Exclusive Interview with Abu Productive

productive_muslimMohammed Faris (Abu Productive) is the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com, an online social enterprise dedicated to boosting productivity in the Muslim World.

How did Productive Muslim come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

When I was at University doing my Masters, I used to have two jobs; I was the President of the Student Islamic society and was quite involved with the community. My friends started asking me: “How do you do it? How do you balance it all?”

Even though my friends said this to me, I felt unsatisfied with how I was managing my time, focus, and energy. I knew I could achieve more and do more; hence, I stumbled upon the science of productivity.

After reading some books on productivity, and seeing the practical positive effects these books had on me, I started thinking how best to share this with my friends.

Then on an early November morning in 2007, I was walking to Fajr and the two words “Productive Muslim” came to my mind. They seemed extremely suited for each other and I was excited to launch a blog under that name.

Initially, what were your aims and objectives? And have they changed over time?

Initially, my goal was to take all the latest productivity techniques and ideas that I was learning from the books and articles I was reading, and share them to the Muslim world.

However, a moment of inspiration came to me when I read the Hadeeth: “The early hours are blessed for my Nation” (Tirmidhi) It made me realize that Islam has a lot to teach us about productivity, but there hasn’t been a platform before that linked between Islam and Productivity.

It was truly an honour from Allah (swt) that we were the pioneers of this linkage and it has truly changed my life forever.

What is your vision for Productive Muslim?

By Allah’s (swt) Permission ­ my vision is to inspire every single Muslim and Muslimah out there to be their best versions. They should aspire to be productive citizens of the world; to be balanced individuals from a spiritual, physical, and social perspective.

I pray that this platform becomes the beginning of the Ummah’s long journey back towards success and prosperity by inspiring every individual to do their very best, every single day.

Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything as you have so many things going on at the same time?

This is from Allah (swt) ­ first and foremost. He has blessed me with a wonderful empowered team to do a lot for His sake, and given us technologies that make working collaboratively very easy.

We use a number of communication and virtual collaboration tools such as Slack, Podio, Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Lastpass, to keep everything manageable.

But most importantly, are the team members who have clear objectives and goals and who are self motivated to do their best for Allah’s (swt) sake and the vision of Productive Muslim.

Your team comprises mainly of volunteers. In this day and age, when people want to be paid for every work they do, how do you motivate your team?

Once again ­ this is from Allah (swt). Truly without His help, I would not be able to find the right team member to do the right task in the team.

Some of the key principles we have in the team include:

  1. We treat volunteers as professionals. This means we hold them accountable for results and treat them as if they are being paid. There’s no excuse for being an “unproductive” volunteer on our team.
  2. We have a very strict process to hire volunteers: we carefully select volunteers out of hundreds of applications, and then based on assessment, and after interviewing them, we give them a one month probation to try them out. If they are good, they stay, otherwise we ask them to leave.
  3. We invest in our volunteers: We ensure that volunteers are learning and developing so that their time with us is fruitful and beneficial. Some of our volunteers left Productive Muslim and started their own companies and websites which is wonderful!
  4. We meet regularly with the volunteers: When new volunteers join the team, I have a twenty minute conversation with them. Then they have regular meetings with their team heads and we have quarterly meetings abroad.
  5. Constant feedback: We give constant feedback to our volunteers ­ from the way they work, to the way they behave online and this helps them improve and learn and grow.

The articles on Productive Muslim are Masha’Allah well researched. ­ Can you let us know about your authentication process? As in, who proofreads them for Shariah compliance and to ensure the information is correct?

All the articles written for Productive Muslim go through two rounds of revision- first by the assigned editors and second by our Chief Editor.

Most articles are straightforward and there’s nothing controversial about them. However, if something is controversial or needs Shariah approval, we have access to scholars whom we can contact for advice Alhumdulillah.

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Currently, we’re trying to develop a sustainable business model for ProductiveMuslim that both offers free content as well as paid premium content.

We do not like to be dependent on donations or advertisement; hence, we avoided those two sources.

Insha’Allah, we’re converging on a business model that would satisfy most of our readers soon.

We have often read on your page disparaging comments about your workshops’ charges. In general, people’s attitude is that anything Islamic should also be free. What would be your response to that?

Firstly, there’s a lot of free content on ProductiveMuslim.com and the paid content is for those who are keen to go a bit deeper with our content.

Secondly, we’re not an “Islamic” knowledge website; we’re a productivity training and consulting company that is based on Islamic principles and values.

Thirdly, in order for ProductiveMuslim to grow and flourish, we need to run a sustainable business. My dream is to hire every ProductiveMuslim volunteer as a full time staff member; and this can only be done if our readers support us by purchasing some of our courses and other products and services.

What are your plans/projects for the future?

We’ve lots of exciting projects coming up including the launch of our new book with Awakening, a new ProductiveMuslim podcast, a new subscription service called Academy+, and many others Insha’Allah.

How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

We ask people to help us in 7 ways:

  1. Consume our content: articles, videos, worksheets, etc.
  2. Engage with our content: by liking and commenting
  3. Make Dua for us every time you read/view our work
  4. Purchase our products and services.
  5. Let everyone know in your circle about ProductiveMuslim.com.

Any message for the Ummah

My dear Ummah, ­ Islam is waiting for you to be a productive citizen of this world. Rise up from the swamps of laziness and let’s work together to be a Productive Ummah again.

Anything else you would like to share.

Just wanted to share an advice that was given to me before I started ProductiveMuslim.com ­ Have sincere intentions and work hard. This is the formula for success in Dunya and Akhirah.

[Part 1] Repent Now – He (swt) is Waiting!

uturn“But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Maidah 5:39)

Allah (swt) has sent us all on this earth to worship Him only. This life is momentary and full of trials and adversities. We are given a method to live this life but as humans, we are likely to make mistakes along the way. There will be daily encounters with the Shaytan. We have to make choices every now and then in this temporary life.

Repent in good and bad times

Life is a continuous struggle. We fall and we get up again but the struggle continues till our last breath. Allah (swt) tests us every day through blessings and through trials. A Muslim is patient when he is going through a trial, and in times of blessings, he is grateful to Allah (swt). Thus, a Muslim is in a state of either Sabr (patience) or Shukr (gratefulness).

When we face difficulties in life, we are worried and often repent. We ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness and pray more. But as soon as the tough period is over, we gradually lose contact with our Lord (swt) and get busy in our worldly matters. Some people need a few such incidents to make sincere Taubah; but for others, a whole lifetime is not enough, as they forget their Master (swt) and continue to commit sins.

Sins may be huge but they are not greater than Allah’s (swt) mercy

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) created the creation, He wrote in His Book. He wrote (that) about Himself, and it is placed with Him on the Throne: Verily My mercy overcomes My anger.” (Bukhari)

People often think that their sins are huge, but they do not realize the enormity of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. He waits patiently for His people to turn to Him in repentance: “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise).” (At-Tahrim 66:8)   

Often, when a Muslim’s faith becomes weak, he may be overwhelmed by his desires. Shaitan makes the forbidden attractive to him, so he wrongs himself and commits sins. Allah (swt) accepts the repentance of anyone who repents sincerely after doing wrong as He (swt) is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful.

Repent from your heart

Repentance does not mean to utter certain words without thinking. A Muslim should repent honestly from his heart, realizing his wrongdoings, regretting his sins, and offering a sincere apology and promise to his Lord (swt) not to repeat the ill actions.

Repent before death

The doors of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness remain open until a Muslim faces his death. Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran:

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now I repent;’ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) extends His hand at night to forgive those who sinned during that day, and He extends His hand during the day to forgive those who sinned during the night. This will continue to be the case until the sun rises from the west.” (Muslim)

We may get tired of repenting but Allah (swt) never tires of forgiving

We may get tired of committing sins, but He never gets tired of forgiving His slaves. Allah (swt) loves the repentance of His slaves and expresses joy over it. The Prophet (sa) said: “When a person repents, Allah (swt) rejoices more than any one of you would rejoice after finding a camel you had lost in the desert.” (Bukhari)

The Nursing Mujahida – Rufaida Ansaria (ra)

whiteflowersAt a time, when Muslim girls have confusions about career choices, Rufaida Ansaria’s story can be an inspiration. She is the first Muslim nurse, who practiced nursing long before Florence Nightingale stepped up.

The Nursing Mujahida

After giving her pledge to the Prophet (sa), Rufaida (ra) chose a noble profession for herself. She dedicated her life to attending to the wounded soldiers and looking after their needs.

This was a period of numerous battles. Every year Muslims were being called for war. Rufaida (ra) felt the need of a nurse to look after the wounded soldiers. She set up her tent right next to the Prophet’s Mosque and equipped it with all the medical equipments and medicines of that time. And this was with the permission of the Prophet (sa).

Lessons to draw: We learn the lesson of not following the crowd or trends. One must analyse their own skills and gauge how they can positively contribute to the society. Many girls choose medicine, but do not practice it. Women do need female doctors at hospitals. Therefore, they should be encouraged to practice medicine even after marriage.

We learn the lesson of not following the crowd or trends. One must analyse their own skills and gauge how they can positively contribute to the society.

Some choose chartered accountancy or business studies, and then the corporate job, late sittings and frequent flying conflicts with their marital life. One should carefully evaluate her situation, interests and resources, and then pick a path. Our goal shouldn’t only be to earn money, but how we can contribute in the well-being of the society.

To pick this career, Rufaida (ra) must have obtained some kind of medical training. She was really confident and skilled in her work. We see in her story that there is no mention of a supervisor. She worked independently. Whenever one chooses a path they must strengthen their skills with all the necessary training required and then perform their task at the level of excellence. We should be confident in what we are doing and also ask Allah (swt) to make us strong, Insha’Allah.

Rufaida (ra) and the Battle of Trench

When the Muslim soldiers left for the Battle of Trench, Rufaida (ra) also went with them. She erected her tent near the soldier camps so that she could attend to the injured on the spot. Being honest to her profession, Rufaida (ra) desired only two things. She wanted to lessen the pain of the wounded and to help them recover quickly. She wanted to see them back on their feet, laughing and smiling, going on with their work.

In the Battle of Trendh, Saad ibn Muath (ra) got wounded by an enemy’s arrow. His nerve had been cut. The Prophet (sa) instructed that his nursing tent be placed in the Prophet’s Mosque so that he himself could attend to his needs. The Prophet (sa) would visit Saad (ra) twice a day. Each time he asked Saad (ra) how he was doing, Saad (ra) replied that all praise belongs to Allah (swt) and he was feeling alright.

Being honest to her profession, Rufaida (ra) desired only two things. She wanted to lessen the pain of the wounded and to help them recover quickly

Frequents visits of the Prophet (sa) to the camp cheered Rufaida (ra). She felt she was especially favoured by Allah (swt) to meet the Messenger of Allah (sa) twice in a day.

Lessons to draw: We see honesty to one’s profession. For what else is the purpose of doctors and nurses than to treat their patients and provide them relief? Whatever path that we choose in life, we shouldn’t solely look at it as a money-minting source. We should be sincere to our profession and to those that we are dealing with.

We also learn patience in pain. Considering the medical advancement of that age, one can imagine the pain that Saad ibn Muath (ra) must have been feeling. Yet each time that the Prophet (sa) asked him how he was doing, he replied with Alhumdulillah. He did not utter a word of complain.

We also learn that in situations of emergencies and in the absence of a male practitioner, a female doctor is allowed to attend to the male patients. Imam an-Nawawi explains: A woman may not touch the body of the person except at the place of necessity (i.e. the place of injury).

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path, and help us identify our special skills and how we can put them in good use for the larger benefit of the society, Ameen.

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

And my Dua was Accepted…

Dua was Accepted“Mother’s Dua has been accepted!” My children’s energetic loud voice woke me up from my sleep.

We were residents in UAE. My husband and I were working as teachers in a school, when that school’s principle fired both of us, due to his personal enmity with us.

Ramadan was going on. Our visa was going to expire after two months; therefore, we tried hard to find another job but in vain. My three little children were in primary and the two older ones were studying in secondary schools. Residential problem, rent for the house, children’s school fees and grocery money was urgently needed; we were running out of savings and were greatly depressed. All our emergency funds were coming to an end. I told my children to stay calm and pray to Allah (swt) with a pure heart and strong belief.

Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word.

After a few days, my husband’s friend came to our house and said that he has been called in Sharjah for a job interview in a school – he was going to leave for Sharjah. My husband’s friend asked my husband to accompany him. My husband refused, as there was no reason for him to go. However, his friend insisted, terming that as an important visit. When I learned about this, I told my husband to go. Then my husband told his friend that he was ready to go with him. I spoke my heart out: “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.”

My husband and his friend took off for Sharjah together. As it was the month of Ramadan, I fell asleep during the day and when I woke up, it was nearly Maghrib time. I came to know that my husband had returned from the trip, and as soon as I entered the room, my husband repeated the same sentence that I said before he was leaving, “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.” My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

I doubted, whether it was real or a dream, because I was awakened by my children’s cheers, “Mother’s prayer is accepted!” But, Alhumdulillah, it was real.

My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

No doubt, my Allah (swt) had accepted my Dua that was prayed with a pure heart. Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word. I could not control my tears, and I bowed in front of Allah (swt) thanking Him for His help.

Although many years have passed since that event, but even today my heart gets filled with gratitude to Allah (swt), because I had prayed to Him (swt) with a pure heart and strong faith. My Allah (swt) answered my sincere prayer positively, Alhumdulillah!

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

perla negraWe now begin Surah At-Taubah. Since it begins with the mention of Allah’s (swt) anger and wrath, we notice that unlike other Surahs it does not begin with Bismillah. May Allah (swt) not deprive us of His mercy and forgiveness. Ameen.

Be cautious – this world deceives

Again, there is a reminder to not to get deceived by the treasures of this world such as wealth and children. He says, So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad (sa)); in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of the this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (At-Taubah 9:55) May Allah (swt) make our wealth and children a source of comfort for us and means for entering Jannah. May these blessings don’t pave our way to destruction. Ameen.

Beware of mocking Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

Then there is a warning against mocking Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and His verses. The hypocrites would come in Prophet’s (sa) gathering, give their verbal acknowledgement to whatever they learnt and when they met each other in private, they would confess their disagreement. Each time that happened, Allah (swt) would reveal their true condition to Prophet (sa). Sometimes, we receive jokes about heaven and hell, the angels and other matters of the Unseen. We read them and laugh with our friends and family. Allah (swt) says, “If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (sa) that you were mocking?” (At-Taubah 9:65)

This is not something to be taken casually; read what Allah (swt) says next about such people, “Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.)” (At-Taubah 9:66) Such a person is out of the folds of Islam. A Muslim leads a conscious life; he doesn’t get carried away by what’s happening around him. Delete such a message and reply them back with this verse. It could be that they don’t even know this verse is there in the Quran.

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

Among the many traits of hypocrites, one is that they will not leave anyone without defaming and ridiculing him in all circumstances, even those who give away charity. If, for instance, someone gives away a large amount, the hypocrites say that he is showing off. If someone gives away a small amount, they say that Allah (swt) stands not in need of this man’s charity. Al-Awfi narrates from Ibn Abbas (ra) that one day while the Prophet (sa) was collecting charity, a man brought a Sa’ of dates (a small measure of food grains). He said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! This is a Sa’ of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa’ of dates for my work. I kept one Sa’ and brought you the other Sa’.” The Prophet (sa) ordered him to add it to the charity. The hypocrites standing their commented that Allah (swt) and His Messenger are not in need of such small charity. What benefit could it bring? After that, came a rich man who wanted to give four thousand Dirhams in the way of Allah (swt). About him the hypocrites said that he gave this much amount to show off. It is the characteristic of Allah (swt) that He exposes those who lie and defame His righteous believers.

Hence this verse was revealed, “Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:79) A small or huge contribution does not matter. What matters is the person’s sincerity and that his wealth was earned from Halal means.

Sincerity in charity

Talking about sincerity, sometimes when we want something, we passionately make Dua and put a condition in it. We say, “O Allah (swt)! If such and such happens, I will be regular in my prayers,” or “I will give some particular amount in charity.” You know what is better than this? That we make ourselves punctual in our prayers and gave Sadaqah out of our willingness rather than putting a condition on it. Why treat Allah (swt) like a baby who you can trick with a candy for getting some work done? Allah (swt) says, “And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous. (At-Taubah 9:75). Know that if one can cheat their Maker, they can cheat anyone. May Allah (swt) forgive us and correct what is wrong within us. Ameen.

Zakat – an obligatory charity

Allah (swt) says, “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (At-Taubah 9:103) This command is about the obligatory charity that is Zakat. Zakat is a means for purification and increment of one’s wealth. Therefore, do not be stingy with your Zakat. How can we protect ourselves from the Fitnah of stinginess? By knowing that the wealth that Allah (swt) has given us is not ours to keep. He gave us this wealth so that we could spend it in His cause, helping the needy and the poor. Note that in the verse, the Prophet (sa) has been instructed to make Dua after collecting the Zakat. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when one is collecting donations or charity, he should make Dua for the well-being of donor. The Prophet (sa) prayed in the following words:


بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

“May Allah bless you for what you kept and what you gave away.” (Ibn Katheer) Such a statement will act as a reassurance for the donors and encourage them to contribute in future as well. Insha’Allah.

Levels of believers

Now we learn about the levels of believers, Allah (swt) says, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100) Look at their honour. We need to be very careful about what we say about the Companions and the righteous slaves of Allah (swt). We must ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the company of His righteous servants, so that we may aspire to raise our status in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

One is known by the company he keeps. It either guarantees one peace or snatches it away. However, good company promises goodness. An evil company only increases us in evilness. Reflect on your social circle. Are they bringing you closer to Allah (swt) or only distancing you further? If it’s the latter, do not be shy to break away from them or at least maintain minimal contact. Your Iman and Hereafter is more important than anything else in this fleeting world.

Diversity in Ummah

Then we learn about the diversity in Ummah, “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At-Taubah 9:122) Some people will go out to fight. Some will stay back to teach Quran and matters of religion. This is a great encouragement, especially for the women. Women sometimes feel their task is limited to raising children and managing the house. Allah (swt) has honoured women greatly with these responsibilities. The little Momins, Insha’Allah, will be tomorrow’s scholars and soldiers of Islam. By staying at home, you can focus on your association with the Quran, learn it, live by it and teach it to others. In Islam, no one’s role is insignificant. We make it trivial only by our thoughts. Change your thinking and reflect on your skills: How can I contribute in Allah’s (swt) way.

We have been talking about the certainty of tests in one’s life; in Surah At-Taubah Allah (swt) gives us reminders regarding afflictions. He says, “See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” (At-Taubah 9:126)

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

The purpose is that a person may draw himself closer to Allah (swt). There is nothing more that Allah (swt) appreciates than a servant being engaged in Astaghfar. Astaghfar does not mean that you are a sinful person. The Prophet (sa), who was the best being ever lived on the earth, used to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness 70 – 100 times a day.

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

As we are talking about Muhammad (sa), let’s see how Allah (swt) describes him, “Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (sa)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (sa) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Are we kind and merciful to one another?
  2. Do we grieve over the sufferings of one another?
  3. Are we concerned about one another?

Again we are reminded of good conduct. If others do not reciprocate kindness then say, “Hasbiya Allahula ilaha illa huwa alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbu al-arshi al-atheem (Allah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.)” Surah At-Taubah ends at this Dua. These words should be part of our daily remembrance of Allah (swt).

May He open up our hearts and minds to give Him our very best. Ameen.

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

[Part 2] Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

Quran-550x412Advice #4: Slow and Steady, Wins the Race!

The fourth step is taken once you’ve started and are flowing smoothly with your daily memorization. You are following your plan with utmost energy and motivation and feel productive and inspired to keep going. Now you need effective strategies to keep you going at a steady pace without finding yourself at a dead end.

1- Make sure that you connect the first part of the Surah to its end before moving on to another.  You may find that the beginning of the Surah flows smoother for you because you spent more time and energy on it, while the end of the Surah does not get as much attention and repetition. This is your first red signal. Stop and revise it as many times as you need (ten times minimum) to strengthen the memorization.

2- Recite with understanding! Start reading Tafseer of at least five verses per day. This way, the meaning of the verses will engrave into your mind and heart. Beginners are recommended to start with a Tafseer that explains the verses clearly like Tafsir Ibn Kathir (summarized version) or Tafsir Al Jalalayn.

It is reported from Al-Fudayl that Prophet (sa) said: “The Quran was sent down to be acted upon but people have taken just reciting it as enough of a deed. He was asked, “How is it acted upon?” He replied, “They should treat as Halal what it makes Halal and treat as Haram what it makes Haram, they should take on its commandments and stay away from what it forbids and they should stop to ponder it’s amazing knowledge and wisdom.”

3- Become comfortable with the patterns of the verses, i.e. Mutashabihat. There are many repeated verses in the Quran. It is helpful to designate a notebook for tracking down the similar verses as you go. You can even use Microsoft Word and format your notes with the highlight, colours, italic, bold and underline options. Be creative! It’s worth it.

Allah (swt) says,

اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ

“Allah has sent down the best statement, a Book (this Quran), its parts resembling each other in goodness and truth, oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah. He Guides therewith whom He pleases and whomever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.” (Az-Zumar 39:23)

Renew Your Intention Every Time

Finally, don’t forget to renew your intention again. At this point, spend time alone to rethink about your decision and block out any praise that you may be receiving. The signs of a boastful show-off are that he is lazy when alone, energetic when with people, increases his work when praised, and decreases his work when insulted and ignored. Pray hard, concentrate in your prayers, use the golden moments in Sujood to come closer to Allah (swt) and seek His help in attaining your goal of understanding and memorizing His Book.

Advice #5: Dua and Action are the Keys

Now that you have a plan and effective strategies have become your habits, focus on Dua and your deeds. These steps will help you maintain your new commitment to the Quran in the long run Insha’Allah:

1- Stop sinning: Sins are the number one barriers between knowledge and a Muslim’s heart. Allah’s (swt) superior speech will never settle in a heart that is sinful and barred by desire and doubt. It is narrated that Abdullah ibn Masud that Prophet (sa) said:

إني لأحسب الرجل ينسى العلم بالخطيئة يعملها

“I believe that a man forgets his knowledge because of a sin that he has committed.”

Forgetting the Quran and being unable to memorize it is one of the biggest disasters that may befall a Muslim in his life; Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

“And whatever of disaster befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned (of sins).” (Ash-Shuara)

It is important to remember that our bodies have been made from soil and the food for our bodies comes from the soil it was made of. Our souls, however, have been sent from Heaven and the food for our souls is the Quran which was sent down from the Heavens to quench our souls and relieve us from misguidance and darkness. A heart that is bolted and shackled by chains of disobedience and sin will be unable to see the light of guidance that is found in the Quran.

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

و كما أن لله ملائكة موكلة بالسحاب و المطر فله ملائكة موكلة بالهدى و العلم و هذا رزق القلوب و قوتها و هذا رزق الأجساد و قوتها

“Just as Allah (swt) has angels responsible for the clouds and rain, He too has angels responsible for guidance and knowledge. This is the sustenance and provision for hearts and that is the sustenance and provision for bodies.”

Imam Al Shafi (ra) recited verses of poetry beautifully describing his teacher’s explanation of why sins prevent knowledge,

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظي           فأرشدني إلى ترك المعاصي

و قال إن العلم نور                      و نور الله لا يؤتى لعاصي

I complained to Waki about the weakness of my memory.

He told me to abandon sin.

And said that knowledge is light.

And Allah’s (swt) light is not given to the sinner.

2- Search for the practical aspects of all the verses you memorized: Any heedful Muslim will agree that the main cause of the Ummah’s state in today’s age and time is our abandonment of the Quran and its teachings. We are merely floating in the oceans without diving in and discovering the gems and treasures that Allah (swt) has hidden in its depths. Reciting the Quran without pondering upon its meanings and without any practical application of its teachings is not the ultimate purpose, although a recitor is to be rewarded. Remember that the Companions (rta) would not exceed their study of the Quran to more than five to ten verses until they had studied them in detail and understood the practical implications. Read the verses and ask yourself, “What is Allah (swt) commanding me to do? What is he prohibiting me from? How can I apply this verse in every day of my life?”

3- Make the Quran your companion and guidebook: Make it your number one source of comfort and peace. Make a list of do’s and don’ts based on the Quran. Study the qualities that Allah (swt) loves in His slaves and try to develop them to the best of your ability: patience, love, mercy, humility. Study the qualities that He hates and abandon them: boastfulness, hard heartedness, heedlessness and idle talk. The next time you are at your wits’ end, confused and lost, let your first action be reaching out for the Quran and seeking tranquillity in the remembrance of Allah (swt).

Remember also that once a person has knowledge of an issue, he is bound by this knowledge to act upon it. This is a matter overlooked; however it is quite significant. Never forget that the Quran will be a proof for you or against you.

4- Good companionship: From the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) to His slaves is a good friend. It is incumbent upon a serious student of the Quran to pray for and find a friend who will be a help and source of encouragement. Beware of people who engage in idle chatter and sins of the tongue; these people will claim they do not have spare moments for studying the Quran but will converse for hours about useless matters of the world. Worse off than these people are those who mock the verses of Allah (swt) and turn away from reminders. Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

“And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Anam)

I cannot put stress on the positive influence a pious friend can possess and the evil consequences of accompanying heedless people. It’s a lifelong companionship that you should aim for and rest assured that a relationship that is strengthened by the Quran will never lead to wrongdoing by the help of Allah (swt).

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا

يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا

لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنسَانِ خَذُولًا

“And the Day when the wrong-doer will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. 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 Shaitan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan)

It is reported that Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd Prophet (sa) said:

I do not know anything rarer than a good Dirham (Halal income) whose owner spends it on something right or a brother in Islam in whose company one finds peace. And they are only getting rarer.

5- Learn Arabic: The more Quran you memorize, the more you start to understand the Arabic language. There should be a continuity and connection between your study of the Quran and Arabic. Not only that, but understanding Arabic is a very crucial part of memorizing the Quran because it will prevent you from making grammatical mistakes. Scholars of Quran have stressed that since understanding the Quran is obligatory and understanding Arabic is a medium through which the Quran is understood, it automatically becomes obligatory to understand Arabic.

ما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب

6- Dua: It is possible that a Hafidh of the Quran reaches great heights due to the sincerity of his supplications to Allah (swt), even if he does not complete the memorization. A sincere Dua is the ladder by which a person reaches unattainable heights; the Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

من سأل الله الشهادة بصدق بلغه الله منازل الشهداء و إن مات على فراشه

“Whoever sincerely prays to Allah (swt) for martyrdom, Allah (swt) will give him the rank of the martyrs even if he died on his bed.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth states that on the Day of Judgement, there will be people who will be resurrected as martyrs, even though he never participated in the battlefield. The reason for this will be the sincerity of his intention. If that’s the case for the high ranks of the martyrs, then what can we imagine for the Huffaadh of the Quran?


Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

إن له لحلاوة.. و إن عليه لطلاوة.. و إن أعلاه لمثمر.. و إن أسفله لمغدق.. و إنه ليعلو و لا يعلي عليهQuran-550x412

[Indeed, it has sweetness and indeed it is adorned with beauty and charm. Surely, its first part is fruitful and its last part is abundant.

It conquers all speech and remains unconquered! It shatters and destroys all that has come before it!]

Those were the timeless words of Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mugheerah when he was asked by the Mushrikeen of Quraish to describe the speech of Allah (swt).

روى ابن ماجة وأحمد  عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رضي الله عنه قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( إِنَّ لِلَّهِ أَهْلِينَ مِنْ النَّاسِ ) قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، مَنْ هُمْ ؟

(قال: أهل القرآن هم أهل الله و خاصته)

The Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “The people of the Quran are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants.” (An-Nisa, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Only a few million can read the Quran fluently. From those million, only a few people are destined to memorize the Quran. These are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants!

This is a series of advice, incentives, methods and secrets to memorizing the Quran and becoming the best of the best, InshaAllah.

Advice #1: Sincere Intentions

The first step to fulfilling your goal of memorizing the Quran is sincerity. Ibn ‘Abbas (rta)  said: “Indeed, a person shall memorize according to his sincerity.” Meaning the sincerity of your intention will determine the strength and amount you memorize.

Actually, this is not just the first step. You need to refresh your intention at every step.

It is reported from Ali (rta) that Prophet (sa) said: “The one who shows off has three characteristics: He is lazy when by himself, he is lively and energetic when with others and he increases in his actions when he is praised and decreases in them when he is criticized.”

1- Dua, Dua, Dua – ask Allah (swt) to purify your heart from hypocrisy and boastfulness   and to protect you from the evils of your soul and its treachery.

2- Do not be deceived by praise. Nobody knows you better than you know your own self. If they praise, they only praise the blessings of Allah (swt) that they see on you; while you are the one who truly knows the reality of your heart and Allah (swt) knows you better than you know yourself. Remember, pride was Shaitan’s downfall.

Abu Bakr (rta) would make a prayer every time he would be praised:

اللهم اجعلني خيراً مما يظنون  ولا تؤاخذني بما يقولون واغفر لي ما لا يعلمون

“O Allah (swt), make me better than what they think and do not hold me accountable for what they say and forgive me for what they do not know.”

3- Beware of secret sins. “Nothing is more disgusting than a sinful reciter.”

4- Re-read and revise the Ahadeeth that talk about the punishment for the one who memorizes the Quran in order to be praised. Prophet (sa) said:

إن الله تبارك و تعالى إذا كان يوم القيامة ينزل إلى العباد ليقضي بينهم و كل أمة جاثية فأول من يدعى رجل جمع القرآن و رجل يقتل في سبيل الله و رجل كثير المال فيقول الله للقارئ: ألم أعلمك ما أنزلت على رسولي؟ قال: بلى يا رب. قال: فماذا عملت فيما علمت؟ قال: كنت أقوم به آناء الليل و آناء النهار. فيقول له: كذبت و تقول له الملائكة: كذبت. و يقول الله: بل أردت أن يقال أن فلاناً قارئ فقد قيل ذاك ثم أمر به فسحب على وجهه حتى ألقي في النار

“The first amongst mankind to be judged on the Day of Judgement is a man who studied knowledge and taught it and who used to recite the Quran. He will be brought and Allah (swt) will make known to him His favours and he will recognize them.

Allah (swt) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I studied knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Quran for Your sake. He will say: You have lied – rather, you learned knowledge to be called a scholar and you memorized to be called a recitor and so it was said and you got your reward from those whom you sought it from. Then he will be dragged by his face and thrown into the fire of Hell.”

5- Remember always that the one who memorizes the Quran to be praised and to show off has no reward for his efforts and he is indeed sinful.

In conclusion, the intention is a very important, yet overlooked and sometimes undermined step towards memorizing the Quran. It may not be the only step but it is the most difficult to control and maintain.

It is reported from Sahl bin Abdullah (ra)that Prophet (sa) said: “There is nothing which is tougher upon the soul than (achieving) sincerity of intention. How many times have I tried to remove the  love of praise from my heart except that it sprouted in a different colour (i.e. in a different form).

Advice #2: Correct Recitation

The second step in this spiritual journey is to learn the correct recitation and articulation of the Quran. The second condition (after a sincere intention) for any deed to be accepted by Allah (swt) is that it should done according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (swt).  Someone who wants to memorize the Book of Allah (swt) must learn it from those who are knowledgeable; and it is never sufficient for him to rely on his own self.

This is one of the most amazingly unique aspects of the Quran – there has always been a one-on-one student-teacher interaction with regards to studying it. Jibrael (as) taught it to the Messenger of Allah (swt) who in turn taught it to his companions (rta)  and that’s how its reached us: pristine, complete, unchanged, unaltered and unadulterated.

There are various steps to learn the correct recitation of the Quran:

1- Use the same copy of the Quran – this will help you to get accustomed to the text, the number of verses per line and it’ll keep your comments and corrections organized (use a pencil and mark your mistakes!); use highlighters and sticky notes for help.

2- Find a teacher – somebody who is well-versed in Tajweed and can accurately point out your mistakes. It’s best to recite the Quran to a teacher before starting to memorize, so that he/she may correct any mispronunciation. Begin to learn the basic rules of Tajweed.

3- Repeat the verses – repeating the same page at least ten times will help you grasp a stronger hold of the difficult letters such as the Qaaf (القاف) and Raa’ (الراء). Bishr bin as-Sirri (ra) said, “Verily, each verse is like a date: the more you chew it, the more of its sweetness is released.” Abu Sulayman (ra) heard this and commented: “True. It is the case with one of you that if he begins one chapter of it, he wants to read it to the end.”

4- Use your senses – listening to an audio recitation of the Quran by a skilled reciter while reading the verses from your copy of the Quran is extremely beneficial.

5- Write it down – write down the verses that you find most difficult to recite; that will help you concentrate on each word separately and this has been the way of the students of knowledge.

Lastly, don’t give up! The Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

.عن عائشة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالمثل الذي يقرأ القرآن وهو حافظ له مع السفرة الكرام البررة ومثل الذي يقرأ وهو يتعاهده وهو عليه شديد فله أجران

“The example of the one who recites the Quran and is fluent in it is as if he is with the noble pious angels and the example of the one who recites the Quran and stammers in it has two rewards as it is difficult for him.”

Remember to renew your intention every single time you begin reciting so that you may relish the beauty of wandering in the gardens of the remembrance of Allah (swt).

‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (ra) said: “If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord and I hate even if one day passes with me not looking into the Quran.”

Advice #3: Chalk Out a Plan

The third most important step is to have a plan. This means you must designate an assigned portion that you intend to memorize every day. Be warned, planning is the easiest part. You must have will power and a strong sense of purpose in order to stick to it.

Do not try to aim too high and keep the planning moderate. That way, if you have extra time and end up memorizing more than planned, you’ll feel more encouraged to move forward consistently Insha’Allah.

The Messenger (sa) said:

خذوا من الأعمال ما تطيقون فإن الله لا يمل حتى تملوا و أحب الأعمال إلى الله ما داوم عليه صاحبه و إن قل

“Take from the deeds how much you can bear because Allah (swt) does not tire (of rewarding you) until you tire (of doing the deed). The most beloved of deeds to Allah (swt) are those that are done consistently by a person, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The Salaf would say: “The one who does little consistently is better than the one who does a lot inconsistently.”

Follow these practical steps in order to lay out your plan and stick to it:

1- Learn about the way the Quran is divided.

  • 114 Surahs: each of the Surahs are of varying number of verses and the verses are varying in length.
  • 30 Juz’: each Juz’ is twenty to twenty one pages long
  • 60 Hizb: each Juz’ is divided into two almost equal subparts
  • You can decide to memorize according to the meaning and Tafseer of the verses, for example, Surah Yusuf has one primary topic, yet it can be divided according to the events that occurred: his dream and conversation with Yaqoob (as), being thrown into the well, the incident with the Aziz’s wife etc.
  • Additionally, scholars of the Quran have divided it this way:

i.            السبع الطوال– The Seven Long Surahs: this includes Surah Al Baqarah, Al-Imran, An- Nisa, Al-Maida, Al-Anam, Al-Araf and the seventh is either At-Taubah or Yunus.

ii.            المئون– The Hundreds: this includes almost all the Surahs that come after the previous seven and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately a hundred.

iii.            3-المثاني– The Repetitions: this includes all the Surahs that come after the previous and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately two hundred.

iv.            المفصل– The Separated Ones: this includes all the Surahs from Surah Al-Hujurat to Surah An-Nas

2- Decide which method of division is easiest for you to follow. Consider your daily routine. Make productive use of holidays, weekends and free time.

3- Start early! Prophet (sa) said:

اللهم بارك لأمتي في بكورها

“O Allah (swt)! Bless my Ummah in its early hours.” (Sahih Al Jami)

Therefore make use of the blessed hours before and after the Fajr Salah. This will also help you start the rest of your day with a sense of accomplishment.

4- Write it down everywhere! Draw out a neat little memorization plan for yourself and tick it as you go or if you are tech-savvy, use Microsoft Excel or Word.

5- Remember to include new memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last few days), old memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last month) and your new lesson (parts you memorized that day in particular). The new lesson you’ve memorized will stay in your short-term memory until you revise it consistently and transfer it to your long-term memory.

Finally, none of this will help you unless you have a strong determination to move forward. Do not burden yourself. Scholar of Fiqh and teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa (rta), Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman would say: “Learn three issues every day and do not increase it to anything else. Know that your heart is a part of your body and it is able to carry some things while unable to carry other things.”

6- Tea-time – If you are unable to move forward and feel stressed, give yourself a break. Relax and renew your intentions. I remember having a very fruitful month finishing one Juz’ every week and suddenly I found myself unable to memorize anything new. It would take me a whole hour to finish a page unlike the better days when I would memorize a page in thirty minutes. I made myself a revision plan and gave the memorization a break. After a few days, I had everything revised as planned, which encouraged me to get back on track, Alhamdulillah!

Remember that no matter how much you plan and organize, there will occasionally be setbacks. Do not despair; it is better to start afresh than to never get started at all!

[To be continued Insha Allah]

It’s Never too Late to Repent

rpetance(A condensed version of the talk “On repentance” by Sheikh Kamaluddin Ahmed)

Allah (swt) said in the Quran, “Leave (O mankind, all kinds of) sin, open and secret. Verily, those who commit sin will get due recompense for that which they used to commit.” (Al-Anam 6:120)

Hastening to perform Taubah for our sins

In other places in the Quran, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance.” (At-Tahrim 66:8 and Hud 11:3)

Now this word “Taubah” (repentance) is very interesting, because Allah (swt) says “Do Taubah towards Allah.” What it means is that repentance is (what you call in English) a “paradigm shift”. If you’re living a life of sin or are engrossed in one particular sin, you must totally turn away from the sin and orient yourself back towards Allah (swt). Someone who is distant from Allah (swt), His Book and His Messenger (sa) will find it difficult to leave sin.

Four things that ensure acceptance of our repentance

1.  Repent to Allah (swt) sincerely

The seeker must promise to Allah (swt) sincerely in his heart that he will never commit the sin again. People say, “How can we say that when we know we will do it again?”

Well, life is like a boxing match, where you have to get up every time you are knocked down. The coach would get happy if you manage to get up after every knock down. Similarly Allah (swt) loves those who try again and again for His Mercy. When your clothes get dirty, you don’t stop washing them thinking, “What is the use when we know that they will get dirty again?” Hence we need to wash ourselves, we need to purify our souls, our intentions hoping that Allah (swt) will forgive us and we won’t repeat that sin.

Once two young men were arguing and they went to an old man to settle their argument. They asked, “Who is more beloved to Allah (swt), he who sins and repents or he who never committed the sin in the first place?” The old man said, “I am not an Islamic scholar; I am a weaver. I can just tell that when I am weaving, I have to follow many threads on my loom. If a thread snaps, I tie it back, but from then on I keep an eye on that thread. So it may be that Allah (swt) keeps a special gaze of mercy on those who break away from Him, but tie themselves back through repentance.” Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “O man! What has made you careless concerning your Lord, the Most Generous?” (Al-Infitar 82:6)

When your clothes get dirty, you don’t stop washing them thinking, “What is the use when we know that they will get dirty again?” Hence we need to wash ourselves, we need to purify our souls

2. Forgive others for the sake of Allah (swt)    

It comes in a Hadeeth: “On the Night of Qadr everyone’s prayers are answered except the person who has malice and a grudge against people in his heart.” (Shuab ul Iman)

Hence, we should forgive even if we are justified in being angry. Allah (swt) is justified in being angry with us when we sin; are we more justified in being angry than He is? It would have been completely appropriate for Allah (swt) to punish us immediately whenever we sinned. The second we looked at something that we shouldn’t have, He should have made us blind. In such a case, all of us would be blind, deaf, mute and crippled. If we wish Allah (swt) to accept our repentance, we must forgive others.

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (ra) writes in one of his books that once there was a man and wife. The wife did something very bad, so much so that the man would have been justified in divorcing her. She asked him to forgive her. He thought, “O Allah (swt), I forgive her for Your sake.” Later the man passed away and somebody saw him in a dream. The man said in the dream, “Allah (swt) forgave me for everything. Allah (swt) said that you forgave her because she was My servant, I forgive you because you are My servant.”

3. Abandon bad company   

We must keep ourselves away from the people who bring us closer to sin. Every night in the Isha prayer in Dua Qunut, we declare “O Allah (swt) I will isolate myself and I will repudiate that person who disobeys You.” A bad friend is worse than a snake because when a snake bites you, it sends you to your death, but a bad friend sends you to hellfire. A bad friend is even worse than Shaitan because Shaitan only whispers, but a bad friend takes you toward the sin.

4. Increase in your good deeds

People, who fall into any sin feel ashamed about it and so they stop praying, thinking that how can they face Allah (swt).

Quran says, “Say: O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53).

How does Allah (swt) address these people? He doesn’t say “you sinners”, He says “My servants/slaves”. He doesn’t kick them out of the servant hood. He still takes them under His Custody.

Rewards for the Repenting Ones

1. A clean slate

Once repentance is accepted, the person becomes as if he doesn’t have any sins. We should make Dua that Allah (swt) erases each and every aspect of sin from us; May He remove even the memory of the pleasure of the sin.

2. Protection by Allah (swt) from Shaitan

Allah (swt) protects the person from Shaitan. Quran says, “Verily! My slaves (i.e the true believers of Islamic Monotheism), you have no authority over them. And All-Sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian.” (Al-Isra 17:65)

We cannot fight Shaitan, we can only seek Allah’s (swt) protection from him.

3. Acquiring an esteemed rank with Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) will include the person among the ranks of His Beloved. Quran says, “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:222)

There was a man called Hasan al Basri who taught Quran on the command of Hazrat Ali (ra). One of his students was a widowed woman who dedicated her life to raising her son. Her son was a big sinner. She always tried to work on her son and take him to Hasan al Basri to make him leave his sinful ways. The son remained stubborn and did not leave sin. This continued until the time of his death. The mother cried and asked him to repent. Finally the son said that he felt the error of his ways and wanted to repent. He wanted Hasan al Basri to lead his funeral prayer. The mother went to the Sheikh but he refused saying that her son was just fooling her again. When the son got to know about this, he told his mother to drag his corpse around the city and show the people the fate of a sinner and sadly he passed away. Later Hasan al Basri went to meet the mother. He told her that after she had left, he heard a voice saying, “You think you are the friend of Allah (swt), but you refuse to pray the funeral prayer of His friend?”

[Hadeeth Commentary] Prescription of Ihsan (Excellence)

Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Tasneem Vali


On the authority of Abu Yala Shaddad bin Aws (ra), the Messenger of Allah (sa) said:

“Verily Allah (swt) has prescribed Ihsan (proficiency and perfection) in all things. So, if you kill, then kill well; if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim)

Ihsan is an Arabic word and is a derivative of Ahsana, which means, ‘doing things better’. The literal meaning of Ihsan is achieving the best. Ihsan is normally translated as excellence but because it has a broader concept, it cannot be translated into English accurately. There is no word in the English language that portrays its meaning fully. Ihsan has four aspects.

As with any Islamic injunction, this Hadeeth contains a principle and provides an example in compliance with that principle. The Prophet (sa) used this method extensively to train Muslims to use logic and apply one principle to other similar situations. Due to our commitments, we understand the example, but fail to implement the principle. Sometimes, we do not give a 100% to the tasks we perform for Allah (swt). Ihsan means that we must not be satisfied unless we do something to the best of our ability. We should be motivated by the sole reason that Allah (swt) has prescribed this for us. The Hadeeth mentioned above can be applied in any situation. It may help reform the society if practiced correctly. Whoever tries to be proficient (practice Ihsan), can do so in two situations:

  • To benefit others.
  • To complete and refine worship.

Ibadah or worship includes the prescribed acts of worship, as well as the routine habits. Everyday actions and mundane chores can become worship if performed with the correct intention. Hence, they must be completed to perfection. A believer must practice Ihsan in everything. The best people are those whose actions and dealings are the best. For example the companions of the Prophet (sa).

“If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” (Al-Isra 17:7)

The golden rule of behaviour as told by the Messenger of Allah (sa) is: “Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah (swt) and the Last Day. And should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them.” (Bukhari)

What are some of the things we should aim for perfection in?


The principles of Ihsan should be our lodestone, the test we do to determine the amount of effort we exert to live up according to its suggestions. Our appearance, the way we eat or sleep, the way we conduct our professional lives, our Dawah – Ihsan should be observed in all these actions, which are Ibadah. Some other principles to implement in life are:

  • To respect the scholars and not to compare them with each other;
  • To obey your rulers. Follow the rules that they have set as long as they do not contradict the rules of Allah (swt);
  • To be kind to animals, and not to torture them. Feed them regularly and not to abuse them by overloading them etc.

Even in killing, Muslims must apply Ihsan. Rules of combat/war are:

  • Not to kill old people, children, women, and those who are not fighting.
  • When killing the aggressive enemy/criminal, Ihsan must be applied and observed. They must be killed without torture. We should not cause any harm or suffering to anyone we kill.
  • Captives should be treated with Ihsan as well.
  • Harmful animals such as snakes, scorpions etc. must be killed quickly, no torture is permitted. Animals must be slaughtered with a sharp knife, causing minimum pain. Their necks must be cut with a single, clean stroke and must not be slaughtered in view of other animals.

Thus, if you think logically, using weapons of mass destruction contradicts the concept of Ihsan.

Living in accordance with the concept of Ihsan and applying it to all that you do, entitles you to acquire Allah’s (swt) Mercy and Forgiveness. Insha’Allah you will be amongst the Muhsineen.

Reward for the Muhsineen- in the light of Quran

“Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

“And verily Allah is with the good doers.” (Al- Ankabut 29:69)

“For those who have done good is the best (reward, i.e. Paradise) and even more (i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Countenance of Allah (swt).” ( Yunus 10:26)

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Ar-Rahman 55:60)

Enlighten Your Soul (and Others’) with the Deen

oil_lampAlhumdulillah, I recently got an opportunity to attend a lecture delivered by eminent Islamic scholar, Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmad. Here, I pen down a summary of the gems of knowledge I was able to grasp from the lecture. I sincerely hope the readers will benefit from it greatly.

The Quran refers to Prophet Muhammad (sa) as “Siraj um-Muneer”, the enlightened candle or lamp. However, strangely enough, the sun has more powerful light than any other source. Hence, technically, the beloved Prophet of Allah (swt), Prophet Muhammad (sa) (mercy for entire mankind) should have been referred to with the comparison of the light of the sun. Why not so? The scholars opine that this is because the light of the sun, though being the strongest, is incapable of being transferred to any other source. On the contrary, the candle flickers and passes the flame from one to the other. Subhan’Allah, it is just as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) passed on the light of his knowledge and wisdom to his beloved companions (ra), who passed it on to the Tabi’een (the successors) and so forth, until the light was received by the Ummah of today.

In this context, how many of us feel we have been able to carry on the flame of this knowledge in our hearts, with the intention of enlightening other souls crossing our lives? Unfortunately, it is sad but true that we have confined the flame to ourselves, losing hope in the goodness concealed in our fellow Muslims. Dawah, or calling towards the Deen, is not just a virtue but an obligation upon each one of us. This makes us answerable on the Judgement Day for being a miser in sharing the flame of knowledge.

Here are a few ways as suggested by the elderly scholars on how to fulfill the obligation of Dawah in the light of Quran and Sunnah:

  1. Make your intentions correct – Lillah

This is the foremost important concept to every virtue one performs in Islam. Our sole intention and idea behind the action should be to earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Hence, before you approach others to spread the word of Allah, stop for a second and ask yourself; am I doing this only for my Rabb? Or has it got to do with love for this world?

2.  Ascribe the greatness to Allah(swt) – Fillah

One must understand that one is in fact indebted to Allah (swt) for being able to perform this great deed. One should not ascribe the greatness of the deed to oneself. It was Allah (swt), Who chose us for this sacred mission amongst His entire creation; humility should be adopted instead of arrogance and self-praise.

      3.    Dua – the ultimate weapon of the believer

Each one of us understands the power of Dua. Hence, we are often advised by scholars to never stop making Dua. However what we often neglect is the action of making Dua sincerely for others. If you are genuinely sincere with someone’s better Akhirah, and are actually keen and concerned about him or her being one of the residents of Jannah, nothing should stop you from waking up in the middle of the night, solely to make Dua for him or her.

May Allah (swt) enable us to be a source of guidance for others. Ameen