Pearls of Peace: An extract from Juzz 19

pearls9Surah An-Naml

The Surah is named after one ant which was concerned about the rest of her tribe, “Till, when they came to the valley of the ants, one of the ants said: O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not.” (An-Naml 27:18)

Dua is directly proportional to closeness to Allah (swt)

If we Muslims concern about one another’s well-being just like the ant our lost peace would return. Prophet Sulaiman (as) who was given the miracle of communication with the humans, as well as, other creatures like the ant. He smiled, amused at her speech, and said, “So he Sulaiman (Solomon) smiled, amused at her speech and said: My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves. ” (An-Naml 27:19)

He right away acknowledged Allah’s (swt) special favour upon him and expressed gratitude. Let’s memorise this Dua and be grateful to Allah’s (swt) blessings upon us and our parents. Dua is a means to get closer to Allah (swt). The more we make Dua, the closer we get to Him. And the more effort we make to get closer to Him, the more He will run to us for He is a loving and compassionate Lord.

We have been reading the story of Moosa (as) in bits and pieces so far, now comes Surah al-Qasas.

Story of Moosa (as)

It is the Surah which contains the most detailed account of Prophet Moosa (as). Moosa (as) was born at a time when Pharaoh was slaughtering new-born male children. For the mothers, it was a grievous time; to give birth and see their child slaughtered. Allah (swt) inspired Moosa’s (as) mother to cast him into the river without fear or grief. He assured her that He will return the baby to her and make him one of His messengers. And this did happen, as we read, “So did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the Promise of Allah is true. But most of them know not.” (Al-Qasas 28:13)

Allah (swt) keeps His promise

Allah’s (swt) promise is always true. He does not back out of His promises. Another promise mentioned in this story is when Allah (swt) promised Prophet Muhammad (sa) return to Makkah, “Verily, He Who has given you (O Muhammad (sa)) the Quran (i.e. ordered you to act on its laws and to preach it to others) will surely bring you back to the Maad (place of return, either to Makkah or to Paradise after your death, etc.). Say (O Muhammad (sa)): My Lord is Aware of him who brings guidance, and he who is in manifest error.” (Al-Qasas 28:85), and we read it did happen. Another meaning of this verse could be return to Allah (swt) in Paradise. May He grant us the company of Muhammad (sa) in Paradise. Ameen.

Moosa (as) and the valley of Madyan

When Moosa (as) was in the valley of Madyan, he found two women standing aside a water well, waiting for the men to leave so that they could water their flock. Moosa (as) felt no disgrace in reaching out to help them despite being a prophet of Allah (swt). He made his way into the crowd and watered the flock on the behalf of those girls. When the girls reached their home, they narrated the incident as well as the man’s utmost dignity and respect towards them to their old father; the father requested to meet him. He had found the man to whom he would marry off one of his daughters.

Current matrimonial facts

Today, we have made the Sunnah of marriage tough by our unrealistic demands and expectations. The Prophet (sa) instructed us to marry off our daughters to anyone whose conduct pleased us. People meet good fellows in the mosque, but due to their financial standing or not having a certain career, are refused or overlooked. Similarly, remarrying a divorced woman is looked down upon. Didn’t the Prophet (sa) marry divorced women? However, the divorced men and women have more experience. Reach out and see if you can find suitable matches for the singles, divorcees and widows in your families and communities. Let us save ourselves and our families from enjoying secret affairs which are strictly forbidden in Islam.

Hold on to trust and zest, let all else rest

One of the women said, “And said one of them (the two women): O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” (Al-Qasas 28:26) Hard work and trustworthiness are the two qualities that can take a person to higher levels.

Here we learn a recruitment tip: if you are to hire someone for a task look for these two qualities. (May Allah (swt) grant us these qualities too. Ameen.) The example we have is none other than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa). When Khadijah (ra) was looking for an employee to conduct trade on her behalf, she selected Muhammad (sa) because of his hard work and trustworthiness. Due to these two qualities, she felt no shyness in offering her hands in marriage to him; to someone who was fifteen years younger than her. And the Prophet (sa) accepted it because she was a woman of grace and high respect.

In the story of Prophet Moosa (as) and Prophet Muhammad (sa), we learn that there is nothing wrong with the girl’s side offering proposal. If the conduct pleases you, and they are righteous; marry your daughters, sisters and even divorced/widowed aunts and mothers to them. Make Dua and also make an effort to help that Dua be answered. A beautiful Dua that we learn in Surah Al-Qasas is:

رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

“…and said: My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Al-Qasas 28:24)

May Allah (swt) answer our prayers and grant us peace. Ameen.

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


Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah ash-Shuara

PEARLSBeing a believer means being really strong in belief. We see the example in the stories of the Prophets (as). Each time that they were tried by the opponents, they stood firm in their Iman. Later, it was these firm believers who came out victorious.

Moosa (as) vs. Pharaoh

When Prophet Moosa (as) spoke to Pharaoh about Allah (swt), Pharaoh threatened to get him imprisoned. Prophet Moosa (as) argued, “Musa (Moses) said: Even if I bring you something manifest (and convincing)?” (Ash-Shuara 26:30)

Pharaoh denied his prophet hood and called him a magician. Learned and skilled magicians were called to unveil Prophet Moosa’s (as) magic. The magicians arrived and asked if there was any reward for them. Pharaoh promised them a close companionship. So they threw their ropes and their staffs and said, “So they threw their ropes and their sticks, and said: By the might of Firaun (Pharaoh), it is we who will certainly win!” (Ash-Shuara 26:44)

When Moosa (as) threw his staff and it devoured their ropes and staffs, they fell down in prostration to Allah (swt) and said, “Saying: We believe in the Lord of the ‘Alamin .The Lord of Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron).” (Ash-Shuara 26:47-48)

Allah (swt) boosted up the Iman of magicians

Moments ago these skilled magicians were testifying their loyalty to Pharaoh, but upon seeing the truth, they immediately surrendered. For the tyrant, it was an unbelievable situation; hence he threatened them, “Firaun (Pharaoh) said: You have believed in him before I give you leave. Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic! So verily, you shall come to know. Verily, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.” (Ash-Shuara 26:49)

However, this threat landed on deaf ears. One sincere prostration to Allah (swt) had filled their hearts with so much peace and strength that they replied, “They said: No harm! Surely, to our Lord (Allah) we are to return; Verily! We really hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, as we are the first of the believers (in Musa (Moses) and in the Monotheism which he has brought from Allah)” (Ash-Shuara 26:50-51). In other words, “Do what you want to do. We will return to our Lord, anyway whether you kill us or we die a natural death.”

Sincere prostration to Allah (swt) and firm belief in Him works wonders

In the morning, the magicians came in a state of shirk and in the evening they died as martyrs; earning Paradise for themselves. When Allah (swt) desires to guide someone He makes it happen. Let us never lose our hope in Him. The magicians after prostrating to Allah (swt) hoped that He will forgive them. They trusted their sincere submission will result in their forgiveness. We perform a lot of prostrations throughout the day. Let us not turn them into a mere ritual. Let us strive to be humble in our prayers with our hearts connected to Allah (swt) hoping He will forgive us for our intentional and unintentional sins. Insha’Allah!

Seek refuge in Allah (swt)

There are people of hope and there are people of despair. After this incident of the magicians, Moosa (as) had to rescue the Children of Prophet Yaqoob (as) from the tyranny of Pharaoh. He fled with them only to later halt near the mighty sea. His people complained, “And when the two hosts saw each other, the companions of Musa (Moses) said: We are sure to be overtaken.” (Ash-Shuara 26:61)

Prophet Moosa (as), on the other hand, had firm faith that Allah (swt) would show him the way out. In our lives when challenges arrive, the first reaction we display is that of despair. We tell ourselves “now there is no way out of this calamity” or “I am doomed”. While we are still lost in our thoughts and complaints, Allah (swt) inspires our hearts to see the way out. He tests us and then guides us. Moosa’s (as) words were, “Moosa (Moses) said: Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.” (Ash-Shuara 26:62)

Do we have the same conviction? It is He Who guides, helps, protects and rescues His servants from calamities. When tested, call out to Him for nothing is impossible for Allah (swt).

Ibrahim (as) – born to be Allah’s (swt) friend

Another Iman-inspiring story found in Surah Ash-Shuara is that of prophet Ibrahim (as), who had fought Shirk, ever since he was a young boy. He refused to worship what his community worshipped.

He said, “Verily! They are enemies to me, save the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists); Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; And it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; And Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Recompense, (the Day of Resurrection).” (Ash-Shuara 26:77-82) Such was the state of his conviction!

After acknowledging countless favours of Allah (swt), he makes a Dua, “My Lord! Bestow Hukman (religious knowledge, right judgment of the affairs and Prophethood) on me, and join me with the righteous; And grant me an honourable mention in later generations.” (Ash-Shuara 26:83-84).

Was this Dua answered? Absolutely! Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) name is mentioned each time we send salutations and blessings on Prophet Muhammad (sa) in Salat (prayer). The Station of Ibrahim (as) in Makkah reminds us of his great service and sacrifice for the sake of Allah (swt). The Sai that the pilgrims make at Safa and Marwa and the sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha are some of the things related to him. May Allah (swt) resurrect us with him. Ameen.

For the Day of Resurrection, Prophet Ibrahim (as) asked, “And disgrace me not on the Day when (all the creatures) will be resurrected; The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart.” (Ash-Shuara 26:87-89) Despite being an excellent example of a submissive slave, he was still concerned about disgrace on that Day. Subhan’Allah!

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

Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Furqan

pearls5Surah Al-Furqan

Now, we begin Surah Al-Furqan – the Criterion.

Stop picking holes in others!

Some of us love picking on others. But why do we do that? Is it because we have silently acknowledged they are better than us and a tiny seed of jealousy sits in our hearts? People mock the practicing Muslim wherever they see them. The Quraish mocked the Prophet (sa) and called him all kinds of name.

Some of their arguments were, “And they say: Why does this Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat? And the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) say: You follow none but a man bewitched.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-8)

Allah (swt) comments, “See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a (Right) Path.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-9) Because their hearts have been sealed to receive any guidance; therefore, they mock the messenger. Here is a warning for us: never mock the scholars or those who are knowledgeable. It is Allah (swt) who eases the path to knowledge for those whom He chooses. We should pray to Him to make us of those, instead of holding ill thoughts about the other person.

Allah (swt) responds, “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer (of everything).” (Al-Furqan 25:20) Had Allah (swt) not sent a human messenger, how would have we related ourselves to him? We would have perhaps said, “Oh, he is not human he does not understand us.” It is a great favour of Allah (swt) upon us that He chose a human messenger whose conduct is an excellent example for entire mankind. Today, the disbelievers are studying his Seerah to improve their lives.

The intense opposition of the Quraish

Why were the Quraysh so intense in their opposition to the Prophet (sa)? It was because of the company that they kept. None of them had a genuine concern for people’s well-being. All of them desired authority and leadership and shamelessly devoured people’s properties. Hence, we go back to our earlier lesson: you are known by the company you keep. Because there was no one in their circle who could advise them to goodness; they considered themselves right. Staying in wrong company only destroys us in the end. Therefore, it is best to distance away from those who call us to a path other than that of the messenger (sa).

A fruitful reminder

Allah (swt) warns us, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad (sa)).” “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!” “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29) This tells us the importance of holding on to the Quran, studying it and reflecting on its verses.

Knot ties with the Quran

On the Day of Judgement the Prophet (sa) will complain, “And the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will say: “O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur’an (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).” (Al-Furqan 25:30). This is the month of Quran. Allah (swt) gives us a chance after every eleven months to re-connect with it and not be of those who have discarded it. Let us not miss this opportunity. Let us learn it and also teach it to others.

Discipline your desires

Our hearts are not opened to accept what is against our desires. Ibrahim (as) heard the command of Allah (swt) and he submitted right away. Allah (swt) asks us, “Have you (O Muhammad (sa)) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire? Would you then be a Wakil (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him? ” (Al-Furqan 25:43)

Following one’s desires is a sure way to end up in hell-fire, unless one realizes his mistake and repents. Desires are Shaytan’s (Satan) trap to trick men. If everyone was to follow their own desires, there would have been a chaos on earth. Therefore, Allah (swt) blesses us with Ramadan to discipline ourselves and soften up our hearts to follow His instructions.

Traits of a submissive slave of Allah (swt)

Talking about submission, let’s read how Allah (swt) describes His slaves, “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (Al-Furqan 25:63)

First, He calls them Ibad-ur-Rahman (the servants of the Most Merciful). He associates them to Himself, and the attribute that He chooses is mercy. Subhan’Allah! He is teaching us to be merciful to others, walk humbly on earth and excuse ourselves from disputes and arguments with a word of peace. Allah (swt) does not like the proud and boastful; humility is a dear quality to Him. Hence, we are required to be humble in our prayers and acknowledge our low position.

Allah (swt) points to another quality of Ibad-ur-Rahman, “And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Al-Furqan 25:64). This is where we should be spending our energies. One night, wake up only for Him. If we can do it for world cup, then why not for Jannah-cup?

We have heard the Hadeeth where it is stated Allah (swt) calls out at night; if there are any people seeking His forgiveness, He may forgive them; or if they are making Dua for something, He may answer it. Let’s not waste this opportunity of getting our Duas answered.

Turn a deaf ear to useless disputes

Engaging in disputes is a futile activity. Such people are not really interested in learning. They argue for the sake of arguing. Therefore, our Prophet (sa) guaranteed a house in Paradise for the one who gives up arguing. Why engage our tongues in something that is not approved by Allah (swt)? Why miss a few moments of Allah’s (swt) remembrance?

In arguments pretend to be deaf. You will be controlling your tongue from committing a sin and also achieve a lot of peace.

Seek refuge in Allah’s (swt) from the Shaytan

One thing is to abstain from sins, another is to increase good deeds and a third category is asking Allah (swt) to avert from us the punishment of Hell. This is the Dua of the Ibad-ur-Rahman:

رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say: Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.” (Al-Furqan 25:65-66)

Shaytan (Satan) controls us and we cannot control him, but for Allah (swt) it is possible. Let us then seek refuge with Allah (swt) against the treachery of the cursed one. Add Duas to your daily routine seeking Allah’s (swt) protection. Without His help, nobody can protect themselves from the tricks of Shaytan (Satan).

Spendthrifts – friends of the Shaytan

One of the traps of Shaytan (Satan) is to make us splurge on the non-essentials and when it comes to spending in the Cause of Allah (swt) we are counting change. Or he makes people overspend to later burden them with debts and loans. He is ever so active in snatching away people’s peace. Ibad-ur-Rahman knows the art of budgeting. They are neither extravagant nor miserly and choose the middle path instead. Let’s cut the size of our pocket.

Repent for peace within

Allah (swt) describes that they do not commit Shirk (associating partners with Allah), kill a soul unjustly, or commit illegal sexual intercourse. Since these are some of the major sins, there is punishment and humiliation for he who commits them. But the one who repents and changes himself, he will find his Lord Merciful, “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71) One of the qualities of a good believer is to be constantly engaged in repentance.

Strive to be the true Ibad-ur-Rahman

The Ibad-ur-Rahman does not testify to falsehood, and stays away from time wasters. In Ramadan, people are hastening towards doing good. Someone is reciting the Quran. Someone is offering extra voluntary prayers. There is someone hastening to give voluntary charity. And then there is someone busy in a computer game. Let us only make the best use of technology, rather than making it a means of our destruction.

Allah (swt) again mentions the importance of holding on to the Quran, “And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” (Al-Furqan 25:73). That is a sign of a living heart. They make Dua for righteous spouses and offspring that will be a comfort to their eyes. For them are treasures as a reward for what they have patiently endured in this world and they will enter peace. May Allah (swt) make us of the Ibad-ur-Rahman. Ameen.

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



Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Nur

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Surah An-Nur

We now begin Surah An-Nur – the Surah that deals with adultery.

Say ‘no’ to false accusations

Sometimes we forward text messages and share posts without verifying their truthfulness. Allah (swt) warns, “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” (An-Nur 24:4)

About accusations it has been said it takes a dirty mind to think dirty. We overhear or see something and weave our own stories. What we have concluded might be far from truth. May Allah (swt) cleanse our hearts. False accusations lead to loss of peace, “Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:23) Indulgence in rumours and gossips is taken very lightly, not realising the curse that we are inviting upon ourselves.

Reminder for good

While there is warning for those who accuse chaste people, Allah (swt) offers comfort to the accused. He says, “Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet (sa)) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:11) Here is also a reminder to not indulge in such acts due to which on the Day of Judgement people will come and claim their share from our good deeds.

Minding your own business

Let us concern ourselves with “our” lives and not the lives of others. Let us not be of those who take pleasure in gossips and spread it.

Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (An-Nur 24:19)

The owners and employees of media houses should reflect on what they are promoting. What kinds of shows are on air? Today, families cannot sit together and watch television because family entertainment has been taken over by vulgarity and indecency. Once what used to be censored, is now openly shown on television. As a consequence, we see an increase in crime rate, illicit relations and immoral behaviour.

Quran gives us repetitive reminders of how our choices determine our end. Let us rectify what is wrong within us, and not earn Allah (swt)’s painful punishment in both the worlds.

With the coming of smart phones, we are quick to share small details about ourselves. But when it comes to visiting someone, somehow we are reluctant to inform them of our arrival beforehand. The etiquettes we follow determine whether we will have a pleasant stay or will feel uninvited.

Pay dignified visits

In Surah An-Nur, Allah (swt) gives us instructions on visiting someone’s house, “O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them that is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find no one therein, still, enter not until permission has been given. And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you, and Allah is All-Knower of what you do.” (An-Nur 24:27-28)

There is nothing insulting in being refused admittance. Perhaps, the family is engaged in some kind of conflict resolution and they do not want an outsider to sense their house troubles. Understand other’s situation. And when you are welcomed inside, do not prolong your visit. Keep your visits short and sweet; making hosts look forward to your next visit.

Surrender to Allah’s (swt) law

Talking about conflict resolution, some people are not really interested in a compromise or a settlement. Their only concern is what they gain from it. In doing so, they swing between Shariah and manmade laws; whichever offers more gain, they pick it. The word of Allah (swt) (the Quran) and the Messenger (sa) (the Sunnah) are enough to settle disputes. Allah (swt) asks, “Is there a disease in their hearts? Or do they doubt or fear lest Allah and His Messenger (sa) should wrong them in judgment. Nay, it is they themselves who are the Zalimun” (An-Nur 24:50)

The truth is no one loses anything if he surrenders to Allah’s (swt) laws. In fact, that is a means for attaining peace and tranquillity. If not here, then at least we know in the Hereafter such a person will be at peace. The one who does not follow Prophet’s (sa) path has been warned of painful punishment. (refer An-Nur 24:63)

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

Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Al-Muminun

pearls4Concentration in prayers is a constant struggle. As much as we would like Khushu in our prayer, it is not there. In Surah Al-Muminun, it appears, “Successful indeed are the believers.Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” (Al-Muminun 23:1-2)

Attaining humble submission

It can be attained by turning away from the futile and unnecessary (as we read in the verse after). The futile and unnecessary are time wasters. Someone was asked, “Why do you take off your shoes before entering the House of God?” He replied, “My shoes are the Dunya that I am leaving behind. I don’t need it when I am engaged with my Lord.” We need to empty our heads from the unnecessary concerns and gossips before we get on the prayer rug. Getting rid of such thoughts is impossible, unless we cleanse ourselves. Therefore, Zakat was mentioned next.

Zakat as purification

One needs to purify his wealth, as well as, his thoughts. With evil thoughts in our mind, we get on the prayer mat; going through our conversations with other people or plotting our next rebuttals. We need to work on our temper and control our tongues. Let’s not utter words that will haunt us later. May He make us of those who work on their bad qualities. Ameen.

Purpose of giving Zakat

Allah (swt) commands us to give Zakat so as to replace materialism with generosity. This is how we can get rid of the futile.

Don’t even go near fornication

Then we are advised to stay away from adultery and immorality. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e. his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” (Bukhari). Whenever a person falters, he should turn to Allah (swt) in sincere repentance. Chastity of the private parts and the tongue is a trust; whoever loses that trust will lose peace from his life.

Your spouse is entrusted upon you

Therefore, the next trait of the successful ones mentioned is, “Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts etc.) and to their covenants.” (Al-Muminun 23:8). Spouses are a trust to one another. The verses of God-consciousness (Taqwa) are recited in the Nikah sermon. And wherever Quran mentions the rights of husband and wife, it is followed by a reminder of the Hereafter. Let us not break our trusts and promises; whether they be with other people or Allah (swt).

When a person prays only when he wants to pray and neglects it at other times, he cannot be humble in his prayers. Therefore, it is said, And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (prayers) (at their fixed stated hours). (Al-Muminun 23:9)

Stories of the successful ones

After describing the qualities required to attain success, Allah (swt) narrates the stories of successful people – the prophets and the messengers. He says, “Then We sent Our Messengers in succession, every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another (to destruction), and We made them as Ahadeeth (the true stories for mankind to learn a lesson from them). So away with a people who believe not.” (Al-Muminun 23:44)

Denial leads to destruction

Whether one openly denies the messenger or shows a hypocritical behaviour; such that we declare that we are the nation of Muhammad (sa), but take his Sunnah as a burden. Then we should know that we are inviting destruction. Allah (swt) loosens the rope up to a certain limit and then pulls it. Let’s return to Him before the rope is pulled.

Pray before you are prayed upon

The doors of repentance are opened until death. When death approaches and then man says, “I now seek forgiveness for my sins!” it would not be accepted from him. Allah (swt) says, “Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: “My Lord! Send me back,So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected.” (Al-Muminun 23:99-100). There are no second chances. This life is our only chance to build our relationship with Allah (swt) and strengthen it.

Allah (swt) questions man about his purpose of creation, “Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (Al-Muminun 23:115) Allah (swt) did not create man for nothing. We have been informed of our purpose of creation and we will be questioned about our time here. Let’s not waste this chance.

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

Pearls of Peace: An Extract from Juzz 16 & 17

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam talks about the birth of Prophet Isa (as). But there is another story that is equally meaningful. It is the incident of a few young strong men; who distanced themselves from the community, because of their deviant beliefs and self-invented forms of worship. In the exegesis, we read they were involved in idolatry and grave worshipping.

Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the idolatry

In Surah Maryam, we learn about Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) people who were engaged in idolatry, including his father. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was not pleased by what he saw in his community. Unconvinced by their need to bow before clay idols, carved by themselves; Ibrahim (as) asked his father, “When he said to his father: O my father! Why do you worship that which hears not, sees not and cannot avail you in anything?” (Maryam 19:42) He invited his father to follow a path that is straight, “O my father! Verily! There has come to me of knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Straight Path.” (Maryam 19:43)

Kind speech – the best way to preach!

It might come to some as a surprise that a son was correcting his father. Sometimes people younger than us are more knowledgeable or have a better understanding of a subject. We should be open to listening to the words of goodness; irrespective of speaker’s age, skin colour or worldly status. We also learn a Dawah tip from this story. Kind speech has been a repetitive reminder in the Quran. We should be mindful of our tone and words when we call people to Allah’s (swt) Deen. We need to soften their hearts, so that they may actually listen; and not repel them with our harshness or disrespect. Moreover, we should be prepared to expect a repulsive or rude behaviour from the other person. When that happens, we should not lose our temper. Recall the times Prophet (sa) endured abuse and hostility for Allah’s (swt) sake. If we are truly concerned about someone’s guidance, we should let go of their uncouth behaviour.

Do not stray away for the evil end awaits!  

This is not a small matter that can be pushed aside by arguments and justifications. Allah (swt) says, “Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salat (the prayers) (i.e. made their Salat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times, etc.) and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell.” (Maryam 19:59)

They have an evil end waiting for them because of their pursuing their desires. A person who is worried about his prayer will be protected from immoral behaviour. A person who is not worried about his prayer, how will he have a link with Allah (swt)? Let’s commit to being regular in our prayers. The outcome will be attaining closeness to Allah (swt), increased provision and peace. It will not happen all at once; but it will happen one day Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Beneficent (Allah) will bestow love for them (in the hearts of the believers)” (Maryam 19:96)

We learn through Hadeeth, when Allah (swt) loves a person; he calls out to Jibrael (as) and commands him to love the person as well. Thus, all the inhabitants of the heaven would love him, and then he will be granted the pleasures of the people on the earth (Bukhari, Muslim)

Make Dua to excel in religion

Sometimes we look at people who are better than us in religion and we feel a kind of anger in our heart. The anger is there due to our weak connection with Allah (swt). How can we get rid of it? It is possible by asking Allah (swt) to allow us to excel in religion just like them or even better. Make Dua for the people who inspire and remind you of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) open up our hearts to goodness. Ameen.

How often has it happened that our best friend calls and we catch up with them, as if we have been separated for twenty years? In reality, it could be that we spoke to them only yesterday or a few hours ago. For how long does this phone call continue? It would be hard to find a person who hangs up in ten minutes. If that happens, then we are certainly not close enough. Now, let’s look at our prayer. For how long do we remain seated at our prayer mat after the prayer is over? Most people jump off the moment they do Tasleem. What does this tell us about our relationship with Allah (swt)? It requires no further explanation.

Moosa (as) honoured by his Lord!

When Moosa (as) was called in the valley of Tuwa by Allah (swt) and informed that he had been chosen as the Prophet of Allah (swt) and there went on a brief interview. Allah (swt) asks Moosa (as) about his staff, in reply Moosa (as) did not give a one word answer. Then he went on describing his staff and stated the different purposes he used it for. He said: “He said: This is my stick, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses.” (Ta-Ha 20:18)

Did he not know the Lord who is addressing him from up above can see and know more about his staff than himself? But he cherished this meeting so much that he could not contain his excitement. He wanted to extend this meeting, so he went on talking. This Ramadan, let us commit to correct ourselves and give our utmost attention and respect to Allah (swt). Let’s take out time to speak with Him in Sujood, in Dua, at Suhoor and Iftar times; and whenever and wherever we can steal a moment of privacy.

A gentle approach to Dawah

When it comes to correcting people, we often admonish them in such a way that they would not want to see our face again. Allah (swt) picks up His best man to invite the worst man towards the right path.

With what instruction did Allah (swt) send Moosa (as)? He said, “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (Ta-Ha 20:44) This was Pharaoh he was being sent to and the instruction was “speak gently”. Let us reflect on our interpersonal skills and be kind to one another for the sake of Allah (swt). Use encouraging words to bring them closer to Allah (swt). Do not rebuke them; lest we widen the gap. Our job is only to take the message to them. We are not Hakim (ruler) over them, for Allah (swt) says, “But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship.” (Ta-Ha 20:124)

Is turning away from Allah (swt) the right decision?

People tend to turn away from Allah (swt) because they are distracted by the material things around them. Therefore, Allah (swt) warns us, “And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheists and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), the splendour of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” (Ta-Ha 20:131) Material wealth of this world will remain in this world. Let us not make it a source of our ingratitude towards Allah (swt). Let us apply the wise principle that our Prophet (sa) taught us. In terms of material wealth look at those below you; and when it comes to good deeds and religious status, look at those who are way ahead of you. May Allah (swt) allow us to keep our perspective right. Ameen.

Surah Al-Anbiya

It is ironical that the place where we do not have to live forever, we are concerned about it as if it is the only life we have. And the Hereafter, which is eternal and lasting, is to our least concern. Allah (swt) reminds us, “Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness. Comes not unto them an admonition (a chapter of the Quran) from their Lord as a recent revelation but they listen to it while they play.” (Al-Anbiya 21:1-2)

Are we living in oblivion?

Our death and resurrection should keep us worried; especially when engaging in something that we shouldn’t be doing. When the soul urges us to do wrong, we must ask ourselves: what if I die right now? How will I face Allah (swt)? In what condition will I be resurrected?

Strive for an honourable life and death

Some years ago, there was news of college girls dying in a stampede in a concert. I was haunted by the thought that in what condition their souls would be recollected? May Allah (swt) bless us all with an honourable life and death. May we die in the state of prostration. Ameen. To be honoured with such a death, we need to become the kind of people who say, “We heard and we obey,” and not of those who say, “We have heard but we are not going to obey.” Because we will be questioned about our time spent on this earth, as Allah (swt) says, “He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.” (Al-Anbiya 21:23)

Life here vs. life in the hereafter

Let us prepare for the questioning of the Hereafter as we prepare for our worldly exams. Let us strive to be among the high achievers as we do for worldly positions. Allah (swt) tells us that our deeds will be weighed, and when that happens where would we stand? “And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners.” (Al-Anbiya 21:47)

There is glad tiding for him whose good deeds outnumber the bad ones. An easy way to raise our scales is to get busy in glorifying and praising Allah (swt) with words such as SubhanAllahi wabihamdihi SubhanAllahil Adheem.

Remember Allah (swt) and He will remember you!

We have learnt in Surah Al-Baqarah that when we remember Allah (swt) with our Dhikr, He too remembers us. Allah (swt) takes care of His righteous servants, no matter what people plot against them. When Prophet Ibrahim (as) spoke against the idols, the community advised his father to burn him. They said, “They said: Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.” (Al-Anbiya 21:68)

Little did they know that Allah (swt) is the Creator of fire. Allah (swt) said, We (Allah) said: O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim (Abraham)! And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.” (Al-Anbiya 21:69-70) When man surrenders to Allah (swt), Allah (swt) helps him miraculously. We see this in the example of other messengers as well. They surrendered before Allah (swt), cried out only before Him, and sought help from Him alone. Allah (swt) helped them all and took them out of distress, at His decided time. Let us not be hasty with our prayers and have strong hope in Allah (swt) alone.

Learn to make an eloquent Dua

Sometimes when we want something, we are unable to articulate our words properly. It is a mercy of Allah (swt) that through His prophets He taught us the words to make Dua to Him. In Surah Al-Anbiya, we learn the Dua of Prophet Yunus (as), “But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)), Glorified (and Exalted) are You (above all that (evil) they associate with You.) Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” (Al-Anbiya 21:87)

Look at how he makes the Dua, he first praises Allah (swt) and then acknowledges his mistake. In the narrations it has been said, when the angels heard this Dua, they pleaded his case in the court of Allah (swt) because they would often hear him being engaged in Dhikr. Such is the power of Dhikr. What chances do we have that if a whale swallows us up, we will come out alive? Have we attained that special status with Allah (swt) where He will save us miraculously?

Talking about miracles, Prophet Zakariya (as) was blessed with an offspring despite his old age and his wife’s barrenness. Indeed, for Allah (swt) nothing is impossible.

Prostrate – be the closest to Allah (swt)!

It is said that one can get closest to Allah (swt) when in prostration. The entire creation in the heavens and the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and believers prostrate to Allah (swt), as we learn in Surah Al-Hajj. When we choose to neglect our prayers, it is not that Allah (swt) is in need of our prostration. There are billion other creatures that prostrate to Him and win a special status near Him. At the end it is our loss. Allah (swt) says, “Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and (it will be) said to them: Taste the torment of burning!” (Al-Hajj 22:74)

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

Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Kahf

surah_kahhfA journey for Allah (swt) – an inspiring story!

This Surah begins with the mention of some youth who lived under a tyrant leader. Because of their community’s deviance from the right path, the youth decided to leave them and sought refuge in a cave. Fearing their community and feeling lost, they prayed to Allah (swt), “(Remember) when the young men fled for refuge (from their disbelieving folk) to the Cave, they said: Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!” (Al-Kahf 18:10)

And Allah (swt) answered their prayer and protected them by making them sleep for several years. One reason for losing one’s peace is being in the wrong company. We see people around us indulging in such acts that are contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, and we don’t see a way out for ourselves. In such moments, we should remind ourselves the story of these strong young men. They migrated for the sake of Allah (swt). Their migration was not for any worldly need, but to protect their Iman.

See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil

This is a powerful statement! Another stirring statement is: garbage in, garbage out. Our brains have the ability to instantly process everything that we come across. If we read or watch filth; that is what is going to come out of our mouth. We will no more be conscious of what words we are uttering or what actions we are doing. Consider for example, you pass by a Masjid and you see people entering in flocks. You have an urge to follow them. You enter the Masjid and you are spiritually uplifted. Now you are with your friends. They offer you a glass of alcohol and you refuse it. They insist you to have a sip. You refuse but they push you. You give in and take a sip. You begin enjoying your drink. What happens next? You are addicted.

A sincere advice

Change your company and reform yourself. Protect your eyes, mouth and ears. Avoid juicy stories and vice. This is why our Prophet (sa) taught us to ask Allah (swt) for beneficial knowledge and protection of our eyes and ears. The youth discussed in Surah Al-Kahf did not just distance themselves from the wrongdoing people but also made Dua. Never leave Dua. It is your connection with Allah (swt) via which you can ask Him for goodness.

It is a mercy of Allah (swt) that He has informed man of both, the truth and the falsehood. Mankind has been given a choice to follow whatever they desire, “And say: The truth is from your Lord. Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf 18:29) Beware these choices have consequences, “Verily, We have prepared for the Zalimun; a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them (disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah). And if they ask for help (relief, water, etc.) they will be granted water like boiling oil that will scald their faces. Terrible the drink, and an evil Murtafaqa (dwelling, resting place, etc.)!” (Al-Kahf 18:29)

Repentance – a way out!

While one is free to pick his path, he is not free to escape the punishment. Every action of man is being recorded in a book, “And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, ‘Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?’ And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one.” (Al-Kahf 18:49) To save oneself from such an end, one must hasten to seek repentance. Because sincere repentance is the only thing that can wipe out our bad deeds. When you have shed sincere tears of repentance, compete to increase your good deeds. Don’t waste time; because we will be in need of a lot good deeds in the Hereafter. May Allah (swt) bless us with steadfastness in our repentance. Ameen.

How merciful is Allah (swt)?

Not only does Allah (swt) make us aware of the right and the wrong, but He is also willing to forgive our wrongdoings; if we turn to Him. Sadly how ungrateful is man- forever complaining and quarrelling, “And indeed We have put forth every kind of example in this Quran, for mankind. But, man is ever more quarrelsome than anything.” (Al-Kahf 18:54) We argue over Allah’s (swt) commands and Prophet’s (sa) tradition; showing disrespect and ingratitude to both of them. We should immediately surrender to the commands of Allah (swt) as soon as we learn about them.

Are we unintentionally ignoring Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) tells us to come to the right path. But we turn away. “And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayat of his Lord, but turns away from them forgetting what (deeds) his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Quran), and in their ears, deafness. And if you (O Muhammad (sa)) call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” (Al-Kahf 18:57)

When a person chooses to ignore Allah (swt), then Allah (swt) too is not interested in guiding such a person. On the contrary, the one who loves Allah (swt); He opens his heart to comprehend the beneficial knowledge. Today, when one learns of a football match in his city or perhaps a lawn launch; we leave every other worldly task and run to be the first ones to stand in queue. But when call for prayer is given from the mosque and we are promised a greater reward for standing in the first row with the angels; we sit back and turn our attention to something else. How ungrateful man really is! May Allah (swt) make us of those who run towards doing good. May He not make us of those whose hearts have been sealed. Ameen.

Who is your child’s superhero?

Another sad reality is that our children, as young as seven and eight years old, know the names of the entire football or cricket team; but they don’t know the names of the Prophets and their Companions. These were the people who strove with their life and wealth to spread and protect Allah’s (swt) religion. These were the people who were given the glad tiding of Paradise, and we are not interested in learning about them.

A scary reminder!

Allah (swt) says, “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds!” (Al-Kahf 18:103-104) What a scary reminder! The efforts of such a person are limited to the worldly life only and he has no concern for the Hereafter. When you invite such people to study Quran, learn one verse or a Dua, they come up with countless unnecessary tasks of this world.

While the game is on, we are at loss!

Whose loss will it be if we turn away from Allah (swt)? How many hours does a man spend at his job to get a salary at the end of the month? On average, we spend at least eight hours at work weekly. Then we get our pay cheque. We work approximately for 208 hours in a month like slaves to get that cheque. Allah (swt) offers us much greater reward; not only in this world, but an eternal life of bliss in the Hereafter. Unfortunately, we are too lethargic when it comes to obligatory prayers. How many times have we woken for Fajr before the call for prayer is even given? And how many times have we woken up at 3 a.m. without hitting the snooze button when a football match is on? Those who do wake up, they wake up to get done with it. Let us commit to fall in love with our prayer because we love Allah (swt), and we seek His love and His mercy.

The way we have messed up our priorities, shows how confused we are about our purpose in life. Not only are we confused about our purpose in life; but our worship too. We have strayed away from the path of Muhammad (sa) and invented our own ways of worship; which were neither taught by the Prophet (sa) nor practiced by his Companions (ra). The proponents of innovations say, “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One AIlah (God i.e. Allah). So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Al-Kahf 18:110) Hold on to Quran and Sunnah and let not Shaytan deceive you.

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

Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 14 & 15

pearlGain awareness – ignorance is not bliss

In Surah An-Nahl, Allah (swt) warns us against jumping to conclusions, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any but men, whom We inspired, (to preach and invite mankind to believe in the Oneness of Allah). So ask of those who know the Scripture (learned men of the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)), if you know not.” (An-Nahl 16:43) Here we learn the significance of being knowledgeable. People who acquire knowledge have a status above the ignorant ones.

Talking about ignorance, one of the practices in the days of ignorance was to bury the female child alive. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief!” (An-Nahl 16:58) Our Prophet (sa) strove to banish this evil custom from the Arabian Peninsula; sadly however, it has crept into our societies today. Despite all the awareness, people still make faces when a daughter is born. Women are divorced for delivering a baby girl; even though they are not given a choice!

How will we face Allah (swt) in the hereafter?

He decides who gets a son and who gets a daughter. We can’t fight His will. For some people, Allah (swt) has ordained only male children; we don’t know the reason behind it. But Allah (swt) knows. So thank Him. For some people, He has ordained only daughters; they are their Paradise. Thank Allah (swt). Girl is an Amanah; (trust) you only look after her for some time, for someone else. People who don’t have children, perhaps it is destined for them to get closer to Allah (swt) through this test. Having or not having children is not a scale to assess someone’s success. Some people do not benefit from their children at all. Look at the wives of the Prophet (sa). Other than Khadijah (ra) and Mariah (ra); none of them had children from the Prophet (sa). But they were never depressed. All of Prophet’s (sa) children, except Fatimah (ra), passed away before him. The best of creation lost many of his children, but was he depressed? Hence, sit with those who have knowledge and learn from their wisdom.

Justice – order of the day

Allah (swt) commands us to be just, “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet (sa) in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e. all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e. all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (An-Nahl 16:90) Notice that justice comes before good conduct. It is because while it is virtuous to forgive people like Yusuf (as) did, no one can expect us to keep forgiving- despite their continuous disrespect and oppression. Seek justice, it’s your right; however, avenge your heart from anger.

Our journey – to this world and back

There are times when one does not have anything. He is low in terms of his worldly status. Then Allah (swt) expands his provision and instead of being grateful, he becomes haughty. “Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (An-Nahl 16:96)

Presently, man misses his prayer for one more phone call, one more email, one more business transaction and one more task of the world. When he will enter Paradise, he will forget everything that he was given in the world. Jannah contains that which no eye has ever seen. It’s precious and free from filth. Man would look at his own wife and feel as if he is looking at her for the first time. No rancour or grudges. Let us not become arrogant for the blessings that Allah (swt) has gifted us. Rather, let us use those blessings for His cause. Give Him your wealth, your skills and your resources for a better return in the Hereafter.

Don’t strive for more – the day is close

Let us not waste our time here because Allah (swt) says, “(Remember) the Day when every person will come up pleading for himself, and everyone will be paid in full for what he did (good or evil, belief or disbelief in the life of this world) and they will not be dealt with unjustly.” (An-Nahl 16:111) The more things we possess, the more answerable we will be on that Day. It will be said, “(It will be said to him): Read your book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.” (Al-Isra 17:14) The poor (mentioned as Miskeen in authentic narrations) will be the first ones to enter Paradise, because they had very little rights upon others. Those who have been blessed by Allah (swt) have been informed of their responsibilities towards others. If we fail to honour their responsibilities, there will be people on the Day of Judgement fighting against us. They will take away our good deeds and there will be no help.

Polite invitation towards Deen

As Quran touches our hearts, it is equally important to speak to people in such a way that it has a positive effect on their hearts; especially when one is calling them towards Allah (swt), Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa)) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.(An-Nahl 16:125)

Use kind words and good speech to win hearts. Do not be harsh and condescending. The Prophet (sa) won people over by his beautiful conduct and gentleness. (If you lack confidence, recite the Dua of Prophet Moosa (as) (Ta-Ha 20: 25).)

Who deserves our kindness the most?

Our parents! If your parents are alive, exert yourselves in serving them. If they have passed away, make Dua for their forgiveness and an elevation of their status in the Hereafter. May Allah (swt) make us and our children a source of continuous charity for parents. Ameen. Our parents and household was chosen by Allah (swt). No child picks his own parents. Therefore, families are one of the tests decreed. Children are a test for their parents, and parents are a test for their children. Remember the phrase: As you do so shall be done unto you. Be kind to your parents; give them your love and respect, and above all give them your time.

Allah (swt) says, And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy…” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

“Uff”- the prohibited word!

“Uff” is a word uttered in rebuke. We should remember they are our parents. They fed us, looked after our needs, raised us, made arrangements for our education and upbringing, and did whatever they thought was right for us. If we feel they have failed in some aspects, then we should let it go and forgive them. Look at how the instruction of good treatment is followed by a Dua. Allah (swt) instructs us to say, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small. (Al-Isra 17:24) When we feel cold towards our parents, we should go back and check our Islamic history. Read up stories of the Companions (ra) and learn how they were with their parents. Some of them had non-Muslim parents; yet they never dishonoured them. Some of them were oppressive; yet the Companions (ra) never lost their good conduct.

Parental tyranny

We come across incidences of parental abuse even in Muslim societies. Today, being a parent is not enough. One must beseech Allah (swt) for his own uprightness. If we are not upright ourselves, what would we be teaching our children? Parents complain of their children not respecting them, have you reflected upon your own behaviour? How do you speak to them? How do you carry yourself around them? May Allah (swt) make us responsible and upright parents; and enable us to fulfil the rights of people around us. Ameen.

Spending rightfully

Look at what He says further, “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .” (Al-Isra 17:26) After spending on one’s own family, a person must look at the needs of his relatives, who might not be wealthy, and travellers who are strangers in a new land. Even though begging is despised; but never rebuke a beggar. Utter a kind word and turn away.

Next, Allah (swt) commands us not to be wasteful. Extravagance is one reason why people are unable to give in charity. We spend so much on ourselves in superfluous things that we have little left to give in Allah’s (swt) way. Wastefulness is ingratitude. We should not indulge in the worldly life so much that we lose our focus – the Paradise.

Balanced expenditures

Not being wasteful does not mean living like a miser, And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra 17:29) Islam recommends choosing the middle path. Neither be extravagant nor stingy. Keep a balance. Spend on your needs and occasional indulgences. We learn in Hadeeth that the best Dinar that a man spends is a Dinar that he spends on his family. (Muslim)

Why are we stopped from extravagance?

Extravagance instils haughtiness. And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.All the bad aspects of these (the above mentioned things) are hateful to your Lord.” (Al-Isra 17: 37-38) So why be haughty and demean others by means of our wealth when everything is from Allah (swt)?

Peace – the order of Jannah

“And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best.” (Al-Isra 17:53) Allah (swt) commands us to be careful with our words; which is why we see that one of the treasures of Jannah would be “no foul speech”.

Shaytan – the open enemy

“(Because) Shaytan (Satan) verily sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy” (Al-Isra 17:53) Shaytan, the known enemy to mankind, provokes us to gossip, back bite, slander, and hurt others. Let us not use the resources that Allah (swt) blessed us with, in evil deeds. Let us indulge our tongues in reciting the Quran, praising Allah (swt) and calling people towards His path. Let us consider another person’s reaction before we open our mouths. Let us remember that the angels near us are recording every word that we speak and every deed that we perform. Let us be people of Shukr and not those of Kufr.

How can one become a Kafir?  

By turning away from Allah (swt) despite enjoying all His favours, “And when We bestow Our Grace on man (the disbeliever), he turns away and becomes arrogant, far away from the Right Path.” (Al-Isra 17:83) What are the repercussions of distancing from Allah (swt)? He loses hope, And when evil touches him he is in great despair.” (Al-Isra 17:83)

Hope vs. fear

A believer should live his life between hope and fear. Hope that Allah (swt) will forgive him and fear for what if He doesn’t. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) would say, “If it were announced from the heaven: ‘O people! You are all entering Paradise except one,’ I would fear to be him; and if it were announced: ‘O people! You are all entering the Fire except one,’ I would hope to be him.”

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


Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 13

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Essence of Dhikr

What does Dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah (swt)) entail? Some people confine this to the act of doing Tasbeeh such as: uttering Subhan’Allah and Alhumdulillah. Dhikrullah means to keep Allah (swt) in our thoughts all the time; bearing in mind that He is watching us. One should remember Him by his tongue, his heart and keep Him in his mind. One should know that all tests are from Allah (swt) and that he is sent by Him and will return to Him. This is the source of attaining peace. We learn, “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-Rad 13:28) May He make us of the Dhakireen. Ameen.

Make Arabic your language

When one falls in love with the Quran, the first thing that they get upset about is the language barrier. A lot of meaning is lost in translations. Non-Arabs wish they were born in an Arab land and Arabic was their native language. Allah (swt) maintained diversity by making us belong to different races. However, we are encouraged to learn different languages, as this is the sure way of bridging gaps. “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Ibrahim 14:4) Learn Arabic and witness how your understanding of the Quran reaches a higher level.

Goodness comes with gratitude

We all want an increase in goodness and escape from punishment. How can we make that happen? “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

How can we be grateful to Allah (swt)?

We can be grateful by honouring His commands. By offering our prayers at their appointed time and not when we will. Gratitude should be expressed by the tongue, the heart and the limbs. Allah (swt) has blessed us with health; we should make the most of it by serving Him and His religion. Allah (swt) has given us wealth, we should spend it in His cause. If one is told to count the favours of Allah (swt), he would never be able to do so.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa).” (Ibrahim 14:34) This is a challenge to the entire mankind. We miss one thing from our lives and we claim Allah (swt) has kept us deprived. What about the one thousand others things that we have?

Ingratitude belongs to the Shaytan, the deceiver

Ungratefulness is from Shaytan, he beautifies the harmful things for us and we feel as if we are denied. On the Day of Judgement, Shaytan will excuse himself from us. “And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun.” (Ibrahim 14:22) What a devil he is! First he whispers evil thoughts and then backs out from enticing.

Allah’s (swt) assurance of His mercy upon His slaves

While Shaytan conspires for our downfall, what does Allah (swt) assures us of? “Declare (O Muhammad (sa)) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” (Al-Hijr 15:49) Reading this verse what should we say? We should hasten to make the Dua: O Allah! Forgive me and have mercy on me. Grant me peace in this world and the next. Ameen. Again, this is not a license to continue sinning.

We live in times, where mosque which is free to enter, but is empty; while clubs which cost several thousands to enter, but are packed. This is why the verse right after the previous one warns us, “And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” (Al-Hijr 15:50) Thus, we must not indulge in acts that can lead to His painful punishment.

Islam is protected by Allah (swt) alone

Next, we learn about a miracle that was given to Muhammad (sa), “Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers.” (Al-Hijr 15:95) Each time the scoffers mocked the Prophet (sa) – they were either punished for the words they uttered, or they were guided because of that. How were they guided? Each time someone decides to damage Islam by drawing caricatures, more people become interested in Islam and embrace it. There were many people during the time of the Prophet (sa), who wanted to harm him; but within moments, they were testifying that Muhammad (sa) is the Prophet of Allah (swt). While such incidents of blasphemy hurt us, we must remember Allah (swt) is the In-Charge here, He will hold the perpetrators accountable.

The matter that requires our attention is that when a non-Muslim disrespects Islam, we come out on the streets, carry out protestations, burn vehicles, damage property and gather all the energy to endure heat and discomfort. But when the call to prayer is given in the mosque, we don’t budge. We are so far away from our own religion, why criticise the non-Muslims? Reverts are much better than some of the born Muslims. May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.

It is natural for a tender-hearted person to be distressed by what’s happening around them. Allah (swt), the All-Knowing, knows the hearts of His slaves, “Indeed, We know that your breast is straitened at what they say.” (Al-Hijr 15:97) This was His assurance to Muhammad (sa).

Sunshine or rain – He is the domain

What should one do when he is suffering? He says, “So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” (Al-Hijr 15:98-99) Rain or shine, we must never forget the purpose of our creation. If things are good, praise and thank Allah (swt). If things are not so good, have patience, praise and thank Allah (swt). The Day of Judgement will settle all disputes. Prostrate whenever you can, because that is the closest we can get to Allah (swt).

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


Pearls of Peace: Surah Yusuf

freshwater-clam-with-natural-freshwater-pearlsWipe out the bad with good!

When a believer commits a sin, he is filled up with remorse and guilt. This is nothing but a sign of Iman. It is the mercy of Allah (swt) that He has informed us beforehand about the major and the minor sins. However, this does not give one a license to continue their minor sins. If one does not avoid minor sins, then one day they will fall for the major ones. May Allah (swt) protect us all. Ameen. If a person commits a minor sin, the Prophet (sa) advised us to follow it up with a good deed. This is done in order to wipe out the effects of the bad deed.

In Surah Hud it appears, “And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory Salat (prayers)). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).” (Hud 11:114) Many people appear to be religious, but they have some hidden bad habits such as pornography.

How can one get rid of addictive bad habits?

First, exercise your willpower. Go cold turkey. But if a person finds himself weak, he keeps reverting to the sin after repentance, and then such a person should increase his good deeds. Add a lot of voluntary prayers, recitation and Dhikr in your routine; so much so that you have no time left for Laghw (non-beneficial) matters.

Stories of the past – a solace!

Allah (swt) narrates the stories of past nations in the Quran to enlighten us about them and to give us comfort and solace; like there were people before you who endured much intense challenges. Thus, if they could persevere and become victorious, you would too; if you rely on Allah (swt) and follow His commands.

“And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad (sa)) of the news of the Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby. And in this (chapter of the Quran) has come to you the truth, as well as an admonition and a reminder for the believers.” (Hud 11:120)

A similar verse appears in Surah Yusuf, “Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding.” (Yusuf 12:111) A person can learn a lesson through the hard way, by not paying heed to advice; or they can learn through the easy way, by reading about the lives of other people, and being cautious of what could destroy them.

The story of Yusuf (as)

This story is bound to leave your teary-eyed. Allah (swt) says, “We relate unto you (Muhammad (sa)) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it (the Quran).” (Yusuf 12:3)

In Prophet Yusuf’s (as) story, we learn about the evils of jealousy; brothers harming their own brother out of jealousy. A jealous person cannot live in peace. He destroys his own peace and that of others. We should remember that Allah (swt) has decided who would get what.

How to get rid of jealousy?

Instead of being jealous of what someone has, we should rather make Dua to Allah (swt) to bless us with the same or a better blessing. Another cure for jealousy is that, instead of looking at what people have been gifted, we should see what Allah (swt) has given us. Perhaps, there is something that we have and they don’t. For example, a sister might be married; but the person to whom she is married doesn’t respect her or provide her any emotional support. On the other hand is a sister, who is not married yet; but her parents are kind and loving. Let’s consider another example, a person complains about his wife being out of shape. There’s another man whose wife is in shape, but too difficult to get along. Each of them has something to be grateful for. Jealousy blinds us. When evil thoughts come to your mind, seek the refuge with Allah (swt) from the cursed Shaytan.

Prophet Yusuf (as) saw a dream that eleven stars, and the sun and the moon are prostrating him. When he narrated this dream to his father, his father warned him, “He (the father) said: “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaytan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)

An important advice

Here is an important advice for us. Do not share everything with others; especially your future plans, because Shaytan uses your loved ones as a tool to harm you. Do not talk about it, unless you have achieved your task completely. May Allah (swt) protect us from jealousy and causing harm to others. Ameen.

One of the names of Allah (swt) is Ash-Shakoor. He is the Most Appreciative of His servants’ deeds. When sin becomes accessible to a person and that person chooses to stay away from it for the sake of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) elevates such a person in status. We see this in the story of Prophet Yusuf (as). A beautiful, wealthy woman tried to seduce him in the privacy of her house. There was nothing that could stop them besides the fear of Allah (swt). Yusuf (as) replied, He said: I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.” (Yusuf 12:23) What a response!

Pearls of Peace – Extracts from Surahs Yunus and Hud

pearlsSurah Yunus – named after prophet Yunus (as)

Before we begin the Surah, let’s read why is it important to study the Quran. Allah (swt) says, “O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Qur’an, ordering all that is good and forbidding all that is evil), and a healing for that (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences, etc.) in your breasts, – a guidance and a mercy (explaining lawful and unlawful things, etc.) for the believers.” (Yunus 10:57) Quran is Shifa (cure) for diseased hearts, a guidance and mercy for the believers. This is the power of the Word of Allah (swt). It cleanses one from spiritual ailments. 

The touch of affliction

Allah (swt) tests us so that we can turn to Him. It so happens that once the calamity is gone, we revert to our old ways. The One, Who brought us relief, is all capable of snatching our peace away and much more than that.

Why play with Allah (swt)?

“And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have removed his harm from him, he passes on his way as if he had never invoked Us for a harm that touched him! Thus it seems fair to the Musrifun that which they used to do.” (Yunus 10:12)

Wouldn’t you want to become one of the friends of Allah (swt)? Who wouldn’t? We would run for the opportunity. Allah (swt) says, “No doubt! Verily, the Auliya of Allah (i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)), no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve , Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and used to fear Allah much (by abstaining from evil deeds and sins and by doing righteous deeds).For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world (i.e. righteous dream seen by the person himself or shown to others), and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.” (Yunus 10:62-64)

How to become Allah’s (swt) friend?

To become a friend of Allah (swt) one needs to be a believer and have Taqwa (consciousness of Allah (swt)). One is a believer if he believes in Allah (swt), associates no partners with Him, and treads on the path of Muhammad (sa). Taqwa can be attained by honouring Allah’s (swt) commands and staying away from prohibitions.

Allah (swt) takes care of His friends; as we see in the stories of the Prophets (as). When the messengers called people to Allah (swt), and they refused to follow; there came a time when the messengers were compelled to invoke Allah’s (swt) wrath against the transgressors.

“And Moosa (Moses) said: Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Firaun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your Path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.” (Yunus 10:88)

What did Allah (swt) say in reply? He said, “Allah said: “Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted.” (Yunus 10:89)

Sometimes, we lack peace in our life because we harmed someone and perhaps, he invoked Allah (swt) against us. Abstain from mocking, hurting, or causing discomfort to anyone. Perhaps, they are friends of Allah (swt).

Surah Hud – named after prophet Hud (as) (the messenger sent to the people of ‘Ad)

People of ‘Ad were huge and dwelled in carved mountains. This Surah contains lessons for those, who shy away from working in the path of Allah (swt). They are worried about their sustenance and the worldly competition that distracts them. Shoo those Satanic whisperings away because Allah (swt) has promised sustenance. He says, “And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).” (Hud 11:6) If He provides for an ant and a bird, would He not provide us? However, it does not mean to sit at home and do nothing. One has to work for a living, but should not make it the sole purpose of his lives. Work sincerely and ask Allah (swt) to open up avenues for you. Do not depend on your intellect alone. Depend on Allah (swt) instead.

Arrogance leads to destruction

Don’t be arrogant because arrogance was the cause of destruction of previous nations. Allah (swt) says, “They said: O Nuh (Noah)! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful.” (Hud 11:32) They were asking the Prophet of Allah (swt) to bring punishment upon them. And it was answered! Floods swallowed them up. Why invite trouble? Do not say, “Let me see what happens if I divert.” Stay on the straight path.

When one corrects someone, they are attacked by all kinds of statements as a rebuttal. Someone might say, “Who do you think you are?” Shuayb (as) faced a similar situation.“They said: O Shuayb! We do not understand much of what you say, and we see you a weak (man, it is said that he was a blind man) among us. Were it not for your family, we should certainly have stoned you and you are not powerful against us.” (Hud 11:91) What kind of a statement is that? May Allah (swt) protect us from arrogance. Ameen.

What is the cure to arrogance?

Do Shukr and acknowledge the supremacy of Allah (swt). Because whatever we have today is from Him. Let’s not become such people against whom others invoke Allah (swt). Allah (swt) gives us time to change our ways. But when we remain adamant; that is when His wrath descends. May He save us from destruction. Ameen.

Walk the talk

Having said that we should also not become of those who command others to do good and themselves do the entirely opposite. How will anyone listen to us when we don’t walk the talk? The Messengers were the first ones to act out a command. They submitted to Allah (swt) before reaching out to people. Shuayb (as) said, “And He said: “O my people! Tell me; if I have a clear evidence from my Lord, and He has given me a good sustenance from Himself (shall I corrupt it by mixing it with the unlawfully earned money). I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform so far as I am able, to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent.” (Hud 11:88)

People who live disciplined lives and have good conduct, do not even need to give long lectures, shout and scream at people to get some work done. People see them and are motivated to follow.

May Allah (swt) bridge the gap between our speech and our actions and allow us to live conscious lives. Ameen.

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

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anfal

Akoya_pearlQualities of a believer

Right in the beginning of this Surah, Allah (swt) describes the qualities of a true believer. He says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone).” (Al-Anfal 8:2) May Allah (swt) strengthen our Iman. Ameen.

These are those who say, “I have tried my best. Rest is all in the Hands of Allah (swt).” And they are content with that. Their other qualities are: “Who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and spend out of that We have provided them.” (Al-Anfal 8:3) We need to check ourselves. Do we have these qualities within us? If yes, then Allah (swt) says, “It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and Forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise).” (Al-Anfal 8:4) May He grant us Paradise and bless us with all the qualities of the true believers. Ameen.

Honouring claims and contracts

He then says, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him (i.e. Messenger Muhammad (sa)) while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: We have heard, but they hear not.” (Al-Anfal 8: 20-21) Several times during the day, we recite Surah Al-Fatihah, and beseech Allah (swt) to show us the right path. When the right path is shown to us, we turn away. Allah (swt) says when the message has reached you; when you have been informed what is right and what is wrong, then do not turn away. Do not become of those who claim we are the followers of Muhammad (sa). But when a command of Allah (swt) comes, they cannot be bothered to act upon it.

Once again we are reminded about the virtue of honouring contracts, Allah (swt) says, “O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know (the consequence).” (Al-Anfal 8:27) Marriage is a contract similar to business contract. By being Muslim, you naturally become an ambassador of Islam. Do not bring a bad repute to Islam because of your behaviour. Many people do not want to engage with the Muslims because of their deceit and clandestine behaviour.

Stay honest with entrusted responsibilities

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:28) Your wealth and children are a test from Allah (swt). He can take them away whenever He desires. They are not yours; you have only been entrusted with their responsibility. He may never bless you with wealth and children; He may bless you with wealth but not give children; He may bless you with children but deprive you of wealth or He may give them both to you and then take them away during your lifetime or after you are gone. This is a great reminder to not get attached to that which in reality belongs to Allah (swt). He can snatch it any moment.

All belongs to Allah (swt)

When an attachment is snatched away, a person loses his peace of mind and contentment. He complains and grieves for his loss. He utters ungrateful words. And when that happens his Iman begins to diminish. May Allah (swt) strengthen us and help us accept that we will suffer loss in this world.

Taqwa – The key to right decisions

In life, we are faced with miscellaneous decision-making. We wish we had a counsellor that we could consult with; Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong, or Makhraj, i.e. making a way for you to get out from every difficulty), and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you, and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” (Al-Anfal 8:29) What do we learn from this? The only thing required to make the right decision is Taqwa. If we are conscious of Allah (swt), He will grant us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Insha’Allah.

It’s either my way or the highway

This brings us to another important matter – in fact a great Fitnah of our times. Everyone is disagreeing with the other. The ideology is: if you do not follow my belief, then you have clearly gone astray. This continuous fighting has divided the Ummah immensely. Many people don’t come near the religion because they cannot understand who is right and who has deviated. Allah (swt) says, “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

The enemies are rejoicing as the Muslims fight among themselves. Let us reflect on our behaviour, be forgiving and reduce the distances between the Ummah.

We notice that in the Quran, the reminders for prayer and obligatory charity are frequently mentioned. It is because reminders benefit the believers. Each time we are reminded, we learn something new.

Consistency is the key

Allah (swt) loves those acts of worship which are done consistently. Doing them strengthens our Iman. And abandoning them can have serious implications on our heart’s condition. If you are content with worshipping and obeying Allah (swt), then you are among those who have understood their purpose in life; and know where they are heading to.

Test or punishment?

As Allah (swt) says in verse 53 of Surah Al-Anfal that He will not change a favour which He has bestowed upon His people; unless they change what was given to them. When that happens, then people deserve the gifts to be taken away. Having said that, we should remember that sometimes taking away of the favours is a test, instead of a punishment. How can one distinguish between a test and a punishment? Your heart’s condition will tell you. If your heart remains content and you say “Alhamdulillah” even in adversity, then Allah (swt) intends to increase your status by this test. On the other hand, if a calamity distances you from Allah (swt), then it could be His punishment. May Allah (swt) forgive and protect us. Ameen.

How can we nurture contentment in our hearts?

Let go of disputes and disagreements and forgive people. Look at what Allah (swt) says about confrontation with enemies, “But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:61) Allah (swt) is asking us to make peace with the enemies if they give up fighting too.

Opt for a ceasefire; this initiative will bring you peace

If there’s someone who has had an estranged relationship with you, and he now wants to mend it, then hasten to make peace with him. It is a sign of a good believer that he is the first one to apologize and forgive. Keep forgiving others and keep your heart calm. You might want to deal with that person differently, but do forgive them. “And if they intend to deceive you, then verily, Allah is All-Sufficient for you. He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers.” (Al-Anfal 8:62)

If they deceive you after making peace, then make Dua for them instead. Because Dua has the power to alter conditions. And in this we have the best example of Prophet (sa). When two greatest enemies of Islam were creating hurdles for him, he made Dua for the softness of their hearts so that either of the two would come and work for Islam. Reflect on this Dua.

Truly Muhammad (sa) was the mercy for mankind. Within moments we hear Umar ibn Al- Khattab (ra) has embraced Islam. Subhan’Allah! See the power of Dua? One of the mightiest opponents of Islam became one of the strongest proponents of Islam. A seemingly impossible situation was made possible. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength that Umar (ra) was blessed with. Ameen. Continue making Dua and you will witness the fruit.

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

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Araaf

pearlsWith this message we begin Surah Al-Araf. Allah (swt) says, (This is the) Book (the Quran) sent down unto you (O Muhammad (sa)), so let not your breast be narrow there from, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers.” (Al-Araf 7:2) How fortunate we are that we have the Quran, which is an anti-depressant; yet how selfish we are that we do not communicate its gems and wonders with our friends and families. We recite the Quran, learn it, preserve it in our hearts and keep the knowledge to ourselves. The Prophet (sa) said, “The best among you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.” (Bukhari) If someone informed us that there is a university where from if we graduated we will get $150,000 per month we would have rushed to enrol ourselves in it. The Prophet (sa) is calling us to something better and we are not moved.

We have read Harry Potter and other similar books. We wait for their launch and fantasize the stories; but have we also read the Quran? If we have not read the Quran ourselves, how can we teach it to others and be amongst the best? This is the Book of Allah (swt), the word of the Creator which we have not even attempted to learn. That is why we don’t have peace in our lives.

We need to be careful of the devil’s plot. Shaytan says, “Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” (Al-Araf 7:17) He beautifies sins for us and makes us fall for them. May Allah (swt) bless us the insight to distinguish between the straight path and the trap of Shaytan. Ameen.

Adam (as) and the treachery of Shaytan

Allah (swt) then mentions the story of Adam (as) that how he lost a certain place in Paradise due to the treachery of Shaytan. This teaches us an important lesson: if we fall for Shaytan, Allah (swt) will take away the blessing that He gave us. In this story, we also learn about clothing; which is both an adornment and a covering.

Clothe with piety

When we are invited to our friend’s house or some renowned politician, businessman or anyone famous, we pick up the best clothes that we can. We make sure our hair and our accessories are in order. We check ourselves out several times in the mirror before leaving the house. But how do we approach Salah? When the Maker of everything invites us to stand before Him for a private conversation that guarantees us everything that we desire, what clothes or condition are we in? Sometimes for Fajr Salah, we simply roll out of our beds, throw water on our face, perform a quick Wudhu and stand up in prayer in our sleeping pyjamas. Is that an attitude of gratitude towards Him Who rewards one good deed up to ten times?

Allah (swt) says, “O O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Ka’bah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31) Do not be extravagant in your clothing. When one looks today at the prices of bridal and semi-formal clothing, he wonders where the money is coming from. An ordinary dress with trimmings of silk or Banarsi fabric and some embellishments is priced at 50,000 rupees or even more. Lawn which was the clothing of common people is now sold at Rs. 6,000. Allah (swt) says, “And the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” (Al-Araf 7:26)

Not only should the clothing be sanely priced, but also, it should serve the purpose for which it was created. And that is “covering”. Too tight, too short, too revealing is not the clothing of people of Taqwa. If Salah is not accepted in such clothes, how can one step out of their house wearing those welcoming gazes of strange men?

Choose the appropriate attire

If one has to shed their clothing in order to appear attractive in front of others, then they should know twenty years later, they will not have the same appearance. So why not attract people by your character and Taqwa, instead of superficial things? If we dress up according to how Allah (swt) commands us, we will, Insha’Allah, attract those who are best for us in the Sight of Allah (swt). Who doesn’t want a righteous companion? Everyone does! The righteous companion pushes us to give our very best to Allah (swt). Thus, let us not attract the filth and dress appropriately instead.

Allah (swt) has promised us that He will send messages and reminders to us in various forms. Some fortunate ones lived in the midst of the messengers. For later generations, there were people who had acquired knowledge from the messengers and disseminated it to others. And that is how it reached us.

What should be our attitude towards Allah’s (swt) messages?

Allah (swt) says, “O Children of Adam! If there come to you Messengers from amongst you, reciting to you, My Verses, and then whosoever becomes pious and righteous, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Araf 7:35)

Two actions are required: Taqwa and reform. By being conscious of Allah (swt) and rectifying our faults, we will be free from anguish.

Dialogue between the dwellers of paradise and hellfire

Then we learn about a dialogue that takes place between the people of hellfire and the people of Paradise: “And the dwellers of the Fire will call to the dwellers of Paradise: Pour on us some water or anything that Allah has provided you with. They will say: Both (water and provision) Allah has forbidden to the disbelievers.” (Al-Araf 7:50)

What actions lead to hellfire?

Allah (swt) says, “Who took their religion as an amusement and play, and the life of the world deceived them. So this Day We shall forget them as they forgot their meeting of this Day, and as they used to reject Our verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.).” (Al-Araf 7:51) Materialism took over them. They were more attached to the material things than to their Maker. The love of Allah (swt) should exceed our love for every other being or thing. People who have taken religion as play and amusement, have chosen to ignore Allah (swt) (may Allah (swt) protect us). Hence, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will disregard them.

How does one ignore Allah (swt)?

By not abiding to His rules and regulations, by not abstaining from His prohibitions, and by not following the commandments that He has ordained upon us. Move towards Allah (swt) even if it’s inch by inch. Our Prophet (sa) would say: “O Allah (swt), make faith appear beautiful to us and adorn our hearts with it, and make Kufr, sin and disobedience abhorrent to us. Make us of those who are rightly guided. Ameen.”

Befalling of a calamity – boon or bane?

Again we learn about calamities. One thing to remember is that a calamity is not always a punishment. While some people drown and die in floods, there’s someone in the same city who died in the state of prostration. Your heart gauges whether a calamity is destruction or a blessing. If you find contentment and peace in your heart, then you are blessed. It could be a mean to raise your status in the sight of Allah (swt). So be pleased with His decree.

Sometimes we see images of calamity-stricken areas and we notice almost the entire settlement has perished, except one house. Why it is that one house is saved while all the other houses collapsed? It could be because the resident of that house was engaged in enjoining good and forbidding evil. He did his duty, he forwarded the knowledge that he had acquired. If people didn’t pay heed, he would not be held accountable for it. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “So when they forgot the reminders that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” (Al-Araf 7:165)

Lesson to learn

The key to stay protected from Allah’s (swt) punishment, after we have reformed ourselves, is to remind others. Tell the brothers to come to the Masjid for Salah. Advise the sisters not to dress in a certain way. Remind, for reminders benefit the believers.

Pay full attention to the Quranic recitation

How would one feel if the CEO of the company is talking and no one is paying attention? Sometimes, we turn on the Quran recitation and continue chatting on the side; paying absolutely no attention to what is being said. Allah (swt) warns us about this in the Quran, “So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy. (I.e. during the compulsory congregational prayers when the Imam (of a mosque) is leading the prayer (except Surah Al-Fatihah), and also when he is delivering the Friday-prayer Khutbah).” (Al-Araf 7:204) Listening to Quran results in receiving Allah’s (swt) mercy, Subhan’Allah! Our mind and heart both should be attentive. Know that the one who receives the mercy of Allah (swt) is a person of high rank.


Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 2

Pearl-in-a-shell1Previously, we discussed standing up for what’s right, even if others around us are content with whatever is happening.

Prophet Ibrahim (as) – the devoted friend of Allah (swt)

Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) entire nation was drowned in Shirk. But he was not of those who blindly followed his tribe. He said: “Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa and I am not of Al-Mushrikun.” (Al-Anam 6:79) His family kicked him out, his people threw him in fire; but his heart was filled with peace. Why? It was because he had turned his attention and devotion to Allah (swt). As a consequence of his open declaration of truth Allah (swt) chose Ibrahim (as) as His friend – Khalilullah. What an honour!

Who are the secured ones?

Therefore in verse 81 Allah (swt) asks us, “(So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security? If you but know?” The two parties mentioned here are the monotheists and the polytheists. He answers this question in verse 82, “It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.” May Allah (swt) keep us firm on Tauheed. Ameen.

Respect all religions

As we talk about polytheism, an important point to mention here is that if Allah (swt) chose us to be Muslims, then we have no right to scoff those who worship whatever pleases them. He says, “And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.” (Al-Anam 6:108) If we make fun of them, the obvious retaliation would be ridiculing our religion. Think of others’ reaction before you take any action. Do not become the reason for causing damage to your own religion.

Leaving inner and outer sins

Allah (swt) then wants us to examine ourselves internally – the dual lives that we live. There are people who apparently seem pious and righteous, but they are engaged in sins that only they know of. Allah (swt) says, “Leave (O mankind, all kinds of) sin, open and secret. Verily, those who commit sin will get due recompense for that which they used to commit.” (Al-Anam 6:120) Quit immediately. Give them up. Learn to control your Nafs. Cleanse yourself internally. Our Prophet (sa) taught us a beautiful Dua: “O Allah! Give my heart its piety and purify it, for You are the best who can purify it; You are its Protector and Guardian.”

Would you like to share your good deeds with anyone?

To do a good deed is not as difficult as preserving that deed is. We may be doing a lot of good deeds in our lives, but sometimes we hurt one person and back bite another. We spread rumours about people without verifying the source of information. All these people will be coming on the Day of Judgement to take a portion from our good deeds. Do we wish to give our Salah to other people when we will be the neediest ones? Allah (swt) says, “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160) What a loss it would be if our deeds are added to someone else’s scale! Repent and protect other people’s rights.

Do’s and don’ts for staying on the straight path

Towards the end of Surah al-Anam, there is a list of prohibitions and commandments that is similar to what Prophet Moosa (as) was given in Torah. Allah (swt) instructs Muhammad (sa) to say, “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not near to Al-Fawahish (shameful sins, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly, and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand. And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice. We burden not any person, but that which he can bear. And whenever you give your word (i.e. judge between men or give evidence, etc.), say the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the Covenant of Allah, This He commands you, which you may remember. And verily, this (i.e. Allah’s Commandments mentioned in the above two Verses 151 and 152) is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun.” (Al-Anam 6:151-153)

Why were the above prohibitions mentioned?

It is because if we engage in them, our peace will be snatched both in this world and the hereafter.

1. Shirk – no forgiveness without repentance

The first thing that Allah (swt) mentions is Shirk. That is because there is no forgiveness for Shirk if one dies without seeking repentance. Right after, He mentions kindness to parents because they have the greatest right on an individual.

2. Infant killing

Then we are warned against killing children out of the fear of poverty and hunger. The Arab pagans used to bury their daughters alive; today we have abortions. We are told immorality is unacceptable- don’t even come near it. We should be upright in our character and have high morals.

3. Rights of humankind

Murder and suicide is absolutely prohibited in the Shariah. Then the rights of the orphans are mentioned. If one has spent anything on them. He can recollect his honest share; otherwise handover their property as it was received. We continue to cheat the women when it comes to inheritance and do not give them their share. May Allah (swt) help us. Ameen

4. Bless your business

The discussion moves on to business dealings. People cheat one another for petty prices. The Prophet (sa) said that if one is honest in his business dealings then Allah’s (swt) blessings will descend. But when we misquote our prices and scheme deceitful plans, how do we expect the Barakah in our wealth?

Value the Deen – spread it with love

This brings us to another aspect of our lives. When we have to sell something of this world, our mind can think of all sorts of strategies to lure the customer. We are polite, kind, friendly and respectful. But when it comes to calling people to Allah’s (swt) Deen, we can come up with all the excuses that one can think of. The energy that drives our business marketing skills has vanished. Our time becomes limited. Our tongues become sharp and bitter. We forget all our manners and etiquettes. We will not humble ourselves for the grandeur of the hereafter, but we will open our hearts to accommodate the customers for paltry gain of this world.

Brothers and sisters, the Deen is more valuable! It can result in Paradise for you as against the momentary benefit of this world.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 1

pearls3As we are seated in our houses in comfort and peace, there are fellow Muslims across the globe suffering for various reasons. Some of them are being tested by famine. Some of them are showered with bombs. Some of them are gripped by civil war. We might not be able to lessen their sufferings, but at least we can make Dua. We need to be sensitive to others people’s pains. May Allah (swt) bring them comfort and relief. Ameen.

“Remind!” for reminder has benefits

Allah (swt) has sent us several reminders through the Quran. These reminders are not merely to be heard, but we also need to pay heed and reform our lives to the pleasure of Allah (swt). The previous nations were much stronger and powerful than us, yet they were perished due to their negligence and disobedience. We need to study their stories so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.

Allah (swt) says, “Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.” (Al-Anam 6:6)

What goes around, comes around

Messengers after messengers were sent but it did not move their hearts. Their hearts were hardened. They would mock the messengers and hurt them. Sometimes today in our gatherings when Shaytan overtakes us, we make fun of the scholars. Remember, if today, we make fun of the messengers or the message that they brought; the scholars and the knowledgeable; the pious and the friends of Allah (swt), then someday, we will be made a laughing stock of. “And indeed, (many) Messengers were mocked before you. But their scoffers were surrounded by the very thing that they used to mock at. Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth.” (Al-Anam 6:10-11)

Mock at your own risk

Don’t laugh at others. Sometimes, we lose our peace because we made fun of a scholar, a pious person or a friend of Allah (swt). We used the tongue that should be engaged in Quran recitation and Dhikr in abusing someone. We need to seek repentance and make Dua to Allah (swt) to soften our hearts; so that we don’t end up like the perished nations. This is the main purpose of reminders: to guide us and give us a wakeup call.

Further Allah (swt) talks about the reverence of the prophets, Allah’s (swt) message and friends of Allah (swt). The discussion, then moves on to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). This is the most repeated topic of Surah Al-Anam, since the main addressees of this Surah were the idolaters of Makkah. Allah (swt) says, “And on the Day when We shall gather them all together, We shall say to those who joined partners in worship (with Us): Where are your partners (false deities) whom you used to assert (as partners in worship with Allah)? There will then be (left) no Fitnah (excuses or statements or arguments) for them but to say: By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah.” (Al-Anam 6:22-23) We need to thank Allah (swt) that unlike some other people who bow before a passing animal or revere an idol, He made us of those who worship the Creator. Alhamdulillah!

This world – a temporary abode

There are some people who say, “You live only once, do as you please.” They do not believe in the Resurrection. Allah (swt) addresses such people in the Quran and says, “And they said: There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection). If you could but see when they will be held (brought and made to stand) in front of their Lord! He will say: Is not this (Resurrection and the taking of the accounts) the truth? They will say: Yes, by our Lord! He will then say: So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.” (Al-Anam 6:29-30) Yes, we do live our lives in this Dunya once; but one day we will be resurrected for an eternal life, and we don’t want to lose that.

Turn a deaf ear to the fools

Then Allah (swt) reminds us of how the Prophet (sa) was persecuted by the people of Makkah in the early days of Prophethood. He was called a sorcerer, a magician, a person after position and power, a person after money and so on; yet he remained patient and brought about victory.

Here’s a lesson for us. If the best of the creation was not spared, then how can we be spared? People will spread rumours about us and disturb our peace. Ignore them. Don’t waste your time in replying to them. And please don’t go into depression. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “We know indeed the grief which their words cause you (O Muhammad (sa)): it is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’an) of Allah that the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny. Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you (O Muhammad (sa)), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (before you).” (Al-Anam 6: 33-34)

If you are truthful and you have not snatched the rights of others, then Allah (swt) will protect you. As the saying goes, His help is near. Be patient and endure a little more.

Advocate the truth

This also teaches us another lesson. When we receive any information about someone else, if it does not concern us we don’t need to spread it around. And in case that we must share it with others, then we must verify its authenticity first before spreading the word; whether it is true or not! When we are away from Allah (swt), He puts a difficulty in our lives so that we might raise our hands in Dua. The question is: Must we wait for a calamity to strike before we connect with Allah (swt)?

Rags or riches – living with humility is the key

He says, “Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad (sa)). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health with calamities so that they might believe with humility. When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not believe with humility? But their hearts became hardened, and Shaytan (Satan) made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do.” (Al-Anam 6: 42-43)

Sometimes, we look at people living in big houses and driving fancy cars; we look at them and conclude Allah (swt) must be really pleased with them to grant such blessings upon them. It is the way of Allah (swt) to open the doors to His treasures and let people enjoy themselves. He then observes their attitude. One would hope it would soften their hearts and make them humble. On the contrary, being blessed with worldly treasures people engage in all kinds of sins. Shaytan beautifies for them their sin. Their hearts become hardened and they do not even realize the evil that they are committing. It is then that they are struck by Allah’s (swt) wrath.

The point is that material possessions do not communicate one’s closeness to Allah (swt). Rather, it is one’s actual connection with Allah (swt) that determines one as the favoured ones. If the connection with Allah (swt) is missing from our lives then everything else is insignificant.

Muhammad (sa), Allah’s (swt) Messenger, owned very little and lived his life in poverty. Yet, he was the most content of the people. You know why? It is because he lived within his means and was generous. He never yearned for the treasures of Dunya. And if ever he was sent some gift or food, he would share it with others, especially the poor. Our problem is that we have increased our wants; which is why we see more and more people taking loans. Then committing suicide for not be able to pay the mountain of debt that they have burdened themselves with. Financial constraint has been noted as one of the reasons for marriage failures. You want peace? Limit your wants. For how long are you here in this world? Learn to live within the sustenance that Allah (swt) has provided you with.

A person sitting high above at the top, with every little blessing of this world within his means, can be destructed by the smallest nudge at the bottom. Ever observed a stack of books? You have meticulously arranged a pile of books. When you are placing the last book on the top, your foot accidentally touches the books at the bottom and there collapses your tower. One small nudge and all is gone. That is how Allah (swt) destructs nations.

Equality rules

Islam prohibits its followers from making money as the sole focus of their lives. When money and things become the criterion for judging someone’s character and status- the ones wealthy are considered as high and noble; while the poor ones are considered as unworthy and low. We learn that the weak and the poor were the first to accept Islam. Then Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) and other rich Muslims spent their wealth in freeing of slaves. In Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, these weak and poor would be seated near to him, listening attentively to what the Prophet of Allah (swt) had to say. The Makkan leaders demanded the Prophet (sa) that if he wished to see them in his gathering, then he first needs to get rid of the weak and the poor. The Makkans were filled with pride and ostentation; they could not envisage being seated next to someone who was once their slave. Allah (swt) said, “And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face. You are accountable for them in nothing, and they are accountable for you in nothing, that you may turn them away and thus, become of the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:52)

Meet and greet

Further, He said, “When those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) come to you, say: “Salamun ‘Alaikum” (peace be on you).” (Al-Anam 6:54) The weak and the poor are to be greeted by the most honourable greeting of the Muslims: Salam-un-Alaykum.

This tells us not to be a racist or judge people according to their skin colour, language or wealth. Don’t underestimate anyone; they might be the first ones to enter Paradise while we will still be defending ourselves in the court of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect us, Ameen.

A person is judged by the company he keeps

One way of protecting our hearts and tongues from doing or uttering the most detested thing is not sitting with those who make fun of the verses of Allah (swt), as He says, “And when you (Muhammad (sa)) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur’an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:68) In discussions people say, “Hey! We are studying the Quran and trying to understand religion.” But when these discussions are filled with foul language, abuses, mockery and ridicule then there is no Khair (goodness) in them. Get up and leave unless they talk about something else. If one keeps sitting with them, he will be influenced and become like them.

The courage to speak up, stop and leave the gathering of evil results in peace. If they can mock the Book of Allah (swt), tomorrow they will be ridiculing you. May Allah (swt) help us realize the consequences of our deeds, Ameen.

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

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Maidah

pearls7Learning the Quran – a better trade!

Many people do not study Quran or learn the basics of their religion, because they measure it along worldly benefits. People say, “What will I get by studying the Quran? It cannot pay my bills.” When people put the Shariah behind their backs, it is then that they lose peace from their lives. Surrender to Allah (swt), His commands and the teachings of His Prophet (sa) and you will attain peace Insha’Allah. You will see the benefits right away and eventually you will see it was a better trade. May Allah (swt) gives us the ability to surrender to Him and His commands. Ameen.

Then, there are people who conduct debates on Quranic verses. They adopt a pick-and-choose policy in Islam. Sometimes, they would negate the Prophetic narrations and even challenge them. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above-mentioned meats), then surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Maidah 5:3)

This was one of the last verses to be revealed. The Jews present at the time of its revelation commented; if this verse was revealed to them, they would have rejoiced and celebrated that day. What is our attitude in contrast? We challenge the Quran and conduct debates on it? Nothing can be added or deleted from what the Prophet (sa) conveyed to us. The creditability of Shariah is valid till the last moment of this world.

Honouring commitments

Once again, we study the obligation of honouring our commitments, “O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations.” (Al-Maidah 5:1) We barely reach on the time that we commit for an appointment. So let’s not talk about our very important  official contracts, as it would lead to nothing but shame.

Then Allah (swt) guides us regarding how we should live with one another in a society, “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” (Al-Maidah 5:2) A person who plots evil plans cannot live in peace. Likewise, a person, who helps the evil person accomplish his evil plans, earns the burden of the sin as the person who initiated it. Why would someone want to waste his time and energy for something that can never be beneficial for him? Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice.” (Al-Maidah 5:8) Even if you have to stand against your own father or your son in justice do not back away. A Muslim cannot love anyone more than he loves Allah (swt). Therefore, nothing should stop him from abiding by what Allah (swt) has commanded.

Salah – the cleansing gift

Many of us treat Salah as a burden; forgetting that it was actually given as a gift to the Prophet (sa). And because we consider it as a burden, our attitude towards Salah is that of laziness. We delay it to the last possible time, and when we get up, we are least particular about our clothes or purity. Standing in Salah is equivalent to standing before Allah (swt). If one knows he is going to have a meeting with Allah (swt), how should his dress be like and what should be his state of cleanliness? Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles.” (Al-Maidah 5:6)

The Prophet (sa) informed us that every time a person performs ablution, his sins are wiped off. If we consciously remember this statement each time we perform Wudhu, would we rush through it? Bilal’s (ra) footsteps were heard in Paradise because he used to perform fresh ablution for each Salah, and also offer two Rakats of ablution before the Salah.

Not only does a person who performs his ablution correctly, feels contentment and cleanliness; but Shaytan too stays away from a person who is in a state of purity. May Allah (swt) help us understand how high the level of ablution is in His Sight. Ameen.

What happens when we hear the word ‘Shariah’?

Images of one eye and amputated arms cross our minds. Subhan’Allah! It is Allah’s (swt) law that we are talking about. Allah (swt) says, “Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Al-Maidah 5:38)

Anywhere in the world, where you see the crime rate high, know that their justice system is weak or probably it is almost non-existent. The reason Allah (swt) has decided for harsh punishment for the criminals, is to deter them and others from repeating the crime. One has to set the example. If the law of Allah (swt) was being followed in its actual sense, would the crime rate and the number of rapes be as high as they are today? May Allah (swt) protect our men, women and children. Ameen.

Halal consumption

Allah (swt) then tells us what we should consume, “And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and fear Allah in Whom you believe.” (Al-Maidah 5:88) The Halal and Tayyab means no begging, no stealing and no eyeing what your neighbors are eating. Do not put anything and everything that you come across in your mouth. Find out the source and know what you are eating. Some people live on packaged food and do not give much value to fresh vegetables and fruits. Many of us do not even know where our food comes from. If it is a command from Allah (swt) to be particular about what we are eating, shouldn’t we find the source? Secondly, some people consider it piety to consume stale and rotten food. They would not throw if the food has gone bad, but rather eat it and end up with food poisoning. Allah (swt) has not made Haram upon His slaves to eat good food. What matters is that what you are eating is permissible; it is bought with Halal income, and there is no extravagance in your consumption.

Society blues!

He then talks about some of the prevalent ills of the society, “O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.” (Al-Maidah 5:90)

The problem of drug addiction has gone out of our hands. Little children are drug addicts. Dad is not home because he is busy drinking with his friends. Some people say, “I am only a social drinker.” as if that is something acceptable. Some say, “Well, the entire world is drinking,” Allah (swt) says, “Say (O Muhammad ): Not equal are Al-Khabith (all that is evil and bad as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.) and At-Tayyab (all that is good as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.), even though the abundance of Al-Khabith (evil) may please you.” (Al-Maidah 5:100)

Accidents and divorces are taking place due to drug addiction and drinking problem. Homes are breaking and families are tearing apart. Quit this evil habit today and attain peace in your life.

If the entire world is following what is sinful and forbidden; neither should we follow them nor be fearful of their reaction, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves, [do righteous deeds, fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbid what is wrong (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden) no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do.” (Al-Maidah 5:105)

Allah (swt) is the only Being Who we should really revere and be fearful of. Nothing and no one else can destruct us except Him. If we are doing what Allah (swt) commanded us to do, and if we have surrendered to Him, He will protect us and look after our well-being. Insha’Allah.

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