A glimpse of Jannah on Earth!

housebyriverWorld cup vs. Jannah cup

There is one thing about paradise that really fascinates me. I mean there are so many descriptions of Jannah in the Quran, right? Rivers flowing and cups being offered. I used to wonder why are cups being offered and Allah (swt) says “cups that are placed”- what’s the point in that? You ever throw a BBQ, you ever go to somebody’s backyard and they are throwing a BBQ party; and they buy those cups from like Walmart and Cosco, serving drinks and whatever. Right? That’s a little homely party. You have to go, pour your own drinks. Have you ever gone to an expensive restaurant? Like at a really elite restaurant, you got to pay 50-fifty bucks just to sit down. What do you see on the table before even you get there? Cups. Those 1400 years ago, Allah (swt) knows how we think. Allah (swt) says water flowing, rivers flowing. Have you ever been to a lobby of a very expensive hotel? What do they have? Have you ever been to the CEO’s office of a corporate executive at the top floor of New York City? What do they have? Artificial water fall.

Do you dream of a heavenly vacation?

Same thing Allah (swt) has described. You must have seen a commercial where they tell you to go take a vacation in the Bahamas; or take a vacation in you know Hawaii or something- escape to paradise, it says. What do they show you? A Palm tree, water, drinks, relaxation; these are the pictures they show you on TV commercials. What is Allah (swt) describing? He talks about waterfalls, trees, fruits, drinks, people reclining and relaxing, enjoying each other’s company. And, you are looking at that and going, wow. These guys made a commercial about escape to paradise, and it’s like they read the Quran and made that. Allah (swt) knows who He is talking to, He knows what we want. Now look at this, I don’t even care about what religion you are, everyone has to get, especially men and even women, older and older. There is one thing in our head.

It’s programmed, we can’t even get rid of it; it’s the love of a beautiful house. You go through a nice neighbourhood, what are you going to do? Wow, that’s nice. Look at that yard, oh my God, did you see that one? People can’t help themselves, I don’t care what religion, what background you are from- everybody has desires to save up and have a stable place to live. They don’t want to live on rent, they want to own a place, want to have a nice house, want to have it just the way they like it.

Allah (swt) offers an eternal beach fund property

It’s incredible. He says I will give you a house. And it will have, what’s the most expensive real estate in the world? Beach Fund Property, Manhattan is one of the most expensive cities in the world. What’s the most expensive part of Manhattan? It is anything that looks over to that water- the higher up, the more expensive. And Allah (swt) puts houses on top of mountains, mansions; they overlook the entire garden, they overlook the water fall; these are the things that Allah (swt) has put inside our psyche. He wants us to desire these things in this world. So that when he talks about these in a much superior version in the next world, then we truly want them there. We say, if this mansion can exist here, oh my God! What does Allah (swt) have for me there? If these beautiful vacation spots like the beaches in California, the Canyons in Arizona, you know, the water falls in Niagara. If that can exist here, what does Allah (swt) have for me in the Akhirah? What amazing things is He going to give me?

The price for paradise

In order to get Jannah, to get paradise, what are the simple things we have to? Is it something very complicated? What should we do to achieve eternity, bliss, and perpetual happiness? Do you ever get tired or bored in Jannah?

No, you would never get bored in Jannah- that’s one of the joys of Jannah. You have beautiful company in Jannah. You know, when in this world, we take a vacation- especially we take a vacation with the family, kids might love it, it’s a nightmare for parents, because they take care of everything and this and that; when people get together for a break, like you know Christians get together for Christmas break.

World is not a wish-granting factory- Jannah is!

Maybe families get together for Eid break or something, fights break out, arguments happen; this is supposed to be a time for celebration, but at the best celebrations when you are with others, what happens? Arguments, right? Oh God, this is supposed to be a happy time, what happened here? People are crying at weddings and things like that. Then, here Allah (swt) says, in Jannah, one of the great joys of it first of all, boredom is taken away; second of all, you get whatever you want; third of all, Gil, this ill feeling towards each other is eliminated, we are not even capable of it in Jannah. You can’t even say something that hurts somebody else’s feelings. It’s gone.

So, you only have this beautiful relationship, you know how sometimes husband and wife get into arguments, and they don’t even know where it came from. Like, they are both confused; like how did we end up here, how did this conversation even start, why did it get so nasty? Allah (swt) will take that ability away from us in Jannah. We can only have wonderful conversation, I have something I am looking forward to like being at peace all the time. You know when people are happy, they sit and say: “Man, I wish life could be like this all the time, and they know it’s not going to be; they know round the corner, a problem is awaiting them; something’s coming- whether its physical, emotional- something is coming, just to know that there is nothing problematic coming.

Transcribed for Hiba by Sana Mohsin

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending!


وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

Allah (swt), at the end of Surah Al Furqan, Surah number 25-twenty five, has a passage describing those who are the slaves of Ar-Rahman. Allah (swt) has many names; He can call people slaves of Allah (swt); slaves of the Creator, slaves of the Wise, but when He calls them slaves of Ar-Rahman, it is as though He is suggesting that these people have a relationship with Him based on His endless, and unimaginable love, mercy and care. So, the slaves of the One who cares a lot; the slaves of the One who loves a lot; the slaves of the One who shows mercy unimaginably. That means these people are special people. The people Allah (swt) is describing at the end of this passage are very, very special people. All believers are special, but these are extra super-duper awesome special.

Hawnan- Fly high, but lower your wings!

Now, the first quality that is described of these people that earns them the title of Ibad-ur-Rahman (slaves of the most Merciful) الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ هَوْنًا is- that these people walk on the earth with humility. Hawnan- softly, acknowledging their weakness. You know, when we accomplish things, we feel a sense of strength and power and empowerment; and those are the moments in life where we are supposed to acknowledge our weakness. This is number one.

Hawnan also suggests that you don’t demonstrate your strength in front of others. Allah (swt) talks about this on many occasions in the Quran. For example- lower your wings before your parents. What does that mean? This means you’re an adult, you have a career, you have money, you have your own house, and you have a car; whereas, your parents are retired, they’re old, so obviously you’re in a position of strength and they’re in a position of weakness. But you don’t need to flap your wings too much; instead chill out and act humbly in front of them. Inculcate the act of humility.

A great man is always willing to be little

I travelled and there was a brother who picked us up from the airport, drove us around everywhere and just took care of everything. This guy was literally like a servant, driving us around all over the place, for food, for lectures, for this, for that. “Anything else I can do? Can I get you some water? Can I do this, can I do that?” Super humble brother. At the end of the trip we found out the guy’s worth 700 million dollars. I couldn’t fathom, like, how does it work? Where do you get such kind of humility from? I know people who make a hundred thousand dollars and think they own the world. They go a little bit over six figures and this guy’s humility just shattered me, like how in the world could it be? And I was reminded وَعِبَادُالرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ هَوْنًا

They learn to walk on the earth with humility.

With humility comes wisdom- Keep it with you!

Humility is also not just a demonstration of financial strength; it’s also an undue demonstration of physical strength and intimidation. It can also be a demonstration of your ability to out-talk someone. Maybe you’re a very aggressive, outgoing person; you can really put somebody in their place, especially in a public setting. You need to chill out and hold back from that because that’s an expression of arrogance. You are overpowering someone with your tongue. You can overpower someone and put someone in their place with your mouth. You know something about a field, an area and you want to stub somebody with your knowledge.  Don’t do that! It’s good for you that you know, but you don’t have to prove yourself a genius at every juncture.

For example, a teacher’s job is not to prove to his students that he knows. A teacher’s job is to try to teach. And, you don’t have to tell everybody your credentials all the time. You don’t have to do that. Just be yourself, and be humble before people. As a matter of fact, try to hide your capability if it’s going to be a source of intimidation for others. This is Hawnan.

But then, there’s the other part of it, I love this part. وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا . Every word deserves a little bit of attention here, so I’ll give each word its due, Insha’Allah. Idha is “when”, not “if”. It means the situation that is about to be described is inevitable. It will happen. You will run into this situation. What is this situation? خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ. People who don’t control their emotions; people who are obnoxious; people who are outrageous in the things they say or the way they act; when such people address you. And, it will happen. You will have to deal with difficult people in life; it is one bitter reality of life. There’s no way around it.

Now the other point to ponder is- you won’t go seeking difficult people or talking to them; they will come and address you. So they’re the subject of the verb, suggesting that you’re not even looking for trouble, the trouble came looking for you. And it will.

Peacefully- say or sway!

So, just because you’re not looking for it, doesn’t mean it won’t come. وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ When the ignorant, the uncontrolled, the uncivilized address them, they say— now there are two translations possible here. It could be understood as they say, “peace out, maybe this is not a good time, maybe we should talk another time.” They walk themselves out of the conversation. They don’t hear something stupid and say, “You know how stupid you are? Let me put you in your place.” No. Peace. They don’t engage in any argument. When they hear something ridiculous, they don’t get involved- they just say, “Peace.” Nowadays, it’s not just about you talking to somebody in a conversation, but this could even be a WhatsApp group. This could be a Facebook post. This could be a YouTube video made about you, or some trolling comments underneath. Just leave it alone. Salaaman.

And especially in private settings, when you’re interpersonally exchanging conversation with someone and they get out of line- you should just back off. Sometimes, this might happen in the Masjid; you are going to the Masjid and an elderly fellow might get a little aggressive with you. “You don’t know how to pray! Why are you standing like that?Astaghfirullah, you’re wearing a t-shirt!” They’ll just go at you like that and you’re like, “Watch it, old man! I don’t need this!” And you walk away. No. Say peace, make Dua for the uncle, let him keep yelling and go somewhere else and pray. Go into another corner and pray- that’s it! Leave it alone. Don’t let it get to you.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it!

The other meaning of قَالُوا سَلَامًا is they speak peacefully. So, Salaaman could be considered a Haal, or what you call in English, an adverb. The way you would think of that is they’re talking to you aggressively, angrily, in a very arrogant tone, in a very offensive tone, almost in a way that they’re trying to probe and get a reaction out of you. But you are speaking peacefully. You don’t let them get under your skin. You learn how to control your emotions in this conversation. And it’s not even that- you have to go out of your way like “Urghhh holding back, it’s so hard to hold back.” No. You develop the kind of tolerance where you just let it roll off the top of your skin, don’t let it get underneath, don’t let it get to you, and you just deal with it in a very reasonable, rational way. This is actually Dawah in itself. And, Allah (swt) says that He loves these people.

Allah (swt) will describe later on the other qualities of believers. Like, they pray all night, Qiyam-ul-Lail, Tahajjud prayer. And, He gives other descriptions of them, but the first description of them is that they are humble. They don’t put others down and when others are putting them down, they deal with it in a peaceful fashion. But if, they don’t know how to deal with it, they say, “Peace” and walk away. May Allah (swt) give us the strength of character; and really, the common sense and the wisdom to act on this verse when the situation arises. These verses, the recitation of them is easy, talking about them in a video is easy, listening to it is easy, but when the situation happens in your family, when the situation happens among your friends, when the situation happens at the Masjid or at the college, then living on this verse becomes a different story altogether. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom and the sensibility to act on this verse as required. Ameen.

Transcribed for Hiba by Amal Abdullah

Watch What You Say: Don’t Poke Fun or Be Sarcastic

Colorful speech bubbles“O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

I wanted to share with you a reminder that we all need, in regards to guarding and respecting the gift Allah (swt) has given to us- our tongues. The ability to speak is an incredible gift from Allah (swt), and it’s an honour from Allah (swt). And, what we learn from the verses is that, the best use of our speech is to remember Allah (swt) by the words He taught us. Our speech, in any matter, should be inspired by the speech that Allah (swt) has honoured us with, i.e., His Quran.

we sometime don’t realize the value of things that we have, specially our tongues.

Now, we’re all humans and we make mistakes. And, we sometime don’t realize the value of things that we have, specially our tongues. We say things, we make comments and social settings among family and friends and things like that. We completely cross the line sometimes that we don’t realize the magnitude of that problem. And because, Allah (swt) takes good time to mention this particular problem in the Quran, it should make us appreciate that this is not a light matter.

In this regard, there is a reminder from Surah Al-Hujurat, verse number eleven. It is addressed to those who believe, and the first thing Allah (swt) says is that, those of you who believe, don’t let any group among you or any nation, collectivity poke fun at any other group. Don’t be sarcastic against each other. Now, making fun of someone and being sarcastic against someone, especially nowadays, is considered as a sign of intelligence… ‘that guy is really funny!’, ‘ that guy makes a lot of funny jokes!’, or ‘he makes lot of sarcastic remarks that are like a rapid fire, they come out of him one after another!’. And, when people around you laugh at your joke, it’s pretty much an ego boost; so you come up with a next disc or a next sarcastic remark or an inappropriate joke, and you feed off the humour, and you get caught up with it.

Allah (swt) is telling us in this Surah that this is something that can take away the very fabric of brotherhood that we enjoy among each other. Allah (swt) says right before this verse that believers are nothing, but brothers among each other; so make reconciliation among your brothers. And, fear Allah (swt) so you are shown mercy. Be conscious, aware and in awe of Allah (swt) so you may be shown mercy.

The previous verse tells us to make reconciliation among each other, and the very next verse reminds us to watch the way we speak to each other.

The previous verse tells us to make reconciliation among each other, and the very next verse reminds us to watch the way we speak to each other. Don’t be sarcastic with each other. Don’t make insulting comments in the name of humour against each other. It is very casual to say or talk about how short someone is, or how ugly they are, or how they dress, or what kind of car they drive, or what school they go to, or what kind of a job they have. It’s very easy to pick on someone’s flaws and make them the point of ridicule.

An excerpt from a lecture transcript published on www.nakcollection.com – edited and posted by Hiba with permission.

Understanding Surah Asr – 3

time management sunnahTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

“By Al-Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd).”

Don’t wait to do good- It is now or never!

Many times, when you have to give advice, you hesitate. You wait for a better time. You keep waiting and that better time will never come. The sense of urgency is in the word “Tawasi”. “Wasiya” is also when you bequeath someone with property. What you are to offer someone is literally of value. When you give someone good advice, they reply with, “But I’ve seen you do this, what about you?” Most of us are reactive when we receive advice. When you are on the side of giving advice, you take the good of it and leave the bad.

“Tawasi bil Haq”

First, it is mentioned generally to do good deeds. Then one specific good deed is mentioned i.e. patience. Allah (swt) puts patience at the end and “Haq” first, to emphasize the nobility of good.

This Surah challenges us to change our definitions of success and failure.

The true essence of faith

A lot of people consider faith to be just a declaration. You could claim it as a lack of knowledge but in reality it’s an attitude; the assumption that we have faith, and the assumption that faith alone is enough. What does it mean to have faith? From a legal point of view, anyone who declares the Shahadah has faith. Legally speaking, anyone who claims to be a Muslim, is a Muslim. Then there is the matter of the distinction that Allah (swt) Himself makes in Surah Hujurat.

He says, “The bedouins say: ‘We believe.’ Say: You believe not but you only say, We have surrendered (in Islâm), for Faith has not yet entered your hearts.” (Al-Hujurat 49:14)

What people assume to be “Iman” (faith) is actually just the declaration of Islam. Faith is in the heart. The first thing inside the heart is faith, the second is revelation. If you memorize the Quran, it resides in your heart. The third thing, among others, associated most with the heart is Dhikr (remembrance). These three things are inter-connected.

In Surah Al-Anfal, “The believers are only those who, when Allâh is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qurân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith” (Al-Anfal 8:2)

The easiest gauge of faith is your Salah (prayer); “Allah would not be one to waste your faith.”(Al-Baqarah 2:143) This verse refers to prayers as “faith”. So where goes the statement, “I don’t pray, but I still have faith”? The second misconception that once you have faith, you don’t need deeds is crushed in this Surah. What kind of faith is this that you don’t have action? If we internalize this, we know that our faith will not survive, unless we have action.

A Believer vs. Those who believe!

The difference between two commonly used terms in the Quran, “believers” (Muminoon) and “those who believe” (Allazeena Aamanu): one of them is verbal (those who believe), the other (believers) is a noun. In Arabic, a verb is temporary, it is not stable, but a noun is fixed. “Believers” is used for people of mature faith. It is always used in a positive aspect. However, with “those who believe”, you may not find nice things. You find Allah (swt) saying to them, “those of you who believe, believe!” Become true believers. “Those who believe!”—category of those who are not necessarily doing well. “Believers”—mature faith who have already attained success.

The three core pillars of faith: “faith in Allah (swt)”, “faith in the Message” (the Book and the Messenger), and “faith in the Afterlife”. Sometimes people take one or two of these and say their faith is complete. If you do that, you will fall into a serious psychological imbalance.

Faith in the Messenger of Allah (swt)

Sometimes you can say something about the Messenger (sa) that can waste your Iman. On one hand, you have people who love him so much that they end up giving him a status beyond a human being. On the other hand, you have pseudo-intellectuals who treat him as just another historical figure. “It’s just a Hadeeth.” “It’s not even in the Quran.” The Surah Muhammad, Fath, and Hujurat discuss faith in the Messenger. When Allah (swt) mentions the Prophet (sa) in the Quran, He doesn’t use his name, and if He does, He says “RasulAllah” next to it. In the Quran, “O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet (sa), nor speak aloud to him in talk as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds may be rendered fruitless while you perceive not.” (Al-Hujurat 49:2) In order for good deeds to count, you must have faith.

Fruits of faith

Tranquility: you come to terms with the fact that all deeds are rewarded.

Iman: a treasure that you get to keep when you do good deeds. But what kind of person would you be if by feeding a hungry person, you would get more food back, but you still wouldn’t do it?

This statement is very empathetic because both the preposition and the verb have been repeated.

Haq: “truthfulness” means that you convey the advice in a truthful and sincere manner, holding nothing back. “With truth”, refers to Quran, that you counsel each other with Quran. Someone’s losing hope, how do you do “Tawasi bil Haq”? Through Quran, quote Quran to them: “My slaves who have violated against their own selves, don’t lose hope in Allah’s Mercy!”(Az-Zumar 39:53)

It’s easy to sit behind a microphone and talk about these things to strangers. It requires courage to do this with family. It requires patience.

What does “Sabr” mean? Patience, perseverance, commitment, constancy.

“It is to have the same level of obedience to Allah (swt) whether in ease or in difficulty.”(Ibn Taimiyyah)

Fidelity and forbearance is the key

Good people, who are working for Islam, may lose heart at all the criticism they receive. You must do “Tawasi bil Sabr” with them; tell them to be patient, no matter how difficult things get. They will appreciate it. Those who do work for this Deen; whether you are doing work for Islam inside your house or outside it, are under direct attack of the Shaytan. You must have patience and obedience to Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) speaks to us and He knows what kinds of lives we lead. There are brothers and sisters who are active in spreading Islam, but they have some very bad habits. They need someone to do Tawasi bil Sabr with them, to tell them to hang on.

These statements are in the past tense. Why not mention it in the present tense? It implies that these people spent their entire lives doing Tawasi bil Haq and Tawasi bil Sabr. You can never stop until death.

They are encouraging each other with patience. The way you deliver it requires patience, and what you are recommending them to do is patience.

These four things are connected to each other. If someone loses Sabr, they will not be able to do Tawasi bil Haq.

This is the shortest Surah, but also the heaviest Surah. It will change your attitude towards success and failure. Your time to get serious about faith, action, Tawasi bil Haq and Tawasi bil Sabr is short. May Allah (swt) make us of those who successfully fulfill the conditions of Surah Asr. Ameen.

Understanding Surah Asr – 2

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

How scholars define Asr?

Ibn Abbas (ra) says that “Asr” refers to the different ages of different nations. Allah (swt) is talking about human history as a proof that human beings are in loss. Ibn Kisan says that “Asr” refers to the night and the day. Hasan Al Basri says this is the time from late day to sunset, signifying the end of an era; we should know that we are on the verge of death. Qatada says it’s the last part of the day. Another Mufassir says that it means the time of Asr prayer; the busiest time of the day. Asr refers to time; all of it.

Be the change to bring a change!

The time you’re supposed to change for the better, this is implied in Asr. A lot of your days are exactly the same. If you can change one part of your day, you’ve transformed your life. We change at the death of a person, or in Ramadan; but then we go back to our old ways. For example, you know you have to reach your workplace at 9 a.m, no matter what, no negotiation; you’ll do it, or you’ll lose your job. Similarly, if you are convinced that certain behaviours will lead to loss, changing your life becomes easy. This is why the first thing that is mentioned is “belief”. If your boss comes into the office and says, “Every single employee over here is in trouble, I swear to you!” Will you take it casually? In this world, there must be a sense of urgency.

Choice is NOT yours – It’s all or none!

Sometimes, the boss gives you tasks you’re really good at. Sometimes you get tasks you don’t like doing. If you decide to do only two out of four, decide not to even touch the other two tasks, thinking that the first two being done excellently will compensate for the other two not being done, what do you think the boss’s reaction will be? So when Allah (swt) sets out four conditions, and we say, “we should work on our faith, do some good deeds, this other stuff is not for me, it’s for the speakers and Dawah workers.” If you’re picking and choosing, you are also in loss. It’s all or nothing.

You don’t need to memorize the whole Quran to change your life. Just start with Surah Asr!

Humankind is in loss

“Inna” is used to talk to people who are in doubt about what you are saying. Rhetorically, it is used to remove doubt; the doubt already exists. You’d think this was addressed to disbelievers; but Allah (swt) has addressed all humanity, “Illa” at the end conveys that it includes all humanity.

“Insan” comes from “Nisyan” i.e. “forgetfulness”. The word “Insan” is used here to refer to our forgetfulness, and also to refer to each of us as individuals. If someone specifies a person individually, that person pays more attention.

This is a noun-based sentence “Jumla Ismiya”, which is stronger than a verb-based sentence. The word “Insan” is presented as “Al-Insan” i.e. with emphasis. It is not “the human being is a loser” or “has lost”, it is “in loss”. He is immersed in loss. Someone being a loser is one thing, but by using the preposition “Fi” the meaning of constantly being in that state is given. The translation doesn’t even begin to cover the rage and the terror embedded in this verse.

Truth and patience cure doubts and temptations

There is the meaning of “delusion” in “Khusr” i.e. humans are deceiving themselves. “La fi Khusr” means that mankind sets itself up for a vicious end, the kind of end people don’t want. Ibn Taimiyyah comments, “Humanity is kept from accepting the truth of this Deen by two obstacles, doubts and temptations.” When you ask someone to accept Islam, you’re asking them to give up a lot of things. Someone says, “I can’t give up the life of partying.” He can’t give up his temptation, even though he has no doubts. Most people are caught in temptations, even if they give the excuse that they are in doubt. They cover up their desires by making intellectual arguments. Truth and patience mentioned in this Surah are the cures for doubts and temptations.

Humans are so preoccupied with their personal problems that they fail to see the larger picture. They fail to see the problems lying ahead. They think they are in loss in this world, but that is nothing compared to the loss that is coming. They fail to see the signs in the creation of Allah (swt). Financial and health problems are nothing compared to the problem of faith. That’s a much bigger problem.

Breakthrough anxiety, fear and despair

Human beings have more suffering than animals. In addition to physical suffering, we also have psychological suffering. In this Surah, Allah (swt) doesn’t just give us relief from the loss of the hereafter, but from the loss of this world; freedom from anxiety, depression, fear and despair.

You should remember that the entire Surah is linguistically one statement.

The entire society has headed to the way of loss. The ones, who are not the losers, are considered strange because they practice Islam.

United we stand, divided we fall!

When Allah (swt) mentions the loss of the human being, the human being is being addressed singularly. This is because when the time comes to face the consequences of your actions, you will be all alone. However, when Allah (swt) mentions the four exceptions, He uses the plural. This means that the ones who are successful, find success in teamwork, good company, counsel, reminder, Salah (prayer) and Jamaa (congregation).

Do you know the taste of faith?

In this verse, Allah (swt) doesn’t mention any qualifications of faith. How are you supposed to know what faith tastes like? The fruit of faith is tranquility. If you have faith, you know that this world is temporary, and compared to what Allah (swt) has in the hereafter, is nothing. You are at peace with your life whether you are old or young, healthy or ill.

The word “Assaalihaat” (good) is an adjective, which requires a noun. The Arabic says just “good”, not “good deeds”, but it is implied. The form of the adjective is such that it conveys the doing of a few, countable good deeds. The main obligations are few. Then there are things that embellish your life as a Muslim; the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). There are a few things that you should definitely do, and there are a few things that you should not do. Everyone knows those things.


Understanding Surah Asr – 1

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

“By Al-Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Maruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd).”

Why is humankind in loss?

The central aspect of this Surah is “Khusr” i.e. loss. The previous Surah (Surah Takasur) discussed the people wanting to accumulate more and more, and this Surah discusses the reality, that people are actually in loss. The overwhelming theme of this Surah is warning; that is negative reinforcement. Humans are created in the best of forms; they are qualified to be successful, so then why are they in loss? Allah (swt) mentions four things in the end. The last two things are both actions, to enjoin the truth and to enjoin perseverance. Then Allah (swt) mentions faith and good deeds. He could have mentioned anything, like Zakat, but He mentions truth and patience. Why is it critical to mention these actions? Let’s analyze.

Surah Asr is Islam (in a nutshell)!

The only people who are the exception are the ones who do all the above four mentioned things. A famous quote by Fakhruddin Ghazi regarding this Surah, “In this verse, there is an intense, severe warning that is filled with a promise, because in this verse Allah (swt) declared utter loss against all humanity, except for the one who comes to Allah (swt) with these four things. The language illustrates that salvation hangs in the balance of these four conditions.” In many ways, this Surah is a summary of the Quran and Islam.

Success or Survival?

In this Surah, there is no mention of reward. No mention that “these people will get everlasting Jannah.” It demarcates between the people who fail and those who pass. This Surah does not talk about higher levels of success. It describes the bare minimum, the bottom line. So this Surah is not about success, it’s about survival; about escaping Hell, not earning Paradise. When your survival is being questioned, you forget everything else. If you’re drowning, for example, there is no time for you to talk about success. If you’re talking to your boss about promotion in the office, and there’s a fire alarm, you won’t stop in the office to finish discussing your promotion; that won’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense for someone to talk about anything other than survival, if they’re not meeting the bare requirements for survival.

This Surah does not talk about higher levels of success. It describes the bare minimum, the bottom line.

This Surah proves that being good on your own, is not enough. Islam is about living with and for other people. Imam Shafi (ra) said, “If people only reflected on this Surah, it would encompass them.” It would be enough for them. “If this was the only thing that was revealed, it would have been enough.” What is in this Surah that made him say that?

Whenever the companions would meet, they would not leave each other without reciting Surah Asr to each other. Why? They felt this is something extremely important to remind each other of constantly.

We should never lose sight of the fact that Allah (swt) is talking to us like someone who is concerned about us would talk to us. Talking about this Surah is easy, internalizing it is very difficult.

Survival is interdependent

If you’re drowning and you’re unconscious, what do you need to survive? You need to wake up. Once you wake up, you realize that you’re drowning. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you will move every muscle in your body to move towards the surface. Once you reach the surface, you are pulled back down, because your leg is tied to a chain which is tied to your drowning cousin. You need to wake up your cousin to save yourself. Maybe you don’t even like your cousin. But you wake him up. Then you are pulled down by your unconscious grandmother. You need to wake her up. Your survival depends on each other.

To survive, you have faith, due to which you do good. You tell people about the truth, and you remain patient, because it’s a time consuming and draining process.

When we want to hurry through the prayer, which Surah do we recite? Surah Asr. What do we have hanging on the wall next to our TVs and our game consoles? Surah Asr. See the irony.

Allah (swt) oath must grab attention!

This is one of the Surahs that begins with Allah (swt) taking an oath. Whatever Allah (swt) swears by is grand and magnificent, demanding reflection. Allah (swt) is bringing time as a witness to the tragedy of the human being.

“Asr” literally means “time that is running out”. It comes from “Aseer”, juice that is squeezed out. The time for Asr prayer is when the daytime is ending.

If one really has faith, the next three things are bound to happen. If those things don’t happen, what is missing? Faith.

Faith- Most wanted!

If you are truly doing good, it is impossible for you to keep it to yourself. When you enjoin good, you will encounter people who respond to you and people who hate you for what you have to say, and for the haters you need patience.

When a decent human being comes across a dispute, the first thing he will do is to seek out the truth. When he has discovered the truth, he must take action according to the truth. It may be that when he finds the truth, he does not like what he finds. However, he must stand by the truth.

Now, when he sees other people doing wrong—in our society we have the “mind your own business” policy. However, that is not the way of the Prophets. Otherwise, Islam would just be confined to saying prayers and doing Dhikr (remembrance of Allah (swt)). Islam began as, “Arise and warn!” (Al-Muddatthir 74:2).When you want to stand up for justice, you think, “I know I shouldn’t do it, but I don’t have the guts to tell people not to do it.” People who act on their beliefs, stick to their beliefs, are known as “heroes”. Like Martin Luther King. His days are celebrated; this is a process of decency that people respect. The struggle of such human beings is commendable, but it is just a part of the truth, not the entire truth. We, Muslims, have the entire truth. How much more convinced and willing should the believer be to stand up for Islam? We should compete with the disbelievers with patience and perseverance.

Further reading and viewing:

8-minute illustrated explanation of Surah Asr [Nouman Ali Khan Collection]: http://bit.ly/surahasrillustrated

The concept of time in Hadeeth [Productive Muslim article]: http://bit.ly/timeinhadith

A message from myself to the Quran [I Got it Covered article]: http://bit.ly/tothequran

[To be continued Insha Allah..]

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.

Our Families; Coolness of our Eyes

7 coolness of eyes

This Dua is at the conclusion of the 25th Surah of the Quran, where Allah (swt) tells us to say:

“And those who say: Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun.’” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

“Our Lord”

Those who say: “Our Master, our Lord, gift us, grant us…” We are asking Him to give us a grand, unexpected, and beautiful gift. This prepositional phrase is brought earlier, especially for us. We are asking for a special favour from Allah (swt). What is this favour?

“Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring…”

In other words, you are not asking for children only; you are requesting for your lineage, for your future generations, to be the coolness of your eyes. Make our eyes cool by means of our spouses and by means of our children.

Benefits of this Dua

I call it my favourite Dua for two reasons. One, I am married and I do have children and a spouse. Two, all of us have to appreciate the power of this Dua because of the crisis of the world today. The world’s fundamental institution of family is under attack.

Almost nobody is immune from this problem. In many of our homes, there is a storm. When you find coolness of the eyes, you find refuge from the storm. This storm is not “outside” the house; it is actually “inside” the house! The family has become a place of sorrow, of depression, of sadness, of anger, and of rage. You tend to get away from home to get away from the yelling, the screaming, the name-calling, the insults, the depression, the sadness, and the friction between husband and wife, and between parents and children.

Since there is a crisis inside the home, what better Dua to ask Allah (swt)? Here, Allah (swt) tells us to ask so perfectly, so eloquently that the home should become the place of refuge. Your refuge… your safe haven… should be your spouse and your children and that is inside your home. When you see them, your worries should disappear. But for most of us that’s when our worries begin! It’s the exact opposite.

I want to give you a further appreciation of this remarkably beautiful phrase and how it is used in the Quran. I want to explain this feeling to you that Allah (swt) wants us to have with our families.

Do you know the most strongest of all emotions that exists in the humankind? The strongest emotion that I can think of is the emotion a mother feels for her child. It is the strongest bond. Can you imagine the state of Moosa’s (as) mother’s heart? She puts her baby in the water. You can’t even leave your child outside the hall. You start calling your husband: “Where is he?” “Have you seen him?” You just can’t stop. You are 30 minutes late picking your child up from school. What happens to you, you know. (I know, because I have been late picking up my kids from school before. So I know what my wife goes through.)

Now can you imagine the feelings of Moosa’s (as) mother; she had put her child in what for her was apparently certain death because what was behind was even more graphic. So she was in this desperate situation. Did she know what would happen to the child? She did not. Can you imagine not knowing what is happening or going to happen to your child when you know that they are in a dangerous situation? Subhan’Allah!

On the other hand, there was another woman in the same story. She was married to the Firawn (Pharaoh). You know some times women are in a difficult domestic situation. Now in the case of the Pharaoh’s wife, we don’t know if there was any physical abuse, but the Quran certainly indicates psychological abuse. So much so, that she had to ask for rescue. She had nowhere to turn. So the only place she could turn to was Allah (swt)!

When that baby washed up you know what she said? Now think about this… She picked up the child and she said…

  • “He will be the coolness of my eyes for me.” (read Surah Al-Qasas)
  • “He will be my refuge from the storm.”
  • “He will be my only source of joy because… I am in the middle of sadness.”

She was with the child… that childless woman was with a child now. All of a sudden, all her problems disappeared. That was her first reaction to the child. Subhan’Allah! On a separate note she said to the Pharaoh, “I won’t discuss with you.” She separated herself from the Firawn even in that. Further she said: “He will be the coolness of my eye for me and even for you.”

Even to the Firawn, she didn’t say “for us” because she did not associate herself with him. Subhan’Allah! May Allah be pleased with her!

Now, one last thing about this coolness of the eyes… and why this Dua is so beautiful, powerful, and eloquent.

When a mother has lost her child, which in this case she had, and she is re-united with her child, can you imagine the feeling of that mother? Can you imagine the tears of happiness? Can you imagine that emotion?

Now understand how Allah (swt) describes that emotion. Allah (swt) tells his favour to Moosa (as). He says: “So We restored you to your mother, that she might cool her eyes and she should not grieve.” (Ta-Ha 20:40) Allah (swt) is describing the most amazing joy! The most amazing relief! The most indescribable feeling in the heart of a mother! And what expression does He use? The coolness of the eyes!

And so we ask Allah (swt): “Give us from our spouses and our children…coolness of eyes.” When somebody says, “I want to get married,” he should go further than just wanting to get married. Say: “I want to get married to a spouse who will cool my eyes. I will be the coolness of their eyes and they will be the coolness of mine.”

Allah (swt) took the Dua further and then we understand why he talked about future generations. I’ll conclude with this: “And make us leaders over those who are cautious, conscious, fearful, pious, righteous, and those who are fearful before Allah (swt).”

This makes you realize your relationships right now are not just about you. You are setting a precedent in your family for generations to come. So when you are not acting as good husbands, good wives, good parents, and good children, then what are your future generations going to be doing? Who is going to be answerable for that negative trend that was started by you?

It’s an intelligent Dua that we should find coolness of the eyes not only in our immediate family, but the future generations should be amongst the righteous too. When we are raised on Judgement Day, we will be the Imam (leader) over the entire family, whether they were messed up or not. So we better ask for such kind of people in our lineage who elevate our ranks and not drag us down on the Judgement Day. We beg Allah (swt) that He gives all of us those kinds of families. This Dua is something you and I …everyone… every Muslim… even non-Muslims need today. Make this sincere Dua to Allah (swt) as mentioned in the Quran:

“…Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun.” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

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

Coolness of the Eyes – What Does it Mean?

cool-water-wallpaperThere’s a powerful expression in the Quran. It’s captured in two words. Those two words are “Qurrata A’yun” meaning “Coolness of the eyes.” It is mentioned in a number of occasions and it is also found in ahadeeth of the Messenger (sa).

Before I tell you how it is used in the sacred text, I want to tell you how the ancient Arabs used this figure of speech. We can’t really understand it literally as it means something beyond that.

the Arabs had two figures of speech. One is the “eyes becoming cool” and the other is “eyes becoming warm.”

The first thing I would like you to know is that the Arabs had two figures of speech. One is the “eyes becoming cool” and the other is “eyes becoming warm.” When somebody is shedding tears of sorrow, he is suffering from the worst kind of fate. He is in deep depression, sadness and calamity. If an Arab would look at him, he would say that his eyes have become warm.

One of the worst curses in the ancient Arabic language was: “May Allah make his eyes warm,” which means may he suffer the worst kinds of sorrows in his life.

The exact opposite of this expression is what? The eyes becoming cool. For your sorrows… for your sadness… for your pains to be removed completely and for you to feel peace, tranquillity and joy like nothing else.

I’ll give you a simple example of coolness and warmth of the eyes. Imagine you’re at the airport and there are two pairs – each of a mother and son. One mother is saying farewell to her son as he is flying off somewhere. And the other mother is greeting her son who flew in from somewhere. Both the mothers are crying. But for one the eyes are cool. And for the other the eyes are warm. One is shedding tears of joy as she sees her son after many years; her eyes are becoming cool. But the other is letting go of her son. This is what? The eyes becoming warm. I hope you understand the difference.

A few pieces of context before I go further.

A poet, who was also an assassin in Arabia, said that the eyes of my tribe will remain warm. He was waiting on a sand dune, waiting to kill the tribe leader that had offended his tribe. He made poetry in the meantime (I guess he had got a lot of time). Anyway, he said: “My tribe’s eyes will remain warm…until my dagger isn’t warm with his blood.” In other words, when I kill this guy, only then my tribe’s eyes will become cool. The rage, the frustration, and the humiliation that they felt would only disappear upon this guy’s death. “That’s what I’m here to do, to cool the eyes of my tribe.” So it was a means of relieving frustration, anger and ill-feelings. This is the context in which it is used.

in literature we find the precedent of the “eyes becoming cool” equated with “finding refuge from a storm.”

I want to share a final yet beautiful context in Arabic literature where this expression is found. The Arabs used to travel in the desert and there they would experience sandstorms. And in a sandstorm, the Arab used to wrap his face up because obviously your face is being pounded with sand. That Arab was riding on a camel. Subhan’Allah, Allah (swt) has created the camel in a magnificent fashion. The eyelids of the camel actually trap sand and drop them. It doesn’t even have to blink. It’s got a screen in front of his eyes that captures sand and drops it. We don’t have that ‘screen system’ in our eyes. But the camel does. Now the rider couldn’t afford to cover his eyes… could he? Because if he covered his eyes, he wouldn’t know where he was going! He had to keep his eyes exposed and so finally he found a cave; he found some refuge and he said interestingly, “My eyes have finally become cool.”

In other words, in literature we find the precedent of the “eyes becoming cool” equated with “finding refuge from a storm.”

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