Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 3)

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Verse 4

“Verily! Those who call you from behind the dwellings, most of them have no sense.”

This verse was revealed for the Bedouins. Understand that the life of the Bedouins in the desert is very rough and very harsh. They came to the Prophet (sa) to understand some matters of the religion. At the time, the Prophet (sa) was inside his private chambers. Instead of exhibiting patience, they started to call him out from outside. This verse is admonishing them for their impatience. Note it gives no excuse for their behaviour. It simply says that they “have no sense”. As Muslims, we are obliged to behave responsibly and conduct ourselves as individuals who use their intellect, not as those who have no sense.

Verse 5

“And if they had patience till you could come out to them, it would have been better for them. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

One can imagine that the Bedouins, for whom the previous verse was revealed, must have felt terrible that a verse came directly to admonish them. Allah (swt) is comforting them here. He mentions that He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. If the aforementioned acts of impatience were done out of ignorance, He will forgive. However, now that the warning and the solution is clear, one must not fall prey to impatience. The solution is to repent for previous behaviour and reform one’s ways to ensure one is patient and respectful towards the Prophet (sa).

Verse 6

“O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done.”

Consider whom this verse is addressing: “O you who believe” or the believers. Essentially, this means that the instructions that follow are for the believers. Whoever follows these commands will be considered as a believer. Question is: Believe in what? Answer: Believe in Allah (swt) and believe in the commands He has given.

Let’s analyze the verse in more detail. “…a rebellious evil person…” – who is he? The Arabic word is ‘Fasiq’. Literally, Fasiq is derived from the word Fisq, which refers to a date, whose skin is peeling off. It essentially refers to a person, who has deviated from the right path. People can be guilty of either major Fisq or minor Fisq. Those, who engage in the latter, are still considered to be believers. However, those, who do major Fisq, are not considered to be Muslims, because they have crossed all the limits set by Islam. A Fasiq can exercise Fisq in terms of behaviour (calling out to the Prophet [sa] from outside his chambers) or in terms of religion.

Now what happens if someone comes to you and brings you some news? You have to:

  • Analyze the person, who has brought the news;
  • Analyze the content of the news.

People usually go to extremes in following the two-pronged approach. They either refuse to accept any news from the disbelievers, or they accept it without question. True believers take the middle approach. If the person bringing the news is not a believer, verify it and if needed, discard it without giving it a second thought.

If a believer brings some news to you, again, you have to analyze the content. What is this news about? If the person is telling you about someone committing adultery, you immediately discard the news. This is because of the condition that whoever accuses one of adultery has to bring four witnesses, and if this testimony proves to be false, the person bringing the news will be lashed 80 times. Moreover, this individual’s testimony will not be accepted ever again and he will be termed as a Fasiq.

The word used for news in the verse is Naba. Naba refers to major news that has a great impact. Such is the impact of the news that it can affect one’s hearts and one’s relations with others. This is why verification of this news is extremely important, before acting upon it. If one acts upon the news without verification, one falls in the category of being judgemental. One’s attitude towards the other person starts changing. This takes root, until the two people concerned part ways totally.

What are the specific types of news that you do need to verify?

  • News that concerns you directly. If something does not concern you, it doesn’t bother or affect you. Hence, you can easily dismiss it.
  • News that affects you. This type of news creates doubt in your heart about someone close to you. You have to verify that this news is true, before you act upon it. Consider an example: your friend tells you she saw your husband with a lady at a mall at 11:00 pm. When your husband comes home, you will, of course, ask him about it. Suppose he replies he has no idea what you are talking about. He has arrived straight home from a long meeting. You accept this and leave the rest to Allah (swt). Maybe your friend saw someone else. Maybe she did this on purpose to create a rift in your house.

Note: You have to verify with a clean heart and clear intention. What would happen if, in the above example, you start accusing your husband the minute he sets foot inside the house, without giving him a chance to explain? What if you would start checking his cell phone, when he is not around? If you do this, then it simply indicates that you totally believe what your friend said. Since you believe without verifying, Allah (swt) will make your doubts seem as reality. Remember that incorrect ways of verification lead to more doubts. Your heart should not take any sides without verification.

The wisdom behind verification is to ensure you do not end up harming anyone emotionally, out of ignorance. Harming emotionally means backbiting, giving a cold shoulder, discussing negatively with others, etc. You don’t know the true story because you heard only one side and believed it whole-heartedly. Remember that every story has two sides. If you never heard the other side, it means you judged the person whose news was communicated to you, while that poor person has no idea what is being spread about him or her. What if you would later find out that the news was false? Remorse and regret would naturally follow.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) warned us about the punishments for those, who bring news and create rift/enmity between people. It is reported from Hudhaifah (rtam) that news reached him (the Prophet (sa)) that a certain man used to tell tales. Upon this, Hudhaifah (rtam) remarked: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (sa) saying: ‘The tale-bearer shall not enter Paradise.’” (Muslim)

Don’t make it your job to spread people’s news. Refrain from gossiping. Vain talk about people creates enmity and hatred. Some people do this in relation to scholars. They ask one Sheikh about a matter, and then they go to another and ask the same question. Then they quote the first Sheikh to the second one and thus create differences between them.

A very important aspect of spreading information is forwarding emails. Do you verify the content of emails before forwarding them? Are you especially careful with anecdotes and incidents from Islamic history that are written without any references? This is how this verse applies today, when there are Blackberries and Iphones in almost every hand.

Another key point is that you yourself have to be careful. Don’t put yourself in a situation, in which others get a chance to judge you. Consider the following Hadeeth:

Narrated by Ali bin Al-Husain (rtam): Safiya (rtaf), the wife of the Prophet (sa), told me that she went to Allah’s Apostle (sa) to visit him in the Masjid, while he was in Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan. She had a talk with him for a while. Then she got up in order to return home. The Prophet (sa) accompanied her. When they reached the gate of the Masjid, opposite the door of Umm Salamah (rtaf), two Ansari men were passing by and they greeted Allah’s Apostle (sa). He told them: “Do not run away!” And said: “She is (my wife) Safiya bint Huyai.” Both of them said: “Subhan’Allah! (How dare we think of any evil), O Allah’s Apostle?” And they felt it. The Prophet (sa) said (to them): “Satan reaches everywhere in the human body, as blood reaches in it (everywhere in one’s body). I was afraid lest Satan might insert an evil thought in your minds.” (Bukhari)

As we can gauge from the aforementioned Hadeeth, it is better to clarify before you are questioned.

Feed Your Heart in Ramadan – A Beautiful Reminder

 

heart-purification                                                   Image Courtesy www.ramadan.co.uk

 

Many Muslims approach Ramadan very much like they do in previous years. They slip into similar habits and routines, and their ibadah from one Ramadan to the next is predictable. They may have the same taraweeh schedules, read similar quantities of Quran, or perform similar types of ibadah. And they end up coming out of Ramadan very much like they did the year before.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The example of hypocrisy in it (the heart) is like an ulcer that thrives on blood and pus.” (Ahmad)

You might be wondering what that even means; the end of the hadith explains it, and specifically in Ramadan we can see how it benefits us.

The Prophet (sa) further said: “Whichever one of the two (faith or hypocrisy) is getting more, whichever one of the two has the upper hand; the heart will follow suits; the heart will be overcome by that.” (Ahmad)

What does that mean? What you feed your hearts is supposed to directly impact whether or not your heart will be that of a Mumin or a Munafiq; a believer or a hypocrite. When you go to rehabilitation it’s about quitting things, and so if I am going to Taraweeh every night but while I am at home I have the TV on and I am still spending the same amount of time on internet and I am still talking about the same types of things to people and I am hanging out with the same group of people who are polluting and corrupting my heart then I am feeding the plants or I am feeding the ulcer? You are feeding the ulcer and the Prophet (sa) taught us to feed the plants specially in Ramadan. You are cutting out all these things which feed the ulcer. This is the meaning of the Hadeeth and Rasulullah (sa) said: “Whoever does not abandon idol speech, foolishness and backbiting (and the flaws of the tongue), Allah has no need of him abandoning his food and his desire; Allah does not want all that.”

Your heart has to fast as well; your limbs have to fast as well; so what are you feeding your heart in Ramadan? If you are feeding the Quran and you are feeding the Dhikr of Allah (swt), you are feeding the good material, listening to beneficial things for the entire month, throughout the month the plant in your heart is growing, your Iman is growing because you are feeding it with the pure water and sustaining it with pure water.

Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi said: “If you find the darkness in your hearts after you commit a sin then that means you still have light in your heart”; because if there was no light in the heart you would not have felt the darkness, (think about it, it is profound). If you still feel bad and uncomfortable in Ramadan when the stuff is going on and outside of the Ramadan as well, you still feel bad, you still have the guilty conscious; this means there is still Noor in your heart; there is some form of light in your heart.

The great scholar from the 9th century Than-Noon Al-Masri said: “Just as a sick body cannot enjoy fine food, a sick heart cannot enjoy worshipping Allah.” So if you are feeding that ulcer and you go to Taraweeh later, what’s going to happen? It’s not going to do anything. The great lecture and everything that you are hearing is not going to work because you have been feeding an ulcer for nine hours; now you are just trying to feed this plant for an hour a day; the plant will die.

So use Ramadan in particular to bring in the right things into your home and into your heart; surround yourself with things that will feed that plant; that will nourish that plant of Iman inside your heart.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi

 

In my heart- Forever and Always By!

father-daughter-holding-hands-web

When I was just a baby,
you sang me your melodious lullaby.
From dusk to dawn you worked in an office,
I was taken care of by Mum and Sis.
As hours passed by…. I became a carefree child,
But, despite my obnoxious demeanour, you were always mild.
You walked me to school each day,
“Don’t leave me father”- with tears I would say.
Bringing me toffees and toys – indifferent to the cost,
listening to my unbearable sulks and taunts.
You were revelry to my heart,
Told me enchanting stories about Prophet Nuh and his ark.
Time flew, once again;
Over the years you were seen with a crooked cane.
You became subtle and old,
a face full of wrinkles and folds.
You became grumpy and cold,
“I don’t want to live”, I was told.
I remembered the times when I would catch a cold;
You’d tell me it came in return of a righteous deed sold.
I repaid your benevolence and love,
With responsibility and affectionate words.
Fulfilled my duties, household chores-
Aiding you while you trotted on the glossy floor.
As days resumed, the moments came near…
When you would become persistent with fear.
The sparkle in your eyes subsided, disappeared-
Before your death, you spoke a few words-
Whispering in my ear, vivid and clear.
“Always remain empathic to commence a noble deed.
These words are golden, so pay heed.
Discover you potential and ingenuity,
Never let hampers defeat your simplicity.
Stay away from decadence and profanities;
Don’t let conceit and aversion weave.
Death is an inevitable phase,
a numerous predicaments you will face.
Have determination and inspiration to dream,
Faith and trust, a strong belief.
Pray for me, as I’ve always prayed for you;
It’s a matter of servitude, ending soon.
Now it’s time to say adieu and good-bye…
But in my heart you’ll stay-
Forever and always by.”

Good, better, best- Never let your Taqwa rest

Vol 2-Issue2 Manners of reading QuranTaqwa to the believer is to know that Allah (swt) is watching over you throughout your life. Whatever you speak, whatever you do is all monitored by Allah (swt). Allah (swt) mentions Taqwa in the Quran nearly two hundred times, because He is emphasizing strongly on the concept of His fear.

TAQWA- True And Quality Worship for Allah (swt)

Taqwa makes our acts of worship meaningful. For instance, alone just the physical act of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa, while performing Hajj or Umrah, will gain no importance in the eyes of Allah (swt). Similarly, have we ever pondered what will be the actions of Salat, such as bowing and prostration mean without a heart containing Taqwa? What makes our thirst and hunger different from a disbeliever, during Ramadan? The answer to all these questions is Taqwa.

It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provides these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah (swt). It is mentioned, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad (sa)) to the Muhsinun (doers of good). (Al-Hajj 22:37)

Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.” Let us ensure that our acts of worship and our hearts are beautified with feeling of Taqwa.

What is Taqwa?

As per the scholars, the definition of Taqwa is:

Abu Darr said: “From the completion of Taqwa is that the servant fears from His Lord even with regard to things, the weight of an atom.”

Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi says: “The word ‘Muttaqoon’ is the plural of ‘Muttaqi’. ‘Muttaqi’ is the gerund from the verb ‘Ittaqa’ (acquired protection). ‘Ittaqa’ is from the root verb ‘Waqa’ which means he protected himself from that which harms him.”

One of the more complete definitions and explanations was provided by Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is Wajib (obligatory) or Mustahab (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is Haram (forbidden) or Makrooh (disliked).” (Reference 1)

Abu Darr was once asked, “What is that you love most in this life? He replied, “I love sickness, hunger and death. He was asked the reason and he said, “If I get sick, my sins fall off; And, if I get hungry, my heart becomes closer to Allah (swt), And if I die I meet my Creator”. This is level of Allah’s (swt) fear.

Where do you stand on the graph of  Taqwa and guidance of Allah (swt)?

There are three types of people mentioned in the Quran, in the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqarah.

The first group: In the first few verses 2 – 5, Allah (swt) clearly explains that the Quran is guidance for Al – Muttaqoon- the people who have Taqwa in their hearts, and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:

  1. Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah (swt), angels, the holy books that Allah (swt) revealed but got changed with time, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)
  2. Perform Salat.
  3. Spend for Allah’s (swt) cause from what Allah (swt) has provided to them.
  4. Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sa).
  1. Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to the Prophets before Muhammad (sa).
  2. Believe in hereafter.

The second group: The second group falls on the other end of the spectrum- as mentioned in verses 6 and 7- and are the disbelievers. In explaining these verses, Allah (swt) says that these people have a seal on their hearts and ears, as well as, a covering on their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.

The third group: Finally, the third group is from verse 6 to verse 18.

Regarding these people, the Quran says, Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (sa ) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.” (Al-Baqarah 2:6)

Some of the attributes that Allah (swt) points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:

1. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!”

2. “In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies.

3. Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doings to wander blindly.

4. When Allah (swt) tells them to believe by modeling themselves according to the Prophet and the true believers, they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” Allah (swt) then responds by saying that, “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”

5. And when they meet those who believe, they say: “We believe,” but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils – polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: “Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.”

6. Allah (swt) remarks about these people, “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”

These groups were reminded in order that we should check our intentions and thoughts. These verses should be enough to create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (Al – Muttaqoon: the ones fearful of Allah (swt)). Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) reveal that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2)

Taqwa can be inculcated in our hearts by taking a few steps.

A believer should realise the fact that Allah (swt) has the biggest right after saying:
“La Ilaha Illa Allah”, Allah (swt) right becomes mandatory.

Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s (swt) right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah (swt) and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s (swt) grace and mercy. It is Allah’s (swt) right that He should be obeyed and not disobeyed: that He should be remembered and not forgotten; and that He should be appreciated and not unappreciated . . . Many people think about their rights over Allah (swt) and do not know about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah (swt) and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves.” (Ighathatul Lahfaan)

Time and again we should check the status of our hearts- whether we have the required devotion and fear of Allah (swt)? Or, do we have remnant of hardness and carefree attitude about Allah (swt) and His teachings.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (tomorrow), and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do” (Al-Hashr 59:18)

Ibn Kathir says that the phrase ‘let each soul see’ or “let every person look” in the above verse means to take an account of one’s own actions before being audited (by Allah (swt)) (Tafseer Ibn Kathir).

Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before doing the audit of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”

Taqwa reflection in every action

After inculcating Taqwa in the heart, actions should instill the element of piety, Allah’s (swt) consciousness, humbleness, righteousness. We have inspiring examples of Sahaba and Salafs, whose deeds manifested their hearts. Ibn omar used to stay awake the whole night, so that he does not miss a prayer in congregation, since the reward for praying in congregation is more rather than praying alone. Hence, through the Taqwa in the heart every difficult act becomes easy.  As per Imam Ghazali- our Nafs should not deviate, as it is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din).

About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people” (Tirmidhi)

Remembering our final resort – death

We should remind ourselves about death and our meeting with Allah (swt), in order to retain Taqwa in our hearts. We should become ardent learners of what Allah (swt) like and dislikes, and mould our lives accordingly. This is because the life of this world has to come to an end, and we should take it seriously. With this thought in our mind, Taqwa can never leave our hearts.

What the heart says…

Mend a broken heart

My heart is dead. My heart is rotten.

Oh, I gave too much time to this world, my Allah (swt) I have forgotten.

I tried to squeeze out happiness from this Dunya, but all I ended up with, is a broken heart.

Oh my heart is dead. Yes, it is rotten.

It’s filled with diseases… that overcame its beauty.

I feel it shrinking as it is becoming a black deep hole.

Yes, my heart I’m describing, you may call me crazy.

But, you’re not aware of a miracle- quite exemplary!

There is a vitamin for a heart that has lost its beauty.

Oh heart… Are you okay? What caused you this misery?

The heart replied in awe. Your sins oh man! Your sins oh son of Adam!

They’re darker than the night. They’re much poisonous than venom.

And the heap you bring in me, Wallahi, I am buried;

Buried in your sins way deep down.

You lied, you backbit, you disobeyed, you envied.

You hated, didn’t love. You danced, didn’t pray.

You listened to music. Wallahi, that destroyed me!

You talked to Na-Mehrem, that made me blind;

there stood a wall in me that would decline any light.

You had no modesty. Your gazes weren’t down.

Your anger was like fire, it burnt all peace in me.

You were disrespectful to your parents. Believe me, that’s when I was doomed!

You spoke ill of others, encouraged their sins. You were selfish and greedy.

You sat in front of that big screen all day. That misshaped me, misguided me, and misplaced me.

You kept earning Haram. You kept eating Haram. How could that ever enlighten me?

You counted your money and restrained from charity.

You thought “money” could bring you happiness only!

You deceived your Lord and no light could ever reach me!

Darkness creeped in till I shrank into a black deep hole.

Oh son of Adam, you’re really such a fool!

You move around with a dead heart, thinking you’re too cool.

Now that you know what caused me to die. Perhaps, I shall tell you, how to make me alive.

Yes it is actually possible! This black deep hole could become an enlightening lantern.

Just keep listening carefully. It’s not at all hard I tell you.

One simple ingredient I long for. One vitamin that has the cure.

Oh son of Adam, “Verily, in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

I beg you, I do… Just remember Allah (swt)!

Dhikr is the key, the antibiotic to my disease.

Take a doze everyday. Start slow and it will guide you to eternal peace!

Keep your hands busy in worldly necessities. And your heart busy in the Dhikr of Allah (swt).

Believe me, I’ll become a brand new heart.

The darkness will disappear, the holes will fill up, the bruises will heal, I will size-up!

Just remember your Lord, praise Him, love Him. Obey Him, fear Him. Make Him yours!

Because, even after, all the darkness you brought in me, He always loved you. He kept an eye on you in patience, that you shall one day remember Him.

Just ask for forgiveness one single time, and He will forgive you without any complains.

He will make the darkness disappear from me, and light me up in a way you can’t believe.

And trust me, that when I’m healed- you will heal. No power could destroy you, no darkness could reach you, nce you have a healed me.

And if you shall leave me dead again- just crawl back to Him, remember Him.And He shall guide you.

Top three lessons in Surah Al-Fatihah

fatihaSurah Al-Fatihah, also known as the opening of the Quran- is a short Surah, and yet so important that a prayer without it is deemed invalid. Even in this short Surah of seven verses, some important lessons have been highlighted. Below are the top three lessons that can be obtained from this first Surah of the Quran.

Lesson 1: An Introduction to the Rabb

Following are the verses 1-6 of Surah Al-Fatihah

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

2. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). 

3. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

4. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)

5. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).

In the first two verses, Allah (swt) gives an introduction about Himself. When one reads this Surah, he acknowledges Allah’s (swt) infinite mercy; and then, praises Him by recognizing that He, Allah (swt) is the universal Master- the Master of the whole world. He has not just created everything in it, but He continues to provide His creation in order to attain a meaningful life. He has not abandoned His creation without any intervention. Over all His creation, he is an ever- living authority.

In the third verse, two attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned. These two attributes encompass all the aspects of compassion and mercy between Allah (swt) and His servants. Therefore, a servant must never be hopeless about Allah’s (swt) mercy and should always turn to Allah (swt) for help and repentance.

In the fourth verse, a very fundamental principle is mentioned based on which our lives are significantly influenced i.e. belief in the Hereafter. This gives man the hope that if he is weak on earth and is suppressed by people, he will be given justice and the suppressor too will be punished because of his oppression. Based on this belief, one restrains himself from doing evil acts. He performs righteous acts hoping for its reward from Allah (swt).

In the next verse, man accepts that he has submitted to Allah (swt). He worships Him alone without associating any partner with Him; and when he needs any help, he turns to Allah (swt) for it. Turning to Allah (swt) for help protects the man from facing the abuse, and a feeling of dependency that he could face if he turns to people begging for help. Allah (swt) has the power over everything; hence a man must turn to Him for assistance.

Lesson 2: Asking for the Straight Path

Guide us to the Straight Way.” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)

In this verse, one asks Allah (swt) for His guidance towards the straight path. A person cannot be guided- unless Allah (swt) wills; and no one can be led astray- unless Allah (swt) wills.

Nawwas bin Sam’an Al-Kilabi said:”I heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) say: ‘There is no heart that is not between two of the fingers of the Most Merciful. If He wills, He guides it and if He wills, He sends it astray.’ The Messenger of Allah (swt) used to say: ‘O You Who makes hearts steadfast make our hearts steadfast in adhering to Your religion.’ And he said: ‘The scale is in the Hand of the Most Merciful; He will cause some people to rise and others to fall until the day of Resurrection.'” (Ibn Majah; authentic)

The guided person finds happiness and contentment is this world, as well as, in the Hereafter. He has a broader vision as he believes that his life is not limited to this world, but another life awaits him.

Lesson 3: The path of the righteous people

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)

In the last part of this Surah, one pleads Allah (swt) to help him follow the path which the righteous people followed- the path which led them to ultimate success and salvation, the path with which they attained the pleasure of Allah (swt). Just after that, one also asks Allah (swt) to protect him from following the way of those who attained the wrath of Allah (swt), and those who were misguided.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path and make us among those whom He loves. May Allah (swt) protect us from the evil whispers of Shaytan, and give us the strength and courage to hold n to the principles of Islam firmly. Ameen.

[Part 1] Repent Now – He (swt) is Waiting!

uturn“But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Maidah 5:39)

Allah (swt) has sent us all on this earth to worship Him only. This life is momentary and full of trials and adversities. We are given a method to live this life but as humans, we are likely to make mistakes along the way. There will be daily encounters with the Shaytan. We have to make choices every now and then in this temporary life.

Repent in good and bad times

Life is a continuous struggle. We fall and we get up again but the struggle continues till our last breath. Allah (swt) tests us every day through blessings and through trials. A Muslim is patient when he is going through a trial, and in times of blessings, he is grateful to Allah (swt). Thus, a Muslim is in a state of either Sabr (patience) or Shukr (gratefulness).

When we face difficulties in life, we are worried and often repent. We ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness and pray more. But as soon as the tough period is over, we gradually lose contact with our Lord (swt) and get busy in our worldly matters. Some people need a few such incidents to make sincere Taubah; but for others, a whole lifetime is not enough, as they forget their Master (swt) and continue to commit sins.

Sins may be huge but they are not greater than Allah’s (swt) mercy

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) created the creation, He wrote in His Book. He wrote (that) about Himself, and it is placed with Him on the Throne: Verily My mercy overcomes My anger.” (Bukhari)

People often think that their sins are huge, but they do not realize the enormity of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. He waits patiently for His people to turn to Him in repentance: “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise).” (At-Tahrim 66:8)   

Often, when a Muslim’s faith becomes weak, he may be overwhelmed by his desires. Shaitan makes the forbidden attractive to him, so he wrongs himself and commits sins. Allah (swt) accepts the repentance of anyone who repents sincerely after doing wrong as He (swt) is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful.

Repent from your heart

Repentance does not mean to utter certain words without thinking. A Muslim should repent honestly from his heart, realizing his wrongdoings, regretting his sins, and offering a sincere apology and promise to his Lord (swt) not to repeat the ill actions.

Repent before death

The doors of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness remain open until a Muslim faces his death. Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran:

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now I repent;’ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) extends His hand at night to forgive those who sinned during that day, and He extends His hand during the day to forgive those who sinned during the night. This will continue to be the case until the sun rises from the west.” (Muslim)

We may get tired of repenting but Allah (swt) never tires of forgiving

We may get tired of committing sins, but He never gets tired of forgiving His slaves. Allah (swt) loves the repentance of His slaves and expresses joy over it. The Prophet (sa) said: “When a person repents, Allah (swt) rejoices more than any one of you would rejoice after finding a camel you had lost in the desert.” (Bukhari)

Taubah: Long Over Due

erasingmistakeRamadan is  a month filled with blessings from Allah (swt). Once this blessed month arrives, one realizes its importance. We are in need for spiritual rejuvenation and revival of  the heart with constant remembrance of Allah (swt). But why?

Because  little does our heart fear Allah’s (swt) wrath and little do we hope for Allah’s (swt) mercy upon us. We have a heart that doesn’t shed tears for the sake of Allah (swt) and that doesn’t yearn to meet its Creator.

Fast to heal your heart!

Why do we feel so numb when Allah’s (swt) words are recited to us or we read them. While secretly we long for tears or some expression of joy only to find ourselves unmoved by the Divine Discourse? Why? Why? Why? The answer lies in the verse of the Quran that mentions this purpose of fasting in Ramadan:

“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

We hear this verse over and over again; but in all honesty, for many of us it has lost its meaning. Ramadan comes and goes, but nothing changes. We are still inclined towards sins, still mindful of what the world thinks of us but not mindful of Allah’s (swt) commands.

Just imagine- if we were to become of the Al-Muttaqun after this Ramadan, how different we would be? Taqwa has many meanings: one of which is God Consciousness. To always know that Allah (swt) is Ever-Present and we are accountable for all our deeds. If we would always remember that Allah (swt) is watching us, how different would are actions be? Our priorities would change and sins would become disgusting and vulgar to us, as they deserve to be. But sadly, the fact is that sins are not disgusting to us anymore.

Flaunt or not?

Is it not true? We may openly talk about our sins and may flaunt them like they are accolades of the highest degree. Look at me! I am so bold. Where is this boldness when it comes to worshipping Allah (swt)? When it comes to spreading the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah? We feel shy and ashamed when it comes to doing what is right. We lose all vigour to please Allah (swt) like it’s the most tedious task in the world. Our heart doesn’t even want to consider the right choices; because it is afraid of those difficulties that lie ahead.

It is true that in this time and age, wrong doing has been made easy and attractive to us with slogans like “Flaunt it; if you got it!” and “Gotta have it!” We find ourselves swept in the whirlwind of human desires; where because of the lack of God consciousness, we are easily tempted to follow suit. So much talk of wrong doing and evil makes one’s headspin.

Is there any hope/solution?

Alhumdulillah yes! In Islam Allah (swt) gives us the best solutions to our problems.

While the world may not be willing to forgive our faults, our mistakes, Allah(swt) is Ghafoor-ur-Raheem (Most Forgiving ,Most Merciful) He not only forgives us, but is more than willing to forget; but only if we make true Taubah to him.

The moment is now. In these quiet and serene Ramadan days, let’s truly spend time analyzing ourselves and asking, “What sins have I done?

Gates wide open for repentance!

The kind of the Taubah that has been so encouraged in this month. While the devils are chained; let’s take a moment to contemplate:

While we were so busy pleasing our Nafs and being Shaytan’s partner in crime. What did we gain? It’s not a rocket science. We are weighed down by our sins; sins that we have been accumulating all year round. As a result, our hearts are numb up on the mention of Allah (swt) and we can’t motivate ourselves to do good deeds. We don’t fear Him like we should; in fact some of us satisfy ourselves saying: “Allah (swt) samajh jaeyga.” (Allah (swt) will understand)

The moment is now. In these quiet and serene Ramadan days, let’s truly spend time analyzing ourselves and asking, “What sins have I done?” In fact, make a list of all the bad things you can think of. It may be long before you can stop writing. Or maybe, you can’t even remember the many times you have repeated the same sin in different situations. Make sincere Taubah for each sin you remember and even for the ones you can’t. Ramadan in a golden opportunity for forgiveness:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and hope for reward, his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)

All that is required is to sincerely repent and pray to Allah (swt) for forgiveness. Truly Ramadan is such a blessed month. Let’s do the Taubah that is long overdue. Taubah that can help us finally be excited about doing good deeds; no matter how small they are. Taubah that makes us increase our sense of accountability in the court of Allah (swt) so that even when we slightly err, we do Taubah fearing Allah’s (swt) anger.

May Allah (swt) give us Taufiq to sincerely repent to Him and never go back to doing those wretched bad deeds ever again. Ameen.

Let the Quran do the Miracle

Park-Bench-SA-087-Last month, her life turned into a complete mess. Sitting on a bench in a park, she went into reminiscence of her past; she was a happy girl, leading a happy, prosperous life. She had a beautiful family comprising of her loving parents and siblings; a home, a good job with a successful career and many good friends. One day, while coming back from a family picnic, her car got into a terrible accident. Her parents and siblings died on the spot, while she got badly injured and lost her arm that made her handicapped. Due to her incapacitation, she was fired from her job; moreover, to pay for her medical expenses, she had to sell her house and move into her aunt’s home.

“Life has treated me cruelly!” she thought, while sitting on the bench, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. She felt worthless and purposeless, and found no reason to live anymore. She’d even tried committing suicide, but that too failed. The ghastly circumstances she’d seen in the last one month had made her miserable and depressed; all she wanted was some peace.
Some days later, she started working at a place, which accommodated people with disabilities. Since she was a hardworking and talented woman, she was able to buy a house soon with her earnings. She got a little stable with a decent job; yet, she did not get the peace and satisfaction that her heart yearned for.

She decided to get involved in various activities to divert her mind, hoping to get over her depression and emptiness in her heart. She started clubbing and partying, regularly attended social gatherings and visited friends. That company made her feel better, but she still did not get the peace she longed for.

Then, she joined a musical band and started listening to songs frequently on a friend’s advice, who told her that music is food for the soul; hence, it’d give her peace. She gave it a try and it felt good for some time, but then again, she felt that music gave her nothing but headache.
Afterwards, she decided to get into shopping spree; she’d spend all her time roaming in the markets. She made herself aware of the latest brands as well as the trends in fashion and shopped accordingly, stuffing her wardrobe with branded dresses, bags, shoes, jewellery and makeup. Consequently, spending all her time shopping made her forget about the sadness in her life; but, after about a week, all that felt useless. Her wardrobe, bloating with branded stuff, could not give her peace of mind and heart. It could not fill the emptiness in her heart.

Then, she started watching movies all the time. She got so absorbed in them that she’d forget all her worries; however, as soon as the movie was over, she’d start feeling restless and depressed again.

After that, she took up another job to keep herself as busy as possible, hoping it would help her get over her depression; but it was not much of a help either.

Next, she decided to go on a world tour. She had gathered enough money from her jobs, so she made a list of all the countries that she wanted to visit. Excited about the tour, she thought that it would certainly give her contentment, as she had wanted to have that tour since forever. So, she visited all the countries one by one, but to her disappointment, it couldn’t give her peace and satisfaction; her heart still felt vacant and peace less.

Her depression was gradually increasing; she even went on medication, but it did little good.Then, she got into drugs, expecting to get relief from her depression. But, it made the situation even worse! She had tried one thing after the other, but all in vain. All she wanted was peace and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul.

Then one day, she decided to visit an old friend, not knowing how this visit would change her entire life. Just as she entered her home, she heard something that captured her attention at once. It was somebody reciting the Quran. She stood there still, unable to take any step further, and listened to the words of the Quran – it was so beautiful and pleasing that it touched her heart, and she could feel the warmth of tears on her cheeks. She left the house that very moment, and felt ashamed realizing how long had it been since she had last read the Quran. All these years, she had been neglecting the Book sent by the One, Who created her!

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

She went home immediately, opened a cabinet that had not been opened since ages, and took out the Holy Quran, which was covered with dust. She wiped off the dust with trembling hands and watery eyes, her heart heavy with sheer embarrassment. She quickly performed ablution and sat down with the Quran in her hand. She randomly opened a page in the Quran, and the first Ayah on the page that caught her eyes was,

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find peace.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Reading this, she could not stop crying. It was as if these words were written exactly for her. All her life, she had been trying to find peace through materialistic desires, and that was the moment she felt utmost peace. In her flight for the search for peace and satisfaction, how beautifully Allah (swt) had landed her on the amazing Ayah!

She started reciting the Quran along with translation, and started obeying all of Allah’s (swt) commands in the Quran; it gave her so much peace and gratification that she could have never imagined to have. It felt as if the emptiness in her heart had finally been filled. She found contentment and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul that she had been longing for since a very long time.

Through the Quran, she realized that the death of her family, loss of job and all the other calamities were trials for her; challenges through which Allah (swt) tests His people, so that they bear patience on them and He raises their standards. The calamities and hardships of life are nothing but a blessing for us, which washes away our sins.

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

Come back to where you belong!

3cloud_heartIt is beautiful. A glimpse of what Jannah may look like. Just a glimpse! First, the allure of Dunya captures your mind and then slowly your heart. Makes you believe in its beauty, the exuberance, and makes you believe that this is the moment, this is what’s going to stay with you, forever. The way it draws your attention, the way it makes you fall for it, and the way it falsifies each and every bit of its being, is surprisingly impressive.

Blind-folded by the illusion of love

So it captures your heart. And now your heart belongs to it. Whatever you think, perceive and do is in line with how this Dunya and the people in it are going to take it. So while you’re dressing up for an event, you’re looking in the mirror through their eyes. When you’re at the event, you make sure that each and every act of yours doesn’t ruin your image that you look good, beautiful and stunning. So maybe you can beat it with everything you have. But who beats its trumpery and the façade it owns? It knows how to make you believe in it after all.

Dunya owns your heart

Why is your heart’s sulking? Because this Dunya owns your mind and depletes your self-control. As if your self has been stolen from you. As if you don’t belong to yourself anymore. But were you created for this Dunya? You forget that you were not created for this Dunya. You were sent down here for a purpose, but you don’t belong here! It’s a journey back home. Yet, you cling to this place, which was meant to be a mere journey. The feeling of scarcity eats you from within, and you want to escape. But you forget that scarcity produces more scarcity. And it creates its own trap.

Dunya is a deceptive truth

It’s right there; but it’s just a deception, a dream. But the harsh reality is that you believe in the dream, while your eyes closed. You can’t seem to believe that one day you’re going to open your eyes and this dream would be over. And you’ll open your eyes when your deeds will be weighed.

“And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners.” (Al-Anbiya 21:47)

No soul in this Dunya will get help. You tried to please people, yet they’re not even going to recognize you. You tried to convince them, yet they won’t be able to convince The Master. If only you could try convincing your Master and not the slaves!

Break the shackles! Tear your heart! And take out whatever has bruised your heart! Come back to where you belong. And seek what’s going to heal and fill that hole in your heart, in its true sense. Fill your heart with the love of your Merciful Creator, Allah (swt).

Struggle All the Way to Jannah

steppingstonesA believer’s faith in the meta-physical aspects of Islam: Iman, is not something that is in a constant state, but is in a constant state of flux. Every Muslim experiences highs and lows of Iman, and often at times these highs of Iman empowers a believer to make some life changing decisions. Similar is the case with a young Muslim girl, when she decides to start taking Hijab, and guard her modesty for the sake of Allah (swt). Slowly and gradually, the way she dresses up, the friends she hangs out with, the way she thinks and responds to things around her, everything changes, and Hijab becomes an essential part of her personality. But with this comes an extra responsibility. And some extra struggle.

So when she goes to a wedding (a typical Desi wedding), people stare at her or some aunties constantly give her smiles, as if she really needs it to feel comfortable in the crowd.  Ironically, it actually does the opposite; but she struggles.

When her mother wants her to loosen the scarf a bit, so that the flashy and glamorous neckline of her dress is visible; when she can see that her mother is a little uncomfortable with the piece on her head, and that she wants her daughter to look beautiful (according to what our society defines it), she struggles.

And when somebody asks her the reason for doing Hijab, and says: “But you are so beautiful.” Her heart sinks, not because she understands their point but because they don’t understand hers. And she struggles. She struggles within the boundaries of her heart.

When we have the right to look glamorous for the society, why don’t we have the right to guard our modesty for the sake of Allah (swt)? Suddenly, people give you a suspicious look, as if there’s been something wrong in your life, may be a tragedy, which made you take the decision. Parents think that there’s something wrong with their daughter and that she needs to comply with the society norms. Taking Hijab becomes something “abnormal” and the girl becomes an “extremist”. “She just needs to be normal!” So Hijab is for the ones who’re not really a part of the society. “They are different. They are not like us. We are not like them.” And this is something that is said by a mother, or father, or a friend, of a Muslim family.

How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam?

In this materialistic world, where glamour is everything; a few hits on a profile picture or a few flattering comments about how beautiful you look, defines your worth and at times your dignity. It is indeed difficult to stick to your decision. And I don’t think it’s wrong to have these feelings. It’s human, perfectly human to fall. But how you strive and fight against your Nafs to rise up again (for the sake of Allah (swt)), is what defines your worth and you as a true submitter to Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) doesn’t want us to have an empty heart, cold and indifferent; He tests us by observing as to how we deal with everything inside it. Iman, love, and faith (Aqeeda) rest in the heart and so do hatred, jealousy and doubts. The point is not to clear your heart, but to beautify it with what is good for it, according to the Master who owns it.

How to deal with criticism

How do I deal with it? How do I answer them back? How do I tell them that this is not for anyone who wants to see me all dolled up, to please their eyes? But do I really need to give these explanations to feel good about it? Well, this has already been addressed in the Quran, to answer this restlessness.

“The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?” (Quran 6:32)

Beautiful! He knows. He knows what you’re going through. And it was actually “meant” to be this way. So she struggles. But now we know, the struggles are indeed blessings. He repeats “Do you not understand?” Actually she missed the point. How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam?  He is providing her with some bonus points to reach Jannah. By practicing patience, by being even extra polite to her mother and the aunties, by holding back her tears when she is alienated in a gathering, and by having complete faith in Him, and only Him. Her struggle would pay immense rewards Insha’Allah

Remember, “Isn’t Allah enough for His servants?” (Az-Zumar)

[Hadeeth Commentary] Practical Ways to Forbid Evil

hadeeth4

Related on the authority of Abu Saeed al-Khudri that the Prophet (sa) said: “When any one of you sees anything that is disapproved (of by Allah (swt)), let him change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue; still if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his heart, though that is the weakest (kind of) faith.” (Muslim)

hadith4.1The foremost thing we take from the Hadeeth above is that all of us have intrinsic radar to abhor what is bad. If we do not acknowledge this sensitivity of distinguishing between good/bad, beautiful/ugly, Haram/Halal as believers, we cannot follow Allah’s (swt) commands as we are not able to distinguish the acceptable from the unacceptable. It is something that we naturally reject. Regardless of our different cultures or languages, our inner self does not accept it. This is a return to our Fitrah (instinct); there are things that we are naturally disgusted by and vice versa. Unless you identify evil, you cannot stop it – in other words you cannot act on this Hadeeth. Normally we think of these two features as distinct, but they are actually concurrent and occur at the same time. Our aim in accomplishing this obligation is to maximize benefit and minimize harm.

Secondly, the Prophet (sa) talked about ‘changing’ the evil. Usually we do not act to change; we only act to make ourselves feel better. We need to approach it with this thought in mind: “What can I do to bring about a helpful, positive and constructive change?” A believer must work towards making the situation better and permanent. If the change is not possible due to your action, then you are not following the Hadeeth. However you must still dislike it in your heart; remain steadfast on your principles. For example, when you see someone drinking alcohol, you must not accept it as a good act even if you see it all around you. If you say it is normal as those drinking are non-Muslims – it is accepting and agreeing that drinking is not against our innate nature. We must still know and accept in our hearts that it is wrong and unacceptable to Allah (swt). Sinning is arrogance but Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful. When you recognize the sin in your heart, you need to move away from the situation.This is an action of the heart, saying: “O Allah (swt), there is nothing that I can do to change this bad situation that You dislike and disapprove, except that I hate it to take place. I do not agree to it. O Allah (swt) forgive me, guide me and save my heart from being influenced by it.”

hadeeth 4.2

For something to be considered Munkar (denied), there are three conditions. It is not up to you to say something is Haram.

4.3

Principles of Forbidding the Evil

1. Prioritize the evil
Begin with the higher priority before the lower.

2. Be gradual
Note the gradual method by which Allah (swt) made the drinking of wine forbidden: Firstly, He said that there were benefits and harms in it, but the harm outweighed the benefits; secondly, He forbade people to approach prayer in a drunken state; finally, it was prohibited by Him. This step-by-step method does not imply that wine was not forbidden in the early stages, but it is a methodology from which we can benefit.

3. Treat the act only
For example, when you see evil, you should not humiliate or insult the person. Hate or forbid only the sin; don’t hate or mock the person. This way you separate the person from the sin – this is good for you and good for the other person. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable; focus only on the evil. Tell him or her to consider that since Allah (swt) will not accept it, you won’t accept it either. This way you tend to free the person from the sin without rejecting him or her. Only then you will be able to communicate successfully with the person using the best of words.

4. Ascertain first
Establish that the evil is indeed taking place.

5. Choose a suitable time to forbid the evil
a. The caller should not delay until the evil has finished.
b. The caller should exploit situations in which people are more likely to respond to his call, for example, Prophet Yusuf (as) spoke to his companions in the prison about Tawheed when they had been troubled by their dreams.

6. Speak in private
If you speak in a crowd it might be considered as a scolding and thus, might serve the opposite purpose.

7. No instigation
Do not provoke the people; use a good argument.

8. Stay compassionate
Show forgiveness and kindness towards the people.

9. Weighing the principles of benefit and harm
Ibn Taymiyah wrote: “If enjoining the good and forbidding the evil would result in a greater evil, then it is Haram to do it. Enjoining good should not lead to a better deed being left out and forbidding evil should not lead to a greater evil taking place.”

The action of the heart must be practiced; the heart of a Muslim who witnesses evil is influenced by that evil. A dark spot is placed in the heart. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and so is with our hearts. With repeated exposure to evil, the heart will acquire more dark spots until it no longer appreciates good and dislikes evil. So a believer, who does not forbid evil in his heart, might turn into an evil doer himself or herself.

May Allah (swt) protect us from ourselves. Ameen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

People Most Beloved to Allah –The Mutatahireen مُتَطَهِّرِين

Purity_by_HeartDriven

Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Tasneem Vali

 “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him In repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:222)

Cleanliness and purity are encompassed in the word ‘tahir’, the root ‘ṭāhārā’ (ط ه ر) occurs 31 times in the Quran, in 11 derived forms. To understand why Allah loves the pure or those who purify themselves and as soon as they nullify their state of purification / cleanliness – they hasten to purify themselves again – we must realize what purity really means.

Learning from the example of the Sahabah, we should realize that in Islam everything is an act of worship, practised for Allah’s sake alone. Purity of our heart, spirit, soul, appearance, body and actions is also an Ibadah.

 Two types of Purification

Allah loves those who strive to purify themselves in every way.

  1. Purifying from something visible or apparent (by taking a bath, cleaning, and washing the private parts, bodies, doing Wudhu, putting on clean clothes, using perfumes, keeping their houses clean, etc.).
  2. Purifying from something not visible – hidden or abstract.(Can be achieved by upholding the five pillars of Islam, having a clean and pure thinking process, avoiding sins, making a lot of Dhikr and especially making sure the heart is pure of spiritual maladies such as anger, hatred, relying on other than Allah, fear of loss of provision, antipathy toward death, wantonness, pride, arrogance, etc)

 Visible (outer) Purification:

  • Purifying ourselves  from dirt or impurity using water (occurs after menstruation or sexual relationship with one’s spouse, after answering the call of nature).
  1. At the time of the Prophet (sa) in the desert, water was a precious commodity; yet the stress and first priority was always on purifying oneself using water.
  2. Purity is a gate to prayer; unless you are pure, your prayer will not be valid.
  3. Islam highlights cleanliness as an integral part of the Deen (way of life). Hadeeth: Abu Malik Al-Ashari (rta) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Purity is half of faith.” (Muslim)
  • Taking care of all types of cleanliness/etiquettes during eating, drinking etc., to remain clean.
  • Those who stay away from their wives when they are menstruating are also pure.

 Hidden (inner) Purification:

  • Purify ourselves from sins/mistakes that we commit.
  • Make sure we do not transgress in regards to the Rights of Allah or the Rights of Allah’s (people, animals, plants etc.) creations over us.
  • Purify of our sprit and soul, like the sicknesses in our heart (jealousy, envy, hatred, aggressiveness, anger, etc.).
  • Purify our tongue so we do not speak ill of someone, backbite or lie.
  • Purify ourselves from character flaws, bad manners.

Learning from the example of the Sahabah, we should realize that in Islam everything is an act of worship, practised for Allah’s sake alone. Purity of our heart, spirit, soul, appearance, body and actions is also an Ibadah.

Ramadan – The Buzz Word

Painting of big red heart over white background

Everywhere I see, Ramadan is the buzz word. Facebook, Twitter, email, apps and other social networks are overflowing with tips, ideas and advices on how to be productive during Ramadan.

I don’t know what more to scribble down about the upcoming month which is fast approaching.

I think it’s time we stop and ask ourselves: are we completely prepared for it, and if not, what is pending?

Cleaning, making lists, shopping, keeping out Islamic books, buying new clothes… is everything done?

What about the small piece of flesh deep inside which we call heart?

The Prophet (sa) said: “Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes good (i.e., reformed), the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoilt, the whole body gets spoilt, and that is the heart.” (Bukhari)

It’s the first place from where spiritual cleansing has to start; yet we mostly forget about it and I am not an exception.

Let’s concentrate on it as well, along with other preparations. Let’s start a battle with Shaitan and take away all that he likes from our hearts, like anger, envy, greed, jealousy, pride and all the negative qualities one can own. Let’s forgive those who have been harsh to us as well as our dear ones, cleanse our hearts and leave the matter to Allah. This is the right time. If we start now, we can be better in Ramadan as Allah has promised:

“When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up.” (Bukhari)

When our hearts are clean, it reflects on our face and actions. We learn to place complete trust in Allah. We become less interested in gossips, what others think or talk about us, and we gain strength from within to do what we feel is right and what Allah has ordained us to do.

May Allah help us all reach this Ramadan and make maximum out of it. Ameen!