Apprehending the Ramadan Once Again

 

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                                                  Image Courtesy www.datemplate.com

 

We have once again come to the holy month of Ramadan by Allah’s (swt) Will; the sacred month when the Quran was revealed- bringing good news and mercy; and as a reminder to the believers.

The spirituality, radiance and zeal- which are so distinctive of Ramadan- make this month the sultan of the year, with a unique sacredness and meaning for Muslims; and which has encompassed the entire Islamic world.

During the month of Ramadan- longed for just like a month in every period throughout history with its special virtues- we will observe the worship of fasting with our Muslim brothers, and be thankful for all the blessings our Lord has granted us; and perform prayers in crowded communities by praising His name. We will preserve the limits of Allah (swt), as we are informed in the verses of the Quran and the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa), enhance our feelings of helpfulness, solidarity and brotherhood, and close our ranks with love. The fasts that we break together, and our prayers will be the means for overflowing our hearts with love of Allah (swt).

While we are wishing for goodness and mercy for all Muslims in the month of Ramadan, we unquestionably remember our brothers who are being persecuted in every corner of the world. In this Ramadan, we remember that there is an urgent need for unity and solidarity for the salvation of Muslims who are under persecution and oppression in Myanmar, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Patani, Kashmir, East Turkestan, Moro, and Crimea, as well as, many other parts of the world; as we remember the innocent people, the people of Middle East have been shattered by mischief, and all kinds of affliction; and are facing the most ruthless siege. We must never forget the images of innocent people devastated with automatic rifles and bombs, and the dead bodies of children lined up next to one another.

It is not possible for us to remain insensible while millions of our brothers are downtrodden. Every time we break our fast, we will be mindful of them and hold them in our prayers. We will say, be it in small or big gatherings, that the only salvation of the Islamic world is in Islamic Union, and that Muslims should be united at once, and that delaying this unification is unlawful. Also, we believe that every one of us will act with the utmost conscience, and make significant strides on this path.

Indeed, the solidarity of Muslims, their being in unity and embracing one another should be the top priority in the Islamic world.

Millions of innocents are expecting a helping hand from their Muslim brothers. We must empathize to their dire straits by putting ourselves in their place, and striving for their salvation with our greatest efforts, is one of our major obligations. We need to be aware that we will have to account for every drop of blood that is shed; every guiltless person who is martyred or disabled because of an injury; or every aggrieved individual in starvation.

There is no doubt that it is already time for the Islamic world to unite. When all the lands of Islam act in alliance and togetherness, they will make enormous progress by Allah’s (swt) will; and the mischief we see throughout the world, will come to an end. It is essential for Muslims to come together in unison for the bloodshed to stop, for the anarchy and terror to end, and for tranquility, welfare and security to prevail all over the world.

We hope that in this sacred month, Muslims will put aside their dissention, and come together; and attain days of serenity, radiance and peace by the Will of our Lord. All Muslims should leave aside the fighting, conflict and resentment this Ramadan, act in alliance and seek ways to save their brothers under oppression so that the seemingly unceasing strife is brought to an end in the Islamic world. By realizing that our religion enjoins peace and brotherhood, we wish that all divisions and bitterness be eliminated so that the lifelessness, disagreement and disputes arising from differences are removed; and that Muslim brothers and sisters can reconcile. And again, we pray that this blessed month is the means for laying the foundations of a delightful, peaceful and luminous period in the Islamic world, just like the Age of Bliss.

 

 

 

 

A Ramadan when Muslims don’t fight Muslims

 

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                                                      http://www.muslimmirror.com

 

 

‘Ramadan Mubarak’ to all the Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. I pray to my Lord that, this holy month which encompasses the Night of Qadr, the Night when the Quran, the guide to all of humanity was sent down, and which is as Allah (swt) said,,

The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).”

(Al-Qadr 97:3) This month will bring peace, happiness and welfare to the entire Islamic world Insha’Allah.

The holy month of Ramadan carries so many beauties and blessings, and it would be almost impossible to list them all here. In this sacred month, Muslims throughout the vast Islamic geography become united, put behind the resentments from the past and embrace the feelings of brotherhood, alliance, love, compassion and affection

. The poor and the needy are taken care of through the Iftar gatherings; and the aid of charity organizations and benefactors, creating a blessed environment for all the parties involved.

The month of Ramadan has very positive effects on people’s souls. The crime rates drastically drop during this month in the Muslim world. Many avoid telling lies, committing sins, and shun any activities that Allah (swt) wouldn’t approve of. They feel more empowered, and inspired to think and act better. Fasting makes them ponder upon matters that they never gave a thought to before, and this creates a fear of God Allah (swt), and a longing for the Hereafter in their hearts. They get closer to religion, and many of them continue to live a more devout and sincere life even after Ramadan ends. Therefore, Ramadan is a month of endless blessings and goodness.

However, the Islamic world has started this Ramadan amidst wars, conflicts and poverty. We started last Ramadan by praying that all the pains, suffering and wars that the innocent people of the Islamic world had to endure would end soon. This year, Muslims are facing even bigger difficulties. In the Middle East particularly, brothers have turned against brothers and Muslims are fighting Muslims. Innocent people are being killed for no reason, forced out of their homes and countries, our historical heritage is being destroyed and things escalate further with every passing day.

However, our Lord said in the fourth verse of Surah As-Saff, “Verily, Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure.” (As-Saff 61:4); and He made it very clear that it is an obligation for Muslims to be united.

Muslims are the guardians of each other, and as they are the friends of Allah (swt), the helpers of Allah (swt), they have the sublime moral values to bring peace and justice to the world. It is for this reason that Muslims need to love, embrace and help each other.

It is important that Muslims fail the plot of Satan immediately to bring an atmosphere of unity and love to the Muslim world- regardless of any ethnic, racial, sectarian, or other differences. Our Lord said, “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves…” (Al-Imran 3:103); and ordered Muslims to be united, help, love and cooperate with each other, and intellectually disperse the evil results of hostility.

Allah (swt) created destiny, and He showed us the way of salvation. The only thing we need to do is follow His words, and bring love and compassion to the Islamic world. Allah (swt) commanded Muslims to set aside all their differences; and love and help each other. We pray that this Ramadan will be a month when Muslims stop pointing guns at each other, and foil the plot of  Satan by extinguishing  the fires of hostility and strife; and becoming more loving, compassionate, understanding, and reasonable towards each other.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com

 

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending!

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

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

Hawnan- Fly high, but lower your wings!

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

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

A great man is always willing to be little

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

They learn to walk on the earth with humility.

With humility comes wisdom- Keep it with you!

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

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

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

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

Peacefully- say or sway!

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

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

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

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

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

Transcribed for Hiba by Amal Abdullah

Resolving family conflicts

familyIslam is based on a relationship with Allah (swt), with its creations and the world we live in. As soon as we come together, a potential conflict exists. But conflict is not unnatural. Of course with Allah (swt), there is no conflict- as He is Al-Aziz (The Mighty) and Al-Jabbar (The Compeller). Whatever He decides will be. However, between humans there exist differences. Allah (swt) wants us to take the best out of these differences. It is Allah (swt) Who has planted the seed of difference in our existence in regard to other human beings. Be it our colour, our nations, our tribes, etc.

We live in a community, and were not sent to live in a monastery or on top of a mountain. The Prophet (sa) said: “The believer who mixes with humans and bear’s their harm is better than the one who does not mix with people and bear their harm.” (Tirmidhi) Hence, the preferable way for the believer is to deal with conflicts positively as it contains good. But, as soon as we utter the word ‘conflict’, we think negative. We are trained to think that ‘we should avoid it, block it as it is bad.’ Circumstances without it are better.

The issue is, are we able to identify the good in the conflict? The following might just alter your perspective:

  1. Means for a change. Conflicts provide just that. When we change from what we were doing to something different, it highlights that our previous way of handling something was wrong. It shows a conflict between what we were doing versus the best way to do something. This spells the need for us to change to what is beneficial for all.
  2. Motivates us. Conflicts motivate us to do better. Otherwise, we are complacent and lazy about the way things are. Things either improve or degrade. The idea of going at one pace with no ups and downs is impossible. That is not life. That is the life of a stone. Living creatures experience change- whether it is a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, or a child growing up to be an adult. Allah (swt) states, “We created human beings in struggle.” (Surah Balad, 90: 4)) Struggle is a result of conflict. Gravity tells us to lie down, but struggle tells us to roll over. Gravity tells us to stay where we are. Struggle tells us to move, and eventually, we start walking. Struggle and conflict are part of our own development.
  3. Increases awareness of issues. Pain in life is important for us to know that things are not going in the right direction in life. Those patients, who due to a damaged nervous system are unable to feel pain, self-destruct themselves. Pain lets us know where our problem exists; otherwise, we would bleed and bruise to death. Similarly, conflicts identify where issues need to be corrected so we can repair and improve.
  4. Improves decision-making. Conflicts also cause decisions to be sought out more carefully. Through conflicts, some careful decision-making is reached; more precautions are taken and secure analysis is done.

    The attitude of gratitude is the most powerful attribute after believing in Allah (swt). Whenever you feel frustrated, distressed, in the middle of a conflict make Sujood-as-Shukr.

  5. Opportunity for self-assessment. It helps us to understand what we are really like. We might think of ourselves as someone very calm and understanding, but as the heat turns on our voices raise. It exposes our weakness. It is under conflict that we can take benefit for personal change to correct short comings that we are not normally aware of.
  6. Smaller conflicts defuse greater conflicts. If we can deal with certain issues by catching them at an earlier stage, we are then able to prevent greater harm at a later stage. It is nipped in the bud.
  7. Amusement, if not taken seriously. Differences can be put in place. If we have the ability to handle them in a non-serious manner, we can laugh about them. We all argue and later look back and laugh at it realizing that it was nothing to be uptight about.
  8. With every evil exists good. Can we capitalize on the positive and do not become overwhelmed and overcame by conflicts? Allah (swt) does not cause any harm, evil or bad to occur, unless there is a good side to it. Allah (swt) didn’t create Satan to commit evil. Likewise, Allah (swt) didn’t create Hazrat Adam (as) to disobey. But, He did provide them with the opportunity to ask for forgiveness later. The template for life is, ‘Repentance must follow error and sin.’ And the power of repentance is so great that the Prophet (sa) said: “One who repents from sins is like one who never sinned.” (Ibn Majah; Hasan)). Repentance is a higher level of worship. It is the reason for creation of sin.
  9. A means to get to know others. When we face a problem, we should work vigorously to deal with the problem and not the person. Also, we must understand that asking others and their listening to us doesn’t equate to agreeing to and obeying. We confuse ourselves when we say something and assume that others are in agreement. We need to ensure first if he/she accepts it or not.
  10. Develops Husn-e-Zan. In the course of a dialogue, words have impact. If in the discussion we accuse: “You said or you thought or you did…” it works like fuel on the fire. You are taking it right to the person. Instead, you may say: “I thought or it was my interpretation or I understood…” This does not sound confrontational. You are defusing the problem. Hence, beware of ‘you’ and ‘your’. Always give the benefit of the doubt to others by assuming the best interpretation they meant. To have assumed the worst, well in fact, it wasn’t intended at all, is bad.

Importance of gratitude

It is for us to take the good out of conflicts when they occur in families, whether it is between spouses, parents and their children or siblings. We need to look at the glass that is half full. Islam always talks about positivity. Muslims recite the chapter of Fatihah seventeen times daily. What is it? It teaches gratefulness. The attitude of gratitude is the most powerful attribute after believing in Allah (swt). Whenever you feel frustrated, distressed, in the middle of a conflict make Sujood-as-Shukr. This is the best cure. It was the Prophet’s (sa) regular practice. Sujood-as-Shukr keeps us in touch with the positive side of reality.

Ingratitude is so dangerous that the Prophet (sa) said the majority of women will be in hellfire as they are quick to deny good. It’s an alarming practice with horrible consequences. It is important for us to be grateful to Allah (swt) and then to our fellow beings. The Prophet (sa) said that whoever is not thankful to people is not thankful to Allah (swt). If the wives do not appreciate their husbands for what they have done, they are not thanking Allah (swt) either. Similarly for men, big displays of gratitude to Allah (swt) mean little if they mistreat their wives.

Some conflicts end in depression. Depression is the inability to recognize good. Hundreds of people are killing themselves due to it. Psychologists consider offering gratitude to be the best remedy for dealing with depression. As a general principle when resolving family conflicts this needs to be considered carefully. This is a huge topic. We can apply this principle to virtually all circumstances.

In any conflict, ask Allah (swt) what good does He want to bring forth? Then develop strategies. Difference between needs, values and beliefs are reasons for problems resulting between people in conflict. Though Pakistan has mostly a homogenous community, still there are some unique familial, tribal customs and values people carry with them as they come together in marriage.These are some foundations of conflict, but Allah (swt) commands us to resolve them.

We need to ask ourselves a very vital question: “Would I rather be happy or would I rather be right?”

Say ‘Go’ to your Ego!

In families, the biggest problem is communication breakdown. Marriage psychologists especially highlight this challenge. Men usually do not like to talk. Women always like to talk. There are different ways that people use to deal with their troubles. We must keep the dialogue going. We need to ask ourselves a very vital question: “Would I rather be happy or would I rather be right?” What if you actually give up when you have an opportunity to further go into conflict?

The Prophet (sa) states: “If a person gives up his argument in spite of being right, Allah (swt) promises him a place in Jannah.” (Abu Dawud). Some people insist that they will fight for their right, but actually, it is not always wise to be right and have the last say. One must analyze the situation. What is the greater good of the situation?  Greater good is in happiness. Allah (swt) has put a husband and a wife together for them to be in a state of love, comfort and happiness.  Do not let smaller issues be blown out of proportion.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan, editor Hiba.

Five Duas Every Muslim Should Make

duahandsIn the Quran, Allah (swt) says, “O mankind! You are Fuqara (those in need).” We have many needs. We look at other people and are reminded of our own deprivations. Zakariya (as) looked at Mariam (as) and realised he has a need. He immediately turned to Allah (swt) in need.

All day long we remind ourselves of what is missing from our lives, yet when we get on the prayer mat we forget to ask. Allah (swt) did a great favour upon us by collecting the Duas of His beloved servants (as) and preserving them. The Companions (as) forwarded the kindness by recording the supplications of the Prophet (sa). These are the Duas for us to take inspiration from.

Let’s look at some of the Duas that the Prophets (as) made and we should too.

1. Protection from Shirk

Following people and keeping a tab on their lives might appear trifling. But when people become the sole focus of our lives – we live for them, we seek and cherish their praises – then certainly it is not a petty matter. We have fallen for Shirk. Allah (swt) should be the main focus of our lives. We should seek love and acknowledgement from Him. In the times of trials, we should remember He is the One to ask help from. Seeing our blessings, we should thank Him first and then the people. We need to learn about the different forms of Shirk and protect ourselves from falling for them.

Ibrahim (as) lost his family, his people and his town, but he did not associate anyone with Allah (swt). He asked Allah (swt) to protect him and his sons from worshipping idols. “And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said: O my Lord! Make this city (Makkah) one of peace and security, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.” (Ibrahim 14:35)

2. Peace and Sustenance

Hearing the news of another bomb blast or another strike, one wonders how life will continue. How will the businesses function? Fearing for safety and sustenance leaves one anxious and disturbed. Nothing can be accomplished. Leaving his family in an uninhabited land, Ibrahim (as) asked Allah (swt) for peace, sustenance and warmth of the people. He knew they will need all these to survive their challenges. “O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka’bah at Makkah); in order, O our Lord, that they may perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.” (Ibrahim 14:37)

3. Righteous Companions

A Hadeeth tells us that we will be resurrected with the people that we love. Who do we love? Yusuf (as) a righteous man himself, especially prayed to Allah (swt) to join him with the righteous in the hereafter. “My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; The (only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous.” (Yusuf 12:101) Ask Allah (swt) to grant you righteous friends, righteous spouses, righteous children in this world and to raise you and your loved ones with the righteous, in the hereafter.

4. Protection from Zulm

Zulm is not giving someone his right. You take the telephone set off its stand and place it on the floor, you have done Zulm. We must ask Allah (swt) to not make of those who commit injustice or injustice is done to us. All the arguments of someone not giving us our right will just end.

5. Acceptance of Deeds

Upon doing a good deed we must remember Ibrahim’s (as) humility. Never should we be boastful. Ibrahim (as) was chosen by Allah (swt) to build His House, yet he feared acceptance. “And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) and (his son) Isma’il (Ishmael) were raising the foundations of the House (the Ka’bah at Makkah), (saying), Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.”(Al-Baqarah 2:127)

Ask Allah (swt) to guide us to the deeds which are accepted and allow us to do them.

Let the Quran do the Miracle

Park-Bench-SA-087-Last month, her life turned into a complete mess. Sitting on a bench in a park, she went into reminiscence of her past; she was a happy girl, leading a happy, prosperous life. She had a beautiful family comprising of her loving parents and siblings; a home, a good job with a successful career and many good friends. One day, while coming back from a family picnic, her car got into a terrible accident. Her parents and siblings died on the spot, while she got badly injured and lost her arm that made her handicapped. Due to her incapacitation, she was fired from her job; moreover, to pay for her medical expenses, she had to sell her house and move into her aunt’s home.

“Life has treated me cruelly!” she thought, while sitting on the bench, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. She felt worthless and purposeless, and found no reason to live anymore. She’d even tried committing suicide, but that too failed. The ghastly circumstances she’d seen in the last one month had made her miserable and depressed; all she wanted was some peace.
Some days later, she started working at a place, which accommodated people with disabilities. Since she was a hardworking and talented woman, she was able to buy a house soon with her earnings. She got a little stable with a decent job; yet, she did not get the peace and satisfaction that her heart yearned for.

She decided to get involved in various activities to divert her mind, hoping to get over her depression and emptiness in her heart. She started clubbing and partying, regularly attended social gatherings and visited friends. That company made her feel better, but she still did not get the peace she longed for.

Then, she joined a musical band and started listening to songs frequently on a friend’s advice, who told her that music is food for the soul; hence, it’d give her peace. She gave it a try and it felt good for some time, but then again, she felt that music gave her nothing but headache.
Afterwards, she decided to get into shopping spree; she’d spend all her time roaming in the markets. She made herself aware of the latest brands as well as the trends in fashion and shopped accordingly, stuffing her wardrobe with branded dresses, bags, shoes, jewellery and makeup. Consequently, spending all her time shopping made her forget about the sadness in her life; but, after about a week, all that felt useless. Her wardrobe, bloating with branded stuff, could not give her peace of mind and heart. It could not fill the emptiness in her heart.

Then, she started watching movies all the time. She got so absorbed in them that she’d forget all her worries; however, as soon as the movie was over, she’d start feeling restless and depressed again.

After that, she took up another job to keep herself as busy as possible, hoping it would help her get over her depression; but it was not much of a help either.

Next, she decided to go on a world tour. She had gathered enough money from her jobs, so she made a list of all the countries that she wanted to visit. Excited about the tour, she thought that it would certainly give her contentment, as she had wanted to have that tour since forever. So, she visited all the countries one by one, but to her disappointment, it couldn’t give her peace and satisfaction; her heart still felt vacant and peace less.

Her depression was gradually increasing; she even went on medication, but it did little good.Then, she got into drugs, expecting to get relief from her depression. But, it made the situation even worse! She had tried one thing after the other, but all in vain. All she wanted was peace and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul.

Then one day, she decided to visit an old friend, not knowing how this visit would change her entire life. Just as she entered her home, she heard something that captured her attention at once. It was somebody reciting the Quran. She stood there still, unable to take any step further, and listened to the words of the Quran – it was so beautiful and pleasing that it touched her heart, and she could feel the warmth of tears on her cheeks. She left the house that very moment, and felt ashamed realizing how long had it been since she had last read the Quran. All these years, she had been neglecting the Book sent by the One, Who created her!

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

She went home immediately, opened a cabinet that had not been opened since ages, and took out the Holy Quran, which was covered with dust. She wiped off the dust with trembling hands and watery eyes, her heart heavy with sheer embarrassment. She quickly performed ablution and sat down with the Quran in her hand. She randomly opened a page in the Quran, and the first Ayah on the page that caught her eyes was,

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find peace.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Reading this, she could not stop crying. It was as if these words were written exactly for her. All her life, she had been trying to find peace through materialistic desires, and that was the moment she felt utmost peace. In her flight for the search for peace and satisfaction, how beautifully Allah (swt) had landed her on the amazing Ayah!

She started reciting the Quran along with translation, and started obeying all of Allah’s (swt) commands in the Quran; it gave her so much peace and gratification that she could have never imagined to have. It felt as if the emptiness in her heart had finally been filled. She found contentment and satisfaction of heart, mind and soul that she had been longing for since a very long time.

Through the Quran, she realized that the death of her family, loss of job and all the other calamities were trials for her; challenges through which Allah (swt) tests His people, so that they bear patience on them and He raises their standards. The calamities and hardships of life are nothing but a blessing for us, which washes away our sins.

“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.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Through Quran, she found guidance for every aspect of her existence; she implemented it in her life, found true peace and lived happily ever after.

Muslim Scholars and Teachers Respond to Paris Shooting

Following are the responses of some of the Muslim scholars and thinkers to the Paris shooting as posted on their official Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We have tried our best to accommodate as many views as we can. If you have anything to add from another scholar, email us a screenshot at editor@hibamagazine.com and we will add it Insha’Allah!

MuftiMenk

OmarSuleiman

YasirQadhi

YaserBirjas

AbuEesa

YahyaAdel

 

Peace and Love – the Basis of Islam

Islam-Peace-ReligionThere has recently been a great upheaval in the Islamic world. Civil wars and invasions have grown, and Muslims continue to be oppressed. Some people point to the wickedness in the Islamic world and foolishly seek to ascribe this to Islam itself. Yet, Islam is a religion of peace and love that prohibits corruption, killing and dispute. It is vitally important that this fact is well explained to everyone with verses from the Quran, and the month of Ramadan is an excellent time for doing it.

People are more loving and forgiving in the month of Ramadan, and those, who have fallen out, are reconciled. The moral values that prevail in the month of Ramadan facilitate a better understanding of the fact that Islam is a religion of love.

Islam calls for peace and respect

Our holy book, the Quran, is a true Book sent down by Allah (swt) to lead people to the true path and to moral virtues. The moral values commanded in the Quran are based on love and understanding. The word ‘Islam’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Salam’. Allah (swt) sent down Islam so that people might see the manifestations of His infinite love and compassion in the world and to lead lives based on peace:

“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

In this verse, our Lord explicitly states that Islam is a faith built on the foundations of love and affection. The Quran teaches us a conception of love that stems from faith and has a profound effect on the soul. Feelings of altruism, courage, generosity, love and protectiveness represent the essence of the conception of love in the Quran.

That is why Islam calls people to peace and encourages a life based on complete sincerity and honesty in the sight of Allah (swt). It is therefore, very important for every individual to accept and act on Allah’s (swt) provisions and commands respectively; in order to live by Islam in a sincere manner.

This is the basis of Islam, and is set out as follows in a verse: “There is no compulsion in the religion.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

As Allah (swt) explicitly commands in this verse, nobody can compel anyone else to live by Islam. The responsibility of believers is to tell people of the existence of Allah (swt) and the moral values of the Quran. Muslims, who wish to discharge that responsibility, tell other people about Islam in order to be instrumental in their salvation. They obey Allah’s (swt) command about “enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil” and summon others to His path with all sincerity. In discharging that responsibility, however, they never resort to compulsion, and they know that it is Allah (swt) alone who will lead people to salvation. This is set out in the Quran in the following verse:

“Verily! You (O Muhammad(sa)) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.” (Al-Qasas 28:56)

Islam offers freedom of religion and belief

The moral values of Islam offer freedom of thought and religion, and thus environment of liberty. In the eyes of Islam, everyone has the right to live by his own beliefs, or lack thereof. One can worship in a church, in a synagogue or in a mosque, as one wishes, or live a life of no belief at all. Freedom of religion and belief, are therefore another basic element of Islam.

Muslims, therefore, regard people of all faiths, races and nations as manifestations of Allah (swt) in this world and feel a profound love and affection for them. This is a fact that constitutes the foundation of societies that live by Islamic moral values.

Islam – a gateway to peace and security

The most important feature of a society, in which peace has been established, is security; there can never be peace without security. From that point of view, Islam provides the precondition for peace, and the only way to ensure security is to “enter Islam,” to live by the moral values of Islam.

According to the Quran, a Muslim has a duty to treat everyone with kindness and affection. Every Muslim has a responsibility to aid the needy, protect the weak and prevent the spread of corruption. And corruption means all forms of anarchy and acts of terror that might threaten security and peace. As Allah (swt) says in one verse: “…and Allah likes not mischief.” (Al-Baqarah 2:205)

The love taught in the Quran is true love; based on the love of Allah (swt) and His approval. That love is never weakened in the face of difficulty, and grows even deeper; despite time and errors. The words of our Prophet (sa) always contain advice concerning the increase in love.

Let the love flourish

Ata Al-Khursani relates: “Rasulullah (sa) said: “Shake hands to that the hatred leaves your hearts. Give gifts so that love is born among you and enmity ends.” (Muwatta, Husnu’l Khulq)

Lovelessness is one of the greatest problems of our time. When there is no trust, people regard one another as a threat, or as dangerous. They may easily attack one another in the street or they may suddenly explode in anger; but where there is trust, there is also love. When people are valued and where there is love and forgiveness, love will flourish there. It is important to seek the beauty and goodness in everything. Let us not forget, that only then, we can love to the maximum and enjoy the greatest delights of brotherhood.

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Baqarah 1

pearls1Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Baqarah

Right in the beginning Allah (swt) starts off by saying: Alif-lam-meem. Dhalika alkitabu larayba feehi hudan lilmuttaqeen

“Alif-Lam-Meem.” This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah (swt).”

If you are conscious of Allah (swt), you will receive guidance from the Book. If you want to achieve inner comfort, never doubt a word in this Book. If science has proven something otherwise, remember that proof is wrong. There will come a day when science will re-prove until it comes in line with the narration of the Owner of creation. We are the believers. When you read the Book of Allah (swt), you should know for a fact that this is the absolute truth. Even if you don’t understand something temporarily; go and find out, go and ask the scholars and you will learn a lot.

So who are those conscious of Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) says, “Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them (i.e. give Zakat , spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah’s Cause – Jihad, etc.)..” (Al-Baqarah 2:3) If we could see the Unseen, we would be seeing the mercy of Allah (swt) and His Sakeena (tranquility) that descends whenever He is mentioned.

Two major qualities of a believer

Two qualities are required to be a believer:

  • establishing of Salah (prayer)
  • spending from the provision

Sometimes people who have been given more are stingy. On the other hand, those who have much less give out a lot in the way of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given you wealth, spend it in His way. Believing in the Unseen, establishing prayer and sharing your Rizq (provision) will take you to a different level. A person who misses his Salah cannot achieve peace. Wealth that is not spent in the right way does not benefit a person.

Allah (swt) then mentions at another point, “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, (O Muhammad), and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith).” (Al-Baqarah 2:4) We definitely believe in the Quran. And we also believe in the previous scriptures. We acknowledge that they are from Allah (swt), although they have been tampered today. If we are convinced about our meeting with Allah (swt), we will keep away from sins. Therefore, keep a check on yourself.

Signs of a hypocrite

Allah (swt) then mentions the qualities of a hypocrite. Know that a hypocrite cannot have peace. So who are the hypocrites? From their tongues they confess their belief in Allah (swt) and the Hereafter; however, their deeds do not reflect their words. They are in an entirely opposite direction. They think they are deceiving Allah (swt); yet they are deceiving none except themselves. Can anyone deceive Allah (swt)? How can we deceive Him when we will eventually return to Him? Therefore, Allah (swt) says that humans have disease in their hearts. A person with a diseased heart will never have inner peace. The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed there is a piece of flesh in your body which, if it be sound, then the whole body will be sound and if it be corrupt then the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” (Bukhari)

If there is a disease within us, we need to diagnose it. Look within yourself and reflect on your qualities. If you have hatred, jealousy, deception and love towards the material world in your heart; you need to fight it and take it out. This will grant you peace in this world and the Hereafter. As Allah (swt) says,

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart (clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)).” (Ash-Shuara 26:88-89) Thus, your heart has to be cleansed.

Due to this disease in their hearts, the hypocrites cannot differentiate between right and wrong. When they are told not to cause corruption, they say, “We are not corrupters.” This shows us that when our hearts are contaminated, we cannot focus properly. We chase things that can lead us to danger. This Ramadan we should strive to purify our hearts. May Allah (swt) grant us a heart that is always engaged in the remembrance of Allah (swt). Ameen.

Invitation to His Worship

Allah (swt) gives a general invitation to all mankind to worship Him. “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.” (A-Baqarah 2:21)

 Want to know who to worship? Worship the One Who sends you rainfall, crops and fruits. When you put your forehead and your nose on the ground, you are prostrating before the One Who created you. Allah (swt) mentions worship here because it is through worship that He will grant us peace.

History of Shaytan and his first victim Adam (as)

We talked about the being that snatches away our peace – the Shaytan. Allah (swt) now talks about his history. “When We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:34)

Here we learn to be careful of the devil. We lock up our cars and homes because of a few bad people out there waiting to snatch our belongings. Shaytan has enmity for us. Stay alarmed. Distance yourself from him because what you have in the form of Iman is far more valuable than three coins of gold. Make an effort to protect and look after your Iman. Serve Allah (swt). Get up in the early hours of the morning. Stand up for Taraweeh.

Wherever you falter, remember this pearl of peace, “Then Adam received from his Lord Words. And his Lord pardoned him (accepted his repentance). Verily, He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the Most Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:37)

Adam (as) learnt to seek repentance

After the sin was committed, Allah (swt) taught Adam (as) how to seek repentance. The devil leads us astray. Allah (swt) teaches us how to achieve His Mercy. He teaches us a few words to wipe out the effects of the devil. Admit your error. Regret your sin. Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and promise not to do it again. Allah (swt) doesn’t hold anything against you when you have asked for forgiveness. In the last hours of the night, He is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness so that I can forgive him?” But we are snoring at that time. In Ramadan we are worried about our Sahoor, “How many minutes are left? Why did you wake me up so late?” Allah (swt) is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness?” And we are busy with our bowl of porridge. How long does it take to say, “O Allah! Please forgive me”?

Time for Dua

There are so many things we are seeking for. Repeat your Dua list every day before Him. Don’t lose hope. There will come a time when everything that you ever wanted will be marked off your Dua list. That is the Qudrah of Allah (swt). Even if you have to wake up every night for years, do it. Our problem is that we lose hope and do not make an effort. At that moment, we are more worried about the temporal pleasure of our belly. We don’t realize that the more we eat the more hungry we will be. Improve your diet. Eat a quality meal. Add more fiber and foods with low GI (Glycemic Index).

Complain of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) then talks about the children of Prophet Yaqoob (as), O Children of Israel! Remember My Favour which I bestowed upon you….” (Al-Baqarah 2:40) Let’s pause here for a moment. Has Allah (swt) not favoured us? We are Muslims. We are alive. We can listen to the words of Allah (swt). We have a house, food and families. Has Allah (swt) not given us countless blessings? Associate this verse with the Children of Israel that ‘they’ have forgotten the gift of Allah (swt) upon ‘them’ so Allah (swt) is reminding ‘them’ in the Quran. We don’t realize that there is a lesson in it for ‘us’. What is the point of pointing fingers at others when we have forgotten countless gifts of Allah (swt) ourselves?

Gratitude gives peace

Be thankful for what you have; your parents, your spouse, your children, your house, all are gifts of Allah (swt). Be pleased with what you have. And be patient with your tests. Perfection is only in the Hereafter. Focus more on your own life than what people have and you will achieve peace.

The most repeated instructions in these verses have been: “offer your Salah, give Zakah and be patient.” Allah (swt) says, “And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, and Irka (i.e. bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allah) along with Ar-Rakiun.” (Al-
Baqarah 2:43) If we don’t offer our prayers or go to the Masjid, we will miss out on a number of blessings! The Imam is there. People are offering their prayers. Don’t be absent. Join them. Make it a concerted effort. Don’t disappear after day one.

Peace comes with patience

The same instruction has been given at other places in the same Surah. Allah (swt) says, “And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashiun (i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings “Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder (Hell, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45) It was said, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Baqarah 2:153) Something little goes wrong in our lives and we are willing to break our relationships. Allah (swt) commands us to be patient. Seek His help to handle your matters like a mature person.

Soften with Salah

Allah (swt) then talks about the hardness of the heart, “Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness.” (Al-Baqarah 2:74) Some people, no matter what happens in their life; they won’t offer Salah, turn to Allah (swt) or make peace within themselves and others. “There are stones from which rivers gush forth.” But a man’s heart does not soften to turn to Allah or forgive people. There is no goodness in his heart. Therefore we should ask Allah (swt) to soften our hearts in this blessed month.

Allah (swt) is the All-knower

Allah (swt) knows what’s in our hearts, as He says, “Know they (Jews) not that Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal?” (Al-Baqarah 2:77) We can run and hide from a human being but can we run from Allah (swt)? That is not possible. This realization will make us  achieve the peace that we are seeking.

Fulfill the rights of others

Then we learn about the qualities that Allah (swt) has prescribed not only to the Children of Israel but also to us. He says, “And (remember) when We took a covenant from the Children of Israel, (saying): Worship none but Allah (Alone) and be dutiful and good to parents, and to kindred, and to orphans and Al-Masakin(the poor), and speak good to people (i.e. enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, and say the truth about Muhammad (sa) and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat. Then you slid back, except a few of you, while you are backsliders.” (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

How do we treat our parents? What have we done for the orphans? How do we speak to the beggars? Even if you don’t give them anything, at least say a kind word.

Save each other’s blood

Two more things that Allah (swt) took in His covenant with the Children of Israel were, He said, “And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not the blood of your people, nor turn out your own people from their dwellings. Then, (this) you ratified and (to this) you bear witness.”  (Al-Baqarah 2:84) Take a look at where the Ummah is today. It’s Muslims against Muslims. Why are we allowing others to do the dirty job?

Magic is Haram

Allah (swt) then talks about magic. A person who uses magic has lost his Iman. Whoever has casted a spell has engaged in Shirk. “They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic…” (Al-Baqarah 2:102) Let us learn one important lesson from this. When something goes wrong in our life, we cannot blame others that someone must have casted a spell. Evil Jinn inspires people to say evil things which may destruct families. So don’t be deceived by evil Jinn.

May Allah (swt) allow us to look through His Book of peace to attain peace in our lives. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Al-Fatiha

Pearl-in-a-shell1We praise Allah (swt) Who has blessed us and granted us this beautiful month of Ramadan and such a beautiful opportunity to earn His countless Blessings. May He grant us with the blessings and forgiveness in this month. May He increase the love and bond in our hearts that we have for one another and alleviate the suffering of humankind all across the globe; relief the ones who are going through difficulties and turmoil including ourselves.

Imagine if Prophet Muhammad (sa) was among us and recited the Quran. Imagine if the companions of Muhammad (sa) were to recite the Quran; what type of recitation do you think it would be? It would be miraculously beautiful as it would come from the depths of the heart and true love for the Quran. Hence, that is the kind of recitation one should aspire for.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace. Many of us are searching for peace, contentment and happiness so that we can alleviate whatever suffering we are going through, but we have not searched through the pages of the Book of peace; coming from the Owner of peace, AsSalam.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace.

Types of peace

There are two types of peace:

  • The inner peace – the peace within one’s heart and mind
  • The outer peace – is amongst one another; within our family, our community, with the Ummah at large, with humanity, and with all the creatures of Allah (swt) and this is the peace we are searching for.

As we search for this peace and we open the Book of Allah (swt), do you know what is the first word of peace that we find? Amazingly: Audhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Analyze the statement. This is the statement of peace. Before you commence with the Quran and its recitation, you need to utter these words because Allah (swt) has declared,

So when you want to recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one).” (An- Nisa 16:98)

The ways to acquire peace

Without seeking protection of Allah (swt) from the devil, how will we be able to acquire peace? Many of us, when we read the Quran we have no concentration. That’s because the devil has contaminated our heart and our mind. He makes us fight and argue; splits and disunites us. This is why we start off with Tawuz. Let’s remember this powerful supplication and use it.

Now the next most powerful statement: Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Most Forgiving Most Merciful.”

This is Allah (swt), this is peace! Peace is connected to the mercy of Allah (swt). Look at the manner He starts. He has told us to start off by saying His Name, acknowledging that He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. If He wanted He could have said, “Say: In the Name of Allah, the Owner of the severe torment and punishment.” He could have said that; but the heart requires that flicker wherein we all have hope in the mercy of Allah (swt).

Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Fatiha

Allah (swt) has chosen to open the Quran with what is known as Surah Al-Fatiha – the Opening Surah.

“(All) praise is (due) to Allah, the Rabb of the worlds.”

What is the meaning of Rabb? The One Who created, nourishes, provides, and protects, the One Who is in absolute control of every single aspect of the entire existence. All praise is due to Him, Who created you and me and everything in existence. Praise Him regularly and you will achieve peace.

Immediately after this powerful opening statement He says: Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. A loser he/she will be the one who does not receive the mercy of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) make us from the winners. Imagine, if He had said, “I am never going to forgive certain people even if they seek forgiveness.” Did He ever say that? Never! Even a person who has committed Shirk, if he seeks forgiveness, Allah (swt) says, “My doors are open for him, I will forgive him.”

Maliki yawmi addeen – “He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.”

From this we learn that we are answerable to Allah (swt). Let us learn not to become judgemental when it comes to deal with one another. Sometimes a person who might not appear religious outwardly is perhaps much more religious within. They may be struggling to adopt the commands of Allah (swt) one by one just like we are. None of us is perfect. We are all trying. Eradicate your bad habits. Seek the assistance of Allah (swt).

Iyyaka nabudu wa-iyyaka nastaeen – “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help.”

A powerful statement that we utter almost five times a day.

Do you want peace? If yes, then worship Allah (swt) alone. Ask Allah’s (swt) help and assistance. Remember, He is Rabb-al-Alameen, the Owner of every single aspect of existence.

Ihdina assirata almustaqeem – “Guide us to the straight path.”

This is the Dua that we make for ourselves. The path of peace, the path to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given us Hidayah (guidance), what more do we want? We will be the happiest people in the Dunya.

“Amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.” (Muslim)

Allah (swt) has always blessed us in every single way; yet sometimes we do not realize and recognize. We only pick on certain things that our soul desires and we keep on saying, “Ya Allah (swt)! You did not give me this. You did not give me that.” But when you look at the favours of Allah (swt), they are plenty.

These were some of the blessed pearls that we extract from Surah Al-Fatiha.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

 

 

10 Guiding Principles in Establishing Cordial Relations with In-laws

weaves

The word ‘in-laws’, by convention, has a negative connotation, in our part of the world in particular, where society has not broken the shackles of oppressive cultural practices. Our knee-jerk response to a discussion on in-laws, therefore, tends to be restricted to what’s ‘wrong’ with them. In such an atmosphere, it becomes difficult to see beyond the stereotypes and consider our own individual situations in a fair light.

A lot of people seem to know that in Islam there is no obligation on the daughter-in-law to care for her husband’s family. But in considering this, they forget that there are other rights that they still need to fulfil by virtue of the in-laws being, at the very least, their brothers and sisters in Islam.

Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said, “None of you will believe until you love for another what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Would we love for ourselves that people talk negatively about us behind our backs? Would we love that people harbour feelings of hatred towards us? Would we love for our own parents to be constantly criticized and/or shunned by their daughters- or sons-in-law?

Here are some things to focus on, in our relationship with our in-laws:

  1. Start off with good expectations of them. Not everything other people tell us about their in-laws has to be true about ours.
  2. People are not all good or all bad. Everyone has positive and negative qualities. We do, too. In fact, there is some good even in the worst of us. Look for that good. Focus on it instead of on what is not to your liking.
  3. Everyone needs, and thrives on, respect. Respect for the other person cannot be developed if we notice only their negative qualities and keep mentioning them in front of other people. (You think your mother-in-law does that to you? Before you pass a judgement on her, examine your own attitude and ask yourself: are you perhaps doing that to her, too?)
  4. Don’t talk about her behind her back unless it is to mention her good qualities. Backbiting destroys relationships especially because it perpetuates a negative image of a person in everyone’s minds and makes us ignore our own shortcomings.
  5. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t really know the other person well. Limited conversations and interactions related to household chores are not the best breeding ground for establishing meaningful relationships. Really knowing the other person means we know what makes them happy, what makes them special as a person, what they want out of life, what struggles they have faced, and what they have accomplished so far. Taking interest in another person and considering him or her a human being worthy of knowing can make a world of difference in how our relationships can develop.
  6. Be fair. Noticing only what you don’t like about your mother-in-law? Stop. Remind yourself of all the things she does that perhaps help you out. Does she watch the kids, supervise the maid, and do the cooking every now and then? Sometimes we are looking so hard at all the things that annoy us that we forget to notice what is good in the other person. If we notice only the negatives then we are not really being fair.
  7. Feel responsible to bring out the best in other people. Our feelings towards them will translate into our attitude towards them. If we check our feelings constantly, we can correct our attitude, too.
  8. Keep your eyes on your Akhirah. Sometimes we are so busy keeping our sight on how others should be that we forget to evaluate our own selves. Are we on the correct path, towards Jannah? Or are we letting ourselves drift off?
  9. You don’t own anybody. Not yourself. Not your husband. Not your children. They are all an Amanah (trust) from Allah. We have to do our best with that Amanah. Your in-laws have a right over your husband and children, too. Make sure you are not taking away that right.
  10. Make excuses for your in-laws because nobody is perfect. Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, once said: “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” (Narrated by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in his Shuab al-Iman)

The principle being stated here is that no one is free of error, and everyone makes mistakes. If we would like our mistakes to be overlooked then we should want the same for others.

May Allah guide us to be of excellent character in all of our relationships. Ameen.

Image courtesy: Flickr

Tafseer Surah Luqman (Part 2): Allah’s Wisdom, Good Deeds and Etiquettes of Salam

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Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ النَّعِيمِ

“Verily, those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, for them are Gardens of delight (Paradise)”  (Luqman 8)

Allah shows us the opposite side of the picture; those were people of rebellion and disobedience, who, despite hearing the message of guidance rejected it and turned away. These however, are people who believe in Allah and all that He has informed us about the Day of Judgement, His Messengers, His Angels, His Books, and Divine decree. This belief is part of what is called inner worship. Outer worship is then portrayed by doing righteous deeds with the belief that they will be rewarded.

What is the connection between belief and good deeds?

The believers will dwell in Paradise forever and for eternity. There is no death after this life, and this is a promise of Allah which must be believed in and trusted.

They can be compared to a tree. The roots portray a person’s faith; tucked underneath the ground and unseen, while the branches and fruits portray the righteous deeds. This tree can reach the skies as a result of the faith which produces righteous deeds. A person who frees himself from the shackles of desires and temptations is truly the successful one. Such a person is free from being a slave of desires and disobedience, and instead becomes a slave of Allah. He will prepare himself in the Dunya for the Akhirah so that Allah may reward him with Gardens of Delight. The word Jannah comes from the word Jann which means to be hidden. For His righteous slaves, Allah has hidden delightful rewards that no eye has seen, no ear has heard of, and no mind can perceive. Contrary to the delights of the Dunya, the Akhirah is ceaseless and its rewards are multiplied.

خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۖ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقًّا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“To abide therein. It is a Promise of Allah in truth. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Luqman 9)

The believers will dwell in Paradise forever and for eternity. There is no death after this life, and this is a promise of Allah which must be believed in and trusted. Shaitan makes promises and breaks them in the Dunya, and he will do likewise in the Akhirah for his followers, while Allah’s promises are never to be questioned. He is Al-Azeez, meaning He has full and perfect might to fulfil His promise. His Decree is never false and cannot be rejected, and He can never be defeated. He is also Al-Hakeem, meaning that He is perfect in His wisdom. The wisdom behind making a promise to the believers for reward is perfect and helps them increase in faith and good deeds.

خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا ۖ وَأَلْقَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ

“He has created the heavens without any pillars, that you see and has set on the earth firm mountains, lest it should shake with you. And He has scattered therein moving (living) creatures of all kinds. And We send down water (rain) from the sky, and We cause (plants) of every goodly kind to grow therein.” (Luqman 10)

Allah further explains to us His complete and perfect ability and wisdom in order to make firm our belief in His promise. He created the heavens without any pillars and structured the skies like ceilings. They are great, vast and high, unlike any other creation in the world. He then placed mountains that function as anchors to stabilize the earth and keep it firm despite its rotation.

Then He scattered living creatures of all kinds on the earth. They move in different ways and have different adaptations. Some have two legs, some have three, and some have four and some have many more than that. Some live in the sea, some on land, and some on the mountains. All of this points to His infinite ability and wisdom. These creatures have been subjected to us and they bring us benefit as well as harm.

Why does Allah create harmful creatures?

  • To teach us His ability and wisdom
  • To teach us that we are weak humans; a mosquito may harm a human which may result in his death despite the creature’s tiny size
  • To make us taste the pain and punishment of the harm that these creatures can do in the Dunya, as compared to the doubled harm of these creatures in the grave

He then brought down blessed rain from the clouds. Water is the foundation of life; without it we cannot survive and 75 per cent of the earth and our bodies are made of water. He created all living things from water. There is wisdom in the fact that some areas of the earth do not receive any rain at all, while some areas are always wet and cloudy.

He then caused beautiful plantations of various colours and benefit to grow from the earth. This is the wisdom of Allah.

هَٰذَا خَلْقُ اللَّهِ فَأَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقَ الَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِ ۚ بَلِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

“This is the creation of Allah. So show Me that which those (whom you worship), besides Him have created. Nay, the Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers and those who do not believe in the Oneness of Allah) are in plain error.” (Luqman 11)

After explaining His signs of infinite wisdom, Allah challenges the disbelievers. He says this is the creation of Allah that He created without a partner and without help.  This is His dominion. He challenges those who associate partners with Allah to show what these false gods have created. He negates all of this association and says that they cannot create anything so how can they be worshipped?  Rather, the disbelievers are wrong doers who are drowning in clear error. They worship that which is disabled, weak and poor.

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ

And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc.) saying: “Give thanks to Allah,” and whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his ownself. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All-Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise. (Luqman 12)

Most scholars of the Quran are of the opinion that Luqman was a wise man and not a Prophet. Allah blessed him and bestowed upon him wisdom and religious understanding. Allah tells us that wisdom is a special provision and favour from Allah. It is the best of qualities, behaviours and attributes. Not every knowledgeable person is wise, but every wise person is knowledgeable.

What is wisdom?

The result of being grateful is that the blessing will not be removed from you and Allah will increase the blessings.

It is to have knowledge of the truth and its secrets, and to use this knowledge in speech and action. To thank Allah is one of the biggest signs of wisdom and goodness. Thank Him for all the blessings that He has bestowed upon you without any efforts on your part. Use your speech, your heart and your limbs to express this gratefulness by utilizing them in the way that He loves.

The result of being grateful is that the blessing will not be removed from you and Allah will increase the blessings. Whoever gives thanks to Allah does so for the good of his own self. It does not harm or benefit Allah if you are grateful or ungrateful, because He is Rich and free of needs, and He is worthy of all praise.

Etiquettes of Salam

  1. It is Sunnah to greet someone with the Salam, but it is Wajib to return the greeting.
  2. It is preferred to say the whole greeting
  3. It is disliked to say Alaykum Assalam
  4. It is preferred to repeat the greeting three times if you are not heard the first time
  5. It should be said clearly
  6. It is recommended to greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know
  7. It is recommended for the arriving person to greet the seated one, and the riding person to the one who is walking, and the one who is walking to the one who is sitting, and the fewer group should greet the larger group and the young should greet the old
  8. It is recommended to greet the ones who are awake even if there are sleeping persons amongst them
  9. Forbidden to greet the People of the Book- you can however, greet them with “hello” or “good morning”
  10. It is permissible to say Salam with the wave of the hand in times of need
  11. It is disliked to greet the one who is answering the call of nature
  12. It is recommended to say Salam when entering the house
  13. It is recommended to return the greeting to the one whose greeting has been conveyed to you
  14. When entering the Masjid, it is better to pray Tahiyyat Al-Masjid before greeting those who are sitting in the Masjid
  15. It is disliked to say the Salam during the Friday sermon
  16. It is recommended to say the Salam before talking about anything else
  17. It is recommended to say Salam before leaving a place or ending a conversation