An Interview with the Ameer of NAK Collection.com

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NAKCollection.com comprises a group of volunteers who are collecting Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures on one website solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah (swt). Hiba got in touch with their Ameer to learn more about them and their work.

How did NAK Collection come into being? What was the inspiration behind it?

I founded NAK Collection when I was a medical student. The inspiration behind it was simple: every human being deserved to know what I had stumbled across only by chance. The divine knowledge transformed me. It made me an infinitely better human being, and gave me a great purpose of life. I believed that if properly delivered to every human being, this knowledge could transform their lives, and would eventually begin changing their communities, and finally the world at large, Insha’Allah. From day one, NAK Collection was a dream to share the divine knowledge with every single human being. Soon I found out that other individuals were ready to contribute towards this goal. The organization started to grow beyond my wildest imaginations by the Barakah of Allah (swt).

What is the vision of your organization?

The vision of our organization is to make Quranic education universal, free, and available at the state-of-the-art level to every human being with a single click. It should also be engaging, fun, and easy to learn.

Most of your work is online. How do you organize everything as, Masha’Allah, you have so many things going on at the same time?

Since nearly all our work is done online, we can engage the most capable and most motivated individuals from across the globe, as anybody with an internet connection can join us. The key to organization is having independent systems headed by individuals who are experts in their domains. For maintaining cohesiveness, they report to a single person. For example:

  • Br. Erfian Asafat (Head of Darul Arqam studios) is the head of illustration work. He is also my personal inspiration, and one of the finest people I have had the honour to work with.
  • Br. Adeel Ahmad (Head of Greenbird Media productions) is the head of kinetic typography work.
  • Sr. Haleemah Zia is head of transcripts work.
  • Br. Nishad is the head of mobile apps.
  • Br. Hussnain Javaid is the head of Whatsapp services.

We also have 22 different languages translation works, each being headed by different individuals. At the moment, we have volunteers from 35 different countries working directly with NAK Collection. The heads of different areas organize their respective volunteers to work on their respective specialties.

How do you motivate your team?

Nearly all these individuals are extremely self-motivated. I have found that one of the greatest motivation is the generous feedback from people benefitting from NAK Collection’s different works. Ultimately, seeing the impact of your work on millions of lives fuels your motivation like nothing else can.

How do you arrange funding especially since all the content you produce is free of cost?

Nearly all the work is being done by volunteers absolutely free of cost. I myself have not taken nor will ever take a penny for my personal needs. We do have one project that needs funding. We are proud to say we have developed the most advanced state-of-the-art Dawah studio for graphic designing. Every video is reaching millions of people, and the feedback has been so astonishing that it encourages us to believe in the amazing potential of this work.

Work on illustrations is being formally done by professional illustrators, who have taken great risks in their careers by devoting themselves full-time to making free state-of-the-art videos for the Ummah to benefit from. Unlike other volunteers, they are doing this as a full-time job. For example, I can attend to my job as a medical doctor and simultaneously do the work for NAK Collection in my spare time, but the development of illustration videos requires full-time commitment from illustrators. For this reason, we had two options. We could have used paid subscription option or utilized advertisements which we found too distracting and often portraying un-Islamic values.

Our last resort was to use funding. A considerable amount of funding is contributed by us from whatever we can afford to give at the moment. However, the majority of funding comes from the community which benefits from the videos. Each video reaches millions, so a few hundred viewers have decided to help fund this work, which enables us to produce more content and reach even more viewers. A spreadsheet containing all our expenses and funding contributed towards Darul Arqam Studios is publicly released on our website to ensure complete transparency.

If you are in Pakistan and would like to donate, you can just send us an email at nakcollection@gmail.com

Who authenticates the transcripts of Br. Nouman’s lectures?

Sr. Haleemah Zia, head of transcripts section, does this. They are word-to-word transcripts of entire lectures so not much authentication is needed other than double-checking them for grammatical errors.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are very ambitious. If we can create state-of-the-art Quranic education, which is available on the internet absolutely free of charge, the potential is there for the entire world to transform. We are envisioning a world in which everybody understands the Quran directly, is fully aware of the Quran as the Word of God with all the miracles it contains, and is able to apply the teachings of the Quran to their daily lives.

How can other brothers and sisters help you in your work?

From time to time, we keep requesting for different specialties on our Facebook pages. If you think you have a talent that can prove valuable to us in helping spread the Word of God to the entire humanity, just send us an email at nakcollection@gmail.com along with the description of your talent.

Any message for the Ummah?

Our message for Ummah is simple. Allah (swt) has given us the ultimate miracle of the Quran, and has raised us in an age where just a little effort and dedication can allow us to reach out to the entire world with a few clicks. Each of us has a part to play. Creating digital content that can reach millions was the first part, Alhumdullilah. We are succeeding at it, but the next step is to deliver it further. We need huge dedication from every Muslim to learn the available knowledge and then deliver it to others.

The Internet has now opened a priceless opportunity for us to connect every human being to a lifelong process of learning and benefitting from the divine wisdom of the Quran. Regardless of who they are and where they are, it can all be available now soon with a few clicks and absolutely free of charge.

Anything else you would like to share with Hiba’s readers?

Keep your intentions pure (always have noble intentions for what you are trying to do with your life), believe in your finest dreams, be creative, be persistent, think positive, think big, and ask Allah (swt) in your Duas to show you a path and put Barakah in your endeavours. If Allah (swt) decides to put Barakah in your work, then there is no limit to what you can achieve. If properly trained and harnessed, each human being is capable of achieving astonishing results in any field that they dedicate themselves to.

[Video] Giving Dawah to Family Members by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

This beautiful reminder by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan illustrated by Darul Arqam Studios highlights the importance of patience when giving Dawah to family members. It gives the example of Imam Abu Haneefah and his mother, who wanted to consult another scholar and not her own son.

Lesson From Story of Imam Abu Hanifa | Nouman Ali Khan from FreeQuranEducation on Vimeo.

From Rags to Riches

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I would like to share with you a story about despair. It is an inspirational story, especially for those who are going through difficult times in their lives. It is the story of the Dua (prayer) of Prophet Musa (as) in the Quran. We all know the mistake he made in his youth: he accidentally killed a man, and then he ran away from Egypt until he came to the waters of Madyan. A lot of things must have happened on the journey from Egypt to Madyan. It was not a short journey, yet Allah (swt) chose not to mention that and instead focused on the following details in Surah Qasas:

“And when he arrived at the water of Madyan (Midian) he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: ‘What is the matter with you?’ They said: ‘We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.’ So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: ‘My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’ Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: ‘Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.’ So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: ‘Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers).’ And said one of them (the two women): ‘O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.’ He said: ‘I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be (a favour) from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty. If Allah will, you will find me one of the righteous.’ He [Musa] said: ‘That (is settled) between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfill, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.’” (Al-Qasas 28:23-28)

It is important to note the details of the story. Allah (swt) chose a select number of real life stories to appear in the Quran, and He chose which details to share with us. There are no unimportant details in the Quran. The story begins with Musa (as) wearing rags, weary after a long journey, wanted by the law (with the order for him to be killed on sight), homeless, jobless, and penniless. In short, he was at the lowest point anyone can reach in life. It ends with Musa (as) employed, with a home and a family. How did this drastic change take place?

Musa (as) made a mistake, he repented for it, and he wanted to be forgiven. When you want to be forgiven by Allah (swt), you look for an indication of His forgiveness. One of the indications of forgiveness is that Allah (swt) sends you opportunities to help others. Musa (as) helped the two girls. Then he sat down in the shade away from them; he didn’t stick around and try to make small talk with them. He sat down at a distance and prayed to Allah (swt). He stated his position:  he was bankrupt and in need; in Arabic it means “my back is broken”.

We know Musa (as) is a strong man; yet he is expressing his utter helplessness before Allah (swt). The good he asks for has two meanings. One is that he is asking for the chance to do good deeds in order to atone for his past mistake. He knows what he has to make up for. So he is expressing his willingness to volunteer for the next project. The other good he is asking for is a positive change in his situation in life. It is a prayer of desperation from a man who has nothing left.

What happens next? In response to his prayer, one of the girls comes to him with an offer to pay him for his help. She had gone home with her sister and relayed the event to their father, who, being an old man, could not go out to work and had to depend on his daughters to take care of the sheep. He trusted his daughters’ description of Musa (as) to the extent that he sent only one of them, alone, to bring him back to the house. When Musa (as) came, he told the old man his whole life story, with the two girls listening in the background. One of the girls called her father to the side and advised him to hire Musa (as). The old man understood that she liked him and he resolved to make him his son-in-law. If he could trust him enough to look after his sheep, he could trust him enough to marry his daughter. He had also solved the trouble of having a male shepherd working in a house with two unmarried girls. He married his Arab daughter to a child of Israel; he chose good character over ethnicity. The only marriage mentioned in the Quran is interracial.

I would like to give some advice especially to Desi people. When someone offers you something, the first thing you say is “no, thanks”, as a show of self-respect. When you are truly in need, don’t bother with that; take the good Allah (swt) sends your way. Musa (as) didn’t ask the girls for money; he asked Allah (swt). The job offer came because of the prayer. What I’m trying to tell you is let’s take the example of a job. If a friend tells you about a good job, that is from Allah (swt). Take it!

All those brothers who are trying to get married, there is hope for you in this story. You cannot arrive to meet your prospective father-in-law in a worse state than Prophet Musa (as) did.

You may say, “But he was a prophet! Something special like that won’t happen for me.” Every Friday, we’re supposed to recite the story of the people of the cave. In Surah Kahf, we see the story of the youths receiving the miracle of being saved from the polytheistic society; we see miraculous help being sent to non-prophets. You just have to ask. Help will come in ways you cannot imagine. We have to be people of optimism and hope. We have to be people who learn prayers from the Quran and make them with a sincere heart.

You can watch the original lecture at: http://bit.ly/prophetmusaprayer. Condensed and edited for Hiba Magazine by Iqra Asad

Dealing with Grief and Sadness in the Light of Surah Yusuf

grief

Like most stories from the Quran, there are some important life lessons that stem from Surah Yusuf. This entire Surah is dedicated to a story in a chronological order. Most importantly, it teaches us how to deal with sadness, anguish, and difficult situations in life. Allah (swt) essentially describes two characters who suffer and deal with a lot of grief in their lives: Prophet Yaqoob (as) and his son, Prophet Yusuf (as).

We can apply these examples to our own difficulties. This is similar to how Prophet Muhammad (sa) received this Surah at a time when he was facing a tough time in life: during the Year of Grief, his beloved wife Khadijah (rtaf) and his supportive uncle, Abu Talib, passed away. He was signalled to seek counsel through Surah Yusuf, so surely we can do the same.

We learn from this Surah about Yaqoob’s (as) excessive love for his son, Yusuf (sa) and also that his brothers are so jealous of their father’s attachment to Yusuf (as) that they plot to get rid of him.

We also discover that Yusuf (as) tells his father of a dream he saw. Yaqoob (as) interprets the dream and realizes that his son will become a prophet. He warns Yusuf (as) not to mention the dream to his brothers because he is worried for him. Similarly, many years later, Yaqoob (as) fears for his son Bin Yamin when he is left behind in Egypt. Generally, Yaqoob (as), by nature, is concerned about his children and their well-being. He is known to give sound practical advice to his children throughout the narrative. However, we learn that his advice or plans do not necessarily turn out the way he wishes, because Allah (swt) has greater outcomes planned.

Yaqoob (as) advises his son not to share this dream with his brothers because they might plan against him. Even though Yusuf’s (as) brothers did not learn about his dream, they went ahead and schemed against him anyway. In this regard, we have to realize that there are always two plans at work: one is the plan a human maps out, and then there is a greater plan, of the greatest of planners, Allah (swt). Sometimes our plans and hopes for the future coincide with Allah’s (swt) decisions, but at times, they don’t.

Assume you’ve just been hired and are on your way to purchase a new home. Everything seems to be working out just fine. Suddenly, the employers reconsider their decision and the seller of the house changes his mind. You are now hit by an unexpected turn in life; this is not the way you had it planned! This is not what you had wanted! What you experience next is sadness, grief, and depression. After this phase, we might experience a state of disbelief driven by extreme sadness. We might question our destiny, asking why Allah (swt) did this to us.

After hearing about Yusuf’s (as) dream, Yaqoob (as) harbours high hopes for him. He ends the congratulatory response to his son by saying: “…Verily, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:6) Note the two names of Allah (swt) mentioned in this Surah: Aleem and Hakeem. Hakeem means He possesses all the wisdom, and Aleem pertains to Allah’s (swt) knowledge. These are words of hope which Yaqoob (as) utters, because he trusts the knowledge and wisdom of Allah (swt). Basically, what he’s telling his son is that he has high hopes for him but only Allah (swt) knows what is really going to happen.

These attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned a second time when another son of Yaqoob (as), Bin Yamin, is left behind in Egypt. Saddened by the news, Yaqoob (as) once more mentions that “…Truly He! Only He is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:83) By saying that Allah (swt) is All-Knowledgeable, you have already affirmed that Allah (swt) knows what you’re going through. Thus, the second time Yaqoob (as) mentions these words, he says them as words of trust.

They are mentioned a third time by Yusuf (as) towards the end of the story when he finally reunites with his family in Egypt. He acknowledges Allah’s (swt) attributes by saying: “…Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:100) He never forgot the words he heard as a child. Yusuf (as) realized that he went through many problems in his life because Allah (swt) was subtly planning something great for him.

Anyone else in Yusuf’s (as) place would have lost all hope, but he was steadfast in his faith in Allah (swt). Imagine what he went through! As a child, he was hated by his brothers, kidnapped, and sold away as a slave in a house where he was treated well at first, but eventually had to deal with a psychotic woman, who caused him to be imprisoned.

He went through a lot of problems! However, when he looks back at his life he says: “…He was indeed good to me…” (Yusuf 12:100) He adds another phrase: “…Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will…” (Yusuf 12:100)

Another attribute specified in the Surah is Allah’s (swt) dominance over matters. At first, we cannot understand why Allah (swt) is making Yusuf (as) go through all this trouble. But soon it all makes sense. In the Quran, Allah (swt) mentions that He “…established Yusuf (Joseph) in the land…” (Yusuf 12:21). This verse implies that all these events are occurring for Yusuf’s (as) benefit, not against him. Allah (swt) further clarifies that this is happening to Yusuf (as) so that “…We might teach him the interpretation of events…” (Yusuf 12:21) It now makes sense why Yusuf (as) ends up in the home of a minister. Naturally, the minister’s home is one where other dignitaries visit and discuss important political and economic matters. Yusuf (as) has the opportunity to listen in to the conversations as he goes about doing his work. Indeed, from the well to the caravan and to the minister’s home, Allah (swt) planned and decided that this is how Yusuf (as) will be exposed to learning the interpretation of speech.

This proves that Allah (swt) was dominant over Yusuf (as) and his matters. All events, including Yusuf’s (as) stay in jail, were critical because it was the way Allah (swt) chose for Yusuf (as) to come out and gain position as a minister himself. He mentions: “…And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.” (Yusuf 12:21)

From this Surah, we learn four names or attributes of Allah (swt): Ghalib (the Dominant), Lateef (Most Courteous and Kind), Aleem (All-Knowing) and Hakeem (All-Wise). It is important to seek counsel from this Surah because it displays how Allah’s (swt) plans work. Yes, it is extremely difficult to face grief and unexpected situations, but we need to realize and believe that these events are occurring by Allah’s (swt) will. We can seek inspiration from Yusuf’s (as) story and learn to trust Allah’s (swt) plans, especially when our lives seem to be breaking apart. Believe that Allah (swt) is taking you somewhere better.

An unabridged version of this lecture transcription is available at www.nakcollection.com. It has been abridged and edited for hiba with their permission.

 

[Video] Tips to Wake Up For Fajr Prayer

Are you one of those who have trouble waking up for the Fajr Salah? Do you keep on hitting the snooze button until the sun rises? In this short, two-minute video, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan presents some handy tips that will help you wake up more effectively for Fajr Salah daily.

Friends Mentioned in the Quran

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According to a common adage, a man is known by the company he keeps. Our friendships define and reflect our own persona and innate characteristics. Therefore, it is imperative to watch our steps, before we stride on the road to lifelong camaraderie. “Hiba” guides its readers regarding the kinds of people one should befriend, as mentioned in the Quran.

“A person is upon the religion of their friend.” (Tirmidhi) This simple Hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (sa) defines the sort of relationship we should have with people around us. We should be very careful before making friends. Even if one is pious and religious, if a person’s friends are not on the right path, they will bring about his/her downfall. Hence, we should be very careful, while making friends. Even if we have friends which are not on the right path, instead of following their desires, we should try to guide them and mend their ways. The relationships that we have in this world can lead to our failure or success in the hereafter. Achieving the latter is the ultimate aim of all Muslims. Hence, we should try to make friends who help us achieve this goal.

Since the Noble Quran guides Muslims in every walk of life, it also enlightens regarding the type of friends one should keep. These guidelines are presented by giving friends different terms that help identify the right kind. Following is a brief explanation of the sort of friends that we come across in our life.

Qareen

The word Qareen actually comes from the Arabic term Kiham, which means ‘a rope that ties two camels together’. Hence, Qareen is a kind of friend, who is always with you, spending time with you, texting and emailing you. Such a friend is always around you.

When a person achieves paradise, he/she will remember their friends. They will say: “I used to have this friend, this Qareen, I wonder what happened to him?” They will remember that Qareen used to lure them towards sin. Many a times, they listened to their friend and did all that they were invited to.

Friends generally share the same activities. For instance, when one goes to movies or to watch a basketball game, he invites others as well, so that he may have company. Hence, friendships are based on mutual interests. Therefore, there might have been times, when one was compelled to join their friend in some vain activity out of sheer pleasure.

However, soon they realise that such activities are nothing but sin and mend their ways. On the contrary, their friend keeps egging them on towards such pleasures, making fun of them when they refuse. When one in paradise will inquire about such friends, they will see that they are burning in the worst part of hell. The pious one will thank Allah (swt) for guiding him and saving him from hellfire and will be happy that he stopped listening to his friend.

This is testimony to the fact that a friend can either utterly destroy you or guide you to the right path. The ones in paradise will thank Allah (swt) for guiding them and preventing them from following their friend. They have achieved the ultimate success, which in this context is to escape the temptation of a bad friend, who wants to pull you into evil deeds.

You may be a Qareen or you might have a Qareen. You might be a bad influence yourself, or you might be someone, who is influenced by one far worse than you. Gauge yourself, think about your life. What kind of role do you play among your friends? Are you the person who always uses foul language to get attention? Are you a Qareen, who makes fun of others, when they stop you from doing wrong? Do you look at the things that are highly inappropriate on the web and encourage other people to look at them too?

There is another Qareen that is discussed in the Quran and that is Satan. He befriends those who walk away from the remembrance of Allah (swt). Even when they perform prayers, they are not actually remembering Allah (swt). They just wait for it to be over, so that they can indulge in worldly activities. There is no other motivation for them. Their Qareen constantly compels them to indulge in evil. May Allah (swt) protect us from that kind of Qareen.

Khazool

Khazool is a kind of friend, who only accompanies one in good times, and when the friend needs him, he simply vanishes. He poses to be sincere but shows his true colours in difficult times. Allah (swt) mentions that Satan has always been a Khazool for human beings. A person loses his/her humanity, when giving in to temptations. Satan deceives thousands of young people, because he wants everyone to land in hellfire. He is a Khazool, who will be with you in this life to misguide you, but on the Day of Judgement, when people who followed him will be cursing him, he will simply rebuke them saying that they followed him out of their own free will and he is not to be blamed.

Rafeeq

Rafeeq comes from the Arabic word Mirfaq which means ‘a pillow, something on which you relax when you are exhausted’. A Rafeeq is a kind of friend that you can count on in the hour of need. Such a friend gives sincere advice and is a source of comfort. Allah (swt) explains that a person’s Rufaqah are Nabyeen, Siddiqeen, Shuhada and Sualeheen. Firstly, the prophets are our Rafeeq. Then, the Siddiqeen – those who relentlessly confirm the truth. Thirdly, the Shuhada – those who bear witness of the truth. These are the people who live Islam and are not afraid to show it. Lastly, the Sualeheen – the righteous people are our Rafeeq. These are the people that one can depend on.

In order to gauge who Rafeeq is, one should consider the character of a particular person. Does interaction with him or her make you a better person? One should befriend people who live Islam. They do not give in to temptations and live life for a higher purpose. The best thing to do in this regard is apart from spending time with people of your age, one should also befriend older people. When one spends time with people that are older, they become more mature and also get good advice.

In Islam, as soon as one reaches puberty, s/he becomes an adult. In other words, when you turn to certain age, there are some adult expectations from you. If prayer is binding upon you, then you have to pray, you have to be responsible, and you cannot do certain things that you could have done, when you were a kid. Hence, in this age, it is imperative that one chooses friends wisely, so that they are guided to the right path.

Wali

Wali is a protective friend, who is there to watch your back. You can rely on him/her whenever there is a danger. Your first Wali is Allah (swt) followed by His Messenger Muhammad (sa). Holding on to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) is a means of protection. For example, for a young man, growing a beard is a big challenge; however, it protects him from so many temptations and problems. Just by holding on to the Sunnah of the Messenger (sa), such as to walk with humility and lower your gaze, you will be saved from committing a lot of sins.

Also, all the believing Muslims are your Wali. The ones who perform prayers and follow the limitations set by Islam. By performing regular prayers, they show humility. Nowadays, in schools and colleges, arrogance is being glorified. Five to six days a week, the youth witness that the one who shows arrogance is considered the star of the school.  On the contrary, when such youth go to a Friday sermon, they hear humility being glorified. Hence, they remain confused and it does not impact their minds.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Whoever has the amount of seed worth of arrogance in their heart, they will never see paradise.” (Muslim) This Hadeeth includes even those who are religious – because of their following Islam, they have become arrogant; when they see others that are comparatively less religious, they think that they are better than them. This is also the arrogance that earns Allah’s (swt) wrath. Analyze yourself, remove arrogance from your heart and befriend a Wali.

Siddique

Siddique is the most sincere and truthful friend that will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. Such a friend knows what is in your best interest and does not shy away from expressing it. Sometimes your friends will not say the right thing, because they are afraid that your feelings might get hurt – Siddique will not do that. S/he is a sincere friend, who can point out your flaws and help you change.

We can learn a lesson from the sincerity of Yousuf (as), when he was thrown in prison. There were criminals all around him that are considered to be the worst kind of people in the society. He remained in such an environment; however, he did not change. Those he interacted with called him “al- Siddique,” the sincere one, who never shies away from telling the truth. We should have this kind of character.

Khaleel

Khaleel is a very close friend, for whom you feel love in your heart. Anything that hurts them, hurts you; any joy that comes to them gives you joy. This is the kind of relationship that is so honoured in the Quran. Allah (swt) chose Ibrahim (as) as a Khaleel. Ibrahim (as) shared a special relationship with Allah (swt). Many a times, when he was afflicted with trials, he relied only on Allah (swt), such as when he was thrown in the fire and when he was in the middle of the desert.

Hameem

Hameem is the one, who is very close to you through kindness and generosity. They are always there, where you want them to be. Khaleel is in the heart, Hameem is in the manifest; on the outside.

Waleejah

Waleejah is the friend, whom you trust to the extent of involving him/her in your private matters. They help you out in business transactions or personal relationships. They assist you in managing problems and disputes in your life. Your Waleejah should only be a true believer. Allah (swt) has strictly forbidden us to keep Waleejah other than Muslims, as they will employ every means possible to cause you harm.

Make sure you are friends with those people who are good role models, rather than those who open doors to sins. The responsibility lies in parents as well. If they do not want their kids to be in trouble or have problems in life, they should make sure that their children have good, sincere Muslim friends. The five hundred people on your Facebook profile are not your friends. Your true friends are those, who guide you to the right path.

Akhdam

Akhdam are friends that you are attracted to. Nowadays, we call them boyfriend or girlfriend. Allah (swt) speaks about them in the Quran, too. Allah (swt) guides that marriage should not be based on some shallow infatuation. Media misguides youngsters, and they enter wedlock having lowly standards. Lose your addiction to entertainment. If you are involved with someone out of wedlock, then walk away from it; save yourself now. You think nobody is watching you; however, Allah (swt) is always there. You think you are not in trouble, because your parents do not know; however, Allah (swt) knows. If you even have an ounce of belief left in your heart, then you know that it is better to walk away.

Following are a few verses of the Noble Quran that explain how our friends will turn away from us on the Day of Resurrection.

“And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.’ And the Messenger (Muhammad) will say: ‘O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Quran (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).’” (Al-Furqan 25:27-30)

Before making friends, we should understand the reality of resurrection. Those who believe in resurrection are well-aware of the fact that there shall be no relationships on that day. They will mean nothing on the Day of Judgment. All the worldly relationship that we nurture and blindly follow will not help us. We will be alone with our records in front of Allah (swt).

It is difficult for youngsters to save themselves from peer pressure at school. No matter how much parents try to guide their children, they at times succumb to it and, as a result, indulge in something that is forbidden by Allah (swt). They do it just because all their friends are doing it; hence, it is really important to choose our friends wisely – those who do not force us to tread the forbidden path. At that moment one thinks that they are deviating from what the whole world is doing and being experimental. A person feels his reputation will be at stake in this world. However, this is not so. People do not care for whatever we do in this. They forget, as they have problems of their own to deal with.

We should only think of saving our reputation in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has blessed this Ummah with health and luxury, but we have forgotten His favours and indulge in petty worldly affairs whining about everything. This is all because we are over influenced by the company around us. The materialistic, self-centered people have become our role models. We should redefine our priorities by fixing our relationships with the fellow human beings. We should only be friends with God-fearing people for the sake of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.

Transcribed for hiba by Sadaf Khalid

On the Faith of my Friend (Part 2)

faith of friend

The Third Story: Back to the Noor of Iman

How many of you know that Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan is an ex-atheist? Here is his story:

I went through an internal struggle, when I was in junior high school. Basically, it was a loss of religion. When I came to the USA in the ninth grade, it was a cultural shock. A lot of the values that I was raised with were all being questioned at the same time. There was nobody that I could talk to or verify my own beliefs with. Eventually, what happens is that you make friends based on proximity and common interest, so most of my friends were polytheists and a good number of smart people were actually atheists. Falling into that crowd and not being around any Muslims, I ended up with a good bunch of very messed up friends.

I hid my confusions from my family, because I knew how taboo they could be – you can’t really share these kinds of confusions at home, so I learnt to live with them. I began to have almost a hatred for the concept of God. Religion became something that I associated more with my friends, rather than my family. No matter how in touch you are with your religion, it’s just a matter of having messed up friends.

However, Subhanallah, with the Mercy of Allah, Allah (swt) opened many doors for me, one after another, that I couldn’t have opened myself – those doors led me back to Iman. Allah (swt) opened a door for me that led me to make friends with a person, who I would probably not have imagined associating with. I ran into him by chance. As I was sitting in the hallway, I saw this guy come up and post a flyer on the college billboard, which read “Muslim Student Association”. I thought: “Wow, these people will probably invite all the Muslims to jam together.” So I went over to him and started talking to him about it, and he said: “Yeah, it’s a lot of fun! You have to come!”

I skipped out on all the other clubs that I was part of and I went to this supposedly great party club. When I reached there, there was no one in the room, except the guy who had put up the flyers with a box of pizza, waiting for the others to show up. When I walked in, I felt sort of awkward, so I tried to leave. He, however, reeled me in – we started talking and became friends.  He’d give me a ride home every day. And we’d hang out every other day. No Islam, no religion – he was just a friend.

One time, when we got stuck in traffic, he said: “It’s getting late. Would you mind, if I stopped here and offered my Maghrib prayer?” I readily agreed. At that time, it must have been six years since I had last prayed. Inexplicably, I felt the urge to pray with him. So I went, performed my Wudhu and prayed with him. And I felt something that I had not felt in a very long time. A sort of peace. I tried to bury it inside me. Thanks to the Mercy of Allah (swt), he gave me that consistent company and through him I got to meet a lot of wonderful people – young Muslims, who were really active in their community, doing things that mattered, trying to make the world a better place.

It made me think, wow, these people have such a sense of purpose – where are they getting it from? Because till then I had no sense of purpose. One of the other things he did for me was that he connected me to this programme, which was going on in the Muslim centre in Flushing. It was in Ramadan, and the programme included a Taraweeh prayer coupled with the explanation of the Quran. Then, for the first time in my life I realized that the Quran was actually a dialogue – Allah (swt) was talking to me. The Lord of the Worlds was directly engaged in conversation with me. I was mystified. I listened for the entire month. In the end, I went up to the presenter and told him: “I want to do what you do.”

Masha’Allah, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan went on to establish the “Bayyinah Institute”, an institute of Islamic learning that has transformed many lives since. All due to the Mercy of Allah (swt), Who connected him to that one friend, who led Nouman Ali Khan to the Nur of Iman once again.

The Fourth Story: The Miracle of Kabah

The following story is one of the most riveting tales I have ever heard in my life:

During his school days, a boy by the name of Aslam had a close friend, who eventually grew up to be one of the greatest scholars of this generation. They graduated from school and went ahead in their lives. Aslam was blessed with a wonderful education and career, a highly paid job and very meritorious position, lavish lifestyle and belongings. Life for him was, in a nutshell, perfect. And this perfection is what planted the seed of arrogance in his heart. “I have everything I want in this world,” he thought. “I’m dependent on nobody. There is no Allah (swt). I am the master of my own life.”

One day, he mentioned this to his friends at a gathering, in which his old school friend, now a Sheikh, was also present. When his friends heard directly from Aslam’s mouth that he had adopted atheism, there was no end to the mockery and remonstrance he was subjected to. Only the Sheikh maintained absolute silence. None of what his friends said, however, had any effect on him. He was resolute – there is no God. Allah (swt) continued to shower His infinite blessings upon Aslam, who, as time went on, became more and more complacent. On reaching the pinnacle of his power and wealth, he boldly stood up in a gathering and proclaimed: “There is no Allah! I am an atheist!”

It was at this assertion that Allah’s (swt) anger descended upon the smug man. Aslam contracted a strange disease that confounded doctors. He intermittently suffered from severe fits and profuse sweating. No doctor had ever come across this disease, nor had they ever heard of it – naturally, they had no idea of how to treat it. As a result, Aslam’s health steadily deteriorated. He lost weight and became weaker by the day. The fits rendered him unable to work and he was fired from his job. His wife and friends, assuming the disease was contagious, deserted him. He was left all alone. And that’s when he remembered his childhood friend, who had not mocked him, when he had announced his atheism. “He must be my true friend,” Aslam thought and rang up the Sheikh.

The Sheikh was a wise man. On hearing the plight of his friend, he replied: “I may be able to help you. I know of two other people, who were afflicted with the same disease. A doctor in the USA was able to cure them.”

Oh, were any other words sweeter than these? “Please help me contact that doctor!” Aslam pleaded.

“Of course, I will, my friend,” replied the Sheikh, “but only on one condition.”

“Anything,” Aslam breathed.

“You must promise me that on your way back from USA to Pakistan, you must stop at Makkah to perform Umrah.”

Aslam was caught unawares. “But I’m an atheist! Why would I go to Makkah?”

“This is my condition. If you want to get yourself treated by the right person, you have to promise.”

Defeated, Aslam agreed. The Sheikh gave him the doctor’s contact number and wished him a safe journey. Aslam arrived in the USA and visited the recommended physician. The physician examined his situation and remarked: “The disease you are suffering from is one of the rarest diseases in the world. Only three people have contracted it so far, but I have been able to cure them.” Aslam’s treatment began. But Allah’s (swt) will was such that instead of alleviating Aslam’s situation, the treatment made it worse. No medicine worked.

Realising that there was nothing to be gained in the USA, a distraught Aslam boarded the aircraft bound for home, barely well enough to travel. He was mere skin and bones, and the seizures overtook him more frequently than ever. As promised, he had arranged for a transit in Makkah. The thin, emaciated form disembarked in Makkah and the sunken eyes beheld the Kabah for the first time. The black box is indeed a miracle in itself. Allah’s (swt) glory manifested itself in the self-proclaimed atheist’s eyes, who cried out in pain and agony, clutching at the last straw, “Ya Allah, agar tu hai, tou mujhe theek karday!” (O Allah, if you are present, cure me!) The moment he uttered these words, his body relaxed. He felt calmer. And when the seizures came, they weren’t as intense as before. As days passed, they became less frequent, came with greater gaps and the intensity steadily decreased till the fits vanished altogether. Overwhelmed, Aslam saw the divine light. He returned home and took Shahada at the hands of his true friend, the Sheikh. The darkness of atheism would never hit him again.

People of Substance – Who are They?

people of substance

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

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

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

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

The people of substance know how to respond to criticism

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

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

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

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

The people of substance foster healthy relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The people of substance collaborate for the greater good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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