What if your entire memory was erased?

memoryIt is our memories and our past that make us who we are. Every morning, we wake up as the same person. God creates us every morning again, gives us consciousness; and we have all our memories in place telling us who we are, where we live, and what is our past. The people we met, our family, our job, our memories are all the same. Thanks to Allah’s boundless beneficence, we don’t have to get used to or try to adjust to the people we see around or the house we live in, every time we wake up.

Think about it for a second; you wake up one day and your whole memory is gone. You have no idea who you are or whose house you are living in or any who are the people looking at you. Think how you would feel if you had strangers telling you ‘I am your spouse’, ‘Mom, don’t you recognize me?’ and all the details like the school you went to, the courses you took, your birth date, your friends and your family are all lost irretrievably. Surely, losing your memory like that would be a great test for you; but probably now you have a little bit more appreciation of this great blessing you have and will be more thankful for it.

“They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:32)

People usually live their lives taking their memories for granted, not even realizing that it is an amazing miracle. They are not aware of the fact that they go through a sort of resurrection after sleep and that their memories are recreated completely after sleep.

People usually live their lives taking their memories for granted, not even realizing that it is an amazing miracle. They are not aware of the fact that they go through a sort of resurrection after sleep and that their memories are recreated completely after sleep. But the truth is that God creates every cell again each time, along with every bit of memory with it.

Do you realize, how you remember your past, when you are asked about it?

All the information you’ve learned so far was turned into proteins called ‘memory molecules’ in the ribosomes. These protein molecules were turned into electric impulses and thus allowed millions of bits of information to be stored in your brain; you call that ‘your past’ and all this accumulation of data makes up your past. When you say ‘I remember’, you are retrieving that data stored in your brain. So when you are asked ‘Which school did you go to?’ You are given the relevant data about your school and only then you can answer.

If there were no such thing as a memory, what would happen? Our lives would be a mess. Since we wouldn’t even store the information we had learned in our memory, we would have to learn everything from scratch every time we needed it, just like a newborn baby.

People with short or long-term amnesia understand very clearly how difficult this can be. Those with short-term memory loss, or those who cannot remember what happened more than five minutes ago, will have to find their way home every single time. They will not remember which food upsets their stomach and they will eat it again only to fall ill once more. They will not remember the details about their loved ones, the lovely times they shared or their experiences, and this is not the worst part of it; they will be unaware of potential dangers they may face as they will be devoid of the past experiences that would give them a fair-warning to those threats.

Be grateful to Allah (swt) – memory is a great blessing

God protects people by giving them such a precious blessing called memory. God allows us humans to use our memories with a simple principle. People keep benefiting from this amazing blessing, yet most of the time, take it for granted. Memory is not crucial only for our social lives; we need it just as much in our education and careers as well. If it weren’t for our memories, we would have to learn even the simplest things like the alphabet and the multiplication tables over and over again. And we would have to learn everything we learned at school again when we started a job.

For example, a lawyer would have to go through all the laws again, a doctor would have to peruse the medical books and a physicist would have to re-learn all the laws of physics. A person who does a technical job would have to learn everything all over again, because there would be no experience and no past memory helping him in doing his job. Therefore, memory is a great blessing bestowed on us by our Almighty Lord, and we should be profoundly – and properly – grateful for it.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Maidah

pearls7Learning the Quran – a better trade!

Many people do not study Quran or learn the basics of their religion, because they measure it along worldly benefits. People say, “What will I get by studying the Quran? It cannot pay my bills.” When people put the Shariah behind their backs, it is then that they lose peace from their lives. Surrender to Allah (swt), His commands and the teachings of His Prophet (sa) and you will attain peace Insha’Allah. You will see the benefits right away and eventually you will see it was a better trade. May Allah (swt) gives us the ability to surrender to Him and His commands. Ameen.

Then, there are people who conduct debates on Quranic verses. They adopt a pick-and-choose policy in Islam. Sometimes, they would negate the Prophetic narrations and even challenge them. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above-mentioned meats), then surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Maidah 5:3)

This was one of the last verses to be revealed. The Jews present at the time of its revelation commented; if this verse was revealed to them, they would have rejoiced and celebrated that day. What is our attitude in contrast? We challenge the Quran and conduct debates on it? Nothing can be added or deleted from what the Prophet (sa) conveyed to us. The creditability of Shariah is valid till the last moment of this world.

Honouring commitments

Once again, we study the obligation of honouring our commitments, “O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations.” (Al-Maidah 5:1) We barely reach on the time that we commit for an appointment. So let’s not talk about our very important  official contracts, as it would lead to nothing but shame.

Then Allah (swt) guides us regarding how we should live with one another in a society, “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” (Al-Maidah 5:2) A person who plots evil plans cannot live in peace. Likewise, a person, who helps the evil person accomplish his evil plans, earns the burden of the sin as the person who initiated it. Why would someone want to waste his time and energy for something that can never be beneficial for him? Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice.” (Al-Maidah 5:8) Even if you have to stand against your own father or your son in justice do not back away. A Muslim cannot love anyone more than he loves Allah (swt). Therefore, nothing should stop him from abiding by what Allah (swt) has commanded.

Salah – the cleansing gift

Many of us treat Salah as a burden; forgetting that it was actually given as a gift to the Prophet (sa). And because we consider it as a burden, our attitude towards Salah is that of laziness. We delay it to the last possible time, and when we get up, we are least particular about our clothes or purity. Standing in Salah is equivalent to standing before Allah (swt). If one knows he is going to have a meeting with Allah (swt), how should his dress be like and what should be his state of cleanliness? Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles.” (Al-Maidah 5:6)

The Prophet (sa) informed us that every time a person performs ablution, his sins are wiped off. If we consciously remember this statement each time we perform Wudhu, would we rush through it? Bilal’s (ra) footsteps were heard in Paradise because he used to perform fresh ablution for each Salah, and also offer two Rakats of ablution before the Salah.

Not only does a person who performs his ablution correctly, feels contentment and cleanliness; but Shaytan too stays away from a person who is in a state of purity. May Allah (swt) help us understand how high the level of ablution is in His Sight. Ameen.

What happens when we hear the word ‘Shariah’?

Images of one eye and amputated arms cross our minds. Subhan’Allah! It is Allah’s (swt) law that we are talking about. Allah (swt) says, “Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Al-Maidah 5:38)

Anywhere in the world, where you see the crime rate high, know that their justice system is weak or probably it is almost non-existent. The reason Allah (swt) has decided for harsh punishment for the criminals, is to deter them and others from repeating the crime. One has to set the example. If the law of Allah (swt) was being followed in its actual sense, would the crime rate and the number of rapes be as high as they are today? May Allah (swt) protect our men, women and children. Ameen.

Halal consumption

Allah (swt) then tells us what we should consume, “And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and fear Allah in Whom you believe.” (Al-Maidah 5:88) The Halal and Tayyab means no begging, no stealing and no eyeing what your neighbors are eating. Do not put anything and everything that you come across in your mouth. Find out the source and know what you are eating. Some people live on packaged food and do not give much value to fresh vegetables and fruits. Many of us do not even know where our food comes from. If it is a command from Allah (swt) to be particular about what we are eating, shouldn’t we find the source? Secondly, some people consider it piety to consume stale and rotten food. They would not throw if the food has gone bad, but rather eat it and end up with food poisoning. Allah (swt) has not made Haram upon His slaves to eat good food. What matters is that what you are eating is permissible; it is bought with Halal income, and there is no extravagance in your consumption.

Society blues!

He then talks about some of the prevalent ills of the society, “O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.” (Al-Maidah 5:90)

The problem of drug addiction has gone out of our hands. Little children are drug addicts. Dad is not home because he is busy drinking with his friends. Some people say, “I am only a social drinker.” as if that is something acceptable. Some say, “Well, the entire world is drinking,” Allah (swt) says, “Say (O Muhammad ): Not equal are Al-Khabith (all that is evil and bad as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.) and At-Tayyab (all that is good as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.), even though the abundance of Al-Khabith (evil) may please you.” (Al-Maidah 5:100)

Accidents and divorces are taking place due to drug addiction and drinking problem. Homes are breaking and families are tearing apart. Quit this evil habit today and attain peace in your life.

If the entire world is following what is sinful and forbidden; neither should we follow them nor be fearful of their reaction, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves, [do righteous deeds, fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbid what is wrong (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden) no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do.” (Al-Maidah 5:105)

Allah (swt) is the only Being Who we should really revere and be fearful of. Nothing and no one else can destruct us except Him. If we are doing what Allah (swt) commanded us to do, and if we have surrendered to Him, He will protect us and look after our well-being. Insha’Allah.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

The Power of Dua

duaI was about 20 years and I absolutely, head over heels, fell in love…

I went into a Masjid in Ramadan. I heard a remarkable scholar explaining the Quran. I had not read the Quran, except in translation before that day. I heard him speak about the Quran in the form of almost a conversation. You know in the Quran Allah (swt) is speaking to us directly. I felt this direct speech of our Lord for the first time. The scholar was doing this every night of Ramadan for about 4 hours at a stretch. He went through the entire Quran in this fashion.

I attended this entire series with him because I was hooked completely; I was mesmerized by this Book. I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t have any clue… any idea about what this Book was. This Book was always there and I always thought I had read something from it or some translation; I felt I had an idea about what it says or what it has to say. But when I heard what it really has to say for the first time, I felt that there’s like this person in it… there’s this Book that I love so much and I have no relationship with it.

Of course the barriers were many including the knowledge of it, and even the language. I had no idea what the Arabic language was. Not a single clue!

You know what was the only thing that I could do at that time? It was to make Dua!

I just asked Allah (swt) something very simple. I didn’t even know how to ask it in Arabic or anything. I didn’t know any Dua by heart.

I asked Allah (swt): “O Allah! I love Your Book. I love Your Book! I’d love nothing more than to learn it and to teach it! Just make it easy for me to learn it. And make it easy for me to teach it because I love Your Book!”

That’s all I asked and I swear to you by Allah (swt)! I am a terrible student of anything; I am absolutely horrendous specially in learning languages.

I was not a good student in college. I used to hate studying. You know if I ever had sleep problems, the easiest way for me to catch some sleep was to open up a text book and ten seconds later… apathy would lead me to the world of dreams.

I’d have 12 hours of solid sleep because nothing would knock me out like studying. Luckily the teacher, who was presenting the Quran, also happened to be taking an Arabic class. When I attended his class, it was like knots opening up. I couldn’t stop studying. I couldn’t put the books down. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was doing like conjugations and going through grammar in my sleep. I was studying it in the train. I was doing it at work, at school, all the time!

I just became obsessed with it. What people around me found so difficult, Allah (swt) made it so easy for me. I knew something had just happened. Allah (swt) had given me a gift in response to my Dua. I tell you: to this day, if I try to study anything else I have a hard time. But when I study Quran, I can spend hours and hours and hours – and it’s easy for me.

Alhumdulillah! It’s a gift of Allah (swt) to me. But this was something that I had personally experienced in terms of the power of the Dua.

Original transcription courtesy www.nakcollection.com; edited by hiba’s team with permission.