Tag Archives: reminder

Reflection (stages)

We all have stages through which we wish to proceed in the journey of change.

If I was to split up my journey into stages, I’d say I’m on the 2nd stage out of 3. This is not necessarily in terms of goals, but in terms of tarbiyah, behavior and lifestyle changes.

1st stage: Lost and trying to find my way; not knowing what to do and/or knowing the right thing but not doing it. (This part is now over by the Grace of Allah).

2nd stage: Knowing what path I am on, what I have accomplished, what I have yet to accomplish, what my strengths are, what are the things that keep pulling me back, and what my game-plan needs to be. InshaAllah, this year and onward, I want to be able to improve myself in all the ways that I know how to.

3rd stage: This is the one that will go on forever, because improvement is a life-long journey. It includes perfecting my akhlaq, always keeping tabs on myself, attempting to make progress without regressing and teaching others bi idhnihi ta’ala.

When I was in the 1st stage, which mostly consisted of my high school and early college years, I always asked Allah for help to guide me and to help me understand others’ points of view and to make my character better as a Muslim. I was kind of lost, kind of making it to guidance. I knew what I ought to be doing but had no idea how to get there. My mistakes served as quicksand and the vines that I used to lift me back up were often too weak.

The ayah that kept me going, along with a few others, was:

And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” Al-‘Ankabut (29:69)

Now, I feel as if Allah has answered my du’as and I have consequently landed at stage two.

That’s why this quote hit me like an arrow: “After asking Allah to guide you to the straight path, don’t just stand there … start walking!” – Albaz Poetry

I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing: standing in the middle of a train track whose destination is clear without having the daily consistency to move upon it successfully.

And I keep forgetting what a big ni’mah it is from Allah that everyone in my family is so supportive of me, that I know what my passion is, and that I am provided with all the resources to pursue it.

Whenever I see people who are lost in their career paths or are consumed by the stress of poverty or the depression that has resulted from a bad relationship, I am constantly reminded about how blessed I am.

Having all of these blessings and then declining to take advantage of them is a type of ungratefulness.

I hope that Allah gives me the ability to overcome my personal challenges so that I can actually start moving on the path of action.

 

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No One Taught Me

I attended an Islamic school my whole life, and many kids spend several years in the school with each other before leaving, so we all knew each others’ class standing, i.e. who was the best in math, who memorized the most Qur’an, who knew the best Tajweed, who had the worst handwriting, etc. On occasion, new students would come. If they came from a nonpracticing family, they would be bullied or made fun of. Even the teachers would sometimes ridicule them for not knowing “the basics of Islam.” I had always grown up in an ultra-conservative, religious environment with my dad leaving no stone unturned to teach me surahs and du’as and practices from the Sunnah, so when I came across kids in the 3rd or 4th grade who didn’t know how to pray or kids in 8th grade who could barely read Qur’an, I would wonder: “How? How can he not know how to pray? How can she be so bad at reading Qur’an?” because I had simply never experienced the tragedy of the answer that the students always gave whenever they were asked how they “didn’t know anything” (about Islam). They always said: “No one taught me.” I would be shocked, as well would the other kids. We would ask about why their parents didn’t teach them, if they were born Muslim or if they even cared about learning how to pray. I remember seeing shame in these kids’ eyes, sometimes coupled with fear, at other times with anger. Some of these kids left the school because they felt pressurized while others left because the teachers couldn’t handle the “bad influence” they were having on the other kids. Some of them stayed with us and learned and improved and became our friends, Alhamdulillah.

Whatever their fate, they left me with a question: Why could I never say “no one taught me”? The answer was simple: because they did. Everyone around me was constantly teaching me something. My dad, my grandma and my teachers, were always teaching me something and giving me life lessons. They never left me alone to figure things out, but instead guided me carefully along the path of learning and motivated me every time I wanted to give up.

Finally, when I was in high school, I wanted to improve my level of Islamic practice, and that’s when I realized that there was so much I needed to know. It was the time when I understood that just because I had been passing all the religious education milestones in an Islamic school and getting good grades and recognition for it didn’t mean that I knew everything. I was so used to things just coming to me that when I actually had to use my mind to understand something, it opened up my eyes to how easy I had it all along.

I remember on several occasions admitting to classmates that I didn’t know how to pray Salatul Janazah or the ‘Eid prayer (with all its Takbeeraat). I remember the shock on their faces as I choked out the words: “No one taught me.”

“But you’ve been in an Islamic school forever, how do you not know how to pray these simple prayers?”

Again, my reply would be the same as I could feel my heart crushing under the weight of my ignorance.

It was only then did I understand the pain of those kids who I had met long ago who were treated like outcasts just because they didn’t know something. No doubt, their lack of knowledge concerning our religion was detrimental, but I still think that it was our intolerance and lack of understanding that pushed them away from Islam more.

It’s true that you never understand another’s pain until you are in their shoes. You never know their hurt and their feelings until you feel it yourself.

If there is anything I want someone to take away from this, it’s the fact that Allah has gifted some people more than others, and He has gifted people differently. If you are better than others in some things, it doesn’t mean you’re better than them. If there are those who are lacking in outward goodness, maybe they have been given kind hearts. If you feel that you are better, that automatically makes you worse.

Allah’s gifts are meant to be cherished. to be grateful for and to share with others, not to stroke your own ego. It doesn’t take Allah long to take away what He Wills, as it doesn’t take Him long to give.

Exerting Oneself During the Last Ten Days of Ramadan

Aa’ishah (raa) said: “When the last ten days (of Ramadaan) would come, the Prophet (saws) would spend his night in worship, wake his family (at night), exert himself and tighten his Izaar (waistcloth).” [Al-Bukhaaree (4/269) and Muslim (1174)]

This hadeeth is proof that the last ten days of Ramadaan have a special virtue over any other (set of days), in which one should increase in obedience and acts of worship, such as prayer, making dhikr (remembrance) and reciting the Qur’aan.

1. He (saws) would “spend his night in worship”, meaning he would not sleep during it. Thus, he (saws) would remain awake throughout it in worship and he would livenhis soul by spending the night in sleeplessness. This is since sleep is the brother of death. The meaning of “spend his night” is that he (saws) would spend all of it in the state of qiyaam (night prayer) and performing acts of worship that are done for the sake of Allaah, Lord of the worlds. We must remember that the last ten days of Ramadaan are fixed and numbered.

As for what has been reported concerning the forbiddance of spending the entire night in prayer, which has been mentioned in the hadeeth of ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr (raa), then it is in regards to someone who does that consistently throughout every night of the year.

2. He (saws) would “wake up his family” meaning his (saws) pure wives, the Mothers of the Believers, so that they may take part in the profiting of good, the dhikr (remembrance) and the acts of worship during these blessed times.

3. He (saws) would “exert himself”, meaning he (saws) would persevere and struggle in worship, adding more to his deeds than what he had done in the first twenty days(of Ramadaan). He only did this because the night of Al-Qadr occurs during one of these (last ten) days.

4. He (saws) would “tighten his Izaar (waistcloth)” meaning he would exert himself and struggle intensely in worship. It is also said that it means he (saws) would withdraw from women. This seems to be more correct since it inclines with what was mentioned previously and with the hadeeth of Anas (raa): “He (saws) would rollup his bed and withdraw from women (i.e. his wives).” [2]

Also, he (saws) would observe ‘Itikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadaan and the person who is in the state of ‘Itikaaf is restricted from interacting (sexually) with women.

So, O Muslim brother, strive to characterize yourself with these attributes. And guard the prayer you make in the depths of the night (tahajjud) with the Imaam in addition to the Taraaweeh prayer (which is prayed in the early parts of the night), so that your exertion in these last ten days may go beyond that of the first twenty. And so that you may achieve the attribute of “spending the night in worship” by praying.

[Excepts from:Ahaadeeth As-Siyaam: Ahkaam wa Adaab (pg. 133-135)| Author:’Abdullaah Ibn Saalih Al-Fawzaan]

http://abdurrahman.org/ramadhan/exertingoneself.html

[A dear sister who occasionally sends me Islamic reminders sent me the above excerpt in an email. May Allah reward her for her efforts and May He have Mercy on her. Ameen.]

What I Didn’t Know Then

Devotion is something hard to hold onto. You think you’ve got it until it starts slipping away. If you think you love Islam, or some specific part of it, like knowledge or the Qur’an, it’s only because Allah has made it so. Sometimes your low iman leaves you feeling like you weren’t exactly normal when you were obsessed with your Deen, as if wanting to follow Islam with perfection is something negative. Darkening of hearts through sins lead to the escape of light. The light of knowledge, guidance and iman come only from Allah-if you persist in disobedience, He takes it away. You have to really want to be guided and remain in His Mercy, because guidance is a “fadl” (an extra bounty, an extra favor) from Him. The way you think about Islam reflects the state of your heart. Be careful.

Allah says in Surah Al-Hujurat:
“And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah . If he were to obey you in much of the matter, you would be in difficulty, but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided. [It is] as bounty from Allah and favor. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (49:7-8)

This is a reminder to myself first. May Allah grant us the correct guidance and understanding and have Mercy on us and forgive our sins. Ameen.

Reminder to the Believers from Surah Al-Anfal

O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order]. (8:20)

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. (8:21)

Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. (8:22)

Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them hear. And if He had made them hear, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing. (8:23)

O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered. (8:24)

And fear a trial which will not strike those who have wronged among you exclusively, and know that Allah is severe in penalty. (8:25)