Happiness is Knowing that Ramadan is Coming!

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  1. Get the ball rolling – make Dua

The Sahabah (rta) used to prepare for the blessed Ramadan, six months before its arrival. They would pray: “Allahumma Balighna Ramadan.” So, it wasn’t as if one morning they woke up to find themselves battling with desires, low energy to fast, decreased level of patience, and an overall slumping Iman. No, not all! They very deliberately glided into Ramadan well prepared, highly motivated with a thriving Iman.

We naturally need to do the same. Invoke to Allah (swt) to help you reach and experience the best Ramadan of your life. Let your spirituality transcend worldly priorities. Plan now in terms of all your work, home, and other responsibilities to free up meaningful time for sincere Ibadah. Otherwise, intertwine it with your existing schedule like listening to the Quran while driving, cooking, etc. Read up the Tafseer while waiting, etc.

  1. Understand what ‘Sabr’ means

“Fasbir Sabran Jameel” -“So be patient (O Muhammad (sa)), with a good patience.” (Al-Ma’arij 70:5)

Fasting is challenging. Nobody says that it is a bed of roses. Otherwise, Allah (swt) wouldn’t promise a surprise reward for it. Unless we feel the pangs of hunger and low body energy we wouldn’t appreciate the blessings of our life and the suffering of the destitute. Hence, fasting requires beautiful patience which is when:

  • Others do not even realize you’re being patient.
  • Only Allah (swt) knows that you are being patient.
  • Nobody can see your frustration or anger.
  1. Increase the Sunnah prayers

This includes the Nafl or voluntary prayers that the beloved Prophet (sa) used to offer. Hence, they become a Sunnah for us.

If a person prays the Sunnah prayers, the reward promised by Allah (swt) is enormous. If he does not pray, there is no sin, but a great loss of opportunity to excel in worship.

In anticipation of Qiyam ul Lail, or Taraweeh, start your Nawafil now by praying two extra units after Salah. Don’t bulldoze yourself; just jumpstart slowly for the grand finale.

  1. Forgive to be forgiven

“And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give (any sort of help) to their kinsmen, Al-Masakin (the poor), and those who left their homes for Allah’s Cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nur 24:22)

Our Lord (swt) created us. Only He knows how hard it is to forgive someone who hurt us. Hence, he offers the best motivation to His slaves. He promises forgiveness to all those who cleanse their hearts of rancor and malice of others. So, we initiate goodness even if they never asked for our forgiveness.

What are the benefits of forgiving others before Ramadan?

  • We will get more Taufeeq to do more Khair in Ramadan to increase rewards.
  • Our physical abilities improve drastically. American scientists claim that patients who have higher tendencies to forgive recover faster from illnesses such as insomnia, back aches and stomach aches, etc.

5. Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”

Sprint for Allah’s (swt) mercy. Don’t let procrastination, guilt, disappointment, past sins, heedless company, and hopelessness prevent you; it’s all Shaytan in disguise. Allah (swt) is your Creator. He loves you more when you come to Him burdened with sins and shame. Fall into Sajdah and cry your heart out. He will heal you and guide you to a better life. Ameen.

  1. Give charity

What comes in between you and your Ramadan? Love of this Dunya planted by Shaytan in your heart. I cannot wake up for Sehri and Fajr Salah because I love my sleep too much. I cannot fast because I need to eat on time. I cannot control my anger because I am a slave to my Nafs.

Allah (swt) suggests a remedy for us. Calculate and give your Zakah; plan your Sadaqat in cash and kind gestures as per the Sunnah. Parting from our worldly possessions and wealth tames our ego. It also grants a feeling of tranquility as you feel light and worthy to be able to help Allah’s (swt) creation in dire need.

  1. Celebrate Ramadan!

Do not fret over the long and hot days ahead. Do not worry how you will manage your schedule. And do not stress over less sleep and food. Ramadan is not a restriction or burden. It’s a training camp to fix us. But no other camp rewards you Paradise against your tireless efforts. All they can award you with is a certificate, some laurel or an upgraded worldly position.

Allah (swt) is preparing you for His breathtaking and desirable Jannah. Embrace the opportunity with open arms. And motivate family and friends too. Talk how Iblees will be chained. The doors of heaven opened. Allah’s (swt) mercy showering all over us Insha’Allah.

After all, in the dark and lonely grave, this best friend in the form of accepted fasts of Ramadan will be our companion and saviour. Befriend it with love and eagerness.

(Adapted from Sister Khawlah bintYahya’s Ramadan countdown)

Path to Jannah; Path of Knowledge!

Image courtesy www.wildswimming.co.uk

Image courtesy www.wildswimming.co.uk

‘Dwelling in a magnificent palace made up of gold and silver bricks. Reclining on jeweled couches upholstered with rich brocade. Amidst lush green gardens with abundance of fruits at an easy reach. Rivers flowing underneath. Living with chaste and bashful spouses, so beautiful as though they were rubies and corals. Served by energetic youths with goblets of pure wine that will neither pain your head nor inebriate you.’

Subhan’Allah, what a royal reception! What sheer fascination!

That is where the ultimate success lies. That is the true definition of victory according to Allah (swt): Jannah!

“..And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)

Do you really crave for Jannah as you crave for worldly wealth, property and success? Are you really eager for it? And, do you actually want to know the shortest and easiest route to getting there?

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said:

“For he who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah (swt) will make the path of Jannah easy. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon over the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the prophets who bequeath neither Dinars nor Dirhams but only knowledge; he who acquires it has, in fact, acquired an abundant portion.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi) What an honour and prestige!

There are innumerable paths to get to this Land of Eternal Bliss; and one such path is that of seeking knowledge.

Do you really crave for Jannah as you crave for worldly wealth, property and success? Are you really eager for it? And, do you actually want to know the shortest and easiest route to getting there?

Knowledge is the cornerstone of all good; it enkindles deeds that are based on the commandments of Allah (swt) and the instructions of the Prophet (sa). Therefore, those who have knowledge are not similar to those who do not.

Hence, every Muslim must ingrain in his mind a desire to seek knowledge as our beloved Prophet (sa) said:

“Seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Tirmidhi)

When a servant of Allah (swt) is well-versed about the knowledge of His Deen, he recognizes and truly appreciates the creation of Allah (swt); thus, wholeheartedly acknowledging His Oneness. This, in return, generates in his heart a fear, which is akin to a sincere gratitude and love of his Lord.

“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…” (Fatir 35:28)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) constantly praised the seekers of knowledge amongst his companions. He would make Dua for a person indulged in this route. Ibn Masood (rta) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say:

“May Allah (swt) freshen the affairs of a person who hears something from us and communicates it to others exactly as he has heard it (i.e., both the meaning and the words), for it may be that the recipient of knowledge understands it better than the one who has heard it.” (Tirmidhi)

He (sa) further said:

“Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah (swt) gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully; and a man to whom Allah (swt) gives knowledge which he applies and teaches.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

When a person dies, his chances of attaining rewards come to a halt except for three things.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said:

“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ongoing charity); knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” (Muslim)

“Knowledge which is beneficial” refers to knowledge that is imparted to others. The deceased continues to earn rewards for the knowledge he acquired as long as those whom he taught implement it and transmit it to others.

We need the knowledge of Quran to perfect our Ibadah. We need the knowledge of Quran to establish truth and justice; freedom and dignity.  We need it to get ourselves closer to our Lord, know His true value, and worship Him in the best possible way.

Then only may we be amongst the inheritors of Al-Firdaws Al-Ala, Insha’Allah.

Happiness- Six steps away

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The real happinessIt was a usual bright morning, and I was standing in the main foyer. Suddenly, cold wind touched my skin, and at once I uttered Alhumduillah! Thanking your Creator also provides you with an essence of happiness.

Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:28)

Smiling and laughing all the time doesn’t make you happy. Following are the ways which will help you to attain happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

Ponder and give thanks

You think about the loss, and do not give thanks for what is with you. Ponder upon yourself, your household, your good health and you will find yourself genuinely blessed by Allah (swt).

Think of the people who are less privileged, count on your blessings and give thanks to your Creator.

“And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them. Truly! Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An- Nahl 16:18)

The past is gone

The ingredient for happiness is to avoid lengthy meditation on the past. Recalling the past, reacting to it and being sad are stupidity and madness. Be courageous and embrace your present with much enthusiasm and live it; and surely He is sufficient for us and is the best disposer of affairs.

“…And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.” (Al-Maidah 5:23)

Patience and prayer

Be patient, no matter how difficult the situation gets, and the path gets darkened- happiness and ease comes with distress and hardship. When fear engulfs you, and sadness surrounds you, rest and tranquil your soul through Salah.

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.) (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Consolation from the stricken

Look around- do you find any other afflicted being? Every home has a weeping story. You should take consolation from those stricken with adversity, and try to live happy with what you have.

“Or think you that you will enter paradise without such (trials) as come to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken….” (Al-Baqarah 2:214)

Make a pleasant drink from the lemon

When an adversity befalls on you, try to look at the bright side; take out every possible positive aspect. Don’t let people or situations ruin your happiness. When a person hands over a cup of lemon to you, add a cup of sugar to it, and when he presents a snake to you, take its priceless skin and leave the rest. Being happy is all in your hands.

Greed and love for Paradise

If you are eager to gain Jannah, you will definitely refrain yourselves from wrong doings. Ignore all the negatives of your life, and try to lead yourself with the formula of “Sabr and Shukr”; you will feel peace and happiness within yourself.

Remind yourself of the paradise, the width of which is as that of the heaven and the earth.

“Peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!” (Ar-Ra’d 13:24)

These ways will make your life easy and full of happiness Insha’Allah.

Finding Our Way To Jannah

16

While reciting the ending verses of Surah Al-Bayyinah, tears do not stop. You cry out to Allah (swt) to make you among those with whom He is pleased and who are pleased with Him. You wonder what a great honour to have it mentioned in the Quran that Allah (swt) is pleased with you.

It is the love and pleasure of Allah (swt) that our souls seek for if that has not been attained, then what have we really achieved? It will be a life wasted.

Allah (swt) tells us that if we follow the footsteps of the prophets, their companions, and the pious predecessors, we too might become the inheritors of Paradise. But to follow them, first we will have to learn the character traits that got them Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

Abu Bakr (rtam) – Truthfulness

After learning that the Prophet (sa) has been given prophethood, it did not take Abu Bakr (rtam) even a second to testify. Embracing Islam, he rushed to convey the message to others. When the Quraysh mocked and refused to accept the miraculous journey of Isra, Abu Bakr (rtam) said: “If he (the Prophet [sa]) said so, then he has told the truth.” It was this incident that earned him the title of As-Siddiq (the truthful).

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Lessons of Bravery from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

A fort in Khyber.

A fort in Khyber.

Umm Sulaym’s (ra) participation in the battles

The Muslim men and women equally participated in the defence of Islam. While the men fought the enemy with their swords and arrows, the women looked after the wounded. Umm Sulaym (ra) participated in the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Khyber, and the Battle of Hunain under the leadership of the Prophet (sa). While her husband shot the enemy with his bow and archer, Umm Sulaym (ra) attended to the injured and served water to the thirsty soldiers. When the leather flask would get empty she would rush to get it filled.

Umm Sulaym (ra) carried a dagger with her. The Prophet (sa) inquired what she planned to do with it. She replied that she would attack the enemy if he approached her.

Lessons to draw: We see Umm Sulaym (ra) is always prepared to defend Islam. She was aging but she remained active. She did not stay behind in wars. She attended to the tasks that the women performed in the battles. We should never sit back when there is an opportunity to gather Khair.

We see Umm Sulaym (ra) is always prepared to defend Islam. She was aging but she remained active.

The woman of Paradise

We know about the ten male companions who were promised Paradise in their lifetime. But, not many of us know about the women promised Paradise in their lifetime. To name a few, they were: Prophet’s (sa) first wife Khadijah bint Khawalid (ra), Prophet’s (sa) beloved daughter Fatimah (ra), Aasiya (as)- the wife of Pharaoh, Mariam (as), Umm Ruman (ra)- the black woman who suffered from epilepsy and so on.

Umm Sulaym (ra) was a truthful woman, steadfast in her religion, recognising the rights of her Lord and His creation, obedient to the Prophet (sa), strong against the unbelievers and hypocrites, and an example for the generous.

Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When I entered the Paradise, I heard someone’s footsteps. I asked who it was. The angels replied that it was Ghameesa bint Malhan.” (Muslim). Another narration states that he was informed that it was Bilal (ra).

Islam does not discriminate between men and women. Women have many opportunities to raise their scales in the Books of Allah (swt)

Umm Sulaym (ra) also has the honour of narrating Prophetic traditions. From her many other companions passed it on to others including Anas ibn Malik (ra), Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra), and Zaid ibn Thabit (ra). Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim also recorded Ahadeeth from her.

Lessons to draw: Islam does not discriminate between men and women. Women have many opportunities to raise their scales in the Books of Allah (swt). Let us balance our worldly life with seeking eternal pleasures of the hereafter, Insha’Allah.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Illuminated Love

heartsThe ears have entangled the senses with romantic tales,

The eyes have caged the heart with the base desires.

The seeds of the beautiful tomorrow in the palm of hands

You’re the farmer and planter of these blooming buds.

There are two delicate and fragile relationships in life: marriage and parenthood. These two aspects of life involve radical turns of perspective: from being single to married; from being a couple to having a family. If we compare life to a drama, then these three beautiful stages are the three acts of the play, which can either earn hellfire or Paradise for you, with you being the sole purchaser of them.

Celebrating these relationships just a single day in a year isn’t what our beautiful religion teaches us. It is funny, how people think it’s their duty to love their fathers on Father’s Day, mothers on Mother’s Day and spouses on Valentine’s Day, forgetting about the remaining days of the year. For Muslims, every single day of our lives is a father’s day, a mother’s day and Valentine’s day. We aren’t taught to love one day; instead, we’re giving Muhabbat, which is so intense that it’s for a lifetime indeed; eternity, if you buy Paradise for your children and spouse.

Our vague criteria in the wind of modernism have taken away the essence of the right age of marriage, which leads to illegal relations. The heart cries a billion tears to see the Muslim youth going astray. How will we face the Father of the Ummah? The Prophet (sa) said: “After me, I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women.” In verse 26 of Surah An-Nur, Allah (swt) clearly defines who deserves what, when it comes to marriage:

“Bad statements are for bad people (or bad women for bad men) and bad people for bad statements (or bad men for bad women). Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women), such (good people) are innocent of (each and every) bad statement which they say, for them is Forgiveness, and Rizqun Karim (generous provision i.e. Paradise).”

Acquire Taqwa, Build a Home in Jannah

6 build a home in jannah“This is the Book (The Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allah much and love Allah much).” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

The above-stated verse clarifies that guidance is given to those who fear Allah (swt) and have Taqwa. What is Taqwa? It stems from the root word ‘Waqa’ meaning ‘to protect’.

Fear of Allah (swt) is only one element of Taqwa, which also means ‘to build a barrier between oneself and whatever angers or displeases Him’.

We have a remarkable example of Taqwa in the annals of history, and the way it brought a very noble person to Islam. Our beloved Prophet (sa), while braving the hardships of opposition and persecution by the Makkans, earnestly invoked Allah (swt) to strengthen Islam by guiding either Amr ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl) or Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rtam).

Allah (swt) answered his Dua, and granted Islam to Umar (rtam). Why? In spite of being an apparent archenemy of Muslims, he was not completely evil, and Allah knew the beauty of his heart. Subsequently, when he heard his sister recite the Ayah of Surah Taha, Umar’s (rtam) heart melted, and he entered the fold of Islam.

The word ‘Taqwa’ has been mentioned 250 times in the Quran. It is the essence of Islam. How can it be attained? Allah (swt) created Ramadan to train and discipline us for the rest of the eleven months. It is an opportunity for the believer to exit this month with rewards, to gain Taqwa, and, finally, to enter Jannah.

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Citizenship of Jannah

rural-crossroads1My Quran Reflections Journal – 4

Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 7 Reflection

(Al-Baqarah 2:21-25)

Citizenship of Jannah

Today’s lesson was about the first glimpse of Jannah in the Quran. Subhan’Allah, the mere glimpse of it makes one wish to work towards pleasing Allah (swt) to earn it. A beautiful reflection was shared by one of my classmates today, after we completed the lesson. She actually gave words to what I was thinking. She said that this is the beginning of the year (2015), and the beginning of our course (today was just the 7th day) and the beginning of the Quran. Subhan’Allah, Allah (swt) sets forth this description of Jannah in the second chapter among the first few Ayahs, so this is nothing but His mercy. If you come to think about it, we can set a goal from now onwards to reach that destination (Jannah).

I would like to elaborate further that through continuous worship of our Lord (not just in our prayers but also in our daily lives) we can hope to attain our citizenship of Jannah. We must remember that worship is an entire way of living. It encompasses concrete obligatory acts, which come under this category, such as Salah, Zakah, Hajj, etc. as well as abstract qualities, such as honesty, sincerity, empathy and care.

Indeed our Rabb is the Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful, and He sends signs, reminders and admonitions from all ends.

Oh Allah (swt), make us from the dwellers of Jannah and save us from the Hellfire. Aameen!

Day 8 Reflection
(Al-Baqarah 2:26)

Wisdom or Illiteracy?

Today’s lesson was about the example of a mosquito, which Allah (swt) presents to explain the abstract viewpoint of how certain disbelievers challenge Allah’s (swt) words, only because in all the Hikmah (Wisdom) best known to Him, He chose to use this example.

Have we ever wondered that in the Quran there are examples of the heavenly rivers and provisions, as well as the gigantic universe and whatever it contains – even a mosquito as it also is a part of this universe! Why do we have such big egos that we deny the truth or question Allah’s (swt) wisdom of presenting an example of such a small creature as a mosquito, when we readily get awestruck by the magnanimous and humangous creations of Allah (swt)? Is the Message and Who is giving that message important, or does the importance of the message diminishes, because the example used here is that of a creature we consider almost negligible? Is it wise for us to question His Hikmah or are we being illiterate by doing so?

Oh Allah (swt), make us understand the logic of the Quran, rather than the logic of using a trivial creature as an example. Open our minds, so we can see the bigger picture and learn the lesson, which You intend for us to understand, rather than try to negate the divine message because of the petty nature of the example used to explain an abstract concept. Oh Allah (swt), give us the mind that can understand the significance of Your insightful message and the heart that can act upon it. Aameen!  

A Handful of Earth

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a very large train station. Young people, old people and children are all rushing past; they are all in a great hurry. They are all trying to get on the same train, because they will all be setting out on the same journey. Some have carefully packed all they own. They are unaware that they will not need any of it at the end of the journey. Some are bidding farewell to their families. They do not realize there can be no return at the end of the journey. We are just some of the millions of travelers who will board that same train when the time comes. We stand there and wait for the train that will take us off to our eternal lives in the Hereafter – a train that we shall one day have to board.

At the end of the journey lie death and angels to meet us. We all carry ledger books that we cannot see. If we think of that train trip as the brief life we spend in this world, then everything we do on that journey, all our sins and merit, is written down in fine detail in those ledgers. We may not be aware of it, but the angels carefully write down every word we say, every step we take, and all our sins and merit. The opening of those ledgers is the best of tidings for believers, because the believer has filled his brief lifetime with good deeds, worship and prayer. He realizes that death lies at the end of that journey, after which will begin the unending life of the Hereafter. That is why he stands before our Lord in submission and trust:

“Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand will say: “Take, read my Record!” “Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!” (Al-Haqqa 69:19-20)

Deniers, on the other hand, embark on that train journey with great joy and delight, since they are deceived by Satan into being caught up by this world. There is no training of the lower self on their journeys, no religious observances and no relying on and trusting in God; just living for the transitory joys of this world. Yet, the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

“And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed (in the right hand for a believer in the Oneness of Allah, and in the left hand for a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah), and you will see the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.), fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (Al-Kahf 18:49)

In fact, if you look, there is a huge crowd full of false and insincere souls all around at the station that millions of people are passing through. It is such a vast crowd that people become lost in it. They may see one another’s faces but forget to see the face of God. They value one another very much. What their spouses and friends say is of enormous importance to them. They become so caught up by the events of the day that everything they say revolves around this world. They talk about how they make money, how they put their children through the best schools, and how they accumulated wealth and possessions; yet, they do not know that they will have to leave all these behind at the stations they stop at. They do not know that all that awaits them at the end of the journey is God.

“So leave them in their error for a time. Do they think that We enlarge them in wealth and children, We hasten unto them with good things (in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter)? Nay, but they perceive not.” (Al-Muminun 23:54-56)

Believers, on the other hand, board that train with deep faith, submission and a sincere heart. They know that the journey is actually quite short. God will test them with difficulties and sickness in the brief life of this world, and they will respond to these tests with fortitude and goodness. Their journeys will be filled with good works, prayer and worship. They will also have to leave behind their wealth, possessions, spouses, friends and children at every stop because all that awaits them at the end of the line is the cold ground and a white shroud. Since they are aware of this, they have no passion for the life of this world; and realize that the life of this world is not a place for greed and desire. At the end of this journey, which they make with a sincere heart and deep faith, stands open the gates to the Gardens of Paradise to meet them.

“For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” (Al-Imran 3:136)

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)

It is a fact that not a single person will be able to avoid waiting at that station and boarding that train. All the people we value so much in the life of the world will board that train, and at the end of the journey, those millions of much-valued bodies will turn into a mere handful of earth. As those bodies all enter the ground at the end of the journey, the bones will fall apart and not a trace will remain of all those millions of people; all that will remain is the souls bowing in awe before our Lord and hoping for forgiveness.

“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Furqan 25:70)

“The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours), La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), to Him is the final return.” (Ghafir 40:3)

If People Could See Hell for Only a Few Minutes

Photo credit: Aztlek / iWoman / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Aztlek / iWoman / CC BY-SA

Imagine for a moment that life in this world had stopped. What if all the billions of people in the world could stand still and look at life in Hell for a few minutes? All the people in the U.S. stock exchanges; those shedding the blood of the innocent in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Syria; those cramming money into safe deposit boxes in European banks; people holding meetings in huge centers of business; those striving to perfect their bodies in gyms; those betraying the people closest to them for a tiny advantage in this world; those refusing to look their own brothers in the face because of disputes over their inheritance; those who become caught up in the life of this world and forget the hereafter, and those who dedicate themselves to having a good time…

Have you ever wondered how these people looking at the life of Hell for just a few minutes would react? At that moment, those people would realize that there is an absolute end to the life of this world and that real life will in fact begin after death. The screen of heedlessness between the life of this world and the Hereafter will be lifted. And with death, people will see how hollow the life of this world is and how everything they so desired, all their money, possessions, husbands and wives, friends and careers will be left behind; everyone will suddenly fall silent, their hearts in their mouths. People eating will be unable to swallow, people speaking will be unable to finish what they are saying, people standing will have to sit down, people walking on the streets will fall down and people lying down will leap to their feet in excitement. Everyone, without exception, will see that there is no place in Hell for all the wealth, delights, luxury homes, yachts and everything else that people yearn for in this world.

“Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell, he will burn therein disgraced and rejected ( far away from Allah’s (swt) Mercy).” (Al-Isra 17:18)

What about those people who turn their backs on their brothers for the sake of money, who strive throughout their lives to pile one fortune on top of another, and refuse to spend that money for God’s approval? And what about those who do not feed the hungry, who do not protect the orphaned, and who spend their wealth on foul things instead? Will they not realize when they see Hell that all their money is of no value at all?

Money is only valid in the life of this world; it is of no use in Hell, even if one was the richest person in the world. Position is of no use either, even if one was once the most important person in the world. Even the most powerful friends and relatives in this world are of no use there. God reveals in the Quran that when people see the torments of Hell, they would want to pay a ransom to avoid it.

Money is only valid in the life of this world; it is of no use in Hell, even if one was the richest person in the world.

“For those who answered their Lord’s Call is Al-Husna (i.e. Paradise). But those who answered not His Call (disbelieved in the Oneness of Allah and followed not His Messenger Muhammad (sa)), if they had all that is in the earth together with its like, they would offer it in order to save themselves (from the torment, it will be in vain). For them there will be the terrible reckoning. Their dwelling place will be Hell; – and worst indeed is that place for rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:18)

What about people fighting all across the world, those raining bombs down on the innocent, those ruthlessly driving wretched women and children from their homes, those spreading evil for the sake of land or oil or gold or diamonds, those who fall out because of self-interest and those who incite civil strife and then watch from a distance? When these people see that there is an end to this world and look at Hell for just a few minutes, will they still continue fighting and slaughtering? Of course not!

At the moment, as required by the test, there is an invisible screen between us and Paradise and Hell. It is such a heavy screen that nobody without faith, who does not know that this world ends in the Hereafter and who imagines that life consists solely of the life of this world can lift it for even a moment- that is why everything seems so important in this world for these people. Such people strive to claim their little share of this world at the expense of the eternal life of the Hereafter.

However, there is no such screen of heedlessness for the believer who turns to God with a sincere heart between the life of this world and the Hereafter. The believer has filled his heart with love and awe of God. He has dedicated his life to God.

The believer lives with deep faith during the life of this world, he knows that he is on the very shores of Paradise and Hell. That knowledge shapes his entire life.

“He says, “Say (O Muhammad (sa): Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Anam 6:162) and continues on that same straight path.

There is no need for him to see Hell with his own eyes to believe in it. He sees it with his heart, since he already believes in it. In living with a deep faith during the life of this world, he knows that he is on the very shores of Paradise and Hell. That knowledge shapes his entire life.

“Nay! You shall come to know! Again, Nay! You shall come to know!

Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldly things) Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)!

And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight! Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!” (At-Takathur 102:3-8)

Hell happily swallows up the unbelievers, while the gates of Paradise will open wide for believers. Believers will then have an absolute and certain faith in the Hereafter without yet seeing it and they will receive the reward for their sincerity for all time. There is no greater reward for a servant, of course, than God’s approval and love. A life spent with awareness and faith and reason will be fixed for all time in Paradise.

“Their reward with their Lord is ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity), underneath which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever, Allah Well-Pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord.” (Al-Bayyinah 98:8)

Trials and Tribulations

Photo credit: BarbaraWilli / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: BarbaraWilli / Foter / CC BY

Every human on this planet has to come across hardships in life. Not only us but also our ancestors had to face certain trials and tribulations. Some of us manage to go through difficult times by being patient, while others hand themselves over to depression. Some grieve over lost possessions, while others cry upon seeing their loved ones in pain. This is the principle of life that differentiates the believer from the hypocrite, steadfast from the shaky, and claimer from the doer. If man manages to know, why he is made to suffer, he will soon find out the reason behind his existence. This is the truth that most of us do not yearn to look for. This is the knot that we still need to untie by sparing sometime to think about us, and about our self!

Humans often do things that they once claimed not to do and vice versa. How many times it happens that we tell someone not to reveal our secret, yet we find people talking about us the next day? Students, at times, fix the date for a particular test with mutual agreement, and still they are not prepared for it on the fixed day. But, it is not a universal truth for all; as there are people who keep secrets and students who prepare for the test as planned. Same is the case with the believer who acts upon his/her own claims. The believer can only be a believer when by actions he/she displays his firm belief in Allah (swt) Almighty. Trials and tribulations befall us by the command of Allah (swt) Almighty to see if we truly believe in Him, as we claim.

Allah (swt) says, “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.” (Al-Ankabut 29:2)

From entering a medical college to getting a driver’s license, everybody has to go through a test, without which such goals cannot be achieved. Same is the case with a sports person, who practices all day long to have what he had wished for. In short, every achievement has its own criteria of eligibility. The one who manages to fulfill such criterion simply has it. We, humans, are also tested by Allah (swt), so that He would know, which one of us is righteous in deeds. The ones, who will ultimately manage to pass all the trials with patience and strong faith in Allah (swt), will, Insha’Allah, get the greatest reward – Jannah!

Allah (swt) says, And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

There is no doubt about the fact that we all will be tested. But what is more important to know is that the burden we will be subjected to would not be something unbearable.

There is no doubt about the fact that we all will be tested. But what is more important to know is that the burden we will be subjected to would not be something unbearable. This shows Allah’s (swt) mercy, as our Lord despite of testing us, creates ease for us.

Allah (swt) says, “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Allah (swt) Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Most Generous, has put before us examples of prophets to follow. The life of each prophet portrays a lesson for the believers. One can relate to their stories, while going through the walk of life. Hearing of trials and tribulations, prophet Ayoob’s (as) name comes to my mind. Allah (swt) Almighty tested him in everything that he had. He lost his children, wealth, health and even his closest friends. Yet, after going through such tests, he showed patience and prayed to Allah (swt). Regarding Ayoob (as), Allah (swt) says:

“And (remember) Ayoob (Job), when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.” So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost), and the like thereof along with them, as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all who worship Us.” (Al-Anbiya 21:83-84)

Living and trying to face our problems with patience is better than giving it all away to depression. Especially, when we know that it is something, which we can handle. Burying our head in the sand to avoid danger would not change the reality. We are going to be tested when there is time for us to be tested. So, it is better to strengthen our Iman (faith) before that time comes. In order to increase our faith in Allah (swt) Almighty, we must increase our knowledge about Islam. And to do that, let’s just spare a few minutes from our busy lives learning about Islam, in order to nurture our soul and manage our highs and lows.

Old Enough to Die

Is it Real? III - Shroud of TurinSomeone crossing the street is unaware of the fact that he can be hit by a car and killed, or crippled for life one minute later. Someone who visits the doctor is unaware that his internal organs are riddled with cancer cells. A baby opening its eyes in this world is unaware that it will be taken to Paradise by the angels in a few minutes’ time. Someone sitting quietly in his chair is unaware that he will suffer a heart attack in the very next second. A family returning from dinner at a restaurant and thinking about so many different things are unaware that they are about to have a traffic accident and lose their lives.

Death does not recognize age, position or wealth. If a person’s time has come, absolutely nobody can halt the angels of death; because the angels obey the commands given them by our Lord and will come and take away that person’s soul. Someone who is so proud and boastful, and spends hours thinking about the most unimportant things, is actually entirely helpless. He has no idea that the very next step he takes will see him pass to a very different world in which he will be unable to establish any contact with this one. The things he was so preoccupied with will remain here, while he steps into the eternal life of the hereafter.

“And you at the moment are looking on, But We (i.e. Our angels who take the soul) are nearer to him than you, but you see not.” (Al-Waqiah 56:84-85)

Nobody in the world can know the hour of his death, neither can he postpone it or bring it forward. Allah (swt) has appointed a moment of death in the destiny of every person He creates, and destiny operates down to the tiniest detail at every moment. A person carries on quietly living, goes about his daily business, talks and laughs with his friends and eats and drinks and has fun. Yet, that very day may possibly be his last in this world. After that, all contact with this world will be cut off, and everything to do with the life of this world will be left behind him.

Death does not recognize age, position or wealth. If a person’s time has come, absolutely nobody can halt the angels of death

“Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high! And if some good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if some evil befalls them, they say, “This is from you (O Muhammad(sa)).” Say: “All things are from Allah,” so what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word?” (An-Nisa 4:78)

So if everyone is old enough to die, should not people remember death all the time? After all, the angels of death are waiting as we sleep, walk along the road, pre-occupied with work or while we’re talking with our friends; we cannot see or hear them, but they can see us and they record all we do. If the person that died was a believer in life, if he filled his earthly ledger with good deeds, worship, patience and submission to Allah (swt), if he lived and died for Allah (swt), then he will see the angels in all their beauty and will be rewarded with Paradise. There will be no more fear for him, because then he will be one of the people of Paradise with whom Allah (swt) will be well pleased. Insha’Allah.

“They (angels) said: Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” (An-Nahl 16:32)

If death is waiting just one step away, then one should not waste a single day, a minute or even a second; every new awakening in the morning is a fine opportunity given to one by Allah (swt) to earn further merit. One must live for His approval on that day too, and adorn it with prayer, worship and good deeds. Everything on that day, from the believer’s smiling face to his humility, from his training of his lower self to the moral values he exhibits at every moment, is of the greatest value because they are all recorded and will earn him merits for the Hereafter. A believer will be rewarded many times over in Paradise for his good deeds in this world. While he spends with fervour and passion in this world, the finest mansions are being prepared from him in Paradise.

The life of this world is literally no longer than a single breath. The best thing to do before that last day comes is to know “that one is always old enough to die” and live in the light of that awareness.

“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)

[Poem] Du’a

dua

There’s unexplainable anguish,
And unbearable pain!
My heart feels heavy while,
I stare my surroundings in vain!

I am in a state of denial,
I am experiencing agony,
I want to escape the truth,
Oh Allah, I want to flee!

The hand that rocked my cradle,
Is not in the world, no more!
I can’t change what’s happened,
As it was your will, I know!

But the reality is killing me,
Agonizing, this pain is so much!
My heart seems to tear apart,
Nothing to console me, as such!

I feel I have lost my shelter,
I feel so insecure,
My mother was my refuge,
She was my Jannah’s door!

Her voice echoes in my ears,
I can still feel her touch,
Her beautiful smile and face,
I can’t forget, It’s really tough!

Although my ‘Ma’ has departed
To her abode that’s final,
I want to acknowledge,
The goodness of her survival ….

Her beautiful patience,
Her demeanor that was lively,
Her kind words and deeds,
Her dua’s that came timely!

“TO ALLAH WE BELONG,
AND TO HIM WE SHALL RETURN!”
Oh Ummi, I miss you badly,
While you submit to His summon!

I know you are in a better place,
You are in Allah’s perfect care,
You have finally met your Creator,
You are much happier there!

May Allah lighten up your grave,
And may He shower His mercy,
On you, O Ma, so you may,
Reach eternal bliss and be…

A resident of the Paradise,
His rewarded and blessed one,
May you be granted the highest rank,
In your journey, that has just begun!

Aameen.

The Mountain Peak

jannah-paradiseHow honorable is dwelling with mates,

In Paradise and that’s indeed the best company,

How great is neighborhood to persons of repute,

They will have the pleasure of seeing the Lord,

And listen with delight to His Sublime Word,

With silk brocade being their main garment,

They have their heads crowned with finest crowns,

Inlaid with ornate pearls and rare moonstones,

Or silver that is made of only pure gold

And golden rings and bracelets molded,

Of silver and prettily adorned forearms

Their served food is soft bird meat

The finest of camel that feed on all sorts

And bowls of precious pearls and gold,

Strewn, as seventy thousand, on a thousand tables,

If you feel a thirst and desirous for these,

As much as an exile who yearns for home,

Be as charitable as you can and then you will

Be rewarded for good with that which is best

Prepare for the Gardens of Eden and all

The blessings of it that surely never cease,

Observe fast always and rise in prayer,

For both are indeed acceptable deeds,

Wake in the night and recite Qur’an,

And have little sleep as an anxious one,

Perhaps, your death knell once suddenly tolls,

Your coffin then, not bed, will be the place to rest, How great to shed tears at night,

Due to the fear of the Lord, the Ever Compassionate,

So, lower your gaze and always avoid,

Any forbidden looks and strain to be modest,

Strive and beware of all women’s temptations,

You get them as mates as many hours in Paradise,

Blessed is life there and all its pleasures,

With all kinds of fruit as served in pairs,

Belittle you never any venial sin,

As fire begins with little sparks

Once you sin, be quick to repent,

For fear of sudden death, with no delay,

Sate not your whims and never be excessive,

Allah surely hates greedy persons,

The one who gives in to lust and appetite,

Will suffer forever their two-forked yoke,

So, fast by day to drink your fill

On the day people will be parched with thirst,

There is no good at all in musical instruments,

Or dancing or similar forms of merry-making,

The devout are always afraid of their Lord,

Avoiding listening to music and singing,

They rather recite the Glorious Qur’an,

Especially with melodious and tuneful to ears,

At night, than all those flutes and fifes,

If you just perceive the Doomsday’s horrors,

You would surely flee from kinfolk and home,

Due to its horrors, the skies would crack,

The infant’s hair will turn grey,

Austere and distressful that day will be,

And highly burdensome for humans at all,

that day the devout are driven to their Lord,

With finest of mounts carrying them all,

The wretched, however, are driven to Hell,

Where they will suffer the parching thirst,

So, Heaven and Hellfire respectively will be

For the devout and wicked an eternal abode.

(Published with permission from “On the Mountain Peak” by Dr. Muhammad Al-‘Areefi. Publisher: “Darussalam”)

Quran Stories 2: The Believer of Ya-Sin

Alone in a crowdEver since we were kids, our eyes glazed over at the prospect of being told a story. Even as adults with kids of our own today, we relive our stories and memories. The Quran is nearly 1/3 stories, Allah (swt), our Creator, knows how powerful stories are; in fact all civilizations used  to pass on knowledge in the form of stories from one generation to the next. Stories have a profound impact on our minds – for example, how influential Hollywood is universally! Allah (swt) has related to us the best stories that are true, so why go elsewhere.

Story of the anonymous preacher

The story of an unnamed believer in Surah Ya-sin is noteworthy for many reasons, but most importantly because it teaches us how to be a Daee or the one who invites others to Islam. It starts with a conversation that two messengers have with people in a small town. When these people transgress and deny the messengers, Allah (swt) reinforces the two messengers with a third to lend weight to their claim and help them.

This also serves to indicate that the message is crystal clear, three people claiming the same thing. The names of the people or the town are not relevant so Allah (swt) has left them out in His wisdom as it would detract us from the lessons in the story. Also Allah (swt) will leave no place without sending guidance.

The messengers say: “Verily! We have been sent to you as Messengers.”

The people of the town denied that those men could be Messengers, they belied them. Their argument was like the one that the Quraish used on the Prophet (sa) as well: “You are only human being like us, and the Most Beneficent (Allah) has revealed nothing, you are only telling lies.”

The messengers reply: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you, and our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).”

They claimed that they wanted no riches or fame, their only aim was to deliver Allah’s (swt) message. They said Allah (swt) was enough for them, He was their witness that they were telling the truth.

Now, when people are stubborn and do not want to see the truth, they start an illogical argument, they said: “For us, we see an evil omen from you, if you cease not, we will surely stone you, and a painful torment will touch you from us.”

Imagine, in exchange for good, these evil people wanted to hurt the messengers who were trying to save them from doom.This is typical of people who do not have truth on their side; they will always resort to tyranny and oppression. They do not have words to counter the truth with; they just rely on superstitions and omens.

The messengers reply: “Your evil omens be with you! (Do you call it “evil omen”) because you are admonished? Nay, but you are a people Musrifun (transgressing all bounds by committing all kinds of great sins and by disobeying Allah).”

This is such an important lesson for us. Whenever we feel that someone wants to hurt us; we should look within ourselves and evaluate whether we are the ones who are being prejudiced? The messengers’ job is only to deliver Allah’s (swt) message as clearly and accurately as possible; people are free to choose what they want.

Dawah – Our sole and sacred mission!

A man from the furthest part of the city arrived. This statement teaches us two things: First, when the truth is apparent, we should hurry towards it and make an effort to tell others. Sitting at home and tweeting about it does not work. The first thing this man did was to call his people towards Allah (swt). He did not claim to be one of the messengers. His concern was only for his townsfolk – he did Dawah. Even when there are others doing Dawah, our responsibility to enjoin good and forbid evil does not desist; it is still our duty. He said, “My O my people! Obey the Messengers; Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves), and who are rightly guided.”

It is obvious that the man was not an influential person in the town, he was an average resident.

The townsfolk were very upset, and they did not want to hear what this man had to say, “And why should I not worship Him (Allah Alone) Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned. Shall I take besides Him Aliha (gods), if the Most Beneficent (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me? Then verily, I should be in plain error. Verily! I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!”

He was adamant, and knew that if Allah (swt) wanted harm to come to him, no one could stop it. Allah (swt) tells us that He will test our patience. The man realized that false idols could not harm or save him. What was perceived as harm was in reality Allah’s (swt) mercy- as we discover in the next verse.

The story continues and we are informed that Allah (swt) had asked this man to enter Paradise. We read in between the lines, that the people must have murdered this innocent man. The man was in Paradise, yet concerned for his people and said, “Would that my people knew! That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honoured ones!”

2

He was only an ordinary man and was killed for his belief. His response was not revenge; he only wished that the people could see what he could see after his remorse, so they would believe. He was forgiving and was steadfast in his mission, in spite of messengers sent by Allah (swt). Finally, after Allah (swt) had given the town’s people every chance to redeem themselves, He said, It was but one Saihah (shout, etc.) and lo! They (all) were silent (dead-destroyed).”

Subhan’Allah, we humans are so fragile, and when we disobey Allah (swt), nothing but humiliation is our destiny!

(Adapted with permission for “Hiba” by Tasneem Vali.)