Happiness- Six steps away

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

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

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

Ponder and give thanks

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

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

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

The past is gone

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

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

Patience and prayer

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

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

Consolation from the stricken

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

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

Make a pleasant drink from the lemon

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

Greed and love for Paradise

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

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

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

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

Hajj 2015 – the Good I Witnessed

hajj2015

It might be startling for many to believe that there was any good in Hajj 2015, especially after the unfortunate tragedies of the crane crash and Mina stampede. May Allah swt accept the Shahadah (martyrdom) of those who lost their lives. But I was there performing my very first pilgrimage to Bait-ul-Allah. It was an ethereal experience.

The system in place to manage 30 lac pilgrims was quite impressive. The exits and entrances to Masjid al Haram were efficiently monitored to prevent any crowd surges. Policemen were lined up with spray bottles filled with cold water, ready to spray at any face that wanted respite from the heat. Free potable water and juice cartons were distributed to weary Hajis trudging on foot. Free bus rides were arranged from Khana-e-Kaabah to other parts of the city from where one could either walk home or hail a cab. Eager volunteers were present to guide you to your destination sometimes in sign language if you didn’t speak Arabic. Public toilets were present after every few meters and were considerably usable for Wudu and to answer the call of nature.

And who can forget the call of the beautiful Adhan soring high in the Haram. It raised the hair on one’s back, lifted the lowest of Imans, brought tears to eyes blurring the black majestic Kabah ahead. Each worshipper poured his heart out to his Rabb. Everyone had a love story of his own to narrate. Their hands stretched out yearning for the Lord’s Mercy and Love. It was the moment. All else faded away in the background.

Hajj was truly a picture of supreme brotherhood. Muslims from all continents and of every colour praying in one direction, to one God in one language.  We shared food, water, our prayer mats and smiles. We tried conversing in sign language, broken English and wavering Arabic. We pushed wheel chairs of complete strangers and shared taxi rides with them too.

Personally three things helped me immensely. I embarked on the pilgrimage with my husband with zero expectations. I realized that if I was a guest of Allah (swt) I had to trust and respect His hospitality. This meant no complaining and exhibiting patience. And believe me this submission to Allah (swt) worked wonders. We were always pleasantly surprised since we expected nothing.

Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship

Secondly offering Sadqah every day in the morning reassured our faith. Be it the cleaners at the Haram or old and frail Hajis, we felt a sense of tranquility to be able to help the lesser privileged. In return we asked of Allah’s (swt) pleasure and mercy in our affairs.

Lastly the prayer of Ibrahim (as) “Husbiy allaha wanaimal wakeel” was a fort against every forwarding trouble in sight. He recited these words when he was thrown into the fire by King Namrood. Allah (swt) had commanded the fire to cool down and offer safety to prophet Ibrahim instead and he walked away unhurt. Hence I relied on the same prayer for the slightest of issues possible. Be it long queues, day’s heat, big crowds, wait for the cab, chance to enter the Haram gates, possibility of Tawaf, etc.

On a closing note, Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship. It is meant for the ones who want to grow spiritually and are ready to offer sacrifices of their everyday comforts and conveniences. It’s not for those who think that since they are wealthy enough they should embark on it as they are an eligible candidate for it. If we wish to have our entire life’s sins wiped out, we will have to pay some price.

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah right before they advance for their pilgrimage. It will help them greatly appreciate the lofty sacrifices Muhammad (sa) made for us. At Hajj we could pray anywhere in the Haram, perform as many Tawaf as possible in the ocean of other pilgrims, behold the captivating sight of the breathless Kabah. But Prophet (sa) was beaten at the same place so many times by the disbelievers of Makkah in the first thirteen years of his prophethood for simply offering Salah on the same grounds. And finally he was driven out of the city.

We can today peacefully go for Hajj and worship lovingly all we can. The inconveniences we face in this journey should not even be mentioned if we remember what our Prophet (sa) bore in the way of Allah (swt).

“By the fig, and the olive. By Mount Sinai. By this city of security (Makkah).” (Surat  at- tin 95:1-3)

Day of Arafah – To-Do List

If you are not performing Hajj this year and are wondering how you can make the most out of the Day of Arafah, here is a quick to-do list that you may find useful:

  1. Fasting: Try your best to observe fasts on the 8th and 9th of Dhul-Hijjah. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Fasting on the Day of Arafah, I hope from Allah, expiates for the sins of the year before and the year after.” (Muslim and Ibn Majah). According to Shaykh Salih Al-Munajjid: “This (fasting) is mustahabb for those who are not on Hajj.” The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah. Hunaydah ibn Khalid (rta) reported from his wife that some of the wives of the Prophet  (sa) said: “The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Ashoora, on three days of each month, and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (Abu Dawood and An-Nasai)
  2. Supplication: Talha ibn Ubaydullah ibn Kariz (rta) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The best Dua is Dua on the Day of Arafah, and the best thing that I or the Prophets before me have said is: ‘There is no god but Allah, alone, without any partner.’ (La ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la sharika lah.)” (Malik)
  3. Good deeds: The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are almost over. Use the time left to engage in worship, voluntary prayers, recitation of the Quran and sincere repentance and submission to Allah (swt).
  4. Takbeerat: Continue to recite as much of Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahleel (La Ilaha Illa Allah) and Tahmeed (Alhumdulillah) as you can (individually). Another Takbeer includes the following words:

Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise)

Another important thing to do on the Day of Arafah is to reflect upon its meaning and significance. Take some time out to ponder over this day and its virtues. Some of these include the following, as mentioned by Shaykh Salih Al-Munajjid:

  1. It is the day on which Allah perfected our religion for us. A Jew said to Umar (rta): “If this Verse had been revealed to us, we would have taken it (that day) as a festival (Eid): ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.’ (Al-Maidah 5:3)” Umar said: “I know the day when it was reveled and the night of which it was revealed; a Friday night when we were with Messenger of Allah (sa) in Arafah.” (An-Nasai)
  2. Allah (swt) has sworn by this day in the Quran: “And by the witnessing day (i.e. Friday), and by the witnessed day [i.e. the day of ‘Arafat (Hajj) the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah];” (Al-Burooj 85:3) Subhan’Allah! Allah (swt) only swears by something which has a great significance.
  3. Mankind gave the testimony of faith to Allah (swt) in Arafah: It is mentioned in a Saheeh Hadeeth recorded by Imam Ahmad, reported by Ibn ‘Abbas (rta) who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him. Then He addressed them, and said: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes, we testify,’ let you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allaah, and we were (merely their) descendents after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e., ploytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allaah)?’ (Al-Araf 7:172-173).”
  4. For the people who are performing Hajj, it is a day to secure freedom from hellfire: It was narrated from Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying: ‘What do these people want?'” (Muslim)  It was reported from Ibn Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah expresses His pride to His angels at the time of Isha on the Day of Arafah, about the people of Arafah. He says: Look at My slaves who have come unkempt and dusty.’” (Ahmad)

Compiled by Umm Ibrahim

Image source: http://www.inter-islam.org/images/p230-1.JPG

Sunnahs of Eid-ul-Adha

India Eid al Fitr“Say (O Muhammad): ‘Verily, my Salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)’ (Al-Anam 6:162)

Eid-ul-Adha literally means “festival of the sacrifice”. It is an Islamic festival to commemorate the obedience of Ibrahim (as) to obey Allah’s (swt) command to sacrifice his own son Ismael (as). According to the lunar based Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Adha falls on the 10thof Dhul-Hijjah. Muslims have two events to celebrate, one is Eid-ul-Fitr, which comes right after the month of Ramadan, and the other is Eid-ul-Adha.

Allah’s (swt) messenger Muhammad (sa) said: “Allah (swt) has given you two days better than these, the day of Al-Fitr and the day of Al-Adha.”  (Abu Dawood)

“It is Mustahab (recommended) for women to come out and attend the Eid prayers.” It is narrated by Umm ‘Attiyyah (ra) that the messenger of Allah (sa) commanded us to bring them (women) out on (Eid) Al – Fitr and (Eid) Al – Adha, and to bring out adolescent girls, menstruating women and virgins, but the menstruating women were to stay away from the prayer, but to witness the goodness and the gathering of the Muslims. I said: “O Messenger of Allah (sa), what if one of us does not have a Jilbaab?” He said: “Let her sister lend her a Jilbab.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Recommended Islamic practices for Eid-ul-Adha:

  • Taking a bath before Eid prayer. It is Mustahabb (recommended) to take a bath before going out to the prayer. (Saheeh Hadeeth)
  • It is a Sunnah for the Imam to deliver a sermon after Eid prayers, which consists of two Rakahs. It is a Sunnah of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) to listen to the sermon.
  • Offering Eid prayer in congregation, preferably in an open area.The practical Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) was to leave his mosque for the Eid prayers and perform these prayers in the Musalla (prayer room) that was at the outer gate of Madinah. Going out to the prayer-place for Eid prayer is Sunnah, even if the Jaami’ Mosque is large enough to accommodate. This is the view of the majority of Shaykhs.
  • Eating before going out to pray Eid prayers. Prophet Muhammad (sa) never used to go out on the morning of Eid until he had eaten some dates…of which he would eat an odd number. (Bukhari)
  • Reciting Takbeer.This is one of the greatest Sunnahs on the day of Eid. Umar (ra) would try hard in reciting Takbeer until he came to the prayer place, then he would continue to recite Takbeer until the imam came out. In case of Eid Al – Adha, the Takbeer begins on the first day of Dhul-Hijjah, and lasts until sunset on the last of the days of Tashreeq. The days of Tashreeq are 11, 12 and 13 of DhulHijjah, it is also referred to as Takbeer Tashreeq. Men should recite it loudly whereas women should not raise their voices.

Takbeer: Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar, La-Ilaha illa-Allah, Wa-Allah-u-Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa-Lillah-il-Hamd (Allah (swt) is the Most Great, Allah (swt) is the most Great, there is no god but Allah (swt), Allah is the Most great, Allah is the most great, and to Allah (swt) be the praise).

  • Offering congratulations. The companions of the Prophet (sa) used to congratulate each other on the day of Eid. Any permissible words can be used to greet each other.
  • Beautifying oneself on the occasion of Eid. The Prophet (sa) agreed with Umar (ra) on the idea of adorning oneself for Eid, but he denounced him for choosing a particular cloak because it was made of silk. (Bukhari)
  • Going to the prayer by one route and returning by another. It was narrated that Jaabir ibn Abd – Allah (ra) said: On the day of Eid, the Prophet (sa) used to vary his route. (Bukhari). It was said that the reason for that was so that the two routes would testify for him on the Day of Resurrection, for the earth will speak on the Day of Resurrection, and say what was done on it, both good and bad.
  • Slaughtering an animal for the sake of Allah (swt) on Eid-ul-Adha is a Sunnah of Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Muhammad (sa).  The time for offering the sacrifice begins after the Eid prayer on Eid al-Adha and ends when the sun sets on the thirteenth of Dhul-Hijjah. So there are four days of sacrifice: the day of Eid-ual-Adha and the three days after it. It is better to hasten to offer the sacrifice after the Eid prayer, as the Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to do, then the first thing he would eat on the day of Eid would be the meat from his sacrifice. Ahmad narrated that Buraydah (ra) said: The Messenger of Allah (sa) did not go out on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr until he had eaten, and he did not eat on the day of Eid al-Adha until he came back, then he would eat from his sacrifice. (Al-Zayla’i narrated in Nasb al-Raayah that Ibn al-Qattaan classed it as Saheeh.)
  • It is a Sunnah that if one wants to offer a sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha must stop cutting his hair, nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (sa) said: “when you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, if anyone of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.” (Muslim).

The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. It was narrated from Hunaydah ibn Khalid from his wife, that one of the wives of the Prophet (sa) said: The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the first nine days of  Dhul-Hijjah, and the day of Ashoora, and the three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays. (Abu Dawood)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to recite Surah Al – Aala of the Quran in the first Rakah and Al – Ghashiyah of the Quran in the second Rakah. He also recited Surah Qaf of the Quran in the first Rakah, and Surah Al – Qamar of the Quran in the second Rakah. (Saheeh)

Visiting the graves is not something to be done especially on the day of Eid or Friday or any particular day. It was proven that the Prophet (saw) visited the graves at night, as mentioned in the Hadeeth of Aisha (ra) narrated by Muslim. And the Prophet (sa) said: “Visit the graves for they will remind you of the Hereafter.”

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah (swt) bless us all with all good things in this world and in the hereafter – Ameen

Combating Depression, Sadness and Anxiety

Depression, sadness and pain related crossword(This article has been “proof read” by a foreign qualified Psychologist)

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)

“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’an nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” (TaHa 20:124)

The above two verses from The Quran explain the basic requirement in order to achieve tranquility of the heart. The heart and mind shall be at peace when it is filled with the remembrance of Allah (swt); on the contrary, it will be full of anxiety and restlessness in its absence.

The “Shaytan” (Satan) wants to inflict pain to us. His work is done for the disbelievers but his main targets are Muslims. Anyone who tries to get closer to Allah (swt), Allah (swt) makes the path even easier for him; whereas somebody who continues to ignore his Creator, Allah (swt) appoints a Shaytan (Satan) for that person, and makes that also easy for him, so it is our choice to choose our course.

“And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah) (i.e. this Quran and worship of Allah), We appoint for him Shaytan (Satan – devil) to be a Qarin (an intimate companion) to him.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:36)

In contrast to the above verse, Allah (swt) gives good news to those who remain close to Him and do good deeds, they will not only have contentment of heart in this world but will also have a good ending, which means good return in the afterlife. Insha’Allah.

The heart and mind shall be at peace when it is filled with the remembrance of Allah (swt); on the contrary, it will be full of anxiety and restlessness in its absence.

“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. Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and work righteousness, Tuba (it means all kinds of happiness or name of a tree in Paradise) is for them and a beautiful place of (final) return.” (Ar-Rad 13: 28-29)

A believer is grateful to Allah (swt) when he is blessed in some way, and he is patient when he is going through a test in order to wait for Allah’s (swt) help.  Imagine how Yaqoob (as) wept for his son Yusuf (as) and lost his sight. Imagine how distress and overwhelmed ‘Aishah (ra) was when people slandered her by telling lies about her, and she kept weeping so much that she said: “I thought that grief would tear me apart.”  (Source: Shaykh Al – Munajjad, Saudi Arabia)

Turn each worry into a Dua and each Dua into an action plan.

As human beings, we have a habit to get attached to people and worldly things. We also tend to expect quick results and humans are generally impatient by nature. Many times, even after much effort when the results do not turn out the way we planned, we get depressed. Most common reasons of depression are loss of wealth, health problems, demise of a family member and relationship conflicts. There is no running away from stress because in this life there will always be something small or big troubling us. All that matters is how you deal with it.

This article does not deal with the factors of stress, anxiety, and depression, nor is it a clinical advice. This article would help to develop an attitude to combat with it on a daily basis Insha’Allah. If you feel depressed, you are not alone. It has been estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians in America are for stress-related problems. Turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a Dua (supplication). Look at it as another reason to submit to God and be in “Sajdah” (prostration), during which you are closest to Allah (swt). God listens and already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to ask Him for what you want. Allah (swt) is displeased with those who do not ask Him for anything.

A Muslim turns towards Allah (swt) and calls for His help in all types of distress.

Adopt the Prophetic approach

Our job is to carry out our responsibilities to the best of our capacity parallel with a clear belief that we do not control the outcome of events. Even the Prophets did not control the outcome of their efforts. Some were successful, others were not. There will be Prophets on the Day of Judgement with one, two and more people; and some with not even one. Does that mean Prophets with very few or nobody were failures? No! They did their best and had their faith in Allah (swt), but Allah (swt) did not choose guidance for their Ummah (nation). Similarly, our role in this life is to make the best with the given resources, and leave the rest in Allah’s (swt) hands. Regardless of the results of your efforts, you will be rewarded for the part you have played.  (Insha’Allah)

However, never underestimate your abilities. Understand the concept of Barakah (blessings from Allah (swt); and remember that Allah (swt) can and Insha’Allah will expand them if you are sincerely exerting your energies for the right path.

A person can be sad due to various reasons.  Depression may be caused with or without a reason. In all types of grief and sadness, a Muslim deals with it differently from a non-believer. A Muslim turns towards Allah (swt) and calls for His help in all types of distress. We can encapsulate it in two categories for easy understanding:

1. Due to a specific reason, such as loss of wealth or loss of a family member.

2. Due to no reason at all. Person may start crying or get aggressive for no reason.

In both of the above situations, it is essential for a person to have a connection with his/her Creator. Whether it is a medical healing or a spiritual healing, the Healer is only The Creator.

              15 Islamic tips to overcome sadness, depression and anxiety

  • Believing that Life and Death are in the hands of Allah (swt) only. Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!” (Quran 4:78)
  •  Believing that ease and difficulty come from Him only.
  • Believing that Allah (swt) is the Only “Raaziq” (Provider). Our job is to make efforts and leave the rest to Him. Our “Rizq” (provision) was decided and written when we were 4 months old in our mother’s womb.  Fataawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb (p. 36). Shaykh Muhammad ibnSaalih al-‘Uthaymeen, Saudi Arabia  (quoted and checked by Shaykh Al-Munajjad, Saudi Arabia) “How many are the creatures that carry not their own sustenance? Allah (swt) says, “It is Allah Who feeds them and you, for He hears and knows all things.” (Quran 29:60)  Allah (swt) further says in the Quran, “And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Quran 65:3)
  • Believing that what He gave us was never our right and what He took away from us was always His in the first place.
  • Turning towards Allah (swt) in “Taubah” (repentance) in order to seek His help and forgiveness. Allah’s (swt) mercy overshadows His anger.
  • Keeping a clear focus on those who are less privileged and in greater pain than us.  This should be done on a daily basis as a reminder.
  • Take a spiritual break from the world and have a private moment with Allah (swt). This can be done in various ways such as, by going to Masjid for prayers, doing long prostrations, shedding tears during Dua and keeping total faith in The Creator or by going on a family vacation. It is extremely important to break the monotony of our daily routine before we reach our limits.
  • Recognizing the ultimate enemy- The Satan. He plays with our mind. We can put up a fight with him with Allah’s (swt) help.
  • Appreciate the blessings that cannot be bought with worldly wealth. Health, family and friends are some examples of such blessings that have no price tag.
  • Find a hobby. Involve in some community service. Be a volunteer or even start your own organization if you can. It gives an inner peace and satisfaction when a selfless deed is performed.
  • Staying away from negative people- especially the ones who keep putting us down. Keep a constant check of your company. The ideal company is of somebody who is positive, helps you get closer to Allah (swt); somebody who is honest to you and becomes your shoulder when you need him or her.  It is important not to have too many confidants.
  • Try not to verbalize the negative thoughts. Fighting negative thoughts is better than verbalizing them, which eventually turn into negative actions. Diversion is better and recommended by getting involved in something more positive and constructive.
  • Learn to let go of the things that are not in your control.
  • Exercise daily. Walking and swimming are one of the best exercises for depression. Healthy mind only exists in a healthy body.
  • Learn to forgive. Forgiving is important for our own peace. Once we forgive, we will be able to forget also. Keeping grudges is very unhealthy and self-destructive.
  • Do not fall prey to worldly material things and do not let them control us. We all want money, cars, house and jewellery etc. but there will always be people who will have more than us, and there will be ones who will have less- this is how it works. It is important to have decent living but it is more important to have good health, nice family and friends.

The above method is a road leading towards positive living.

Conclusion

A lot of worry and psychological stress is caused by not being content with the will and decree of Allah (swt). Even after getting what we want, we may still suffer from anxiety and fear of losing that blessing. There is no remedy for this apart from accepting the decree of Allah (swt), thanking Him for His blessings, and patiently bearing the difficulties and calamities that Allah (swt) has decreed for us.

Prayer

May Allah (swt) bestow His blessings up on us in this life and in the hereafter. May He give us peace of heart and mind, give us courage and wisdom and guide us to the right path. May He make us of those whom He loved and shown His mercy to. Ameen!

Prayer: Is it a one-way communication?

Picture courtesy: www.productivemuslim.com

Picture courtesy: www.productivemuslim.com

My Quran Reflections Journal
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 21 Reflection
(Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Sometimes, the inner ‘me’ screams. It screams to be set free! Free of guilt, pain and misery.

Sometimes, I feel like shouting out loud and crying to Allah (swt) to let Him know that I cannot take it anymore – that I have had enough and am losing the courage to remain steadfast; that I have to drag myself to the prayer mat, and that sometimes I don’t even want to pray.

Then I realize: who is it that needs my prayers? Allah (swt) doesn’t for sure. It is a one way communication anyways. I would cry to Him and tell Him what I am feeling, but He won’t answer me.

Really? Is prayer just a one-way communication? No! Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “My Lord is Near (to all by His Knowledge), Responsive.” (Hud 11:61)

“My Lord is Near (to all by His Knowledge), Responsive.” (Hud 11:61)

I may not be able to stop my shouts, screams and complaints. I may not be able to pray regularly or with as much zeal as I do pray on particular days; yet, I shouldn’t give up! I must drag myself to the prayer mat and pray. There’s no way out! If I don’t let out my inner feelings to Allah (swt), how else would I feel relieved? How else would I find peace?

After all, I am human. I need an outlet. So prayer is not a one-way communication. Allah (swt) is the All Hearing and the All Knowing. It is my need that He hears what I wish to speak to Him. It is my body’s limitation that it has to fall in Sujud to rise in the state of Iman. It is my mind’s manipulation that it has to feel that it is being responded to, to feel loved. It is my heart’s desire to be consoled, to be able to feel cared for.

So there’s no harm in shouting, crying and screaming in pain to Him. But, there’s greater peace and everlasting bliss in knowing that indeed He hears even our silence. He understands our sobbing and aching, even if we were to weep silently in our solitude, Subhan’Allah!

And according to His promise, He will respond too in His way. In the way, He sees it best for us. We need to have complete trust in Him!

“And when My slaves ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me, then (answer them) – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls upon Me…” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

So, the next time I feel I don’t want to pray, I would drag myself to my praying spot and perform all actions as I should, believing that the Turner of the hearts knows best, how hurt my heart is at that point in time! Insha’Allah!

Do you sometimes feel the same, too?

When the Earth Shook

CHILE-EARHTQUAKEIt was a lazy April afternoon when people had just finished their lunch. Some lied down to rest. Those at work returned to their desks. Around 3 pm, the ground began shaking. People got out of their rooms, looked at one another and had one question on their tongues: “Did you feel it?” Television set was switched on, quickly selecting the news channels and then flipping between several to get the clearest and most detailed report. It was confirmed. A major earthquake had struck Pakistan.

The family looked at each other. What should we do? I peeped out of the window. I saw people gathering up in open space. I recalled the earthquake of 2005, when disaster management teams advised to stay at one place, until tremors settled. I suggested we take cover under wooden structures and frames. We sat back at our places, tongues moving swiftly in Dhikr (words of remembrance). Horrified, people made intense Duas to the All-Powerful to make the tremors stop. Objects nearby were shaking and thus increasing our fear. We were certain Allah (swt) will not punish us. In our hearts, we knew we didn’t deserve His mercy after all that we have done. We hoped for another chance. Just one more chance. Like we always do.

The ground kept shaking. Text messages were pouring in, asking if we were alright. We wondered if it was time to say our final goodbyes. We were hanging between life and death. Seeing death so near, we hastily made Duas for our forgiveness.

Everything around us – the sun, the moon, the trees, the birds, the earth that we walk upon – haughtily will testify either for or against us. What will it say about me?

I had recently completed the Tafsir (exegesis) of Surah Az-Zalzalah (the Earthquake). Its words echoed in my head: “When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake. And when the earth throws out of its burdens. And man will say: What is the matter with it?” (Az-Zalzalah 99:1-3)

And here we were sitting. Staring at the ground below us, wondering what was the matter with it. Why does it not stop?

The Most Merciful then did His thing. His Rahmah (mercy) took over, and He commanded the earth to stop shaking. Life returned to our hearts.

I returned my attention to Surah Az-Zalzalah and the Day of Resurrection. The Day, when the earth is stretched forth (Quran 84:3) and is ground to powder (Quran 89:21). That Day the earth will declare its information (about all that happened over it of good or evil). (Quran 99:4)

I shuddered. I was not prepared to die. I did not want the earth to reveal my information.

Yet, it will. Everything around us – the sun, the moon, the trees, the birds, the earth that we walk upon – haughtily will testify either for or against us. What will it say about me?

I had a swift flashback. I had done nothing that I could say would save me from the terrors of that Day. On that overwhelming Day, some faces will be humiliated and some joyful (Quran 88:2, 8). How will my face be? The Day, when all secrets will be examined (Quran 86:9), and man will be handed his record. There will be those, who will be given their records in their right hands. They will receive their records and rush to their families sharing their joy with them (Quran 84:7). Others will be given their records behind their backs (Quran 84:10), because it contains nothing to be joyful about. In which hand will I receive my record?

As I looked back at the television screen, the reporter was giving details of the earthquake. It was a 7.8 magnitude quake. Analysts feared had it continued for a few more seconds, everything in Karachi would have perished. In another window, the channel showed clips of LIVE scenes: people leaving their offices to stand in the open space.

And I was struck again.

Where was it? Where was the feeling that we just felt?

People were happily chatting. They were exiting the elevators with cheerful faces. It seemed, as if we did not just feel Allah’s power followed by His Rahmah but an ‘adventure.’

It seemed, as if we did not just feel Allah’s power followed by His Rahmah but an ‘adventure.’

It was time for the Asr (late afternoon) prayer. Parents still had to raise their voice reminding to pray. The practicing ones were reminding their colleagues to rush for the congregational prayer. The mosques were still half empty.

I was ashamed. Who were we? When the calamity was off our heads, we returned to our usual state? Even an earthquake that was certain to perish us could not fix us?

It is as Allah (swt) says:“Then after that you turned away. Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, indeed you would have been among the losers.” (Quran 2:64)

“O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord – with your deeds and actions (good or bad), — a sure returning, and you will meet (the results of your deeds which you did).” (Quran 84:6)

Acquire Taqwa, Build a Home in Jannah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.)

Are We Praying?

salah hibaIn today’s materialistic world, Muslims are often so lost in mundane pursuits that they end up giving a blind eye to their Salah, which scars their connection with Allah (swt) the Almighty. Here’s a reminder to all the brothers and sisters to keep the bond with Allah (swt) strong.

Salah has Falah

Salah, being the second pillar of Islam, is the most important form of worship that Muslims perform for Allah (swt). It is also the first thing a person shall be accountable for on the Day of Judgment. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Salah is a pillar of the religion (Islam). He who establishes it, establishes religion; and he who destroys it, destroys religion.” (Tabrani)

Salah contributes to the moral development of a worshipper and also nourishes him or her spiritually, as it is sustenance for the human soul. Furthermore, Salah in congregation helps to establish healthy social relations between various members of the Muslim Ummah.

Belief in the divine existence of Allah (swt) is turned into a certainty, when the believer performs Salah, in which the glorification of the Creator is carried out and help and guidance is sought from Him. The Holy Quran 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)

It is obligatory for all adults (sane male and female Muslims) to perform Salah five times a day at the prescribed timings.

Importance of Salah in the light of the Quran and Sunnah

The importance of Salah in Islam is highlighted by the fact that emphasis on establishing regular prayer has occurred 700 times in the Quran. The Quran states: “So woe unto those performers of Salah (prayers) (hypocrites), who delay their Salah (prayer) from their stated fixed times, those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men)” (Al-Maun 107:4-6)

Salah acts as the distinguishing feature between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Failure to offer Salah after verbally admitting the existence of Allah (swt) as the Only Creator comes across as a refusal to obey Him. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said in this regard: “He who gives up prayer has indeed disbelieved.” (Tirmidhi)

Benefits of Salah

The objective of prayer is to remember Allah (swt); hence, the Prophet (sa) has said: “Prayer has been made a coolness for my eyes.”

Praying five times a day renews and strengthens a believer’s close connection with Allah (swt) and makes him God-conscious. He feels that Allah (swt) is within him and he is able to forget all his worldly fears and anxieties as he asks Allah (swt) for guidance and help. It instills in him the realization that Allah (swt) is watching him all the time, and this constant reminder prevents him from surrendering to the worldly temptations and from committing evil deeds.

When performed regularly and punctually, Salah makes a Muslim abstain from sin and keeps him on the straight path that Allah (swt) has enjoined upon him to follow. In relation to this, the Holy Prophet (sa) said: “He, whose Salah does not stop him from committing indecencies, has no prayer.” Thus, Salah enables a Muslim to become God-fearing and stops from straying away from Allah’s (swt) commands.

Meet Allah (swt) in silence and solitude

While performing Salah, it is essential that the believer concentrates only on his worship. He must erase all worldly thoughts from his mind, when he is addressing Allah (swt) the Almighty.

The Prophet (sa) said: “You should worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him; if you do not see Him, then He surely sees you.”(Muslim) Praying with an absent mind is not acceptable. Also, performing Salah to please others and gain their praise are the characteristics of a hypocrite and are condemned in the Quran.

Salah for our body and soul

Salah energizes the soul and takes a Muslim to a higher level of awareness, where he achieves freedom from all earthly connections and boundaries. The early Muslims of the Prophet’s (sa) time would eagerly wait for the call to prayer. One, the Prophet (sa) addressed Bilal (ra), a Muadh-dhin of that time, saying: “O Bilal! Give the call to prayer and bring comfort to my heart.”

In medical terms, Salah relaxes the mind and body, and harmonizes blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. According to Amina Asad’s book “Healing Body and Soul”, “Many studies now show the evidence of reduced rates of depression, melancholy, sorrow and pessimism among individuals who perform their prayers regularly.”

Regular offering of Salah five times a day develops qualities of punctuality and perseverance in a person.

According to the Quran: “Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their Salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” (Al-Muminun 23:1-2)

Regular Salah creates a routine in the life of a Muslim that consists of waking up early for the morning prayer and sleeping early after the night prayer. It also makes him self-disciplined, as he must perform prayer, no matter what he may be doing at the moment. If he is unable to perform it standing due to sickness, then he must perform while sitting down, and if that is difficult, then while lying down.

Various bodily postures, such as sitting, bowing and prostrating, and the recitation of Quranic verses in Salah are used to express complete adoration for and submission to Allah (swt). A believer must perform his Salah humbly, reinforcing his total dependence on his Creator.

The Quran emphasizes: “Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their Salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from Al-Laghw.” (Al-Muminun 23:1-3)

Salah is, therefore, the most vital link between a Muslim and his Creator, which allows him to be close to Allah (swt) and seek help from Him, and also the best tool for the harmonization of Muslim society.

Don’t Give up Too Soon – Advice for Newly Weds

advice for newly weds

She has been sitting for hours, browsing bridal wear and makeup. It has to be the most perfect wedding from catering to dresses, from bridal shower to the actual wedding day, all according to the liking of her mother-in-law, whose appreciation and compliments she seeks. After all, she doesn’t believe in the typical in-law relationships.

The Nikah is only a few weeks away. She is excited about starting a family of her own. She glances at the photo frame on her night stand: her baby picture together with parents. They have always been at her side, excusing her reckless behaviour, encouraging her on her achievements and standing by her each time she stumbled. A tear trickles down her cheeks. Nothing can exceed her parents’ love for her.

*********

It has been a month since her marriage. Henna traces and the facial glow are gone. Honeymoon seems like ages ago. The excitement and fervour of starting a new life have vanished. What went wrong?

She feels unwanted. Her husband, the man with whom she dreamed endless conversations, countless romantic dinners, mutual values and eternal bliss, is the total opposite of what she expected.  Where did love, respect and kindness go?

She needs a break and requests to be dropped her at her parents’ place. Her husband gives a cold nod and grabs the car keys. What? He is not even going to stop her? Is it over already?

*********

She is back at her parents’. She needs peace for thinking it through. The thought of divorce has crossed her mind several times. In the lounge, her parents are praising their son-in-law, for he has allowed their daughter to spend a few nights with them.

She has not thought of what she will tell after the few nights pass. Maybe they will ask her themselves. Maybe he is missing her already and will come back to pick her. She picks up her phone for any missed call or text from him – there’s none.

Her phone does ring, but it’s her old school friend Sara, who is on a visit to Pakistan. They arrange to meet up for lunch.

*********

Sara recognizes her the moment she steps into the restaurant. After formal hugs, Sara shakes her: “Hey! What’s the matter? Why don’t I see the usual newly-wedded glow on your face? It has been only a month since your wedding.

She gazes at her friend blankly. Look at her! She’s beaming with joy even after five years of marriage, while I’ve already realized my wedding was a big mistake.

Sara now softens her tone: “Is something bothering you? Is the new routine overwhelming? I know. I have been married for five years, and every day brings a new surprise for me.”

“Ummm… it’s that… it’s… I don’t know,” she struggles to express herself.

Sara gently rests her palm over Anum’s hand: “When I was getting married, I was so excited about moving abroad and starting a new life. But you know what? Once we had done sight-seeing, dined at the finest restaurants, and shopped till we dropped, it seemed there’s nothing exhilarating in our lives anymore. Yes, I was expecting, and Yasir would routinely take me for appointments, but his frequent phone calls from work decreased. I felt he is not the person that I married. I felt unwanted, dejected and unloved. Thoughts of divorce constantly occupied my mind. I was unable to find my way; then, I did the only thing that I knew.”

Anum corrects her posture and sits upright. What? Did she go for a divorce?

“I woke up for Tahajjhud, laid my prayer mat and stood up in prayer. I cried my heart out to Allah (swt) – my only Wali. Out of self-respect, I didn’t want to share it with anyone. I didn’t want a divorce, but I also didn’t want to live in the same house like a stranger. I wanted a small happy family that went to bed with forgiveness, gentle kisses and sweet lullabies. Even though I didn’t see any visible signs of improvement, I kept praying. And you know what happened?”

“What?” Anum asks.

“After praying,” Sara continues, “I felt very relaxed, as if my worries had been taken care of. Then, one morning, Yasir came down to the breakfast table with his old chirpy, energetic self. He warmly came to me and whispered that my tea was the best in the world. I couldn’t believe my ears! Not only that – after breakfast, Yasir requested me to pack some extra muffins for his lunch, for he liked to show off to his colleagues his wife’s baking skills. From that day onwards, our relationship started to improve. He helped me with the house chores, went on walks with me and had all the time in the world for talking to me.”

“Really? Was prayer that effective?” Anum asked, unbelievingly.

“Yes, Anum. Patience and prayer are the essential ingredients of maintaining your sanity when the entire world is collapsing. You’re a dear friend, Anum. Right now, I want you to go home and get on your prayer mat. Trust me, I’ve been there. Don’t give up so soon.”

Anum gives a faint, sceptical smile: How can it be? Just a prayer and everything is fixed? I don’t think Sara understands me well.

***********

Anum wakes up in the middle of the night well before the Fajr. She is about to go back to sleep, when she realizes that this is the best time for Tahajjhud – that’s what she does. Sitting on the mat, Anum cries, beseeching Allah (swt) to save her home. She begs for forgiveness and seeks guidance.

An hour later, Amma comes to check on her. She kisses Anum, when she finds her reciting the Quran: “Is there anything you would like to talk to me about, Anum? I hope Yasir is kind to you, and your in-laws treat you nicely.”

“Of course, Amma, what made you ask that?” Anum asks politely.

“I don’t see you hopping around the house and fighting with your sisters. I want to be sure that my daughter is fine,” Ama explains herself.

“Could be that your daughter has grown up and become wise?” Anum replies with a smile.

Amma looks at Anum silently, trying to believe her. She asks Anum, what she would like to have for breakfast. Anum hugs her mom and says: “Let me make breakfast for you, guys, today.” As she walks towards kitchen, Anum wonders, where did this sudden burst of positivity come from?

***********

It’s been three days of regular Tahajjhud and the five daily prayers. Still no word from Yasir. The prayer isn’t helping… Anum is exasperated. She asks herself: “Why can’t I call Yasir? Most men, I have heard, lack communication skills.” She dials the number. Yasir picks up immediately, and asks how she has been. Anum is surprised by this unanticipated warmth and love. They speak for a while, and then Yasir says he is coming in the evening to pick Anum up. He misses her.

************

Anum greets her in-laws with respect and love, reminding herself she should neither be judgemental nor impatient. She inquires about their health and well-being.

Once in the bedroom, Yasir and Anum go through the events of the past few weeks. They admit their mistakes and pledge to communicate with each other openly. They have promised they will live as each other’s clothing that adorns as well as hides each other’s flaws. They will not discuss their private matters with anyone, for help truly comes from Allah (swt) only.

As they turn off the lights, Yasir asks: “But Anum… How did you decide to come back? What made you call me?”

“Prayer and patience,” Anum replies confidently, “…and I would love, if we could both start offering Tahajjhud together as a couple.”

Modern Workplace Challenges

workplaceAt times there arises a need to compromise and do things which might be against Islam. Such dilemmas are usually encountered by Muslims in their workplace. We act and try to make people happy because we don’t want to be labelled as ‘extremists’ or because we fear losing our job. On the other hand, we also fear Allah and want to please Him. Nowadays, many things are in direct conflict with Muslims in most of the non-Muslim society. Intricacies encountered in the workplace have become a growing concern for the Muslim Ummah around the globe because of issues ranging from prayer, fasting, attire, food, socializing, handshakes, and much more.

When encountered with such dilemmas, the very first and foremost thing that one needs to do is, stay firm and strong on Deen and not compromise on clear cut matters. Why be shy of people when we should be wary of our Lord? One should only fear Almighty Allah (swt) and have the courage to take the stand and convey one’s opinion and choices without any hesitation.

As mentioned in the Quran: Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)

Prayer – Salah

To combat the challenges like prayer, communication, fasting, harassment, bullying; the first requirement is firmness in religion. One manifest issue for Muslim employees is prayer. Adherence to the five times daily prayer is a critical part of faith. A neutral space should be allocated for the Muslims, so that they can offer their obligation without hesitation. But in many places this issue is not addressed and no place is designated for prayer, except in rare workplaces where the company has allocated a resting area or meditation room.

Muslims have to find creative ways to fulfil what Allah (swt) has commanded. Islam is a religion of ease and does not want to cause difficulties for its believers.

Prayer is the fundamental tool for a believer to connect with Allah (swt) as it is stated in Quran; “Recite (O Muhammad [sa]) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]. And Allah knows what you do.” (Al-Ankabut 45).

When the Prophet Muhammad (sa), was asked which deed is the best, he said: “Performing the prayer at its due time.” (Muslim).

In most Western workplaces such as UK, places are not designated for Muslims to pray. A lady shared her experience in this regard. She said that due to the unavailability of any designated place she started praying in the public area, but because this would jeopardize her physical safety she began to make up prayers at home. Then she realized that offering deferred prayers at home was also not a good option. She then started praying at her desk while sitting on her chair. Muslims have to find creative ways to fulfil what Allah (swt) has commanded. Islam is a religion of ease and does not want to cause difficulties for its believers.

Maintaining a Halal diet is another major concern. To avoid any risk one should bring food from home or select food that is vegetarian

The next challenge surrounding prayer is ablution. Ablution needs a separate place because performing Wudhu sometimes splashes water on the counter and creates a mess. But one should not fear and go ahead with making Wudhu, because it is an integral routine required before any prayer. Allah mentions:

“O you who believe! When you intend to offer 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 the ankles…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

To avoid making a mess, keep a cloth with you to wipe the counter clean. Use water economically.

Food and Ramadan 

Another religious consideration surrounds the holy month of Ramadan. One is required to fast from sunrise to sunset. In the workplace, people are usually not aware of the ones who are fasting. If you have to turn down the invite to lunch or to some other occasion involving food, do so politely.

Maintaining a Halal diet is another major concern. To avoid any risk one should bring food from home or select food that is vegetarian or made by the people of the book, as the Quran says; “The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:5).However, one cannot confirm that the meal is Halal, so to be on the safest side one should bring food from home.

Muslim Identity and Behaviour 

Islam teaches us to maintain good relations and uphold a healthy and friendly environment. Muslims should also greet one another. Prophet Muhammad (sa) taught us to greet another Muslim with “Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah or Assalamu Alaykum” and the response by a Muslim should be “Wa alaykum ussalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The lure of gossip among employees and managers is a very normal act; they think it is a minor matter but it is very big in the sight of Allah (swt) and is highly detrimental to one’s faith.

But nowadays some Muslims do not think appropriate to greet Islamically in their professional realm. As per one interview, even if Muslims respond to Salam, they mumble it so that it is hardly recognizable as a greeting. We must be proud of being Muslims and acknowledge one another. Our Holy Prophet (sa) says: “Muslims should greet those people that they know as well as those people that they do not know.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Therefore, Muslims should be audacious and greet Muslims everywhere eagerly.

Backbiting, stealing or cheating and other unlawful or unacceptable behaviour has become a sort of norm nowadays. Committing such acts undermines one’s faith and makes him or her easily become indifferent and habitual to such attitude without even knowing the greatness of the sin. The lure of gossip among employees and managers is a very normal act; they think it is a minor matter but it is very big in the sight of Allah (swt) and is highly detrimental to one’s faith. Hence, in order to overcome this challenge one should change the conversation and divert peoples’ mind to some other useful and healthy topic.

The Quran says: “When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” (An-Nur 24:15)

Interacting with the Opposite Gender

Interaction between opposite genders within the workplace can be another challenge. As a matter of fact, if men and women are working together, then potential temptation and attractiveness are natural phenomena among them. Hence, Allah (swt), the all-knower, prescribes women to cover their entire body (Awrah) except hand and face. A Muslim woman should cover her body by wearing Hijab and every believing woman should understand that it is a matter of religion and not a personal choice.

It is also stated that men and women should lower their gaze towards one another, women’s tone must be low, and the attire should not be appealing neither the saunter be attractive. If a male and female are talking, their conversation should be respectful. In short, an atmosphere of dignity with the fear of Allah (swt) should be maintained.

The Quran says: “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

In order to combat any unlawful act, a Muslim should always be firm and confident in conveying the religious obligations. One such example is of a man who applied for a job in a large global media company. His interview was conducted on telephone by a lady. At the end of the conversation, she asked if there was anything that the interviewee wanted to ask. In order to avoid embarrassment at any later stages, the man conveyed honestly that being a strict Muslim he did not make any physical contact with women, that is, handshakes. His colleagues understood him and appreciated his outlook. Initially he was a bit embarrassed and afraid of delineating his thoughts but after being clear and upfront, he was respected. None of his peers were rude with him and ladies at work did not shake hands with him, but instead spoke in a courteous and polite manner.

In today’s world such challenges are being commonly faced by Muslims everywhere, but we must constantly be careful against the pressures to engage in the norms and activity that contradict the Muslim’s way of life. Today, it is very hard to maintain a balance between the Islamic principles and those of Western culture. We should always attempt to come closer to Allah (swt) and make preparations for the life hereafter.

The challenges present in the workplace are serious, but a sincere follower of Islam, who will be at his or her best in order to maintain being a true Muslim, will not encounter difficulty in overcoming these dilemmas.

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7 Practical Tips for Praying Qiyam al-Layl

salatBy Muhammad Nasir ad-Deen al-Albani and Shaykh Salih al-Munajjad

1. Ikhlas (Sincerity) – the key to Allah’s Help and Blessings

Help of Allah is needed to accomplish and achieve success in all our affairs. And Allah only helps those who are sincere in their hearts. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If you are truthful with Allah, then Allah will deliver to you what you wish for.” (An-Nasai and al-Hakim) Therefore, one should have a sincere intention to pray Qiyam al-Layl; seek the Pleasure of Allah Alone and avoid the desire of praise or fame. Allah says: “And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone…” (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “The degree to which a person is helped and aided by Allah depends on the degree of his intention, drive, aim and hopes. Help from Allah comes to people in proportion to their drive, intention, hopes and fears, and failure comes to them in like manner.”

2. Knowing the Virtues of Qiyam al-Layl

Knowing the virtues and rewards of performing worship produces willingness and desire to perform the worship. We have previously mentioned numerous virtues of regularly praying Qiyam al-Layl, here we mention the excellence of praying Qiyam al-Layl particularly in the great month of Ramadan. Abu Hurayrah (rta) reported: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) encouraged the people, without making it an absolute command, to perform Qiyam during Ramadan. He used to say: “Whoever stands (in Qiyam) in Ramadan out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim)

3. Taking a nap in the daytime

Taking a nap before or after Dhuhr Salah will dismiss the stress and thus, enable one to get up in the night and stand in front of his Lord. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Take a nap, for the Shayateen (Satans) do not take naps.” (at-Tabarani)

4. Sleeping according to the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (sa)

(a) Sleep early: Sleeping early is a healthy habit and it was the practice of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to sleep directly after performing the Isha prayer. Abu Barzah al-Aslami (rta) said that the Prophet (sa) used to prefer to delay Isha, and he did not like to sleep before it or talk after it.” (Bukhari)

(b) Sleep in a state of Taharah (purity): Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Purify these bodies and Allah will purify you, for there is no slave who goes to sleep in a state of purity but an angel spends the night with him, and every time he turns over, [the angel] says, ‘O Allah! Forgive Your slave, for he went to bed in a state of purity.’” (at-Tabarani)

(c) Choose a suitable bed: Excessive luxurious or soft bed provokes laziness and makes one sleep more and become negligent. A’ishah (rta) narrates that the pillow of the Prophet (sa) on which he slept at night was made of leather stuffed with palm fibres.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Once Umar Ibn al-Khattab (rta) entered upon the Messenger of Allah (sa) when he was lying on a mat of palm fibres that had left marks on his side. Umar (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you not get something more comfortable than this?” He (sa) said: “What do I have to do with this world? My relationship with this world is like that of a traveller on a hot summer’s day, who seeks shade under a tree for an hour, then moves on.” (Ahmad and al-Hakim)

(d) Cleaning the bed and lying on the right side: Abu Hurayrah (rta) reported: “The Prophet (sa) said: “When any one of you goes to bed, let him clear his bed by hitting it with his garment, for he does not know what may have come onto it. Then let him lie down on his right side…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

(e) Reciting the Adhkar (supplications) mentioned in the Sunnah before sleeping

There are a number of Adhkar prescribed in the Sunnah before going to bed; amongst them are reciting the last verses of Soorah al-Baqarah, reciting Soorah al-Falaq and Soorah an-Nas and Soorah Ikhlas; blow in the palms and wipe as much of the body possible, starting from the head, face and then the front of the body doing it three times. (Bukhari and Muslim)

5. Avoid too much food and drink

Too much food or drink is one of the main obstacles that make one lazy and negligent of Qiyam al-Layl. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

6. Striving against oneself

Striving against oneself to get up and pray and suppressing one’s desires bring about Allah’s help and His Pleasure for the slave. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And as for those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinoon (good-doers).” (Al-Ankabut 29: 69)

The Prophet (sa) said: “The Mujahid (one who strives in way of Allah) is the one who strives against his own self for the sake of Allah.” (Reported by at-Tirmidhi)

7. Rebuking one’s self for not praying Qiyam al-Layl

Qiyam al-Layl is a great blessing from Allah, the Exalted, and He has placed in it numerous spiritual benefits and rewards for the believer. Therefore, one should rebuke one’s self, if he misses this great opportunity of achieving rewards and Pleasure of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Al-Hashr 59:18)

Adapted from As-Sunnah Islamic Newsletter Issue 15