The Fog Does Go Away One Day

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Inhibiting clarity, it hides the reality

As fog, deceit attempts to fade actuality

The liar for a while takes refuge through it

Forgetful of the consequent falls into a dreadful pit

Destined is the sun to soon clear the entire way

This has to happen today or some other day

The fog does go away one day

Leaving the liar’s life blue and gray

Futile is it to find contentment with lies

When in the end the truth is destined to rise.

Answer to the Call of Guidance

al-quranSurah Al-Baqarah, also known as the peak of the Quran, answers the call of guidance that a believer seeks in Surah Fatihah. With a challenging beginning, it highlights many significant issues.

Prove to Muhammad’s (sa) Prophethood

The Surah starts with the letters Alif-Laam-Meem. These are just letters of the Arabic language and when joined together they do not make any specific word. That is in itself a proof to the prophethood of Muhammad (sa). Prophet Muhammad (sa) was unlettered. An unlettered person can speak words of his language, but he is not able to pronounce and speak the letters of that language. The Jewish community in Madinah, at the time of the Prophet (sa), considered themselves to be highly educated compared to the people of Makkah. Prophet (sa) being born in Makkah, and known to be unlettered, was calling people to Allah’s (swt) religion and using a language that even the educated ones among them could not compete with. That was a clear proof that Muhammad (sa) was receiving a revelation, and that the verses in the Quran were not his own words.

Quran- The Ultimate Truth

In the second verse, Allah (swt) first speaks about a basic, and yet very important belief; to believe that the Quran is without any doubt. That is, a person believes that whatever is in the Book is from Allah (swt) the All-knowing, Who knows what is visible and what is hidden, what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. He even knows what is in the heart of a person. Nothing is hidden from Him. A person must believe that whatever Allah (swt) has revealed for His servant is definitely perfect for him.

if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth

We must believe that if Allah (swt) has said that in His Messenger is a perfect example, then no matter what advances the science makes, or how modern the world gets- indeed the way of the Messenger is still the best, and will always remain the best. An example of not having doubt in Allah’s (swt) Book is that if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth and we are still doubtful about it. In short, our actions will determine our belief.

In the second part of this verse, Allah (swt) says that Quran is guidance for those who have Taqwa. This means that not everyone who reads and understands the book of Allah (swt) will get guidance. Today, we see Quran being used for many purposes. Some read it to make scientific discoveries, others use it for amulets, and some others use it to recite at the graves of the pious, hoping they would get help in their matters from the dead people as they are closer to Allah (swt). Hence, not every who reads the Quran is guided, but guidance is for the pious- those who fear Allah (swt) and want to take guidance from His Book.

May Allah (swt) make us among those who read and understand His book purely for His sake. May He guide us to the straight path, and keep us firm on His religion till our last breath. Ameen.

Part 2 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

lightMy father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became an ordained minister in the 1970’. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were also strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggy and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson. Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly.

In 1991, he began doing business with a man in Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. Then my father mentioned that this man was a “Moslem.” I couldn’t believe my ears. A Moslem, no way! I reminded dad of the various things we had heard about these people, how they are terrorists, hijackers, kidnappers, bombers and who knows what else! Not only that, but they don’t believe in God, kiss the ground five times a day, and worship a black box in the desert. My father insisted that I meet him, however, and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So I gave in and agreed to the meeting.

I was looking for a huge man with flowing robes and a big turban on his head, a beard halfway down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead. But this man had no beard. In fact, he didn’t have hair on his head at all; close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. It didn’t make sense. I thought Muslims were terrorists and bombers; what was this guy all about?

I decided to get the right to work on him. He needed to be “saved”, and the Lord and I were going to do it! I was winning souls to the Lord day after day, and this would be a big achievement for me – to catch one of these “Moslems” and convert him to Christianity.

I asked him, if he liked tea, and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject – beliefs. We talked about the concept of God, the meaning of life, the purpose of creation, the prophets and their mission, and how God reveals His will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas. Constantly on business trips, we became good friends.

One day, I came to know that my friend, Muhammad, was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with someone and would be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and suggested that we could invite Muhammad to our big home in the country and he could stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and expenses, and he would be there whenever we were ready to travel. My father agreed, and Muhammad moved in.

I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed.

One day, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I met a Catholic priest in a wheelchair, who seemed extremely depressed. The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for over twelve years in South and Central America, in Mexico and even in New York’s “Hell Kitchen.” When he was released from the hospital, he needed a place to recover. Rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I suggested my dad that we invite him to come and live with us in the country, along with our families and Muhammad. It was agreed to by all.

After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe Jimmy Swaggart’s Good News for Modern Man). The priest, of course, had the Catholic Bible (which has seven more books it than Protestant Bible). We spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct, than we did trying to convince Muhammad about becoming a Christian.

In the meantime, I had finally read the Quran in translation. I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed. He also let me know that the Quran had been memorized in its entirety by hundreds of thousands of people in many different countries. Over the centuries, millions have memorized it completely and taught it to others, letter perfect without mistakes.

This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original language of the Bible had been a dead language for centuries, and the original documents had long been lost.

One day, the priest asked Muhammad, if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about the experience, and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what types of ceremonies they had performed. He said they just prayed and left. I said, “They left without any speeches or singing?” He said that was right.

A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Muhammad, if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque. But this time, they did not come back for a very long while. It became dark and we got worried that something might have happened to them. When they finally came in the door, I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

So I went upstairs to think about things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the subject. She then told me that she too, was thinking to enter Islam, because she knew it was the truth. I was really shocked then. I went downstairs and woke up Muhammad and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through. By the time he was ready to pray the morning prayer, I knew that the truth had become clear at last and then it was up to me to do my part. Behind my father’s house, I found an old piece of plywood and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction, in which Muslims pray five times a day.

In that position, with my head on the ground, I prayed, “O God, if You are there, guide me, guide me.” After a while, I raised my head and noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights or flashes. What I noticed was a change inside me. I was aware then that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really worked at being honest and upright man. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was “washing” away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. I was now coming into a new, fresh life – a life based on truth and proof.

Around 11:00 a.m. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest (formerly known as Father Peter Jacobs) and the other Muhammad Abdul Rahman, and announced my Shahadah (testimony to the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa)). A few minutes later, my wife followed suit and gave the same testimony.

My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months, before he made his commitment. But he did finally accept Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local mosque. My father’s wife was the last to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God, but that he was a mighty prophet of God.

Our children were taken out of Christian school and placed in Islamic schools. And now, ten years later, they were memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.

If I were to stop here, I’m sure you would have to admit that this is an amazing story. But it is not all. The same year I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee who came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while being in Baptist Seminary College! There were others as well. I recall the case of Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was compelled to ask him why he didn’t enter Islam. He replied, “What? And lose my job?” His name was Father John, and there is hope for him yet.

The very next year, I met a former Catholic priest, who had been a missionary for eight years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and embraced it. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas, Texas. Two years later while in San Antonio, Texas, I was introduced to a former Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia, who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it, from amongst Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians, non- denominational churches and even scientists who had once been atheists. Why? Because they all became aware of the truth. I suggest to any seeker of truth the following:

  • Open your mind, heart and soul.
  • Clear away all prejudices and biases.
  • Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the language you understand the best.
  • Take time.
  • Read and reflect.
  • Think and pray.
  • Continue asking the One who created you to guide you to the truth.
  • Keep this up for a few months and be regular in it.
  • Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while you are in this state of “rebirth of the soul.”

The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the universe. If you truly love Him, then He already knows it, and He will deal with each of us according to what is in our hearts.

May Allah (swt) guide you on your journey to truth. And may He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life. And peace to you and guidance from Allah (swt), the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer, of all that exists.

Source: “An Undeniable Fact – Prominent Church People Enter Islam” by Dr. Abdurahim bin Mazher Al- Malki. Excerpt printed by permission of the publisher Dar Abul-Qasim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (           

Understanding Surah Asr – 2

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

How scholars define Asr?

Ibn Abbas (ra) says that “Asr” refers to the different ages of different nations. Allah (swt) is talking about human history as a proof that human beings are in loss. Ibn Kisan says that “Asr” refers to the night and the day. Hasan Al Basri says this is the time from late day to sunset, signifying the end of an era; we should know that we are on the verge of death. Qatada says it’s the last part of the day. Another Mufassir says that it means the time of Asr prayer; the busiest time of the day. Asr refers to time; all of it.

Be the change to bring a change!

The time you’re supposed to change for the better, this is implied in Asr. A lot of your days are exactly the same. If you can change one part of your day, you’ve transformed your life. We change at the death of a person, or in Ramadan; but then we go back to our old ways. For example, you know you have to reach your workplace at 9 a.m, no matter what, no negotiation; you’ll do it, or you’ll lose your job. Similarly, if you are convinced that certain behaviours will lead to loss, changing your life becomes easy. This is why the first thing that is mentioned is “belief”. If your boss comes into the office and says, “Every single employee over here is in trouble, I swear to you!” Will you take it casually? In this world, there must be a sense of urgency.

Choice is NOT yours – It’s all or none!

Sometimes, the boss gives you tasks you’re really good at. Sometimes you get tasks you don’t like doing. If you decide to do only two out of four, decide not to even touch the other two tasks, thinking that the first two being done excellently will compensate for the other two not being done, what do you think the boss’s reaction will be? So when Allah (swt) sets out four conditions, and we say, “we should work on our faith, do some good deeds, this other stuff is not for me, it’s for the speakers and Dawah workers.” If you’re picking and choosing, you are also in loss. It’s all or nothing.

You don’t need to memorize the whole Quran to change your life. Just start with Surah Asr!

Humankind is in loss

“Inna” is used to talk to people who are in doubt about what you are saying. Rhetorically, it is used to remove doubt; the doubt already exists. You’d think this was addressed to disbelievers; but Allah (swt) has addressed all humanity, “Illa” at the end conveys that it includes all humanity.

“Insan” comes from “Nisyan” i.e. “forgetfulness”. The word “Insan” is used here to refer to our forgetfulness, and also to refer to each of us as individuals. If someone specifies a person individually, that person pays more attention.

This is a noun-based sentence “Jumla Ismiya”, which is stronger than a verb-based sentence. The word “Insan” is presented as “Al-Insan” i.e. with emphasis. It is not “the human being is a loser” or “has lost”, it is “in loss”. He is immersed in loss. Someone being a loser is one thing, but by using the preposition “Fi” the meaning of constantly being in that state is given. The translation doesn’t even begin to cover the rage and the terror embedded in this verse.

Truth and patience cure doubts and temptations

There is the meaning of “delusion” in “Khusr” i.e. humans are deceiving themselves. “La fi Khusr” means that mankind sets itself up for a vicious end, the kind of end people don’t want. Ibn Taimiyyah comments, “Humanity is kept from accepting the truth of this Deen by two obstacles, doubts and temptations.” When you ask someone to accept Islam, you’re asking them to give up a lot of things. Someone says, “I can’t give up the life of partying.” He can’t give up his temptation, even though he has no doubts. Most people are caught in temptations, even if they give the excuse that they are in doubt. They cover up their desires by making intellectual arguments. Truth and patience mentioned in this Surah are the cures for doubts and temptations.

Humans are so preoccupied with their personal problems that they fail to see the larger picture. They fail to see the problems lying ahead. They think they are in loss in this world, but that is nothing compared to the loss that is coming. They fail to see the signs in the creation of Allah (swt). Financial and health problems are nothing compared to the problem of faith. That’s a much bigger problem.

Breakthrough anxiety, fear and despair

Human beings have more suffering than animals. In addition to physical suffering, we also have psychological suffering. In this Surah, Allah (swt) doesn’t just give us relief from the loss of the hereafter, but from the loss of this world; freedom from anxiety, depression, fear and despair.

You should remember that the entire Surah is linguistically one statement.

The entire society has headed to the way of loss. The ones, who are not the losers, are considered strange because they practice Islam.

United we stand, divided we fall!

When Allah (swt) mentions the loss of the human being, the human being is being addressed singularly. This is because when the time comes to face the consequences of your actions, you will be all alone. However, when Allah (swt) mentions the four exceptions, He uses the plural. This means that the ones who are successful, find success in teamwork, good company, counsel, reminder, Salah (prayer) and Jamaa (congregation).

Do you know the taste of faith?

In this verse, Allah (swt) doesn’t mention any qualifications of faith. How are you supposed to know what faith tastes like? The fruit of faith is tranquility. If you have faith, you know that this world is temporary, and compared to what Allah (swt) has in the hereafter, is nothing. You are at peace with your life whether you are old or young, healthy or ill.

The word “Assaalihaat” (good) is an adjective, which requires a noun. The Arabic says just “good”, not “good deeds”, but it is implied. The form of the adjective is such that it conveys the doing of a few, countable good deeds. The main obligations are few. Then there are things that embellish your life as a Muslim; the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). There are a few things that you should definitely do, and there are a few things that you should not do. Everyone knows those things.


Understanding Surah Asr – 1

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

“By Al-Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Maruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd).”

Why is humankind in loss?

The central aspect of this Surah is “Khusr” i.e. loss. The previous Surah (Surah Takasur) discussed the people wanting to accumulate more and more, and this Surah discusses the reality, that people are actually in loss. The overwhelming theme of this Surah is warning; that is negative reinforcement. Humans are created in the best of forms; they are qualified to be successful, so then why are they in loss? Allah (swt) mentions four things in the end. The last two things are both actions, to enjoin the truth and to enjoin perseverance. Then Allah (swt) mentions faith and good deeds. He could have mentioned anything, like Zakat, but He mentions truth and patience. Why is it critical to mention these actions? Let’s analyze.

Surah Asr is Islam (in a nutshell)!

The only people who are the exception are the ones who do all the above four mentioned things. A famous quote by Fakhruddin Ghazi regarding this Surah, “In this verse, there is an intense, severe warning that is filled with a promise, because in this verse Allah (swt) declared utter loss against all humanity, except for the one who comes to Allah (swt) with these four things. The language illustrates that salvation hangs in the balance of these four conditions.” In many ways, this Surah is a summary of the Quran and Islam.

Success or Survival?

In this Surah, there is no mention of reward. No mention that “these people will get everlasting Jannah.” It demarcates between the people who fail and those who pass. This Surah does not talk about higher levels of success. It describes the bare minimum, the bottom line. So this Surah is not about success, it’s about survival; about escaping Hell, not earning Paradise. When your survival is being questioned, you forget everything else. If you’re drowning, for example, there is no time for you to talk about success. If you’re talking to your boss about promotion in the office, and there’s a fire alarm, you won’t stop in the office to finish discussing your promotion; that won’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense for someone to talk about anything other than survival, if they’re not meeting the bare requirements for survival.

This Surah does not talk about higher levels of success. It describes the bare minimum, the bottom line.

This Surah proves that being good on your own, is not enough. Islam is about living with and for other people. Imam Shafi (ra) said, “If people only reflected on this Surah, it would encompass them.” It would be enough for them. “If this was the only thing that was revealed, it would have been enough.” What is in this Surah that made him say that?

Whenever the companions would meet, they would not leave each other without reciting Surah Asr to each other. Why? They felt this is something extremely important to remind each other of constantly.

We should never lose sight of the fact that Allah (swt) is talking to us like someone who is concerned about us would talk to us. Talking about this Surah is easy, internalizing it is very difficult.

Survival is interdependent

If you’re drowning and you’re unconscious, what do you need to survive? You need to wake up. Once you wake up, you realize that you’re drowning. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you will move every muscle in your body to move towards the surface. Once you reach the surface, you are pulled back down, because your leg is tied to a chain which is tied to your drowning cousin. You need to wake up your cousin to save yourself. Maybe you don’t even like your cousin. But you wake him up. Then you are pulled down by your unconscious grandmother. You need to wake her up. Your survival depends on each other.

To survive, you have faith, due to which you do good. You tell people about the truth, and you remain patient, because it’s a time consuming and draining process.

When we want to hurry through the prayer, which Surah do we recite? Surah Asr. What do we have hanging on the wall next to our TVs and our game consoles? Surah Asr. See the irony.

Allah (swt) oath must grab attention!

This is one of the Surahs that begins with Allah (swt) taking an oath. Whatever Allah (swt) swears by is grand and magnificent, demanding reflection. Allah (swt) is bringing time as a witness to the tragedy of the human being.

“Asr” literally means “time that is running out”. It comes from “Aseer”, juice that is squeezed out. The time for Asr prayer is when the daytime is ending.

If one really has faith, the next three things are bound to happen. If those things don’t happen, what is missing? Faith.

Faith- Most wanted!

If you are truly doing good, it is impossible for you to keep it to yourself. When you enjoin good, you will encounter people who respond to you and people who hate you for what you have to say, and for the haters you need patience.

When a decent human being comes across a dispute, the first thing he will do is to seek out the truth. When he has discovered the truth, he must take action according to the truth. It may be that when he finds the truth, he does not like what he finds. However, he must stand by the truth.

Now, when he sees other people doing wrong—in our society we have the “mind your own business” policy. However, that is not the way of the Prophets. Otherwise, Islam would just be confined to saying prayers and doing Dhikr (remembrance of Allah (swt)). Islam began as, “Arise and warn!” (Al-Muddatthir 74:2).When you want to stand up for justice, you think, “I know I shouldn’t do it, but I don’t have the guts to tell people not to do it.” People who act on their beliefs, stick to their beliefs, are known as “heroes”. Like Martin Luther King. His days are celebrated; this is a process of decency that people respect. The struggle of such human beings is commendable, but it is just a part of the truth, not the entire truth. We, Muslims, have the entire truth. How much more convinced and willing should the believer be to stand up for Islam? We should compete with the disbelievers with patience and perseverance.

Further reading and viewing:

8-minute illustrated explanation of Surah Asr [Nouman Ali Khan Collection]:

The concept of time in Hadeeth [Productive Muslim article]:

A message from myself to the Quran [I Got it Covered article]:

[To be continued Insha Allah..]

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 1

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

“Remind!” for reminder has benefits

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

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

What goes around, comes around

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

Mock at your own risk

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

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

This world – a temporary abode

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

Turn a deaf ear to the fools

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

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

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

Advocate the truth

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

Rags or riches – living with humility is the key

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

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

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

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

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

Equality rules

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

Meet and greet

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

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

A person is judged by the company he keeps

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

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

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