Our Twin Enemies

Picture credits: riverdell.org.au

Picture credits: riverdell.org.au

My Quran Reflections Journal – 6
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 11 Reflection
Surah Al Baqarah (verses 48-59)

Mental enslavement signifies that one is a slave of a particular mindset: your thinking reflects your slavery and is manifested in your actions as well.

Let’s pause and ponder: are we mentally and physically enslaved as well? Just like Bani Israel had the wrong focus, which resulted in wrong choices, are we falling in the trap of enslavement to our twin enemies – Shaitan and our Nafs? Do we consider ourselves free individuals, because we follow the prompting of our Nafs and Shaitan? We are in fact victims of self-delusion!

Time for some serious retrospection! Let’s change our focus in life and find refuge in patience and prayer, Insha’Allah.

Day 12 Reflection
Surah Al Baqarah (verses 60-62)

Obligation, Not an Option!

We cannot be selective in our obedience and love of Allah (swt), if we are truly the guided ones. When truth reaches us through authentic sources – the Quran and the Sunnah – there’s no room for complacency, arrogance and disobedience. Action, implementation and application of Allah’s (swt) commandments are an obligation on a believer, and not a mere option!

A believing heart is the one, which listens and obeys, understands and implements, applies and exemplifies through excellent conduct that is taught by our Mahboob (the Most Loved), Maqsood (the One Sought) and Matloob (the One Desired) that is Allah (swt) in the Quran and by His Messenger in his Sunnah.

One also has to be clear that Allah (swt) is the ultimate and exclusive source of help for us. Any confusion, hesitation or clarification should be directed towards Allah (swt) alone, and we must have faith that He will help us, Insha’Allah.

“Oh Allah, You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help.” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 2

pearls2Hasten for Hajj – it’s obligatory!

It is Shaytan who discourages a person from hastening to do good. People delay the obligation of Hajj until they have attained old age. Who has guaranteed you that you will live that long? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time; you will have the health to perform Hajj? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time, and also have health; you will get the permission to perform Hajj? What are you delaying Hajj for? Why not take hold of the time you have now?

Allah (swt) says, “Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path.” (An-Nisa 4:26-27)

This is the reason why people delay doing the good. They are following their desires: a bigger home, a better job, another degree, an exotic foreign vacation, and then in the end, comes the Pilgrimage to the House of their Lord. Remember, Hajj becomes obligatory upon you at the age of twenty and when you fulfill other conditions too. You cannot delay it until you are fifty. It is an obligation for you!

Hold on to your better half!

An important topic that Surah An-Nisa deals with, is about resolving issues; particularly the marital disputes. Allah (swt) discusses conflict resolutions in steps; where the first step is willingness to reconcile. Do not be too arrogant to resolve matters. Remember, divorce is not a seven letter word that you can throw any time. You have to live by the consequences. The person within whom you  find tons of problems might be the best person you ever meet. There is no person in the world created as per our liking. Therefore, married couples need to try as hard as possible and keep their marital secrets between themselves.

But when matters go out of hand, Allah (swt) says, “If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (An-Nisa 4:35)

This is the most pertinent key to resolving issues. If the couple wants to settle disputes, Allah (swt) will pave the way for resolution. But if the couple wants to proof who was right and who was wrong, they will never be able to reconcile. And this is true for any kind of dispute that one might face.

Split without a slam!

But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will provide abundance for every one of them from His Bounty. And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures’ need, All-Wise.” Yes, separation is permissible in Islam. (An-Nisa 4:130)

This teaches us the etiquette of separation. Do not let that separation be an event to mud sling one another; where the whole family and the entire town gets to hear rumours about you two. After the divorce live like two civilized people. The children need both their parents. It is too much for them to witness their parents’ separation and later their slandering and accusations.

Jealousy kills, Dua brings!

A reason couples fight is jealousy. We look at other people’s lives and feel they have a better life than us. The grass is never greener on the side. Everyone has their tests which we are unable to see. Allah (swt) says, “Or do they envy men (Muhammad (sa) and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?” It is Allah’s (swt) decision that who gets what. We should not look at other people’s treasures and wish it is snatched from them. If we like what someone else possesses, we should Dua for them and ourselves. We should ask Allah (swt) to bless them and grant us with the same goodness.

Then Allah (swt) says, “Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah, and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” (An-Nisa 4:54) This is what we need to make Dua for. Of course, we cannot attain Prophethood but we can get something from it. We should ask Allah (swt) for wisdom and the commendable conduct of the Prophets (as).

Say “No” to hypocrisy!

During Prophet’s (sa) days in Madinah, there were some hypocrites who had embraced Islam. They would come to Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, take notes of his speech, go out and tell people the opposite. Sometimes, they would leak out plans to the enemies. This resulted in serious setback to the Muslims. About their faith Allah (swt) said, “And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day’ while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!” (Al-Baqara 2:8-9)

Most often, our deeds don’t match our statements. What we say is entirely different from what we actually do. Allah (swt) says, “If He wills, He can take you away, O people, and bring others. And Allah is Ever All-Potent over that.” (An-Nisa 4:133)

This verse serves as a stern warning. At another place He says, “O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him.” (Al-Maidah 5:54)

It is hypocrisy to say we believe in Allah (swt) and consider Muhammad (sa) as His Final Messenger, and then not follow His commands. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.” (An-Nisa 4:142) Can anyone deceive the One Who knows what our hearts conceal?

Who are the hypocrites?

“And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa 4:142) How many of us stand up for Salah because we want to? Many of us offer Salah only because it is obligatory upon us. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to offer Salah, because we want to and not because we have to.” Ameen.

Many of us, when we are standing for Taraweeh, we are thinking when it is going to end; when we are reciting the Quran we are counting the pages, how much left to reach the end. We act more like ‘Abd-clock (the slave of clock) than ‘Abd-Allah (the slave of Allah (swt)). Will such an act of worship be acceptable to Allah (swt)? In worldly matters, no one accepts half-hearted deeds or presents. We try our best and often go beyond our means and capacity to please people. Then, why not exert ourselves to please Allah (swt)?

In verse 142 cited above, Allah (swt) said that the hypocrites do not remember Allah (swt) except a little, but they like to show off. During Ramadan, Quran classes and Masajid are filled with people. Everyone wants to join the study circle or Taraweeh and tell others about it. But what is the condition of our hearts and where is our mind? Sometimes, we go to the Quran class and Masjid only to be seen. While we are listening to the Quran recitation, our minds are focused on what’s happening outside.

Hypocrites – the fire-dwellers

About the hypocrites, Allah (swt) said, “Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.” (An-Nisa 4:145) This is where the Fire is most intense. May Allah (swt) protect us from doing such acts that can lead us to Fire. Ameen.

Glad tiding for the repenting ones

After highlighting a significant yet often callously ignored matter of our worships, and talking about the punishment Allah (swt) ends Juz 5 by saying, “Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147) This statement gives us so much hope. Why would Allah (swt) want to punish anyone who honours his commitment to Allah (swt) sincerely? Why would He warn us of the consequences if He didn’t care for us? Rather, when we turn to Allah (swt) out of love or in repentance, it delights Him for He says that, “Look, My servant knows there is a Deity Who understands him and can comfort him.”

Another trait of the hypocrites that Allah (swt) stated is, “And when it is said to them: Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), you (Muhammad (sa)) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad (sa)) with aversion.” (An-Nisa 4:61)

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