Why is Ramadan a Special Month to Seek Repentance?

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And our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils, the demons are chained, and the gates of hell are closed- not even a single gate is opened; and the gates of heaven are opened- not even a single gate is closed, and the caller calls to the people that “O those who want to do good please come, and those who are doing evil please desist.” And, Allah (swt) ransoms His slaves, and He does that every night of Ramadan.” (Tirmidhi)

Our beloved Prophet (sa) once ascended to the pulpit for Khutba, and he said: “Ameen thrice, and the people asked ‘O messenger (sa) why? Then he (sa) said: ‘Gabriel has come to me, and said that anyone who does not have sins forgiven after Ramadan has approached, and enters hell-fire Ask Allah (swt) to keep a distance from him. And then, Gabriel says to Muhammad (sa) say Ameen’ (Tirmidhi) So he said so.

It’s unfortunate that anyone witnesses the month of Ramadan, and does not have his sins forgiven because this is the month of forgiveness.

And our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: ‘ if anyone fasts in the complete month of Ramadan with belief, and seeking the reward of Allah (swt), all his past sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari)

That is the reason that Ramadan is called as, the month of forgiveness.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi

 

 

Sickness- A blessing in disguise

blessingSubhan’Allah, we have such a blessed gift of Allah (swt) – such a blessed gift, known as sickness. Did you ever know that sickness is a gift? It’s one of the few things that instantly draw you close to Allah (swt). You have no option, especially when medicine has been given to you, then you realise that you need to develop a link with your Maker. And that is a gift of Allah (swt). If that is what caused you to earn Paradise, then it is the best thing that could have happened to you. May Allah (swt) grant us cure. Ameen.

Some people never read Salah. Never ever. The day they cannot move anymore, they want to read Salah while sitting. Alhumdulillah! Beautiful! At least now you’re reading Salah- even though you’re now sitting, Subhan’Allah. It’s a gift of Allah (swt). So, Allah (swt) watches you, He sees you are ill, He sees you are sick. That’s a gift of Allah (swt). He knows. He made you that way because He loves you, and the Hadeeth says: ‘When Allah (swt) loves a worshipper, He tests him.’ He gives him more tests. Hence, Allah (swt) tests you. Allah (swt) will test you.

Sickness – Boon or bane?

Then you start crying to Allah (swt), helplessly. And, when you turn to Allah (swt), and obviously, there are two things that can happen- when you are sick and ill, Shaytan can get a hold of you, or spirituality can get a hold of you, religiousness can get a hold of you. So you need to be careful, it’s like treading a tightrope.

You’ll have someone who looks like a religious person and he says, ‘Hey, I can cure you.’ And you say, ‘Okay, cure is in the hands of Allah (swt), obviously- but let’s see what you have to say.’ Or if they’re giving you for example, some herbal medication or some ZamZam, or they’re giving you honey, and for example, the black seed and these things that are beneficial; various other items or they give you a diet to tell you, ‘You know what, try and abstain from this type of food; and try to eat this type of food, it’s high in mineral and vitamin.’ Alhumdulillah, we understand it.

Empty mind- A devil’s workshop

But, the minute they tell you, ‘Listen, stand on your left foot for three minutes and start looking up in the sky. And hold five leaves in your right hand and then you tell someone to put a piece of lemon in your mouth, and do that five times a day.’ You need to know that is Shaytan. Complete Shaytan. Allah (swt) is going to ask you. That is the devil, Wallahi. You need to know- where did they come from? This is nothing that makes sense. It’s not medication, it’s not herbal medication, it is superstition. It is the devil. No matter what the person who gave you this looks like, this is wrong. You need to have common logical sense that is unacceptable. This is Allah (swt); He’s going to ask you about this gift.

Early bird catches the worm

At the same time, your heart becomes softened, and you turn to Allah (swt) and cry. So your Salah, you don’t miss. Why? Because you have a problem. And, what happens when you have a major issue? Subhan’Allah. You get up a little bit earlier than Salat ul Fajr for another Salah that is known as Tahajjud. Isn’t it? You are up very early and you say, ‘Sister’, or if your husband says, ‘Hey wifey, why are you up so early?’ and you say, ‘You know, I have a problem, so that is why I am up.’ Subhan’Allah. May Allah (swt) grant us ease. Ameen.

So you are up very early and you cry to Allah (swt). This is why Allah (swt) makes it very beautifully clear where He says, “And when We show favour to man, he withdraws and turns away, but when evil touches him, then he has recourse to long supplications.” (Fussilat 41:51)

You have nothing missing in your life, absolutely nothing. Your health is okay, your wealth is okay, your children are okay, your work is okay, you salary is okay, your situation is okay, everything is beautiful. You are enjoying- eating out every other day, you have a holiday, everywhere you want to go, you have gone, and so on and you still keep on going and everything is going smoothly. Then what’s the point of knowing Allah (swt)? A lot of the people would say what’s the point of knowing? That is the time you’re supposed to get closer to Allah (swt). The winner is the one who has the Dunya and the Akhirah.

In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) explains to us this Dua, this beautiful Dua, ‘And of them there are some who say: “Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” (Al-Baqarah 2:201) That is the beauty; you want goodness here and there. That is obviously, not everyone will get this, but that is the ultimate gift of Allah (swt).

If you have an issue, and it is quite normal to have issues, problems, difficulties, learn to turn to Allah (swt) and Allah (swt) alone. It is when things go wrong that people begin to make supplications, long Dua, prolonged Dua. You know, if you see a man walking in the Masjid, and he sits in the Masjid, asking Allah (swt). And if you find him after Salah, he is sitting there after Salat ul Asr, and you go for Salat ul Maghrib and you find him- he is sitting in the same place, crying and asking Allah (swt). What do you think? You think this man has got a big problem, he is sitting on exactly the same spot, and he is asking Allah (swt). So, that is the description of Surah Fussilat in the verse I read, “When we have bestowed upon man, we have given him, he turns away, on his side. And when evil befalls him, he makes prolonged prayer.”

Spiritual analysis via sickness

Now let’s analyze- spiritually, which is the better condition? Is it better to turn away or is it better to be engaged in prolonged prayer? What is the gift of Allah (swt) here for us? May Allah (swt) bless us. Ameen.

Why is it that old people become sick, invalid? When you’re old, you find it a little difficult to walk. May Allah (swt) grant Shifa and cure to all those who are ill. Ameen. And then sometimes you cannot walk, you have to sit down; you become old, and then, pass away.

Why is it that Allah (swt) has kept it such in the older people? Why isn’t it that in the middle of your life? He makes you sick, but then healthy once again. It is Allah’s (swt) gift that when you get old, you start suffering pain, you start turning to Allah (swt), preparing for the day you will meet with Him. It’s amazing. You know that it’s time to go. You know it. It’s a fact. Why? Because you’re old, things change, everything happens and everything starts moving in a direction that keeps on reminding you, ‘I’m no longer the little teenager I used to be.’

May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to thank Him for His gifts. Ameen.

Transcribed by Asma Imran

What the heart says…

Mend a broken heart

My heart is dead. My heart is rotten.

Oh, I gave too much time to this world, my Allah (swt) I have forgotten.

I tried to squeeze out happiness from this Dunya, but all I ended up with, is a broken heart.

Oh my heart is dead. Yes, it is rotten.

It’s filled with diseases… that overcame its beauty.

I feel it shrinking as it is becoming a black deep hole.

Yes, my heart I’m describing, you may call me crazy.

But, you’re not aware of a miracle- quite exemplary!

There is a vitamin for a heart that has lost its beauty.

Oh heart… Are you okay? What caused you this misery?

The heart replied in awe. Your sins oh man! Your sins oh son of Adam!

They’re darker than the night. They’re much poisonous than venom.

And the heap you bring in me, Wallahi, I am buried;

Buried in your sins way deep down.

You lied, you backbit, you disobeyed, you envied.

You hated, didn’t love. You danced, didn’t pray.

You listened to music. Wallahi, that destroyed me!

You talked to Na-Mehrem, that made me blind;

there stood a wall in me that would decline any light.

You had no modesty. Your gazes weren’t down.

Your anger was like fire, it burnt all peace in me.

You were disrespectful to your parents. Believe me, that’s when I was doomed!

You spoke ill of others, encouraged their sins. You were selfish and greedy.

You sat in front of that big screen all day. That misshaped me, misguided me, and misplaced me.

You kept earning Haram. You kept eating Haram. How could that ever enlighten me?

You counted your money and restrained from charity.

You thought “money” could bring you happiness only!

You deceived your Lord and no light could ever reach me!

Darkness creeped in till I shrank into a black deep hole.

Oh son of Adam, you’re really such a fool!

You move around with a dead heart, thinking you’re too cool.

Now that you know what caused me to die. Perhaps, I shall tell you, how to make me alive.

Yes it is actually possible! This black deep hole could become an enlightening lantern.

Just keep listening carefully. It’s not at all hard I tell you.

One simple ingredient I long for. One vitamin that has the cure.

Oh son of Adam, “Verily, in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

I beg you, I do… Just remember Allah (swt)!

Dhikr is the key, the antibiotic to my disease.

Take a doze everyday. Start slow and it will guide you to eternal peace!

Keep your hands busy in worldly necessities. And your heart busy in the Dhikr of Allah (swt).

Believe me, I’ll become a brand new heart.

The darkness will disappear, the holes will fill up, the bruises will heal, I will size-up!

Just remember your Lord, praise Him, love Him. Obey Him, fear Him. Make Him yours!

Because, even after, all the darkness you brought in me, He always loved you. He kept an eye on you in patience, that you shall one day remember Him.

Just ask for forgiveness one single time, and He will forgive you without any complains.

He will make the darkness disappear from me, and light me up in a way you can’t believe.

And trust me, that when I’m healed- you will heal. No power could destroy you, no darkness could reach you, nce you have a healed me.

And if you shall leave me dead again- just crawl back to Him, remember Him.And He shall guide you.

A whisper in void

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My love and sacrifice for Him, who heals the wounds in my heart- slowly, but perfectly.
My self submitted to His will, who holds my unknown fate.
My faith and belief in the One from whom I beg mercy.
My contentment affiliates with Him who is everywhere I go.
My eyes desperate to catch a glimpse of the One I feel everywhere, but see nowhere.
My head bows to His majesty and greatness, none dares to deny.
My day begins and ends praising Him, who’s worthy of every praise.
My secrets and facts are known to Him, who peeks inside my heart.
My sins and goofs are unknown to the world; He knows and keeps them hidden.
My success and failure, it is He who decides.
My thanks merely paid to Him, who absolves sinners like nobody else.
My God, my Lord, my Allah (swt), enlist me amongst those you love.

In The Dark, I See The Spark!

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In the dark, silent nights,

The pillow absorbs the warm tears that roll down my eyes.

The aches are still apparent.

The agony which tears apart every inch of my soul.

The memory of letting you down several times.

The hurt of giving priority to those other than you.

The burning feeling of cheating you.

The fear of becoming a hardened one.

The anguish of being lost and alone.

The shiver of spell bound heedlessness.

The denial of standing in front of you one day.

The nervousness of being accountable.

The pit in stomach when hear of your justice and anger.

The forgetfulness of daily obligatory prayers.

I cry and become restless for wasting one more day.

In dark, silent nights,

The pillow absorbs the warm tears that roll down my eyes.

I sob out of love for you Ya Rabbi.

I ask, I ask for Jannah like a stubborn child.

In the dark, silent nights,

I long for your pleasure.

I pray for steadfastness.

In the dark, silent nights,

The hope is still high-

As your blessing is more observant.

[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)

Taubah: Long Over Due

erasingmistakeRamadan is  a month filled with blessings from Allah (swt). Once this blessed month arrives, one realizes its importance. We are in need for spiritual rejuvenation and revival of  the heart with constant remembrance of Allah (swt). But why?

Because  little does our heart fear Allah’s (swt) wrath and little do we hope for Allah’s (swt) mercy upon us. We have a heart that doesn’t shed tears for the sake of Allah (swt) and that doesn’t yearn to meet its Creator.

Fast to heal your heart!

Why do we feel so numb when Allah’s (swt) words are recited to us or we read them. While secretly we long for tears or some expression of joy only to find ourselves unmoved by the Divine Discourse? Why? Why? Why? The answer lies in the verse of the Quran that mentions this purpose of fasting in Ramadan:

“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

We hear this verse over and over again; but in all honesty, for many of us it has lost its meaning. Ramadan comes and goes, but nothing changes. We are still inclined towards sins, still mindful of what the world thinks of us but not mindful of Allah’s (swt) commands.

Just imagine- if we were to become of the Al-Muttaqun after this Ramadan, how different we would be? Taqwa has many meanings: one of which is God Consciousness. To always know that Allah (swt) is Ever-Present and we are accountable for all our deeds. If we would always remember that Allah (swt) is watching us, how different would are actions be? Our priorities would change and sins would become disgusting and vulgar to us, as they deserve to be. But sadly, the fact is that sins are not disgusting to us anymore.

Flaunt or not?

Is it not true? We may openly talk about our sins and may flaunt them like they are accolades of the highest degree. Look at me! I am so bold. Where is this boldness when it comes to worshipping Allah (swt)? When it comes to spreading the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah? We feel shy and ashamed when it comes to doing what is right. We lose all vigour to please Allah (swt) like it’s the most tedious task in the world. Our heart doesn’t even want to consider the right choices; because it is afraid of those difficulties that lie ahead.

It is true that in this time and age, wrong doing has been made easy and attractive to us with slogans like “Flaunt it; if you got it!” and “Gotta have it!” We find ourselves swept in the whirlwind of human desires; where because of the lack of God consciousness, we are easily tempted to follow suit. So much talk of wrong doing and evil makes one’s headspin.

Is there any hope/solution?

Alhumdulillah yes! In Islam Allah (swt) gives us the best solutions to our problems.

While the world may not be willing to forgive our faults, our mistakes, Allah(swt) is Ghafoor-ur-Raheem (Most Forgiving ,Most Merciful) He not only forgives us, but is more than willing to forget; but only if we make true Taubah to him.

The moment is now. In these quiet and serene Ramadan days, let’s truly spend time analyzing ourselves and asking, “What sins have I done?

Gates wide open for repentance!

The kind of the Taubah that has been so encouraged in this month. While the devils are chained; let’s take a moment to contemplate:

While we were so busy pleasing our Nafs and being Shaytan’s partner in crime. What did we gain? It’s not a rocket science. We are weighed down by our sins; sins that we have been accumulating all year round. As a result, our hearts are numb up on the mention of Allah (swt) and we can’t motivate ourselves to do good deeds. We don’t fear Him like we should; in fact some of us satisfy ourselves saying: “Allah (swt) samajh jaeyga.” (Allah (swt) will understand)

The moment is now. In these quiet and serene Ramadan days, let’s truly spend time analyzing ourselves and asking, “What sins have I done?” In fact, make a list of all the bad things you can think of. It may be long before you can stop writing. Or maybe, you can’t even remember the many times you have repeated the same sin in different situations. Make sincere Taubah for each sin you remember and even for the ones you can’t. Ramadan in a golden opportunity for forgiveness:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and hope for reward, his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)

All that is required is to sincerely repent and pray to Allah (swt) for forgiveness. Truly Ramadan is such a blessed month. Let’s do the Taubah that is long overdue. Taubah that can help us finally be excited about doing good deeds; no matter how small they are. Taubah that makes us increase our sense of accountability in the court of Allah (swt) so that even when we slightly err, we do Taubah fearing Allah’s (swt) anger.

May Allah (swt) give us Taufiq to sincerely repent to Him and never go back to doing those wretched bad deeds ever again. Ameen.

Reconnecting with Ramadan

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Planning for RamadanO Ramadan, my friend, you are here. I sense peace and happiness as we re-connect again. I remember last year begging Allah to allow me to meet you in the coming year.

You are the month in which the Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind. Your spiritual aspects of Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer), reading the Quran, fasting, helping the poor by paying Zakat-ul-Fitr, and inviting others to break their fasts together soothes our hearts, develops compassion, and creates a spiritual atmosphere. We seek Laylat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in your last ten odd nights.

When you come, we fast during the day. Fasting means abstinence from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn till sunset. Many consider fasting to be an act of hardship but the truth is it teaches patience and perseverance, and it germinates a feeling of moral accomplishment. Certain individuals are exempted from fasting – they include the sick and the travellers. They can make up the days after Ramadan. Allah says in the Quran:

“[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Fasting is an act of obedience and submission to the Almighty Allah; its foundation is based upon love to gain His pleasure. This is why fasting enhances feelings of inner peace, optimism, and contentment. Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise the voice; if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him he should say: I am a person fasting. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgement than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two (occasions) of joy, one when he breaks the fast he is glad with the breaking of (the fast) and one when he meets his Lord he is glad with his fast.” (Muslim)

Fasting ‘shelters’ us from sins. The one who is fasting says: I am fasting – and becomes one of the righteous. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“Fasting is a shield; when one of you is fasting, he should neither behave in an obscene manner nor foolishly. If a man fights or abuses him, he should say: I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Abu Dawood)

O Ramadan, my friend whilst you are here, I pray to Allah (swt) to enable us to make the most of it.

I Stole the Quran

Quran-550x412May 21, 2014

Dear Diary,

I enjoyed a lot today. Can you believe it? I picked five pockets in a row! Besides earning cash, I got a Ligne Lighter. Who’s going to smoke in Victorian style? No prizes for guessing… ha ha. Hey I also got a Badollet wristwatch that I had always dreamed of. I got two cellular phones, too. I left them on the bench nearby. Don’t want to get tracked for something not so tempting. If they were S5, I would have thought of a way of keeping them. Leave it. Hey, Diary, you know I also found some private photos! I will use them for blackmailing! Hurray for me! I am Musa. Ehm, ehm! Anyways, I am dead tired now. Ate three zinger burgers and drank two cans of Coke, too.  Want to sleep now. What the heck! I forgot to get sleeping pills. They finished yesterday. My eyes never coordinate with my tired body! Blast… I’ve got to go to the pharmacy now. Bye!

May 22, 2014

Dear Diary,

Yeah! Today was another awesome day. Went on rides, had buffet at “Marriot”, did some shopping. Enjoyed a lot! Yesterday’s cash is enough for two- three days but wanted to do something nasty out of nature. So, I picked pocket of a gentleman. Did I just write ‘gentleman’? Whoa! No one is gentle in this world. They leave planet Earth so soon! This world doesn’t let them live. I prefer being cunning. Hey YOLO (you only live once)! Get all your dreams come true here only, so you don’t have to aspire for more. Who has seen the next world? Hey, did I mention that I played cat-and-mouse with a few girls? Ha-ha. Nice game; will play that more often. I think today two pills won’t work. My body has learned to resist their effect. Whatever! Bye!

May 23, 2014

Oh Diary,

You’d be angry, why I didn’t write to you at our promised time of midnight. Sorry and please don’t be angry. You are the only one I’ve got to share my feelings with. I’ll try my best to write at our promised time. Dear Diary, today I am really sad. I know it is half past two, but still I don’t want to take sleeping pills. I am wondering, who my parents were. I am mentally so tired of all this. I don’t even know exactly what I mean by ‘all this’. I am unable to understand myself. Ah!  I am tired of running after my wish of having lot of wealth, bullying, harassing girls, pick pocketing. In a nutshell, I am tired of being bad. I didn’t pick any pocket today. I went for a stroll in the park. I don’t know what happened – I just sat there, staring at the families. Don’t I deserve a family? I mean, why can’t I steal a family? Not only that, but I feel there is another void inside me that nothing in this world can fill. I mean, not money, family or anything. It has something to do with my inner self… something within me. “Oh, my Creator, fill that void within me!” Did I say ‘Creator’? Diary, what’s going on with me? I need to go out for a stroll. Bye!

May 24, 2014

Dear Diary,

I know, I know! I am writing to you in the morning. But I’ve got so much to tell you. I couldn’t wait for the night. Diary, did I tell you yesterday that I was going out for a stroll? Wait a minute; let me check. So, yeah, I did. Yesterday, I strolled by the Lake Superior for two hours. I was a little at peace finally. I felt hungry, but I had forgotten my wallet at home. I didn’t have a penny in my pockets either. I saw a man sitting on a bench. I saw him as bait. I had promised myself that I would not pickpocket out of habit or luxury while strolling. But at that time I was hungry and picking pocket was necessary.

So I headed towards my bait and sat down on the bench near him. The man’s eyes were closed. He was handsome… not so-called cool like other men but elegant. He had a beard and great magnetic force. I got attracted to him. I didn’t want to pickpocket him. I decided to take just the money for a meal. I called him to make sure he was asleep. Yes he was. I slowly, took out the wallet. As I pulled my hand out of his pocket, he opened his eyes. I quickly put his wallet in my pocket. He felt his pocket with his hand slightly. I noticed it with my sharp eyes. To my utmost surprise, he didn’t say anything!

“Hi, Dude! What you’re doin’ up so late?” He patted my back, as if he was my old friend!

“Oh, n… n… nothing, just strolling,” I stammered.

We talked. I learned he had a night job. That was his day off. He asked me about my family, friends and studies. I felt him taking pity on me.

“Dinner?” he asked.
“No! No!” I instantly denied, out of fear he would find out his wallet was missing. I thought he was staring at me.

“We both are hungry,” he said jokingly, eyeing me. That man was strange. He took out his wallet from the front pocket! “I won’t ask you to pay,” he smiled teasingly.

“Okay,” I gave up and let the man play with me.

We had wonderful dinner. Then he bought me beautiful joggers like he wore and told he wore them when jogging, and that they were great! He was so loving and friendly. “Oh God! Time flies by with a friend!” he said looking at his watch. “Where do you live?” I told him the area. “We have to part from here.” He gave me his card. “Keep in touch,” he added smiling. Man, he looked so lively. I wanted to return what I had taken. But I didn’t dare. Anyway, I had a beautiful night.

Diary, the first thing I did after reaching my apartment was to check out his wallet. I took it out. To my surprise it was a small book with zip cover. I opened the zip. It was a copy of the Quran with translation! I was taken aback. A sacred book! I slowly started reading it in the respect of the man, who had made me feel so important. “In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. All praises and thanks be to Allah, the lord of the Alameen (all that exists).”

‘Including you,’ a voice told me from within. I continued: “The most Gracious, the most Merciful. The only Owner of the day of Recompense. You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help (in each and everything).” My eyes filled up. “Guide us to the straight path,” I read this verse again and again. I was weeping. “The way of those on whom you have bestowed your Grace and not of those who earned your anger…” I shivered.

Dear Diary,

I read the book throughout the night, tears flowing down my face… tears of regret for the past and happiness in finding the right path. The void has filled up now. I am going to meet that man again today. I have been a bad person. I’ve got to destroy you now. My diary, full of sins, is not worth reading. It’s a diary of a bad person. I pray my book of deeds on the Day of Resurrection be entirely different.

Bye, forever.

Starting Afresh!

My happiness knew no bounds!
My heart wouldn’t stop to pound!

I caught this lady and said, “I was in!”
My tears couldn’t be controlled within!

It was an unbelievable achievement!
It left me shaking in bewilderment!

My sins started to occur in my mind!
My thoughts were set to ‘rewind’!

I held that lady and told her that I was selected!
How else could I thank Allah (swt), for my sinful soul He hadn’t rejected!

While in Rukoo, I burst into tears again,
When came Sajood, my consciousness I couldn’t regain!

I thanked Him, I laughed, I smiled,
Like a little baby, that day I cried,

I couldn’t believe my fate,
I had been chosen – so what if late?

Such is the mercy of Allah (swt) beyond comprehension!
Human errs and errs again, yet He gives you attention!

It only takes sincere intention and heartfelt Du’a,
He runs towards you, when you walk towards Allah (swt)!

Oh, Allah (swt), please make this journey easy for me,
May I benefit from it and spread the message of Thee,

Ya Rabb, please forgive me and cleanse me of my sins!
I want to start afresh, as my journey towards Quran begins!

Aameen.

(Note from the author: This poem is an effort to express my feelings on getting admission in the Taleem Al-Quran course, 2015. Alhamdulillah!)

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?”

A Shift in Focus – From ‘Them’ to ‘Me’

beforeWeek after week, sitting on the floor in reverent silence, enthralled by the eloquence of the woman gracefully perched on the couch, delivering a Dars (Islamic lecture), I was utterly mesmerized by the powerful message of the Book of Allah (swt). Satisfaction and pleasure would fill me up when Allah (swt) would address with pride ‘those who believed and did good deeds’. However, relief and something close to smugness would enter my conscience when hypocrites and non-believers were reprimanded. And this gave a head start to my journey towards a better understanding of my Deen.

Needless to say, I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others. I would think of others whenever a sin would be mentioned in the Quran or Hadeeth, and congratulate myself for even the minimum that I was doing. This thought of major self-deception makes me quiver. But Allah (swt) saved me with His Absolute Mercy.

I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others.

“… And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…” (Al-Imran 3:103)

Today, I marvel at myself as to how could I be so self-righteous when I was committing a number of sins myself. On one hand, I would justify a few sins as being minor and on the other hand delude myself that shunning the others was not in my capacity. I kept blaming external factors and features of the hour as culprits for my transgressions.

Alhumdullillah now, things have changed to a great extent. I do not know when this process actually began, for it happened gradually. It was definitely nothing great in my person that brought about this ‘shift in focus’. But it was purely Allah’s (swt) mercy and guidance that He has promised for those who take that first step towards His path.

“…Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light (Prophet Muhammad) and a plain Book (this Quran). Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Maida 5:15-16)

By the Mercy of my Rabb, now when I read Quran or hear any Hadeeth, my first thought is ‘Am I being talked about?’ My heart gets a little flip and I like to believe it is the flip of ‘Taqwa’, even though I know I am too far from being a Muttaqi. I earnestly start pondering upon my conduct whether consciously or sub-consciously I indulge in that wrongdoing or not. If I am not doing it, then relief washes over me. And if I am guilty, then the urge to resolve that problem fills my heart and incites me to change my ways. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not, sometimes I fall back into the same sin again, and repent, and the circle continues.

Perhaps, staying on the straight path is a grueling process because we cannot achieve a certain level of Iman and Amal, unless we maintain it by putting in countless efforts throughout our lives.

As our Prophet (sa) said: “The Qalb (heart) had been named so because of its inconstancy. The heart is like a feather hanged on a tree where the wind flips it side to side” (Al-Jami). Hence, in order to keep the heart steady on faith and good deeds, the tools to be used are hard work and constant reminders.

Alhumdullillah, I feel blessed that Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, has now given me the sight to see my own faults rather than those of others. The focus has shifted from ‘them’ to ‘me’ and it has greatly transformed the way I think and act.

this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me.

The best thing is that I can feel the effects of this ‘shift in focus’ in every aspect of my life. It is almost as if the ‘ego’ has taken a back seat and broadened my vision about life in general and myself in particular. Earlier if something would happen against my wishes or if I faced criticism and censure, I would get defensive. In cases where I could not react or defend myself, I would plunge deep in the mire of self-pity and harbour resentments against others. Whereas now, I examine critically what had occurred, and try to see where I was at fault in the situation. I do this because I genuinely want to rectify my mistakes and improve my character for the sake of Allah (swt). My heart truly believes that I will be held responsible for my actions on the Day of Judgement, and it is not just a theory anymore.

Moreover, this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me. For besides rectification of my errors which many a times caused conflicts in the first place, Allah (swt) has bestowed upon me the gift of tolerance and acceptance of the shortcomings and faults of my loved ones.

Equipped with this new ‘focus’ and a new zeal, I strive daily through the tests and trials that life throws in my way: Zeal to make myself a better person, a better Muslim, and zeal to accept, love and forgive others; for I hope Insha’Allah Allah (swt) would be pleased with my efforts and endeavours on the Day of Judgement. I wanted to share this with you as this new ‘focus’ has brought much ease in my life and I pray that Allah (swt) give all of us the right focus in our lives and correct our affairs Here and Hereafter. Ameen