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|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 9:09am On Dec 09, 2011|
Dealing with Loss
By Abida Aura Mustafa
Whether through death, loss, or disagreement, when we lose someone or something dear to us, we become overwhelmed by the pangs of grief; the pain of loss feels overbearing as though it would never end. Having to face the consequences of detachment can be a traumatic experience. All we can think of is the pain enshrouding our hearts and consuming our minds. With tears streaming down our faces, our faces contorted with emotion and our hearts too feeling as though a heavy burden has landed—the misery takes a hold of us and, blinded by our tears, we fail to see the light.
But there is a light; a light to behold even in the darkest corner of the earth, even in the murkiest depths of the ocean. We don’t have to drown in the quicksand of trauma. Nothing and nobody by Allah’s Will subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has the ability to overpower the underlying depth of:
Inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon.
Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.
When we actually give some time and thought to reflect upon the words which constitute this statement, we come to realise that there is an extremely powerful and truthful message behind it—an answer to all our questions, grief and emotions.
This profound phrase captures the essence of our entire existence; it encapsulates where we came from and also where we are headed:
Understanding the statement has the ability to eradicate regrets and past events. It holds the key to finding contentment during those times when we think, ‘Why did that have to happen?’ We can become immersed in questioning, and drown in the misery of relentless searching for the answer…Or we can discover patience by asserting that regardless of whatever has occurred, we will indeed return to Allah (swt).
When we truly understand the meaning of inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon, we find that no sadness will last forever, and that we shouldn’t destroy ourselves by holding even the slightest bitterness or anger within us. By understanding that Allah (swt) is the One, the only One to Whom we belong, we should be able to move on from painful moments in our life (which we should assert as not being able to occur except that Allah (swt) Willed for it to be) and strive for our goal of meeting Him.
There should be no space for bitterness or anger when one truly comprehends the deep truthfulness of this phrase, and we should be able to forgive those who have intentionally or unintentionally wronged us because we know that Allah (swt) alone holds all sovereignty and that even our emotions belong to Him. By forgiving ourselves and others, by showing sabr (patience) in the face of death or loss, and by aspiring for Allah’s Mercy and Judgement, we open ourselves to a whole new level of understanding ourselves in the context of space and time. We can understand by His Will that Allah (swt) is all that matters, and everything else in this dunya (current life, world) is a means for us to reach Him because we want to be able to See Him at the end, for without a doubt we will have to return to Him.
‘Inna’ meaning ‘verily’ tells us that with certainty we belong to Allah (swt), that is, He Created us and bestowed on us our beginning without a doubt. ‘Inna’ occurs twice in this phrase, providing an emphasis on the certainty of Allah’s Ever-Lasting existence, emphasising the certainty of our beginning AND our end. So Allah (swt) is Al-Awwal (the Beginning, the First) and Al-Akhir (the End, the Last). Al-Awwal ul Akhir (The Ever-Lasting) is the source of light in every single moment of despair, hardship, and difficulty where our tears and grief blind us. Instead of allowing or hearts and souls to become blinded by the darkness of sadness, we can train ourselves in times of positive feelings and negative feelings to find contentment in Allah’s Decree, for nothing happens without His Decreeing it.
Allah (swt) tells us in Surah Baqarah, verses 155-156:
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Verily! To Allah we belong and verily, to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an 2:155-156)
This is our Lord, the One Who Created us when we were nothing, telling us in His Divine Book—tanzil (sent down) to humans and jinn as a dhikr (reminder)—that He will definitely test us with trials, but that He has Promised reward for those who are patient.
And how do we be ‘patient’ in the face of turmoil?
Just as Allah (swt) has created tests involving struggle, risk and loss, Allah (swt) has also told us how to approach these tests; He has revealed to us that the patient are those who, when afflicted with calamity, say, “Inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon.” In His infinite Mercy, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has allowed for relief to accompany difficulty. This also shows us that the losses and difficulties won’t last forever, and that everything which we regard as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the dunya is of temporal nature.
No pain or grief or disagreement can last forever, but with certainty, Allah (swt) lasts forever and from Him we came to be and it is to Him we will with certainty return.
This means that the events which take place in this dunya are mere moments. We become so consumed by our grief that we fail to see that al-Qahhar (the Conqueror, the Ever-Dominating) has provided us with light and that even in the most difficult times, Allah (swt) provides ease with hardship.
Upon coming to terms with the truth and power imbued in inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon and proceeding to integrate this magnificent statement into each moment of your daily life, when you are faced with any minor or major losses, you will see a whole new world of contentment and serenity opened up to you, insha Allah (God willing).
The trials faced by Umm Salamah radi allahu `anha, may God be pleased with her, teach us important lessons about how to handle tests, loss and situations in which we do not get something we had hoped for. Her approach towards calamity shows us what it means to be patient in the face of adversity and to recognise that Allah (swt) will always restore what He takes away from a patient believer with something better.
All is NOT lost.
The beautiful way in which she approached her afflictions reminds us to rely on Allah (swt) and to never despair for He is Able to do anything at any moment; Allah (swt) is our Provider, and when we are struck by loss, and things don’t go the way we want them to, Allah (swt) is Ever-Watching and He is the Best of planners. Umm Salamah’s first husband was Abu Salamah radi allahu `anhu, may God be pleased with him, who returned to Allah (swt) during Jumada Al-Akhir in the fourth year after Hijra, after receiving wounds in the Battle of Uhud. His passing from this dunya resulted in grief for she had loved him sincerely; nonetheless, Umm Salamah (ra) did not fail to turn to Allah (swt). Heartbroken by his departure, she remained steadfast in her relationship with Allah (swt) and supplicated to Him for our Rabb (Lord) is Al Mughni—the Enricher, the One Who satisfies the necessities of His Creation. In her grief-stricken state as she wondered who could possibly be better than Abu Salamah, she supplicated:
inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon; Allahumma ajirni fi musibati wa akhlif li khayran minha
‘Verily, we belong to Allah and verily, unto Him shall we return. O Allah! Reward me for the calamity that has befallen me and grant me better than it.’
Allah (swt) then answered her du`aa (supplication) by giving her the Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) himself! In Shawwal of the same year in which Abu Salamah (ra) returned to Allah (swt), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ married her. Thus, because of her patience and acknowledgement that we belong to Allah (swt) and unto him we return, Allah (swt) compensated her with reward and recompensed her loss. Allah (swt) alleviated her and answered her question, “Who is better than Abu Salamah?” by blessing her with our beloved Messenger ﷺ.
This legacy speaks volumes of the reward and relief Allah (swt) grants to those who are patient, and those who have tawwakul (reliance) on Allah (swt) to replace what is taken away from the believer who lives with patience. What we are provided with is His to give and take, and it is in acknowledging that He is the Owner of all that we are able to see through loss and hardship, and witness blessings.
If you are facing any trial in the present, know that Allah (swt) provides ease and that the cure is with you by Allah’s Will. Reflect on, and realise that none other than Allah (swt) Knows best about what adversity or struggle you are going through for Allah (swt) is the One Who tested you with such, and on no soul does He place more than that which it can bear—Allah (swt) is closer to you than your jugular vein, than your own self, and so He Knows what you are feeling. The next time you are faced with a grief or loss, or even happiness and blessing from Allah (swt), by uttering, comprehending and believing that our final destination is Allah (swt)—the end is essential for our eternal bliss—through making Allah the means to Him, glimpses of light make their way through your feeling of loss.
For each time that you submit to Allah (swt) alone by not only uttering inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon but by understanding it and feeling its essence in your heart and limbs through acknowledging Allah’s Power, you will not only be rewarded insha Allah but Allah (swt) will return His favours and blessings upon you for submitting to His Will with sabr (patience). Like Umm Salamah (ra), place your trust in Him to get you through any manifestation of loss, however slight or major you may consider it to be, and trust Allah (swt) to answer your supplications, for no du`aa is lost.
No distress or loss is too difficult to deal with when we know Allah (swt), and place our trust in Him to get us through everything, whether we consider the moments as good or bad. No distress or loss is too difficult to deal with when we acknowledge and apply that we certainly belong to Allah, and we certainly return to Him.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 8:52am On Dec 10, 2011|
In Sahih al Bukhari, Saad ibn Abi Waqas mentions a story about a bone. He was using the restroom and urinated onto a camel’s bone. He took that bone, washed it, took it home, and made soup out of it – all because of the difficult situation that they were in.
I want you to try to visualize things. When Umar radi allahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) became Muslim, there were only 41 other men and 11 women who were Muslim.
When the Prophet ﷺ migrated to Medina, there were about 65 muslims. So being a Muslim in Mecca wasn’t like shopping at Old Navy. It wasn’t popular, man! (I don’t know if Old Navy is even popular any more.)
It wasn’t popular and it was very difficult for them, but Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) strengthened them with the Qur’an.
There were two important things that happened in Mecca. Number one is their creed, their tawheed (belief in the Oneness of Allah swt); their relationship with Allah (swt) was made pure and strong. Number two was their behavior, the way Allah (swt) trained them. The people that came out of Mecca were really remarkable and excellent examples.
As Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (ra) said, if the companions of the Prophet ﷺ were his only miracle, the transformation of his companions would be enough to prove that he was a prophet.
The people of the Quraysh sent two people to Medina to ask the Jews of Medina about Muhammad ﷺ. When the people got there and met them, they described the Prophet ﷺ and what he was calling to. The Jews said, ask Muhammad about three things; nobody knows about these things – they are only known to Allah (swt). If he can answer you regarding these three issues, he is a prophet.
1. Ask him about the youth, ashab al-kahf (the people of the cave).
2. Ask him about this king who ruled a large portion of the world who was just and honest and so on.
3. Ask him about the ruh (spirit).
They went back to the Quraysh and told them: “These are the questions they told us to ask him. If he can answer these questions then he is a prophet.” The Quraysh asked the Prophet ﷺ and he said, “Come to me tomorrow and I will answer your questions.”
The next day they came but the Prophet ﷺ didn’t have an answer. The following day, they came, the Prophet ﷺ didn’t have an answer. For around fourteen days, there was no answer, and the Prophet ﷺ started getting upset and saddened because they started to say that the Prophet ﷺ was breaking his promises.
Then Allah (swt) sent Jibril to reveal Surat al Kahf (Qur’an, 18). That’s why in Surat al Kahf Allah (swt) says:
“And never say of anything, ‘Indeed, I will do that tomorrow,’ except [when adding], ‘If Allah wills.’” (Qur’an 18:23-24)
So we learn adab (manners), reliance on Allah (swt), and trust in Allah (swt).
Verse number one has 8 points. Allah (swt) says:
“[All] praise is [due] to Allah, who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and has not made therein any deviance.” (Qur’an 18:1)
This hamd (thankfulness) found in Surat al Kahf is not the same as the hamd in Surat al Fatiha (Qur’an 1). One is called jumlah insha’iya, the other is called jumlah khabariya.
Jumlah khabariya is a declarative sentence, so the sentence in Surat al Kahf is declarative in nature. Allah (swt) is informing you of something! The meaning of al hamd in Surat al Kahf is different. Allah (swt) is telling you “Look! I’m the one who deserves all praise, for a reason.” So it’s different now. He’s informing you, that’s called khabr.
Whereas in Surat al Fatiha, the hamd is insha’iya, or imperative. According to the scholars it means that Allah (swt) is ordering you to say alhamdullillah (all priase is to Allah). “If you want to thank me, if you want to praise me, say alhamdulillah.” This is the meaning in Surat Al Fatiha.
The first sentence in Al Fatiha is like an order: if you want to praise me, Allah (swt) is saying, if you want to magnify me, say alhamdullillah. In Surat al Kahf, this verse is not an order by Allah (swt) to say alhamdullillah. It is a declarative sentence, this means he is informing you, that he is the one who has the sole right to be praised, and for a reason!
What do you think that reason is?
All praise is due to Allah (swt) or what? Who sent the Qur’an? Can you imagine if you had no Qur’an?
Can you imagine if there was no subhanAllah (glory be to Allah) in your life, can you imagine if there was no salah (prayer)?
I go through that; believe me, we are all the same, brothers!
We are all the same, brothers, there is no difference; we are all in the same boat. Even in Al-Azhar! When I’m studying sometimes, I think, man, I’ve gotta pray but I really enjoy this book of tafsir (translation and interpretation of the Qur’an)! See how Shaytan (Satan) works? It’s the same game just a different means!
So all of us struggle, we struggle and sometimes salah feels heavy. Worship Allah (swt), and we might feel some heaviness. That’s all part of our struggle.
One of the ways to combat that is to imagine life without salah. Imagine life without any connection to Allah (swt). Life without the feeling in your heart that you get when you pray fajr (the pre-dawn prayer) in the masjid, or the feeling that you get when you give sadaqah (charity) or the feeling that you get when you do well in school or at work for the sake of Allah (swt).
Then we can value the worship and the wonderful relationship that Allah (swt) has blessed us with.
Ibn al Qayyim (ra) said the charity that Allah (swt) gave us Muslims, nobody can fathom this charity! Such benevolence from Allah (swt)!
Allah (swt) said:
“Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?”
“Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.” (Qur’an, 76:1-2)
You weren’t even known and Allah brought you out of the wombs of your mothers, created you, formed you and gave you sight and hearing!
Today in my hotel room, there was a strange channel. The only thing they do is show people killing others and catching people who kill others. Really, who would watch this hour after hour from 3 to 5? It was all about the secrets of serial killers! Who would watch that? I don’t want to know how serial killers live their life!
I want to know how Ibn al Qayyim lived his life, how Ibn Tamiyyah lived his life, and I want to know how the Prophet ﷺ lived his life!
Then from 5 to 8:30, it was about the history of the Bloods and the Crips. So what’s next? We have to be very careful what we are putting into our minds. And Allah (swt) gave us this Qur’an and our worship as our Norton Antivirus. We use it to clean us out; this is our dialysis!
So Allah (swt) blessed us, and I can tell you, you don’t know how lucky you are to be born Muslim, wallahi (by God)!
You don’t know how thankful you should really feel. Even though you might be young and you’re in high school and you don’t mind being called a Muslim, having to fast for 30 days, and wearing baggy clothes. Clear all that up and think about what it would be like not to have Islam. Then you can really taste how lucky you are!
In Egypt, I lived with people in poverty, but they don’t kill each other. They still invite you for tea and coffee! That faith causes people to transcend the difficulties that they live in and still be decent people. Here, if one economic crisis hits, it has a devastating impact on the people!
So the lesson we can take tonight is Allah (swt) says alhamd (praise) be to the one who sent the Qur’an! How much of a blessing it is to have the Qur’an and Islam. Alhamdulliah rabb alameen (all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds)!
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 3:28am On Dec 13, 2011|
It’s Too Late Yesterday
By Alaa Suliman
A few weeks ago, a very dear local community leader announced that he is leaving the area and will be moving to another state. Not only was he someone who our community needed and benefited from, he was a mentor to me, a teacher and an incredible supporter. He was someone I looked up to and whose student I aspired to be.
Then this morning, right after I got ready to go to work, I did a quick Facebook check, only to find out that one of my cousins who lived abroad passed away. She had been fighting a deadly disease so courageously and God willed that it was her time to go. To God we belong and unto Him we will return.
These two incidents touched my heart deeply and got me thinking about the concept of regret.
Over the past few weeks, many events have left me feeling down, sad and helpless. They left me with that intense sense of remorse and regret. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about all the “should haves” and “should not haves”. I should have attended all of my teacher’s classes; I should have asked him more questions; I should have been a better student. I also kept thinking that I should not have been so distant from my cousin. I should have been around when she was sick. I should be a better daughter, a better cousin, a better friend. The list is endless.
I should have done this, and I shouldn’t have done that.
How many of us have planned to do something for so long and never got to it until it was too late? How many of us claim that we want to spend more time with our parents, children or friends, and then they move or pass away. How many say they want to do this or that until they are physically or financially unable to? How many of us take everything we have for granted although NOTHING in life is guaranteed. We all do this ALL the time.
Beloved sisters and brothers, I would like to remind us all to never take ANYTHING or ANYONE for granted. Not your parents, not your family, not your job, not your health, not your community, and MOST importantly, not your LIFE! We only live once and nobody ever has lived twice (as far as I know!). Your life and the people in it are just too valuable to not be invested in.
There’s a Chinese saying that goes something like: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Spend time with your family NOW, have a healthy lifestyle NOW (not tomorrow and NOT this coming Monday), live the life you want NOW, do what you love NOW, volunteer for your community and those who are in need NOW. Do not wait because tomorrow might never come. Regret will be the only thing left.
And yesterday is too late.
Wa akhiru da`wana an-alhamdalillahi rabbil `alameen. (And the last of our prayers is praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds.)
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 7:37am On Dec 14, 2011|
What’s Done Is Done
By Ruzky Aliyar
A myriad of matters put weight on your mind. It heaves under the sheer pressure of it. Thoughts, actions, endless precipitant emotions all occupy this undefined space and define your outlook on life. It could be anything and everything: doubts, missed prayers, a glance, a stolen conversation, an act of pride, that shopping spree in which you redefined the word ‘shopaholic’ – the list is near infinite.
We travel through each day lugging all this emotional and mental baggage, and our life is spent in a perpetual state of “What if I had done it differently?”
It’s not meant to be like this.
What’s done is done. It is time to move on.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not propagating a carefree existence in which we shovel obliviousness into every recess of our mistakes, effectively burying them under a bed of thorn-less roses and skipping off into an ideal sunset.
What I mean is what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be upon him) taught us:
“Seek help from Allah, the Most High, and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say: If I had not done that, it would not have happened so and so, but say:
Allah did that what He had ordained to do and you saying “if” opens the (gate) for the Shaytaan.” (Muslim, Book 33: Destiny, Number: 6441)
By moving on, what I mean is that don’t waste your life away in grim contemplation and exhaustion of a million different outcomes of what could have happened.
I understand you. I really do. I am only writing this because I can relate to it. And I am in no way free from the shackles of “what if” any more than you are.
This “what if” – two measly little words – can sow the seeds of doubt, give root to misery and blossom into something that Shaytaan would be proud of displaying in his prize plot of Muslim-downers. First it’s the “what if?”, then it’s the feelings of doubtful evaluation, then the grief, then you feel like slapping yourself and it goes on and on. You find yourself stuck in quicksand and you don’t know how to get out.
It is time for us to sever the root to this problem.
So, what should we do?
Firstly, keep in mind that nothing comes to pass except by the Decree of Allah, the Most Kind. If it happened, then it happened. Nothing could have averted it, nothing could have changed it, and that “anything other” never had a chance to begin with. It came to pass and happen it did. Accept it.
Secondly, know that Allah loves you. More than what the mind can comprehend and what the heart can ponder upon. I mean: this is my Lord and your Lord who has promised us that He will reward us for even the prick of a thorn! Do you think that Allah will not reward you if you persevere in patience?
It happened because He, out of His infinite Wisdom, wanted it to happen. He, the Best of Planners, wanted us to learn something from it – even if we didn’t gain something material at the end of it.
Experience is the best teacher and emotional upheaval is the best landmark to warn us of an impending danger. There is no harm in remembering what you did as long as you now see it as a light to guide you away from the previous mistakes, and not a grim mist to cloud your thoughts and sink you into depression. If your cause of regret is about a sin that you committed then repent and be happy on account of your regret because regret is a form of repentance itself and remember what `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The believer sees his sins as if he is sitting at the foot of a mountain fearing that it might fall on him, while the sinner sees his sins as a fly that lands on his nose – he just waves it away.” (Bukhari)
So learn a lesson from what you did because Allah, the Most Kind, is teaching you something.
Thirdly, make sure that you do not repeat what caused your grief. This may seem obvious but Shaytaan has known mankind for millions of years and he knows a billion different ways to make you follow the same plot again. So seek help in Allah, be patient and Allah will turn your grief into happiness.
Whenever you feel down, always remember that Allah says:
“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him – He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (Qur’an, 65:2-3)
“…Allah does not wish to impose hardship upon you. Rather, He wishes to purify you; and to complete His blessings upon you; and in order that you may be thankful.” (Qur’an, 5:6)
Thank Allah for giving you the ability to realise you did something wrong. Thank Him for still preserving your faith. Ask Him to help you and guide you. Step on your grief and use it as a launch-pad to propel you to a threshold of servitude towards Allah. And keep strong by reminding yourself of what our beloved Messenger ﷺ taught us from what Allah had taught him:
“No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Bukhari Vol 7, Book 70, Number: 545)
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 6:40am On Dec 15, 2011|
The Amazing Race
Imagine three people running a race of equal athletic ability. The first person has weights strapped on to every inch of their body, so they don’t see the load they carry but they just feel heavy and exhausted, and in a short amount of time, they burn out. They keep trying but keep burning out quickly every time. The second person is trying to run while carrying a heavy load they recognize and see is on their backs, but they are still determined to run. Unfortunately, the load they carry slips around and even distracts their vision from the racecourse so they veer off in the wrong direction often. Because they won’t simply let go of the load, even coming back to the racecourse itself becomes its own challenge. The third person has no weights or loads. They are free to run without anything holding them down. They feel light as the wind, and they actually enjoy the run.
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) mentions twice in the Qur’an:
“[, ] So race to all that is good. [, ]” (Qur’an 2:148 and 5:48)
We see the image of the race, of rushing to Allah (swt) with speed, in the following verses:
“Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.” (Qur’an 57:21)
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Qur’an 3:133)
“It is these who race for the good deeds, and they are foremost in them.” (Qur’an 23:61)
“And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race. Those are the ones brought near to Allah.” (Qur’an 56:10-11)
“And those who race each other in a race.” (Qur’an 79:4)
In these verses, two different roots are used to describe this act of racing. The first – ‘s-b-q’ – has the meaning of competition. The second – ‘s-r-‘’ – has the meaning of speed and haste. Both roots have also been used with an alif—implying it is done with others.
Sheikh al-Tantawi mentioned in his tafsir (exegesis):
إذ السبق معناه : أن يتجاوز السائر من يسير معه ، ويسبقه إلى المكان المقصود الوصول إليه
“The meaning of al-Sabq is that the one who walks surpasses the one walking with them, and reaches the destination before them.”
The Different Races
There are some important reflections to take from these verses. First, the truth is, we are all headed somewhere in a race whether we consciously know it or not. Allah (swt) asks all of humanity, “Where are you going?” (Qur’an 81:26). And just as Allah (swt) mentions those who race for good he also mentions those who actually race for disbelief.
“O Messenger! Let them not grieve you (those) who vie with another in the race to disbelief…” (Qur’an 5:41)
Secondly, many times the concept of competition ‘being healthy’ is actually practiced in a very worldly sense where greed, jealousy, and enmity towards the competitors would be felt. Subhan Allah (glory be to God), this is the way of those in the “Rat Race” which is also described by Allah (swt) in the Qur’an:
“Many of them you see, racing each other in sin and enmity, and their eating of things forbidden. Evil indeed are the things that they do.” (5:62)
When it comes to racing for other than Allah, enmity comes with the race. If the ilah or actual goal in the race becomes material, then the heart becomes jealous and desires enmity. So if two sisters are memorizing Qur’an and one gets ahead of the other, and the second sister actually wishes bad upon the first for getting ahead, the jealous sister should realize she was racing for dunya—material worldly gain—and not Allah (swt). Deep down, she questions Allah’s qadar (recorded plan) in allowing her sister to excel in Qur’an. Maybe she wanted worldly fame for being a hafitha (one who has memorized the Qur’an), or was memorizing for no other goal than being better than others. She should also realize that not only is she headed in the wrong direction, but she is also carrying weights strapped onto her—the enmity and lack of self-approval—that is weighing her down. If she was happy for her sister, while also wishing good for herself, this is as it should be. However, even if religious and community leaders feel enmity towards one another for some good that the other has achieved, this is a sign that they have veered off course, and are heavy with the burden they have chosen to carry until they let it go.
I use the term ‘chosen’ because holding onto jealousy is something we have been asked to avoid, so it falls within the realm of our own abilities and choices. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) mentioned, “Avoid jealousy, for it destroys good deeds as fire destroys wood.”
There are also those who always assume others are jealous of them, that they are the destination of other people’s races. This usually means that instead of looking ahead of themselves, they’re busy looking back and wishing for others not to catch up. Rather than fixing their sight on the pleasure of Allah (swt), they too get caught in the “Rat Race” of enmity, and veer off course.
The Race to Allah (swt)
Yet subhan Allah, the opposite spirit is the case for those truly racing towards Allah (swt). Surrounding yourself with excellent company means you will be competing with the best. This means you will actually achieve much more than you would on your own. Their company is a blessing that helps you push yourself harder. The race is not about beating others as much as it’s about achieving your own best efforts for Allah (swt), because al-Kareem (the Generous) rewards without measure from his infinite Mercy to each and every one of us.
In this race, the competitors are inspired by one another and want each person to do as well as possible. They are happy to see them advance and help them. If they see someone headed in the wrong direction, they try to correct them and bring them back. Each time they help their competitors advance, they are also advanced. They help their competitors through obstacles, and obstacles are magically removed from their own path. The race track is much more of an obstacle course anyway with each person racing through their own set of unique life challenges and opportunities designed according to the perfection of Allah’s plan. This is exemplified when Zakariyah ‘alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may Allah send His peace and blessings on him) was inspired to make du`a’ to Allah (swt) for a son right after Maryam `alayha as-salaam (peace be upon her) explains to Him that Allah (swt) is the source of her rizq (wealth or provision).
Now imagine that as we race to Allah (swt), He also rushes towards us as is mentioned in the Hadith Qudsi (record of the words of the Prophet ﷺ, relating words of God that were not revealed as part of the Qur’an):
“He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running.”
Finally, the sirat (bridge) over Hell-Fire which we all have to cross in order to enter Jannah (paradise), provides important imagery. Some will crawl, others will walk, and the very fortunate will run across. It is those who ran to Allah (swt) in this life, who will get to run to Him in the next. May we be of them insha Allah (God willing). Ameen.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 8:24am On Dec 16, 2011|
In The Amazing Race (above), we started off with the image of three runners: one with hidden weights attached to their body, one carrying a heavy load on their back, and a third person without any weights or loads running freely. In any race, it is the third person that we would all want to be. Specifically, in the race to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), it is who we actively seek to be. It starts with learning that we have the power and the right to let go.
Understanding the Weights and the Loads
There are so many people holding onto heavy loads trying to make it through the race. People are holding onto sadness and grief, fears and insecurities, anger, and all the other limiting emotions. Limiting and difficult emotions are normal to experience, and we are rewarded for enduring challenges with patience and perseverance. But after those events have brought us back to Allah (swt), it’s time to let go of the pain. And subhan‘Allah (glory be to God), we have always had the power to do that. Letting go does not mean giving up or justifying wrongs. It means you are willing to continue the race with all the lessons learned, without carrying the emotional load with you. In place of bitterness and feeling victimized, you allow yourself to feel free, and even grateful for the wisdom and reward attained. Experiencing negative emotions is not wrong, rather very normal and human, and it can even be a blessing that reminds us to turn to Allah (swt). But after we have turned to Him, we go back to being content with Him and His decree. We let go of the attachments of needing sadness, of needing anxiety and fear to protect us and help us, because we have Allah (swt) to do those things and we have been given power over our own immediate choices to work for them.
Negative emotions, when held onto, become part of the attachments of dunya (this world). They are the weights attached to the runner as they try to run to Allah (swt) and get exhausted early. A traumatic life event is the heavy load that someone carries over their shoulders after the calamity has passed and they have the ability to put it down. Sometimes it takes the help of others to say, “Here, let me help you put that down. You don’t need to carry it anymore.” Some are so used to the weight, they’re actually afraid of what it would feel like to live without it. The heavy load allowed them to turn to Allah (swt) and they are afraid that putting it down would mean they would forget Him and become heedless. So we have to understand something:
What does Allah (swt) Himself want for us?
While remembering Allah (swt) during our moments of weakness is a blessing from Him, He is more Merciful to us than His wanting us to hold onto that weakness in order to feel close to Him. Actually the opposite is encouraged:
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) taught us, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both. Guard over that which benefits you, seek Allah’s assistance, and don’t lend yourself to things devoid of benefit, and if something befalls you, then don’t say ‘If I only would have done such and such,’ rather say ‘Allâh ordained this and He does what He wills’ for verily the phrase ‘If I would have’ makes way for the work of the Devil.” (Muslim)
Imam al-Nawawi commented, “The intended meaning of strength here is a firm will and a desire to work for the Hereafter. So the one being described as a strong believer is more bold and stern against the enemy in Jihad, quicker to go out and searching for striving in Allah’s path, more in his enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, in his patience with the harms he faces throughout, and stronger in the way he carries out difficult tasks for Allah’s sake. He loves to pray, fast, make dhikr (remembrance of Allah), and perform the rest of the acts of worship, and he is more active in seeking after these affairs, as he keeps a closer watch over his performance of them.” (Sharh Muslim (9/341))
Allah (swt) is more Merciful than His wanting us to punish ourselves with hardship, pain, self-imposed weakness and heaviness. He wants for us ease and lightness despite the natural human tendency towards weakness:
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
“Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.” (Qur’an, 2:185)
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ يُخَفِّفَ عَنْكُمْ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
“And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” (Qur’an, 4:28)
Furthermore, whenever there is a command in the Qur’an or from the Prophet ﷺ, it means that following such a command is humanly possible. Here are just a few examples that show the option to hold onto an emotion or not is within our control:
Allah mentions in the Qur’an:
وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا
“Do not be weak and do not be sad.” (Qur’an 3:139)
And to Musa `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) and Harun (as):
قَالَ لَا تَخَافَا إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَى
“(Allah) said, ‘Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.’” (Qur’an, 20:46)
The Prophet ﷺ mentions, “Don’t become angry.”
Tricks of the Mind and Nafs (Ego)
It’s interesting to note that ‘sadness’ in particular and emotions in general are often spoken about in English as nouns, making them seem static, unmoving, like you cannot do anything about them once they are there but wait for them to go away on their own. People become overwhelmed by their emotions when they feel they are static, and when they think they can’t control them, so instead of trying to regain control they simply give in, and even justify it. In Arabic, emotions are often used as active verbs that include the responsible party in the verb. So it’s as if it’s saying, “Don’t you do sadness,” or “Don’t you do fear.” Meaning, when it comes to holding onto emotions, we are the active doers, doing it to ourselves.
The nafs has tricked us into thinking we have no power over these weights, these loads we’re carrying. The nafs also tells us we need these weights in order to succeed, that they make us stronger. And sometimes they do, but only when we have learned about our power to remove them. Otherwise, the weights carried indefinitely lead to massive health and psychological problems, rather than strength. It continuously lies to us, like any oppressor for no other reason other than staying in charge, so that these lies control our direction. Subhan’Allah, fear and anxiety don’t help us become safer. They actually make us panic and become less safe. Anger makes us lose control even though people choose to become angry in order to gain control. Feeling self-pity, actively maintaining the ‘victim’ mentality does not bring the promise of self-approval or control in life. It makes the person desperate for the attention and approval of others (aka riya’), and can even lead to manipulative behavior in trying to control others. Holding onto sadness after loss doesn’t make experiencing the loss any easier, it makes it harder and more prolonged, more acutely felt.
To conclude this part, the nafs wants us to hold on dearly to all the emotions that can make us a slave to it. Letting go is about freeing our souls so we can run to Allah (swt), feeling secure, loved, and in control in the presence of al-Mawlaa, al-Wadud, and al-Qaadir. May Allah (swt) allow us to let go of that which slows us down in the race to Him, and may He make us of the strong believers.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 6:44am On Dec 17, 2011|
Hurt by Others: How to Cope and Heal
When I was growing up, the world was a perfect place. The only problem was, that it wasn’t. I used to believe that everything could always be ‘fair’. To me that meant no one should ever be wronged, and if they were, justice must be served. I fought hard for the way I believed things should be. But in my struggle, I overlooked a fundamental truth about this life. In my childish idealism, I failed to understand that this world is inherently imperfect. We, as humans, are inherently imperfect. So we will always mess up. And in those mess-ups, we will inevitably hurt others, knowingly, and unknowingly, intentionally and unintentionally. The world would not always be fair.
Does that mean we stop struggling against injustice, or give up on Truth? Of course not. But it means we must not hold this world – and others – to an unrealistic standard. But that’s not always easy. How do we live in a world so flawed, where people let us down, and even our own family can break our heart? And perhaps, hardest of all, how do we learn to forgive when we have been wronged? How do we become strong, without being hard, and remain soft, without being weak? When do we hold on, and when can we let go? When does caring too much, become too much? And is there such a thing as loving more than we should?
To begin to find these answers, we have to first take a step outside our own lives. We need to examine whether we are the first or the last to feel pain or be wronged. We need to look at those who came before us, to study their struggles, and their triumphs. And we need to recognize that growth never comes without pain, and success is only a product of struggle. That struggle almost always includes withstanding and overcoming the harms inflicted by others.
Recalling the shining examples of our prophets will remind us that our pain is not isolated. Remember that Prophet Nuh was abused by his people for 950 years. The Quran tells us: “Before them the People of Noah rejected (their apostle): they rejected Our servant, and said, ‘Here is one possessed!’, and he was driven out.” (Qur’an, 54:9) Nuh was abused so much that he finally “called on his Lord: ‘I am one overcome: do Thou then help (me)!’” (Qur’an, 54:10)
Or we can call to mind how the Prophet ﷺ was pelted with stones, until he bled, and how the companions were beaten and starved. All of this harm was at the hands of others. Even the angels understood this aspect of human nature – before we even came to be. When Allah told the angels that He would create humanity, their first question was about this harmful potential of humans. Allah tells us: “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent (humanity) on earth.’ They said: ‘Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?’” (Qur’an, 2:30)
This potential of humanity to commit horrific crimes against each other is a sad reality of this life. And yet many of us are so blessed. Most of us have not had to face the type of calamities that others have endured throughout time. Most of us will never have to watch as our families are tortured or killed. And yet, there are few of us who could say we have never been hurt, in one way or another, at the hands of someone else. So although most of us will never have to know the feeling of starving to death or standing helpless as our homes are destroyed, most of us will know what it means to cry from a wounded heart.
Is it possible to avoid this? To some degree, I think it is. We can never avoid all pain, but by adjusting our expectation, our response, and our focus, we can avoid much devastation. For example, putting our entire trust, reliance, and hope in another person is unrealistic and just plain foolish. We have to remember that humans are fallible and therefore, our ultimate trust, reliance, and hope should only be put in Allah. Allah says: “…whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing of all things.” (Qur’an, 2: 256) Knowing that Allah is the only handhold that never breaks, will save us from much unneeded disappointment.
And yet this is not to say that we should not love or that we should love less. It is how we love that is important. Nothing should be our ultimate object of love, except Allah. Nothing should come before Allah in our hearts. And we should never come to a point where we love something, other than Allah, in such a way, that it would be impossible to continue life without it. This type of ‘love’ is not love, but actually worship and it causes nothing but pain.
But what happens when we’ve done all that and still we have been hurt or wronged by others – as will also inevitably happen? How can we do what is the hardest? How can we learn to forgive? How can we learn to mend our scars and continue being good to people, even when they are not good to us?
In the story of Abu Bakr radi Allahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him), is a beautiful example of exactly that. After his daughter, `Ayesha (r), was slandered in the worst way, Abu Bakr (r) found out that the man who began the rumor was Mistah, a cousin who Abu Bakr had been supporting financially. Naturally Abu Bakr withheld the charity he had been giving the slanderer. Soon after, Allah revealed the following ayah: “Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want and those who migrated in the path of Allah. Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Indeed Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 24:22) Upon hearing this ayah, Abu Bakr resolved that he did want Allah’s forgiveness, and so he not only continued to give the man money, he gave him more.
This type of forgiveness is at the very heart of being a believer. In describing these believers, Allah says: “And who shun the more heinous sins and abominations; and who, whenever they are moved to anger, readily forgive.” (Qur’an, 42:37)
The ability to readily forgive should be driven by an awareness of our own flaws and mistakes towards others. But most of all, our humility should be driven by the fact that we wrong Allah every single day of our lives, when we sin. Who are we compared to Allah? And yet, Allah, Master of the universe, forgives by day and by night. Who are we to withhold forgiveness? If we hope to be forgiven by Allah, how can we not forgive others? It is for this reason that the Prophet ﷺ teaches us: “Those who show no mercy to others will have no mercy shown to them by Allah.” [Muslim]
This hope for Allah’s mercy should motivate our own desire to forgive and to one day enter the only world that really is perfect.
Originally published by Infocus News
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 5:05am On Dec 18, 2011|
No Bearer of Burden: A short story
When I lie in bed at night, that’s when it all hits me. It comes gradually at first, like a soft yet steady hum. Like a toothache, it starts with a dull pain. Soon however, it becomes as if it were a full-fledged headache. I become entangled in its snares before I even realize it. My mind is spinning like a 45 on the turntable of unreality. Thoughts fly this way and that, sometimes crashing into the sides of my head, then returning with even more stamina. And all the while, I lie there, my eyes seeing only darkness but my mind knowing no rest.
Frustrated I throw back the covers and flip on the bedside lamp. The warm glow of a candle illuminates the cheetah motif of the lampshade. My soul feels comforted. The thoughts vanish tucking their tails between their legs. All is seemingly normal. I breathe a sigh of relief and try once again to immerse myself in sleep. I even switch sides for the clean slate effect. But once again, my attempt is futile. It all rushes back the moment my eyes shut and a million vividly disturbing imaginings break loose from temporary cages.
“They don’t really like you, it’s all a facade.”
“You looked so nice in that picture, I wonder if they thought you were pretty.”
“Why haven’t they spoken to you for a while? You must have really done it this time.”
“Stop!” An overwhelming thought suddenly blots out all the rest. “You’re all liars! They love me, they’re just busy. I know I’m pretty because that boy said I was. Remember him? From Facebook?”
Ah, yes my mind is finally working properly. It has carefully sifted out what I want to hear, the supreme truth of the matters which hinder my slumber. Or at least, what suits my whims and fancies. The rest is simply ‘mind junk’. I should have known all along.
Sleep soon overtakes me, but it does not last long. I am suddenly standing in a scene anew. Startled, I take account of my environment. My bedroom has faded away, the comfy pillow no longer cradles my head. The stupor of sleep has vanished and I feel more alert than ever before. The atmosphere around me is one of urgency and the mood is intense. I shudder. I look around and find myself surrounded by faces looking on in awe. I reach out to touch an arm, it retracts. I grab a hand, it slithers out of my grasp. Breaking out in a cold sweat, I too begin to imitate the hushed, anxious crowd. I know where I am now. This is the Day of Judgment.
My mind is once again set to full speed, but this time its thoughts are of a different nature altogether. Each thought consumes the expanse of my mind, first in loudness and then in absolute yelling.
“What have you prepared for this?”
“Did you even try to get ready?”
“WHAT HAVE YOU PREPARED FOR THIS!?”
I slowly become a crumpled heap on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. I have prepared nothing. Not enough dhikr. Not enough du‘ā’. Not enough worship. In fact, the very thought of preparation had somehow eluded me, gotten lost somewhere in a mass of trivial pursuits. That was the one path my mind had not traversed, but which I now so desperately needed. I feel too weak to ward off a last minute whispering.
“I bet THEY will help you.”
Yes, that’s it! I had done everything I possibly could to please them during life on the earthly plane. Many a time I had had to silence the voice of reason that would try to stop me. As long as they were happy with me, my life was complete. With new determination I rise and scan the crowd looking for a familiar face. It is no easy task, but whenever I spot one, I rush headlong to it, hands waving wildly. Much to my dismay, I get dismal responses each time. Some ignore me, a look of sheer indifference making them almost unrecognizable. Some walk swiftly away into oblivion in the same instant that I touch their shoulder. Soon, I find myself alone. The crowd has gradually marched away from me, rank upon rank. As my body helplessly falls forward, no longer able to support itself, I recall something. A verse. I had once read it, perhaps a Ramaḍān or two ago when I had ever bothered to peek into the Qurʾān. And as my body falls further and further into the unknown, the crowd still looking on, it flows through my veins, grabs the reins of my mind, pulsates through my heart, and consumes my soul.
“No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another.”
And then I open my eyes. My head is cradled by a comfy pillow. I bolt upright, gasping for air and looking around. I see the familiar scenes; a curtained window to my right and a nightstand supporting a cheetah print lamp to my left. I rub my eyes and take a look at the bedside digital clock. 4:45 AM. Emerging from the covers, my feet touch the cold, hardwood floor. I shiver my way to the bathroom, turn on the tap, and start undoing Satan’s knots, one by one. I slip on my prayer clothes, grateful for the warmth they provide and assume my position on my dark red prayer mat. In the stillness of the night I invoke my Lord. Every body, every face gradually marches away, rank upon rank and I feel myself flying higher and higher. I feel myself radiating light beyond the realms of human comprehension. I am alone, alone with the only One. Stray musings attempt to extinguish my light. But, an overwhelming thought suddenly blots out all the rest.
“Don’t think. Just pray.”
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 2:41pm On Dec 25, 2011|
The Qur’an was always conveyed through speech. When it was sent down, it was not sent down as a physical book that was read by the Companions. The Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) would recite it out loud and it would be heard and would move those who heard it. It had a penetrating effect, just in its language, style, and eloquence. There are many instances from the life of the Prophet ﷺ where we find examples of the Qur’an’s power over its listeners. The enemies of the Prophet ﷺ would even call it magic because of the powerful effect it had on the one who heard it, thereby unwittingly conceding the fact that it was something supernatural. When the Prophet ﷺ recited Surah an-Najm (Qur’an 53) in Makkah, the entire audience, believers and non-believers, fell into prostration in awe, overpowered by what they had heard. When `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah, who was one of the leaders of the polytheists in Makkah came to debate with the Prophet ﷺ and he ﷺ recited Surah Fussilat (Qur’an 41) in response, `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah left shaken and humbled by the verses. We have stories from the Companions who would tell us how the Qur’an affected their hearts. For example, Jubayr bin Mut’im said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah recite ‘Surah Al Tur’ in the Maghrib prayer, and when he got to the verses “Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? No, but they have no firm Belief. Or are with them the treasures of your Lord? Or are they the tyrants with the authority to do as they like?” [Qur’an 52:35-37], my heart wanted to fly from my body out of awe.”1
These and many other such examples lead to the conclusion that clearly the Qur’an is supposed to have a powerful effect on the listener. It is meant to change us for the better, cause us to be humble before the Words of our Creator and move our hearts. But all that comes when we understand what the Qur’an is saying to us. So why is it that we cannot experience the Qur’anic narrative the way they did? Why do we not feel what Jubayr radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) felt in salah (prayer) when he heard the Qur’an being recited? What can we do to help ourselves taste at least some of what they tasted from the Qur’an? The fact is that most of us do not have the time to sit down full-time and dedicate ourselves to learning the Arabic language or the intricacies of balagha (rhetoric). It is not practical to forego our responsibilities and commitments and set out to master the Arabic language and detailed explanation (tafseer). However, there are certain practical steps after forming sincere intentions and du`aa (supplication) that we can take on a daily basis that can help us come closer to the Qur’an and its message.
Make the Qur’an a part of our daily life. We can the take the time to understand the chapters we recite in our daily prayers. A lot of us know many of the short chapters from the 30th part of the Qur’an, so that is a good place to begin and work backwards. Take some time daily, even if it is 10-15 minutes, to sit down and engage the Qur’an. Read the translation, listen to or read some commentary on the chapter and try to memorize it as well. Take some time to reflect on the verses and what Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) is saying and how it relates to you and your life. The next time you stand up and recite that chapter in prayer or hear someone reciting it, you will have a much deeper connection to it because of the time you invested in seeking to understand. You’ll be able to experience the Qur’an in a whole new way.
Dedicate some time daily or weekly to learning Arabic. The keys to truly experiencing the Qur’an lie in learning the Arabic language. It opens a whole new dimension to the Qur’an and allows you to feel the profound subtleties that are embedded in the text. Even with a basic understanding of the language, you will experience the Qur’an on a completely different level. A lot of times we get scared away from learning it because we feel studying Arabic needs our full attention. We put it off until such a time that we think we’ll be ready to dedicate hours to it daily. The thing is, we don’t have to give up everything and dedicate ourselves to studying Arabic full time, nor is it practical to do so for the majority of people. Instead, with the many available resources today such as videos on YouTube or self-study books, a lot of progress can be achieved with putting in a small amount of time, even ten minutes a day. All it requires is dedication, focus, and consistency. A common pitfall usually is focusing on too much at the same time, which leads to getting overwhelmed and burning out. Instead, taking it easy, focusing on one resource, mastering it, and then moving on to another will be of much more benefit. Once we start to comprehend the language, the Qur’an will open itself up in a completely new dimension.
These are two practical steps that we can begin to implement in our lives to help us come closer to the Qur’an. It is not required of every one of us to become scholars, rather what is required of all of us is to experience the ayaat (verses, lit. signs) of the Qur’an. We are asked to make the effort to come closer to it in order that we can better ourselves, and as a result, better our families and communities. The Companions were not all memorizers of the Qur’an, nor were all of them scholars but what they had in common was that when they heard the Qur’an, it had an impact on them. It changed them into better people. It had a practical impact in their life, in their attitude, and it deepened their insight. It touched their hearts each time they heard it, even if it was the same verse they had listened to and knew from before. With some effort on our part, we too can start to try and experience the Qur’an as they did.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 3:51am On Jan 17, 2012|
I Prayed for Peace Today
I found myself praying for peace today.
I’ve been in and out of my mind a thousand times
I know You heard me.
I know I wasn’t alone in that room,
shaking with the fear of fear,
the harrowing loneliness.
I cried out to You on my hands. On my knees.
With my face pushed down against the ground.
If I could have gotten lower, I swear I would.
Because that is helplessness, the truest kind…
The kind that knows nothing, not one leaf, or tear, or smile can be
I learned something today.
This is dunya. Dunya. Not a place of ease. Only glitter.
The place where you have to feel cold and hungry.
The place where you have to worry and feel scared.
The place where it gets cold.
So cold, sometimes.
The place where you have to leave the people you love.
Where you can’t get attached, because even if you do, it doesn’t make it stay, it just makes it hurt when it doesn’t.
The place where happiness and sadness are only players, waiting for their next line in a play…
Competing for their place on stage.
The place where gravity makes you fall, and frailty makes you bleed.
The place where sadness exists, because it must.
And tears fall to remind you of a place where they don’t.
Where they just don’t.
And isn’t that just it? Isn’t jannah that place after all,
that place that Allah describes over and over and over in 2 ways?
La khawfun alayhim wa la hum yahzanoon…
On them shall be no fear…nor shall they grieve.
But I’m still here, aren’t I?
The scar on my flesh reminds me of that.
The burn on my arm left a scar that I love.
I love it because it reminds me how weak I am.
That I burn. That I bleed. That I break. That I scar.
Yes. It is here that I am. Here that I fall. Here that I cry.
Here, just the same, that You filled that room, and lifted me to humbleness, and an acute knowledge of my own powerlessness and excruciating need for You.
And then you took care of it.
Of course You did.
Like Younus, and Musa, and his mother. You took care of it.
You are the Peace of the peaceful.
The Strength of the strong.
The Lighthouse of Truth in this storm of lies.
So, I found myself praying for peace today.
dunya: this world
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 4:51am On Jan 26, 2012|
Righting a Wrong
I sped through the parking lot. I was late for my early morning final and I was willing to compromise speed limits, especially when there were only a handful of cars parked.
I neared a parking spot and saw another person getting out of their car. As I parked and started walking, I realized it was my classmate. “Hey!” I greeted enthusiastically. She stared at me and with a flare of anger, she retorted, “You almost hit my car!” At first, I thought she was kidding; I hadn’t driven near her car. I then realized she was serious, and I hung my head in shame.
This was the second bad incident this woman had with a Muslim. Just a week prior, another Muslim girl in our class had acted extremely rude towards this classmate. I was not there, but was told of the incident, and I confronted the sister who had committed the crime of horrific da`wah (calling to Islam) through horrendous behavior. However, the damage had been done to our classmate and I had hoped I could present another image of Islam.
But I had already lost my opportunity. I picked driving at an illegally fast speed over improving this woman’s perception of Islam. I racked my brain on what to do, making istighfar (asking for God’s forgiveness), hoping Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) would forgive me and guide me.
The final to which I sped comprised of dropping off a project and returning within a couple hours to retrieve it and receive the grade. I realized I may have some time to make something happen, with Allah’s Help. I found the nearest popular juice place and I bought a gift card for my classmate. I then began writing a sincere apology letter, hoping to make up for my immense shortcoming in her measure. I returned to the class, anxious for her to come back, hoping I hadn’t already missed her.
Finally, I saw her walking and I swiftly went to approach her.
“Excuse me?” I began. She turned around and stared at me, annoyed perhaps, apathetic at best. “I just wanted to apologize to you for today,” I began. “You’re right, I should not have been driving that fast.” She scolded me and I accepted full responsibility; she was completely in the right and I was completely at fault. I then offered her the gift; I told her that I know she had an unfortunate experience with another Muslim in our class, and that she also had an unfortunate incident with me, a Muslim woman, that very morning. But I wanted her to know that we are both simply humans who make mistakes; that what we had done was not condoned by Islam, that what we had represented wasn’t the perfection of morals, principals and character taught to us by the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him). That we simply slipped; that we are human.
The woman was visibly moved by my action. She accepted the gift and then slowly replied, “I am so glad that you stopped me and spoke to me. I am one of those people who try really hard not to listen to the stereotypes in the media. But after what I experienced with both of you, I thought, maybe Muslims really are that way.”
People are carefully watching our moves in order to make a decision on their own notions of Islam and the Muslim community–this includes Muslims who feel they have been pushed out or turned off by other Muslims. If we cut corners and try to get away with things that exude sub-standard character, why would our fellow citizens want to be like us? Who do you naturally lean towards? Someone who is upright in character, who admits fault and tries to fix their mistakes? Or someone who, when they are caught red-handed, blows you off and cusses you out?
We often make excuses for our own lapses in character; we sometimes compromise things we see as non-issues in the bigger picture when it will benefit us. However, let us remember that our lapses affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
Next time we make a mistake, let’s think about ways we can fix it. With repentance, continually seeking forgiveness and striving to compensate for our shortcomings, perhaps we may be the reason someone reconsiders their negative perceptions.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 2:52pm On Jan 29, 2012|
The Never-Ending Story
By Abid Mohammed
A man once complained to the Prophet ﷺ (peace and blessings be upon him) that he had a hard heart. The Prophet ﷺ replied, “If you want your heart to soften, (affectionately) rub the orphan’s head (with your hand) and feed the needy.” [narrated by Ibn Abi Dunya]
For the entire week, you were waiting for the weekend. You desperately needed to sort your life out. I mean things were getting ridiculous. Not only were you really far behind on your lectures and assignments but you still hadn’t cleaned your room and that book you needed to buy? Well that’s going to have to wait. Oh and let’s not forget that you still needed to renew your Oyster Card, pay your tuition fees, pay back the money you owe your friend, sort out plans for going out this Wednesday, clean your car, memorize a page of the Qur’an, organize a dinner for this Friday, go shopping for some new clothes and erm…*scratches head*…did I mention that you desperately needed to sort your life out?
You tried to reassure yourself by saying that this weekend would make all your worries disappear, but you and I both know that’s not going to happen. In fact, we are now on the last day of “this weekend” and I am willing to bet my £5000 overdraft on the fact that nothing has changed. Actually, scrap that. Things are probably worse, aren’t they? Because not only did you manage to achieve absolutely NOTHING this weekend, but a whole new list of tasks have reared their ugly heads, screaming for your attention and begging to be dealt with.
So what should you do? Well, let’s take your room. Ideally it should be completely clean, but that objective hasn’t got you anywhere – so how about just focusing on getting cleaner, like picking up your clothes off the floor? Or your lectures – Going over two weeks worth of lectures is nigh on impossible at the moment, but flicking through just one lecture shouldn’t take long at all! What about memorizing the Qur’an? A page a day is a bit much, so how about just three verses a day?
The point with each of these examples is that you are focusing on getting better, not necessarily on achieving the best – and as long as you do that, you are more likely to achieve what you want then if you had tried to do everything in one go. In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen the latter work is in movies. Real life teaches us to take small steps if we want to go anywhere. That’s why we learn to turn over before we can learn to crawl and why we learn to crawl before we can learn to walk (I think some of us have yet to master this last step). Trying to jump from A to Z in one step is impossible and you know that, which is why your room is still unclean, your lectures remain untouched and your Qur’an is nowhere to be seen.
This is exactly what the Prophet ﷺ highlighted in the hadith (report of the words of the Prophet ﷺ) above. It would have been all too easy to tell someone, eager to become a better person, to do a million things in order to achieve that noble goal. But that would have only caused them to sit on their hands, daunted by the number of obstacles that they must now overcome. Instead he ﷺ gave the man just two tasks to do, tasks that were both simple and that could be done straight away. That doesn’t mean that by doing those two things, the man would have a soft heart, but it would “soften” and as long as he continued to take small steps in the right direction, not only will he be motivated to continue his journey but he’ll be well on his way to actually reaching his desired destination. As someone once said: A journey of a thousand miles really does begin with one step.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba12345: 6:51am On Jan 30, 2012|
The Missing Ingredients: Compassion and Gentleness
I was attending the Friday prayer at a certain mosque once. In the back corner, I noticed two teenage girls sitting side by side, whispering and giggling throughout most of the khutbah (sermon). It was slightly distracting, but nobody made a fuss about it—except one older woman who was eyeing them with anger the entire time. As soon as the prayer ended, she marched toward them and towered over their small bodies. “YOU CAN’T TALK DURING THE KHUTBAH!!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. You could see the utter humiliation on these girls’ faces, as they lowered their heads and peered at all the spectators observing this embarrassing scene. After that woman’s verbal beating, I knew that immediate damage control was in order if these girls were to ever step foot in the mosque again.
It pains me to see how much aggressive behavior is unleashed on fellow sisters and brothers, all in the name of correcting wrongs, or enjoining good and forbidding evil. Islam is not a religion with a strict code of rules that needs to be imposed upon people. We forget that we are dealing with dignified human beings, who have delicate souls, hearts, emotions, and feelings. They are not inanimate objects on a factory belt, where they can be thrown around, cleansed and polished so the perfect ‘halal’ (appropriate) end product pops out. Each person has a unique life story, and every story has its struggles and difficulties; some people might be converts, or are just starting to learn about their religion. Others might not have had parents who taught them Islam, or parents who imposed religious practices upon them until they felt suffocated and constricted. There are also people who feel lost and are searching for guidance, and there are those who committed major sins and want to repent.
All these people have one thing in common: they want to feel love and acceptance. They don’t want to be humiliated or looked down upon. They want to be dealt with patiently, and they want a secure, nourishing environment to grow in. They want to see warm, inviting smiles that draw them closer to God and to the Muslim community. They want kind words of encouragement and support that inspire them to follow the Prophetic way in their worships, speech and character. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) never sugar-coated the truth or stopped calling to the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). Yet, it was his soft, gentle approach that made his message so palatable and soul-satisfying. The Qur’an testifies: “So, by the mercy of Allah [O Muhammad], you were gentle with them—and had you been harsh or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you. So, pardon them, and ask forgiveness for them and consult them about matters…” (Qur’an, 3:159). Look at the beautiful advice of the Prophet ﷺ: “Make matters easy, and do not make them difficult; and give glad tidings and do not turn people away,” [Bukhari]. He ﷺ also made gentleness a beautifying component of everything: “Gentleness is not in something except that it adorns it, and it is not stripped from something except that it ruins it,” [Muslim].
We give gifts to people because we care about them; it is one of the ways we show love, gratitude or appreciation. We also choose gifts that people enjoy or that would improve the quality of their lives. Can you imagine telling someone: “Hey, I have a gift for you,” and then throwing it in their face, leaving them bruised and not wanting anything to do with you or your gift? Think about our da`wah (outreach) efforts and advice as gifts. We want people to love Allah (swt) more and to develop an overwhelming desire in the heart to please Him so they can be successful in this life and the hereafter. If we want our gifts to be received graciously—if we want people to pray on time, or to gain the full reward of the Friday prayer by listening quietly, or to cover more modestly, or to quit bad habits—we need to present these gifts more gracefully and adorn them with gentleness and a loving tone. If our goal is to please God, and not to flex our knowledge muscles or put people down to boost our egos, it is crucial that we pay as much, if not more, attention to how we say our words as to what we say.
There is another problem on the other side of the spectrum; some people have such a high regard for people’s feelings that they refrain from giving advice completely. They themselves might be afraid of being rejected, causing conflict, or not having adequate knowledge. They could also feel that they are not in a place to start pointing out other’s faults or mistakes because they themselves are sinful Muslims. Here, it is important to remember the Prophet’s ﷺ words: “Whoever sees something wrong, he should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then [he should speak against it] with his tongue. If he cannot, then [he should dislike it] in his heart—and that is the weakest of faith” [Muslim]. The Qur’an also says that people are in a state of loss, except for those who “believe, and do righteous deeds, and advise one another to the truth, and advise one another to patience,” (Qur’an, 103:3).
Part of being one Ummah (community) is to care about our brothers’ and sisters’ relationship with our Creator, and to support them in their religious and spiritual growth. Also, the basics of the religion are known, so it does not require much knowledge to encourage good deeds.1 Our beloved Prophet ﷺ advised: “Convey on my behalf, even if (just) one verse,” [Bukhari]. There is no denying that actively calling to Allah’s way is difficult. People are generally insecure about their shortcomings, and they do not enjoy having a mirror put in front of them that highlights their blemishes. People might respond to our advice rudely or even harshly, making us feel belittled or dismissed at times. That is a common theme, though, with people who devote their lives to the calling. Look at the stories of the prophets and messengers, and how they endured their people’s criticisms and rejection. They were mocked, ridiculed and physically attacked, but they never quit. The value of conveying the message outweighed the physical or emotional pains that any of them experienced individually.
The key in advising people is to strike a balance. Encouraging God-consciousness and piety is praiseworthy, but it must be adorned with tact, kindness and humility. People need to feel that we care about them and are not just being judgmental or critical. For people to feel that positive, loving energy, we need to be sincerely aiming to please God and wanting the best for His servant-worshippers. It is important to remember that guidance ultimately comes from God. If we plant the seeds in people gently, we never know if and when God will cause these seeds to sprout and eventually bear fruit. The value remains, though, in planting the seeds irrespective of the results. If God utilizes us to bring people closer to His path, and we succeed in treating people with gentleness, mercy and compassion, our reward is secured with God, by His will.
[size=4pt]1.It should be noted that if there is a legitimate, legal difference of opinion among scholars about a certain matter, we cannot rebuke others for following an opinion different from our own. [↩][/size]
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 7:32am On May 02, 2012|
The ambulance was shrieking, and I was the unlucky patient being hurriedly transported to the local hospital. My body lay on a stretcher inside the vehicle, pain shooting through my left arm.
“It looks like a massive heart attack,” I heard one of the paramedics whisper. Not knowing the true severity of my situation, I shut my eyes, desperately praying to Ar-Rahman (The Merciful) to have mercy on His slave.
I impatiently tugged at the oxygen tubes in my nose, wondering when I would be able to escape from this prison the public decreed was a hospital. A cardiologist soon strolled into my room, her brown eyes vibrant with empathy as she laid my chart down on the side counter and turned towards me, exclaiming, “As-salaamu `alaykum1 Aisha.”
Believing her kindness to be merely the facet of a friendly facade, I brusquely muttered an inaudible “Wa `alaykum as-salaam2 .”
The doctor tucked a strand of loose hair back in her hijab and began the arduous task of diagnosing me.
“The EKG was abnormal. We found some…disturbing signs. The irregular rate at which your heart is beating and the atypical electrical activity occurring are typical signs of a very discontent heart. We believe you are suffering from qalb-ul-qasiyyah, a hardened heart.”
With this revelation she looked at me expectantly, but my apathetic eyes merely gazed at her in boredom. I was too tired—too weary—too hopeless to care about the dire condition of my heart.
“Aisha?” she asked, giving me a questioning glance. “This is a very curable disease, you know. I once suffered from it too.”
With this revelation my eyes flickered with mild interest. But even then, I was suffocating under the burden of my despair and believed whatever “cure” the doctor was referencing had ceased to exist.
Understanding my cynical mindset, she began narrating her story.
“I was in a situation very similar to the one in which you are now. I was spiritually lost, wandering about with this immense pain in my soul, and my heart was reaping the effects. One day, I collapsed from the sheer magnitude of helplessness and sadness, and I was rushed into a hospital, just like the one in which we are today.”
I was fully awake at this point, and my eyes perceived the doctor in a different light. Curious as to how she managed to recover from the disease, I asked, “How did you get better?”
A knowing smile played on her lips: “Never forget Aisha—Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says in the Qur’an, “Surely with every hardship comes ease”3 . But to answer your question more directly, I recovered through tawbah4 , dhikr 5 and du`a’ 6 . These three things are the key to maintaining a relationship with Allah (swt). And in every situation, you have to have tawakkul7 . Believe me, when you put your trust in Allah (swt) and not in other people, or a drug or a pill, the results are miraculous; tawakkul is an alleviation of stress and despair. ”
“But I already do all of those things. I pray five times a day too, ” I grumbled. ” And look where I am now.”
“I used to feel the same way,” she responded. The cardiologist’s eyes seemed to see through my exterior into my conflicted interior. “But just think for a moment. Do we really believe La ilaha illallah8 ? I think the problem I had, and the problem our Ummah 9 as a whole suffers from, is that our hearts haven’t born witness to the shahada10 . Our iman 11 is merely lip service; it is neither manifested in our deeds nor nestled in our hearts. Rasulullah 12 ﷺ (peace be upon him) used to make tawbah over 70 times a day. We barely say 3 heartfelt astagfirullah‘s13 a day. How often do we return to Allah (swt) when we know we have strayed off the straight path, and are distant from Him?”
The doctor paused for a few seconds, and then turned back to me, asking a strange question with a seemingly obvious reply: “What do you think about when you pray?”
“Allah (swt) of course, ” I answered, matter of factly. But, seeing her skeptical look, I answered again.
“Well, usually my mind wanders, and I start to think about what my friend told me at lunch, or what I’m going to do for my science fair project, or what outfit I should wear to the party on Saturday. It’s hard to focus on Allah (swt),” I admitted.
“Good. You realize sometimes your mind strays from the remembrance of Allah (swt). It’s a problem that everybody struggles with. And it’s the cause of inefficient salah14 . Salah is meant to be a protection for us against sin—a protection against the ever persistent whisperings of Shaytan (the devil). But, more often than not, it becomes monotonous, ritualistic movements of the body, in which our minds remember everything but Allah (swt). And this inefficient salah leads to a very lost, discontent soul that wonders why it has ceased to feel alive.”
Recognizing the truth in her words, I asked, “How can I start remembering Allah (swt)?”
“Simple. Dhikr and du`a’; strive to remember Allah (swt), and make du`a’. Ask As-Sami` (The One Who Hears) to bless you with the remembrance of Him. And remember it is recorded in a hadith 15 that ‘Whoever does not ask of Allah (swt), he is angry with him.’16 Ask Allah (swt) and expect to be answered, because Allah (swt) loves to hear and answer the supplications of his humble servants.”
By this time I had shifted positions from laying on my back, to sitting upright, my head leaning against a few fluffed out pillows. The telemetry machine beeped encouragingly; my heart was beginning to beat at a more normal pace. I felt as I did after a rigorous cardio workout or an exhausting yet satisfying game of basketball at the YMCA.
The cardiologist was quiet—lost in her thoughts. It seemed as if her speech had ended. Her hand was on the doorknob and she began to open the door.
“Where’s my prescription?” I quickly asked, assuming she had forgotten.
She merely chuckled. “I think I’ve given you everything you need to recover from this disease and have a qalbin salim—a sound heart. Read the Qur’an. Remember Aisha, in the Qur’an there is a healing—a healing that can heal even the hardest of hearts. ”
And with that, she opened the door and exited the room.
1. peace be upon you [↩]
2. and on you, peace [↩]
3. Qur’an 94:5-6 [↩]
4. repentance [↩]
5. remembrance [↩]
6. supplication [↩]
7. trust in and reliance on God [↩]
8. there is nothing of worship except The God [↩]
9. community [↩]
10. the testament of faith [↩]
11. faith [↩]
12. the Messenger of God [↩]
13. I seek refuge in God [↩]
14. prayer [↩]
15. record of the words and actions of the Prophet ﷺ [↩]
16. Tirmidhi [↩]
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 7:55am On May 20, 2012|
Where All Needs Are Met
In Surah Taha, in an address to Prophet Adam `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may Allah send His peace and blessings on him), Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) describes Jannah (Paradise) in the following words:
“Indeed, it is [promised] for you neither to hunger therein, nor to go Unclad;
And that you neither thirst therein, nor suffer the heat (of the sun).” (Qur’an, 20:118-119)
Some of the exegetical scholars1 of the past remarked on the poignancy of this description of Paradise, and the link between hunger and unclothedness made in the first verse, and thirst and exposure to the sun in the second. Hunger, they explained, is an inner need, while clothing one’s unclothedness is an outer one; and by coupling them together, the verse implies that both one’s inner and outward needs will be completely and fully taken care of in Paradise.
In the same way, thirst is an inner burning, while exposure to the sun leads to a burning of the outer form. By mentioning them together, Allah’s words emphasize that He will protect and shield the one in Paradise from any type of suffering, be it internal or external.
In this succinct and beautiful way, Allah (swt) describes Paradise as the place where all of one’s needs are fulfilled, perfectly and completely, and where one will never feel the sting of any suffering.
May Allah make us of its people, Ameen!
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 6:26am On May 21, 2012|
Asking for Mercy
It’s what we crave. It’s what we pray for. It’s the only means for getting into Paradise. We know that we are constantly sinning and that without His Mercy, none of these sins will be forgiven. We know that without His Mercy, not only will our entire lives be filled with misery, but also the afterlife. If we knew how to get it, surely we’d do everything within our human capacity to ensure it. If only we knew how to get it.
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) is the most Merciful, and out of this Mercy He has blessed us by answering every important question in our lives. It is out of His complete Mercy, that the most Merciful has explained to us, through the words of His beloved Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him), exactly how to get His Mercy.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Have mercy on those who are on earth, and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”
Now that we know how to get it, we must understand what it means to have ‘mercy on those who are on earth.’ There are many ways to show mercy, but the three mains ones are forgiving the creation, forbearance, and showing general kindness.
Forgiving the Creation:
Throughout our lives we experience hurt and wrongful actions from people around us. Actions that are painful and that leave us wanting to hold onto a grudge for much time to come. It is in these times that we need to have mercy upon the creation. We need to forgive them for their wrongs, not for them but for Allah (swt). It is at these times that we need to have mercy upon the creation so that the Creator will have mercy upon us in an infinitely greater manner.
The second act of mercy we can have towards the creation is forbearance. Forbearance is a beautiful trait but is one that requires training and self control. When we show forbearance to someone, essentially what we are doing is restraining our anger whether or not it may seem justified. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” So, yes, it takes strength and perseverance, but imagine the end result. When we show forbearance, what we are actually saying is ‘Ya Allah (O God), this person did something fully wrong and if I wanted to I could lash out, but for your sake I won’t. Ya Allah, just as I did this with your creation, please do this with me. When I commit atrocious sins, show me forbearance, ya Allah!’
The last quality is general soft-hearted kindness. This type of mercy is found in a kind smile, a gentle hug, or even a kind word. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Never was kindness placed on something but that it beautified it, and never was it removed but that it marred it.” It is here that we must mention that kindness should be first given to those who are nearest and dearest to you, and then given to the community in general. There is no wisdom in a person who treats the world with kindness and care, yet goes home to a family and treats them with anger and disrespect. We should first smile at our families, and then the strangers on the street. We should spread cheer to our neighbors first, and then our colleagues at work.
To extend mercy to the creation is to ask Allah (swt) to extend His mercy upon us. To extend mercy to the creation is to make the world a better place, and make our akhira (hereafter) better as well. From today we should make it a point to place mercy in every interaction that we can, whenever we can, and to remember “Have mercy on those who are on earth, and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon yo
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 7:42am On Jun 11, 2012|
O God, Grant me a Friend
Let’s take a trip to a time long ago and extract wisdom from a wise man we all look up to and admire. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) told us his story, not as a bed-time comfort, but as a means for us to extract life-long lessons. Let’s not overlook his story; let’s dive in and live the parts of his story that we can, admire and learn from the parts that we can’t.
At that blessed time long ago, Allah subhanahu wa ta’la (exalted is He) spoke to this amazing creation, Musa `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may God send His peace and blessings on him). Imagine. Allah (swt) spoke to Musa (as) Himself. Allah!
In this blessed conversation, Allah (swt) shows Musa what can happen when one has Allah (swt) on his side. He teaches him a valuable lesson about the power of Allah (swt) above creation. He takes a simple stick and produces an unimaginable miracle, then takes a simple hand and again produces an unimaginable miracle (see Surah Taha, Qur’an 20). He shows Musa that with Allah (swt) on his side, even when one thinks they have nothing, He can make them have everything.
After Allah (swt) shows him a glimpse of his Lord’s unimaginable power, Allah (swt) then gives him a heavy task. A task that many would shy away from, especially if they thought they would be in it alone. Musa on the other hand knew that he had Allah (swt) by His side, and that the results and effects would be from Allah (swt) alone.
Allah (swt) says:
“Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.”
[Moses] said, “My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance]
And ease for me my task
And untie the knot from my tongue
That they may understand my speech.”
Musa doesn’t abandon the task that his Lord has given him, rather he asks for His assistance, first and foremost. Then Musa does something profound, that we often times overlook:
Allah (swt) tells us that Musa says:
“And appoint for me a minister from my family—
Aaron, my brother.
Increase through him my strength
And let him share my task
That we may exalt You much
And remember You much.
Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.”
[Allah] said, “You have been granted your request, O Moses.” (Qur’an, 20:24-36)
What does Musa do? He asks for a companion and then he tells us exactly what a true friend is. Often times we try to ride the waves of life alone, or we depend too much on our friends. But just like everything else in this religion, the middle ground is the smoothest for sailing. While asking His Lord for a companion, Musa laid out a rubric for us to live by when choosing our close companions.
Let’s take a look at the qualities that Musa (as) has recommended for a close companion:
“Increase, through him, my strength”
The first thing that we should look for in a friend is that they should make us stronger human beings. They should be someone that we trust will help us when we are at our low points and that we won’t feel self-conscious with when seeking help. But the key here to notice is that when we are strengthened by our friends, we should keep in mind that it is not really our friend that has made us strong, rather Allah (swt) has strengthened us through our friend.
“And let him share my task”
Next, Musa (as) asks that he be granted a companion so that he can “share in his task.” Often times we try to go through life alone and we try to do everything on our own. In another extreme, we may try to get our friends to take our own life decisions and lay our tasks fully on their shoulders. Through this description, we get the true essence of what we should do. Our friends should be people that are capable and willing to share in our tasks. They should be people we can trust to bounce ideas off of and to help us along the way. We shouldn’t try to wander through life and carry the entire burden ourselves, nor should we lay our tasks fully on other’s shoulders—the moderate path is the key.
“That we may exalt You much and remember you much. Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.”
Musa (as) ends this rubric with the most important point—the purpose of companionship and friendship. He asks Allah (swt) to grant Him his brother as his companion so that they would exalt Him and remember Him. In essence, he is asking that his companion bring Him closer to God, encourages him to remember God, and that in this companionship they never forget that Allah (swt) is watching them. This is the most essential part of any friendship. The friendship should bring us closer to God, never farther. The companionship should encourage us to do more good for the sake of Allah (swt), never distract us from it. And throughout these friendships, in good and bad moments, we should never forget that Allah (swt) is always watching us and can see our every move.
May Allah bless us all with friends who surround us, who strengthen us (by the will of God), who share in our burden, and who remind us of God. Ameen.
|Re: A Jewel Everyday by tbaba1234: 9:06pm On Jan 05, 2013|
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