All messed up: There’s more to the picture

lightIt was early in the morning when X looked out of the large wooden window she was sitting in front of. The night that had just passed was something she feared would come again. Her room had already started to illuminate with the light of the rising sun, but she thought it was something she wouldn’t be able to experience in life. Things quite dark had happened to her, and she thought there was no one to help her stand up again. All this made her wonder if she could choose not to live.

What if in the midst of what X was going through, something could convince her not to do so? What if there was something more to the picture? What if there was something that could overpower her worries to finally leave her? If you think you had been having the same thoughts as X lately, for sure you need to know how the religion of Allah (swt) answers all such questions.

1. Why did it happen to me?

This life is a test, so we must always be ready to receive tribulations. True happiness will be granted to us, Insha’Allah, if we get past these tests with good grades; and we’ll be motivated to do that only if we desire for Jannah. In short, these trials are our chances to reach Jannah. Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) has already told why Allah (swt) afflicts His servants with trials.

It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “If Allah (swt) wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” (Bukhari)

2. Khayr is there, look for it.

Each event that happens in our lives leaves us with some understanding which we couldn’t have acquired if it didn’t happen the way it did. Especially, the bad ones when pass, strengthen us to face bigger challenges. The finest steel does become what it is, after going through the hottest fire! A bird does learn to fly when its mother pushes it out of the nest. Until this doesn’t happen, it never knows it can fly. At the time of hardship, we can’t exactly see where the Khayr is. But, we all know our knowledge is limited, while indeed nothing is hidden from Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

3. You have the cure, use it!

What you have been given as a test by Allah (swt) is something that you can bear. This is Allah’s (swt) blessing on each one of us, which we should always be thankful for. You just have to gather yourself again by keeping in mind what Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

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


4. Realized? Time to repent!

Many a times, people feel stuck because they know they’ve done wrong, and that it is the reason why they feel devastated. But, what they forget is that their Lord is Ar-Rahman. His forgiveness is beyond our imagination. Keeping this in mind, there remains no need to try to shut doors which have already been kept open!

Abu Sa’id ibn Sa’d ibn Malik ibn Sinan al-Khudri (rta) reported that the Prophet of Allah (sa) said: “Among those before you there was a man who killed ninety-nine people. He asked who was the most knowledgeable man in the world and was directed to a monk. He went to him and said that he had killed ninety-nine people and was repentance possible for him? The monk said, ‘No,’ so he killed him and made it a hundred. Then, he again asked who was the most knowledgeable man on earth and was directed to a man of knowledge. He said that he had killed a hundred people, so was repentance possible for him? The man said, ‘Yes, who can come between you and repentance? Go to such-and-such a land where there are some people worshipping Allah (swt, the Almighty. Worship Allah (swt) with them and do not return to your own country. It is an evil place.’ So he went and then, when he was half way there, he died. The angels of mercy and angels of punishment started to argue about him. The angels of mercy said, ‘He came in repentance, turning with his heart to Allah (swt) Almighty.’ The angels of punishment said, ‘He has not done a single good action.’ An angel came in a human form and they appointed him arbitrator between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two countries and whichever one he is nearer to, that is the one he belongs to.’ They measured and found he was nearer to the land to which he was going, so the angels of mercy took him.” (Riyad As-Salihin)

5. Call Him, He is never engaged!

It takes us little time to realize how merciful our Lord is. Even though, He tests us with trials throughout our lives, He has blessed us with various ways to call Him for help. One may call on Him at any part of the day, but to call is what must be done!

6. Please Him, not them!

Many problems arise when an individual is unable to live up to other people’s expectations. Each one of us comes across numerous people in life each of whom has different likes and dislikes. No matter how hard a person tries, at the end of the day criticism still remains. This happens when one forgets what he was born for. To be precise, pleasing people was never our duty, but to only obey Allah (swt). This doesn’t mean we have to do nothing with people. But, whatever dealing that has to be with them is only what Allah (swt) has ordered us to do.

7. No pill, no kill- just chill!

Many may think committing suicide means putting an end to problems, but in reality it doesn’t.  Rather it creates problems even in the afterlife-the life which one will live forever.

It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it, and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.” (Bukhari)

Top Five Ways to Maintain a Strong Connection with Allah (swt)

asking allahIf the hustle and bustle of this life is weakening our connection with Allah (swt) or if we are disconnected from Him (swt) and feeling frustrated, then we need to engage ourselves in His worship. “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28) Connection with Allah (swt) is as important for us as water is important for the plants. Allah’s (swt) remembrance and worship nourishes our faith and keeps us on straight path. Here are some top ways to foster a strong connection with our Rabb (swt).

1. Salah with Presence of Mind

  • Try to plan the Salah. We need to plan our meeting with Allah (swt) – just the way we plan our worldly meetings.
  • Every night before sleeping, build a strong and sincere intention to perform an excellent Salah the next day.
  • Every morning, the first thought should be the thought of performing each Salah on time. Presence of mind comes when we understand the meanings of the words we recite daily in our Salah. While reciting Surah al-Fatihah, ponder over the meanings. Just think about it: you are praising the Lord of the lords. You are talking to the king of the worlds.
  • Try to memorize new Surahs. Start with short ones.
  • Supplicate after Adhan. Try to answer the Adhan and supplicate to Allah (swt) for solace.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Decide which Surahs you are going to recite. Pray Salah calmly and consciously.

2. Reciting and Understanding the Quran

  • Recite the Quran with understanding; read its translation and Tafseer.
  • Act upon the Quran.
  • Share the knowledge with your family and friends.
  • Open the Quran and know what Allah (swt) is telling us. Read about Him, the author of the best book of the world. Read about the Author Who is in love with the readers.
  • Personalize your Quran, where you can highlight your favourite verses and Duas.
  • If you don’t understand Arabic, get a Quran with translation. Make sure that your children have their personal Quran.

3. Supplication

  • Seek Allah (swt) through supplication. Converse with him. Praise him. Talk to him about every small and big thing. Cry before him. Tell him about how much you need him. The one who cries before Allah (swt) does not need to cry before anyone else.
  • Make Allah (swt) your best friend. No friend in the world can be as loyal as Allah (swt) is. He loves His creation seventy times more than a mother loves her child. He is closer to you than your jugular vein.
  • Keep Allah (swt) in your mind, every second. Talk to him in your heart, every moment. Allah (swt) even hears the whispers. Remember! Allah’s (swt) love is the most guaranteed love.

4. Repentance

Allah (swt) loves those who repent. Let’s be in the list of those whom Allah (swt) loves. Let’s please the Creator with the act that He loves the most. Allah (swt) waits for us to repent.  Let’s put off the burden of our sins. Repent repeatedly each day. Don’t let the sins accumulate. Every sin puts a black dot on the heart, and we need to wash our heart constantly.

5. Gratitude to Allah

Take a pen and a paper and start writing down Allah’s (swt) blessings. We would surely have a never-ending list. Keep adding things to the list every day. Every breath is His blessing. How much ungratefulness we show when we complain to Allah (swt), disregarding all the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. We need to be grateful to Him for the smallest things that He has given us. His greatest blessing is that He has chosen us to be Muslims. Be grateful to Him for the guidance that He has given us.

May Allah (swt) enable us to maintain a strong connection with Him always. Ameen

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.)



Fiqh of Tawbah


The Prophet (sa) used to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness more than 70 times a day. (Bukhari) Should we not be concerned about asking for forgiveness 70 times more than that?

The term ‘Tawbah’ is defined in two ways. In the linguistic sense, Tawbah is derived from the Arabic root word ‘Taba Yatutbu’, which literally means to ‘return to something’. Sinning is not a part of human beings’ natural disposition. Hence, when we sin we fall out of our Fitrah, we repent we return to our Fitrah. In the conventional sense, Tawbah is defined by Hafiz Ibn Hajar as leaving a sin due to its ugly nature, feeling remorseful over indulging in a sin, resolving to never repeat a sin and returning the rights of the people, if it was involved in a sin.

Elements of Tawbah

For repentance to be accepted, it needs the following important elements.

  1. Sincerity of Intention

We repent to Allah (swt) because we fear Him. It is not because of people or any other reason. Allah says: “…invoke Him…with the intention that you are doing your deeds for Allah’s sake only…” (Al-Araf 7:29)

  1. Feeling remorseful

The Prophet (sa) said that remorse is repentance (Ibn Majah).

  1. Resolve to stay away from sins

If this determination is lacking, it can nullify the Tawbah itself. However, if one returns to the sin, it doesn’t nullify the repentance as long as this resolve is intact. For one to stay determined on one’s Tawbah, one should keep doing good deeds, stay away from the places and sources of sins, adopt good companionship, engage in Dhikr and be prepared for death.

  1. Return the rights

Return the rights to Allah (swt) (if it’s Allah’s (swt) right that is taken away) and/or to people (if it’s people’s tangible or intangible right that is taken away).

  1. Repent before it’s too late

Tawbah is accepted only if offered before the prescribed time. This time for an individual is when one sees one’s death approach him or her. Hence, it’s the time before the soul leaves the body or reaches the throat. As we see in the example of Firaun, the time he made repentance was not accepted as he had already seen his death approach him.

Collectively, the time of Tawbah will expire when the sun will rise from the west instead of the east, which is one of the biggest sign of the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

Virtues of Tawbah

There are many benefits to achieve by doing Tawbah. Following are some of them:

  1. Attaining love of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) says: “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance…” (Al-Baqarah 2:222) Those who are loved by Allah (swt) will receive guidance, Allah’s protection and safety from hellfire.

  1. Success

Allah (swt) says: “…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31) This can also refer to worldly success, in terms of giving up sins, purifying our habits, etc.

  1. Acceptance of good deeds

Allah (swt) says: “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71)

  1. Forgiveness and Allah’s (swt) Mercy

Allah (swt) says: “But those who committed evil deeds and then repented afterwards and believed, verily, your Lord after (all) that is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Araf 7:153) The mercy of Allah (swt) expands to such an extent that evil deeds change into good deeds for the one who does Tawbah. (Al-Furqan 25:70)

  1. Blessings in this world and hereafter

Blessings in this world may include, rain, children, spouses, rivers, gardens and wealth that is not necessarily in huge sums but will benefit more and go a long way. (Nuh 71:10-12) Likewise, the blessings of hereafter includes pardon, paradise, safety from disgrace, being with the Prophet (sa) and having our light perfected. (At-Tahrim 66:8)

  1. Receiving the supplications of the angels

Allah (swt) says: “Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” (Ghafir 40:7)

  1. Obeying the will of Allah (swt) and pleasing Him

Allah (swt) says: “Allah wishes to accept your repentance…” (An-Nisa 4:27) Allah (swt) becomes happy with the repentance of His slave such that He erases sins completely as stated by Prophet (sa) that a sinner who repents is like the one who has not committed the sin. (Ibn Majah)

Errors in making Tawbah

There are certain mistakes that people make in Tawbah, of which one needs to be careful:

  1. Not repenting at all: This is a characteristic of Shaytan; Allah (swt) commands us to not follow the footsteps of Shaytan, as indeed he is our plain enemy.
  2. Delaying Tawbah: One thinks that when they will get to a certain point in life or a specific age, then they will repent. However, we do not know when our death is written for us. What if tomorrow never comes?
  3. Not giving Tawbah its due importance: This means to be heedlessness towards Tawbah or forget to repent because it is not important for one anymore.
  4. Heedlessness of sins: One performs good deeds but is not careful about leaving sins.
  5. Fear of returning to sins: Some people think they are too weak to give up certain sins. Hence, out of fear of returning to that sin again, they do not repent. However, repentance will be the cause of increase in strength, Insha’Allah!
  6. Leaving Tawbah out of fear of what people will say: We live in a society where many of us are people pleasers. However, a Mumin or a Muslim is Allah’s (swt) pleaser first and foremost. Moreover, pleasing people is a goal that will never be achieved. If we live to please Allah (wwt), Allah and his people will be pleased with us, Insha’Allah!
  7. The argument of Qadr (predestination): We often hear people saying: “If Allah wants me to pray, he will make me start praying.” However, to understand Qadr, we need to see the two types of will. The first type is existential will that is only in Allah’s (swt) control, for example, our birth and our death. We have no control over them. The second type is legislative will, which consists of commands and prohibitions. In this, we have a choice or free will for which we will be judged upon by Allah on the Day of Judgement. Tawbah falls in the second category.
  8. Despair of Allah’s (swt) mercy: This happens because we forget that the doors to Tawbah are always open His slaves, as Allah mentions: “…Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins…’” (Az-Zumar 39:53) Moreover, Allah mentions at different places in the Quran that even a hypocrite has a chance to repent (An-Nisa 4:145-146); even a disbeliever has a chance to repent (Al-Maidah 5:73-74); even an oppressor has a chance to repent (Al-Buruj 85:10).

There are various signs of an accepted Tawbah in this world and in the hereafter. In this world, the sign is that the person, who did Tawbah, is guided to do good deeds. He or she becomes a caller to Tawbah and has an ultimate good ending. Additionally, the sign of an accepted Tawbah in the hereafter is easy reckoning of deeds by Allah (swt) and attainment of paradise.

We have amongst us a prime example of the one who repented and the one who didn’t repent, along with their ultimate ends. When Adam (as) disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for forgiveness. However, when Iblees disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for respite and an extension of life until the end of time to lead the children of Adam (as) astray. Allah (swt) answered both requests. Hence, it is Tawbah that determines one’s ultimate end in the hereafter: paradise or hellfire!

Adapted from a workshop organized by Azan in Karachi. Summarized for Hiba Magazine by Nageen Pervez, team member, Azan.