sources of income.

Similarly, opt for places of employment or professions that facilitate Halal earnings. Self-employment and entrepreneurship is also an option with modern-day cyberspace and social media networks. This can reduce fixed costs, give you control over the nature of your business, provide opportunities to others for permissible employment, and grant you a corrupt-free environment to practice creative possibilities. It is not required to follow suit and become dissatisfied due to lack of control or decision-making power and fall prey to Haram business practices.

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!

The Best Deal!

24

“My son finally got a job in a well-established multinational company! I am so relieved of all the tensions now that his career is set and future is secured.” Parents usually worry about their children’s future. If their kids get good grades and eventually obtain a lucrative job, they think that they have achieved success. Hence, such remarks from satisfied mothers are commonplace. However, is our future really secured? Is it the ultimate success or even the key to it?

This dazzling world deceitfully makes us forget the hereafter. We know that the grave is our ultimate destination, as no family member would be willing to keep our dead body, no matter how dear we are to them. However, Allah (swt) buys this useless flesh and in exchange, grants us the splendours that we can never even imagine.

“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise. (…) And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success.” (At-Tawbah 9:111)

Though this is Allah’s (swt) true promise, it is conditional. In return, He wants us to fulfil certain obligations. All humans possess two main assets: life (time, talent, skills and efforts) and wealth. One can spend these to earn either this world or the pleasure of Allah (swt). A Mumin only sells himself to the Rabbul-Alameen (swt). He knows that only his Rabb (swt) can give the best return. Shouldn’t we then hurry up to sign this deal with our Him?

The qualities of those who want to sell themselves to their Rabb (swt) are: “(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance (from polytheism and hypocrisy), who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who fast (or go out in Allah’s Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (on people) for Al-Maroof (that is, Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (that is, disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers.” (At-Tawbah 9:112)

Let us study these eight qualities in detail.

  1. Those who turn to Allah (swt) in repentance

This refers to those who repent after committing sins and the ones who turn to Allah (swt) in all matters. A faithful believer keeps record of his deeds, and as soon as he realizes his faults and sins, he seeks forgiveness. Allah (swt) loves this quality in His slave.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) reported that the devil said to Allah (swt): “I shall continue to lead Your servants astray as long as their spirits are in their bodies.” Allah (swt) replied: “(Then) I shall continue to pardon them as long as they ask for My forgiveness.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Constantly turning to Allah (swt) in repentance is truly beneficial for us, as the Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone continually asks for pardon, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.” (Abu Dawood)

A Mumin consults Allah (swt) in all matters through an Istikhara, whether it is a wedding or some business deal. He first tries to find out what Allah (swt) says about the related matter, so he can make the decision accordingly.

  1. Worship Allah (swt)

A true believer is a slave of Allah (swt) by choice. This quality of servitude consists of extreme love. Serving Allah (swt) consists of both Haqooq Allah and fulfilling the rights of people which is Haqooq al-Ibad.

  1. Praise Allah (swt)

A Mumin is a positive person and thanks Allah (swt) for each and every blessing, no matter how small it may be. This keeps him away from worries and stress, as Allah (swt) mentions: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (that is, disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

How can we be thankful?  Through our tongues by verbally thanking and praising Allah (swt). We should practice saying small phrases like Alhumdulillah or Subhan’Allah loud enough, so that it can impact our hearts.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah is surely pleased with His servant when he eats something and thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something and thanks Allah for it.” (Muslim)

We can also be thankful through our actions by using our five senses to please Allah (swt). For example, if one has been bestowed with knowledge, he should thank Allah (swt) by educating others. Similarly, if Allah (swt) has blessed someone with wealth, he should thank Allah (swt) by giving to the needy and to the poor.

If we ponder over this, we realize that a loyal believer’s entire life is an act of gratitude to His Rabb (swt).

  1. Move about in the land for His sake

This term is used for people who leave their homes in order to struggle, strive and gain the knowledge of Islam.

It is related by Anas ibn Malik (rtam) that the Prophet (sa) said: “A morning spent in the way of Allah or an evening is better than this world and everything it contains.” (Bukhari)

According to scholars, another meaning of moving about in the land for Allah’s (swt) sake refers to Umrah and Hajj.

Furthermore, it refers to migration for the sake of Allah (swt). Migration can be of two types: (1) a physical one – moving to a Muslim country; (2) an intellectual one – shunning sins from one’s life and changing the lifestyle according to the Quran and the Sunnah.

  1. Make Ruku (bow down)

This attribute reflects a true believer’s humility and down-to-earth personality. Arrogance wastes good deeds. Abdullah ibn Masood (rtam) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter the Garden.” A man said: “And if the man likes his clothes to be good and his sandals to be good?” He said: “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means to renounce the truth and abase people.” (Muslim)

  1. Those who prostrate

A Mumin is humble which is reflected in his act of prostration to His Rabb (swt). A faithful believer is not just concerned about obligations; he makes special preparations for performing voluntary prayers. He draws closer to His Rabb (swt) by not only performing the obligatory duties but also the extra good deeds.

The aforementioned attributes come under the category of personal development and to some extent are easy to adopt. Hence, most of us stop at these only, as we consider them to be the definition of piety. We fail to acknowledge the next two qualities stated in this verse:

  1. Enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil

This attribute reflects a believer’s well-wishing nature for the Ummah.

The Prophet (sa) said (thrice): “Religion is sincerity and sincere advice.” The companions asked: “To whom?” He replied: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.” (Muslim)

The above Hadeeth implies guiding others to what is beneficial for them, both in the hereafter and this life, educating them about Islam and refraining from sins by words and actions. The job of every Mumin is to spread Allah’s (swt) message by inviting people towards good and forbidding evil. However, this is not an easy task, as we all try to avoid clashing with society and, therefore, are hesitant in forbidding people from doing wrong. We should supplicate a lot, asking Allah (swt) for wisdom, so we can perform our role as Daees.

  1. Observe the limits set by Allah (swt)

A faithful believer will be careful in observing the ordinances of Islamic jurisprudence. We can understand Allah’s (swt) limits by an easy example of a gatekeeper, whose duty is to be watchful all the time, in order to provide security to the household members. Similarly, a believer has to care about observing Allah’s (swt) limits at all times.

Upon adopting these qualities, our Rabb (swt) has promised us the great reward of paradise. We are as incompetent as can be. We make a promise in the daytime to rectify our sinful lives, but by nightfall, we break it. May Allah (swt) enable us to make such an intention that even if we fall flat on our faces, we stand up again and struggle. We must strive till our last breath and become among those who repent to Him, worship Him, praise Him, travel for Him, bow to Him, prostrate to Him, enjoin good for His sake, forbid evil for His sake and observe His limits – do everything only for His sake and in His name.

One of the most beautiful verses of the Quran sums it all up: “As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (that is, Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).” (Al-Ankabut 29:69)

Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” by Amreen Rehman.

“Who am I?” – Resolving an Identity Crisis

who am i

By Sheikh Omar Suleiman

Member, ICNA Shariah Council and Instructor, Al Maghrib Institute, Canada

Throughout your life, as you try to find out who you are, you lose sight of what you were meant to be. Should you pursue this or that?

In order to attain success, Islam recommends that we analyze ourselves with critical eyes, as the tendency to live in status quo leads to hypocrisy. We learn from the times of the Prophet (sa) that the hardest prayers for hypocrites were those of Fajr and Isha. Fourteen hundred years ago, they did not have bright chandeliers in the Masajid. Neither did they have well-lit roads. The worshippers heading for Fajr and Isha Salah did so purely for the love of Allah (swt). There was no opportunity to display their faith in public. Naturally, the hypocrites lagged behind, as it did not serve their purpose of recognition before the society.

The Sahabahs were engaged in a life-long process of finding out who they truly were. It is advised to have a certain level of uncertainty about yourself, in order to engage in self-criticism and improvement. Medical experts would agree that the worst patient to deal with is someone who finds nothing wrong with him. The truly righteous is the one who thinks he is not pious.

When Aisha (rtaf) was asked about hypocrites, she described them as those who think of themselves as pious. The ones who come to the conclusion that they are not hypocrites are indeed hypocrites. All one hundred and twenty Sahabahs of the Prophet (sa) feared falling into hypocrisy, even though tales of their unparalleled Iman (faith) are penned in history.

What saves you from turning into a hypocrite then? The answer is in Surah Ash-Shams. Allah (swt) swears by His countless creations in this chapter of the Quran for all to arrive at the process of Tazkiya (purification of the soul). He clearly states that He is the One Who has set our Nafs (soul) right. We have been instilled with the sense of right (Taqwa) and wrong (Fujoor). Allah (swt) has also announced the means to succeed in the Quran. It is to remain busy with your own purification of the soul.

Allah (swt) places the burden of Tazkiya on you. Nafs is the Hijab (veil) between you and Allah (swt). The more you improve your Nafs, the more you will experience Allah’s (swt) Qurb (nearness). This is the first step to Tazkiya.

The second step is to recognize that purification is not possible without Allah’s (swt) help which comes in the form of Fitnahs (trials). Allah (swt) asks: do they think they will be left alone without tests? For every pain, you are rewarded by Allah (swt).

A supreme example of how Fitnah elevates you is in a story of a young man in Syria. He had never bowed before Allah (swt). The soldiers of Bashar-ul-Asad (ruler of Syria) were coercing everyone to prostrate before the picture of Bashar-ul-Asad. Those who refused were mercilessly beaten up. This particular man refused to perform Sajdah before the ruler’s picture, because he didn’t wish to make his very first Sajdah before Allah’s (swt) creation – Sajdah was Allah’s (swt) right alone. Hence, he was beaten to death, making his first and last Sajdah to Allah (swt) alone. What could have been a doomed end due to Kufr and Shirk transformed into an opportunity to enter Jannah. Allah (swt) presented this man with that chance, and he wisely took it.

The next step is Tarbiyah. It means to raise the Nafs. You need to question yourself: “Who am I?” Why can’t I come close to Allah (swt)?” “Why don’t I enjoy Salah?” Some people blame Allah (swt) for their misfortunes, while others blame the environment. They never take responsibility for their own errors and misguidance. They lose hope of Allah’s (swt) mercy and fall into despair.

History proves how people, who were born out of the fold of Islam, travelled far and wide and raised the level of their faith. Bilal Habshi, Sulaiman Farsi, Najashi – they were all people who questioned the purpose of their lives and were thus led to guidance by Allah (swt).Whereas Abu Hakm, the Prophet’s (sa) own uncle, became Abu Jahl (father of ignorance) in spite of experiencing Islam in Makkah. Abdullah bin Ubay, in spite of praying in the Prophet’s (sa) congregation in Madinah, became the leader of the hypocrites.

It was the genius of the Prophet (sa) that he looked at each companion’s strengths and offered them opportunities to develop and utilize them for the benefit of Islam.

Abu Jahl and Omar bin Khattab (rtam) both had exceptional leadership qualities. The Prophet (sa) prayed to Allah (swt) to strengthen Islam by granting one of them to him. Hence Omar’s (rtam) qualities were spent for Islam, while Abu Jahl fought against Islam.

The point is to nurture the gifts Allah (swt) has given you – for example, reputation, wealth, eloquence, etc., – and use them for Allah’s (swt) Deen and the benefit of the mankind.

We either own Nafs Lawama, a soul which is constantly distracted by people, or we own Nafs Mutamainna, a soul that is at peace with Allah (swt).

To accomplish the above, you might need to push out of the way things that come between you and Allah (swt). Surround yourself with people of Allah (swt) and take their Naseehah (advice).

Remember, the difference between a punishment and a trial is your attitude towards it. If during hardships you remain calm, exhibit Sabr and Shukr, Allah (swt) will reward you. Conversely, if during trails you become bitter and disobey further, you will be punished. Just remind yourself in times of tribulations that on the Day of Judgement, people burdened with sins would wish they had scissors to cut their skin to part with them and envy the ones who underwent the trials of the world patiently only to be elevated in the Akhirah. And the believers will not even remember their sufferings at the sight of Jannah – a satisfying end to a journey of self-discovery, indeed.

Based on a lecture-shop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

About “LiveDeen”

It is a non-profit project with an up-to-the-minute concept of lectureshops, a combination of workshops and live lectures of international speakers broad casted via hi-technology video conferencing tools. Their main aim is to bridge the gap between the English-speaking strata of the society and Deen.

Contact details:

www.livedeen.com

www.facebook.com/livedeen

Ameer LiveDeen: Nouman Idrees Sheikh (0300-863-7735)

People of Substance – Who are They?

people of substance

By Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan – CEO and founder of “Bayyinah”, an Islamic educational institute in the USA

When we think of Islam, we immediately think about the five pillars of our Deen, and feel that it is sufficient to follow them. We appear very religious on the outside but have no character on the inside.

Think back to when the Prophet (saw) invited people to Islam in Makkah. The Sahabah, who allied with him, made incredible efforts along with him. Hence, they were bestowed with the title of Assabiqoon Assabiqoon (first and the foremost believers). They are held in high esteem and honour in the sight of Allah (swt) for all times to come.

The fundamental question that arises here is: what were their personalities, what did they look like, and how did they dress up? Interestingly, the Shariah had not yet been revealed to them, so naturally there were no laws for abstinence from alcohol, no dress code and no inheritance laws to abide by. Yet, something set them apart from the others. What was it? The brief answer is their commitment to ethics and justice. This was a permanent part of the Sahabah’s life. The following principles also apply to these ‘people of substance’:

The people of substance know how to respond to criticism

It is human nature that we do not appreciate it, when we are corrected. Well, we will seriously have to rethink this attitude and learn to take criticism in our stride. A common woman stood up and corrected Umar (rta), the Ameer ul-Mumineen, in public. How did he react? Did he tell her off? No. He not only listened to her but he admitted his error on the spot.

We should be open to criticism and not jump to self-explanation and justifications for our behaviour. No one is perfect. Even if people hold incorrect notions about us and we feel wronged, there could be 1% truth somewhere. We can work on our shortcomings, only if we actually admit our faults first.

The people of substance turn in repentance to Allah (swt)

Prophet Adam (as) forgot his promise and disobeyed Allah (swt). But he pro-actively turned back to Him and repented sincerely. A genuine and emotional talk with Allah (swt) where we cry out before Him weighs heavier on our scale than hundreds of monotonous words of Istaghfar on a Tasbeeh.

The people of substance foster healthy relationships

Relationships need to be healthy on two levels: relationship with the spouse, and relationship with our parents.

We need to ask ourselves: is our spouse emotionally healthy? It is imperative for the husbands to value and respect their better halves in this world. Being the head of the family, they are the shepherds, who are responsible for their wives and their kids.

Similarly, we need to be the best to our parents. A common question is: who has more rights – wife or parents? This is not a boxing match. Our sense of justice needs to prevail at all times. Parents have their own circle of rights and the wife has her own. No one’s rights should be overstepped. Men have to maintain that balance to ensure cordial homes.

Muslim marriages are one of the biggest issues that the Ummah is facing these days. Unsettled marriages and insufficient Tarbiyah lead to restless individuals, who vent their anger on the society.

The people of substance call others to Islam, using creative ways

We need to think of original ideas of entrepreneurship based on the Islamic system of merit and justice. This will offer successful projects and business opportunities to Muslims. In turn, it will not only elevate their standard of living but also polish their character and help reform the society.

Once, a CEO from Mumbai, who headed a firm of 500 employees, shared his initiative. After the work hours were over at his firm, he had permitted his employees to use the premises and other office resources for their personal study of Islam by taking up on-line classes with various scholars, etc. As their character refined, they became better serving employees, too.

We should not try to hasten change. In time, it will come. Remember Nuh (as). Even after 900 plus years, he persisted with his Dawah. Guidance is in Allah’s (swt) hands. But it is our responsibility to consistently pursue the different means of contributing our share and becoming one of the people of substance. Small deeds can lead to great Barakah. The youth, especially, should become an inspiration and show the beauty of Islam to the rest of the world.

The people of substance collaborate for the greater good

We need to connect with each other: Daees, Alims and Mufakkirs. Islamic scholars need to show the economists of the highest level how an Islamic economic system works. The Ulemas will have to understand the lifestyle and pulse of the society today. Considering the trends, they will have to seek Islamic solutions to close the gap between the learned people of Deen and the masses, and help them implement Halal solutions to their problems.

This is hardly the time to be involved in worrying about the 1% differences among different schools of thought in Islam. We need to come together on the 99% common grounds to solve greater problems plaguing the Ummah, such as killings, unemployment, injustices, etc.

We need to establish new job ethics in the market, fulfill our promises and contracts, build the highest level of educational institutes, create an environment conducive to healthy debates and freedom of speech without anger, engage all intellectuals to form a think tank to operate within the Shariah, help evolve a force of young religious minded people to tackle the present day and age challenges.

To transform ourselves and become one of the people of substance, we need to do the following:

  1. Educate ourselves seriously. Acquire fundamental education in the understanding of the Quran to become intelligent Muslims.
  2. Read the Seerah of our Prophet (sa) by multiple authors. We can pick one each year, comprehend different perspectives, and connect to the Quran.
  3. Learn the language of the Quran and the Prophet (sa) to gain direct access to the plethora of works in Arabic. This will ensure that we grow in the right direction in Islam.
  4. Besides our own field of education, try to take up courses in social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, humanities, etc. This gives an in-depth comprehension of human behavior and facilitates the understanding of Islamic doctrines, too.
  5. As we mature in our studies, we can pose questions to the Ulema for better understanding and meaningful implementation in the real world.

We need to understand that the revival of Islam is directly linked to the quality of education in which we invest. It is appalling to learn that the East Coast of the USA, mainly New York, has more universities in comparison to all the universities put together in the entire Muslim world. The Muslim Ummah will have to raise the bar and set very high standards for itself in order to accomplish great things.

Based on a lecture-shop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.

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.

The First Task, Before Reading the Quran

The First Task, Before Reading the Quran

By Syed Abul Ala Mawdoodi – Journalist, theologian, Muslim revivalist leader, political philosopher, and Islamic thinker

All kinds of praise are for Allah (swt), Who is the Sustainer of the whole Universe. He is the Only One Who has the right to be worshipped and is the All-Seer and All-Knower of everything we do. We praise and glorify Him, as He should be praised and glorified. We send blessings of Allah (swt) to all His noble messengers, especially the last of them, Muhammad (sa). May Allah’s blessings be upon all of them.

This article is based on an abstract from Tafheem-ul-Quran, a Quranic Tafseer (commentary) written by Syed Abul Ala Mawdoodi. He informs us about the first task which needs to be done before we start learning the word of the Supreme Authority (Allah), the Quran.

He writes:

“There are many people in this world who seek guidance from the Holy Quran for various reasons. Keeping this in view, it is quite impossible to give any opinion about it. I am only interested in those who want to learn the Quran and want to know how this book guides the humankind in their overall life. I want to advise such people about learning the teachings of the Quran and trying to solve certain problems which are faced during the whole experience of interacting with it.

Any one, whether or not he believes in the Quran and who really wants to learn its teachings, the very first thing which is required to be done is to free his mind from any sort of resistance which he might face due to already established beliefs, facts or thoughts and then start reading it with an open mind and heart. People who read this book, keeping in their hearts some specific kind of thoughts and beliefs, keep on reading their own thoughts and beliefs in the lines of the Quran. Due to this, the Quran never exposes itself to them. This way of reading is no doubt the wrong way to read any book. Specifically, the Quran does not open its doors to people who have such an attitude towards it.”

We pray to Allah (swt) that He let us open our hearts and minds before we start reading the Quran.

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” (Al-Qamar, 54:22)

Compiled for “Hiba” by Zaki Imtiaz.

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

Armageddon

Apr 11 Armageddon

The word ‘Armageddon’ is widely used for a severe bloody final war supposed to be fought in a small mountainous valley of Magdo (Jerusalem). This will be a divine battle between the forces of virtue and the forces of evil. It will be led by Dajjal, or the Antichrist, and Jesus Christ. For this purpose, they quote the Revelation book from the Bible: “And he (the angel) gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (16:16)

This madly propagated future war was also blindly believed and advocated by former US President Ronald Reagan, who often used to explain that such an enormous bloodshed will take place in the valley (up to 200 miles from Jerusalem) that the reins over the horses will sink in the blood, and the entire battlefield will get covered with the blood of horses and men. Reagan emphasized: “God will, on that day, permit the human nature to expose itself fully. All capital cities of the world, London, Tokyo, Paris, New York and Chicago, etc., will be annihilated.”

The most popular contemporary US Evangelist Jerry Falwell declares: “The final battle is a horrible fact, and we are part of the last human race. There will be a final clash and God will wipe off the entire planet of earth.”

US Christians deem this subject so significant that millions of books on the topic have captured the attention of the readers. The evangelists have coined a fresh terminology of ‘rapture’. They claim that Jesus will descend just before the war, lift all the Christians into the clouds and award salvation to them all. By rapture they mean the salvation in the sky at the hands of Jesus Christ. Rapture and Armageddon, therefore, are interlinked. An eminent scholar Karl Millen Tire remarks overwhelmingly: “Thanks to Lord. I will watch the ongoing events of the war sitting in the elevated seats of Paradise.”

Another prominent Christian preacher, Clloyd states that the first attack in the Armageddon will be made by Christ himself, who will use a totally new weapon. People will perish instantly and their tongues will dissolve inside their mouths. He tells his followers not to take Christ as a mere religious personality, but think of him as a five-star general.

Still another fundamental evangelist Lindsey states that since about a dozen nations today are in possession of nuclear weapons, we can annihilate the entire world for sure.

Although nothing of the above is true, the Christians are still striving hard to make it happen. They are looking forward to the re-arrival of their Messiah, the Christ. But, on the other hand, when we glance over the conduct of the Muslims, we feel ashamed. A sort of irrelevance and distraction has captured their minds. Nobody is worried about the horrible days that they are heading towards. Their activities, way of life, habits and matrimonies are indicating that they have no sense of the befalling calamity.

The only way open to the Muslims now is to submit to Allah (swt) and obey His commandments. Instead of involving in pomp and show, they should review their lavish style of living and spare a fair amount of their yields for the advancement of Islam.

Dajjal and the End of Times

Dajjal

Five Periods of the Ummah

In a very popular tradition, the Apostle of Allah (swt) has informed his disciples that:

Your religion originates with the prophethood and Allah’s mercy, and will remain as long as Allah (swt) wills so.

Then, Allah (swt) will replace it with the Caliphate ‘in the pattern of the prophet-hood’. Then Allah (swt) will end it.

Then, it will be succeeded by the tyrant kingship, which will last as long as Allah (swt) wills it! Then, Allah (swt) will end it also.

Then, there will be the reign of terror, which will stay as long as Allah (swt) wills so. Then, Allah (swt) will end it as well.

Then will return the same ‘Caliphate after the pattern of the prophethood’, which will administer the affairs of the people in pursuance of the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), and Islam will take root on the Earth. This rule will please those who will belong to the heavens, and those who belong to the Earth. When it dominates, the heaven will generously shower its blessings, and the Earth will divulge all its treasures. (Musnad Ahmad)

According to this eye-opening Hadeeth, three eras have already passed. We are living between the fourth and the firth eras. The end of the entire universe is imminent.

Major Signs of the Qiyamah

The Prophet of Allah (sa) has predicted a number of signs before the first trumpet will be blown in the heaven. They may be classified into two categories:

(1) the minor signs and

(2) the major signs.

The major signs will affect the affairs of the entire world. Among the manifestations of those are:

  1. Dajjal;
  2. Imam Mahdi;
  3. Isa (as);
  4. The community of Gog Magog;
  5. Emergence of a vast and thick smoke;
  6. Revelation of a talking-beast on the Earth;
  7. Rising of the sun from the West;
  8. Waging of an ever bloody huge war against the Muslims;
  9. Re-victory of the Muslims of Constantinople;
  10. Imperialistic sanctions on Egypt and Iraq
  11. Erasing of the building of the sanctified Kabah.

Although the major signs will reshape the existing world totally in favour of the Muslims, no definite time has been predicted by the Prophet of Allah (swt). Which sign will appear first is, therefore, out of our jurisdiction. Thus, we cannot calculate the exact arrival time of the Dajjal, etc.

The writer is the Director, National Academy of Islamic Research, Karachi. He has authored multiple books on Dajjal and the end of times.

The Difference between Deen and Madhab

Jan 11 - Difference bw Deen and Madhab

By Dr. Israr Ahmad

The words Deen and Madhab are entirely different from each other with regard to their underlying concepts. Although in our part of the world we generally refer to Islam as Madhab (religion), yet what is interesting indeed is the fact that the word Madhab has never once been used in the entire treasury of the Quranic text and Ahadeeth literature! Instead, the word that has almost always been used for Islam in the original sources is Deen.

The fundamental difference between the two terms must be understood. Madhab, or religion, is a term used for a set of beliefs and rituals of worship. On the other hand, Deen refers to an entire way of life that pervades all aspects of life. In other words, as compared to Madhab, Deen is a far more comprehensive, all-encompassing reality. With this backdrop, it will perhaps not be entirely correct to say that Islam is not a Madhab (religion), because all of the elements of a Madhab are certainly part and parcel of Islam – it includes the articles of belief, spirituality, and the etiquettes of worship (Salah, Saum, Zakah and Hajj). Hence, it would be more accurate to say that Islam is not merely a Madhab, but an entire code of life (Deen). It not only offers whatever constitutes religion, but is endowed with the elements of a complete way of life. Hence, Islam is, essentially, Deen.

In this context, it must also be understood that while several religions can co-exist at a time in a particular region of the world, there can only be a single Deen (way of life). It is not possible, for instance, for capitalism and communism to coexist in a country at the same time. Only one will be dominant and prevail over others. Similarly, monarchy and democracy cannot simultaneously be established in a country. A system can either be based on the law of Allah (swt), or it will be against the law of Allah (swt). There cannot be two parallel systems, although there can be several religions co-existing at a time in a certain place. The only exception can be made in the case of a single dominant system ascendant above all, subservient to which, all shrunken up and sidelined, may exist other systems. Allama Iqbal said: “In a state of enslavement, it is reduced to a single, small droplet / The very same life which, when freed, becomes a ceaseless, shoreless torrent!”

When Deen is subjugated, it is reduced to mere religion. At the high point of Islamic history, Islam was the single dominant system, under which existed Christianity, Judaism, Magianism and other creeds as religions. They were given this allowance on the clearly laid out condition to pay a nominal tax (Jizya) and accept their subservience to the ascendant system, as said in Surah At-Taubah: “Fight… until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (At-Taubah 9:29)

The law of the land shall be Allah’s (swt), and the dominant system will be Islam, but as far as personal law and private life was concerned, they were free to live according to their own beliefs and practices. However, during the period of the decline and downfall of the Islamic state, the situation was entirely reversed. It will not be wrong to say that in the Indian subcontinent, the dominant system of life belonged to the British. Hence, Islam in the subcontinent was reduced to mere religion – Muslims could pray as they wished, and the British never objected to that; they could declare the call for prayer from the mosques, and they could marry and inherit according to their religious laws, but the state law had to be none other than British, according to the dictates of the British Crown, without interference from the local people. This is exactly what Iqbal expressed in his verse: “Since the Mullah (cleric) in India is allowed to prostrate in prayer / He foolishly thinks it implies his freedom.”

In other words, Islam was not free, but had shrivelled up and been reduced to the level of a mere religion among many.

Deen is essentially that which dominates and pervades. If it is subjugated, it will no longer remain Deen, but will be reduced to Madhab. Its true character will be distorted. If studied from this angle, it becomes clear that no matter how great a system, if it is presented merely as a vision and idea, or presented in the form of a written treatise, it can at best be an idealistic utopia, but can never truly be a criterion, a standard, or a benchmark. It can become a decisive criterion for the whole of mankind to judge and live by only when it is brought into practice, established and fully implemented.

Translated and transcribed for “Hiba” by Maryam Sakeenah.

The Meaning of Good Character

character-traitsA speech by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani at Masjid Bait-ul-Mukarram

In common parlance, character is said to be good conduct with other people. In Shariah, it has a very wide meaning and besides these things, it also refers to compassion and the conditions of the heart in terms of the sentiments and desires that grow in it. These manners can be good or bad, depending on the kind of sentiments. It is a significant part of the Shariah that man corrects his manners and reforms the sentiments that grow in his heart.

Check your instincts

Every person possesses certain natural instincts in his heart. Everyone has the potential to become angry, lustful and egoistic. These are instinctive qualities present in the heart and they vary in degree from person to person. One must keep them in check and to keep them in check is to possess good character. As long as they are in balance, it is a good sign. If they are below or above moderation, it means the character needs to be corrected. 

Anger

Allah (swt) has created the instinctive sentiment of anger in every person – it is a natural instinct. It is also a necessary trait, for if anyone lacks the sentiment of anger, then he cannot defend himself. If anyone attacks another person unjustly and he does not react in the least, it means his sentiment of anger is below the balance. If someone attacks a man’s father or wife, and he quietly watches him, not feeling angry at all, he is a coward and there is no room in Shariah for such a person.

We have to use anger at the right place. “Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you.” (At-Tawbah 9:123) Anger used at the right place is praiseworthy and is a sign of good manners.

Anger should be used within limits. Do not overdo it. Display only so much anger as is necessary. If your children do wrong and do not heed your advice and warnings, then your anger must be directed at a proper place. No doubt, their conduct has called for it. However, if you beat them so much that you disfigure them, it means you have exceeded the limits.

The limits of anger are determined by Shariah. The Prophet (sa) said: “When a child is seven years old, teach him the Salah, so that he is accustomed to it in childhood.” He is not to be beaten at this age.  “When he is ten and he does not offer the Salah, then you may beat him.” Thus, the limit is determined. He e also said: “Do not hit him on the face. And do not give him a beating that leaves marks on the body.”  This is the limit set by the Prophet (sa), who made everything very clear.

Self-respect and arrogance

No man wishes to be disgraced before others; rather, every one desires to be respected as a Muslim and a human being. This sentiment is praiseworthy, because Shariah forbids us to disgrace ourselves. Without a sense of self-respect, a man is like a toy in the hands of the other and anyone can disgrace him. However, if this sentiment increases beyond limit, and he regards himself as superior to other people, it means that he is arrogant. Thus, if a rich man looks down upon a poor hawker, then he is arrogant and has transgressed the limits of self-respect. Arrogance is such an evil trait that Allah (swt) detests it more than any other evil in man.

Arrogance is the root of all evil that breeds such other evils as jealousy, hatred and so on. This is why the Quran says that success awaits those who purge their character of these evils. They must display anger only where necessary and within limits. They must observe self-respect within limits and must not be arrogant. They must be sincere in whatever they do, without being ostentatious. This is the true purification of character, to teach which the Prophet (sa) was sent.

Pious companionship

The method for purifying the character is the same as adopted by the Prophet (sa) and his companions. It is pious companionship. The Sahabah had the company of the Prophet (saw) and their manners were moderate and balanced. They entrusted themselves to him, resolving to mould their lives according to what they heard from him and saw him do, and to obey him in whatever he said. He observed each of them and learnt of their lives and sometimes they told him of their experiences and feelings. He would advise them on what they should do and how far they could go. Soon they had the same manners as he had brought.

In the pre-Islamic days, the Sahabah were very short-tempered. They sought lame excuses to start wars, which would last for a long time, sometimes as much as forty years. But, with the Prophet’s (sa), association they transformed into mild-tempered people, who expressed their anger only where it was necessary and within limits.

Umar Ibn al-Khattab (rta) of the Jahiliyah was known for his anger. He had rushed out of his home once to put an end to the Prophet’s (sa) life because of the new religion he had brought. But, before he could meet the Prophet (sa), Allah (swt) enabled him to hear verses of the Quran, which made him turn over a new leaf. He met the Prophet (sa) and presented his life for Islam.

The Sahabah used the same method with their successors and students (The Tabieen). In their turn, the Tabieen used it with their students (the Taba Tabieen).

Hence, we too should improve our manners and keep the company of those, who are friends of Allah (swt), who have fear of Allah (swt) in their hearts; those, who think about the hereafter and whose manners are clean and bright.

Adapted (with permission) from “”Extracts from Discourses on Islamic Way of Life to Preach and Practice” (Collection of Speeches) By Justice (R) Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani published by Darul Ishaat. 

Dare to Think!

Jul 10 - Dare to thinkBy Suleman Ahmer

I was surprised by the knock. It was late at night and I was the only guest.

I opened the door. It was the manager along with the cook.

“Sir, we wanted to ask you something that has been troubling us for the past few days.”

“Sure,” I replied, while asking them in.

The guest house belonged to Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Labs (KRL), where I had come to conduct a workshop.

KRL is Pakistan’s nuclear research powerhouse with some of the finest scientists that you can

find under the sun.

After sitting down, the cook spoke: “Sir, our scientists have brains so big that it would take us a few lifetimes to have our brains grow to that size!”

I was amazed at the clarity of the expression, knowing that here was an unschooled young man with his whole world limited to his village and now Rawalpindi, a town next to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

“You are right,” I said, knowing that I had in my workshop seasoned PhDs in subjects such as nuclear physics, power electronics, vibrations and vacuum systems. And these scientists know how to make things happen; just ask Dr. ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Sir,” the cook continued, “daily these scientists spend the whole day in your class. We don’t understand what is it that youare teaching them?”

I was stumped. What a wonderful observation!

And what a wonderful predicament!

How do I explain to these simple folks that I teach organizational restructuring based on strategic visions and then introduce the framework for converting these visions into short term actionable and quantifiable plans?

I was pushed into deep thought.

“I cannot teach anybody anything,” Socrates once said, “I can only make them think.”

Socrates believed that people can’t be taught; rather, people can be facilitated to discover what they already know. I disagree with him. It is only partly true. Through prophetic revelations, we learn many things that we didn’t know before.

Socrates was known to exaggerate. I believe that he was purposely exaggerating to provoke people, because provocation forces people to think; for this, I respect the guy for his noble agenda to force people to examine their beliefs, assumptions and paradigms. No wonder he made so many enemies.

I have come to believe that sincere people, who disbelieve us and challenge us, are among our greatest assets. Professors know it. Teachers know it. Trainers, like I, know it. We all know that one of the best rewards of teaching is to come across a sincere, naïve and aggressive man or woman, who doesn’t buy into what we hold to be correct or believe we know well. And if that person happens to be your spouse, then all the better!

On that cold winter night in Rawalpindi, I realized that I had come across such people.

In the few moments of silence that followed, by the grace of Allah (swt), a thought came to me, which has indebted me to those simple men forever.

“You know,” I carefully picked my words, “these scientists have knowledge much greater than mine. They are experts in their fields. I can’t teach anything that is related to their area of expertise.”

I could see that they felt relieved. How can someone much younger and an outsider teach their scientists? It just didn’t make sense to them. And now I had vindicated them. They were right after all.

I looked into their eyes and said: “You know what Iteach?” I held their attention: “I teach people that if what you do today – however big or small – doesn’t impact the world a hundred years later, then doing that is plain useless. It is just a waste of time.”

I sat back.

Amazingly, their eyes glistened with understanding and smiles erupted.

“You are right. This is absolutely true.” They were in complete agreement. I had told them something that they knew all along.

“We now understand what you teach. That is something good that you are teaching. Keep it up.” Saying this and with satisfaction written all over their faces, they left me to rest. Not realizing that they had left me exactly the opposite: restless!

I thought about it for many days. I pondered and reflected, and agonized. “In my urge to make things simple,” I questioned myself, “had I lied to them or misled them?”

Then it dawned upon me that just like them, I had also known this all along my life. I had never clearly articulated it to others and, most importantly, to myself. All I needed was an innocent question from those innocent men, who had no fear of being called naïve, with no reservations and no artificial persona of ‘look we know’!

And they taught me something that I had not been able to learn through books or by my travels across the globe.

Look deep inside your heart and you will realize that you know it too: if what we do today doesn’t impact this world a hundred years down the road, then it is simply a waste of time!

Dr. Yousuf Al Qardawi writes that there are people who die before their death, while being counted amongst the living. Others, however, continue to live after their death, because they leave behind good deeds, beneficial knowledge, pious children and able students, who keep increasing their life. In the words of William Wallace, the character in the movie “Braveheart”: “Every man dies, but not every man really lives!”

Please reflect on things that you know. Seek people who will challenge you. Hear them out patiently. Cherish them. You may have some valuable knowledge that is waiting to be discovered by none other than yourself.

Keep in mind the words of Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

And my advice to you today: please dare to think!

Suleman Ahmer is the Founder and CEO of “Timelenders.”