Cherish before you Lose: Health and Free Time

On_TimeHealth is wealth

Today, we would like to talk about something very important- something we take for granted; and this is why RasulAllah (sa) has warned about it as well. Many of us have good health, thank Allah (swt) for it. We should use it to achieve the pleasure of the Almighty.

  • Your eyes, you can see with. There might come a day when you cannot see. Read the proper books; read that which will be beneficial. Look at that which will help you. Don’t look at that which will make you earn the wrath of Almighty.
  • The same applies to your hands- today you can move them, so move them to achieve the pleasure of the Almighty. Tomorrow, you may not have that mobility. Today, Masha’Allah we can walk, we can read Salah; people are crying because they cannot read Salah as they reach to an age when they cannot bend their backs anymore, or they cannot do Rukuh, or they cannot do Sujud.

Why is it that we sometimes become oblivious of the gift of health? Really, the gift of health is a gift that many of us take for granted. Some people cannot eat a lot of the food stuff, so when we can eat, let’s eat in moderation. Thank Allah (swt). Say the prayer before eating and after eating as well. Let’s make sure we eat from that which is permissible and Allah (swt) will not be upset by it.

What is important that we realize that our organs inside operate automatically. They have no batteries; no human being has a remote control in his hand. It’s the control of Allah (swt). The heart pumps in a magical way. More than a hundred thousand heartbeats in no time Subhan’Allah! It is just that control of Allah (swt).

Then, look at the brain. How sophisticated it is. Look at the ears, the mouth, the lips and the tongue and its taste buds. How medicine and science is discovering new things every single day. This is all the gift of Allah (swt). We have it, but still we don’t thank Allah (swt) for it. We don’t use it in the right direction. We, as believers, know that it will come to an end. I might not be able to see with my eyes one certain day as we all have to die. I have to return to Allah (swt), Alhumdulillah. I have to return back to my Creator, Maker. So let’s use his gifts in order to please him not to displease him.

Many people are becoming conscious of it. We have the voice, let’s try and recite the Quran. Whilst we can, let us try Insha’Allah, to do the best of things.

Time is precious

Another thing we take for granted is time. We have free time. People use it to watch television and see the soaps. And, you know the soaps wash. What do they wash? Your brain! May be we can spend our time to watch beneficial programs. Or spend time at the Masjid and listen to the Duroos that the Ulema, scholars or Mashaykh give. May be we can spend time and sit in Halaqa. We can spend time rectifying and learn something from the Quran. It might not be directly related to religion. If a person has free time, and he can opt to improve his hand writing and do a course in calligraphy; do something that will benefit you somehow. You can use that talent not just to earn little bit of money, but even by the will of Allah (swt), to build your Akhirah, to build your paradise. May Allah (swt) grant that to us.

It is important for us not to waste our time because as the Prophet (sa) has said, the two gifts that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us, many people take for granted. First one is health and second one is free time.

When there is free time, use it. Do not abuse it. Subhan’Allah! People sometimes say, “Oh I have got some free time, let me go to bed. I can go and sleep.” Are you depressed? If you are may be, you might think sleeping will help you. But it won’t. To be honest with you, we all need sleep. We all need a certain amount of it. Sometimes, we need to correct ourselves. We need to develop a link with our Maker. In order to understand that we have a short space of time, to pack in it as much goodness as we can before time and our health expires.

These two things are definitely going to go because even if I die as a healthy person, I am dead. When I die, what happens? My health is irrelevant, completely irrelevant.

Even time will definitely come to an end.

May the Almighty bless us all, and may He make us use our time whilst we have it in the best possible way. Ameen.

A transcription of a talk by Mufti Ismail Menk by Mariam Saeed.

The Pharaoh, his Helper and the rich man

In Surah Qasas, Allah (swt) relates the story of Korah (Qarun), “Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. When his people said to him: “Do not be glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours). Verily! Allah likes not those who are glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours).” (Qasas 28:76)

The Surah begins with the story of Musa (as) and Pharaoh, followed by Haman, who is Pharaoh’s Army Chief and ends with Qarun’s tale of worldly riches. As in other stories, we do not know the time and place of where the events took place specifically, and so those details are not important. This story is narrated exactly as my grandmother told me many years ago.

Nani Jan (grandmother) talked to me because I had been given a warning from school about skipping class: Beta (child), you will always be known by the company you keep.

Me: What do you mean? Am I not accountable only for what I do?

Nani Jan: Yes, you are – but what you do is always influenced by who your friends are. Let me tell you a story of a tyrant king, his army chief and a rich man from his court.

Me: Oh, this sounds very interesting. I would love to be rich and buy whatever I want. No need to collect pocket money to buy treats.

Smiling a gentle, wise smile my grandmother started: Once upon a time there was a great nation, but it had its roots in evil, slavery and oppression. The king was called Firawn, and he forced his subjects to call him God. He enslaved an entire nation of people called the Israelites, and forced them to do whatever he commanded. His power was absolute in his kingdom, and no one dared challenge it. Firawn had helpers to maintain his power and evil. His biggest ally was his Army Chief – Haman. Haman used his physical strength, to oppress people and carry out his king’s orders of murder and injustice.

They also had a third partner, his name was Qarun. He was not of the people of Firawn, but he was from the slave race. Yet, due to his servitude to Firawn, he was rich and helped to subjugate his own people.


Most of the slaves were struggling for one meal a day and Firawn would kill the male babies and keep only the female babies alive. He would order Haman to abuse the slaves. The Israelites were believers in Allah (swt) and they told each other that Allah (swt) will surely send someone to help them against the evil Firawn.

As true believers, their heart never accepted doing the wrong thing – calling Firawn God, or oppressing others. They also never gave up hope of Allah (swt) saving them. These are signs of true Muslims. Even though, they could do nothing; they knew in their hearts that what Qarun was doing was a sin. Their test was long and hard, but they knew that help was on the way.


Since, the rest of Qarun’s people were true believers, they warned him not to be arrogant. They told him to invest in the Akhirah (hereafter) and seek only Allah’s (swt) pleasure. But Qarun’s friends were Firawn and Haman, he wanted to be like them; hence, he did not listen to his well-wishers. He thought they were jealous.

“But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).” (Qasas 28:77)

So, Qarun was blind to his faults and told the people, “He said: “This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without account).” (Qasas 28:78)

Me: But Nani Jan, can I not spend my money on myself? Must I always give everything away? That is just not fair. I work hard to earn my pocket money.

Nani Jan: Beta, Islam teaches us the best way, the moderate way. We can definitely use our portion of the wealth we have, but we must also remember to share with others. Be good to others as Allah (swt) has been good to you. So, when you see someone who might have more wealth and better things, thank Allah (swt) and know that it is a test.

Me: So, what happened next? Qarun was wealthy and he enjoyed his wealth. He was happy. What is so bad about that?

Nani Jan: Qarun, did not do anything to help others. In fact, he started to show his wealth off so others would feel sad and hopeless about what they did not have.

“So he went forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: Ah, would that we had the like of what Qarun (Korah) has been given? Verily! He is the owner of a great fortune.” (Qasas 28:79)

“But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The Reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth).” (Qasas 28:80)

Qarun was Dunya-centric. He did not care about what Allah (swt) had commanded. His friends did not advise him to help others. He was occupied in pleasing his desires only. He thought, “I am smart and know how to create wealth, others are stupid. Allah (swt) has not given me all this. I have earned it by using my intelligence.” Qarun spread mischief by parading his wealth; his intention was to show others that he was better than them all. The significance of the heavy keys mentioned in the verse are not that he locked the wealth to keep it safe, but that wealth is a heavy burden- a difficult test from Allah (swt) for the true believer.

Qarun was Dunya-centric. He did not care about what Allah (swt) had commanded. His friends did not advise him to help others.

Now some people, who did not know better, wished they had what Qarun had. But Allah (swt) tests each of us in His own way. We must go beyond the appearance, and be patient in whatever our test is. It could be knowledge, wealth, fame, fortune, poverty etc.

“So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves.” (Qasas 28:81)

“And those who had desired (for a position like) his position the day before, began to say: “Know you not that it is Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it to whomsoever He pleases of His slaves. Had it not been that Allah was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! Know you not that the disbelievers will never be successful.” (Qasas 28:82)

Now, those who desired his wealth and position knew that it is only Allah (swt) Who gives and takes. Allah (swt) is the only One Who can decide what is right for you. People thanked Allah (swt) for not being as wealthy as Qarun, or as arrogant. They were convinced that only the Hereafter is the ultimate goal, and only the pious will have a good end.

“That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqun.” (Qasas 28:83)

“Whosoever brings good (Islamic Monotheism along with righteous deeds), he shall have the better thereof, and whosoever brings evil (polytheism along with evil deeds) then, those who do evil deeds will only be requited for what they used to do.”. (Qasas 28:84)

Oh Allah (swt), shield us from the wealth trap. We are not Qarun, we do not envy him. In fact, we do not want to be mentioned along with him. His is not the company we want to keep.

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

A Handful of Earth

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a very large train station. Young people, old people and children are all rushing past; they are all in a great hurry. They are all trying to get on the same train, because they will all be setting out on the same journey. Some have carefully packed all they own. They are unaware that they will not need any of it at the end of the journey. Some are bidding farewell to their families. They do not realize there can be no return at the end of the journey. We are just some of the millions of travelers who will board that same train when the time comes. We stand there and wait for the train that will take us off to our eternal lives in the Hereafter – a train that we shall one day have to board.

At the end of the journey lie death and angels to meet us. We all carry ledger books that we cannot see. If we think of that train trip as the brief life we spend in this world, then everything we do on that journey, all our sins and merit, is written down in fine detail in those ledgers. We may not be aware of it, but the angels carefully write down every word we say, every step we take, and all our sins and merit. The opening of those ledgers is the best of tidings for believers, because the believer has filled his brief lifetime with good deeds, worship and prayer. He realizes that death lies at the end of that journey, after which will begin the unending life of the Hereafter. That is why he stands before our Lord in submission and trust:

“Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand will say: “Take, read my Record!” “Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!” (Al-Haqqa 69:19-20)

Deniers, on the other hand, embark on that train journey with great joy and delight, since they are deceived by Satan into being caught up by this world. There is no training of the lower self on their journeys, no religious observances and no relying on and trusting in God; just living for the transitory joys of this world. Yet, the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

“And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed (in the right hand for a believer in the Oneness of Allah, and in the left hand for a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah), and you will see the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.), fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (Al-Kahf 18:49)

In fact, if you look, there is a huge crowd full of false and insincere souls all around at the station that millions of people are passing through. It is such a vast crowd that people become lost in it. They may see one another’s faces but forget to see the face of God. They value one another very much. What their spouses and friends say is of enormous importance to them. They become so caught up by the events of the day that everything they say revolves around this world. They talk about how they make money, how they put their children through the best schools, and how they accumulated wealth and possessions; yet, they do not know that they will have to leave all these behind at the stations they stop at. They do not know that all that awaits them at the end of the journey is God.

“So leave them in their error for a time. Do they think that We enlarge them in wealth and children, We hasten unto them with good things (in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter)? Nay, but they perceive not.” (Al-Muminun 23:54-56)

Believers, on the other hand, board that train with deep faith, submission and a sincere heart. They know that the journey is actually quite short. God will test them with difficulties and sickness in the brief life of this world, and they will respond to these tests with fortitude and goodness. Their journeys will be filled with good works, prayer and worship. They will also have to leave behind their wealth, possessions, spouses, friends and children at every stop because all that awaits them at the end of the line is the cold ground and a white shroud. Since they are aware of this, they have no passion for the life of this world; and realize that the life of this world is not a place for greed and desire. At the end of this journey, which they make with a sincere heart and deep faith, stands open the gates to the Gardens of Paradise to meet them.

“For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” (Al-Imran 3:136)

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)

It is a fact that not a single person will be able to avoid waiting at that station and boarding that train. All the people we value so much in the life of the world will board that train, and at the end of the journey, those millions of much-valued bodies will turn into a mere handful of earth. As those bodies all enter the ground at the end of the journey, the bones will fall apart and not a trace will remain of all those millions of people; all that will remain is the souls bowing in awe before our Lord and hoping for forgiveness.

“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Furqan 25:70)

“The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours), La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), to Him is the final return.” (Ghafir 40:3)

If People Could See Hell for Only a Few Minutes

Photo credit: Aztlek / iWoman / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Aztlek / iWoman / CC BY-SA

Imagine for a moment that life in this world had stopped. What if all the billions of people in the world could stand still and look at life in Hell for a few minutes? All the people in the U.S. stock exchanges; those shedding the blood of the innocent in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Syria; those cramming money into safe deposit boxes in European banks; people holding meetings in huge centers of business; those striving to perfect their bodies in gyms; those betraying the people closest to them for a tiny advantage in this world; those refusing to look their own brothers in the face because of disputes over their inheritance; those who become caught up in the life of this world and forget the hereafter, and those who dedicate themselves to having a good time…

Have you ever wondered how these people looking at the life of Hell for just a few minutes would react? At that moment, those people would realize that there is an absolute end to the life of this world and that real life will in fact begin after death. The screen of heedlessness between the life of this world and the Hereafter will be lifted. And with death, people will see how hollow the life of this world is and how everything they so desired, all their money, possessions, husbands and wives, friends and careers will be left behind; everyone will suddenly fall silent, their hearts in their mouths. People eating will be unable to swallow, people speaking will be unable to finish what they are saying, people standing will have to sit down, people walking on the streets will fall down and people lying down will leap to their feet in excitement. Everyone, without exception, will see that there is no place in Hell for all the wealth, delights, luxury homes, yachts and everything else that people yearn for in this world.

“Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell, he will burn therein disgraced and rejected ( far away from Allah’s (swt) Mercy).” (Al-Isra 17:18)

What about those people who turn their backs on their brothers for the sake of money, who strive throughout their lives to pile one fortune on top of another, and refuse to spend that money for God’s approval? And what about those who do not feed the hungry, who do not protect the orphaned, and who spend their wealth on foul things instead? Will they not realize when they see Hell that all their money is of no value at all?

Money is only valid in the life of this world; it is of no use in Hell, even if one was the richest person in the world. Position is of no use either, even if one was once the most important person in the world. Even the most powerful friends and relatives in this world are of no use there. God reveals in the Quran that when people see the torments of Hell, they would want to pay a ransom to avoid it.

Money is only valid in the life of this world; it is of no use in Hell, even if one was the richest person in the world.

“For those who answered their Lord’s Call is Al-Husna (i.e. Paradise). But those who answered not His Call (disbelieved in the Oneness of Allah and followed not His Messenger Muhammad (sa)), if they had all that is in the earth together with its like, they would offer it in order to save themselves (from the torment, it will be in vain). For them there will be the terrible reckoning. Their dwelling place will be Hell; – and worst indeed is that place for rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:18)

What about people fighting all across the world, those raining bombs down on the innocent, those ruthlessly driving wretched women and children from their homes, those spreading evil for the sake of land or oil or gold or diamonds, those who fall out because of self-interest and those who incite civil strife and then watch from a distance? When these people see that there is an end to this world and look at Hell for just a few minutes, will they still continue fighting and slaughtering? Of course not!

At the moment, as required by the test, there is an invisible screen between us and Paradise and Hell. It is such a heavy screen that nobody without faith, who does not know that this world ends in the Hereafter and who imagines that life consists solely of the life of this world can lift it for even a moment- that is why everything seems so important in this world for these people. Such people strive to claim their little share of this world at the expense of the eternal life of the Hereafter.

However, there is no such screen of heedlessness for the believer who turns to God with a sincere heart between the life of this world and the Hereafter. The believer has filled his heart with love and awe of God. He has dedicated his life to God.

The believer lives with deep faith during the life of this world, he knows that he is on the very shores of Paradise and Hell. That knowledge shapes his entire life.

“He says, “Say (O Muhammad (sa): Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Anam 6:162) and continues on that same straight path.

There is no need for him to see Hell with his own eyes to believe in it. He sees it with his heart, since he already believes in it. In living with a deep faith during the life of this world, he knows that he is on the very shores of Paradise and Hell. That knowledge shapes his entire life.

“Nay! You shall come to know! Again, Nay! You shall come to know!

Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldly things) Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)!

And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight! Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!” (At-Takathur 102:3-8)

Hell happily swallows up the unbelievers, while the gates of Paradise will open wide for believers. Believers will then have an absolute and certain faith in the Hereafter without yet seeing it and they will receive the reward for their sincerity for all time. There is no greater reward for a servant, of course, than God’s approval and love. A life spent with awareness and faith and reason will be fixed for all time in Paradise.

“Their reward with their Lord is ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity), underneath which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever, Allah Well-Pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord.” (Al-Bayyinah 98:8)

Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 13

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Yogendra174 / Foter / CC BY

Essence of Dhikr

What does Dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah (swt)) entail? Some people confine this to the act of doing Tasbeeh such as: uttering Subhan’Allah and Alhumdulillah. Dhikrullah means to keep Allah (swt) in our thoughts all the time; bearing in mind that He is watching us. One should remember Him by his tongue, his heart and keep Him in his mind. One should know that all tests are from Allah (swt) and that he is sent by Him and will return to Him. This is the source of attaining peace. We learn, “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28) May He make us of the Dhakireen. Ameen.

Make Arabic your language

When one falls in love with the Quran, the first thing that they get upset about is the language barrier. A lot of meaning is lost in translations. Non-Arabs wish they were born in an Arab land and Arabic was their native language. Allah (swt) maintained diversity by making us belong to different races. However, we are encouraged to learn different languages, as this is the sure way of bridging gaps. “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Ibrahim 14:4) Learn Arabic and witness how your understanding of the Quran reaches a higher level.

Goodness comes with gratitude

We all want an increase in goodness and escape from punishment. How can we make that happen? “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

How can we be grateful to Allah (swt)?

We can be grateful by honouring His commands. By offering our prayers at their appointed time and not when we will. Gratitude should be expressed by the tongue, the heart and the limbs. Allah (swt) has blessed us with health; we should make the most of it by serving Him and His religion. Allah (swt) has given us wealth, we should spend it in His cause. If one is told to count the favours of Allah (swt), he would never be able to do so.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa).” (Ibrahim 14:34) This is a challenge to the entire mankind. We miss one thing from our lives and we claim Allah (swt) has kept us deprived. What about the one thousand others things that we have?

Ingratitude belongs to the Shaytan, the deceiver

Ungratefulness is from Shaytan, he beautifies the harmful things for us and we feel as if we are denied. On the Day of Judgement, Shaytan will excuse himself from us. “And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun.” (Ibrahim 14:22) What a devil he is! First he whispers evil thoughts and then backs out from enticing.

Allah’s (swt) assurance of His mercy upon His slaves

While Shaytan conspires for our downfall, what does Allah (swt) assures us of? “Declare (O Muhammad (sa)) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” (Al-Hijr 15:49) Reading this verse what should we say? We should hasten to make the Dua: O Allah! Forgive me and have mercy on me. Grant me peace in this world and the next. Ameen. Again, this is not a license to continue sinning.

We live in times, where mosque which is free to enter, but is empty; while clubs which cost several thousands to enter, but are packed. This is why the verse right after the previous one warns us, “And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” (Al-Hijr 15:50) Thus, we must not indulge in acts that can lead to His painful punishment.

Islam is protected by Allah (swt) alone

Next, we learn about a miracle that was given to Muhammad (sa), “Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers.” (Al-Hijr 15:95) Each time the scoffers mocked the Prophet (sa) – they were either punished for the words they uttered, or they were guided because of that. How were they guided? Each time someone decides to damage Islam by drawing caricatures, more people become interested in Islam and embrace it. There were many people during the time of the Prophet (sa), who wanted to harm him; but within moments, they were testifying that Muhammad (sa) is the Prophet of Allah (swt). While such incidents of blasphemy hurt us, we must remember Allah (swt) is the In-Charge here, He will hold the perpetrators accountable.

The matter that requires our attention is that when a non-Muslim disrespects Islam, we come out on the streets, carry out protestations, burn vehicles, damage property and gather all the energy to endure heat and discomfort. But when the call to prayer is given in the mosque, we don’t budge. We are so far away from our own religion, why criticise the non-Muslims? Reverts are much better than some of the born Muslims. May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.

It is natural for a tender-hearted person to be distressed by what’s happening around them. Allah (swt), the All-Knowing, knows the hearts of His slaves, “Indeed, We know that your breast is straitened at what they say.” (Al-Hijr 15:97) This was His assurance to Muhammad (sa).

Sunshine or rain – He is the domain

What should one do when he is suffering? He says, “So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” (Al-Hijr 15:98-99) Rain or shine, we must never forget the purpose of our creation. If things are good, praise and thank Allah (swt). If things are not so good, have patience, praise and thank Allah (swt). The Day of Judgement will settle all disputes. Prostrate whenever you can, because that is the closest we can get to Allah (swt).

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


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.)

Valentine’s Day Special: Far From the Madding Crowd

rp_Vol-2-Issue-4-Its-Valentines-Day-300x225.jpgBirthdays, Halloween, bridal showers, baby showers, this day, that day, and the endless Dholkis! Come February and the entire town is painted red. Love is in the air, or so we are made to believe. Girls are coordinating red clothes and accessories, while guys are crowding the flower shops. Vendors are pleased. Their business is doing well. Families at home are not sure whether they should switch off their television sets or shamelessly sit through the entire transmission, and witness what is being broadcast in the name of love. Parents and teenagers are equally dazed: should they jump in and join the maddening crowd or should they sit on the fence holding on to the tattering family values?

If we could, we would perhaps name every day of the year and celebrate it. It is as if we need reasons to splurge and show we are not slacking in this race. Allah mentions:

The trendsetters, the celebrities, the people that we drool over and follow in every word and action will dissociate themselves from their followers. What does that mean? It means that they will take no responsibility for the actions of their followers. And why would they do that? It is because on that Day when they won’t be able to save themselves how can they possibly save anyone else?

“And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only they who have wronged would consider [that] when they see the punishment, [they will be certain] that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment. [And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all] see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties [of relationship]. Those who followed will say: ‘If only we had another turn [at worldly life] so we could disassociate ourselves from them as they have disassociated themselves from us.’ Thus will Allah show them their deeds as regrets upon them. And they are never to emerge from the Fire.” (Al-Baqarah 2:165-167)

Who are the people who will disassociate themselves? Who are the ones who will wish to return? And why would they wish to return?

This verse presents a sketch of the Judgement Day. The leaders will dissociate themselves from their followers. Let’s replace the word ‘leaders’ with ‘trendsetters’ and rephrase the sentence. The trendsetters, the celebrities, the people that we drool over and follow in every word and action will dissociate themselves from their followers. What does that mean? It means that they will take no responsibility for the actions of their followers. And why would they do that? It is because on that Day when they won’t be able to save themselves how can they possibly save anyone else?

One simple criterion to evaluate our actions is that before venturing into anything ask: “Why am I doing this?” If it pleases Allah (swt) pursue it; if not, divert your attention to something of Khair.

What does this tell us? Does it give us a wake-up call? Does it give a momentary room to the voice of the conscience that asks us, “Hey, where are you heading?”

Imagine a scenario, where you are standing on the road and there are people walking in front of you. Mindlessly, you start walking behind them because…err let’s say you are impressed by their dressing, their appearance, the way they carry themselves, or perhaps you are walking behind them because you are not even sure why you are doing that. Now where would you end up by following these people? Look around yourself. Have you reached your home yet? Or is it that you have come to a place that is far away from your destination? How do you feel now? Are you pleased that you mindlessly followed someone because you were impressed by them?

Sit back and reflect; what does this example teach you?

We learn that in this world when we intend to follow someone, when we decide to tread in their footsteps, or act upon what they say, we should make use of our senses. We should ascertain where they are taking us, what interests they are instilling, what they are stopping us from, what they are saving us from, what they are promising, what they are putting us into and where do they wish to take us. Make use of your intellect.

How can the mirror of the heart shine if material images are covering it? How can the heart journey to God if it is chained by its desires?

What does the Qur’an say about the people who don’t use their intellect? Allah (swt) equates them to a herd of sheep, who can hear the calls and cries of their shepherd but don’t understand a thing. They mindlessly start treading in the direction where they see others walking.

Ever seen hens at a farm? The animals and crops at the farm are the farmer’s livelihood as well as food. Sometimes he slaughters an animal from his herd to feed his family. But how does he attract the animal towards himself? Running after them with a butcher’s knife will scare the animals away. The farmer therefore uses a clever strategy. He throws some grains and the innocent little chicken comes walking to its master. The farmer grabs it and within seconds it’s gone. The grains are temporary pleasure for the chicken but a strong tool for the farmer to tempt the chicken to come out of its coop.

The pomp and glitter of this world, and the urge to be around certain type of people are temporary pleasures of this world. By mindlessly chasing every slogan, charm or a person we act like a herd of sheep. The predator’s trap, however, will not just take our lives but also have an impact on our hereafter.

When the love of Allah (swt) enters the heart of a Muslim then nothing in the world can stop him from the way of Allah (swt). Our Prophet Ibraheem (as) was a living proof of that. 

Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Anam, verse 32: “And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion…so will you not reason?”

Let’s also read what does the Ayah before this says: “Those will have lost who deny the meeting with Allah, until when the Hour [of resurrection] comes upon them unexpectedly, they will: ‘Oh, [how great is] our regret over what we neglected concerning it.’”

People continue to live in denial until their meeting with the Creator. It is not until they are laid down in their graves that they realize their negligence. They regret the time wasted on unnecessary things and being forgetful of the Questioning. A week goes by and we don’t know where our time went: more concern for the worldly matters and ignorance to the hereafter.

Someone shouts: “It’s Valentine’s Day!” And the entire nation begins its celebrations. Amidst criticisms and objections, someone comments: “What’s wrong about it? The poor little boy who sells flowers at the signal at least earns a meal for his family on that day.” Someone else asserts: “Why do we have to make life so boring?”

But who says a Muslim’s life has to be boring?

The Creator directs the sail of our boats, “For each is a direction toward which it faces. So race to [all that is] good.” (Al-Baqarah 2:148) That is our path. The path of Khair. But what is this Khair? Khair is anything that benefits the society. Does our celebration of birthdays, Halloween, Basant, Dholkis, bridal showers and baby showers benefit the society? Or is it simply an excuse to show we are wealthy and live on the other side of the bridge? What will we say when are questioned about: In what matters did you spend your wealth? In throwing parties and exchanging unwanted gifts among people who can purchase anything that they wish to buy?

In Surah al-Fatihah we make Dua to Allah (swt) to “Show us the right way. The way of those who were favoured.” We find the detail of such people in Surah an-Nisa, verse 69, “the Siddiqeen [the truthful], the Shuhadah [the martyrs] and the Saliheen [the righteous].”

By blindly following rituals, traditions and celebrations, whose path are we really following? The ones who evoke His anger or of those who have strayed? Giving zakah or purchasing a sacrificial animal for Eid is burdensome for us, but splurging money on whims and desires is not.

For a Muslim, true love happens only once and that is with his Creator. This is what we learn from our Prophet Ibraheem (as) as we read in the Qur’an:

“‘My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.’ So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said: ‘O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.’ He said: ‘O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.’ And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, ‘O Ibraheem, You have fulfilled the vision.’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, And We left for him [favourable mention] among later generations: ‘Peace upon Ibraheem.’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.” (As-Saffat 37:100-110)

What will we say when are questioned about: In what matters did you spend your wealth? In throwing parties and exchanging unwanted gifts among people who can purchase anything that they wish to buy?

When the love of Allah (swt) enters the heart of a Muslim then nothing in the world can stop him from the way of Allah (swt). Our Prophet Ibraheem (as) was a living proof of that.

In his book, Al-Hikam, Sheikh Ahmad Ibn Ata’illah As-Sakandari says: “How can the mirror of the heart shine if material images are covering it? How can the heart journey to God if it is chained by its desires?”

One simple criterion to evaluate our actions is that before venturing into anything ask: “Why am I doing this?” If it pleases Allah (swt) pursue it; if not, divert your attention to something of Khair.

May Allah (swt) allow us to cleanse our souls and protect us from wandering blindly on the path of Shaytan, Ameen.

Adapted from Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s Lecture: “How to Express Love: Sacrifice or Valentine?”