Monthly Archives: August 2013

Thoughts after a Handful of Monotonous Days

I sometimes think about the people who live life on autopilot. Their lack of enthusiasm in life puts me down, until it forces me to think about the great blessing from Allah called passion. If you aren’t passionate about the goals you want to achieve in life, how will you ever motivate yourself? What’s worse than not being passionate about your goals is not having any at all. I remember a time when I lived a monotone life; if people asked me what I liked, what I wanted to do, what I wanted to eat, what I wanted to (insert anything), my answer was always “I don’t know.” I was afraid of people’s opinion of me and I was afraid of being “wrong.” I was afraid of trying lest I fail. Now when I see people who go through their days as if they just have time to kill, I can’t help but think of all the amazing things that could have been getting accomplished in those wasted hours.

People sometimes think that in order to go after what you want in life, you have to sacrifice the rights of the people around you or that while fulfilling others’ rights, you will have to sacrifice your dreams, but that’s not true. Allah has a plan for all of us. It is our duty to find the ‘win’ in every loss and the hope in every problem. Optimism is devalued if it’s only shown in good times-it is your attitude in the hard times that counts.

Du’a is your greatest weapon.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and that’s what I live by. By the Grace of Allah, when I am too tired to motivate myself, He always sends some reminder or some miracle takes place that allows me to re-adjust my focus and go after my dreams.

Make Allah’s Pleasure your motivation and ask Him to be your Guide-you will never get lost.

On Egypt and other Recent Fitan – Remember the Wise Ones

Lately, I saw people on social media, including our beloved shuyukh and du’aat doing the noble jobs of raising awareness of the current situation in Egypt and encouraging people to make du’a. That motivated me to do my research and find out what’s going on. I’m very limited in my knowledge of politics and even more limited in my knowledge of how Islam and politics are related, but I do know this much: The only knowledge you need in order to make du’a for the oppressed is this: Allah hates oppression and when innocent people are dying, raising your voice in their favor does not make you a kafir or a deviant or a sectarian or [insert any other degrading title here].

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Also, in times like these, everyone wants to say something, argue with someone and blame the shuyukh for both “standing up” or “staying silent.” The reaction is that the accused then also turn harsh in their words, but remember that they are only human.

Let us reflect on what ‘Abdullah ibn Mutarrif (Rahimahullah) did in times of fitnah. He was a Tabi’i who was known as the “Wise Worshipper.” He witnessed some of the greatest fitan of his time, including:

1-The murder of ‘Uthman (R).
2-The conflict that occurred between the Sahabah in the time of ‘Ali (R).
3-The murder of Al-Husayn and the dissension among the Muslims.
4-The political changes that occurred when the Khilafah came into the hands of the Ummayyads, and seeing the Khilafah pass on from Mu’awiyah (R) to his sons.
5-Al-Hajjaj’s oppressive regime and the evil it caused.

One of the greatest things that made ‘Abdullah ibn Mutarrif so noble were his rationality, wisdom and neutrality in times of fitan. Instead of being driven by zeal and passion, he used to say: “By Allah, I would rather by asked by Allah, “Why did you not kill so-and-so?” than to be asked by Him, “Why did you kill so-and-so?”“ 

He was not interested in passing judgments on either side involved in the fitnah or following up with its advances; instead, he was known to be occupied in the worship of Allah during those times.

Lessons to learn from his life:

-Remain neutral in conflict.
-Make du’a during difficulty to get closer to Allah.
-Refrain from gossip.
-Don’t judge someone from when they were in fitnah; remember their goodness & good deeds.
-Stand up to the truth no matter who your opponent is.

The points above are taken from my Torch Bearers class notes, but there are more examples of wise individuals from whom we can learn.

We also know from history that Sa’id ibn Jubayr (Rahimahullah), one of the greatest scholars of his time, went into hiding during Al-Hajjaj’s oppressive regime and remained in this way until he was finally caught later on. We like to talk about courage but courage is not always in chasing after fitnah. After trying his best to stay away from Al-Hajjaj, when Sa’id ibn Jubayr was finally caught did he use his courage to defy the tyrant and became a martyr.

Diving into the face of fitnah is not a generally wise decision; leave it to those more knowledgeable and worship Allah. The deaths of others should only remind us of our own deaths. It should make us re-affirm our faith in the Justice of Allah and make us prepare for the Day of Judgment.

It’s time to apply what we learned.

May Allah grant us all the correct understanding and allow us to remain united as one body in these difficult times. May Allah have mercy on those who stood up to injustice and on those who tried their best to save themselves from it. May Allah answer the du’as of the oppressed and save us from oppressing anyone, be it our own souls. Ameen.

Tafseer Class: Surah Al-Baqarah-Ayah Reflections

Learned this insightful ayah today in Tafseer class:

O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” (2:178)

-Allah first obligates (qisaas-legal retribution) upon the murderer.

-He then gives the family of the victim 2 choices:

1-They can punish the murderer through capital punishment.

2-They forgive the murderer and require him to pay blood money.

-The family of the victim is commanded to do “ma’roof” (generally acceptable & good conduct) and the killer is required to do “ihsan” (trying his best in paying the blood money) towards the victim’s family.

-Allah then says that “this is an alleviation/concession from your Lord.”

The reason why Allah says that it is a concession is because the previous nations had it harder than us. Ibn ‘Abbas (R) said: “The Jews were required to apply the law of equality, and were not allowed to offer pardons.” For the Christians, forgiveness was wajib-they had to forgive.

I started thinking about how Christians pride themselves in the concept of forgiveness and how they preach: “If someone slaps you on cheek, give them the other.” I realized that they uphold this command that was given to them so long ago and I never considered the possibility that this command could’ve been given by Allah. If the Christians can take pride in their abrogated command, why can’t we as Muslims take pride in our ever-just and relevant command?

If only the others could see the beauty in the commands that Allah has given us: He gave us a choice to claim our rights or rise above our pain & hostility by being able to forgive others. That is true freedom.

On another note, another lesson this ayah teaches us is that the revenge for the murder of one person cannot be taken by killing others unjustly. Truly relevant right now, when for the mistakes of a few, hundreds are being murdered. Allah is the Only One Who establishes true Justice.

May Allah grant us all understanding of the Deen and keep all the Muslims in world safe and secure. Ameen.

On Life & Qadr

For the limited time that we are on this earth, we want to secure our days and nights to be in accordance to the Pleasure of Allah. Active worship is the best way to do this (i.e. by praying salah, reading Qur’an, doing dhikr, studying and teaching knowledge, etc.) but what about those empty hours? What about that “chilling time”? Always remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way. You have the potential to turn everything into worship. Just make the intention that whatever halal activity you’re doing, it’s because you want to avoid what’s displeasing to Allah and you’ll be rewarded. If you are in a difficult stage in your life, remember that the reward for being patient during hardship is none other than the Pleasure of Allah. We always wait for our hardships to pass us by, but imagine that your hardships lasted throughout your life and you died in a state of sabr. And then, on the Day of Judgment you were told that your entire life counted for you and not against you. We all have moments that we know could get us in trouble on the Day of Judgment, but what if you could get your scale heavier through your sabr, your akhlaq and your perseverance against temptations? Staying away from sins is much more important than building mountains of good deeds. Accepting the Decree of Allah and making the most of it is the best way to get a good life in this world and the next.

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Good Manners

Abu Ad-Darda (radiAllahu anhu) reported:

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.” (At- Tirmidhi)

Good Deeds & Sins

It was narrated from Thawban that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“I certainly know people of my nation who will come on the Day of Resurrection with good deeds like the mountains of Tihamah, but Allah will make them like scattered dust.” Thawban said: “O Messenger of Allah, describe them to us and tell us more, so that we will not become of them unknowingly.” He said: “They are your brothers and from your race, worshiping at night as you do, but they will be people who, when they are alone, transgress the sacred limits of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

Hardships & Patience

Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhuma) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Days of Calm

Some days are so hectic and stressful that I become moody and start giving the people around me some attitude, especially my brother Abdullah. He’s the recipient of the coldest of my behavior. I feel really bad about it later on, but thank Allah that’s he such a good sport. He comes around with his never-ending stories and breaks the ice quicker than I ever thought possible. But this is not about that.

This is an appreciation post.

A few weeks back, I was *forced* to contemplate on my behavior with my family and as it turns out, I was wrong and my dad was right, although there are still many things that could use some sorting out. This Ramadan was probably not the extreme-soul-cleansing, iman-boosting Ramadan that I was hoping for, but I do think that it changed me for the better and made my relationship better with both my parents. I never appreciated my dad in my whole life the way I do now. I never realized how dependent on him I really am. But I realized that some of my most important du’as came true this Ramadan as well. Allah is so Merciful that I feel overwhelmed when I think about the way He blesses us and guides us.

We all know that hidayah is from Allah and it is only through His Guidance that we are even able to do good deeds, but one timeless piece of advice that I’d give to anyone is that no matter how sinful you are or how many people you have wronged, never stop making du’a to Allah and begging Him to guide you and help you. And never, ever stop worshiping Him-its not your choice anyway; Allah made it obligatory. Pray your salawat, read Qur’an and develop a relationship with the Qur’an. The worship will take over your desires; the du’as will ease your burden and remind you that you do not have to face anything alone.

Allah is happy with the people who call upon Him and He is unhappy with those who don’t make du’a. It’s your choice what you want to do.

Another reason that I feel grateful right now is because of a sad video that I came across on Tumblr. I’ll post it later inshaAllah, but the point of the video was to showcase the sadness of a family upon the unjustified arrest of their innocent son who has been in prison for 7 years with no apparent chance of being released soon. Something about that video made my heart sink; it was one of things where you literally feel like you’re going to be physically sick due to someone else’s sadness being weighed on your shoulders.

I then reflected on my blessings; who cares if I don’t live in the ideal family? Who cares if everything doesn’t go my way? Allah gave me life and He gave me Al-Islam and that is enough to prove that Allah wants good for me. We learn about having “husn ud-dhan” (good/positive thinking) towards people, then why not towards Allah?

Self-delusion is often the result of thinking that others owe us something (e.g. respect, service, obedience, etc.) and that we are fine just the way we are. We only refine our character when we tell ourselves that we are in need of improvement and that others are in fact better than us. The way we look at others is a direct reflection of the state of our hearts.

It’s not uncommon for people to wait for some big event to take place so they can start changing themselves for the better (e.g. graduation, marriage, Hajj, age 40 or 60 or whatever) but those are nothing but lies that are perpetuated internally, leading people to more sin and misguidance. The more we disobey Allah, the more we distance ourselves from guidance but as long as we keep asking Him and begging Him to guide us on the Straight Path, He won’t let us go, because He is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem.

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I want to end this post with the story of my favorite du’a. I never thought that this du’a would become my favorite but it did. I never intentionally added it to my mental du’a list, but it was a habit of mine to say it whenever I lost something (or did the people around me).

When I was 4 years old, I once went grocery shopping with my parents and bought some peppermint candies (yum!) and then I misplaced the bag. I asked my dad where it could have gone, (and I still haven’t figured out whether or not he hid the bag on purpose) and he said, “Let’s say a du’a that you’re supposed to say when you lose something. Repeat after me: Inna liAllahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.” Then, he and I looked all over the living room and I found it on top of a high drawer. Then my dad told me, “See? When you say this du’a, Allah let’s you find what you lost.” So I grew up thinking that this is the “lost & found” du’a and later on, when I heard people saying it upon hearing about someone’s death, I was like, “Okay, this is the death du’a.” And then when I became capable of roughly understanding the meaning of the Qur’an without looking at the translation, I heard it in the context of the ayat surrounding it and I was like “Wow, that’s nice” but I had never really let it sink in. Then finally, I learned the ayat in detail in my Tafseer class and my entire perspective changed. Allah (SWT) said in Surah Al-Baqarah:

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (2: 155-157)

This ayah first lists the different types of things that human beings will be tested by, so basically it is affirming that tests and trials are a part of every person’s life and there is no way of escaping them, but Allah describes the reactions of a certain group of people to these tests. He says that they have the quality of patience. How do they act upon that quality? The first thing they do is that they recite the following du’a: “Inna liAllahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return)

A person who says this du’a is doing two things:

First, he’s affirming the validity of Allah’s decree upon him through these beautiful words, thus increasing his patience and level of tolerance.

Second, he’s comforting himself using the truest of statements and the greatest of realities, which remind him of his origins and his helplessness, compared to Allah’s Power and Ownership of everything.

Now, look at the result of these beautiful words!

Allah says that His Blessings and Mercy will be upon these people and He goes on to positively enforce their behavior by including them among the rightly guided. When people are in difficulty, they naturally need mental and emotional support. They need to be told comforting words and given the encouragement and morale to be able to do what’s right at the time.

We know from the famous hadith that Allah gives us hardships when He wills good for us. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity” (Bukhari).

The meaning of this hadith beautifully ties in with the meaning of the ayat mentioned above. Allah gives us hardships to test us. Then, He gives us the exact antidote to counter it. On top of that, He gives us good news upon good news. And Who else can be more Merciful than Allah?

So just read the ayat above and let the words sink in. When you say that du’a, you have Allah on your side. He is showering you with His Blessings and is enveloping you with His Mercy and is including you with the rightly-guided ones. If you have such good news, what calamity is big enough to take over the comfort you feel by knowing that Allah is with you? Because we all know that Allah is the the Greatest. He is greater than your pain, your sadness, your hardship,  and your misery. He is Able to remove it and give you comfort. So just say His Words and you’ll be fine. These blessed words work miracles-don’t take my word for it. Take Allah’s Word for it.